Gandhi also was very skeptical of Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine, largely because he believed that it had become an elite, urban system of medicinal healing. His powerful connection of the health of the physical body, self-control, and self-restraint as important for overcoming colonial oppression helped to position yoga as a system of physical culture and therapeutics in 20th-century India.
There were many different presentations of Indian physical culture in the first half of the 20th century. This development was an Indian reaction to an international movement to revitalize physical culture, including bodybuilding, wrestling, and the revival of the Olympic Games in European populations had become concerned about the physical weakness of populations in newly urbanized, industrialized cities.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, narratives of Social Darwinism and eugenics became intertwined with calls for nationalism and military readiness. These narratives, largely of European origin, began to permeate Indian culture from both colonial powers and the Indian revolutionaries. Indian nationalists began to call for the revitalization of the Indian body, through specifically Indian cultural traditions. Manikrao was a prolific writer in nationalist Gujarati newspapers, stressing the importance of Indian physical culture and becoming very popular locally.
There were a number of significant Indian popularizers of yoga who were explicitly influenced by Western forms of physical culture and bodybuilding. The ideology of Yogendra related general physical improvement with the potential for eugenic mutations to lead to a stronger national race. A further influential figure is Bishnu Charan Ghosh — , the younger brother of international yoga guru Paramahansa Yogananda — Figure 1.
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A final influential figure in redefining yoga in popular imagination as a largely physical-based practice was Tirumalai Krishnamacharya — , whose innovations to yoga were largely immortalized by the global popularity of many of his students, particularly Indra Devi — , B. Iyengar — , K. Pattabhi Jois — , and his son T. Desikachar — The maharaja also sent Krishnamacharya on various tours of India to promote yoga and physical culture.
After leaving Mysore to settle in Chennai, he pioneered a form of yoga therapy in prescribing breath and movement sequences for specific health problems. This tradition was continued by his son, T.
The medical traditions of India have a rich history. In early Vedic literature, interventions of priests and the use of specific plants were associated with healing practices. In India, the monastic setting was an early site for the systemization of medical treatment, and Buddhist monasteries were particularly important for the systematization of Ayurveda. Around , Gune met Madhavdasji Maharaj and became particularly interested in exploring abilities acquired through yogic practice siddhis with Western scientific models.
In , Gune was able to raise enough money to found a research center with the purpose of exploring yoga in scientific, physiological detail; this was the Kaivalyadhama Yoga Ashram in Lonavala, a hill city between Bombay and Pune. At this time, Gune adopted the name of Swami Kuvalyananda and began publishing the results of his research in Yoga Mimamsa , a journal that had both national and international influence.
He opened the ashram to people seeking yoga as physical culture to improve health, and also to those seeking yoga as a therapeutic intervention for specific conditions, even including Gandhi as an early patient. Gupta Yogi Hospital was established at the Kuvalyananda Marg in Lonavla, offering thirty-six beds for yogic treatment and scientific study with funding from the Maharashtra State Government and Shri A. Kaivalyadhama continues as a center for both domestic and international education, with a focus on yogic therapy, combined with naturopathy and preventative medicine.
The yogi and the mystic : studies in Indian and comparative mysticism - Ghent University Library
It is most frequently combined with naturopathy as a treatment model, but increasingly it is seen to overlap with Ayurveda and the category of indigenous or Indian medicine. As is evident, the Indian government has been increasingly supportive of the development of AYUSH treatment within India, including yoga as a therapeutic intervention. The idea of receiving spiritual insight through contact with a teacher guru is pervasive in Indian culture.
During the 20th century, many different figures gained prominence, attracting devotees and forming both religious and social organizations in their names. In addition to some of the figures mentioned previously, other influential early 20th-century yoga gurus include Sai Baba of Shirdi — , 80 Ramana Maharshi — , 81 Meher Baba — , and Sri Anandamayi Maa — see Figure 2.
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Many individuals, both Indian and European, visited one or several of such renowned spiritual virtuosi, seeking their own insight and healing from a variety of physical and emotional problems. An early innovator in global communications of yoga was Swami Sivananda — and his Divine Light Society, which was founded in Originally a biomedical doctor, turned sannyasin in Rishikesh, Sivananda continued to represent intertwined ideals of health and spiritual development that were becoming associated with yoga in India during the early 20th century.
The provision of food, health, and educational resources is widespread among contemporary Indian religious organizations, many of which claim associations with yoga. This service mission is also exemplified by the Vivekananda Kendra founded in by the Indian nationalist leader Eknath Ramkrishna Ranade — The Kendra conducts yoga camps as part of its mission to provide spiritual and practical uplift to the masses of India.
