|| Satyameva Jayate ||

Dedicated to “Bharat” and “Dharma”

Baba Ramdev goes politically correct…

Just came across this news headline quoting Baba Ramdev: ‘Yoga has nothing to do with religion. It is not Hinduism

In the rediff.com interview, Baba Ramdev is quoted as saying,

Yoga has nothing to do with religion. It is not Hinduism. It is for all people, whether he is Hindu, Muslim or Christian. One can say ‘Om’ when he is doing yoga. Another can pronounce ‘Allah-u-Akbar’ or the name of Jesus.”

Much as I admire Baba Ramdev, this is something I find hard to agree with.

Yoga is certainly for all people…and anyone can practice it…but to remove it from its origins is being a little disingenuous or politically correct…or both.

Sadly, Baba Ramdev seems to have has decided that he would rather be popular than be right.

Ramdev-ji, please, please be careful before making such statements – especially since you have a very large following and command great respect amongst the general public.

There is another bit in the interview where I disagree with him.

On sex education, Baba-ji is quoted as saying:

“Sex is not a subject that needs teaching in schools. It is a natural process that needs no training. No other creature on the world goes to school for sex education. Morality cannot improve with teaching sex education in schools. AIDS cannot be prevented by talking (about) free sex and by using condoms.”

He is missing the point. Sex education is NOT about improving morality…and we cannot compare the human socio-cultural situation of 21st century with “other creatures of the world”.

But then who am I to argue with an obviously learned and more knowledgeable expert?

Related Posts:

After Christian Yoga, Islamic Yoga*

Expropriation of Hindu Concepts and Traditions

The dreaded “H-word” -excerpts

Re. my views on sex education, see the post script to: “Dumb and Dumber…”

If you liked this article, consider subscribing to my feed or Subscribe by Email

UPDATE: Based on what I know now (Jan ’13) – and subsequent to a few discussions and conversations, I believe I over-reacted on this occasion (something I mentioned in comment #14 below dt Feb ’09 too). I stand corrected.

July 17th, 2007 Posted by | A Hindu Identity, Current Affairs, Spirituality & Philosophy | 57 comments


  1. It is said in the above article: “Yoga is certainly for all peopleand anyone can practice itbut to remove it from its origins is being a little disingenuous or politically corrector both”

    How is uttering a falsehood politically correct? To say that yoga has nothing to do with religion is falsehood, at best! It is unfortunate that someone (Ramdevji) who became popular and made a lot of money using the principles of this wonderful religion is ashamed to admit the origin of yoga. Yoga has everything is to do with religion, it is mentioned in the smritis and shrutis. It has a prominent place in Bhagavat Gita. Anyone who reads Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra will attest to the fact that Yoga IS Hinduism! Of course, the beauty of Hinduism is that anyone can practice any or all aspects of it without having to give one’s religion. So the same applies for yoga as well. A Christian or a Sikh or a Muslim can practice yoga as well as a Hindu does. But YOGA ORIGINATED AS A PROMINENT PART OF THE VEDIC PHILOSOPHY AND REMAINS SO…

    Comment by Harry Potter | July 17, 2007

  2. Harry, good points.

    You will enjoy reading this post…

    The Dreaded “H-word” and this article by Pritish Nandy (which I just stumbled across on the web):

    Why is being a good Hindu politically incorrect in secular India?

    Comment by B Shantanu | July 17, 2007

  3. Came across another gem from Pritish Nandy:

    “The Ugly H Word” (this preceded the post above)

    Comment by B Shantanu | July 18, 2007

  4. hari om,

    regarding “Baba Ramdev goes politically correct”

    he was talking about the popular meaning of ‘hinduism’ there – that its a bunch of superstiotions etc. but any ways, he should have clarified that.

    also, regarding your point that this can be misused by the other monolithic religions, i do not think it will happen. infct, i feel it will make them closer to the core hinduism, making it more popular.

    we shouldn’t think with a closed mindset, we should be bold and open enough to see all (good)people as same, irrespective of religion. after all none of our scriptures say that it belongs to only hindus. its for EVERYONE.

    who ever practiece it, they own it. if a muslim practieces all this(i wonder if this can happen), he owns it.

    i also remember a famous saying by one of the indian saint – “you do not belong to any religion, instead, religion belongs to you”

    Comment by Mahesh Prasad | July 18, 2007

  5. The bane of Hinduism is that the so called keepers of faith are eager to divest it of its own wealth. To say that Yoga has nothing to do with Hinduism is nothing less than preposterous. Baba Ramdev was not being politically correct. He was trying to increase his followers. It goes without saying that more followers means more money to the Corpus Fund. While it is one thing to say the people of other faith can benefit from Yoga it is not quite the same to say that Yoga did not originate from Hindu belief system. In fact, if my understanding is correct, Yoga is not fully compatible with other faiths. The ultimate aim of Yoga is Samadhi. The concept of Samadhi is peculiar to Hinduism only. This is so because other faiths cannot go beyond Heaven and the Kingdom of God. Oneness with God is unthinkable for them. Then how can Yoga be fully assimilated by them? It is hight time discerning Hindus let their displeasure known to the Swamis and Yogis, who are roaming around the world spreading falsehood, in such luxury that will put even kings to shame.

    Comment by Nandan | July 18, 2007

  6. Mahesh and Nandan: Thank you for your comments.

    As I wrote above, “Sadly, Baba Ramdev seems to have has decided that he would rather be popular than be right.”

    Comment by B Shantanu | July 19, 2007

  7. Swami Ramdevji need to learn something from Swami Vivekananda, who was a brave, bold and fearless Hindu speaker. Swami Vevekananda spoke nothing but Vedanta, nothing but truths from Hindu philosophy. Thats why he was able to electrify the American audience. He was never ashamed to identify as a Hindu. He was a proud Hindu and a fierce patriot/nationalist.

