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Yoga and Hinduism: Deepak Chopra vs. Aseem Shukla Beef Continues with Fervor, Religious and Non

in YD News, Yoga Feuds

soap-box-aumAnd the dialogue continues! If you’re following along at home wellness superstar Deepak Chopra and Professor Aseem Shuklah have had some words about the origin/”theft” of yoga and its ties to Hinduism. Check out the earlier discussion to catch up.  Well, with Deepak all “Yoga isn’t Hindusim, and therefore not in bed with religion” etc etc would you expect The Professor to let that lie in savasana and die? Not a chance.

Aseem responds to DC with this kicker: “Deepak Chopra’s rejoinder to my column on the appropriation of yoga presents a veritable feast of delicious irony.” What an opening line!

He continues…

A prolific writer and gifted communicator, Chopra is perhaps the most prominent exponent of the art of “How to Deconstruct, Repackage and Sell Hindu Philosophy Without Calling it Hindu!” To Larry King, he has described himself as an “Advaita Vedantin”–one of the major philosophical schools of Hinduism. Yet none of the plethora of his book titles, that include several devoted to Jesus and one entire book devoted to the Buddha, even skirt the word “Hindu.” His Web site is devoted to selling products and literature related to yoga, meditation and ayurveda, but Hinduism, of course, bears no mention.

The contention that yoga’s foundation is “in consciousness alone,” thereby preceding Hinduism, is a sad demonstration of the extent Chopra and other Hindu philosophical profiteers will go to disassociate themselves from Hinduism. But Hindus are on to this tactic now. For Hinduism’s most sacred scripture, the Vedas, are deeply believed to be the accumulation and transcription of the existential contemplations, and experiences, of rishis–the primordial yogis. The rishis did not call themselves Hindu, but would Chopra claim that the Vedas they composed are not Hindu? The moniker “Hinduism” is of relatively recent origin, but it is accepted today as a handy substitute for the perhaps more accurate but difficult to pronounce name, Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion. That reality does not separate yoga from Hinduism any more than it separates the Vedas or Bhagawad Gita from Hinduism. The Vedas and yoga are synonymous and as eternal as they are contemporaneous.

War of words indeed! Touché Professor S. Naturally, DChop took the time to not let Aseem get the last word to respond with gusto (and a slightly sharpened tongue) and to reiterate his original position:

If there is a movement to return yoga to its Hindu roots, it speaks in a whisper. I’ve never encountered it in India. Having loaded his quiver, what target is Shukla firing at? Nobody is stopping Hindus from claiming yoga as their own. Christians can claim prayer as their invention if they want to. It wouldn’t make the claim less false — sensible people accept that prayer is universal.

Shukla didn’t refute my basic argument, which is that yoga is a practice rooted in consciousness, not proprietary religion. The great seers of India didn’t simply precede the term “Hindu,” as Shukla likes to imagine. They preceded dogmatic religion itself, which is why the ideal of yoga is to leave dogma and ritual behind. In the state of liberation (Moksha), why would anyone feel more tied to Hinduism?

I must repeat, that yoga did not originate in Hinduism. This isn’t a debating point, since no one to my knowledge has ever claimed that Hinduism came before yoga.

He goes on to defend the attacks on his integrity and career, and to extend a twiggy little universal olive branch.

I’m happy that Prof. Shukla isn’t the most strident of fundamentalists. He seems rather bemused where most of his kind are zealous. I forgive the potshots taken at me. Other than bandying about a few rumors, half-truths, and nonsense related to my career, he seems unaware of my deep involvement in reawakening of Vedanta, Ayurveda, and many other aspects of India’s spiritual tradition, or the recognition this has earned me in my homeland.

In the spirit of friendliness, I would like to find common ground with Prof. Shukla in the term Sanatana Dharma-the eternal wisdom of life. Whether he calls it Hinduism or I call it Vedic knowledge, I believe ultimately we are both referencing the same body of universal knowledge that has always stood for benefiting the whole human family. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam -the world is one single family.

Too hard to say who gets the most points this round, but we’re willing to bet most are fairly cool with the universal bit. Namaste?

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

50 comments… add one

  • From the many other scholars and commentators on the ancient texts I’ve read, it’s very clear to me that Deepak Chopra is absolutely correct. No contest.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  • frankly the entire discussion makes me laugh…then yawn.

    It’s a bit like saying learning to play the didgeridoo is disenfranchising the Australian Aboriginals. The didgeridoo is used in Aboriginal rituals and isn’t that older than yoga? But I don’t think many Aboriginal people feel their culture has been taken just because people play the didgeridoo. Quite the opposite, they are happy to give it to the world because they believe it will enrich the human condition.

    There is a certain terrible insecurity in many of the fundamentalists, which is how I see Shukla. According to them, Hinduism and Indian culture blah blah blah is always under threat, imminently to cease its existence in their eyes so they rant on about all the things they see to be so dreadfully destructive. They don’t seem to notice that over 80% of the population in India are Hindus: the “threat” would have to be fantastically massive, which it isn’t. But it suits their brains, and perhaps their political purpose, to be able to claim an external enemy.

  • Amy

    http://hinduwisdom.info/Yoga_and_Hindu_Philosophy.htm

    I checked out the exaustive resources and have to agree with Aseem had to say, the delinking of Yoga from Hinduism ( or Sanatana Dharma) is unnecessay, in fact I am surprised it’s happening so rampantly.

  • DChop! I love it, YD! ;)

    What are you gonna do? They both have valid points of view, from their own perspectives.

    But like I said on the other post – it’s possible to be a practicing Hindu and not practice yoga. Right? No one is gonna strike you down dead for that. And it’s also possible to be a practicing yogi and not be a Hindu.

    I speak about this as one who practices puja, and has pictures of various Hindu gods and goddesses in my house. I practice yoga, read Tantrik philosophy, sing kirtan and more… I’m not trying to take anything away from Hinduism and I really doubt anyone else is either.

    Hey Linda, btw, the digereedoo being played by women is seen as uncool as it’s meant to be mens’ magic. But otherwise, yeah, the Australian Aboriginals are willing to share what they can of their 40,000 year old culture.

  • DChop! I love it, YD! ;)

    What are you gonna do? They both have valid points of view, from their own perspectives.

    But like I said on the other post – it’s possible to be a practicing Hindu and not practice yoga. Right? No one is gonna strike you down dead for that. And it’s also possible to be a practicing yogi and not be a Hindu.

    I speak about this as one who practices puja, and has pictures of various Hindu gods and goddesses in my house. I practice yoga, read Tantrik philosophy, sing kirtan and more… I’m not trying to take anything away from Hinduism and I really doubt anyone else is either.

    Hey Linda, btw, the didgeridoo being played by women is seen as uncool as it’s meant to be mens’ magic. But otherwise, yeah, the Australian Aboriginals are willing to share what they can of their 40,000 year old culture.

