NEW WEBSITE: www.ephesians-511.net MARCH / APRIL 2007
SURYA NAMASKAR AND YOGA TO BE MADE COMPULSORY IN
SURYA NAMASKAR AND YOGA
TO BE MADE MANDATORY. NEWS REPORTS
03, 06-09 MUSLIMS IN MADHYA PRADESH OPPOSE MOVE, APPEAL TO GOVERNOR, GO TO COURT
ARCHBISHOP OF BHOPAL
MAKES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S FIRST AND ONLY STATEMENT
THE MADHYA PRADESH HIGH COURT PASSES ORDER IN FAVOUR OF THE MINORITIES
SURYA NAMASKAR AND YOGA
ISSUE: JUST THE ONE REPORT IN THE CATHOLIC MEDIA
SURYA, THE SUN GOD
15 CATHOLIC PRIESTS MAKE A CASE FOR
THE SUN GOD
TULSI, HOLY BASIL
20,21 GOA ARCHDIOCESAN COMMITTEE 2000
PRANAYAMA. WHAT ARE
PRANA, CHI, KI?
THE DANGERS IN PRACTISING
THE BREATHING EXERCISES OF
THE VATICAN DOCUMENT ON THE NEW AGE
SURYA NAMASKAR, GAYATRI MANTRA, PRANAYAMA, YOGA
MATRIDHAM ASHRAM, VARANASI, AND THE FATHERS OF THE IMS CONGREGATION: YOGA
DHARMA BHARATHI ASHRAM: NEW AGE AND YOGA IN CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
KRIPA FOUNDATION AND FR. JOE PEREIRA, YOGI
ST. PAULS BOOKS: LEADING PROMOTERS: YOGA AND NEW AGE [OTHER PUBLISHERS TOO]
SATSANGH AND V.L. REGO, YOGI
FR. GREGORY D’SOUZA OCD.,
47-48 SWAMI AMALDAS, PRIEST, YOGI
48, 34 SWAMI DEVAPRASAD, PRIEST, YOGI
48, 49 FR. ANTHONY ELENJIMITTAM, PRIEST, YOGI
FR. CHERIAN PUTHENPURA, ORDER OF ST. CAMILLUS, YOGI
55 FR. JACOB PAREYIL; FR. JOSE MEKAT SJ., PRIESTS, YOGIS
BOMBAY ARCHDIOCESE: FR. GILBERT CARLO SVD.,
FR. MICHAEL GONSALVES OF THE NBCLC:
THE DANGERS IN PRACTISING PRANAYAMA-II; THE DANGERS IN DOING
THE DANGERS IN DOING
EASTERN MEDITATIONS LIKE YOGA-I
A RE-APPRAISAL AND A SUMMARY [OF THE REPORT] WITH COMMENTS:
YOGA IS HINDU
THE ATTEMPT TO COMPULSORY INTRODUCE
YOGA: A VERY OLD STORY: 2005, 2001, 1998
NOT ONE, BUT TWO VATICAN DOCUMENTS WARNING AGAINST THE DANGERS OF
HINDUS OBJECT TO CHRISTIANS DOING YOGA
IS HINDU, INSIST DIE-HARD HINDUS
OVERSEAS CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCES, THEOLOGICAL COMMISSIONS OPPOSE
CATHOLIC PRIESTS CONDEMN
CATHOLIC LAITY CONDEMN
SANDESHA, A FOUNDATION FOR CULTURE AND EDUCATION:
MORE ON THE DANGERS IN DOING YOGA-II
85-88 MORE ON OPPOSITION TO YOGA IN SCHOOLS, 2007
OPPOSITION TO YOGA IN SCHOOLS BY
33, 34, 42, 48, 52, 57, 58, 98
21, 22, 23, 33, 34, 35, 39, 40, 47, 48, 54, 55, 56, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 81, 82
12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33, 37, 39, 47, 49, 52, 54, 62, 65
Read this report in the New Indian Express of November 13, 2006:
Yoga to be mandatory in schools
Chennai November 12 EXTRACT: Union Minister for Health Anbumani Ramadoss said that
yoga should be made mandatory in schools across the country very soon, as part of the ministry’s initiative to prevent lifestyle diseases… [He] said, “We have written to the Ministry of Human Resources for making yoga compulsory in schools because it has been proved good for health.
It would be implemented very soon.“
Since late last year, there have been several reports in the newspapers, on the internet, and on television, about various proposals, recommendations and orders – made by the central and some state governments, by political parties, and by individuals- for introducing Bills to make the practice of Surya Namaskar and Yoga mandatory
in educational institutions
Two recent news reports are reproduced here [the most recent ones are on pages 86, 87]:
BJP yoga bad, UPA yoga good for schools
By Shubhajit Roy http://www.indianexpress.com/story/24707.html The New Indian Express, March 03, 2007
Yoga should be compulsory for all school children, says report of panel which includes Congress, Left MPs
New Delhi, March 2 The UPA government’s key constituents, the Congress and the Left, were the most vocal critics when the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh government, headed by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, started
yoga classes, especially the ‘Surya Namaskar’ and ‘Pranayam’, in schools and colleges across the state. But the latest report tabled by a Parliamentary Standing Committee that includes high-profile Congress and Left MPs says the exact opposite.
Headed by Congress general secretary and MP Janardhan Dwivedi, the Standing Committee of the HRD ministry — with CPM politburo member Brinda Karat and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi as its members — has recommended that yoga should be made mandatory for all schoolgoing children in the country.
The report, without any dissent note by any of its members, has said: “The Committee is of the opinion that yoga is one stream of education, which will make a permanent and positive impact on a student’s life. Yoga has been gaining immense popularity due to the short-term as well as long-term benefits that it provides.
“Yoga helps one to achieve all-round development. Considering the vast potential of this ancient knowledge of India,
the committee recommends that yoga be made compulsory for all school-going children in the country.”
The committee’s 188th report to the Parliament is in lieu of action taken on the recommendations or observations contained in the 174th report on demands for grants 2006-07 of the department of higher education in May this year. It was tabled in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha yesterday.
In response to the recommendation, Arjun Singh’s HRD ministry, in the report itself, has said that “the National Curriculum Framework for School Education – 2005 prepared by the NCERT provides for health and physical education as a compulsory subject from primary to secondary stage and as an optional subject at higher secondary stage.
Yoga is one of the core components of health and physical education.” It may be recalled that
Congress MLAs in MP had boycotted a yoga session held in the MP assembly
on February 20, which was conducted under the supervision of Baba Ramdev.
Committee favours yoga in schools
The Hindu New Delhi March 5, 2007 (PTI) At a time when BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh’s ‘surya namaskar’ programmes has generated much controversy, a Parliamentary committee on HRD has favoured going all out to propagate yoga in schools.
“Yoga has been gaining immense popularity due to short term as well as long-term benefits that it provides. Yoga helps one to achieve all round development,” the Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD said in its report.
The report presented to Parliament last week said “the committee is of the opinion that yoga is one stream of education, which will make a permanent and positive impact on a student’s life.”
The 32-member committee is headed by senior Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi and includes Rahul Gandhi and Brinda Karat (CPI-M). Its members said that considering the immense potential of this ancient knowledge of India that
“yoga be made compulsory for all school going children in the country”.
In its action taken report, the Ministry said the National Curriculum Framework for School Education-2005 prepared by the National Council of Educational Research and Training has made health and physical education as a compulsory subject from primary to secondary state. The framework has put these subjects as an optional subject at higher secondary stage, it said adding yoga was one of the core components of health and physical education.
The above reports are self-explanatory. Yoga is to be mandatory in schools across the country. This is the proposal of the UPA government’s Congress party-led alliance, which includes the Left parties, at the Centre.
When the government of the BJP-ruled state of Madhya Pradesh [M.P.] tried to introduce it earlier, the very same Congress-led opposition in the state assembly had protested against the order:
Madhya Pradesh districts chief directed to prepare for mass yogic exercise
Bhopal January 11, 2007 Nearly a month after it announced to hold a
mass ‘surya namaskar’ or yogic exercise programme for school children, the Madhya Pradesh government today directed district chiefs to prepare for the event scheduled to be held simultaneously across the state on January 25, amidst protests from some Muslim bodies.
District collectors have been instructed to form special committees to monitor
‘surya namaskar’ and pranayam programmes, planned at the school, district and state levels, announced by state Health Minister Ajay Vishnoi last month.
State-level programme scheduled here, will be led by
yoga guru Babaramdev, and will be telecast and aired across the state, official sources said adding citizens, private organisations and educational institutes, will be motivated for attending them. Two resources teachers in every block will be trained to conduct the programme and organise rehearsals between January 13 and 20. The programme has drawn flak from some Muslim bodies, who have lodged a complaint with Governor Balram Jakhar claiming that community members were being forced to take part in ‘surya namaskar’, which was against their religion. Though the government claims that participation was not mandatory, Muslims were being forced to attend it, thereby hurting their sentiments, said the National Minority Development Service Front in a memorandum to the Governor. It asked Jakhar to keep community members away from the programme so as to prevent communal divide and ill-effects on their businesses and children’s studies.
Bhopal January 14, 2007 Times News Network
The Madhya Pradesh government’s decision to
organise ‘surya namaskar’ and yoga programmes in all government-run schools and colleges on January 25 has
drawn flak from Muslim organisations. The ruling BJP government has instructed district collectors not only to organise the function in government schools and colleges but also ask non-governmental educational institutions to join in.
A delegation of Muslim organisations submitted a memorandum to governor Balram Jakhar saying
‘surya namaskar’ was against the tenets of Islam. The delegation — led by Nazim of Jamia Islamia Maulana Mohammad Ahmed, president of National Minority Development Service Front, Sahabzada Abdur Rashid Khan and Noorullah Yusuf Zai of Jamait Ullama — argued that the government’s plan would have an adverse effect on Muslim students.
Opposition Congress, too, has criticised the state government for the yoga programme. Congress leader Manak Agarwal said, “Children should be studying in educational institutions.
There’s no need to learn yoga in schools.”
Congress party opposes imposition of Surya Namaskar
Times of India Bhopal Terming the Madhya Pradesh government’s proposed surya namaskar as an exercise “against secularism”, the minority wing of the state Congress on Saturday called for its immediate ban.
The programme being organised on January 25 in educational institutions across the state “is nothing but part of the BJP’s saffronisation policy“, president of the wing Haji Mohammad Haroon told reporters here.
Describing surya namaskar as a form of worship of the sun, he said any form of worship was against Islam.
Haroon said Muslims are not against yoga and pranayam but such programmes should not be organised by the government. It is the responsibility of the government to honour all faiths instead of promoting any particular religion, he said, adding if any the government tries to encourage a particular religion, it would be against the principle of secularism enshrined in the Constitution. He appealed to the Centre to frame a law to ban programmes that “violate the principle of secularism”.
Five weeks later, when the yogi named Baba Ramdev [who is close to the BJP] conducted a yoga session in the M.P. state assembly, it was boycotted by the Congress party:
Congress MLAs boycott Ramdev’s yoga session
Times of India Bhopal February 20, 2007 PTI Congress legislators on Tuesday boycotted a yoga training session conducted by yoga guru Ramdev for MLAs and officials of the Madhya Pradesh assembly to protest the state government’s move to acquire land in Jabalpur for his proposed Patanjali Yogpeeth and herbal park. Ramdev taught exercises to ministers, MLAs and officials that were aimed at reducing tension, inculcating positive thinking and developing a healthy body. The session was conducted at the assembly here. Congress legislature party spokesman Sajjan Singh Verma said the move to acquire 1618 acres in Jabalpur for the Yogpeeth would displace over 10,000 people. Verma said none of the Congress legislators were present during the nearly 90-minute yoga session. “We have nothing against Baba Ramdev. He could have been given land without displacing people,” Verma said, giving reasons for some Congress leaders earlier attending the six-day camp that ended this morning.
Ramdev also toured the assembly premises and appreciated its plantation, officials said.
Speaker Ishwardas Rohani lauded the guru’s efforts to spread awareness about the ancient form of exercise and said practicing yoga would enable people to think positively and serve mankind better.
More about Baba Ramdev and his claims: Yoga can increase immunity to AIDS, cure cancer.
The Ministry for Health serves him a notice and an NGO threatens to take him to court.
New Delhi Baba Ramdev has come down from the ‘AIDS cure’ claim to now state that yoga can increase the immunity power of an AIDS patient. He says he has evidence to prove his claim.
Just a week back the Union Health Ministry served him a notice and an NGO, called People’s Health Organisation, threatened to take him to the court over “claimed that he could cure AIDS”, the yoga guru claimed in Bhubaneswar on Monday that he has evidence to prove his claim.
Ramdev, who is currently in Bhubaneswar to conduct the weeklong Yoga Science Camp, told journalists that he has “sufficient evidence” to show that yoga can increase CD-4 count in blood of an AIDS patient.
“AIDS patients having CD-4 count as low as 19 had reported with rising count to the extent of 350 to 400 as against the normal count of 500,” an agency report quoted him as saying. Ramdev urged the government to come forward in assisting the success of the AIDS treatment instead of contesting his claim. Ramdev, however, said he had never claimed that the yoga could cure the AIDS. He reiterated that yoga and ayurvedic treatment can cure blood cancer, breast cancer, prostrate cancer and other chronic and genetic diseases. He said cancer patients should take wheat grass juice, neem leave juice and ‘tulsi’ juice along with certain other ayurvedic medicines while performing the seven ‘Pranayam’. He claimed that he had several case studies to prove that cancer can be cured through the yoga and ayurvedic treatment.
Yoga can cure cancer: Ramdev [Yoga can cure cancer, AIDS: Ramdev]
http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1072263 [Similar report by Express News Service, New Indian Express, Jan. 2]
Bhubaneswar PTI January 01, 2007 Yoga guru Ramdev on Monday claimed that regular practice of seven
breathing exercises or ‘pranayams’
popularised by him had successfully cured cancer within six to nine months.
“I have no intention to get into any controversy. I am doing my job, let others do their job,” he said referring to comments by Union Health minister A Ramdoss who had doubted his claim that serious ailments could be cured through yoga.
“The problem stems from the fact that others are interfering in my work,” he told a press conference here.
“It was his resolve not to have anything to do with politics,” he said.
“Cancer of the breast, liver, prostate, uterus, pituitary gland, brain tumours and even leukaemia, can be cured by practising the seven breathing exercises,” he claimed. These claims were based on documentation and patients in hundreds have benefited, he said. “Some other ingredients like wheat grass juice and those derived from neem and tulsi leaves are also administered to patients alongside the breathing exercises.” The yoga guru said he believed that allopathy had utility and was needed in emergencies, but none should frown on time-tested yogic exercises. “Otherwise, the health department should be renamed as allopathy department and the health minister as allopathy minister,” he remarked.
Ramdev, who is on an eight-day visit to Orissa, is scheduled to hold a six-day yoga science camp here from January three.
I have proof of curing cancer: Ramdev
Bhubaneswar Undeterred by raging controversies, including a rebuttal from Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, Yoga guru Swami Ramdev on Monday said his claims of curing terminal diseases like cancer and AIDS through pranayam and yoga
were not lofty pronouncements but based on absolute proof.
Addressing media persons here, Ramdev said the Minister should have checked the veracity of the claims before rubbishing them. He is in the City to conduct yoga camps and interact with different sections of society till January 8.
“I have documented not one but hundreds of cases where people suffering from different types of cancer have been cured by practising pranayam. My statement on cure of AIDS is also based on evidence. There is evidence of the CD-4 count going up to 500 and over (500 is the normal range) from as low as 19. I am ready to place all the findings before the Government, which if examined in the proper perspective could open up new vistas for research in establishing cure for the dreaded diseases,” he asserted.
The Swami said more than 1.25 crore people had directly participated in camps to learn the seven pranayam regimen.
The experiments have revealed that people suffering from leukaemia, breast cancer, liver cancer, prostate, brain tumour, uterus, etc., have shown remarkable improvement in six to nine months and many of them have been eventually cured.
Chronic diseases like asthma, arthritis, hypertension, etc, which according to medical practitioners can at best be controlled or maintained have been completely cured by pranayam.
Yoga is a science and is not miracle. It works on principles and the traditional therapeutic practice has the potential to provide succour to crores of people who cannot afford treatment.
As high as 65 percent of the population is deprived of proper healthcare facilities on account of high costs involved.
The Guru also observed that the healthcare system in India was mostly tilted towards the western system, particularly allopathy, which was costly and even had no answer to many chronic and genetic diseases.
Yoga involves no cost and therefore should be promoted at the grassroot-level in order to be able to build a healthy society.
The Patanjali Yogapeeth
established by him at Haridwar is conducting intense research in the field of yoga and ayurveda to find cure to other diseases too. Plans are afoot to set up branches of the institution in all the States within the next five years, he said. Ramdev also categorically denied talk of his joining politics. “I am not inclined towards any political party nor have any intention of joining politics at any point of time,” he said.
[However the Express of January 4 reported the death of rheumatic heart disease of a 14-year old at the Yogapeeth.]
“Medicine needs money, not babagiri”
Extract from an interview on “Seedhi Baat”, Aaj Tak Hindi TV channel given by “Spiritual Guru Baba Ramdev” to Editor Prabhu Chawla, India Today, March 5, 2007 http://www.indiatoday.com :
Q. You don’t have a medical degree.
A. About 10 crore people watch my programmes. Speaking is not my passion. If I give yoga and ayurvedic treatment to people, what is the problem with that?
Q. You are always surrounded by politicians and film stars.
A. If a minister is attracted to yoga, it is for the development of the nation.
Q. Your camp is like a cinema hall with an entry fee. Rs 500 for first class, Rs 100 for third class.
A. People come to my camp because they believe in me. Those who cannot afford the money get free entry.
Q. But a baba should not accumulate wealth.
A. President Kalam asked me to work in the field of clinical control. It requires money, not babagiri.
[In an interview with Kasturi Ray, New Indian Express, January 21, 2007, Ramdev states,
“I have not learnt yoga from any guru, but from the ancient texts and scriptures.”]
Delhi, and two southern states, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are also set to introduce yoga.
Yoga must in Delhi schools
By Esha Roy, The New Indian Express, November 1, 2006 EXTRACT:
New Delhi, October 31, 2006: Gearing up for the Commonwealth Games, the Delhi Government is set to make sports mandatory in schools with each student having to undertake at least one sports discipline…
The policy further mandates that all schools in the city must start yoga classes for the “general health” of their students and hire yoga teachers…
Tamil Nadu: Opposition to Suryanamaskar condemned, introduction of yoga welcomed
The Hindu Chennai (PTI) January 12, 2007 EXTRACT: On opposition to introduction of performing “Suryanamaskar” in Madhya Pradesh schools, [BJP Tamil Nadu state President L Ganesan] said such
opposition was unwarranted
as “Suryanamaskar” was only a set of physical exercises. “BJP looks to the day when Tamil Nadu Chief Minister
M Karunanidhi* announces
introduction of yoga in schools in the state,” he said.
Yoga in school syllabus planned
SOUTHERN NEWS – TAMIL NADU Saturday January 13, 2007 EXTRACT:
Tiruchy The Tamil Nadu Government has proposed to include Yoga in school curriculum from the coming academic year.
Distributing the medals and trophies to the winners of the 49th state level Republic Day Athletic meet, here on Friday State Minister for School Education Thangam Thennarasu said that
the government would initiate all measures to introduce yoga as a subject in the school curriculum. He said that Chief Minister M Karunanidhi* wanted the schools to enhance the health and fitness of the students, besides imparting education. While educating the students on various subjects was important, the state government was also keen to encourage the sports activities among students, Thennarasu said. In his presidential address Transport Minister K N Nehru complimented the sponsors of the sports meet… Forest Minister N Selvaraj, releasing the sports meet souvenir… A Karuppusamy, Joint Director of School Education, R Muthukrishnan, Chief Educational Officer, were present…
Karnataka to introduce indigenous culture in education
March 01, 2007 Bangalore The proposals of the Higher Education Ministry to introduce indigenous culture in colleges across Karnataka have been discussed in the inter university Board meeting chaired by education minister D H Shankaramurthy. The ministry has banned the conventional graduation cap and made the Mysore peta the optional choice in the graduation ceremony to be held in nine universities of the state. The ministry had earlier discussed
to introduce meditation and yoga
in all universities
but a decision in this regard is still pending. “Our intention in banning the black graduation cap is to change a British legacy. The Mysore peta can be worn if students want to,” the minister announced after the 46th meeting of the state inter-university board. However, the conventional gown will be allowed, he said…
[Having received Rs. 1.5 crore from the Centre, the state is also set to introduce naturopathy and yoga in all government hospitals as per a directive of the Union government to all states, New Indian Express, March 23].
Article 30 of the Constitution of India states “All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”
Article 28 of the Constitution of India states “No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds”.
The different parties’ interests in either proposing or boycotting the issues are purely political.
The respective governments are violating the spirit of the Constitution, if not the letter.
India may be theoretically- and Constitutionally- a secular state, but for all practical purposes, it is well on its way to becoming ‘saffronised’- an intolerant Hindu nation.
Matters came to a head in early January 2007 when the Madhya Pradesh government demanded that Surya Namaskar be performed in all educational institutions as a precursor to the eventual introduction of yoga.
The Muslim community was the first to react, and react strongly:
Muslims to boycott surya namaskar in MP
Bhopal January 9, 2007 The controversy over reciting Vande Mataram*
in schools has come alive in Madhya Pradesh again, this time over
the government’s move to make surya namaskar (saluting the sun) compulsory in schools and colleges. The government had asked the state’s schools and colleges to organise mass surya namaskar January 25 when
it would unveil its yoga policy to spread the benefits of yoga
among masses, officials said.
Many Muslim leaders have termed the move
and even said that if the government does not cancel the programme, they will not send their children to schools and colleges on that day because Islam does not permit bowing before anyone except Allah. A final decision would be taken only after a meeting of All India Muslim Personal Law Board on January 11. “By making surya namaskar compulsory, the BJP-led government is
encroaching on our right to religious freedom,” said Noorullah Yusuf, Jamiat-e-Ulema’s state unit spokesman.
“It was yet another attempt by the government to hurt our religious sentiments. We are not going to abide by it under any circumstances,” said Mufti Shahar Syed Babar Hussain of Darul Ifta, a Muslim religious body.
State School Education Minister Narottan Mishra was quick to react, saying that the hue and cry over a programme aimed at inspiring the youth to know about yoga and its benefits has no meaning. “Since surya namaskar is not mandatory, there is no question of forcing any particular religious community to practice it,” Mishra added. *see pages 10, 12, 98
Muslim Board wants MP Govt to cancel Surya Namaskar order
Bhopal Milind Ghatwai January 14, 2007 The Madhya Pradesh government’s proposed
en mass Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) programme
on January 25 caused quite a flutter in the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board’s Chennai meeting when some members suggested that Muslims should send their children to schools and colleges but ask them to abstain from any activity. But a large majority of the 250-odd members who attended the three-day session of the board felt that such a gesture would create animosity between Muslim students and teachers as also other students, Maulana Mehmood Madni, general secretary of Jamiat-e-Ulma Hind, told The Indian Express over phone on Saturday.
The board, instead, passed a resolution requesting the BJP government to cancel the programme. If that doesn’t happen, Muslims should not send their children to schools and colleges on January 25, read the resolution passed on Friday.
Minorities enjoy freedom of religion, and by extension,
they can’t be forced to take part in activities not permitted by their religion. Islam does not permit its followers to bow before anyone but Allah, the resolution said.
Madni said the board would write to the state government to convey the resolution passed at the end of the 19th session.
The state government had recently announced that it would come out with its Yoga Policy on January 25 when Surya Namaskar sessions would be organised in educational institutions and all district headquarters. When Muslim organisations opposed it the government clarified that participation was not compulsory for students.
In Bhopal, MP Congress Committee’s minority department said by making participation voluntary, the government was asking Muslim students not to come to schools and colleges on that day and in a way creating a rift between them and other students. A few Muslim organisations have already called on the Governor and sought his intervention in the matter.
“Why should any state government organise
programmes suited to a particular religion,’‘ department chairman Haji Mohd Haroon said and requested the government to cancel the programme. He said
the minority community was not against Yoga but Surya Namaskar because it amounts to worshipping the sun. “It seems the government does not want Muslims to join the mainstream and benefit from Yoga,” he said.
Why does the government want to organise it only in the morning and not at other time of the day, he asked.
The Catholic Church makes its first, and it seems only, statement on the issue:
DON’T IMPOSE RELIGIOUS PRACTICES: ARCHBISHOP TOPNO
Bhopal (ICNS) January 15, 2007 Reacting sharply to the Madhya Pradesh government’s decision to make Surya namaskar compulsory in all government schools and colleges,
Archbishop Pascal Topno of Bhopal said that practices of one religion should not be imposed on other religions. Archbishop Topno told Indian Catholic on Monday that while he had nothing against the practice of Surya namaskar or any other Hindu rituals, “people from other communities should be given the freedom and the choice to say no to it.” Reports, meanwhile, said that the government while announcing the decision to hold mass surya namaskar recitations
in institutions across the state on Jan 25 was a precursor to a new yoga policy. The government has made it clear that it would encourage private schools and colleges to participate in the programme. “But we have not yet received any such notice,” Archbishop Topno said.
Muslim organisations in the state are up in arms against the state government’s decision. They threatened to stop their children from attending school on Jan 25, as
their faith does not allow them to bow in front of anyone but Allah. Echoing the views from Islamic organizations, Archbishop Topno said: “Similarly,
one of our commandments also means that we should not bow down in front of any idol or any other god.”
Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation, comprising of pranayam, the control of breath and several main yogasanas, is the main component of Yoga. Basically it is a prayer offered to the sun god.
The MP government has defended the move as just an innocuous step to promote the healthy practice of yoga in the state.
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OPPOSES GOVERNMENT-IMPOSED HINDU PRACTICE
Mumbai (CNA) The practices of one religion should not be imposed on people of other religions, said a Catholic archbishop in response to a recent government decision to make a Hindu ritual compulsory in all public schools and colleges. Archbishop Pascal Topno of Bhopal told the Indian Catholic News Service on Monday that he has nothing against Hindu rituals but “people from other communities should be given the freedom and the choice to say no to it.”
The Madhya Pradesh state government announced its decision to hold mass Surya Namaskar recitations in institutions across the state on Jan. 25. Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is a prayer offered to the sun god and a main component of yoga. The decision is reportedly a precursor to a new yoga policy. The government said it would encourage private schools and colleges to participate in the program as well. The archbishop told ICNS that the Church has not received any direct orders from the government about participating in the ritual to date.
Muslims have also voiced opposition to the government’s decision, threatening to keep their children home from school on Jan. 25.
“Similarly, one of our commandments also means that we should not bow down in front of any idol or any other god,” Archbishop Topno reportedly said.
INDIAN CHURCH SAYS, RATHER THAN WORSHIPPING THE SUN, GOVERNMENT SHOULD DEAL WITH MORE PRESSING PROBLEMS
Indian Church: rather than worship the sun, the government should deal with more pressing problems
by Nirmala Carvalho http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=8304&size=A
The archbishop of Bhopal talks to AsiaNews about the state government’s proposal to organise a mass sun worshipping ceremony. In his view there are more important issues that require attention.
The Muslim community protests against what it considers an un-Islamic and unconstitutional proposal.
Bhopal January 23, 2007 AsiaNews
The proposal by the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh to have schools salute the Sun in a modern form of Sun worship is “disturbing to non Hindu communities, because ‘worship’ is a loaded term and [therefore] inappropriate, especially because the government has other more pressing issues to deal with,” Mgr Pascal Topno, archbishop of Bhopal, told AsiaNews.
He was referring to Surya Namaskar or ‘Salute to the Sun,’ a ceremony the state government wants performed in all state school this coming January 25, ostensibly to promote the practice of yoga among the population.
Surya Namaskar is a modern form of sun worship, and one of the first lessons of yoga. The name comes from Sanskrit and means “prostrating oneself before the luminous disc”.
The government wants the ceremony to be followed by a yoga programme and has called on all students to follow the teachings of guru Baba Ramdev. Audio and video links will thus be set up to connect all educational institutions. Local districts have also been asked to organise parallel events where volunteers will demonstrate Surya Namaskar and guide students who want to participate. According to Indranil Dani, principal secretary for education, the programme is “compulsory only for public schools even though the government does encourage private schools to participate.” L. S. Baghel, commissioner for school education, agrees. “The government can’t force students to attend it. The idea is only to inspire the young generation to know more about yoga and its health benefits,” he said.
L. S. Baghel, commissioner for school education, agrees. “The government can’t force students to attend it. The idea is only to inspire the young generation to know more about yoga and its health benefits,” he said.
But Archbishop Topno is less enthusiastic about the idea. “We have no problems with yoga. It is taught in our school,” he said. “The issue is the idea of ‘worship’ in ‘Surya Namaskar.’ The term is loaded and too much importance is attached to it when in fact there are other more pressing issues that the government should deal with.”
What is more, the ceremony is scheduled to take place on Republic Day. “We are proud to be Indians and proud of our constitution that guarantees us freedom of speech and freedom to choose,” the prelate said, “but we are disturbed by the fact that instead of focusing on this we should be polarised by such an issue”.
The local Muslim community has reacted differently. The Jamiat Ulma Hind, a Muslim organisation in the state capital, has decided to file a complaint against the state government after the chief minister refused to listen to their appeal. According to a group representative, “to force Muslim children to
worship the sun is
against Islam.” Many Muslims have also announced that they won’t send their children to school if the authorities do not cancel the ceremony.
MUSLIM AND CHRISTIAN CHILDREN FORCED TO WORSHIP THE SUN IN INDIAN SCHOOLS
Leaders of Muslim and Christian communities of Madhya-Pradesh state came out against plans of authorities concerning compulsory involvement of all local school children to perform Hindu rite of worshipping sun, Blagovest-Info informs. Event is scheduled January 25.
The matter concerns compulsory performance of movements and poses of “Surya namaskar” (“worshipping sun”) – one of the main yoga exercise by schoolchildren. Authorities hold that
“Surya namaskar” is introduced in schools within the frames of yoga program for schoolchildren’s health, but not as religious rite.
At the same time while doing exercise Christian and Muslims children will have to kneel down before the sun with which leaders of Religious minorities can’t agree. Muslims and Christians follow commandments accordingly to which everyone should worship One God only, leaders of religious communities remind.
“Practices of one religion shouldn’t be imposed on people practicing the other”, archbishop of Bhopal city Pascal Topno declared. Leaders of Muslims of Madhya-Pradesh state declared that they won’t let their children go to school January 25 if government doesn’t cancel its decision.
SURYA NAMASKAR IN MADHYA PRADESH FACES MORE OPPOSITION
Bhopal January 23, 2007 Indo Asian News Service (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh government’s move to hold
‘surya namaskar’ (a yoga initiation exercise that is a salutation to the sun as the source of all energy)
in schools and colleges Thursday is now under attack from a Christian leader who echoes Muslim views that it is an attempt to impose Hindu rituals on students of minority communities.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government will announce its ‘yoga policy’ for educational institutions that day. It has instructed district collectors to organise the ‘surya namaskar’ programme for students the same day.
The programme is compulsory for government schools and colleges but officials have been asked to encourage other educational institutions to join in. Criticising the plan,
Bhopal Archbishop Pascal Topno said: ‘The practices of one religion should not be imposed on people of other religions. ‘Muslims too have voiced their concern over the government decision because it is said to be against their religion. Similarly, one of our commandments also says that we should not bow down in front of any other god,’ Topno told IANS.
Last week a Muslim delegation met Governor Balram Jakhar to seek his intervention to block the move. The delegation, led by Jamia Islamia’s Nazim Maulana Mohammad Ahmed and National Minority Front president Sahabzada Abdur Rashid Khan argued that the plan would have an adverse effect on Muslim students. ‘It is yet another attempt by the government to hurt our religious sentiments. We are not going to abide by it under any circumstances,’ said Mufti Shahar Syed Babar Hussain of Darul Ifta, a Muslim religious body. ‘If the government does not cancel the programme, we will not send our children to schools and colleges that day because
Islam does not permit bowing before anyone except Allah,’ he said.
Terming the move as communal, the Congress minority cell has demanded immediate cancellation of the programme.
‘Muslims are not against yoga and pranayam but such programmes should not be organised by the government. It is the responsibility of the government to honour all faiths instead of promoting any particular religion,’ cell president Haji Mohammad Haroon said. The government has now clarified that participation in ‘surya namaskar’ was not compulsory.
School Education Minister Narottan Mishra said that the hue and cry was meaningless as the programme was aimed to inspire the youth to know about yoga and its benefits. ‘Since surya namaskar is not mandatory, there is no question of forcing any particular religious community to practise it’, Mishra added.
But Haroon said that by making the participation in it voluntary, the government was asking Muslim students not to come to schools and colleges that day and thus creating a rift between them and other students.
CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS REFUSE MP GOVERNMENT ORDER
Bhopal January 24, 2007 (ICNS) Joining hands with other secular groups against the government decision to hold a mass suryanamashkar tomorrow,
the Catholic Church in Bhopal said it will boycott, what is clearly a “Hindu religious practice.”
Christian schools have also received the government order to send their students for practice session in Lal Parade ground, for the suryanamashkar function to be held on January 25 at nine in the morning, a day before Republic Day. “Our schools were asked to send their students for the practice. But why should we send them there? I think
it is clearly a Hindu practice, and definitely not secular,
and it should not be imposed on other communities,”
Archbishop Pascal Topno told The Indian Catholic this morning. “We are one with the Muslim community on this issue,” the Archbishop emphasized. The Archdiocese came out with a statement condemning the order and said none of their students will participate in what is clearly a Hindu religious practice.
“This move will divide the community on the basis of religion, and even the children will get affected by this,” spokesperson of the Madhya Pradesh Bishops’ Council Father Anand Muttungal told ICNS. “We had also met with the director education”, where a heated argument had taken place there over the issue, Father Muttungal says. According to the spokesperson schools had received notices to implement the order and had even been threatened with de-recognition if they failed.
“We are not against yoga, in fact it is good for health, but the way it is being done is objectionable,” Father Muttungal added. A delegation including Hindu members also met with the governor yesterday. “Even Hindus are supporting us. They also say that there was no need for it,” Muttungal added. A writ petition has also been filed in the Jabalpur High Court over the issue.
Muslims in Bhopal knocks Governor’s door to stop yoga in schools
Bhopal January 24, 2007 (ANI) Muslims in Bhopal has sought Governor Balram Jakhar’s intervention to stop yoga programme in schools. “Muslims do not have any kind of objection over the programme. But
during the session, children have to recite religious verses, something related to sun god and against Islam,” Jamiat executive member Haji Mohd Haroon told news agency, while terming the move as ‘unconstitutional’. Jamiat Ulma Hind has already moved the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking a stay on the move. Meanwhile,
preparations are in full swing for introduction of yoga in schools, which is expected to be attended by over three lakh school children from January 25.
Besides children, the mass yoga programme will also be taught at district and state levels committees. According to sources, the Committees will be constituted by District Collectors to keep an eye on its implementation. Besides citizens, private organisations and educational institutes, Ministers are likely to participate in the programme in districts.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced his government’s intention to popularise yoga for its health benefits in the presence of Baba Ramdev, who will lead the main programme.
the Madhya Pradesh Government had announced its decision to establish a Yoga University in the state. Patanjali Yogpeeth University, the first yoga university in the state, would train atleast 5000 students. They would also be involved in various research projects that will be undertaken to find ayurvedic cure of deadly diseases.
BJP govt to go ahead with ‘surya namaskar’
http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1075925 The New Indian Express, January 24, 2007
PTI Tuesday, January 23, 2007 Bhopal Ignoring protests, the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh seems to be going ahead with the mass yoga programme on ‘surya namaskar’, expected to be attended by over three lakh school children. Elaborate preparations have been made for the surya namaskar and pranayam programme, planned at the school, district and state levels on January 25, as announced by State Ministers (Health) Ajay Vishnoi and (School Education) Narottam Mishra last month, official sources said on Tuesday. The event will be monitored by special committees formed by District Collectors, they said, adding every state minister has been asked to attend the programme in different districts.
The main programme scheduled here will be led by yoga guru Baba Ramdev and telecast and aired across the state, sources said. Citizens, private organisations and educational institutes have been invited to attend it.
Two teachers were trained in every block to conduct the programme.
Describing the move as ‘unconstitutional’, a 11-member committee, constituted at a meeting of important Muslim bodies called by state unit of All India Muslim personal Law Board (AIMPLB), had sought Governor Balram Jakhar’s intervention in preventing the programme. Jamiat Ulma Hind had also approached the MP High Court seeking a stay on the event. “Though we don’t have objections to any kind of yogic exercise. It is unconstitutional to force students of all religions to recite religious verses during surya namaskar – which we believe is worship of sun and against Islam,” Jamiat Ulma Hind Executive Member Haji Mohd Haroon said. “Booklets carrying ‘shlokas’ have also been circulated among the schools for recitation,” the Muslim representatives said, claiming to have garnered support of their Christian counterparts against it.
The BJP government in the state was attempting to ‘incite religious passion under the garb of yoga‘ among school children, Catholic Church of Madhya Pradesh spokesman Anand Muttungal said.
“Their (BJP’s) intention is doubtful. Though Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has claimed that participation in the programme was voluntary, schools are being compelled to attend it,” he said.
Make ‘Surya Namaskar’ voluntary: MP High Court directs government
Jabalpur January 24, 2007 Madhya Pradesh High Court on Wednesday directed that participation in mass Surya Namaskar programme being organised by the Madhya Pradesh Government for school students on Thursday should be voluntary.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice A K Patnayak and Justice R S Jha, in an interim order on
petitions filed by some Muslim organisations, held that the programme should be attended only by those who want to participate in it voluntarily. No individual or institution should be forced to take part in the programme, the bench ordered while issuing notice to the state government to reply within four weeks on petitioner’s contention that the programme was aimed at saffronisation and would hurt religious sentiments of minority communities.
Arguing on behalf of petitioners – Jamiat Ulma Hind and Bharatiya Muslim Sangh, their counsel contended that
recital of certain ‘mantras’ during the programme would hurt the religious feelings
of members belonging to minority communities. Terming the programme as against the spirit of the constitution, the petitioners alleged that it was aimed at promoting saffron ideology and said such activities should not be carried out by the government. Bureau Report
Participation in yoga should be voluntary: High Court
http://www.hindu.com/2007/01/25/stories/2007012502691300.htm The Hindu, January 25, 2007
Jabalpur January 25, 2007 Amid a raging controversy over Madhya Pradesh Government’s decision to organise “surya namaskar” and “pranayam” programme in schools on Thursday, the High Court on Wednesday ordered that the participation in it should be voluntary. No individual or institution should be forced to take part in the programme, a Division Bench of Chief Justice A.K. Patnayak and Justice R.S. Jha said in an interim order on petitions filed by some Muslim organisations against the Government’s decision.
Issues notice It said the programme should be attended only by those who want to participate in it voluntarily.
The Bench issued notice to the State Government to reply within four weeks. Counsel for petitioners (Jamiat Ulma Hind and Bharatiya Muslim Sangh) contended that
recital of certain `mantras’ during the programme would hurt religious feelings of minority communities. — PTI
Court asks Madhya Pradesh to make surya namaskar voluntary
January 25, 2007 News Report India Channel World News Advocate General Rabinandan Singh told the court that the government had already made it clear that the programme would be voluntary.
IANS, [RxPG] BHOPAL Jan 24 – The Jabalpur bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court Wednesday asked the state government to make the participation in the controversial ‘surya namaskar’ programme, organised by it Thursday for all school and college students, voluntary. No one, individual or institution, be forced to participate in the programme, said a division bench comprising Chief Justice A.K. Patnayak and Justice R.S. Jha.
The bench also asked the state government to reply in four weeks on the charge of the petitioners that the programme was aimed at promoting saffron ideology and would hurt religious sentiments of the minorities.
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and Bharatiya Muslim Sangh in the petition filed before Tuesday have also contended that
recital of certain ‘mantras’ during the programme
too were against the spirit of the constitution.
Advocate General Rabinandan Singh told the court that the government had already made it clear that the programme would be voluntary. The Bharatiya Janata Party government’s move to hold
‘surya namaskar’ – a yoga initiation exercise that is a salutation to the sun as the source of all energy – in schools and colleges Thursday morning has been opposed by
Muslim and Christian leaders who say that it was against their religions
and thus unconstitutional.
Pic: THE SURYA NAMASKAR, TO BE PERFORMED TODAY BY MILLIONS OF INDIAN CHILDREN (www.danzanryu.com) … BUT RELIGIOUS FEARS STOP HEALTHY BODIES HAVING THEIR DAY IN THE SUN Ashling O’Connor in Bombay
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25689-2564220,00.html The Times January 25, 2007
A mass yoga exercise for five million children in India, aimed at kick-starting a health drive, has provoked calls for Muslims to boycott schools today. The central state of Madhya Pradesh wants all children to take part in the
Surya Namaskar, which in Sanskrit means “sun salutation”. Elaborate preparations have been made for the performance of the 12-posture exercise
and the Pranayama, the yogic breathing technique espoused by Swami Ramdev. In the absence of the yoga guru, who is holding a camp in Bangkok, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, will lead the session. His commands will be broadcast at 9am from the city of Bhopal across the state on radio and television. Every child aged 11 and above has been invited to participate and every state minister ordered to attend. “We have a firm belief that Surya Namaskar is good for health and we want to teach it to everyone who is interested,” Ajay Vishnoi, the health minister, said. “Five million children will be doing this.”
The event has angered India’s 150 million-strong Muslim community, which fears further marginalisation by the majority Hindu population. Madhya Pradesh is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalists.
The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board appealed to the state governor to intervene, while the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, one of India’s leading Islamic organisations, sought a high court injunction against an “unconstitutional” event. Both approaches having failed, Muslim leaders advised parents to avoid “an embarrassing situation” by not sending their children to school.
“India is a secular country, and we don’t think it is right on the part of the Government to hurt our religious sentiments by favouring a practice of the majority community,” Shamshuddin Ahmed, a member of the Muslim law board, said.
“Our religion does not preach reverence to the Sun. It teaches to pay obeisance to the maker of the Sun, Allah.”
The controversy is the second in four months involving the promotion of Hindu nationalism in state schools. There was outrage in September after all educational institutions were instructed to sing Vande Mataram*, the national song, to mark its centenary. Muslim leaders protested that the song, which translates as Mother, I Bow to Thee, was also against their principle of bowing before no one but Allah. The Government ruled that it was optional to sing the song — a rallying cry for Indians fighting British rule — but the BJP condemned the objections as unpatriotic. Similarly, it is emphasised that the Surya Namaskar is not compulsory. “No one is forcing people to join in,” Mr Vishnoi said. “It is for whoever wants to. It is nothing to do with religion. It is a health function.”
Swami Ramdev plans a yoga training and research centre in the state. The guru, who has broadcast daily on his TV channel since 2002, is said to have a $50 million (£25 million) empire.
Salutary salutations The Surya Namaskar is said to strengthen the body, improve circulation and regulate breathing. Benefits include stronger abdominal muscles, reduced anxiety, improved memory, hair loss prevention and a less prominent Adam’s apple. Pregnant women and hernia sufferers are advised not to do it. *see pages 6, 12, 98
Dravid attends RSS function, Sachin visits temple
January 20, 2007 Nagpur (IANS) India captain Rahul Dravid attended a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) function here Saturday while Sachin Tendulkar visited a famous temple, a day before the first one-day international against the West Indies… The occasion was
a collective Surya Namaskar, a 10-stage salute to the Sun God and a good yoga exercise. Styled as Surya Namaskar Mahayagya, the drill was a part of the late RSS chief M.S. Golwalkar birth centenary celebrations being held all over the country.
In his brief speech, Dravid told the gathering that he used to do the exercise regularly in his school days and would like to resume it right away, “may be from tomorrow itself!” …The function was simultaneously held at four other places in the city, which is also the headquarters of the RSS, Dr. Dilip Gupta its Nagpur unit chief told IANS. While Dravid was attending the RSS function, former captain Tendulkar was visiting the famous Tekdi Ganesh temple for prayers. Dressed in a yellow T-shirt and shorts, he arrived in a red car with one of his friends, and prayed and kneeled before the God while many devotees inside the temple looked on excitedly.
Prof Shamsul Ismails letter to Indian Cricket captain Rahul Dravid
February 6, 2007
Dear Rahul Dravid, Namaskar!
…I am sorry to write that by participating in the birth centenary programme of M. S. Golwalkar (Guruji), the ideologue of the RSS, in Nagpur on January 20, 2007, you have not only violated the trust which this country has put in you but also saddened large sections of your fans who love and adore you because you and your team represent a Secular-Democratic India. According to a report which appeared in the Hindi organ of the RSS, Panchjanya (February 4, 2007, p.11), ‘Indian
cricket captain inaugurated the
Mahayagya programme in the Vidarbh region (of Maharashtra)’. This campaign was organized by RSS ‘to commemorate the birth centenary of Shri Guruji’ who happened to be the second chief and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS. The cover page of Panchjanya also shows you lighting the lamp before
the garlanded photograph of Golwalkar…
You went to commemorate the birth centenary of a RSS leader who hated democracy and declared (while addressing the top cadres of the RSS at its Reshambagh headquarters, Nagpur in 1940) that Hindu India of his dreams needed only ‘one flag (saffron), one leader and one ideology’… Isn’t it shocking that you went to honour such a person! Let me end with the hope that a great cricketer like you who stands as a symbol of Democratic-Secular India will not betray the trust the country has shown in you and fall prey to the designs of Hindu Separatism. Wishing you all the best. Shamsul Islam.
The above open letter was forwarded by John Dayal, President, All India Catholic Union [AICU]:
From: “Dr. John Dayal” <email@example.com> To: “JohnDayal” <JohnDayal@googlegroups.com>
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 6:29 PM Subject: A reminder to everyone who loves India
John Dayal’s Note:
All too many of us, Lay persons, Nuns, Pastors, Priests and Bishops of every possible denomination have fallen unwittingly into the trap of ‘Indianising’ Christianity… Not too late to wake up. Certainly not too late to stand up and be counted.
