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Yoga Beef: Deepak Chopra vs. Aseem Shukla on Yoga, Hinduism and Western Egos

in YD News, Yoga Feuds

Uh oh, it’s a rumble! Here’s the yoga beef:

ph20090721013461– Professor Aseem Shukla says: Yoga is Hindu, and it’s a total sham Western fools don’t recognize!

Deepak Chopra says: What you talkin’ bout, Shukla? Yoga did not originate in Hinduism, it’s so way older than that.deepak-chopra

If you haven’t read the comments over at Professer Aseem Shukla’s eruption over the “Theft of Yoga” last week,  then we highly recommend you cruise on over to check in on the debate. Because when you do you’ll get why fellow Washington Post columnist, and wellness mogul Mr. Deepak Chopra has chimed in to stew the beef!

Who is Aseem Shukla? “Associate Professor in urologic surgery at the University of Minnesota medical school. Co-founder and board member of Hindu American Foundation.”

On “The Theft of Yoga”:

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.

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.

In essence he was responding to the LA Times religious yoga article, which we talked about last week. But is this the beginning of a scholarly yoga backlash in America? Eat, Pray, Love hater, and Hindu statesman Rajan Zed is already pissed about Hinduism’s rep. So what does the poster gentleman for East-to-West wellness, and recent yoga iPhone app star say about all this?

Deepak shoots back!

First, yoga is a spiritual discipline in India, and always has been. The aim of the practice is liberation. When liberation occurs, the yogi is freed from the religious trappings that enclose Yoga. Those trappings have always been incidental to the deeper aim of enlightenment.

Secondly, yoga did not originate in Hinduism as Prof. Shukla claims. Perhaps he has a fundamentalist agenda in mind, but he must know very well that the rise of Hinduism as a religion came centuries after the foundation of yoga in consciousness and consciousness alone. Religious rites and the worship of gods has always been seen as being in service to a higher cause, knowing the self.

Beneath Shukla’s complaints one detects the resentment of an inventor who discovered Coca-Cola or Teflon but neglected to patent it. Isn’t that a rather petty basis for drawing such a negative picture? Most Indians, when they contemplate the immense popularity of yoga in the U.S. may smile at the pop aspects of the phenomenon but feel on the whole that something good is happening. Shukla regards the same scene with a withering frown.

To which a commenter fires “You must be worried that all your books & PBS fame is based on a lie. You have borrowed (stolen?) all your ideas from Hinduism & Vedanta and repackaged them for the west for years.
Most of us Hindu Americans just smiled at your deception, but thought that it is good that you were bringing these ideas to the West. But now you have shown your true colors, ego, and lack of humility.”

Oh boy…guess that guy won’t be buying that ‘authentic yoga’ app anytime soon.

Also, this yoga/religion debate will assume savasana, um, probably never!

EarlierHoly Yoga! Religious Yoga Hybrids Are a Godsend

India to Save Yoga from Western Pirates!

48 comments… add one
  • I’m glad that DC says that “yoga did not originate in Hinduism.” the early yogis (the sramanas) who went into the forests and into the mountains to use their minds and bodies as laboratories did that as a move away from the Hindu priests and rituals at the time.

  • outraged comment from Shukla’s story:
    “The attempt by US teachers to patent traditional poses has caused disbelief and anger in India…”

    which is hilarious because the person trying to do that is Indian…you know who….

  • This Yoga Journal article by Ann Cushman shows just why there really is no reason for the existence of any “yoga fundamentalism.” Very recently, I read a blog of someone who kept going on and on of what yoga is and isn’t, why Western yoga has lost authenticity etc etc. I re-read this aricle to detoxify myself of that kind of thinking. Maybe it’ll help others?


  • I’m with Deepak on this one. There’s plenty of books to read on the history of yoga and while it has certainly run parallel at times to Hinduism, it is not a part of it’s core teachings.

    And all this claiming that something belongs to a certain tradition! One only has to read any history book to know that stuff gets appropriated by one culture or another ALL the time! The human race has been doing this for untold centuries.

    In fact, I’ve almost finished reading a book on the history of all the Dalai Lamas(es), and their “involvement” with the Mongols and China etc. Tibet sent missions to India to obtain holy texts which where then translated into Tibetan to form “Tibetan Buddhism”.

    Is Aseem Shukla gonna complain to the Dalai Lama, too?

