Sunday, February 20, 2005

Roots of yoga: educating christensen

February 20th

so it's official now: yoga is not hindu. so then why are the christians and muslims complaining that yoga is a hindu practice?

this is just preparatory to claiming that christians invented yoga, along with everything else.

time for a few protest letters!

-------

Responses to American Yoga Assoc. spreading misinformation about Yoga
and Hinduism

There are three letters written to American Yoga Assoc. which are
reproduced below.

Dhiru Shah

INDIA AWARENESS FOUNDATION
4500 NORTHSIDE DR., ATLANTA, GA 30327
TEL: 770-664-8779 FAX: 770-664-8780

February 17, 2005
FAX : 2 Pages

Ms. Alice Christensen, Executive Director
American Yoga Association

Dear Ms. Christensen,

We are shocked and appalled to read your website which makes several
untruthful and mischievous statements like "The common belief that
Yoga derives from Hinduism is a misconception. Yoga actually predates
Hinduism by many centuries"' or "There is a common misconception that
yoga is rooted in Hinduism; on the contrary, Hinduism's religious
structures evolved much later and incorporated some of the practices
of Yoga.(Other religions throughout the world have also incorporated
practices and ideas related to yoga)." We strongly protest such gross
distortion of the history and origin of Yoga and Hinduism. There seems
to be a deliberate attempt on the part of your organization to
misinform and mislead the American people.

The following points will clearly establish that Yoga was developed by
the Hindu saints and sages thousands of years ago and that it is an
integral part of Hinduism.

1. The oldest scripture of Hinduism, Rigveda has its origin in the
'Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization or Harappa/Mohan-jo-Daro civilization
(your website calls it Indus Valley) dating back to more than 6,500
BCE. Sarasvati is the greatest river of the Rigvedic hymns. Since it
dried up around 1900 BCE as per geologists, the Rigveda was composed
prior to 1900 BCE. Several archaeological discoveries in the Indian
sub-continent
during the last 50 years supported by science, astronomy, and literary
analysis have clearly established that the Sarasvati region (Indus
valley) was the heartland of the Vedic texts. This means that Hinduism
(also known as Sanatan-(eternal) Dharma as well as Vedic Dharma) is
much older than 6,500 BCE and not what is implied in your website.

2. Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages of the world and most of
Hinduism scriptures like Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagvad Gita are
written in Sanskrit. None of the Semitic religious scriptures are to
be found in Sanskrit. The names of Yoga mentioned in your website like
'Jnana Yoga', 'Bhakti Yoga' and 'Karma Yoga' are all derived from
Sanskrit which is
the language of the Hinduism scriptures.

3. The word Yoga comes from Sanskrit word 'yuj' means to yoke,
harness, union, unite. The philosophy of Yoga is the yoking of
individual consciousness with transcendent or divine consciousness.
The Yoga system is traditionally among the six systems (sad darshans)
of ancient Hindu philosophy. Yoga was codified by Patanjli in his Yoga
Sutra (ca 200 BCE) as the eight limbs (ashtanga) of Raja Yoga.
Patanjli was a Saivite, a
branch of Hinduism.

4. Originally, Yoga was developed in the Hindu system of spiritual
practice to enable man to realize the unity of individual soul
(Jivatman) with the supreme self or supreme reality (Parmatman). In
one of the most revered scriptures of Hinduism, Bhagavad Gita (3000
BCE) Lord Krishna explains the philosophy of Yoga. Though your website
has used the above three types of Yoga, it does not give credit to
Lord Krishna and Hinduism for expounding them in Bhagavad Gita.

5. Finally, among many names given to Lord Krishna, one of them is
'Yogeshwar' which means Lord of Yoga.

We hope that the above brief information will help you to understand
that (a) Hinduism is much older than 3,000 B.C.E; (b) Yoga was
developed by Hindu saints and sages over thousands of years ago and it
is an integral part of Hinduism; and (c) it was in the Indus Valley
(Sarasvati) civilization the great scriptures of Hinduism, Vedas
originated.

One of the main requirements of learning true Yoga is practicing truth
all times. Unfortunately, by spreading misinformation and untruth
about Yoga and Hinduism your organization has sacrificed the basic
pillar of
the great Yogic system developed by Hindu saints and sages. We demand
that you withdraw the untruthful and misleading statements as
mentioned above from your website.

We are willing to provide you more information on the subject as well
as authoritative references in order that your website gives the
truthful and creditable information about Yoga and Hinduism.

Your positive early response will be appreciated.

