The first ever Center for Gandhian Studies, is expected to be launched in Shanghai’s Fudan University, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits China from May 14-16.
Modi will arrive in Chinese city of Xian on May 14 where he would hold informal talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and later travel to Beijing on May 15 for the formal talks.
With Yoga increasingly becoming popular as a fitness program, Modi is also expected to announce the setting up of a Yoga College which will be established at Yunnan Minzu University in China’s Yunnan province.
According to officials, the staff for the centre will be provided by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR)
The university already has a centre for Indian studies. However, this is the first time a centre dedicated to Gandhian studies is being established in China even though a few books on Gandhian thoughts have been published in the Chinese language earlier.
Despite being contemporaries, Gandhi and former chairman of the Communist Party of China Mao Zedong have contrasting views on national liberation.
Whereas, Mahatma Gandhi advocated non-violent struggle, Mao firmly believed in the dictum of “power flows through the barrel of the gun”.
Modi is expected to end his visit in Shanghai where he would attend a series of events including an address to the Indian community.
Lord Krishna said to Arjun in the Geeta, “Restless senses, O Arjuna, forcibly carry away the mind of even a wise person striving for perfection.” Patanjali’s description of the practice of yoga after the yamas and niyamas, directs towards the pratyahara, meaning turning inward of the senses. In simple terms when one is unable to restrain the senses, they become powerless to direct their minds. No matter how well-read or wise they sound while talking, it carries little importance without the practice discipline. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ (“to yoke”) which is more literally translated as “union of the individual’s Atma or soul with Paramatma or god (the universal soul). This is often understood as a union with the divine power by the integration of body, mind, and spirit. Thus, Yoga is what imparts an internal discipline, not only to the body but also to the mind and spirit.
History of the art of Yoga
Bhagavad Gita, the holy scripture of Hindus also states the importance of yoga, “Yoga is the journey of the self, to the self, through the self”it beautifully quotes. The history of Yoga is accurately is difficult to trace its has many places of obscurity and uncertainty. In those ages, texts and teaching were passed down orally. Not only was the oral transmission of sacred texts is a common occurrence but the secretive nature of its teachings was also a recurring phenomenon. Furthermore, earlier writings on yoga were transcribed on fragile palm leaves that were easily damaged, destroyed, or even lost making it difficult to trace the exact time of its inception. However, experts claim that the development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago, some researchers even think that yoga may be up to 10,000 years old old.
The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred known to mankind, the Rig Veda. These Vedas are sacred Hindu texts and were a collection of songs, mantras, and rituals to be used by Brahmans and Vedic priests. Later on, Yoga was slowly refined and developed by the Brahmans and Rishi munis who documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads, which contains 200 scriptures. However, to date, the most renowned Yogic scriptures where Yoga and its benefits are mentioned in the Bhagavad-Gita which was composed in around 500 B.C.E.
Yoga’s long rich history can be divided into four main periods of innovation, practice, and development or the pre-classic, classical, post-classical, and the modern period. Yoga as a means of exercise for the body and mind is a deeply rooted concept of Hinduism in India for centuries. Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Raja Yoga are considered the four main yogas, but with time and development now there are many other types.
Yoga in the modern period
Yoga is more of a spiritual act and it remains a vibrant living tradition. It is seen all across the world as a means to enlightenment for the mind and soul. In the 1800s and 1900s, yogic gurus traveled to the West, gaining attention, and followers and making Yoga more and more famous. Essentially this spread can be traced back to, 1893 when in the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, Swami Vivekananda left the attendees spellbound with his speech. His lectures on yoga and wellbeing were a great catalyst in spreading the word about this art. Late, in the 1920s and 30s, Hatha Yoga was strongly promoted in India as the work of T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda, and other yogis became popular.
Krishnamacharya was the first to open a Hatha Yoga school in Mysore in 1924. Sometime later in 1936 Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society on the banks of the holy river Ganges, he aroused three students that continued his legacy and increased the popularity of Hatha Yoga. They were B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar, and Pattabhi Jois. Sivananda himself wrote over 200 books on yoga and established nine ashrams and many yoga centers across the world, making yoga popular worldwide. In the western world, the importance of yoga and its popularity soared when Indra Devi opened her yoga studio in Hollywood in 1947.