  • Hindu Yogi

    The point most westerners don’t understand is that Hinduism is not very easily definable unlike most abrahamic faiths (or even other Indo-Dharmic faiths like Buddhism). Hinduism to the outsider (and most insiders) is holy cows, ritualism, millions of gods and all that stuff. But Hinduism is all that at a certain low plane, and much much more. The higher planes deal with self-realization and god-realization for which Raja Yoga is but a tool. These have been discussed to death in the Upanishads (i.e. Vedanta) , which is considered to be the crown jewel of Hinduism. To this Indian, who is a Hindu and Yoga (not just asana) practitioner, the efforts to distance Yoga from Hinduism is simply comical.

    Swami Vivekananda said it best: “Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy – by one, or more, or all of these – and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.”

    To the westerner who would like to eat her cake (practice yoga and gain its benefits) and eat it too ( rationalize that she is not indeed practicing something that originated in Hinduism), I ask, why this defensiveness? Why the reluctance in accepting that Yoga is just a tool that originated from broader Hinduism? You can call yourself a Hindu if you practice yoga. I have no qualms with that. No Hindu would. But why do you?

    I don’t feel insecure like Aseem Shukla, the original author, who somehow feels that Hinduism needs to be acknowledged. If sincerely practiced, Yoga will set you free, whether you want to or not. The Brahman cares not.

    About Chopra the fluffmaster and Bikram the neutron-bomb-ballman, the lesser said the better…

    • lalu

      But Deepak said, yogi does not required religion.

  • An Indian friend (he lives in India) was “born Hindu” but calls himself an atheist. He told me he does the rituals, goes to temples, to please his wife and family. I sent him these articles to get his opinion and this is what he had to say:

    “The best thing about Deepak jokera is that you can read his stuff without being educated or dumbed down. You just read some random sentences strung together, that’s about it. Why people take his word, I have no idea.”

  • Rohini

    Ms. Linda, Yoga is not Hindu religion based? First of all the Hindu Religion you are taking about is basically the Vedic Religion. In Vedas, yoga is the main part. Please read about the great sages who wrote great epics on Lord Krishna and other Puranas.
    Mr. DC is a business man. I feel that he just twisted some part of Hindu Philosophy and gave a different brand name. And some dumb headed Westerners believed that and follow him. Now his lies are out and he has to save his own words. Just think about this, if he says that Yoga is a part of Hindu Religion, then how will he sell his business?
    Yoga is not a part of Hindu religion, what a joke! This is similar to the statement “Jesus Christ didn’t establish Christianity. ” Christ actually propagated the words of God and his followers started Church and Christianity. Similarly, Vedic scriptures talked about the life one human should lead, how to control the mind, etc. The yoga and meditations are two such ways. Do you know the story of Arjuna seeking pasupatastra? There were scores of stories in Hindu religious texts. Without yogic concentration one cannot attain the complete control of mind so that one can meditate the Supreme God Personalities.

    Thank you.
    Hare Krishna!

  • sorry, dude, but Yoga “belongs” to Hindus as much as curry “belongs” to Indians.

    and my friends in Chennai tell me that the head of the yoga school where I study has been in the paper recently lamenting the fact that many Indians have forgotten their heritage of yoga, that it is up to the westerners coming to India to study to carry on traditions because not enough Indians are.

  • wonderful healthy inquiry and questioning .. yet we know not to hold on too tightly to personal ideas, agendas or desires, rights or wrongs. lets honour that there are ‘many roads up the mountain’ and each shall ‘hear’ and experience from their own point on the journey.

  • Hindu Yogi

    I don’t see any of the comments here claiming that Yoga “belongs” to Hinduism. Yoga is universal, just like modern science is. Theory of gravitation does not belong to the English just because Newton “discovered” it. Same thing holds true for vedanta/yoga. The sages and rishis just “discovered” these universal laws which are without beginning or end. Anybody can practice yoga and become a yogi. The beef I have here is this false dichotomy that people try to introduce between yoga and Hinduism. Yoga is an integral part of Hinduism and vice versa.

    Re: Svasti #4 : No, Aseem Shukla has no reason complain to to the Dalai Lama because every Buddhist acknowledges that all Buddhism has its roots in Hinduism (not that it matters)

    Re: Linda #6 : I guess your Indian friend who is born a Hindu but calls himself an atheist now rejects god in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic monotheistic sense. But the non-dual Brahman of the Vedanta is the logical outcome of science and rationality. As a born Hindu, who was never into rituals or temples or gods, I used to call myself an atheist since it made the most rational sense to me as a scientist. But then the harder you think about it, one realizes that the idea or definition of a god with a personality, and a god who cares about what humans do is too limited. One finally ends up with the conclusion of the impersonal monist god which is what Vedanta has been talking about for millenia. So I am an atheist in the narrow western definition, but am definitely a (born again?) Hindu since I think the idea of the Brahman is very powerful.

