Yoga has been accepted universally as a discipline of moulding one’s own life to active overall well-being, accepting it as a way of life beyond faith, worship or religious dogmas. The same was evident when more than 170 countries across five continents unanimously supported the resolution for declaring June 21 as the International Day of Yoga at the General Assembly of the UNO.
Many of them proposed or seconded it without any voting or discussion. In fact, many of the Islamic countries too supported the resolution. Yoga is being practiced by people beyond the religious beliefs.
On this background of universal consensus, it is ironical that the decision of the central government to celebrate the International Day of Yoga all over the country is being opposed on religious grounds by some misguided elements. When the whole world is unanimous about the universal appeal of Yoga, it is a shame that this great science of living is being subjected to controversy in the land of its origin.
Social media is full of photographs of members of different communities performing Yogic exercises. The universal acceptance of Yoga is very much witnessed across different communities in India.
Controversy more of political concoction than popular
The present fabricated controversy over the celebration of the International Day of Yoga is the result of intolerant minds. Yoga is a science which demands experiments and experiences and does not ask one to believe or un-believe anything. The performance of Yoga does not affect any belief systems. If at all it will enhance ones capacity to have undeterred in one’s own beliefs. Yoga is necessarily an Indian philosophy as it was first compiled in this holy land and has all the attributes of Sanatana Dharma because it was practised, experimented and evolved into different systems by generations of Hindus. But it still is a universally applicable science of life and the art of living.
The practice of Yoga will not swerve the individual from his personal religious beliefs. It will also not make him antagonistic to his or any other religion but will, on the contrary, augment his affection for his personal deity. The practice of Yoga will not proselytize a Muslim or a Christian, but will on the contrary make him a better adherent of his faiths. Thus, no one should be afraid of Yoga as it includes all and excludes none.
So what is Yoga actually?
Yoga is beyond a mere physical exercise. In fact, Yoga is neither mere physical exercise nor is it just a therapy. As per the ancient traditions, it is a way of scientific living. A modern being may find it hard to comprehend but the mind is the prime factor of all our actions in life. And yoga is nothing but the training of the mind. Thus it (yoga) enables perfection in every action at all levels. The whole universe functions in disciplined manner. There are laws of existence which govern the natural phenomena irrespective of any subjective intervention. The only exception to this smooth governance of the universe are human beings.
The humans are endowed with the will to act and the power of imagination. The combination of these two have created all the scientific wonders. Like all kinds of powers, this also needs regulation. If uncontrolled, power becomes corrupt and boon is converted into a curse. This is true at individual as well as collective level.
Sage Patanjali, in his Yoga aphorisms, initiates with a simple statement – ath yoga anushasanam [Thus we begin the discipline of Yoga.] The aim of all the yogic practices right from Asanas, Suryanamaskara, Pranayamas up to Dhyana [meditation] and Samadhi is disciplining the mind. If the mind is concentrated, anything and everything can be accomplished.
Yoga is the way of orienting the mental powers to one’s aim. The conflicts and clashes in the world are a result of intolerance born out of lack of coordination among one’s own multiple roles. There are various schools of Yoga and they have different practices.
There are several variants of the same Yogic practice. Some well- meaning noble Acharyas even tried to standardize yogic practices. This futile effort has not succeeded as diversity is an inherent feature of existence. Everything that exists is unique in its form, function and role. Yoga not only takes into account this diverse uniqueness but also enriches the extraordinary individuality of the seeker, the performer. At the same time, yoga helps the sadka (practitioner, the doer) to realize the underlying oneness behind the apparent diversity.
So, whatever be the practice, if the mind is tuned properly with a synchronized awareness and relaxation, it integrates one with all. Essence is not in the action but in the intent. Yoga literally means union. Every practice that enables the mind to expand and unite the different levels of collectivity is Yoga. Yoga gives quietitude, peace and harmony to the individual mind and if performed regularly by a sizeable portion of the humanity, will spread this peace and harmony to the cosmic world.
One can say with full conviction that the mass performance of various Yoga practices on the historic occasion of the International Day of Yoga on June 21 will definitely lead to conflict free and harmonious world.