In my previous article “Why is Yoga Strictly Hindu?” I have not only explained why Yoga is Hindu but also, why is it infact antithetical to both Islam and Christianity. Once again, I am not saying that that people from other religions cannot practice yoga and get benefited. All that I am saying is “Yoga is a Hindu product and any one can be a consumer” [a famous Tweet by Sri Rajiv Malhotra]

In this article I will explain, why is it important to assert that Yoga is Hindu. What ever I may say, I am sure that these kind of writings discourage atleast a few from non Dharmic faiths to practice yoga. Inspite of that, I am sticking my neck out because, the consequences of this false belief that Yoga is not Hindu but secular, have the potentiality of we loosing yoga altogether. One needs to know about Digestion and Western Universalism, two terms coined by Sri Rajiv Malhotra, to understand the need to assert that Yoga is Hindu. He wrote extensively about them in his book “Being Different”. I shall discuss Digestion in the context of Yoga in this article and about Western Universalism in my next.



Here is how Sri Rajiv Malhotra explains Digestion in his book “Being Different”

Img1I refer to the digestion of one culture by another carried out under the guise of a desire to assimilate, reduce difference, and assert sameness in place of the less dominant culture. The less powerful culture is assimilated into the dominant one in such a way that:

  1. the dominant civilization dismembers the weaker one into parts from which it picks and chooses which pieces it wants to appropriate;
  2. these appropriated elements get mapped onto the language and social structures of the dominant civilization’s own history and paradigms, leaving little if any trace of the links to the source tradition;
  3. the civilization that was thus mined gets depleted of its cultural and social capital because the appropriated elements are modified to fit the dominant civilization’s own history, and these elements are shown to be disconnected from, and even in conflict with, the source civilization; and
  4. the depleted civilization enters the proverbial museum as yet another dead culture, ceasing to pose a threat to the dominant one.

                                           Page No. 36 & 37, “Being Different” by Sir Rajiv Malhotra

You may watch the below video where Sri Rajiv Malhotra explains “Digestion”

Let us see a few examples of digestion in the past

    1. Christmas Tree     2.  Easter

Christmas tree

Img2Christmas tree is lot older than Christmas itself and it is one of the Native (Please note that Pagan is the commonly used term and is a derogatory reference forced upon by the oppressive usurpers on the natives as part of step 1 of digestion) traditions that Christianity digested and made part of itself. According to a few accounts the Christmas tree is associated with a native festival celebrated in Germany called Yuletide2. Not only various symbols, rituals, festivals of native religions were appropriated/digested, the whole population was either converted to Christianity by force and deceit or killed. And now those cultures exist only in museums.

See the following few lines from a article, “Historical Roots of the Christmas Tree Stretch far beyond that of Christianity” published in “The Telegraph”, on Dec 17th 19861 written by Jayne Palmer.

           The decorated fir tree as the quintessential symbol of Christmas predates Christianity

         Many pagan cults practiced winter solstice rites to ensure the return of spring. The chief symbol of the rites was greenery, especially those plants that remained green throughout the winter, representing the triumph of life over death…………. Such solstice-centered rites were practiced throughout Europe.

          The early Christians simply superimposed their beliefs on the deeply ingrained pagan practices as a way of winning converts. That’s why, in the 4th century, the church designated December 25th, an important date in many of the older religions, as the date of Christ’s birth 

The below is from page 133 of “The Gospel of Jesus: In Search of His Original Teachings” – by John Davidson2

          The Christmas tree was introduced into Britain from Germany where Mithraism3 had been more popular than in any other Western country in Roman times, and it has been conjectured the custom may in some way be connected……….. The likely theory, however, is that it owes its origins to the pagan Yule tree

               Yuletide was the Germano-Celtic festival associated with the winter Solstice ……….



