The theft of yoga

Nearly 20 million people in the United States gather together routinely, fold their hands and utter the Hindu greeting of … Continued

Nearly 20 million people in the United States gather together routinely, fold their hands and utter the Hindu greeting of Namaste — the Divine in me bows to the same Divine in you. Then they close their eyes and focus their minds with chants of “Om,” the Hindu representation of the first and eternal vibration of creation. Arrayed in linear patterns, they stretch, bend, contort and control their respirations as a mentor calls out names of Hindu divinity linked to various postures: Natarajaasana (Lord Shiva) or Hanumanasana (Lord Hanuman) among many others. They chant their assigned “mantra of the month,” taken as they are from lines directly from the Vedas, Hinduism’s holiest scripture. Welcome to the practice of yoga in today’s western world.

Christians, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, agnostics and atheists they may be, but they partake in the spiritual heritage of a faith tradition with a vigor often unmatched by even among the two-and-a half-million Hindu Americans here. The Yoga Journal found that the industry generates more than $6 billion each year and continues on an incredible trajectory of popularity. It would seem that yoga’s mother tradition, Hinduism, would be shining in the brilliant glow of dedicated disciples seeking more from the very font of their passion.

Yet the reality is very different. Hinduism in common parlance is identified more with holy cows than Gomukhasana, the notoriously arduous twisting posture; with millions of warring gods rather than the unity of divinity of Hindu tradition–that God may manifest and be worshiped in infinite ways; as a tradition of colorful and harrowing wandering ascetics more than the spiritual inspiration of Patanjali, the second century BCE commentator and composer of the Yoga Sutras, that form the philosophical basis of Yoga practice today.

Why is yoga severed in America’s collective consciousness from Hinduism? Yoga, meditation, ayurvedic natural healing, self-realization–they are today’s syntax for New Age, Eastern, mystical, even Buddhist, but nary an appreciation of their Hindu origins. It is not surprising, then, that Hindu schoolchildren complain that Hinduism is conflated only with caste, cows, exoticism and polytheism–the salutary contributions and philosophical underpinnings lost and ignored. The severance of yoga from Hinduism disenfranchises millions of Hindu Americans from their spiritual heritage and a legacy in which they can take pride.

Hinduism, as a faith tradition, stands at this pass a victim of overt intellectual property theft, absence of trademark protections and the facile complicity of generations of Hindu yogis, gurus, swamis and others that offered up a religion’s spiritual wealth at the altar of crass commercialism. The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, under whose tutelage the Beatles steadied their mind and made sense of their insane fame, packaged the wonders of meditation as Transcendental Meditation (TM) just as an entrepreneur from here in Minneapolis applied the principles of Ayurveda to drive a commercial enterprise he coined as Aveda. TM and Aveda are trademarked brands–a protection not available to the originator of their brand–Hinduism itself. And certainly these masters benefited millions with their contributions, but in agreeing to ditch Hinduism as the source, they left these gifts orphaned and unanchored.

The Los Angeles Times last week chronicled this steady disembodying of yoga from Hinduism. “Christ is my guru. Yoga is a spiritual discipline much like prayer, meditation and fasting [and] no one religion can claim ownership,” says a vocal proponent of “Christian themed” yoga practices. Some Jews practice Torah yoga, Kabbalah yoga and aleph bet yoga, and even some Muslims are joining the act. They are appropriating the collective wisdom of millenia of yogis without a whisper of acknowledgment of yoga’s spiritual roots.

Not surprisingly, the most popular yoga journals and magazines are also in the act. Once yoga was no longer intertwined with its Hindu roots, it became up for grabs and easy to sell. These journals abundantly refer to yoga as “ancient Indian,” “Eastern” or “Sanskritic,” but seem to assiduously avoid the term “Hindu” out of fear, we can only assume, that ascribing honestly the origins of their passion would spell disaster for what has become a lucrative commercial enterprise. The American Yoga Association, on its Web site, completes this delinking of yoga from Hinduism thusly:

“The common belief that Yoga derives from Hinduism is a misconception. Yoga actually predates Hinduism by many centuries…The techniques of Yoga have been adopted by Hinduism as well as by other world religions.”

So Hinduism, the religion that has no known origins or beginnings is now younger than yoga? What a ludicrous contention when the Yoga Sutras weren’t even composed until the 2nd Century BCE. These deniers seem to posit that Hinduism appropriated yoga so other religions may as well too! Hindus can only sadly shake their heads, as by this measure, soon we will read as to how karma, dharma and reincarnation–the very foundations of Hindu philosophy–are only ancient precepts that early Hindus of some era made their own.

The Hindu American Foundation (Disclosure: I sit on the Foundation’s Board) released a position paper on this issue earlier this year. The brief condemns yoga’s appropriation, but also argues that yoga today is wholly misunderstood. Yoga is identified today only with Hatha Yoga, the aspect of yoga focused on postures and breathing techniques. But this is only one part of the practice of Raja Yoga that is actually an eightfold path designed to lead the practitioner to moksha, or salvation. Indeed, yogis believe that to focus on the physicality of yoga without the spirituality is utterly rudimentary and deficient. Sure, practicing postures alone with a focus on breathing techniques will quiet the mind, tone the body, increase flexibility–even help children with Attention Deficit Disorder–but will miss the mark on holistic healing and wellness.

All of this is not to contend, of course, that yoga is only for Hindus. Yoga is Hinduism’s gift to humanity to follow, practice and experience. No one can ever be asked to leave their own religion or reject their own theologies or to convert to a pluralistic tradition such as Hinduism. Yoga asks only that one follow the path of yoga for it will necessarily lead one to become a better Hindu, Christian, Jew or Muslim. Yoga, like its Hindu origins, does not offer ways to believe in God; it offer ways to know God.

But be forewarned. Yogis say that the dedicated practice of yoga will subdue the restless mind, lessen one’s cravings for the mundane material world and put one on the path of self-realization–that each individual is a spark of the Divine. Expect conflicts if you are sold on the exclusivist claims of Abrahamic faiths–that their God awaits the arrival of only His chosen few at heaven’s gate–since yoga shows its own path to spiritual enlightenment to all seekers regardless of affiliation.

Hindus must take back yoga and reclaim the intellectual property of their spiritual heritage–not sell out for the expediency of winning more clients for the yoga studio down the street.

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  • Indian51

    India never existed as a single sovereign country until the British took over. Before the British, India was a conglomerate of small kingdoms fighting with each other all the time. So the concept that a united India ever existed in the history is a sham. And the name Hinduism is coined by the British about 300 years ago. The words Hindu or Hinduism are not of Indian origin and they are not mentioned anywhere in any ancient Indian literature (Ramayana, Gita) which Rajaji, Nehru and other eminent personalities and historians called great novels or mythology. A Hindu (as per Arabs and Persians) is a person living along the Indus valley, and the Moguls called the non-Muslims in India Hindus. The British followed the same tradition and finally Hindu and Hinduism become a religion. Your claim of 2.5 million Hindus in the US is another sham. Officially, there are only 1.6 million Indians in the US and out of that only half are Hindus. Thought you would like to know these facts.

  • docboss83

    “Indian51” appears to be not really Indian and a Christian/Islamic fundamentalist, as his post falls right in line with both colonialist and Moghul anti-India propaganda. First, the modern land mass of India was ruled by large empires that covered areas including most of the Indian subcontinent. Ashoka and Chandragupta Maurya united the land mass of India under a single banner thousands of years ago…and in the case of Ashoka, hundreds of years before Christianity and Islam existed. This false post is a pathetic attempt to smear the Indian civilization of Aryabhata, Sushruta, Sridharyacharya, Panini, the golden Gupta age, and the long history of India and Hinduism.This fake “Indian” is right on one thing however…the term Hindu does come from foreigners, originally Persians some thousands of years ago. The true name of the religion of the Vedas and Upanishads and Yoga Sutras is Sanatana Dharma, the “eternal faith.” It has been referred to by this name for at least 3,000 years. As for the number of Hindus in America, it is a silly thing to pick a fight over, as both Muslims and Christians have long been accused of inflating their numbers in America. What the post does not address at all in in its irrelevant ramblings is Shukla’s main point…the intentional attempts to seperate yoga from its true origins.

  • mihirmeghani

    Another brilliant post. All Hindus are asking is that the positives of its rich heritage be identified with the tradition – not simply its negatives. The values of a pluralistic tradition such as Hinduism can be followed by anyone, and appreciating the contributions of one tradition does not compromise the closeness or identification one can have with another tradition.

  • tarle_subba

    a wonderful summary of the nature of yoga, yogic practice, its origins and precepts, and the modern cooption of yoga by “other means, methods, and names”. as to the word “hindu” — which surely is of more recent vintage/coinage than veda, yoga, dharma, karma, moksha, and so on — the good doctor’s attempt is to embrace the word and make it the umbrella term for modern, medieval, and ancient indian (btw, the word india is of even more recent vintage than hindu) spiritual and religious paths, traditions, practices, and beliefs. that is what it has come to mean, how it has been used by scholars and others, and in this essay it serves the same purpose, just as the term “hindu american” and “hindu american foundation” is a term to represent the followers of hindu traditions.once again, a very well-written essay.

  • siddharthaban

    There was no German nation state before c. 1876. Therefore, German culture did not exist prior to that date? There was no United States before 1776; Americans are not descended from a single linguistic or ethnic group; the word “American” is not of American origin. Therefore, America is not a real nation and Americans are not a distinct people?Siddhartha Banerjee

  • kamleshk1

    With the growing popularity of Yoga for health, we have many yoga centers run by Hindus, many of them the followers or students of Swami Ramdev. I attend one such Yoga class in the local Hindu temple. The teacher refers to the practice as a spiritual tradition which has nothing to do with religion. Many times, he mentions it is an Eastern philosophy. I tried to discretely point out, if you say Eastern, do you place the origin of Yoga in Japan, Indonesia, Philipines, Malayasia etc?

  • edicia

    Excellent article, Mr. Shukla.It is a form of modern terrorism, where you can use the best that you want , the way you want from a culture…but deliberately disengage the culture from that best.If humanity is to prevail, it needs to understand what resepct and brotherhood means.

  • thurgood

    Dr. Shukla,A timely article indeed. Ashtanga Yoga is indeed a Hindu tradition since the ideas of the individual practitioner it is addressed to, the world it imagines, and the values it offers arise entirely from the Hindu tradition. It may be also the case that some of these principles find a resonance or acceptance or even parallels within other Dharmic traditions namely Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Further an argument can also be made for the case that Ashtanga Yoga represents a particular path within the Hindu tradition that is in disagreement with other paths within the larger tradition.A few years back I had a chat with a Protestant Minister in Connecticut who had objected to his public school district offering yoga lessons on the grounds that yoga is a religious practice and that the government cannot become entangled with religion. I called the Pastor to tell him that I agreed with him and that Ashtanga Yoga is indeed Hindu. However should he be interested in exploring what possibilities it holds for him, I would gladly work with him to arrive at an understanding. I added that I am not interested in “converting him” or being converted.

  • jonstewartfan

    Indian51 take a hike…don’t insult the indians….what do you know about hinduism????

  • jonstewartfan

    I would like to thank Dr. Shukla for such an awesome article.

  • mikie44

    What, yoga wasn’t invented in Hollywood by L Ron Hubbard?

  • DoTheRightThing

    Christians teach that if something is in any manner “good” in this world, its goodness comes from God. So, to the extent that yoga and Hinduism have discernable “good” in them, that comes from God. Hopefully, that and other “good” things will lead one to the source of all goodness, which IS the God of Christianity – no brag, just fact. Be assured that no one is saved except through Jesus Christ Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. However, how God chooses to offer salvation to those who do not know about Jesus Christ is HIS prerogative. I, being a Christian and knowing that God is LOVE, trust Him to somehow offer salvation to such as these, and look forward to meeting at least some, and hopefully all, of them in heaven (which will only happen if I successfully persevere [possible only by my cooperation with God’s grace] in MY faithful following of my Savior Jesus Christ). So please pray for me that I may see you there, and I will do likewise for you!

  • jb23

    yeah, and Santa Clause took the Christ out of Christmas. Get over it.

  • AugustWest3

    Shukla is painting with overly broad strokes here. While he is accurately describing much of American yoga, he is not accurately describing all of American yoga. There is authentic yoga, focused on its vedic philosophy and origins, being taught in the US. That said, there is also nothing wrong with the appropriation of good ideas no matter their source. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right?

  • treetopflyer

    And in Asia Christmas is a shopping trip devoid of spiritual content. Quit your whining and move on.

  • psps23

    Fine, don’t call it Yoga. Call it “Static Exercise and Mental Clarity Training.”Ultimately, nobody cares where it originated. It is not a religious act; it is a physical act that some disciplines parlay as an aspect of greater religious significance. But at the end of the day, no physical act can be deemed any religion’s “intellectual property.”

  • psps23

    The only one who lacks common sense is the guy that believes a living man walked on water, turned water into wine, and arose from the dead because a storyteller wrote it in a book for him to read. Christians are nothing more than Scientologists without the secrecy.