  • “the didgeridoo being played by women is seen as uncool as it’s meant to be mens’ magic”

    I believe those kinds of beliefs (“men only”), no matter how “enlightened” people claim to be, are in every culture, svasti. the Ayyappa bhaktas in India are said to bar women between the ages of nine and fifty from their Sabarimala pilgrimage tour (Ayyappa being the third son of Shiva, besides Ganesha and Murugan.)

  • Yeah I know what you mean Linda, and that’s not quite what I was saying. I meant that if you checked in with Australian Aboriginals, they would say it’s meant to be played only by men. And in fact, I have a female friend who plays, but then, she was given the go-ahead/approval by an Aboriginal elder (a male).
    And I also know what you mean about all the traditions in India that women are banned from… ;)

  • Hindu Yogi

    Sigh!

    Re: Svasti #4. I am Indian. I do not believe in a personal god. I do not have idols or do puja or perform any rituals. I do not go to temples. But I consider myself to be a Hindu BECAUSE and *ONLY* BECAUSE I practice yoga. I just find it offensive that people are trying to define my religion for me. That is my only (forbidden) beef. I don’t think anyone is really asking for credit here. Who will you credit anyways?

    The sages and rishis who discovered and formalized the vedas are largely unknown. Even patanjali only compiled the yoga sutras (not wrote). There are some resonable claims that patanjali was not a real person, but more like an amalgamation of the characteristics a few people who existed over a span of a few centuries. Co-opting a single mythological character to represent several real people with real ideals is very common in Indian mythology/history (e.g. Krishna) .

    I find that most westerners who take up eastern spiritual practices still do not want to associate with the word Hinduism. A westerner who practices zen meditation would proudly walk round calling him/herself a Buddhist. Because Buddhism is cool. Buddha is cool. The Dalai Lama is cool. Richard Gere is Cool. However, westerners who take up practices that arose from Hinduism, would not call themselves a Hindu. They would call themselves yogis, mystics or whatever, but not a Hindu. That dirty dirty word! Hinduism is not cool because it gets associated with the caste system, poverty, snake charmers, rituals and the whole shabang.

    On a different but related note, Hindu was a definition that was used mostly by non-Indians to refer to all Indians. The current broadly accepted definition seems to be one of a non-X who lives in India, where X can be Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jain etc (which is where the 80% of Indians are Hindus come from) . But there have been constant internal (within India) arguments to narrow the definition of Hinduism (read Kancha Ilaiah for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kancha_Ilaiah).

    The West would be better off not taking the likes of “yogis” like Bikram and Deepak Chopra seriously.

  • Dear Hindi Yogi,

    I appreciate you passionate defense of your heritage, but the ancient texts themselves are infinitely more universalist than you are willing to allow:

    However men try to reach me,
    I return their love with my love;
    whatever path they may travel,
    it leads to me in the end.
    (Bhagavad Gita 4-11)

    Why would you want to be more exclusive and exclusionary than the ancient texts themselves?

    Bob Weisenberg

  • Sorry for my mis-typing of “Hindu Yogi” in my last comment.

  • Hello Hindu Yogi,

    I don’t really understand why you’re being so defensive. None of the people leaving comments here are trying to deny where yoga came from. And most of us are sincere practitioners of one kind or another.

    I’m sorry but I was not trying to define what Hinduism is in the least. That’s a really huge assumption you’ve made there. I haven’t suggested any of the things you claim I am. What I have said – in comment to this post and the previous one on the same topic – is that Hinduism is well known to be an umbrella term covering a wide range of beliefs and practices. Which include, but aren’t limited to the things I mentioned above.

    You can take issue with what westerners think all that you like, but people are only studying Hinduism and yoga because they are interested in it.

    So you only identify as a Hindu because you practice yoga. Good for you, but that still doesn’t mean that yoga “belongs” to Hinduism. Any more than saying “I only identify as a Hindu because I’m a vegetarian”. Now, you haven’t said that. But someone else could. Does that make vegetarianism Hindu? Are westerners engaging in cultural theft when they choose to be vegetarians?

    Personally, I have no problem in identifying as a Hindu myself. But I also identify with other terms, too. I do agree with you that people generally don’t see Hinduism as “cool” and that there aren’t too many westerners going around calling themselves Hindus as a result. But what are you gonna do?

    I mean, before the British labeled Indians as such, you wouldn’t have identified as a Hindu either (your comment about the origin of the word reflects a comment I wrote on the earlier post on this topic). So what would you have called yourself had you lived then? Would you have even cared if a white man was doing yoga asana? Would you even have known about asana? Honestly, I think it really would have depended on the particular family/regional tradition where you lived at the time.

    Also, yoga and yogic philosophy (from my understanding – please try not to be offended!) is meant to teach people the concept of detachment. In the end, it’s all meant to be about realising that everything is interconnected and inter-related. That nothing is in fact, personal. That the world is much more than what we perceive with our unenlightened five senses. So, let’s get away from the concept of “ownership” over asana, shall we? Because it seems to me that that’s kind of anti the whole purpose of what we try to achieve with yoga and meditation!

    And as Bob said, why would you be more exclusive and exclusionary than that?

    (BTW, I don’t believe in a personal god, either. But then, it’s not as simple as that.)

  • give me a break. what a gross generalization!

    “I find that most westerners who take up eastern spiritual practices still do not want to associate with the word Hinduism. ”

    maybe because Hinduism is a RELIGION and most people I know would not call themselves Hindu or Catholic or Jewish or any other religion if they were not actively participating in the rituals of that religion.

    “A westerner who practices zen meditation would proudly walk round calling him/herself a Buddhist.”

    bull. that is also a gross generalization. just because a person practices zen or Tibetan Buddhist meditation techniques or vipassana meditation does not make one a “Buddhist.” Buddhism is a religion but the Noble Eightfold Path is also a way to live one’s life, the same way the yamas and niyamas are a way to live one’s life. I call myself a Buddhist because I officially took the Five Precepts in a ceremony. Just because I meditate does not make me a Buddhist.

    “westerners who take up practices that arose from Hinduism, would not call themselves a Hindu. They would call themselves yogis, mystics or whatever, but not a Hindu. That dirty dirty word! Hinduism is not cool because it gets associated with the caste system, poverty, snake charmers, rituals and the whole shabang.”

    you really don’t give westeners a lot of credit, do you?

    #1, I don’t know anyone who took up “practices that arose from Hinduism” who calls him- or herself a mystic, how ridiculous! and #2, I know more than a few westerners who contrary to your belief do not find “Hindu” a dirty word because they ARE Hindu. They have their “official papers.” oh gee, but guess what? they are not allowed into the inner sanctums of temples in India even though they are practicing Hindus for the sole reason that no one believes they can be Hindu because they are non-Indian! but an Indian who is an atheist or one who has not practiced a Hindu ritual in their life is assumed to be Hindu just because they’re Indian and so can go into any temple! and don’t even try to deny that — I’ve been to India, north and south, more than a few times and know that to be true.

