NEW WEBSITE: www.ephesians-511.net
APRIL 2008 UPDATED NOVEMBER 2010
AN ENTIRE CATHOLIC SCHOOL GOES THE YOGA WAY
SURYA NAMASKAR, PRANAYAMA, YOGA ASANAS AND YOGIC MEDITATION
AT ST. PETER’S COLLEGE, AGRA, UTTAR PRADESH
This ministry has become accustomed to receiving information about the infiltration of the New Age — including forms of Eastern meditation like vipassana and yoga — into Catholic schools and colleges, but this one simply floored me.
At St. Peter’s College, Agra, YOGA — along with the allied Hindu practices of SURYA NAMASKAR and PRANAYAMA — has become virtually institutionalized, enshrined as it were in the school’s curriculum.
It isn’t confined to a weekly yoga class or a summer camp as in many Catholic schools. It’s there, on a pedestal, the center of all activity and life on the campus, and the credit goes to one enterprising priest, Reverend Father John Ferreira, the balding Principal of the school. [He teaches that doing Suryanamaskara “prevents loss of hair.” Maybe he started late.]
Before we examine the yoga epidemic at St Peter’s, permit me to remind the reader that on this ministry’s website there are two major articles on yoga, each of around one hundred pages in size, one of them dealing in depth with the issues of Surya Namaskar [or Sun Salutation, which is tantamount to veneration/worship of creation] and Pranayama, the breathing technique that manipulates prana [the Vedic equivalent of the Taoist Ch’i, Ki or Qi] or the divine cosmic energy that is in all and is all. The website also hosts two shorter versions of the articles which present sufficient evidence for a genuine seeker of the truth about these ancient pre-Christian practices. And there is the one on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his brand of yoga.
Even if one were to dismiss my compilation of scores of articles and statements from Theological Commissions, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and eminent lay writers on New Age themes, and of course the evangelical Protestants who do not tolerate even the slightest breath of such dark works, one has to confront two Vatican Documents: The Letter to The Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation [October 15, 1989] and the Provisional Report, Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life, A Christian Reflection on the New Age [February 3, 2003], both of which mention yoga.
The former, as its title suggests, discusses the potential dangers of eastern meditation systems as against the practice of genuine Christian meditation. I forgot to mention that yoga is a meditation, one of many Hindu margas or paths to enlightenment, self-realization, or a monistic union with the Divine, a SPIRITUAL goal, which is the reason that Church has spoken officially on it. Twice. Obviously, if the art of yoga weren’t a potential
SPIRITUAL danger to those faithful who might be led to adopt its practices and imbibe its philosophies, Holy Mother Church would not have gone to the trouble of issuing Documents that might provoke anti-Christian sentiments among its millions of Hindu protagonists the world over.
But it is not just the Hindu yogis, the gurus and their chelas who might be offended by such warnings from Rome [these were the exact words of the secular press in reporting the first Document]. There are many Christians who defend the practice of yoga as if it were a Christian tradition, and there are other Indian Christians who believe that inculturating their Christian Faith requires that they adopt everything that their forefathers rejected centuries earlier when they got baptized.
There are still others, especially not a few in Catholic lay ministry, who will not touch the issue with a ten-foot barge pole.
They do not want to tread on episcopal toes and risk endangering the security and acceptance of their popular ministries.
There are now simply too many Indian Bishops who themselves practice yoga on a daily basis, who write forewords for books on yoga, who speak favorably about yoga as a beneficial Indian spiritual hand-me-down that must be gratefully adapted and adopted in the spirit of Nostra Aetate [#n. 2], who don’t know [whether yoga is a no-no or not for Catholics], or who believe that yoga may not be practised by Catholics but who lack the courage to say it openly.
A few believe that — notwithstanding the two Documents — Church teaching on the matter of yoga is still not final.
A common objection, one very popular among lay leaders and many priests, is that the February 3, 2003 Provisional Report on the New Age is just that, a Provisional Report and not a full-fledged binding and legal Document.
[They remind me of some Catholics who argue that the Documents of Vatican Council II are not “dogmatic” but “pastoral” in nature, so hinting that they are not fully legitimate and binding on the faithful!]
They insinuate, therefore, that there is every possibility that the three dicasteries of the Holy See that brought out that Provisional Report [PR] might just decide that yoga after all is okay for Catholics, and where would they be if they had insisted otherwise? This is sure evidence of compromise.
It stands to reason that these Documents are signed by the Prefects of the Roman Congregations after much prayer, research and discussion carried on over a period of several years, and any follow-up pronouncement to the PR would only reaffirm and amplify — not deny or retract — any statements made earlier.
In addition to the four reports on our website, another major report with still more evidence on the spiritual dangers of yoga, is under preparation. So, in this report, we will not examine the individual issues of Suryanamaskar, yoga and its asanas, and pranayama. Rather, back to St. Peter’s.
ST. PETER’S COLLEGE ANNUAL CALENDAR, 2008
The strikingly large [17″ x 22″], colorful and definitely expensive calendar is unique for an educational institution.
It is dedicated to SURYANAMASKARA and, I believe, to the Principal Fr John Ferreira whose 5.5″ x 4″ photograph graces the front page below twelve silhouettes of various yoga poses and the quotation from the Hindu holy book, the Rig Veda, “O Shining One, O Sun Far Seen… The Remover Of All Weakness, Healer Of All Ills…”
The rest of the page is reserved to explaining
What is Suryanamaskara?