Yoga is popular in many parts of the world. Especially in the United States, yoga has become associated with the asanas (postures) of Hatha Yoga, which have gained immense popularity as fitness exercises. Even though Yoga is central to Hinduism, other religions like Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, have also been greatly influenced by it throughout the world. Some of the most important Hindu texts which have laid the ground for yoga worldwide include the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Yoga and Modi
PM Modi has been a patron of yoga, practicing and propagating the idea of yoga and its importance worldwide. Recently at a yoga event called “Yoga for Peace” in Argentina’s capital Mr. Modi addressed the participants saying that the practice of Yoga connects everyone to happiness. The Prime Minister further said that if the mind is at peace, there would be peace in family, society, country, and the world as well. He went on to say that “Yoga is India’s gift to the world for health, wellness, and peace.” Yoga can be credited to connects us with wellness and happiness and bring peace of mind to many across the globe. PM Modi further said that Yoga is bridging the vast distance between India and Argentina. It is connecting people worldwide and binding them in a positive light. PM Modi has on other occasions termed yoga as the “unifying force of the world”
The multiple benefits that the practice of yoga has on a person’s wellbeing are accepted all across the world. In these tough times when people are locked inside their houses as anxiety and worklessness eat them up, Yoga can be a great support. It would not only help to bring the mind at peace but also help with the body at such times when physical activity is low. Yoga could help deal with anxiety and stress which commonly surround people in a lockdown. In fact, recent studies have said that Yoga even helps in quitting smoking and other tobacco products. This can be a great time for people to quit their bad habits and turn to a path of spirituality. Yoga in every sense of the world is excellent support in these stressful times or literally every time. It brings harmony and peace not only to the mind but also to the body.
Ayurveda is an ancient health care tradition that has been practiced in the Indian subcontinent for at least 5000 years. The word “Ayurveda” comes from the Sanskrit terms Ayur (life) and Veda (knowledge). Ayurveda or Ayurvedic medicine was documented in Vedas thousands of years ago. It has evolved over the years and is now integrated with other traditional practices, including yoga.
Suśruta Samhita is an important book in Ayurveda. Originally written in the Sanskrit language by Sushruta about 5000 years ago. Sushruta (Suśruta) is regarded to be the Father of Surgery for inventing and developing surgical procedures in ancient India. According to legend, Lord Dhanvantari passed the medical insight to his follower Divodasa, who then instructed Sushruta.
During 300 BCE, Charaka, an Ayurveda Physician compiled his knowledge of medicine and called it Agnivesa Samhita, later re-named it as Charak Samhita. This consists of eight books and one hundred twenty chapters. Charak Samhita describes the facts of diseases, diagnosis, treatments, and medicines which are necessary for the well being of human. It also includes sections on the importance of diet, hygiene, prevention, medical education, the teamwork of a physician, nurse, and patient necessary for recovery to health. Charaka Samhita mentions 84 types of alcoholic preparations and their medicinal value. Cannabis (Bhang) and Papaver somniferum (Afu) were used as potential pain relievers due to unavailability of analgesics. Use of cannabis is also mentioned in texts for sedation and anesthetization during surgeries.
Appearances of people
According to Ayurvedic principles, everyone has a specific constitution or prakruti that determines his/her character and disease vulnerability. Health care is highly individualized practice under Ayurvedic principles. Appearances of people are categorized into 3 groups Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Vata – Thin and slim figured persons – It is associated with air and space. Vata energy is liked to a bodily movement that includes blood circulation and breathing. People who are creative and thinkers are of this category.
Pitta – People of medium build and sharp features – Pitta energy is linked to fire and is thought to control the digestive and endocrine systems. People of this category are fiery in temperament and intelligent.
Kapha – People with a stout figure and well-developed body and calm in Nature – Kapha energy is linked to earth and water. It is believed to control strength and growth and is associated with the back, torso, and chest.
Ayurvedic medicines are prepared according to the Prakruthi of a person and the therapeutic effect needed. Milk, ghee, honey, molasses, ashes of pearls or diamonds, rock salts, several types of herbs- these are ingredients of Ayurvedic medicines.
In Ayurvedic preparations, the part of an herb is chosen and used depending on where its medicinal value lies and its curative effects on the body. Some examples are listed below:
Turmeric, Ginger, Velvet Leaf, Rhubarb: Roots
Chaste Tree, Coriander, Aloe Vera: Leaves
Black Pepper, Gooseberry, Indian Gall Nut: Fruit
Neem Tree, Ashoka Tree, Sandalwood: Bark
Cardamom, Coriander, Cowhage Plant: Seeds
Different herbs have different healing powers.
Aloe Vera, Sandalwood, Turmeric, Shatavari- Antiseptic (Protects against infections)
Turmeric, Echinacea – Antibiotic (Fights against viral and bacterial infections)
Chamomile, Chrysanthemum, Basil, Ginger – Carminative (Helps in proper digestion)
Bhasma literally means ashes. The medicated ashes of various metals and non-metals are administered as medicines. The effect of this bhasma is so instantaneous that it seems no less than a miracle. There are various researches on where the properties of these bhasmas are being evaluated. Bhasma is nothing but nanoparticles it is said.