    Saying Yoga has nothing to do with the Hindu dharma, is akin to saying Bharatiya/Indian culture has nothing to with Hindu dharma. I wonder why Swami Ramdevji could not tell the truth that Yoga darshan (philosophy) is part of the Vedic Hindu culture. Bhagavad Gita clearly says–Sri Krishna is the Yogeswara (Lord of the Yoga). Bhagavad Gita is Yoga darshan. The followers of Shiva call Bhagavan Shiva as Yogeswara. We can see, Shivaji sitting on Yogic posture. Then Bhagavan Buddha, all his postures are Yogic postures.

    Swami Ramdevji has done a disservice (knowingly or unknowlingly) to our great dharma and culture. He should be bold to tell the truth. Western audiences love to hear truths, not playing with words. Thats why so many followers of Srila Praphupada (ISKCON) in the west. We must not denigrate our heritage to get cheap publicity.

    We Bharatiya, generally, lack self-confidence, which results in inferiority complex and self-denigration. We had everything, we have everything, what for we have low self-confidence? We need another Swami Vivekananda to awaken the Bharatiya and recharge them with pride of their heritage and dharma.

    Comment by Bharat | July 20, 2007

  8. *** COMMENT EDITED ***

    All the Heads of Departments / Institutions

    A positive thinking for good work can make the work easier for the society at large i.e. city, state, country & the whole world. Any good work can be done regularly by devoting some time and some money necessary for interactions with various people to explore novel ideas by way of arranging programmes or any other easier possible way for the benefit of the people. People have time only where there is money and if such trend continues the future of our children will lead towards a wrong work even lower than the animals. The children should not be considered like goats, houseflies, cows etc.

    Some suggestions are enumerated below for the creation of the best world:-

    To start a good work, teachers can move forward in assembly and drop Rs.1/= to Rs.5/= in a locked box as per their wishes in front of students and students should know that this fund will be used for the good society and best future to explore good things through our guest / students & teachers of other schools of other cities i.e. state level programme. It may be announced that the box will be kept for three days and everybody’s contribution should be there for a good work. The students can also contribute for a novel work and they can contribute also Rs.1/= to maximum Rs.5/= before or after assembly as per their conveniences for a good social cause.

    A teacher of world class can think & interact with people strongly for the benefits of everybody. Now, think about so many religions / shastra / ethics / God are there in India / world. The students studied good things in schools and unknown about these vast & confused educations which lead people to be slaughtered in remote areas.

    In the World all religion has females & male. How to identify peoples by religion??? Why all these religion has been created????? Please reach to a simple Shastra / Ethics by competitions keeping above truth in mind, which is best for everybody & simple to known by everybody through school educations and should be added in world educational curriculums.

    *** NOTE by MODERATOR ***

    Pl. stick to the topic being discussed and pl. avoid giving out personal details on the web.

    Comment by kishan | November 13, 2008

  9. Hello All,

    I do somewhat agree with doubts raised in this blog post by Shantanu, however I believe and have noticed that Swami ji is actually very smart, and he is sincerely trying to bring people together, to make Bharat a vishwa guru.

    He is using Yog for this purpose, and no doubt a danger of Islamists and Christians first adopting and creating there own version, and then may again call there version to be the best of better. And then a possibility of true correct Yog getting lost or sidelined.

    However I think swami ji is smart and wont let this happen easily, or may be he has some plan for that too.
    I use the word ‘too’ since he has revealed many mega plans of his, one of the latest one being to remove corruption from the country. For this he has launched Bharat Swabhiman Trust, and plans to connect more than 50 Cr of Indians, to root out corruption by making a united force. He speaks about this every Sunday 8-9pm on Aastha channel in a program of his named ‘Rashtra Dharma’

    As I have noticed him over the years he is slowly revealing himself, may be as a strategy, or may be he is developing on the way.

    However if still you have reasons to believe he is incorrect, and you could even be correct, then I would like to pass swami ji’s message to all, he says ‘agar mein galat hoon to mera virodh karo, aur agar mein sahi hoon to mera samarthan karo – shant na baitho’ (if I am wrong then oppose me, if I am correct then support me – do not remain silent)

    In case you want to know about work being done by Swami Ramdev then watch his
    -Yog Camp telecasts on Aastha channel
    -watch Rastra Dharma, Sunday 8-9 pm on Aastha channel
    -watch his videos on http://www.totalbhakti.com

    I will soon post on my blog, and a link here, about the select videos and other information sources that I know of.
    I will also write what all I know about swami ji.

    BTW I am in no way associated with Swami Ramdev or any of his organizations. Its just that after doing what he says in his Yog camps, I have benefitted a lot.

    Thanks to all

    Comment by Vikram | February 21, 2009

  10. I thought of posting links here, but the post do not appear – may be some checks in the blogging system.

    So I listing some sources of information in text here

    – To understand latest developments and plans of Swami Ramdev, watch Rasthra Dharma program on Sunday 8-9pm. This program is not to general public, but is telecast to all on Aastha channel. This is motiviational, inspirational, and directive meeting with Yog teachers

    – To watch his videos, there are many sources: Youtube, some sites which have illegally uploaded his numerous VCDs, and http://www.totalbhakti.com. Of these there are certain videos on TotalBhakti site that are must see: Watch his Guru Purnima message last year, watch his Houston India House address, and for a recent video watch Swadeshi Yog Shivir video

    – His Yog camps are telecast live morning 5-7:30 am in India. This also telecast in other 169 countries, thru Aastha. Yog camps cover lots of topics: Health, Spirituality, and now Corruption and how to resolve all this and make India the best place, or swami ji calls it Vishwa Guru. However Yog watching all camp telecasts of a place will give a clear view what is being done by him. Only those who have patience or actually do Yog with him may go for it.