Though The Examiner, the Archdiocesan weekly of Bombay [Mumbai], carries weekly information, almost in the form of advertisements, on its yoga programmes- or because of it– there was, most curiously, NO NEWS REPORT or comment in The Examiner on this threatening spiritual situation.
Could the reason also be because there are too many Bishops who believe that yoga is harmless; too many Catholic NGOs, Catholic Ashrams, Catholic organizations, and Catholic religious orders promoting yoga; too many powerful Catholic priests teaching yoga and other Eastern meditations- some, even as an ‘apostolate’- conducting yoga seminars, workshops and retreats and ‘yoga healing Masses’, authoring books on yoga- even Kundalini yoga…?
In the Catholic print media, I found
only this one report
from UCAN* in The New Leader, February 16-28, 2007:
Christians, Muslims relieved, as Court makes sun worship optional in schools
Church and Muslim leaders in… Madhya Pradesh state have hailed a court order that makes sun worship optional in educational institutions. On 24 Jan ’07 the state’s High Court declared that no one could be compelled to join the statewide programme scheduled for 25 Jan.
A Muslim group
had approached the court
after the state government decided on 3 Jan to organize mass
surya namaskar (sun worship)
in its schools and colleges. The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has ruled the state since 8 Dec ’03. It said the mass program would be a prelude to introduce the practice in all educational institutions. The High Court directed the government not to compel participation in the program. “No action including expulsion and de-recognition of schools can be done for not participating in it, “the court order added.
Soon after the ruling,
Archbishop Pascal Topno of Bhopal, M.P., said that he was very happy and relieved that the court “has upheld the secular values of the constitution.” The Jesuit archbishop earlier joined Muslims and a tribal front to oppose the government move. Muslim leader Haji Mohammed Haroon said his people too are relieved after the court order.
The New Leader, however DID NOT PUBLISH THE FULL TEXT of the UCAN article. I WONDER WHY.
Maybe, if I reproduce the unpublished portion here, the reader will be able to figure it out:
According to [Muslim leader Haji Mohammed Haroon],
a Muslim would cease to be a Muslim if he or she worshipped any god other than Allah. The sun, he added, is a creation of Allah, so worshipping it would be sacrilegious for a Muslim. “How can a Muslim be expected to do surya namaskar?” asked Quazi Amirullah Khan, another Muslim leader in Bhopal. He asserted his people would not accept such a move.
Archbishop Topno, who heads the Catholic Church in the state, alleged the government is trying to push its “hidden agenda” of imposing Hindu practices on others and interfere with the rights of religious minority groups. “Since it is worship of the sun, it is forbidden to us,”
he explained. *[UCAN=Union of Catholic Asian News]
Surya namaskar is considered as part of the Hindu worship system, he elaborated, and hence “a Christian can not do it.”
He clarified that the Church would not oppose the program being introduced as part of physical exercise and not as worship. Gulzar Singh Markam, state president of Gondwana Ganatantra Party (democratic party of Gondland), says the BJP government has tried to impose Hindu practices under different pretexts. The Gond are a major tribal group in the state.
Earlier, the government had said its order was not binding on private educational institutions.
But Father Anand Muttungal, spokesperson for the Catholic Church in the state, told UCA News that private schools had received a letter from an official from the state education department that threatened to cancel official recognition of schools refusing to organize the Jan. 25 program. The Catholic priest said the Church
planned to go to court even if the government insisted only that all government-school students should participate in the surya namaskar. Children from minority communities also study in government educational institutions, he pointed out.
Archbishop Topno said the Church has become suspicious after noticing consistent efforts by the government to push through its ideology of promoting only Hinduism.
“Now, they will ask us to do surya namaskar, and after sometime they may ask us to start worshipping Hindu deities,” he predicted.
Markam explained that his tribe’s worship system also considers surya namaskar a sacrilege. Similar to Archbishop Topno, he expressed concern that after some time, the government might ask “us to worship Hindu gods and deities.” He further charged that the government has deviated from its “real job” of ensuring development and law and order.
The tribal leader noted that in September 2006, the government tried to make singing of a controversial song compulsory in schools. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, national volunteers’ corps) wants the song, Vande Mataram (obeisance to the mother)*, adopted as the national song. RSS is the umbrella organization of rightwing groups that want to turn India into a Hindu theocratic state, and the BJP is widely considered its political wing. Secularists say the song highlights RSS beliefs and practices. Archbishop Topno says the government should open separate institutions for those who want to study and practice surya namaskar as part of yoga. Even some Hindus oppose the government move. H.P. Verma, a retired university professor, described the move as unwarranted and against the country’s basic secular structure and spirit. Such moves, he told UCA News, are real threats to the country’s democracy. END *see pages 6, 10, 98
Other than this one protest by the Archbishop, behind the thrust of the vociferous opposition from Muslim [who even moved the courts] and tribal leaders [who see inculturisation as Brahminisation – which in fact it is] – NO CATHOLIC VOICE HAS BEEN RAISED to protest against the impending frightening imposition of Hindu worship on Catholics in educational institutions across the country.
Surya Namaskar is a prelude to the art of Yoga; Pranayama is an integral part of Yoga. What exactly are Surya Namaskara and Pranayama in relation to Yoga?
AND THEY WORSHIPPED CREATION – PAYING HOMAGE TO THE SUN GOD
The Wordsworth Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions, edited by Rosemary Goring, 1995.
Surya: The sun god in Hindu mythology. He was the son of Indra, the pre-eminent god of the Rig Veda.
2. John Renard, Responses to 101 Questions on Hinduism, St. Pauls Better Yourself Books, 1999, lists the five principal Hindu deities in this order, “Ganesha is invoked first even though he is not the chief among them, followed by Vishnu, Shiva, Durga, and Surya (the sun).”
SURYA NAMASKAR: WORSHIP OF THE DEITY SHIVA AS SURYA, THE SUN GOD
The Deccan Chronicle, March 5, 2006, Sun Rays. EXTRACT:
In an interesting twist, Shiva is said to have manifested as Surya
in the Linga Purana. In order to bolster the concept of Shiva as the Lord of the universe, the Purana says that he is the sun, and his rays nourish the world in different ways.
The first ray is called Amrit and is the source of power for all the devas. The second ray is Chandra and preserves all medicinal herbs. The third one is Shukla and it ripens all the crops and is responsible for spread of religiosity in the universe. Fourth is Harikesha and it sustains constellations. Vishvakarma that sustains the planet Mercury is the fifth ray. Mars gets its energy from Sanyadvasu, the sixth ray. The seventh ray nurtures the planet Jupiter and is called Arvavasu. Surat is the eighth ray and it sustains the planet Saturn. And the ninth ray, called Susmana, nourishes the moon.”
Thus all the glory due to God alone is given to Surya, the sun, the manifestation of the deity Shiva, in Surya Namaskar.
The World’s Religions, A Lion Handbook, contributed by Raymond Hammer, 1991.
‘Twice-born’ Hindus perform their rites three times a day… In the early morning, worship starts with the uttering of the
mantra ‘Om’, a humming to the sound of the letters A, U, M. Then the worshipper repeats the name of his god, calls to mind the sages (rishis) and identifies himself with Brahman. He binds up the tuft of hair on his head and repeats the
Gayatri mantra* from the Rig Veda: ‘We meditate on the adorable glory of the radiant sun; may he inspire our intelligence.’ He worships bare to the waist and barefoot, sitting cross-legged on the ground, with eyes looking at the tip of his nose and his face towards the rising of
the sun. He then sips water, repeats the name of the god and sprinkles water around the seat. He touches six parts of the body- an indication of God within, repeats his prayers, meditates, and repeats the prayers of the Gayatri. Water is offered to the images, verses from the Veda repeated and worship ends with a final water-offering and obeisance. *see pages 13, 14, 16, 17-21
5. The New Indian Express, ‘A Temple for the Sun-God
‘, October 26, 2005, by Rajee Raman.
“Over the centuries, the sun has been venerated by different cultures as the life-giver and bestower of desires. There is evidence of sun worship in Mexico, Canada, Korea, Japan, Egypt, South America and many other parts of the world.
The Sun-God has been worshipped
as Apollo and Helios in ancient Greece, as Ra in ancient Egypt, and
as Surya, Mitra and Savitri in India. Surya is an important Vedic deity. He is regarded as the supreme god of the universe and the prime object of life-giving energy, being the healer of diseases.
One who observes the sins of all, he is implored in the
Sandhya Vandana* to remove sins. Arghyas are daily offered to Him and the famous Gayatri Mantra** is repeated daily in his adoration. Indian astrology considers the Sun as the first of the Navagrahas or the nine celestial bodies, the others being the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu. The Navagrahas are worshipped with a view to acquiring peace, prosperity and longevity. The sun’s position in anyone’s horoscope is believed to play a significant role in determining one’s destiny. *see pages 18, 21
Suryanar Koil, near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, has the unique distinction of being the only temple in the south where
Surya is the presiding deity. Although shrines for Surya can be seen in other temples like those in Tirupparaitturai, Tirupattur and Kovilur, a temple dedicated exclusively to the Sun-God is an exception to the general norm. The temple is believed to have been built by the Chola king Kulottunga I (1075-1120)… He is said to have been friendly with the Gahadwal dynasty of Kanauj (1090-1194) whose rulers were Sun-worshippers. Thus, the Surya temple is considered an expression of their influence in South India… The speciality of the temple is that all other planets face
Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions, by Prem P. Bhalla, Pustak Mahal, 2006, 328 pages.
Hindus have always shown great reverence for Nature… For the modern scientist, the sun is just a source of light, heat or energy. But
for Hindus, the sun is a god- Surya. 
Why do Hindus greatly revere the sun? In the Suryopanishad, it is said that the gods, Gandharvas and sages reside in the rays of the sun. Irrespective of who you are, without reverence to Surya nothing can be attained. In the Skandpuran, it is said that eating without offering libation to Surya is like eating in sin. Without reverence to Surya, one is not authorised to undertake any kind of auspicious work…
Many Hindus make an offering to Surya every morning. For this, water is taken in a copper vessel, and red sandalwood, rice, red flowers and kusha are mixed into it. Kneeling down outdoors, devotees face the sun and hold the vessel near the middle of the chest, offering the water slowly while chanting the Surya Mantra or the Gayatri Mantra**. In all offerings, devotion is key. Concentrating on the copper vessel and the sun, devotees visualise the round rim of the sun and then see the rays splitting to display a rainbow.
Shivpuran 6/39-40, it is said, “O Master!
You look beautiful with the colour of sindoor. Adorned with diamonds and other gems, your eyes are like lotus flowers. Holding the lotus in your hand it appears that
you are the cause of
Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and the entire creation. O Aditya! Please accept my salutations.
Please accept from this golden vessel the mixture of sindoor, kusha and flowers mixed with red water as a libation and be pleased.”
Pleased with the offering, Surya blesses one with good health and long life, wealth and prosperity, sons and friends. He also blesses one with knowledge, intelligence, wisdom and fame. One attains entry into Surya Lok (the abode of Surya).
In the Brahmpuran, it is said, “Whoever prays and makes offerings to Surya attains whatever they desire. Surya comes close to them and fulfils desires. With his blessings, all physical, oral and mental
sins are absolved.”
In the Rig-Veda it is said that prayers to Surya
free one from sins, disease and poverty, and bless one with happiness and long life. They also
bless one with
vigour, strength, virility and
In the Brahmpuran, chapter 29-30, it is said that Surya is the most outstanding god who lends brightness and lustre to other gods. Whatever is offered to Surya comes back manifold to the devotee.
In the Skandpuran, Kashi Khand, 9/45-48, there are details of attaining wealth and prosperity, good health and children, and other things through Savita Surya Aradhana (prayer or
adoration of Surya).
In the Yajur-Veda, 13/43, it is explained that the Savita Surya Aradhana is done because Surya is the witness to all the good and bad deeds of people and nothing is hidden from him.
In the Agnipuran, it is said that Surya is pleased when the
Gayatri Mantra** is chanted during prayers. [64, 65]
When offering prayers, it is suggested that one must face the east. Even during auspicious ceremonies, the person conducting the ceremony faces the east. There are specific reasons for this. The sun rises in the east. The Vedas accord great significance to the rays of the rising sun.
In the Atharva-Veda, 17/1/30, it is said, “The rising sun destroys all kinds of diseases. It protects one from all causes of death.” 5/30/15 says, “To break the bondage of death, stay connected with the light of the sun.” Again, 8/1/4 says, “To live in the light of the sun is like living in the land of immortality.”
Hindus look up to the sun, which is God Surya. Since God Surya is symbolic of Lord Vishnu or Narayan, the sun is also called Surya Narayan. Surya also symbolises Brahma. 
**see pages 12, 14, 16, 17-21
Astrology developed in ancient times as an attempt to understand the relationship between heavenly bodies and ourselves. Seeing that the sun infuses the earth with fresh energy, the Chinese deduced that it must also infuse their rulers with life, and called their emperor the ‘Son of Heaven’, even as Indians called their kings surya-vanshi, ‘Descendants of the Sun.’]
Surya, Soorya = The sun. Namaskar = Salutation. Surya Namaskar = Salutation to the Sun
SURYA NAMASKAR IS A PRELUDE TO, AND A COMPONENT OF, YOGA
1. The Deccan Chronicle of February 6, 2006: ‘Sun Worship is Great Exercise‘ by Shameem Akhtar.
“Surya Namaskar or the Sun Salutation series brings us in touch with the most sophisticated aspect of Indian culture… Vimla Lalvani, amongst the early students of the famous B.K.S. Iyengar and the author of several books, writes in her book
that [the] sun salute series is the classic warm up exercise [to yoga].”
Dynamic Yoga, by Godfrey Devereux, Thorsons, Harper Collins, 1998, 270 pages.
Traditionally, Hatha Yoga practice begins with a sequence known as the Sun Salutation… The traditional vinyasas [continuity sequences] are based on the Sun Salutation. Start by using Sukhavinyasa… 
A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism, by Karel Werner, Curzon Press, 1994, 190 pages.
Surya- the Vedic Sun god… he also illuminates the mind, dispersing the darkness of ignorance for meditators, thus symbolizing enlightenment
as expressed in the
and other hymns of the Rig Veda.
Surya Namaskar- ‘salutation to the sun’- a dynamic series of exercises best performed at the time and in the direction of the rising sun.
It is part of the Hatha Yoga system.
4. The Sunday Express, ‘Sunny side up‘, 26th October 2005, by Geeta Padmanabhan and Ratna Rajaiah:
“In the ancient world the sun was always considered God…
In India it is venerated as Surya Deva… In the Atharva Veda, an entire section called Suryopanishad is devoted to the sun… One full chapter of Yuddhakanda in Valmiki’s Ramayana is devoted to the worship of the Sun God and the benefits of such worship…
The yogic practice of Surya Namaskar which dates back to the Vedic time is a salutation to the sun to promote physical and mental health, and for spiritual awakening…
“A living proof of the sun’s awesome… powers… is Hira Ratan Manek of Solar Healing Center. This 66-year old business-man has made the medical world sit up with his extraordinary claim: years of gazing at the sun is not only his primary source of nourishment but has also immunised him against all disease… [He] has been living only on energy derived from the sun for the last 8 years… What [he] may have done is revive the age-old practice of worshipping the sun to energise one’s body and mind… So it’s not without reason that
our ancients worshipped it and called it the Sun God.”
5. Yoga, The Ultimate Attainment, Awakening the Life Force, by Swami Rajarshi Muni, Jaico Publishing, 1999, 200 pages.
Yoga originated in India… [I]t is believed to have been taught initially by the Lord Himself. Both Lord Krishna, a divine incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva are known as the originators of Yoga. In the Bhagavad Gita chapter IV,
Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that he taught this timeless knowledge of Yoga first to Vivasvat (the Sun god)
many, many ages ago. Vivasvat then taught it to his son, Vaivasvat Manu, the first man of the present creation of the universe. Manu gave that knowledge to his son, King Ikshvaku. From Ikshvaku the knowledge was passed on to many sages (Rajarshis) in traditional succession. Eventually, after a long passage of time, the true knowledge of Yoga disappeared through misuse. So once again, Lord Krishna revealed the true knowledge of that very same ancient Yoga to his beloved friend and devotee Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra in the great Mahabharata war.
SURYA NAMASKAR AND PRANAYAMA: INTEGRAL COMPONENTS OF YOGA
In the Mylapore Times, March 8-14, 1997, there is an advertisement for five modules of a course on “Yoga, Meditation, Bliss and Creativity- Simple yet powerful techniques of certain basic
Yoga Asanas, Suryanamaskara, Pranayama and Yoga Nidra” at the Hindu Dharmaparipalana Trust Hall of the Sri Varasiddhi Vinayakar [Ganesha] Temple, Chennai.
Exactly 10 years later, today’s [March 13, 2007] New Indian Express runs an article on
Yoga and Surya Namaskaram.
7. The Deccan Chronicle of July 25, 2005: ‘Suryanamaskar, a good combination of 14 asanas‘ by Mickey Mehta.
“Suryanamaskar is a rhythmic combination of yogasana and pranayama. This asana is done at sunrise as well as sunset. It’s a combination of 14 asanas and gives excellent results.
Do start with a small prayer, invoking the Sun God. Stand straight facing the sun… One namaskar is of 14 steps as given above. This exercise can be repeated 10 times… Learn from a yoga
teacher, then practice on your own.” “The writer is India’s ace holistic guru.”
8. The Brockhampton Reference Guide to Alternative Medicine*, Brockhampton Press, London, 1996, 188 pages.
“It is a belief in
that the body’s essence of life, or
prana, is contained in the breath… The aim is to concentrate on self-knowledge [self-realisation]. The following twelve stances, known as
a greeting to the sun, have the aim of relaxing and invigorating the body and mind [toward self-realisation]…
[T]hey should not be done
by pregnant women…
except with expert tuition. If a person has hypertension (high blood pressure), a hernia, clots in the blood or pain in the lower back, they are not recommended.” [pages 180, 181] *This is a compendium of New Age alternative therapies
SURYA NAMASKAR IS THEREFORE A PRELUDE TO AND AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE DISCIPLINE OF YOGA
9. The New Indian Express, “It’s all in the Sun“, November 23, 2003, confirms this.
M.T. Raju interviews Acharya Jowel K. Gopinath, the 31 year old ‘Suryaswami’, a Keralite, now living in Chennai, who “used to spend most of his time around a
Krishna temple. He loved meditation. As he grew up, he traveled all over India. In the Himalayas he saw sadhus meditating for years, surviving mainly on energy derived from the sun. He then began research and experiments and reinvented Suryayoga. Today he has a large number of followers in India as well as abroad, including 3000 Brazilians. And within the last two years he has opened 67 Suryayoga centres across 23 states in India. [He] is attracting disciples in hordes. They want to learn
Suryayoga, or yogic exercises done under the sun. Suryayoga, he says, is a combination of yoga, meditation, sounds and silence.”
Raju quotes ‘Suryaswami’ as calling the sun “Surya, the living god… [who] activates all the seven chakras in the human body from top to bottom, then negative to positive… We need sathvik food. Vegetables give you a lot of cosmic energy. When you eat flesh, you are prone to violence, anger and other negative traits.”
Having said this, he adds his comments about other gurus, “We already have crores [I crore= 10 million] of gods in Hindu mythology. And these modern-day godmen are looting you. If I have a gun, I will finish them all.” END
So much for vegan food, suryayoga and meditation!
USE OF THE PSYCHIC CHAKRAS AND MANTRAS IN SURYA NAMASKAR
The New Indian Express published a five-part series called ‘Surya Namaskaras, A Holistic Approach‘ by Dr. P.G. Krishnamurthy, between September and November, 2003. The author corresponded with me, informing me that “There are 7 postures differently while 5 are repetitions. [Only 5 of the 7
chakras are used]. The remaining 2 Chakras, the first and the last are not for inward concentration during the Surya Namaskara practice.” In the first part of the series, ‘Pranamasan’, the first of the ‘Surya Namaskaras’ was given, underscoring its yogic benefits, the accompanying mantra, and its meaning in English: ‘Om Mitraya Namah’ or ‘Obeisance to the Friend of humans’, and inward concentration is on the ‘anahata chakra’ . The second part explains ‘Hasta Uttanasan’, the ‘asan’ [asana, pose or posture] with raised arms. The recommended mantra is ‘Om Ravaye Namah’, meaning ‘Salutation to the Shining One’. While chanting, one has to concentrate on the ‘vishuddhi chakra’. The third stage is ‘Padahastasan’ with the mantra ‘Om Suryaya Namah’, ‘Salutation to He who induces activity’, with concentration on a spot in the region of the ‘mooladhara chakra’ energy centre.
The fourth is ‘Ashwa Sanchalanasan’, the ‘horse’ or ‘equestrian’ pose, and the accompanying mantra is ‘Om Bhanave Namah’, ‘Salutation to He who illumines’. It connects with the ‘ajna chakra’, the point between the eyebrows on which one must concentrate while chanting. The writer says, “The word ‘ajan’ means command. The practice of meditation in deeper states receives commands from the higher self… On the psychic plane, this point is the bridge between the physical, mental and
bodies. The awakening of the ajna chakra facilitates development of supramental faculties such as
clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy
and other abilities which are the hidden potential of every person.”
The fifth posture is ‘Parvataasan’, the ‘mountain pose’, using the mantra ‘Om Khagaaya Namah’ or ‘Salutation to He who moves quickly in the sky’. The concerned energy centre is the Vishuddhi [purifying] chakra.
Again, writing in the Indian Express of February 3, 2004, Krishnamurthy says, “A dynamic posture of
which is also a part and parcel of Yoga Asanas, is Bhujanagasan (serpent pose)… Concentration should be on the Swadhistana plexus above the mooladhara chakra… [and] the vishuddhi chakra with the utterance of the mantra ‘Om Marichaya Namah’, ‘Salutation to the Lord of the dawn‘.” This time, for the ‘Ashwa Sanchalanasan’, he recommends the “mantra ‘Om Adityaya Namah’, ‘Salutation to the son of Aditi’. Aditi is one of the names of the infinite cosmic mother.”
Krishnamurthy clarified to me, “The mantra for Ashwa Sanchalanasan of the first half is “Om Bhanavenamah” while in the second, it is “Om Adityayanamah” with the difference of keeping the left foot in front in the first, the right in the second.”
‘INCULTURATION’: CATHOLIC PRIESTS-TURNED YOGIS MAKE A CASE FOR THE SUN GOD
Surya Namaskara and other Asanas, by Swami Devaprasad [A CATHOLIC PRIEST] See pages 34, 48
“In Suryanamaskara we salute the sun who is the life-giver of the universe. Right from the beginning of the world, people identified the sun as their God because the sun was powerful, illuminating and the life giving force in the universe. For us Christians we can take the sun as the symbol of the illuminating and all-pervading presence of God manifested in Christ in the universe. Thus when we salute the sun, we are actually saluting Jesus as the light of the world. The practice of the Suryanamaskar is to be done in a prayerful atmosphere, because it is not merely the movement of the body but a spiritual exercise. A Yogi practises this for his spiritual, mental and physical well-being.
In Suryanamaskara there are twelve different yogic postures which are interconnected with various controls of breath.
In the picture given below we see the postures and the directions to control the breath…”
[A circular diagram with directions to exhale-inhale-retain, each accompanied by Scripture verses like ‘My Lord and my God’ John 20:28, ‘My soul thirsts for you’ Psalm 63:1, etc. This is followed by nineteen instructions “For the best possible effectiveness of Yoga”. No. 19 reads “Try to read some books on Yoga.”]
“Devaprasad, author of books on yoga in Malayalam and English, echoes
Swami Gnanajyothi [Fr. A. Louis, see further below] when he describes yoga as ‘the quest to unite the jeevatma (individual soul) with the paramatma (the universal soul or divine reality), thus achieving equilibrium within oneself, and with others, nature, God’… While most believers raise their hands in worship,
Catholic priest Swami Devaprasad, who
harmonizes hatha yoga with Christianity, frequently raises his feet, too.” This quote is taken from the National Catholic Reporter,
September 3, 2003, Vol. 1, No. 23, report on New Age in the Catholic Church in India, in the article, ‘Meditating and Medicating on the Margins‘ by Fr. Francis Gonsalves, SJ.
Interestingly, the book “Holy Basil- Tulsi*” by Yash Rai which I purchased at a
St. Pauls bookstore, contains a 12-line ode in Hindi, “An Obeisance to Soorya, the Sun-God, the Promoter of Bodily Health,” after the instructions, “Patients are also advised to perform yogic exercises… Prayer and meditation on [the] Deity are of special importance as part of the treatment [with the Tulsi plant].”
*The Deccan Chronicle of 8th February, 2006: “As Shiva is worshipped in the form of the Shivalinga, similarly Vishnu is worshipped in the abstract form of a sacred stone, preferably with good chakras (markings), called Shaligrama.
According to the Puranas, worship of Vishnu as Shaligrama is the best form of worship. Shaligrama is believed by Vishnu devotees to be imbued with his presence and it is imperative that prayers be offered to the stone daily…
Shaligrama stones are of various shapes and are identified with the numerous avatars of Vishnu. Black is the most common colour… and yellow and blue are most auspicious. Shaligrama stones are only found in the Gandaki river in Nepal. According to Puranic myths, Vishnu had to take the form of Shaligrama due to the curse of a demon’s wife who was his devotee. He
[the demon] cursed her too to be reborn as a
plant and decreed that
worship of Shaligrama would be incomplete without the worship of Tulsi first.”
Christian Meditation Through Yoga, by Gilbert Carlo, SVD.,1998, has a section “Nature and Sunrise Meditation“.
Doesn’t one expect that the priority of a Catholic priest would be the readings of the Divine Office, and Holy Mass?**
V. L. Rego***, founder of the Integral Yoga Satsanga in Mangalore, in his book, Integral Yoga, 1987, devotes four pages [with a photograph of him bowing down before the sun] to the
Surya Namaskara Asana, which he describes as “rated as one of the best yogic exercises” adding, “pregnant women shouldn’t practice it after the third month of pregnancy… It’s practice is dangerous for the patients of hernia.” [***see pages 35-41, 47] [**see pages 55-56]
JustinTauro@ZAMILSTEEL.com, himself a practitioner of Surya Namaskar and Yoga, writing in support of the M.P. government’s decision in MangaloreanCatholics Digest No. 639, January 27, 2007 admits:
“It must be noted here that
Soorya Namaskar is primarily a form of Yoga Asana.”
In MangaloreanCatholics Digest No. 442, November 22, 2005
firstname.lastname@example.org, a Hindu fundamentalist, wrote: “Yatra Yogeshwaro Krishna Yatra Partho Dhanurdhara Tatra Shri Vijayo Bhutirdhruva Nitirmati Namah. Bhagvat Gita 18:78. Wherever there is Yogeshwar (Lord of the Disciplines), Shri Krishna and His devotee the archer Arjun, victory, prosperity and happiness will exist, is my opinion. Thus ends the Bhagvat Gita.
Yoga or yog as it is pronounced is most closely described as a discipline. There are many Yogas.
Some of the prominent amongst them is the Bhakti Yog, the Nhyan Yog, the Karma Yog and of course the… Hasta yog. Hasta yog deals with the physical body. It deals with the disciplining the body. The various asanas (postures) help to bring an equilibrium between the mind and the body… A healthy measure of all the yogs are necessary for the final goal, Moksha… As konkanis we are taught to get up early and after ablutions say the Gayatri mantra. We also do the Surya Namaskar which is a form of the hasta yoga. A little time spent on thinking of the Lord (meditation) and a little time for one’s healthy body –the Surya Namaskar asana- is thought of as a must-do thing. Doctrines such as Hinduism and Buddhism have evolved the hasta yoga.“
The above are only two excerpts from several lengthy and heated discussions in the MangaloreanCatholics forum on the pros and cons of Surya Namaskar and Yoga, over the last two years.
Another forum, KonkaniCatholics, conducted a very sensible enquiry into the issues following the recent news reports. Here is the contribution by the founder and main moderator:
by Austine Crasta in KonkaniCatholics Digest No. 450,
January 29, 2007
Is Surya Namaskara an ancient practice linked with yoga?
No. According to the Wiki encyclopedia this claim is thoroughly a false one, Surya Namaskar being a 20th century invention with no ancient foundations whatsoever.
Says Wikipedia: “Despite numerous and persistent claims of ancient, even ‘Vedic’ origin, the prevalent Surya Namaskar sequence has no ancient foundation, but is rather a 20th-century invention of Bhawanrao Pantpritinidhi, the Rajah of Aundh. Based upon vyayam, the fitness regime of traditional wrestlers that develops strength, with flexibility and muscle bulk, it was first described in 1929, and only gained popularity after he taught it to an admiring British journalist whilst he was studying Law in London, in 1937. A book soon followed (‘The Ten Point Way to Health’, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1938) and thus Surya Namaskar spread throughout the world, until it came to be commonly, and yet wholly erroneously, accepted as an ancient yogic practice with some historical, spiritual lineage.”
What exactly is Surya Namaskara? Does it violate Christian Commandments?
Surya namaskara quite literally means “saluting the sun” and in the words of the secular Wikipedia, “is a modern form of sun worship, self vitalization and exercise introduction,” movements and poses which “can be practised on varying levels of awareness, ranging from that of physical exercise in various styles, to a complete sadhana which incorporates asana, pranayama, mantra and chakra meditation.”
Since Hindus believe ‘Surya’ to be a sun god (son of Dyaus Pitar), Surya Namaskara definitely amounts to sun worship in violation of the First Commandment of the Decalogue and greatly invites Divine displeasure.
Is it ok to practice Surya Namaskara as an exercise without meaning worship?
While it is possible to practice movements and poses of Surya namaskara on varying levels of awareness, ranging from that of physical
exercise in various styles, to a complete sadhana incorporating asana, pranayama, mantra and chakra meditation, it is not really advisable to adopt the practice even for the benefit of physical exercise on account of its deep connotations of Hindu worship of the sun god. If one still feels the need to do so, one must refrain from referring to it as Surya Namaskara in order to distinguish clearly between a practice amounting to false worship and a beneficial – if at all – physical exercise.
Is it ok to perform Surya Namaskara without meaning worship in order to satisfy a law/order so as to preserve peace and communal harmony?
Firstly, one is never bound to obey an unjust law even if it were promulgated by a State “because there can be no obligation to obey if it means committing sin.” (St. Francis of Assisi, Rule of 1221, Chapter V)
Secondly, even if one were to guard one’s heart from worshipping nature while performing the act externally, one does not escape the consequences of the sin of scandal the description of which our Lord our portrayed as very grave. (cf. Mt. 18:6)
Eleazar preferred a glorious death to obedience to the king’s orders to eat pork which through a certain signification was considered to defile a Jew. To his friends among those in charge of providing the unlawful meat who took him aside and offered to bring him a meat of his choice so that he could legitimately eat and pretend to be eating some of the meat of the sacrifice prescribed by the king, Eleazar boldly answered:
“Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life lest many of the young should suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year has gone over to an alien religion, and through my pretense, for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they should be led astray because of me, while I defile and disgrace my old age. For even if for the present I should avoid the punishment of men, yet whether I live or die I shall not escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age and leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.” (2 Maccabees 6: 24-28, RSV)
If Eleazar showed such reverence for what was merely a Jewish ritual law, how much more should the Christian hold fast to the Divine law of the Decalogue, in letter and in spirit, giving no scandal through a “legal” observation of a contrary law dishonouring through rivalry, the King of kings who will be the Judge of all?
The evidence provided by Austine Crasta to the effect that Surya Namaskar is not an ancient Vedic practice is upheld by its omission from some authoritative works on Hinduism, which include:
The Essentials of Hinduism, A Comprehensive Overview of the World’s Oldest Religion, by Swami Bhaskarananda*, 1994, published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1998, 234 pages. *see pages 18, 24, 59, 62, 65
Hinduism, by Shakunthala Jagannathan*, Vakils, Feffer and Simons, 1984, with colour plates.
*She is the grand-daughter of the eminent Tamil Brahmin statesman C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar.
Hinduism For All, by Srinivasan, Giri Trading, 2003, with illustration in colour.
Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, by Abbé J. A. Dubois, Rupa and Co. 7th impression, 2002, 842 pages. translated from French and edited with notes by Henry K. Beauchamp, first published 1906. Fr. Dubois lived in India from 1792 to 1823. Beauchamp, writing the preface to the third edition in 1905, quoted The Hindu newspaper as saying, “The book is as valuable today as it ever was.” In his preface to the book, Max Mueller calls the Abbé’s work “a trustworthy authority on the state of India” and the Abbé “a man remarkably free from theological prejudices”. The Asiatic Review says it is a valuable historic document. Beauchamp writes, “The general accuracy of the Abbé’s observations has nowhere been impugned and every Indian critic of the work has paid a warm tribute to the Abbé’s industry, zeal and impartiality.”
This book was written nearly 200 years ago. It must be emphasised that the French Catholic missionary, even after spending thirty years in South India, living among the people he served, closely studying and recording the religious rituals of the Hindus of his time, had nothing, not one word to say, about the practice of Surya Namaskar. Or Pranayama.
Out of the 800-plus pages in the book, hardly one page is devoted to yoga.
This is sufficient evidence that the popular practice of Surya Namaskar, Pranayama, and even Yoga are modern, neo-Hindu phenomena.
On the other hand, Dubois writes extensively about mantra chanting, with particular emphasis on the
Gayatri Mantra and
Dubois concludes that
‘OM’ is “one of the unmeaning and ridiculous practices of Hinduism.”
THE GAYATRI MANTRA
Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, by Abbé J. A. Dubois, Rupa and Co. 7th impression, 2002.
‘Om’ or “Aum’
is a mantra or mantram. These famous mantrams which the Hindus think so much of are nothing more than prayers or consecrated formulas, but they are considered so powerful that they can, as the Hindus say, ‘enchain the powers of the gods themselves’. Mantrams can be used for invocation, for evocation, and as spells. They may be either preservative or destructive, beneficent or maleficent, salutary or harmful. In fact, there is no effect they are not capable of producing. Through them an evil spirit can be made to take possession of anyone or can be exorcised… One mantram can counteract the effect of another, the stronger neutralize the weaker.” 
“The most famous and the most efficacious mantram for taking away sins, whose power is so great that the very gods tremble at it, is that which they call the
It is so ancient that the Vedas themselves were born from it… The following are the words of this mantram: ‘Let us worship the supreme light of the Sun, the God of all things, who can so well guide our understanding.”…It is a prayer in honour of the Sun, one of whose names is Savitri. It is a great mystery. Each word, and indeed each syllable, is full of allusions which only a very few Brahmins can understand.
After the Gayathri, the most powerful mantram is the mysterious monosyllable ‘Om’ or ‘Aum’. Though it is to the interest of the Brahmins to keep the real meaning of this sacred word a profound secret, and though the greater number of them do not understand it themselves, there does not appear to be much doubt that it is the symbolic name of the Supreme Being, one and indivisible like the word ‘Aum’.”
Here, Henry K. Beauchamp, the editor adds a note, “As long as there has been a Hindu faith, the power of sound has been recognized in the Sacred Word. In that word lie all potencies, for the Sacred Word expresses the one and latent Being, every power of generation, of preservation and of destruction.” [140, 141]
“The sannyasi’s duty of meditation, to which Hindus attach so much importance, appears to me so remarkable a practice for idolaters that I have thought it incumbent on me to call special attention to it [and]… will show to what extremes superstition and fanaticism will pervert men’s minds, especially when they are connected with self-conceit and a longing for notoriety.
The doctrine of meditation is called yogam [yoga]
and from it the word yogi is derived. According to Hindu doctrine, the practice of yogam has a peculiarly spiritualizing and purifying effect on a sannyasi.” 
“One of the most famous and edifying of the yogams is called Sabdabrahma [the word of Brahma] or Pranava, that is to say, meditation on the sacred and mysterious word ‘Aum’ –
‘Aum’ being Brahma himself.”
Adds Henry K. Beauchamp, “It would be more correct to say ‘Brahman’, the Supreme Spirit itself.”
“As this word ‘Aum’ is composed of three letters, which in writing form only one, we may consider that the ‘A’ is Brahma, the ‘U’ Vishnu, and the ‘M’, Siva. The sign representing the three letters ends with a semicircle with a dot in the centre which is called Bindu, and is the emblem of the purely spiritual Being. Those who desire to obtain salvation must be always meditating on this word and constantly repeating it… One must gradually withdraw one’s thoughts from all material objects and fix them on the dot or Bindu. This point once reached, a single moment of meditation is sufficient to ensure the most perfect happiness… Vishnu always looks favourably on such meditation, and from the moment one is able to bring oneself to believe firmly that the pranava or the word ‘Aum’ is the Divine Being, one sees Vishnu in everything. In fact, one see, hears and thinks of nothing but him, and finally one believes that there is nothing except him. Just as there is nothing worth knowing that is not to be found in the Vedas, so no meditation is equal in merit to the word ‘Aum’.”
“One reads in the Bhagavata [Gita], “Arjuna having invoked Vishnu, and prayed to him to reveal himself, this powerful god answered, ‘These Arjuna are the forms in which thou must above all invoke me, acknowledging them as part of my Divine Essence: In prayer I am the Gayathri, in speech I am the word Aum.” [616, 617]
On page 538, Abbé Dubois says that the mantra ‘Aum’ is “one of the unmeaning and ridiculous practices of Hinduism”.
The Deccan Chronicle, April 15, 2006.
“The hymns in the Rig Veda are contained in 10 parts called the Mandalas… The third Mandala contains the Gayatri Mantra, the most famous mantra for the Hindus.”
A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism, by Karel Werner, Curzon Press, 1994.
Gayatri Mantra– the name of a verse in the Rig Veda (3, 62, 10) addressing the sun
as Savitar (‘vivifier’) and hence also known as Savitri Mantra. It is recited at the daily puja at dawn and dusk by all faithful brahmins: ‘Om, tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah pracodayat, om.’ (We contemplate the glorious splendour of the divine Vivifier; may he enlighten our minds!)
The Essentials of Hinduism, A Comprehensive Overview of the World’s Oldest Religion, by Swami Bhaskarananda*, 1994, published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1998. *see pages 17, 24, 59, 62, 65
Gayatri Mantra– A sacred verse of the Rig-Veda recited daily by Hindus
of the three upper castes after they have been invested with the sacred thread (Upavita);
also known as Savitri Mantra.
Hinduism For All, by Srinivasan, Giri Trading, 2003.
Gayatri Mantra is regarded as the greatest of all mantras. It is said to be the essence of the three Vedas i.e. Rig, Yajur and Sama. The Gayatri is the power of a brahmana who has been given the sacred thread at a ceremony called the upanayam. The father gives the brahmopadesham to the child during this ceremony. This mantra protects one at all times. The brahmana must also perform his daily rites known as the sandyavandanam. [see pages 13, 21]
6. The Deccan Chronicle, August 29, 2005.
“The most revered mantra in Hinduism is the Gayatri Mantra. Said to be developed and written by sage Vishvamitra, the mantra is personified by goddess Gayatri or Savitri, also known as Veda Mata [the mother of the Vedas].
The mantra is also known as the essence of the Vedas and is taken from a verse in the Rig Veda…
The reigning deity of the Gayatri Mantra is the Sun, and the scriptures enjoin Hindus to recite the Gayatri Mantra thrice daily, in the morning, noon and evening, to cancel out evil, remove bad tendencies and get virtuous habits. While praising the Supreme Being, the chanter of the mantra meditates, and prays for the rise of real inner intelligence within to understand
the unity of the creation, and transcend worldly preoccupations and attain union with the Brahman…
The first line of the mantra starts with
Aum, the sacred syllable or word… Bhuh, Bhuvah and Svah are the three planes- physical, astral and celestial. The second and third lines describe the Supreme Spirit and praise its various attributes and qualities. It invokes the Supreme Spirit as the embodiment of knowledge and light. The fourth line implores the Brahman or Supreme Spirit to guide, impel and enlighten us humans.”
Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions, by Prem P. Bhalla, Pustak Mahal, January 2006.
“Which mantra do Hindus consider most powerful?
There are innumerable mantras recited by Hindu devotees. None is as powerful as the Gayatri mantra.
In the annals of time it is eternal. In the Puranas it is said that Brahma first received the mantra through a celestial call. He served as creator of the world by virtue of the powers of reciting the mantra:
‘Om Bhur Bhuva Svaha, Tat Savithur Varainium, Bhargo Devasya, Dheemahi, Dheeyo Yo Na, Prachodayat.’
“Can you explain the meaning of the Gayatri mantra in detail?
refers to ‘the Supreme Spirit that sustains and protects everyone’.
‘Bhur’ means ‘the land, the earth or the world that gives us life’.
‘Bhuv’ means ‘one who takes away everybody’s suffering’.
‘Sva’ means ‘one who gives happiness and contentment’.
‘Tat’ refers to ‘the Supreme Spirit’.
‘Savitur’ means ‘the Creator of all things, the mother and father of the world’.
‘Varainium’ is ‘that which is outstanding and welcome’.
‘Bhargo’ refers to ‘the purest form like the rays of the sun’.
‘Devasya’ refers to ‘what belongs to the gods’.
‘Dheemahi’ means ‘contemplation’.
‘Dheeyo’ denotes ‘the mind and intellect’.
‘Yo’ refers to ‘the Supreme Spirit’.
‘Na’ means ‘one’s’.
‘Prachodayat’ denotes ‘to motivate us to be involved in good deeds’.
In essence, the mantra means:
O Master of the universe, our Protector, One who takes away all our sufferings, One who gives happiness and contentment to everyone, we contemplate and meditate to the Creator of the universe in the form of knowledge and pure brilliance. Please motivate us to do good deeds.”
“To give a better interpretation of the Gayatri, Brahma composed the four Vedas.
Gayatri is therefore also known as Vedmata (mother of the Vedas). Religious texts say ‘The Gayatri mantra is the essence of the Vedas’.
In the Brihadyogi Yayavlkya Smriti, 10/10-11, it is said: No pilgrimage is as holy as the Ganga. No God can equal Krishna.
There is no mantra superior to chanting the Gayatri mantra. There never will be.
In the Devi Bhagwat, 11/21/5, it is said that
Narsinh, Surya, Varah, Tantrik and Vedic mantras will be fruitless unless accompanied by the Gayatri mantra.
In the Savitri Upkhyan Adhyay, shlokas 14-17, it is said that if one were to chant the Gayatri mantra once,
all sins for the day would be absolved. If one were to chant it ten times, the sins for the day and the night would be absolved. If it were chanted hundred times, sins for a month would be absolved. Chant it thousand times and sins for several years would be absolved. Chanting the mantra a lakh times would rid one of a lifetime of sins and ten lakh times would do away with sins of the past lives. If one were to chant it hundred lakh times it would absolve one of the sins of all lives.
A thousand lakh times would qualify a Brahmin for salvation.
In the Agnipuran, 215/8, it is said that there is no better mantra for chanting than the Gayatri. However, it is not a mantra for oblations and sufferings.
In the Bhagavad Gita,
Lord Krishna has said: Amongst the mantras I am the Gayatri mantra.
It is believed that within the 24 syllables of the Gayatri mantra, the strength of 24 saints and gods is included. Therefore when the mantra is chanted, the hidden strength within it creates vibrations in the body increasing the flow of blood and improving the intake of oxygen. Thus, all maladies in the body are destroyed.
Religious texts say that methodically chanting the Gayatri mantra removes obstacles affecting the body and the mind… It protects one from all kinds of problems and sudden death.” [228, 229]
“In the Agnipuran, it is said that Surya is pleased when the
is chanted during prayers.” [page 65]
8. The Times of India, December 28, 2001, by Krishna Acharya Bhatnagar.
“For the Hindus, Vedic prayers are very sacred. Hymns of the Vedas are known as mantras. Some of the mantras are prayer-mantras.
One such hymn in the Yajur Veda is the Gayatri mantra. It is a ‘beej’ mantra or seed syllable, derived from ancient primeval sounds. The origin of the text of the Gayatri mantra has been elaborated in the Manu Smriti: ‘Brahma milked out, as it were, from the three Vedas- Rig Veda, Yajur Veda and Sama Veda, the letter A, the letter U and the letter M and formed by their coalition [AUM] three monosyllables together with three mysterious words- Bhur, Bhuvah and Svah, or earth, sky and heaven’. Thus the text of the Gayatri mantra was composed as… The mantra was conceived as the worship of Lord Hari, of Aditya or the Sun, and also as pure Nirguna worship of Brahma. Japa or chanting of this mantra with concentration and understanding ushers in inexplicable mental peace, calm and solace.
According to Agni Purana, the syllable ‘ja’ destroys the birth and death cycle and the syllable ‘pa’ destroys all sins. Thus japa of this mantra has the power to unite the soul with the Supreme Being.
It has miraculous powers which can infuse us with courage and confidence. In the battle field of Kurukshetra, in the Mahabharata, Bhishma advises Yudhishthir to recite the ‘spiritually powerful’ Gayatri mantra. A wonderful miracle was witnessed when the late Swami Gitananda performed Guru Puja in Pondicherry. The flower plates shook with powerful vibrations of the chanted mantras, and glasses of water shivered, bubbled and frothed. In this mantra there is latent spiritual power which by regular japa and meditation can transform the mind into pragya or wisdom.
Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, ‘Amongst the mantras, I am Gayatri’.
The Goddess Gayatri Devi is the incarnation and manifestation of Brahma who resides in all living beings. The Gayatri mantra is also known as Savitri or Sun mantra. It is addressed to the divine power in the Sun.” Bhatnagar then quotes explanatory verses from the Svetasvatara and Isa Upanishads, and the Rig Veda…
“Before recitation of the Gayatri mantra, pranayama is immensely beneficial for both the mind and the body. This helps in concentration. There is a very simple mechanism for this breathing exercise… Recitation of the Gayatri mantra can be ‘Vachik’ or chanting loudly so that it is audible to listeners, ‘Upansu’ or reciting in a very low voice, and ‘Mansik’ or mental chanting. The last one is most effective. Gayatri is a spiritual weapon which protects one who chants it and blesses him with the brilliant light of the highest spiritual illumination.
Japa of the Gayatri mantra is a specially designed, efficient spiritual ritual for the realisation of the divinity of the self. It is ‘nitya karma’.”
The Hindu [or Vedic] concept and understanding of prayer, we see, is incomparably different from that of Christians.
