The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Monday, October 23, 2006

There is no Christian Yoga

By Yogi Baba Prem, Vedavisharada, CYI, C.ay, C.va

It was quite astonishing to see on the flyer “Christian Yoga! This Thursday night….” I could feel the wheels spinning in my brain. “Christian Yoga”, I thought. Now while Christians can practice yoga, I am not aware of any Christian teachings about yoga. Yoga is not a Judeo/Christian word! It is not a part of the Roman Catholic teachings and certainly not a part of protestant teachings. It is not found within the King James Version of the bible. It is a Hindu word, or more correctly a Sanskrit word from the Vedic civilization. So how did we get “Christian Yoga”?

From this I could conclude that “Christian Yoga” could only indicate one of two possibilities:

1) Christianity is threatened by yoga and is attempting to take over this system that “invaded their turf” pertaining to spiritual teachings and techniques.

2) Christianity is subconsciously attempting to return to the spiritual roots of civilization—the Vedic civilization.

I thought to myself, “why would they want to take over yoga?” Could it be due to the decline of members within the Christian church within the last 60 years? Is this an extensive marketing plan cooked up in some New York marketing guru’s head? Is it an attempt to water down the teachings of yoga and import their own teachings into the system? Or is it that they cannot stand not to own everything spiritual?

I think the best reason might be that yoga, and eastern spirituality, offered answers to the spiritual questions that the spiritually hungry masses had. It offered a practical, rational, logical, and truthful approach to spirituality. It did not contain any form of self-righteous condemnation, but offered love and acceptance to all. It did not prey upon victims with terms such as “Sin” and “eternal damnation”. But most importantly, it had answers! It offered a practical approach to cultivating a relationship with divinity. It offered a systematic approach and an abstract approach to meet the varying temperaments of the spirituality hungry.

The second possibility was that Christianity was itself looking for answers. A small book filled with judgment, inflexibility, and condemnation was no longer fulfilling the needs of the masses or the leaders of the church. Offering yoga classes allowed the Christian to secretly practice Hinduism without having to renounce their Christian tradition.

Possibly by embracing the technology of yoga and meditation, the Christian church could finally return to the idea of love and acceptance that it believed it was founded upon. It is ironic that one religion would need to look to another religion to teach them about love, peace, harmony, and forgiveness. If successful, it could embrace these ancient teachings and save itself from the fate it planted over the last few thousand years.

But possibly in their wisdom, the current fathers of the church realized that their time was coming to a close. So within America they must absorb yoga before they are absorbed by it. This is a common religious view that has appeared numerous times within world history. Then they would immediately move their resources to India. Taking over the country would allow them to own all the spirituality, and then ‘pick and chose’ which tasty spiritual treats they would share. After all they have 2000 years practice with this.

Indian being a loving, peaceful people, openly embraced their brothers from the west. They looked the other way as their temples were torn down. They accepted it as karma as their families were torn apart over differing religious beliefs. The Indians thought it was thoughtful of the missionaries to dress up just like swami’s, to be “just like them” and to share in their kindred spirit.

Of course we are in a great deal of debt to the missionaries as they have single handedly undone the highly discriminatory caste system within India. Well they tried to, …kinda. Even though dalits are not allowed into churches with other castes at times. But putting that aside, they put an end to poverty in India, well…they did purchase a lot of things, such as influence in the media, government, and elections. And of course, Christian militant groups continue to be a tremendous asset to India. They are ready to kill anyone invading their turf, except the Muslims who apparently will kill them back.

Modern day scholars from India frequently present the attitude of “let them have yoga, I am interested in protecting Hinduism.” I have heard this sentiment on numerous occasions, but the reality is that yoga is a part of Hinduism. Allowing one part to be taken from Hinduism opens a door for the distortion of the teachings. We must remember that the roots to modern day yoga comes from Vedic Yoga. The same Vedic Yoga that is the authority of Hinduism. Allowing one branch to be severed from the tree of knowledge will not necessarily kill that tree, but it can produce strain and have an unbalancing effect upon the tree.

Hinduism should reclaim its full heritage and not allow other groups to rename its sacred teachings under their banner, especially when they have no history of those teaching within their own system. If they wish to ‘borrow’ and say this comes from our brothers and sisters in Hinduism, then that is another thing. But frequently groups attempt to privatize the information and present themselves as the original authority. Hinduism should guard against its sacred traditions becoming distorted and taken away.

Scholars at universities should take the stand that yoga is part of Hinduism, though one is one required to be a Hindu to practice yoga. It is important to acknowledge the roots of the tradition; after all we are expected to give credit to the orginial sources within books and research papers, but yet Hindu scholars have ignored this fundamental western view when it comes to their own heritage.