Img3Easter is also a native festival which got digested into Christianity. “Easter” came from Ishtar, the name of the wife of a Sun God, whose resurrection used to be celebrated long before Jesus is born4

After digesting and destroying all the native cultures and practically killing crores of natives now a few of them are complaining that it’s Satan who influenced them to digest the native traditions and festivals


                     Satan is the ultimate “spin doctor,” isn’t he? He has spun lies and half-truths, covered them with whitewash, so now they appear pure and clean on the outside, but on the inside they reek from the stench of rebellion and idolatry(“Guess What I discovered on the way to Church?” by Diane L. Otto. Page – 413)

Even the encyclopaedias plainly show the native connection of Easter

      • “As at Christmas, so also at Easter, popular customs reflect many ancient pagan survivals. In this instance connected with spring fertility rites, are such symbols as the Easter egg and the Easter rabbit” (Easter: Britannica Online 1996)

      • “…..the name Easter is derived from the pagan spring festival of the Goddess Eostre, and many folk customs (Easter eggs for ex.) are of pagan origin” (Easter: The 1995 Grolier Multimedia Enc.)5

I will try to explain how Yoga is now being digested.

 First Step: Secularising Yoga

 This is being done by

      1. Removing chatting of OM and other mantras
      2. Not performing guru pooja etc.
      3. Removing any mention of Hindu ideas like reincarnation, divinity of cosmos including nature
      4. Replacing Sanskrit Non – Translatables6 like Atma with Soul, Iswhar/Brahman with God
      5. Presenting Yoga as a tool for mental and physical wellbeing only and completely ignoring its Aadhyatmik side

Few examples of secular, to be exact distorted forms of yoga are

      1. Yoga on Tap – This a something where the participants first do āsana for some time followed by beer consumption7
      2. Rage Yoga8
      3. YogaRitas9
      4. YogaFit10
      5. Ganja Yoga11 – Doing Yoga and consuming marijuana simultaneously

             ………Medical research on marijuana is inconclusive on many fronts but Pancini and her co-instructor, John Farley, 50, believe this form of yoga leads to heightened spiritual growth and personal development, as well as physical and emotional healing


Second Step: Christianizing Yoga

Img4This is being done by

      1. Giving Christian names to Chakras. For example, Aagna chakra becomes Christ Chakra or Jesus Chakra
      1. Surya Namaskar becomes Yesu Namaskar or Jesus Namaskar or SON Salutation (Here Son is Son of God, Jesus)
      1. Replacing Mantra with some Bible verses (This is also called Scripture Yoga12).

All this is done with a claim that by doing Yoga, as it is, one invokes Satan. Looking inward is antithetical to Christianity and the belief is that it invokes Satan. At this state an alternative form of Yoga is presented to Christians to get the benefits of Yoga without being influenced by Satan.

The primary and stated objective of Christian Yoga is to, as the name suggests, to Christianize and de-Hinduise Yoga. The Christianized version of Yoga will not have Moksha as its objective. Jean-Marie Dechanet, a French Monk who is called “The Father of Christian Yoga” says that Yoga can be disconnected from the Hindu objective of self-realization. Dechanet, suggests replacing “self” with a different object of meditation, such as God, and talks about the use of a body language of prayer as one’s prayers to God13. His book on Christian Yoga was translated into English with the same name.

Third Step: Complete Decoupling

Img5The last step would be to decouple Yoga completely from its roots, that is Hinduism and claim ownership. Not only that we lose Yoga as a result, also Yoga loses its sheen as they remove core building blocks from Yoga that don’t fit into Christian world view. These efforts are already on. Several books are being written trying to prove that the origins of yoga, especially āsana is West/Christianity.

