The way the Modi-Government gave a huge hype to the Yoga Day this year has made many believe that yoga has a tremendous importance in everybody's life and its not doing is blasphemous. However, when one looks at it from a historical point of view, there appears nothing in it other than undertaking some physical exercises to keep your body fit.
Nobody knows for certain when and how yoga originated. There is a common belief that it dates back to the pre-Vedic times, around the sixth and fifth centuries BC. According to Wikipedia , "There is a broad variety of schools, practices and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism (including Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism) and Jainism."
It's certain that yoga has nothing to do with religion as such because history is very unclear about the yoga practices having gained any prominence until the twentieth century. Some believe that its origin is related to Tantrism. Interestingly, it was the Muslim scholar Alberuni who, living with Hindus in India for sixteen years, brought out the Arabic translation of Patanjali's Yogasutra (date from the first half the 1st millennium CE) during his stay here.
His translation reached Persia and Arabian peninsula in about 1050 AD. Many Muslims found some of yogic practices objectionable and against Islam (especially, suryanamaskar).
Therefore, it was banned in many Muslim countries–Malaysia in 2008, Indonesia in 2009, Turkey in 2009, and Iran, in 2014, objected to its techniques like reiki, and using yoga for commercial purposes as it might lead to extremism. These objections notwithstanding, Many people in these countries practise yoga to keep themselves physically fit. However, they do not attach any religious importance to it.
Why do the Hindus claim copyright over it? Is it because, their Upanishads are believed to have mentioned it? Buddhists make the same claim by crediting their Pali Canon (third century BC) for containing references to this exercise.
Looking at the literature available on yoga, it's clear that yoga has never been looked at through a religious prism. It's only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that yoga got introduced to the West by Swami Vivekananda, and by the 1980s, yoga became a popular physical exercise across the Western world.
It was in December 2014 that the UN General Assembly declared June 21 as the International Yoga Day after a call from Modi during his address to the Assembly in September. It's clear that the world body didn't adopt the resolution because it had any religious overtones for them but because it found it as a good physical exercise for body.
Some studies have tried to find out if yoga cold be used to combat cancer, schizophrena, asthma and heart diseases, but they are still inconclusive. Whatever be the case, no study has related it necessarily to any religion, be it Christianity, Hinduism or Islam. Therefore, celebrating it as an International Day is nothing but gimmickry.
The day shouldn't have raised any eyebrows had the saffron brigade not presented it as a purely Hindu religious practice. Therefore, politicising a purely physical exercise manifests a venomous mindset that the RSS and its parivar have been popularising since they came to power with an unbeatable majority. The mindset has fossilised so much that most of the BJP and RSS leaders do not feel shy of demonising the highest offices in the country as Ram Madhav did when he questioned the absence of the Vice President of India on the Yoga Day.
Not only that, the fanatic Adityanath said that those who don't practise yoga should leave India and those who don't practise suryanamskar should be thrown into the sea.
He was befittingly replied to by a yoga-practioners, Nirupama Subramanian, who vowed not to touch her yoga mat on the Day: "I won't have the prime minister or the government of India, or any politician, dictate my fitness (or wellness, if you like) choices on that day or any other, especially if they are going to link them, overtly or insidiously, to religion, nationalism, patriotism and morality."
A Goa-based yoga-practitioner, Deepti Kapoor, wrote that the International Day of Yoga had nothing to do with yoga. In her scathing attack, she wrote that the Day was celebrated only to churn PR wheel of the government and "its desire to assert itself on the global stage, assuaging anxieties about being left behind." Why, then, this nautanki?
Since his taking over as the PM, Modi has been doing tamasha after tamasha to divert people's attention from their woes. Be it the villagers whose land is being snatched for the corporate sector, or the Muslims whose life is being threatened by fanatics like Adityanath, Giriraj and Sakshi Maharjand. The RSS has been trying to impose itself on India to achieve its Hinduvta agenda—Ram Madhav's tweets against the Vice President must be taken as yet another attempt by the Sangh Parivar to single out a Muslim leader and therefore giving the Yoga Day a communal colour. Modi's swacha Bharat, man ki baat and other populist slogans haven't given his government any popularity at the ground level. As a matter of fact, the BJP is beset with many problems which it finds very difficult to tackle.
The Lalitgate has exposed the shallow cleanliness that this Government had been much talking about. The Rajasthan CM, External Affairs Minister, many judges, journalists and high officials have been exposed to help Lalit Modi leave India and get his stay legitimised in London—the HRD minister has been in controversy ever since she took her office.
The FM has already come to the defense of his corrupt colleagues and BJP is shamfacedly trying to defend its government. People, in general, believe the Modi-fied form of the International Yoga Day was just another nautanki that the central government played to divert people's attention from corruption that is rampant in this regime.