  • cbl55

    Hindus must “take back” yoga?? Since when did Raja Yoga become a piece of property to be bought, sold, or traded? Only an attached mind would treat it as such–the antithesis of what yoga propounds.I am a westerner trained many years ago in raja yoga, which includes hatha yoga, pranayama, meditation, right action and service to others as part of the path toward self-realization. This is what constitutes Vedanta (the end of the Vedas, or wisdom itself.) The practices in my ashram (the Sivandanda Yoga Vedanta Society) were indeed colored with Hindu ritual, but did not marry that ritual, and allowed room for other rituals as well. We kept copies of the Bible, the Bhagavad-Gita and the Zend-Avesta near our altar.The great yogis who first came to America from India at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th (Swami Vivekenanda and Swami Parahhansa Yogananda) brought with them new and practical ways to discipline the mind and body. These practices were open to all, whether Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim or agnostic. Yoga is the essential practice of union (which is what the word means–union between the person and God), not the outer form of religious, as the great saints of Hinduism would know. I have known Catholic brothers and sisters who practice yoga because it deepens their own Christianity.As Meher Baba once said, it doesn’t matter what religion you practice, but focus on the core of a religion, not its outer trappings. Or as my teacher, Swami Sivananda used to say, “one ounce of practice is always better than tons of theory.” At Rishikesh, he dressed in overcoats, practiced as a doctor in British Malaya, spoke English at his ashram and had yogis typing on typewriters, rather than meditating in caves. He praised western science and rationality, finding no conflict between them and ancient yogic practices.If these teachers were not uncomfortable with blending East and West together, why should you be?

  • skeptik3

    I agree with the author that commercial yoga often steps outside the boundaries of poor taste. I also agree that Hindu’s need to take back yoga. The two Hindu temples near my home offer little in the way of community education, including mythology, Hindi, and Yoga. There is more emphasis on Bolywood that genuine Indian culture(s). In this respect, I think Hindu’s can learn much from other major U.S. religions. However, I think the author should look on the bright side: Yoga is a boon to Indian public relations. Don’t spoil it for us man!

  • vedicupvan

    AUMPRANAYAMThe most popular and beneficial at present to all human beings is the Fourth stage of the Eight-Stage or ASHTANG yoga. Swami Ramdev Ji, an international celebrity and a household name in most countries of the world, has been preaching the Ashtang Yoga and primarily teaching the Pranayam.Kapal Bhati – that is the second type of Pranayam that has been engaging the time and attention of practitioners.The primary act is to throw out the breath already held.Let the air come in naturally; throw it out with great force without damaging tender inside of nostrils. Just watch the glow on your face after a fortnight. You will get rid of common cold and reduce chances of getting it again. Are you keen on losing weight? keep practising Pranayam. The results will be remarkable.May I say with emphasis that the Ashtang Yoga is the only true form of Yoga. Some vested interests have been denuding the Yoga of its Aryan origin and interpolating Christian or Muslim Yoga and they are merely indulging in an exercise in futility.

  • DannyMSnyder

    All I know is that those broads doing that yoga show on FIT TV have some SMOKIN’ bodies. It’s the best show on TV.

  • spidermean2

    The same “man” who walked on water prophesied that Doomsday is coming. If it’s not coming then you can say that the whole story was a lie. A man in his right man would think that Doomsday is truly coming. Even scientists today set the Doomsday clock at 11:55 midnight.Cows are dumb animals. Whoever thought that cows are their reincarnated relatives may have had very dumb relatives.

  • jerry_k

    Dr. Shukla’s post reminds me of a Jewish joke. One day at religious services it came time for a rabbi to give a sermon. “God”, he looked up, “you are everything,” he said. You are the entire world. You are every grain of sand. You are air. You are energy. You are silence. You are all, God, and I am nothing.” And he went on for some time in this fashion, becoming more and more passionate until at last he fell down writhing on the floor. The congregation looked at each other in wonderment and then the most learned man among them got up and went to the pulpit and said: “God, you are everything. You are time. You are space. You are existence. You are all and I am nothing whatever!” And he too went on in this fashion for a while until he fell on the floor in a mystical paroxysm. Then the wealthiest man in the congregation got up and he too delivered a similar speech and finally fell down writhing on the floor. Then the poorest, most uneducated fool among those present rose and went to the front and he too, delivered a similar speech. “You are the entire universe, God, and I am nothing!” he shouted. Then the wealthiest man turned to the most learned man and said, “Hah! Look who thinks he’s nothing!”

  • skeptik3

    Calm down folks. I think the author’s call to “take back Yoga” was less of an attack on the ENTIRE Yoga industry, and more of an attack on its most crass commercialization. The article is more about stimulating temples into action than bashing others.

  • pkhenry

    Who cares?

  • midwest108

    Yes, it does seem to appear as if white Europeans are inherent colonizers. For centuries they sailed around in boats planting flags in foreign soil claiming they “discovered” it or just plain appropriated it for their own use. Once all land had been claimed, “philosophical” and “spiritual” colonizing reached new heights. Is there something inherently lacking in European and American cultures that people feel compelled to appropriate other people’s traditions?

  • tommarra

    Great post Aseem.Other trolls who are deriding Hinduism please be informed that Hinduism is the most tolerant and one of the oldest religion in the world. Infact Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. Unlike other religions it does not deify human beings and makes them Son of God or messenger of God or for that matter assign a bureaucratic establishment (read Church) to be your conduit to God…you are FREE to believe whatever you want and if it takes you towards God then thats right.And please will the Christian trolls just shut up. With the recent “boy rape” scandal to hit Catholic Church in which even the Pope is most likely complicit, one would think that Christians would learn a little bit of humility. And if you are a Muslim, deriding Hinduism, I am sure you know that there are more Muslims in India (birthplace of Hinduism) than anywhere else in the world and Hindus and Muslims peacefully coexist.

  • Dliodoir

    spidermean2,Where does it say in the Bible that the best way to bring people to the truth is to be mean and rude? You are a poor disciple of Christ if you cast stones, have no humility, have no compassion and confuse anger with passion.I am embarassed by Christians like you. You are turing people away from Christ. Please stop.

  • greg3

    Yeah, and we stole bagels from the Jews, Pierogis from the Polish, and spaghetti from the Chinese. Isn’t multiculturalism grand? Shukla sounds angry, like he wants us to pay reparations or a licensing fee to India or something. Fuhgeddaboudit. Everyone can switch from yoga to tai chi, which is in the public domain and does the same thing for your heart rate and mood.Hinduism is one of the most incomprehensible of pagan religions which is why you can pass yourself off as the Maharishi by putting a turban on your head, sitting cross legged on a mat, and spouting wise sounding gibberish, just like that guy in the Beatles movie Help! Or was it somebody in the Monkees’ movie Head. I forget.Ignorance of religion is a virtue.

  • spidermean2

    Exposing stupidity is a virtue.

  • Dliodoir

    “Infact Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. …you are FREE to believe whatever you want and if it takes you towards God then thats right.”You don’t understand Hinduism very well do you? It is a religion, it encompasses a supernatural belief in the divine, it has a pantheon of gods and goddesses, there is a identifiable set of rules and prohibitions. You are not FREE to believe whatever you want and still be a good Hindu. Please stop trying to make it out as something it’s not. It’s a wonderful thing to billions? of people but it’s not a touchy-feely, I’m ok-you’re ok, there’s not such thing as right or wrong “system.” It’s a religion, just like Christianity and Judaism and Islam, etc. It even has priests!

  • motorfriend

    But, then, Buddha is probably an illusion, too.

  • pioneer1

    I was just looking at the latest Victoria’s Secret catalog, where they were selling some nice-looking yoga pants; it was more uplifting than many of these comments. The glory of America, and the reason that we still have a very low level of communal violence relative to the rest of the world, is that in daily life we simply dont care about the religion of those around us. This readership group may be different, but Id say very few folks know the religion of the neighbors or their co-workers, and that is a very good thing. Its not a fact that matters; live and let live. That also means that snappy clothes, exercise, incense and etc. can be taken from numerous religions and re-used as (guess what) clothes, exercise, incense and etc. The mythology-based belief system attached to the stretching exercise can be left behind as unneeded. Whats the better mind-body regimen-Buddhist or Hindu. The answer is: who cares? Meditate or yoga or whatever, its ok, and particularly so if you are looking good in those Victoria’s Secret yoga pants!

  • nmik

    I read the article, which to my somewhat (far from infallible) educated memory seems largely reliable, but I’m left not understanding how “The severance of yoga from Hinduism disenfranchises millions of Hindu Americans from their spiritual heritage and a legacy in which they can take pride.”How? Why would this be the case? Why would anyone else’s opinion or practice of yoga affect Hindu Americans’ perception of their “spiritual heritage” or “legacy in which they can take pride”? Surely Hindu Americans, understanding the relationship between their religion and its various practices, would not let uninitiated practitioners of yoga affect their perception of their own religion and its legacy.

  • mike777r

    “Expect conflicts if you are sold on the exclusivist claims of Abrahamic faiths–that their God awaits the arrival of only His chosen few at heaven’s gate–since yoga shows its own path to spiritual enlightenment to all seekers regardless of affiliation.Hindus must take back yoga and reclaim the intellectual property of their spiritual heritage–not sell out for the expediency of winning more clients for the yoga studio down the street. “Plenty of people firmly rooted in the “Abrahamic” Jewish people have no sense that we have an “exclusive” claim on salvation. Just the opposite, we hold that it is equally available to all just and good people. I’m willing to bet that many many christians don’t think they have an exclusive path to salvation… although many others are into that nasty stuff.It’s really quite unclear what the author’s problem is. People who practice yoga aren’t Hindu? Well, can’t help you there. But if it is that people who practice yoga aren’t of a sufficiently pluralistic in spirit, I don’t know that this is an apt characterization of Jews, or of many American Christians. As for Muslim practitioners, I can’t say.Overall, it seems silly to worry that exclusivist thinking will take over Yoga… isn’t it more likely that the practice of the movements of yoga leads people to rethink their exclusivist mind set? Why call to throw up the defenses around something that breaks down people’s defenses?

  • Vikramaditya

    Excellent article! Yoga and Hinduism are inseparable. HAF should shoot off a letter to the American Yoga Association to fix the info in their website. There should be a concerted and organized effort in these lines. Their claim of Yoga predating Hinduism is a travesty and is outright ludicrous. The only reason Yoga is tried to be decoupled with Hinduism is because Abrahamic religions are exclusive and simply don’t allow even the idea of believing in some other religious practice. A Hindu can be a atheist, an agnostic, believe in Jesus, the Dalai Lama and still call himself/herself a Hindu. But, a Christian, Muslim or Jew cannot remain true to their faiths by practicing or even believing in a different religious tradition. Or else face excommunication or apostasy. Such bigotry, exclusivity and hardcore totalitarian ideology in Abrahamic religions is the root cause of conflicts plauging the human species.

  • shivadas

    “Oh the Catholics hate the Protestants,–Tom Lehrer, “National Brotherhood Week”

  • rkc0818

    Mr. Shukla, do you think of Wright brothers every time you board a plane or thank Baird when you turn TV on? The very fact that OM is chanted before the beginning of Yoga session is more than an acknowledgment to the great origins of Yoga.

  • ttrub

    Mr Shukla has some good points to make — most Westerners have only studied a few of the superficial elements of yoga and meditation. It is amazing how many people treat hatha yoga as if it were a form of exercise. And there are millions of folks who have dabbled in meditation without understanding the true value it has in stilling the mind and helping people grow.But Mr Shukla is totally wrong when he talks about the Indian masters that have brought these techniques to the West. Teachers like Yogananda and Maharishi do offer training in yoga and meditation to those who follow other religions. These teachers believed that these spiritual technologies are effective regardless of a person’s belief system. But the great Indian teachers are also quite clear that an understanding of the underlying philosophy found in the Upanishads, Vedanta and Gita can help one on the path. I know hundreds of people who have learned to meditate with TM or other Eastern approaches who have gone on to develop a keen understanding of Hinduism and enlightenment. And they do it without having any interest in Hindu deities or Hinduism as a faith.The fact is that the core insights of Hinduism have had a huge influence with Westerners who have taken time to explore this ancient tradition — and it’s too bad that Mr Shukla doesn’t see that.

  • dddvu

    Interesting and thoughtful comments (with some exceptions) on an equally interesting and thoughtful post. Having said that, I think this interchange should be viewed as little more than a tempest in a chai cup. Tracing the origins of any ancient human tradition to a definitive wellspring is, at best, subject to tremendous stumbling blocks that give rise to speculation as to the motives of the searchers and the intellectual capacities of the same as well as that of the target audiences. It should be sufficient for humankind to understand that if the practice of yoga is personally satisfying to the practitioners we should all chalk it up as a net plus. Is it more satisfying to that contemporary practitioner to know the exact date and exact person who brought the tradition into being? Would it be less beneficial, or would it make the practice less appealing, to know that the tradition comes from some heretofore unknown origin? I think not.

  • dddvu

    Interesting and thoughtful comments (with some exceptions) on an equally interesting and thoughtful post. Having said that, I think this interchange should be viewed as little more than a tempest in a chai cup. Tracing the origins of any ancient human tradition to a definitive wellspring is, at best, subject to tremendous stumbling blocks that give rise to speculation as to the motives of the searchers and the intellectual capacities of the same as well as that of the target audiences. It should be sufficient for humankind to understand that if the practice of yoga is personally satisfying to the practitioners we should all chalk it up as a net plus. Is it more satisfying to that contemporary practitioner to know the exact date and exact person who brought the tradition into being? Would it be less beneficial, or would it make the practice less appealing, to know that the tradition comes from some heretofore unknown origin? I think not.

