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By Nithin Sridhar
In what is being seen as a landmark judgment by some quarters of population world-wide, an appeals court in California, USA has upheld a decision by the San Diego Superior Court that the yoga program in the Encinitas School District is ”devoid of any religious, mystical or spiritual trappings.” The appeals court has ruled that the said Yoga program is secular and it did not had the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion. This judgment has once again raised the question “Is Yoga Secular or Religious?”
Yoga literally means “Union”. Patanjali Yoga Sutra (1.2-3) defines Yoga as a state wherein the patterns (vrittis) of the mind has been removed, so that the “seer” (i.e. Atman) abides in his real nature”. Hence, yoga is a state of Samadhi, wherein the Self or Atman has been isolated from the limitations of Non-Self entities like body and mind so that the Atman alone shines. This state is achieved by stilling the mind by causing all the various thought-modifications of the mind to cease. Just as various thoughts and dreams are products of modifications of “manas/mind”. Similarly, from purely subjective perspective the objective universe one perceives is also due to the modifications of one’s mind. The Atman is the witness and the body and the mind are the objects. Hence, when the mind is stilled and the modifications of mind are brought into a stop, the objects merge into the subject and the Atman which is the subject alone remains. This state of Samadhi is called as “Yoga” or “Union” because there is a Union of duality of object and subject giving rise to the non-dual abidance in Atman.
What is the goal of Yoga?
The whole system of Yoga is designed to attain this state of Self-abidance. Patanjali describes an eight limbed process to attain the ultimate Union. These eight limbs are- yama (external discipline), niyama (internal discipline), asana (posture), pranayama (breath regulation), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (one pointed concentration), dhyana (meditative absorption) and samadhi (Ultimate Union). It is to be noted that Asana or practice of various postures and pranayama or the practice of breath regulation are not considered as foundational limbs. Instead they occur as third and fourth limb respectively. The foundation limbs are yama and niyama which constitutes various external and internal disciplines. Yama includes ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (celibacy) and aparigraha (freedom from avarice). Niyama includes shaucha (cleanliness), santosha, tapah(austerity/control of mind and senses), svadhyaya (self-study) and ishvarapranidhanani (devotion to God).Without a constant practice of these yama and niyama, no amount of Asana can lead to higher limbs of Yoga. The Yama and Niyama aims to purify the mind and impart detachment and dispassion to the practitioner. The aim of Asana is to keep the body healthy and make it a proper instrument for higher practice. The Pranayama aims to regulate the breath which is very much necessary for stilling the mind. It is only by a proper synchronization of all the four limbs that a person is able to withdraw his senses (pratyahara) and attain one-pointed concentration (dharana). If, a person was to practice postures alone then all one will be able to attain is a healthy body. But, developing a healthy body is not the ultimate goal of Yoga. In fact it is not the ultimate goal of human life itself. According to Hindu philosophy, the ultimate goal of human life is Moksha and all other activities and goals be it Kama, Artha or Dharma are to be aligned to make way for an individual to ultimately reach the goal of Moksha. Hence, be it Yoga or Bharatanatyam or Indian Classical music, every aspect of Indian life was conceived as a medium to attain an eternal abidance in Atman i.e. Moksha.
Hence, having a healthy body or a healthy life-style cannot be ultimate goal of Yoga. Instead it can only be a secondary and interim goal that is aimed at turning the body and the corresponding lifestyle into conductive instruments that are then able to attain the ultimate goal of Samadhi.
Yoga is the “Abidance in Atman
“Secularism” refers to the separation of religion from political, social and economic systems and institutions. The creation of this separation is rooted in European history where the concept was used for the separation of the state from the hegemony of the church. But, no such separation ever existed in the Indian concept of life. The foundation of Indian life is Sanatana Dharma and this Dharma dictates every aspect of Indian life. There is no artificial division of sacred and secular in the Dharmic view of life because there was never a conflict between secular subjects and faith-based subjects, between science and religion. Dharma guides both secular and sacred aspects of life. In fact, it harmoniously unites both and helps an individual to work towards the highest goal of Moksha (enlightenment). The Hindu concept of life aims at using even the most secular activities into attempts at reaching the higher goal. The music, dance, martial arts, physical exercises or medicine everything is helpful in equipping an Individual to attain the Moksha.
