Debate over Yoga's Ownership

posted Nov 28, 2010, 8:21 PM by Avadhoot Dandekar   [ updated Jan 16, 2011, 8:12 AM by Avadhoot Dandekar ]

There is a strong debate going on over the branding and ownership of Yoga. The group of Indian-Americans has spurred a fierce debate by starting a campaign labeled, 'Take Back Yoga'. The group behind this campaign, Hindu American Foundation, has only suggested that people around the globe become more aware of Yoga's debt to the faith's ancient traditions that is Hinduism. Aseem Shukla, the foundation's co-founder says, "In a way our issue is that Yoga has thrived, but Hinduism has lost control of the brand". The New York Times quoted him as saying this. The very survival of the brand today is because nobody controls it and nobody owns it. Had it been copyrighted it would have died its own death long back. The only greatness of this ancient heritage is that it is Universal. Yoga can be a birthright but it can never be a copyright. Even in the Ancient India the whole credit does not go only to Sage Patanjali. Many sages have preached it, but much of the credit goes to him because he has almost made it into a Science, an inner science. I am against anything that is not scientific. The only difference I am making is that Yoga is an Inner Science, a subjective science. Religion is a subjective science and not an objective science for the simple reason that it cannot be produced in a lab. It can only be created in the inner lab of a human being. It can be felt and experienced. The human being himself has to become a lab. The very thinking of the founders of Yoga was that it should remain in everybody's reach. It should never be controlled. It should never be branded. Through Yoga a person may become a Yogi but that does not mean Yoga as a form belongs only to him. He does not become the owner. We cannot make Yoga as a product and create an organization that will market it and brand it. And it will have all the paraphernalia of salesmen and business development managers and accountants accounting for profit and loss account and balance sheet. This is ugly. But Yoga can become a methodology for the inner explosion of our Consciousness. And this experience can be shared with those interested to walk on that path. As an experience it can be shared. One may become a Yogi on the path. But that is totally a different phenomenon. That does not mean he becomes the owner and proprietor. In that sense Yoga is everybody's birthright and nobody's copyright. Yoga simply means becoming one with our own being and becoming one with the being of the whole Universe. My being is dissolved in the being of the whole creation. Now I am no more what is left out is that pure Universal Being. This is Non-duality and this is transcendence. So Yoga can become a trance. Samadhi means trance. The ultimate stage is trance. What is left out is a pure awareness and pure consciousness. 

Just hypothetically think of this situation. Had Sage Patanjali copyrighted his path of Yoga and asked all the people on this path, the past, present and the future, just one penny from them for every form or Asana, what would have happened? The Patanjali Foundation would have become far bigger and greater than the Nobel Foundation and the Patanjali Prize would have become far bigger and prestigious than the Nobel Prize. Every chosen Yogi for the Patanjali Prize would have become a billionaire instantly. No. This was not the very aim of this beautiful art. It is an ancient heritage. It is an ancient art and science. It has to be preserved. The enthusiasts and seekers will preserve it in some way or the other. This ancient art has to become Universal without any proprietary tag and syntax. The very branding will make the art ugly and phony. Today it is a pastime of a very few who are courageous and risk-taking. But the good thing is that this community is growing very fast. The only beauty of this art is that it is growing and proliferating in all its forms. Today it is fast becoming Universal for the simple reason that it is a comprehensive methodology. It is whole and holy. It begins with our body and culminates in our Buddha-hood. Today Yoga and Zen are like a wild-fire. You cannot stop them. Just to avoid hyperbole and proprietary tags the Patanjali Sutras have been passed on through verbal tradition since time immemorial. Any art, the moment we bring in control it becomes an ugly thing. Do you know why the ancient Indian language Sanskrit has absolutely become extinct today? Why it has died its own death? The simple reason is that a few people wanted to make it proprietary. They wanted to make it as their own property. They wanted to make it their own brand and a monopoly. Prakrit is our natural language. Sanskrit is our designed language. It was designed by the Sages to capture every experience of the divine and still the same can be communicated through language and words to the best extent possible to those interested. But this is only to the best extent possible. No divine experience can be communicated through any language or text. But it can only take to the closest. A thirsty can be taken to the well of the divine. But he has to drink the divine on his own. It can only be a pointer. It is just like pointing a finger towards a moon. All expressions and forms are only indicative of that formless which is always beyond. It will always remain beyond. One community called Brahmins of the ancient past has claimed that the Sankrit language belongs to them and only they are the custodians and preservers. They wanted to have a monopoly and they wanted to control. Look at the tragedy. What happened? The Sanskrit language almost becomes extinct. But see the consequences. All the Upanishads and other beautiful scriptures have been lost. The language belonged to the Upanishadic sages and Buddhas. The only objective was to convey the existential experience in the form of words to its most nearest. To convey it to the best extent possible so that it could become a triggering point in the mind and heart of a disciple on the path of Yoga. 

