-Dr Varun Veer-
When a group of yoga experts was preparing to leave abroad through ICCR for the International Day of Yoga to be celebrated worldwide on June 21, I got the opportunity to interact them on the orientation day. I put forth a question to all of them. I asked them to name any one quality or possession, which we the Indians are proud of and it is purely Indian in origin. I got a variety of answers. Some said diversity, some named democracy, some thought for ancient culture and the cultural values.
A handful of Yoga teachers answered named the spirituality (Yoga), which is the appropriate answer. It is completely Indian in nature. Moreover, it is also very beneficial to the mankind. Of course, there are many other areas of pride, but the Yoga and Ayurveda stand out because they teach us to take pride in them. The benefits and utility of the Yoga have spread far and wide. Interestingly, the world of Yoga is not just confined within the yogic exercises. In many countries, Yoga has become a medium to reach the level of spirituality. In the past three months, I got the opportunity to come close to many ICCR Centres across the world. I found that in the name of Indian culture, we have been only offering just Tabla (percussion), classical dance, fusion music and Bollywood dance. Yoga was seen merely at few places.
In Bali (Indonesia), I found that apart from the cultural activities, people have strong inclination towards the Sanskrit. They desired for the scholars from India who can teach them the accurate pronunciation of the Sanskrit mantras. Indian culture is still seen in abundance in the East Asia in their language, culture and the hospitality. There is a city in Indonesia by name of ‘Yog Jakarta’. it is a Sanskrit word, which means ‘Yogya Karta’. In English, it means “Man with perfect action’ or ‘Action with efficiency’.
Indonesia is the only country in the world where at the airport one can see the chariot of Lord Krishna and Arjuna at the intersection. It gives a beautiful, creative and affirmative message. It made me feel as though the real India existed there. I could see immense devotion and love for Indian culture among the people there. They want us to take big steps for the growth and development of Hindi and Sanskrit. They even wished to come closer to India. There was a university in Indonesia by the name of “Atma Jaya University”. The name of the university pleased my soul. The name means something that conquers our soul. There is a strong demand for Yoga, Hindi, Sanskrit, Indian music and the Indian dance there. The people exhibited immense love for Indians. It is reflected in their behaviour.
The visit to Thailand also gave me the feel of real India. There was an impressive sculpture depicting the ‘Samudra Manthan’. On one side, I could see the God and on the other side a Demon. In between them was Lord Brahma holding the ‘kalash’. There were many small glass bottles of Holy water placed at His feet. The travelers may take them home. The Sanskrit Study Centre, Silpakorn University, is a magnificent place and the library has a huge collection of books. The Professors of Sanskrit there are the locales of Thailand. Sometimes, outside scholars also visit. On meeting and interacting with the Vice Chancellor and Higher officials of the Thammasat University, Chula University and Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre, I realised that they are extremely interested in promoting Yoga, Ayurveda and Sanskrit. Being a Buddhist country, they are interested in promoting Sanskrit a lot, in
As a part of the same tour, when I visited the Colombo Centre of the ICCR, I found that our forefathers had put in their earnest and best efforts to promote Indian culture and, that too, in the times when there were not many sources or platforms of promotion. The countries, where there is Buddhism, there is deep respect for Indian culture and people. If India has to become a superpower, she has to spread her spiritual knowledge all over the world. Indian culture is the only culture that has the power to bring peace and happiness at all levels in the world. In the present scenario, the entire world is again anticipating the efforts and initiatives from India. In the modern times, India must outshine others using its technological advancements. Not only East Asia, Central Asia, China, Japan, etc are also related to the Indian culture.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has done a commendable job by spreading physical, mental and spiritual bliss all over the world by means of Yoga. India was placed at the apex position not just in spirituality, but also economically, socially and scientifically. But after a while she lost that title of being the leading power. Call it the law of change or the gift of destiny, India is again gradually resuming the same position, prestige and title with the efforts of Shri Narendra Modi. This activity must gather pace so that India influences other nations at the earliest.
China attributes its success to the presence of a large number of Buddhists. One can see the impact of Buddhism on its cultural policies. But it is disheartening to know that China perceives this Buddhist impact in a different manner and does not consider Indian angle. Vietnam stands as an evidence to it. For these reasons, Vietnam sets higher expectations from India when it comes to spread Buddhist philosophy there. We need to invest in our own culture to reap benefits in future, because it will spread the impact of India. Using trade as the medium of progress, we are progressing well in the world and it is extremely important. Sadly, it is not everlasting.
We must aim for prosperity and happiness too. If India has to win the hearts of other nations, it must spread Indian culture. For the first time, there was a seminar on ‘Indo Persian Literature’ in Tehran (Iran). It was a welcome change in Iran. For the first time in history, there was a conference on ‘Indology’ at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Delhi. The scholars of Sanskrit were invited all over the world. Indian culture is the same as it was in the ancient India, but still it is flowering in the modern times. It is the most appropriate time and the suitable direction.
The Indian bureaucracy and the officials of Foreign Ministry need to adapt to the Indian culture. Otherwise, the momentum that the present Government has gained may slow down. There are reports from some places that the Indian Centres are provided to anti-India elements to organise functions against the Government of India itself. There is a need to reign in the people supervising such Centres.
The whole world has accepted Yoga. And, no doubt, the credit for it goes to the knowledge of our ancient sages. But in the present times, the credit must go to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
(The writer is internationally renowned Yoga instructor and a member of the Governing Body of ICCR)
Preparations to make the event a big hit
The Ministry of External Affairs has received action plans from 183 missions/posts to make the 2nd Yoga Day a big hit. The ICCR is playing an active role in supporting Missions and Posts with more than 50 QCI certified Yoga experts being deputed to 34 countries.
The Indian Missions and Posts in China, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, USA, Nepal, Bahrain, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and UAE have conducted promotional events in collaboration with the local community. Russia, UAE, Ukraine, Canada, China, Sri Lanka. Bangladesh, Kenya, UK and Poland have indicated large scale participation this year of over 10,000 participants each.
The prominent global celebrities who have confirmed to participate in various events across the globe include Ultra Marathon Runner Pat Farmer (Australia), Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne (Canada), Jazz singer Nagtalia Przybysz (Poland), Actress & Director Mai Thu Huyen (Vietnam), Ex. Miss Universe Norelys Rodriguez (Venezuela), Secretary of State, Texas, Carlos Cascos (USA), Olympic Gold Medalist Athlete, Tennis pro Martina Hingis (Switzerland).