At the bottom of the page, the priest has affixed his name and designation as a guarantee of authority for its contents.
Let me excerpt some lines for the reader to appreciate the seriousness of the problem:
“Suryanamaskara is a complete ‘sadhana’ in itself that has been handed down to us from the sages of the Vedic times.
It contains asanas, pranayama and meditation techniques within the main structure of its practice. It primarily is a pre yogic exercise that prepares the body for yogic asanas.” “In this modern day, fast paced life, where time is the major crunch,” Fr. Ferreira recommends practicing Suryanamaskara daily for 15 minutes, “together with 5 minutes of Shavasana”.
I wonder about the fate of the Catholic children entrusted by parents to the care of this priest. I wonder how much, if ever, he talks to them about prayer-nayama instead of pranayama, the Holy Bible, the Catholic Faith, the Sacraments;
I wonder how much importance is given to Holy Mass, to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and the Blessed Sacrament — the Creator of the Surya, and by Whose stripes we are healed.
I wonder if this priest has ever witnessed to the non-Christian students the reason for his being a Catholic and a priest.
I wonder if he has ever told them that what they and everybody else needs is more of the Son, not more of the sun.
He declared 2008 as the “Year of Health” through Suryanamaskar and Yoga, and ends, “Let us together bow in reverence and gratitude to the supreme, dynamic, ever healing touch of Suryanamaskara.”
Bow in reverence, supreme, ever healing? If that is not worship and glory and honor due solely to the Creator but given to His creation, the breaking of the First Commandment, I do not know what is.
Each page-month of the calendar is in honor of one yoga or sun salutation posture with 9″ x 12″ photographs of school children doing the asanas.
The priest reveals that he did his “teacher’s training in Yoga” under “Swami Satyananda Saraswat, a great yogi of the Bihar School of Yoga“.
THE SCHOOL NEWSPAPER, ‘THE PETERIAN CHIMES’, VOL. 3, ISSUE 4, FEBRUARY 2008
An examination of this black-and-white twenty-two page newsletter reveals the school’s transfixation with yoga.
PAGE 1. From The Principal’s Desk. Advising students to “be your own doctor”, he quotes Jesus as saying, “The Kingdom of God is within you“. Immediately following he quotes a Dr. Krishna Murthy as saying, “You are the world“.
The only Krishna Murthy that a yogi would quote is J. Krishnamurti, yogi, occultist and Theosophist, adopted son of Annie Besant, a President of the Theosophical Society [TS].
In 1925, Ms. Besant claimed that Krishnamurti was the reincarnated Messiah. [However, Krishnamurti renounced this title in 1931 at the American headquarters of the Society in Krotana, California, and deserted Besant.]
In the PR on the New Age, Krishnamurti is listed at number 7 in the list of the world’s most influential New Agers.
The PR, in sections #2.1, 3.1, 7.2, states
Age of Aquarius
has such a high profile in the New Age movement largely because of the influence of theosophy… and their esoteric antecedents… The metaphysical component of New Age spirituality comes from its esoteric and theosophical roots, and is basically a new form of gnosis… Theosophy is an ancient term… The name was given new emphasis by the Theosophical Society… Theosophical mysticism tends to be monistic, stressing the essential unity of the spiritual and material components of the universe. It also looks for the hidden forces that cause matter and spirit to react, in such a way that human and divine minds eventually meet. Here is where theosophy offers mystical redemption or enlightenment.”
“The kingdom of God is WITHIN you”: the better translation is “The kingdom… is AMONG you”, Jesus’ words in Luke 17:21 [New American Catholic Bible], reportedly one of the Biblical verses that is most abused. [The Protestant King James Version gives it as “already in your midst”, in referring to “the reign of God.”]
“Within you” is acceptable if its meaning is understood correctly, but New Agers use it to support the teaching that we are gods but we don’t know it and this knowledge of one’s divine status must be realized by attaining enlightenment through techniques like yoga. It is a short journey from “seeing God” in others [Thou Art That, or Tat Tvam Asi] and believing that God is “within you”, to self-deification, “I am the Divine” [Aham Brahmasmi]. “You are the world“!
My research has found that Luke 17:21 is THE favorite Bible quote of every yogi, be he Hindu guru or Catholic priest.
EXAMPLE: In Own Your Power, An Aid for Awareness and Personal Growth, by Fr. Jose Mekat, S.J., [this priest was the Provincial of the Kerala Jesuits!] Claretian Publications, 1991, sold at St. Pauls bookshops, Jesus is mentioned only once, on the last page of the book, and then only to misuse the Word of God, quoting Him from the very same Luke 17:21, “The Kingdom of God is within you” to justify the teachings of his book, to “Own Your Power”.
Fr. Jose extensively employs New Age concepts like Jungian techniques, Gestalt Therapy, Rational Emotive Therapy, yoga, the yin and yang, the subtle body, astral tubes or nadis, the sushumna, the Law of Karma, mantras for meditation, etc.
His “Recommended Reading” list of 30 books is completely New Age with titles like Kundalini Yoga by
Swami Satyananda of
the Bihar School of Yoga, the guru of Fr. John Ferreira!;
The Banyan Tree by Sr. Carol Huss, MMS [the nun who established the Catholic New Age Holistic Health Centre in Bibwewadi, Pune, see separate report]; The I Ching or Chinese Book of Changes; Sadhana, by Swami Sivananda of the Divine Life Society, etc.