    Re Linda #8: Sorry to burst your bubble again. The Indians may have forgotten (ignored is a better word) their heritage of hatha yoga and asanas which is but a minuscule part of Raja yoga. Centuries of poverty and trying to make a living can do that to any culture. But
    Karma yoga and Bhakti yoga and Jnana yoga are very well alive and thriving and have been for millennia. Just because you don’t see many Indians in leg behind head poses, it does not mean the tradition of yoga is not alive. I am guessing that the school in chennai you refer to teaches mostly asanas with a sprinkling of meditation and tidbits about yamas and niyamas.

    The ironic thing here is that even Raja Yoga is all about ultimately realizing that you are not your body. Unfortunately, most western asana practitioners are stuck on the first rung of the ladder, obsessing about the body and nothing else.

  • The really interesting thing here is that the word “Hinduism” was applied to the varied and localized religions of India by a Westerner to try to categorize what, essentially, defies categorization.

  • Yoga supports and enhances all cultural, racial and religious backgrounds. Yoga embraces and respects any search for spiritual truth. Yoga is a method of living that can be applied to any belief system or no particular belief system. The yogic guidelines for living (yamas and niyamas) such as non-violence and honesty are universal principles. Anyone of any faith or background can practice yoga and gain its benefits. And the benefits are many.

    As Founder of ChildLight Yoga and Yoga 4 Classrooms, I am grateful for my training in Classical Yoga with the YogaLife Institute. It is often dubbed, ‘householder yoga’ or yoga for the every day Joe (which is most of us who can not seclude ourselves in an ashram for weeks or months at a time). The idea is that yoga becomes part of our daily life – we live yoga within ourselves. Without this foundation and understanding, it would be near impossible to ‘mainstream’ (why is that such a bad word?) yoga to children and school systems. Does this mean my students, teachers and families are benefiting any less? Of course not.

    There is a great article related to this topic in YJ this month, featuring Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa (The Healing Power of Yoga, pg. 76 – exciting reading). I spoke with him last week and one of the things we discussed was how to maintain the integrity of yoga teachings within the confines of what is deemed appropriate in our culture, schools, etc. It can be done – it is being done. And millions of children are benefiting. Beyond that, millions of adults are benefiting – without making yoga accessible to the masses, we would not be in the midst of this wonderful awakening. I’m personally grateful for all the average Joes out there seeking enlightenment in the midst of the everyday. We are all learning and growing together. Hinduism is wonderful, but not required.

  • Vikramaditya

    Linda says, “I’m glad that DC says that “yoga did not originate in Hinduism.” the early yogis (the sramanas) who went into the forests and into the mountains to use their minds and bodies as laboratories did that as a move away from the Hindu priests and rituals at the time.”

    The beauty of Hinduism lies in the fact that one doesn’t need to follow rituals or even believe in any God(s) in order to call oneself a Hindu (or a Sanatana Dharmi; in Sanskrit). This inclusive philosophy in what is now called Hinduism was elucidated by Shri Krishna himself right before the war at Kurushetra. The plurality of Hinduism allows for different viewpoints to co-exist peacefully. Which is why non-Dharmic ideologues can practice a very Hindu Yoga without having to follow the narrow and supremacist Abrahamic rubric of religious conversion. Does Linda and her ilk know that Shri Krishna’s teachings in the Bhagavat Gita encapsulate all the different forms of Yoga? Do they know that the Hindu deity Mahadev is considered as the perfect Yogi. Or, are Deepak Chopra and her fan Linda going to claim that Shri Krishna and Mahadev did not originate in Hinduism. Are they now going to say that the Bhagavat Gita has nothing to do with Hinduism? The only reason attempts are made to decouple Yoga with Hinduism is because non-Dharmic ideologues owing to the totalitarian, supremacist ethos of their ideology find it hard to relate to the fact that they might be practicing something which is an integral and inseparable part of a different belief system. And then of course people like Deepak Chopra and his groupies end up losing their business. Hindus are happy to share Yoga, Ayurveda and other very Hindu traditions and practices with non-Dharmic ideologues. However attempts at cultural theft and appropriation of traditions and practices without providing proper credit is not acceptable.

  • This is an interesting debate, however I think it’s a little narrow-minded for the non-westerners who are commenting here (I assume you are most like Indian?) to say things like “dumb headed westerners” and for making assumptions like – any yogi who wasn’t born in India couldn’t actually know anything about India or yoga. We silly old westerners couldn’t possibly have read Bhagavat Gita or any of the sutras or anything else, right?
    But that is a very broad generalisation.
    And when we start holding on to things – even things like yoga – and saying “this is ours, absolutely without doubt”. Then you really are missing the point.
    Yoga and Hinduism are clearly related, but I know plenty of Hindus (yes even in Australia) who are not practicing yogis and vice versa.
    So you could argue that while they are related, they are not one and the same thing.
    And like Christine said, Hinduism was a broad umbrella term given by the British to the beliefs and practices they observed in India. From what I know of India’s history, and part of the reason that Hinduism is polytheistic, is that those practices and beliefs were not all the same. From region to region and even from family to family sometimes, the practices differed.
    Just like I don’t pretend to know with any certainty what happened in my own country several thousand years ago, I don’t pretend to know what happened in India either. No one does, unless they were there.