One of such books is, “Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice” by Mark Singleton published by Oxford University Press. This book tries to delink āsana from Yoga and link it to West

               ……… inspite of immense popularity of postural yoga worldwide, there is little or no evidence that āsana (excepting certain seated postures of meditation) has ever been the primary aspect of any Indian yoga practice tradition – including the medieval, body-oriented hatha yoga – inspite of the self authenticating claims of many modern yoga schools. The primacy of āsana performance in transnational yoga today is a new phenomenon that has no parallel in premodern times  {Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice” by Mark Singleton – Page No. 3}

Mark argues that craze for physical fitness swept Europe in nineteenth century, which also had its effect on India. Body Builders like Eugene Sandow had a defining role in the new Cultural Revolution. Also YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) played a significant role in bringing this new physical fitness revolution to India. This modern, European body building influenced āsana to a great extent. Though not explicitly, he also tries to indicate that this had influenced even Sri BKS. Iyengar14

He also says that āsanas heavily borrowed/got influenced by a type of 19th century Scandinavian Gymnastics which sprang up through out Europe and also India. So as per Mark the present day āsana is a hybrid of Indian Tradition and European gymnastics15. He blames Hindu Nationalists for reinterpreting this hybrid version of fitness regimen as āsana, and timeless expression of Hindu exercise. This hybrid version, reinterpreted as āsana by Hindu Nationalists, Mark says, has found its way back to West16. As āsanas are mainly for physical health (?), it is not ‘antithetical’ to Christian philosophy and is digestible. Mark gets strong recommendations from people like Wendy Doniger17. Also Mark is one of the participants in the Jaipur Literary Festival of 2013.

So Mark wants us to believe that Hindu nationalists simply reinterpreted a hybrid version as Yoga and made the whole world believe so and that too when we were not even independent. Atleast to me this argument looks really foolish

If we know who this Mark Singleton is, then all that Sri Rajiv Malhotra have been saying about “Feeding Crocodiles18” all the years makes more and more sense. Mark completed his Ph. D from Cambridge and before that he was a research assistant to Elizabeth De Michelis at Cambridge University’s Dharam Hinduja Institute of Indic Research in 2002 – 03, setup by Hindujas in 199619.

The purpose of setting up Dharam Hinduja Institute of Indic Research by Hindujas in Cambridge, UK20 is no doubt noble. But the problem comes when no one monitors the output such chair produce. In some way Hindujas are responsible for Mark Singleton’s works. Those who follow Sri Rajiv Malhotra knows what I am talking about. It’s high time that our business men/women spend their money in India rather than outside.

Another such work is “Yoga in Modern India: The Body between Science and Philosophy” by Joseph S. Alter, in which he says that Eugene Sandow, who is considered as the Father of Modern Body Building, influenced the Yoga practice in the West more than Swami Vivevekananda or Sri Aurobindo21

This book by Alter got endorsement from Elizabeth De Michelis, former director of Dharam Hinduja Institute of Indic Research, Cambridge University, another scholar in the same wave length. The book also was given “Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize” of Association of Asian Studies in 2006  

So, on one side we have people saying that Yoga is antithetical to Christians as it invokes Satan within and discourage people from practicing Yoga and on the other side there are people who attempt to delink Yoga from Hinduism/India and fit it into different frame works like Christian, Modern, Scientific and Western. One can find several such works.

A few of you might know about the “Take Yoga Back” campaign of “The Hindu American Foundation” launched in 200822. I am not sure about how successful they are but, this certainly is an indicator that things are getting out of hand and if we don’t act now, we might lose Yoga to west as part of their cultural appropriation which has been continuing for the last 2000 years. Once parts of Yoga that are not antithetical to Christianity gets appropriated into Christian/Western/Modern/Scientific frame work, Yoga will simply remain as another fitness regimen

Yoga – Hinduism = Exercise/Gymnastics

Please watch this video of Sri Rajiv Malhothra speaking in Philadelphia, PA, USA on the occasion of 2nd International Yoga Day, about the same topic

I will now try to explain a possible case of Yoga Digestion in a few simple steps

