Modi’s yoga offensive gets Muslims stressed

New Delhi: (Reuters): Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to seize on yoga as India’s signature cultural export have his Hindu nationalist allies swelling with pride, but are leaving minority religious groups feeling marginalized.

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An enthusiastic practitioner of the regimen himself, Modi set up a new ministry for yoga last year. He also persuaded the United Nations to declare June 21 International Day of Yoga – the first of which will be celebrated in New Delhi on Sunday with a mega yoga event, with schools encouraged to take part.

“After the number zero this is India’s biggest contribution to society,” said Anil Ganeriwala, a joint secretary in the ministry. “It is a symbol of our cultural richness.”

The ministry says yoga is “widely considered as an ‘immortal cultural outcome’ of the Indus Saraswati valley civilizations,” which date back to 2,700 B.C.

Hindu nationalist groups, including Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), have said they want to resurrect India’s past glory, a concept based on a mix of history and Hindu myth.

“Yoga is part of ancient India’s cultural heritage,” said Manmohan Vaidya, an RSS spokesman. “By celebrating yoga on a mass scale we are validating our glorious past.”

The glory days, however, precede Islam and Christianity, and the yoga push comes at a time of heightened fears among religious minorities that the BJP and its right-wing allies are trying to change India from a secular nation to a Hindu country.

Members of India’s minority groups say the move to promote yoga is a ploy to whip up Hindu pride and marginalize the country’s 175 million Muslims. India’s main opposition Congress party has also attacked the yoga event as a political gimmick.

“It is a campaign to enforce Hindu rituals on all non-Hindus,” said Abdul Rahim Qureshi, the assistant general secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

Omitting ‘OM’

Every morning when at his official bungalow, Modi sits cross-legged on a cotton mat for yoga and meditation. He spends 20 minutes in a room overlooking manicured lawns and palm trees.

“For several years it has been his way to streamline his thoughts ahead of a gruelling schedule,” an aide said.

Some proponents of yoga argue that it is an exercise regimen that transcends religion, and so Muslims are wrong to oppose the government for encouraging it.

Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu priest who is now a prominent BJP legislator, said last week minority groups that oppose yoga should either leave the country or drown themselves in the sea.

The RSS last year passed a resolution calling for yoga to be made compulsory in schools and universities.

Rafiq Ali, an administrator at the Fatehpuri Muslim senior secondary school in Delhi, said the school recently introduced yoga in its curriculum and at least 350 Muslim students take lessons every week.

“We teach yoga but have excluded the prayers and Hindu chants,” Ali said, referring to “Om”, a Hindu chant evoked during yoga.

“Why end the event with a Hindu prayer?” Ali said. “The government can end it with the national anthem if they believe yoga belongs to India.”


  1. Mr. Modi, the message of the gospel of JESUS CHRIST is transforming lives all over the world. If some people are preaching in Delhi corners and in many parts of India, due to the BJP rule, they are attacked by the sister party people like RSS-VHP-BD etc. Why? What you can say about that? The brother of the ISIS leader-the son of the Hamas leader Mosab Hassan Youef, one member of the Royal family of Kuwait; now they are followers of JESUS CHRIST. Did somebody force them to follow JESUS CHRIST? Did somebody pay them to follow JESUS CHRIST? Since you feel like ‘Yoga” is good, you are trying too hard to introduce that in India and around the world.

    • Dear Mathew,
      The issue is not on the merits /demerits of Yoga.There is no denying that Yoga has its roots in Hindu religion and it is sought to be imposed. Of course it is said that it is not compulsory but optional .This reminds me of an old military joke “ I want three volunteers, you,you,you.”
      It is disturbing to know that Christians are increasingly entertaining the thought that all religions are equal. It is not so. On the contrary it needs to be understood that there is only one God
      who is unseen and religion is all about understanding God. Since there are irreconcilable differences between each religion, they cannot be same . Any one who is disturbed needs to seek answer from God. I am sure a simple prayer to God “ O God teach me how to understand you, how to worship you ” will surely be answered”.
      We must do our best to teach the tenets of our faith to our children and also must teach them not to judge or condemn anybody(Luke 6:37) but remain steadfast. I give here below my views on peace.
      My Christian understanding of peace
      We need to realize that Satan is the ruler of this world ( Jn 14:30-31,1 Jn5:19) and Lord Jesus has defeated him by his death on the cross and resurrection (1 cor 125:22). But unfortunately he has been some time (rev 20:3). Being the ruler of the world he has dominion over us and only through Christ we can sustain ourselves until such time Satan’s rule is put to an end. Following verses explain the essence
      of peace.
      1) Believe in God when your heart is troubled, believe in me too (Jn 14:1)
      2 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them,”Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region. (Mat 9:28-31)
      3 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the WORLD gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.(Jn 14:27)
      4 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.
      5 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.(Mathew 11:28-30) .

      Essence of the above verses is that peace comes from our ability to believe in Christ during our difficult times .’My yoke is easy and burden is light’ suggests that we may have to go through small corrective steps. Peace that Jesus gives us is the strength to go through our trials and tribulations without being troubled in our hearts and with a smile on our face .Hence the prayer “ Lord increase my faith “
      Repentance and forgiveness are pre requisites to receive the Holy Spirit.

      I have also come across a prayer which I very much enjoy saying. It is as follows ‘ O God who didst teach the hearts of thy faithful by sending them the light of the Holy Spirit, grant me by the same Spirit to have right judgment in all things and evermore rejoice in His holy comfort .O God grant that every situation I am in is under your control. I beg thee dear God to take captive my every thought and make them obedient to Christ and grant me peace. I make this prayer through Christ thy son ,our Lord. Amen’

      Thank you.

    • Mr. A.S.Mathew- before preaching the world about gospel you should attain peace in your own heart.
      God has different ways of making his presence felt in humans. Gospel is one of it.

      for your kind in formation read the following news.

      “A 28-year-old Bangladeshi, one of the main accused in the sexual assault of a septuagenarian nun at a Ranaghat convent school, has been arrested from Sealdah railway station in Kolkata.

      Nazrul aka Nazu was arrested from Sealdah station while he was getting down from a local train late last evening, SS CID Chittaranjan Nag said today.”

      Do not indulge in propaganda !!

  2. Yoga offensive ?? WOW!! What a sad reflection on the quality of our current journalism and reporting!!! What next? Singing national anthem may offend some folks. Our armed forces may offend certain groups who sympathize with our enemy.

    AS Mathew reflects the ‘true god-vs-false god’ intolerant mindset and it is very clear in his post above. In his imaginary but twisted world, practicing yoga is equivalent to preaching a religion!! He is not alone – there are many christian groups here in US who oppose Yoga purely based on religion. These guys are no different from our Sharia Shaikh. The common thread thread that unifies them all is intolerance and bigotry. Nobody says Pizza is Catholic because it came from Italy. Nobody rejects Physics because Newton was a Christian. Then again, stupidity has no limits.

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