  • Hinduism=Vedanta=Yoga

    The very notion that the religion known to world as Hinduism can be separated from its essential components (i.e. Vedas, Vedanta, Yoga) is perplexing to say the least. The “Hindu” label was applied to the people in the Indian subcontinent practicing the “Sanatan Dharma” way of life. The Vedas and Upanishads are the fundamental sacred scriptures and foundation of Hinduism. These texts provide a guidebook for the Sanatan Dharama (Hindu) way of life, which includes Yoga, and the Hindu rituals practiced by the priests. Furthermore, later Hindu texts (the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras) expounded on the concept of Yoga with greater detail and depth.

    What the likes of Deepak Chopra are attempting to do is separate the ritualistic aspects of the Vedas as Hinduism and the spiritual aspects as…well some “new age” ideas that they can package and sell to a new market – essentially consisting of people that are not already actively “practicing” the Hindu way of life. This business of redefining what makes up Hinduism and separating the spiritual aspects of the Vedas from the ritualistic is clearly a political move with alterior motives.

    Linda: This “cherry picking” from the Vedas and redefining of Hinduism is exactly why DC is able to say that “yoga did not originate in Hinduism.” When you go on to say that the sramanas discovered the yoga postures “as a move away from the Hindu priests and rituals at the time,” you are participating in the same inaccuracy that only the rituals of the Vedas are Hinduism. What the sramanas discovered is also rooted to the Vedas and, in turn, a part of the Hindu way of life.
    I do not believe that Dr. Shukla stated that Yoga “belongs” to Hindus. As he stated, it is a gift to all of humanity. Merely requesting the beneficiary of a gift to acknowledge and appreciate the source of the gift is a basic ethic that we teach our children. Yes, curry does not “belong” to India (or Thailand), but we do give credit to the location that the dish comes from (just browse the description of the menus in any restaurant).

    Note that I use the term “way of life” rather than religion when referring to Hinduism because it is not like other organized religions with only one path to salvation. By observing only the ritualistic practices, it may seem that Hinduism is a polytheistic, organized religion. However, the ritualitic aspect of Hinduism is not independent of the monotheistic, spiritual aspect of Hinduism, which refers to God as the pure, formless, universal energy called Brahman. The spirituality of Vedanta (referred to in the Gita as Gnana Yoga), is as much a part of Hinduism as the rituals (Bhakti Yoga). The practice of Gnana Yoga as an organized discipline (Raja Yoga/Ashtanga Yoga, Hatha Yoga) was not developed indepedent of Hinduism either.

    One more thing…a common mistake made by many non-Hindus is to use the example of practitioners of Hindu rituals that do not practice Raja Yoga to support the idea that Yoga is not part of Hinduism. The logic behind this arguement escapes me. The Hindu way of life consists of numerous mechanisms (paths) to the realization of God and freedom from the bondages of the material world. Karma Yoga, Gnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga are just a few examples of these instruments for realization. There is no requirement that one must practice all of them.

  • There is a lot of unnecessary arguments, in my opinion, to disassociate Yoga from Traditional Indian Religion (Sanatana Darma) also known as Hinduism.

    Yoga is one of the six schools of thoughts in Sanatana Darma. It is part of Vedas. For e.g Pranayama is part of Yajurveda daily rituals. Do I need to prove Veda predates Buddhism or Deepak Chopra? Every kid practicing the religion is prescribed practice of Yoga. I grew up in that tradition. Even today if you go to remote villages in India you can see it alive practiced by common men and women. Look at the original texts for correct information. Do not trust people spreading misinformation to sell Yoga as cure for everything or even me for that matter.

  • The originator of Yoga was the “Adi Yogi” (or the First Yogi) – Shiva himself. The other major contributor was Patanjali. Beyond these two, there is really nothing to Yoga worth the name.

    One can say, Shiva or Patanjali has nothing to do with Hinduism, but then the question obviously will be how do you define Hinduism, without its central spiritual inspiration?

    Yes, a lot of what passes off as Hinduism is rituals.. but a heck of a lot of rituals are PART of Yoga as well… and I am NOT talking of those asanas or kriyas!

