One group, the Hindu American Foundation, has launched a “Take Back Yoga” campaign to address what they see as a fundamental disconnect between yoga and Hinduism.
Sheetal Shah, senior director at the foundation, says the group started the campaign when it noticed that while “Vedic,” “tantric” and many other words appeared regularly in yoga magazines, the word “Hindu” was never mentioned.
So, the foundation called up one of the country’s most popular magazines to ask why.
"They said the word ‘Hinduism’ has a lot of baggage," Shah says. "And we were like, ‘Excuse me?’ "
Shah says she understands why some people have a problem with linking yoga and Hinduism. Many American practitioners associate the practice with something pure and serene, she says. But when they think of Hinduism, she says, they think of “multiple gods, with multiple heads and multiple arms. Colorful [and] ritualistic.
It may be difficult for people to see how these things fit together, Shah says.
With the Take Back Yoga campaign, the Hindu American Foundation is hoping for broader acknowledgment that yoga has Hindu philosophical roots — while also emphasizing that it is universal and appropriate for everyone.
"What we’re trying to say is that the holistic practice of yoga goes beyond just a couple of asanas [postures] on a mat. It is a lifestyle, and it’s a philosophy," Shah says.
"How do you lead your life in terms of truthfulness? And nonviolence? And purity? The lifestyle aspect of yoga," Shah says, "has been lost."
At the end of prayers and pujas, it’s routine for devotees to call out a small praise or recite the many names of Bhagvan. So, for my posts, I always add a small praise to Bhagvan (God), depending on which facet of Bhagvan was guiding me through the question or was on my mind whilst answering.
For the question that I ended with “Jai Bum Bhole!”, or “Jai Bhole Nath!” I was thinking of Lord Shiva. Bum is the one of the beej (seed/root) mantras to Lord Shiva. Bhole Nath is one of the 108 names of Lord Shiva which means the ‘Kind Hearted One’.
Jai means ‘victory to…’, ‘praises to…’ or ‘reverence to…’. For example:
Jai Sri Krishna (which I use a lot) means ‘Praises to Lord Krishna’.
Jai Bajrangbali means ‘Victory to Lord Hanuman’ (He with the strength of a diamond).
Jai Bhavani Maa means ‘Reverence to Mother Durga’ (She like the abode of the universe).
I hope I’ve helped!
Jai Ambe Maa! (Victory to gentle Mother Durga!)
The traditional Sanskrit OM is symbolic of Hinduism, while other variations of the OM are often symbolic of other religious streams that have taken on the OM from its Hindu roots. However, since India has thousands of languages, there are regional variations of the symbol. The Devanagari writing (Hindi) of OM is either ‘ओं’ or more commonly ‘ॐ’. Other Hindu OM variations are found in Bengali, Assamese and Oriya script, Grantha script, Tamil script, Telugu script and Malayalam script.
Such various other symbols from certain regions may be written in their particular script, but they also connote a religion different from Hinduism. This includes the Sikh ‘Ik Omkar’ written in Gurmukhi script, the Buddhist OM written in differing Tibetan, Balinese, Javanese and Siddham scripts, and lastly the variation of the Jain OM.
If your intent is to display your faith in Hinduism, be careful in choosing which OM you will use, as some OMs connote Sikhism, Buddhism or Jainism.
I hope I’ve helped!
Jai Bum Bhole!