Sunday, 31 July 2016

Yoga and political postures

    A satire

Yoga is needed for pot-bellied rich, not poor, says former Bihar Chief Minister and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad (He is both)

No yoga in secular Bihar, says Chief Minister Nitish Kumar

Forget Patanjali who compiled ‘Yoga Sutras’ about 2400 years ago. Even one year back, we were not aware of political postures of yoga.

   India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru used to do yoga exercises but he did not think it proper to tell newly born democratic India to follow him in this regard. His daughter and PM Indira Gandhi and grandson and ‘would-have-been Prime Minister’ Sanjay Gandhi took lessons in yoga from Dhirendra Brahmchari who in turn received some unforgettable lessons from them. Dhirendra Brahmchari used to give lessons on Doordarshan, the only TV channel available those days. When his political clout ended, he faded and with that lessons in yoga for the public.

    Years later Baba Ramde appeared on the scene. With his original style of presentation and with the help of multiplying TV channels, he tried to popularise yoga and succeeded to a large extent. Yoga became a household name. Many started switching on TV in the morning and practise yoga as instructed by Baba Ramdeo on TV screen.

   This is not to minimise the importance of others like B.K.S. Iyengar but they did not reach common men and women as Baba Ramdev did.

  Then came Narendra Modi on the national scene. He had been practising yoga for decades with remarkable benefits as displayed by his physical fitness, even when he is on total fast for days. Having resolved to improve everything, from health of humans to economy and image of India, he successfully appealed to the UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon of South Korea and the UN General assembly to observe June 21, 2015 as the first International Yoga Day (IYD).

  When Narendra Modi took up the cause of yoga, how could his detractors and supporters be neutral? As the IYD drew closer, new discoveries were made about advantages and disadvantages of yoga and about its association with or opposition to the most sacred word in India, ‘secularism’. 

  The Muslim clerics and ‘self-appointed’ guardians of  'Hindu religion' got a new platform to remind the people of their existence and relevance. They invented a new meaning of ‘Namaskar’. So far we had believed that ‘Namaskar’ is Hindi word for ‘Salaam’ in Urdu and ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’, ‘good evening’ and ‘good night’ in English. The Muslim clerics told us that it is Hindi word for worship. That disturbed supporters of yoga but gave great pleasure to Hindu zealots who insisted that yoga was an integral part of Hinduism. It also made Narendra Modi’s detractors happy.  Ever anxious to find fault with whatever Modi does or says, they started discovering political postures, left right and centre.

    Knowing very well that outdated Marxism cannot keep him and his comrades relevant, Seetaram Yechury is depending increasingly and seriously on‘secularism’. Since he has to maintain his image of a learned person who has read ancient Indian scriptures including Vedas, he cannot find fault with yoga per se. He, in his own words, follows ‘the age-old practice’. So, he has discovered that it can be used to implement agenda of ‘Hindutva’ and that Narendra Modi is using IYD for personal popularity as well. Perhaps Yechury could not muster courage to level same accusations against Ban ki-moon and the UN General Assembly and leaders of nearly 200 countries which are observing the IYD.

   How can Laloo Yadav, the ‘self-proclaimed’ messiah of poor and always ready with original ideas on everything, keep quiet? Debarred from entering any legislative body, he is using his lung power to remain relevant. He has declared that ‘Poor and the poorest of the poor have no need to practice yoga because they have not accumulated fat on their bodies.’ It is another matter that he himself has been found guilty of accumulating fat by eating fodders meant for animals owned by poor.

   Perhaps Laloo has given some lessons in sarcasm to his ‘long-lost’ friend Nitish Kumar who was rediscovered for swimming or sinking together. The Bihar CM who had once discovered that he was the best choice for the post of Prime Minister of India has now discovered that the yoga postures are meant only for pot-bellied persons like Amit Shah. Wonder if Nitish Kumar has his ‘friend turned foe turned friend’ also in mind. Further, Kumar has discovered that yoga exercises are something to be done privately, without letting others know.  People were unaware of that secret of yoga.

   Keeping in view their ancestors’ love for yoga, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have preferred to ignore IYD. This is yet another kind of political posture. Maybe, they regret that Modi is doing what their ancestors should have done.

   Then there is Arvind Kejriwal who has been cured of chronic cough by yoga and naturopathy and whose treatment at Bengaluru was widely publicised. He has discovered that the best political posture is to attend IYD function despite his bete-noire Modi spearheading it.

  Yoga has been ‘enriched’ by several political postures.

Devendra Narain
June 20, 2015

The article was written months before Kejriwal's tongue was cut to size as the only cure.