Secularization Of Yoga

satyameva jayate nānṛtaṁ, satyena panthā vitato devayānaḥ, yenākramantyṛṣayo hyāptakāmā, yatra tat satyasya paramaṁ nidhānam - Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.6

Truth alone triumphs; not falsehood. Through truth the divine path is spread out by which the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled, reach where that supreme treasure of Truth resides.

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One could ask the a question about starting the history of mathematics/science textbooks from greeks. Why is this undue emphasis on greeks saga as if they are the sole originators of logic, thought, abstract thinking, science, mathematics, and astronomy? This virtually belittles every other civilization's achievements which are blatantly neglected, and worse of all to the implied position that there are no achievements, of what ever kind, by other civilizations at all. None other than the greeks, by that the europeans, and by that the west was the giver/abode of knowledge in the ancient world and now.

The eastern spiritual knowledge systems are empirical sciences, which Rajiv ji stresses time and again as Adhyatma Vidya or Mind sciences. Given the seriousness that the west supposedly takes in tracing/acknowledging an invention/discovery historically, why should there be a double standard on decontextualizing (dubbed, secularizing) such time tested emphirical sciences - Yoga and Meditation practices from India and by large Asia.

I was recently discussing atheism espoused by Dawkins/Hitchens, etc., with a friend. In that context I ended up bringing christian yoga and meditation. When my friend said I don't give damn about others practicing/using it, we had some arguments. Even I heard Sam Harris calling for secularization of meditation, yoga and spiritual practices. First of all, Yoga is a fruit of Hindu Philosophical thought. If the benevolent tree of Hinduism/Hindu thought is chopped off, there wont be any fruits further. Second, the very idea of Christian Yoga is oxymoronic because, it is a means to achieve higher states of consciousness, not merely for mental/physical health benefit, and eventually to achieve unison with the divine all by him/herself. Now, the christianity's emphasis on Jesus as the sole redeemer, despite original sin, is in stark opposition to the foundational philosophy of Yoga, which paves a way for personal emancipation devoid of any external agent, history of any event or prophet for liberation of an(y) individual. It would be self-deception and a lie in the name of modern science/of its therapeutic value to decontextualize Yoga from Hindu thought. On a similar note why is it that the 'academic' scholars are doing the secularization for the patients who may supposedly get hurt if not done so. This is plagiarism on the part of 'academics' for being 'academics'.

Simply because the west finds the savages knowledge useful now, it cannot be removed from its source due of its Hindu origin, for the very reason of its position on history of an invention/discovery which otherwise is a double standard.

The concept of the division between state/religion or religion/reason has originated from it's bitter experiences with christianity/church wielding absolute power, as in dark middle ages. This experience is not universal, and the very reason why such lens cannot be applied to other societies/civilizations/cultures. For example, to my knowledge, no other religion/Dharmic traditions, or it's practitioners cried blasphemy when they came to know that earth is round, or it is going around the sun and not the center of the universe (who hypothesized it first is at the moment irrelevant) or Darwin's theory of evolution (humans from apes) - whether it is a Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim or Jew, etc., no body went paranoid about these. So, this experience of segregating the religion/reason is flawed and another instance of imposing it's experience as universal. At the very least, we cannot allow it to be imposed on OUR traditions.

Recently, a western collaborator of my friend's adviser was visiting our institute and my friend was asked to help him with going around the city. During this city tour, that western professor bought a bunch of incense sticks, diya stands that Hindus light during an inauguration ceremony and in our homes, and 'Ganta' - a small and a big one. When my friend inquired about it, he said they do it for peace of mind and spiritual longing; and the aroma of incense sticks and sound of 'Ganta' helps in settling down quickly for their daily practice. I asked my friend further to know what version of such prayer are they practicing (like the 'son salutation'), but he didn't knew further. I gave him RM's book IN and he is looking into it.

What we inherited is a rare gift among civilizations, which most of them are otherwise in museums.

Aluri Pavan

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