RMF Summary: Week of March 26 - April 1, 2012

March 26
Sanskrit - U-Turn
... Shantanuji had published an excerpt from Dr. Prodosh Aich's interview, which had this bit about Sanskrit at Stage 5 of U-Turn, which is sadly true. I am just curious to know if Dr. Aich is familiar with Rajivji's U-Turn theory. This sounds like he probably does:

[European "translators", Max Mueller and others] have transported a type of Sanskrit to Europe where I have doubts that it is Sanskrit at all. But the tragic part is that this Sanskrit has been imported  back to India. This is what we learn in India with the help of the Sanskrit dictionaries.

Has anyone in the group read Dr. Aich's book Lies with Long Legs?

Rajiv comment: Yes I have that book and read it. He limits his critique to largely colonial era people. I think today's re-colonizers are more dangerous - see my Uberoi Foundation talk:

March 26
An Indo-centric response to Euro-centric suggestions...
Raj posts: As a National Geographic Book Panel member, I vote on their suggestions for books, and also provide suggestions. While their reach is admittedlyfocused to the...

March 26
AAR's role in yoga digestion and the straw-man of Hindutva
Manas shares:
"The American Academy of Religion's last annual meeting had a panel on "Yoga and Christianity".

I would like to bring to the attention of list member papers presented by two academics who participated in that panel.

Andrea R. Jain, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis
Yogaphobia and Yoga Ownership: The Shared Fundamentalism of Christian and Hindu Criticisms of the Global Popularization of Yoga

Mark Singleton, St. John's College
Christian Influences in the Development of Modern Yoga

I have read some ofAndrea R's essays and there is a decided move to demonize and declare as extremist/fundamentalist any Hindu attempt to speak out against digestion of yoga into Christianity. As we have seen multiple times in this list, most recently being the case of the German U-turner, this is sought to be justified under the cloak of "universal good", etc.

Singleton however presents a less insidious facet. If anyone his read his last book there is a very clear attempt to trace the roots of yogAsana into Christianity via European Gymnastics, YMCA, etc. He also very cleverly repackages yogAsana as what he calls "modern (postural) yoga". ....  It might be pertinent to mention here that Mihir Sharma, an Indian journalist at one point called BI as Hindutva...."

subra asks:
"..author is cited as Ms Alison Hinks. would a person with knowledge in this area validate the general accuracy of this depiction....

(source link: https://alisonhinksyoga.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/yogaflowchart.jpg?w=640&h=640)

Rajiv comment: I have seen this diagram before. It is incomplete, i.e. it leaves major gaps in influence. The gaps seem to indicate that various modern gurus who are well known in the west started magically out of thin air. But when I personally interviewed BKS Iyengar and Yogi Amrit Desai (among the modern gurus), they emphasized that they belonged to a lineage going back to traditional yoga. The gap in such diagrams is partly out of ignorance and partly in serves a strategic purpose not to go back all the way.

Such gaps then serve as "opportunity" for Singleton type scholarship to try and claim that the gaps should be connected to western sources. Thats the "aha" moment when digestion gets completed - a Western history is found and then it gets propagated fiercely. Note how aggressive the Wilber movement has become in just the past 5-10 years in such digestion.

Mallika posts:
"Mark Singletons scholarship is anthropological and extremely selective of the sources he chooses. He summarily dismisses claims of Indian Yoga Gurus that they are part and parcel of great Yoga asana traditions of India. However he
generously quotes racist Indologists, including Katherine Mayo's Mother India (Gutter inspector report, in Gandhiji's words).

His book 'Yoga Body' has a few pictures of Bukhs exercises, 1925, his gymnasium in the same year. It also has pictures of one Adonia Wallace doing some exercises, it is captioned "Best figure in the British Isles" (July, 1935) ". A
cursory look at these pictures shows clear similarities between asanas and these 'gymnastic' stretching and exercises. But, using these similarities to make a correlation between these 'exercises' and T.Krishnamacharys asnas needs a huge leap of faith.... 

Ramesh adds:
"Shiva Samhita is a wonderful work explaining Yoga and Asanas which I think is older than the Bukhs exercises.

Chapter 3, verse 84 of shiva samhita says:

" There are 84 asana postures of various modes. Out of them, four ought to be
adopted, when I mention below: - 1) Siddhasana 2)Padmasana 3)Ugrasana

Raghu posts:
"......Shri Krishnamacharya learnt his yoga Aasana practice with Shri Ram Mohana Brahmachari in Manasorovar. The Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram has published a few of the drawings that were given to Shri Krishnamacharya by his Guru that are the basis of his work. (The Yoga of a Yogi- ISBN 81-87847-24-7). These are part of the tradition followed by his teacher. These drawings are copies of older documents in the Gurus's possession. There are drawings with the use of ropes and staff as props in the practice of aasana.

Shri Krishnamacharya in the course of his teaching would talk to us about his failures and successes and his understanding of how modern life is weakening the body. The teaching of aasana and praaanayaama by Iyengar, Pattabhi Joyce and Desikachar have developed on the basis of what they learnt from Shri Krishnamacharya...."