Fr. Ferreira of St. Peter’s writes, “It was Dr. Krishna Murthy who said that ‘You are the world’ – then if this be so, isn’t it clear that ‘innate power’ lies within each one of us. Power to change; power to steer our thoughts in the direction that we choose; the power to do wondrous things; the power to heal and the power to cure. It was rightly said by the great sage Patanjali of the Vedic times that all this and more can be achieved with the magic of Yoga. By following the eight fold path of Yoga i.e. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi. Civilized man can rediscover his zest for life through yoga says Dr. Krishna Murthy. Thus, if Yoga is the anathema of all evils why mustn’t we embrace [it] with both arms? Shouldn’t we open the windows of our thinking minds and spiritually lost souls and heal ourselves with the power of Yoga?
“…The practice of ‘Suryanamaskara’ – the pre-Yogic exercise as described in the Calendar released by us here is a gift to you dear citizens of Agra. Go through it and reap the benefits of this ancient art of healing… Let us shed the veil of ignorance, falsity and deceit and lay the foundations of a healthy India by embracing yoga – our legacy of ancient times.”
We note that Fr. Ferreira and Fr. Mekat, disciples of the same yogi, propagate a pursuit, harnessing and manipulation of the same esoteric [occult or hidden] power that operates in yoga and other New Age systems that is explained and strongly condemned in the PR on the New Age. One can give only what one possesses and what one believes in with all one’s heart.
For these two priests, and many others like them, yoga is literally their every breath. They can do nothing but promote it.
The School Calendar carries the following disclaimer, though I would call it a warning, across the center of EVERY page:
“Prior to starting Surya Namaskara kindly consult your physician and take the expert help of a Yoga Teacher. Please avoid these Asanas if you have High Blood Pressure or Slip-Disc [sic] problem.”
Please read the dozens of authoritative warnings, many from Hindu gurus and yogis themselves, apart from those issued by eminent Catholics including the present Pope Benedict XVI, about the extreme dangers — physical, mental and spiritual — that are associated with the practice of pranayama breathing and yoga, in the articles on our website.
If these practices are so fearfully dangerous that even Hindus must warn fellow-Hindus against them, why must Catholic children be trained in their ways by the very shepherds who are ordained to protect and nurture them?
There is grave concern among many, concerning the type of formation that is being given to would-be priests in our Indian seminaries [the subject of two forthcoming reports on the Papal Seminary, Pune, and the Pilar Seminary, Goa], which has seen a steady deterioration since the freedoms permitted by Vatican Council II [1962- 1965]. It is not surprising that a liberal teaching of theology has resulted in New Age alternatives to the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus, the Son of God, invested in His Church through His apostles [Matthew 16: 13-20, 18:18, 28:18-20; Ephesians 3: 7-11, 1 Timothy 3:15].
It easily follows that Fr. Ferreira can teach that “the anathema of all evils is Yoga”, the remedy for “spiritually lost souls” is yoga. It would be an insult to the non-Christian students of a Catholic school for a priest to insist that the cause of all evils is sin, and that Jesus came for the sole purpose of anathematizing sin and its physical, mental, spiritual and social effects, since all man’s attempts to find a solution, including yoga, are nothing but a futile salvation by works.
PAGE 2. St. Peter’s College’s 161st Sports Day. Sports were not the main event on Sports Day. Yoga was. I excerpt:
“Next on the agenda was ‘Yoga’ the highlight of the day. Across the ‘A’ field, the boys sat performing, for the audience, the various asanas of Suryanamaskara rhythmically with controlled breathing. Our Principal Rev. Fr. John Ferreira led the whole school in performing the Suryanamaskara. He directed the boys from the podium. For each position that the boys attained the Principal highlighted its beneficial effects. The silence across the field as the ‘asanas’ were performed with only the soothing voice of the Principal on the microphone, was evidence in itself that the people at large were keen to see what was happening and were desirous of learning more about this ancient art of healing.”
Comment by Mrs. Paramjeet Kaur [teacher?]: “The Yoga event was a spiritual experience.”
One photograph of the students doing yoga.
PAGE 8. Christmas. After the different items were put up, Santa Claus “distributed gifts and goodies”.
What did the students learn from this event that changed the course of history? Only what they were taught.
Fr. Ferreira: “We must empty out all the egoism* from within us and follow God’s path.” *typical New Age-speak.
Which God is Fr. Ferreira speaking of? A god that does not challenge the sin that is within us? Romans 3:23.
Were the students explained about the Incarnation of the Only Son of God, living not just in our hearts today, but born a man who raised the dead to life, yet suffered and died and rose again from the dead so that man may live eternally?
Parth Dixit, Somail Garg and Pranav Dawar of Class VII A wrote that the story “emphasized that God lived in our hearts“.
Isn’t that reminiscent of “The kingdom of God is WITHIN you”?
As the students wrote, “Jingling, mingling, tingling, we had a lot of fun… A rocking performance was given by the ‘Rhythmic Tempest’ a band of singers that had the boys thumping their feet.”
PAGES 16, 17, 18.
Yoga. ‘Expressions’ in the Creative Writing Class.