    Rituals – a LOT of them – (specifically those in the temples and during death etc.) have a VERY strong yogic basis. It is foolish … DOWNRIGHT foolish for ANY Yogi to sweep away ALL rituals as unnecessary!

    In fact, the only (and the biggest) difference between an ordinary soul and a Yogi doing the ritual would be that the latter would do it mindfully and with awareness. The difference in NOT in the action done.. but HOW it is done!

  • Tee

    Deepak Chopra is creating his own magazine


  • Love and Light to all!

    I am grateful for this post and everyone’s comments.

    I have posted a response on my blog. It begins…

    In the healthy debate over the origins and intentions of yoga, please let us not lose sight that – in those first ancient words of the Dao De Jing – The Way that can be spoken is not the True Way.

    Hinduism, Yoga, Hatha, Dharma, Asana …. These are all made-up words, first created by seers to aid seekers on their path. Then, others carried those words beyond those first compassionate offerings — some in the same spirit –but others to build walls of ignorance out of fear, walls through which seekers must even now struggle to move through. Either way, the words were never, and even now, are not Truth. At best, they are aids on our journey. At worst, they are sources of division and difficulty.

    Let us pray we choose to allow these words to aid…. And may we reaffirm now in our hearts — words are not Truth and cannot contain Truth.

    (continued here)

  • Evgeny Kolev

    I am against DC on this one. Westernizing and modifying yoga in the ways it is done in the USA dilutes it. After all, yoga is one of the 6 astika schools of Philosophy of India. And it has deep roots in the Vedas and other Hindu traditions (Sanatana Dharma). The people who had run to the forest – they ran away mainly to be in seclusion and away from the worldly things. Maybe from the ORGANIZED religion, but not from their Hindu roots! That would be to say that the Protestants or any other Christians who ran away from the dogma of Rome were not Christian.
    Also – yes, Yoga is available to everyone in the World. I practice it and I am Eastern European living in the USA. But I accept and understand the importance of its roots!
    The same way as the roots of the Chinese Medicine are in the ancient Chinese concepts (Yin/Yang, 5 phases, 3 treasures etc.), and it is meaningless without them, in the same Yoga is based on concepts of Consciousness, which are rooted in the Hindu philosophy and can not be reconciled with Christian, Muslim etc. dogmas.
    So one can go and stretch on the mat and believe that one day his/her soul will be saved through Jesus/Mohamed, or one can choose the way of Life called Yoga and yoke together body, mind and soul in this life. Can’t be both.
    And don’t call the first one Yoga – the Western world already created lots of “spin offs” like Rolfing, Pilatus etc that do not need any philosophical base – stick with them and stretch at free will 🙂
    So simple it’s painful that people can’t see it.

  • DrishtiMon

    “…The “Hindu” label was applied to the people in the Indian subcontinent practicing the “Sanatan Dharma” way of life. The Vedas and Upanishads are the fundamental sacred scriptures and foundation of Hinduism. ”

    Yes. And we should do what?

  • DrishtiMon

    “Westernizing and modifying yoga in the ways it is done in the USA dilutes it.”

    Myosore Vinyasa Ashtanga is practiced widely and was taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois who also certified teachers. Is that westernizing that yoga?

    BKS Iyengar has taught his yoga widely through out the world. Has he westernized yoga?

    Both of these men claim Krishnamacharya as their guru.

    What exactly is the point of all this debate? That one must be a registered Hindu in order to practice yoga?

  • Indian

    The US is trying to “secularize” Yoga. Hinduism is the source of Yoga. Shame on the US.

  • Indian

    USA sucks. Here, most of the teachers dont even know what they are teaching. Its a money making enterprise. Idiot Americans steal our Yoga, and have morphed it into “christian yoga”. Christian yoga my A**!

  • Indian

    No, you dont have to be a hindu to do Yoga, but you do have to acknowledge the source, Hinduism. I never see a single Indian Hindu in these fake American Yoga studios. Its idiots teaching other idiots. The goal of Yoga is to unite with the divine God. It was never meant to be just an exercise. There is no Yoga without Hinduism & there is no Hinduism without Yoga.

  • Rajesh

    Deepak Chopra is a piece of crap! Half of the time he doesnt even know what he is saying! This guy is a lune. Without Hinduism, his new age crap is nowhere! The man is a sellout to sell himself to the western public. He is a modern day Indian slave to his white Master.

  • Read above all blogs favouring the Hindu origins of Yoga and everything from Ancient Hindu texts.Perhaps you may get 0.0001 percent of knowledge about Yoga because it is too big a subject to be understood by any human let alone write about it and finish it unless and until some truly-learned person breaks the cryptic launguage of sanskrit in which all scriptures of Hinduism are written(BEST PERSONS ARE SEERS AND SCHOLARS OF MADHWA PHILOSOPHY OF SOUTH INDIA..Deepak Chopra is a plagiariser not worthy of any attention.Ignore him and his ignorance.