    One one of my trips I met an American woman who was a Murugan bhakta who was doing the pilgrimage to the six temples….BECAUSE SHE WAS DYING. This was her last wish, to visit the six abodes of Murugan. and she was an OFFICIAL Hindu because she had her papers with her. in spite of her “official Hindu papers”, she was not allowed into the inner sanctum of the Murugan temple in Chennai.

    your assumptions about westerners and Hinduism is not only insulting, it’s arrogant. so don’t lecture the readers of this blog about how westerners think the word Hindu is a dirty word . think how insulted you’d feel if I said “Indians think….” thus. your arguments are tiring.

  • In addition to what Linda has written, and after I posted my own latest comment, I realised that much of what you’re suggesting about westerners, Hindu Yogi, sounds an awful lot like reverse racism.

    Both Christianity and Islam came from the Middle-East and yet there are now “believers” of both these religions in all parts of the world. We don’t hear any cries of “cultural theft” coming from the Middle-East though. No, instead, people are allowed to believe and do whatever they like with their beliefs. There are so many different types of Christian-folk it blows my mind, yet they all call themselves Christian. Sure, they fight amongst themselves, too. Seems to be a part of the human condition.

    I agree with Linda where she says: “… no one believes they can be Hindu because they are non-Indian…”

    I don’t talk much about the lineage or the practices I’m initiated into for a few reasons. Firstly, most other western folk – even those who practice yoga – would think I’m being pretentious or that I’m weird.
    Secondly, I’m not attached to those things. I don’t consider that they make me a better person than anyone else. Nor do I think they provide me with any kind of status or level of importance.
    And finally, because there’s people around with attitudes like yours – what would I know, the dumb westerner that I am? I *must* be fooling myself to think that I could legitimately have any interest or claim to be a yogi, Hindu or Tantrik (and no, not that crappy new age “sex” kind of Tantra either) or any of the other things I practice. How could I? What right do I have to call myself a yoga student or teacher?

    Well, given the studies I’ve been completing for the last 10 years, I’d say I’ve got a pretty decent right. Thing is, I don’t feel the need to wear my labels on my sleeve and tell the world. I also don’t feel the need to scorn others because I think they don’t fit into a certain view of the world I might have.

    And while I admit, not every westerner takes their yoga practice as seriously as others do, neither do all Indians. So it’s really unfair and not quite logical to generalise the way you have, because it’s insulting and for some people, completely untrue.

  • This is my first time visiting this blog and I am really excited this conversation is happening. It inspired me to do some research of my own and discuss this issue with my community. I feel like Deepak Chopra is correct on this one.

  • Hindu Yogi

    Wow. A reverse racist! I’ve never been called that before. We are indeed approaching Godwin’s law. I apologize if I my inarticulate stereotyping (simply based on my own empirical observation of scores of western friends I personally know, who are into various forms of eastern spirituality) hurt the delicate feelings of some people here. I seem to have struck a raw nerve with a couple of you. Let us not let that make us digress away from the original question. Are yoga and Hinduism linked in any way? Aseem Shukla claims that they are being systematically delinked. My contention is that Yoga and Hinduism are highly overlapping, and some may even rightly claim that yoga is fully contained within Hinduism. I am trying to forge an argument against those trying to argue that they are mutually exclusive.

    Again, I do not fully agree with Aseem Shukla’s melodramatic “theft of yoga” headline either. Yoga is for everyone. Take it. Use it. Abuse it. Lululemonize it. I don’t believe I said in any of my comments that only Hindus should practice yoga. Only that if you truly practice yoga, you are a Hindu, whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not. Ultimately it does not matter…

    I think it boils down to the definition of Hinduism that most people are used to and comfortable with – and also the hazy RELIGION vs. Spirituality business. To most people who are not from India (I am willing to take that risk of stereotyping), religion and spirituality mean different things. But in India, that distinction is non-existent. So when you say that Hinduism is a RELIGION, you are referring only to the rituals, the non-letting of your western friend with official papers (I have no idea what that means) into the sanctum sanctorum of temple, the bigotry, etc. It is ugly, and it is the face of Hinduism – just like gay bashing is right now for Christianity and religious intolerance is for Islam. But stereotypically, the definitio of Hinduism is limited to just that. The finer parts of sanatana dharma -upanishads and various other sutras of which yoga sutra is one – are indeed the core of Hinduism and that is all I am trying to say.

    Now that I have been called a racist, I will stop my commenting. Please refer to Swami Vivekananda’s vast body of work (available for free on the web) if you want to understand who a Hindu is and what Hinduism is. Especially his classic works on Bhakti, Jnana, Karma and Raja Yogas.

  • Seriously HY, you really need to get over your own very intense sensitivities here. You’ve managed to twist pretty much everything that’s been said into something that was not intended. Which is a shame, because otherwise this could actually be an interesting debate.

    I invite you to take another look at what I wrote, because I never actually accused you of being a racist. I simply said what you wrote “sounds an awful lot like reverse racism.” But to suggest that Godwin’s law is being invoked here, is a case of an overly hysterical argument getting way out of control.

    You said: “Let us not let that make us digress away from the original question. Are yoga and Hinduism linked in any way? Aseem Shukla claims that they are being systematically delinked.”

    Wait – that was the original question? When was that? Your very first comments here were to tell us how offensive our comments were and to insist that yoga and Hinduism are pretty much one and the same thing. If you’re talking about the argument between Chopra and Shukla – it seems that Shukla is saying that yoga is fundamentally Hindu whereas Chopra is saying actually, the essence of yoga is bigger than any one religion or set of beliefs. And that’s what others are saying here, too.

    In my experience, yoga isn’t a religion. I don’t know how you define religion, but in most dictionaries you’re going to see that religion includes the concepts of belief and faith. Belief implies accepting certain points of view or ideas as true, and faith implies believing in things whether or not you can prove them to be true.

    Whereas yoga in my experience, provides a practical relationship to each and every person’s own connection to divinity or god or the universe, or whatever you want to call it. We can experience ourselves as not limited to our physical body. We can experience ourselves as more than just our crazy-busy mind that’s always creating meanings and telling us what to do and think and how to react. We can gain direct experience of our connection to the heartbeat of the world/universe/god/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. And that experience includes the realisation that nothing in this world is truly separate from anything else. These are just a few of the experiences once can have from a regular yoga and meditation practice [please don't think I'm trying to suggest that this paragraph is all that yoga is or isn't, or that I'm trying to tell you what your experience of yoga is!].

    In regards to this: “Only that if you truly practice yoga, you are a Hindu, whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not. Ultimately it does not matter…”

    As mentioned above, I really don’t believe that’s true. I’ve studied spiritual/religious (call it what you like, it’s all the same to me) traditions from all kinds of cultures. And here’s the thing – the core teachings of yoga are universal. They don’t belong to one particular culture or tradition. For example, Sufism has a lot in common with yoga – just read anything by Rumi and I’m sure you’ll agree.

