You Stole my Woo. I Want It Back.
#1
Yoga as practiced by most people today is just another form of exercise and in general exercise is good for your body. The only difference between yoga and other fitness regimes is that yoga is beautifully shrink wrapped with feel goody spiritual woo. And woo sells. Big time. Today yoga is a multi billion dollar industry.

Now, here is a curious lament on the theft of yoga. The guy seems to be pissed off that people are just practicing a modified form of woo that is not in accordance with tradition certified woo and that Hinduism isn't getting any love:

Quote:Why is yoga severed in America's collective consciousness from Hinduism? Yoga, meditation, ayurvedic natural healing, self-realization--they are today's syntax for New Age, Eastern, mystical, even Buddhist, but nary an appreciation of their Hindu origins. It is not surprising, then, that Hindu schoolchildren complain that Hinduism is conflated only with caste, cows, exoticism and polytheism--the salutary contributions and philosophical underpinnings lost and ignored. The severance of yoga from Hinduism disenfranchises millions of Hindu Americans from their spiritual heritage and a legacy in which they can take pride.

And it gets more interesting. Woo peddlers need to distort reality to make their woo more salable. It seems American Yoga Association is claiming that Yoga is older than Hinduism. Its like they're afraid that people won't subscribe to their brand of woo and will follow somebody else:

Quote:The American Yoga Association, on its Web site, completes this delinking of yoga from Hinduism thusly:

"The common belief that Yoga derives from Hinduism is a misconception. Yoga actually predates Hinduism by many centuries...The techniques of Yoga have been adopted by Hinduism as well as by other world religions."

Some thoughts on the proper way to woo:

Quote:... but also argues that yoga today is wholly misunderstood. Yoga is identified today only with Hatha Yoga, the aspect of yoga focused on postures and breathing techniques. But this is only one part of the practice of Raja Yoga that is actually an eightfold path designed to lead the practitioner to moksha, or salvation. Indeed, yogis believe that to focus on the physicality of yoga without the spirituality is utterly rudimentary and deficient.

That article had elicited a response from His Quantumness, the King of Woo himself. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the show:

Deepak Chopra responds.

Aseem Shukla responds to Deepak Chopra.

W00t
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#2
This is an interesting topic that I wanted to comment on earlier. In recent days yoga has been in the news in Malaysia where it was banned (for Muslims) by an Islamic cleric because of the associated Hindu woo.

Regarding the American yoga Association, their website has all the signs of being woo-headquarters. In any case, I tend to side with Chopra and this questionable association on this issue Scared Yoga is not Hindu, it is ancient Indian woo. The religion Hinduism did not exist in its currently recognizable form when the yogic traditions were evolving in ancient India. What existed back then were a multitude of sects, mystical traditions and schools of philosophy.

The Hindu apologists have a ready counter-argument to this, which I'll lift straight from Shukla's response to Chopra that Lije posted:

Quote:"The contention that yoga's foundation is "in consciousness alone," thereby preceding Hinduism, is a sad demonstration of the extent Chopra and other Hindu philosophical profiteers will go to disassociate themselves from Hinduism. But Hindus are on to this tactic now. For Hinduism's most sacred scripture, the Vedas, are deeply believed to be the accumulation and transcription of the existential contemplations, and experiences, of rishis--the primordial yogis. The rishis did not call themselves Hindu, but would Chopra claim that the Vedas they composed are not Hindu? The moniker "Hinduism" is of relatively recent origin, but it is accepted today as a handy substitute for the perhaps more accurate but difficult to pronounce name, Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion. That reality does not separate yoga from Hinduism any more than it separates the Vedas or Bhagawad Gita from Hinduism

The answer to this is my article here.

The debate is not about the moniker "Hinduism", but the fact that the adherents of Hinduism claim religion-status, thus placing themselves within a fairly distinct and well-defined category in the context of modern political democratic states. This is what Hinduism is. The attempts by Hindus to appropriate all of Indian culture under their religious label is understandable, but misguided. The Vedas and the Bhagavad gita are no more Hindu than yoga either. I know this is a controversial position, but I stand by it. The notion of Hinduism as a self-contained religion is a modern one, and Hindus have no unique claim to ideas that preceded the origin of their religion.