  • Yoga Swan

    Linda wrote:

    “I’m glad that DC says that “yoga did not originate in Hinduism.” the early yogis (the sramanas) who went into the forests and into the mountains to use their minds and bodies as laboratories did that as a move away from the Hindu priests and rituals at the time.”

    Response: DC will say anything sell his books. He is a business man and lacks the guts to tell the truth like it is.

    Your above comment shows that your understanding of Hinduism is very shallow. The Sharmanic tradition which you say was movement away from Hinduism was very much its essence. Vedas are divided into two mutually compliementary sections, each meant for people at different stations of life or even spiritual evolution. The anterior section is Purvi Mimamasa which deals with rituals and rites. The posterior section deals with Uttari Mimamsa. This section deals with silent meditation and Yoga. It is the latter which comprises the teaching of Vedanta in Upnishads which are the most essential parts of Hindu Vedic lore. The Shamanic practices are subsumed within this section and are meant for renunciants who spent time in lonely meditation but depended on the Grahasthas or householders for alms and other needs. Both sections work in mutual complimentarity. Some of the Sharmanic practices are very severe and hence unsuitable for householders.

    Buddism and Jainism were offshoots of Shramanic Hinduism (Uttara Mimamsa). But Sharamanism itself was central to Hinduism and it is for no reason the upnishads are found in sections of Vedas called Aranyakas , literally , meaning forests.

    The ultimate authority of Vedas is derived from Uttari Mimamsa, the contemplative section, not the the Purvi Mimansa, the ritual section. The latter is meant to be guided by the former of which Yoga is the most essential part. To say that Yoga is not part of Hinduism is to say Lord’s prayer is not part of Christianity. It is that central to Hinduism. Without it no Hindu is Hindu.

    All the avatars of Hinduism like Krishna, Rama, Janaka, Vyasa were Yogis. Bhagvad Gita, the Hindu Bible, is a Yogic text. The Vedas begin with the sacred syllable of AUM which is the Nada heard only through Yoga in meditation. Yoga is central key to unlock the Vedas…all the gods ,etc of Vedas are merely the metaphors of spiritual states attained through Yoga.

    The attempt to decouple Yoga from Vedas or Hinduism is shallow, ignorant and arrogant at the same time. Neither have any existence without each other. I am glad we have somebody in Aseem Shukla to boldly proclaim the truth without caring for $$$ and cheap popularity which DC is after.

  • Yoga Swan

    “Deepak Chopra is a plagiariser ”

    You are right. He has merely recycled concepts from Hindu texts without acknowleding their source. So has Wayne Dyer but the latter is more honest in acknowleding the source. He paid tribute to Mehar Baba.

    Deepak has the intellectual knowledge but lacks moral courage.

  • I’ll just say (or reiterate in some cases)…

    even though Yoga came from (and is based on) a Hindu/Vedantic history and culture, it does not have to be inherently Hindu. Yoga (all forms) is based on Universal Truths/Laws…

    so it really doesn’t matter if you believe in God, Buddha, Jah, or Hello Kitty…in reference to the Universe/Divine, it’s all the same thing just a different name and different guide leading to the same path of Universal Truth and Oneness.

    In other words, it doesn’t matter what you have faith IN, as long as you HAVE FAITH.


  • Yoga Swan

    “Yoga (all forms) is based on Universal Truths/Laws…”

    So is the Sanatana Dharma, i.e Hinduism, another name of Yoga The objectified and personified Yogic states of psycho-physiology are the deities and ritual frame work of Vedas.

    The person who think Yoga and Hinduism were not born of or shaped by each other is either a fool or a scoundrel. I think Deepak is the latter. The craze for white man’s approbation has blinded him to the fact he is fully aware of.

  • chris

    Ahh, that Deepak Chopra !

    Hinduism is more than 5000 years old. There is nothing ‘New-Age’ about the ancient wisdom of Hinduism. It’s very real, it’s very deep, it’s very down-to-earth, and it’s very relevant. It has provided spiritual sustenance to Billions of Humans, and continues to do so.

    On the other hand, Deepak Chopra is the very embodiment of ‘New Age’, and not in a nice way.
    DC, he does not represent, know what I’m saying ?

    But, I’ll grant that DC does make for good entertainment. If DC were to start a TV Channel, he could call it ‘ The Hindu Entertainment TV’; HET, you know –> kinda like BET, but Brown, instead of Black.

