'Yoga now an icon of India's soft power': Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan

Yoga has been a comfortable path towards physical wellness and inner peace


A LEGACY THAT Indian civilisation has bequeathed on the world, yoga is now an icon of India’s soft power, one that has enhanced global trust in the Indian concept of wellness.

Beyond the popular perception of yoga as a scheme of physical fitness is its spiritual dimension as a path towards self-realisation and the perfection of one’s character.

As a mantra says, yogena cittasya padena vacam (yoga purifies the mind, enabling one to use words with perfection).

To me, yoga has been a comfortable path towards physical wellness and inner peace through contemplation. The rarity of strenuous actions is an advantage that yoga has over other workout regimens. Peaceful regulation of breath enhances concentration, rejuvenating the mind and readying the body for the day’s actions.

The practice of yoga also has a social dimension. It enables an individual to live in tune with nature, maintaining social balance, harmony, peace, equality and a sense of fraternity that recognises the spark of divinity in others.

Yoga relates to a way of living that integrates the body, mind, and intellect with the self as well as the samashti or the collective entity.

Hence the definition, yujyate anena iti yogah―yoga is a process of uniting diverse elements.

Yoga also refers to a state of mind, which finds its best expression in Bhagavat Gita: víta rága bhaya krodha: sthitadhír munir ucyate. “He whose mind is undisturbed in the midst of sorrows and amid pleasures is free from desire, from whom liking and fear and wrath have passed, is the sage of settled understanding.”

In such a state, the mind succeeds in “stilling the clamour of the sense organs”―a state attained by spiritual seekers down the ages to realise God, the innermost self of all.

The physical dimension of yoga conveys to the world the old adage that a healthy mind and body are essential if we are to perform our worldly actions more effectively.

The Indian mind considers the adherence to dharma or moral duty as vital to human existence. It is through a healthy body that one performs this duty: shariramadhyam khalu dharma-sadhanam, meaning, the body is the means of fulfilment of dharma.

The true practice of yoga emphasises a “harmonious collaboration among the mind, heart, and the body”―the attainment of which Sri Aurobindo rightly called, “Divine life in a divine body.”

The global popularity of yoga has been on the increase ever since we began the celebration of International Day of Yoga on June 21, 2015. The participation and leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attracted global involvement in the celebration as well as the practice of yoga.

The goal of yoga is to unite minds and promote harmony among diverse entities, evincing the magical power of India’s soft power.

Khan is the governor of Kerala.