    – Select part of Yog camp is daily telecast at least in India on Aastha 8-9pm. This at times also has his address to public on such matters like corruption, rastra dharma, and other videos to public

    – Then is his website, though poorly maintained, it is updated with information

    – Finally as I stated, I will soon post on my blog vikramsjn.blogspot.com, detailed posts with information regarding Swami Ramdev and all I know about him

    Thanks to all

    Comment by Vikram | February 21, 2009

  11. Shantanu,

    I must say that his answer in the context of the question asked, makes perfect sense, and doesn’t appear to me to be an attempt to “remove it from its origins” as you state.

    Comment by Kaffir | February 22, 2009

  12. @ Vikram: Thanks for the links. I will have a look.


    @ Kaffir: I went back and checked the Q&A. Here is how it went:

    Q: In America, some people call yoga ‘Christian yoga.’ Is that fair?

    A: Yoga has nothing to do with religion. It is not Hinduism

    In my humble opinion, Swamiji could have said something along the lines of there being no Christian or Hindu Yoga…and yes, perhaps it has nothing to do with religion as it is understood in the Abrahamic sense but don’t you think Yoga has deep spiritual roots…and in that sense, is linked to “Hinduism”?

    Comment by B Shantanu | February 22, 2009

  13. Shantanu, the answer seems to fall in the gray zone where it’s somewhat open to interpretation, so I do see your point.

    But in the US, among some populations, there’s a big fear of “getting converted” from their Abrahamic faiths if one practices yoga or something similar that’s not part of their religion. (Negative propaganda about Hinduism by some vested interests probably plays some part in such mindset.) Another example would be attempts by some Muslims in Malaysia to disallow Muslims from chanting “om” during yoga, or banning Muslims from practicing it. So, if seen in that context, Baba Ramdev’s reply of “Yoga has nothing to do with Hinduism. It is not religion.” can be interpreted as “Doing yoga will not ‘convert’ you to Hinduism. Anyone from any faith or religion can practice it, not just Hindus.”

    I’d also look at other statements by Baba Ramdev about yoga before concluding that he is disavowing the roots of yoga or its spiritual links to Hinduism.

    Comment by Kaffir | February 22, 2009

  14. @ Kaffir: Point taken…Perhaps I over-reacted…

    Comment by B Shantanu | February 22, 2009

  15. Shantanu, it’s better to ask such questions and discuss them, rather than sitting quietly until it’s too late.

    So, I’m glad you “over-reacted” :) – it provides an opening for discussion and an opportunity for all to learn.

    Comment by Kaffir | February 23, 2009

  16. These Christian and Muslim yoga trends are just a part of a continuous effort to delink Hinduism the religion from the Hindu cultural practices so that these practices can be repackaged as a part of another religious tradition. We have a Christian Bharata Natyam institute in Trichy which claims that both Christianity in India and Bharata Natyam are 2000 years old–as if there is actually a link there somewhere!! Just as Bharata Natyam comes out of the Hindu religious expression, so is yoga, ayurveda etc. It is part of a complete world view. I went once to a Christian wedding where all of the words used were Sanksrit words to refer to the Christian religious doctrines. Next we’ll be hearing Sanskrit slokas in praise of Jesus. There are many ashrams in India, which are created to look like Hindu ashrams with the monks in saffron robes, but these are actually Christian ashrams. The bhajan sampradaya (tradition of bhajan singing) is now regularly practiced by christians.
    All these steps are actually a part of a project called replacement theology where the cultural practices of a nation with a non-christian religion is taken over and the existing religion which gave rise to these practices are replaced with christian theology. This method has been around for a long time and is encouraged by the church. They are able to sell this package to the natives usually under the guise of making Christianity more culturally relevant.

    The problem we as Hindus face is that most of us don’t know what our values are or if we know our values, we don’t know the value (worth) of those values. Even organizations and spiritual leaders who are supposed to represent us don’t understand the nature of the enemy. Thus we have Ramdev saying that yoga is not part of Hinduism and the RSS asking the Church to become more Indian, as if these measures will protect Hinduism.

    Comment by K. Harapriya | February 23, 2009

  17. For those interested in seeing how a christian ashram works check out

    This father Bede has even written a book about Vedanta and Christianity. This is what the Christians want, to remake the philosophy of Vedanta into a revelation of Jesus.

    Hindus always look to the west to get affirmation of their own worth. I think the fact that Christians and Muslims want to grab our cultural and religious knowledge should make as understand the true value of what we have.

    Comment by K. Harapriya | February 23, 2009

  18. Here is one more politically correct article on dangerous minorities. Apparently Hindus the the most dangerous minority of all. We who want to claim a place in our nation because we have nowhere else to go (there is no other Hindu nation in the world now that Nepal is gone commie) have no rights here. I absolutely agree now that liberalism is a mental disorder. This liberalism combined with the inertia of most self identified Hindus will be the end of us.


    Comment by K. Harapriya | February 23, 2009

  19. Another source of work being done by Swami Ramdev…

    Rajiv Dixit is a historian and seems to have good grip on Economics. I came to know about him thru Rashtra Chetna program run by Patanjali Yogpeeth (of Swami Ramdev) in year 2007-2008

    He has been probably working with Ramdev for years now, however recently he joined him for Bharat Swabhiman Trust to work full time.

    Here is a link where I could find some of his lectures/speeches:
    Rajiv Dixit eye opening lectures on India

    Comment by Vikram | February 26, 2009

  20. Shantanu,

    The eSnips link in comment 19 has some recent audios too – from the programs of Bharat Swabhiman camps, on page 2.