The three pages carry 7 photographs of the students doing various yogic exercises and several boxes extolling the virtues of yoga with drawings of the various asanas. There are no less than 78 submissions, mostly by students from Standards VI through XII, but also from a few adults [teachers?] identified as Mr. And Mrs. So-and-so. A few are reproduced here:
I do Yoga because
It gives me 30 minutes of Yogic essence and gives me the strength of the B.C. years in this 21st century. Abhishek Agarwal XI B
It calms my mind after the mad morning rush and refreshes me for the rest of the day. Mrs. Sossy Antony [Catholic]
It helps me to be happy, wealthy and healthy and gives me peace. Mrs. Dorris D’Cruze [Catholic]
It has been known to have great benefits since the Vedic times. Animesh Gupta IX C [Note: the Vedas are HINDU scripture]
It connects the soul to the body. Lovenish Agarwal XI C
Yoga to me is like
A phone number through which I can connect to God! Alim Dhanani XI B
The golden light from the Almighty’s hand that purifies my body. Meit Arun X A
Pranayama to me is like
Reincarnation of human spirit every morning. Ozair Ul Haq XI A
An endless train on its way to God… Arpit Gupta VII B
The chant of the Vedic Mantra of ancient times which leads the world into the magic of good health. Akshay Kulshreshtha
It seems that there is no let up in the indoctrination of students in yoga even in the classroom. Yoga-related subjects are given to the already brain-washed children and they are made to record their perceived positive experiences of them.
It is abundantly clear that, though Ferreira sometimes appears to be promoting Suryanamaskara, yoga and pranayama for physical well-being, they are spiritual exercises. The testimonies of adults like Mrs. Kaur and children like Alim and Meit bear witness to that. What is “the chant of the Vedic Mantra of ancient times” if not part of a pre-Christian religious ritual?
That the input at St Peter’s will lead to a search for deeper yoga experience, is confirmed by Mr. Sunil Mathrani who writes
that he joined “Baba Ramdev’s camp”. Since any form of physical exercise will result in a definite improvement physically, and to some extent mentally, those who benefit from doing the asanas [poses] and breathing exercises are potential candidates for a deeper immersion into and absorption of Hindu religious philosophies by gravitating to intensive yoga courses, gurus and books, many of which lead to the practice of higher forms of yoga like Raja Yoga and Kundalini Yoga.
While faithful Catholics have no issue with Hindus doing Yoga or Buddhists meditating with Vipassana and Zen, or Chi Kung [Ki Gong or Qi Gong, which is Chinese Yoga], all of which relate to their own individual religious traditions, there is a definite problem with baptized and professed Catholics doing any form of yoga or the other Eastern meditations, as such involvement inevitably leads to compromise on articles of Christian faith and the breaking of the First Commandment, “Thou shall have no other gods before Me” [Exodus 20:3].
PAGE 19. Republic Day. It seems that NO SCHOOL CELEBRATION AT ST. PETER’S EXCLUDES THE EIGHT-LIMBED [re. Page 18, the Eight Fold (sic) Path of Yoga] YOGA OCTOPUS. I quote:
“One of the highlights for St. Peter’s was the release of the calendar of 2008 by the Archbishop*. The calendar is on ‘Suryanamaskara’ – a pre yogic exercise… It contains various asanas, pranayamas and meditation techniques… The idea of the calendar was conceptualized [sic] by Rev. Fr. John Ferreira and Mrs. Roopa Gosain planned, organized and edited the calendar…” Mr. Sudhir Agarwal of Kamadhenu Industries sponsored the calendar.
Photograph shows a beaming Fr. Ferreira flanked by the Archbishop holding up a copy of the calendar, and Mr. Agarwal and Mrs. Gosain [editor of The Peterian Chimes] standing at the extremes. Even more sad news is that SIX other Catholic schools, including a Nursery school, were present at the calendar release function at which the Archbishop was chief guest.
YOGA HELPS: A PARENT SPEAKS.
The mother of Master Shubham Sharma, her passport-sized photograph provided, testifies with gratitude to the healing from severe cold and cough of her son “under the guidance of Fr. Ferreira”, and thanks him for his effort to “teach the students this great art of healing”.
Other Catholics prominently associated with St. Peter’s are: Rev. Fr. Robert Paladdy, the Vice-Principal, Rev. Fr. K. Mathew, the former Principal, Rev. Sr. Barsen, Rev. Bro. George Dominic, Mr. Harry Clarance, Mr. William Versh, Mrs. Pauline Francis, Miss Pansy Thomas. I wonder what their roles are, in this yoga saga.
Also, it can be expected that the students are being exposed to other New Age and inter-faith ideas and practices. On page 6 of the Chimes, there is mention of some students attending a “Seminar by Mr. Vijay Batra the Motivational Guru”.
*THE ARCHBISHOP OF AGRA
The previous Archbishop of Agra was Most Rev. Oswald Gracias, now a Cardinal, and with Bombay archdiocese.
Fr. John Ferreira is a very important person. He went to Rome, representing Agra Archdiocese at the Cardinal’s elevation.
In February 2007, Most Rev. Albert D’Souza, Bishop of Lucknow, was elevated as Archbishop of Agra. I have been sending my reports and miscellaneous greetings on special occasions to all the Bishops since many years now, and have received hundreds of responses, but not a single one from Archbishop Albert.
I pray that other concerned Catholics will be more fortunate than I in asking His Grace to justify his releasing the Yoga-Suryanamaskara calendar, thus recommending — against the advice of the Church — their practice by Catholics.
