Celebrating Yoga Day After Spewing Venom Against Muslims is Travesty of Yoga

Delivering hate speeches, which Modi did recently, is contrary to the ethos of Yoga and its foundational ideals of truth and non-violence.

Yet another International Yoga Day is being celebrated on June 21, 2024. The theme this year is, “Yoga for Self and Society,” with special focus on its vital role in fostering both individual well-being and societal harmony. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on this occasion visited Kashmir and made a meeting organised there to mark Yoga Day, an event management exercise. This is contrary to the ethos of Yoga practiced in quieter surroundings without fanfare and publicity.

Yoga Negated Through Modi’s Hate Speeches

The societal harmony being flagged to mark International Yoga Day celebrations this year is negated by Modi’s numerous hate speeches against Muslims delivered just over two weeks ago while campaigning in the recently concluded 18th general elections.

The PM’s diatribes against people pursuing Islamic faith and his repeated utterances that they are “infiltrators” out to take away properties of Hindus if his political opponents acquire power, was contrary to the ideals of societal harmony. Even his repeated false assertions that certain political parties on coming to power would make Muslims entitled to reservation meant for Dalits, Scheduled tribes and Other Backward Classes, were aimed at causing societal disharmony for electoral gains.

Such Islamophobia demonstrated in his speeches shocked the nation and outraged the international community.

Vivekananda Linked Yoga With Ability to Fight Tyrants

Had Swami Vivekananda been alive, he would have found it despicable that a person occupying the post of Prime Minister and taking credit for sensitising the UN to celebrate June 21 every year as International Yoga Day, is in his actions and speeches spewing venom against people in the name of faith.

Swami Vivekananda would have recalled one of his remarks on Yoga made while speaking in the US  on the subject “Sadhanas or Preparations for Higher Life.” He said, “No breathing, no physical training of Yoga, nothing is of any use until you reach to the idea, “I am the Witness.” Say, when the tyrant hand is on your neck, “I am the Witness! I am the Witness!” Say, “I am the Spirit! Nothing external can touch me.” When evil thoughts arise, repeat that, give that sledgehammer blow on their heads, “I am the Spirit!

Tragically, the ruling leadership has dragged our country down to the level of electoral autocracy where the all- pervasive doctrine of frightfulness sustains their rule.

Swami Vivekananda’s words “the tyrant hand is on your neck” have become a reality in India during the past 10 years. We need to be empowered by Yoga to say “I am the witness” to get our freedom and democracy back. This is the revolutionary meaning of Yoga for emancipation from dictatorial methods of governance being perpetuated in India now in complete contravention of the constitutional vision of country. Mere asanas, Yogic postures, are not enough; we need to imbibe the spirit of Yoga to defy leaders who trample upon our life and liberty.

Yoga Compliments Religious Pluralism

In another speech delivered in the US on the theme “The Goal and Method of Realisation”, Vivekananda referred to the different types of Yoga — Karma, Bhakti, Raja, Jnana — and said, “These are all different roads leading to the same centre — God.”

Adding further, he upheld coexistence of all faiths by saying, “Indeed, the varieties of religious belief are an advantage, since all faiths are good, so far as they encourage man to lead a religious life. The more sects there are, the more opportunities there are for making successful appeals to the divine instinct in all men”.

Vivekananda’s ringing words, “…the varieties of religious belief are an advantage, since all faiths are good” articulated by him in the context of explaining the meaning of Yoga, assume greater significance when Modi, as Prime Minister, tramples upon the essence of Yoga by delivering toxic speeches against Muslims, stoking religious disharmony, discord and hatred. Hence, how do Modi’s pronouncements promote “…both individual well-being and societal harmony” one of the themes of this year’s International Yoga Day?

Gandhi and Yoga

Yoga is rooted in the meditative aspects of religion that are integral to the values of ethics and non-violence. In Patanjali’s eight-fold Yoga, the first fold prescribed, among others, truth, non-violence, non-possession and non-stealing. These ideals constitute the first syllable of Yoga. Mahatma Gandhi did not follow any yogic practice but made truth and non-violence the sheet anchor of India’s struggle to attain freedom from British rule.

Modi, on the other hand, has been delivering hate speeches that constitute a travesty of Yoga and its foundational ideals of truth and non-violence. He should redeem himself of the breaches of those ideals first before waxing eloquent on Yoga and societal harmony.

The writer served as Officer on Special Duty to President of India K R Narayanan. The views are personal.

Courtesy: Newsclick



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