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The promotion of yoga as uniquely Hindu by the RSS has been seen as threatening to other faith groups within India. A variety of other India nationalist-oriented organizations have also used the popularity of yoga as a component of their activities for promoting health and self-discipline and for instilling a spiritual worldview. The organization of large yoga camps shivir for both specific populations and the general public is now common. The leaders of the newly independent Indian nation often expressed interest in promoting yoga and Indian forms of health and well-being in various capacities.
In the s, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi — was closely associated with Dhirendra Brahmacari — , who promoted the benefits of yoga in a weekly broadcast on Doordarshan, the state-owned television network. Brahmacari also introduced yoga as physical culture to many state-owned schools in the Delhi area. Perhaps the most ubiquitous face of the yoga revival in contemporary India is Swami Ramdev b.
Remembered by locals as walking around Haridwar distributing pamphlets about the benefits of yoga and Ayurveda, Ramdev developed his system of teaching yoga between and In , all but one of the ten most popular religious programs in India were broadcast on Aastha TV, and the top three shows were all by Baba Ramdev. In addition to his television shows, Ramdev conducts very large shivir huge public yoga classes and authorizes teachers to teach under his name locally.
Ramdev also runs a large business with Balkrishna that produces Patanjali-branded Ayurvedic medicine. He promotes a form of capitalist swadeshi , moving into Indian-produced food, noodles, and even jeans under the Patanjali brand, promoting freedom from foreign multinational corporations. Ramdev is well known for making controversial public statements and championing Indian national interests. He presents himself as a plain-talking, down-to-earth spiritual leader who is unafraid to say what needs to be said.
In , he gained extensive coverage for his public rallies, demanding that the Indian government crack down on corruption and lost tax revenue; in , after threatening to become directly involved in politics, Ramdev endorsed Narendra Modi b. Yoga is certainly experiencing a revival in contemporary India. The first International Day of Yoga, with an internationally sponsored resolution at the United Nations, was celebrated on June 21, It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being.
It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature. Although minority groups in India are uncomfortable with the association of yoga and Hindutva ideology, it is clear that many groups that do not self-identify as Hindu also have practices they understand as yoga. Yoga is a multivalent term covering a diverse collection of ideas and practices.
In contemporary India, yoga has strong associations as a religious ideal, as well as an activity that can promote health and wellness. In the same year, Joseph Alter published Yoga in Modern India , which outlined some of the significant influences of biomedical paradigms on yoga in colonial India; it followed up on his previous work on somatic aspects of Indian nationalism and Gandhi. Another body of literature has emphasized the role of consumerism and transnationalism in transforming modern yoga, for example, Andrea R.
Lau in New Age Capitalism Much of the existing research paradigm also dialogues with the paradigm of the invention of tradition.
The Yogi and the Mystic: Studies in Indian and Comparative Mysticism (Durham Indological Series)
This is echoed in the concerns of Hindutva politicians and spokespeople both in India and in the diaspora that the forms of yoga popular in gyms and promoted by celebrities debase the pure and ancient tradition of yoga that is sacred to Indians. Bharati proposes that officially, from the colonial period to the present,. Western things are not desirable in the Indian cultural universe; but neither are the themes and the works of the tradition which is thought reactionary and obsolete.
Yet, one and all, they gather momentum and respect through a process of re-enculturation. After World War I, a highly elaborated dish, the U. The term and the object have acquired a new meaning and a new status, as well as many new tastes in the land of its origin, not only in the south, but throughout the length and width of Italy. In contrast, recent anthropological work has emphasized reciprocal global relationships and the importance of networks coalescing around internationally touring Indian gurus. Beyond the foundational works mentioned, there are extensive resources in the case study approach found in monograph-length biographies, academic journals, and edited volumes.
There is a rich literature here for anyone seeking to get an overview of the myriad presentations of yoga in the contemporary world. It is likely that the literature in this field will be considerably more diverse by Research to date has largely been done by Anglophone academics, with a bias toward English language sources. The digitalization of historical newspapers since has opened up research avenues for examining regional popularization of yoga in distinct localities.
For those with competency in the regional languages of India, there is much research to be done articulating the relationship between vernacular literature and local revival movements. The relationship between these local Indian regions and the development of yoga is a neglected area of research; collections of vernacular newspapers have yet to be digitized, and oral history research could still yield interesting new insights when connected to the international narrative on the contemporary yoga revival. While most of the influential actors for the revival of yoga have been identified, the significance of many other secondary figures, associated with specific spheres of regional influence, has yet to be touched.
The goals of the project, which is based at the University of Vienna, are to reveal the entanglements of these historical traditions, and to trace the trajectories of their evolution as components of the global health-care and personal development industries. The Hartsuiker Archive.