PM cautions against “commodifying” yoga

New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today cautioned against “commodifying” yoga, saying using it as some sort of business will do great damage to this world heritage.

Inaugurating the first international conference on yoga for holistic health here, Modi also said yoga is a medium to check greed, violence, cost of health care and conflicts and also a means to enhance effective team work and maintaining ecological balance.

“If we make yoga a commodity, then maximum damage to it will be done by us. Yoga is not a commodity, yoga is not a brand which has to be sold,” he said cautioning against oneupmanship on the issue, insisting that the ancient practice does not belong to any one person, community or the country but to the whole world.

Drawing attention to boards of “pure ghee” shops in the market, Modi said that 50 years back these were never seen but today they are because money is there.

“This should never happen in relation to yoga. Never should a time come when we hear that only my yoga is true and all the rest are uselessly holding their nose and spending dollars. This is not a trade or organisation but a state of mind (vyapaar ya vyavastha nahin avastha hai).

“This (yoga) is the contribution from the soil of India for the good of human beings. People outside India have also worked on it. We have to acknowledge this. We should not seize it as our fiefdom (bapouti). This belongs to the whole world,” the Prime Minister said addressing the inaugural session of the two-day conference being attended by delegates of 26 countries.

Noting that changes are also going to come in yoga with the passage of time, he said that it has to be made more modern, more scientific adapting to different conditions in different regions.

Under attack from Congress for “usurping” the traditional form, Modi stressed that yoga is “not the brainchild of a government” or the United Nations but a gift from generations and said that he is “indebted” to all the governments and all the countries across the world.

The Prime Minister, who had mooted the proposal to celebrate International Yoga Day (IYD) during his first address to the UN General Assembly in September last year, had been tweeting various asanas daily in the run up to IYD.

Modi said that though yoga originated in India, it is a collective gift to humanity.

He quoted profusely from scriptures, including Bhagvad Gita, saying India promises to reach out to all to foster a culture of inclusiveness and that of making one global family in which all are happy and disease free (‘sarve bhavantu sukhin, sarve bhavantu niramaya’).

The Prime Minister also released a Rs 5 rupee stamp and coins of Rs 10 and Rs 100 on IYD brought out by the Postal Department and the Finance Ministry.

Giving the example of a mobile phone, Modi said that while many have the best of smart phones, only a few are aware of the user manual and the majority just operate the green and red button of the gadget.

“God has also given us a software. We have no idea about its user manual. If we could read that user manual, then we will be able to use its full potential,” the Prime Minister advocated the practice of yoga from an early age.

Thanking the countries, which supported the Indian resolution on the International Yoga Day, the Prime Minister noted that this support is not just for India, but for the great tradition of yoga.

Describing yoga as a means to achieving harmony with oneself, one’s body, surroundings and nature, he said that when practised correctly and with discipline, yoga leads to greater fulfilment in life.

Modi said that as the world unites in celebrating the International Yoga Day, there would be a lot of expectations, regarding the practice, and India stands ready to shoulder the responsibility of these expectations, for the greater good of the world.

Talking about today’s event at Rajpath, he said that from from sunrise in far east to sunset to the farthest corners in the western hemisphere, people will join in celebtrating the yoga day.

Noting that the reach of yoga has spread across various countries beyond the limits of caste and creed, he said that the practitioners of yoga are to be found in every country and community across the world.

Defining a yogi as someone, who is in harmony with oneself and the surroundings and nature, he said that yoga is a means to achieve that harmony.

Modi said people are suffering from lifestyle diseases and stress and yoga could help in countering them.

He said that in a world of excesses, yoga promises restrain and balance. “In the world of fear, it gives strength and courage,” he said.

Underlining that the world is threatened by global warming and its ecology is affected by greed and excesses, he said the ancient practice shows the way to balanced consumption.

At the function, yoga guru Ramdev thanked the Prime Minister for his initiatives on yoga and took a dig at opposition parties without naming them.

“A lot of people used to say a lot of things. They used to say Modiji claimed that he would bring good days and wondered why he got into yoga. I want to tell them good days will definitely come for those who do yoga,” he said.

Describing the practice as “scientific, universal and secular”, Ramdev said that of 147 countries, which backed the Indian resolution on the Yoga Day in UN, 47 were Muslim countries.

Minister for AYUSH Shripad Naik, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha and Yoga exponents Dr Nagendra and Dr Veerendra Heggade were present on the occasion.


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