  • GloryDog

    Says the author: “So Hinduism, the religion that has no known origins or beginnings is now younger than yoga? What a ludicrous contention when the Yoga Sutras weren’t even composed until the 2nd Century BCE.” Not ludicrous: As the American Hindu Foundation says, “Yoga and yogic practices date back more than 5,000 years — the Indus Valley seals depict figures in yoga poses.” Yoga did not begin with Patanjali. The origins of the yogic practices and meditation techniques in the Vedic Tradition are buried in antiquity. Hindu worship is known to have begun at least 1000 years after these traditions were well established.

  • GaryEMasters

    Balderdash.

  • Mitchavery7

    people that really believe that Dog exists need serious psychiatric treatment. I stretch. I love it. end of story. for you.

  • Arun2

    Let me remind my fellow Hindus a few things that the West has given us: modern medicine, rigorous mathematics, rational enquiry and science, analytic philosophy, democracy, and a ZILLION technologies that make modern civilization possible and our lives *meaningful*. India has had no qualms in making these our own.What India has to offer in return is trivial.

  • jeremyisett

    Nothing is sacred! You should check out the Christians complaining about us taking over Christmas. Maybe Macy’s can figure out how to make the Burqa high fashion.

  • GloryDog

    As a teacher of Transcendental Meditation, I’d like to clarify: the TM technique was not “stolen” from Hinduism, but is a gift of the ancient Vedic Tradition. Before Maharishi introduced the TM technique in 1955, this particular meditation technique was virtually unknown to Indian society and “Hindu” culture; for all practical purposes, it was lost. Maharishi emphasized above all else the importance of acknowledging and honoring the tradition from where TM comes. But he never attributed TM to Hinduism, and the technique cannot be derived from what today is known as Hinduism. Hinduism is a new term, introduced by the British and used loosely as an umbrella term to include pretty much everything associated with the ancient Vedic culture. But not everything “Vedic” is about Hindu worship. From Maharishi’s perspective, the Vedic tradition contains practical knowledge about consciousness, architecture, health care and other areas that’s as scientific and useful as modern physics. To couple Transcendental Meditation with Aveda is a category error: Aveda is a commercial product line; TM is the meditation technique revived by Maharishi and taught by a non-profit educational organization, and no one (including Maharishi) has ever gotten rich (financially) teaching TM. The organization is non-profit in the truest sense. TM is trademarked, but not with the same intentions that for-profit corporations trademark products. The names “TM” and “Transcendental Meditation”are trademarked to clearly (and legally) identify the original, unique practice and preserve the technique’s purity and effectiveness, to guarantee that the technique is taught only by certified TM teachers who are rigorously trained in the procedures of the Vedic Tradition as systematized by Maharishi.When someone learns TM, it’s thanks to the registered trademark that they can rest assured they’ve learned the real thing as revived by Maharishi–the original technique of effortless transcending from the Vedic tradition–and not a facsimile.

  • pippsk

    Indian51. You are wrong but you don’t seem to be hearing or caring that you are wrong. Do you believe you are educating us? As a non-Hindu person of Indian descent, I find your lack of recognition of the Mauryan Empire astounding. Was it really so different from for example England under Henry VIIIth? or the HRE under Charlemagne? Does that in some way diminish it? We can debate the etymology of names all you want, but long before the rise of European nation states, the subcontinent did go through long periods of unification. Not unlike the Swiss confederation or other European confederations these were as you say made up of principalities that were loyal to and controlled by the Emperors at the time. They were nevertheless unified in every bureacratic and governmental sense. If you deny that then you are denying all of the historical evidence. At that point we’ll have to agree to disagree and move on.

  • AnotherRealAmerican

    This guy and Ramesh Ponnuru need to be taken off the block. Seriously, what is wrong with you two? First, the Indian version of Glenn Beck, Mr. Ponnuru comes along spewing nothing but vile and now you come along with your preposterous theories.Yoga is what you seek! Maybe some people don’t fully benefit from not practicing all aspects of it. But, that is what they choose. A true yogi would never scoff at what others turned yoga into for it is practised for your own self not for any other. Us Indians don’t need rubbish like this advocating differences and divisions.

  • iphony

    This reminds me of “Chinese” food like “Chicken Lo Mein” and “General Tso’s Chicken”….They don’t really eat that in China! Take a chill pill Aseem it’s just consumerism.

  • krankyman

    Welcome to the West.Greek and hence Western European culture has always sought the practical while eliminating the impractical.Thus, yoga is seen as a healthy pursuit while the Hindu underpinning is seen as a waste of time and dumped.It’s why Western European culture is so dominant. The willingness to test new ideas coupled with a desire for only what improves.

  • ocean108

    The author should recognize that there are useful elements of all spiritual traditions that can be adopted by anyone. The more truth contained in a practice, the more universal its application. Westerners embrace yoga and meditation without its religious trappings because they find it compliments their own beliefs and lifestyle. Just as Hindu’s adopt modern medicine and use of computers because they are useful. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi led the way in verifying the practical benefits of transcendental meditation by making sure it was researched by scientists. People of all religions practice it without any conflict. A practice is what you make of it. I can abstain from eating meat for health reasons or fast according to my Christian upbringing. I practice yoga and meditation because they make me feel good and deepen my inner wholeness and connection to the universe. I am not Hindu.

  • Athena4

    “Welcome to America, if you have something about your faith that can be marketed it will be striped of all its meaning and sold as quickly as possible to as many people as possible. Christians have been dealing with this for years.”And Native Americans. And Pagans. And, lately, Voudou practitioners. Hey, it’s all good. No matter what faith we claim, Americans all worship the same thing – the Almighty Dollar.

  • shovandas

    Dear Dr. Shukla,As a fellow Hindu, I am not concerned by the attempts of websites and the ” Western ” Press to distort and deny the link between yoga and Hinduism. This ” Sanatan ” religion teaches us otherwise. Thank you for apprising persons like me about the rich history of a NON-VIOLENT religion – Hinduism.Shovan Das

  • sinchan701

    I think many people are missing the authors point. It is OK to practise Yoga without caring about Hinduism, but it is a mistake to assert that Yoga is not part of Hinduism or is not derived braodly from Hindu religious traditions- as the American Yoga association does. treetopflyer says “And in Asia Christmas is a shopping trip devoid of spiritual content. Quit your whining and move on”.

  • jojoranting

    To imply that Hinduism is in any way denegrated because people all over the world recognize, respect, and practice the benifits of a single aspect of the religeon is ludicras. That is like saying Chritianity is deminished by people all over the world following the golden rule.

  • dog12

    Yoga is for women . . . and men who want to be women.

  • Jainr

    Here is how I understand the author’s concerns.When I write a technical paper, I refer to the data, results and findings of my peers in the field, which have been published before. The intellectually honest thing to do is to acknowledge the source of each piece of information that is not my own. In fact, if I don’t acknowledge the source, it’s called plagiarism and is shunned in all intellectual endeavors. Another example: The scientific community is keenly aware of the contributions of ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Arabs, Persians, Indians, Chinese, etc. to mathematics, physical sciences and philosophy. Such awareness is a matter of respect for the ancient cultures and their contributions to human progress. It is also a matter of being honest with ourselves. Of course, I can always concoct an argument to dissociate, say the Chinese, from their contributions to satisfy my own prejudices or insecurities. Sure, it does not really matter where Yoga came from, as long as you are practicing it to your benefit. But, the intellectually honest thing to do is to acknowledge it as a contribution of ancient Hindus to humanity, just as we need to acknowledge that Euclidean geometry is a gift of ancient Greeks to humanity.

  • aguy7

    What I got from the article was that the spiritual tradition that includes Hinduism has so much to offer that some entrepreneurial types have marketed certain aspects–meditation, Ayurved, yoga–with great success because those things are valuable. However, as posters have already pointed out, Hinduism has coopted the Vedic wisdom which predates Hinduism. And the Vedic wisdom is, according to exponents such as Maharishi, eternal. And for the record, Maharishi was adamant about connecting his teaching with the tradition of masters that predate recorded history. He lectured in front of a picture of the tradition of masters so that point was never lost. I was surprised to hear the author, who is rightly proud of his Hindu tradition, make the claim that Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras 200 years before Christ. Maharishi said the Yoga Sutras and all the rest of the Vedic texts are eternal and revealed. In the case of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali was the seer who cognized the Yoga Sutras. To say he wrote them in the sense that Agatha Christie wrote “Death on the Nile” shows the author doesn’t know much about his own tradition. The Vedic texts are beyond books–before they were printed and to this day they are chanted by pundits. That is their authentic form: presented orally in Sanskrit. The printed versions are modern artifacts. Maharishi, as a teacher steeped in Vedic tradition and Western science–he had a degree in physics–systematized the meditation that he called TM specifically to rid it of extraneous associations that for centuries bogged down seekers of truth and which can still easily overwhelm and confuse anyone who tries to sort out the Shiva sects from the Hannuman sects, etc.

  • swamialok

    While I agree with some, that Yoga in its current commercial form takes away its true meaning but is still full of benefits. And let us admit it no one can market it better than Americans. Western and particularly American society does not recognize non-European ideas readily (Eurocentric) call it American and it will sell. Enterprising geniuses here must eliminate the Hindu theme to suit christian psychology to sell. I don’t think any of the Yoga practitioners have any thing against Hindus, they just like it for health purposes. And let us face it modern American society is not at all religious lots of us doubt everything religious. Hindu is foreign word but just like colonial culture, Indians(again a non native word) have embraced the new identity. Hinduism was always there for thousands of year but it kept changing because of its inclusive nature. All shapes and forms of worship are acceptable and in that process many Hindus do not understand its meaning. Most call it mythology. Some idiot here comment what Hindus offered to the world is trivial, and let me remind everyone, algebra and concept of zero, modern numerals were given to the world by India and they are the foundation of modern science. Hindu philosophy was written hundreds of years before Greeks.

  • divi3

    “Greek and hence Western European culture has always sought the practical while eliminating the impractical.Thus, yoga is seen as a healthy pursuit while the Hindu underpinning is seen as a waste of time and dumped.Posted by: krankyman | April 20, 2010 3:53 PM”That must be why Christmas becomes more and more secular every year- the useless underpinnings about Jesus are seen as a waste of time and thus dumped right?

  • serish

    The moment you say Yoga is Hindu and give a headline like theft of yoga, you are losing the very essence of hinduism mr shukla. Hinduism is not about competition.

  • YEAL9

    What Hindu god do we thank while meditating doing the Army Daily Dozen or using exercise bikes or doing marathons or playing golf or baseball or hockey or chess or checkers or watching HBO or HD/3D TV????But then again, I might be reincarnated as a Yoga instructor!!!

  • azcarya

    Dear Indian 51, Your comments are based largely on the myths the English perpetuated to justify their colonization of the Indian subcontinent. They have since been disproved. I would urge you to read some more recent analysis on these issues. Best.

  • obcat

    If these other groups were to simply acknowledge the Hindu origins of their otherwise physical practice, would that lessen the benefits to mind and body?Good article!

  • DwightCollins

    Americans take what they need and leave the rest behind…

  • ZZim

    Wah. Yoga is fancy-pants calisthenics. We don’t need your pagan superstitions to exercise.The best thing about yoga in my opinion is hot moms in the grocery store wearing yoga pants.

  • asburyjer

    Welcome to America, if you have something about your faith that can be marketed it will be striped of all its meaning and sold as quickly as possible to as many people as possible. Christians have been dealing with this for years.

  • spidermean2

    Just to think that Hinduism allows the concept that a cow is holier than a person born in poverty is enough to say that this religion was concocted by idiots. On the contrary, Jesus started his ministry among the poorest.Any form of body motion or breathing exercise is good for the body. Having said that, walking is many times better than yoga of course. Even scrathing your head is more soothing than chanting “ooom” or “mooo” if you feel you are an reincarnated cow.

  • timechange28

    It seems to me that the author of this article is not in touch with what is happening in the world. All religious traditions are being absorbed into a true one world Being.

  • siyer79

    “It’s why Western European culture is so dominant. “The whole concept of a “Western” civilization was a cooked up in the 19th century. A mythical timeline as though Greek and Roman (who are darker skinned) were connected to Northern Europeans where there was no civilization until very recently.

  • DRoman1

    So who ever said the yogi’s had the corner on the stretching market? Or the physical health market for that matter?Be healthy! Eat better, exercise appropriately, and use your brain! And oh yes, don’t forget to exercise your spirit too!Enjoy life!

  • siyer79

    spidermean2 :

  • siyer79

    “Just to think that Hinduism allows the concept that a cow is holier than a person born in poverty is enough to say that this religion was concocted by idiots. “

  • siyer79

    “Jesus started his ministry among the poorest.”

  • siyer79

    What Hindu god do we thank while meditating doing the Army Daily Dozen or using exercise bikes or doing marathons or playing golf or baseball or hockey or chess or checkers or watching HBO or HD/3D TV”We regularly hear about how White’s invented 90% of all inventions. This is true, due to the last 200 years primarly.