Hence, to the question whether Yoga is Secular? The answer is definitely a “No”. Whether Yoga is religious in the sense that it is faith-based alone? The answer again is a “No”. When any activity is upheld as being secular, it often means that the activity is completely nonreligious in nature without any element of religion or spirituality. Similarly, when any activity is considered as “religious” it is understood that the activity is only faith based without any scientific or verifiable element in them. But, Yoga does not fit into either of the definitions. It is not secular because it is not a physical exercise regimen that is devoid of any religious value. Instead the ultimate goal of Yoga is the “Abidance in Atman” which is among the most basic tenet of Hinduism. Similarly, it is not entirely religious in the faith sense, because it is a well-designed complete system which rests on individually verifiable results and not on blind faith. Yoga is a dharmic life-style system that has both, faith and non-faith elements, both verifiable and ethical elements that aim at imparting the highest goal of “abidance in Atman” to the practitioner. Hence, when a person or an organization attempts to secularize Yoga, it results in serious consequences.
Secularization or Destruction?
In the present incident, it is reported that the Yoga program was secularized by removing all the religious elements including the removal of the usage of Sanskrit words like Namaste and Sanskrit names of the postures. The Padmaasana for example was promoted as “criss cross apple sauce” posture. Now the question is, what is the basis of considering the terms like “Namaste” and “Padmaasana” as religious and hence needed to be removed? Padma-asana simply means “lotus-posture”. It is one of the basic postures that help a person to enter a deep meditation. The term “Padma” or lotus is used not only because the asana resembles a blooming lotus but also because, a person retains the grip on his body even after entering deep meditation. Just as a lotus floats in water, staying above water yet in constant touch with it, a practitioner will remain in deep meditation without casting off his body. But, any such symbolism and understanding is lost when it is translated as “criss cross apple sauce”. That exactly seems to be the goal. The present example clearly denotes that in the name of secularization, a ripping away of Yoga from its Indian and Dharmic roots is being carried out. The words like Padmaasana are being discarded because they are words of Sanskrit and hence indicate that Yoga is a product of Indian Civilization and Sanatana Dharma. This is a clear case of dilution and digestion of Yoga.
What is the way forward?
The genuine teachers of Yoga in India and the west must take initiative to counter any attempts at dilution or digestion of Yoga-
- The Yoga teachers must first become strongly grounded in the traditional practice of Yoga. They must not only be thorough in various aspects of philosophy and practice of Yoga but they must also be aware of basic Hindu philosophy.
- The Yoga teachings must be imparted only to those students who are competent to have it and it must not be sold like a commercial products.
- The Yoga must be taught as a wholesome dharmic system whose aim is both material and spiritual welfare and not as an exercise regimen.
- The Yoga teachings should not be diluted for the sake of promoting oneself or gaining more students. The traditional teachings, its terminologies, its meaning and significance etc. should not be distorted.
- The Yoga teachers must uphold the tradition and promote the tradition instead of promoting their own self.
- Any specific part or limb of Yoga should not be promoted as a distinct practice on their own. Instead a wholesome teaching of Yoga must be imparted but specific instructions can be based on Individual capacities.
The Hindu parents should become aware about Hindu religion and philosophy. They must become aware about significance of Yoga in material as well as spiritual welfare. They must learn Yoga in its entirety and practice them as a medium to attain the ultimate goal and not just as a health regimen. They must teach the same to their children as well. These simple measures go a long way in preserving the authentic tradition of Yoga and protecting it against secularization and digestion.
(The writer is a Civil Engineer from Mysore, Karnataka who has deep interest in Politics, History, Religion and Philosophy especially in context of Sanatana Dharma. He could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Eve Yvonne Maday de Maros, the woman who designed the Param Vir Chakra, was born in 1913 in Neuchatel, Switzerland. It was believed that she came to India to understand the country's culture and tradition.