Sincerely,

Dhiru Shah
President- India Awareness Foundation

==============================
==============================================

HICAD - Promoting Diversity, Pluralism and Tolerance

Date: February 10, 2005

To: Alice Christensen, Executive Director,
American Yoga Association

VIA Fax (941) 921-9844

Dear Ms. Christensen,

I am writing to protest the deliberate misinformation your
organizations website is spreading by distorting the history and
origins of Yoga and its relationship to Hinduism. According to well
established facts, Yoga was originated in India by Hindu sages and
saints many thousands of years ago and it has always been an integral
part of Hindu traditions.

During 1960s Maharshi Mahesh Yogi established the scientific veracity
of the positive effects of yoga and transcendental meditation (TM) on
human metabolic characteristics such as heart rate, blood pressure,
oxygen consumption, etc. The testing performed at Harvard Medical
School proved
that yoga & TM can produce significant beneficial effects on the human
body. When Beatles followed Maharshi Yogi to India to learn yoga & TM,
wide spread interest in yoga, TM, and Hindu thought was accepted by
many college students as well as intellectuals and the open minded
people in USA. Swami Rama of the Himalayan Institute and other Hindu
yogis and swamis from India further spread this growing interest in
yoga and TM.

Although Buddhism accepted yoga and TM along with many traditions of
Hinduism, none of the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism and
Islam) even knew about yoga and TM before Maharshi Yogi and Swami Rama
and other Hindu swamis made it popular in the west in the nineteen
sixties. As a matter of fact, initially, Christian establishment in
USA
rejected yoga and TM as anti-Christian. The Christian orthodoxy
postulated that meditation is an attempt to empty ones mind while
Christian theology professed that an empty mind is devils workshop.
Therefore meditation is anti-Christian. Only during the last decade,
when Christian establishment realized that yoga & TM were becoming
popular in spite of their efforts to stop it, some Christian groups
have started to divorce yoga and TM from its roots in Hinduism in
order to make it acceptable to devout Christians. They are striving to
spread the misinformation that yoga and TM have been part of all
religious traditions, while as a matter of fact, many Christian
ministers in Europe and Muslim clerics all over the world are
vociferously stating even today that yoga and TM are against
Christianity and Islam (see attachment A).

Your website section on What is Yoga? starts with the following
sentences: The classical techniques of Yoga date back more than 5,000
years. In ancient times, the desire for greater personal freedom,
health and long life, and heightened self-understanding gave birth to
this system of physical and mental exercise which has since spread
throughout the world.

A careful reader will discern that while you mentioned that it has
spread throughout the world, you never mentioned where it originated?
Why are you so shy of admitting that it originated in India by Hindu
saints and sages?

The section on "History of Yoga" in your website states: "There is a
common misconception that Yoga is rooted in Hinduism; on the contrary,
Hinduisms religious structures evolved much later and incorporated
some of the practices of Yoga. (Other religions throughout the world
have also incorporated practices and ideas related to Yoga.)

Again, the well established fact is that Yoga has been an integral
part of Hinduism. And your organization is deliberately trying to
distort the facts and plant a misconception that it is not.

The sections on "Yoga and Religion" in your website states: The common
belief that Yoga derives from Hinduism is a misconception. Yoga
actually predates Hinduism by many centuries. Ancient seals unearthed
in the Indus Valley provide clear evidence of widespread Yoga practice
earlier than 3,000 B.C.E. The techniques of Yoga have been adopted by
Hinduism
as well as by other world religions.

It is intellectually dishonest to try to take away credit from the
Hindu tradition that nurtured Yoga over many thousands of years. Let
me quote from two well respected Hindu religious texts to demonstrate
strong links between Yoga and Hinduism:

1. Your website mentions Patanjalis Yoga Sutras. Let me quote a few
sutras to inform you that Patanjali was a Hindu saint who believed in
Yoga as the union of soul with God.

Patanjalis Yoga Sutra 1.23 in original Sanskrit text: Ishwara
pranidhanad va. Sutra 1-24: Klesha-karma vipakashayair aparamrishtah
purush vishesh Ishwarah.

Translation: Victory over mind can be gained through complete
surrender to Ishwara (Hindu name for God). The unique being that rests
in the body and yet is never touched by afflictions, actions, the
results of actions, and the repository of the subtle impressions of
actions and
their fruits, is called Ishwara (God).

Note: Ishwara, as defined in Yoga Sutra 1.24 is the concept of the
Supreme Lord in Hinduism. No other religion refers to the Almighty as
Ishwara. God, Yahweh, Allah (or even Buddha) is not mentioned in Yoga
sutras or other Yoga treatise. So your website is spreading
misinformation by stating that Yoga tradition is not derived from
Hinduism.

Patanjalis Yoga Sutra 1.26 in original Sanskrit text: Sa esha
purvesham api guruh kalen an-vacchedat. Sutra 1.27: Tasya Vachakah
Pranav.

