International World Yoga day has become a buzz since last year, thanks to our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative to make it an official celebration not just in India but throughout the world. With such a political figure playing such a significant part in the importance of Yoga, lets look at who else in India has had an influence in making this 5000 year old tradition more popular in the more recent times.
Another Prime Minister who had a connection with Yoga comes to mind. Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had a Yoga guru named Dhirendra Bhramachary. His influence in politics grew in the late 1970s when Indira Gandhi was in power. He featured on the National TV channel called Doordarshan and would do a weekly broadcast on the benefits of Yoga. This was considered to be quite an innovation in that time. He introduced Yoga to Delhi schools and later introduced them to Kendriya Vidyalayas, which are Central government schools affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education. He also wrote books on Yoga, one of which was also a documentary filmed in its time “Sukshma Vyayama shown by Dhirendra Brahmachari”. This covered Yoga that the general masses could do to aide them in their day to day living.
Researching Dhirendra Bhramachary brings up a lot of controversial reading material, links to Politics, another other issues that I personally am not interested in. What I am impressed by is that even in the 70’s this yogi has used TV and film as a medium to promote Yoga and bring it to the masses. He made Yoga popular in his time in the way he could. If you are interested in watching the documentary that he made on Sukshma Vyayama, please click here!
Another such a Yoga Televangelist in today’s day is Baba Ramdev. He featured on Aastha channel in 2003 and being very appealing on television, won hearts of the masses. He has used that success, to bring Yoga to the general public and use his influence in various other affairs, so much so he was invited by Kofi Anan to talk at a United Nations Conference on how to alleviate poverty. He started an Institute called Patanjali Yogpeeth for the promotion and practice of Yoga and Ayurveda. He also started Patanjali Ayurved, a company, that started with the vision of manufacturing herbal Ayurveda products but has since expanded to many grocery, beauty, cosmetics and baby products for public consumption.
Baba Ramdev, has also worked with the Prime Minister in an advisory role to bring importance to the World Yoga Day not just in India but Internationally. He played a lead role in last Year’s commemorating World Yoga Day event at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan. This year, he is has an event planned at the Patanjali’s Yogapeeth which will beat the record of last year’s gathering. He is set to beat 4 world records in the form of push ups, Surya Namaskars, Shirshasana and the number of people gathering!
Just like the news that Swami Dhirendra Bhramachari created, the news that Baba Ramdev creates, mostly has controversy, drama and creates an instant headline. He may talk about beheading people or want to cure homosexuals in 6 months, he may hold a fast to rid India of corruption or sell noodles on TV! One thing is sure, both the Swamis made Yoga popular. Kids in schools, people in statsang masses, politicians with their gandhi topis, so much so that both gurus got the Prime Ministers of India doing Yoga! Thats definitely a medal on their saffron robe!
Hope you keep both these Yogi’s and us happy and do some Yoga with the rest of the world on this World Famous Day! Here is a link of simple stretching that you could do at your work if you are having a busy day and cannot get to the mat!
Happy Yoga Day today and everyday!