9. The Sunday Express, November 30, 2003: ‘Power of Prayer’ by Ratna Rajaiah.
“In ancient wisdom, sound is considered as the source of all creation. In the Vedas, the cosmic primordial sound
from which all creation is said to have emanated is
‘Om’… Perhaps the simplest and one of the most powerful sounds to chant is ‘Om’… Other mantrams like the
and the mritunjaya mantram are also simple to earn and chant and are considered very powerful… So are chants like ‘Hail Mary’ and ‘Bismillah ir-rahman ir-rahim’.”
The writer also refers to the works of “Dr. Herbert Benson M.D., of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Boston’s Deaconess Medical Center [who] studied the effects of chanting mantras- like we do ‘Om’- on human physiology” and such other New Age “alternative avenues of healing
and therapy… A study in a recent publication of the British Medical Journal suggests that reciting the Latin Hail Mary prayer or Eastern mantras slows down breathing and improves the health of the heart. And this rediscovery of the power of chanting and prayers isn’t making waves only in the laboratories of the West. Outside of it they’re calling it ‘vibrational medicine‘. Women in labour chant ‘Om‘ to ease the pain.
Yoga schools in New York teach their students to chant ‘bija mantras’ and hum as they practice their asanas. People chant to relieve everything from tension and headache to insomnia and PMT. The practice of singing bhajans is catching on in a way that demanded a story about it in Time magazine. And there is a new and growing breed of sound therapists. At last count there are apparently at least 5,000 sound therapists in the USA. Several best selling books have been written about the power of sound healing. One of the most successful of these is Don Campbell’s The Mozart Effect. The book, among other things, tells you ‘how to harness the power of toning, chanting, mantras…’ to tackle everything from improving concentration to easing chronic pain… A few weeks ago, Newsweek’s cover story asks the question, ‘Is Religion Good Medicine? Why Science is starting to Believe’…”
Not surprisingly, the article was carried in the section [which is a regular feature] on “New-Age Living”.
10. Swami Yesudas, the acharya-guru of the Jyothi Ashram, Thannirpalli, Tamil Nadu
in his article dated May 5, 2006, titled, “The Quran, Bhagavad Gita and the Bible on the Altar”*, writes:
“As for myself, I DO NOT USE, AND REFUSE TO USE the famous
There are enough indications to show that it is addressed to the Sun — and not to God Who is Light, as is claimed by its proponents.”
In conclusion, he says, While we do not want to hurt the feelings of our non-Christian brethren, though “God spoke to our ancestors many times and in many ways,” (Hebrews 1.1, TEV), because many non-Christian works speak of things totally opposed to Christian Revelation, for instance, ‘Ahambrahmasmi,’ (the Gita leads to it), because there is not enough catechesis at this stage of time and people can be easily scandalized, books of other faiths should not be kept along with the Bible, or on the Altar.
we should strongly object to the practice that Ashrams like Shantivanam have, where they start all their Religious services with the Om and the Gayatri mantra, and not with the Sign of the Cross.
*The Examiner, March 25, 2006, on page 18, described an inter-faith prayer meeting: “The focus in the chapel… where the meeting was held, was the altar, where the three holy books, the Quran, Bhagavad Gita and Bible were placed amidst light and flowers.”
Swami Yesudas and Jyothi Ashram are one of those very, very few Catholic Ashrams where the presiding deity is not advaitic philosophy, and which practices genuine inculturated Christianity.
However, some learned Bishops and many priests today in the Indian Church are inclusive in their views. Giving a liberal interpretation to Church encyclicals and documents such as Redemptoris Missio, Nostra Aetate and Ecclesia in Asia, they find new meaning- and seek to help Catholics discover this hidden good- in all Hindu philosophies, symbols, rituals, ceremonies, festivals, etc. One such effort is Understanding Our Fellow Pilgrims, Compiled by The Sub-Committee for Inter-Religious Dialogue, Goa Archdiocesan JKJ 2000 Committee, Fr. Gregory Naik, S.J., Editor, 2000, 314 pages.
The Foreword is by the
Arch]bishop Filipe Neri Ferrao of Goa and Daman.
The motive behind the effort is laudable- fostering inter-religious dialogue, communal harmony, etc. But Catholics who read it have shared with me that they are left with the sense that we have compromised on the unicity of Jesus and His Gospel.
I propose to make a study of and write a commentary on this book, but for the moment, we return to the Gayatri Mantra:
In an old article reprinted in Religious Hinduism (St Pauls, 1997),
Robert Antoine S.J., points out that a Brahmin is by caste the Hindu whose existence is completely under the sway of ritual… The following is Antoine’s own description of the daily religious life of a Brahmin [The account runs into three pages, but I will quote partly]:
Rising before sunrise, a Brahmin is careful to avoid the sight of inauspicious persons or objects. A widow, a sweeper, a barren woman are inauspicious. A ring, a cow, a little child, are auspicious. His right foot must touch the ground first.
Once out of bed, he rinses his mouth three times and winds his holy thread round his neck and over his right ear. After the morning toilet, he wears his holy thread round his neck and is allowed to break silence. He cleans his teeth, rinses his mouth and
bows to the sun. The morning bath follows, preferably in a river, concluded by a prayer to the sages, the gods, and the ancestors. Then begins the Pratah-sandhya* or morning prayer, which must be completed before the sun rises. Seated on a low stool and facing the east, with his sacred thread hanging from his left shoulder, he sips water, pronounces sacred formulas (mantras) over the ashes which he has brought with him and marks his forehead, his arms, ribs and knees with them. He ties his hair. Closing one nostril after the other, he exhales and inhales, repeating the sacred
Gayatri mahamantra: …O Supreme Lord, the Source of Existence, Intelligence and Bliss!
We meditate on the lovely light of the god, Savitri; May it stimulate our thoughts! Then closing both nostrils and bending his head, he repeats mentally the same mantra four times. The whole process is repeated three times. He then formulates his intention (sankalpa) to be purified of his sins. Water is sprinkled to dispel the demons. More water is poured as a symbol of the bath to free the earth from demons so the Sun can rise. A prayer to the Sun follows. The Gayatri mantra is repeated 108 times on a rosary counting as many beads… [This goes on and on, so I will jump to the end] Many Hindus who have given up the long morning ritual remain faithful to the daily recitation of the Gayatri. Besides pujas, pious Brahmins perform daily
sandhyas*, morning and evening prayers, said by the side of a river or lake,
in honour of the sun god… *see pp. 13, 18
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PRANA IN YOGIC BREATHING
WE HAVE ALREADY NOTED THAT PRANAYAMA IS AN INTEGRAL COMPONENT OF THE PRACTICE OF YOGA
A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism, by Karel Werner, Curzon Press, 1994, 190 pages.
Pranayama– The control of the life force through regulated or relaxed breathing, one of the angas in Patanjali’s astanga yoga;
in Hatha Yoga and Kundalini Yoga, it is an elaborate system of breathing exercises aimed at
the achievement of bodily and mental health and at inducing special abilities and powers.
A Dictionary of Advaita Vedanta, by Swami Harshananda, Ramakrishna Math, 1995.
Prana – ‘the life’: Hiranyagarbha,
the second aspect of Brahman
associated with ajnana (ignorance) is also known as Prana because he is the very life of the universe.
– ‘vital air’: It is one of the five vital airs centred in the nose and responsible for respiration. It is a product of the rajas-aspect of the five tanmatras or primordial elements.
Pranayama – ‘regulation of breath’:
The fourth of the eight steps of Yoga, it is concerned with the control of the pranic energy and hence the mind, by regulating breathing.
Yoga Psychology, by Swami Abhedananda, Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1967, 240 pages.
“Prana means life-force, or the vital energy, or that force by which we have our life… Wherever there is any kind of activity in the physical,
mental or spiritual world, there is that prana. That is the common generic name, prana…
The aim of pranayama is to rouse the coiled up energy in the muladhara [chakra], called the kundalini. Kundalini is a power at the end of the spine. Pranayama means the control of prana or the vital breath. And how can that control of this prana be attained? It is possible to control the vital breath through the breathing exercises. Now,
kundalini, which is sleeping at present, can be aroused through the breathing exercises and concentration… [54, 56, 72]
Yoga: Yogasana and Pranayama for Health, by Dr. P.D. Sharma, Gala, Navneet Publications, 1984, 158 pages.
“The aim of practising Pranayama is to
stimulate, regulate, and harmonize vital energy
of the body. Just as a bath is required for purifying the body, so also Pranayama is required for purifying the mind… In the 49th Sutra of Sadhanapada of Patanjali Yogasutra, the great Rishi Patanjali has defined
Pranayama as a process in which respiration is interrupted, and Prana, that is the vital force, is controlled and regulated. According to some, Prana means air. But this is a wrong and misleading interpretation. Prana, in fact, is the vital power which is the force motivating every element of the earth, and which is the origin of the force of thought. There is a deep affinity between Prana and mental force, between mental force and intellect, between intellect and soul, and between soul and God… This is the reason why
Pranayama is considered one of the efficacious means of attaining yoga… Yogasana and Pranayama are closely inter-related. An aspirant should master asanas like Padmasana… before he begins to practise Pranayama.” [9, 125, 140]
The Facts on Holistic Health and the New Medicine, by John Ankerberg and John Weldon, 1992, GLS Publishing, 2000.
What is “breath awareness”?
A significant number of religions and psychotherapies employ “proper breathing” techniques as a supposed regulator of physical and psychological health, or for purposes of so-called spiritual (occult) enlightenment. Because breath awareness methods are often influenced by Eastern or occultic philosophy and practice (e.g.,
yoga) and because they are frequently designed to alter one’s consciousness, they are also encountered in the many occultic forms of transpersonal and fringe psychotherapy. Eastern mystics and yogis have long claimed that the breath is a vital tool for altering one’s consciousness.
Concentration on the breath and regulation of its “flow” are necessary to attain occult enlightenment.
the yogic practice of pranayama attempts to use the breath to regulate the control of mystical life-energy “underneath” the breath, prana. The end goal is occultic enlightenment which frequently involves spirit contact and/or possession. Breath awareness methods have little to do with cardio-vascular exercise. They are what the name implies- breath awareness or breath meditation. [15, 16]
What is yoga?
True yoga is the occult use of breathing exercises, physical postures, and meditation for supposed spiritual enlightenment.
The physical exercises of yoga are believed to prevent disease and maintain health
through bodily regulation of prana (mystical energy). In Hindu mythology, the serpent goddess
‘rests’ at the base of the spine. She is aroused by yoga practice, travels up the spine regulating prana, opens the body’s alleged chakras (psychic centers), unleashes psychic powers, and finally reaches the top or crown chakra permitting occult enlightenment. 
6. In New Age Medicine, A Christian Perspective on Holistic Health, by Paul C. Reisser, M.D., Teri K. Reisser and John Weldon, InterVarsity Press, 1987,
the discussion on Yoga is, significantly, included in the chapter “Energy: The Common Denominator”, pages 32-50, which deals with breathing exercises using the prana.
Yoga, The Ultimate Attainment, Awakening the Life Force, by Swami Rajarshi Muni, Jaico Publishing, 1999, 200 pages.
WHAT IS PRANA?
The concept of Prana should be understood at two levels, universal and individual.
Universal or cosmic Prana
is the energy that springs from the universal Spirit (Paramatman). It remains the motionless,
unmanifested and undifferentiated Energy called Brahman
after the great deluge (Maha Pralaya) and before creation (Sarga) begins. When vibrations are caused by it in universal Will, it brings forth the macrocosm (Brahmananda).
individual Prana, or vital force, springs from the individual spirit (Atman). It brings forth the microcosm; that is, the human body. Prana in the human body manifests as physical activities on the gross level, and as mental activities on the subtle level. Thus it sets both body and mind in motion and serves as a link between the gross and subtle bodies.
Prana can be called a scientific term for the spiritual energy out of which [physical] matter evolves. The whole atmosphere of the universe is filled with this imperceptible energy. When it vibrates and manifests in accordance with universal Will, it becomes visible in the form of Prakriti, matter. Einstein also said that matter is energy reduced to the point of visibility. Thus Prana is the highest form of matter, and matter is the lowest form of Prana. It is manifested to a high degree in the causal body, to a medium degree in the subtle body, and to a low degree in the gross body.
A human is composed of spirit, mind, and body which are nothing but the different degrees of manifestation of the same universal Energy called Prana. Steam, water, and ice have the same contents, but different degrees of density. As steam, water and ice can be put to different uses, so also spirit, mind, and body have different functions.
All kinds of energy are derived from universal Energy, or Prana. We are familiar with energies of the atom, steam, heat, light, magnetism, gravitation, and so on. These can be related to the five gross elements (Mahabhutas), the last elements manifesting out of Prakriti (Nature), Prakriti being nothing but the visible form of Prana.
Earth, water, fire, air, and ether are the five elements called Mahabhutas. The source of atomic energy is the earth element; the source of steam force, the water element; of heat and light, the fire element; of electricity, the air element; and finally it is ether that establishes the gravitational balance through magnetism, which is Prana itself. Thus Prana is the total of all energies existing in Prakriti (Nature). Nature is the great reservoir of Prana energy.
It is through the subtle energy of Prana that everything in Nature comes into existence and functions.
IMPORTANCE OF PRANA IN SPIRITUAL UPLIFTMENT
The human body is the only fit vehicle for seekers who wish to tread the path of conscious spiritual evolution. The first step on this path is to recognize and understand the role of vital force (Prana) in the body. When Prana is regulated and properly directed, it can charge the various parts of the body like a battery, purifying and rejuvenating them. Finally,
when one controls Prana, spiritual powers (Siddhis) are gained, as well as infinite peace and bliss.
This is the state of liberation, the goal of yoga.
Vedanta Philosophy says, “Prana is Brahman, or Absolute Reality.”
The Vedas declare, “He who knows Prana, knows the Vedas.” In Shiva Svarodaya, an ancient text on Yoga, Lord Shiva also says, “Prana is a great friend, companion, and brother to all human beings in this world, because everything can be achieved with its help.”
Truly, Prana has a great friendship with the soul. When either of them leaves the body, the other immediately follows. In the Yoga Chudamani Upanishad it is said, “So long as Prana is restrained in the body, the soul does not leave the body. Then there is no fear of death. Hence one should practice the regulation of Prana” (stanza 90). In the Gheranda Samhita it is said, “By practicing the restraint of Prana, a man becomes a lesser god”
(chapter V, stanza 1). All these statements explain
the importance of Prana and its regulation for achieving spiritual realization.
THE WORKING OF PRANA IN THE GROSS AND THE SUBTLE BODIES
From Prakriti’s inexhaustible reservoir, the human body draws Prana for carrying out its biological functions. Prana is extracted from Prakriti as subtle energy… Ordinarily we derive Prana from Prakriti through breathing. In the gross body, breath is drawn through the nostrils and carried to the lungs, which extract oxygen from it. Oxygen is called Prana Vayu in Sanskrit. Prana Vayu is different from the Prana called the vital force. Oxygen is capable of sustaining only the gross body, while the vital force nourishes and sustains the subtle body. This vital force flows through the channels of the subtle body and can rejuvenate even the gross body, increasing its longevity.
While breathing through the nostrils one derives not only oxygen for the gross body but also vital force, or Prana, which travels through the subtle body by means of subtle channels known as Ida and Pingala… They do not end up in the lungs like the respiratory system of the gross body. Instead they run down to a bulbous subtle structure (Kanda) situated about three inches below the navel of the gross body.
There are fourteen principal channels (Nadis) in the subtle body. All of them converge into the subtle bulb (Kanda). They branch into 72,000 smaller channels and 350,000 minor tributaries spreading all over the subtle body. However, from the point of view of Yoga, only three of these Nadis- the Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna- are important. Of the three major Nadis, the Sushumna is the most important. These subtle channels are located in the subtle body coinciding with the spinal column of the gross body. The Sushumna is the middle channel, while Ida and Pingala are located on its left and right respectively. When we breathe in air through the nostrils, we also drive the vital force of Prana through the Ida and Pingala. The Prana is utilized for psychological and spiritual functions…
The vital force drawn into the subtle channels assumes different forms, which are known as vital airs. There are five major vital airs functioning in the subtle body. They are called Prana, Apana, Samana, Vyana, and Udana. It s through these vital airs that the subtle body is linked with the gross body… Apart from these five major vital airs, there are five minor vital airs called Naga, Kurma, Krikkal, Devadatta, and Dhananjaya… So, in order to recognize the vital force Prana, it becomes inevitable, first, to regulate the various vital airs; then to merge them into their original source, Prana.
The vital airs can be regulated by practicing a series of scientific steps of Yoga, such as postures (Asanas), exercises to control the breath (Pranayamas), and the six cleansing processes (Shatkriyas)…
Pranopasana and Pranavidya are Sanskrit terms used for the spontaneous practice of Yoga… Before beginning, one should cultivate the intensifying of the vital force (Pranaprabalya). The next step is the release of the vital force (Pranasfurana). The third step is the raising of the vital force (Pranotthana) along the path of the central subtle channel (Sushumna). The fourth step is the stabilization (Pranastambhana) or conquering (Pranajaya) of the vital force in the frontal region. The fifth and final step is that of annihilation (Prananirodha) or dissolution (Pranalaya) of the Prana.
MANIFESTATIONS RESULTING FROM THE RELEASE OF THE VITAL FORCE
Any of the following manifestations may occur in an aspirant’s body when the vital force is released:
Performing various special Yogic gestures [Mudras] with hands and fingers; Rocking or swaying in a circular manner from the waist, or stretching and twisting the body; Shaking of the body or jerking of the limbs; Rolling on the floor; Spinning around on the buttocks while in a sitting position; Crying or laughing; Emitting meaningless sounds from the mouth; Singing or chanting holy Mantras; Getting up and beginning to dance.
The above list of manifestations is not exhaustive. In fact countless manifestations occur as a result of the release of the vital force. Moreover, apart from the gross physical manifestations, certain subtle processes are also experienced:
Visualizing the inner light and various colours with closed eyes; Visualizing various angelic or demonic forms or fierce animals through the inner vision; Visualizing, pleasant, frightful, or miraculous dreams.
All these manifestations being of a subtle nature are not visible to the external eyes but are perceived through the inner vision. Thus, as a release of the vital force or Prana, an aspirant experiences gross as well as subtle manifestations spontaneously. In the initial stages the gross manifestations may appear to be more interesting, but as a matter of fact, the subtle experiences are more important for attaining the higher spiritual levels.
RESULTS OF SPONTANEOUS MEDITATION
With the release of the vital force, a continuous process of meditation starts leading ultimately to the real awareness of the Self through the gradual transformation of an aspirant’s consciousness. From that time on, one should fully surrender to
the released Prana that knows well how to lead an aspirant forward on the path of self-realization. The released Prana works steadily at gross as well as subtle levels to remove impurities and obstacles and prepares the way for awakening to the higher levels of consciousness…
Initially the vital force is withdrawn from the gross body and is focused into the subtle body. When that happens, all the physical manifestations stop and the body becomes steady. Then an aspirant is able to sit in a single posture comfortably for a long time without feeling fatigue or pain. This is called mastery over the posture (Asanajaya).
Now an aspirant feels the flow of Prana within the subtle body through the left and right subtle channels known as Ida and Pingala, respectively. When the flow through these channels is brought into equilibrium, it strikes at the root of the principal subtle channel (Sushumna), situated in the middle.
Due to the pressure of the vital force, the Kundalini, which is the serpentine energy lying dormant at the lower entrance of the Sushumna, is aroused. It becomes dynamic and begins to move upward into the central channel along with the flow of the vital force. At this time,
a strong psychic impulse is generated
and the mind becomes introverted and incapable of running outward after sense-objects. This withdrawal of the mind from sense-objects is known as Pratyahara [this is the fifth of the eight stages of Raja Yoga, following the fourth stage which is Pranayama], which cuts off the external world.
As the capacity to retain Prana in the Sushumna is increased through continuous practice, the period of suspension of breath also increases. Finally when the inhalation and exhalation come to a standstill, it is called Kevala Kumbhaka. Such mastery over the flow of the vital force results in the withdrawal of consciousness from the sheath of the vital energy body (Pranamaya Kosha) to the sheath of the mental body (Manomaya Kosha).
At this point the Yoga of mind begins, and the Affliction (Klesha) of clinging to the body (Abhinivesha) is overcome. Now the mind has the ability to confine itself to a limited range with intense focus. This focusing is called Dharana [the fifth limb of Yoga]… Dharana is only the first stage of an inseparable threefold process that makes up the last three arms of Ashtanga Yoga. With ever-increasing concentration, Dharana deepens into Dhyana (Meditation), and Dhyana deepens yet further into Samadhi (Absorption)…
[At the stage of Dharana/Dhyana],
many powers of extra-sensory perception and super-ability have been attained… With all the three bodies and all the three sheaths transcended, the final permanent state of Samadhi (Nirbij Samadhi) begins. Now the soul is established in Supreme Consciousness (Turiya). The longer the Yogi remains in Nirbij Samadhi, the greater
the powers of omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence unfold. See Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, section 3: the Vibhuti Pada, for a more detailed description of these powers… [This] culminates in the highest crowning attainment possible: the Divine Body. [166 – 176]
By attaining a Divine Body, a Yogi attains the final goal of Yoga, and becomes a perfected being, a Siddha. The Yogi can then express compassion for the sufferings of creation by joining the assembly of other perfected beings who watch over the Earth, guiding and protecting with their omnipotence, omniscience and perfect wisdom the awakening souls striving to climb the ladder of spiritual perfection. 
NOTE: Despite making a strong appeal to science on the contention that matter and energy are different forms of the same substance to justify the vedic advaitic philosophy of monism or ‘all is one’, no data, justification or proof is [ever] offered to back up the innumerable claims made for the existence of the ‘subtle body’ and its ‘vital airs’, bulbs, channels, nadis, tributaries, sheaths, chakras… and as to how the exact numbers [3, 14, 72000, 350000] are arrived at. Some proponents admit that knowledge of their existence is “clairvoyantly” revealed.
The practice of Pranayama does not stand independently. The prana has a ‘life’ and an ‘intelligence’ of its own. It is an integral part, the fourth ‘limb’ of the practice of yogic meditation ‘on the path of self-realization’. Manipulation of prana in pranayama is expected to be accompanied by the manifestation of psychic phenomena at the physical, mental, and spiritual levels, and sustained practice would result in “the powers of omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence”. Practice of pranayama can be very dangerous.
THE DANGERS IN PRACTISING THE BREATHING EXERCISES OF PRANAYAMA – I
Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions, by Prem P. Bhalla, Pustak Mahal, January 2006.
“Why is pranayam an ideal way to begin the day?
The word pranayam is made up of two words, pran and ayama. The word pran means the
vital air. The word ayama denotes regulation or control. So pranayam means regulated or controlled breathing.
The purpose of pranayam is to take full advantage of the vital breath. Pranayam is an important part of Asthangyoga.
Yogdarshan, 2/52, it is said, “Pranayam removes the film of ignorance covering wisdom in an individual.”
Yogchudamani, it is said that
pranayam burns sins. It is a bridge to cross the ocean of life.
…While breathing, one may repeat the name of a deity or chant a mantra…
The basic purpose of pranayam is to widen the path of spiritual attainment… Some are known to have achieved death at will through pranayam.”
9. Swami Bhaskarananda explains what exactly this “prana” in “pranayama” means, “The great sage Manu declared, ‘One ought to know
the Supreme Spirit Who is the Ruler of all, subtler than the subtlest, of resplendent glory, and
capable of being realized only by the meditation of pure-minded ones. Some call Him… Prana (the Source of life), and still others the Eternal Brahman (the Great)’.”
The Essentials of Hinduism, A Comprehensive Overview of the World’s Oldest Religion, by Swami Bhaskarananda*, 1994, published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1998, 234 pages. *see pages 17, 18, 59, 62, 65
Chapter: The Four Yogas. Section: Raja Yoga- The Path of Mental Concentration.
In explaining the fourth of the eight ‘limbs’ of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga, the objective of which is samadhi, Bhaskarananda says, “Pranayama, or breath control, is a type of rhythmic breathing which helps in calming down and concentrating a restless mind. It consists in inhalation, retention of breath, and exhalation, all done according to techniques which can be learned only from expert teachers of Raja Yoga.
Pranayama, if not practiced under the guidance of a capable teacher, can do irreparable physical and mental damage to one who engages in it.”
10. I have studied another book by the Swami: Meditation, Mind and Patanjali’s Yoga, Sri Ramakrishna Math, 2002, 252 pgs.
He says, “Pranayama ordinarily means a breathing exercise, but it also has a deeper meaning.
The Sanskrit word Prana means cosmic energy… Through Pranayama, masters of Yoga not only control the energy in their bodies but also cosmic energy.” The Swami lists the “Dangers associated with the practice of Pranayama“, concluding that without proper supervision, “the practice of Pranayama can be extremely dangerous“.
He goes further, even suggesting that because of the “hazards associated with the practice of Pranayama“, one can choose the alternative of “devotion to God [that] enables a spiritual aspirant to have God-experience without practicing Pranayama or other Yoga techniques. Through devotion, when the mind becomes concentrated on God or the chosen deity, Kumbhaka happens automatically. Thus the fourth step to Yoga can be safely skipped.” [73-78]
He testifies to having known people to go “completely insane”, develop “symptoms of premature old age” and suffer “total amnesia” by the incorrect practice of pranayama techniques.
If pranayama is so fearfully dangerous, and even a Hindu must ‘skip’ it, why must Christians practise this yogic breathing? See also pages 59-62.
FROM THE VEDIC/VEDANTIC SYSTEM TO THE TAOIST SYSTEM
Pranayama with Postures for Specific Benefits, by M.K. Gopalakrishna, Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, 2001 says, “Prana is not the same thing as breath. Prana is a subtle energy, not gross, i.e. it cannot be observed or measured by any physical instrument… Prana is a cosmic energy pervading the universe. When we breathe in air, we take in not only the air but also the prana energy…
According to yogis, when a particular sub-system is not working properly, the prana energy is not being properly distributed to the particular nadis controlling the operation of that organ… The disease can be cured only if the blockages stopping the prana flow are removed, allowing the prana to flow properly.
The exercises which break these knots are the pranayamas, literally, ‘the control of prana’; yama means ‘control’.*
Prana-control can be effected by the modification of the breath. To cure a particular disease, the body is held in a particular posture, asana, so that the prana can easily act on the specific area. The posture itself cannot cure any disease. The asana should be accompanied by the appropriate pranayama. The asanas are given names of animals or objects indicating that the particular posture reflects the shape of the animal or object, …or the pranic path in the associated animal.”
*Most New Age alternative therapies follow the same basic philosophy as the above. The “blocked” nadi or “congested” meridian is cleared with pins and needles [acupuncture], pressure [acupressure, reflexology, massages], sweeping and cleansing [pranic healing], laying on of hands [reiki], crystals, pyramids, and gem stones, etc. For example:
Taoist Yoga & Chi Kung For Better Health, Good Sex and Long Life, A Guide to Taoist Yoga and Chi Kung, by Eric Steven Yudelove, Llewellyn Publications, 1997, 320 pages
“The source of life really defies logical explanation. Call it God, or nature, or Tao… The health, sexual rejuvenation, and longevity practices of the Taoists grew out of their quest for immortality… A Taoist learns to deal with his or her own energy and the energy of the Earth. One who walks on the Way [the Tao] learns to control his or her own energy. This lies at the heart of the practice of the Tao. Probably the best term to call these practices would be
Taoist Yoga. In China it is generally referred to as Chi Kung…
Chi is the Key…
The modern translation is
Qi. In Japan it is called
Ki. Chi, Qi, or Ki, it is all the same energy… Chi Kung* also means the study and practice of the Life Force Energy. For our purposes, Chi is both our breath and our life force. The two are intimately related… The basic concept is to learn to
control your Life Force Energy… Taoists explored the Life Force Energy (Chi). They found that they could use their minds to control the Chi. They found they could use breath to control the Chi. They also learned that Chi could be moved in the body by different types of physical exercises. The Taoists combined breath and mind and found new ways to control the Life Force Energy…
Chi moves through the body in what are known as channels or meridians…” [pages xiii, 3, 5-7] *also known as Qi Gong
NOTE: Sound familiar? Chi Kung [Taoist Yoga], Patanjali’s Yoga, they’re the same. Same respirations [breath control], similar mental and physical gymnastics, same aspirations [immortality, union with the Brahman/Over Soul/ Self/ Absolute Reality]. Please read my articles on Acupuncture, Conybio, Pranic Healing, Reiki etc for a fuller picture. Oh, and the one on the Martial Arts- Tai Chi, for instance. Tai Chi and Qi Gong incorporate focused and deep abdominal breathing with physical exercises. The New Age guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living programme consists of pranayama breathing, meditation, yoga, and the purifying action of his special inclusion- Sudarshan Kriya [see pp 34, 98, and separate report].
In esoteric literatures, like those of the Theosophical Society, prana is also called “subtle energy“. It is the “inner energy or cosmic energy” [n 2.2.3] that the February 3, 2003 Vatican Document, Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life- A Christian Reflection on the New Age speaks of. It acts at the level of the alleged “subtle” or “vital body” in a person.
The Document does not contain the word “prana”; but it uses a number of other equivalent terms and ideas like
vital energy, life-force, etc. The ‘vital’ breath or airs mentioned earlier, and prana, are one and the same occult ‘life-force’.
The following selected quotations from the Document will illuminate the discussion:
THE VATICAN DOCUMENT ON THE NEW AGE
A central element in [C. G. Jung’s] thought is
the cult of the sun, where God is the vital energy (libido) within a person… This is “the god within” to which Jung refers, the essential divinity he believed to be in every human being.
The path to the inner universe is through the unconscious. The inner world’s correspondence to the outer one is in the collective unconscious. [n 2.3.3]
[In New Age, the cosmos] is animated by
an Energy, which is also identified as the divine Soul or Spirit
People are subject to the determining influences of the stars, but can be opened to the divinity which lives within them, in
their continual search (by means of appropriate techniques) for an ever greater harmony between the self and divine cosmic energy. There is no need for Revelation or Salvation which would come to people from outside themselves, but simply a need to experience the salvation hidden within themselves (self-salvation), by mastering
psycho- physical techniques which lead to definitive enlightenment.
Some stages on the way to self-redemption are preparatory (meditation, body harmony, releasing self-healing energies). They are the starting-point for processes of spiritualisation, perfection and enlightenment
which help people to acquire further self-control and psychic concentration
on “transformation” of the individual self into “cosmic consciousness”. The destiny of the human person is a series of successive reincarnations of the soul in different bodies. This is understood not as the cycle of samsara, in the sense of purification as punishment, but as a gradual ascent towards the perfect development of one’s potential. Psychology is used to explain mind expansion as
“mystical” experiences. Yoga, Zen, transcendental meditation and tantric exercises lead to an experience of self-fulfilment or enlightenment. [n 220.127.116.11]
People discover their profound connectedness with
the sacred universal force or energy
which is the nucleus of all life. When they have made this discovery, men and women can set out
on a path to perfection, which will enable them to sort out their personal lives and their relationship to the world, [n 3.1]
[T]he God of which New Age speaks is
neither personal nor transcendent. Nor is it the Creator and sustainer of the universe, but an “impersonal energy” immanent in the world, with which it forms a “cosmic unity”: “All is one”. [n 18.104.22.168] God and the world, soul and body, intelligence and feeling, heaven and earth are one immense vibration of energy. [n 22.214.171.124]
The New Age god is an impersonal energy, really a particular extension or component of the cosmos; god in this sense is the life-force or soul of the world… New Age practices are not really prayer, in that they are generally a question of introspection or fusion with cosmic energy, as opposed to the double orientation of Christian prayer, which involves introspection but is essentially also a meeting with God. [n 4]
The Vatican Document leaves no element of doubt. It identifies the mystical experiences and psycho-spiritual techniques like yoga, Zen and T.M. that purportedly lead to enlightenment. It notes that meditation, body harmony, self-control and psychic concentration are among these techniques. It states that in New Age this energy is considered to be divine, or god.
Some of these techniques are a manipulation of this impersonal divine energy.
The eight-fold path of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga, without being named, is clearly identified as containing all the elements that the Document cautions Christian believers about. Raja Yoga starts at the physical level, with bodily discipline, harmony, and good posture [asanas]; the central stage is the grand entry to the mental level with pranayamic breathing; it is followed by three levels of withdrawal from the senses, contemplation, and meditation; the culmination is the goal of Raja Yoga- the union of the self with the Self, enlightenment.
In referring to the thought of Jung, himself one of the prominent figures in New Age, the Document also provides us an insight into the connection between the “cult of the sun” [Surya Namaskar?], belief in a ‘divine energy’ within, and the importance of meditation- the role of the “unconscious” in one’s attempt to attaining yogic unity of the individual energy, jivatma, with the super-consciousness, the divine cosmic energy, the paramatma.
This is the triad of Surya Namaskar, Pranayama and Yoga, interlinked, and inseparable.
SURYA NAMASKAR, GAYATRI MANTRA, PRANAYAMA AND YOGA IN THE CHURCH – IN THE CATHOLIC ASHRAMS MOVEMENT*
In May 1999, I attended a 3-day meeting of the Apostolate in the Modern World [AIM] at Aikiya Alayam, in Chennai. Aikiya Alayam is a leading member of the Ashram Aikiya in the Ashrams Movement. The daily time-table commenced with Sunrise
meditation. There were nuns and priests in attendance. The Auxiliary Bishop of Madras-Mylapore delivered an address.
When staying at the Catholic Ashrams*, one does
Sandhya Vandana, Surya Namaskar and the Gayatri Mantra, yoga, chants ‘Om’, imbibes ‘inculturated’ Hindu-worship rituals, meditates, and reads New Age literature. *see separate report
In the main hall of the Catholic
Swami Gnanajyothi [formerly Fr. A. Louis]
in Mysore, Karnataka, the Surya Namaskar prayer
is prominently displayed: “…O Sun, your golden orb covers the entrance to Truth.
Kindly open thy entrance
to lead me to Truth.”
The Ashram brochure, records that their “routine also includes ‘reading from Indian Scriptures, melodious recitation of the Gayatri Mantra… particularly to dhyana with select asanas and pranayamas’ etc.”
visited the ashram, May 20/21, 2005. Fr. Louis says their aim is self-realization -union of jivatma with the paramatma.
He admits that visitors are encouraged to ‘follow their own tradition’ and that yoga is a ‘physical, mental, psychological and
spiritual‘ exercise. Large pictures of
Aurobindo, Auroville, the ‘Mother’
and a calendar of
Sri Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda adorn the main hall. A notice says “Atma Purna Nivas-Dhyana – Wholeness, Personal Integrity and
Oneness with Brahman.” The
mandir [temple] of the ashram enshrines copies of the Koran and Bhagavad Gita with the Bible.
Vandana Mataji, Rscj., the Catholic nun who is an ashram founder herself [see below] in The Examiner,
June 20, 1998:
“So I sang out as loud as my lungs could sing ‘Om!
Bhoo, bhuva, swaha*
calling on the three regions- earth, sky, mid-region to join me…
By the eleventh mantra, the Lord Sun had risen… beckoning me to do the Surya Namaskar …what a wonderful Yogic gift to humankind that was!”
The use of “Om” or “Aum”, and ‘Swaha’ are an integral part of the ‘prayers’ of the Catholic Ashram Movement.
The meaning of “Om” is discussed in detail in a separate article which will shortly be available on the website.
*THE MEANING OF ‘SWAHA’ or ‘SVAHA’- A TALE OF MUTUAL LUST
The Deccan Chronicle of 29th March, 2006: “An exclamation made at Vedic sacrifices
at the end of each mantra and shloka uttered and is accompanied by offering ghee to the sacrificial fire. In present day, used in marriage ceremonies. It has a wide range of meanings, ‘so be it’, ‘may it be perpetuated’…, ‘may a blessing rest on it’, ‘and ‘hail’.
Svaha is also the name of a goddess
and consort of Agni, the god of fire. Originally an apsara in Indra’s court, Svaha became immortal after marrying Agni. By Svaha, Agni had three sons- Pavaka, Pamana and Suchi. These three sons were the personification of the three divine fires that led to creation of the earth and humanity…
Infatuated with Agni, Svaha took the form of the wives of the Saptarishis who were the object of Agni’s lust. She slept with him six times in different guises and gave birth to Skanda.”
A YOGA GUIDE TO THE CATHOLIC ASHRAMS
It is a matter of the utmost shame and concern that Catholic Ashrams are listed in
From Here to Nirvana – The Yoga Journal Guide to Spiritual India, by Anne Cushman and Jerry Jones, Riverhead Books, 1998, 416 pages.
Yoga Journal is one of the world’s leading yoga publications. In the guide, we find a photograph of
along with those of babas and yogis, godmen and godwomen, like Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Mata Amritanandamayi, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Baba Virsa Singh, B.K.S. Iyengar, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Chidvilasananda Gurumayi, etc.
My October 2005 report on the New Age in the Catholic Ashrams discusses
Vandana Mataji, her
Jeevan Dhara Sadhana Kutir
[ashram] in Rishikesh, and her books [she is highly regarded as one of the Indian Church’s theologians and an authority on inter-faith dialogue and inculturation] in great detail. However, I cannot but include what the guide has to say [Remember, the Yoga Journal writers are on the yoga-ashrams circuit with the sole objective of giving pointers to would-be yoga enthusiasts from the West as to where they might get their money’s worth of New Age spirituality in India]:
“At the entrance, sits a statue made by a village sculptor: Jesus Christ in lotus position. If you’re interested in ‘Christian yoga’, a good place to find it is in this tiny Christian ashram founded by Vandana Mataji, the author of Gurus, Christians, and Ashrams, and one of the first Indian Catholic nuns to pioneer a truly Indian form of Christianity.
“What is it to practice yoga? Is it different from living according to the Gospel?” asks Vandana Mataji. “A yogic way of life helps harmonize or ‘unite’ not only me to myself [my body, psyche, and spirit ‘oned’] but also harmonizes my practice of Christian spirituality with that of my own country’s culture and religious practices.”
…She has founded several ashrams, written over a dozen books, and has travelled regularly to teach in Europe.
The practice at Jeevan Dhara ashram combines six classical yoga paths: jnana (wisdom), karma (service), bhakti (worship),
raja (meditation), hatha (physical exercises and breathing), and japa (recitation of God’s name) – all done with a Christian focus, but integrating other traditions as well. For example, the liturgy includes Christian scriptures and readings from works like the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita… This is a place for dedicated seekers only, particularly those with a strong attraction to Christian as well as Hindu practices.”
The Guide notes that
the nun “went on to recognize Swami Chidananda of the Sivananda Ashram as her guru, and in recent years her teachers have included Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.”
The Guide further says that this Catholic nun set up her own ashram just a kilometer up the road from her guru’s
Divine Life Society
[see page 37] and his Sivananda Ashram; and that the founder “Swami Sivananda was one of the yogic giants of this century, and his teachings have shaped the way yoga is taught not just in India, but around the world.”
[a hot favourite among ashramites] in her book Living with Hindus, pages 67,
says, “When Christians borrow
they are using a living symbol. They are further saying that
the power of that symbol is not foreign to them… Through the gate of OM the Christian enters, as it were, into communion with the Hindu tradition,” she adds, page 68.
That is precisely why Christian believers have reason to be fearful.
I would like to mention here that the subject of yoga etc. in the Catholic Church in India and in the Ashrams is dealt with at length in the detailed reports on YOGA, FR. JOE PEREIRA AND KRIPA FOUNDATION, the CATHOLIC ASHRAMS movement., INCULTURATION OR HINDU-ISATION, MATRIDHAM ASHRAM & THE I.M.S., etc. Please visit the website for more information.
Anjali Ashram, the authors of the Yoga Journal Guide describe it as a “multireligious retreat center directed by an Indian Roman Catholic priest who is also a Hindu swami.”
Here, seekers “gradually get awakened to
the One Reality without a second“. They devote time to “dhyana and
yoga, to various Indian forms of prayer/ bhajan, kirtan, nama japa, to the practice of various sadhanas according to one’s aptitude, and to ashram seva…
The routine also includes
reading from Indian Scriptures, melodious recitation of the Gayatri Mantra… particularly to dhyana with select asanas and pranayamas, etc… Thus Anjali serves as a spiritual power-house for all the seekers especially through this experience on Self-Realization…”
The Guide also devotes four pages to Pune’s
Christa Prema Seva Ashram, revived by
after a take-over from its Anglican founders, and now run by her colleague Sr. Sara Grant, Rscj., and Sr. Brigitte, an Anglican “who began practicing yoga and Zen Buddhism in her fifties.” The ashram “attracts spiritual seekers from all over the world who are interested in the dialogue between Christianity, Hinduism, and yoga… Along with readings from the Old and New Testament, you’ll get excerpts from the Gita, the Upanishads, the Mahabharata… You’ll usually find one or two Iyengar
yoga students staying here
since its only about a 15-minute walk to the Ramani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute.” Sr. Sara Grant specializes in the advaitic philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya [see below].
Another leading Catholic Ashram that is mentioned in the Yoga
Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam, which is run by the Camaldoli Benedictine Fathers who “study Vedanta and yoga as thoroughly as The Rule of St. Benedict. Two hours a day are set aside for meditation; prayer sessions include reading from the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Bhagvad Gita; arati is performed before the Blessed Sacrament; sandal paste, kumkum and vibhuti are placed at the ‘third eye‘; ‘om‘ is chanted as part of the daily prayers… Talks on
or Indian spirituality are often given in the afternoon.”
I stayed for a week at Shantivanam in December 2004. For the details, please read the Catholic Ashrams report.
replaces the ‘Angelus’ at 5:00 am, 12:00 noon and 6:00 pm. The Ashram manual explains that they correspond to the monastic offices of Lauds, Sext and Vespers.
“Sandhya also refers to the religious acts (yajnas) performed by Brahmins and the ‘twice-born’ at these three divisions of the day….
The ritual consists in sipping water and repeated invocations and mantras, especially the Gayatri Mantra. A connection is often made between sandhya and samadhi (unitive meditation), and in practice the ritual acts are intended to lead the soul into the silent worship of the Spirit within. [Samadhi is the eighth ‘limb’ of yoga where the self merges with the Self, Brahman]…
And so our sandhya also means the meeting point of the Church’s liturgy and India’s heritage, of Christ and the rishis (the seers of ancient India), of East and West, in the secret place of the heart at prayer.”
All three times, prayer commences with the
which is always preceded by the
The Sign of the Cross is conspicuous by its complete elimination during any prayer, replaced by the
The Week magazine, in its cover story ‘Mixing Religions- Christian Priests Worship the Hindu Way’, October 20, 1996, says, “[Fr.] Bede [Griffiths] introduced more Hindu rituals in the prayer service… Besides these Hindu rituals, the Gayatri Mantra and hymns hailing Shakti are chanted during the prayer service [at Shantivanam].”
‘Gayatri Mantra is the salutation to the God and the word OM is the word of the God‘,
says [Fr.] Christudas.
The Bede Griffiths Sangha, a community of Fr. Bede’s disciples in Kent, England report in a newsletter that “the weekend was spent mostly in silence with meditation, chanting bhajans and structuring the day around the rhythm of life at Shantivanam,
greeting the sun in the morning with the
and closing the day with namajapa… The mornings were dedicated to a period of work (karma yoga), food preparation, and to
an activity such as yoga.”
The Gayatri Mantra
by John Ryder, in
The Bede Griffiths Sangha Newsletter
The Gayatri Mantra is chanted at the start of morning, midday and evening prayers both at Shantivanam [Saccidananda Ashram] and at our retreats. John Ryder offers a reflection on the meaning of this ancient prayer.
Om Bhur Bhuva Svaha/ Tat Savitur Varenyam/ Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi/ dhiyo yo nah prachodayat
This most ancient and profound Sanskrit mantra, known as the mother of the Vedas, provides a bridge between the silence of meditation and the activity of the liturgy. While its sound alone is beautiful and potent, its complex and deeply layered meaning give much light to its use in our contemplation and celebration. I hope these few simple reflections will help.
Om the great Cosmic “Yes!”
is the Word which expresses the inexpressible Reality beyond space and time, experienced as pure Being, Consciousness and Bliss. Bhur is the earthly realm which maintains our body, perceptible through the senses. Bhuva is the heavens (the sky), apprehended by thought and imagination. Svaha is the heavenly realm beyond the reach of sense and mind, discerned through intuition.
Tat (literally ‘That’) designates the Supreme Self, who transcends name, form and concept. It is found, for instance, in the great Upanishadic sentence ‘Tat Tvam Asi’
(Thou art That)*. Its manifestation is through Savitur, the spiritual Sun, source of all life and power, of which the visible sun is a sacramental sign. By contemplating on t’is Being as Varenyam (adorable), the desire to worship unfolds spontaneously as we open to the outpouring of divine love. *see pages 48, 51
By Bhargo is conveyed the energy which streams forth as light, dispelling the darkness of ignorance and sin, filling our nature with vitality. Devasya means the Glory of God, radiating from the heart to pervade the whole of creation. So – Dhimahi – ‘we meditate’, and in this prayer of union, partake of the divine life.
Our response is through Dhiyo, the Buddi, the intelligence of both heart and intellect, and Prachodayat implies illumination, invigoration and guidance. That complete final line ‘May he enlighten our understanding’ implies that in this work the doership is His alone and our task is simple one of letting go.
Kaladi, or Kalady, in Kerala is also a must-visit on the tourist map of the Yoga Journal guide book, being “the birth place of the great 9th-century philosopher and reformer Shankaracharya, one of Hinduism’s most influential figures. He was devoted to the god Shiva, and because of his extraordinary abilities was considered by some to be an incarnation of the god.”
Fr. Sebastian Painadath SJ, a leading figure of Ashram Aikya who teaches and supervises the Jesuit theologate in Kerala, is the founder-director of
in Kalady. This priest runs Bhagavad Gita [“his favorite of the Hindu scriptures”] retreats, and is yet another proponent of Patanjali’s yoga.
MATRIDHAM ASHRAM, VARANASI, AND THE FATHERS OF THE I.M.S. CONGREGATION
The 15th Ashram Aikya Satsangh- a gathering of diehard ashramites- is slated to be held at MATRIDHAM ASHRAM, Varanasi, October 29 to November 3, 2007.
