Could B.K.S. Iyengar win the Nobel Peace Prize? He should, says a novelist and correspondent for Bloomberg’s World View in New Delhi as well as the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States who have initiated a worldwide effort to nominate him. But what does yoga have to do with peace, anyway?
According to Chandrahas Choudhury, who wrote the Bloomberg article, it’s time for an Indian to win the Nobel Peace Prize (Mahatma Gandhi’s surprising omission has been widely criticized) and he thinks it deservedly belongs to Iyengar, who turned 95 just last month and is considered one of the founders of what we know today as modern yoga. And yoga, (overly simplified) as finding inner peace as a means to finding peace outside, is the gist of a lot of Iyengar (and yoga/Patanjali’s) teachings and is the basis for Choudhury’s case for Guruji’s nomination.
“Is there an Indian today who deserves it?” Choudhury asks. “There certainly is,” Choudhury continues, “and it’s curious that his claim on it has apparently never been taken with the seriousness it merits, when one might say he hasn’t just advanced the cause of peace in the world, but considerably enlarged its meaning”
Citing 1989’s Nobel Peace Prize winner the Dalai Lama who said, “World peace must develop from inner peace,” a strong case could be made for Mr. Iyengar who, for many decades, has had a major influence on spreading the practice of yoga and promoting people’s physical ease with his therapeutic method of asana, as well as cerebral enlightenment through interpretations of yogic philosophy which have reached millions across the world via his books such as Light on Yoga and Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom. He’s also made recent trips to China in the past two years (not exactly a hot bed for yoga, though it’s growing) opening up an Iyengar Institute of Hong Kong.
The question is, how does all of this translate to the Norwegian Nobel Committee? One of those Nordic folks has to do yoga, right? Though maybe it’s hot yoga. We digress.
A novelist from New Delhi surely isn’t the only person who believes B.K.S. Iyengar deserves the nomination. The Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States (IYNAUS) launched a worldwide campaign last November encouraging members to help in the nomination.
Via a newsletter Board President Janet Lilly wrote:
We are pleased to announce that a world wide effort is underway to nominate Shri B.K.S. Iyengar for a Nobel Prize to recognize his tremendous contributions. His lifelong example of integrity, practice, teaching, and writing exemplifies a man worthy and deserving for consideration of the Noble Prize for Peace. His tireless effort to unravel the ancient Indian art of Yoga and interpret it into practical application has brought inner peace and health to humankind around the globe.
They have since taken to spreading the word online and sharing videos and “examples of the powerful nature and effect of Iyengar Yoga” so that nominators can have more resources to review before the deadline of February 1, 2014.
We can’t say for sure if those efforts will be fruitful, but then again, it’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s how you many youtube comments you have! Oh, we kid. Best of luck to all the worthy nominees.
“Before peace between the nations, we have to find peace inside that small nation which is our own being.” – B.K.S. Iyengar, Sparks of Divinity
UPDATE: There is now an online petition calling for signatures to help nominate Mr. Iyengar.
image still from Sadhaka a documentary film on Iyengar.