Hemachandra comments:
"Gheranda samhita 2.1 talks about 84 lakh asanas! (as related by Shiva) of which 84 asanas are said to be the best. Of these 84, 32 are said to be useful to mankind (Gheranda samhita 2.2).

Of the 32, many of them (Gheranda samhita 2.3-6) are some of the popular ones today .." 

Srinath posts:
"I had a unique opportunity to meet the nonagenarian BKS Iyengar in person at his Bangalore residence some years back. It was an unforgettable experience in many ways -- BKS was addressing an informal gathering of his family members....
......He was particularly interested in knowing how Iyengar yoga was being represented in the retail sphere i.e. Yoga studios and Gyms in USA, and commented that over 1/2 of all Western yoga schools derive from Iyengar yoga itself. There was feedback from the group about how yoga poses are being "digested" (although they didn't use the exact same expression) by the West and re-packaged as hybrid forms. BKS said he would like to patent or trademark many of these as a safeguard against future intrusions, but not sure about the best approach -- because he wanted them all to be traced back to their origins i.e. Patanjali.

Incidentally BKS has consecrated the only known temple in honor of rishi Patanjali, at his home town in Bellur in 2005.

Rajiv comment: I had a personal meeting with BKS Iyengar on his 89th birthday and the person with me made a video of it. I am trying to get a copy of that video. I told him about the uturns and it bothered him quite a lot. He went on the record saying that most westerners have not gone into the spiritual dimension of his teaching which he felt is inseparable from yoga, how they take that portion out and adopt only a subset. My sense is that after he is gone the digestion will accelerate full steam as even many of the loyal followers will vie with each other to claim to be the latest guru."
March 26
Uberoi Foundation Lecture: Decolonizing India Studies
Bluecupid asks: I watched the video and appreciated many of the points made.

However how do you resolve the dichotomy of on the one hand objecting to Indonesian Muslims returning from Mecca completely Arabicized in name, culture, clothing and identity, and yet on the other hand faulting Western practicioners of Dharmic traditions for retaining their Western identity along with their practice?

Rajiv comment: I have no problem with westerners remaining western in identity as pure culture - name, dress, etc. (The Muslims returning from Mecca are asked
to change those...) My problem in the uturn is with westerners re-mapping dharma on to Jesus Christ, Greek Goddesses, Plato, modern "western" neuroscience, etc.
It is a total hijacking of the history of ideas, in a way that distorts when dharma is forced to fit into the western paradigm.
March 26
Using Western Devotees/Scholars to Mitigate Effect of Digestion
Mr. Malhotra, What is your experience with interacting with various western devotees and scholars of Dharma (and Indian history perhaps) vis-a-vis the problems...
March 26
kirtan digestion
Maria posts: Recently a foreign 'spiritual travel' group came to Haridwar. Two of its members (first time in India) had learnt kirtan in the US from an American. The tour guide organised a kirtan session in an Indian family with the two Americans leading the kirtan. At the end, they expressed surprise that the Indians knew the tunes and words of the kirtan. They thought it was an American thing.
March 29
no U turn, just exasperation
Maria shares a western perspective:
"..... I talked to an American friend of 30 years, who had lived in an ashram in India in his 20s, still comes every year and has gone deep into Hinduism, both by sadhana and study. 'I have decided not to bother anymore what happens
here', he told me this time. 'If Hindus can't unite and put a strategy in place to stop conversion. I guess, they deserve what they get.' He sounded frustrated, but clearly still feels for India.

As for me, too, it is often exasperating to be immediately challenged by certain acquaintances with Hindu names, when I say something positive about Hinduism, like:
What do you say about the way Ram has killed Vali?
Have you read Manu? Then you would not be in favour of Hinduism anymore. Just see, how Hindus treat cows. They claim she is their mother. You read the wrong books. Hindus were and are very violent. It was them who estroyed Buddhism. Did you read about that incident where a girl was not allowed to ride a cycle to school, because she is Dalit?
Many westerners in India are likely to meet people who seem to hate Hinduism and even quote the Bible to show how educated they are. They are still under the spell of their forefathers having been brainwashed .....

Rajiv comment: These examples of "exasperation" are among the causes (or at least excuses) cited for making uturns." 

March 30
Rajiv's Toronto visit - Media release
March 21, 2012 issue: Headline News Dr Rajiv Malhotra tells audience at the Toronto launch of his book, "Being Different"Replace 'tolerate' with 'mutual respect'...

(source: http://www.indocaribbeanworld.com/archives/2012/march_21_2012/images/1_rajiv-malhotra.jpg)
pic: Trinidad & Tobago Consul General Dr Vidhya Gyan Tota-Maharaj having her copy of Being Different signed by its author.
 (source: http://www.indocaribbeanworld.com/archives/2012/march_21_2012/images/12_book-signing.jpg)

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