    I have not listened these, but I believe they will be in working condition (I listened to couple of them on the first page)

    Best wishes

    Comment by Vikram | February 26, 2009

  21. Just for information…

    I have noticed that the mainstream media does not report about Swami Ramdev at all. The only time they report him is when they want to pull him in controversy, or to let him down

    In one of last three days Swami Ramdev launched Food Parks in Ranchi, and Haridwar. The one in Haridwar is supposedly going to be one of its kind in the world – but all this is not reported in MSM, instead such news appears mostly on blogs… and rarely on msm news.

    Here are some informative links:
    Yoga guru now wants money in Swiss banks back in India

    Yoga Guru Ramdev turns political guru

    First mega food park to start operations in August

    Comment by Vikram | February 26, 2009

  22. @Vikram

    I have seen BabaRamdev patriotic heart at one of the SaReGaMa show after Mumbai attack. I think he was excellent!

    Jai Hind!

    Comment by Indian | February 26, 2009

  23. I have heard Swami Ramdev’s heart-to-heart conversation with people. He is a patriot…. Don’t let the media twist his words.

    Comment by Bengal Voice | February 26, 2009

  24. Link to Seedhi Baat interview of Swami Ramdev, by Prabhu Chawla of India Today:

    संप्रदाय से हटकर है योग: बाबा रामदेव – Part 1

    Comment by Vikram | February 27, 2009

  25. http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/After-human-body-Ramdev-plans-to-cleanse-politics/428464/

    Jai Hind!

    Comment by Indian | February 27, 2009

  26. This a blunder by Ramdev to say that Yog has nothing to do with religion and it not Hinduism. This is a white lie and that too from a Hindu Yogi.He will realise and would have to swallow his own words one day becuse it is a fact that YOG is one of six pillors of Hinduism.
    He may have said this to attract and appease Muslims and Christians but they are not attracted to Yog and those who are in very small number say o.1% even in India.In foreign countries Muslims and Christian are next to noything.
    All his Yog camp attendees are Hindus,Sikhs and hardly a few Buddhists but he can claim that he is conquereing the world by arranging Yog out side India is far from truth.Iwish to say one thing that he is doing well and wish him well but must remember not to negate what truly belongs to Hindus and Hinduism.He must learn this lesson from Swami Vivekanand who proudly said that he was proud to be a Hindu. These six pillors are[1] Sankhya [2] Vaiseshika [3] Nyaya [4] Yogof Patanjali [ 5]Mimansa [6] Vedanta.

    Comment by S.SHARMA | April 24, 2009

  27. Offtopic,

    after malaysia, city of newyork puts curbs on Yoga


    From the article:
    “Some 81 yoga studios around New York were reeling last month after receiving letters from the New York State Education Department, stating that they must “cease operating” teacher training programs or face a $50,000 fine.

    The letter, addressed only to yoga studios with teacher training programs, is from the Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision (BPSS) at the State Education Department. It states that under Section 5001(1) of the Education Law, yoga studios are required to register with the state as vocational schools, similar to bartending or pet grooming schools.

    It was a real shock because it’s basically a cease and desist letter,” said Alison West, owner of Yoga Union in Manhattan. “It’s extraordinarily intrusive.”

    Intrusive is one word for it. Confusing may be another.

    The licensing process is a labyrinth of applications, building permits and financial records. The initial application is $250, but the separate “personnel” applications for program directors and teachers are $50 each–while the “agent applications,” for each individual who receives payment from the program, or solicits students, is $100.

    Comment by Vivek | May 15, 2009

  28. Vivek, it may have more to do with generating revenue during these times rather than any enmity to yoga. Besides, the Malaysia ruling was quite different and was motivated by religion.

    Comment by Kaffir | May 15, 2009

  29. Excerpts from Let’s Take Yoga Back by Sheetal Shah

    I began my Hatha Yoga practice later in life – at the age of 27. I initially began yoga, as so many do, to tone my body. But as I progress through this journey – and yes, I have come to believe that yoga is a journey of the body and mind (I’m still working on the atman part) – yoga is no longer only about toning my body; it has become the most important tool to develop my powers of concentration and focus. Yoga possesses the unique ability to force me to focus on myself alone. In only 90 minutes, my stamina, flexibility, balance and most importantly, concentration are tested as never before. Instead of thinking in pain, as I used to, “How long is my instructor going to make me hold Vasistasana?,” I have now learned to focus on my breath. I now understand that balancing is the art of intense focusing and a momentary loss of concentration leads me to fall out of Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III). Instead of finding a way to avoid Rajakapotasana (Pigeon pose), I now use it as way to focus on my breath and direct my breath to alleviate the aching in my hip.

    As I slowly continue to discover the true beauty of yoga, I find myself increasingly proud to be Hindu; to be able to claim the religion that has brought this amazing practice to the world as my own is truly empowering. Yet…I have become keenly aware of an alarming trend that disassociates yoga from its Hindu origins. I regularly read Yoga Journal at my gym and am continuously amazed at how many times its editors blatantly avoid using the word “Hindu.” As I perused the April 09 issue, I found the Upanishads described as “Tantric yoga texts.”

    …When I look around the yoga studios I frequent, I am almost always the only Indian Hindu in the room. If I lived in a small mid-Western town, this observation may not be so surprising. But I reside in Manhattan, one of the most diverse cities in the US, where Hindus abound and yet, I can’t seem to find any in my yoga classes.

