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कृण्वन्तो विश्वमार्यम्


By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM

When I think of Yoga I think of Patanjali; the Rishi who gave the entire humanity ASHTANG YOGA. Yoga has three stages before you reach the pinnacle of glory in SAMADHI or total dedication to AUM or Ishwar and merging the self with the Almighty. Indeed a soul retains its entity but that does not interfere with Samadhi, the last phase of eight-fold Yoga.

AUM, the original Vedic name of the Almighty, is uttered aloud in the Yoga classes, to help a yoga student-practitioner concentrate on the yogic exercises. May it be understood that Yoga is not just physical exercises but physical exercises with an input of spiritualism. Learning yoga without an input of spiritualism, of which AUM is just the beginning, is like tending to a soulless body. When the soul is gone, the dead body is taken for a funeral, that is cremation or burial depending on the faith of the departed soul or the last will. Similarly, Yoga without chants of mantras or chant of AUM is like just a mundane PT Table.


Of ate some devotees of non-Vedic faiths like a sect or two of Christianity or believers in Islam have expressed reservations in practising Yoga. Mistakenly some Imams in Malaysia and Singapore even issued a Fatwa calling Yoga as Haram; that is forbidden in Islam.
It is a result of misconception that chanting AUM amounts to practising the Vedic Dharma or converting to Hindu religion. It is not so. The whole episode of Muslims avoiding to attend Yoga classes was a result of sheer ignorance of those who spread the canard that chanting AUM was like converting to the Hindu religion. It was a clear cut case of blind leading the blind. If the number of Ignoramus exceeds the number of wise knowledgeable persons, the social set up in that area is vitiated with superstitions and false beliefs.
There is a positive side to this Yoga story. In New York city, USA there are a number of Yoga centres all over the city. There are some Yoga class centres in a Muslim area named Jackson Heights. Initially the blue collar workers of Bangadesh origin avoided going to the Yoga centre but later when one of the Imams who leads the namaz or prayer in a mosque started attending Yoga classes, the change in perception percolated to the less educated sections too. It came like a divine revelation that many Yogic postures were the same as in saying Muslim prayers five times a day. The Yoga teacher righty explained that just as by pronouncing the Arabic word for the Almighty, Allah, one does not become a Muslim, similarly just by chanting AUM, a Yoga practitioner does not get converted to the Vedic Dharma or become a Hindu. The wisdom dawned and the Yoga centre drew more pupils.

A New York surgeon found that a female patient did not improve her condition resulting from a dysfunction of a section of the backbone, he suggested appropriate Yogic exercises. Gradual upgradation of Yogic exercises was perhaps the only way out of the hopeless situation The woman looked at the surgeon in horror and said that she was a Muslim and how could she practise a Hindu ritual? Her consternation gave way to faith in Yoga when friends, beside the surgeon, spoke to her about the secular character of the Yoga. How grateful she was to all concerned when Yoga of Vedic origin saved a Muslim woman from the jaws of death. The enlightenment brought by Truth overpowered superstitious beliefs and saved a human life.
Swami Ramdev Maharaj, the Yoga Rishi, came to my rescue when at the age of 77 I developed diabetic symptoms that no one in our family ever had. As an Army officer I was quite active. On retirement from the army 22 years ago, ease and comfort had the better of me. Indeed my fondness for sweets got my goat. In one of the tests, the pathologists woke me up by saying that the sugar in blood was much above the permissible limits. The physician himself prescribed more of Yoga and less of medication. Of the Ashtang Yoga, the fourth stage of Pranayam, made popular on the electronic media by Swami Ramdev Ji became my lifeline. I practised and practised Pranayam and the result was indeed encouraging. The level of sugar in my blood showed a downward trend and lo and behold, within a couple of weeks I was back to normal. Fit as a fiddle and ready to take on any assignment. That indeed is Yoga.
The Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow and other provinces of Russia had created a scare in the minds of white Russian Christians that the teachings of Yogeshwar Shri Krishna’s Bhagwad-Gita were Satanic. The bishops and priests advised their flocks of keeping away from the Hindu temples opened by ISKCON where Gita was taught in the Russian language too. The Christian CLERGY TOLD LIES BECAUSE THEY WERE SCARED OF LOSING MANY MEN AND WOMEN FROM THEIR FLOCKS. The Russian translation of Bhagwad-Gita became so popular among young men and women of Russia that they started attending classes on teachings of Yogeshwar Shri Krishna and attending the Hindu form of worship in temples. Scared clergy created scare among officials. They filed law suits in courts of law in far off places like Siberia to avoid glare of media publicity. Based on untruth, the Christian Church lost the court cases and subsequent appeals too.
The clerics were scared and they in turn created scare among the white Russian Christians warning them against their sons and daughters learning Gita.
Likewise misinformed clerics of Islam too created scare and advised their followers not to take to Yoga. Under misinformation the Islamic clerics insisted that their Madarsas be kept outside the purview of government orders in some states of India where Yoga was made a compulsory subject of study in schools. Indeed the loss was that of the new generation of boys studying in Madarsas. Of course, the Muslim girls are a deprived lot because they are not admitted to Madarsas or other schools that are co-educational. A ray of hope comes from the new generation of Muslim females. As and when they insist on exercising their right to education, they are sure to go in for all subjects, including Yoga, that will be beneficial to the around development of their personality.
Having surveyed the schools and colleges wherever I happen to go for Ved Prachar, I am pleased to find that there is a llot of enthusiasm among students for learning yoga. Of course, our Yogacharyas or teachers of yoga should always make an endeavour to make the subject as interesting as possible. The modern teaching aids must be made use of. At the same time the Vedic origin of Yoga should not be lost sight of just to please Mammon, the god of wealth.
Yoga has the Vedic origin, so be it. Choice is of the learner; love it or leave it.

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