    There’s even a western tradition I’m aware of (another tradition that I’m a student of), and it’s been passed down orally through a particular family lineage, and still exists today. Now, this tradition incorporates aspects of yoga-like movements, breathing and even has some similar philosophies. Of course being that it’s Scandinavian in origin, it really doesn’t resemble yoga at all. BUT, the essence of what makes it useful and beneficial is pretty much the same stuff that you find in yoga.

    The things that makes yoga and any other really useful practices, religions, beliefs etc from anywhere on the planet GREAT, is that they show us the deepest sense of who we are as human beings. In that respect, these treasures belong to everyone on the planet. Especially if in the end, we all get enlightened and we get to see that every other person in existence is actually us, and we are them.

  • I do believe this is a bit of a non-arguement, as I do agree with Aseem that Yoga and Hinduism go together. And they also don’t.

    What I do think is interesting is the reaction on both sides. The study of co-opting a religion, culture or practice has been researched quite extensively in Sociological and Philosphical academia. The reaction to co-opting has also been studied as a real and strong emotional phenomenon.

    Do I think Yoga co-opts aspects of Hinduism? Yes. After seeing and hearing enough mention of Hindu gods during various yoga classes I don’t see how that is even a debate. It happened.

    Do I think that perhaps a bit more cred or recognition would go a long way in cultivating a space of respect and empathy with those who feel their religion-faith-practice is being “stolen”- Yes.

    Do I think that as a Yogi, this is difficult to do? Nope. It doesn’t take away from my practice, nor is it really a big deal for me to recognize the Hindu roots that are a part of what I practice now as Yoga. I can also see (as a cultural and spiritual minority myself) how seeing my Faith and culture being used and not recognized as being difficult and emotional. I can emphasize somewhat on why this would result in an emotional reaction.

    Will I call myself a Hindu because I practice Yoga?
    No.

    But that doesn’t mean that I can’t say to Hindu Yogi that Yes, I see where you’re coming from and I agree; a little recognition on cultural and religious influences is easy for me to do and hurts no one.

    But then, I am not an expert on Yoga or Hinduism. I’m simply a Yogi. :)

  • “Do I think Yoga co-opts aspects of Hinduism? Yes. After seeing and hearing enough mention of Hindu gods during various yoga classes…”

    I really don’t consider the mention of Hindu gods and goddesses in yoga classes as “co-opting” religion in the same sense, for example, as the way fundamentalist Christians have co-opted religion to suit their political purposes (or any other fundamentalist for that matter.)

    I think that when gods/goddesses are mentioned (at least in the classes I’ve attended) it is not so much for religious (i.e., Hindu) reasons, but they are mentioned for the qualities they represent. to me, it would be the same as mentioning Jesus or Buddha or a Christian saint as examples of compassion.

    unless someone in the class really knows a lot about Hinduism or the gods/goddesses, I doubt that a brief mention of Durga (or which ever god or goddess) means anything to the average yoga student. Yoga studios in the west aren’t Hindu temples where puja is done so the mentioning of the deities takes on a different meaning in that venue.

    Durga/Kali for strong female energy; Hanuman for devotion; Shiva as the Destroyer, a necessary part of life from which everything rises again; Saraswati for wisdom — these are the qualities I’ve heard referenced in yoga studios when a god/goddess is mentioned.

  • Hi Linda,
    Thanks for clarifying and adding such beautiful descriptions.

    I have seen statues (especially in Anusara classes) with further descriptions during class. I find it interesting, if a Yoga teacher brough a cross with Jesus into the class to discuss and perhaps even quote certain aspects of the Bible with regards to how we can apply them to our Faith, even in a very general way, I would assume many students may be uncomfortable.

    Perhaps a better term would be “cultural appropriation”. As there is a fine line and a delicate balance, I do see how Yoga can be viewed as precariously tipping in either one direction or the other. It is a very delicate topic and often arouses passionate and emotional responses on both sides.
    General def: Cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. It describes acculturation or assimilation, but can imply a negative view towards acculturation from a minority culture by a dominant culture.[1][2] It can include the introduction of forms of dress or personal adornment, music and art, religion, language, or social behavior. These elements, once removed from their indigenous cultural contexts, may take on meanings that are significantly divergent from, or merely less nuanced than, those they originally held (wiki).

    Although not 100%, I can see how some individuals would be able to fit Yoga into several of those areas (language, art, music, social behaviour).

    My point was more that I can emphasize with those who feel passionately and that perhaps it isn’t that difficult to give recognition where it is due.

    We all feel passionately about various areas close to our heart, culture and lives.

    Many Blessings

  • I totally get what you are saying, Eco, and I guess my understanding of “co-opting” was with more negative connotations. the funny thing is I am involved in a similar discussion on an Indian website!

    but I think that when non-Hindus embrace a deity for whatever reason, I still would not call it co-opting or whatever. in fact, I don’t know what I’d call it. I think they do it because something about the god or goddess truly resonates with them on a deep level. I myself am open to whatever liberates. I don’t see why I should pick one or the other. I am “officially” Buddhist, but I resonate with Kali…my experiences in Kali temples in India are not to be denied.

    I am sure that some people use such images because they think they look cool, the same way people wear Buddha t-shirts or wear OM jewelery just because it looks cool. but those are the same people who will go on to the next best thing anyway. the booths at yoga conferences rival any temple booth in India for deity images.

    and this is more for Hindu Yogi than anyone else, but there are many westerners who have a deep knowledge and respect for Indian deities and tradition. I’m thinking of some of the kirtan singers in the west who studied with Neem Karoli Baba or some of my Buddhist teachers who also studied with Advaita Vedanta masters in India.

  • Vikramaditya

    @Bob Weisenberg
    You claim “other scholars and commentators” as your reference to ardently support Chopra’s assertions. Please provide specific references. Moreover, which of DC’s assertions are you referring to? He made quite a few of them.
    Your referring to the Bhagavat Gita as a “ancient text” and not “Hindu text” or “ancient Hindu text” addresses the very crux of the issue. Why is this aversion with using the word Hindu?
    I went through the e-book in your website. You claim that “The ancient sages openly rebelled against the overly elaborate, ritualistic, and irrational religious thinking of the time in favor of direct experience and experimenting with states of mind.” Please provide verses from HINDU texts to bolster your rather strong assertion of this big rebellion. Your ludicrous assertion is based on the inaccurate premise that only the rituals of the Vedas are Hinduism. The “direct experience and experimenting with states of mind” that you speak of is as much a part of Hinduism as the ritualistic aspect. Hinduism being a very plural and inclusive Dharma allows for different viewpoints to co-exist peacefully. So, calling one viewpoint or practice as a rebellion against another sadly reflect the complete lack of understanding of the Hindu Dharma. The very notion that the religion known to world as Hinduism can be separated from its essential components (i.e. Vedas, Vedanta, Yoga) is mischevious 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 Bhagavat Gita and the Yoga Sutras) expounded on the concept of Yoga with greater detail and depth.
    In another section of your e-book your claim the different types of Yoga as outlined in the Bhagavat Gita as being an invention of the “ancient sages”. When what is outlined in the Bhagat Gita is what Shri Krishna himself revealed right before the war at Kurushetra. Again this leaving out of Shri Krishna (a Hindu deity) and attributing the teachings of the Bhagavat Gita to “ancient sages” touches the root cause of this debate. Would you attribute the revelations of the Quran to 7th century Saudi Arabian saints? Would you attribute Jesus’s teachings to Israeli sages? I don’t think so.

