At this crucial juncture, when all the nations of the world are facing, perhaps, the severest challenge to combat the deadly novelCoronavirus, a new look into the 6th International Yoga Day, being observed on 21st June 2020, is demanded. The world has witnessed a death toll of 4,42,770 and has afflicted more than 81,92,261 in just seventy days. While United States of America is the worst affected, with 1,18,698 Deaths and 21,94,280 afflicted with Covid-19, India is no less affected with 11,882 deaths and 3,52,935 afflicted, which places it at the 4th highest affected nations of the World. The entire international community is thus fighting an unknown enemy, with neither a vaccine in sight to prevent its attack, nor a sure medicine that can cure this deadly pandemic.
It is under these alarming and highly critical conditions that an attempt is being made to look into this International Event from a new dimension.
First of all let us peep into the recent past and the remote past of Yoga. United Nations Organization’s General Assembly, held on 27th September 2014, witnessed the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, broach the proposal to observe 21st June of every year as the International Yoga Day, and this proposal was supported by 193 Nations of the World and was adopted by the world body. This marked a historic event for India, as this caused the World Body to accept the great role played by Indian Yoga in the upkeep of the Physical, Mental and Spiritual Health of the People from times immemorial in India and abroad. Thus the world has now scheduled to observe 6th International Yoga Day, to-day.
At this juncture, it is in the aptness of things to narrate very concisely the hoary past of YOGA.
History of Yoga
The origin of Yoga can be traced back to the days earlier to the emergence of VEDAS in India. This finds a mention in RIGVEDA. Pathanjali’s YOGA SUTRAS are traced to first-half of 1st Century A.D.
As a part of history it is important to note that in the 4th Century BC, when Alexander invaded India from Greece, he had brought with him Greek Scholars, and Onesicritus, one of those scholars, recorded the practice of Yoga by Yoginies in India.
It is important to recall that Yoga was introduced to the West way back in the later part of the 19th Century and the earlier part of the 20th Century, when the Great Saint of India, Swamy Vivekananda, travelled to Europe and America and popularised the philosophical tenets of Hindu Religion in those countries.
In the 19th Century N.C. Paul and Major D. Basu wrote about Yoga in English. In the 20th Century Sri Yogendra (1897-1989) and Swamy Kuvalayananda popularised Yoga in foreign countries. Many foreigners visited “Kaivalyadhama” established by Kuvalayananda to learn Yoga. In addition, Yoga Gurus, Shivananda Saraswathi, Thirumala Krishnamacharya, B.K.S. Ayyangar, K. Pattabhi Jois, Swamy Vishnu Devanand, Yogi Bhaijin, Baba Haridas and others have been popularising Yoga in foreign countries.
In the recent past it is a matter of pride for India, as Yogic Therapy is being practised as an alternative system of treatment, to modern medicine.
It is pertinent to note that Barak Obama, the past President of America has said: “Yoga has become Universal Language of spiritual exercise in the United States, crossing many lines of religions and cultures. ……… Everyday millions of people practice Yoga to improve their health”.
Combative Vs. Preventive
World renowned Naturopath, Henry Lindlahr (1862-1924) said : “Nature’s remedies are the best”.
He contended that there are two systems of treatment; one is Combative and the other Preventive. He stated that Modern System of Medicine is Combative, in which the basic principle is “Kill the germ and cure the disease”. In this system “Fight disease with disease, poison with poison and Germ with Germ products” is the method adopted.
But in the Preventive System, the endeavour is to put the human body in such a moral, healthy condition that it is practically proof against infection or contagion by preventing bacteria and parasites from making in-roads into the body”.
We must remember that Yoga And Yoga Therapy come in the category Of Preventive System Of Treatment. Let us not forget the great adage, “Prevention Is Better Than Cure”.
About Modern System of Medicine, Dr. B.M. Hegde, Former Vice-Chancellor of Manipal Health University has said:
“For Every ILL, there is a PILL;
Also for every PILL, there is an ILL;
Sometimes, PILL may even KILL”.
A renowned Yoga Guru from Karnataka, Vachanananda Swamy has coined a famous quotation:
“Practise Yoga – Be Free From Disease”
From “Raja Yoga” “People’s Yoga”
In the modern age, “democratic systems” are mostly prevalent in most of the countries of the world. In the past when Monarchies were prevalent “Raja Yoga” or “King’s Yoga” was one of the dominant systems of Yoga.
But in democracies what is required or needs to be designed and practised is“Praja Yoga” Or “People’s Yoga”. This needs to be given serious thought and innovations in Yoga are required to be done, like particularly suited to toiling people, and to their occupational problems, and to women.
Yoga In Post-International Yoga Day
Yoga has got intensely internationalised in the last five years, after 21st June has been declared as “International Yoga Day”. But there is a need for caution here.
Post-1990, there is increasing Globalisation-Privatisation-Liberalisation, and the prevalence of Market-Economy. In India Yoga, since times immemorial, is being preached and practised, more as a Mission and a Philosophy, than as a marketable commodity. Thus in the present market infected World economy, India should take care to see that Yoga does not get transformed into a marketable commodity, as already such signs are visible.
Yoga shall be a passion and become a way of life, and care should be taken to see that it does not become a fashion. YOGA shall become a commitment. Forget not that in Yoga also there are DO’s and DON’T’s. Hence learn Yoga from an expert and never learn through TV SHOWS. India shall teach the International Community, the basic Principles and Practice of the Philosophy of Yoga.