      1. Āsana is separated from Yoga and is practiced strictly as a fitness regimen
      2. Āsana is made synonymous to Yoga
      3. Remove all the references to Hinduism and Indian culture from Yoga/ Āsana and secularize it
      4. Get patents for different āsanas
      5. Sponsor researchers who try and fit Yoga/ Āsana in to scientific/modern framework
      6. Slowly add Christian concepts and Christianize Yoga
      7. Popularize Christian Yoga
      8. Try and establish that Yoga originated from West and not India using the powerful Western Academic Institutions, Media houses, Sepoys23, Literary Festivals, Movies, TV etc
      9. Not just unlink Hinduism and Yoga but also demonize Hinduism about its role in Yoga
      10. Yoga, even though the name remains so, will not have any thing to do with original Yoga. It becomes another saleable commodity in the fitness industry
      11. This distorted Yoga is exported back to India
      12. Digestion completed

Please read Rajivji’s description of Digestion, given in the beginning and now it shall make lot more sense

On one side we have Yoga Gurus from India travelling all over the world and propagating Yoga and on the other hand we have a few Western scholars who are hell bent on proving that Yoga is their own. Our Gurus are bothered about the well being of the mankind and these scholars claiming ownership of Yoga, getting patents, package it, sell it and make billions of dollars.

Now the next logical question would be – “Why is West hell bent on appropriating not just Yoga but several other indigenous cultures”? The answer lies in another concept introduced by Sri Rajiv Malhotra, “Western Universalization”. My next articles elaborates about this

Please also read the third and last part of this series, “Why Should Hindus Assert that Yoga is Hindu? – 2

I strongly recommend every one concerned about Hindu Dharma and Bharathiya Civilization to follow Sri Rajiv Malhotra on social media and read his books

FaceBook: @RajivMalhotra.Official
Twitter: @RajivMessage
Youtube: Rajiv Malhotra

Author: Ranjith Vadiyala
Twitter: @RanjithDharmic
FaceBook: Ranjith Vadiyala

Don’t forget to share this article on social media should you like this.


    1. (Accessed on 25th June 2016 at 7.45 PM)
    2. The Gospel of Jesus: In Search of His Original Teachings” – by John Davidson – 2004
    3. [ (Accessed on 25th June 2016 at 9.55 PM)]
    4. Mithraism – This is most likely Soura matham, one of our shanmathas as Mithra is one of the Samskrutham name for Surya
    5. (Accessed on 26th June 2016 at 1.25 AM)
    6. “What the Church Has Hidden from Us” – by Russ Miner
    7. [ (Accessed on 26th June 2016 at 1.45 PM)]
    8. Sanskrit Non – Translatables is again a term coined by Sri Rajiv Malhotra. He has a whole chapter on this in his path breaking book “Being Different”. He says we must not translate certain Samskrutham vocabulary into English as they cannot carry the same meaning as the original. Please read “Being Different” to understand this. For example Aatma ≠ Soul God ≠ Iswhar/Bhagavan/Brahman
    9. (Last accessed on 30th June 2016 at 2 AM)
    10. (Last accessed on 30th June 2016 at 2. 10 AM)
    11. (Last accessed on 30th June 2016 at 2. 15 AM)
    12. (Last accessed on 30th June 2016 at 2. 30 AM)
    13. (Last accessed on 30th June 2016 at 2. 35 AM)
    15. Bowing to Yoga by Armin Weidle – Page 61[]
    16. (Last accessed on 1st July 2016 at 4.40 PM)
    17. Yoga Body by Mark Singleton – Page 5 (Oxford Press)
    18. (Last accessed on 1st July 2016 at 5. 30 PM)
    19. Read this article of Sri Rajiv Malhotra on this subject:
    20. (Accessed last on 28th June 2016 at 3 PM)
    21. (Accessed last on 28th June 2016 at 3 PM)
    22. Yoga in Modern India: The Body between Science and Philosophy – Page 28 – 2004
    23. (Last accessed on 29th June 2016)
    24. Another term coined by Sri Rajiv Malhotra. During British Raj, several Indians joined their army and fought for the British against Indians and were called sepoys. In today’s time there are several so called intellectuals doing the same and Sri Rajiv Malhotra calls them sepoys