    During the course of a project for HAF, I reached out to my personal yoga instructor, an Iyengar practitioner who is well networked in the Western yoga world and actively practices in Rishikesh yearly, if she could point me in the direction of a yoga instructor in the US who is Hindu. She could not. I then turned to one of my studio instructors and posed the same question. She had no idea either. Immediately, I scanned the names of instructors of five well-known and successful yoga studios in Manhattan…from approximately 90 instructors, I found only four Hindus, as well as a handful of instructors who had given themselves Hindu names such as “Ganesh Das”. I was stunned. Where are all the Hindu American yogis?

    So, perhaps it’s time for the Hindu community to look inward and accept our share of the blame in losing the affiliation between Hinduism and yoga. How can we maintain and promote the Hindu origin of yoga if the majority of yoga studios don’t have Hindu students, forget the idea of Hindu yoga teachers? Our Hindu forefathers understood the unique benefits of yoga and shared yoga with the Western world.

    The West understood, fell in love with yoga, morphed it into a physical and “spiritual” practice – thereby removing any religious association – and proclaimed their expertise. And while so many non-Hindu Americans delve into yoga with passion, the majority of Hindu Americans seem to have forgotten its importance in uniting their mind, body, and soul and relinquished their knowledge and ownership of this life changing practice. As yoga seems to move further and further away from is Hindu origins, I am fearful of the day when instructors will altogether stop naming the various asanas in Sanskrit or ending class with the traditional ‘Namaste’ – that is the day yoga as a Hindu practice will truly be lost.

    In an effort to avoid such a catastrophe, I urge you, as a Hindu American, to reclaim yoga by once again becoming an expert in its practice. We cannot lay claim to a practice if we as a community don’t follow it ourselves. As a proud Hindu, it is a humbling experience to learn a practice originating in Hinduism from so many non-Hindus. But it encourages me to push forth with my yoga practice and perhaps, teach it to others one day. I urge you to take a beginners’ yoga class at a local studio and encourage your children, siblings, parents and friends to do the same. Many of our local Hindu temples offer free yoga classes taught by instructors who are born Hindu, and some of you already attend them…next week, bring a friend or family member with you. If you practice basic asanas at home, move your practice to the next level and take an intermediate yoga class at a studio.

    …We can and should do more. Yoga is one of Hinduism’s greatest gifts to world – something that can be practiced by anyone, without relinquishing the religion of one’s birth, and is beneficial to everyone. As you practice yoga, you too will find an immense pride in being Hindu and once again, the world will credit the practice of yoga to its rightful mother – Hinduism.

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 4, 2009

  30. Baba Ramdev is merely reiterating what generations of yoga masters to the west have been stating. Nearly all of the early Yoga teachers to the West, including Swami Satchidananda of Yogaville, Vishnudevananda of the Shivananda yoga movement etc. have tried to distance yoga practice from Hinduism. The blame is on those who wanted to gain popularity and followers at the expense of their own religious heritage. The Americans merely took the lead in using what the insecure Hindu teachers were saying and now we see that Americans claiming quite often that the American yoga movement is quite separate from its Indian roots etc.

    The reason why Indian born Hindus don’t do yoga is often that in India, yoga has been undervalued and often seems a comical act done by those “weird” sadhus. I remember that recently one of the states wanted to introduce the Surya Namaskar in its schools and immediately there was protest by the secular brigade. The funny thing is yoga is often taught in community centers around the U.S. funded by taxpayer money.

    As long as Hindus have no deep knowledge about their heritage and feel inferior to the West, we are doomed to losing our heritage to the avaricious West. They have more money and are capapble of appropriating all traditional knowledge systems for their own benefit without even a passing acknowledgement. We saw that in the Super-brain yoga trademark and the patenting of turmeric, neem and basmati rice.

    Comment by K. Harapriya | June 5, 2009

  31. As per my knowledge Yoga predates Hinduism, doesn’t it?

    The word Hindu came after Yoga & the term Hinduism much later.

    PS: Is Ayurveda a “Hindu” science? Is Zero a “Hindu” contribution?

    Is the writing of Indian History a “Buddhist” contribution?

    How long will we stay divided?
    How long will we look back? Until we spot the monkey we all evolved from? In Africa?

    Comment by Aman | July 10, 2009

  32. Shantanu & Harry,

    I read Pritish’s piece. I think Pranab Mukherjee’s quoting Kautilya during the budget speech should dispel that silly notion.

    I think it’s also about “who” is saying it.

    Hindus like Gandhiji, Nehru, Pranab etc. had nothing to be ashamed of. They are good sons of Hinduism. They make Hinduism proud.

    The guys that Pritish speaks of… they kinda bring shame to the good Hindu name…

    Comment by Aman | July 10, 2009

  33. Aman, I have a question for you. Do you consider discrimination based on caste system, and other real or perceived ills like child marriage, dowry etc. as “Hindu” or because of “Hinduism”?

    Comment by Kaffir | July 11, 2009

  34. @ Aman (#31): Re. Yoga predating “Hinduism”, depends on what you mean by “Hinduism”. If you are referring to the label, yes…but the word “Hinduism”, as you yourself pointed out is a much later term…

    The question is: “Was Yoga divorced from the belief-system of the ancient Bharatiyas?”. The answer is “No”, I think. What is your view?

    As for “Hindu” contribution to Mathematics etc, please read comment #8 on this post (by Charles) and the debate that follows.

    I have not revisited the discussion in a long time so this is a good time to re-examine my own view.

    Finally, as you may be aware, at least a few historians believe that “Hindu” and India are basically inter-linked terms (e.g. http://hindudharma.wordpress.com/2006/05/27/hindu-india-and-bharat-word-origins/ )- although their are differing views too: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2007/03/04/origin-of-the-word-hindu/


    @ Kaffir: Good point. Thanks.

    Comment by B Shantanu | July 11, 2009

  35. Those who seek to delink yoga from Hinduism (by which I mean the religion of the Vedas, Vedanta and Gita and Puranas) are wrong. The highest purpose of yoga, and all Vedanta is Bhramavidya. The asana practices are merely the tools to achieve as certain state of mind which allows for Brahma vidya to take place.