Translation: Unlimited by time, God is the teacher of all previous
teachers. The sound Om

(God in the form of sound) denotes that God. Note: The sound of Om is
integral to the Yoga practice. And Om is the Hindu religious sound
syllable that is symbolic of Ishwara.

2. Bhagvad Gita is one of the most sacred scriptures of Hindus (akin
to Bible). Let me quote a few verses about the concept of Yoga spoken
by Lord Krishna and documented in Gita:

Chapter 3, verse 3 in original Sanskrit text: Lokesmin dvividha
nishtha pura prokta maya nagha, jnana yogena samkhyanam karma yogena
yoginam. Translation (by Eknath Easwaran): At the beginning of time, I
declared two paths for the pure of heart: Jnana Yoga, the
contemplative path of spiritual wisdom, and Karma Yoga, the active
path of selfless service.

Chapter 7, verse 1: mayyasakta manah partham yogam yunjan madasrayah,
asamsayam samagram mam yatha jnasyasi tac chrnu. Translation (by
Eknath Easwaran): With your mind intent on me, Arjuna, discipline
yourself with the practice of Yoga. Depend on me completely. Listen,
and I will dispel all your doubts; you will come to know me fully and
be united with me.

Your website also mentions Jnana Yoga: The path of wisdom; considered
the most difficult path; Bhakti Yoga: The practice of extreme devotion
in one-pointed concentration upon ones concept of God; and Karma Yoga:
All movement, all work of any kind is done with the mind centered on a
personal concept of God. Then how can you deny that Yoga is an
integral part of Hindu tradition dating back to thousands of years?

Your website also mentions Tantra yoga and Kashmir Saivism, but
without mentioning that they too are integral to Hinduism. Saivism is
the sect of Hindus who worship Siva, a Hindu name and form of God.
Both Siva and Krishna are known as great Yogis. So how can you
blatantly spread the misinformation that Yoga is not rooted in
Hinduism?

HICAD is committed to discouraging the spread of bias and
misinformation about Indic traditions. We demand that your
organization stop spreading misinformation about yoga and Hinduism by
dropping erroneous statements cited above from your website and
providing accurate information from
Patanjalis yoga sutras and Bhagvad Gita, as explained above.

But ofcourse, any one can practice yoga and TM even if they did not
practice or believe in all aspects of Hindu traditions.

I look forward to a positive response at your earliest convenience. If
you need more information regarding yoga or Hinduism, I would be happy
to provide you with authentic and authoritative references on the
subject.

Yours sincerely,

Ved P. Chaudhary, Ph.D.
President - HICAD

Appendix A:
Egyptian Cleric Says Yoga is Against Islamic Law
http://www.deccan.com/World/WorldNews.asp?#Yoga's%against%Islamic%law:%Egypt%mufti

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL, September 20, 2004:

The growing enthusiasm for yoga in Egypt has received a setback with a
mufti reportedly issuing an edict declaring it un-Islamic. The edict
signed by mufti Ali Gomoa, considered the highest theological
authority, says that "yoga is an ascetic Hindu practice that is
forbidden for use in any manner -- neither for exercise or for
worship," local media
reported quoting an Al-Hayat report (a Saudi-owned, London-based
newspaper). "It is an aberration," whose practice in any form is
"forbidden under Islamic law," the edict says. Yoga centres are said
to have sprung up at all the tourist resorts in Egypt and are said to
be very popular among Western tourists.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "c. alex alexander"
To: patricia.rockwood@a...
Subject: YOUR MISINFORMARTION CAMPAIGN ABOUT YOGA AND HINDUISM
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2005 09:22:55 -0500

I am not a Hindu, but an orthodox syrian christian of Indian origin. I
am appalled to hear about your organization's campaign to deny
Hinduism and Indian traditions, their contributions to the origins and
evolution of yoga and its practices. Even in our orthodox christian
faith, we do accept the fact that the Christian hesychasts (monks)
borrowed much from the ancient Hindu and Buddhist traditions in their
practice of mystic christianity. The Essenes were profoundly
influenced by the Indic traditions. Christian scholars of the historic
Jesus have (see the writings of Marcus Borg, Pagels and others) seen
the uncanny resemblances of the traditions of the Essenes and those of
the Indic (Hindu and Budhist) traditions.

In my view, it is a cheap attempt on the part of your organization not
to have the intellectual honesty to accord dure credit to Hinduism for
its original contribution to the development of yogic practices. I
hope that you will have the decency to correct your misinformation
campaign now inscribed on your pages. Thanks.

C. Alex Alexander, M.D.
email:calexo@h...

6 comments:

Vedapriyan said...