From the Ashram Aikiya News Letter 47 Pentecost 2006: “Fr. Anil Dev and the Community at Matridham extend a warm welcome to the Ashram Aikya for the Satsangh. They also invite you to stay on and participate in the Sunday gathering of Kristabhaktas as well as visit Sarnath and places of interest in Varanasi.”
There is the ashram called Matridham [Matri Dham]
founded 1954 by Fr. Gaspar Pinto, and managed by
Swami Iswar Prasad IMS [from 1983]
and Swami Anil Dev IMS [from March 1995] of the
Indian Missionary Society, in Varanasi.
Till its reconstitution on February 17/18, 2007,
Fr. Anil Dev, a renowned charismatic retreat preacher, was a member, representing the state of Uttar Pradesh, of the National Service Team of the CCR, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
On July 17, 2006, I wrote to Mr. Cyril John, Chairman of the National Service Team of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS / FR. ANIL DEV I.M.S., MEMBER, NST
Dear Bro. Cyril, I am sorry that I have to write to you with the content of this letter.
When I sent you my report on CATHOLIC ASHRAMS last year, you wrote me the email following:
Sent: Monday, October 03, 2005 11:33 AM Subject: Re: ASHRAMS
Dear Bro Prabhu,
Thanks for your mail. I was out of station for 8 days and just returned. I received your previous mails. Thank you. Since my mail box is full with about 67 mails, please do not send your write up now. I shall take it from you when we meet next.
With regards and prayers, Cyril John
I trust that you read the report so that you will understand the gravity of the matter which I am now writing about, to you as Chairman of the National Service Team [NST] of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal:
Fr. Anil Dev is a member, representing the state of Uttar Pradesh, of the National Service Team of the CCR, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in India, and a renowned retreat preacher in charismatic circles.
I know that you have a very high regard for Fr. Anil Dev, and so do I.
But the latest Ashram Aikya newsletter, which is the mouthpiece and journal of the Ashram Movement as much as Charisindia is to the CCR in India, has placed on record that the invitation to the next Ashram Aikya Satsangh is from Fr. Anil Dev himself who has given his Ashram for use as the venue.
“Matridham’, belonging to the Indian Missionary Society, means ‘The Abode of the Mother’, and is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I have a copy of the brochure of the Matridham Ashram, Christnagar, Varanasi. On page 3, there is a drawing of an 8-spoked wheel. Each spoke carries the symbol of one of the world religions- the Cross, the swastika, the OM… etc.
The vision of the founder, Fr. Gaspar Pinto, was “the sacred work of spreading the light of Christ in North India”. The third year Philosophy students of the IMS Order pursue their studies at Matridham under the guidance of the resident ‘Acharya’. From 1983, Swami Ishwar Prasad was the Acharya. He is well known as a “champion of inculturation”. During his time, the Ashram attracted many ‘seekers’ from India and abroad.
He started the “Indian Spirituality course in the Ashram, which brought about changes in many religious congregations in North India. In 1992 the responsibility was taken up by Fr. Vinayanand IMS who continued the good work started by his predecessors, and in March 1995 he was succeeded by Swami Anil Dev IMS. The Ashram is open to all genuine ‘Seekers’ irrespective of caste and creed. People of all religions frequent the Ashram. It is a Place of Sadhana…
The message of Christ should be incarnated… To this end, the Ashram holds important programmes such as Indian Christian Spiritual Experience (ICSE), Indian Spirituality Course, Yoga Sadhana, etc.”
The daily Timetable of the Ashram includes
at 5:00 A.M. [immediately following Rising at 4:30 A.M.] and again at 5:45 P.M. The
is used, and several bhajans and the Litany of Our Lady incorporate the mantra ‘OM’.
The Ashram also conducts “Inter-Religious Prayer Meetings or Satsangs”.
While Matridham Ashram literature also places fair emphasis on the Eucharist, use of the Bible, evangelization, healing services, adoration of the Real Presence, intercessory prayers etc., unlike all the other Ashrams, the following points must still be taken into consideration:
Even if it is simple breathing techniques and physical exercises, are they really necessary in a ministry where the Acharya’s spirituality is charismatic? Do the two ‘systems’ not conflict with each other?
Is it not impossible to separate the practices from the advaitic philosophies on which they are raised?
2. Yoga, the Gayatri Mantra, and the chanting of OM*.
They are intrinsically
Hindu, and not simply ‘Indian’ for them to be inculturated into our worship. A detailed and painstakingly researched report on all these issues will be ready very shortly and uploaded on my website
The threesome, along with Surya Namaskar, are inseparable from the ‘Catholic’ Ashram Movement.
Eminent priests, Catholic magazines like the American charismatic New Covenant, Bishops, and Cardinals have warned against the dangers of yoga, insisting that yoga is completely incompatible with Biblical revelation and Church teaching, and yoga is discussed in two Vatican Documents. As Catholic charismatics, should we not be the first ones to take cognizance of that? [A separate report on Yoga exclusively dedicated to reproducing these will soon be available, though some opinions are already included in my earlier writings.]
The Ashram Movement itself.
I have no problem with the Ashram movement in the sense of it representing, emulating and encouraging an inculturated spirituality in the Indian milieu towards a deeper God-experience, Christian witness in inter-religious dialogue, and evangelization, with the Twelve Points of Adaptation [recommended by the CBCI] being faithfully adhered to.
At this point, I would invite you to once again look at my October 2005 report on the Catholic Ashram Movement in India.
In the referred report, I have examined the Ashrams- some of which I have visited, and some which I have not. In the 8 months since that report, I have come across more information which gives an even more distressing picture, if that is possible, than that which I have already produced. This will require a sequel to the first report.
A cursory glance at the recent issues of Ashram Aikya is enough to confirm beyond any shred of doubt that this movement is totally opposed to traditional Catholicism and proposes a syncretised ‘Christianity’ beyond religion, sacramentalism and ecclesiastical and magisterial authority.
My first report on the Ashrams also conclusively demonstrates its New Age nature. The sequel will only confirm all of the above. The Ashram movement is a Trojan horse within the Catholic Church, and not just in India. It has long since been exported to all the other continents.
Matridham might just be different from other Ashrams. I have only the Brochure which I have quoted from.
But the points that I have raised in this letter beg examination. And there is another important point:
If Matridham is a full member of the Ashram Aikya, which is the Federation of the Ashrams, and is to play host to the 2007 Ashram Aikiya Satsangh, is it not logical to conclude that Matridham subscribes to all the fundamental beliefs and aspirations of the Ashram Movement?
And I have shown in my earlier report that these are inimical to those of the Catholic Church.
I had the privilege of meeting Fr. Anil Dev IMS [about 2 years ago] and he graciously accepted from me some of my articles and reports. After that I have written to him, but I have received no response.
Meanwhile, I received a letter from a friend in Kerala that his family members have learnt Reiki** from the IMS Fathers.
The May 2003 issue of Catechetics India magazine carried an article titled ‘The Khristbhakta Movement’, authored by
Fr. Anand Mathew IMS, and has five full pages on Matridham. All the information is excellent, I would say.
But there is this one paragraph on the fourth page:
“Programmes and Features of Matridham Ashram.
Indo-Christian Spiritual Experience. The ashram offers a very re-vitalizing spirituality course based on Indian Christian Spiritual traditions giving the participants deep spiritual experience centered on the person of Christ through discourses, meditations, prayer, and yoga. An average of more than 30 groups of religious men and women, priests, seminarians, and laity from different parts of the country benefit from the courses every year.”
Last year it was confirmed to me by someone close to the
community* that yoga was used by Fr. Anil Dev IMS at Matridham. I don’t know if it holds good recently.
I know that this letter is not going to do anything for my popularity with several leaders in the Renewal, but I pray that it will be understood that I am doing what I have to do, impartially, and for no reward or acclaim.
Cyril, I am extremely sorry to distress you with this letter, but I have to follow the call that the Lord has given me.
Love and Prayers, Michael
Subject: REMINDER: CATHOLIC ASHRAMS / FR. ANIL DEV I.M.S., MEMBER, NST
Subject: Fw: REMINDER: CATHOLIC ASHRAMS / FR. ANIL DEV I.M.S., MEMBER, NST
NO RESPONSE WAS RECEIVED BY THIS MINISTRY TO THE ABOVE LETTER FOLLOWED BY TWO REMINDERS.
*I recently had the privilege of a meeting and lengthy discussion with Fr. Dheeraj Sabu, IMS, who founded and guides the
community in Delhi and Agra. This is a lay community with a charismatic spirituality, engaged in a genuine ministry of evangelization, mostly in the Hindi vernacular, in North India. Fr. Dheeraj Sabu is fully “inculturated” in the true sense of the word- culturally, remaining faithful to the canonical directives and guidelines regarding liturgy and worship.
I shared with this priest my apprehensions about the forthcoming Ashram Aikiya Satsangh to be hosted by the IMS Fathers at Varanasi, and informed him that as I had not received responses to my letters to senior charismatic renewal leaders on this matter, I would be soon making a detailed report and publishing it.
Fr. Dheeraj explained to me that maybe the yoga practised at Matridham was a Christian yoga, limited to asanas and some meditation, and did not involve the teaching or use of the advaitic or esoteric philosophies of yoga. The inclusion of yoga in the Ashram timetable, Father felt, might also serve to make the many Hindu participants in the Ashram’s programmes more comfortable in the otherwise Christian environment, and make it more conducive for them to accept the Gospel.
I contended that I could not accept that explanation because it would then mean accepting that the Gospel [the preaching of the Word of God] was lacking in completeness, and anyway, Father himself had not found it necessary or helpful to use yoga or the gayatri mantra in his community or to introduce them in his outreach to non-Christians.
One IMS website noted this about Matridham Ashram: “Discourses and practices of Yogasanas are part of the ashram programme.” Fr. Anand Mathew IMS
sent me some literature that says that
yoga is included twice daily in the Matridham ashram timetable. Bro. X., an IMS seminarian has been corresponding with me.. What he writes concerning his views on eastern meditations, breathing exercises, yoga, alternative medicine, etc. has me very worried about the formation of seminarians like him.
Fr. Dheeraj kindly permitted me to explain to him what I understand about yoga; and why, in my opinion, the philosophy of yoga is incompatible with Christianity, and its practice in any form to be avoided by Christians.
Fr. Dheeraj also felt that by hosting the Ashram Aikiya Satsangh at Matridham Ashram, it would present Fr. Anil Dev with an opportunity for them to give witness of a different kind to the leaders of the Ashram movement who would all be present together for Matridham’s “Sunday gathering of Kristabhaktas” [devotees of Christ] on the last day of the Satsangh.
Having visited some of these Ashrams, witnessed firsthand their programmes and rituals, attended their satsangs [discourses], interviewed several of their leaders, and read all the Ashram literature that I could lay my hands on, I was convinced enough to tell Fr. Dheeraj that it would make no impact on the diehard leaders of the Ashrams movement.
As far as the chanting of the ‘Om’ mantra
is concerned, I was very pleased to hear from Fr. Dheeraj Sabu that he was of the opinion that
it cannot and should not be used by Christians. Fr. Dheeraj Sabu was kind enough to accept copies of several of my reports and articles on the Catholic Ashrams, Yoga, etc.
**I also shared with Fr. Dhiraj Sabu, that after hearing that the IMS congregation were involved in promoting Reiki healing in Kerala, I corresponded with another IMS priest and an IMS seminarian, and also checked out the IMS websites.
I was shocked to learn that the IMS Fathers are involved in the use and propagation of New Age techniques like
Gestalt therapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming [N.L.P.], Transactional Analysis [T.A.] and Pranic Healing.
The IMS website informs us that
Fr. Atul, IMS
directs this ministry.
Fr. Prem Antony IMS
has attended Pranic Healing and he defends it, saying that God has given us powers in our bodies, that we can tap for good reasons [the end justifies the means ?] and just because Pranic Healing has a Buddhist background that does not make it as coming from the devil, or New Age.
Another website says, “IMS Dhyana Bhavan, a branch of Indian Missionary Society is
a popular Charismatic renewal centre.” We are informed that “The Renewal movement has now grown into a multipronged and power packed spiritual revolution under
Fr. Prashant, as its director.”
At this “popular Charismatic renewal centre“, “The IMS team numbering more than four hundred strong” uses, among other things, “Traditional Indian ways of praying and meditation soothen the frayed nerves and tired bodies. Praying of Bhajan,
Yogic exercises, profuse use of Indian classical music, simple life style, Pranic healing, etc.
some of the significant characteristics of IMS…
A strong team of voluntary counselor trained in T.A., N.L.P, Gestalt and Pranic healing at the service of the seekers during week days round the year.”
Yet another IMS site linking Fr. Anil Dev with yoga says, “The goal of ashram way of life is to attain God experience with simple life style,
yogic experience, silence, meditation, manual labour and a continuous search for God. The promotion of justice, peace and interfaith harmony and collaboration. Are the common features of all the IMS ashrams. Swami Iswar Prasad and Swami Dayanand are the pioneers of Catholic ashrams in North India till the younger generation like Swami Deendayal and
Swami Anil Dev
gave a new thrust to the ashramic movement in N. India. The Matridham ashram at Varanasi is sought by people from all walks of life. The ashram is also a pioneering centre for prayer and God Experience for all the Khrist Bhaktas. Swami Anil Dev is the Acharya of this ashram.”
Still other IMS websites give information on
the formation of IMS seminarians:
Pre Novitiate Programme: The students are given intensive language Course both Hindi & English.
They are introduced to
Indian Music both instrumental and Vocal,
Our seminaries are not mere centers of Christian religious learning but also Indian culture, philosophy, art, social and human right issues that affect the people.
Students also get opportunities to learn from the Buddhist monasteries and Hindu Ashrams & from the learned monks & Acharyas of these centers.
Writing in the magazine Catechetics India of November 2005, pages 12-15, “Monastery for Renewal’,
Fr. J. Dayanand IMS, the Spiritual Director at Vishwa Jyoti Gurukul, Varanasi, says, “We need a central Indian Christian Sanyasa Ashram-Monastery in a thapovan set-up, where future gurus can be trained with an experiential and experimental knowledge of ashram life or monastical life of bhakti, jnana and karma (devotion, divine knowledge and apostolic activity)…
“In the thapovan one experiences the desire to enter into the ‘Interior Castle’ as St. Teresa of Avila describes in her book of the same title.
It enables us to practice what Our Lord instructs us: ‘When you pray, enter into the room; shut the door and speak to your Father in secret’. In the immense divine solitude,
one will be able to practice ‘ashtanga yoga’ as Maharshi Patanjali explains in his Yoga Sutra…
“We shall remember that an attempt was made under the leadership of
Bishop Patrick D’Souza of Varanasi
diocese years ago in his concept of pilot seminary proposed by
Guru Abhishiktananda [Fr.
Henri Le Saux, OSB] to form Gurus and Sanyasis for the Indian Church and establish Gurukul system of priestly formation in India a Varanasi. But unfortunately this heroic undertaking was given up after two years of successful experiments. Now let us wait and pray for a new start.”
It is extremely difficult for one to reconcile the opposites seen above. There is a charismatic spirituality, and a meditative-ashram type spirituality with yoga. There is charismatic healing and there is the healing with New Age alternative medicine.
As a matter of fact there is one IMS site that is captioned,
“Holistic Health Ministry”
– it offers
psycho-spiritual, herbal and homoeopathic
treatments*. [*See Vatican Document on New Age, and my related articles.]
DHARMA BHARATHI ASHRAM / SACHIDANANDA ASHRAM [see also page 65]
While on the subject of Catholic Ashrams, another short update is necessary. Let us recall my initial report of August 1, 2002, followed by a detailed update on August 1, 2003, on
Dharma Bharathi, the Secunderabad-based organisation, which, I showed, was promoting New Age in Catholic educational institutions in India.
I have established the connection with, and all along maintained that Dharma Bharathi is part and parcel of, the Ashrams movement. My reports were sent to the respective Bishops and Commissions of the CBCI, and I would like to believe that these reports played a singular role in his moving his organization to Kerala, by exposing the New Age errors propagated by its founder.
Squadron Leader N.V. John
received the new name ‘John Sachidanand’ in 1984 from his second guru, none other than Ashram founder
Fr. Bede Griffiths, OSB, at Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam. He was also given ‘Acharya diksha’ in 1990 by Fr. Bede Griffiths. Now himself a Swami, named
Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, and with an ashram of his own, Sachidananda Ashram
[not to be confused with and spelt differently from Fr. Bede’s] or
Dharma Bharathi Ashram, at Mulanthuruthy in Kerala, he has appointed an ex-Carmelite nun as ‘acharya’, conferring ‘diksha’ on her.
Catholic Ashrams: Sachidananda Ashram gets a woman Acharya
India Currents Tuesday, 15 August 2006
On 8th July 2006,
Sr. Catherine Prabhujyothi, an America-returned former Carmelite religious sister
who did a research study on ‘Inter-religious dialogue in Christian higher education in India’, was given ‘Acharya diksha’ by Swami Sachidananda Bharathi and appointed ‘Acharya’ of the Ashram. “She was initiated by Swamiji with the name ‘Prabhujyothi’ on 8th July 2004. During the last two years she was under training and guidance at the Guru Bhavan in Dharma Bharathi Ashram. Swami Sachidananda Bharathi trained her in the Shanthi Yagna Meditation, Samasthakriya Yoga and other constituent elements of the Dharma Bharathi spirituality…”
The report includes a photograph of
Bro. John Martin
Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam
who “conveys his felicitation while the local parish priest looks on.”
This once and for all clearly establishes the connection between Dharma Bharathi and the Ashram Movement, and its New Age character [read the shocking revelations about Bro. John Martin in my report on the Catholic Ashrams], and also establishes clearly the veracity of the claims made by this ministry five years ago.
The report states, “There have been some initiatives by a number of foreign Christian missionaries and few Indian missionaries for ‘inculturation’ of the Church. Foremost among the Catholic initiatives has been the
near Trichy founded by two French priests, Fr. Monchanin and Fr. Henri le Saux. This was later on taken up by the internationally famous British
Benedictine monk, Fr. Bede Griffiths. The Indian Missionary Society (IMS)
is also a major initiative in inculturation. [Their]
Bharat Mata Ashram at Kurukshetra and Matridham Ashram at Varanasi
are living example to this fact.”
Thus we see the IMS Ashrams mentioned in the same breath as two major New Age centers, Saccidananda Ashram [Shantivanam] and Sachidananda Ashram [Dharma Bharathi Ashram].
To conclude the examination of Dharma Bharathi [DB], my reports of 2002/2003 provided the following information:
DB held a day of fasting and prayer at the Yoga Centre,
Yogalaya, Hyderabad on 30th January 1998.
DB claims to propagate a “spirituality that is equally acceptable to all religions.” DB’s programme includes that,
yoga, meditation, bhajans and other spiritual exercises be introduced in Catholic educational institutions.
DB holds that
school “curriculum should also provide for…practical
spiritual exercises like…meditations, yoga,
bhajans, study of scriptures and the lives of gurus of different religions.” [Dr. M. Abel, DB National Seminar 2001]
Again, at the same Hyderabad seminar Dr. Prasad, Vice-Chancellor of Dr. Ambedkar Open University, “laid
emphasis on the availability of opportunities for the students to participate
spiritual exercises like… meditation, yoga etc.”
The point was so well taken that the ‘Statement and Recommendations’ of the 82 participants includes this:
“We recommend that managements and heads of schools should endeavor to create such an atmosphere by providing opportunities for
spiritual exercises like…meditation and yoga.”
Most of the 82 participants were heads of educational institutions and senior teachers handling Value Education classes.
The Teachers Manual already prepared by DB would be adapted as the basic reference material. They propose to open Extension Centres of the DB National Institute all over India, establish an Open University, develop textbooks and teaching materials as well as training aids.
Education about ‘religions’ should be made a part of the curriculum in schools.
And of course, “provide opportunities for spiritual exercises like meditation and yoga.”
DB’s Ashtanga Yagna or 8-point National Reconstruction Programme envisions that
children in Catholic schools require “study and inculcation of the noble values of different religions, meditation, yoga etc“. [National Regeneration Movement Manual (NRMM), page
The Swami has declared, “The main target group of NRM shall be parents and teachers who are the ‘channels of grace’,” and that “youth and students will constitute the second most important target group.” [NRMM 22, 23]
Readers must note that
Vandana Mataji is an Advisor to Swami Sachidananda Bharathi and Dharma Bharathi.
MORE ON VANDANA MATAJI
Vandana Mataji has experimented with New Age spirituality and has participated at the Findhorn Centre
[see Vatican Document on New Age]
in Scotland which is the world’s leading centre of New Age activity. She says:
“Fascinating as I found this institution…
I did not feel that its spirituality is sufficiently clear- such as is sought by meditators of Yoga, Zen etc.”1
(In the West)
Yoga and Zen schools as well as Eastern Spirituality Centres
are found almost everywhere. I believe that such open communities… are the great need of the hour… Soon they will be needed also in India.”2
“The 8-fold systematization of yoga by Patanjali is based on a sound physio-psychological and moral foundation. Yoga, which he defines as ‘Citta-vritti-nirodha’, the control of thought-fluctuations aims at union with God.”3
“Many aspire when they go to ashrams to sit for long hours in meditation and to be taught by the guru how to raise the kundalini (the serpent power) or the energy within.”4
Notes: Find Your Roots and Take Wing, Asian Trading, Vandana Mataji, 1991 1 Pages 101,102 2 Page 88 3 Page 106 4 Page 75 Living with Hindus, Vandana Mataji, ISPCK, 1999
Shabda Shakti Sangam, National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre [NBCLC] / St. Pauls Press, 1995, edited by Vandana Mataji,
has 820 pages loaded from cover to cover with information on
kundalini, chakras, nadis, the sushumna, energy fields, the astral/vital body, yoga, the OM mantra
etc., [entire chapters are dedicated to these subjects often accompanied by drawings] by this nun as well as other Catholic and Hindu writers. There are contributions also by many leading priests of the Ashrams movement- and its known sympathisers, a Bishop of the Orthodox Church who was deeply into New Age, liberal theologians, proponents of Centering Prayer, a priest-turned-yogi who has since left the priesthood, etc. Hindu contributors include gurus, swamis and yogis.
The “Blessing” for the book is provided by Vandana’s guru, Swami Chidananda.
To explore this book in just the context of this report, and quote from it, would require a major article by itself, it is so chock full of scandalous writings as seen from a Christian perspective. Some information from the book has been included in the Catholic Ashrams report.
It is shocking that the NBCLC and St. Pauls are committed to making this book easily available to Catholics.
The Ashrams movement is a Trojan horse within the Catholic Church. Unbelievably, the “Federation of Ashrams of Catholic Initiative in India“
formed in 1978 was constituted at a gathering of ashramites called by a prominent body like the
NATIONAL BIBLICAL CATECHETICAL AND LITURGICAL CENTRE [NBCLC],
in Bangalore, which is an initiative of the
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India!
This was at the invitation of
Fr. D.S. Amalorpavadas
[Swami Amalorananda, 1932-1990] who was NBCLC’s Director, and Secretary of Liturgy. ‘Amalor’ as he was known, did more than any one else to “inculturate” the Church, and his legacy flourishes in the seminaries, through numerous priests and a few Bishops.
was opened on January 30, 2001 by none other than
Cardinal D.S. Lourdusamy [the brother of Swami Amalorananda].
was founded in 1995 by Catholic nun
in Pondicherry. A large statue of Jesus seating in yoga posture welcomes guests at the entrance of the ashram. Its brochure says this about their “apostolate”:
“Idhaya teaches methods of meditation and yogic practices which lead one to deeper God-experience.”
This Catholic ashram is frequented by the people, including many foreigners, from the nearby
is another ashram that was opened and blessed by
Cardinal D.S. Lourdusamy.
Many other Ashrams all over India have been started at the initiative of Bishops, sometimes with grants of money or land.
Considering that all the leading protagonists of the Catholic Ashrams movement have a great passion and affinity for yoga, Hinduism, its scriptures, and its gurus, it comes as no surprise that several ‘Catholic’ ashrams have been founded alongside or in the proximity of leading Hindu ashrams, Shiva temples, ‘holy’ mountains, ‘sacred’ rivers, and places of Hindu pilgrimage like Rishikesh, Kalady and Varanasi.
Details are available in my report on the Catholic Ashrams.
Catholic priests- even the chairman of a regional Service Team of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal- make retreats at these Hindu centres, studying their scriptures, philosophies and practices, doing their courses [as at S.N. Goenka’s Vipassana International Academy in Igatpuri, Maharashtra [see report on Vipassana].
Priests and Bishops spend precious years of their lives searching the writings of godmen and the religious texts of Buddhism and Hinduism, write their theses and collect their doctorates on them, and then quote them passionately at every opportunity, especially in their preoccupation with inter-religious dialogue where Christian apologetics and evangelisation are virtually non-existent.
What is equally appalling is that many Bishops are involved at different levels in the founding and activities of most of these Catholic ashrams, and have interacted closely with and even felicitated Hindu gurus and godmen [e.g. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar; see my report on the New Age guru on his ‘Art of Living’. Also see page
Is it any wonder then that the numerous letters and reports on these issues mailed from this ministry to all the Bishops of India go ignored by most of them?
BOMBAY ARCHDIOCESE: REV. FR. JOE PEREIRA AND KRIPA FOUNDATION
Headquartered in the parishes of Bandra, Archdiocese of Bombay, this priest and his Foundation use yoga, meditation and breathing exercises [pranayama] to treat people physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Their activities are featured weekly in The Examiner, the Archdiocesan magazine under “Local News”, letters to the editor, articles written by KRIPA enthusiasts etc. KRIPA has branches operating in different archdioceses and dioceses across the country. On this priest and
[see pp. 15, 48], their approver
Fr. Francis Gonsalves SJ
[quoted on page 15] notes, “Consequent to the crisscrossing of creedal confines, conceptions of Christ change. Pereira and Devaprasad unanimously worship Jesus as ‘The Supreme Yogi’ who proclaimed, ‘I am in the Father and the Father in me’ (John 14:11).” Jesus is the Enlightened One, not a yogi who sought and attained enlightenment to ‘become one’ with God, His Father. [For more, see page 78]
Many, many are the books on yoga written by Catholics, lay persons as well as priests. A large number of them are printed by St Pauls Press, published by St Pauls or their Better Yourself Books, or simply sold at St Pauls bookstores- even books on yoga written by non-Christians. A wide range of books on other New Age themes and therapies are also available, and have been listed by me for over 6 years now during my visits to the St Pauls bookstores in different cities. [See also page 79]
Here are some books on yoga from my initial [February 2001] widely-circulated list:
Yogasana and Pranayama, by Dr. P.D. Sharma
Yogic Pranayama, by Dr. K.S. Joshi
Prana, The Secret of Yogic Healing, by Atreya
Light on Pranayama, by B.K.S. Iyengar
Chakra Workout for Body, Mind and Soul, Blawyn and Jones
Chakras and Kundalini Workbook, by J. Mumford (Swami Ananda Kapila Saraswati)
Taoist Yoga and Chi Kung, by E.S. Yudelove
Yoga, by Harvey Day
Yoga for the Spine, by R.D. Gupta
Principles of Yoga, by Cheryl Isaacson
Stress Management through Yoga and Meditation, by Pandit Shambunath
Autobiography of a Yogi, by Swami Paramahansa Yogananda
13. Yoga- Stress and Mental Health, by Dr. J. Yogendra, Founder of the Yoga Institute, Santacruz, Mumbai
The Concise Light on Yoga, by B.K.S. Iyengar
Yoga Sastra, Science of Experiencing Nirvana, by Dr. G.K. Pungaliya
Yoga for Common Aliments, Gaia Books, London
Yoga for Every Athlete
Yoga and Christian Thought, by B.C.M. Mascarenhas, St Paul Publications, no date but probably from the late 1970s; teaches you everything you need to know about
pranayama, asanas, chakras, kundalini… [see pages 52, 54]
Yoga Mysticism For Modern Man, by Hector Bonarjee, 1972, St Paul Publications, 1976.
The Foreword is written by
Fr. J. Van Hove S.J., a Jesuit priest, who recommended that an Indian edition be printed as
the book “falls implicitly and harmoniously in line with the best Christian tradition on prayer…”!
Victor Bonarjee studied “yoga at the Vedanta Forest Academy at Rishikesh on the Ganges”.
Yoga for Integral Health and Growth, by Swami Devaprasad, [Catholic priest] NBCLC / St Pauls
[see pages 48, 15]
Surya Namaskara and other Asanas, by Swami Devaprasad
22. Yoga, An Abundant Life and Wholesome Health [Malayalam], by Swami Devaprasad, published by Yoga Dhyana
Kendra, Centre for Physical, Mental and Spiritual Well-being, Dhyana Ashram, Nambiarkunnu.
Foreword by the late Cyril Mar Baselios OIC, Major Archbishop Catholicos of Trivandrum, then Metropolitan, Sultan Bathery, dated 7.7. 1995. Promoting the book, the Archbishop wrote, “To make one understand what is yoga and its effectiveness to unite and stabilize physical, mental and spiritual powers,
Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga
are explained in lucid language with pictures.”
YOGA IN MANGALORE: V.L. REGO, INTEGRAL YOGA SATSANGH, AND THE BISHOPS
To Christ Through Yoga-
Integral Yoga, by V. L. Rego, Integral Yoga Satsanga, 1987
The Foreword is written by the then Bishop Basil S. D’Souza of Mangalore
who described yoga as “the eternal science preserved for us in the Indian traditions. We appreciate the services of Mr. V.L. Rego and invoke God’s blessings on all those working to promote the science of yoga.” In his Acknowledgements, Rego thanks two priests-
Fr. A. D’Lima, Director, Pastoral Institute, Mangalore, and
Fr. Vincent Menezes, Editor of the Raknno
Konkani language diocesan weekly, “for all their sustained assistance to conduct yoga courses and introduce yoga to [the] Christian Community with a holistic approach”. Once again, pranayama, asanas, chakras,
kundalini, surya namaskar…
According to Rego’s 2005 records, about 9,000 Christians have attended the camps. The
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, World Hindu Council), blamed for anti-Christian violence in India,
sponsored his 200th camp, in Mangalore.
UCAN News, http://www.ucanews.com, August 13, 1993 [see page 38], reported that “The first camp was opened by Bishop Basil Salvador D’Souza of Mangalore in 1986.” Mangalore was breached by ‘Catholic’ yoga 20 years ago!!!!!
Rego teaches that “It is only when the Kundalini, the spiritual power, rises in the spine, one is filled with the Holy Spirit and gets the power and joy of the Holy Spirit. This is also called illumination.” Evidently the learned Bishops of Mangalore and the priests named by him are in complete concurrence with Rego’s new catechism.
YOGA PROPONENT V .L. REGO PLANS YOGA CLUBS FOR CHURCHES
Daijiworld News Network – Mangalore (VM) Pic. Rego addressing the Mangalore Press Club by Vitory Karkal,
July 8, 2005:
Integral Yoga Satsang, Mangalore has sent a proposal to the
Bishop of Mangalore
diocese to begin
Yoga clubs in every church of the diocese. Integral Yoga Satsang founder president
V L Rego
disclosed this at a press meet here on Thursday. Rego said that the Roman Catholic church
which had a ‘touch-me-not’ attitude with issues like incorporating good practices from other communities and religions,
has officially approved the adoption of Yoga in the church. Having received this official consent from the Pope*, Yoga, a scientific and practical health scheme of life, is being propagated in the church.
The Integral Yoga Satsang, Mangalore housed at Ranipura has successfully conducted 199 Yoga courses for beginners in Catholic institutes and the 200th yoga-training course will be held between July 11 to 23 at Sharada Vidyalaya, Kodialbail. This programme is free of charges and is open to all. A total of 100 people can be accommodated in the course which will be held everyday between 6 pm to 7 pm. Twenty five various Yogasanas are included in the course and 10 pranayamas and relaxation techniques, meditation, prayer and Japa mantra techniques will also be taught in the programme, Rego said.
Justifying his stand to adopt Yoga into the Catholic Church, Rego said that can be effectively used as a means to attain peace, health and can also be used as an instrument for religious harmony. Yoga, he added is the science of holistic living, featured by peace and poise, harmony and health. It is the union of individual soul with supreme soul, through its four streams- Jnana, Raja, Karma and Bhakti Yoga. It is the only system by which children, teenagers, young, middle age, and old men and women, healthy and sick, rich and poor can practice to attain physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Giving an insight of the activities of the
Ryshi Vana Yoga Kendra, set up with the assistance of the
Catholic priests of the Carmelite congregation, Rego said that a
Religion, Yoga, Spirituality, Health Institute (RYSHI)** and Spiritual Research Institute (SRI)** have been set up for research and promotion of Yoga. **see pages 42, 43
INDIAN ARCHBISHOP CLAIMS THAT BENEDICT XVI ‘BELIEVES IN YOGA’
Most Rev. Daniel Acharuparambil, OCD., Archbishop of Verapoly, who was the rector of the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome when Cardinal Ratzinger was the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, “as saying that
Ratzinger believed yoga, through meditation and contemplation, was the perfect health approach.” However, Matthew Fox, an excommunicated Dominican priest, at
[Chris Matthews, 4/19/05)] said this about the election of the new Pope, “Now we have the Inquisitor General of the 21st century,
who led the assault on
theologians and women,
yoga (“dangerous” because it gets you too much in touch with your body), homosexuals (who are ‘evil’), liberation theology, ecumenism and interfaith, made “spiritual head” of 1.1 billion people… It is a sad day and a decisive one for the Roman Catholic Church.” [see both reports in detail in the article on YOGA]
My research shows that the Archbishop is favourable to the use of yoga. Ex-priest [now leading New Ager] Matthew Fox is also open to yoga [as to all New Age practices]. An ardent anti-Catholic activist, he is upset over the choice of Ratzinger as Pope. So whom do we believe? Rego and the Archbishop, or Matthew Fox? If you can’t figure it out, contact me.
Most interestingly, Rego seems to be claiming responsibility for RYSHI, RAS, and SRI, which Fr. Gregory D’Souza OCD lists as his projects, see pages 42, 43.
I made enquiries in Mangalore during a visit there, and understood that Rego and the Carmelites, especially Fr. Gregory D’Souza, were once working closely together, but have now separated with a lot of acrimony and misunderstanding. [So much for doing yoga for peace and harmony].
Money of course seems to have played a major role in the wrangle with Rego losing out to the Carmelites his vast properties which he had donated to them for yoga propagation. More below.
Though I tried, through my sources at daijiworld, to find out if Rego offered any evidence at the Press Conference against his claims about “the Roman Catholic church [having] officially approved the adoption of yoga in the church”, all I got were two uninformative responses [one was from Rego’s close relative who is with daijiworld, so I do not reproduce that letter]:
“Our report was filed by our city correspondent who was present at a press conference addressed by Yoga proponent V L Rego. For all further particulars, you can contact him at either Integral Yoga Satsanga, ‘Sheetal’, Pumpwell, Kankanady, Mangalore 575 002 Phone (0824) 2435495 or Yoga Center, Ranipura Hills, Mangalore 574 183 Phone (0824)2466925.
CATHOLIC YOGA TEACHER FINDS MORE ACCEPTANCE AMONG HINDUS
(UCAN) September 5, 2005 MANGALORE, India. By T.S. Thomas
For years V.L. Rego has been promoting yoga among Christians, but his success has been mostly with Hindus.
Catholics, “my own people, for whom I have worked all through my life,” have failed to recognize “the high potential” of yoga to lead one to an authentic Christian life, he laments. On the other hand, Hindus, have “accepted me,” the 59-year-old Catholic layman told UCA News Aug. 31. However, he says he has not given up on Catholics. Rego, who started practicing yoga after he lost a kidney at the age of 6, has chosen “To Christ through yoga*” as his motto. *see pages 38, 39
Yoga, meaning “union” in Sanskrit, is an ancient Indian system of achieving liberation that combines meditation, prescribed postures and controlled breathing. For Rego, yoga “is an art of living with inner satisfaction, harmony and bliss.”
The Catholic yogi has written books and magazines to popularize it, as well as conducting training camps. He conducted 199 camps exclusively in Christian institutions to present yoga “as a means to experience Christ better and promote harmony within oneself and with the world.”
Camps usually lasts eight days, during which Rego conducts basic yoga lessons in the morning or evening.
According to Rego’s records,
about 9,000 Christians have attended the camps. But they did not continue the practice and, in Rego’s view, none seemed “genuinely interested.” Meanwhile, however, he came to be respected as a yoga teacher outside the Christian community, especially among Hindus. Vishwa Hindu Parishad
(VHP, world Hindu council), blamed for anti-Christian violence in various parts of India,
sponsored his 200th camp, in Mangalore, the southern city where Rego lives. His latest camp, the 213th, began Sept. 1, also in Mangalore, 2,290 kilometers south of New Delhi. Rego acknowledges that the number of Hindus attending his camps has increased since the VHP sponsored one.
M.B. Puranic, VHP chief for Mangalore, told UCA News that Hindus have no difficulty accepting a Catholic yoga teacher, “because a real yogi is above all religions and man-made barriers.” Yoga is “a perfect medium” for promoting interreligious harmony and dialogue, he continued, adding that VHP might sponsor more programs for Rego to teach yoga to its workers.
Puranic commended Rego for using the ancient science in his Christian experience and promoting it to Christians, though he regretted the Catholic Church has been too rigid to recognize a layman who has adapted yoga for better Christian living. “Yoga is a means, not an end,” the Hindu leader said. Another Hindu who admires Rego is Ananthakrishna Bhat, a college professor. Commending on Rego’s “undivided faith in Christ and spotless conviction in yoga,” Bhat told UCA News that “an Indian Christian must seek Indian ways to understand Christ better.” He called Rego “an asset” to Christians in India for proving that yoga is “a better means to enhance dialogue among various religions.”
Sreepathi Bhat, a Hindu participant in one of Rego’s camps, told UCA News he experienced joy, peace and harmony during the camp. “It was surprising that a Catholic layman could master the Hindu science of yoga and teach Hindus,” he said.
“There is only one God and one faith, whatever names we call him.”
Alice Saldanha, a Catholic woman who attended one of the camps, told UCA News she found practicing yoga with people of other faiths “an enriching experience.” She explained that “in yoga we find no differences and it gives immense confidence.”
Rego said promoting communal harmony was his main intention when he started a yoga training center,
Integral Yoga Satsang, in 1986. He claims yoga helped him survive a massive heart attack in 1982 and several other health problems. “This life is a gift of God and yoga,” he declared, adding that he wants to dedicate his life to promoting yoga.
But he realized he could not carry on his work indefinitely.
In February 2002, he donated the yoga center and some other property to the Carmelite Fathers* on condition they continue his mission. Now, however, Rego is wondering if the priests will keep their promise.
“I have given away my life and property to promote yoga among Christian community, but the Church does not show any enthusiasm in this regard,” he said. He is “concerned” that the priests might use the property for something else.
The Carmelites already have spent 15 million rupees (about US$342,000) to renovate the center.*
Father Rathan Almeida, provincial secretary of the congregation, told UCA News that Rego’s fears are misplaced.
“A proper decision will be taken in course of time, depending on the need of the hour,” he clarified.
Rego admitted that the universal Church has recognized his mission, because the main benefactor of his yoga center was Missio, a funding agency of the German Catholic Church. “But the local Church is ignoring my dream,” he bemoaned. For now, Rego can find some solace in local Catholic young people, who are asking his help to start yoga clubs in every parish in Mangalore diocese.
Father Elias D’Souza, director of the Mangalore unit of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement, admits that “the Church is slow in understanding and implementing yoga in its system.” But he asserts that “certainly (the Church) is not against such a powerful Indian science.”
Yoga can play a major role in the formation of Catholic youth, the priest told UCA News.
*see page 42
(Accompanying photos available with the UCAN Photo Service. Use story code IB8835.1357 or a person’s name to search for related photos) Reproduced on mangalorean.com and
Despite V.L. Rego’s lamenting that Catholics have rejected his yoga-promotion campaign, he has, by his own admission, introduced over 9,000 Catholics to this practice. More ominously, his institution is funded by a German Catholic aid agency, he has completely corrupted the Carmelite [OCD] community in Mangalore, [or is it the other way around ?], and he has the fraternal understanding of priests like Fr. Elias D’Souza who plays an influential role in the Indian Catholic Youth Movement [ICYM]; while on the other hand, he has the support and blessing of the
Divine Life Society*, the “hugging guru”
Mata Amritanandamayi**, of whom he is a staunch devotee, the Hindu right-wing World Hindu Council [VHP],
and other neo-Hindu organizations.
UCAN have reported on V.L. Rego 12 years earlier, i.e. in 1993, see further below. One sees that his yoga mission was encouraged from its infancy by the priests of the diocese of Mangalore, with the late Bishop of Mangalore Basil D’Souza even writing the Foreword for Rego’s first yoga book.
Despite being born into a traditional Catholic family, Rego ‘searches for the Supreme’ in Hindu scriptures, temples and ashrams and finally ‘discovers’ the New Age ‘Christ-within’ after meeting his ‘Satguru’ or ‘Realised Master’ in a god-woman, Mata Amritanandamayi, to whom he ‘surrendered’ his soul.
*The Divine Life Society:
Founded by Swami Sivananda Saraswati it follows the advaitic or non-dualistic philosophy of Shankaracharya. According to them, God (Brahman) alone is real. God is not a person or spirit but consciousness …The Society and its Chinmaya Mission teach a synthesis of yoga… the purpose of which is to dissolve one’s mind in God through meditation. According to Swamiji,
‘Om’ is the best Mantra. The Society’s Mission was founded in Bombay in 1952 to train young men and women in advaita philosophy for missionary activity. Swami Sivananda said “Wholesale preaching of Vedanta to the masses is not advisable. It will result in chaos, bewilderment and stagnation.” His followers will do well to heed him.” World of Gurus, Vishal Mangalwadi, 1987, pages 41-51
**AMMA IN MY LIFE: Christian devotee V.L. Rego tells how he found his perfect master in Amma
at the homepage of the Mata Amritanandamayi Devi website: www.amritapuri.org
Link: http://archives.amritapuri.org/matruvani/vol-01/may01/01mv05life.htm. Column in Matruvani, May 2001
I was born and brought up in a materially poor Christian family. As a child I fell seriously ill with a kidney disorder but survived with one remaining kidney and a number of persisting ailments. By early adulthood, I had developed chronic diabetes, even going into a coma-like condition. As a last resort, along with the insulin I was taking, I went for yoga therapy and was able to recover slowly. Within just a year, my medication was reduced from heavy doses to two tablets per day.
This stirred in me a deep interest in Yoga philosophy and Vedanta. But wherever I studied, the emphasis was to learn and practice under the guidance of an Enlightened Master.
I travelled all over India to different ashrams in search of a Guru and the experience of God. At these ashrams I met many great souls, yet I couldn’t find my Guru. After an earnest search lasting for 12 years, I gave up all hope of finding a Satguru (realised Master) to whom I could spontaneously surrender.
One fine morning in March 1995, on a Friday, I glanced at the newspaper at my home in Mangalore and I noticed an announcement saying that a saint known as
was coming to Mangalore Town Hall at 7:00 p.m.
I didn’t realise it then, but my Satguru was at my doorstep. I went to the programme with a sceptical mind, and at around 10:00 p.m., in the midst of a big crowd, I received Amma’s darshan, a divine embrace that made my heart melt, spontaneously bringing tears of joy to my eyes. However, I soon forgot all about it as I went on with my usual business and family life. But who can change Divine Providence? In October of that same year, I was at the Bombay airport, returning home from Europe, where I had attended a yoga programme. The plane had landed at around 1:00 a.m., after a journey of more than eight hours. After passing through customs and other formalities and then searching in vain for an overnight room, I was completely exhausted. Finally at 3:00 a.m., I managed to find a friend with whom I could stay.
I couldn’t possibly have thought about anything spiritual at that moment. After a bath I just went to bed. At this unimaginable moment, Amma, in Her white sari, was suddenly standing at the door, smiling at me. Spontaneously,
I crawled towards Her, like an excited child crawling towards its mother. The Divine Mother raised Her hand and pointed towards my Lord, Jesus Christ, who was standing at the right side of the room, fulfilling my ardent wish for a vision of Christ. It was the first and, so far, the last vision of Christ I have ever had. I wept profusely and Mother simply smiled at me. I was in a dilemma, for
I didn’t know whether to run to Mother or to Christ. Soon both of them disappeared.
I got up and switched on the light to discover that the sheets were wet with my tears of joy and ecstasy at this divine experience. There and then I realised that
I had always belonged to Amma, and that Her grace was such that I could now finally surrender to Her, the Satguru. My search was over and I would wander no more.
As soon as I returned to Mangalore, I was in a hurry to go and see Amma at Amritapuri. But I was told on the phone that Amma would be available only the first week of December as She was travelling abroad. I had to wait for a whole month, and during this time I remembered each day the vision I had had of Amma, and I earnestly engaged in spiritual practice.
On 6th December, 1995, I arrived in Amritapuri. It was a Wednesday and I was waiting in line for the darshan with an overfull heart to unburden at Amma’s feet. As soon as my turn came to experience Amma’s embrace, I poured out the story about the vision. Amma simply laughed.
When I persisted, She smiled and said, “Darling son,” and something else in Malayalam.
During the Devi Bhava the next evening,
I requested a mantra when my turn came. Amma didn’t give me a mantra but simply smiled and embraced me with great affection. She said to me in English, “Mother is with you.” As she said this, She ended the embrace with a serious expression rather than her ever-blooming smile. This remained with me the whole night. It was all a mystery to me.
The next day was a Friday. For 12 years I have been doing a special spiritual practice of silence and meditation on Fridays, as it is the sacred day of the crucifixion of Christ. Amma started darshan on this Friday at around noon. When my turn came, She again embraced me with a full-moon smile and she chanted a mantra in my ear. She then asked an attending sannyasi (monk) to teach me how to chant the mantra, with and without a mala (rosary). With other simple instructions, the sannyasi also advised me to read the volumes of “Awaken, Children!” continuously.
I felt that I was the most blessed person to have received a mantra from the Divine Mother on a Friday. Once again tears of joy flooded my eyes in a continuous stream. END [Separate report on AMMA to follow]
With this personal testimony of Rego, the reader can see how absolute and pitiful his deception is.