    Those who seek to define religions as merely a belief system which requires faith alone, will find it difficult to place any of Hindu scriptures into that category. Hinduism has never focused on right beliefs–only right practices and the constant seeking for truth which is to be experienced. Yoga arises from these fundamental assumptions: one that the ultimate truth can be known and two, the individual can arrive at it through certain practices. These are the assumptions that even Vedanta rest on.

    Yoga’s ultimate purpose is the same as that of Vedanta–so anyone claiming it is not a product of Hinduism or Hindu thought is misleading.

    The contention that because the word Hindu is given by outsiders to refer to people of a certain geographical location and of a certain religious persuasion and therefore it carries no meaning is not true. Just because it is a “foreign” term doesn’t mean that the term is invalid, or that the people of the said location did not recognize their common dharma or the threats against it ,or that the word has no meaning in sanskrit.

    We know that the people recognized their commonality in practices by the Ithihaasa where people of different region frequently intermarried.

    The common beliefs are also evident from the Ramayana where both Rama and Ravana worshipped the same Lord Shiva, inspite of being from different city-states.

    Again we know that gurus like Adi Shankara were able to travel from south to north using Sanskrit and speaking about the religion which was common. There was even at that time, a recognition that Buddhism was a threat to the Vedic religion and a fight to stop it.

    Comment by K. Harapriya | July 12, 2009

  36. 35-
    Thoughtful and enlightening, by and large.

    However, “The contention that because the word Hindu is given by outsiders to refer to people of a certain geographical location and of a certain religious persuasion and therefore it carries no meaning is not true. Just because it is a “foreign” term doesn’t mean that the term is invalid, or that the people of the said location did not recognize their common dharma or the threats against it ,or that the word has no meaning in sanskrit.”

    At the same time, that foreign word need not be the crutch used to define the identity of the people of this ancient land.
    Why not Bharatiya, which will indicate one belonging to the ancient land of Bharat and appreciating of the thoughts and philosophy developed in this land through generations, if at all a label is necessary.

    The problem with adopting a foreign word to define a people is that the definition of that word is what the foreigner chose to give it, which is naturally to suit his purpose and not really defining of the people.

    This is why indians presently are a deracinated lot by and large and this is also why India is facing so much divisiveness within it.

    What Prof Kapil Kapoor discusses in the quote given below is the result of being defined on another’s terms, the subject term being cleverly manipulated by ‘them’ to meet their ends-
    “The Indian educated elite has been brought up on an anti-self – more than true to Macaulay’s cheerful submission to his sister, the educated Indian, particularly the Hindu, suffers from such a deep loss of self respect that he is unwilling to be recognized as such. He feels, in fact, deeply threatened by any surfacing or manifestation of the identity that he has worked so hard to, and has been trained to reject. But it lies somewhere in his psyche as ‘an unhappy tale’, as something that is best forgotten. It is these people wearing various garbs – liberal, left, secular, modern – who oppose, more often than not from sheer ignorance, any attempt to introduce Indian traditions of thought in the mainstream education system – a classic case of self-hate taking the form of mother-hate! ”

    He further writes- “That things are changing and are bound to change is a testimony to the sheer vigor of an intellectual tradition that has seen, in its attested history of thousands of years, many cycles of recession and renewal. Arguments against Sanskrit poetics are a part of this larger political argument against the Indian – and to drop the euphemism – what may be generally described as the Hindu intellectual traditions.” -http://www.indianscience.org/essays/st_es_kapoo_eleven.shtml (emphasis added )

    The result of adopting foreigner’s word to define a people means accepting the baggage that comes with the word, which the foreigner loaded to meet his ends. And when you accept that baggage, you will have to suffer under its weight.
    Moreover, when the people are defined by a term different from what the anscestors used, a word of foreign connotation, then you are cutting off the people from their roots in a psychological way- deracinating them.

    That is why India of today is at such a contrast to the values this land nurtured millenniums back. And the gap is widening with time.

    Comment by Incognito | July 12, 2009

  37. My point was that there might also be an Indian source of the word Hindu, and it was not necessarily arbitrarily chosen by the foreigners.

    Quoting from Stephen-Knapps article on the subject: “The following verse, said to be from the Vishnu Purana, Padma Purana and the Bruhaspati Samhita, is provided as proof, yet I am still waiting to learn the exact location where we can find this verse:

    Aaasindo Sindhu Paryantham Yasyabharatha Bhoomikah

    Mathrubhuh Pithrubhoochaiva sah Vai Hindurithismrithaah

    Another verse reads as: Sapta sindhu muthal Sindhu maha samudhram vareyulla Bharatha bhoomi aarkkellamaano Mathru bhoomiyum Pithru bhoomiyumayittullathu, avaraanu hindukkalaayi ariyappedunnathu. Both of these verses more or less indicate that whoever considers the land of Bharatha Bhoomi between Sapta Sindu and the Indian Ocean as his or her motherland and fatherland is known as Hindu. ”

    Swami Dayananda Saraswathi of Arsha Vidya gurukulam ( Annaikatti, Coimbatore) also explaing that even though, this word is considered as given by the persians, its roots in Sanskrit have the meaning as one who upholds dharma.

    Comment by K. Harapriya | July 12, 2009

  38. @ Harapriya: Do you have a link to Stephen Knapp’s article? Thanks.

    Comment by B Shantanu | July 12, 2009

  39. @Shantanu. It is here.

    Comment by K. Harapriya | July 13, 2009

  40. 39-
    Some relevant extracts from Stephen Knapp’s article.

