Yoga is Religious or Not?
Nowadays there is a huge debate going on about Yoga. Some people say it is religious other says it is not religious. Even well-known personalities in the field of Yoga, Religion, and Spiritualism are giving different opinions. I literally mean “opinion” because truth cannot be many but many opinions are possible. Before answering that questions we need to get the answer of following questions.
1- What is Yoga? In what book it has been discussed?
2- What is the purpose or final goal of Yoga?
3- Why it is being opposed by many people around?
4- What is the origin of Yoga?
Now lets us discuss them one by one.
1- Yoga is a Samskruta word. And the meaning of that is unification, union. In all Hindu religious books, it has been discussed in detail. Even ancient books called Shruti (Vedas) and Smriti it has been discussed. In Bhagwat Geeta, the word “Yoga” has been used more than 90 times. Bhagwat Geeta uses only yoga only in two sense Buddhi Yoga and Karma Yoga. Bhagwat Geeta also refers to Samadhi (which is part of Patanjali Yoga and expert give it a different name like Raj Yoga, Hath Yoga etc) but that is again part of KarmaYoga.
Bhagwat Geeta was spoken approximately 5000 years before from now. No religion was existing that time. Only Aaryans were pervading on earth. Aaryan is not a religion. Other people who were not living Aryan values were called Anaarya. Many sects came from Aaryan and Anaaryan group of the people in last 5000 years and various names were coined for these sects and religions. If you look it from today’s’ religious angle then the best possible name can be given to these two large groups are Dharma civilization people and Non-Dharmic civilization people. In today’s context, non-dharmic does not mean Adharmic in the literal sense.
2- Purpose and final goal of Yoga is to teach how to live a peaceful life while you are on earth and earn “Punyam” so that either you get Moksha or better next life.
3- The Biggest reasons of the opposition of Yoga are three ignorance, ignorance and ignorance.
Most of the intellectuals even Hindus think that Yoga is what Patanjali told and nothing else. It is wrong.
First, the largest group of people who think Yoga is Patanjali Yoga the biggest part of that group think that Yoga is Physical Aasana and nothing else. They are grossly wrong.
Second largest group of people who think Yoga is Patanjali Yoga they think that Yoga is Physical Aasana and Pranayam and nothing else. It is just to keep body and mind fit for world enjoyment. They are again wrong.
There are people who even go to the extent of justifying that as gravity is not Christians Yoga is not Hindu. Why do they say so? Because they want acceptance from other groups of people because it is a useful thing and unnecessary debate around those things which are well known and proven to them should not be there.
Sun in our solar system is one. No matter how much you debate around the worship of it. Everyone, whether we are religious nor agnostic or scientific, knows the usefulness of sun in our regular life. The only question is somebody worships it as per their old tradition and some not.
12 position of SuryaNamaskar definitely helps everyone, whether one believe the sun is a god or the God or son of god or sun is a goddess (Savitri). Now if you say because there is one set of people doing it, therefore, I will not do it. If I do this then I will go to hell or my society will throw me or my God will not accept in heaven. It is all matter of belief and conviction and It is your choice.
Aum is universal sound of the cosmos. It has been researched by many in the past. You want to connect to this universal sound or not it is your choice. Just because somebody is saying Aum I will not say it, no matter how much useful it is. That is fine for them not for me. In fact, even medicine does not give results if a patient does not believe in it.
How come religion or non-religion Yoga becomes important here? Now for example, if gravity is proved as religious then does it become less important? This way there are many things which are useful in religion why should we be against the religion and say that till the time this thing does not join the camp of science we will not accept it. In this process, those who want to digest others religion do everything to prove that some xyz aspect of religion is scientific so it is useful and throw away the religion. Others say that you keep your science in your box I follow it because I am getting benefitted by the practice of it. This is an eternal debate.
When PM of India Shri Narendra Modi proposed that International Yoga day should be celebrated then what was in his mind? or his government’s mind? Were they thinking that everybody in the world will do SuryaNamaskar and Aum chanting? I do not think so. As far as my wisdom goes he had following things in mind.
A- How everybody can get benefited from the ancient established practices which have proved their values in the life of many billions irrespective of faith.
B- How to strengthen his vote bank (those people who believe in Hindu tradition and culture and think Hinduism is good in the purest form for the world).
C- How to unite Indian in the name of something which is our heritage. As par my understanding he has been successful in all three.
To understand the correct meaning of Dharma tradition, Abrahamic religion and Digestion in religious sense please read Being Different, Breaking India, Invading the Sacred, Indra’s Net of Rajiv Malhotra.