A woman practices yoga at a public park ahead of World Yoga Day, in Ahmedabad, India, June 14, 2015. World Yoga Day is celebrated on June 21. (Reuters Photo/Amit Dave)

Indian Embassy Invites Jakarta to a Quest for Balanced Mind, Body on International Yoga Day


JUNE 19, 2015

The popularity in Indonesia of the television serial Mahabharata based on the Indian epic has given a new fillip to cultural contacts between India and Indonesia.

The Ramayana and Mahabharata are both revered in the archipelago and have many connotations that are culturally preserved with great care and dignity. The Arjuna statue outside the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta shows Lord Krishna and Arjunain a impressive chariot. The Ramayana and Mahabharata were early records of the practice of yoga which is now recognized internationally with a declaration of June 21 as the International Day of Yoga by the UN General Assembly.

Yoga, as a science, was known a millenia ago prior to the institutionalization of religious beliefs. The Sage Agastyawho is equally revered in Indonesia and India, was an important Saint, who evolved a culture through following a life based on yoga. Such cultural linkages of human endeavour to stay healthy through a yogic way of life are known to exist across cultures globally. The ancient evolution of yoga through the Indus Valley Civilization and also through the folk traditions of Southern Asia were conceptualized by Maharishi Patanjali, a knowledgeable Seer who wrote the first treatise of yoga, called Yoga Sutra. Yoga thence developed into many streams through different yoga Masters and Gurus and spread to different parts of the world.

Prime Minister Modi said in the UN General Assembly in September 2014 that yoga is an invaluable gift of ancient Indian tradition. It embodies a unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature and a holistic approach to health and well-being. Yoga is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with ourselves, the world and nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us to deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.

This appeal was widely accepted and 177 countries, including India and Indonesia, co-sponsored a Resolution to mark June 21 as International Day of Yoga. The Resolution took cognizance of yoga as a complete approach to good health, prevention of disease, maintenance of good health and life style management which could create fulsome health for an individual and his social milieu.

The International Day of Yoga has a core objective to enhance our desire for good health and wellness in our own lives. It also contributes to our ability to seek a balanced life and harmonious living between human beings and nature. This is extremely important as we seek to deal with challenges which are global. In the main, yoga is based on scientific principles which bring harmony in our minds and bodies. It is also a method for living in a healthy way. The term yoga emanates from the Sanskrit word “yujwhich,” implies unity or oneness.

A follower of yoga sees yoga as enjoining the consciousness of individuals with a more holistic universal consciousness. Similarly, yoga also infers a scientific knowledge which provides avenues for people to generate harmony between the mind and body which contributes to holistic health, happiness and prevention of disease. Yoga is intended to be a way of life for a person and provides ways for it and it complements their spiritual and religious beliefs.

Yoga acts through a person’s body, mind, emotions and energy. Karma Yoga is the initial yoga we all learn which relates to the human body and its exercises. JnanaYoga comes into play when the mind is brought into the practice of yoga. When people’s emotions are brought into play, BhaktiYoga emerges and Karma yoga is initiated when a person’s inner energies are activated.

These four categories of yoga provide a solution a person may seek and these are obtained from a guru, or Teacher, who would create a systematic combination of the four yogas. Traditionally there are 11 schools of yoga which use the four basic paths and create their own approach and practice albeit to attain the common goals of yoga.

A special logo has been devised for the International Day of yoga which is being celebrated at the UN, in India, Indonesia and many other countries. The special logo shows yoga for harmony and peace and depicts folded hands in a yogic posture which shows a union and brown and green leaves indicate the earth and nature while the blue is the symbol of water. The brightness of the logo symbolizes fire and the round Sun depicts inspiration and energy. All these together are expected to create harmony and peace for humanity which is the ultimate aim of the International Day of Yoga.

Celebrations of the International Day of Yoga are taking place for the first time this year since the Resolution was passed last December. The Embassy of India in Indonesia as part of its “Sahabat India: the Festival of India in Indonesia 2015,” is promoting activities on this important day. These activities will include the participation of yoga schools, yoga enthusiasts and many others interested in good health and harmony.

The event in Jakarta will take place between 6 a.m. and 8.30 a.m. at Plaza Selatan in the Gelora Bung Karno sports complex. Similar activities will also take place in Surabaya, East Java; Medan, North Sumatra; and Denpasar, Bali.

Gurjit Singh is the ambassador of India to Indonesia and Timor-Leste.