“The ultimate goal of all mankind, the aim and end of all religions, is but one — reunion with God. But while the aim is one, the method of attaining may vary. Both the goal and the methods employed for reaching it is called Yoga, a word derived from the same Sanskrit root as the English “yoke”, meaning “to join”, to join us to our reality, God.” —The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda by Swami Vivekananda Volume 5, Notes from Lectures and Discourses.
This 21st June, whole world is gearing up for celebrating first International Day for Yog. The proposal put forth by the Indian Prime Minister in the United Nations saw rarest support of 177 co-sponsors and passing of a resolution without voting. This clearly indicates the widespread recognition to healthy and harmonious living propagated by the ancient Indian Sages.
It is unfortunate that while the whole world is recognising Yog as India’s civilisational contribution to humanity, some people in India are trying to rake up controversies by bringing in religious connotations. It is beyond doubt that Yog is the Indian way of holistic life. That does not mean Yog is limited to a religion or certain religious practices. Denouncing the celebration on the ground of opposing certain hymns or celebrating it on Sunday only echo our fractured mindset and all the morehighlight the need for Yogic life. Even Surya Namaskar is not a form of worship but well known as a capsuled form of Yog which anyone can practice in a short span of time. If leading a healthy life is a human right then it should be available to all human beings, irrespective of religion. A call by the Islamic religious and educational institution from Deoband, Darul Uloom, is significant in this regard. The institution has not only whole hearted supported the celebration but clearly delinked Yog from religion. Hope other members of ‘secular brigade’ recognise the spiritual significance of Yog.
Another issue associated with the occasion is limiting Yog to a mere ‘Physical Exercise’. Especially, when the humanity is going through worst kind of strife and stress, Yog should be seen as a way of life, leading to the union of body mind, intellect and soul as envisaged by sages like Maharshi Patanjali. One has to recognise that this approach takes us beyond the debates and discussions over religions and medical pathies. This is essentially meant for streamlining our consciousness which will ultimately nurture the sense of inherent unity and equanimity amongst all beings. Thus, Yogic way of life should be seen as precondition for individual as well as social health.
Celebrating Yog day can make us conscious about practicing Yog but eventually we have to naturalise Yogic Way of Life. We need to train our minds to be in tune with the nature. Balanced lifestyle is no longer a style statement but a necessity and has to be mentally accepted and physically exercised across culture, class, gender and nationalities. The best way to make this possible is introducing Yog as a part of curriculum. Realising it at early stage of life will make it easier to internalise it. It is a great sign that leaders and celebrities from different walks of life are openly practicing and supporting Yogic life but that would not be enough. Unless we challenge the centrality of material accumulation by exploiting nature in our development model, we cannot lead a Yogic way of life.
Yog is all about experiencing oneness and harmony. Hope the first ever International Day for Yog, turns out to be a turning point in human life and make us realise that the ultimate goal of all ways of worship is the same, and the way we live, decides our relation with Divinity.