s the world celebrates International Yoga Day on 21st June, there will be a lot of discussion and controversy with regards to the ruling government trying to position yoga to appease Hindu voters and Hindu culture dominating over other faiths in India, its time to celebrate and rejoice certain good things about yoga – physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines. However, yoga is more than that. Yoga is the soft power in Hinduism being carried forward from ancient India, one of the six major orthodox schools of Hinduism and arguably one of the most effective healing processes for physical and psychological problems of a human. Its revival and glorification can be gauged from the fact that we are celebrating International Yoga Day today on 21st June. Moreover, in this stressful life, yoga has become all the more important.
Contrary to the common belief Yoga has much broader perspective than a few exercises. A tradition which originated around the sixth and fifth centuries B.C, not only evolved with passing time but also got itself away from the Vedas to all over the world. Today Yoga may be a bunch of physical exercises for a lot of people but Yoga is a culmination of physical, mental and spiritual practices at the same time. Till date no one has been able to trace the exact time of its origination but still we can’t deny the fact that it has developed over ages with each Yoga Gurus from time to time.
A Versatile Variation
If Yoga was one of the six Astika schools of Indian Philosophies which highly influenced the other schools, it embarked the various fallacies regarding the various theologies even then. If it is possible to decipher the valid means of knowledge in the form of Pratyakṣa or Dṛṣṭam (Direct sense perception), Anumāna (Inference), and Śabda or Āptavacana (Verbal testimony of the sages or Shāstras), it also focusses on the necessity of Moksha (Liberation). Ashtanga Yoga focusses on the metaphysics, ethical practices, self-development and epistemology. Hatha Yoga which is the most popular form of Yoga today focusses on the various physical exercises. The physical exercises which not only help us to soothe our mind and body but also help in healing our diseases.
Yoga remained a prey of negligence until 1890s when Swami Vivekananda actively made the western audiences aware of this glorious Indian tradition. The works of N C Paul garnered interest in the late 19th century with Sri Yogendra and Swami Kuvalayananda in the 20th century. Yoga Gurus like Swami Satachidananda and B K S Iyengar laid their whole life in developing and promoting Yoga which bore fruit in the form of the establishment of various Yoga research centres all around the west. The heights of its popularity can be assessed from the fact that the number of people who practiced Yoga in any form increased from 4 million in 2001 to 20 million in 2011.
Even Barack Obama once stated “Yoga has become a universal language of spiritual exercise in the United States, crossing many lines of religions and cultures… “. It is needless to say that Yoga has become a culture in our country with the untiring efforts of various Yoga Gurus of modern times especially that of Sri Sri Sri Ravi Shankar through his The Art of Living and Baba Ramdev which have helped Yoga being declared as UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2016.
However, Yoga, being a glorious tradition of India, needs to be inculcated in each and every respect as it is more than a tradition. Then only we will be able to celebrate International Yoga Day in in its real sense.