It becomes unbelievable when political parties cannot figure out raising what issues would get them public support and sympathy and what wouldn’t. The assorted opposition’s antagonism towards the observance of the International Yoga Day led by Narendra Modi-led Government of India is one such instance. Since there was no diktat from the central authority towards observing the special day, the allegation of imposition did not wash. It was a moment of pride for the country when, just a few months after the prime minister’s address to the UN General Assembly, 177 member states voted overwhelmingly in favour of dedicating this summer solstice to a glorious heritage of our nation. The Congress, with its president Sonia Gandhi disappearing from the scene on the day, the RJD, the JD(U) and some spokespersons of the AAP on television made fools of themselves by seeing in the event a bid of the BJP to promote itself. While some credit would go to the government of the day for pushing yoga at the comity of nations, being puerile about it did not behove the socialists. Naturally, people calling news studios and expressing themselves on social media disapproved of the objections in large numbers.
It was not a communal occasion if one were to factor in the facts that, one, Hinduism is not a religion in the strictest sense and, two, India would hardly be left with a history if every practice associated with Hindus were to be purged for being too politically incorrect for the state to associate itself with. If some Muslims, whose religion does not permit them to bow before anybody except Allah, the singular god, took exception to exercises such as the surya namaskara, the misgivings were addressed promptly. It’s a mere name, it was explained, which did not mandate paying obeisance to the sun. Similarly, chanting om during the regime is not compulsory either. Most importantly, ordinary Muslims by and large rejected the view of self-styled representatives of the faith.
The reason for the animadversion is actually found by digging deeper. Much as yoga may be practised not as part of religious Hinduism, Christian and Muslim bodies across the world realise that the subtlety of the message that the discipline is after all Hindu works on the practitioner’s subconscious. This is certainly hypocritical of these governing bodies as they brazenly donate funds for expansion of their respective faiths in India, part of which is re-routed to nefarious activities like terrorism by SIMI and Christian militants of the Northeast. Yoga, at least, has nothing to do with violence; indeed it stands philosophically in the diametrically opposite direction promoting individual well-being as well as calm. It would be a big stretch of imagination to presume this would lead to mass conversions into Hinduism in non-Hindu lands. But the very prevalence of the soothing act perturbs the international handlers of local kingpins of faith; hence the overt discomfiture of the latter. As for the political opponents, they see in yoga the spread of an atmosphere of Hinduism, which does not suit their vote-banking politics, particularly if Muslims and Christians defy their lords and turn mainstream. But finally, the paranoia is not ground enough for vehement rejection of the celebration of India. The shrunk opposition shrunk in public perception further yesterday. Let’s hope they don’t repeat this philosophical cum political mistake in the future.