After what appears to be a diabolical visitation, Rego’s dilemma is to choose between Amma and Christ. Rego chooses Amma [the word for ‘mother’ in South Indian languages]. A ‘mantra’ given by her holds him in permanent spiritual bondage. Observe that Rego uses capitals when referring to Amma [She, Her]. He prays with Amma’s form of mala [rosary] using the mantra, not the Rosary of the Mother of God. As he candidly admits, he ‘belongs’ to the Amma, his ‘perfect master’.
It is unbelievable that the priests and Bishops of Mangalore even tolerate Rego’s spiritual poisoning of the Catholic population; they actually assist and encourage him in his awful work.
Rego’s testimony of his spiritual perversion should serve as a grim warning to those Catholics who would believe that they might use the asanas and breathing exercises of yoga for physical benefits without being influenced by the religious philosophies of yoga, or being spiritually compromised.
One of the earlier reports on V.L. Rego:
CATHOLIC USES YOGA FOR CHRISTIAN SPIRITUAL PERFECTION
Mangalore, India (UCAN) August 13, 1993
A Catholic layman is propagating yoga as a tool for Christian spiritual perfection and renewal in the Church. “Yoga made me a much better Christian, gave me the opportunity to experience Christ more fully,” says Valerian Lawrence Rego, a yoga master in Mangalore diocese 2,260 kilometers south of New Delhi. Rego, 47, told UCA News during his 90th yoga teaching session in a Mangalore parish that the “kingdom of God is within” and yoga is a way to experience it.
Yoga is an ascetic discipline rooted in Hinduism by which a person seeks liberation of the self and union with God through intense concentration, deep meditation and exercises using prescribed postures and controlled breathing.
Mangalore diocese promotes Rego’s Christian yoga camps. The first camp was opened by Bishop Basil Salvador D’Souza of Mangalore in 1986.
Rego, a businessman by profession, tours India with his motto, “To Christ Through Yoga,” [see pages 36, 39] but he regrets that “not even 1 percent of Christians really experience Christ and lead a true Christian life.”
During his search for the “Supreme,” the Christian yogi studied Hindu Scriptures, visited Hindu sacred places and spent days in the Himalayas. “Ultimately I realized that Christ is the center of my life,” said Rego, who has “vowed to propagate yoga among Christians to help them experience Christ.” “The greatest tragedy of Christians,” Rego told UCA News in late July “is the failure to enjoy the union with Christ, who is in them.” Rego explained that yoga helps “the union of the soul with the Supreme” and that it is “a skill of living with inner satisfaction, an art to gain mastery over mind, emotions and a way to perfect bliss – human and divine.” He claims yoga has helped him “work hard, develop confidence in life and avoid all diseases and illness.” Yoga, he added, not only gives an “emotional maturity and mental peace,” but promotes health.
Rego took up yoga in his youth, when he “had almost lost hope in life due to an acute diabetes and kidney failure.”
He claims the diseases have been cured completely through yoga. “Yoga gave me back my life and I have to give it back through its promotion,” he said.
The Divine Life Society
[see page 37] in the Himalayas and
in Kanyakumari, southern India, are
major Hindu yoga centers that support Rego’s “yogic mission” among Christians.
Rego said he was pained to hear of Catholic church buildings in the West being turned into dancing halls and libraries while thousands of Christians flock to Hindu sages seeking enlightenment. He warns that “the trend will increase unless we prevent it.” People, he said, “are fed up with dogmas and doctrines. They look for depth in divine experience.”
Father Richard Sequeira, former rector of Mangalore’s St. Joseph’s Major Seminary, said Rego’s yoga classes helped him realize “a great and dynamic power within, which is beyond any bodily knowledge.”
Rego asserts that yoga and Christianity should not remain two contrary things, but “one should lead to the other.”
Rego’s wife and his daughter are also on the “yogic” path. “Yoga has brought in more harmony, happiness and confidence to our family,” said Myrtal Rego, his wife. For Astra Sheetal Rego, their 16-year-old daughter, “yoga is a way of life – a harmonious way.”
TO CHRIST THROUGH YOGA- INTEGRAL YOGA, by V. L. REGO, 1987
This is Rego’s book on yoga. I had reviewed it in my July 10, 2000 article on yoga which had the lengthy caption:
“Propagation of the Practice of Yoga by Catholic Priests, and the Approval of their ‘Apostolates’ by Bishops and Cardinals.” I reproduce the matter from the referred report:
Front Cover: Rego has taken the ‘IHS’ symbol and replaced the ‘H’ with a ‘Y’: Integral Yoga Satsang. One of the figures in yogic posture has an
OM symbol superimposed on a symbol of the Cross emblazoned on his chest. Another figure displays the symbols of the
of the psychic energy system.
Inside one finds “OM
SRI BHAGAVATE…” after which he dedicates the book to his two sisters who are nuns.
In his Acknowledgements, Rego thanks two priests-
Fr. A. D’Lima, Director, Pastoral Institute, Mangalore, and
Fr. Vincent Menezes, Editor of the Raknno Konkani language diocesan weekly, “for all their sustained assistance to conduct yoga courses and introduce yoga to [the] Christian Community with a holistic approach“.
For this book, Rego admits that “Guidelines have been taken from the teachings and writings of great modern sages like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, Sri Aurobindo, and Paramahamsa Yogananda… to the Ramakrishna Mission and Vivekananda Kendra… and [to them] I humbly prostrate and express my gratitude… I also voice my gratitude to Rt. Rev. Dr. Basil D’Souza, Bishop of Mangalore, for his blessings and for having written the foreword to this book.”
FOREWORD BY THE BISHOP OF MANGALORE
dated 28.02.1987 EXCERPT:
“Yoga, the eternal science preserved for us in the Indian traditions is equipped with a science to offer a solution. It assuredly helps one to attain integral health of body, mind and spirit. It promotes HEALTH and WHOLENESS [emphasis- the Bishop’s].
Yoga, by its nature, needs to be learnt under a guru, a master. Mr. V.L. Rego who has acquired a deep knowledge on yoga has already shared his knowledge with many by conducting practical classes on yoga in India and abroad. They have been highly appreciated by the participants.
This book has ’emerged’ from these practical courses. We appreciate the services of Mr. V.L. Rego and invoke God’s blessings on all those working to promote the science of yoga.“
Fr. Vincent Menezes says
that ‘Propagating the cause of yoga is [Rego’s] life mission’. He informs us that Rego has trained at the Central Yoga Research Institute in Delhi, and at various yoga ashrams from the ‘Himalayas.. to Kanyakumari’; has conducted yoga classes in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, and made educational films on yoga. This book has been translated into Konkani and German. Fr. Menezes quotes that greatly abused verse of Scripture, Luke 17:21* to claim that Jesus’ words are fulfilled in Rego’s yoga-meditation practice. [Third edition]
*And no one will announce ‘Look, here it is’, or ‘There it is’. For behold, the kingdom of God is among you. NAB.
So, what according to Rego is this “kingdom of God” that the good priest saw in his book and teachings
Rego refers to God as ‘the Ideal’. “Facing east or north… places the portrait of the Ideal in a permanent place facing you while practising yoga. Place some flowers and burn some incense in front of the Ideal..” [page 3]
Where are those who argue that yoga is not a spiritual practice? This highly trained and acclaimed yogi
recommends that yoga be performed while worshipping idols. Read on.
“Through the breath we receive the major portion of our vital force of living. And this
vital force of life is called Prana.
The control of this Prana through breath is called
Prana should not be confused with… oxygen… Prana is the subtle vital force
which moves every existing creature in the world [page 41]. Nadis are subtle paths through which the Prana (vital force) flows. They are not nerves. They are 72, 000 in number in a normal person. Ida, pingala and sushumna are the three most important nadis. These three are at the spinal column [page 45].
The first step towards this spiritual pranayama is to observe the breath [page 52].
Yoga confirms that there are spiritual centres (Chakras) in our spine
as experienced by St. John of the Cross in his revelation (7 pillars), by St. Teresa of Avila (7 mansions) and others. By trying to take our Prana (vital force) to these centres we can have the spiritual awakening and feel real joy within.
Our spiritual energy is lying in the form of a serpent power (Kundalini) with face downwards in the lowest centre which is called Muladhara Chakra. By concentrated practice of spinal pranayama we can arouse this spiritual power through the grace of God and make it rise to the second centre, that is Svadishtana Chakra. When the spiritual energy (Kundalini) rises to this Chakra, man
experiences various supernatural visions…
[Rego continues, from chakra to chakra] It has been said that when the spiritual energy rises upwards, the bliss and joy is so unimagineable that one loses body consciousness and…
one feels he is one with God as our beloved Christ said ‘I and my Father are One’.
The same expression has been given by Sri Sankaracharya and other great sages when they attained this high state of blissful living. The yoga philosophy thus confirms that the Holy Spirit is within…
It is only when the Kundalini, the spiritual power, rises in the spine, one is filled with the Holy Spirit… This is also called illumination
[pp. 55, 56]
WISDOM EYE PRANAYAMA:
Between the eyebrows, at the centre of the forehead, we have our wisdom-eye or spiritual-eye… Beholding the light of the spiritual-eye, our
will increase… [page 59]
DESCRIPTION OF WISDOM-EYE AS SEEN BY YOGIS:
In the beginning the spiritual eye may appear different to different people, but when it is seen perfectly it will appear as a star in the centre of the blue sphere that is encircled by the golden hale. The outer golden hale represents in terms of astral colours, cosmic energy or Holy Spirit. The blue sphere represents the vibration of Christ-consciousness… The little white star in the middle represents the pure light of God the Father… The yogi who penetrates the star enters cosmic consciousness [page 61].
Rego talks, not of sin, but of “the impurities of the mind” that must be overcoming by chanting mantras [page 74].
He quotes ‘Sri Krishna’, Buddha and Ramakrishna Paramahansa as freely as he does Jesus in the New Testament.
In the latest [fourth] edition,
Fr. Menezes has been replaced
on the back cover by a write-up from one Dr. Prabhakar Joshy who informs us that “The Kanara Christian Community conferred on him the title of Yogacharya”.
Rego’s book reads like a new Catholic Catechism that justifies itself through the philosophies of yoga. It shocks and grieves me that priests and Bishops have tolerated and encouraged its presence and its publication when it is fairly obvious that its theories contradict known science as well as Church teaching.
All the basic principles of the yogic philosophy as outlined by Rego are esoteric, or, to put it more plainly from the Christian believer’s point of view, occult. And, if one studies Rego’s teachings in the light of the Vatican’s 3rd February, 2003 Provisional Report ‘Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life…’, NEW AGE.
I do not want to embark on a comparative analysis of the two, since this issue has been treated in several of my reports, but a few of the prominent points are the denial of sin, the focus on salvation by works, the use of questionable prayer and meditative techniques, eastern philosophy that contradicts Biblical revelation on the understanding and purpose of man, the belief in the third-eye, sushumna, nadis, chakras, kundalini [all of which are linked by a common thread], etc., the deification of man, teaching that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal energy that can be manipulated, belief in a life force energy and that man has an astral or vital energy body, focus on intuition as against rational thinking, the psychic phenomena that reportedly accompany the practice of yoga, etc.
That a Bishop puts his seal of approval on such writings, which teach about esoteric energies, the chakras and kundalini serpent power, certifying them as scientific, is a matter of serious concern.
This is not an isolated case. Other such books on yoga, authored by Catholic priests, have been authorised by Bishops and even cardinals, and yoga declared as an ‘apostolate’. These books are even printed, published and sold by the Society of St. Paul and their Better Yourself Books. This writer has reviewed several of them in two detailed write-ups on yoga, written between 2000 and 2001. They are presently being converted from hardcopy to softcopy and will shortly be available on the website.
This article was almost ready by mid-March 2007, but its final completion was postponed due to the correspondence with the Bishops on the proposed compulsory introduction by some state governments of Surya Namaskar and Yoga in educational institutions [see separate report].
Just as it is being completed in mid-April, the following report comes in:
VL Rego – Experiencing Spirituality In Yoga
By Violet Pereira Mangalore http://www.mangalorean.com/news.php?newstype=broadcast&broadcastid=42006
April 10, 2007 Yoga is an ancient Hindu Science of holistic living, practiced by the sages and Hindu Yogacharyas for the concentration of mind and self actualization. For VL Rego, Yoga is “an art of living with inner satisfaction, harmony and bliss”.
Mr. Antony Lewis Rego and Mrs. Juliana Rego from Bendur Parish gave birth to a child on 10th August 1946 and named him Valerian Lawrence Rego. Among the 5 children of this couple Valerian is the youngest child who was born as a sick child under unfavorable circumstances. At the age of five he experienced an attack of epilepsy.
Because of the superstitious thinking of his parents, little Valerian was taken to a priest to receive a bible treatment. Instead of taking him to the hospital they took him to the priest thinking that an evil spirit had entered his body. Everyday the people in his house kept his legs in water, which was filled in a brass vessel to clean and remove sand from his legs. After removing the sand from his legs, they used to make him kneel down and with a broom they beat him trying to rid his body of the evil spirits. At that time he was just 6 years old! One day, one of his sister’s friends visited their house and saw the scene of cleaning and beating this child with a broom. She felt pity and requested his parents and his sister to take him to Kankanady hospital. Thus, Valerian got admitted in Kankanady hospital. At first sight, solely by noticing the child’s condition, the doctor diagnosed that he was having a kidney problem and he had lost one kidney already. Since then they started him on epilepsy treatments and stopped giving all other treatments.
Valerian, at the tender age of six was living with only one kidney. His sickness continued and so did his treatment until the age of 17. Fortunately, for him, after his education, he moved to Delhi. By the time he was twenty eight, he was employed in Delhi. One day while working, he collapsed with acute diabetes. His sugar was 580 mg and his kidney was affected long back, then. He admitted himself in the hospital and was under insulin treatment for sugar control. One of his friend Mr. Singh, advised him to do Yoga. He said: “Mr. Rego one day or the other day we have to leave this world,
instead of suffering and dying you better do yoga and die.”
Valerian knew that his friend would not misguide him and he made up his mind to start yoga. He got himself admitted to
Veerendra Brahmachari’s Central Yogic Research Institute
at Delhi, where he started learning basic asanas. He regained his normal health by doing yoga and, also by taking the insulin treatment, he recovered from diabetes. He married in 1970 but did not have any kids until 1976. His wife too was having some health problems due to which she failed to conceive. After she too started performing yoga in 1976, Mrs. Rego conceived. Valerian Rego says that it is here that his interest in yoga increased and he thought of continuing in the Yoga field. His wife requested him to move to Mangalore for her delivery. Valerian did not refuse his wife’s request and without any second thought he resigned his job and moved down to Mangalore from Delhi.
After reaching Mangalore he was worried as to how he would earn his daily bread. Finally, he got a job in the Mangalore Productivity Council for Rs. 300. He realized that it was not his job and thought of making his own business. He took up a shop for Rs. 30 and invested Rs. 3000 and started his own business. He used to go to Hunsur to bring teak wood boxes and would sell it in Mangalore. While traveling to Hunsur, whenever he would get time, he would practice yoga.
In 1977, his wife gave birth to a baby girl and they named her “Sheetal”. Meanwhile in the teak wood box business, he got some profit and thought of extending it. He took up a loan of Rs. 10,000 from the Manipal bank and started an Electrical business. First he would go to Bangalore to get some electric wires and would then sell the same in Mangalore. He was taking the electric goods in his scooter and selling it to the shops. After reaching Bangalore, he would rest at the bus stop, because he could not afford to stay in hotels and here too he practiced yoga. By seeing his practice and interest in yoga and also in his business, his dealers said that they will send goods to Mangalore. From Delhi too, dealers were sending him the goods. Now he really became very successful business man. While he was planning to buy a big shop and extending his electrical business, one person offered him 10 cents land. In that land he built a house and a shop, and shifted his business to this building and named it Sheetal Wires.
By 1981, he was well established in his business. But his interest in yoga grew to a great extent. He thought of traveling to the Himalayas to meet the great yoga Gurus and learn and discover Yoga. He lived in the Himalayas for 3 months, and then he moved to the Shivananda [sic, Sivananda, see Divine Life Mission, pages 27, 37, 38, 47]
and met the great yoga gurus there too. Next, he went to Dakshineshwara near Calcutta, Bolur Matt, the birth place of Ram Krishna Bhat. He also visited Swami Gitananda, founder of Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry, who was a M.D., F.R.C.S. Medical doctor, who has been involved virtually a life time in the practice of Yoga, spreading its scientific message to humanity.
The swami taught and initiated Yogacharya to Valerian Rego in November 1984, in his Gayatri Mantra Ashram, sharing many enlightened views to spread our RYSHI (Religion, Yoga, and Spirituality Health Integration) culture, in a most scientific way through modern techniques of communication. Soon after this, Valerian Rego traveled to
Vivekananda Kendra, Kanya Kumari and
Kurusumala Ashram [sic] near Kottayam.
In Kurusumala Ashram, he met a hermit,
Fr. Francis Acharya
from France [sic], who was practicing Indian prayers through Yoga and with him he learnt Indian prayers. After this, he went to the Sachidanda Ashram [sic] near Thrichi [sic] and there he learnt Kriya Yoga from Fr. Bede Griffith [sic]. [SEE NOTE BELOW, and page 46]
He continued his family life, business and yoga without any hurdles. In 1986, Valerian Rego went to the US to make his second film, named SMET (Stress Management of Executive Tension)
under the sponsorship of Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari.
While returning from the United States, Fr. Vincent Menezes, editor of Raknno, met Valerian Rego and took his life’s first interview. His “Yoga Vratha” took him to New York, Washington, Miami, and Los Angeles and also to Germany and England. Valerian Rego has been promoting yoga among Christians for years. “Still, Catholics, my own people, for whom I worked all through my life, have failed to recognize the high potential of yoga to lead one to an authentic Christian life”, he laments. On the other hand, Hindus have accepted me,” says Rego.
Integral Yoga Satsanga has begun mainly to bring awareness of vast Indian spirituality and Yoga (i.e. Sanatana Dharma) among the Roman Catholics;
he has introduced Integral Yoga Courses in retreat houses, seminaries, convent novitiates, since 1987. In spite of many hurdles, so far he has conducted 199 Christian Yoga camps in India and abroad and worked on his hobby with his savings. Now the papal agency in Germany – Missio, has given him a grant to Indianise Christians in India for their culturation (The grant has been obtained by the Bishop of Mangalore). It is for the first time in the history of 2000 years of the Church that the Indian Yoga program is approved by the International Roman Catholic Church body “Missio”.
His trust has built up a Yoga Center with about a 10,000 sq. ft. building area in 2.43 acres of land in Ranipura Hills, facing the Arabian Sea. In order to take up the project more effectively on a long term basis in the Catholic Church, it has entered into a collaboration agreement with Carmelite Fathers O.C.D, who have their head quarters in Rome, on 16th Feb 2002. They have taken up the Ranipura Project, as a joint venture.
This project and institution is named as RYSHI which means Religion, Yoga, Spirituality, Health Institute.
Yogacharya Rego, as he is now called, dedicates his life for the cause of Yoga and is trying to spread its practice everywhere. He has accepted it as his life’s mission. Recently he has opened a Naturopathy and Yoga Therapy Clinic at Pumpwell in Mangalore. His priority is to develop a Yoga Centre as an institute of Yoga.
Rego has traveled to almost all the important sacred Hindu places in India and has studied the ancient Vedic scriptures. He has also spent many days in the Himalayas by meditating. He says “Ultimately, I realized that Christ is the centre of my life and I have vowed to propagate the practice of Yoga among Christians as a means to experience Christ”. Every Friday he does “maunavratha” (thoughtlessness). That day he does not consume any food or water nor does he meet anyone. He keeps himself away from noise, food and almost all worldly things. He spends this day in complete meditation. Yogacharya Rego carries on his mission to propagate the benefits of yoga in order to achieve a higher level of experiencing God. Mangalorean.com lauds him for his untiring efforts and wishes him all the very best in his future endeavors. Please see photos here:
NOTE: Factual errors in the above report need to be corrected. Fr. Bede Griffiths OSB., is a Benedictine who had come to India in 1955 in search of “the other half of my soul” and co-founded Kurisumala Ashram
at Vagamon in Kerala in 1958 with Francis Mahieu, or Francis Acharya, [came to India in Sep. 1955] a Belgian of the Cistercian Order of Strict Observance (Trappist). Fr. Bede took over
Shantivanam, at Thaneerpalli, near Tiruchirappalli, [Trichy] in 1968. Mahieu himself had, in November 1956, left Shantivanam [SEE MY REPORT ON CATHOLIC ASHRAMS]
It is unclear to this writer who really owns and runs the Ranipura yoga centre- Rego or the Carmelites, in what sense it is a joint venture. Fr. Gregory D’Souza’s website [see below] mentions nothing about Rego. Maybe a Mangalore reader of this report will give this writer a clearer picture. Meanwhile related inaccuracies, if any, are sincerely regretted.
From the close association of V.L. Rego with the OCD Carmelite priests of the Mangalore diocese, their having worked together for several years to propagate yoga in that city, it is only logical to conclude that they subscribe to the same beliefs as Rego does.
**This Discalced Carmelite, author of several books, some published by the
NBCLC, founder of the International Institute of Spirituality called Dhyanavana, which means
Meditation Garden, has taken over V.L. Rego’s yoga project, RYSHI.
UCAN September 5, 2005 reports that the “Carmelites already have spent 15 million rupees (about US$342,000) [Rs 1.5 crores]
to renovate the center.” [See page 36]
Father Rathan Almeida, OCD, Provincial Secretary as supporting the project, and ends thus, “Father Elias D’Souza, director of the Mangalore unit of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement, admits that ‘the Church is slow in understanding and implementing yoga in its system.’ But he asserts that ‘certainly (the Church) is not against such a powerful Indian science.’
Yoga can play a major role in the formation of Catholic youth, the priest told UCA News.”
MORE YOGA IN MANGALORE: RYSHI, RAS and SRI, AND
FR. GREGORY D’SOUZA OCD
www.ocdgregdsouza.org/ Recorded from Fr. D’Souza’s website:
Dhyanavana: In 1994 Fr. D’ Souza embarked on a pioneering project – to found an
International Institute of Spirituality
called Dhyanavana, which means Meditation Garden. From conception to completion Dhyanavana is his brainchild. Changing with the times is a part of human existence. Gearing up to change is what Dhyanavana is all about. The whole project involving raising of funds, planning the structure, furnishing it appropriately, organizing programmes, appointing lecturers was meticulously attended to. People of different walks of life were invited to participate in self-renewal programmes organized throughout the year.
RYSHI – Towards a Holistic Approach to Life: In India, which is a multi- religious society and the largest democracy in the world, communal out bursts with destruction and deaths at regular intervals, are worse than floods and draught.
Such a situation forces a person to live constantly in insecurity, suspicion and hatred. It is in this context that Fr. D’ Souza launched into a major international project in Mangalore, called RYSHI, which is an acronym for Religion,
Yoga, Spirituality, Health, and Institute. Fr. D’ Souza realized that in order to overcome the misuse of religion for political and communalistic purposes, we need to promote inter-religious dialogue and provide necessary literature on different religious traditions so that listening to each other, and learning from the wisdom of religious sages, we can understand the truth better and live in harmony. The study and practice of religion, is to be addressed on a scientific basis, using even scientific method.
In order to attain this, Fr. D’ Souza has created a foundation called
RAS, which stands for
Religion And Science.
One of the great contributions of India to the wisdom of the world is
which when practised well, gives discipline to our life, brings about health of mind and body, promotes peace and serenity, and yields even longevity. Fr. D’ Souza realized that if India is not progressing, as it should, it is not merely because of economic poverty, but more because of the lack of discipline and application to work.
Fr. D’ Souza intends to provide the necessary means for systematic and scientific study of Yoga.
Eastern as well as Western approaches to health and hygiene of sound spirituality are to be harmoniously combined into a wholesome synthesis. For this purpose Fr. D’ Souza has set up an associate foundation called
SRI, which stands for
Spirituality Research Institute.
Fr. D’Souza is the author of 6 books “of scientific nature” such as:
Teresian Mysticism and Yoga, Divya Jyothi Publications, Mangalore, 1981.
And 35 articles and research papers like:
“Spiritual Inwardness in Shankaracharya and St. John of the Cross“, in Mount Carmel, A Theologico-Spiritual Journal, Oxford, 1986, pp. 165-173.
Basic Values in Christianity,
Paper read at Ramakrishna Ashram
On his web site there is a picture of a meeting that he had with Pope John Paul II:
“Meeting with the Pope. After his studies in Europe, Fr. Gregory had an audience with the Pope John Paul II and was given the privilege to concelebrate Holy Eucharist with the Pope in his private chapel at the Vatican.”
WHERE DOES ALL THE MONEY GO?
MORE ON FR. GREGORY D’SOUZA OCD., AND THE CARMELITES. AND YOGA!
The Carmelites in Mangalore exert considerable influence on the local population from whom many of their vocations have been drawn, while the State of Goa, located further north on the west coast of India also has a strong presence with two seminaries, one in Peddem [Initiation] where this writer has stayed on two occasions, the other in Margao [Novitiate].
The young men then go to Mysore for studying Philosophy.
The St. Joseph’s Monastery in Bikarnakatte, Mangalore, is a Theology Seminary of their Karnataka-Goa-Maharashtra province, existing since over two decades. There are about 5 or 6 priests, and 15-25 seminarians in four batches. It is from here that they ordain their priests after a total of 13 years of formation.
During the four years of theology, they study the Bible, Spirituality, Dogmatic Theology, Moral Theology, Church History, Canon Law, etc.,
and are exposed to yoga.
In the particular issue of their magazine Infant Jesus, the Superior Fr. Dominic Vas OCD. appeals for ‘bourses’ of Rs 50,000 each towards ‘spiritual adoption’ of seminarians by the faithful of the diocese!
But we recall the UCAN report that we read earlier which states that these same Carmelites have invested Rs 15 million in the propagation of the Hindu discipline of yoga!!!!!!!!!
The Church at the Monastery is known as the Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague. Father D' Souza was the pastor of this church and the Rector of the theological college. The Thursday masses and novena services, which are packed with devotees of all religious persuasions, are held in Kannada, Konkani and English. It is common knowledge that shrines dedicated to Infant Jesus or Our Lady of Vailankanni are good income-earners, and the one at Bikarnakatte would be no exception. So where does the money go? To the formation of seminarians? Or for yoga?
Writing in the Infant Jesus magazine, Fr. Gregory D'Souza says,
"There have to be effective and perhaps even new ways to address the problem concerning health, discipline and prayer. One of such means is Yoga. Prayer being an essential aspect of Carmelite charism, why should we not integrate ancient yogic science with prayer and meditation? In view of this, we have been organizing Yoga courses under the guidance of qualified experts."
True enough, the Shrine has become a yoga centre. One of the "qualified experts" referred to, was at that time, V.L. Rego.
The Carmelites are also chaplains to three religious communities- the Sisters of St. Anne at Angelore, the Bridgettine Sisters in Nanthoor, and the Bethany Sisters in Kulshekar. As provincial, Fr. D' Souza was also entrusted with the pastoral care of the Discalced Carmelite nuns who live in cloistered monasteries. The Vatican was so pleased with his work that it appointed him as the Religious Assistant of the Association of Mother of Carmel for three consecutive terms of three years each.
One can only imagine the yoga-inspired impact that the Carmelites are having on the spirituality of these poor nuns.
Fr. D’ Souza himself has been a
Visiting Professor of philosophy and mysticism in different seminaries
like St. Peter’s Inter-diocesan Seminary, Bangalore, St. Joseph’s Inter-diocesan Seminary, Mangalore, Sacred Heart College of Philosophy, Alwaye, Pushpashrama, a College of Philosophy in Mysore and in several institutes of Spirituality like Adyatma Vidya Pitha in Bangalore Jyothir Bhavan at Cochin and Mater Dei in Goa, Dhyanavana in Mysore from 1974 to-date. He has traveled abroad extensively to more than 40 countries lecturing on mysticism in universities, faculties, seminaries and institutes, and has been conducting about six seminars mainly on Mysticism every year. He has also organized International seminars in the University of Mysore, like the one on “Interculturality of Philosophy and Religion” in 1994. He is a member of Indian Theological Association (ITA) and Indian Christian Philosophers Association (IPCA) and has successfully guided 60 dissertations of Master’s Degree in Christianity and four Ph. D. dissertations. He has several scholars doing their Ph.D. research under his guidance. Evidently, all those who studied under him would have been influenced by his thinking.
In preparation for his own Ph. D., “a most popular Indian school of Yoga, was the field of his philosophical research.”
Can one imagine the extent of the impact of this one yoga priest's influence on the thousands of Mangalorean Catholic families, fellow priests, seminarians, and religious whom he pastors and teaches with whom he interacts?
I visited Mangalore on April 21, 2006 with a mind to visit both Fr. Gregory and V.L. Rego.
I intended to ask Rego for proof against his contention at the press conference on July 8, 2005 [see page 35] that the Catholic Church has given her official approval of yoga. There were a few disciples practising yoga under the guidance of a Hindu woman at his centre in Pumpwell, but Rego himself was on maun vrath [vow of silence] for the day.
At the Shrine, I learned that Fr. Gregory was in Australia with one Celine D'Souza. Meanwhile I received an email from Sydney that the twosome were actively propagating yoga in Australia and then moving on to Europe. [see page 44]
However, I obtained the brochure of RYSHIVANA INSTITUTE OF INDIAN CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY which has the address of Munnur Post, Ranipura, Mangalore. An imposing building built on 9.5 acres of land in the most picturesque surroundings, Ryshivana has "70 bath-attached well-furnished single and double rooms which can accommodate 100 people. It has a lecture hall with audio-visual facilities, library, seminar rooms…" At the entrance there is a statue of the "Divine Master" welcoming the visitor with arms spread wide, and there is a beautiful chapel on the premises.
The first batch of religious sisters would be attending a programme there, June 15 - September 15, 2006.
The fee: Rs. 9000.00. The course: Living In God-Experience.
The first Retreat For Priests and Religious started October 1 and ran for a week. Another was one slated for January 2007, and one for May 2007. The fee: Rs. 1500.00. Fr. Gregory is the Director.
There is absolutely NO mention in the brochure of the use of yoga during these retreats, but it is highly improbable that the courses will not be centred around yogic spirituality which is the basis of Fr. Gregory's ministry.
The brochure does state that the thrust of the Institute's courses includes "union with God in prayer, meditation and mystical contemplation". Let us not forget that the YS of RYSHI stands for YOGA SPIRITUALITY.
And that the institute was set up "for the systematic and scientific study of Yoga".
One can therefore consider RYSHI as a Yoga Institute.
Ryshivana, however, is NOT a private enterprise of Fr. Gregory. It belongs to the Karnataka-Goa province of the OCDs and "is in the process of being affiliated to Teresianum, the Carmelite faculty of Spirituality in Rome".
As the director of this Dhyanavana institute, founded by him, from 1994 to 2002 Fr. D' Souza promoted spiritual and moral self-renewal, inculturation and inter-religious dialogue. During these years, a good number of people especially religious and priests have undergone "self- renewal" programme at this centre.
Fr. D'Souza has been elected to the diocesan senate representing religious for the second time.
One can only speculate as to how deep and wide the Discalced Carmelites' yoga net has been cast in the Church at large.
The referred pamphlet itself was distributed in the parish church.
FR. GREGORY’S FOREIGN MISSIONS, AND A TESTIMONY: THE DANGERS IN DOING YOGA
Hi Mike and Angela…
There is a lady called Celine D’Souza from Mangalore who is accompanying a priest* and they have come here to Sydney to preach a retreat in my sister’s Doreen Parish. They were teaching them to do exercises which as she described to me were yoga like…
and they said that they were doing it while chanting the name of Jesus. They said there were a lot of foreigners who were becoming Hindus because of Yoga and they were here to tell them that they could do Yoga under the name of Jesus which I don’t agree with because nothing good can come through the demonic.
Besides, I have had a bad experience with yoga
and nobody can tell me different.
…When I first came to Sydney I attended some yoga classes because I needed exercise and I found that this gave me a lot of benefit without taxing my energy in having to do physical exercise. It was mainly breathing exercises and we did not do any chanting and it was an Australian who administered the classes.
When later on I did foolish things like casting out demons from my sister Vilma’s place, and in the office environment in the department I did not directly belong to, …months later I got attacked terribly. I tried to do all the things I knew like using holy water, the rosary, crucifix in my room, going to confession and confessing all the occult practices I had partaken in but nothing worked. It became too much for me when I started to hear voices.
There was a girl that I was living with and I thought that she had been on the phone and her voice was so high-pitched etc. I asked her about the same and she told that she had not used the phone. I was then really worried and asked the community leader to pray for me. I told him what I had done and he told me that this was wrong because spirits are very territorial. I had no business to cast out anything because I did not live in my sister’s home and also in the office as well. Later on I found out that there was a pedophile in the department.
After they prayed with me and said a simple prayer of repentance and closed the entry points, the attacks ceased where I was scared to death with a supernatural touching me between 1-3 in the morning. However they told me that I would not be touched now but the demons would still try to fool me that they could do things. From that day onwards again for a few days I felt that arrows were being shot at me but there was a shield around me and they used to get deflected. However, I still always felt a presence of evil. The leader came and threw holy water and said casting-out prayers but it was still there.
One day while talking to one of the ladies she told me that she was cleaning out the servants’ library and getting rid of any ambigious books. I then remembered that I had a book on yoga which I had bought in India and it was in my room. I thought I better get rid of it since it was not good for me. I put the same in the garbage bin and would you believe the same night and onward the evil presence had disappeared. Hence nobody can tell me different about yoga. We must steer far away from it even when they say we use the Jesus mantra while doing the same. That’s my experience…
…You have given me the right name of the priest, Fr. Gregory D’Souza. Yes when I gave my sister a print out about yoga from the Holy Spirit Interactive site which I think you introduced me to, and told her to give the same to the lady Celine who must have glanced at the same and she then gave my sister the letter which the Vatican had written
I suppose with the Pope’s permission**. I insisted and told my sister that she knew my experience and nothing good can come from the dark side. She said she never did any of the exercises. The mission was a kind of a health mission with the yoga exercises but she didn’t know that it was yoga and of course it had some teachings as well. The priest and lady said that they were going to Germany, France, etc to propagate this that yoga can be done with breathing in the Holy Spirit and breathing out all our sicknesses.
Now I am glad to authorize you use my testimony and I am sure it will help people who are not sure about things…
Love to Angie and self and take care. God Bless Pamela
**IT SEEMS FROM PAMELA'S LETTER THAT THE PRIEST IS DISTRIBUTING COPIES OF A NOTIFICATION BY THE POPE PURPORTEDLY SANCTIONING THE USE OF YOGA BY CATHOLICS!!!!! ANY READER WITH EVIDENCE OF THIS IS REQUESTED TO WRITE IN.
DISCUSSIONS ON AN O.C.D. [ORDER OF CARMELITES DISCALCED]’S YAHOO E-GROUP:
Date: Sat Dec 10, 2005 4:04 am Subject: [ocds] Miriam’s message
Dear Father Deeney, Lonnie and All,
A message on Dec. 9th included a sentence regarding a
Carmelite prior teaching
meditation. Is this an acceptable practice in Carmel? Ann
From: “Miriam” <sophiementer@…> Date: Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:20 am Subject: Re: [ocds] Miriam’s message
Dear Ann: Our Carmelite prior has a non-confessional yoga and meditation center, yes, but this does not mean in any sense that he teaches buddhism or any other doctrine contrary to that of the Catholic Church. His approach to yoga is a purely phisical one, just as you would do gymnastics, for example. People who attend the classes know that he is a priest, and sometimes seek his help for religious matters. He has told me that in the last years three women who used to go the center discovered their vocation and have become nuns in the meantime. This prior is a celebrated scholar in compared mystic and has taught for 50 years at Pontifical University in Salamanca. By the way, everyone in the Province of Castilla knows that he leads the yoga center, including the Provincial, and he has never had any problems with that. I think what he is doing is a great way to attract people to the Church. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my brothers and sisters in Carmel! Miriam.
From: “Lonnie Sorensen” <allisgrace@…> Date: Tue Dec 27, 2005 3:50 am
Dear Ann, It has been my experience that in the Church and in religious Orders we have all kinds of things like this happening. The Order and the Church wouldn’t be blessing any errors and certain individuals spread their opinions as fact. It is unsettling but this is our “lot”… and part of our cross. You know that better than most of us!
This document just came out: here is the site <http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20030203_new-age_en.html> JESUS CHRIST THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE A Christian reflection on the “New Age”
Merry Christmas, Lonnie
From: “Miriam” <sophiementer@…> Date: Thu Dec 29, 2005 8:11 am Subject: Re: Miriam’s message
Dear brothers and sisters in Carmel:
I have read the Vatican document about New Age. However, I think its approach to Yoga has to do with a philosophical question. If someone (and in Spain there are many individuals who do like that) practises Yoga just as he would attend Pilates or Aerobics classes (I mean, just for being in good shape and physically relaxed), is that really a problem?
Moreover: I am a musician and, although I have never done any Yoga, I know of several of my colleagues who do it because it helps them with their posture problems when playing an instrument.
Would that be unacceptable if they are Catholic? Some of the principles you actually learn in Yoga are the same ones you must adopt when playing the piano, which is what I do.
If I have discovered that through my daily activity both as a performer and teacher and not by Yoga, would that make it more acceptable than the attitude of my colleagues, who have reached the same knowledge through that oriental technique? Our prior does not consider any religious aspects of Yoga when teaching it, but merely the physical ones.
If he is helping people avoid unnecessary stress, physical pain and even serious injuries in their lives through these techniques, would that be condemnable? He is not speaking of reincarnation or any other things contrary to Catholic faith. He is only willing to offer help to anyone that comes seeking the improvement of their shape, posture and state of mind, regardless of their confession. And I must say that this Yoga center has really attracted many back to the Church because it lays just behind the conventual building and because everybody knows that its chairman is a priest and therefore tends to seek his advice in spiritual matters. Is that bad? A very different thing would be, of course, if he would spread unproper theories about our religion, but he is not doing that in any way.
Blessings from your sister in Carmel, Miriam.
From: Margarita Dufilho <dufilhomaldonado@…> Date: Mon Jan 2, 2006 7:11 am
Hello Miriam: I have never done Yoga but I do have several friends that do it every day for relaxation purposes.
Since they are not Catholic, I have never asked them about the spiritual part of the exercises. Can you tell me, when you are concentrating in the activity, what are you suppose to think about? Does anyone guide you and tell you what to think? Do you have a favorite “thought” that you repeat in your mind or what exactly is your mind doing while your body is trying to relax? Can you tell me? That to me will be the key to what Yoga would mean. Is Yoga a Spiritual exercises or not? Thank you and have a beautiful, Blessed, Holy New Year!!!
In Carmel, Your Sister, Margarita Dufilho, St Theresa’s in Houston, TX.
From: <email@example.com> The Mystical Body of Christ is multicultural; we are an international community, globally and in Carmel, and as such we bring who we are to this community. There is richness and great spirituality to be found in other traditions. This summer I had the opportunity to hear a talk by
Father Gregory d’Souza, OCD, from India.
He was written a book about Teresian Mysticism and Yoga. Visit his website
http://www.ocdgregdsouza.org/ and see the work he does in his own country. Each must be the unique individual God has created. If that means you are not comfortable with eastern practices such as Yoga, then you should leave them be. But it also means one must respect, and not be disturbed by, those who choose to inculturate their own traditions into both Catholic and Carmelite spirituality.
One of the biggest mistakes that Christianity made as it sought to convert others was to force Northern European traditions and lifestyles onto everyone. I found it very encouraging to learn about Father d’Souza’ work as I have been trying to meld my Native spirituality with my Catholic and Carmelite spirituality. Often it has been a lonely, misunder-stood journey. Meegwitch–Thank you for listening. May you journey in harmony and peace in the new year. Linda
susnblum@… Date: Sun Jan 8, 2006 7:25 pm Subject: Re: Miriam’s message susnblum@…
Thank you Lonnie for passing along the site for the document on New Age. I think it is important to be aware of the potential to drift off course when exploring some of methods described in this document…
It would be a shame to not look at each practice and evaluate it individually for it’s merit and for the interpretation of the presenter to see if they are delving into the spiritual. When I recently had shoulder surgery I was given a yoga stretch to regain mobility as an exercise.
Breathing was part of the exercise, but only in the same way that a weight lifter breathes in and out at certain point in the cycle of lifting a heavy barbell. Comments appreciated. Susan OCDS
randall scott <r_b_scott@…> Date: Mon Jan 16, 2006 9:46 pm
Subject: Re: [ocds] Re: Miriam’s message
Contrary to what some seem to be saying there is no Carmelite method of prayer. St. Teresa seems to teach that what brings you into loving relationship with the Lord you should use. To say that we should not use breathing, physical positions, to come into prayerful presence is simply one’s personal belief. Yoga means many different things to different people. For some it is a good method to stay healthy through exercise and for some it is an eastern religion. Thank God Vatican II teaches us that dialogue with other religions is good and that there is much truth is many of them. Take what is good and leave what is contrary to the Gospel. Catholic fundamentalism is no better than protestant fundament -alism. Follow the truth taught by the church and new age will pass you by. There is much good in yoga exercises.
From: Melisa Darby <honeeb73@…> Date: Fri Jan 20, 2006 3:49 pm
A Catholic Practicing Yoga
Hello, My name is Melisa Darby. I graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 1997. I am a certified a power yoga teacher certified with National Yoga Alliance. I’ve created a blog which uses quotes from
and others who discuss Yoga for Christians:
http://lightonchristianyoga.blogspot.com. The following is a very brief essay on how this Yoga practice has deepend my relationship with Christ.
I have been Catholic my entire life, graduating with a Humanities and Catholic Culture degree in 1997. In January 2003, I took my first Power Vinyasa Flow Yoga class. It was the spiritual element I had known and recognized my entire life, but on a more deep, personal, nurturing level. For me, this practice brought my faith to life and my relationship to Christ is more personal as a result. I believe ultimately, Power Yoga is about not only transforming, but mostly about healing. Healing not just of the body, but more importantly of the mind and spirit, bringing spirituality into a more whole place. This practice shows you your gifts. This is what Yoga continues to do for me in a very direct, active, powerful way.
In my experience, many Catholics shy away from yoga claiming the spirituality and philosophy of yoga does not coincide with Catholicism or Christianity. I love the Catholic faith and I have directly experienced God’s healing and grace through my yoga practice. I feel called to share what I have known with other women like me and there are many Catholics and Christians who are skeptical. I have learned that one’s practice is SO AFFECTED by the approach to it. Being relaxed and receptive to the unexpected, the unknown I find is the hardest part. Letting go of my own need to feel comfortable and confident seems, for me, too hard, too much!! I think ultimately it’s about trust, and one’s capability to let go and trust depends on how willing they are to go beyond the way they know themselves right now and how willing am I to change? Yoga brings up active, real questions that get me connected and in touch with what is really going on inside of me. This awareness enables me to listen to and act on the voice of God more clearly. I realize that the only way to truly transform is by adding an element of pain, to sweat, focus, breathe through it all and break through self-imposed boundaries. Pick up your cross and follow me. To me, there are so many connections between Christianity and the spiritual I discover in yoga. It is my desire and ambition to somehow connect the two and then to teach to those Catholics and Christians who are afraid of yoga. I believe I am onto something that could be very beneficial for those who confuse the word religion for fear, fear of the unknown, fear of what they might become, fear of becoming who they really are- which is who God wants them to be.
*What Melisa does not reveal is that Belgian yoga priest Fr. J.M. DeChanet LEFT THE PRIESTHOOD.
Da: “Pietro” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Oggetto: Re: A Catholic Practicing Yoga
Allegato in formato testo [Preleva il file | Salva su Yahoo! Yahoo! Valigetta]
Dear brother in Christ,
I really think that many times the Lord want that we follow some mysterious way to meet Him at the end of the “journey” . Sometimes we meet him in a moment of extreme suffering, in a moment of joy, that we meet Him after a very sinful life! I also practiced yoga, when I was adolescent, and in a sincere search of Him… But soon I realized that what I was searching in the yoga practise, I could find the same in the Catholic faith…
Then I also realised that in yoga there is also an occult power that works out…
Yes, yes, yes, I know that it’s important our will, our sincerety but, as it is in my personal experience, first as a Christian and as a lay Discalced Carmelite, if there is something against our Faith, we have to try to avoid it…
I think that the Carmelite spirituallity is very mistic and so reach of the Intimate Presence of HIM… Why do we have to look for a MANTRA to call Him close to us?
Have you never heard of NEW AGE? Well, it is just the first enemy of the Church, even worst than terrorism… And, yoga is a big part of New Age philosophy…
I have been in India two years ago, and I spent 10 days of spiritual retreat in a Benedectine Monastery, and what I saw there just shocked me.
With me there was an Indian friend, a lay Catholic preacher, that after that experience of “liturgical abuses” and blasphemy wrote a Report that he is sending to the Indian Catholic hierarchy… In this report it is well explained what is yoga, reiki, ayurvedic alternative medicine… Please, if you’ll like to receive it, just let me know, I’ll be very pleased to send it to you, also by e.mail (the Italian Discalced Carmelite that is mentioned in this Report it’s me!).
May God bless you, Your brother in Christ and in the Carmel, Pietro**
**Pietro Braccu, a Third Order OCD from Sicily, refers here to his visit along with this writer to Sachidananda Ashram, Shantivanam [run by Benedictines] in December 2004. See my report on CATHOLIC ASHRAMS http://ephesians-511.net/articles_doc/CATHOLIC%20ASHRAMS.doc
Data: 17 Mar 2006 11:49:20 -0000 Da: “Yahoo! Groups Notification” <email@example.com>
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[PIETRO BRACCU WAS BANNED FROM THE OCD GROUP FOR INSISTING THAT YOGA IS NEW AGE!!!]
SOME COMMENTS ON THE APRIL 10 mangalorean.com POSTING ON V.L. REGO
Rego’s connection with the Catholic Ashrams movement [see page 41], and its influence on him, was revealed at last- by Rego himself– in the referred posting, just as this report was going for publication. The last missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle of Rego’s history fell into place. It is another solid evidence, that is now not really necessary anymore, of my repeated contention that the Catholic Ashrams and the people associated with them are the prime movers in the propagation of New Age, yoga, syncretism etc. in the Indian Church.