    “So again, in any way these theories may present their information, and in any way you look at it, the name “Hindu” started simply as a bodily and regional designation. The name “Hindu” refers to a location and its people and originally had nothing to do with the philosophies, religion or culture of the people, which could certainly change from one thing to another. It is like saying that all people from India are Indians. Sure, that is acceptable as a name referring to a location, but what about their religion, faith and philosophy? These are known by numerous names according to the various outlooks and beliefs. Thus, they are not all Hindus, as many people who do not follow the Vedic system already object to calling themselves by that name. So “Hindu” is not the most appropriate name of a spiritual path, but the Sanskrit term of Sanatana-dharma is much more accurate. The culture of the ancient Indians and their early history is Vedic culture or Vedic dharma. So it is more appropriate to use a name that is based on that culture for those who follow it, rather than a name that merely addresses the location of a people. …. ”

    Whereas the main Sanskrit texts, and even the rituals that have been performed in the temples from millennia ago, used the word “Bharata” in reference to the area of present-day India. Thus, it is traditionally and technically more accurate to refer to the land of India as “Bharata” or “Bharat varsha”. ….” (emphasis added)

    “Unfortunately, the word “Hindu” has gradually been adopted by most everyone, even the Indians, and is presently applied in a very general way, so much so, in fact, that now “Hinduism” is often used to describe anything from religious activities to even Indian social or nationalistic events. Some of these so-called “Hindu” events are not endorsed in the Vedic literature, and, therefore, must be considered non-Vedic. Thus, not just anyone can call themselves a “Hindu” and still be considered a follower of the Vedic path. Nor can any activity casually be dubbed as a part of Hinduism and thoughtlessly be considered a part of the true Vedic culture. …”

    “Therefore, the Vedic spiritual path is more precisely called Sanatana-dharma, which means the eternal, unchanging occupation of the soul in its relation to the Supreme Being. Just as the dharma of sugar is to be sweet, this does not change. And if it is not sweet, then it is not sugar. Or the dharma of fire is to give warmth and light. If it does not do that, then it is not fire. In the same way, there is a particular dharma or nature of the soul, which is sanatana, or eternal. It does not change. So there is the state of dharma and the path of dharma. Following the principles of Sanatana-dharma can bring us to the pure state of regaining our forgotten spiritual identity and relationship with God. This is the goal of Vedic knowledge and its system of self-realization. Thus, the knowledge of the Vedas and all Vedic literature, such as Lord Krishna’s message in Bhagavad-gita, as well as the teachings of the Upanishads and Puranas, are not limited to only “Hindus” who are restricted to a certain region of the planet or family of birth. Such knowledge is actually meant for the whole world. As everyone is a spiritual being and has the same spiritual essence as described according to the principles of Sanatana-dharma, then everyone should be given the right and privilege to understand this knowledge. It cannot be held for an exclusive group or region of people. …” (emphasis added)

    “Sanatana-dharma is also the fully developed spiritual philosophy that fills whatever gaps may be left by the teachings of other less philosophically developed religions. Direct knowledge of the soul is a “universal spiritual truth” which can be applied by all people, in any part of the world, in any time in history, and in any religion. It is eternal. Therefore, being an eternal spiritual truth, it is beyond all time and worldly designations. Knowledge of the soul is the essence of Vedic wisdom and is more than what the name “Hindu” implies, especially after understanding from where the name comes. …” (emphasis added)

    “Even if the time arrives in this deteriorating age of Kali-yuga after many millennia when Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and even Hinduism (as we call it today) may disappear from the face of the earth, there will still be the Vedic teachings that remain as a spiritual and universal truth, even if such truths may be forgotten and must be re-established again in this world by Lord Krishna Himself. I doubt then that He will use the name “Hindu.” He certainly said nothing of the sort when He last spoke Bhagavad-gita.”

    This particular line is very significant. “Therefore, being an eternal spiritual truth, it is beyond all time and worldly designations.

    That is the essence.

    Labelling is the characteristic of exclusivistic ideologies such as christianity, islam, communism, fascism, nazism, liberalism, secularism, marxism and so on, all orginal to the west, that provide different labels for its followers and for the rest and having done so, persecute the non-followers.

    Such practice is not applicable to the ancient indian philosophy and tradition because it is inclusive and unlimiting. It gives stress on dharmic living, not dogmatic living. It recognises that different people having different characteristics have to follow different ways to progress spiritually. It recognises that just as water flowing through different streams merge together in the ocean, similarly people travelling different spiritual paths arrive at the same destination. It also recognises that dogmatic belief systems and exclusivistic ideologies, being adharmic, are not spiritual paths.

    Comment by Incognito | July 13, 2009

  41. @ Kaffir:

    No one in their right mind would link Hinduism to “discrimination based on caste” or very real ills like child marriage, dowry etc. These are all social ills & (ignorant or deliberate) minsinterpretations that the religion needs to be separated from. Men like Swami Dayananda, IC Vidyasagar, Raja Rammohun Roy & Mahatma Gandhi tried to do just that. Therefore I am surprised why devout Hindus like them do not get quoted instead of the lesser men. (And mentioning Knapp in a discussion kinda ruins it totally.)

    Hopefully that answers your question.

    @ Shantanu:

    My view on religions is this. Religions were in those days a complete way of life. Gurus, Prophets etc. talked of Spirituality & the Divine yes, but also about economics, law, health, hygeine etc. In those days { IMHO :-) }, knowledge on all these streams was dispensed by “the knowledgable or enlightened”. To say Ayurveda or Mathematics is a contribution of the Vedic era is accurate; but to claim it in the name of the “religion” known as “Hinduism” today, is a bit like crediting Islam with Abolishing Slavery & Espousing the Idea of Equality.