  • HealthyGuy

    Yoga Inc. $$$$Lights! Karma! Action!Rich Americans are trying to buy enlightenment. What a joke.

  • Maya2

    Author never used the word “religion”, he used faith and philosophy. Anyone with miniscule understanding of Hinduism know, it is not religion but a faith and a philosophy.Indian 51, your understanding of Indian history is only superseded by your utter ignorance and limited at most to 300 years.

  • Dliodoir

    Excellent article! I’ve been saying this for years. What I find interesting is how hostile people get when you point out to them that they are, in essence, engaging in Hindu spirituality. I also find it disturbing how Hinduism has infultrated public schools through yoga. Just imagine if your child came home from public school and announced they would be saying the rosary every day as a way to focus the mind and bring about a sense of peace. I don’t deny the benefits of yoga but let’s be clear, it is a religious practice.

  • XMLMaestro

    Good article though I do not agree that Yoga came from any religion (in particular Hinduism) — may be it became part of Hindu religion over a period of time.Tradition/culture becomes part of religion and vice-versa over a period of time. Then, it becomes harder and blurring to find out where a particular practice originated from. Let me give an example. In the past, India was significantly agrarian (agriculture) based economy without mechanization. Tilling/ploughing the land used to be manual or bull-driven. More cows meant more bulls. In turn, more bulls meant bigger turnover of agricultural products. As a result, farmers never used to kill cows for meat. Over a period of time, that practise saving/revering cows became part of religion. Hence you see people calling: Holy cow. Same goes in United States — in the past, tilling/ploughing was done by horses. You hardly see anyone eat horse meat here. The same is true most of Europe except Spain/Portugal where they eat horse meat.Point I am trying to drive is good practises can become part of religion and that is how it should be. Remember ‘religion’ literally means a way of living. Is n’t work-out part of most of our lives? Strictly speaking, Hinduism is not a religion. If you want call it a religion, I would call it as meta-religion. If I am not mistakes it gives good grounding or starting point then you as an individual make your own religion depending on what works for you or not.

  • nehli

    Excellent article, Dr. Shukla. I agree that many of the commentators have missed his point. To RKC0818: even though one does not think of the inventors when boarding a plane or watching television, nobody has ever claimed that the Wright brothers did not invent the airplane or that Baird did not invent the TV. Credit has been given where credit is due. To APMAHA03: I completely disagree with you that Hinduism (yes, I know this is now a catch all term to imply the traditions of Sanatana Dharma that originated in the Indus Valley, but this is not a discussion about semantics) is being politicized and becoming less tolerant. Although it has survived thousands of years, I would not say it has done so unscathed. The damage done to Hinduism by three hundred years of British propaganda will take just as long to undo. And though it may not be the case in India where one is surrounded by a common faith, here in the United States, where I was born and raised, it has taken a fair amount of effort and determination on my part and my parents’ part to hold on to my religious heritage. Although the Hindu faith has survived and evolved through centuries of foreign conquerers, I am concerned that for those who are no longer living in the birthplace of this great tradition, Hinduism will be lost within a generation or two. Our reclaiming of yoga has nothing to do with monetary gain. It has to do with righting a centuries old wrong. It has to do with giving our Hindu children here in the US and around the world a rightful sense of pride in their heritage, not the shame that many feel when their schoolteachers harp on the caste, curries, and cows version of Hinduism. In acknowledging that yoga has Hindu roots, one need not lose their own faith, in fact, their own faith can be strengthened by their honesty.

  • spidermean2

    “Jesus is myth originating from Egyptian and Sumerian myths.”Jesus made many prophecies which are all taking place now. If ever there is a myth, it’s the idea that cahnts like “ooom” or “mooo” has some mystical powers and stretching some limbs or bathing in the Ganges can purify their soul.And guess what? Their victims or “converts” will pay dollars for teaching them that crap.

  • mafatvastu

    A wonderful, well-written article.

  • kbeqollari

    why is important for you that witch religion belongs Yoga?

  • siyer79

    Spidermean2,From your tone, I can understand why Europe was so embroiled in brutal Christian sectarian wars for centuries. Each group accusing the other of not being a true believer.

  • asburyjer

    “I don’t pretend to know the truth about this but organized religion has served to do nothing but divide us as human beings”LOL, seriously if we are so divided by religion then why are the religions so big? Seems that what you want to be true is not so true as what is true. Reality says that religion is a great unifier of people’s lest they would have failed so long ago. Apparently you believe that human beings would have reached some spontaneous unification if religion had not divided us so; and what pre-tell do you think we would have unified under? Race, nationality/politics, economics, language, maybe music…yeah no divisions there. Maybe we would be unified by the simple fact that we stand alone…oh wait that’s not unification at all that’s isolation. It is in humanity’s to stand apart from another, to oppress another, to war with another…faith overcomes the worst in humanity. Oh now some will say “religions fight all the time” and while true that people who call themselves religious do fight with one another that simply proves humanity to be what humanity has always been a being separated from its God. The fact that some co-opt religion in their warring is their fault, not the religion’s.

  • siyer79

    “Jesus made many prophecies which are all taking place now. “

  • dbdeb2010

    Yoga means union of our “self” (atma) with God – it is a state of supreme bliss.Yoga practice, in the traditional way, helps achieve this blissful state of consciousness called “self-realization”.The western yoga-workouts,on the other hand, have taken bits and pieces from the traditional system. However, a regular practise of yogas and chanting of mantras will manifest a degree of spirituality in the individual.This, in essence, is Hinduism. So, does practicing yoga matter if you are Christian? Or Muslim? Or Jew? In the end, all religions help you get closer to God.

  • jessmomma

    I agree that the statement from the AYA is preposterous, but this article comes off as a bunch of whinging. Honestly, Hinduism is about finding your own path to God, which you should already know. Nobody “stole” yoga, they just took it and transformed it and made it their own. Are you honestly asserting that nothing should progress or transform or change? Yes, it is silly that the AYA should not recognize the actual roots of yoga as solidly Hindu. But if they don’t, does it really shake you to your desi core? Come on! If Hinduism was ONLY yoga, I could see the issue, but Hinduism is so much more. Smile, nod and move on.

  • tiffany33

    The Theft of Yoga? What kind of title is that? The sort of yoga I practice is not one that concerns itself with who gets credit for what.

  • Dliodoir

    “So, does practicing yoga matter if you are Christian? Or Muslim? Or Jew? In the end, all religions help you get closer to God.”Closer? Maybe. Close enough? Not if you’re a Christian or Muslim or any other faith that claims an exclusive path to salvation. Christians believe that there is no salvation except through Jesus Christ. So exposing yourself to other faiths may make you closer to God in some respect, it is ultimately deficient. Steroids can make you stronger but are ultimately damaging. Starvation can make you skinnier but is ultimately damaging. Yoga can get help you be spiritual but is ultimately damaging. There are correct paths and false paths. This gets us away from the point of the article so let me conclude by saying that yoga is clearly a religious practice, a form of prayer if you will, that honors distinct Hindu deities. . .not amorphous concepts of good or God or oneness. . .gods and goddesses with real names from a polytheistic religion. If you’re ok with that, great! But let’s not delude ourselves into thinking it’s something that it isn’t. That was the point of the article.

  • ssbalepu

    An activity is better appreciated if it’s origins are understood. If Yoga is commercialized and misfed to the public, it might certainly hurt the sentiments of a section of the society, and will certainly lose it’s meaning. This is true of all ancient “practices”. Yoga in it’s various forms originated in India under the influence of the Hindu culture and will always retain it’s core identity as a path of spiritual liberation, no matter how one “clothes” it for physical and monetary purposes. Like in everything else, critical examination and self-learning is critical to prevent misunderstanding and cook-book quick fixes.

  • Jerusalimight

    Yeah, and whoever it was that patented the smile is owed a lotta money.What a joke.As if spirituality and goodness were profit making ventures. This writer doesn’t know the aleph beis of being a good person.

  • siyer79

    “Dogs in America are not holy.”How come then you get riled up when horse meat is sold to France? Holy Horses!BTW, your remark on bathing in the Ganga River, the whole concept of Baptism and cleansing sins from water in Christianity comes from this Hindu concept. If it makes you feel any better, India will become a 1st world country in 20 years without Jesus’s help (just like Japan). I suggest you find someone else to kick around by then else your ego and sense of superiority may result in a mental breakdown.

  • pswift00

    If I eat a bagel, does that make me Jewish?

  • unempast

    We white Americans kept and nurtured the beautiful baby of a healthy practice and tossed out the stenchful bathwater of decadent, self-indulgent superstition. That’s what we do with cultural practices from all over the world. Our society bears the fruits of this labor. That’s why you live here.

  • Dliodoir

    “If I eat a bagel, does that make me Jewish?”No more so than eating Tandoori chicken makes you Hindu. If you practice Kabbalah, however you are engaging in a form of Jewish spirituality, just as when people practice yoga they are engaging in Hindu spirituality.It’s amazing how people can miss the author’s point here. I suspect some do it out of defensiveness in that they practice yoga but don’t like being told they are perpetuating a form of cultural misappropriation.

  • kparc

    MAY 21 – 2011 – THE RAPTURE!

  • trollzunite

    Yoga asana has its roots in India, but is not identical to Hinduism. Ashtanga yoga is a practice, not a belief system. There are belief systems that surround the practice, but whether your belief system is atheist, Christian or Hindu, the practice will bring benefits with or without belief.The main scripture of ashtanga (most practitioners of yoga practice one of the eight limbs of ashtanga: asana) is The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This is not a religious text, it is a practical text.In India, I am told, if you mention Yoga, the word is usually associated with Karma Yoga (yoga of action, selfless service.. Gandhi may have personified this path), Jnana yoga or Bhakti yoga (devotional practice, such as singing and praying), three paths mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, which is both a religious and practical text. In this sense, yes yoga is attached to hinduism… but most yoga practioners in the west do not practice karma, bhakti or jnana joga (or if they do, it may be the equivalent practices of Islam, Christianity, etc.. singing Hymns in Church is a Christian practice of Bhakti yoga) ..most westerners practice yoga asana, which is not mentioned in the Gita (as far as I recall)There are more practitioners of yoga asana now in the United States than in India. According to BKS Iyengar, teaching yoga asana was not even considered a respectable occupation in India when he began studying and teaching there, early last century.So while it’s ridiculous to say yoga has nothing to do with Hinduism, it is fair to say they are not identical. Ashtanga yoga practice does not depend on belief, and you don’t need to read the Gita or the Mahabharata to benefit from yoga asana.Sorry for so many words. I like better, “Practice and all is coming”

  • droops63

    What an odd article. Mr. Shukla, let me speak to you as a western pagan oriented towards reconstructionism, specificly Hellenic. I see this same “you’re stealing our culture!” BS going on in the Greek community now that’s trying to revive the older religious practices. Nonsense. Religions evolve and change, and this is part of globalization. I would also ask you if the prayers to Hindu gods in Thailand, where Buddhism is strong and mingles with Hinduism and Animist tendencies, is also cultural theft? People change and adapt what they find useful.A more disturbing part of your article is your seeming dismissal of polytheism. Your statement that “Hindu schoolchildren complain that Hinduism is conflated only with caste, cows, exoticism and polytheism” is particularly odd. While I can see not wanting to be associated with purely caste and cows, why not polytheism? What’s wrong with acknowledging the gods? You couch your speech in neo-Platonic “One” language, seemingly to fit into a majority monotheistic culture. It also seems to me that you’re not giving the gods a lot of credit. How do you know this isn’t part of Their plans? Fact is there’s a larger religious and spiritual awakening going on in this country. Yes, the monotheistic religions are still dominant here, and atheism is growing rapidly as well, but alternatives are also expanding. Take this as an opportunity to spread the word about Hinduism, rather than falling into the same chauvinistic BS that I see in some Germanic Folkish, Roman or Greek reconstructionists circles. That does you no good.

  • Nparry

    Neither Patanjali nor any of the “Hindu” leaders, saints or yogis have claimed exclusive rights to yoga. Yoga is meant for all of humanity and to claim ownership rights on a set of practices is ludicrous. Seems almost childish to claim it’s Hindu Yoga or Christian Yoga. Enough people have made money by trademarking their own brand of exercises and calling it this or that Yoga. Focus on the core intent of the Asanas and forget the rest. Mr. Shukla, please re-educate yourself.

  • BobbyYarush

    Oh my god…. is this guy for real??

  • WhatHeSaid

    What a lot of hooh-hah!If Shukla could prove that yoga originated in what is now known as India (he can’t) or that yoga is a necessary and essential part of Hinduism (it isn’t), he might have a point (he doesn’t).The physical aspect of yoga belongs to no one person, no one group, no one country.And the physical aspect (Hatha yoga) can be practiced, with benefit to the practitioner, by anyone, of any religion.It is only when you enter the other seven limbs of yoga (specified by a Hindu, millenia after Hatha yoga was first practiced) that you enter into aspects of Hinduism. (They are, however, aspects that are not unique to Hinduism — they can be found in other religions.)Most people who practice the physical aspect of yoga don’t enter those limbs. For most people, there is no need to.

