21 July 2015
While International Yoga Day seeks to promote spirituality and wellbeing, its origin may be linked to Hindu nationalist militant extremism. Will its benevolent ideals prevail?
On June 21 2015, the world witnessed the first International Yoga Day (IYD), an event declared by the United Nations General Assembly following lobbying by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Associated by many with spiritual wellbeing and harmony, yoga has roots in Hindu religious practices and traditions, even if the type of bodily exercises popularly found today have little connection to that tradition. An association with generic spirituality alongside health and wellbeing benefits have allowed yoga to become a worldwide phenomenon.
Indeed with 170 countries supporting the resolution at the UN it did not even need a vote, while Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Message on IYD stressed it could promote “physical and spiritual health”, “respect for one’s fellow human beings”, and “does not discriminate”. In the UN resolution it was seen as part of India’s traditional heritage without explicit ties to Hinduism.
… Paul Hedges in an Associate Professor with the Studies in Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies (SRP) Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
GPO / SRP / Online
Last updated on 16/11/2015