    What the likes of Deepak Chopra are attempting to do with avid support from people like some of those commenting here 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 (Sanatana Dharma) 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.

    @Svasti
    “Both Christianity and Islam came from the Middle-East and yet there are now “believers” of both these religions in all parts of the world. We don’t hear any cries of “cultural theft” coming from the Middle-East though.” Please provide specifics on any Christian or Islamic tradition or practice that any non-Christian or non-Islamic denomination has appropriated or tried to do so. Your ludicrous assertion is based on the faulty premise (intentional or unintentional) that Hindus in India are accusing Hindus in other parts of the world of cultural theft.

    @Svasti and @Linda
    Yoga is neither a ritual nor a musical instrument. Moreover, in consonance with the plural and inclusive philosophy in Hinduism, Hindus are happy to share a very Hindu Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedanta and others with non-Dharmic ideologues. In fact it won’t be farfetched to claim that Hindu philosophies and practices in the west have to some extent (albeit very small) helped mellow down the totalitarian, supremacist ethos of non-Dharmic ideologies. However, if someone claims that Yoga, Avurdeva, Vedanta, etc. do not originate in Hinduism, that is not acceptable.
    Your gleeful propounding of “traditions in India that women are banned from” only vindicates Assem Shulka’s astute observation of how the trend is to “rather take the ripe transcendent fruits of Hinduism leaving it with the detritus of perceived social evils.”

    @Linda
    Your eager espousing of Chopra’s ploy of using a fundamentalist innuendo only serves to expose yet again how Christians, Muslims, Jews etc. can wear their religion up their sleeve but a Hindu speaking for his/her faith runs the risk of being branded as communal, fundamentalist, etc.
    Your comment on “Indian deities and tradition” brings to the fore the crux of the issue Aseem Shukla addressed in his post. How terms like “ancient Indian,” “Eastern” or “Sanskritic,” are used for what is very Hindu, but the term “Hindu” is assiduously avoided. Would you call Jesus as an Israeli or Palestinian prophet? Would you call the Quran a Saudi Arabian holy book? I don’t think so.

    @EcoYogini
    Your view are the most balanced of all, and address the matter without the shenanigans and brow-beating sadly attempted by some of the others desperately trying to decouple Yoga with Hinduism.

    It is amusing to see non-Dharmic ideologues try to defend their stands using logical fallacies and half-baked Dharmic concepts they might have picked up from the Yoga manual or classes in the studio down the street. What they simply fail to understand is that religion is not the same as Dharma. The concept of religion as defined in the context of Abrahamic ideologies is parochial, totalitarian, supremacist and leads to divisions among people. The path of Sanatana Dharma (or Hinduism in present terminology) can be followed by anyone. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and all else. What is unacceptable when people belonging to one dimensional “my-way-or-the-highway” creeds try to appropriate Hindu culture and heritage. I have said this in one of my comments in the previous related post, and I will say it again. The only reason attempts are made to decouple Yoga with Hinduism is because non-Dharmic ideologues owing to the totalitarian, supremacist and exclusive ethos of their ideology find it hard to relate to the fact that they are practicing something which is an integral and inseparable part of a different belief system. And then of course people like Deepak Chopra and their groupies (like some commenting here) end up losing business. 

    All said and done, what is today known as Hinduism is the one and the same as Sanatana Dharma. It is credit to Hinduism’s plural and inclusive philosophy that Hindus accepted a non-Sanskrit name for the harder to pronounce Sanatana Dharma. It is also to Hinduism’s credit that Hindus are happy to share Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedanta and other very Hindu traditions, practices and philosophies with non-Dharmic ideologues, with freedom to retain their own beliefs. However, However, attempts at cultural theft and unethical appropriation are completely unacceptable. And as EcoYogini aptly put it, “perhaps a bit more credit or recognition would go a long way in
    cultivating a space of respect and empathy with those who feel their religion-faith-practice is being “stolen””.

  • “Would you call Jesus an Israeli or Palestinian prophet”

    actually I call Jesus a Jew. His followers and their followers and their followers years later called him Christian.

  • The only thing I have to say in response to @Vikramaditya is this:
    LMFAOROFL!!! :D

    I’m being ludicrous and gleeful in my assertions? Really? *chuckles* No, really? *guffaws* Okay, okay, I’m stopping with the laughter now. I am. No really, I am… ;P

  • Vikramaditya

    @Linda
    What you say is true. Christianity as an organized religion was not envisioned by Jesus, and only developed so in the years and perhaps in the couple of centuries after his demise. However, that still doesn’t take away the fact that Jesus is without any doubt and with complete conviction associated with what is now the religion of Christianity. I don’t see or hear anyone referring to Jesus as an Israeli or Palestinian (feel free to correct me with specific references), with the word Christian (or Christianity) conveniently expunged. Which is why it is perplexing to see people referring to Hindu deities as Indian, and leads to the surmise that there is perhaps an ulterior motive. I am sure you realize there are Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other non-Hindus in India. And I am sure you also realize that there are significant numbers of Hindu outside of India as well.

    @Svasti
    While one might claim to practice Yoga, being a Yogi or Yogini takes more than making distasteful snarks bereft of any public forum etiquette. Such unfortunate bearing however does prove impuissance at logical debate and whats far worse raises questions about your antecedents and upbringing. For your sake, I hope you don’t find that funny.

  • Y’know what? Spending half the night looking up the biggest words you can find and then attempting to string them into a sentence that half-way makes sense, in an attempt to sound intelligent whilst at the same time insulting people instead of actually partaking in the debate in any meaningful way? Well, that doesn’t make you look or sound intelligent. Instead, its just kind of obnoxious in the same way a trail of ants trooping through your house is – annoying, but ultimately not terribly taxing.
    And yeah, actually, I find your Johnny-come-lately contribution here, to be absolutely hysterically amusing.
    But I am done with what’s left of this debate – conversing any longer with creatures that live under bridges is just not my thing. And neither is flogging a dead horse.

