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In 1927, Travelling Yogis upended the state Government of Oklahoma: Read Here!

Yoga was viewed in the early twentieth century as mental and magical, and broken marriages, suicides, and contested wills were attributed to it

Yoga at Times Square. Image source:
  • The 1920s saw the fears of yoga and its teachers reaching its peak
  • Broken marriages, suicides, and contested wills were attributed to yoga in the early twentieth century
  • The 2016 Yoga in America Study states that 80 million people are likely to try yoga for the first time over the next 12 months

With over 36 million yoga practitioners in the U.S, yoga is expanding its reach above all horizons. Yoga has become so popular that the total expense of yoga classes, clothing, equipment and accessories, has risen to $16 billion a year up from $10 billion over the past four years. The 2016 Yoga in America Study states that thirty-four percent of Americans, or 80 million people, say they are likely to try yoga for the first time over the next 12 months. But yoga wasn’t always held in high regard, it was viewed in the early twentieth century as mental and magical, and broken marriages, suicides, and contested wills were attributed to yoga.

Yoga or “Yogi Philosophy” was common to talk of hypnotism. Yoga teachers in the United States during this time were like travelling salesmen, moving from one town to another and Methodist circuit riding preachers, giving public lectures and teaching private courses. The American public would conjure up fantastic ideas about yoga’s power and the itinerant men from India who taught it as there were very few Asian immigrants. But by the 1920s, figures such as Mabel Daggett grouped these incidents together, connected them to fears of South Asian immigration, and imagined a deliberate conspiracy of “swarthy Hindoo priests” launching a “Heathen Invasion” of the United States.

The 1920s saw the fears of yoga and its teachers reaching its peak.

Henry Simpson Johnston, who moved to the Oklahoma from Indiana to practice law in the town of Perry, became a well-regarded and powerful figure throughout the county. Johnston was then elected to the first Oklahoma Senate, and after returning to his law practice in Perry successfully ran for the Governor’s seat in 1926.

Yogi Wassan Class Image Source: ( Texas/Dallas History division of the Dallas Public Library)

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The governor, his secretary, Mrs Oliver Hammonds and her uncle held their own personal array of esoteric and occult beliefs. Johnston was a serial joiner of fraternal organisations and was a member of the Klu Klux Klan, the Freemasons, and the Rosicrucians, and by his own admission counted Theosophy, New Thought, Unity, and Christian Science among his philosophical affinities. Mamie Hammonds was part of the Kamelia, a women’s adjunct to the Klan and her uncle Armstrong who was a Rosicrucian. Johnston, Hammonds and Armstrong also had shared interests in numerology and astrology, mentions

These associations created fascinating stories and articles and even warned the people that Oklahoma was under a “dictatorship of the spirits,” and that “Strange Gods” ruled Oklahoma. One of the most problematic of these associations was Judge Armstrong’s relationship with, Yogi Wassan, a Punjabi Sikh immigrant from the village of Ball.

Yogi  Wassan  placed a strong emphasis on physical wellness through diet, exercise, and breathing regimens and would often perform feats of strength on stage and use his own brawny body as proof of his techniques. He was viewed as a sort of mystic pope of the quiet sect of Yogi by the people of Oklahoma.

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A pardon he issued for a murderer on the suggestion of his official secretary H.E. Sullivan, and the alleged corruption and mismanagement within the Highway Commission along with his ties to yoga resulted in Johnston’s suspension from his office and an awaiting impeachment trial.

At the end of the impeachment hearings, Johnston was acquitted of nearly all the charges except the vague charge of “general incompetence.”  The media speculated endlessly on rumours of chanting, incense smoke, swamis, and yogis, and it is difficult to not see those same rumours in the single vague charge that removed Johnston from office.

-This article is prepared by Ajay Krishna, a staff-writer at NewsGram.


  • Aparna Gupta

    Its good that they are going to practice yoga instead of so many bad things attributed to it. However; suicide, mental, broken marriages and others have no connection with Yoga.

  • AJ Krish

    It is natural that something foreign in nature would be rejected at first.But they sure took yoga and mistook it for something entirely!

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Hotel Chains in Rajasthan Contribute in Growing Local Economy

Big hotel chains help boost local economy in Rajasthan

Hotels Rajasthan
Hotel chains in Rajasthan play a major role in boosting the local economy. Pixabay


Big hotel chains in Rajasthan are helping the local economy grow by providing newer employment avenues to the natives.

These hotels are hiring local people to showcase the colourful heritage of Rajasthan to guests coming from different parts of the world.

Ibis, an Accor brand, recently re-launched its property in Civil Lines, Jaipur, in which locals were engaged in the task to design a vibrant and colourful lobby with traditional Pichwai artwork connecting to the ethic charm of the Pink city.

The property also showcases a quirky auto and bike parked outside the lobby which comes in different shades of pink connecting with the theme of the pink City. Again, in this perspective, the local students’ views were taken into account to make the pretty decor of the auto and bike, said Saumitra Chaturvedi, General Manager, Ibis Jaipur Civil Lines.

Further, the hotel had hired a local band, Marudhar, during the relaunch of the property, which has got six local members who shot to fame after displaying their talent in ‘India’s Got Talent’.

Chaturvedi said, “It gives me immense pleasure to showcase the revamped Ibis property in Jaipur which has been designed after seeking services of local artists. We look forward to serving the best blend of local and global in terms of food, delicacies and experiences, he added.

Rajasthan locals
Big hotel chains in Rajasthan hire the local people to showcase the rich culture of that region. Pixabay

The other property pushing local economy to new heights is Alila Fort Bishangarh where locals are engaged in diverse tasks including garden landscaping, housekeeping, driving and even the kitchen for dishes, said Binny Sebastian, General Manager, Alila Fort Bishangarh’s heritage hotel, some 50 km from Jaipur.

As our property is situated on the outskirts, the surrounding villages had people engaged in farming and hence we are training them in diverse tasks to ensure they have a decent source of earning. Now, the villages look changed as there are many shops and businesses coming around, he adds.

These guests are also taken around for a barber shop where they love to get a hair massage done which is called as Champi in local language. Villagers are getting a decent price for it. We have a chai shop where guests are taken and they pay villagers a decent sum for a tea.

Then comes as zero mile cuisine system we have introduced recently where food produced within the vicinity of one mile is being served to guests. This again boosts local economy, Sebastian says.

This Diwali, we gifted paper bag made from newspapers with an earthen pot having tulsi plant grown in our garden. Again local services were taken to make bags and pots, he adds.

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“Our association with locals is quite strong. Our guests also visit the artisans’ houses and sip tea there while watching them make pottery and weave carpet. In this way, we ensure that locals get a decent livelihood,” Sebastian added.

“We have started getting regular income since this property came up a year back. We have been showing our art to the guests here which gives us satisfaction as well as an income,” said Nizamuddin, a bangle maker engaged in Alila Fort, Bishangarh. (IANS)