  • Dliodoir

    “Neither Patanjali nor any of the “Hindu” leaders, saints or yogis have claimed exclusive rights to yoga.”They don’t have to. The author points out that by it’s very nature and practice yoga is intrinsically Hindu! He writes “a mentor calls out names of Hindu divinity linked to various postures: Natarajaasana (Lord Shiva) or Hanumanasana (Lord Hanuman) among many others.” I didn’t see mention of those names last time I read the Bible or Koran or Torah or (insert sacred text here). The sacred text which DOES mention those names is HINDU. Ergo. . .yoga is a form of Hindu spiritual practice. Yes it’s healthy and yes it makes you feel good but that doesn’t disassociate it from what it really is.

  • WhatHeSaid

    “Yoga means union of our “self” (atma) with God – it is a state of supreme bliss.” ~ Posted by: dbdeb2010__________________________________________Yoga means “yoke,” “joining,” “union”.In the physical aspect of yoga, it means the yoking, joining, union of mind, breath and body.This is something that in most daily lives does not happen.This is why the physical aspect of yoga is found to be appealing by many — who have no interest in the other limbs of yoga and the yoking, joining or union that they may bring.

  • johnrmanzo

    So much bitterness on a topic that’s supposed to inspire enlightenment. enlighten up people :

  • rajeetishi

    “Hindus must take back yoga and reclaim the intellectual property of their spiritual heritage…” Are you insane? If people enjoy yoga why are you so intent on giving it a religious fervor? Don’t act like a Muslim.Let people practise and enjoy yoga free of any religious implications. Hinduism is a way of life and does not claim to be superior faith like Islam and Christianity. What Mr. Shukla is asking for here is very non-Hindu.

  • kuato

    Get a grip, Aseem. No one owes you anything for anything. So what if Yoga’s origins are found in Hinduism? Obviously, the practice of yoga has grown far beyond its roots. Perhaps yoga CAN be an expression of Hinduism, but that is certainly not ALL that yoga is. Your vision is narrow. Your understanding is limited. And unless you take the time to celebrate the origins of all things that you do, you are a terrible hypocrite.If Hindus, who are as you point out a people with thousands of years of proud history, are made to feel inferior because Americans aren’t celebrating the Hindu origins of yoga, then maybe the problem you should be addressing is not with Americans at all.

  • spidermean2

    Also please answer my question, why are your ancestors in hell when following Jesus was not even an option at that time?”The rules of God are different to those who have heard and did not follow and those who haven’t heard at all. They may or may not be in hell depending on how they listened to God thru their conscience.

  • kfwhite1

    Thanks, Dr. Shukla, for giving the increasingly popular practice of yoga in the US some background.Most of the commentators that have responded to your article negatively seem to take offense to your explanation; but I think it’s worthwhile to point out the way such a minimalist, spiritual practice has too been morphed into a billion dollar making industry by corporate America.It does seem like a lot of yogis here are missing the point.

  • trollzunite

    The problem with strictly equating yoga asana practice with Hindu theology, is that not only is it inaccurate, but it places yoga practice on grounds where it can be attacked in society as a religion (which it is not) ..if you say Yoga is religious, then Christians and muslims can not practice it and it can not be taught to children in schools (because of freedom from religion).. so be careful what you ask for.Just as meditation is a practice, not a religion, same with asana: it is a means of reducing the distractions caused to the mind by the body. A healthy body complains less than a cramped, weak body.It is okay to practice asana strictly for physical well being without “religious mumbo jumbo”, the benefit of a calmer mind follows naturally.

  • Dliodoir

    “Hinduism is a way of life and does not claim to be superior faith like Islam and Christianity.” A common Western misconception perpetuated by those who are turned off by the exclusivity of faiths like Christianity or Islam. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. With a creation myth, a pantheon of gods and goddesses, a definite set of rules to live by and an ultimate goal of salvation/eternal existence.Many in the West rebelling against their own religious tradition try to make Hinduism (and other Eastern religions and philosophies) in to an airy fairy, everybody love everybody, no one is wrong belief system. But that’s just not what Hinduism is. You may live your life that way and that’s great. . .but that’s not Hinduism. There are Hindu zealots and absolutists and orthodoxy just as in Christianity and Islam. And they kill people who attack their faith like other religions and they kill people because they don’t believe or stop believing like other religions, etc.

  • rajeetishi

    Mr. Shukla, go visit India and see almost no one practises yoga in India any more ( at least the common man). Here in America, you can walk just a block and join a yoga class. Indians are dying of heart disease and their life average in about 65 (compared to 78 here). So tell Indians they will live longer if they go back to their roots. Hindus should be happy that yoga is helping others. If you want Hinduism thrown into it; let’s be fair. Here are some practises that are known to be exclusively derived from Hinduism- Caste system, Dowry system, female foeticide…..

  • bpjizay

    i believe yoga in america is to each their own. yoga has nothing to do with religion for me, and i don’t beleive i am alone in that regard. i also don’t believe it to be disrespectful to take such an approach to yoga. yoga is a positive, healthy way for many (myself included) to enhance physical and spiritual well being.

  • jessicagreen1

    Wow. There from reading the comments is a lot of anger, defensiveness, and unkindness out there! I’m sorry about that and can only hope that practicing more yoga will help with that. I, and I’m sure many others appreciated your article. I am very grateful to the ancient teachers who brought me my yoga practice. Sometimes practice opens new doors. It did for me leading me, as it did to Buddhism. My former Zen teacher told me that my situation was not unusual and that many people came to meditation and Buddhist practice by way of yoga.

  • jromaniello

    And in Asia Christmas is a shopping trip devoid of spiritual content. Quit your whining and move on.Posted by: treetopflyer********************************Though you have a point, as I’ve been over in that neck of the woods, myself. And yes, Christmas– and even our version of weddings– is just a commercial party. The wearing of a cross is a mere fashion statement. However I found this piece very interesting. There is nothing wrong with wanting to educate people. The more you learn, you know 😉

  • Dliodoir

    “yoga has nothing to do with religion for me”That may be true but that doesn’t mean that yoga has nothing to do with religion. Just like those who celebrate a secular Christmas, it has nothing to do with religion for them. It has to do with giving presents and watching It’s a Wonderful Life. But that doesn’t strip Christmas of it’s meaning as the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Thus those who ignore the religious aspect of Christmas ignore it’s intrinsic meaning. Just as you ignore the intrinsic meaning of the words you say during a yoga class. That doesn’t make you a bad person. Just be honest about what you’re doing, what it means and where it came from.

  • divi3

    Christians who like yoga need to tell themselves it has nothing to do with Hinduism or its traditions so that they can practice it without risk of alienating their own fake God.Basically if they admit to themselves that yoga is indeed Hindu, they stress out over false gods, paganism, and all the rest.Poor, confused souls. No such conflictions for the enlightened (read: atheist) amongst us.

  • spidermean2

    “We believe the atman (~ soul) can be reincarnated in any life form, including on Alien beings anywhere in the Universe.”One reason why worshippers of false religions are tied up to poverty and subjugation is because ignorance rules over them. This sounds like the stupid monkey theory in reverse form. While Evolution teaches that man came from animals, Hinduism teaches that animals can be your future life form. Both are stupid and idiotic. Survival of the fittest? Well if it’s true, the doctrines they have followed have made them all unfit and ripe for self annihilation.

  • lkukrety

    Couple of years ago I was reading an issue of US Vogue magazine and came across an article about an American socialite, her lithe toned body encased in Lululemons. While they chronicled her fashion choices – it’s after all a fashion magazine – they called her a Yogi. Repeatedly.Now I am one of those laissez faire Hindus who form the majority of the Indian middle classes. But even I – with my ‘cosmopolitan upbringing’ and ‘public school education’ – was appalled. In one shot, an acting-sub-copy-editor had taken the subtext of Last week (was it?) I read the Buddhist panel, saw frank appropriation of my faith’s tenets, read Zen caucasian Buddhists calmly discuss that faith’s learnings, saw total absence of Hinduism’s mention among the great religions of the world and sighed…. Maybe its time more Hindus stepped up to talk about their faith, a non-proselytising, all-inclusive way of life.

  • divi3

    “i believe yoga in america is to each their own. yoga has nothing to do with religion for me, and i don’t beleive i am alone in that regard. i also don’t believe it to be disrespectful to take such an approach to yoga.”I dont think anyone would disagree with you. It’s the attempts of many to deny yoga’s origins in hinduism that the author is taking issue with.

  • dmm1

    Thanks for this article. Mr. Shukla is affirming what my conservative Christian teachers have been saying for 40 years. Regardless of its ultimate origins, yoga has come to us through Hinduism, in which it was a form of worship. And it is still OFTEN taught that way, although disguised.Can a Christian practice yoga? Only in the same way a Christian can practice karate. Certainly one can learn the moves, the forms, the postures, and some of the techniques. However, other techniques and many of the spiritual/philosophical underpinnings must be tossed out as un-Christian. And one must be constantly aware of the spiritual danger of associating with other practitioners, who likely are not making these distinctions.It is worth pointing out in closing that Christmas and Easter were originally pagan (religious) holidays. Yet they have been so thoroughly co-opted by both Christianity and Western commercialism that the origins have become irrelevant in modern-day arguments about the “true meaning” of these holidays.

  • lkukrety

    Couple of years ago I was reading an issue of US Vogue magazine and came across an article about an American socialite, her lithe toned body encased in Lululemons. While they chronicled her fashion choices – it’s after all a fashion magazine – they called her a Yogi. Repeatedly.Now I am one of those laissez faire Hindus who form the majority of the Indian middle classes. But even I – with my ‘cosmopolitan upbringing’ and ‘public school education’ – was appalled. In one shot, an acting-sub-copy-editor had taken the subtext of Last week (was it?) I read the Buddhist panel, saw frank appropriation of my faith’s tenets, read Zen caucasian Buddhists calmly discuss that faith’s learnings, saw total absence of Hinduism’s mention among the great religions of the world and sighed…. Maybe its time more Hindus stepped up to talk about their faith, a non-proselytising, all-inclusive way of life.

  • lkukrety

    Couple of years ago I was reading an issue of US Vogue magazine and came across an article about an American socialite, her lithe toned body encased in Lululemons. While they chronicled her fashion choices – it’s after all a fashion magazine – they called her a Yogi. Repeatedly.Now I am one of those laissez faire Hindus who form the majority of the Indian middle classes. But even I – with my ‘cosmopolitan upbringing’ and ‘public school education’ – was appalled. In one shot, an acting-sub-copy-editor had taken the subtext of Last week (was it?) I read the Buddhist panel, saw frank appropriation of my faith’s tenets, read Zen caucasian Buddhists calmly discuss that faith’s learnings, saw total absence of Hinduism’s mention among the great religions of the world and sighed…. Maybe its time more Hindus stepped up to talk about their faith, a non-proselytising, all-inclusive way of life.

  • rajeetishi

    Yesterday the Indian government raised the estimate of number of Indians living below poverty level in India ( a majority Hindu nation) to 410 million.Indians, like Mr. Shukla (or his parents) are moving out in droves out of a Hindu inspired nation. Only news coming out that country is that of terrorism (Maoist and Islamic), accidents and extreme poverty and chaos.Yes, yoga most likely has some Hindu origins but why sweat over it? Should not we be more thankful that we live a more humane and dignified life here in Christian majority countries?

  • siyer79

    “They may or may not be in hell depending on how they listened to God thru their conscience. “

  • siyer79

    “First of all, Japan was cured of its stupidity by a Christian “

  • sb606

    I commend Mr Shukla for his article. It is important that when people practice a technique, they are aware of its philosophical roots and meaning. Many people have philisophical problems with worshiping a deity that they do not subscribe to, and those people should be fully aware that practicing Hatha Yoga is just another form of worship. Worship of Hindu deities such as Lord Shiva, and Lord Vishnu. They should also be aware that chanting the holy OM in itself is a form of worship.

  • flaxseedsrgood

    It is best to ignore it’s spiritual background especially if you are a christian. Hindu is a polytheistic religion and, in my opinion, have roots in evil spirits.If you don’t believe in God, then this should not be a problem. Yes. I’m from India and not a racist. LOL.

  • rbansal2

    Dr. Shukla, thank you for such a wonderful article. It is hard for some people to accept the fact that Yog originated from Hinduism. They would rather focus on the negatives that thay have grown up with about Hinduism. Some commenters would attribute caste system and dowry system to Hinduism rather than to see it for what it is. These are social ills that India has faced as a country/region regardless of any particular religion. It is like attributing slavery or lack of women’s rights here in the United States (at least pre-1920)to Christianity.

  • siyer79

    “The birth of Jesus is not the time he started existing.”

  • Sekhar_Shukla

    The word yoga derives from a Sanskrit root meaning ‘to join’. In Hindu scriptures the term Yoga signifies the union of the personal soul with the soul of the universe. This is a universal fact that yoga is inseparable part of Hinduism and American media has accepted that “The origin of yoga reach all the way back to the Hindu religion, before Christ was even born (ABC NEWS)”. I do agree that the American organizations which are promoting YOGA practices should pause and acknowledge that Yoga is a Gift of Hinduism. Aseem Shukla presentation of the title is poignant, and he should present the title as the “YOGA A GIFT OF HINDUISM TO THE WORLD”. I also request all readers who practice YOGA to acknowledge this fact, and all other religion should acknowledge this GIFT TO THE WORLD.

