Inaugurating the first international conference on yoga for holistic health in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cautioned against turning yoga into a commodity.
Speaking at the government-sponsored International Conference on Yoga for Holistic Health to mark the first International Yoga Day, Modi said, “Turning yoga into a business will do immense damage to it. Yoga is not a commodity, yoga is not a brand. It belongs to the whole world…there should not come a day when we see boards and banners proclaiming — ‘This is where real yoga is taught’.”
With an aim to get his message across to the larger international community, Modi — speaking predominantly in English — thanked all countries for responding to India’s call for celebrating yoga’s global recognition.
“I am grateful to the international community for the support. I acknowledge, with all humility, that this support is not just for India. This support is for the great tradition of yoga…Yoga cuts across differences of class, colour and creed,” he said.
The Prime Minister also released commemorative coins of Rs 10 and Rs 100 and postage stamps on the occasion.
While the Congress party attacked the event as a “shameless attempt” by the BJP government to usurp yoga, Modi said the entire global community should be credited with the success of yoga’s popularity.
“International Yoga Day is not the brainchild of a government or of the United Nations. It is a reflection of the largest knowledge-based peoples’ movement the world has ever seen,” he said.
In his 30-minute speech, Modi drew references from a range of ancient texts like the Gita and the Upanishads and also spoke about historic figures like Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo.
“Can you imagine it was Aurobindo who had predicted, 75 years ago, that yoga will be practised by the masses,” he said
He even underlined yoga’s importance in the fight against climate change. “The world’s ecology is threatened by human greed. Yoga shows the way to consumption that is healthy, balanced, and in tune with nature,” the Prime Minister said.