Sunday 11am on MSNBC television panel
I will be on the Melissa Harris Show at 11 am (Eastern Standard Time) on MSBNC.
February 18 (continuing discussion from previous week)
Raghu responds to Surya (pls see last week's post):
".......why the tendency of all religions are same seems to pervade amongst a number of people - Hindus and non-Hindus..
"The tiger and deer metaphor comes to mind. It is the nature of tiger to be predatory. Deer is better off understanding this and behaving accordingly..."
Excellent critique of Romila Thapar
Venkat posts: ...Wagish Shukla ... details how Romila Thapar relies on translations of Sanskrit texts and distorts the meanings to suit her line of thinking.
Evangelical Christian group helps sue California school over yoga
Ravi shares a link:
"A highly relevant passage from the article:
Rajiv comment: I agree fully. I wish more persons were informed as the person who posted this. We have too much uninformed opinion and forwarding the same stuff to look important - that is counter productive.
I have known of Singleton's work for many years which only recently started becoming public this way. Too many Hindus continue to support such works. The co-editor of his forthcoming book infiltrated Vivekanandra Kendra's yoga camp, took lots of notes and recordings which her web site proudly says will be used to expose yoga gurus. The very same folks who find my works "too controversial" to promote and claim they dont have funds to support it either, line up in awe when they welcome such visitors and scholars. The decadence within Hindu leadership is amazing. These are termites who have caused the decay. Because I point this out openly in order to warn others from joining such bandwagons, I am branded.
... In Hindu spiritual traditions, yoga is one of many techniques by which the truth of man's ultimate unity with the Supreme can be verified, empirically, at a personal level."
Patanjala Yoga Sutra, known till Shankara as a branch of Sankhya or simply as Patanjala Darshana, defines yoga in an atheistic way. "Yoga is the stopping of the motions of the mind" is a purely technical definition. The next verse, "Then the seer rests in himself", defines the goal of yoga as "isolation" (kaivalya), i.e. of consciousness (purusha) from its objects (sensory perceptions, desires, memories, intellection, all belonging to the less or more rarefied reaches of nature/prakrti). In both phrases, there is no God in the picture, He has nothing at all to do with the goal of yoga.
Patanjali makes a practical concession to the believers among his readers by saying that "devotion to God" is one of the preparatory stages of yoga. He defines God/Ishvara exactly like radically atheist Jains define their liberated
souls, namely as a desireless purusha; so it remains highly uncertain that "God" as currently understood is meant. At any rate, he refuses to make this special purusha somehow the goal of his yoga. Yoga does not revolve around an external being called God, but is purely a matter of relating to yourself, viz. totally sinking into yourself and forgetting about the world and the "tentacles" of consciousness into it.
When modern Hindus speak about yoga (and they speak about it a lot but practise it very little), they have a distorted view of it, inflected by what has been
the dominant stream in Hinduism for centuries, viz. theistic bhakti (devotion). "Unity with God", whatever that may mean, is a concept from bhakti/sufism and also adopted by some writers on Christian mysticism. But it is completely absent in historical yoga as defined by Patanjali.
Yoga is very much part of Hindu civilization, but is not the property of contemporary God-centered Hindus.
I am currently finishing a booklet for the greater public on the external enemies of Hinduism. It will make me very popular among Hindus. But next, I want to write a similar booklet about the internal enemies of Hinduism, or is other words: what is wrong with the Hindus... it will certainly make me many enemies among Hindus. They don't like a Westerner criticizing them, though I have most of it from Hindus themselves. At any rate, if Hindus don't make a systematic diagnosis of the problem, someone else has to do it. And the current (sentimenal and confused) Hindu bhakti notion of "God" is certainly a big part of the problem.
Recap for comment 2: " ... Andrea Jain, assistant professor of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis said that the forms of yoga
commonly practiced in the US are the result of the mix of colonial India and euro-American physical culture.:
> "In fact, postural yoga has been shown to be a successor of fitness methods that were already common in parts of Europe and the United States before postural yoga was introduced," Jain said. "So we could think of > postural yoga as a 20th century product, the aims of which include all sorts of modern conceptions of physical fitness, stress reduction, beauty and well-being, these things were not present in pre-colonial traditions of yoga at all."
This supposed expert Andrea Jain is simply parrotting a very recent theory. She is plainly wrong, for yoga in the sense of meditation is very ancient, and was given a synthesis (of pre-existing views) by Patanjali. As for postural yoga, it dates back at least to the Nath yogis, who started in maybe 1100 AD, before Muslim rule in the Ganga plain, when the British were nowhere in the picture and America as a state didn't even exist yet.