I talked to Rev. Fr. Robert Paladdy, Vice-Principal on April 8 [0562-2852376], after which I sent him the following letter:
Subject: STORY IN “THE CATHOLIC TIMES”
REMINDERS SENT ON APRIL 11 & 18:
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 8:34 AM and Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 4:06 PM
KIND ATTENTION: FR. ROBERT PALADDY VICE-PRINCIPAL,
ST. PETER’S COLLEGE, WAZIRPURA ROAD, AGRA – 282003 [UTTAR PRADESH]
Dear Father Robert,
I thank you for providing me with your email address when I rang you up yesterday morning.
I had called and am writing now on behalf of my ministry as well as “The Catholic Times” fortnightly newspaper from Mylapore, Chennai. We are writing a fairly detailed story for the website as well as the paper concerning the highly successful implementation of Suryanamaskara and Yoga at your Catholic school in Agra.
We have received a copy of your 2008 Calendar.
We would be highly obliged if you could provide us the name[s] of your yoga master[s] for the story, and the comments of the Archbishop if any, by return email or by post with any relevant printed material that we can refer to, to the address given below. Thanking you, With regards,
Michael Prabhu firstname.lastname@example.org 12 Dawn Apartments, 22 Leith Castle South Street, Chennai 600 028 [Tamil Nadu]
Telephonic reminder to Fr Robert again on April 16. There was no response.
Even though the Surya Namaskar-Pranayama-Yoga article on this ministry’s website is thorough, I was drawn to visit the nationally famous [they have branches at temples in other cities] Giri Trading Agency just outside the famous Shiva temple of the deity Kapaleeswarar in Mylapore, Chennai, to check out their bookshop for publications on this subject.
I found that Giri Trading was not very different from most St Pauls bookshops. There were books on ‘Psychology’, Self-Help, meditations like T.M., the works of Osho [Bhagwan Rajneesh], New Age guru Deepak Chopra, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Sai Babas [both Shirdi as well as Sri Sathya], all the regular Hindu and neo-Hindu gurus, and more.
In the ‘Health’-related book section, I checked out Acupuncture, Bach Flower Remedies, Pranic Healing, Reiki, and more.
There were the inevitable books on Vaastu Shastra, Astrology, Tarot, Gemology, and Numerology.
And of course there were numerous titles on Surya Namaskar, Pranayama and Yoga. I selected the least expensive [Rs. 50] of them in order to include from it some more information in this report, to underline the fact that Suryanamaskara is NOT a secular practice, that it is a Hindu religious ritual directly connecting with esoteric breathing techniques, with questionable forms of meditation and with the system of yoga, and therefore may under no circumstances be practiced by Christians.
Sun Therapy, A Useful Guide that offers Glimpses into the Secrets of, Vijaya Kumar, New Dawn, Sterling Publishers, 2003.
Some excerpts from the book are now examined [page nos. in brackets], my comments where necessary:
Introduction. “Making obeisance to the Sun early in the morning helps to purify and harmonise the functioning of the various organs of the body.” 
Obeisance is paying respect to a superior personal being, in this case to an inanimate object.
Note that the letter “S” is used with the upper case. As one would do when naming a deity. Which, in this case, it really is.
Note that the upper case is always used for Surya Namaskar, unlike yoga.
The above and other statements also demonstrate that the Suryanamaskara is far more than a health and fitness regimen.
Science shows that sunlight contains “ultraviolet (UV) rays, an undetectable form of radiation emitted by the sun. The two types of UV rays are UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and cause early aging and skin cancer. UVB rays affect the surface of the skin resulting in sunburns. Whether you are walking to you car, driving to work, or simply sitting near a window, you are exposed to harmful UV rays. This type of daily contact is termed secondary UV exposure.
Sun damage, also identified as photo damage, refers to how the sun alters the look and feel of the skin. It is a form of extrinsic early ageing… that adversely affects skin with by repeated and unprotected exposure to the sun.” – Dr. Bhat’s Eye-Skin Laser Centre, Ambattur, Chennai, in The New Indian Express, April 8, 2008.
The feature goers on to say that one should protect oneself against damage from exposure by the use of protection creams and moisturizers. It tells us that UV rays are bad for the eyes and encourages the wearing of “sun glasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV rays”. It is well known that even in the Middle East, where temperatures soar to the mid-forties, people wear protective clothing and head and face gear against the sun despite the intense heat.
The Sun Therapy book states, “Radiation from the sun’s rays, for a specific time period, helps in correcting the deficiency or excess of any particular colour or chemical that has upset the body’s functioning.”
The author does not anywhere give us this “specific time period”. Again, contrary to what the author writes, sunlight affects the pigmentation of the skin, making it darker, the reason why light-skinned people tan their bodies by controlled exposure to the sun, using skin protectants. “Sunrays have healing powers and in conjunction with medicines, water, colour, gems, etc. they are even more effective… Colour therapy helps in restoring the colour and the chemical balance. Like homoeopathy, colour therapy also eliminates the toxins from the body.” [6, 7] With the mention of the tandem use of colour, gemstones, homoeopathy, etc., the author has made the inevitable crossover into New Age.
When one reads the book, one will find a whole chapter on “colour-charged medicines”. Drinking “solarised” green water and applying “solarised” blue oil can be a cure for typhoid and syphilis. How ridiculous can things get? I mean such unscientific prescriptions can be downright dangerous as they preclude proper and timely medical treatment.