  • Vikramaditya

    @Svasti
    Pot is calling the kettle black! It is sad that after making crass snarks in the face of logical counter arguments, you now have the temerity to make accusations of not “partaking in the debate in any meaningful way”. Which in itself reeks of utter hypocrisy given that other than continuing with your self-serving barbs, you are yet to answer any of my points. I am also really sorry to see that your idea of an internet blog comments based debate is analogous to question hour in parliament. Or maybe that was just another shenanigan to wheedle out of the failure in countering my arguments. I forgive all your bumbling potshots, which I will completely overlook, given that you clearly have many issues to deal with. If nothing else, at least your complete lack of public forum etiquette and continual browbeating has exposed some of the deep insecurities and mental instability that some self-righteous people have who can’t see beyond the tip of their own nose. In all fairness, perhaps that is not their fault but is merely a reflection of the tumultuous and meaningless lives they have lived so far. If yoga can help such people as yourself exorcise those skeletons in their cupboard, find some peace and tranquility in their lives, and maybe learn some public forum etiquette along the way, irrespective of whatever they choose to call themselves, as a Hindu, as a Sanatana Dharmic, I will be happy that someone has benefited from the infinitely rich heritage of my dharma.

  • Steve Meyers

    Having studied Hinduism during my travels in India and Nepal over quite a few years, and as a yoga teacher for the past 4 years, I find the origins of yoga in Hinduism undeniable. It is unfortunate that people who call themselves proponents of yoga are reluctant to acknowledge this. Having said that, I have been accused of being a heretic and threatened with the horrors of hell due to my love affair with yoga. As such, I can understand why yoga studios and businessmen like Deepak Chopra are absolutely against associating yoga with Hinduism. Makes for bad business! One of my earlier yoga studio owners specifically ask me to steer yoga clear of Hinduism simply because that caused clients to drop off. They felt they absolutely couldn’t be doing something that is part of another religion. Even if that wasn’t a ritual or a binding religious practice. This exclusivity in the religion I was born into has caused me to abandon it and become an atheist. Hell, I wouldn’t even mind calling myself a Hindu.

    Hindu yogi, I understand how you feel, but please don’t generalize. I am a westerner too and I have complete empathy with you. Not all westerners suffer from the “frog in the well” syndrome with regards to Hinduism.

    Vikramaditya, if u go to Svasti’s blog and read her story, that might explain her caustic reaction to your questions.

  • and just to add more fuel to the fire….here ya go…..

    http://www.sandeepweb.com/2010/05/04/the-yoga-disease/

  • I’m not very interested in the the Hindu exclusive claim to Yoga, because I think it is spurious. Deepak Chopra is right on in his defense, and he is supported by almost every Yoga scholar I’ve ever read.

    That said, browsing through my forty plus Yoga books, almost all of them acknowledge a relationship to Hinduism, but also assert that Yoga throughout its history has had an independent life as well. In other words, Yoga has alway been attached to Hinduism but has had a separate, you might say fiercely independent, life of its own at the same time.

    This is the true resolution to this “conflict”. The problem is not insisting that Yoga has been related to Hinduism, only that it has ONLY been related to Hinduism. The widely varied Yoga books on my shelf say exactly that.

    Now, as for Deepak Chopra, you need to read him. Try “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind”. There may be a better more recent book. Were any of you aware that Chopra wrote an entire book on a modern approach to reincarnation? Would you be surprised to learn that highly respected Tantra Yoga teacher Rod Stryker requires Chopra’s book on Ayurveda for his 500 level Teacher Training courses.

    Whatever you think of his glitzy marketing, Chopra’s the real deal when it comes to Yoga philosophy. Even his Tweets sound like they come right out of the Upanishads. One problem is that many modern Yoga people are so exclusively Yoga Sutra focused that they are not familiar enough with the Upanishads to know this. Most of Chopra’s work is literally dripping with the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. He is bringing the most original and authentic Yoga thinking to a mass audience.

    Here’s what I wrote in a recent blog comment to someone who was panning Chopra for his Hollywood persona and for getting the order of the eight limbs wrong in his recent iPhone app. with Tara Stiles:

    *****
    One has to look at the whole picture in evaluating Chopra. He may get a few Sutra facts a little wrong, but he is, as I called him in one blog, “A Modern Sage of the Upanishads”.

    That’s it. Chopra’s much more of a blinding-flash-of-insight Upanishads type guy than a step-by-step methodical Sutra type guy. And they’re both equally anciently valid. Ain’t Yoga grand?

    Here are my three short blogs on Chopra:

    “New Chopra/Stiles iPhone ‘Authentic Yoga’”
    http://wp.me/plUox-w0

    “Deepak Chopra–Modern Yoga Sage or New Age Hype?”
    http://wp.me/plUox-mF

    “Pure Yoga By Another Name–Chopra, Tolle, and Easwaran”
    http://wp.me/plUox-mG

    *****

    In spite of my own strong opinion on this, I’m certainly interested in hearing other points of view. But I honestly think most objective traditional Yoga lovers would come to the same conclusion about Chopra if they took the time to look beyond the glitzy surface and the Chopra avoidance it apparently elicits.

    Bob Weisenberg
    ElephantJournal.com

  • What I find really ironic here is that, if westerners who practice yoga started calling themselves Hindus, I have no doubt that some Hindus would object just as strenuously to that as Aseem Shukla and other commenters here are to western yogis *not* identifying as Hindu.

    Call me Hindu because I practice yoga if you want. Call me Buddhist because I meditate. Call me Christian because I occasionally go to Quaker meeting with my mom (though some Christians would get very upset by that, since, even though Quakerism’s based somewhat on the Bible, most Quakers don’t actually believe that Jesus died for their sins). Call me Muslim because I quoted Rumi in my last blog post. Call me an atheist because I don’t identify with any religious tradition. I don’t call myself any of the above, but I wouldn’t be offended.

  • @YogaforCynics
    … call me anything… just call me!

    It is very simple. Yogic wisdom was born at a certain time and place, and took on the cultural context of that place. It is essentially the science of self awareness.
    So, it is easy to replace the cultural context with you own personal intimate one and take the ‘beliefs’ into actual experience. See, all good! It is just the mind that makes things complicated. Enjoy your practice.

  • Malavika

    Linda said:

    “and just to add more fuel to the fire….here ya go…..

    http://www.sandeepweb.com/2010/05/04/the-yoga-disease/

    If Hindus are outraged at the blatant appropriation of Yoga as ‘Christian Yoga’, they have every right to be. Look at the fate of Pagans whose Easter and Dec 25(Winter Solstice) have been appropriated by Christians. They have been successfully genocided and denigrated.

    The narrative seems to be as follows. All the treasures of Hinduism like Yoga, meditation, plurality of POVs(called Darshanas) are ‘generic’, ‘universal’ and belong to ‘all religions’ but CCC (Caste, Curry and Cow) are intrinsic to Hinduism. Any clear eyed person can see the hypocrisy in this posturing.

  • Malavika

    “It is very simple. Yogic wisdom was born at a certain time and place, and took on the cultural context of that place. It is essentially the science of self awareness.”

    Yoga blends with the philosophical world view of Indic traditions(Hinduism, buddhism, Jainas) and contradicts the exclusive chauvinistic philosophy of semitic religions.