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9 Comments:

At 3/10/2007 05:27:00 PM, Blogger riddhi said...

i agree. i m so fusrated that scholars are not doing anything abt this. and its yoga.

 
At 4/12/2007 01:52:00 PM, Anonymous Kiran said...

Sir,

After reading your response to a Christian, I pride myself for being a Hindu born in a Brahmin's family.

I am very much worried about the christ propaganda in various Hindu holy places in the Southern part of India, including World Famous Tirumala, Bhadrachalam, Yadagirigutta, Simhachalam and others.

I pride of Gujarati's for being the ONLY Indian State to ban Cow Slaughter!!

 
At 9/08/2007 11:22:00 PM, Blogger Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati (Swamiji, Swami J) said...

Would one say that people drinking wine are necessarily practicing the Christian rite of communion? Would one say that people eating bread with a meal are practicing the Christian rite of communion? Of course not.

If one does physical postures outside of its context as a 100% spiritual practice, you cannot call it Yoga, any more than you can call merely drinking wine and eating bread Christian communion.

Here is a brief video entitled
"Can a Christian Practice Yoga?"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQXAYioSQ9I

 
At 9/09/2007 01:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay Krishna,

If we take the meaning of yoga to be 'connecting oneself to the Supreme Lord, Bhagavan' and than try to understand the phrase Christian yoga, the meaning would be the process of Christianity that connects one to the Supreme Lord. But even then there is a lot of insufficient things in Christian process of linking oneself to the Supreme Lord that it could be called a yoga. It is said 'God helps those who help themselves' and this means that one should make some self-endeavor to reach certain level of purity in the practice (with the help of God). I have never seen such a purity in any Christian as described in the 16th chapter of the Bhagavad gita by Krishna. In other words, their practice of religion cannot be called advanced yoga, it is only on the stage of trying to practice yama and niyama (does and dont's) that are part of any types of yoga. Thus my opinion is that if Christians want to call their process to be a perfect yoga system they have to learn a lot from Vedic literatures like Bhagavad gita etc. In this way their materialistic practice would be purified. They should learn to become vegetarians, not kill animals, give up drinking alcohol, offer their food first to God, do everything for His pleasure, always think about Him and never forget Him, develop equal vision of all living entities as spirit souls, become friendly to all living entities, give up all material designations as false and temporary having nothing to do with the eternal nature of the soul etc.
To begin to apply these things in ones life is just the beginning of the practice of pure yoga system in order to attain self-realization, the level of understanding and realizing oneself, God and the eternal loving relationship with Him.

 
At 1/05/2008 02:27:00 AM, Blogger Muthukaruppan said...

I am convinced that this "christianizing" of Yoga is due to realization of the Padhiris (Xian mercenary missionaries)that there are several characteristic features of Hinduism which have a very beneficial appeal to reason of all humanity. They realize further that this appeal comes in the way of their Christ for all world, especially when there is a Papal "objective" (!) to "Plant the Cross in Asia" in the 21-st century. That is why some Xian priests in Kerala, for ex., are aggressively exhorting their flock to do Yoga as a means of meditagting (upon their Jesus) so that they won't feel a need to reconvert to Hinduism on score of Yoga. If some Xian Gurus in the US do this Yoga-christianizing, it is just to hoodwink existing nominal Christians (who form a majority in there) not to shun Yoga just because some Xian priests also din into their ears that taking to Yoga is un-Christian. The Yoga gurus simply won't want to lose a majority population to shun Yoga, since they are a big potential market for Yoga, and that is why they talk of "christianizing Yoga" (or is it "Yogifying Christianity"?!)

 
At 1/05/2008 03:42:00 AM, Blogger Peekaysblog said...

I am a former Christian (from India) who will be soon back to sweet home Hinduism. I shall first say more about my background, than a little later, on this theme of Christianizing of Yoga, as I believe the former does help us to put Yoga in perspective visavis today's religious strifes leading to conversions and misunderstandings. Indeed, it seems that because of this failure on their part, Christian missionaries have now turned to divert themselves to "conveting" the rest of the world to Christianity, and in this process the Western governments are exploiting the missionaries by placing at their disposal mountains of money illegally brought into India under various guises, for their geopolitical "strategies" (which of course never work). These governments, especially the military sections in them, seem absurdly wedded to the belief that by creating division through considerable Christian conversion, their goals can be achieved more easily!

I do not accept being a Christian merely because we came in a SC (scheduled caste, traditionally remaining humble and poor - like old type Brahmins - more on choice, than due to socalled "discriminations by caste Hindus". Such discriminations, as Mr Muthukaruppan says here, are not unique to Hinduism, since men of all religions, economic groups, or other divisions, are indulged in, in order to pursue self-interests in a selfish manner, for themselves or their own categories of kith and kin. Such men are non-believers in religious way of life, and belong to no religion.