    What I don’t get is this urge to try & claim something for a particular clan or sect. To do it for academic or jocular purposes I get, but to make it an obsession is probably taking things too far. For example the legal world has borrowed heavily from the laws that Moses first gave his people. He is regarded as a lawgiver the World over. But you don’t see Jews claiming that Law is Judaisms contribution to the World. For example Court Marriage borrows from Muhammed first insisting that marriage should be in contract form, complete with a certificate signed by a representative of law. Do we see Muslims claiming Court Marriages as their contribution to the World? Like I said, for purely Academic purposes it’s fine, but beyond that it smacks of a mindset that cannot see the World & Humanity as one, where everyone contributes their bit.

    I’m still smarting from the dialogue from Khuda Ke Liye when the Pakistani protagonist says “We built the Taj Mahal”! Who’s “we” I wanted to ask!!

    This borderline nazi-type obsession with one’s nation & race is unhealthy. Why do we choose to stop at the name Bharat while looking back? Why don’t we look further back to see what we were called before those texts (of indeterminate dating) that some refer to as “itehaas” first mentioned the word. Why don’t we go & check what the Harrapans called the land? Why don’t we go with Magadha? Or with Hindustan? Or just stick with India. Was this Bharat name not an “appeasement” of another sect?

    Yes I’m aware that Hind & India are the same thing in different languages. Hind being given to us by the Persians/Arabs and India/Inde by the Europeans, on account of our relationship with the River Indus.

    Comment by Aman | July 13, 2009

  42. @ Aman: This borderline nazi-type obsession with one’s nation & race is unhealthy.

    I liked that!

    On a more serious note, thanks for a thought-provoking comment…As I wrote above, perhaps time to revisit this argument… more later.

    Comment by B Shantanu | July 13, 2009

  43. @ Harapriya: Thanks for the link and well-argued points. Will respond in detail later.


    @ Incognito: Likewise, thanks…I am finding myself unable to keep up with the pace of comments…but hope to respond soon.

    Comment by B Shantanu | July 13, 2009

  44. In today’s meeting with children Mister Prime Minister MMS, said that he is proud of being Sikh and embraces it more than anything else. I watched this on one ‘IBN Lokmat’.

    I was thinking that what would have happened in this hapless media if any Hindu leader would have quoted this “I’m Hindu and I embrace it”.

    Jai Hind!

    Comment by संदीप नारायण शेळके | November 15, 2009

  45. Sandeep Shelke,

    If a man with Manmohan Singh’s nature had said it, everyone would’ve welcomed it. Gandhiji often said he was proud of being a Hindu. Why shouldn’t anyone be.

    But if an aggressive militant type of guy says that he is proud of being a Hindu, then he is only brining dishonour to the Hindu name.

    Dr. MMS is a role model. Not only for all Sikhs but for people of all religions, nationalisties, languages everywhere. If you’re like him, your religion doens’t matter.

    Comment by Aman | November 16, 2009

  46. Dear Aman,
    {note: I’m not against any religion}
    “an aggressive militant type of guy says that he is proud of being a Hindu”
    What do you mean by saying this? Whom you are pointing to?
    The media has always been Hindu bashing. It has accredated the RSS as a terrorist organization because RSS is a Hindu organization. Some of the members might have been responsible unrest but there is no way to blame the organization in whole.
    Why not the whole Shikh community to be blamed for killing of Indira Gandhi?
    But you will never find people from Hindu community blaming anyone for misdeeds of their ancestors (take example of Islamic invaders) or anyone from their community.

    It is well-said by Rajmata Jijabaisaheb “Son/Daughter can not be held responsible for doing of his parents” while a listening on the verdict in mid 17th century when she was working a chief justice.

    I’m not saying that PM MMS has said it wrong, but in the same ways others too have to be treated.

    Jai Hind

    Comment by संदीप नारायण शेळके | November 17, 2009

  47. Dear Sandeep,

    The media calls the rss a terrorist organization because it is one. It’s role in the assassination of the Father of the Nation is well known. It’s role in instigating & participating in various riots is well known. It’s role in planting bombs near it’s own offices to incite communal tensions is well known. The organization breeds communal, militant mindsets & then says it’s not responsible. Much like pakistan saying it’s not responsible for the terrorists breeding there.

    You missed what I was saying. If a Mahatma Gandhi or a Mahatma Phule said they were proud of being Hindus, it adds glitter to the Hindu name. sadak chaap gundas saying it, detracts from the good Hindu name.

    Comment by Aman | November 17, 2009

  48. @ Sandeep and Aman: Pl. discuss and debate RSS on this post. Pl. limit comments on this post to Baba Ramdev and his statement about Yoga.


    Amam: Re. role of RSS in Gandhi’s assasination, pl. read: TRUTH AND TRAVESTY: RSS vis-a-vis Gandhi Murder (175Kb download). I think it will make you change your mind.

    Re. the rest of your statements, do pl. read the post on RSS (mentioned above) and comments on it.

    Comment by B Shantanu | November 17, 2009

  49. Dear Shantanu,

    Nothing will ever make me change my mind about the rss’ involvement in Gandhiji’s assassination.

    If the Justice Kapur Commission, Morarji Desai’s testimony, Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi & numerous other pieces of evidence haven’t convinced you about the rss’ involvement in the plot, then I hardly think that a random document of indeterminate origin will make me change my mind.
    The rss, golwalkar, savarkar etc. were all the embodiment of evil. There are no two ways about that.

    That said, I respect your admonishment for us to stick to the topic.

    Comment by Aman | November 19, 2009

  50. Can elaborate on the following quote by backing it with evidence thanks

    “The rss, golwalkar, savarkar etc. were all the embodiment of evil.”

    Comment by Arjun | November 19, 2009

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.