    “Clearly, it is not just its specific practices, such as chanting the mantra “Om,” that make yoga Hindu. It is the philosophy itself. The fact that the goal of yoga philosophy is mystical experience–or, more precisely, a mystical experience of the oneness of the soul with God–is the most central attribute that makes it inherently Hindu.”

    http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=5064

  • seasons

    I suppose Hindu Yogi and Vikramaditya has analysed really well the entire issue and put things in percpective.
    Others who are opposing should really sit back and think for a moment, if their definition of ‘Hindu’ is correct.

  • Vivek

    On one hand Bob Weisenberg attempts to divorce Yoga from Hinduism by ardently supporting Deepak Chopra’s claims. On the other hand he claims that Deepak Chopra is a proponent of true, pure Yoga by virtue of his writings being heavily influenced by the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. To sum it up:

    Argument (I)
    As per “bookshelf of 40+ Yoga books”: Deepak Chopra is correct.
    What did Chopra say?
    {Yoga did not originate in Hinduism, Yoga is independent of Hinduism, etc.} …(A)

    Argument (II)
    Deepak Chopra uses Upanishads, Bhagavat Gita = Deepak Chopra proponent of most original authentic Yoga ….(1)
    (1) => Upanishads, Bhagavat Gita = True Yoga …..(2)
    FACT: Upanishads, Bhagavat Gita are Hindu scriptures ….(3)
    From (2) and (3), Yoga is an inseparable part of Hinduism …..(B)

    Both (A) and (B) cannot be true at the same time.

    I don’t believe Bob Weisenberg is ignorant of the fact that the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita are Hindu scriptures. As someone commenting here pointed out, he calls the Bhagavad Gita as an “ancient text” and not Hindu text and attributes it to “ancient sages” leaving out all references to the Hindu deity Shri Krishna, the avatar of Shri Vishnu, who is the source of the Bhagavad Gita. Chopra made quite a few conflicting assertions in his columns on the Yoga debate, particularly the second one. His fans in their gauche eagerness to toe his line and fulfill their supremacist idological ethos of cultutal theft, seem to make the same folly.

  • DrishtiMon

    Instead of plaintive sighing at the theft of Patanjali’s jewels, the wiser course of action would be for Hindus to more widely practice ashtanga across all castes.

    …er…we are talking about ashtanga/Raja yoga aren’t we? Or shall we throw in Bahkti yoga too? Are we throwing in Kriya yoga in the basket? May as well throw in Jnana yoga while at it.

    Meh, I’m throwing in the towel.

  • Bikram

    Western Yogis must understand that we Hindus fought a long war against imperialism of Islam and West to protect our Dharma. Now that our Yogi masters are coming to spread the message of Brahman to all over the world, and that you are practicing it is a sign of our success. I do not understand why do not you try to feel the heart beat of us…our pain, our struggle and our ongoing success. So, let us all come together, we are all proud Hindus and we are here to build a new world of spiritual unity. Together we are going to challenge the Arabhamic faith, we are going make them learn that there are many ways to divine. Let us do it

  • Jayant

    If according to DC, Yoga is much older than Hinduism, then can he please tell us when did Hinduism ‘begin’?

    I think everyone knows that it is a Hindu concept – it cannot be Christian, Islamic or Jewish. It is just that everyone does not admit it. Those who are theives (in Hindi we call them Chor – uchakke) – don’t want to admit. Others are good guys and they agree. Some are genuinely confused – pity. You figure out where you belong.

    Mystery solved. Cheers!!

  • Yoga Swan

    Great reply Aseem. I just discovered you today and am a fan already. You stole my thunder.

    In all respect to Deepak, he has done a lot in bringing out Hindu ideas in a scientific mould and deserves credit but without honestly acknowledging its sources they are at best intelligent plagiarism.

    Deepak described himself as Advaita Vedantin on Larry King but would like to dissociate from Hinduism. This is the most disturbing and also ludicrous part and Deepak knows full well that he is being dodgy on this one.

    Tommorow these blissed out new age morons who believe every word he says at its face value would say that even Adi Shankara , the original exponent of Advaita and the greatest Hindu revivalist, was also not a Hindu!

    Deepak’s illogical analogy on Christians patenting the prayer is just as mute one. Christians did not invent prayer and neither did Hindus and other religions borrow it from there. The prayer is present in Hinduism as Bhakti Yoga- yes Yoga!- since the most ancient antiquity many millenia before Judeo-Christian tradition even started.

    The only defence, or rather offense, these new age twits who want to profiteer on Yoga without honestly acknowledging its sources is by demonizing those who are speaking the truth as “fundamentalists” or “nationalists”, etc.

    Such labels are used when a person has lost all logical and factual ammunition to argue their position rationally and thinks that they can kill the debate and stifle the truth by rubbishing the opponent than addressing the argument.

    Deepak Chopra….you are a spineless liar. You have squandered all your gifts in pursuit of cheap popularity.

    Go Aseem!

  • Yoga Swan

    Bob Weisenberg wrote:

    “Deepak Chopra is right on in his defense, and he is supported by almost every Yoga scholar”

    You mean Yoga profiteers and plagiarists …you seem quite fast and loose with the definition of the word “scholar”.

    Give me an example what you mean by “scholar”. I hope you didn’t include yourself and this Linda lady in the list.

  • All this yakkin…

    …Buddha never said, “I am a Buddhist.” Jesus never said, “I am a Christian.” Moses never said, “I am a Jew.”

    So why would I?

    I have been on the path for “truth” since I was 8 years old. I have been to almost every kind of church you can think of (except the Church of Satan). I have been through every (other) religion, faith, and creed.

    What I have learned is that they are all the same…just different names for the same Creator. Same universal truths, just in a different language and a different era of time.

    At the end of the day, who cares? Isn’t the part of the practice of Yoga to let things go? All these different names and other things can hurt your head (thinking about them and arguing so hard). In the yogic sense, this is himsa. In the Christian sense, all of this is vanity. The truth is even vanity. Now we can see why…

    …no disrespect to any of you but all this posturing is going to make people not care what you have to say. All this satisfies who (besides YogaDork and his boost in readers, which is NOT a bad thing)? Your egos? My ego?

    Listen, some say tomato and others say “tomato.” I could care less who is right. If Kali, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, Durga, Shiva, Jehovah, whatever – can get me to the source of the Universe/Divine/Consciousness/Bliss in whatever language it comes in, then I’m all for it!!

    Jai Ma Guru, Tnestalin (Ethiopian Orthodox), Buddha Bless You, God Bless you, Om Namah Sivaya, and whatever else resonates within your heart and soul.

    May all human beings be free from suffering.

  • Let me say this again…

    May all human beings be free from suffering (including me cuz y’all killing me with all this arguing and posturing over nothingness)

  • Yoga Swan

    Why do you even identify with the name “Bhairvi”. Go totally nameless. That would be ultimate ourcome of your argument pushed to its logical extreme.

    In a pluralistic envornment, group identity has the same purpose individual identity. Mispresentation of the group identity and appropriation of its cultural acheivements impinges on the identity of the individuals who comprise it.