By the way, it is common knowledge that world's Christian population is associated with the highest rates of crime (homicide, robbery, adultery, genocides such as of American natives and innocent Vietnamese by the millions, to cite a couple examples). The reason is that very large sections of Christians are only nominal ones and non-adherents whom apparently their religion has not done enough to keep spiritually on the right path while pursuing material goals.

Unfortunately my father, at a time of distress due to disease, took to Christianity when some friends took us to a Xian priest for "healing". My father thus betrayed his original Hindu religion, but in turn Jesus betrayed him by letting him die, at just 51, a stinking death as he failed to arrive in time, as it were.

I am now 'highly' educated - may I say, with a Doctorate in Mathematics, from a US univ., a distinct achievement for an unprivileged person like me, which was achieved through dint of hard work and self-discipline, and not because of Government or Politicians who shed crocodile tears for the downtrodden!

I have no quarters for any religious priests, bereft of any self-respect (paid, as most of them are) of other religions, particularly the few Christian priests from my 'caste' (which supposedly does not exist in Christianity. I decided to come back to the most scientifically valid and spiritually satisfying religion, Hinduism, which speaks the same language of love and fellowship, as other religions, and goes much much farther, so that follower does not become a materialist, like most Christians have become. Discriminations against SCs and OBCs('Other backward castes' a new term misused by Indian politicians for creating vote banks) are very, very rare, at least in our village and people there understand that the law is against discriminations, and old practices, to the extent they were actually there, died with the bygone generations.

Indeed the village "Karnam" (Tamilnadu term for a rural position next below Tehsildar) is a Brahmin, and he and his wife and chidlren love us so much, and we are very grateful. Reason is simply that me, my mother and children are very good people, as they they tell us.

In fact this Brahmin Karnam gave us a series of very easy-to-follow lectures, right within his domestic premises, on various 'Yogas' of Hinduism, which, he said, are not for this or that caste, but for any honest and sincere person. He said though even a non-Hindu can practise Yogas, he must not betray his original religion by adopting any Hindu path of living, but he clarified, I AM WELCOME BACK TO MY ORIGINAL RELIGION, my father having been deceived by Xian converters through vilification of Hinduism. especially its concept of Karma (which is now a universal term and belief) and its deities and idolatry (Xian scarecrow cross is not an 'idol' according to them, but our lovely idols are unworhy of worship even as principles/ ideals personified!).

Now, Yoga, as I learn, is of various types, mainly:: Jnana, or Gyan (knowledge for wisely determined, high objectives), Bhakti (devotion to the Supreme God who creates, sustains and destroys to recreate all life, animate and inanimate), Dhyana (meditation upon the Supreme Self), Sanyasa (renunciation for total dedication to service of all spiritually degraded people as well as those who take to crime due to poverty).

My Karnam-Guru has lectured, as well as given books describing in great detail and with episodes of unparalleled beauty - the ideals, institutions/ traditions and practices of our eternal-universal religion 'Sanaatan dharma'.

One fine book says that Yogasana - with Dhyana and scrupulous withdrawal from greed, lust and coveting - can be a great help in pursuing the Yogic way of life, which is the true way of life for a human being.

If now some enlightened Christians want to learn and practise Yoga from Guru/s (genuine one/s only), there need be no bar, since as I wrote above, a non-Hindu can adopt whatever Hindu practice appeals to his concept of ideal life, but he MUST NOT drop his label of native religion, or stop invoking JESUS in preference to our Krishna or Rama or Shiva.

 
At 1/05/2008 03:50:00 AM, Blogger Peekaysblog said...

AN INADVERTENT ERROR CREPT IN THE POSTING MADE BY ME JUST A WHILE AGO, WHICH I CORRECT AS BELOW, SO THE READERS WILL BE ABLE TO FOLLOW MY ACCOUNT BETTER:

The following sentence is actually the last sentence of the paragraph which begins with: 'By the way, it is common knowledge that world's Christian population is associated with the highest rates of crime '. Sorry for any inconvenience caused by me with the error. :

'Indeed, it seems that because of this failure on their part, Christian missionaries have now turned to divert themselves to "conveting" the rest of the world to Christianity, and in this process the Western governments are exploiting the missionaries by placing at their disposal mountains of money illegally brought into India under various guises, for their geopolitical "strategies" (which of course never work). These governments, especially the military sections in them, seem absurdly wedded to the belief that by creating division through considerable Christian conversion, their goals can be achieved more easily!'

 
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