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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.

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  • 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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U.N. Donald Trump’s Impeachment may be Possible: Key Lawmaker

Comey testified to a House panel on Friday about his role in 2016 election-related investigations of Trump's campaign.

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House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., arrives for a House Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 7, 2017, on oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. VOA

A key U.S. lawmaker said Sunday that Democrats in the House of Representatives could pursue impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump, saying that the U.S. leader had “surrounded himself with crooks” and was part of a broad “conspiracy against the American people” to win the 2016 election.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat set to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when Democrats take control of the chamber next month, told CNN that lawmakers have to decide “how important” allegations are against Trump, but should pursue impeachment charges “only for serious offenses.”

U.S.A., Trump
In these 2018 photos, Paul Manafort leaves federal court in Washington, left and attorney Michael Cohen leaves federal court in New York. VOA

Nadler offered his thoughts two days after federal prosecutors accused former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, “in coordination with and at the direction” of Trump, of orchestrating $280,000 in hush money payments shortly before the 2016 election to two women who alleged they had affairs with Trump so they would stay silent before Election Day.

Nadler said that if proven, the allegations against Trump were “certainly impeachable offenses.” That could lead to his removal from office, if the Senate were to convict him by at least a two-thirds vote, a doubtful proposition with Republican control of the Senate continuing in the Congress that takes office in January.

Nadler said lawmakers will have “to look at all this,” along with weighing what special counsel Robert Mueller concludes about allegations that Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia to help him win and that, as president, Trump obstructed justice by trying to thwart the ongoing 19-month probe.

The U.S. Justice Department has a standing guideline against indicting sitting presidents, although they can be charged after leaving office. Nadler said, however, “There’s nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the president from being indicted. Nobody should be above the law.”

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Stormy Daniels speaks during a ceremony for her in West Hollywood, Calif.. VOA

Trump has dismissed the latest allegations against him in connection with the payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal and allegations of Trump campaign contacts with Russia to help him win the election.

He used Twitter on Monday to repeat his frequent statement of “NO COLLUSION” between his campaign and Russia.

“So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution,” Trump said. He went on to say “it was done correctly and there would not even be a fine,” further adding that if there were any problems then Cohen would be the one who was liable.

“Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced,” Trump said.

Trump has called for the end to the Mueller probe, but a Republican lawmaker, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, told ABC News, “I’ve always supported the Mueller investigation and continue to do so because I think it’s in the best interest of everyone involved, including, by the way, the president.”

U.S.A., Trump
Seven-page government sentencing document for Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer. VOA

Aside from Cohen, who is set to be sentenced Wednesday and faces several years of imprisonment, Mueller so far has secured guilty pleas or won convictions of Trump’s first national security adviser, his former campaign manager, his former deputy campaign manager, a foreign policy adviser and other lesser figures.

On Sunday, Trump assailed former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, whom Trump fired while he was heading the Russia investigation before Mueller was named to lead the probe.

U.S.A. Trump
Former FBI Director James Comey, with his attorney, David Kelley, right, speaks to reporters after a day of testimony before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

Comey testified to a House panel on Friday about his role in 2016 election-related investigations of Trump’s campaign and that of his challenger, Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state.

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“On 245 occasions, former FBI Director James Comey told House investigators he didn’t know, didn’t recall, or couldn’t remember things when asked,” Trump claimed on Twitter.

“Leakin’ James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day. His Friday testimony was so untruthful! This whole deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest people who would do anything so that I could not become President. They are now exposed!” (VOA)