If one has any doubts that the whole business is spiritual, Vijaya Kumar says, “Surya Namaskar does not belong to any religion, but it has in it profound spiritual content that takes you to new and powerful parameters of awareness. It also energises the energy centres of the body.”  The energy centres that he refers to are the seven esoteric chakras in the supposed “vital energy” or “life force energy” body through which prana and kundalini power are manipulated.
The energy, though impersonal, is in all and is all. It is the principle of monism [all is one]. Again, these energy centers are not physical organs but metaphysical or spiritual entities whose existence is taught in ancient Hindu religious texts.
Page 96 has a drawing of a woman in the padmasana [lotus] posture, showing the location of the seven chakras.
The five-page chapter on the application of Mantras along with Suryanamaskara gives us more evidence, and I quote:
“Mantras are an essential part of Surya Namaskar.
A mantra is an energized sound. These energized sounds and vibrations create the energy that one seeks.
While chanting the mantras, the focus should be on the sounds, and the meaning of the sounds, if possible.
If used properly, a mantra can liberate you, and allow you to experience bliss.
A mantra, if properly pronounced, can connect you with the joyful, blissful cosmic energies and vital forces that sustain all creation. The mantras should be chanted loudly and rhythmically.
The beej or seed mantra Aum [OM] is the most important one.
Aum stands for A – Vishnu, U – Shiva, and M – Brahma: preserver, destroyer and creator, respectively.
The beej mantras used during the Surya Namaskar are:
Aum Hram, Aum Hreem, Aum Hroom, Aum Hraim, Aum Hraum, Aum Hrah.”
The author then lists twelve mantras, the twelfth of which is Aum Hrah Bhaskaraya Namah, and the meaning of Bhaskara is given as “leading to enlightenment“. The instructions continue:
“Before taking up each position of the Surya Namaskar, say loudly and clearly one of the names of the sun along with the beej mantra and the pranava (the life force or vital breath). The vibrations set off by the chanting of mantras reach every cell in the body and you experience energy flowing into your whole being.
Mantra, also known as prana (life-breath) and shabad (verbal articulation of sound) is the fusion of prana and shabad which harmonises the mind-energy, leading to awareness and alertness.”
Thirty-two pages are dedicated to “Yoga and Body Postures”. Before being taken through the various asanas [postures], we read, “Surya Namaskar, supplemented with yoga, enables the body to be united with the mind, the matter with the spirit, and the physical with the spiritual.
Through regular practice of Surya Namaskar and yoga, one can transcend the mundane world, and attain the state of higher consciousness.
Surya Namaskar, accompanied by yoga asanas, will lead to the union of the self with the Divine Being.”
I can pick up ANY book on Surya Namaskar and reproduce similar stuff. It is not within the scope of this article to go into the detailed explanations of the individual issues of mantras, their vibrations, etc. They are discussed in different articles and I once again invite the reader to check out this ministry’s website for such information. Briefly, Vedic teaching is that sounds and chants — and their corresponding vibrations — have an innate spiritual and creative power, the pranava [Aum or OM] being the most powerful. Hence the mantras. This practice is inextricably connected with the control of prana [the universal life force or vital energy of acupuncture, homoeopathy, reiki, pranic healing, etc. which is not the same as breathing air]. Yama= control or restraint; so pranayama is control of prana. The asanas of yoga, combined with the pranayama and mantras of the Suryanamaskara lead the practitioner to the ultimate goal which is an advaitic union with the One Reality or Absolute or whatever name they use for the impersonal energy that is ‘god’, that “sustains all creation” [see above] from which everything emanates and to which everything finally returns. This is their “union of the self with the Divine Being” — also described as “experiencing bliss” or attaining “the state of higher consciousness”, “liberation” or “enlightenment”, which terms are used by author Vijaya Kumar. The teachings of Fr. John Ferreira are the same.
A point to note is that the entire experience is not objective, but subjective. The mantras have to be chanted in a particular way for them to be fully effective, and so on. All New Age experience is subjective and relative. There are no absolutes.
Are the parents of the innocent Catholic children handed over in trusting confidence by them for eight hours a day to the diocesan priests who manage St. Peter’s College going to permit their little ones to be exposed to potential physical and certain spiritual danger?
And parents of children attending other Catholic schools, what are you going to do about it?
The next school to introduce yoga may be the one where YOUR children are studying!
In Matthew 18: 6, 7 Jesus warns, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his
neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea… Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!” – The Holy Bible
NEWS REPORTS ON
FR. JOHN FERREIRA/ST. PETER’S COLLEGE
Yoga need of the hour, says Catholic priest
Sunday, September 16, 2007 09:07 IST
“Christians, Priests Ignorant of Yoga”
says Father John Ferreira, an Indian Catholic Priest
ASSIST News Service (ANS) http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2007/s07090129.htm Monday, September 17, 2007
By James Varghese, Special to ASSIST News Service AGRA, RAJASTHAN, INDIA (ANS)
EXTRACT FROM PRO-YOGA BLOG OWNED BY ‘MELISA’
Catholic priest Father John Ferreira, principal of St. Peter’s College in Agra, one of India’s oldest educational institutions, says Christian priests in Britain are completely ignorant about yoga. “They know nothing about yoga. They should first study and experience the benefits of India’s ancient science before commenting,” Ferreira, 57, told IANS in an interview. He was commenting on the uproar in Britain after some British priests called for a ban on yoga classes for children, terming it “unchristian activity”.
Not sex but yoga education is the need of the hour, Ferreira said, speaking after a half-hour yoga class at an assembly attended by over 1,500 students, teachers and office assistants. The yoga session is held every school day.