The ultimate experience of a Yogi is that of Brahma. Brahma means an infinite awareness and consciousness. The experience is boundless and ever expanding. Beyond and beyond is its only journey. You ask the physicists and cosmologists, they say that the whole existence is ever expanding. It is not only ever expanding but it is ever accelerating. This truth can be experienced by a Yogi in his own inner being when he authentically moves on the path of Yoga and Meditation. And only such Yogi who has experienced Brahma can be truly called a Brahmin. The Upanishads say, “Aham Brahmasmi”. I can only be Brahma and I cannot be anything otherwise. This is the whole truth behind this discipline of Yoga. It is an awesome and beautiful art and science. It must be preserved and not controlled. It should remain everybody's birthright and nobody's copyright. Only this way it can grow and proliferate. This is what Osho has done through all his talks and discourses. All his 600 plus volumes of discourses and transcriptions indicate towards that One, eternal and Divine experience. This was the way of all the Buddhas. He was the recent most Buddha that the history in time has reckoned. 

Now let us come back to Hinduism. All 'isms' are wrong. They are all tight water compartments. They are all slotted. Look at all the civilizations. They all settled on the banks of a river. For all settlers water was a basic necessity. It is even today. It becomes the very life source. So they all wanted to be near the water. And hence they all settled on the bank of the rivers. The ancient India too settled on the banks of a river called 'Indu'. The ancient Indians lived the life that is most natural. Their living was almost in tune with the nature. The nature of Nature was their nature. Their living was almost in tune and sync with nature. This was their way of living, almost natural. It was as if nature was flowing and flowering through them. They were moving with nature. They were nurturing nature. This was their Religion and this was their Dharma. The Sanskrit meaning of the word religion is Dharma. Dharma means the innate nature. Dharma means the nature of the Nature. Dharma means a way of the existence. Dharma means the very nature of the existence. Dharma means the very nature of the creation and creator. But they did not want to name it. They did not want to tag it. They did not want to philosophize it. They did not want to conceptualize it. Forget about branding. Branding is far and far away from it. But visitors from other part of the globe visited ancient India. They saw their way of living. When they went back to their own place they wanted to share their experiences. They had no other way but to give some name. They simply said Hindus that is those who are living on the bank of the river ‘Indu’. This word ‘Indu’ metamorphosed and became ‘Hindu’. The same word ‘Hindu’ and ‘Indu’ is now known as ‘Indian’. Today that ancient Hindu nation is called India. The people who lived in this continent were called Hindus and their religion Hinduism. This was the true meaning of Hinduism. But that original meaning has been lost over a period of time. This is the tragedy of change. Sometimes the true meaning is lost. Today it is bracketed. It is a tight-water compartment. Today it is slotted. But whatever may be the case the original meaning must be understood and preserved. This is the true meaning of Hinduism and the Hindu spirit. Today every Indian wants to be known as a Global Indian but with the same original spirit as a Hindu. Yoga means union and not division. ‘Hindu Religion’ simply means an Universal order but not as a cast or creed or sect. Hindus means the ancient civilization of India that knew the order of the Universe. They experienced and knew the ultimate law of the Universe. That order they called Religion. That is the reason every Indian today simply wants to be called himself an Indian but a Global Indian. But he wants to preserve his ancient heritage in the form of Yoga and Upanishads for the future benefit of the mankind. This he wants to preserve without any branding. That is the reason the ancient scriptures like Vedas and Upanishads have no authors. They did not believe in these ugly things like copyright, branding, etc. That is the reason why they are called revealed knowledge. 