Dear Rajeev,

Thanks for posting this article. It is of great practical concern to all Indians and Hindus. Everything and anything good from Hinduism gets absorbed into the "general stream" by "de-Hinduising" it without giving due credit to Hinduism while it is projected as just Caste, Cows, Curry, Sati and Untouchability.

I have sent the following email to the AYA. I will also urge my friends to send similar emails/letters to AYA.

Thanks once again for posting this in the blog.

regards,
Anand

Dear Ms. Christensen,

I happened to see your website
by chance and saw that your website has several
completely wrong information regarding the Origins of
Yoga. I am shocked by the amount of misinformation a
reputed association like yours has in your websites.

The main reason why you seem to claim that Yoga is not
a part of any religion is because of your definition
of the word religion as : "based on just beliefs and
worship of God or godlike people that exists outside
of an individual"..

The definition of religion that you have above is
complete wrong with respect to Hinduism. There is a
very famous sloka in Vedas that says: "Brahmai Vaaha
Masmi" meaning "I am Brahman" or "Brahman exists
within me". So your definition of religion DOES NOT
fit Hinduism.

The confusion arises when you try to equate the word
"religion" in the Western context and the word Dharma
in the Hindu context. The word "religion" has several
limitations whereas the word Dharma has several leves
of meanings. It is precisedly for this reason that
Hinduism is actually called "Sanathana Dharma" or
Eternal Dharma.

Another reason for your mis-information on Yoga is
that you seem to believe that Hinduism did not exist
before 3000 B.C.E. This misconception is based on the
now discredited Aryan Invasion theory in which it was
proposed that the Indus Valley Civilization was not
Hindu.

To get to know more about the Vedic nature of the
Indus valley civilization, please refer to a book
called "Invasion That Never Was" by Michel Danino
et.al available fro Amazon.com [
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/8185137226/qid%3D943325208/sr%3D1-1/103-3490331-5854214
]

I sincerely hope you will correct the mistakes in your
website and give the due credit to the Hindu Rishis
for gifting Yoga to the World. That too, without
charging even a penny for their "intellectual
property".

warm regards,
Anand

Anonymous said...

The de-Hinduising and appropriation of Yoga as a self-evident truth has now reached critical mass. Look at the following:

http://www.fearlessflexibility.com/

He is deriding the system which is making him rich with generous insults like "...chanting silly mantras..."

Of course, you will also note that he raises a mighty whine about coining "Power Yoga" and how it was stolen from him.

Maybe, we can now appreciate why old Hindu sages guarded their learning so closely and wrote (if at all) cryptic/coded texts

surya said...

How silly and foolish it is..

Even in Srimadnhagavatham Vedavyasa mentioned Yoga.
There is a story of an Elephant and Crocodile known as Gajendra Moksham.

A mighty elephant is caught by a crocldile and The Lord comes to its rescue.
In the process of holding the elephant the Crocodile is described as a Yogi who holds his breath with his feet firm in Water etc...

There are some beautiful slokas describing this part.

Yes, it is very much needed to keep our knowledge from these fools.

blackpanther said...

Didnt we all see this coming. It is also interesting to see the general tone while writing about aspects intrinsic to Hindusim. It is mentioned vaguely as eastern and clubbed with Buddhism but the term Hindu is carefully avoided. It is important to address this.

nizhal yoddha said...

this follows a pattern, guys. the christians have a history of cultural expropriation. for instance 'christmas' is, as you know, the old druidic celebration of the winter solstice, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the alleged anniversary of the alleged birth of jesus.

look at essene philosophy, much of which was swiped by paul to make up the superstructure of christian (or more accurately pauline) thought. refer to the dead sea scrolls, the essene scriptures. much of it is heavily influenced by hindu/buddhist thought. but there is no credit given to hindus or buddhists.

blackpanther said...

I wrote a review to
20-Minute Yoga Workouts
by American Yoga Association, Alice Christensen
on Amazon.com
My little contribution.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0345388453/qid=1109838768/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_4/103-3409274-6592635?v=glance&s=books
What do I say about someone who indulges in denail of yoga's greatness and tries to popularise it. The author has no understanding of yoga's roots, its philosophy and spirituality. Here are a list of things she might advocate:
Dont breathe because breathing in yoga is about prana and there is whole theory associated with prana and pagan Gods.
Dont say Om because it is representation of Brahma, Vishnu and Iswara-the trinity of Hindu Gods.
Dont practise yoga because the primary purpose of yoga is to achieve Iswara - the Hindu God.

But then again, the author's yoga has nothing to do with philosophy and spirituality and Hinduism. In fact, it is plain simple exercises which man has know for ever and the west has always been practising.

Then what the heck is the word yoga doing there? - it's anybody's guess.
Peace.