    Buddha did not say he was a Buddhist but he did found a group order called Sangha and gave it a distinct identity based on triple gems. His followers were supposed to subscribe to that corporate identity in addition to deeply personal meditations or Vipassana.

    Moses and Abraham founded Judaism and gave Jews separate laws and rituals. Where did you think circumcision come from ? It was a marker to distinguish Jewish from non-Jewish.

    Muhammad founded Ummah, a corporate Islamic body, which had the power to legislate and raise army of the faithful.

    So your reading of religious group identities is very superficial. Hindus need to guard their group identity just as much as any other religious group and part of which is not to let interested parties steal their heritage without attribution and distort its basis for profiteering.

  • First off, spell the name right and maybe I may answer you.

    second of all, Buddha inspired a bunch of people to follow him and they called it “Buddhism”. Moses and Abraham were following Jehovah to whatever else. Hebrew was the language Abraham spoke and the only reason Moses called his people “Israelites” were because of his forefather, Israel…Judaism as a word came way after them.

    So get your stuff right. You can call it what you want. I will call it what I want. Hindus can do whatever they need to do to feel at peace. I will do what I do to feel at peace, just like you.

    However, you acting this way and talking out the side of your neck will only take you further away from the universal truths that Hindus are trying to hard to hold onto.

    (to further prove my point) it doesn’t matter where circumsision came from anymore. The only real question is whether you’re going to get circumcised or if (you as a parent) will circumcise your child. A person who is a Christian may decide to circumcise their child for WHATEVER reason…yet, it will not make them Jewish or an Israelite, just because they get the procedure done.

    May you be free from the suffering of your ego.

  • Yoga Swan

    “A person who is a Christian may decide to circumcise their child for WHATEVER reason…yet, it will not make them Jewish or an Israelite, just because they get the procedure done. ”

    Not a convincing argument again. While circumcision of the child would not make it Jewish but the parents would easily acknowledge that circumsicion is a practice of Jewish origin. The same applies to Yoga. Its practioner may not become Hindu but he would be dishonest if they negate the Hindu origin of the practice.

    Since law of gravity is also a Universal Truth, should people stop associating the name Sir Issac Newton with it?

    You make many absurd points from your egoless state.

    Peace out…

  • Bhairavi

    Here’s the trick: I’m not trying to argue anything. I’m not trying to convert you or anyone here. I’m just stating my opinion. You don’t like it? tough. get over it and move forward…

    …that’s what I’m going to do.

    I’ll keep my peace inside thank you!

  • A person who is a Christian may decide to circumcise their child for WHATEVER reason…yet, it will not make them Jewish or an Israelite, just because they get the procedure done.

    This example of circumcision as a means to decouple Yoga from Hinduism, as propounded by a commenter, provides an insight into the understanding of Yoga and Dharma of some people. Yoga is a means of unification of the aatman (inner soul) with the Brahman (universal soul, supreme transcendent; the Hindu concept of the Supreme Being). Circumcision in Judaism and Islam as I understand isn’t supposed to result in “unification” with the Jewish God or with the Islamic Allah. If anything, circumcision in Judaism may be compared to clean shaving one’s head during the Hindu ritual of Upanayana Sanskaram.

    The strident invective and air of moral superiority in the comments by the person commenting under the name Bhairavi is as non-Yogic/non-Dharmic/non-Hindu as one can get. Sadly, this is the type of Yoga being taught be self-proclaimed Yoga teachers with commenting under Sanskrit (common Hindu) names.

    Yoga in the west has lost its true Dharmic spiritual import due to crass commercialization and attempts at decoupling from its undeniable Hindu Dharmic roots. Bikram something, Deepak whatever and their ilk are nothing more than philosophical profiteers.

    Totalitarian supremacist ideologies, in their zest for numbers, have a history of appropriating practices from other belief systems and calling it their own. The attempted theft of Yoga is just a more recent phenomenon along the same lines. @Malavika [05.17.10 at 8:12 am] puts it aptly:

    If Hindus are outraged at the blatant appropriation of Yoga as ‘Christian Yoga’, they have every right to be. Look at the fate of Pagans whose Easter and Dec 25(Winter Solstice) have been appropriated by Christians. They have been successfully genocided and denigrated.
    The narrative seems to be as follows. All the treasures of Hinduism like Yoga, meditation, plurality of POVs(called Darshanas) are ‘generic’, ‘universal’ and belong to ‘all religions’ but CCC (Caste, Curry and Cow) are intrinsic to Hinduism. Any clear eyed person can see the hypocrisy in this posturing.

    Hindu Dharma is the only belief system which withstood the storm of totalitarian, supremacist ideologies. With age of direct conquest gone, academic and media cabal based insidious denigration on one hand, and cultural appropriation (of transcendental fruits such as Yoga) on the other, are the tools for new age conquest by the totalitarian “my-way-or-the-highway” ideologues.

    Quite a few of the folks commenting here desperately trying to decouple Yoga from Hindu Dharma know as much about Yoga and Dharma as the pope about quantum physics. Thankfully there are sane voices even among westerners (like Steve Meyers 05.03.10 at 7:54 pm); albeit a minority at the moment; which see through this shenanigan.

    2 pertinent posts:
    1. Yoga in the west: [http://www.sandeepweb.com/2010/05/04/the-yoga-disease/]
    2. Hindu Roots of Yoga: [http://www.sandeepweb.com/2010/06/03/the-hindu-roots-of-yoga/]

  • sangos

    Respect DChop…but this is all unecessary! Just do it…as do all Yogis! We are talking about transcending this planet…so Yoga belongs to earthlings as aliens would say….what say?

  • SB

    The Vedas mentions, or does it, some Yogic asanas. The Vedas is also the philosophical cornerstone for all 6 Darsanas of the Hindu philosophies. Heck, the purpose of Yoga is moksha from the illusory world. The basic principle of Hinduism is the world is an illusion (maya), and our job is to realize this and liberate our atman from this illusion. The two seem pretty tantamount to me!

    Also, that one guy kept saying that every scholar he’s ever looked up in his 40 book yoga collection or whatever; that really has no bearing in this argument. If some guy in a 500 level yoga course has Chopra’s book as a requirement, what does that even mean? Who cares? Since when is a foreigner an expert on somebody else’s native culture, especially when the native person grew up and lived in that culture and experienced firsthand through interactions with different texts and people, the elements of their culture?

    Also, Chopra says that Hinduism is dogmatic, yet Yoga itself prescribes a dogmatic discipline that one must take to achieve liberation. I don’t know… I don’t think Chopra really knows what he’s talking about. He seems to not even know his own basic understanding of the principles.

  • chris

    Ahh, that Deepak Chopra !

    Hinduism is more than 5000 years old. There is nothing ‘New-Age’ about the ancient wisdom of Hinduism.

    On the other hand, Deepak Chopra is the very embodiment of ‘New Age’. He does not represent, know what I’m saying ?

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

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