Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday cautioned against “commodifying” yoga, saying using it as some sort of business will do great damage to this world heritage.
Inaugurating the first international conference on yoga for holistic health in New Delhi, Mr. Modi also said yoga is a medium to check greed, violence, cost of health care and conflicts and also a means to enhance effective team work and maintaining ecological balance.
“If we make yoga a commodity, then maximum damage to it will be done by us. Yoga is not a commodity, yoga is not a brand which has to be sold,” he said cautioning against one-upmanship on the issue, insisting that the ancient practice does not belong to any one person, community or the country but to the whole world.
Drawing attention to boards of “pure ghee” shops in the market, Mr. Modi said that 50 years back these were never seen but today they are because money is there.
“This should never happen in relation to yoga. Never should a time come when we hear that only my yoga is true and all the rest are uselessly holding their nose and spending dollars. This is not a trade or organisation but a state of mind ( vyapaar ya vyavastha nahin avastha hai ).
“This (yoga) is the contribution from the soil of India for the good of human beings. People outside India have also worked on it. We have to acknowledge this. We should not seize it as our fiefdom (bapouti). This belongs to the whole world,” the Prime Minister said addressing the inaugural session of the two-day conference being attended by delegates of 26 countries.
Noting that changes are also going to come in yoga with the passage of time, he said that it has to be made more modern, more scientific adapting to different conditions in different regions.
Under attack from Congress for “usurping” the traditional form, Mr. Modi stressed that yoga is “not the brainchild of a government” or the United Nations but a gift from generations and said that he is “indebted” to all the governments and all the countries across the world.
The Prime Minister, who had mooted the proposal to celebrate International Yoga Day (IYD) during his first address to the UN General Assembly in September last year, had been tweeting various asanas daily in the run up to IYD.
Mr. Modi said that though yoga originated in India, it is a collective gift to humanity.
He quoted profusely from scriptures, including Bhagvad Gita, saying India promises to reach out to all to foster a culture of inclusiveness and that of making one global family in which all are happy and disease free (‘ sarve bhavantu sukhin, sarve bhavantu niramaya’ ).
The Prime Minister also released a Rs. 5 rupee stamp and coins of Rs. 10 and Rs. 100 on IYD brought out by the Postal Department and the Finance Ministry.
International Yoga Day
As it happened
Mr. Modi said this was not just a daylong celebration but the beginning of an era of peace and harmony.
The Prime Minister also said yoga is a medium to check greed, violence, cost of health care and conflicts.
He rubbished claims that yoga represented a particular religion and said yoga represents brotherhood and peace.
Several hundred enthusiasts were denied access to venue as they lacked invitation cards.
'Yoga Day is a dimensional shift in the sense that in pursuit of well-being, we can begin to look inwards. Your well-being need not be in someone else’s hands, it means every individual taking their fundamental well-being in their own hands.'
The story of yoga
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English yoga teacher Barry Chapple talks about his interaction with his guru the late BKS Iyengar in England. "He was charismatic and charming and enthralled us with his witty conversation. His use of English was good and distinctive; he did seem to favour certain words, repeating them often; for example ‘intelligence’.”