At a time that religious passions have been stirred over the observation of International Yoga Day and practising of Surya Namaskar in schools, Baba Ramdev, who has today become virtually synonymous with yoga, indulged in some tongue-in-cheek jousting over the controversy.
Speaking on the subject at a function organised by the Parmarath Ashram in Rishikesh, Baba Ramdev challenged the very basis of the opposition.
“Take in air and then exhale. Do it again.”
“What do you feel,” he asked. “Has your religion changed?”
“Breathing with a certain rhythm or even normally is yoga, how can such a simple thing threaten someone’s religion,” he wondered.
“If you really think that your religion is so weak that it can be threatened by yoga, you should leave that religion because there is no point in practicing such a weak religion.”
Baba Ramdev, who can be credited with taking yoga to the masses, felt that the ancient technique was simply an exercise that should be regularly undertaken to improve health and enhance body and mind tuning.
“What is yoga after all – it is anything that helps you concentrate, but people have spread unnecessary misunderstanding.”
Adding that there are some who have a tendency to generally oppose anything and anyone who is trying to make a difference, the yoga master cited his own example.
“I was attacked so much and for so long. I did not get intimidated…. I carried on doing what my inner conscience told me was right.”
Urging people to broaden their thinking Baba Ramdev admitted, “To me, God is in everyone. And everyone is in God.”
He emphasised that there can be no opposition to anything: “My personal view is that there are only 3 truths. Parmatma (God), Atma (Soul) and Prakriti (Nature); so either there is God or there is his creation.”
Baba Ramdev’s remarks come in the light of certain sections of Muslims and Christians opposing the practice of yoga due to its Hindu origin.
However, there have been others within the Muslim and Christian communities who feel that no harm can come from performing some simple exercises.
Recently, Muslim Rashtriya Manch released a booklet titled ‘Yoga and Islam’ to remove apprehensions linked with this ancient system of exercise and methodology to connect with oneself.
Even the head of Ajmer Sharif dargah Diwam Sayed Zainual Aabedeen Ali Khan endorsed the practise of Yoga and warned Muslims against playing into the hands of fundamentalist organisations that were hell bent on creating confusion in their minds.