    Meanwhile, from the Jay Leno monologues :
    “What would happen if Oprah were to marry Deepak Chopra ?
    She would become Oprah Chopra”. 🙂 🙂

  • For an indepth look at Yoga – visit


  • Chris

    In India, they laugh their asses off, whenever “Deepak Chopra” is mentioned. The attitude towards DC in India is, ” Allright, let’s see what that old fraudster DC is up to now ! ”

    DC is a perfect example of why one should not even attempt to put a New-Age Spin on the sublime, priceless 5000-year Hindu Wisdom and Way-of-Life. One falls hopelessly on one’s ass, when one attempts to do so.

    There is nothing New-Age about Hinduism ! It’s old, yet as relevant as ever.

    I think Jay Leno should have the last word on DC : ” What would happen if Oprah were to marry Deepak Chopra ? She would become Oprah Chopra 🙂 !”

  • Suneil

    Being a Hindu and listening to a “profiteer despicable “Hindu Chowpada” spreading is cowdung philosophies to “flacky,retarded pale westerners” makes me laugh. My question is, USA the country with a borrowed language, hochpotch borrowed culture, borrowed ides from the ancient world, borrwoed religious values can question the authenticity of Hindu culture and Yoga. Americans or for that matter any other person in this world has no right to ask any question about India,Hinduism,Veda,Yoga, Ayurveda so forth and so on. I challenge “Mr Chowpada or Chkaram Chutiya” to come to India and discuss your new age Yoga and philosophy. Mr. “Profiteers” do what you do here in USA and give a journey of bliss “to the flackeies of the world”. Americans you don’t know Yoga, you will never know yoga. Don’t claim something which is not yours, if you do that then you will be reminding us of your forefathers trecherous way of looting, cheating, raping, robbing and slavery of modern times. A birth of a Hindu is starts with Veda and it ends in Veda. Remember that.

    • Yogini Saraswati Celesté

      To know your Self and maintain the natural state of your mind is Yoga, so how can that be strictly Hindu? Anyone who masters the mind is a Yogi/ni, so how can that only be for Hindus? Is freedom and peace only the right of Hindus? Did Lord Shiva bring Yoga to the world for only Hindus? Therefore, how can one say that the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is Hindu if the Sutras are a gift from Lord Shiva to ALL of us to help us correct our minds so we can experience the totality of existence and our Immortal Self.

      And what is the Immortal Self? Is it not the SAME Self that dwells in all of God’s children here on earth whether that have realized that or not? Therefore, you cannot claim that Americans don’t know Yoga and will never know Yoga because to know Yoga is to know your own mind and God does not discriminate between cultures and make claims that only Hindus can know their own minds.

      I understand that it is frustrating to see how Yoga is being demeaned in the West. I am a Westerner and I do not approve of the egotistical “physical obsession” with Hatha Yoga, but these people are not really practicing Patanjali’s Yoga, so don’t judge everyone on the basis of a some ignorant people misrepresenting Yoga just like we should not criticize all Muslims because of the behaviour of a handful of Muslim terrorists.

  • Narayan Das

    Ohm Namasivaya!!!
    I have seen some sectarian people saying that, My Dad & My Grand Dad are mine only, They could not be the Dad & Grand Dad of my own Brother, Sister & Their Children. Deepak Chopra says tht there is no Dad & Grand Dad at all!!! But I say clearelly to you that the Mother and Father of Yoga is Hinduisam and Bharatham too. Hindu theology from time imemmorial tried to understand theological queries Theoratically (Bhakthi, Thantric, Austerity, Logic, Renunciation, Compassion etc…) & Practically as Yoga Shastra. Mind exist in Body, Bodi exist as Form, Form exist with principles, and vice versa, Existence exist with Existence, therefore Hindu with Idolation & Symbolisam (not always but in General). Existence of reality happened in the universe as Form (Sound is also a form but not visible – If you speak in vaccum cannot be heard) I know you may ask me about Space, It is if no form exist in Space space cannot be recognised as well as time. So in the reality of Form cosmos there is “Mahasivam” as Archetype and Bhagawathy as Originated form. It means you are Bhagawathy living entity a relatieve truth But you have Siva Hidden with in. Before you come as reality your archetype Sivam was existing, (Comically you are a photocopy and Original Kept in Parabrahma Archaive). If I come to explain Yoga Principle through various Moorthis, And Vigraha you will shock & Mr. Deepak Chopra As well. My all thanks to Dr. Aseem Shukla who inspired me to write this.
    May Amma bless him.