“Morning hours are pure hours,” says the father as the students do “pranayam” and “kapal bhati” (breath control and other exercises in yoga). For a moment, it looks like Baba Ram Dev’s* class, but with a difference. The mentor is clad in a priestly gown and speaks in soft, chaste English. *one of India’s leading yogis
“When I started these yoga exercises a month ago, there were natural reservations and opposition from students as well as parents. But I persisted. Now they all congratulate me because some have stopped suffering from colds and allergies while others are feeling more energetic,” says Ferreira, who dislikes students with stooping shoulders, obese or sickly postures.
“I want them to walk straight, with chest out, shoulders raised and head held high. At their age, they should be a bundle of energy. Unfortunately, parents have no time for their kids and there is nobody around for guidance,” he says.
Denying charges that students have been regularly fainting during the assembly workout, Ferreira said: “Yes, some students had tried to fake fainting, but I called them over along with their parents. Now, they are positively responding to yoga exercises.”
Ferreira is against the introduction of sex education in schools. He wants yoga education to be made compulsory.
“They will learn about sex when the time comes. It is nature’s design. But at school, we must see that their bodies and minds are in fine shape and they are spiritually strong to face the world. We must go for holistic lifestyles in tune with the rhythms of nature,” he said.
According to him, humans can be compared with the six strings of the guitar. The six strings are body, mind, spirit, family, work and social life. “If one string snaps, all others would be affected. Nature has given us so much. Look around. Sickness can be controlled through fasting, eating fruits and vegetables. Fruits can detoxify the body,” he said.
Unconcerned about what his fraternity thinks about him, Ferreira is on a mission.
“I have personally benefited a lot from yoga. Till 1981, I was a sick man regularly visiting doctors and hospitals. Now, after rigorous training and studies in yoga, I am as fit as a teenager ready to take on anyone,” he says.
His fervent appeal is to make yoga compulsory in schools. “Forget sex education. First develop the mind and body, increase powers of mind control and concentration!”
No wonder over 3,000 students of his college coming from elitist backgrounds have begun listening to him. Even the doubting Thomases among the teachers are getting involved – slowly but surely.
Indian Priest Slams British Clergy for Yoga Ban
By Kodiyattil Varghese Christian Post Correspondent
After a church’s ban on yoga classes sparked an uproar in the United Kingdom, a Roman Catholic priest and school principal in India weighed in, claiming that the British clergy who described yoga as a “sham,” a “false philosophy” and “unchristian” are ignorant about the practice. [The rest of the story is similar to the one above.]
Christian Post correspondent Daniel Blake in London contributed to this report.
Comment added: Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 14:24 (BST)
This priest can say this but I’d like to remind there are a lot of Catholic priests that are really against Yoga.
For example the Indian Catholic priest Fr. James Manjackal MSFS http://www.jmanjackal.net/eng/engyoga.htm
Or you can read the Encyclical [on New Age] Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of life
Or this great document written by a Catholic Indian New Age expert*
Or just read the Vatican Document, “Letter to the Bishops… on Christian Meditation” which warns of the dangers of yoga: http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFMED.HTM
Javier Rodriguez, Munich – Germany
NOTE: *’Catholic Indian New Age expert’ refers to this ministry and the writer of this report.
3. Yoga belongs to no religion, Indian guru tells U.S. pastor
The Herald, Goa, Sunday, October 24, 2010 (Courtesy: IANS)
‘Jesus Christ was the Greatest Yogi’ asserts Indian guru, Ferreira, in the wake of a fanatical US pastor, labelling yoga as demonic. Ferreira said that yoga belonged to no religion and that Mahatma Gandhi was also a great yogi.
Yoga does not belong to any particular religion, says yoga guru and college principal, Father John Ferreira, in response to a US pastor labelling the ancient healing and fitness regime ‘demonic’ and an agent of Hinduism.
“Should Christians stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots? Totally! Yoga is demonic. If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you’re signing up for a little demon class,” pastor of the Mars Hill Church in the US, Mark Driscoll, had said last week.
Ferreira, the principal of St. Peter’s College, Agra, one of India’s oldest educational institutions, who has been teaching yoga to thousands of students every day for the past several years, disagreed and said many people were benefiting.
“Jesus Christ was the greatest yogi. Only a yogi can make a supreme sacrifice as Jesus made. Yoga does not belong to any particular religion. It is a universal science, being practiced in various forms by people all over. Even the sound ‘Om‘ is universal; yoga can only make you good Christians,” said Ferreira. He added, “We cannot remain quiet.”
Yogic sciences have contemporary relevance and people were getting benefits from it, he said. “Only a supreme yogi could bear the extreme pain that Jesus Christ did when he was crucified. He had total control over his self and he always chose to forgive the sinners. Similarly Mahatma Gandhi was a ‘maha’ (great) yogi,” he explained.
Response to the above, The Herald, Letters to the Editor, page 8, October 26, 2010
Yoga is physical not spiritual
This refers to a piece, “Jesus Christ was the Greatest Yogi” (Goa’s Heartbeat, The Herald, 24th October)
Recourse to nonsensical reasoning is wrong and unacceptable. It was through the Holy Spirit the Incarnation of the Word took place in Mary’s womb. (cf. Lk. 1:35) as the Son of God by His Divine nature, and the Son of the Virgin by the flesh. Therefore one must not narrowly see Jesus’ suffering and endurance of unspeakable pain from a human perspective but accept in faith the work of Divine Providence in helping weak human beings bear pain and offer oneself as a living sacrifice in adherence to the Father’s will and not to ‘yogic sense’. Jesus has set us an example. St. Stephen was the first Christian stoned to death. Sts. Peter and Paul and many others have laid down their lives through the working of the Holy Spirit and not because they were “superb yogis”.
