New Delhi: The BJP-led NDA seems to have landed into a fresh controversy over yoga yet again. If it was controversy over “Surya Namaskar” last year, this year it’s over the proposal to chant “Om” and a “Sanskrit shloka” on the International Yoga Day on June 21. Cutting across party lines, the Opposition has accused the Centre of trying to push through its “communal agenda” through yoga.
The ministry of Ayush under health ministry has proposed “Om” chanting and recital of some Vedic mantras before the 45-minute yoga session to be performed as part of the International Yoga Day. A common yoga protocol approved and circulated by the ministry of ayush said: “Yogic practice shall start with a prayer or prayerful mood to enhance benefits of the practice.”
A debate was also raging over a letter issued by the UGC, asking vice-chancellors of all universities to “ensure wide participation of students and teachers” on yoga day. The letter, issued by the publication officer, website division, UGC, Jaspal S. Sandhu states, “You are also requested to ensure these activities in the affiliated colleges.”
He concludes the letter saying, “I request your personal indulgence in celebrating yoga day... on June 21 in a befitting manner.” Senior Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit lashed out at the government, saying, “Chanting Om seems suspicious because the word Om has inclinations towards one particular religion. It is silly to impose the Om chanting and the whole debate about it being scientifically important stands no relevance.”
However, Anil Kumar Ganeriwala, joint secretary, ministry of ayush, said that “nothing has been changed in the Yoga protocol (since what was issued last year).”