  • Yoga means union with God. Now what is God in Hinduism? Brahman or Cosmic Consciousness. What is it that is supposed to unify with God? Man. What is Man defined by according to Hinduism? By his soul or Individual consciousness. So union with God means unifying our spirit with the Universal spirit and becoming one with God. If this is not Hinduism, what is this? The problem is that Yoga has become a billion dollar industry and many careers depend on it not to mention the profit of Yoga studios. Hindus were kind enough to share their philosophy with the western world but they didn’t know a day would come when Yoga would be completely removed from Hinduism. When I eat a Pizza, I don’t think I wish I were an Italian. I eat it and enjoy the delicious meal. When someone asks me – ‘Do you know where the Pizza originated from?’ I’d say ‘Yes. In Italy’ As simple as that. Credit Yoga to the religion it was born and nurtured in. That is all.

  • Pankaj

    Om paramatmane namah.

    People, let’s remember US people are in KG of yoga, before any of them become realized soul, they will have to accept truths as they are. And that will include knowing that yoga is hinduism, if you have todefine hinduism for some reason, it is different types of yoga. Even a plain simple hindu is trying to follow bhakti yoga. People in usa neither know about patanjali, nor vashishtha, nor veda, upanishads, bhagvat gita, and they know what hinduism is? That shows how qualified they are to talk about hinduism or yoga.

    Infect these guys will be pissed off by knowing that even dalai lama happily accepts that Hinduism is parent religion of budhdhism. Budhdhism didn’t adopt yoga fully, but westerners are so scared of Vedanta and Hinduism that at best they will associate such thoughts to buddhism. Good that they do not know that even budhdas two gurus who taught him how to realize self were Brahmins/Hindus. Sorry, introduced one more bad word ‘brahmin’, hahaha.

    Ignore have fun. It is ego both ways. The idea should be to accept truths as they are, you can not define yoga or Hinduism without each other. But you can define deepak chopra whatever way you want.

  • Yogini Saraswati Celesté

    Today, we have two distinct groups of Yoga: Patanjali’s Yoga, the original Yoga, which is all about controlling the mind and Hatha Yoga, a form of exercise limited to the physical body with the latter being more popular, especially among young people. Unless Hatha Yoga is practiced with the 8 limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga in mind, however, one cannot really claim to be practicing Yoga, but just a popular form of exercise. In fact, with some of the Yoga videos I have seen on Youtube, there is no difference between what these people are doing and circus performers.

    Specifically, if the goal of Yoga is chitta vritti nirodha (1:2) or stilling the changing states of the mind, then all of our Yoga practices must be done with that goal in mind. “In his translation of and commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Swami Satchidananda gives a clear exposition on the importance of sutra 1.2 in understanding the goal of Yoga. He says: “In this sutra, Patanjali imparts the goal of Yoga. For a keen student, this one sutra would be enough, because the rest of them only explain this one. In this sutra, not only has Patanjali conveyed the definition of Yoga, but he has also provided the practice. If you can control the rising of the mind into ripples, you will experience Yoga.”

    However, this is simply not the case with most young people today, who don’t even observe the yamas and niyamas and are quite “physical” and even “sexual” with their online presence.
    Furthermore, most Yoga studios here in Vancouver BC don’t even teach Pranayama where the higher Yoga begins. According to some Yoga Sages like Swami Rama, it is the duty of every Yogi/ni to practice Pranayama especially Bhastrika, the advanced form of Kapalabhati because it is one of the easiest and most practical methods to purify and still the mind and make it fit for Samadhi, the highest goal of Yoga. The breath controls the mind and the mind controls the senses, so initially a strict routine of Pranayama is far more important than asanas because it is not easy to control the mind, but it is easier to control the breath.

    Yoga may not be a religion, but it is essentially a spiritual practice. Patanjali devotes considerable time in the first book or Pada of the Yoga Sutras explaining Isvara or God and the various methods for us to achieve God Realization. Unless your Yoga practices are dedicated toward mental peace and the Yoga practices like Pranayama that are needed to maintain that peace, one won’t get very far with just Hatha Yoga and may lose interest because one can only go so far with the body, but the spirit is eternal and immortal.

    Although Hatha Yoga on its own has many benefits for greater physical health, the real Yoga begins with the breath and the control of prana, which means soul in Hebrew. In my experience, after practicing Yoga for over 30 years, I never had any results until I started doing Pranayama more intensely and frequently and then I broke through the physical barrier. The benefits of Pranayama are even greater when we begin to add retention: it breaks up the granthies, which means “knots” or “doubts,” or “an especially difficult knot to untie” that form dense negative energy knots in the body owing to fear and doubt and retention further dissolves the samskaras, deeply rooted memories that obscure the Truth and our Immortal Self. In short, if the entire goal of Yoga is designed to make our minds fit for realization, then it is Pranayama and not asana that will get you there.

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