  • spidermean2

    The Dark Ages was the time when Catholicism (a fake Christianity) was at the peak of its power in Europe. Coercion and subjugation was the theme of the time. Pious? Perhaps, hypocrisy is the fitting word.

  • siyer79

    “”I will bless them that bless thee and curse them that curse thee”. “

  • futuralogic

    For those ignoramuses who are saying that India is a British creation should read this MUST READ.Why India Is A Nation

  • siyer79

    “Pious? Perhaps, hypocrisy is the fitting word.”

  • spidermean2

    “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be save””… that whosoever believeth in HIm should not perish but have everlasting Life”.The death of Christ is not necessary to attain salvation. BELIEVING Him is.His death and ressurection just gave more credence to Him as the true Messiah coz it is linked to many prophecies.

  • samchannar

    The problem with strictly equating yoga asana practice with Hindu theology, is that not only is it inaccurate, but it places yoga practice on grounds where it can be attacked in society as a religion (which it is not) ..if you say Yoga is religious, then Christians and muslims can not practice it and it can not be taught to children in schools (because of freedom from religion).. so be careful what you ask for.This is a very appropriate article by a learned man, and I agree with him wholeheartedly.

  • newsmonger1

    Though the article is hardly critical of any faith, it is noteworthy that some comments from fanatics are so quick and critical of anything non-Abrahamic and non-conforming to their faith – even Hinduism which is tolerant of all faiths and most pluralistic. Tolerance as preached by Jesus does not exist for them. They think in terms of might is right. …root of all evils on the planet earth..

  • siyer79

    “The death of Christ is not necessary to attain salvation. BELIEVING Him is.”

  • haveaheart

    The appropriation of yoga — and, in fact, of ayurveda in general — has been helped along in no small way by one of Mr. Shukla’s co-panelists. Deepak Chopra, more than any living human, has commercialized everything even remotely salable about Hinduism.I’d like to hear Mr. Shukla’s thoughts about this, as I’ve long wondered why a huckster like Chopra is part of a panel on faith, religion, and spirituality.

  • siyer79

    “There are valid reasons to hate the Jews’ doctrines but God’s commandment is not to touch the Jews nor hate them. “

  • foxtrot1

    Great observation. It always seems incongruent to see someone mowing people down on the sidewalk, making no eye contact with anyone, yoga mat on their back plowing to their yoga session.

  • gloriamarlar

    Unimportant to me is the origin or religious significance of Yoga. The enjoyment it gives to me is simple. I find the excercise relaxing and fun.

  • WhatHeSaid

    There was no theft of yoga by America. It was sold to America — not least by Indians like Sivananda, Satchidananda, Vishnudevananda, BKS Iyengar, Amrit Desai…It is not by accident that the world headquarters of Sivananda yoga is in Val Morin, Canada.Nor it is an accident that the unbelievable multitude of yoga studios in the holy Indian city of Varanasi all cater exclusively to Westerners. They are not proselytizing Hinduism. They are promoting (and selling) Hatha yoga.

  • ian807

    With all due respect to its Hindu origins, I must take issue with some of Mr. Shukla’s points.While philosophies such as Samkhya provide an intellectual context for Yoga, they are hardly necessary. An atheist who meditates also benefits.Yoga practices are a neurophysiological toolkit. To think that these tools should only be used in one context for one purpose is like saying that the number zero (another Hindu invention) should only be used for a single purpose.

  • spidermean2

    A sign reads : “Warning, collapsed bridge ahead”I would rather want somebody to put that sign on the road rather than finding it out myself. The same is true with preaching Jesus. If nobody had told me about Jesus, there’s a greater chance that I’ll be lost. I didn’t say that those who haven’t heard of Christ won’t go to hell. They just have a different judgment treatment like a favorable degree of clemency. You can read that in the bible.

  • bpjizay

    “…those who ignore the religious aspect of Christmas ignore it’s intrinsic meaning. Just as you ignore the intrinsic meaning of the words you say during a yoga class. That doesn’t make you a bad person. Just be honest about what you’re doing, what it means and where it came from.”Whew…So I’m not a bad person? Yippee!!!

  • siyer79

    The sort of yoga I practice is not one that concerns itself with who gets credit for what. “By itself it may not matter, however in the overall propaganda campaign against Hinduism, it does matter. Why? Once again it’s a way to whitewash the achievements of Hindus. Since colonial rule, Hindus have been told that they are primitive, superstitious and have achieved nothing. So, saying that Yoga has no origin in Hinduism or India is way of disassociating a great discovery of Vedic civilization from its people.

  • WhatHeSaid

    “In Hindu scriptures the term Yoga signifies the union of the personal soul with the soul of the universe. This is a universal fact that yoga is inseparable part of Hinduism.” ~ Sekhar_Shukla __________________________________________1. Yoga is neither a requirement nor a necessity for Hindus. It is, in fact, a very separable part of Hinduism for most Hindus.2. Can you prove, definitively, that yoga originated in India?3. Can you prove, definitively, than yoga was established by Hindus and not simply co-opted by them?4. Can you prove, definitively, that the definition of yoga given in the Hindu scriptures is the accurate and only definition?

  • OneMany

    We’re taught in primary school that we need to cite our sources. So how is a Hindu asking that Western yoga give credit where credit’s due, any different? Sure American yoga has evolved in its own right — but the intentional delinking that has become a habit by the likes of Yoga Journal, and others in the yoga industry, need to own up.Just pick up any issue and see how many times YJ will have page after page decorated with the sacred Om, offer mantras of the month from Hinduism’s most sacred scriptures or refer to the Bhagavad Gita as ancient Yogic or Eastern texts, with no mention of “Hindu” or “Hinduism.” And this same magazine doesn’t have any issues with its often generous mention of Buddhist meditation or Christian “bhakti” (devotional chanting) — it’s simply a matter of being fair and honest.

  • spidermean2

    “Can you squeeze us Hindus in there also? and also my Shinto, Buddhist and Daoist friends if you have room.”I give equal treatments to everybody. If Judaism, Catholicism, liberal Protestantism, Buddhism or Atheism or Evolution publish something that’s full of crap, I always give my two cents worth.I don’t like people reading this stupid article and think that Hinduism is a true religion coz it’s NOT. It’s part of the devil’s potpourri of false religions like the ones I mentioned earlier.I don’t hate Hindus or Catholics or Buddhist or Jews. What I hate is the false doctrine. I hate the AIDS and not the AIDS victims.

  • siyer79

    “They just have a different judgment treatment like a favorable degree of clemency”

  • philmphile

    He could have written the same lamentation about Christmas.

  • siyer79

    “Hinduism is a true religion coz it’s NOT. It’s part of the devil’s potpourri of false religions like the ones”There is no such thing as a true religion. Because if we all say that, then that leads to perpetual conflict. No one can prove there is a true religion (until death?).

  • johntself

    I completely agree with the premise of this article.People often ask me if a practice yoga.The truth is no. I do stretching and breathing routines to improve my flexibility and help clear my mind.Yoga has become a generic term for self improvement and self help.

  • spidermean2

    I avoid Yoga simply because it is linked to a false religion – Hinduism. You can’t underestimate the power of false religions. Look what happened to the Beatles’s Harrison and Lennon. They should have stayed in India with their unkempt long hair look and avoided infecting other people.Harrison said “I am not really George, but I happen to be in this body.” The truth is he is George and it is his only body. After death is judgment. No second chance.

  • Dliodoir

    “Whew…So I’m not a bad person? Yippee!!!”I didn’t say that. I said ignoring the Hindu nature and origin of yoga doesn’t make you a bad person. You may be a terrible person for all I know, but not for pretending yoga isn’t Hindu.

  • mhoust

    Hinduism is no more a false religion than any of the myriad Christian denominations. The irony of religion is that those, who claim their faith is the one true faith and all others are false, are invariably wrong. Every faith has elements of truth. And every faith has elements of falsehood, deception, and self-serving lies. Even if I were to found a religion today that combines all that I can find of truth and goodness from all the current religions, that statement would still be true; if only because of my own personal biases.The journey is yours alone to walk; and you’ll not get there solely by following those who claim to be authorities.

  • e_swami

    I may go even further than the author. The practice of Yoga at a mental and spiritual level is inconsistent with the tenets of many other religions. Yoga practice reflects a recognition of karma and rebirth and Self-realization, or realization of the Purusha as the goal of life as per the Yoga Sutras. Religions like Christianity and Islam that reject karma and rebirth or regard heaven as the highest goal would find that yoga would question their validity also. Whether such yoga practioners might formally become Hindus is another matter and not usually the case. The higher benefits of Yoga are not available to anyone regardless of their faith. Yoga requires that we clear the mind of all conditioning, which means religious doctrines will be questioned and possibly rejected. Yoga philosophy does not accept salvation by faith for example. Nor would it accept an only son of God, last prophet etc.Christian groups have no right to define what Yoga is. Classical Yoga is a universal teaching but that does not mean it will allow any person to continue with any religious belief without question. Yoga is an integral part of Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma and cannot be made into a separate tradition that can be added to any religion without questioning its theology. Making a Christian closer to Christ or a Muslim closer to Allah is not the goal of Yoga unless Christ or Allah is redefined as Purusha.

  • Dliodoir

    “Hinduism is no more a false religion than any of the myriad Christian denominations.”Moral relativists just don’t get it!!! What you claim is just as absolutist as what he claims! He says there is one true religion. He is either right or wrong. Zero sum. You claim that ALL religions can have truth and that NONE exclusively offer salvation. That is JUST as absolute. What moral relativists don’t comprehend is belief. You lecture to him as if there is some objective standard that you can use to show he is wrong. But there isn’t because it would assume knowledge of what happens after we die and about the true nature of our souls (if there is such a thing). He sincerly believes that Christianity (I assume) is the only way to achieve eternal salvation. If he really believes that then pointing out that other religions are “good” is meaningless to him. It’s just like pointing out to a Yankees fan that the Rays are also good. It doesn’t matter to them, they’re a Yankees fan for many, often intangible, reasons and there is not set of objective facts that SHOULD or COULD convince him and all baseball fans to support a particular team.Moral relativism is very dangerous. The sad part is is that most who engage in it are just trying to avoid conflict and not be judgmental. What they don’t understand is that to live in a civil society we MUST JUDGE!

  • spidermean2

    “Iam the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me”.Jesus is the only way to Heaven and if you have some doubt, look for somebody who can be dead for 3 days and arise again or somebody who can multiply fish and bread in an instant or turn water into wine. All other religions are just a bunch of make believe or fantasy coz these people have nothing to show except some crazy exercise or stupid chants.Of course there are fake Christianity like Catholicism and liberal mainline Protestantism.”Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God”. These two fake Christianity don’t touch on this subject.

  • Chaotician

    Well Hindus may use Yoga, but Yoga largely has little to do with Hinduism! Hinduism is a religion and while much more useful and practical from the Abrahamic religions of the west…. is still a religion. Yoga is a set of tools for individual spiritual attainments. Yoga has gurus(teachers) and ashrams; while Hinduism has priests and temples.. both use the same language but yoga tends to be esoteric while Hinduism tends to be ritualized. Yoga has many philosophical choices ranging from Patanjali to Kashmir Shaivism; it is not inherently in opposition to any religion which is largely a business, a social services business, based on limited religions canons and largely ignorance of its adherents! Spiritually traditions whether Yoga, Zen Buddhists, Kabbalists, Sufis, or Native American Shamanistic are paths for individuals; not mass movements.

  • Dliodoir

    “Spiritually traditions whether Yoga, Zen Buddhists, Kabbalists, Sufis, or Native American Shamanistic are paths for individuals; not mass movements.”That’s just nonsense. Yoga is Hindu, Zen is Buddist, Kabbalah is Jewish, Sufis are Muslim, Native American Shamans are animists and/or polytheists. They are all religious. Just because people in modern Western culture have co-opted aspects of these faiths and stripped them of their religious meaning doesn’t mean they aren’t religious. It’s insulting to dictate to the cultures that developed the religious traditions and practices you mention that you, oh mighty westerner, have decided what they REALLY meant. And what they REALLY meant, according to you, is something cute and inoffesive and harmless and nonthreatening and non-judgmental. In fact, all the traditions you reference are highly judgmental. . . and that’s a good thing!

  • spidermean2

    Those who dismiss true Christianity as another false religion should at least show that he can walk on water so he can level up with the One who established it, otherwise, they’re words are just as valuable as dung.

  • kchses1

    Welcome to America. We take the pieces we want and discard the rest.

  • apmaha03

    I agree with your opinion in this matter that many non-Hindus have taken Yoga out of its context or are simple ignoring its roots. But what does it matter? Are you afraid that Hinduism will be lost if people do not attach Yoga to Hinduism? Are you afraid that in 500 years, Indians be making claims that yoga is Indian like many today who assert that the concept of zero, that the numbers, that chess are all Indian.