The pictures that adorn the walls of Rego’s Integral Yoga institute are those of Hindu deities and his babas and gurus. A picture of his ‘Amma’ [see pages 37, 38] is hung at the entrance to his institute. Why shouldn’t he, when he has ‘surrendered his soul’ to ‘Her’; ‘She’ is the presiding deity of his Integral Yoga Satsangh.
To underline the sad state of affairs in Mangalore, I include here two responses from Mangalorean ‘Catholics’ to the posting by Violet Pereira [see page 40] on mangalorean.com:
1. Hey Violet, nice article and photographs yaar! I tried to practice some yoga asanas on the floor and banged my head badly!! Now I need some massage… I am in a bad situation dear!!! Any remedy? Austine Prabhu, USA
2. Well done Violet. I have always believed in the benefits of Yoga but never got around to trying it myself. It was amazing to see the agility of the people who practise yoga through the photographs accompanying your write up.
I wish Mr. V L Rego good health and a long life. May he be successful in his mission. Joyce Alvares, Qatar
Yeshu Abba Consciousness, Method of a Christian Yogic Meditation, by Swami Amaldas, Asian Trading, 1982*.
This book has it all-
pranayama, asanas, chakras, kundalini, even a section on the “yogic Celebration of the Eucharist”.
Christian Yogic Meditation, by Swami Amaldas, Michael Glazier, Inc., 1983. [sold at
A chapter on Kundalini Shakti Yoga. Fr. Amaldas was a disciple of
Fr. Bede Griffiths
of Shantivanam, Saccidananda Ashram. He himself was the founder of Saccidanand Ashram, Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh. Once again, the Ashrams connection!!! Amaldas, half Bede Griffiths’ age, died mysteriously [there are reports that he was murdered] some years before him. Bede was buried next to him outside the Shantivanam temple.
*On page xiv in the Introduction, he credits the ideas of [Ashram founder] Jyoti Sahi‘s The Child and the Serpent which “influenced me a lot” and had “studied under him while I was doing theology in Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Papal Atheneum, Pune“. He also recorded the “blessings of Guruji
Fr. Bede Griffiths” on page xv.
“I grow into the consciousness of God in and through Christ Consciousness by repeating the mantra ‘Om Nama Christaya’ hundreds and hundreds of times.” 
refer to Amaldas from my 36-page article THE TRUTH ABOUT YOGA [YOGA-II]
dated February 15, 2001:
The cover of the book has Jesus seated in a yogic posture on the coils of a serpent whose seven heads rising above him, according to Amaldas “represent the seven
or seven levels of consciousness which were awakened in Jesus Christ, the cosmic man. Every man is invited to enter into this… Yeshu Abba Consciousness.“
In the Introduction, he explains his method of meditation which has three stages: first, to grow through Christ Consciousness to Cosmic Christ Body Consciousness by singing the mantra ‘Om
Nama Christaya’, then to breathe in and out as a means to enter Yeshu Abba Consciousness with the mantras YE and A, and finally the experience of the trinitarian life of God, the movement between the Father and the Son in the Spirit through the symbolism of the serpent power
[xiii, xiv] (Page nos. in brackets)
Amaldas tells us twice that he experienced that “my body is Jesus Christ’s body and my blood is Jesus Christ’s blood.“ [3,4]
He devotes an entire chapter to
Kundalini Shakti Yoga – The Serpent Power
which says, “One day I saw a cobra dancing… and I experienced Jesus is dancing as a serpent. After this experience I got more interested in the serpent. I started meditating to discover [its] hidden mystery… [the] yogic experience of the mysterious supernatural power and the natural power identified together is expressed as Kundalini Shakti. It is experienced that this serpent is lying coiled at the base of the spine of man… [and] coiled around the navel of the cosmos… [It] is identified with the emotive forces of the libido.
The purpose of yoga is to lift this serpent power, drawing it up the spinal column through the six chakras… the journey of the serpent upward is marked by fire… This rising of kundalini means enlightenment.“ [83, 84]
Fr. Amaldas next explains the “Evolution of man’s experience of the supernatural power from cosmic serpent to cosmic man Siva.
Siva is the father of all the enlightened ones, the yogis, and he… is the eternal life giving force.
The mysterious destructive and recreative power lying hidden in man’s consciousness is called Lord Siva. Siva initiates us into the process of death and life as a means to grow in Cosmic Consciousness… Siva stands as the Lord of integrity or wholeness.
He is the Lord of the Cosmos.“
Amaldas explains at length each of the seven psychic
chakras. In the Mooladhara chakra at the base of the spine, God is experienced as the source of everything… This power is experienced by Christian yogis as the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, the power of the risen Lord, Jesus Christ, the cosmic man. My Christian yogic practice is to allow this power to pass through various centres of my body to the top of the head and take possession of me and unite me with the heavenly Father… and thus enter into eternal life… When man was in paradise the serpent was on the top of his head. In the fallen man the serpent is coiled at the base of his spine. [pages 81-118] One chapter of the book is devoted to the
Yogic celebration of the Eucharist. This book was published in the US in 1983 as Christian Yogic Meditation.
I purchased both, the Indian and the US versions from St. Pauls bookstores!
One of my European friends wrote this to me: “It was in the 80’s that I regularly visited Shantivanam to discuss with Bede about his form of inculturation. I cannot remember Bro. Martin, only Amaldas, who was then not ordained, but had great influence. Bede wrote an introduction or recommendation to the book [Yeshu Abba Consciousness]. It is interesting for me to hear that this is not anymore printed in the book. When was your copy brought out? Maybe it did help, my talks with Bede, maybe he did take his recommendations back? I gave the book to the late Fr. Stephen Fuchs SVD (who lived and worked in India for 60 years), he is dead now, then to Fr. Jim Borst MHM, and yet another theologian whom I can’t recall at this moment. All agreed to my understanding that it appeared in this book that
Amaldas (he is no priest) seemed to equate the Holy Spirit with the Kundalini!!
Bede Griffiths had given his ok to this book in his foreword to the first edition. With this I met Bede to discuss and point out that this is a grave theological error. He told me that he would ask Amaldas to rewrite certain passages, and he would also re-write his foreword. As far as I know he died before he did this.”
Fr. Amaldas is the author of an earlier work, Yoga and Contemplation on Ashtanga Yoga, the eightfold path of yoga.
This priest studied at the prestigious Catholic seminary, the Papal Atheneum. Is this finally all that he had to offer the Church which he was called to serve? He was engaged in writing these books while
at Shantivanam with the blessings of Fr. Bede. What does one say of a Catholic ashram that permits the use of occult energies and forces by its priests, and the teaching of it to the ashram’s visitors? And of Catholic bookshops that sell these books?
[See page 34] Swami [Father] Devaprasad
in Yoga for Integral Health and Growth
“The ultimate aim of yoga is God-realization or mystical union with the Absolute” .
In the Acknowledgements, “I express my gratitude to
Fr. Jacob Theckanath, the Director of the National Centre [NBCLC]
who guided me in the work and made its publication possible” .
Fr. Devaprasad was also then on the staff of the NBCLC, the CBCI’s National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre.
Thus we see yet again [as documented in all my major reports] that the NBCLC- which should be the guardian of liturgical and doctrinal purity- is a leading force in promoting New Age error from within the heart of the Catholic Church. [Also see pages 33, 34, 42, 52, 57, 58]
I have a copy of an advertisement placed in a Catholic magazine:
Chaitanyadhara, [Reg. No. 319 0f 1999-2000], Centre for Relaxation and Healing, Hatha Yoga Raja Yoga Training Course. 23-28 October, 2000. The Venue: PRH Centre, Personality Development and Human Relations, Brothers of the Holy Cross, St. Mark’s Road, Bangalore. The ad. recommends the above book for “beginners of Yoga”, and adds,
“Swami Devaprasad, the founder of Chaitanyadhara, is a well known Yoga master. He has been training people of various walks in the art and science of yoga during the last 12 years. He gives Yoga training sessions out of his twenty-one years of experience in the field… His training enables people to attain spiritual awareness and awakening, and to reach to their divine potential.”
I would like to meet the lay person, priest or Bishop who would continue to argue that yoga is a physical exercise and has nothing to do with spirituality!
The Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali, by
Fr. Anthony Elenjimittam, St Pauls Better Yourself Books, 1974.
This priests lauds the achievements of “psychologists of esoteric wisdom and Self-realization who have entered in the very essence of God through self-knowledge”. He assures us that “the Yoga system… assumes what Plato thought, that
our birth on the planet is the nemesis of some sins committed in previous life due to ignorance, Avidya“.
He speaks of “the ascending ladder of Yogic psychology and Vedantic metaphysics of which the top summit is the great teaching:
You Are That – Tatvamasi [see pages
28, 51] If this hurts our Christian readers, then assert the dictum of Christ : ‘I and my Father are one‘. What Jesus said: ‘You must be born again‘… means precisely this approach towards salvation and enlightened religion which is the core kernel of the Yoga philosophy of Patanjali which is the need of our century…
Of the various techniques and disciplines which enable us to run into the bosom of God, the system of Patanjali Yoga is undoubtedly… the most effective. This means no disparagement to other forms of spiritual discipline, [HE MEANS CHRISTIANITY!!!] but… the system of Yoga… of Patanjali is the crest jewel of that spirituality of life that enables us quicker and better to be reborn of God through purity after being born in ignorance through impurity of sexes.”
The priest teaches that Jesus practiced ‘thought-reading’ on the Samaritan woman [John 4], “but
the Yogi can go further… and predict the future course of karmic trends“. He contends that “Yogic power explains… the apparitions and vanishings of Jesus, Buddha and others“. Frequently misinterpreting the Word of God for his own convenience, he writes, “The Yogi attains regions of omniscience and omnipotence [attributes of God alone !!!] which are the divine heritage of the children of God… as Jesus said: ‘You must be born again ‘.”
Such deceptive teaching is not surprising, coming from a priest who advises us to “follow the footsteps of Jesus, Buddha,
Krishna, Rama or Mahmud, and reach the destination of human pilgrimage on earth”. [5, 10, 28, 32, 55, 81, 172, 174, 129]
He recommends repetition of
‘OM, Aum’, “the most sacred word in Indian history… which is the vibrating sound of God.” “Aphorism: Tasya Vaachakah Pranavah – OM is the symbolic sound of God.
The Hindu world still clings to this divine symbol ‘OM’ which they breathe in and breathe out, recite and repeat and sing daily many times. Most of the prayers and scriptural texts are prefixed and concluded with ‘Om’, which when sung in the traditional way responds to the cosmic vibrating sound* as emanating from the bosom of the Creator Brahma, of the Preserver Vishnu, and the Destroyer Shiva, the triad of the Hindu Trimurti. ‘Aum’ is ‘Om’, as according to the sacred Sanskrit rules ‘au’ becomes ‘o’ as in other combined vowels. Pranavah is ‘Om’, ‘Om’ is Pranavah, which is God in His personal, impersonal, absolutistic and relative senses. Religious symbolism could hardly go above this great ‘Om’ which is India, which is her philosophy, call it Vedanta, Sankhya, Yoga, or any other system…
“Aphorism: Tajjapastadarthabhaavanam- By meditating on the meaning of God, one should repeat [the syllable ‘Om’]. Repetition of the holy name of God is universal in all religions… Names may vary, but what is signified by ‘Om’, God, Allah, Atman, Dieu, Dios etc. is ever the same, the inner subtle essence and reality of everything… Meditation is the only… indispensable way for knowing the reality that is God. When realization of God takes place, there results… ecstatic rapture or samadhi. The Lamas of Tibet recite… sometimes thousands of times, the mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Om’.” 
“We should not merely glimpse into God occasionally through contemplative trance or samadhi, but make God, the Real, our true home.
Om should be our home.” 
*Something must be said here concerning this sound vibration of the mantras. [see also page 54]
1. MANTRA: A holy, word, phrase or verse in Hindu or Buddhist meditation techniques. The vibrations of the mantras are said to lead the meditator into union with the divine source within.
The Seduction of Our Children, Neil Anderson and Steve Russo, 1991, page 236
2. THE USE OF MANTRAS: Your vehicles are ever restless. Every vibration in the vehicle produces a corresponding change in consciousness. Is there any way to check these vibrations so that consciousness may be still? One method is the repeating of a mantra. A mantra is a mechanical way of checking vibration… a mantra is a definite succession of sounds… A mantra cannot be translated; translation alters the sounds… If you translate the words, you may have a very beautiful prayer but not a mantra… A mantra is unique and untranslatable.
An Introduction to Yoga, Annie Besant, Theosophical publishing House, pages 120, 121
3. THE VIBRATIONAL EFFECT
OF MANTRAS: The individual verses from the Vedas are termed as mantras.
[A] mantra is a unique arrangement of sound vibrations and purport. The guru tradition has preserved the science of mantras for thousands of years in a precise and secret manner. [A] Vedic mantra should be meditated and chanted exactly as it has been pronounced and preserved by the great masters. If even a single syllable or accent is mispronounced, then the desire effect will not occur. Unique combination of vibration in mantras have power to liberate a soul. The vibrational effect of mantra is unique in its nature. The chanting of mantras generates waves of supreme positive energy which manipulates the mind… Essence of Veda, Institute for Studies in Vedic Sciences, pages 8, 9
4. Are certain vibrations or sounds more powerful than others? The answer, if we look at the Eastern legacy of chants, mantras and the omnipotent ‘OM’ sound is ‘yes’.
In the Bhagwad Gita, Lord Krishna is said to have explained that whatever exists in Brahman [creation] is Me manifest through ‘Om’. The vibration of ‘Om’ moves through the nadis or subtle energy channels resonating from the root chakra to the crown [chakra]. Thus ‘Om’, the primordial sound of creation, itself has power to reform the body, removing negativity and stored stresses, harmonizing and balancing the body’s energies. Music, the Ethereal Healer, Sangeeta Wadhwani in ELLE magazine, February 2000, page 111
5. Anthony de Mello S.J. tells us about Catholic retreat masters who conduct “retreats very similar to Zen retreats” [very probably Fr. Ama Samy S.J., a Zen master]. He admits to having attended a Buddhist retreat and finding it “beneficial”.
Accordingly, he recommends using the “same place, same corner, or a room that is reserved” for meditation because “the good vibrations that were generated… seemed to persist in that place long after the contemplation was over.”
“Chanting the Sanskrit word ‘OM’ is a great help.”
Sadhana, A Way to God, Christian Exercises in Eastern Form*, 1978, [also sold at St Pauls] pages 36, 54, 55
Yoga International of November 2000 ran an advertisement ‘The Science of Divine Vibration‘, by Yogi Hari, a master of Nada Yoga for his 26 audio cassettes and 11 CDs.
*The errors in this priest’s books are discussed in the YOGA article.
28. The Dhammapada, by Fr. Anthony Elenjimittam, St Pauls Press
The priest says, “The Dhammapada,
the teachings of Buddha are the most rational compared to any other religious scripture“. He prays that “the meditation of the words of Buddha enlighten our minds [through]
Dharma, the path to immortality.” [5, 6]
29. Yoga Spirituality, A Christian Pastoral Understanding, by Fr. Cherian Puthenpura, Camillian Publications,
He is also known as Fr. Sibi. This book is the doctoral thesis of a priest of the Order of St. Camillus. A Ph. D. in yoga !!!!!
In the Preface, the author thanks four priests of his Order “for their encouragement and support”.
The priest trained under Jayadeva Yogendra at the Yoga
Institute, Santa Cruz, Mumbai.
The book’s very first line reads, “Yoga, without exaggeration, can be said to be an integral, spiritual discipline.”
The scope of its study, says the priest, is “to try to understand yoga in Christian terms or to describe a Christian yoga spirituality.”  “Since it has its origin in a Hindu world, many think of yoga as Hindu… The ‘superiority complex’ of Christian spirituality has become to a great extent a kind of block to show the real connection between yoga spirituality and Christian spirituality.”  “A Christian yoga spirituality is possible because the life of Christ can be seen as the life of a guru-yogi.”  According to Patanjali, yoga is citta-vritti-nirodhah or stopping of the modifications of the mind or suppression of the different mental states (Yogasutra 1:2). Patanjali as well as Vyasa, one of the earlier commentators of the Yogasutra stresses ‘Spiritual Yoga’ rather than ‘bodily yoga’… Thus,
true yoga is practised with a view to attaining salvation.” 
“Yoga is not performing a few postures [asanas]… not a physical culture… it accepts humanity as the only religion… It is a spiritual means for liberation.”  “Behind the origins of yoga there are psychological and spiritual reasons.”  “Ultimately yoga is a spiritual therapy.” 
In chapter 4 on “Spirituality of the Yoga Sutra”, Puthenpura explains, “Spiritual means that which is relating to the spirit.” . He elaborates, “The main obstacles to spiritual life are sickness, incompetence, delusion, non-abstention, erroneous conception, non-attainment of any yogic stage, and instability in a yogic stage… [THERE IS NO MENTION OF SIN AS BEING AN OBSTACLE TO GENUINE SPIRITUAL LIFE, OR THE CAUSE OF THE EFFECTS NOTED BY HIM].
Practice of postures [asanas] and breathing techniques [pranayama] are said to create resistant power.” 
Fr. Puthenpura asserts his agreement with “the vicious circle of
Theory of Karma*“: “Man’s sufferings are by virtue of this karma”, quoting Mircea Eliade*, a famous proponent of yoga, from his book Yoga, Immortality and Freedom, pages 11, 12,
‘If the human condition is condemned to pain for all eternity… it is
determined by karma*‘. [51, 251] *see also page 52
The doctrine of karma leaves no room for sin and the consequences of sin, the need of a Saviour, and the justice of God which demands punishment for sin, which also firmly excludes the possibility of reincarnation [Hebrews 9: 27] to work out unrepented sin through karmic action. Still astutely avoiding any mention of the reality of sin, he continues,
“Due to the fall [Genesis 3], man is in a predicamental situation of estrangement from himself, God and others. He has to work out the reversal of this fallen situation and recreate the lost harmony of being the privileged creature of God.” 
Here, we see what yoga is all about: SALVATION BY WORKS. Man has to work out his own solution, and thus his own salvation; not repent for sin, not turn to God who in His omniscience, infinite wisdom and mercy knows that man can do nothing to restore his broken relationship with God and has therefore intervened in history and sent his only Son Jesus to suffer and die that man might regain his position as a child of God.
Puthenpura uses not the Bible but his Yogasutra to decide that man is in this predicament due to “Ignorance”. The best definition of “sin” that one can get from these religious texts is of one’s being in a state of avidhya that has to be overcome by good works, acts of devotion and piety, and the striving for self-knowledge. It is no surprise therefore when this priest rolls out his solution [which is actually the solution of the Hindu texts] for restoring man to his former pre-fall state: Karmayoga, Bhaktiyoga and Gnanayoga. As he says, “This three-fold yoga can be immensely useful for a Christian as well.”
[165-168] For want of anything more substantive, he advises the Christian to “a conversion to interiority”, “purification of body and mind” through right diet, right breathing, etc. and, lo and behold, “the result is spiritual well-being.”
But, to be fair, he talks of the “need of conversion”, and insists that “Christian yoga spirituality is a way to conversion. How can it lead to conversion? …Conversion comes from self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is attained through constant practice… Conversion is change. Change dawns when the veil of ignorance is removed. Then there is no illusion… The ways to conversion are following the three margas [paths or yogas] which have been mentioned earlier.” [170, 171]
*Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) a native of Romania, lectured in the Ecole des Hautes-Etudes of the Sorbonne. He observes:
“Yoga constitutes a characteristic dimension of the Indian mind, to such a point that whatever Indian religion and culture have made their way, we also find a more or less pure form of Yoga. In India, Yoga was adopted and valorized by all religious movements, whether Hinduist or ‘heretical.’
The various Christian or syncretistic Yogas of modern India constitutes another proof that Indian religious experience finds the yogic methods of “meditation” and “concentration” a necessity.
“Yoga had to meet all the deepest needs of the Indian soul. In the universal history of mysticism, Yoga occupies a place of its own, and one that is difficult to define. It represents a living fossil, a modality of archaic spirituality that has survived nowhere else. Yoga takes over and continues the immemorial symbolism of initiation; in other words, it finds its place in a universal tradition of the religious history of mankind.” “From the Upanishads onward, India has been seriously preoccupied with but one great problem – the structure of the human condition. With a rigor unknown elsewhere, India has applied itself to analyzing the various conditionings of the human being.” “The conquest of this absolute freedom, or perfect spontaneity, is the goal of all Indian philosophies and mystical techniques; but it is above all through Yoga, through one of the many forms of Yoga, that India has held that it can be assured.”
“Yoga is present everywhere – no less in the oral tradition of India than in the Sanskrit and vernacular literature…To such a degree is this true that
Yoga has ended by becoming a characteristic dimension of Indian spirituality.”
(source: Yoga Immortality and Freedom, by Mircea Eliade pp. xvi – xx and 101, and 359-364).
YOGA ASANAS: “THERE IS NO ASANA WHICH DOES NOT HAVE A SPIRITUAL EFFECT ON THE PRACTITIONER… EVERY ASANA IS A PRAYER… AN OFFERING… A SACRIFICE.”
ON GOD: What is ‘Catholic’ priest-turned-yogi Fr. Puthenpura’s concept of God?
“Yoga being only a spiritual discipline has not to define God. Yoga expresses a belief in God without clarifying the meaning of God… there is only one God and only one Self no matter what names we are accustomed to using.” 
Our understanding of God depends upon cultural patterns, religious milieu, social setup and contemporary thinking.
According to some, God is Christ, to some others he is Allah or Krishna or Siva…
Our understanding of God is not only limited but conditioned.” 
This, coming from a priest, is scandalously shocking. It appears that he has absolutely no personal convictions of the God Who revealed Himself to us through His prophets in the Old Testament of the Bible, and through His Son and the Holy Spirit in the New.
It is not true that the system of yoga does not ‘define’ God. Puthenpura uses semantics and euphemisms to mask the obvious. The eighth and final stage of yoga is Samadhi, enstasis, absorption
or Self-realisation, the realisation that the self is the Self [which Puthenpura himself taught us earlier]; the sense of identity of the self is lost, and the yogi has attained a unitive oneness with the cosmic consciousness. In pantheistic monism, the spiritual philosophy of yoga, all is one, all is God. The jivatman (individual soul) has merged with the paramatman (Universal Over-soul, the Absolute).
It is now that the yogi can exclaim ‘Aham Brahmasmi ‘ [I am Brahman], and his guru can confirm to him ‘Tat Tvam Asi
[Thou art That]. *see Fr. Elenjimittam, pages 48; also page 28
Puthenpura is obliged to admit to the “elements which are not common” to the yogic and Christian spiritualities.
And they should serve as an ominous warning to those Christians who would aspire to practise yoga:
Christian spirituality is Christ-centred and Trinitarian; yoga spirituality is self-centred.
There is the difference in the understanding of God.
There is the difference in the concept of self-transcendence.
There is the difference in the understanding of salvation.
He says, “Christianity… has sacraments, doctrines and dogmas to support and promote spirituality, while yoga spirituality is just a discipline has no dogmas except for 195 aphorisms.”  [These 195 aphorisms of the yoga philosophy of Patanjali are found in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads which are the religious texts of Hinduism.]
“Christian spirituality is centred on the person of Christ.” “The Christian Creed: The eternal Father, Son and Spirit as one, Living God. Modern Indian theologians propose the term Saccidananda to denote Trinity**.” 
“Yoga does not propose any sacraments because life itself is a sacrament.” 
literally is ‘Pure Being – Pure Consciousness [Awareness/ Knowledge] – Pure Bliss’ or
SAT-CIT-ANANDA. Or, the Absolute Joy that proceeds from the Absolute Self-Realization of Absolute Being. This concept is equated with the Christian understanding of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, with SAT being the Father, ANANDA the Holy Spirit, and CIT the eternal Logos that proceeds from them. At least three Catholic Ashrams have this name, “a Hindu term for the godhead used as a symbol of the three persons of the Christian Trinity,”
as one ashram brochure explains.
The ‘trimurti ‘ according to Hindu tradition represents the three aspects of the Godhead as Creator [Brahma], Destroyer [Shiva] and Preserver [Vishnu] of the universe. This has been one of the “inculturations” of the Indian Church.
Says Robert Fastoggi,
http://www.catholicculture/ “While there might be some apparent similarities between the Christian Logos and Hindu Consciousness and between the Christian Spirit (who is Love) and Hindu bliss, the differences between Saccidananda and the Trinity
are so pronounced as to discount any attempt to equate them.
For Hinduism, the triad of Being-Consciousness-Bliss refers to nothing other than three aspects of the same reality, which are distinguished only in concept but not in reality. There is no question of any of them originating from either or both of the others as in the Christian Trinity. These Hindu qualities are better identified with scholasticism’s three transcendental attributes of being– unity, truth and goodness–to which they largely correspond. [In] equating the Trinity with the Hindu Saccidananda, [one] is either distorting the meaning of the Hindu triad, or he is promoting a view of the Trinity which is unacceptable in Christian orthodoxy.”
JESUS, THE YOGI:
Puthenpura, as do many ‘inculturated’ theologians in the Church in India, proposes Christ as the perfect guru and yogi:
“It is the man Jesus who went through the different life situations of his time that we propose as the origin of Christian yoga… [on the basis of his] conviction of the presence of the Father or being sent by the Father- this intimate union of harmony is the model of a yogi.”  While attempting to frame a number of apparent similarities between the life and ministry of Jesus and the philosophical contentions of his thesis, Puthenpura uses terms such as “level of psycho-physiological techniques” and “level of concentration”, concluding that the three margas of Hinduism are best exemplified in the life of Jesus.
Fr. Jacques Dupuis* [Jesus Christ at the Encounter of World Religions] who he says “interprets John 10: 30, ‘I and the Father are one’ into Upanishadic terms as ‘I am Brahman’ and ‘You are That’ to show that the one who can really declare so [meaning Jesus!!!] is a genuine yogi.” [159, 160] *This Jesuit was castigated by Rome in 2001!!
From there, he goes on to conclude, “Christian Yoga is Christ-Centered.” 
To consolidate his case, he refers** to other pro- Christian yoga exponents such as B.C.M. Mascarenhas [Sl. No. 18, pages 34, 54], Swami Amaldas
[Sl. No. 25, 26 , pages 47, 48] and
Fr. Jacob Pareyil
[Sl. No. 29, page 55] who are themselves already deceived as my notes on them reveal. **“Their view is that yoga can help the Christian to perfect his human nature… they agree in adapting the eight-fold path of yoga.”
AND THE CATHOLIC ASHRAMS: “Yoga spirituality can enrich Christian spirituality. Today there is a call for a universal, liberating and secular spirituality… Among Indian Christians, efforts are being made to live in an Indian Christian spirituality… We make a study into yoga spirituality not to substitute the Christian spirituality or to demonstrate its weakness.”  “There is great enthusiasm among Indian Christians, especially among the religious and the priests and sisters to tend to Indianize the Christian spirituality. They greatly speak about inculturation and Indianization.
Accordingly different institutions and ashrams are involved. Many have followed or adopted the spiritual tradition of yoga towards this perspective. [the late Fr. Bede] Griffiths [O.S.B.,], [the late Fr.] Amalorpavadass [of the National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre], Kurisumala Ashram, are all examples of the same. In these Ashrams they tend to live a spirituality following yoga… NBCLC, Bangalore is a pioneer in this regard.
The trend is inculturation in theory, behaviour, symbols, models, organization and views.” 
Puthenpura quotes from Yoga, Ein Weg Zu Gott [Yoga, A Way to God] by Acharya Francis [Fr. Francis Mahieu, see page 41], 1992, page 11: “In recent years there have come up many ashrams… [a list with founders and year of establishment is provided].” [See my report on the Catholic Ashrams. The influence of the Ashram movement is inescapable.]
Puthenpura repeatedly confirms that “The purpose of yoga is self-realization. The method used [YOGA] is psychosomatic and spiritual.”  “The aim of yoga is to attain a pure awareness of that ‘self’ that is actually God. The experience of the Self is the high point of psychic activity that can be attained by concentration / samadhi. Experience of self is the experience of the ‘Self’, God.”  The spiritual goal of the person is to abide in his own self (Yogasutra 1:3). In order to attain this goal, one has to control one’s mind.
To control the mind, one has to practise yoga
(Yogasutra 1:2).” 
From page 99 following, Puthenpura’s “ways to control the mind, according to the Yogasutra”:
THE PRACTICE OF PRANAYAMA
(Yogasutra 1:34); [This is the fourth ‘limb’ of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga]
CONCENTRATION OR DHYANA
(Yogasutra 1: 32); [This is the sixth ‘limb’ of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga]
THE REPETITION OF THE MANTRA or SACRED SYLLABLE ‘OM’
(Yogasutra 1:27), etc.
ON “OM” AND THE LOGOS: “The word japa in Sanskrit means repetition of the name of God. It has been recognized to be the most powerful expedient, enabling an aspirant to reach those regions of… bliss for which all human beings aspire… Patanjali proposes the mystic syllable
‘Om’ for japa (Yogasutra 1:27). ‘Om’ is generally considered as the all-pervading cosmic self and is emphasized as the basic mantra, the mother of all mantras. The infinite powers of sound are derived from ‘Aum’, the ‘word’ or hum of the Cosmic Motor. 
Mantras are articulate sounds which unite the subconsciousness, consciousness and the super-consciousness. They are a potent vibratory chant. They are a very effective aspect of sadhana or spiritual discipline. They are mystic formulas packed with spiritual implications. Every mantra has a literal and a mystical meaning… 
“Om is the most comprehensive universal non-personal holy sound-symbol. It is a unique sound. According to S. Dasgupta in ‘Yoga as Philosophy and Religion‘, page 161, Iswara is ‘Om’. ‘Om’ can be interpreted as the Logos of the writer in the fourth Gospel. Logos, the word which was made flesh, is a medium between man and God. In the Yogasutra, ‘Om’ is suggested the same way: as a way to grasp God.” 
Puthenpura tries to draw a similarity between the words of John 1:1 and the verses of the Vedas: ‘Prajapatir vai idam/ tasya vag dvitiya asit/ vag vai paranam Brahma’, which he translates as ‘In the beginning was Prajapathi-Brahman/ with whom was the word/ and the word was verily Brahman’. He attempts to prove that Iswara= God= Brahman= Om= Logos, the Word, Jesus Christ. He draws a similarity also between John 1:2-4 and Yogasutra 1:27, but finally, and most significantly, admits that “What is lacking [sic] is that the ‘Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us’.”
And isn’t that where Christianity is unique? And the Yogasutras or any other religious texts not comparable to it? By Puthenpura’s very own admission, the Om of the Yogasutras can never be equated with the Logos of the New Testament.
This is also where Christianity is distinct from other religions. They are man’s attempt to find God whereas Christianity is God reaching down to man.
What is also completely lacking in other faiths, as also in Puthenpura’s book, and indeed in the teaching of any Christian writer propagating yogic meditations and eastern forms of prayer using mantras is the message of the Cross which is central to Christian faith. The Cross is never preached where the reality of sin is ignored. In Hinduism, salvation is moksha, at-one-ment, attaining oneness with the Absolute Reality by one’s own efforts through different yogas.
Salvation, to these ‘omkars‘ [people of the ‘Om’] is something very different from that which Christianity teaches: “Here and now, salvation is very much supported in yoga.”  Puthenpura quotes Eliade from his book Yoga Immortality and Freedom, page 7, “The only path to salvation is the path of metaphysical knowledge.” 
This worldview precludes the need for the Atonement, salvation as as a gift from God through the incarnation and death of His only Son Jesus Christ. The Word who became flesh is NOT the pranava or the ‘Om’ of Hinduism.
We can expect only erroneous teachings from a priest who, like his co-priest Fr. Elenjimittam above, states, “Each person is potentially a Christ, a Buddha, a Krishna, an illumined sage.”  He means that each individual has the potential to be the ‘Om’, god. Which is exactly what yoga is all about, unity with Brahman, self-deification.
Isn’t all this exactly what Fr. Elenjimattam [see pages 48, 49] said using different words?
In proposing “A Christian interpretation of the yoga spirituality”, Puthenpura pleads, “Yoga… has been badly interpreted. Yoga… has relevance for Christians… It is difficult to speak of a Christian yoga spirituality because there are many who think that yoga is Hinduism and that the Church is against this discipline… It [yoga] is not Hinduism and does not belong to Hinduism. Only that it has its origin in India and has the cultural setting of the place… The Church has nothing against this discipline. The Church is concerned only about the proper adaptation or appropriation of this discipline.
There is a Vatican Document, the ‘Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation’ of 15th October, 1989, which warns Catholics of the potential dangers in yoga and in other eastern techniques like Zen and Transcendental Meditation.
What is his reaction – to the Document – in his book which he claims to be a contribution to the progress of ‘inculturation’?
“Inculturation is the process by which the Gospel message and the Christian way of life are inserted into the culture of a particular people… This means to bring Christ in the form and tradition of the people of the place. This is a way of making Christ incarnate into the culture of the people… Before we consider the possibility of adaptation of a yoga spirituality, it is good to know the attitude of the Church towards other religions and disciplines, [133, 134].
Fr. Puthenpura has already decided for himself that yoga may be ‘inculturated’ and sets out to justify it.
“Dialogue, as far as it is concerned for our purpose, should be directed towards the concept of Inculturation, especially in considering non-Christian disciplines and methods including yoga discipline .
“On 15th October 1989, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church… which recognizes ‘the keen desire’ of Christians and their attraction towards ‘forms of meditation associated with some Eastern religions…’ The letter in its footnote identifies Zen, T.M. and yoga… These are considered to be inspired by Buddhism and Hinduism… Two important things are to be observed:
1. The Letter sees yoga as T.M. The different dimensions of yoga are not considered.
The Letter recognizes yoga as… inspired by Hinduism.
“This means that the letter does not say that yoga is Hindu or yoga is a part of Hinduism. Proper understanding of this discipline can make us aware of the fact that yoga is not Hinduism and that it is merely a way of life which when adopted… can enrich Christian spiritual experience. We can see that the Church has a positive attitude towards understanding [the] keen desire of Christians… Leaving the psychological aspect, the Letter discusses only the theological and spiritual implications of the question. It admits ‘the therapeutic effects and a path of interior peace and psychic balance’ in these methods. It says that one should consider to know ‘in what does the intimate nature of Christian prayer consist’ so as to be enriched by meditation methods of other religions and cultures. This is even the view of Dei Verbum, ‘a dialogue takes place between God and man’. So we can presume that the Church has nothing against adopting or assuming the meditation methods of other religions and cultures .
“The Church says that Christians go to such methods for therapeutic reasons, spiritual restlessness and because of the spirit of openness and exchanges between religions and cultures… Some go to yoga because they do not agree with the attitude of the Church and its activities… Some encounter yoga during a time of crisis… Some really reach yoga through research . Modern man is at a turning point. He tends to believe in what he can experience… This is very true with Christians. He finds no satisfaction in religion. People tend to oppose dogmas and clericalism which do not enter into the modern frames of living… People tend to find yoga as practical… yoga offers a religionless spirituality . The Letter to the Bishops says that ‘these methods like yoga and zen try to impress many Christians as a psychological and spiritual remedy and a quick way of finding God’. Yoga, for those who practice, know that it is not primarily a method to bring psychological effects, but spiritual growth. It is not at all a ‘quick way’ to finding God.” 
Fr. Puthenpura’s words display a deliberate presumption of what the Church intends to say in the important Document, along with a misinterpretation or refutation of the facts, towards the final justification of his own ideas, practices and goals.
What he is saying in effect is that Rome does not know what it is talking about. Still trying to impress upon Catholics that inculturation must include the adoption or adaptation of yoga, he quotes other yoga exponents [see some on page 52] like
J.M. DeChanet, the Belgian priest who later left the Church, Bede Griffiths’ disciple Fr. Thomas Matus OSB., who “received initiation into
from a disciple of
Paramahansa Yogananda,” Fr. Clement Vaz
[see page 58], etc.
ON HIS BELIEF IN KARMA AND REINCARNATION: [see also page 49]
“Ignorance is supposed to be the root cause of bondage, suffering, etc. So the state of liberation is achieved when the self breaks the chain of ignorance and illusion to realize itself and to merge with the eternal Purusa. To get rid of Prakriti or the bondage, knowledge is the means. Yoga is… the means or discipline to achieve liberation. The practice of yoga could make one free. Yoga besides knowledge suggests concentration and meditation as ways to liberation [samadhi]. One who is free while living is called Jivanmukta. Although he has a physical body, he is free from all passion and attachments.
Because he has realised the true nature of his self,
he has broken the karmic chain
that binds him to prakriti and has…
emancipated himself from the round of births and deaths. The death of a Jivanmukta is just a passage to Kaivalya. Thus Moksa or Liberation consists in the complete cessation of all sufferings. In this state of Moksa, the mind Citta goes back to its original cause Prakriti, and one abides in his own self the Purusa.” 
ON KUNDALINI SHAKTI POWER: “Kundalini is Divine Cosmic Energy.“
literally means ‘yoga of coiled up energy’. Kundalini is the
that lies concentrated like a coiled serpent at the base of the spinal column. It can be activated by meditation, special exercises, the intervention of an accomplished teacher, or sometimes for reasons that are unknown. So the Kundalini shakti is represented by a serpent with three and a half coils… The three coils symbolise the three gunas: sattva, rajas and thamas.
The half coil shows the effect of these gunas, or the effect of the universe which is the result of the effect of these three gunas.
The purpose [of Kundalini Yoga] is to awaken that sleeping serpent… the serpent-like vital force that remains dormant and asleep in every human body… A practitioner of Kundalini Yoga gains insight into the
subtle astral channels called nadis through which prana flows located in seven basic positions [chakras] along the sushumna. Each chakra has its own
colour, element, presiding deity. Kundalini is considered as a barometer which indicates spiritual progress and levels of consciousness in a human being… It is said that mediation on the Kundalini Force can have a curing effect. Sri Aurobindo* (Synthesis of Yoga, page 31) speaks of Kundalini as a help to Raja Yoga.“
*In my larger work on
YOGA, detailed information is available on Kundalini Yoga, including what Hindu proponents say about it. Sri Aurobindo was a master of Kundalini Yoga; so were the founders and leaders of the Theosophical Society, who, along with Aurobindo are named in the February 3, 2003 Vatican Document as
leading New Agers [notes 15, etc.]
I have examined hundreds of books on yoga. My findings are that very few yoga treatises written by Hindu proponents or even Westerners include Kundalini.
It is only the Indian Catholic protagonists of yoga, and most especially our Catholic priests, who include teachings on Kundalini yoga in their elusive pursuit of a Christian yoga spirituality.
“Yoga helps one to be a better Christian,” claims Fr. Puthenpura [page 86]
But he has himself provided us over the last few pages of passages excerpted from his doctoral thesis, with more than sufficient good reason to avoid practising any form of yogic spirituality. Further, despite his being a yogi and an exponent of yoga, we must appreciate his sincerity in warning Catholics of the dangers of yoga, as follows:
We have been reflecting on the possibility of a Christian yoga spirituality, but…
there are also dangers of which one has to be attentive:
1. DANGER OF A PRIVATE SPIRITUALISM [sic] Yoga proposes an inward journey. If one is not careful, it can make one too introvert. There is the danger that one may restrict one’s relationship to oneself… excluding the possibility of interaction.
2. THE DANGER OF BUILDING A SPIRITUAL CASTLE WITHOUT A GROUND This danger is well exposed in the 3rd chapter of Yogasutra. When on the road to spiritual growth… one should not stop the spiritual exercises and practice [or] one may fall into illusion and can be stuck…
3. DANGER OF THE SANCTIFICATION / DEIFICATION OF THE SELF The objective of yoga is self-transcendence. When the mental powers are fully developed and when the yogi is able to concentrate himself on any object, if he is not humble enough… he may pretend to be holy. Abhishiktananda [Shantivanam Ashram founder Fr. Henri Le Saux OSB., in his book Saccidananda] warns of the dangers of yoga saying, ‘Yoga being a technique inevitably suffers the fate of all techniques whether physical, psychical, social or religious’.” [177, 178]
Now, why would Catholics want to practise dubious occult meditative and spiritual techniques that even their leading proponents have to warn us about?
Fr. Puthenpura’s book has been examined in great detail; so I will avoid too much quoting from the books that follow unless it is to show how each one of them is deceived in their own way in their attempt to ‘Christianize’ yoga.
18. ctd. Yoga and Christian Thought by B.C.M. Mascarenhas,
St. Pauls [see pages 34, 52]
“Nada and shabda mean ‘sound’, and laya is ‘dissolution’, dissolution of the mind in sound in the case of those who practice laya yoga. The sound referred to… is known as
anahat or omkar sound, the primal form of sound that is believed to be still vibrant* throughout the universe.
Amritha Nadopanishad says that ‘Om’ is the Brahman in one syllable, and ‘Om’ is the highest form of the anahat or omkar sound. *see page 49
“Nada Yoga, Shabda Yoga, and Laya Yoga, all concentrate on sound along with their prayers and meditations. The Anahat sound is said to be vibrant in the human body, believed by some to be at the Anahat Chakra… located near the heart, and by others to be at the Muladhara Chakra… below the base of the spinal column…
In his book ‘India of Yogis‘, Dr. Alfonso Caycedo gives some interesting information [about] Swami Nada Brahmananda [who] is well known for what is called ‘Kundalini Thaan’, during which the sound rises from the Muladhara Chakra… In Nada Yoga, the sadhaka [disciple] generally sings some short hymn or ejaculation such as ‘Om, Om, Om is there’ or ‘Om Nana Shiva’… or ‘Ram, Ram, Ram’.” [34, 35]
Christian Spirituality in Yogic Discipline and Meditation, by Fr. Jacob Pareyil, St. Pauls, 1993.
A recommendatory note to the book [back cover] is signed by none other than
Fr. Bede Griffiths, OSB. Fr. Pareyil studied at yoga centres in “Rishikesh in the Himalayas, Delhi, Varanasi, Calcutta, Bombay, Pune” and “passed the examinations in Yoga courses” at the Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute in Lonavla, and also in Pondicherry.
While he thanks God for having given him “Life in abundance through Indian yoga for the past 15 years,” and quotes liberally from the Vatican Documents [such as Nostra Aetate] to support his contentions, he belies himself when he quotes even more liberally from yogis, gurus and swamis, from
had similar experience of success through ‘Indian yoga‘” [which is probably why he left the Church; he is the author of ‘Christian Yoga ‘, ‘Yoga in Ten Lessons’ and ‘Yoga and God ‘; his books teach Kundalini yoga].
The book deals with all the departments of yogic discipline, including a section on
Tantra Yoga, the practice of which he says, “is most dangerous except under a qualified and realized Guru.” 
He also issues “warnings” on the dangers resulting from the incorrect practice of pranayama [68, 72].
Yet, on page 24, one learns from this Catholic priest
how to arouse one’s Kundalini Sakti, the very same occult force.
There are detailed instructions on how to use the chakras and pranayama breathing to “awaken the psychic and spiritual forces which are sleeping in man.”  A large number of illustrations and diagrams showing the locations of the
chakras, the nadis, sushumna,
etc. “as they exist in the
astral body,” are provided.
In the process of Christianizing yoga, says Fr. Pareyil,
“It is good to remember the warning of DeChanet:
‘Yoga in the school of masters seems to have been cast in the religion of the Absolute. It is a Brahminised Yoga, where Hinduism has soaked into the marrow of its bones. It is a Yoga enslaved to a system of thought entirely Indian and Vedantist’. So, DeChanet advises to take care, first of all, to sort out the theories from the practice, and to remove the exercises from the Brahmanic atmosphere, restoring them to their pristine condition to introduce them to the Christian climate… ‘We shall take them simply for what they are, neither religious, nor mysticism, but a discipline, a skill, admittedly ingenious’.” 
I wonder how Fr. Jacob Pareyil has progressed in this attempt over the last 14 years since he wrote the book.
DeChanet, we know, is no more a priest. So, too,
Fr. Anthony Lobo, a senior priest who was openly propagating yoga in the diocese of
Poona. He was around 70 years of age when he got married. The extent of how deceived our priests are can be seen here, where Fr. Pareyil, after penning over one hundred pages of Brahmanic, Vedantist [to quote DeChanet] spiritual teaching, feels that he has not in the least done so, and ends thus, “As Dr. DeChanet held that Hinduism is soaked into the marrow of the bones of Yoga, we have restricted our studies to the field of Yogic discipline and meditation.” 
Own Your Power, An Aid for Awareness and Personal Growth, by Fr. Jose Mekat, S.J., Claretian Publications, 1991, sold at
St. Pauls. This priest was the
Provincial of the Kerala Jesuits.
In the Acknowledgements, the author thanks other priests, nuns and Catholic laity for their assistance in turning out this occult book. In the Introduction, Dr. Mathew says that Fr. Mekat is “not sticking to only one school of thought. He uses concepts from Carl Jung, Gestalt Therapy, Rational Emotive Therapy, Yoga and Indian Insights.”
His “Recommended Reading” list of 30 books is completely New Age with titles like Kundalini Yoga by Swami Satyananda, the Bihar School of Yoga; 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, Divine Life Society, etc. Expectedly, he too quotes
Fr. Bede Griffiths
and refers to Shantivanam Ashram.
There are discussions about the occult
yin and yang, the subtle body, astral tubes or nadis, the sushumna, the Law of Karma, mantras for meditation, etc.
Jesus is mentioned only once, on the last page of the book, and then only to misuse the Word of God, quoting Jesus from Luke 17:21, ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’ to justify the teachings of his book, to “Own Your Power”.
One continues to see the all-pervasive influence of the Ashram culture, especially of Fr. Bede Griffiths in the spread of ‘Christian’ yoga and other New Age errors.
Christian Meditation through Yoga, by Fr. Gilbert Carlo, SVD., Ishvani Publications, St Pauls Press, 1998
Ishvani is an SVD enterprise, and SVD
Frs. Edwin Vas and
contributed in the bringing out of the book.
