International Yoga day was celebrated yesterday on the 21st of June around the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi led an estimated 50,000 volunteers to mark the fourth anniversary of the event. Similar events were held by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu along with other Union Ministers in different states around the country. 21st June was declared as the International Yoga day by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2014. There is a special reason why PM Modi had proposed 21st June. It is the longest day in the northern hemisphere and it is the shortest day in the southern hemisphere. The summer solstice marks the tradition of Dakshinayana or the southward trend of the sun, the first full moon after solstice is known as Guru Poormina. Bhagwan Shiva also known as Adi Yogi is said to have started giving the knowledge of Yoga to the mankind on this day, thereby earning the title of first guru (Adi Yogi). The time is also said to be favourable for those who are beginning their spiritual practices. This back story further proves that Yoga is an integral part of the Vedic/Hindu religion.
There has been a recent splurge in the number of people who have started lecturing on how Yoga is neither Vedic nor Hindu in origin. These pseudo-liberal dimwits are the same people who used to shy away from practising Yoga and used to ridicule the ones who taught and practised this age old form of exercise and spirituality. The acceptance of Yoga and its practice by the western countries and even by Islamic countries from the Middle East have made these people lose their balance and peace of mind. They have been caught off guard and have been rendered defenceless by the global acceptance of Yoga and have thus resorted to paint a “secular’ and “un-religious” picture of the Hindu practice of doing Yoga.
The first reference to Yoga in fact is made in the Rigveda but it is widely speculated to be a pre-Vedic tradition making it as Indian as anything can get. Hinduism or the Vedic religion is the only religion which practiced this beautiful form of keeping the body and the mind fit. Bhagwans or Gods in Hinduism have been known to practice Yoga, Bhagwan Shiva the Adi Guru has already been discussed. Bhagwan Krishna as Yogeshwara preached the Rajayoga in the Bhagavad Gita, his teaching to his disciple Arjun in Mahabharata. If these are not proof of Yoga being a Vedic and Indian practice then what is?
Of course the knowledge and techniques of Yoga were shared by Buddhist and Jain monks who travelled to China, Sri Lanka and other countries wherever they went. The practice of Zen and other forms of meditation is very much based on the ancient Vedic Indian practice and methods. The Western world till date thinks of Yoga as a physical exercise while the Indian gurus think of it as a means to train the body in order to reach higher spiritual goals. The West will learn in the days to come the true beauty of this ancient Vedic practice. Of course, any person who due to his religious or cultural obligation is not able to practice Yoga in full spirit is free to pursue it as just a fitness regime or a physical exercise but why should we as Indians leave our tradition and culture which has proven to be the best possible exercise for the body and soul. It is as Indian and as Vedic as it can get, trying to portray it as something non-religious in nature is stupid and a sham act by pseudo-seculars and wannabe liberals of the modern time.