  • FreshOfTheBoat

    i dont know where to start…first, hinduism itself has borrowed much from other religions and local traditions. do we have to acknowledge them? the gods of the vedas are not the gods most hindus worship today. the different myths associated with each god underlie the fact that they come from different sources, that were collated together. so, what explicitly belongs to hinduism?the yoga schools have developed among buddhism and jainism, and their form of yoga/meditation cannot be conflated with that from hinduism.further, the warning against abrahamaic religions play on steroetypes. there are spiritual trends in abrahamaic religions. one of the best example is sufism in islam. this argument also plays on the stereotype that hinduism is more spiritual. it is not. look at the lalit modis and others embroiled in scandals that deal with the most unscrupulous money making devices.

  • spidermean2

    “Cannot be proven”If you can understand the prophecies in the Bible, they are the living proof that Evangelical Christianity is on the right path. Two thousand years ago, Apostle Paul prophesied this : “You know that the saints (true Christians) will rule the world, don’t you? (1 Cor. 6:2)A few years from now, it is bound to happen. Ironically, America’s complete domination of the world will arrive when all its enemies will try to subdue it. For awhile its enemies will be succesful but not for long. The liberal, gay marrying, atheistic part of America is also vulnerable to enemy attack. They’ve embraced stupidity and they will receive its rewards.All those Yoga sessions might be completely wiped out as a result.

  • spidermean2

    “Atleast Yoga is something that can be experienced in this life.”It leaves one to wonder why Indians would prefer flocking in Christian America rather than the other way around. Maybe the experience is not that good.

  • clearthinking1

    Excellent article.After 200 years of masterful anti-Hindu propaganda by the British & Christians, finally a free & fair opportunity for world is available to learn the profound and subtle systems of philosophy and spirituality of Hinduism.Western rational philosophical & spiritual systems are making progress with Schopenhauer, Wittgenstein, Neitze, Emerson, Thoreau etc. But ultimately all good philosophy will point to the truths in Vedanta and Yoga.Today, people have a very negative understanding of Hinduism. A lot of social problems that historically existed in every society like the role of women or socioeconomic exploitation have been used to bludgeon Hinduism by Christians & muslims. India, based on the tolerance & pluralism of Hinduism, is finally free to make rapid progress. Please learn about the 5000+ year old philosophy & spirituality of Hinduism with an open mind. You & all others will benefit.

  • docboss83

    Spidermean2, the Christian fanatic, really makes me laugh. He can never prove with any objective evidence (from a non-Christian source), that his religion is true and all others are false. He is the product of indoctrination and brainwashing, not real religious belief. If he grew up in Iran or Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, he would think that Islam was true and all non-Muslims were going to Hell. The whole ideology of the exclusivist Abrahamic religions is to terrify people into converting. If you can put the fear of a fake Hell into people’s minds, you can get a lot of converts. Personally, I dont think God would be so dictatorial and autocratic as to get people to obey his commands with the threat of permanent torture. But apparently these religions view God as being on the same level as Pol Pot, Hitler, and Stalin. Spidermean’s Bible advocates the stoning of adulterers, says that women should not be allowed to teach men, that eating shellfish is a mortal sin, says the entire Earth was created in six days, says that women should not be allowed to talk unless they are spoken to, and says that the entire human race was derived from two white people, Adam and Eve, which science, genetics and common sense tells us is impossible. Throw in the fact that there is no evidence Jesus even existed, the four main Gospels all contradict each other on various issues, and Gospels that spoke of Jesus’s family were chucked out at the council of Nicea, and its hilarious that anyone could possibly think this religion was true and all others were false. Its a good thing that Christianity is basically dead in Europe and is dying amongst the younger generation in America.

  • shalshah

    Why does every discussion turn into a religious battle? The facts speak clearly. Yoga is a Hindu in its origins. It does not pre-date it or whatever. Don’t fool around with the definition of a Hindu. We all know what it means to be a Hindu. Don’t judge a religion by all of its overt signs that you may disagree with, i.e. cow worship, pantheism, etc…. Call it borrowed. Call it theft. The fact remains that Yoga is Hindu in origin. If it benefits the American masses, then so be it. No need to have religious disagreements and discussion over this topic. Religion seeks to eliminate this sort of dialogue. It’s time mankind stop engaging in such pointless behavior.

  • kisna

    I can’t believe all the hypocrites who are shamelessly posting on the webpage denying the contributions of Hinduism and India in spiritual area which includes Yoga also. The Vedic religion which is now more commonly known as Hinduism is the oldest religion of the world and almost all religions have borrowed its ideas in some way or other. However they just do not acknowledge it. The correct word for this is theft and plagiarism.

  • ajay1

    Billions of Hindus? Yeah, only count them as Hindus when arguing BS with others but at home 75% are not good enough to go to a temple. Shukla and the other Upper Castes ought to be ashamed of themselves. Vedas and anything in Sanskrit was their private property, they have reaped the rewards of this knowledge for 2000 years. For 2000 years these parasites have sucked the life out of the sub-continent and they now complain. Can anyone explain why the biggest Peninsula has produced no sea farers, ship builders or explorers? I’ll tell you why, because these Brahmins believed that going out to sea makes you lose your caste. There is no Hinduism only Brahminism; anybody who says otherwise is a liar. Patanjali was my ancestor, I am not a Hindu but I am from the sub-continent, my grand-kids are mixed white-indian, Yoga is their culture as much as any Brahmins. I don’t care who wrote the Vedas/Yoga/Upanishads and when, but they all manifested in the Hindukush Mountains and that is in Pakistan. So, unless you want to share with Pakistan, I suggest you go dip your sorry carcass in the nallah you all call Ganga Maiyya.

  • i_rampersad

    The early Hindu leaders who brought Yoga to the west did not understand the politics of religion and so were naive suckers to the well prepared and predatory forms of Christianity that have been accustomed to appropriating the best of other people’s culture. Information and knowledge are the keys in battles like these.Thanks Dr Shukla for highlighing yet another issue of crucial importance to the image and identity of Hindu-Americans. Without this kind of learned intervention it is highly possible that kids in a few generations to come would not have been able to identify their own heritage.

  • rohitcuny

    I don’t know. My first teacher in Buddhism was an Irish woman who admired the Hindu classic Bhagavadgita. The next one was a Jewish woman who probably thought of herself as being both Buddhist and Jewish. And that is fine. Like Buddhism, Hinduism is also traditionally an open and generous religion, and so are a majority of Hindus, though by no means all. What Hindus like Aseem Shukla need to do is to make friends with some of the yoga practioners in the US. Maybe what the latter are doing is creating a neo-Hinduism, and that too is fine. Traditional Hindus should not think of themselves as the “owners” of Hinduism. Nobody owns religious truth and no one owns God (if God exists). But America should resist the inroads of capitalism into religion by allowing every Tom Dick and Harry to copyright things for long periods.But this is the fault of Congress and not the fault of the people who meditate and say “namaste” but do not call themselves Hindus. The obsession with copyrighting (and patenting) increases drug costs and drives up the cost of accessing scientific material. Americans need to push Congress to limit copyrights and patents to very modest periods – five years at most.

  • rohitcuny

    I don’t know. My first teacher in Buddhism was an Irish woman who admired the Hindu classic Bhagavadgita. The next one was a Jewish woman who probably thought of herself as being both Buddhist and Jewish. And that is fine. Like Buddhism, Hinduism is also traditionally an open and generous religion, and so are a majority of Hindus, though by no means all. What Hindus like Aseem Shukla need to do is to make friends with some of the yoga practioners in the US. Maybe what the latter are doing is creating a neo-Hinduism, and that too is fine. Traditional Hindus should not think of themselves as the “owners” of Hinduism.But America should resist the inroads of capitalism into religion by allowing every Tom Dick and Harry to copyright things for long periods.But this is the fault of Congress and not the fault of the people who meditate and say “namaste” but do not call themselves Hindus. The obsession with copyrighting increases drug costs and drives up the cost of accessing scientific material. Americans need to push Congress to limit copyrights and patents to very modest periods – five years at most.

  • sa08366

    @FreshOfTheBoat You say ‘the yoga schools have developed among buddhism and jainism, and their form of yoga/meditation cannot be conflated with that from hinduism.”Please provide evidence/links that yoga was developed by Jains and Buddhists. If you have no evidence dont try to bring your anti-Hindu biases here just to create confusion.@ Ajay1You are a pakistani – that explains the rant and the irrationality! Since when did History start to say that the vedas/Upanishads and Yoga came from the Hindukush??? Any links/evidence? Or is it just something the Mullah told you in your Madrassa?

  • Zahlen9418

    The ancient Yoga discipline is wowing the world. Practice is the best form of complement. It should be a matter of great pride that this discipline associated with all dharmic religions that evolved in India, Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism enthralls the whole world.

  • thirdveda

    An Excellent article by Mr. Shukla. This highlights a troubling trend that us Hindu Americans (whether you are Indian or not) and youth like me need to understand. Yoga has been around before Buddhism. The mere word itself is in Sanskrit and not in Pali or any other language. The word Namaste is a Sanskrit word. The word Aum is a Sanskrit word. Buddha was a Hindu before he was a Buddhist.The Vedas, the Upanishads, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata (including Bhagwad Gita) and various Hindu scriptures and texts explicitly mention Yoga. Yoga is Hinduism’s greatest contribution to this world. But, Hindu Americans should really start practicing Yoga and incorporate it as a part of their lifestyle. How many of us do Yoga on a daily basis? The truth is if we don’t value our own treasure, someone else (or everyone else) will take it away. This has been the case throughout history.Second, Hindus should create more awareness about Yoga’s Hindu roots by organizing Yoga seminars, conferences, etc.It is easy to post a comment and practice what Swami Vivekananda called “intellectual acrobatics”. The real work lies in getting off our computers and doing some work!Hindus need to wake up and smell the TEA! If we lose Yoga, we have lost our essence!

  • egc52556

    Mr. Shukla, I have been practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) for 35 years. What would you have me do? Stop because I’m not a “real” Hindu? Shame on me for gaining benefit from something from your religion without meeting your religious standards.

  • siyer79

    “It leaves one to wonder why Indians would prefer flocking in Christian America rather than the other way around. Maybe the experience is not that good. “Makes me wonder why Columbus left his wonderful Christian country to find India if India was such a poor country.

  • spidermean2

    As I’ve said, Catholicism is not Christianity and that means Columbus may not be a Christian at all. Colonizing countries by force is not a Christian’s business. How many people these men could have murdered in the name of their fake Christianity.

  • siyer79

    “What would you have me do? Stop because I’m not a “real” Hindu? “I don’t think you get the point. We Hindus are constantly under attack as inferior, backward etc.., yet Yoga which is very popular in the world today has Hindu origins. The fact that that is not even acknowledged proves our argument that there is a well orchestrated campaign to deny any achievements of Hindus/Indians.

  • siyer79

    “How many people these men could have murdered in the name of their fake Christianity.”

  • spidermean2

    Start by reading the Bible then attend different kind of Christian churches and see for yourself who teaches and lives according to what the Holy Book says.”Ye shall know them by their fruits”And don’t stray to the core of Christianity which is Ephesians 2:8-10, John 3:16 and John 14:6

  • YEAL9

    Hindus of course not only believe in yoga but also in reincarnation.Are bad Hindus reincarnated as Muslims? This would explain the large number of Muslims in the world??

  • siyer79

    “Upper Castes ought to be ashamed of themselves”

  • siyer79

    “Start by reading the Bible then attend different kind of Christian churches “So, the Bible is the word of God and it requires adulterers to be stoned to death (like Sharia law). Yet, Sarah Palin (a supposedly devout Christian) did not do that to her daughter who commited adultery. Do you consider her to be a true Christian?

  • spidermean2

    If that is how your brain works in reading the Bible, then stop reading it coz it will only destroy you further.The Bible is a very intelligently written book and it takes a gift how to truly understand it. One needs the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”My sheep know my voice”. If you can’t undersatand the Bible, maybe probably because you are not among his sheep.For centuries, the Jews had not known the true essence of the Sabbath Day commandment. They even tried to stone Christ when he showed how to perform the true essence of the Sabbath. Jews are very intelligent people but they are dumb in understanding the Bible. You are falling on the same category.

  • persiflage

    ‘Jews are very intelligent people but they are dumb in understanding the Bible. You are falling on the same category.’A comment beyond arrogance. Jews are extremely adept at understanding the figurative, allegorical meaning found in sacred literature. Fundamentalist Christians are intellectual toddlers by comparison….proof of which is found in the text of such comments as quoted above. Being proud of a fundamental lack of rational intellect is no laughing matter……

  • biswashira

    I agree 100% with Clay of CFMSP. Yoga transends distinctions which include religions. Water quences thirst. It does not matter where it has come from or the who the drinker is: a human or any other living being.

  • biswashira

    I agree 100% with Clay of CFMSP. Yoga transends distinctions which include religions. Water quences thirst. It does not matter where it has come from or who the drinker is: a human or any other living being.

