Govt. pushes yoga’s universal appeal, Ministry releases book

Students of the F.D. Higher Secondary School in Ahmedabad at a yoga workshop on Wednesday. Photo: Vijay Soneji

Students of the F.D. Higher Secondary School in Ahmedabad at a yoga workshop on Wednesday. Photo: Vijay Soneji  

As part of its effort to package yoga as a religion-neutral exercise and ensure maximum participation nationwide in the first International Day of Yoga programmes on Sunday, the Union AYUSH Ministry on Wednesday released a book, Yoga and Islam, on its universal appeal and acceptance.

However, the Ministry’s decision to drop Om and Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) from the Common Yoga Protocol for Yoga Day has not gone down well with some sections of the Sangh Parivar.

Union Minister of State for AYUSH Sripad Naik’s suggestion that Muslims who do not want to chant Shlokas can take the name of Allah instead came in for sharp criticism from Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia, who said this would not be acceptable to Hindus.

Published by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, an RSS initiative, Yoga and Islam has as its main thrust the idea that yoga does not have anything to do with religion. The book seeks to address apprehensions that minority communities have expressed over participating in the programmes.

It draws parallels between some yoga exercises and namaaz, stating that “namaaz is one sort of yoga asana”.

Earlier this week, the RSS weekly Organiser said in an editorial that yoga had nothing to do with religion. “Denouncing the celebration on the ground of opposing certain hymns or celebrating it on Sunday only echo our fractured mindset and all the more highlight the need for a yogic life. Even Surya Namaskar is not a form of worship but well known as a capsule form of yoga which anyone can practise in a short span of time. If leading a healthy life is a human right, then it should be available to all human beings, irrespective of religion.”

But in Bulandshahr on Sunday, Mr. Togadia is reported to have said that “the utterance of Om and the practice of Surya Namaskar are integral to yoga and hold supreme importance”.

India Policy Foundation director and RSS supporter Rakesh Sinha questioned the decision to drop Om. “Yoga is integrally related to ‘Om’, any substitute of ‘Om’ will be unscientific and an aberration,” he tweeted.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 9:29:13 AM |

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