Celebrating Yoga – For a Better World
There will be occasions in history when humanity yearns for transformative ideas and revolutionary action. Covid pandemic, like the great wars of the last century, was one such moment in recent history when the gross failure of the existing socio-political systems was acutely felt by the humanity. Post the pandemic, the world will look for a new approach to living and living together.
The pandemic, whose origins are debated to be either from unhygienic food habits like eating bat meat or deliberate or accidental lab leaks, has exposed the evil side of the human mind. Greed and unrestrained consumption at the individual level, and greed and unrestrained hunger for political power at the level of political leadership has brought enormous misery to the world.
Just as a new world order took shape after the disastrous world wars in the last century, the horrendous consequences of the pandemic too will lead to building of a new order with a distinctively human-centric agenda. Spiritually enlightened positivism, that includes positive thinking, positive health and positive politics, will be the basis for that emerging world order.
Yoga is the science of that positive knowledge. “All conflicts begin in the minds of men”, said the Atharva Veda. Yoga is India’s greatest contribution to stimulate positive synchronism of mind and body in order to achieve individual happiness and social peace. Yoga’s ultimate aim is the well-being of the individual and welfare of humanity.
This five-thousand-year-old knowledge system has evolved today into a global campaign. Known to Indians for millennia, this ancient system of physical and mental well-being was introduced to the West by the renowned Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda. The first real engagement of the West with Hinduism happened when Swami Vivekananda visited Chicago in 1894 to address the World Parliament of Religions. He continued his travels in the US and Europe for four years during which time he had introduced the ancient religion of the Hindus to the Westerners. Sitting in Manhattan, the Swami had authored a book by the name Raja Yoga in 1896. That book had a major impact on the Western understanding of Yoga.
More than a century later, it was the turn of another Narendra (Vivekananda’s original name was Narendra) to rekindle the spirit of Yoga in the world. During his maiden visit to the United Nations in October 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given a call to celebrate International Yoga Day annually. His call was enthusiastically supported by the leaders of many countries. Within a record time in UN history, by December 2014, 177 countries had extended their support to the proposal and the UN had adopted the resolution unopposed. Since then the entire world celebrates International Yoga Day on June 21 every year.
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