The book is “Dedicated to the Society of the Divine Word [S.V.D.]
and to all those who encourage and support me in my apostolate of spreading Christian meditation through yoga
in India as well as abroad”.
The Forewords are given by Archbishop Emeritus Simon Cardinal Pimenta
of Bombay, and
Fr. Augustine Kanjamala, SVD.,
who pays a rich two-page tribute to Fr. Carlo.
The Cardinal wrote,
“The author has interpreted the techniques of yoga in the light of the Bible… Yoga, indeed, has its roots in Hinduism. But… it can also be seen as a cultural heritage of India. And, as such, we could use the techniques of yoga to help us pray more and pray better… Neither should these ways be rejected out of hand simply because they are not Christian… I wish every success to Fr. Carlo in his apostolate of spreading the use of yoga as an aid for prayer.” [For Carlo, see also page 16]
In his Acknowledgements, Fr. Carlo thanks a number of priests and laity who assisted him in this great yoga “apostolate”.
Gyan Prakash Ashram
in Andheri, Mumbai, and at their centre,
Atma Darshan, Fr. Carlo and other SVD missionaries of the Divine Word teach Enneagrams, and eastern meditations like vipassana and yoga to lay persons, priests, seminarians and nuns through retreats and seminars.
Fr. Francis Barboza, SVD.,
a Bharatanatyam exponent, used to teach the dance form at Gyan till he left the priesthood.
Fr. Carlo even celebrates ‘Yoga Healing Masses’ as reported to me by friends in Melbourne, Australia.
The Bibliography of Carlo’s book pertains to swamis, yogis, gurus,
Swami [Fr.] Amaldas, Fr. Bede Griffiths, and
J.M. Dechanet, author of Christian Yoga, 1960, and Yoga in Ten Lessons, 1972, the Belgian priest-turned yogi who finally left the Catholic Church. This book too has everything, including
Surya Namaskar and Kundalini Yoga. Some excerpts:
“I would say that Mother Mary practised the highest form of yogic prayer” [because, “one of the objectives of yogic meditation is to attain purity” and “she remained pure…”!!!!!] 
“Postures and techniques are essential in contemplation to bring our minds to rest.”  Chapter on Prayer and Meditation.
Stating that “yoga” means “union”, he opines that “Jesus’ union with the Father at all times is the real prayer of yoga.” 
The Word of God does not teach us techniques to meditate and to pray. One who has a personal relationship with God, knows that they are unnecessary. Lovers do not need coaching classes or guide books to know what to say to each other.
Realizing that “Some people think that yoga is just a series of physical exercises, but it is much more than that,” he launches into an in-depth study of yoga, replete with photographs of himself in contorted postures most unbecoming of a Catholic priest.
He discusses “Concentrating on the
Life-Force” for the practise of
breathing, quoting Ezekiel 37:6. Here he equates the Spirit of God with the monistic cosmic or universal energy that is in all and is all. The thin line to self-deification is crossed when he teaches that the eighth stage of yoga, Samadhi, is “total union with God”, without differentiating the yogic from the Christian understanding of such a ‘union’. 
He sanctifies the occult forces in Kundalini
yoga with Ezekiel 36: 27. “I will put my Spirit within you”. He says, “Kundalini is a Sanskrit word for energy. In the light of Christian spirituality, it could be understood as
power of the Holy Spirit.” 
This is not new Christian theology, it is blasphemy and heresy. The Holy Spirit is not an energy; He is a Person.
There being no concept of sin in yogic spirituality, he quotes Galatians 5: 19-21 [those who will not possess the Kingdom of God] to say, “One could overcome these evils ONLY BY THE POWER OF MEDITATION
(emphasis mine), And only then the energy is awakened and will flow upward from the base of the spine to the crown of the head by stimulating the seven chakras. If one tries to awaken this energy without purifying one’s own heart, it could be harmful to oneself and to others unharnessed, just like a wild elephant.” 
Since when does the Holy Spirit have the nature and the harmful potential of a wild elephant?
Fr. Carlo has produced audios and videos on chanting, meditation, and yoga. They are sold at St. Pauls.
This is one priest who has not recommended the ‘OM’ mantra. He has recommended others, though.
Psychic Power Meditations for Achievement, by Fr. Michael G., SJ., St. Pauls Better Yourself Books, 1996
This is one more thoroughly occult work. I had already analysed its contents in my report of February 15, 2001 on St. Pauls’ occult and New Age books, copies of which had already been sent to many Bishops; and in a July 2000 work on yoga.
But I am going to reproduce that analysis here, not only to show that it fits the New Age category, but also as just one example of the occult books that St. Pauls not only sells, but publishes.
In the book, Fr. Michael [Gonsalves]’s first words are, “Psychic Power
is the inner power everyone has got. It can be employed in the best way when in conformity with the Master-Plan*
of the Tri-Personal God in Jesus Christ.”
He proceeds to explain the following psychic phenomena according to his beliefs in
astral energies, the aura, the subtle body, the chakras, kundalini or serpent power, the third eye, nadis
Fr. Michael goes to great pains, over many pages, to explain his esoteric concepts. A lot of it is sheer, impossible rubbish.
He gives detailed instructions on how one may practise, using occult breathing, meditation and visualization techniques, so that one may “see the astral light” -“Yes, it is visible” – and the “aura around your head“. 
You can create new energies out of this astral energy. The entity can go about doing good or also evil to others. 
Most of the gods or devils, good or evil powers, are just entities created by humans with their astral substances only.  ENTITIES WHAT? YOU CREATE. THEN THEY “GO ABOUT” DOING GOOD AND EVIL?
Some Bija Mantras are connected with the soul (psychic) powers and the Catholic doctrines are given in the course of meditation.  Write down the new mantras so as to give a definite form to your inner lights. 
There are ever so many books written on Spiritual Life or on
Prana Yama, meditation, Yoga
and the like.  So, he advises the reader to “go to the right guide” or else he risks going astray.
There is a spiritual light at the center of my head between the two lobes of my brain… and it becomes one with the light of Christ… This is… my third eye.  The corresponding chapter is titled, “I AM THE LIGHT”.
Your vision in your third eye will reveal to you whatever your astral body has perceived… With the
leavened and with your “kundalini” or “serpent power” rising, you will experience extraordinary things like
levitation, telepathy, pre- or retro-recognition, etc. all belonging to the field of “Extra-Sensory Perception” called
trans-liminal state, whatever wish or command you feed into your astral system will infallibly mature and become a reality for you. 
The forces from outside are reaching me. They touch me. They penetrate into… every one of my cells… My cells feel knocked down… They rise in revolt… There is a struggle… The old order is dead and a new order is born… I am SUPPLE, SUPPLE, SUPPLE.  [emphasis his] Chapter on “SUPPLENESS”
Let me get set with my life-light-energy circuit… Let me have life and that more abundantly by my suppleness in Christ*. Let me look into myself… into my psychic senses… Let me thus keep on growing in Christ, turning everything to my advantage, through my SUPPLENESS, SUPPLENESS, SUPPLENESS. Smiles.  [emphasis his] *a distortion of John 10:10
Introduce slowly… your message, the new key word, the Biju Mantra, the new value, idea or command- Is it God, Jesus, relax, rejoice, suppleness, courage, what is it you want? Introduce it into yourself and your cells and all the parts of your body and into your whole broadcasting system of renewed life-light-energy. [103, 104]
Life is the Christian language full of crosses. Through them you should save yourself and the world…
When I’ll be lifted up, they will know that I AM WHO AM (God). 
[Since there is no mention of Jesus in the preceding or succeeding paragraphs, the priest is therefore talking about the “I”.]
*The “Master-Plan of… God in Jesus Christ” is revealed in the Bible, which nowhere mentions ‘psychic power’ or the use of any power except that of the Holy Spirit. In the ‘Introduction’, the priest admits that the book contains “an abstract of some of the meditation exercises which I have been doing. They are drawn from various traditions, but reworked by myself under the guidance of the inner Spirit.” It is all about the power of the self. What the ‘I’ has the potential to achieve.
He then [mis] quotes Scripture [emphasis his], “BE YE DOERS of the word: to be always happy.” The Bible says, “Be ye doers of the Word [of God] and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.” It is not surprising therefore that Fr. Michael is deluded, and, in his book, attempts to delude others.
If he sincerely and absolutely did not believe all of the above rubbish, he certainly would not be writing it.
The book is also sold at the
National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre [NBCLC]*, Bangalore, with which he is closely associated. He is one of the leading priests who are pushing for
the so-called “Indian-rite Mass” and the kind of Inculturation that is best described as “Hindu-isation”. *separate report on the NBCLC soon to be uploaded on the website
quotes this priest as saying:
“We must substitute the Old Testament of the Bible with Indian history, scriptures and arts. For us, the Holy Land should be India; the sacred river the Ganges; the sacred mount-ain the Himalayas, the heroes of the past not Moses, or David, but Sri Ram or Krishna.”
In the New Leader [NL] of December 1-31, 1998, he wrote,
“Why be afraid of Saraswati?”
“I look upon Saraswati as a symbol rather than a goddess… The Hindu pantheon is a rich treasure of symbolism. The name Saraswati itself means ‘the flowing one’. Thus she is the symbol of the creative power of God. The creation cannot come about without the wisdom of the Creator. Hence she becomes a symbol of God’s wisdom.
Saraswati holds a book in one of her four hands, which symbolises all the secular sciences. The other two hands are holding a veena symbolising the fine arts. The fourth hand is holding a rosary, a symbol of all spiritual sciences and meditation techniques. The swan, her vehicle, is supposed to have the ability to separate milk from water and consume only pure milk. This is a lesson for devotees: In this world we must remove weed and store only the grain in the barn (Mt 13:25). It is a pity that Catholic scholars who write thesies on Hindu symbolism do not come out with their views boldly on such occasion. Even Catholic periodicals are not exploiting these controversies for catechesis on inculturation.”
In the NL of January 16-31, 1999, another priest, Fr. John J. Sundaram, responded,
“Saraswati-symbol or deity?”
“The letter of Fr. Michael G. Why be afraid of Saraswati? is misleading. In the name of ‘inculturation’ he argues that Saraswati is a symbol…
We know clearly that Saraswati is a Hindu deity… so the protest against Saraswati Vandana is justified. In the Old Testament period, the Canaanite deity Baal, the rain god, was a symbol of fecundity. The Israelites landing in Canaan from Egypt were prone to the worship of Baal to make their lands fertile. But the prophets fought vehemently against this temptation to worship Baal.”
DRAMA IN EUCHARIST PROVOKES PEOPLE
Indian Currents, November 2001, UCAN, Bangalore
A priest began Mass with the usual Sign of the Cross. However, before the congregation could say 'Amen', came a shout from behind the sanctuary, 'Hell with it, Hell with it!' Shouting anti-Christian slogans, some youths then barged into the sanctuary carrying placards that ridiculed Christianity. The congregation was stunned. Some rushed forward to fight. However, Fr. Michael Gonsalves, the celebrant, turned to the demonstrators to answer their questions. He also let the congregation, participants of an October 9-31 training on the new ways of catechizing, answer some questions.
Fr. Gonsalves, a staff of the NBCLC… uses such interventions to "avoid monotony" and shatter the perception that current realities have little relevance in Christian worship. According to him, people join liturgy "meaningfully" when their minds are disturbed in such a manner and jolted from a state of complacency.
After the October 9 Mass, some participants told UCAN that it was the most meaningful Eucharistic celebration they have participated. Fr. Gonsalves told UCA News that he began incorporating aspects of drama in the Eucharist 12 years ago when as a parish priest he saw liturgy being reduced to a mere "tranquilizer", not a catalyst that changes lives.
According to the 48-year old priest, mass goers would respond to the drama better if they faced similar situations in life. The drama usually takes place before the Liturgy of the Word or after Communion. It ends with a call for repentance following the depiction of socio-economic inequalities, poverty, corruption, communalism, and other evils.
During one Mass, Fr. Gonsalves received a call on his cell phone, and he engaged in a "conversation" as the congregation watched. He says drama has the same relevance as hymns and dance in liturgy.
Some resent his innovations as they see drama only as entertainment, he admitted. Some elderly parishioners who opposed him initially began appreciating the dramas after a while, he said.
"My dramas," he added, "are simple, sober, and use minimum costumes," and always address "down to earth" issues.
He says he does not "strictly follow the order of the Mass, but I don't leave out any important aspect also."
NBCLC, Bangalore released a video CD, 7th May, 2003, on Drama For Creative Liturgy. Scripted and acted by
Fr. Michael G., this hour-long VCD has 10 thought provocative dramas with titles like The Encroaching God, Cursed Be The Day!…
Each drama is earmarked for bringing creativity at different parts of the Eucharistic celebration.
Dramatised themes include: introducing the theme of the Eucharist, acting out a Scripture reading solo, dramatising a Scripture reading, acting out a Gospel passage involving the audience for catechesis, contextualising a parable, narrating a homily as a storyteller, using a newspaper report in the liturgy of the Word as an interview. Other creative ways are: presenting the entire liturgy of the Word in one story, for bringing a dramatic change of attitude in the faithful, and praying the formal prayers with images.
Fr. Joshy Illath directed the film in which
Redemptorist theology students and Sacred Heart novices
in Bangalore acted. [Review by Fr. C.M. Paul S.D.B. in Catechetics India, August 2003]
RECOGNIZE ALL CULTURES IN INDIA AS INDIAN
Fr. Michael G.,
invited to speak at an inter-religious meeting… organised by Swami Smruti Samiti on 4th July on the occasion of the punyatithi (death anniversary) of Swami Vivekanand at Yashwantrao Chavhan Natyagruha, Kotharud, Pune on the theme “We Indian, Our Culture Indian”… spoke of the beautiful Indian Mass composed with Sanskrit slokaas and Indian rituals by the NBCLC, Bangalore. “But,” he said, “our inculturation movement has come to a halt because of the opposition to it voiced by the Dalit and the tribal groups in the Church! They oppose this kind of inculturation because it brings back Sanskritic and Brahmanic culture that imposed on them inhuman life conditions for centuries with the tools of the oppressive customs like casteism and other superstitions.” The Examiner July 24, 2004
MY COMMENTS ON FR. MICHAEL G. AND THE NBCLC:
1. I have always independently maintained that, despite weak arguments to the contrary from inculturationists, many of the experimental innovations in the Indian Rite of Mass as conducted by the NBCLC, the leaders of the Catholic Ashram Movement and priests influenced by them, are inimical to the interests of dalits and tribals as they are more Brahminic than Indian. The above statement by Fr. Michael G., part lamentation and part truthful observation, coming as it does from a priest who is himself closely associated with the NBCLC, supports my contentions.
2. Consider this Jesuit priest, his beliefs, his statements, his writings, and the organisation that he is part of, the NBCLC.
The priest is deeply into New Age. His statements reveal his syncretism. His actions exhibit thorough disregard for the holiness of the Eucharistic celebration. He is also guilty of grave liturgical abuses.
The NBCLC is a centre of the Bishops’ Conference of India. It is supposed to give us the right catechetics, liturgy, etc. etc. But, as I have been pointing out to our Bishops [and to Rome] for years now, it is a centre for New Age and other errors.
And I am not the only lay person to be doing that, or to have done that. There have been several others before me.
The NBCLC is also an integral part of the Catholic Ashrams movement, both spearheading the Hindu-isation of the Church.
And, the future of the Indian Church is in the hands of such priests like Fr. Michael G. and organizations like the NBCLC.
The Way to Freedom- Meditation, Oriental Approach and Christian Content, by Fr. Nicolas Caballero, Claretian Missionary, translated from Spanish by the
Missionary Society of St Paul, published by the
The writer of the Preface, the asst. director of the Paulist Education Center, calls Fr. Nicolas’ work “A new apostolate”, and admits that
he himself is into Zen meditation.
Fr. Nicolas writes, “Though yoga is in vogue, many misunderstand it or are prejudiced against it… Meditation is the basic technique essential to the spiritual exercises which I have been directing for several years within the framework of
the yoga techniques of spiritual fulfilment.” [page 3]
In his mantra therapy, his favourites range from “God” to “man is the inner man”; from “I loved you too late” to “Descend if you wish to ascend”.
Indian edition by
Claretian Publications, 1982. Foreword by
Fr. V. Francis Vineeth, CMI.
One of the most frequently quoted yoga authorities in this book on yoga-based meditation is the
Theosophist, J. Krishnamurti. Another is
Swami Sivanananda Sarasvati, founder of the Divine Life Society. Need I say more?
35. Maranatha, by J. Clement Vaz, St. Pauls, 1990 [Clement Vaz is presumably a priest, see page 53]
“What does Yoga offer Christians?” he asks. “As a practical system of spiritual philosophy, yoga can be adopted and adapted with positive benefits in the practice of any religion… Yoga as an instrument of grace can… enrich Christian life 
THE “ENERGY” OF PRANAYAMA AND KUNDALINI: THERE IS GREAT DANGER IN THEM – II
Swami Bhaskarananda, quoted earlier*, says, “Pranayama, if not practiced under the guidance of a capable teacher, can do irreparable physical and mental damage to one who engages in it,” and “the practice of Pranayama can be extremely dangerous“. *see pages 17, 18, 24, 62, 65
The Lucifer Connection, by Joseph Carr, Huntington House, 1987, 192 pages.
“Yogic exercises are dangerous! Among Hindus, a student is not permitted to practice Hatha Yoga until he has mastered the mental, moral and physical prerequisites. To do otherwise is too invite illness, both mental and physical… The
Hatha Yoga exercises arouse Kundalini from her sleep… All practicing yogis recognize that releasing Kundalini is extremely dangerous. Pain, illness and insanity sometimes await those who practice this form of Yoga. At least one Hindu yogi is convinced that most schizophrenics and manic depressives are victims of Kundalini; another yogi reports that death has occurred when the unprepared attempted Yoga. An innocent an act as prematurely exhausting breath* is said to be potentially fatal. Hatha yoga is not merely a relaxation exercise!” [126, 127]
2. Pranic Healing is all about the manipulation of the so-called pranic energy, the ‘prana’ of pranayama.
If the dangers of pranic healing practice are not self-evident to the student, founder-author Choa Kok Sui admits in his
Miracles Through Pranic Healing, [Health Accessories For All (Catholic Health Association of India, CHAI), 1987, 310 pages]:
“It is a common occurrence for pranic psychotherapists to be contaminated with the patient’s psychological ailments and they too soon become psychologically imbalanced… There are healers who have become very sick or have died at a young age due to practising pranic healing to excessiveness
[5 or 6 days a week].” 
We are also cautioned not to apply “too much prana on infants and very young children.”
Pranayama refers to and employs the very same ‘life force” energy, “prana”, as what is also known as “shakti” or Kundalini power. In the section on Pranayama, the reader has already been provided with more than sufficient information on what the “prana” is; it is NOT, as is commonly thought, “air”. Pranayama is NOT about regulating the breathing of “air”; but it is the control and manipulation of a psychic power or force or energy that sustains the universe and IS the universe. This energy, which is the very essence of both creator and creation, is the centre-piece of the practice of yoga. It is at its greatest potency in Raja and Kundalini Yoga.
It is also very “dangerous”. Almost every teacher of pranayama and yoga says so, but I will quote from a selected few, below. The Catholic nun Vandana Mataji, an ardent yogini, candidly admits that this is so:
“But there is one form of Hathayoga called Laya or Kundalini Yoga dealing with the psychic energy of the serpentine power in us… Unless it is studied under a genuine master it can be psychically dangerous.“
Find Your Roots and Take Wing, Vandana Mataji, Asian Trading, 1991, pages 84, 85
Look again in case you missed it. Note that she used the term “psychically”, not “physically”!
Other gurus and yogis concur with her, significantly
Sri Aurobindo and the founders of the Theosophical Society, many of whom [including Aurobindo] are named in the Vatican Document as leading influencers of the New Age.
4. “World-renowned gurus of the New Age Movement include Sri Aurobindo.”
The Facts on the New Age Movement, John Ankerberg and John Weldon, 1988, page 11
“[Aurobindo] taught that divine energy is at work everywhere… The transformation from matter to life, to consciousness, to supra-consciousness, ends in complete identity with the Absolute,
and is advanced through a process of yoga.
He looked for the emergence of an elite of supermen who would initiate salvation for all.” The World’s Religions, Bruce Nichols, 1950, pages 164, 165
“In Hathayoga… the power of life,
Nature-power, coiled up with all its secret forces asleep in the lowest nervous plexus of the earth-being… rises awakened, centre after centre… in its ascent… till it meets with and becomes one with the divine consciousness.(This is about the psychic chakra centers and the kundalini.) Rajayoga… arrives at the yogic or occult powers… and the one final end is that the mind, stilled and cast into a concentrated trance, can lose itself in the divine consciousness and the soul free to unite with the divine Being. The third process of the yoga is to perceive all things as God…
Yoga does become dangerous
if you want it for your own sake, to serve a personal end… If you cannot get rid of ambition, do not touch the thing [yoga].
It is fire that burns*.”
Yoga, The Writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, pages 5, 6, 16, 26
*Fire that burns? W. Brugh Joy, medical-doctor-turned-Eastern-guru, whom actor Richard Chamberlain credited with re-aligning his ‘psychic force’, says, “Not one person knows what (psychic power) is or all of its aspects, and no one has ever known, despite attempts over thousands of years to master this knowledge.
Tapping these energies is fire, and
the consequences… can be psychosis, aggravation of neuroses, acceleration of disease processes and suicide.” Joy’s Way, W. Brugh Joy, M.D., Tarcher, 1979, pages 8, 9
“Yoga’s breathing techniques (pranayama) may seem stress-relieving, yet they can be an open door to psychic influences,” author
Laurette Willis says. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/120/42.0.html
May 19, 2005
6. “In Indian tradition
Hatha-yoga refers to the system of psycho-physiological training that Blavatsky mentions and which includes… the use of bizarre methods to obtain psychic powers. The warnings which have been given at various times against Hatha-yoga refer to such a system and its methods.”
The Universal Yoga Tradition, Dr. Radha Burnier, Theosophical Society, 1988, page 7
7. (Concerning the practice of
yogic meditation) “you can learn to control your mind… and thus to reach illumination. One word of warning… maintain throughout an alert attention… If your mind be not in that condition, its mere emptiness is dangerous. It leads to mediumship, to obsession, to possession.”
An Introduction to Yoga, Annie Besant, Theosophical Society, 1908, page 117
8. C. W. Leadbeater was a thirty-third degree Freemason, “a highly developed clairvoyant and the author of over thirty books on the spiritual life and on the psychic nature of man.” Not only was Leadbeater- a former Church of England clergyman- a Freemason and leading theosophist, he was also a Bishop of the self-styled “Liberal Catholic Church”, and author of The Science
of the Sacraments which is a blasphemy of the Mass and the Eucharist.
The contents of one book, The ‘K.H’. Letters to C.W. Leadbeater , Theosophical Publishing House, 1941, were dictated by a channeled entity Koot Hoomi [‘K.H.’, which Leadbeater called
the “Master“] that guided him. Parts of the book are in “automatic handwriting”. A quote from page 33, “Theosophy has officially been banned by name by the Pope as a dire heresy, and in one month in each year, a prayer is offered to God through the Virgin Mary to save the world from heresy.”
Five decades later, Theosophical books are sold in the Catholic Church
to promote New Age alternative medicine.
The Chakras, written by C.W. Leadbeater [1847-1934], first published by the Theosophical Society in 1927, comprises 132 pages of detailed explanation of prana, occult and psychic forces, the chakras, kundalini and other yogas, etc.
This book was available [along with other Theosophical Society literature] for many years “for the benefit of pranic and reiki healers” from the Catholic Health Association of India [CHAI], an organisation which comes under the authority of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India through the Pastoral Health Care Commission, until all the books were withdrawn following a series of reports [1999 to 2002] on CHAI, which this ministry submitted to the Bishops’ Conference.
9. To quote Leadbeater from The Chakras, A Monograph:
“The objective of Laya or Kundalini Yoga
is the same as that of every other form of Indian yoga, to unite the soul with God.” [page 98] “The force of kundalini in our bodies comes from that laboratory of the Holy Ghost deep down in the earth. It belongs to that terrific glowing fire of the underworld.”  “Kundalini is describe as a devi or goddess luminous as lightning, who lies asleep in the root chakra, coiled like a serpent three and a half times round the svayambhu linga which is there, and closing the entrance to the sushumna with her head.” 
“Further evidence of early knowledge about these force-centres exists in the rituals of Freemasonry.” 
“The energy which we find rushing into the bell-like mouth of the chakra… is this which is symbolized when it is said in Christian teaching that the Christ is incarnate of (that is, takes form from) the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary.” 
“Its principal function in connection with occult development
is that, by being sent through the force centres in the etheric body, it quickens these chakras and makes them more fully available as gates of connection between the physical and astral bodies… [W]hen the serpent-fire reaches the centre between the eyebrows and fully vivifies it, it confers the power of hearing the voice of
the Master.” [85-86]
“People often ask me what I advise them to do with regard to the arousing of this force. I advise them to do exactly what I did myself. I recommend them to throw themselves into Theosophical work and wait until they receive
a definite command from some Master who will undertake to superintend their psychic development, continuing in the meantime all the ordinary exercises of meditation that are known to them. They should not care in the least whether such development comes in this incarnation or in the next… feeling absolutely certain that
the Masters are always watching
for those whom They can help… and that They will unquestionably give Their directions when They think that the right time has come… The force when aroused must be very strictly controlled, and it must be moved through the centres in an order which differs for people of different types. This movement also, to be effective, must be made in a particular way which
the Master will explain when the time comes. 
“This fiery power… is in very truth like liquid fire as it rushes through the body when it has been aroused by the will; and the course through which it ought to move is spiral like the coils of a serpent… For the ordinary person it lies at the base of the spine unawakened, and its very presence unsuspected, during the whole of his life; and it is indeed far better to allow it thus to remain dormant… until his will is strong enough to control it… to enable him to face its awakening without injury. No one should experiment with it without definite instruction from a teacher who thoroughly understands the subject, for
the dangers connected with it are very real and terribly serious. Some of them are purely physical.
Its uncontrolled movement often produces intense physical pain, and may readily tear tissues and even destroy physical life. This, however, is the least of the evils of which it is capable, for it may do permanent injury to vehicles higher than the physical. One very common effect of rousing it prematurely is that it rushes downwards in the body instead of upwards and thus excites the most undesirable passions… to such a degree that it becomes impossible for the man to resist them, because a force has been brought into play in whose presence he is as
helpless as a swimmer before the jaws of a shark.
Such men become satyrs, monsters of depravity, because they are in the grasp of a force which is out of all proportion to the ordinary power of human resistance. They may probably gain some supernatural powers, but…
to escape from its awful thraldom may take them more than one incarnation.
I am not in any way exaggerating the horror of this thing, as a person to whom it was all a matter of hearsay might unwittingly do. I have myself been consulted by people upon whom this awful fate has already come, and I have seen with my own eyes what happened to them.
There is a school of black magic which purposely utilizes this power for such purposes… Brahmanas of Southern India assure me that there are certain yogis who teach their pupils to use it… the risk is too great to be worth taking…
Even apart from this greatest of its dangers, the premature unfoldment of the higher aspects of
has many other unpleasant possibilities… It reaches the lower and evil qualities more readily than the good… It would be likely to bring with it a great intensification of the power of intellect, but at the same time it would produce abnormal and satanic pride, such as is quite inconceivable to the ordinary man. It is not wise for a man to think that he is prepared to cope with any force that may arise within his body; this is no ordinary energy, but something resistless. Assuredly no uninstructed man should ever try to awaken it…
I am specifically restraining from any explanation as to how this arousing is to be done, nor do I mention in the order in which the force (when aroused) should be passed through these centres,
for that should by no means be attempted except at the express suggestion of a Master, who will watch over His pupils during the various stages of the experiment. [emphases Leadbeater’s]
I should like most solemnly to warn all students against making any effort whatever in the direction of awakening these tremendous forces, except under such qualified tuition, for I have myself seen many cases of
the terrible effects which follow from ignorant and ill-advised meddling of these very serious matters.
The force is a tremendous reality… and most emphatically it is not a thing with which to play, not a matter to be lightly taken in hand, for to experiment with it without understanding it is far more dangerous than it would be for a child to play with nitroglycerine. As is very truly said in the Hathayoga Pradipika, ‘It gives liberation to yogis and bondage to fools.’ (III, 107) …The man who wantonly provokes an explosion is quite likely to become its first victim.” [81-84]
In another book, The Hidden Life in Freemasonry, Leadbeater explains the “Masonic* use of these forces” in connection with the Ida, the Pingala, and the Sushumna [which Swami Rajarshi Muni explained to us earlier]. *In Freemasonry
10. “The term ‘kundalini‘ means ‘coiled’ and refers to a type of energy’ believed to reside at the base of the human spine. Certain types of yogic practice are methods for awakening this power that is as dangerous as a dormant serpent. Properly disciplined, this energy is immensely beneficial and liberating; but
without guidance it can unleash a demonic and destructive rage. Under skilled tutelage, practitioners seek to allow the kundalini energy to progress upwards along the spine through a series of energy centres or ‘wheels’ (chakras) symbolically imagined as lotuses. Moving the energy to each successive chakra sets free distinctive spiritual powers. The experience of ‘piercing’ all six chakras is said to be exceedingly rare and accompanied by a kind of
mystical ecstasy characterized by a host of auditory and visual phenomena.” Responses to 101 Questions on Hinduism, John Renard, St Pauls Better Yourself Books, 1999, p.101
The Facts on Holistic Health and the New Medicine, by John Ankerberg and John Weldon, 1992, GLS Publishing, 2000.
“Symptoms of Kundalini arousal- which frequently constitute spirit possession- include undescribable mental and physical pain, undiagnosable medical conditions, and/or temporary and sometimes permanent insanity.
The problems presented by yoga are both individual and social. Widespread claims to the contrary, it is not a health practice. The person who engages in yoga for health purposes may find himself converted to an occultic way of life.
In spite of its perception as a safe and valuable technique,
true yoga involves occultic meditation and the development of psychic powers which may result in spirit contact or spirit possession.
Although the public falsely perceives yoga as a safe or neutral practice, even authoritative yoga literature is replete with warnings of serious physical consequences, mental derangement, and harmful spiritual effects. Paralysis, insanity and death are frequently mentioned. Allegedly, such consequences arise from wrong yoga practice, but, in fact, they really arise because yoga is an occult practice. Those who care about their overall health should not practice yoga.” [46, 47]
Clash of Worlds, by David Burnett, Monarch Publications, 1990, 256 pages.
“Patanjali had briefly mentioned the possibility of yoga developing para-normal abilities. He had not been interested in these, and viewed them as a mere by-product.
Kundalini can be dangerous, and many Hatha yogis warn against its practice.”
The Facts on the New Age Movement, by John Ankerberg and John Weldon, 1988, GLS Publishing, 2000.
“Some people in the NAM are encountering frightening and unexpected psychic powers, hallucinations, abrupt possession by spirit entities, psychic attacks, and
the often uncontrollable and painful kundalini arousal. Others are encountering severe depression or suicidal tendencies… Because these experiences are occultic and represent contact with demonic powers, the end result of ‘properly integrating’ such experiences may, from a Christian point of view, be merely a ‘properly integrated’ but demonized individual who is convinced he is advancing spiritually.
The New Age practitioner who wants deliverance from these problems, who wishes to ‘turn off’ the switch, is left with a dilemma. The New Age has no ‘off’ switch, and such a one may be left at the mercy of spirits and forces that will not leave him alone. Abstinence is the only safe recommendation because occult practices open the doors to demonic deception, manipulation and possession. Once forbidden practices are engaged in and encountered, a person may only be delivered through the power of the Biblical Jesus Christ. These New Age practices and powers must be renounced (Luke 13:3, James 4:7-8), the sin of involvement repented of and confessed to God (I John 1:9), and Christ must be received as personal Saviour and Lord (John 1:12). Any experience of hindrance should be resolved with constant prayer (I Thessalonians 5:17), Bible study (I Thessalonians 5:21-22, II Timothy 2:15), and responsible Christian counseling.” [36, 37]
The New Age, a Christian Critique, by Ralph Rath, Greenlawn Press, 1990, 350 pages.
“Many means are used to waken the Kundalini. They range from
breathing exercises like Pranayama, to the homosexual handling of the genitals… Kundalini yoga has not been very popular in India because many of the experiences it gives are what William James calls ‘diabolical mysticism’.
It gives pain, makes people depressed, and even produces madness.” 
RALPH RATH IS A VERY REPUTED CATHOLIC WRITER
Inside the New Age Nightmare, by Randall N. Baer, Huntington House, 1989, 202 pages.
“There are extreme dangers involved in awakening the kundalini practices. I have observed numerous New Agers experiencing the subtle and extreme casualties- mental and emotional disruptions, involuntary physical movements (from uncontrollable spasms to incessant quivering), nervous system burn-out, outrageous ego-inflations, sexual obsessions, intense delusionary states, hallucinations, and other quite undesirable side effects.
Several times through these years my mind felt like it was racing uncontrollably, like a wind-swept wildfire. Nothing could stop it, and a few times I felt like I was teetering on the brink of insanity. For several months after such an incident, I would treat certain advanced practices with extreme caution, but I didn’t do the smart thing and stop totally…
Often it is thought that Hatha Yoga is benign and somehow disassociated from the rest of the total Yoga system. This is a potentially dangerous fallacy, for Hatha Yoga is part and parcel of the whole of Yoga, with many of the same dangers.”
RANDALL BAER IS A LEADING INTERNATIONALLY- KNOWN EX-NEW AGER, AUTHOR OF NEW AGE BOOKS
THERE ARE GREAT HAZARDS IN THE EASTERN MEDITATIVE TECHNIQUES TOO!
1. The “Meditation on Twin Hearts” of Pranic Healing [it is a sort of initiation ceremony, and generally conducted on full moon nights] refers to a technique in which the heart chakra and the crown chakra are used in an intense, concentrative meditation. Before the start of the meditation- which is usually accompanied by the playing of an audio recording of the chanting of
or the voice of the Master which has subliminal messages introduced into it- it is standard procedure for the animator to issue a warning, asking those among the participants with glaucoma, heart disease, etc., along with young children and pregnant women, to leave, or remain at their own serious risk.
Miracles Through Pranic Healing, by Master Choa Kok Sui, [Health Accessories For All (CHAI), 1987, 310 pages]:
We are advised that “Persons below 18 years old should not practise the Meditation on Twin Hearts, since their bodies cannot yet withstand too much subtle energies. Doing so may even manifest as physical paralysis in the long run. However, there are exceptions… many highly evolved souls who have [re-]incarnated and whose bodies are now in the adolescent stage.” 
NOTE: I have written in my 1999 articles on Pranic Healing that its founder Master Choa Kok Sui seems to have lifted entire ideas, phrases, and even practices straight out of C.W. Leadbeater’s The Chakras.
In Choa Kok Sui’s list of “Recommended Readings”, pages 32, 33, 301, 302, out of a total of 30 titles [ALL of which are loaded with esotericism and New Age], eight of the books [including The Chakras] are those published by the Theosophical Society, and several more written by leading Theosophists. Pranic Healing also teaches
2. Swami Bhaskarananda quoted from earlier*, in his work Meditation, Mind and Patanjali’s Yoga, confirms that “The Yoga scriptures say that a spiritual aspirant can have genuine spiritual visions only when the awakened
Kundalini power enters
the Sushumna channel… Immediately before its awakening, the spiritual aspirant hears a special sound called Anahata Dhwani. This sound… is heard only by the inner spiritual ear.”  He also describes other such phenomena.
Chapter XII of the book is captioned, “Hazards in Meditation“. It lists “Dangers caused by the keen mind of an advance student of meditation” and “The hazards of supernatural powers gained through the practice of meditation“. While he has listed these “siddhis” as clairvoyance, clairaudience, levitation, omnipotence, omnipresence, bi-location, and many other occult “powers”, he adds, “These powers or Siddhis, although extremely attractive, are a great danger for spiritual aspirants.” [115-122] *see pages 17, 18, 24, 59, 65
Testing the Spirits, by Elizabeth L. Hillstrom, InterVarsity Press, 1995, pages, 240 pages. [pages 110, 131, 132]
Tantra yoga] know, from the experiences of others, that they face great risks- possibly insanity and even death- when they engage in some prescribed tantric exercises. Yet aspirants still choose this path, because they see it as a shortcut to the state of spiritual perfection they are seeking. Some believe they have to risk this shortcut because the time allotted for the reincarnative process is running out… [After recounting the various manifestations, phenomena and mystical experiences associated with different meditative techniques and
arousal, the author concludes]
A final reason for avoiding
Eastern meditative techniques
there are definite hazards associated with them. They were devised to support a worldview that is totally antagonistic to Christianity. Furthermore, they seek to replace reason as a means of knowing truth with nonrational insights and intuitions born of highly questionable experiences. The deep and passive altered states created by these techniques, along with the extraordinary experiences that they can bring about, open the mind to all sorts of beliefs about God and reality. Such states can make people very vulnerable to deception, whether from their own imaginations, from the false teachings of other human beings or from demons. Mystical writers from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to Christian mystics like St. John of the Cross [The Dark Night of the Soul] and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing all
warn about the dangers
of madness, demonic deception or possession for those who venture out on the mystical path. Their warnings are important, and we need to pay heed to them.”
When the New Age Gets Old, Looking for a Greater Spirituality, by Vishal Mangalwadi, InterVarsity Press, 1992, 288 pgs.
“The problem is that the tantrics themselves understand their experience as insanity, chosen deliberately: ‘Shiva is also the god of ecstasy, of divine madness. He personifies lila as the insanity of god. Tantrics worship Shiva, and they accept their existence as the insanity of god with no questions asked. The tantrics’ novel response is to get gleefully insane along with god, as god, in the midst of existence, and thereby penetrate beyond existence altogether.’ (Brooks Alexander, Tantra: The Worship and Occult Power of Sex, 1985)
insanity does not seem to be a complete explanation
of the tantric experience, because it does not account for the experiences of thousands of Swami Muktananda’s devotees who also experience
the awakening of Kundalini, but without practising any psychotechnologies. For example, at his ashram at Ganeshpuri near Bombay, I had a long conversation with Frank, an American devotee. He reported that his
began to rise up automatically while he was sitting in the guru’s presence reading a book. He started feeling the pain and had all the other usual mystical experiences associated with Kundalini. If we rule out the possibility that disciples were secretly given a diet which included some hallucinogenic chemicals, then an alternative or at least a supplementary explanation would be that when Muktananda saw evil spirits, and a light associated with them, coming to him and entering into him,
he really was possessed by them…
This interpretation of Kundalini and chakras is supported by Muktananda’s own statements. He confesses that he ‘frequently found himself in a condition bordering on madness or complete physical breakdown’. [120-122]
In my articles on Yoga, I have always made it a point to repeatedly stress that Yoga is NOT a bunch of loosely-stringed together physical exercises or asanas, as is commonly believed. Rather,
Yoga is a system of meditation
in which, through the control of breath, all physical experience is overcome, to be replaced by mental concentrative practices which are formulated on philosophies that guarantee the practitioner the experience of becoming one with the Brahman.
Accordingly, when it is said that “yoga is hazardous”, it is meant that it is the meditations in yoga that are the real danger.
The New Spirituality, by Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, Harvest House, 1988, 326 pages.
“…Nor does the average Yoga instructor mention or likely even know the many warnings contained in ancient Yoga texts that even
Hatha Yoga- the so-called physical yoga- is a dangerous tool. [Yoga Journal, Sep./Oct. 1987, George Feuerstein, A Brief History of Hatha Yoga, page 67] …That many of the practitioners of Yoga and other forms of Eastern mysticism do seem to reap benefits, at least for a time, cannot be denied. Nevertheless, their basic worldview and religious belief system are being tampered with in ways which they may not realize and which they are certainly not being alerted to by their instructors. Moreover, those engaging in consciousness-altering techniques involve themselves in
potentially dangerous spiritual experiences
as we shall see… [The authors describe different meditations, including T.M. or Transcendental Meditation, “in fact, one of many forms of Yoga”] There are many documented cases of persons involved not only in TM but in other forms of yoga and auto-suggestion having
extremely frightening and uncontrollable spiritual experiences. As a result, some have been driven to insanity and even suicide- but these facts are deliberately suppressed. It is not uncommon for the practitioners of Eastern mysticism, even in its various Westernized self-help forms, to suddenly find themselves ‘out of body’ or thrown across the room by some unknown force, or else encountering what seem to be very real alien entities who attempt ‘possession’.
In an unusually frank interview in Yoga Journal [Sep./Oct. 1987, Catherine Ingram, Ken Wilber: The Pundit of Transpersonal Psychology, page 43], Ken Wilber (practicing mystic and Yoga enthusiast who has been described as today’s ‘Einstein of consciousness’) [leading New Ager and personal mentor of Fr. Bede Griffiths, OSB- read my report on Catholic Ashrams], warns that any form of Eastern meditation, even done ‘correctly’, involves ‘a whole series of deaths and rebirths; extraordinary conflicts and stresses…
some very rough and frightening times‘…
There is substantial evidence to indicate that some of the attractive New Age products should be clearly marked
Extremely Hazardous.” [46, 47, 49, 54]
Yoga and Meditation, Relaxation or Religion? By Sudhakar Mondithoka, Director for Ministries, RZIM* Life Focus Society, January-March 2005, Volume 1, Issue 1, Apologia, Reasoned Answers for Life
*Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
Yoga and meditation are not what the promoters represent them to be- just techniques of relaxation- but are deeply religious and philosophical, being rooted in the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, a branch of Hinduism. A person who practises yoga and meditation ultimately loses himself or herself without knowing it… Although some degree of success in relaxation can be achieved,
the dangers- emotional and spiritual- far outweigh the benefits.
A RE-APPRAISAL AND A SUMMARY: YOGA IS HINDU
“East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet” thought Rudyard Kipling. Applying that to two philosophical systems, the Western [Christian] and the Eastern [Hindu], yoga is the issue which attempts to reconcile the opposites.
We have heard yogis themselves, gurus and swamis, and our own Catholic nuns and priests including some from the Ashrams circuit, all of them yoga and pranayama pundits, and several good Christian experts, repeatedly affirm that any form of yoga is a
SPIRITUAL practice; and warn us about the physical, psychological, and spiritual
dangers involved in the practice of pranayama breathing and kundalini yoga; and even the asanas of hatha yoga have a spiritual effect on the performer.
The practice of
can be “EXTREMELY DANGEROUS“, several experts say.
Take special note of the warnings of some of the ‘Catholic’ yoga specialists once more:
Fr. Cherian Puthenpura, page 51; Fr. Jacob Pareyil, page 55; Fr. Gilbert Carlo SVD., page 56; Vandana Mataji, page 59.
Why, may I ask, would such a mundane activity as “rhythmic breathing” be considered so potentially dangerous that its proponents are obliged to warn others? Is it not because it is not an isolated physical exercise but is a component of the larger system of mental and spiritual yoga whose objective is union with the impersonal Brahman? And because it is not just a matter of manipulating breath or air, but the “universal life force” called “prana” which has occult connotations if examined from the Christian perspective; and which the Vatican Document on the New Age has alerted us about ?
Let’s not forget that excommunicated Dominican priest Matthew Fox, [page 35] lamented the election of the new Pope, Benedict XVI who as Cardinal Ratzinger had “led the assault on…
yoga (‘dangerous’ because it gets you too much in touch with your body)…” Fox was referring to the Document “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation” signed by Ratzinger, October 15, 1989- WHICH WARNS OF THE DANGERS OF YOGA!
We have noted from their OWN writings that, without exception, ALL those Catholics- whether lay persons, nuns or priests- who propagate the spiritual discipline of yoga are completely deceived, compromised, and corrupted in their Faith.
A following detailed article which will be exclusively about yoga will offer more evidence of all of this. Yoga is Hindu. Period.
There is no common meeting ground with Christianity. The two are mutually exclusive. Hinduism is syncretistic. Christianity is not. Everything about the two faith systems is incompatible with each other, from their understanding of who God is, who man is, the purpose of life, their eschatological teachings, etc.
In his lecture “Hinduism- Its Philosophy,” “delivered in the West”, neo-Hinduism pioneer Swami Vivekananda explains [in Hinduism, Sri Ramakrishna Math, no date] the different bodies of a human being- the ‘gross” body and the “fine” or subtle body, and the different ‘forces’ that are related to them, like the prana. His basis is the Vedas and their advaitic philosophy.
This ‘Hindu’ understanding of the human person is incompatible with and contrary to Biblical revelation; since yogic spirituality is based on it, Christians must reject it.
What about the priests whom I have examined here, and others- many of them world-renowned theologians, and the Bishops, some of whom are mentioned in this report, some in others, who find no difficulty with the OM or with yoga?
The back outer cover of Swami Bhaskarananda’s Meditation, Mind and Patanjali’s Yoga, [see pages 17, 18, 24, 59, 62] has three glowing testimonials to this book which teaches the whole range of occult meditations, pranayama breathing techniques and
kundalini yoga. All of them are contributed by Christians, probably Catholics- Prof. John Grimes, Dept. of Religious Studies, Michigan State University, and Christopher Key Chapple,
Professor of Theological Studies, Director, Asian and Pacific Studies, Loyola Marymount University. The third is a Catholic priest, a Jesuit.
Francis J. Clooney, S.J., Professor of Theology, Boston College. What I am trying to say is that just because it is a priest, a Bishop or even a Cardinal who sanctions the use of yoga, writes a Foreword for a book, recommends a course, or practises yoga himself, we do not have to trust him and follow him. We must listen to what the Church is teaching.
Former New Agers Roy and Rae Livesey, now the authors of several books on New Age themes, writing in New Age to New Birth, A Personal Testimony of Two Kingdoms, New Wine Press, 1986, testify that in 1981, at a Moral Re-Armament [MRA] Conference Centre at Caux in Switzerland, three Indians whom they met there influenced them deeper into the New Age, by encouraging them to visit India. In Roy’s words, “It couldn’t have been ordered any better if Satan had seen to it personally. From the next day onwards
I was practising yoga and chanting the ‘OM’.” One of his influencers was Rajmohan Gandhi, the leading Indian figure in Moral Re-Armament [MRA], a pioneer New Age organization; another was the then Archbishop of Agra [Dominic Athaide OFM Cap ]. Roy says, “The three aroused my interest in the Eastern life”.
