Yoga without Religion is Dangerous! (Post No.4026)

Written by London Swaminathan
Date: 26 June 2017
Time uploaded in London- 11-15 am
Post No. 4026

Pictures shown here are taken  by me in Lisbon, Portugal on 25th June 2017; They are taught Yoga by a genuine swamiji Sri Amrta Suryananda Maharaja.

International Yoga day is celebrated on 21st June around the world. Though Jagatguru Amrta Suryananda Maharaja of Lisbon, Portugal proposed this in Bengaluru and got the consent from other famous and popular Yoga Gurus of India in 2011, it is Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India who made it more popular.


Yoga is a multibillion dollar business today. But one unfortunate thing about Yoga is that it has been hijacked by bad elements in some parts of the world. They do business with the ‘Yoga seal’ (Mudra). Some of them are moving away from the ideals of yoga. We see Yoga Mudra in Indus seals and Egyptian statues. It originated in India. Buddha who was born as a Hindu followed the traditional Yoga taught by Patanjali and attained wisdom under the Bodhi tree. Both Mudra and Bohi (Peepul tree) are important for the Hindus. Brahmins who recited Vedas used Bodhi sticks (Peepal or Ficus religiosa) for their fire rituals every day and it is seen in Indus seals as well. Brahmins who recited Vedas followed Asana postures during their ‘thrice a day ritual called Sandhya Vandhanam’. Buddha whose first Gurus were Hindus taught him these things. So his famous posture with fingers showing different Mudras became very attractive.


From Hindusim it went to Buddhism and now all people have started Yoga schools around the world. They have adapted it to suit their business needs. Nowadays Tom, Dick and Harry and Mary, July and Samantha are running YOGA schools!!!


Big exhibitions are held in the Olympia hall in London every year, attracting lot of Yoga businesses. There are umpteen Yoga magazines published around the world. Someone in America started wrestling yoga, another one started selling Yoga beer; in short the word YOGA is misused and abused. There is no central authority to control this. Some religions banned Yoga because it is basically Hindu. Very true. It is Hindus’ property.


If some says Yoga has nothing to do with religion, please don’t believe it. It is based on religion. If there is no religion in Yoga and Asanas it will leads to many dangers.


Hindu Forum of Europe Discussion

Hindu Forum of Europe held its AGM in Lisbon on 23rd of June 2017. Mr Radj Bhondoe (of Nethrlands) who has done lot of research in this filed spoke on this topic and emphasized that we should create awareness about Yoga. He pointed out Yoga without dharma is just gymnastics. Yoga without religion is just circus.


There can be different types of Yoga, different schools of Yoga. There is nothing wrong in it. We can adapt it according to our own needs. It is not possible to use just mats made up of grass in Western countries; we may use Yoga mats made up of recyclable materials. But if someone says that anyone can do Yoga without the traditional controls, it is dangerous.

Yoga is taught with the Yamas and Niyamas, in short physical and mental controls. Without these controls, it will open up a Pandora’s Box –other dangers.

Yoga Murder, Yoga rape, Yoga Robbery!

In the Hindu Forum meeting, I was invited to make some comments on Radj Bhonde’s talk. I readily agreed with him. I pointed out we read several news items about saints and ascetics, Babas and Swamijis involved in Rape, murder and theft cases. I warned that the same thing would happen in this field. If there is no control over our physical and mental behaviour it will be disastrous. We may even hear about Yoga murder, Yoga Rapes, Yoga robberies and Yoga thefts. We must warn all the Hindu organisations to create awareness. We don’t need to insist the slogan ‘Yoga without Hinduism is dangerous’; but we must say ‘Yoga without Dharma is dangerous’. Physical and mental controls are essential for yoga practisioners


What I have not told in the Hindu Forum meeting is given below:


Sabarimala, the famous pilgrim centre in Kerala, India attracts 20 million pilgrims within a short span of time- just 40 days. In the olden days, only genuine devotees went to have darshan of Sri Ayyappa alias Dharma Sasta. The very word Sasta gave the English word System. It was a disciplined movement at one time. Now it has become a fashion to wear black/blue dhotis or and black shirts with a Tulsi or Rudraksha mala (garland ); after forty days of fasting their behaviours becomes obnoxious. Some even abused the uniform and robbed people or raped women according to newspaper stories. Fortunately, it was not widespread and now under good control. But Ayyappa devotees don’t command the respect they commanded at one time. Some of them are disciplined only for FORTY DAYS or a Mandala. Yoga may go that way if there is no control.