Yoga is a physical and not spiritual activity.
Can Fr. John Ferreira specify where in the Scriptures Jesus practiced yoga and taught his disciples to do the same? Rather, Christ said, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Mt. 26:41) Dominic Matthews, by email
email@example.com; Diocesan Centre for Social Communications Media – Goa; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2010 5:33 PM
Subject: Re: ‘Jesus Christ was the Greatest Yogi’ – LETTER TO THE EDITOR, THE HERALD, GOA
With due respect to the priest, Fr John Ferreira, [Goa’s Heartbeat, The Herald, 24th October], the condition of Catholics in his St Peter’s College, Agra, is pathetic http://ephesians-511.net/docs/YOGA_SURYANAMASKAR_AT_ST_PETERS_COLLEGE_AGRA.doc. I know a Catholic Pro-life ministry family who withdrew their children from the same school rather than have them do yoga.
I have been researching into the different aspects of yoga, www.ephesians-511.net, for more than a decade and find that, from a Catholic perspective, there is more than sufficient reason for Christians not to practise yoga. Two Vatican documents [October 1989, February 2003] warn of the spiritual dangers of yoga. Spiritual dangers. Otherwise why would yoga find mention in Vatican documents on the dangers of Eastern meditations and New Age? Therefore Dominic Matthews [The Herald, 24th October] is also wrong. Yoga IS spiritual. I however concur with Dominic on the rest of what he wrote.
The veracity of my findings is confirmed by the frequent use of my research on yoga, my ministry and my web site on EWTN, the world’s leading Catholic TV news channel, and on Catholic Answers Live Radio by Sharon Lee Giganti, a former New Ager, in her show “The New Age Deception” on the last Monday of every month.
Jesus is not a yogi [yogi: one who seeks “self-realization”, “enlightenment”, a monistic union with the Absolute through withdrawal from the physical and mental senses in Hindu religious teaching]. He is the Son of God, the Enlightened One, not a yogi who sought and attained enlightenment to ‘become one‘ with God, His Father. If one has to “realize” that one is God, one cannot be God.
I will be grateful to you if you could please publish this letter with my email address and/or web site address.
1. FR JOHN FERREIRA-YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR AT ST. PETER’S COLLEGE, AGRA
2. YOGA SUMMARY
4. YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR, GAYATRI MANTRA, PRANAYAMA TO BE MADE COMPULSORY IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
5. YOGA IN THE DIOCESE OF MANGALORE
6. NEW AGE GURUS_1 SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR AND THE ‘ART OF LIVING’
7. YOGA_WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SAY ABOUT IT?
8. TRUTH, LIES AND YOGA-ERROL FERNANDES
9. WAS JESUS A
YOGI? SYNCRETISM AND INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE-ERROL FERNANDES
10. YOGA AND DELIVERANCE
11. YOGA IS SATANIC-EXORCIST FR GABRIELE AMORTH
YOGA-WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CATECHISM SAY ABOUT IT?
13. FR ADRIAN MASCARENHAS-YOGA AT ST PATRICK’S CHURCH BANGALORE
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2010 8:34 PM
Subject: Re: FYI Re: ‘Jesus Christ was the Greatest Yogi’ – LETTER TO THE EDITOR, THE HERALD, GOA
Michael, Thanks for this. I have circulated it to my friends. Nestor, Goa
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2010 11:48 PM
Subject: Re: FYI Re: ‘Jesus Christ was the Greatest Yogi’ – LETTER TO THE EDITOR, THE HERALD, GOA
It is indeed disappointing to hear that Jesus is described as someone who had to realise God or through yogic efforts sacrifice himself on the Cross. It could possibly mean unfortunately that the priest does not believe fully that Jesus is God, or perhaps believes that there is perhaps a chance that he himself through yogic efforts may become God. One wonders what level has catechesis reached, and whether he understands that our faith is born from revelation not realisation. If he would like to defend yoga he should have or indeed could have chosen far less painful words.
We do not identify ourselves with Brahman; in Christianity that would mean exalting the soul to the level of deity.
IT WOULD BE BREAKING THE FIRST COMMANDMENT. We are to worship only One, with our whole soul, strength and will. This is our faith, and it is all we know to be true. God bless Derrick, Bahrain
Joel G Fernandes
Sent: Friday, October 29, 2010 12:50 PM
Subject: Re: FYI Re: ‘Jesus Christ was the Greatest Yogi’ – LETTER TO THE EDITOR, THE HERALD, GOA
Dear Br. Mike,
A fitting reply for the heretic priest Fr. Ferreira. The late Br. John Rabindranath in Tirunelveli once rightly said to me, the flocks are being lead to hell by the heretic shepherds. I had no hesitation to quote him. I am sure Fr. Ferreira needs a little teaching on Christianity and more specifically Catholicism and must avoid making vague statements that disturb a huge number of Christians who know what is in store from New Age and Yoga in particular. God bless you, Joel, Dubai
Title and URL of this document changed on February 25, 2013