Unlike Patanjala Yoga (meditation) the more recent postural Hatha Yoga is indeed directed to relaxation and fitness. Hatha Yoga classics promise you a lustrous body and concomitant success with the opposite sex -- not quite the goal of Patanjala Yoga, but very much the goal of Madonna and millions of other American yoga practitioners. But whatever may be the worth of that, Indians invented it themselves, long before British conceptions of fitness could (marginally) influence it."
" This lie is now popping up in many places. Looks like this is the currently favored strategy to break up Asanas from the larger Hatha Yoga (and that in turn from Hinduism).
The overall story goes like this: Hatha Yoga Pradipa (HYP) is the founding text of Hatha Yoga and is 500 yrs old. HYP mentions only a dozen or so seated poses.
The rest and more advanced poses are recent invention. In fact, they were invented in 20th century under the influence of militarism & British physical culture. The pioneer of this was Krishnamacharya, the guru of BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois and others. .... Ergo case established and we can reclaim what is really ours after putting it through due scientific process to clear it of all undesirable
We are going to hear a lot more about "Modern Yoga", "Postural Yoga". The story is of course garbage and it has any number of holes:
1.HYP is dated to 500 yrs based the usual fraudulent methods.
2. Sri Krishnamacharya himself credited a Yogi living in Himalayas for teaching him Yoga. (Incidentally, one of the sons of Sri Krishnamacharya, Desikachar seems to crave western approval & money. He and his son keep dishing out whatever nonsense western "yogis" want, like Yoga is not religious etc)
3. HYP itself acknowledges there more poses than the dozen or so it describes in detail. This is in line with Indian tradition where only the important points are given and rest left to the living tradition or pupil's effort. Quite
different from western patent driven approach where the goal is claim as much for oneself as possible.
4. Within Hatha Yoga asanas themselves are quite preparatory. The real deal is pranayama, bandhas etc. So it is stupid to expect HYP to devote all the space to a minor aspect.
5. Vedantins condemned the focus on body that Hatha Yogis fall into. Traditional sannyasins in orthodox mathas practice hatha yoga.
6. Ayurveda uses asanas in treatment for various disorders. Traditional dance poses are closely linked to some asanas.
So on and on.
This story seems have started with Mark Singleton's book Yoga Body. Singleton seems to be church funded. He is very well published in all the right places Oxford University Press etc (which probably are held directly or indirectly by the church as well). He teaches at St. John's College at New Mexico, a Christian institution. Take a look at his website (http://modernyogaresearch.org/people/dr-mark-singleton/), it's a real master piece of deception. A casual observer will think he is very sympathetic to
Yoga/India and not understand why we should be critical of his work..."
"....We won't accomplish much by circular debates within
this forum. We may educate (and frustrate) ourselves in the process and provide necessary ears and eyes for Rajivji, but members should be encouraged to individually bring open pressure on systemic forces bent on expropriating,
abusing, denigrating, or marginalizing the wisdom and achievements of India.
Since joining this forum and reading Rajivji's book "Being Different", I am encouraged to be more assertive in speaking up and defending what's mine!..."
"What should Andrea Jain have said? A lot of Indians might offer up similar analyses in the hopes of diffusing criticism that Yoga is religious, which could serve to turn-off American Christians. Indians are usually very eager to enhance Western acceptance of India and Indian philosophies as we have been looked down upon by the West for so long, and perhaps water-down concepts to make them more acceptable..."
Digesting the gurus
Rajiv posts: The ... Huffpost blog criticizes westerners who look for "eastern gurus". This type of rethinking is quite a phenomenon for a few decades now. They turn away from the source and replacing it with westerners as the new source. Note how the two authors are now the
gurus, with their own marketing programs. Note that all their spiritual leaders" are these uturned people - see list at the bottom of the blog where they are selling them. All this is justified using a quote from Ramana Maharshi. If the purpose is to be one's own guru, why are Ed and Deb selling their own products? It is just one kind of guru replacing another. Yet out folks go ga-ga when they see such people showing their "sympathy" for Hindu dharma. There is one thread someone on how exciting it is to see some harvard people studying kumbh mela. ...Amazing inferiority complex. Yet they love to organize events with fancy themes like "decolonizing Hindu Studies". Nothing really changes after participating in 20 years of hundreds of such events - because its fake and meant to impress.The tiger says that he loves the deer. The stupid deer takes it as a great compliment."