According to my statistics, there are more Non-Hindus practising “yoga” than the Hindus in the western countries. There are more “Yoga”schools run by westerners than Hindus in European countries. A non-vegetarian or a drinker of alcohol can’t be a Yoga practitioner.  Unless they have the body control and mind control, it is just physical exercise they do. Let them do it for their own health. But it is NOT Yoga. Yoga aims to give a long life in a sound body so that the body can be used to reach spiritual heights. Please spread this awareness. Never ever repeat the words “Yoga has nothing to do with religion”. It is religion; religion of Dharma; religion of self control; religion of good qualities (Satva Guna). Let others tell they teach breathing exercises or Postures for flexible body movements. Don’t abuse or misuse the words ‘Yoga’ and ‘Asana’. Hindus living in Western countries must proclaim this to the world.


(My sincerer thanks to Radj Bhondoe for bringing up this subject for discussion).

I will write about how genuine Yoga that is spread in Portugal by Swami Amrta Suryananda Maharaja tomorrow; I have just returned from Portugal to London)


Mrs Nandini K.Sigla, Indian ambassador to Portugal, is doing Yoga with swamiji’s disciples




Leave a comment


  1. There is a hidden ( profound or mystical) side to every Hindu teaching and practice. It is this which unlocks the power and releases it along the right channels. But for this to happen, the teacher has to be properly ‘qualified’, and the student has to be chosen with due care and after careful observation. Consequently, the truly initiated were quite few and the systems did not become mass movements.
    Indiscriminate dissemination of such vital knowledge to all and sundry is not only lowering the standards, but exposing both the individuals and society to moral turpitude and other dangers. Yoga releases certain subtle powers by activating some ductless glands and if external yoga is not accompanied by cultivation of character through Yama and Niyama, the practitioner would be no better than a brute, with uncontrollable sensual appetites.

    The old teachers never sought students on their own. When I started learning Yoga in the 50s, the teacher who was a disciple of Acharya Bangalore Sundaram taught me only certain initial, general asanas saying that i) certain asanas were not meant for adolescents, as they activated certain glands; ii) certain asanas were meant for only Sanyasis and iii) pranayama should be practised only under strict personal supervision of the teacher. Later on, I gave up Hatha Yoga after reading Sri Arunagirinatha who condemns it in unequivocal language!

    காட்டில் குறத்தி பிரான் பதத்தே கருத்தைப் புகட்டின்
    வீட்டில் புகுதன் மிக எளிதே விழி நாசிவைத்து
    மூட்டிக் கபால மூலாதார நேர் அண்ட மூச்சை உள்ளே
    ஓட்டிப்பிடித்து எங்கும் ஒடாமற் சாதிக்கும் யோகிகளே.

    Yoga became popular in the West after Yehudi Menuhin, but it did not become a rage. Old books like Yesudian Selvarajan’s stuck to the orthodox line, more or less.

    Today, Yoga has become a fashion , another form of physical exercise like the Aerobics, devoid of substance. It is unfortunate that Modi has been instrumental for this cheap gimmick. Anything genuinely Indian and Hindu cannot become a mass-market attraction. Even classical music is not. It has unintended consequences if sought to be ‘popularised’. We have an example of this in ‘Vedanta’. Swami Vivekananda popularised it in the US. But he was speaking to and interacting with learned people and genuine seekers. But the later swamijis who went there started giving lectures and talking indiscriminately, telling even how every religion contained Vedanta, and interpreting even the Sermon on the Mount in terms of Vedanta! The Westerners have started asking ; If our own religion contains Vedanta, what is new in your Vedanta and why do we need it ? They have even started talking about Western Vedanta, divorcing it of its natural and original connection with the Veda!

    There is also another danger. Western academics are adept at plagiarising. But to cover their tracks, they do not acknowledge their sources, and invent new names and concepts for things lifted from Indian philosophy, and float fancy theories to cover them up. It takes great efforts and surpassing learning to discover their tricks. Recently, Rajiv Malhotra has shown many such instances. Even Ken Wilber has been shown as one such.

    In the circumstances, I really wonder whether this International Yoga Day business is all for the good of India. It only obliterates the work of genuine gurus who were doing a quiet job. Like all other International days, this may also be another commercial stunt. We may start sending International Yoga Day cards and let some companies earn money! Why not! That is one way to reduce or remove someone’s poverty!

  2. I fully agree with shri Nanjappa. Very True. Swami Vivekananda tool all precautions. Whereas the later swamijis diluted Vedanta. As Shri Nanjappa rightly points out there may be christian vedanda jews vedanda islam vedanta. Similar thing will happen to Yoga. As on date we are hundreds of Yogas other than the real Hindu Yoga.
    So let us be careful in “popularising” anything.
    s nagarajan

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