  • RRajgor

    rajeetishi Said.Stop the hateful lies. These practices have about as much to do with Hinduism as burning people at the stake, and killing babies and women have to do with Islam.Yoga is intrinsic to Hinduism and a core of it’s philosophy. Delinking it is akin to delinking the Christ and the ten commandments from Christianity. It is a big deal to Hindus. It attacks our ideals and self worth. It is akin to delinking the bill of rights from the united states. Those ideas are not unique to this nation but are a foundation of it. Co opting Hindu thought and ideas in much the similar manner as other ideas into the church to twist them to be acceptable to the prevailing philosopy of Churchianity *not* Christianity is STEALING. Whether you believe or do not believe in Hindu philosophy it is disengenuous and morally wrong to de link the two through smarmy words and weasel words. There is much hate as a response to this written article by the ignorant. Whatever faith you believe, the representation is akin to displaying a pile of manure when you profess to behold a pearl. Your communication betrays you as worthy descendents of the spanish inquisition and crusaders, be it from Europe or Arabia.I won’t respond to any rubbish or garbage…you know who you are. Bigots.

  • spidermean2

    “The other way they can decide after death and that would also reduce religious conflict in the world. We all win.”After death is the Judgment. God makes the decision right away. Conflicts and troubles around the world are due to the fruits of false religions. In true Christianity, there is no such thing as forced or coerced conversion. Without the preaching of the gospel of Christ, the whole world will be a desolate place because stupidity is self-destructive. The future generations will benefit from true Christianity. There will be 1000 years of peace and true prosperity. That’s the prophecy and it will happen.

  • spidermean2

    Jesus said “Jesus saith unto them (Jews), Did ye never read in the scriptures?…””Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Mt 21:43)The case of the Jews in NOT understanding the scriptures has lead to the transfer of that Kingdom of God from the Jews to the Evangelical Christians. It is for this reason that America in the not so distant future will rule all over the world.1000 years of peace and prosperity.Not all of America will be part of that coming kingdom. The liberal, gay marrying atheistic part of America will be cut off.

  • siyer79

    “maybe probably because you are not among his sheep.”So according to you only a tiny % of the world’s Christians would qualify as “True” Christians.

  • siyer79

    “Not all of America will be part of that coming kingdom. The liberal, gay marrying atheistic part of America will be cut off.”That’s an understatement. According to you Catholics, mormons and lots’ of others won’t be there either, so probably only like 10-15% of Americans at the most. Will Canadians and others be part of this Kingdom or is it restricted to Americans only? Also why is it a Kingdom and not a democracy.

  • siyer79

    “After death is the Judgment. God ” To have peace in the world, you must have first have peace in your mind, hence Hindus have the practice of Yoga.

  • atomwatch

    Your concern with copyright protection doesn’t seem to reflect detachment from the ‘mundane material world’. Keep practicing.

  • spidermean2

    This is the essence of true Christianity :”For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:8-10)It’s called Evangelical Christianity.Any form of exercise or breathing method or any kind of ritual or sacraments is a futile effort to save one’s soul. Probably good for the body and mind conditioning like sleeping but that’s all there is to it.

  • atomwatch

    Consider, at least 70% of the world’s population is quite deluded in their religious views (as the largest religion purports to include only about 30% of the population).So don’t be too dogmatic about your views – there’s quite a chance they’re dead wrong.

  • siyer79

    “It’s called Evangelical Christianity.”

  • siyer79

    “Until the upper castes of India “

  • siyer79

    “Hinduism will not find many converts.”

  • egc52556

    spidermean2 = troll

  • futuralogic

    Thank you Shri Shukla. The fundamentalist creed abrahmic religions, some even posing as Hindus, are in full venom here when you have made a brave effort to speak the truth. They are here muddling and obfuscating facts without even trying to understand what you are trying to convey – very typical of “It’s my way or the highway” cults of dogma. Stealing, inculturation, misappropriation is how these political ideologies a.k.a religions spread when they are not indulging in crusades.

  • futuralogic

    It’s not just Yoga. West in general and Christianity in particular has this disease of misappropriation! Here’s one of most insightful thinkers on this trend exposing the Intellectual dishonesty.U-Turn theory: How the West appropriates Indian culture

  • proud2b_an_indian

    For those claiming that yoga existed before hinduism was born, I agree. You are right. But first answer this: What according to you is Hinduism? Please do not say its born out of the Sanatana Dharma. If that is what you say, then Sanatana (as the name suggests) existed ever since the creation of the Universe. Hinduism as a word was coined at a later stage…and all these fake claims started appearing. Good luck with all your assumptions!

  • sunandathali

    I salute Aseem Shukla for this excellent article on “The theft of Yoga”. Thieves are always be their in the society. It is Hindus responsibility to protect and preserve it. We have to understand what is happening in the society and take appropriate action. Lord Krishna taught Arjuna to do his duty to protect Dharma. Hindus have to imbibe this in their life.Again I thank Aseem for his intellect and courage.

  • futuralogic

    Wait for few more years and VEDAS will become “Christian” property, see belowRigveda is not Indian says missionary

  • futuralogic

    Wait for few more years and GAYATRI MANTRA will become “Christian” property, see belowChristians use Gayatri Mantra to hunt souls!

  • futuralogic

    Wait for few more years and Tiruvalluvar will become “Christian” property, see belowXian pastor claiming Tiruvalluvar as a Xian saint.

  • ajay1

    They (Yoga, Vedas etc) all manifested in the Hindukush, maybe I can’t prove it but then it can’t be proven otherwise also. Similalry it can’t be proven that one of Jinnah’s ancestors didn’t play a big part in their manifestation. It does not belong to Hindus, don’t care how one defines Hinduism. Every person hailing from the sub-continent can claim Yoga as part of their culture, Vedas their cultural inheritance, just because Hindu’s revere them does not mean they can claim them as solely Hindu and expect credit or payment. Just because Brahmins have exploited their position does not mean they own culture. It is sheer arrogance on Shukla’s part that he has totally overlooked the Muslims, Bhils, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs as owners of that culture and claimed it to be solely Hindu. There are vast religious minorities who have lived in the sub-continent just as long as Brahmins. Don’t overlook their claim.Hindusim is not tolerant, Hindus are pliable, to put it mildly, Ganga Gaye Ganga Ram Jamuna Gaye Jamuna Ram, let us not confuse that with Tolerance. Also, 1000 years of subjugation and 2000 years of moral bankruptcy does not reflect tolerant nature, that history is better defined by other adjectives, not good ones I might add.Pakistani or not, Yoga is my culture and you may copyright or patent it but that does not make Shukla’s arguement any less ridiculous.

  • Zahlen9418

    Mr. Shukla,The Vatican condemns Yoga as moral deviation; the Protestants associate Yoga with false religion and the Islamic mufti’s issue fatwa and call yoga blasphemous and inappropriate. Everyone is bent out of shape. Yet, Yoga classes are full. The ancient Hindu rishis and philosophers were brilliant to put forward this broad philosophical branch out there that Yoga has become the religion for many. It has withstood the test of time. Lord Krishna’s urging to Arjuna to follow the path of yoga has now become the path for all.

  • ladyknight1

    Mr. S H U K L A;INDIA, as well as PAKISTAN have stolen OUR “Uranium” & “Thorium” Enrichment and Control of Such Knowledge, Custom, Traditions etc..So ‘Yoga’, is like ‘Yogurt’, or ‘Pizza’ or Macorony, or Bagel etc.. No? In America and elswhere aye!

  • futuralogic

    …The attempt by US teachers to patent traditional poses has caused disbelief and anger in India, where it has been practiced for around 6,000 years..If that’s not theft what is?

  • Charlie54

    Dear Aseem Shukla,Namaste !Thank you for taking a stand for Hinduism. Credit should be given when credit is due. I read all the comments and I am shocked why several of the readers have difficulty agreeing with such a simple matter. As has been pointed out by many readers, this is notning new. The link below gives attempts by many scholars who have tried to undermine the contribution of Hinduiism and Vedas:I for one want to thank you for taking a stand to get the record straight.

  • atulksharma007

    this is our fault that we allowed our own Hindu gurus to spread YOG as a entity without any relation to Hinduism, they spread this core philosophy of HINDUISM under their own names / sects or just as its another commodity without mentioning anything about its origin and association. The result is everyone knows about YOG but hardly anyone in the West knows about Hinduism especially Yoga’s association with Hinduism. I myself was surprised to see many white Canadians who practice YOG hardly know about its relation with India and to even lesser extend to Hinduism. When we teach Yoga to Hindus its understood that it’s very core philosophy of Hinduism, without it Hinduism is body without life, but when we teach it to the West its not understood we need to tell them and this is where we lacked. Hindus don’t ask for copy rights but at least its basic curtsey towards the author to mention his name when quoting from his work, and attributing YOG to Hinduism in the West is just acknowledging those great Hindu rishis, many of who’s even names are not known. It’s just like ‘giving credit where its due’

  • futuralogic

    RISHISREE,Try to live at least 10% upto to your name, educate yourself before you spout ignorance.”I see a deeper root of Ahankara(ego) claiming this knowledge is mine through association to my clan”Really? Did you read the column? Is that what your pea-brain inferred? All he was saying was – give credit where it’s due, don’t try to delink it from Hinduism as AYA does or worse don’t market it as Christian Yoga. Go, read it again!”There might be a subtle intention to compensate the prejudice against his clan”Subtle? you must be living in a well! Check out Rajiv Malhotra’s scholarly work and you will see the tip of an iceberg of white/Christian racism against anything Indic. “May be he should check when was the word “Hindu” first coined?”May be you should ask your western masters who did that?”I wish there could be other word which is rooted in tradition”Thanks for revealing your ignorance. The word you are looking for is Sanatana dharma.

  • Nemo5

    So what you’re saying is, “This belongs to my religion, not yours!”How childish. Just another reason to eschew religion altogether.

  • rishisree

    I just read Aseem Shukla’s article and couldn’t help laughing. I see a deeper root of Ahankara(ego) claiming this knowledge is mine through association to my clan. However, it is seems totally unintentional. There might be a subtle intention to compensate the prejudice against his clan. May be he should check when was the word “Hindu” first coined? I tell people I am Hindu but the word doesn’t have any roots in the tradition(Wikipedia). I wish there could be other word which is rooted in tradition.

  • Vikramaditya

    Coming from the totalitarian dogma of “my way or the highway”, that eulogizes a desert nomad who in his 50s lusted after the 6 year old daughter of a man he called his brother, or that demands absolute adherence to an organization that burnt people at the stake for spreading its wings, it is understandable why ajay1 is virulently against Hinduism. It is also understandable, given the hollowness in such fascist creeds, why Ajay1 might wish to appropriate the rich Hindu culture as his own. The pluralism of Hinduism is apparent in the fact that it does not ordain discrimination upon non-Hindus as taxation under the penalty of death, nor does it promise hell to disbelievers, unlike the fascist dogmas of ppl like Ajay1’s.Ajay1’s proud propounding of the totalitarian fanaticism he has so well imbibed from his supremacist masters in his zealous bigotry against Dharma is typical of neo-converts to totalitarian, fascist, supremacist creeds.

  • viswasharma

    Sir,”Hindus must take back yoga and reclaim the intellectual property of their spiritual heritage–“I am surprised by this statement. What does this mean? I am sure that you know, every sacrament, worship, and rite of the SANATANA-DHARMA (AKA Hinduism) is based on yoga. But,as you say, aim of these is to ‘know God’ IS GOD a HINDU?

  • futuralogic

    ViswaYou ask – IS GOD a HINDU? You should go back and read Aseem’s essay once again and understand Sanatana Dharma before you perversely pose illogical questions. In Abrahamic creeds there is a Christian God and Islamic God but for someone who claims to know Sanatana Dharma this question sounds perverse!

  • jigerster

    Their is a beautiful article on Yoga and its benefits, by one of the great saint of modern times, Swami Bodhinatha. Here it is:

  • tball1

    As a fan of Transcendental Meditation, I’d like to clarify: the TM technique was not “stolen” from Hinduism, but is a gift of the ancient Vedic Tradition. Before Maharishi introduced the TM technique in 1955, this particular meditation technique was virtually unknown to Indian society and “Hindu” culture; for all practical purposes, it was lost.Maharishi emphasized above all else the importance of acknowledging and honoring the tradition from where TM comes. But he never attributed TM to Hinduism, and the technique cannot be derived from what today is known as Hinduism.Hinduism is a new term, introduced by the British and used loosely as an umbrella term to include pretty much everything associated with the ancient Vedic culture. But not everything “Vedic” is about Hindu worship. From Maharishi’s perspective, the Vedic tradition contains practical knowledge about consciousness, architecture, health care and other areas that’s as scientific and useful as modern physics.To couple Transcendental Meditation with Aveda is a category error: Aveda is a commercial product line; TM is the meditation technique revived by Maharishi and taught by a non-profit educational organization, and no one (including Maharishi) has ever gotten rich (financially) teaching TM. The organization is non-profit in the truest sense.TM is trademarked, but not with the same intentions that for-profit corporations trademark products. The names “TM” and “Transcendental Meditation” are trademarked to clearly (and legally) identify the original, unique practice and preserve the technique’s purity and effectiveness, to guarantee that the technique is taught only by certified TM teachers who are rigorously trained in the procedures of the Vedic Tradition as systematized by Maharishi.When someone learns TM, it’s thanks to the registered trademark that they can rest assured they’ve learned the real thing as revived by Maharishi–the original technique of effortless transcending from the Vedic tradition–and not a facsimile.