The Lakulish Yoga University, the first such varsity in Gujarat, got its first Muslim students on Thursday, since its inauguration in April 2013 by Narendra Modi, the then chief minister.
Seated in the second row, Mohammad Sadiq and Imran Khan, both 30-year-old, attended the inaugural function of the current academic year with 25 other new students.
A brainchild of Narendra Modi, the university— located in a lotus-shaped building on Sarkhej-Gandhinagar road — was established under the Gujarat Private Universities Act 2009.
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“Pained” over some Muslim leaders objecting to the International Yoga Day celebrations, Mohammad and Imran said they decided to join the university after their “experience” with yoga. While Mohammad has enrolled himself for a 18-month postgraduate diploma yoga therapy course, Imran would be pursuing a three-year degree (BSc) course. Both had been roommates at a hostel on Relief Road.
“I was shocked when on the opposition by a section of Muslim leaders, the government declared that surya namaskar would not be a part of the yoga day celebrations. Surya namaskar is the essence of yoga, without it, yoga would be like the body without a soul,” said Imran.
In pursuit of his passion, Imran quit his job at an Ahmedabad-based animation company, where he was earning Rs 25,000 a month, and also motivated his friend Mohammad, a final-year student of chartered accountancy who was working with a CA besides teaching accountancy at a tuition centre in Juhapura.
While Imran wants to popularise yoga among his community in towns and villages, Mohammad plans to open a yoga school. “I saw Imran practising yoga and meditation in the room… he used to wake up early and sleep late at night, despite this he was more energetic and positive towards life than me,” said Mohammad.
Their parents initially opposed their decision of taking admission in the yoga university. “My father is a bit short tempered and also very religious, so convincing him was the most difficult task, but with the support of my mother, we did this,” said Imran, who turned towards yoga after he saw his mother feeling relieved after performing several asanas.
While Imran’s family stays at their ancestral house in Patan, he moved to Ahmedabad in 2008. His father runs a garage. In the beginning, he started practising yoga at his small hostel room and also pursued two short courses for it in Ahmedabad — at Yog Sadhna ashram in Paldi and Shivanand Ashram in Satellite. Imran has been practising it since last six months.
Mohammad, who belongs to Wankaner in Rajkot district, too faced objections from his family. “I will soon be completing my CA, so my parents wanted me to concentrate towards it. When I was able to convince them that I would continue my studies along with yoga, they agreed to it,” he shared. His father is retired principal of Indian Training Institute (ITI) in Wankaner.
Lakulish Yoga University, its vice-chancellor Dr Bansidhar Upadhyay, said: “Yoga does not discriminate on the basis of religion, community, country or age, so who are we to differentiate among religions. It is a real proud moment for the university that we have Muslim students as well on our campus”.
The preparation for the yoga day celebrations of June 21 is keeping the entire university on its toes, as it is the nodal agency undertaking the training of the participants, including the state ministers and bureaucrats. The faculty of the university is also conducting one-hour training session through Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG) to schools and colleges in the state.
“The two-day training session for ministers in Gandhinagar has been completed, while another four-day session has started Wednesday for the bureaucrats at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar,” said one of the faculty members Poojaba Jadeja who has conducted training of all the ministers.