Dimensions Of Health Care In India
It is alarming to note that India spends around 12 Lakh Crore rupees every year on Health Services. In this we spend around 3 Lakh Crore Rupees on Medicines, and a major share of this money spent on health goes to the MultiNational Companies (MNCs) who manufacture these Medicines.
While this is one part of the story, the other part is that in India the allocation for Public Health Care is just one percent of the G.D.P. In many other countries of the world, nearly 10 percent of the G.D.P is allotted for Public Health.
Among the other dimensions is the problem of Poverty. While there is plenty for the small percentage of Rich in India, the large section of the poor, ie.. nearly 75 percent of the population suffer the pangs of poverty. Corona is going to aggravate the problem, it is observed already. 42 percent of infants suffer from malnutrition and nearly 50,000 Indian women face death during their first delivery.
In this background, how will Yoga help these suffering multitude? Thus eradication of poverty shall have to take priority in India.
Role Of Yoga In The Corona Context
Novel Corona Virus has neither a Vaccine to check the virus from attack nor there is an ensured Medicine that cures the Virus.Even when they come, they will be too costly, and not affordable to most people. Hence preventive care is a must.
Hence the international community is in the dark as to how to tackle this dangerous Pandemic? In this background, practice of Yoga and treatment through Yoga Therapy, assume a place of very high significance.
Yoga Practice, generally consists of Asanas, Pranayama and Dhyana. One who makes Yoga Practice as part of daily routine, remains healthy, with a high level of immunity in-built in his body system, and this body immunity has the in-built capacity to fight any viral attack. This is the realisation of the adage – “Prevention is better than Cure”. This prevents any ailment from entering the body of a person, whose daily life-pattern includes practice of Yoga.
The other aspect is Yoga Therapy, which deals with the curative part; Yoga as Therapy and is a system of treatment without using any medicine. So this is a Drugless Therapy and an alternate Therapy, and a Holistic System of Treatment.
In fighting Corona Virus, to prevent its attack with daily practise of Yoga and maintaining a healthy and natural life style, meaning taking satvik food, having no bad habits like, alcoholism, smoking, chewing Gutka, illicit sex etc, is one way.
The other way, when one is afflicted with the Pandemic is to tackle the problems of cough, cold, fever, breathing problems, sneezing, throat pain etc, which are symptoms of novel Corona, through Yoga Therapy, which is a drugless Therapy.
There are Two major Cautions to be taken while tackling the dangerous Novel Corona Virus.
One, is that Lock Downs, Seal Down are resulting in massive unemployment and economic depression. It is estimated that 1.6 billion in the World have been rendered jobless and there is the onset of severe economic depression.
The other is that while one of the primary objectives of Yoga is not only health and peace for the individual but also the establishment of a healthy society and a peaceful world. Thus the 6th International Yoga Day shall concentrate on propagating Peace; yoga should go along with opposing warand jingoism. While fighting the dangerous Corona Virus, nations shall not indulge in hostilities leading to war, and destruction of humanity. In the Corona context this caution also needs to be taken.
Thus the Message of 6th International Yoga Day, being observed on 21st June 2020, by the International Community, shall be as follows:
“Let not 21st June 2020 be restricted to a one-day demonstration of Yoga Asanas, Pranayama and Dhyana, but shall be transformed into a day of oath taking, owing to practice of Yoga everyday, and making it a part and parcel of everyone’s day to day life in making humans healthy and for establishing a healthy international community. This day shall also be dedicated to establishment of World Peace”.
This would ensure the emergence of healthy human beings throughout the world and the establishment of healthy nations throughout the world andresulting in Peace and Prosperity in the World. This would be the real fructification of the International Yoga Day leading to India contributing to the establishment of an ever-lasting Peaceful and Prosperous International Community.
(This is a revised version of a message to International Yoga Day Virtual Conference being held on June 21 by Utsahi Yoga Foundation founded and led by Karnataka-born Prof Laxman kumar V Sannellappanavar (aged 84, and still active), who had started his Yoga Mission 70 years ago, in 1949, and taught students from over 30 countries. He had taught Yoga in Soviet Union for long.)
Author Dr KS Sharma, Born 1934, Hubli-based, is the Founder President of a group of institutions including Institute of Naturopathy and Yoga, a 25-years-old Centre of drugless therapies; Fluorosis Mitigation Research and Resource Centre, FMRRC; Indian Institute of Marxist Theory and Practice; Dr. Da Ra Bendre (Jnana Peeth Awardee) Research Institute, and an ITI, all based in Hubli, Karnataka. He is a Retired Professor of Law , a doctorate in political science, and a Diploma Holder in Yoga. He is a former President of Indian Social Sceince Academy, ISSA. He is better known as a man of the masses who has been a leader of working class for over 45 years now, focused on unorganized labor, and as Founder- President of Karnataka State Govt. Dailywage Employees Federation, successfully organized one lakh dailywagers of Govt of Karnataka who got regularized after 30 years of struggle that included street battles and legal battles going upto Supreme Court. He is a great teacher, poet, writer, dramatist, literary critic, columnist, publisher, orator, health activist and a social scientist . A few of his articles appeared in contercurrents.org.
He may be contacted at :
Vishwa Shrama Chetana campus, Gokul Road, HUBLI, Karnataka . PIN 580 030.
Or e-mail to : [email protected]