She got to know about India's spiritual and cultural wealth at a very early age through holistic education which she received. Soon, Eve Yvonne fell in love with a Maharashtrian named Vikram Khanolkar, who was a young army officer, and was undergoing training at the Royal Military Academy in the United Kingdom.
Soon, both the persons married, and Eve Yvonne acquired the name Savitribai Khanolkar and shifted to Maharashtra with her husband who by the time became Major General.
Savitribai Khanolkar with husband Major General Vikram Khanolkar.Photo found on Google Images
As Savitribai Khanolkar was already amazed by the rich culture of India, she immersed herself in the study of mythology, traditions, and religious scriptures. Along with this, Savitribai also started indulging herself in the art, music, dance, and linguistics of India.
Parallel to this, India was celebrating its independence from the British rule, and was on its way to remove British legacies and re-establish the country's identity.
This was the time when When Adjutant General Hira Lal Atal was assigned with the task of creating the Indian equivalent of the British Victoria Cross. For this, he took Savitribai in confidence as she had an in-depth knowledge of the nation. Thus, from here began the journey of making the Param Vir Chakra.
The design of Param Vir Chakra was to denote power and sacrifice demonstrated by the soldiers that protected people at the cost of their lives. So, according to Savitribai, nothing could represent in a better way than the great warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji himself. According to the history, the ruler was known for his courage and strategic defence. Hence, his sword 'Bhavani' found a place on the disc, enclosed within the Indian mythical weapon 'Vajra', from both sides. This mythical weapon is believed to be made of a sage's bone in order to kill evil enemies in the name of goodness.
Moreover, the first Param Vir Chakra was awarded on India's first Republic Day celebrated, which was celebrated in 1950, and its recipient was Savitribai's son-in-law's brother, Major Somnath Sharma.
In this world full of technological advancement where everything is now home-delivered, even the most essential beauty services are now available at your doorstep? Let the pampering sessions begin. The whole salon environment at home believes that services at home are undoubtedly the best option during the unusual crisis.
IANSlife brings you the co-founder of YES MADAM, Mayank Arya who speaks of the benefits of at-home salon services.
We all prefer comfort over anything and everything. Nothing is more comfortable than getting everything under your own roof. One of the most amazing perks of subscribing to an at-home salon service provider is that you can watch your favourite TV show or OTT series while having your hair treated or nails done. Amidst, Covid-19 and working from home some of the beauty services can be taken simultaneously. Getting beauty services at your home keeps you relaxed and calm. During festivals when you are already busy the on-demand salon services can do wonders for your mind, body and soul.
Nothing is more comfortable than getting everything under your own roof. | Photo by Inside Weather on Unsplash
Usually many customers have problems related to hygienic surroundings. Of course, they do not know if the place is properly sanitized or not. For such kinds of customers "At home Beauty services" is nothing but the most appropriate option. There is something about being in a familiar environment that makes you feel at total comfort instantly and allows you to enjoy the treatment in a much better way. Create your own bubble with the most appropriate hygienic conditions according to your requirements and take the at-home salon services.
Create your own bubble with the most appropriate hygienic conditions according to your requirements and take the at-home salon services. | Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash
The biggest and the major concern during the times of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the duration of time where the whole world is fighting a virus, we all need to be extra careful about exposure to any kind of infection. With at-home salon services, you do not have to expose yourself to dozens of people on your way but you can allow yourself to enjoy excellent services within the safety of your home. With vaccinated beauticians, it becomes much safer to get the treatments done. In at-home salon services, the beauticians wear a PPE kit that includes a mask, gloves, bodysuit, and a face shield. They utilize only monodose (single-use) products. Moreover, they also sanitize the area where the set-up is done to deliver the services.
With at-home salon services, you can allow yourself to enjoy excellent services within the safety of your home. | Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash
Sometimes, even if you book an appointment, you have to travel a lot far and still the beautician keeps you waiting. The in-house beauty treatment services are much more flexible. It's all up to you, one can book the date and time whenever they need the service, and the beautician will be there at your doorstep. If it is a busy week or an impromptu decision, one can always rely on the on-demand salon services.