The social scientists are saying that many old languages die and many new languages are born. Look at the world of computers and information technology. Many new languages are born and many old languages become irrelevant. If we go into the research we will come to know that a language dies if it is made a copyright or propriety. It dies its death if it is controlled and branded. This is how Java and .Net may die in its current form slowly if it is not made open. The whole world of computers and Information Technology is becoming open source. An open language will be a defacto language of the future computing. Computer scientists are talking about writing the web from the very scratch because of the gap between syntax and semantics. If I say Bank to a computer in one part of the globe the other computer in the other part of the globe should give the same meaning. We do not know today whether it means a bank of a river or a financial institution. The syntax and semantics should mean the same then only it will have some meaning. Take another example. I tell a computer with this syntax: "I love you". I can write this in two ways. One is in pure text that is what is written here before. Secondly I can use a heart symbol in between the two words ‘I’ and ‘You’. Now we do not know what the computer will read. It can either say I love you or I hurt you. Both these possibilities exist. If the future computers are to be used for a higher purpose the syntax and semantics have to undergo change. This is the reason why the computer scientists are proposing of writing the computers from the very scratch. This was the reason of the Upanishadic sages in designing a language called Sanskrit. It was designed in text to convey the inner divine and existential experience in words and texts to its most nearest. Now English is a simple and widely spoken language. It is fast becoming a global language. Apart from having a native and a national language we need to have a global language. It must be a common global platform of communication for the entire world. The net has to be made neutral. It cannot be made proprietary. The Sanskrit language may again come back with full force. Nothing can be said. According to the computer scientists the most suitable language for the computers is Sanskrit. This possibility will always remain. Let there be a healthy discussion in everything. 

Let Yoga be dynamic. Let it flow and grow. The very meaning of Yoga is union and not division. Let us not divide it between mine and yours. Let it become Universal. The very meaning of Yoga is union with the Divine. Yoga means the realization of the Atma (Soul) in the physical body and becoming one with the Universal soul or Supreme soul called Paramatma. Let it remain Individual and Indivisible. Let it not become personal and proprietary. Then only it will grow and proliferate. Moreover, what is the purpose? The purpose is that it should help the whole of humanity. Let it bring the Global Community under one common platform for higher evolution of the Consciousness. Let me share with you one more secret of Yoga. If you ask me, everything in the existence is undergoing Yoga, whether it is matter or non-matter, living or non-living. Yoga means movement. Yoga means change. Yoga means mutation. Yoga means transformation. It can be done knowingly or unknowingly. It can be done consciously or unconsciously. All the movements that are happening in us or in existence are a form of Yoga. When we do it consciously we call it Yoga and when we don't do it consciously we don't give it that name. That’s all. But from the side of the existence that Yoga is happening. The whole purpose of existence is to bring the yang and yin energies together. The whole intention of existence is to bring the Shiva and Shakti energies together. The whole aim of existence is to bring the Sun and Moon energies together. The whole objective of Yoga is to bring the ‘He’ and ‘She’ energies together. The ultimate objective of existence is to bring the Active and Passive energies together. All movement is towards this goal. And the balance is the union and is transcendental. But when we do it consciously it is more meaningful. So in all our movements we are undergoing Yoga. This is the Universal change that is happening. Yoga cannot be made proprietary by making it Hot or Sexy. All Power is for Prayer. All energy is for transformation. All energy is potential. All energy is in a state of flux. It is in a state of Kunda that is coiled and potential. All seeds are potential. You ask a quantum physicist he will say that all photons in the existence are potential photons. All labels are libelous when it comes to the true nature of Yoga. Let whatever be the adjective before any form of Yoga, the essence of Yoga cannot be diluted. The essence or fragrance will have to be preserved eternally. It will remain eternal without any doubt. There are many seeds and they will all flower. There can be many gardens to sow these seeds and help them flower. All photons and all the strings in the existence are potential photons and potential strings and moving towards their ultimate destination that is the inner flowering of their consciousness. I am convinced that the seed of Yoga is imperishable and immortal. Yoga is immortal and deathless. Let Yoga remain Universal and Divine.