The claims of these Hindus are not unlike those of the Christians who attempt to claim all rational and scientific understanding as having originated only because of the Judeo-Christian framework. That would be wrong. Similarly, if all the Greek mythology and philosophy was put together in one hodge-podge of cultural and philosophical ideas that essentially make up the entire ancient history of Greece, that would not be a religion either. What Hindus are trying to do is to steal our entire Indian history and claim that it was all Hindu. That is unacceptable, and more importantly, simply false.

This issue of defining religion is the greatest challenge we face when debating religious apologists. Unfortunately, there is little agreement between atheists/freethinkers on how we should define religion, let alone how we should reasonably criticize it. Until we can collectively understand religion as a special political class created by an evolving political majority, to soothe the weak and the superstitious until society becomes mature enough to handle the truth, we Freethinkers have the sole responsibility of having to keep defining religion in clear and objective ways that reject its undue influence over public affairs.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#3
(08-Dec-2010, 02:43 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: The debate is not about the moniker "Hinduism", but the fact that the adherents of Hinduism claim religion-status, thus placing themselves within a fairly distinct and well-defined category in the context of modern political democratic states. This is what Hinduism is. The attempts by Hindus to appropriate all of Indian culture under their religious label is understandable, but misguided. The Vedas and the Bhagavad gita are no more Hindu than yoga either. I know this is a controversial position, but I stand by it. The notion of Hinduism as a self-contained religion is a modern one, and Hindus have no unique claim to ideas that preceded the origin of their religion.

The apologists are well aware of the fact that Hinduism is a recently coined idea (in a historical context) and are beginning to refer themselves as followers of Sanatana Dharma or Vedic Dharma. And to shield themselves from criticisms from the new atheist movement, they are proclaiming that Dharma is not a religion like the Abrahamic faiths and that it is just a natural order of things and hence it is One True Way Of Life. They conveniently ignore the freethinking/naturalistic underpinnings of the new atheist movement. When subjected to them, it is quite clear that Dharma is just an obfuscated form of faith that is propagated by Islam or Christianity.

It is in this context that the HAF is demanding that yoga be attributed to Hinduism (as Sanatana Dharma is too obscure a word for the average American). Most ancient texts take Vedas as true (because they are revealed/infallible/whatever, a perfect example of circular reasoning) and I don't think I would be wrong in assuming that Pathanjali would have sung the obligatory praises of the Vedas in his treatises.

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#4
Quote:And to shield themselves from criticisms from the new atheist movement, they are proclaiming that Dharma is not a religion like the Abrahamic faiths and that it is just a natural order of things and hence it is One True Way Of Life.

Exactly! I address this "way of life" argument in the same article by making the following observation:

Quote:At the time of writing this article, googling Islam “way of life” retrieves 1,570,000 hits. Christianity “way of life” gets me 3,840,000 search results. Hinduism “way of life” retrieves 766,000 hits. The internet is filled with people belonging to particular religious groups claiming theirs to be not just a religion, but a way of life. The truth is, every religion is a way of life. Every religion is a culture.

BTW, the results now are:
Islam: 1,700,000
Hinduism: 5,650,000
Christianity: 8,830,000

Also, as I say in the article,
"I am not presenting any of this as evidence that Hinduism is not a way of life, just as evidence that all people think the same way about their own belief systems. "

A more poignant point about the "Hinduism is not a religion" argument is the fact that Hindus are constantly seeking the protections that this modern political category called religion offers them. Would they be fine if the UN and the Indian government stopped considering Hinduism as a religion? Fuck no. They want to eat their cake and have it too. They claim that Hinduism a religion or that its not a religion depending on whichever argument is convenient in context.

We live in the modern world where religions have a certain official position in society and government. Either Hinduism is a religion and Hindus retain their special privileges in the modern state, or its not and they cannot.



"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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