In light of the International Day of Yoga, Mathematics Professor and New York Times Contributing Opinion Writer Manil Suri wrote about the viewpoints surrounding Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to promote it within the country: “Some Muslim preachers and opposition politicians have accused Mr. Modi of using the day to foist Hinduism on religious minorities under the guise of yoga.”
However, Suri explains in his column that, “Yoga is big business, estimated at $10 billion a year in the United States alone, and India needs to be associated with it — not just to attract tourists to yoga retreats, but also to assert its intellectual rights. The country has been fighting attempts by Western gurus to patent yoga poses, assembling a repository of over 1,500 asanas to keep them free.”
He added: “Within India, the goal is different. Those on the Hindu right have always harbored the vision of returning to India’s greatness as an ancient civilization. A practice with Vedic origins that has nevertheless attained such secular popularity is the perfect vehicle to create a shared national consciousness. The physical engagement, mental discipline and sublimation of desire enshrined in yoga meld seamlessly, yet discreetly, with the more militaristic tenets of organizations like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.”
To read the full column titled “India and the Politics of Yoga,” click here. Suri also appeared live on CNN International on Sunday, June 21 to discuss his column.