Ayurveda for Animals
There is a specific branch in Ayurveda named as Pashu Ayurveda, where treatment protocols for diseases occurring to horses, elephants, and dogs are also mentioned.
Dhanvantari is a celebrated figure amongst the practitioners of Ayurveda. He is the progenitor of Ayurveda, and he stands on the top in the hierarchy of medicine in India. They celebrate Dhanvantari’s birthday on Dhanteras every year too. In Srimad Bhagavata Purana, there is a story about Bhagavan Dhanvatari when he revealed Ayurveda to the world. He is worshiped today as the pioneer of medical science in Hindu dharma. (VedicFeed)
As the tensions rise between India and China along the borders in Ladakh, Shekhar Gupta in his article for The Print invokes an American political satirist P.J. O’Rourke.
Talking about his works Shekhar points out that in his ‘A Brief History of Man’, P.J. O’Rourke writes a small sentence “Meanwhile, in China, there were the Chinese.”. This sentence is relevant to us today.
Shekhar Gupta believes that the sentence conveys us a sense of resignation about the “inscrutable” Chinese. This thought happens to be familiar thought in the West.
“But we don’t live in the West. We’ve lived next door to China for as long as first civilisations grew.”, writes Shekhar Gupta
Let’s look at the history of Indian interactions with China since independance. What is inscrutable about it? Talking about the military assault across two fronts in 1962, it may have been a surprise to our leaders back then, but that is only because they were delusional.
From Chinese ultimatum to India to “return their stolen yaks and sheep” in 1965, to their appearance along the Ladakh frontier this year, China happens to be completely predictable and far from inscrutable. Especially keeping in mind Chinese actions in respect to India.
The push at Nathu La (Sikkim) in 1967 was probably to check out the resolve from India. Which they saw at its weakest — having fought two recent wars (1962 and 1965), famines, ship-to-mouth existence, political instability and a diminished Indira Gandhi. . The Indian response was a lesson they quickly learnt. What did the Chinese do after that? They have kept the peace for 53 years. Will you call that response evidence of Chinese inscrutability? They probed us, got a rude push-back, and decided to wait and stir the pot in different ways, at different times, says Shekhar Gupta in his artcile for The Print.
The Chinese kept the hold of what they wanted in 1962. According to Shekhar the truth is, they had it in their possession almost fully, barring small, tactically important slivers in Ladakh. They asserted their ownership and let their larger claim, Arunachal Pradesh, fully in Indian control, go militarily uncontested.
The Chinese never gave up claim on it. In 1986-87, they again checked us out at Wangdung-Sumdorong Chu (Arunachal), when they saw Rajiv Gandhi take India’s defence budget to a 4 per cent-plus of GDP. And once more, the response was firm and the Chinese backed off. The lesson we learnt according to Shekhar Gupta is that the Chinese won’t open fire randomly for the sake of it, Or when they are absolutely sure of an easy victory so they could be seen like ‘teaching an upstart a lesson’ as they did in 1962. Predictable.
Each and every action and response of China fits a pattern- Deliver a message, add leverage, and return, according to Shekhar Gupta.
India, China and Pakistan shared this unusual ‘triangulation’ in which China was using Pakistan to keep India preoccupied, said Former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during his tenure.
His idea was to break this ‘triangulation’ by seeking peace with Pakistan. He thought, that a country as big and powerful as China, would see less of an incentive for peace with India than Pakistan.
Shekhar Gupta believes that today, that option is not so available, as hostility with Pakistan is central to the Modi-BJP politics. They’d rather make peace with China than Pakistan. That is why the lavish welcomes and frequent meetings with the Chinese leaders. The objective, still, is escaping that triangle.
Another instance of Vajpayee explaining the Chinese negotiating style. “Dekhiye, aap aur hum baithe hain aur vaarta kar rahe hain (see, you and I are sitting and negotiating),” he said. If two people require something and the first person asks to let go of something, the other will say no. Then the first person again asks for something little less, then again the other person might say no. But ultimately the second person will relent and let go of some. The Chinese would never do that.
Both these leaders underlined that the Chinese are consistent, and predictable. And that is why we should not be shoched or surprised by what they have unveiled across Ladakh. We should have anticipated it on 5 August last year when we made the big changes in Jammu & Kashmir. This Chinese move, like all others in 60 years, was fully predictable. Even the timing, says Shekhar Gupta in his article for The Print.