Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hindus want to reclaim yoga

A group of ardent Hindus, some called "Hindu nationalists," want to reclaim yoga to what they claim are its Hindu roots. An eclectic group of opponents, ranging from Deepak Chopra to religious scholars, says it's not Hindu but pre-Hindu.

Is yoga from before Hinduism? Well, I think that it depends on part what you call Hinduism.

Western critical religious scholars, for example, call everything in the Bible before the Babylonian exile "Israelite religion," reserving "Judaism" only for post-Exilic religion.

If that standard is followed, AND if roots of yogic practice can be traced back that far, then, no, it's not Hindu.

That said, conservative Christians and Jews alike, today, reject the scholarly distinction mentioned above. I'm sure the "nationalist Hindus" do the same. (That said, I think it's fair to say Hinduism is not "just" a religion, but, more than any other world religious tradition, a sociology as well.)

That said No. 2, folks like Chopra have good financial reasons for denying the Hindu roots of many religious practices from India that have become relabeled as "spiritual." Per the story, even if you're not a conservative Baptist minister who believes yoga is of the devil, telling many practitioners that they're engaged in a Hindu religious exercise will surely drive them off.

But, package it in smiley New Age wrapping and ...

No comments: