Cheques And Balances In Yoga


In US, the District of Columbia Council recently approved a yoga tax on gymnasiums and yoga classes. This move has angered the fitness buffs in Washington D.C., many of who are often seen on the streets of the city cycling, jogging or walking with rolled up yoga mats.

With the growing popularity of yog abroad, several misconceptions about the subject have crept in, leading to its widespread commercialization. Innovation, an integral part of commercialization, has led to the dilution of the original formulae. Over the years, the original form of yoga has been mutilated to commoditize it in order to fulfil some selfish goals. Yog, which can neither be imported nor exported as a consumer product, has become a multi-billion dollar industry today. Anybody who knows little about the subject gets into the business of manipulating this science and starts making money by opening his own school/yoga centre. Smart entrepreneurs devise new versions to sell their brand of yoga. Along the years, the vedic context of yoga has got lost and yoga classes have adopted the glitziness of a health club. Thus, the respective governments consider it their right to tax the ‘consumer’ and generate revenue.


This massive scale of commercialization was not even dreamt of 5000 years ago. Our ancient texts including the Puranas prescribed that yog should be taught in its purest form under the guidance of a Guru. The selfless and free of cost teaching given by a Guru alone is evident of the purity and sanctity of this ancient science. These texts also warned the modern man of the repercussions of its commercialization. The ancient proponents would never have thought of packaging yog with attractive names and selling it to different classes of consumers. Those who know little about yog and vedic sciences are aware about the extent of damage caused by such practices.

Yogi Ashwini, in an interview to a popular magazine, once said: Most social problems like Naxalism, stem from the cancer of commercialization of yog. Fake Yog Gurus, who are planning to build corporate houses, have completely by-passed the teachings of Sage Patanjali such as asteya and aparigraha (non-stealing, non-coveting and non-hoarding) that are a must for a progressive society.

It is important to realize that in the race of commercialization, the ultimate loser is the practitioner, as yog is a subtle science and even minor errors in its practice can cause major and irrevocable damage.

In the words of Yogi Ashwini, “gyan is the limitless knowledge that cannot be acquired through the limited mind but only channelized by the Divine through the Guru to the shishya.” How can you put a price to something that is not yours but flowing from the Divine? Call it the beauty of Indian sciences that such awesome powers come with inherent checks and balances: even a slight deviation from the code of conduct prescribed in the vedic texts leads to the loss of efficacy of the technique.

Not to blame the foreign countries as they take cue from the so-called Indian commercial Gurus who are primarily responsible for spreading the misinformation about yoga in India and abroad and are busy filling their pockets with maya, emptying out their positive karmas in return. What their future would be for polluting this pious science is worse than the punishments prescribed by modern day governments for crimes against humanity.

Shalini Verma

Shalini Verma

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