. The in-house beauty treatment services are much more flexible. | Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash
The session with family and friends
Who doesn't love to gossip around and chill with friends and family while getting their manicure and pedicure done? There are so many nosy customers while you visit the salon that just kills your buzz. But a salon at home with your friends and family especially during the times of festivals provide you with the most relaxing and happy vibes.
A salon at home with your friends and family especially during the times of festivals provide you with the most relaxing and happy vibes. | Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash
With the up-gradation in technology, the on-demand salon services do not let you pile up the house chores. While you are working from home and want to get your house festive ready with services like pest control, sanitization, sofa cleaning, carpet cleaning, kitchen cleaning, bathroom cleaning at-home services like Yes Madam always keep you sorted.
(Article originally written by: N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: salon, pandemic, safety, hygiene, family, friends, comfort
By Aishwarya Jain
According to the World Happiness Report 2021 which was released by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Finland was once again crowned as the world's happiest country. India has been ranked 139 out of 149 countries in the list of UN World Happiness Report 2021. To make society happy, firstly it is really important to spread awareness on how it is okay to relax, chill and take a break. People tend to normalise overworking, which is so wrong. Of Course, we need a job to live and sustain ourselves but you shouldn't be working yourself to death, and the fact that this is seen as normal is really worrying. You spend more hours at work than you do awake at home, so if those hours are drenched in misery then sadness basically becomes the norm. A study from Gallup (2017) found that happier employees were more engaged, which resulted in improved customer relationships, and a 20 percent increase in sales.
Also, lowering down the crime level would act as a major factor towards a happy society. People who witness crimes, or come across evidence of a crime in their local area, can suffer anxiety and may feel demoralised or powerless. We should also teach them to stop judging people by materialistic things and accept everyone with all their flaws. Media plays an important role in making society happy because they have the power of reaching out to billions of people and helping them out through a solution-based approach.
Media plays an important role in making society happy because they have the power of reaching out to billions of people and helping them out through a solution-based approach. | Photo by Dave Goudreau on Unsplash
As per Aishwarya Jain, the Founder of IM Happiness, a social community that works to increase awareness of mental well-being, "Every great leader always talks about building a happier society from Chanakya to J.R.D. Tata. As J.R.D Tata said, "I do not want India to be an economic superpower. I want India to be a happy country". Happiness makes good things happen. It actually promotes positive outcomes. It's high time corporates start taking importance of mental well-being like it's happening around the world. Last week, Nike became the latest company to close its offices for a week to give employees a mental health break. That's after LinkedIn, Bumble, and Hootsuite have all shut down their offices for a week this year to address mental health. I think the global revolution of happiness has started."
Our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive. Yet in today's world, we ironically sacrifice happiness for success only to lower our brain's success rate . When we are happy -- when our mindset and mood are positive -- we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the centre, and success revolves around it. IM Happiness is a community that believes happiness is a skill to be enhanced by training and practice. The team works day and night to help the sufferers get rid of their mental chaos and teach them the skill of being optimistic and happy in every situation, either favourable or adverse. They work on the aim of the United Nations Goals of promoting good health and well-being and have worked closely with the organisation. The team is utilizing the power of Science and Spirituality in achieving this aim.
IM Happiness is initiating a new campaign, 'Hello Happiness'. | Photo by Dylan Sauerwein on Unsplash
IM Happiness is initiating a new campaign, 'Hello Happiness'. The campaign unites 30+ celebrities from across the country to have a surprise conversation with selected people in India. Ranveer Brar, Daniel Weber, Masoom Minawala Mehta and Ash King are some of the celebrities who will be a part of this campaign. With this campaign, the community wants to help people deal with their emotions and to motivate them. The campaign is free of cost and the nominee just has to register, wherein the unique algorithm will connect the nominee with a celebrity or other mentors on a call according to their keywords.
The community is trying to bring a change but it is the society's accumulative effort to spread awareness and to make oneself happy. We should try to start small and it will eventually make a great difference because a better society allows us to lead a better life.
(Article originally published on IANS by N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keyowrds: Happiness, society, IM happiness, campaign, India, community