“The famous historian Will Durant predicted in the 1950s that the last major confrontation of Western history would not be between democracy and communism but between the Western Christian mind-set and Eastern religions. Such a clash of worldviews… is hardly harmless or, in today’s world, an illusion,” says Russell Chandler, Religion Writer of the Los Angeles Times, and leading writer on New Age themes, in Understanding the New Age, Word Publishing, 1988, page 232.
“[Researchers] have warned that
Eastern mysticism, which is the heart of the ‘new consciousness’, is a Trojan horse that will eventually bring down Western civilization,” say
Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon in their exposé of the New Age Movement, The New Spirituality, Harvest House, 1988, page 18.
That Trojan horse is already present within the gates of the Indian Catholic Church, and it conceals many Church leaders.
Recall my notes, pages 32, 33 on my initial report of August 1, 2002, followed by a detailed update on August 1, 2003, addressed to the Catholic Bishops on
Dharma Bharathi, the then Secunderabad-based organisation founded by a Catholic layperson-turned- Swami with the assistance of some nuns, priests of the SVD congregation, Bishops and a Cardinal.
In them, I proved beyond any shadow of doubt that Dharma Bharathi was [AND STILL IS] promoting New Age ideas, syncretism, and oriental meditations like yoga in Catholic educational institutions with the active co-operation of many heads of religious institutions
and even Bishops.
Says expert on New Age, and Cults and New Religious Movements Walter Martin in The New Age Cult, 1989, page 62:
With values clarification,
meditation, globalism and
making their way into schools, it becomes clear that the New Age Movement has made significant inroads into the educational system.
Yoga is NOT a system of physical exercises. While it DOES INCLUDE the adaptation of physical postures, it is a mental and spiritual discipline based on pre-Christian philosophies and nature worship. The asana is simply a phase that seeks to prepare the individual to ‘control’ and eliminate the mind for the spiritual goal of self-transcendence and self-realization.
The breathing exercises or pranayama is another such intermediate phase.
When we get down to the core truth,
YOGA IS A MEDITATION SYSTEM. The teaching Church recognizes it as such and that is the reason for its inclusion in the Document, the
Letter to the Bishops…
on… Meditation, October 15, 1989.
Besides Rome’s warning about the potential spiritual dangers of yoga meditation, Hindu as well as Catholic practitioners have alerted potential students about the hazards of different aspects of yoga; the dangers are very real and terribly serious.
Do we need our children and our children’s children to be exposed to syncretism, gnosticism, esoteric practices, occult forces, and the accompanying spiritual dangers?
It is not as if Catholics are not self-sufficient in meditative and contemplative techniques. The above-mentioned Document refers to great mystics and contemplatives like St. Teresa of Avila, St. Teresa of the Child Jesus and St. John of the Cross.
We have the Sacraments, the Holy Mass, the Fathers of the Church, the Lives of the Saints, and the Holy Bible.
There have been no reports of warnings issued against possible dangers associated with frequent meditation on the Word of God, or using the gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit.
Why then do we forsake the Living Waters to drink of Life-threatening alternatives, or, in an attempt to “Christianize” pagan philosophies and practices, dilute the Truth so that it is corrupted and not any more recognizable?
symbol and mantra. Did not “Sister” Vandana Mataji say, page 27, that “Through the gate of OM the
Christian enters, as it were, into communion with the Hindu tradition“? She ought to know. She is a high-ranking and well respected sannyasin in not just the Catholic Ashrams movement, but also in the Hindu circuit; and she was
on the CBCI’s National Liturgical Commission for several years.
“OM”, not Rome, is becoming our home [to paraphrase Fr. Anthony Elenjimittam, “Om should be our home.” page 49]
In my separate study, presently being updated, titled “INCULTURATION OR HINDU-ISATION?“, I have analysed the OM even as thoroughly as I have the different issues of this report. The OM is a no-no for Christians.
In this analysis it is conclusively shown that:
1. Surya Namaskar is part and parcel of Yoga
2. Yoga is ‘Hindu’ [Hinduism is “soaked into the marrow” of yoga’s bones: Fr. DeChanet]
3. Pranayama ‘energy’ and Kundalini ‘power’ are the exact same occult ‘force’
Knowing all this, why would Catholics now want to touch Pranayama and Yoga with even the proverbial ten-foot barge pole?
THE COMPULSORY INTRODUCTION OF YOGA: A VERY OLD STORY
The following news story, which predates the issue under discussion by OVER ONE YEAR, shows that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has remained silent [signifying compliance. Or assent?] for 20 months after the Government of India represented by the Union Health Minister urged the Catholic Church to introduce yoga in its schools.
A Mangalorean ‘Catholic’ minister, himself a yoga practitioner, and one of the ‘pillars’ of the Church in Delhi, seconded the proposal. All this in the presence of CBCI officials.
Not that the Church has needed any prompting from the Government. A large number of Catholic educational institutions, both schools and colleges, have already introduced yoga as part of the academic curriculum. Didn’t Archbishop Pascal Topno of Bhopal boast to the press, “We have no problems with yoga. It is taught in our school”?
[see page 7]
CATHOLIC SCHOOLS URGED TO INTRODUCE YOGA
August 31, 2005 New Delhi EXTRACT: Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss Wednesday
urged Catholic-run schools to take the initiative in introducing yoga
and AIDS awareness activities.
“I would urge the Catholic leadership to introduce yoga in their schools, AIDS awareness for children during their most vulnerable age, 13 to 29, and compulsory physical activities on a regular basis,” Ramadoss said while launching the new health and HIV/AIDS policy of the Indian Catholic Church
“We have successfully controlled many communicable diseases except AIDS. Now non-communicable diseases such as diabetic, cardio vascular problems, mental illness are going to pose a major threat for us,” he said.
The minister said these diseases could be eliminated if yoga
and physical activities were
introduced in the curriculum. Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation Oscar Fernandes also agreed with him. Speaking from personal experience –
the minister himself is a yoga practitioner
– Fernandes said: “If you want to come down on the health budget,
I must tell you, yoga should be made part of the curriculum. No child will get any health problem if he/she does yoga.”
…Christians, who comprises only 2.3 percent of the country’s population, are the second largest provider of health facilities after the government. They run 6 medical colleges, 114 nursing schools, 764 hospitals, 2,575 dispensaries, 70 rehab. centres and 107 mental health initiatives. The CBCI said 85 percent of them are among the rural and under privileged sectors.
‘Leprosy will be eradicated by year-end’
August 31, 2005 New Delhi EXTRACT:
India will eliminate leprosy by the end of this year, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said here today. “We will announce elimination of leprosy by the end of the year,” he said at a function to launch the Health and HIV/AIDS Policies
of the Catholic Church in India…
…The minister said government was trying to include topics such as yoga, HIV/AIDS, physical activity and public health awareness
in the school curriculum.
MINISTRY FOR COMPULSORY YOGA IN SCHOOLS EXTRACT:
The minister reiterated his intention “to make yoga compulsory for students“. Deccan Chronicle, September 24, 2005.
THE COMPULSORY INTRODUCTION OF YOGA: GOING BACK FURTHER
In the State of Goa, the problem goes back a further SEVEN YEARS.
CHRISTIANS SKEPTICAL ABOUT STATE’S ‘SPIRITUAL PROGRAM’ FOR SCHOOLS
PANAJI, India (UCAN) August 21, 1998 Some Christians in Goa say they are suspicious of
a government-sponsored program of “spiritual renovation,” suggesting that it might be a subtle attempt to take over the teaching of religion. The State Institute of Education (SIE) has started training teachers of this former Portuguese enclave on the southwestern Indian coast to offer their students spiritual education, moral values and
yoga meditation techniques.
“Our attempt was to train teachers … to help them inculcate values in the normal teaching process,” said
SIE director Antonio I. D’Souza, who conducted a workshop for 77 schoolteachers in June.
While D’Souza said the SIE’s concern was to arrest the “erosion of values in this high-technology world,” some Christians and parents said they doubted the program, planned for the academic year starting in June 1999, would succeed.
Goa diocesan education officials said that
Church institutions have been kept in the dark about the new program. Father Tony Salema, head of 55 diocesan schools in the state, said that he was “not aware of this workshop, and none of our teachers attended since none was invited.” He added that they have no instruction to introduce the program.
“We fear that this new policy could be an attempt to bring in the Hindu religion. We really do not know what this is about,” Father Salema said, adding that Christian schools have their own moral education programs. In diocesan schools Christian students attend catechism classes, while others opt for moral sciences, he added.
Children cannot be “used as guinea pigs for this experiment” in education, and to introduce moral education might result in “subtly injecting a religion in our children’s minds,” agreed Shawn de Souza, the mother of a schoolchild. Christian leaders said the SIE planned the program when pro-Hindu parties were the opposition parties. Two pro-Hindu parties now support
the state’s new government, headed by a Catholic, which came to power July 30. Matanhy Saldanha, a teacher and politician, told UCA News that teachers would oppose government involvement “in the propagation of any religion.” He urged that social good stressing the “commonality of religion” become the criterion for spiritual education.
“Fanatical adherence to old religious concepts need not be supported,” said Stanley Fernandes, another teacher, who added that value systems taught to children should stress social amity. He said that such a value education is “a crying need” in view of growing religious fundamentalist tendencies in almost all religions in India. Saldanha and other teachers expressed doubts about the SIE workshop, conducted by a Hindu institute for religious studies.
However, facilitator Brahmakumari Ladu Surlakar told UCA News that the program aimed at national integration through understanding the concept of one God, and at character building by improving manners, etiquette and conduct. Promoting intellectual honesty, rationality, concentration and broad-mindedness
through the practice of yoga
and bringing about self-transformation were among other aims, Surlakar added.
He said their courses are normally 21 days, but the Goa program is five days long, covering topics such as personality development, behavioral science, physical education training and spirituality.
There was also this attempt at the national level seven years ago.
ACADEMICS, OPPOSITION LEADERS OPPOSE ‘BIASED’ EDUCATION PLAN
NEW DELHI (UCAN) August 16, 2001 Indian opposition leaders and academicians have opposed a
government plan allegedly aimed to push Hindu theocracy through education. Education ministers from opposition-ruled states resolved Aug. 6 to reject federal government moves to amend the curriculum for schools across India.
The ministers, who met August 4-6 for a seminar on “National Convention against Communalization of Education” in New Delhi, demanded that the federal coalition led by pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian Peoples’ Party) withdraw immediately its proposed National Curriculum Framework.
The framework that the National Council of Educational Research and Teaching formulated, proposes to replace currently used history textbooks and to introduce Sanskrit as a compulsory language in all schools.
The council, established in 1961 as an autonomous body, aims to improve the quality of education and develop curriculums and textbook schemas for grades 1-12 besides preparing training material for teacher education. The ministers’ resolution cited the proposed changes as an example of turning “education and academic bodies” into “instruments” that implement the Hindu ideology. The resolution also urged stopping astrology* and yoga courses introduced in some universities as part of imparting “indigenous systems” of knowledge. *see my article on ASTROLOGY
The state education ministers expressed a “deep sense of regret” over the BJP allies’ silence to its “policies and programs” against “India’s secular traditions.” Such silence, they warned, will undermine India’s nationhood.
Chhattisgarh state Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, a Christian, told UCA News Aug. 6 that the federal government finalized the curriculum proposal without consulting state governments. His eastern Indian state rejected it, he said…
Catholic Bishop Thomas Dabre of Vasai
described such moves as an “abuse of political power.”…
According to Arun Ghosh, a school teacher in Bihar, the proposed changes are a ruse to channel state funds to help upper-caste Hindus spread their views.
1. We have on record here that at least ONE Catholic Bishop, Most Rev. Thomas Dabre, currently the Chairman of the Doctrinal Commission of the CBCI, has lodged a public protest and recorded his opposition to these programmes.
2. Catholics, especially some leaders, seem to be upset more by a perceived threat from ‘Hindutva’ forces and for political reasons [one-upmanship and vote banks] than from a Christian concern that yoga is a spiritual regimen and incompatible with Christian Faith.
3. At the time of this report, the BJP was in power at the Centre. In the next elections, the situation was reversed, and the then opposition is currently in power. But preceding and in the recent by-polls, leading Christian ministers, politicians, even Chief Ministers have been ousted along with their parties, and the BJP is again firmly on the ascendancy.
With the general elections two years away, and the Congress-led alliance on the back foot, the future does not look too bright for the Catholic Church in respective of the various issues which are the subject of this article.
It is suggested that our Bishops had better formulate in advance an action plan and issue a firm statement based on Biblical revelation and Church teaching instead of going on the defensive after the fact or avoiding the religious implications as they have been seen to.
4. One can only imagine the devastation in the Church if all Catholic educational and medical institutions in the country meekly and mutely fall in line with the Government’s programmes, and incorporate yoga etc. in their curricula.
Today it is the Surya Namaskar and yoga. Tomorrow it will be something else- chanting of the Gayatri Mantra and “OM”, astrology, imposition of the Sanskrit language, etc. as Archbishop Pascal Topno of Bhopal fears [page 12]: “Now, they will ask us to do Surya Namaskar, and after sometime they may ask us to start worshipping Hindu deities.”
Practising yoga is already ‘worshipping a Hindu deity’. Being a technique of salvation by works, it is against the First Commandment of God in the Bible.
NOT ONE, BUT TWO VATICAN DOCUMENTS
The system of yoga is not simply a group of physical exercises. It is an eight-stage process that starts at the
physical level [asanas], moves through the mental level [meditation techniques], and finishes at the SPIRITUAL level [samadhi].
Any treatment or practice that concerns not just the human body but also the human mind and one’s spirit or soul, is to be examined very carefully. If yoga were NOT such a system, NOT falling in this category, why would it be mentioned in NOT ONE BUT TWO Vatican Documents? One was on meditation systems, the other was on New Age’s spiritual dangers:
The first is the ‘Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation ‘, October 15, 1989
signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, President of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, now Pope Benedict XVI.
Fr. John Bertolucci* in Is Yoga Any Good? in NEW COVENANT magazine, October 1991 says that "[This] letter issued two years ago by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith specifically addresses some aspects of Christian meditation… Personally, I've found nothing of use- and a great deal of potential spiritual harm- in the technique of yoga… I advise Catholics not to use these techniques… Furthermore, I believe that anyone who has yielded his or her life to Jesus Christ and is in an intimate relationship with him through the Holy Spirit has no need for techniques rooted in non-Christian religions… 'Genuine Christian mysticism has nothing to do with technique. It is always a gift of God.' [n 23]"
The Document expresses grave apprehensions about "forms of meditation associated with Eastern religions and their particular methods of prayer… The expression 'Eastern methods' is used to refer to methods which are inspired by Hinduism or Buddhism such as Zen, Transcendental Meditation or Yoga." [n 2] *see page 76
The second is "Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life - A Christian Reflection on the 'New Age' ", February 3, 2003.
It says, "Some of the traditions that flow into New Age are: ancient Egyptian occult practices,… Yoga and so on." [n 2.1]
It states that for New Agers "there is a need to experience the salvation hidden within themselves (self-salvation) by mastering psycho-physical techniques which lead to definitive enlightenment. …Yoga, Zen, Transcendental Meditation and tantric exercises lead to an experience of self-fulfilment or enlightenment." [n 126.96.36.199]
About the first Document, [see also pages 88-92]
CHANTING ‘OMMMM’ MAY CAUSE ‘MORAL DEVIATIONS’
by Charles Ridley, Vatican City United Press International December 14, 1989
The Vatican, in a letter approved by Pope John Paul II, warned Christians Thursday against spiritual dangers deriving from Eastern methods of contemplative meditation used in Yoga and Zen Buddhism.
It said the symbolism and body postures in such meditation ”can even become an idol and thus an obstacle to the raising up of the spirit of God.”
It warned that to give ”a symbolic significance typical of the mystical experience” to sensations of well-being from meditation can lead to ”a kind of mental schizophrenia which could also lead to psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations.” The warnings were contained in a 25-page paper, titled ”Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation,” issued by the Vatican Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith with the full approval of the pope. The letter analyzed the history and significance of Christian prayer and stressed the need to stick by its established methods.
”Many Christians today have a keen desire to learn how to experience a deeper and authentic prayer life despite the not inconsiderable difficulties which modern culture places in the way of the need for silence, recollection and meditation,” the document said. ”The interest which in recent years has been awakened also among some Christians by forms of meditation associated with some Eastern religions and their particular methods of prayer is a significant sign of this need for spiritual recollection and a deep contact with the divine mystery,” it said.
But while conceding Eastern methods of contemplative meditation have some benefit for those who practice it, the document warned against attaching too much importance to its symbolism.
”The Eastern masters themselves have noted that not everyone is equally suited to make use of this symbolism, since not everybody is able to pass from the material sign to the spiritual reality that is being sought,” the letter to the bishops said.
”Understood in an inadequate and incorrect way, the symbolism can even become an idol, and thus an obstacle to the raising up of the spirit of God,” it said.
”To live out in one’s prayer the full awareness of one’s body as a symbol is even more difficult: it can degenerate into a cult of the body and can lead surreptitiously to considering all body sensations as spiritual experiences. END [see page 68]
RELIGION: CATHOLICS WARNED ABOUT YOGA
Los Angeles Times, December 14, 1989 Times wire services, Dateline: Vatican City
The Vatican today cautioned Roman Catholics that such Eastern meditation practices as Zen and yoga can “degenerate into a cult of the body” that debases Christian prayer.
“The love of God, the sole object of Christian contemplation, is a reality which cannot be ‘mastered’ by any method or technique,” said a document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The document, approved by Pope John Paul II and addressed to bishops, said
attempts to combine Christian meditation with Eastern techniques were fraught with danger
although they can have positive uses. The 23-page document was believed to be the first effort by the Vatican to respond to the pull of Eastern religious practices.
ZEN AND YOGA NO SUBSTITUTES FOR PRAYER, VATICAN SAYS
Religion: Meditation as Physical Therapy Is Distinguished from Spiritual Enrichment
By William D. Montalbano, Times Staff Writer, Dateline: Vatican City | Los Angeles Times, December 15, 1989 Foreign Desk
Urging Catholics to distinguish between spiritual form and substance, the Vatican warned Thursday against substituting Eastern methods of meditation such as Zen and yoga for Christian prayer.
In a 7,000-word letter to bishops approved by Pope John Paul II, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made a firm distinction between meditation as physical or psychic therapy, and spiritual enrichment.
“Prayer without faith becomes blind, faith without prayer disintegrates,” Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the head of the congregation, said in presenting a document he said was intended not to condemn the meditative practices of other religions but to reaffirm guidelines for Christian prayer.
Ratzinger’s congregation defends doctrinal orthodoxy, and its letter to 3,000 Roman Catholic bishops around the world was apparently written to answer complaints from some of them about the growing popularity of mixing Christian meditation with practices common to Hinduism and Buddhism. It apparently was the first time that the Vatican has issued a warning on this topic. The letter declared that “the love of God, the sole object of Christian contemplation, is a reality which cannot be ‘mastered’ by any method or technique.”
Like the Catholic church, other religions specify how to achieve “union with God in prayer,” the letter noted. “Just as the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions, neither should these ways be rejected out of hand simply because they are not Christian. On the contrary, one can take from them what is useful so long as the Christian conception of prayer, its logic and requirements, are never obscured.”
Some Catholics, the letter noted, believe their prayer is enhanced by techniques borrowed from “various religions and cultures.” It said, though, that such practices “can degenerate into a cult of the body and can lead surreptitiously to considering all bodily sensations as spiritual experiences.”
Attempts to integrate Christian meditation with Eastern techniques that use breath control and prescribed postures like the lotus position can be successful, Ratzinger said, but they are “not free from dangers and errors,” and may boomerang.
“Some physical exercises automatically produce a feeling of quiet and relaxation, pleasing sensations, perhaps even phenomena of light and of warmth, which resemble spiritual well-being. To take such feelings for the authentic consolations of the Holy Spirit would be a totally erroneous way of conceiving the spiritual life. Giving them a symbolic significance typical of the mystical experience, when the moral condition of the person concerned does not correspond to such an experience,” the letter continued, “would represent a kind of mental schizophrenia which could also lead to psychic disturbances and, at times, to moral deviations.” Some forms of Eastern Christian meditation have “valued psychophysical symbolism, often absent in Western forms of prayer,” the letter noted. “On the other hand, the Eastern masters themselves have also noted that not everyone is equally suited to make use of this symbolism, since not everybody is able to pass from the material sign to the spiritual reality that is being sought. Understood in an inadequate and incorrect way, the symbolism can even become an idol and, thus an obstacle to the raising up of the spirit to God,” the letter asserted.
[same source for 2. above]
4. The Catholic news agency UCAN reported on February 12, 1990
“Father Lucio da Veiga Coutinho, deputy secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, is former editor of the Indian Catholic weekly The New Leader. A member of the UCA News Board of Directors, Father Coutinho wrote the following commentary which appears in the Feb. 10 issue of ASIA FOCUS: The Times of India, a prestigious daily, recently commented that ‘the Vatican has issued a lengthy encyclical virtually excommunicating yoga.’
5. Associated Press, an American news agency, interpreted the document more objectively. Urging Catholics to distinguish between spiritual form and substance, the Vatican has warned against substituting Eastern methods of meditation such as Zen, Transcendental Meditation and Yoga for Christian prayer, the agency reported…”
Under the headline “VATICAN WARNS OF YOGA‘S DANGERS“ the secular press [by Leslie Childe, Rome, The Independent / The Telegraph, Monday 18 December, 1989] again reported:
"Christians have been warned about the "dangers and errors" of oriental meditation and prayer techniques in a Document issued by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Document, issued with the full approval of the Pope said the 'spiritual restlessness of modern life' was leading people to 'seek interior peace and psychic balance in religious movements and techniques which are not of the Christian tradition.'
'Getting closer to God is not based on any technique,' the Document states. It warns Christians who sit cross-legged as they meditate at the "pleasing sensations which resemble spiritual well-being" that can be produced by "some physical exercises".
The Document, already circulated to Roman Catholic church leaders throughout the world, deals mainly with the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism*. It is signed by West German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a strict disciplinarian. The Document states: 'Human experience shows that the position and demeanour of the body also have their influence on the recollection and dispositions of the spirit… But to take such feelings for the authentic consolations of the Holy Spirit would be a totally erroneous way of conceiving the spiritual life.' *'Buddhism' refers to Zen meditation
But soon after the edict became public, some priests in Rome voiced opposition. One of them, Fr. Antonio, a Latin American said, ‘I don’t care what they say. I will go on practising spiritual yoga because it gives me so much comfort‘.”
CHRISTIAN YOGA CBS Broadcasting, Inc. http://kutv.com/seenon/local_story_304171228.html Oct 31, 2005
Many Christian groups are against the practice [of yoga] as well.
“I warn people against it. It opens you up to the influence of something that is not Christian,”
Russell Bush, a Christian scholar.
For Catholics, concern goes all the way to the Vatican! This 1989 document says eastern practices like yoga can “degenerate into a cult of the body.” it’s signed by the then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger now Pope Benedict the Sixteenth!
VATICAN SOUNDS NEW AGE ALERT ON YOGA
The Roman Catholic Church has warned Christians against resorting to New Age therapies to satisfy their spiritual needs. Publishing the results of a six-year study of practices such as
yoga, feng shui and shamanism, the Vatican said that whatever the individual merits of such therapies, none provided a true answer to the human thirst for happiness. If “prayer turns into just listening to music and falling asleep, it’s no longer prayer,” Church official Monsignor Michael Fitzgerald told a news conference at the Vatican to launch A Christian Reflection on the New Age.
Correspondents say the report reflects the Vatican’s concern about losing support among its one billion followers worldwide as New Age therapies gain ground. The report says there is a “genuine yearning for a deeper spirituality, for something which will touch their hearts and for a way of making sense of a confusing and often alienating world”. Many people, the report acknowledges, have rejected organised religion because they feel it fails to answer their needs.
“I want to say simply that the New Age presents itself as a false utopia in answer to the profound thirst for happiness in the human heart,” Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said at the news conference. “New Age is a misleading answer to the oldest hopes of man.”
Bad karma The BBC’s Rome correspondent David Willey says the report contrasts New Age “truths” that are about good vibrations, cosmic correspondences, harmony and ecstasy with what it calls the “eternal truths” of Christian teaching.
Written in response to bishops’ requests for Christian guidance on New Age phenomena such as yoga, meditation and healing by crystals, it provides a glossary of New Age terms as “channelling”, “rebirthing”, “positive thinking”, “karma” and “reincarnation” and goes into the history of New Age trends, examining them one by one:
The Age of Aquarius is defined as an astrological age which New Agers believe will usher in an era of harmony, justice and peace, following the current Age of Pisces – one of wars and conflicts.
Feng shui, the method of discerning positive and negative vibrations in houses, is described as an “occult” New Age practice that emphasises “being in tune with nature or the cosmos”.
Much of New Age phenomena is driven, the report says, by marketing of books, therapies and crystals.
The Christian ‘New Age’ Monsignor Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, told reporters that aspects of New Age thinking such as concern for the environment were greeted by the Church – but within limits. “If one is brought to this by ascribing ‘divineness’ to the land, that’s another thing,” he said.
The report makes points up the fundamental differences between Christian and New Age beliefs. While New Agers live in expectation of an age when they can command “the cosmic laws of nature… Christians are in a constant state of vigilance, ready for the last days when Christ will come again”, the report says. “Their New Age began 2,000 years ago, with Christ.”
Our correspondent says that the report makes clear that the Vatican basically dislikes fuzzy spirituality.
The report will be updated after feedback from dioceses.
VATICAN FACES UP TO‘NEW AGE’
The Hindu of 5 February, 2003, The Telegraph Group Limited, London
ROME, February 4, 2003 EXTRACT: “The Vatican admitted on Monday that “New Age’ beliefs were challenging Christianity.
‘The success of New Age offers the Church a challenge’ said
an unusually frank Church document
presented at a news conference… The 100-page booklet, intended to help churchmen respond to what the Pope sees as one of the greatest threats to Christianity in the third millennium, is peppered with references to “the magical mystery tour”, feng shui and the musical Hair. It provides an alphabetical list of references including karma, rebirth, transcendental meditation,
About both Documents,
A NEW WAVE OF ‘CHRISTIAN YOGA’
http://www.bergen.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjczN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXkzNTkmZmdiZWw3Zjd2cWVlRUV5eTY5NDIwNjkmeXJpcnk3ZjcxN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXkz June 1, 2006 by Darryl E. Owens, Knight Ridder News Service, North Jersey Media Group
EXTRACT: In 2003, the Roman Catholic Church reaffirmed its stance against Eastern practices such as yoga, which it had condemned in 1989, warning that yoga “can degenerate into a cult of the body.”
CHURCHES BLEND THE DISCIPLINE OF YOGA WITH BIBLICAL THEOLOGY
By Barbara Karkabi, Houston Chronicle June 3, 2006 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Roman Catholic Church issued a warning about yoga and other Eastern practices in a 1989 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. In 2003, the church reaffirmed its position and warned against mixing Catholicism and Eastern practices in a kind of cafeteria of world religions, said Lawrence Cunningham, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.
YOGA RENAMED IS STILL HINDU – I CHALLENGE ATTEMPTS TO SNATCH YOGA FROM ITS ROOTS by Subhas R. Tiwari Hinduism Today
HINDU SWAMI SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ‘CHRISTIAN YOGA’
In 1989, Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, issued a scathing report against yoga and warned Catholics of “dangers and errors” from “non-Christian forms of meditation.” He stated, “The Hindu concept of absorbing of the human self into the divine self is never possible, not even in the highest states of grace.” In 2003, the Vatican issued a more conciliatory directive permitting Catholics to engage in the “New Age” in general and yoga specifically, but still warning against its spiritual and meditation practices. “I want to say simply that the New Age presents itself as a false utopia in answer to the profound thirst for happiness in the human heart. New Age is a misleading answer to the oldest hopes of man,” said Cardinal Paul Poupard.
WESTERN FAITHS BEGIN TO CONNECT WITH YOGA. CHURCHES, SYNAGOGUES SEE SPIRITUALITY IN POSES
by Anita Wadhwani, Staff Writer January 21, 2007
In 1989, for example, the Vatican singled out yoga in a warning to Catholics of “dangers and errors” from “non-Christian forms of meditation” – a message reiterated in a 2003 report.
“The Hindu concept of absorbing of the human self into the divine self is never possible, not even in the highest states of grace,” wrote then-Cardinal Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict XVI.
HINDUS OBJECT TO CHRISTIANS DOING YOGA
SEE ALSO PAGES 32 – 47 OF THE YOGA REPORT
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS: ADOPTING AND ADAPTING HINDU DHARMA
‘HINDUISM TODAY ‘ December 1986
A bimonthly published by the Saiva Siddhanta Church with headquarters in Hawaii, U.S.A.
“…Hindus are seriously questioning whether yoga, puja, and sannyas, which are so deeply rooted in particular Hindu theological concepts, can ethically be adopted by Christianity. Christians don’t believe in the practice of Yoga as the means to God-Realization – as taught by Hindus.
Puja is based upon an understanding of Gods and Devas which Catholics do not share. And finally sannyas is Hindu monasticism, rooted in Hindu beliefs, leading not to heaven and Jesus but to moksha – the Hindu’s realization of Absolute Truth…
Hindu spiritual leaders and intellectuals are open to the dialogue Catholics seek, but not if cooperation and brotherliness opens Hindu families to unethical conversion strategies. Obviously, the Catholic Church will legitimately adopt certain outer forms from Indian culture to serve existing members, but these have ethical limits.
Among those actions of the Church which Hindus consider exceed these limits are the priests’ and nuns’ adoption of Hindu vestments and religious titles like “swami” and participation in non-Catholic sacraments such as sannyas. The misleading use of Hindu scripture and yoga teachings must also be examined.”
We admire Cardinal Ratzinger’s courage and agree with his basic premise that yoga, Zazen and non-dual philosophies are not compatible with the basic principles of Catholicism.
In these pages two years back [December 1986] and in personal missives sent to Rome, we urged the Pope to cease his inculturation programs among Hindus, and to ask his sisters and priests to stop wearing our sacred saffron robes, to stop reading from our scriptures, to stop using our holy symbols and practices and thus to stop confusing people with where Catholicism stops and Hinduism begins…
On August 14th it was announced that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the same man who has been silencing American Catholic academics, will soon publish a document in which he prohibits the practice of yoga in the Catholic Church and urges the faithful to return to orthodox Christian prayer.*
*NOTE: ‘Hinduism Today’ is referring to the October 15, 1989 Vatican Document ‘Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation ‘ writing this article a few days before the release of the Document !!!
HOSTILITY TO YOGA IN CHURCH
David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri), “eminent teacher and practitioner of ayurvedic medicine and Vedic astrology, founder of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico” and lapsed Catholic has observed that:
“A few years ago the Pope issued a proclamation telling Catholics, particularly monks and priests, to avoid yogic practices and mixing Catholicism with Eastern traditions like the Hindu and Buddhist.“
Hinduism: The Eternal Tradition
By David Frawley, Voice of India. ISBN 81-85990-29-8 p. 233-234).
“The book Pope John-Paul II on Eastern Religions and Yoga: a Hindu-Buddhist Rejoinder (1995) was occasioned precisely by
one of the Pope’s statements
(Crossing the Threshold of Hope, 1994)
condemning the incorporation of yogic practices in the spiritual discipline of Christian clerics and laymen.”
Decolonising The Hindu Mind
– Ideological Development of Hindu Revivalism – By Koenraad Elst, Ph.D., Rupa & Co. January 2001 ISBN 8171675190 p. 282. www.amazon.com
[NOTE: Koenraad Elst is a pro-Hinduist writer]
Writing about the Inculturation process and the Catholic Ashrams in India,
Koenraad Elst, Ph. D., in Salvation: Hindu Influence on Christianity says, “Indian Christians and especially recent converts rejected this ‘paganization of Christianity’. So do the guardians of orthodoxy, e.g. in his book On the Threshold of Hope (1994), Pope John-Paul II denounced the trend among Christian monks and laymen to explore Eastern forms of meditation, and in 2000, his statement Dominus Jesus reaffirmed that salvation can only come through Jesus, not through other ‘paths’.
Genuine Hindus aren’t too enthusiastic either.”
“It is Christian fundamentalists who warn people of the Satanic Hindu character of these seemingly innocuous breathing and mental exercises.“
Unhappy with the Catholic Church’s stand against yoga,
www.christianaggression.org, a PRO-YOGA HINDU SITE, collated and published a series of news reports of Rome’s and other Christians’ warnings about yoga under the headline
POPE IN 1989 – EASTERN RELIGIONS ARE MORAL DEVIATIONS SAYS VATICAN
http://www.christianaggression.org/item_display.php?id=1113506022&type=articles April 14, 2005 Various News Sources
For details, see excerpt on page 68 of this report, and section II 4 [II 4.1-II 4.4] of the YOGA report.
A NEW WAVE OF ‘CHRISTIAN YOGA’
June 1, 2006 by Darryl E. Owens, Knight Ridder News Service, North Jersey Media Group EXTRACT:
Regardless of the spin, Sannyasin Arumugaswami, managing editor of Hinduism Today, says Hinduism is the soul of yoga “based as it is on Hindu Scripture and developed by Hindu sages. Yoga opens up new and more refined states of mind, and to understand them one needs to believe in and understand the Hindu way of looking at God. … A Christian trying to adapt these practices will likely disrupt their own Christian beliefs.”
CHURCHES BLEND THE DISCIPLINE OF YOGA WITH BIBLICAL THEOLOGY
By Barbara Karkabi,
Houston Chronicle June 3, 2006
But Laurette Willis* and Laura Gates point to a recent Orlando Sentinel article quoting Sannyasin Arumugaswami, managing editor of
Hinduism, he said, is the soul of yoga, “based as it is on Hindu scripture and developed by Hindu sages. Yoga opens up new and more refined states of mind, and to understand them one needs to believe and understand the Hindu way of looking at God. … A Christian trying to adapt these practices will likely disrupt their own Christian beliefs.” *see page 59, 82, 85 and section IV 4 in
SERMON FOR THE POPE
http://www.cybernoon.com/DisplayArticle.asp?section=fromthepress&subsection=editorials&xfile=June2006_mediawatch_standard146&child=mediawatch The official website of Afternoon, Mumbai by M.V. Kamath, June 02, 2006
The Church as a whole is fundamentalist and would not even suffer nuns being taught to practise yoga. A Jesuit priest in Mumbai who sought to do was summoned to London where he died. Very sad. Thereafter the teaching of yoga to nuns in Mumbai came to an end
YOGA IS HINDU, INSIST DIE-HARD HINDUS
YOGA [A TRIBUTE TO HINDUISM]
THE COMPLETE ARTICLE, WHICH IS IN DEFENSE OF
YOGA, IS AVAILABLE ON REQUEST. EXTRACT:
http://www.atributetohinduism.com/Yoga_and_Hindu_Philosophy.htm 2001 Updated August 15, 2006
Hinduism Today July/August/September 2003 p. 40-41. A QUOTE:
“Yoga is an integral part of the Hindu religion.
There is a saying: ‘There is no Yoga without Hinduism and no Hinduism without Yoga’…
Yoga is a precise practical method of spiritual training which goes back to very ancient times. These methods have, of course, been progressively developed and thoroughly tried over the centuries, and are collectively known as Yoga. Yoga is one of the many paths leading to release. It adopts numerous guises and techniques. Perhaps it is more of a praxis for salvation than a philosophy.”
CBS Broadcasting, Inc. http://kutv.com/seenon/local_story_304171228.html Oct 31, 2005 (KUTV)
Subhas Tiwari is a professor at the Hindu University of America and a graduate of the famed Bihar Yoga Bharati University with a master’s degree in yoga philosophy. He says yoga welcomes people of all faiths but that
Hinduism is at the core and you can’t take it out. “If you give me a recipe and I alter the ingredients of that recipe and give it back to you, am I giving you the same thing? Clearly not. You can’t do that,“ said Tiwari.
YOGA RENAMED IS STILL HINDU – I CHALLENGE ATTEMPTS TO SNATCH YOGA FROM ITS ROOTS by Subhas R. Tiwari Hinduism Today
January/February/March, 2006 http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/2006/1-3/09_opinion.shtml
[On the top of this page you have links to hear the interview in many formats]
HINDU SWAMI SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ‘CHRISTIAN YOGA’
In the past few months I have received several calls from journalists around the country seeking my views on the question of whether the newly minted
is really yoga.
My response is, “The simple, immutable fact is that yoga originated from the Vedic or Hindu culture. Its techniques were not adopted by Hinduism, but originated from it.” These facts need to be unequivocally stated in light of some of the things being written to the contrary by yoga teachers. The effort to separate yoga from Hinduism must be challenged because it runs counter to the fundamental principles upon which yoga itself is premised, the yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances). These ethical tenets and religious practices are the first two limbs of the eight-limbed ashtanga yoga system which also includes asana (postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (contemplation/Self Realization).
Efforts to separate yoga from its spiritual center reveal ignorance of the goal of yoga.
I believe such efforts point to a concerted, long-term plan to deny yoga its origin. This effort to extricate yoga from its Hindu mold and cast it under another name is far from innocent. It is reminiscent of the pattern evident throughout the long history and dynamics of colonizing powers. Firstly, the physical geography of a people was colonized, then their mental arena. Now we are witnessing the next phase, the encroachment on the spiritual territory of Hinduism which began in the last few decades. Some of the agents behind “Christian Yoga” also draw from the same treasure chest which supports the conversion movements of Hindus and other sacred cultures.
In 1989, Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, issued a scathing report against yoga and warned Catholics of “dangers and errors” from “non-Christian forms of meditation.” He stated, “The Hindu concept of absorbing of the human self into the divine self is never possible, not even in the highest states of grace.” In 2003, the Vatican issued a more conciliatory directive permitting Catholics to engage in the “New Age” in general and yoga specifically, but still warning against its spiritual and meditation practices. “I want to say simply that the New Age presents itself as a false utopia in answer to the profound thirst for happiness in the human heart. New Age is a misleading answer to the oldest hopes of man,” said Cardinal Paul Poupard.
This document gives its blessings for Catholics to practice yoga, but not as a spiritual discipline!
Today, however, we are witnessing an initiative toward yoga from ordinary Christians whose positive physical, mental and spiritual heath and well being experienced as a result of “engaging” yoga cannot be denied or ignored. This 5,000-year-old system is perhaps the best known, most accessible and cost effective health and beauty program around.
Yoga is also much more, as it was intended by the Vedic seers as an instrument which can lead one to apprehend the Absolute, Ultimate Reality, called the Brahman Reality, or God. If this attempt to co-opt yoga into their own tradition continues, in several decades of incessantly spinning the untruth as truth through re-labelings such as “Christian yoga,” who will know that yoga is-or was-part of Hindu culture?
The giant tree of yoga whose limbs reach high up into the different atmospheres, and whose branches stretch across the wide river offering its protection to so many, cannot deny that its roots are located in a specific place Hinduism. Seeking shelter under its vast umbrella does not entitle you to change the tree; instead, learn from its unselfish display of love and generosity.
Subhas R. Tiwari is a professor at the Hindu University of America. He is a graduate of the famed Bihar Yoga Bharati University with a master’s degree in yoga philosophy.
WESTERN FAITHS BEGIN TO CONNECT WITH YOGA. CHURCHES, SYNAGOGUES SEE SPIRITUALITY IN POSES
by Anita Wadhwani, Staff Writer January 21, 2007
In a 2006 Hinduism Today article headlined “Yoga renamed is still Hindu,” writer Subhas Tiwari compared Christian and Jewish adaptations of yoga to “colonization,” saying “such efforts point to a concerted, long-term plan to deny yoga its origin. This effort to extricate yoga from its Hindu mold and cast it under another name* is far from innocent.” *CHRISTIAN YOGA
Chaitram Talele, a Columbia State College economic professor who began teaching yoga in the area in the late 1960s, said he’s concerned that people are denying the Hindu origins of yoga. “People should realize that its origins lie in Hinduism,” he said. “If people want to take yoga and blend it with Christianity or Judaism, that’s OK, but they should also say that this is a Hindu system that we are borrowing and to be truthful and honest about it.”
GLOBALIZATION AND THE KNOWLEDGE INDUSTRY
Subhash Kak March 16, 2004 http://in.rediff.com/news/2004/mar/16kak.htm
“In the US, almost every YMCA teaches yoga, although it is a different story that some Churches are speaking of Christian yoga, without mentioning the [Hindu] origins of this tradition.
INDIA MAKES MOVES TO RECLAIM HERITAGE FROM 'YOGA PIRACY'
By David Orr London Sunday Telegraph September 23, 2005
NEW DELHI – The Indian government is furious that yoga practices dating back thousands of years are being “stolen” by gurus and fitness instructors in Europe and the United States.
Foreign practitioners are already said to have claimed hundreds of patents and copyrights on poses and techniques lifted straight from classical Indian yoga treatises.
is becoming very common, and we are moving to do something about it,” says Vinod Gupta, the head of a recently established Indian government task force on traditional knowledge and intellectual-property theft.
“We know of at least 150 asanas [yoga positions]
that have been pirated in the U.S., the UK, Germany and Japan,” he says. “These were developed in India long ago and no one can claim them as their own.”
In an effort to protect India’s heritage, the task force has begun documenting 1,500 yoga postures drawn from classical yoga texts – including the writings of the Indian sage, Patanjali, the first man to codify the art of yoga. The data is being stored in a digital library whose computerized contents will soon be made available to patent offices worldwide.
“This is a very good idea,” says
B.K.S. Iyengar, the 86-year old yoga guru credited with having introduced yoga to the West in the 1970s. “Yoga is an essential part of our heritage, and India has to protect it.”
The worst “culprits” are Indians based in America, where yoga has become a $30 billion-a-year business — a growth fueled by celebrity adherents such as Madonna.
Among Western gurus who have prompted the concern, according to an Indian official, is Bikram Choudhury, whose “Bikram” or “Vikram” method is currently one of the most fashionable styles in the West. A session involves a series of 26 poses in a room heated to 90 F to 100 F, enabling students to adopt more “extreme” positions than at normal temperatures. A spokesman for Mr. Choudhury refused to discuss the task force report, but the guru previously said that rather than claiming intellectual ownership of the individual postures themselves, he has copyrighted a sequence of poses, the dialogue that accompanies them and the environment in which they are performed during his classes. These, he asserts, are all of his own devising.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued 134 patents on yoga accessories, 150 yoga-related copyrights and 2,315 yoga trademarks, says the Indian task force. It also says that Britain has approved at least 10 trademarks relating to yoga training aids that are mentioned in ancient texts.
According to one report, attempts have even been made in America to patent the syllable “om,” the sacred sound with which Hindus begin their chants.
“No one should be able to claim ownership of these traditional postures,” says Mr. Gupta. “The information has been in the public domain in India for thousands of years. But, until now, it has only been available in languages which people in the outside world cannot understand.”
OVERSEAS CATHOLIC BISHOPS WARN AGAINST YOGA
In 2001, Slovakia’s Catholic church called a government-proposed yoga program ”a path to total atheism.” The ”proposal to teach yoga in schools was eventually dropped in the face of fierce [Church] opposition.”
In 2003, Australian Broadcasting, New York Times, Times of India, etc. reported about the Croatian government being forced to abandon the introduction of yoga in schools ”after the Roman Catholic Church accused it
of trying to
The Croatian Council of Bishops
”slammed such physical exercises as heretical.”
”Hindu religious practice
will be brought into the schools under the guise of exercises”, the Bishops said.
The Church described yoga as ”Hinduist religious practices dressed up as exercises.”
Again, between 1997 and 2004, there were several reports on the dangers of yoga, Zen, etc. from the Korean Bishops‘ Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith
which issued two documents on the “new spirituality movements.”
They were greatly concerned about, “the increasing popularity of methods such as
yoga, Zen and ‘ki’ (‘chi’) energy training
among Koreans, Catholics included,
who say these techniques help them achieve soundness of body and mind. The Korean bishops have warned Catholics about such new spirituality movements.
According to the bishops, such movements are in serious conflict with ‘the essence of Christianity’ on matters such as the understanding of God, Christology and ecclesiology.
The committee noted that, since the 1970s,
yoga, zen, Ki-gong
have been widely practiced among Koreans,
with the danger for Catholics of practicing them as religions or objects of faith.”
UCA News November 7, 2005
The 2003 [Korea] Document cites Zen and yoga as examples of the new spirituality movement which, it says, “conflicts with Christian faith in many ways.” The document warns that “the movement is highly probable to threaten the teaching of Christ and the Church’s identity.”
Not only are the Korean Bishops taking the issues seriously, so too are the ”Korean women Religious superiors [who] are giving priority to faith-based counseling for Catholic women, development of women’s spirituality and the challenges of “new spirituality” movements. ” Now, compare that to what is going on in the Indian Church!!!!!
“Even in religion, the new world movement is a typical example of an agglomeration of Catholics who, while claiming to be Catholics, have assimilated Buddhists ideas, practice Hindu yoga and meditation, and toy with esoteric mysticism,“
said Jesuit bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing of Melakor-Johor, Malaysia in December 2004.
Last month [February 2007], “the archdiocese [of Burgos in Spain] said no Catholic facilities would be allowed to be used by pseudo-religious sects associated with movements and philosophies such as the
New Age, Yoga, transcendental meditation, Rei-ki, Dianetics, and others.“
Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico, on 7th January 1996, condemned "the inexplicable enthusiasm with which certain priests, religious and people dedicated to teaching the faith have embraced techniques of non-Christian meditation… frequently imported from the East, forms of asceticism historically far removed from Christian spirituality [and] practiced in retreats, spiritual exercises, workshops, liturgical celebrations and children's catechism courses… practices [which] were unquestionably born as spiritual disciplines or religious acts within traditional religions as in the case of Zen, tai chi, and the many forms of yoga…"
Bishop Frank Dewane of the Diocese of Venice in Southwest Florida ordered yoga classes at Blessed Pope John XXIII Church in south Fort Myers to be disbanded, March 2007.
In 1994, the Irish Theological Commission prepared and submitted “A Catholic Response to the
It warns about the “flood of gurus who came to teach the west how to meditate. They introduced yoga, transcendental meditation, mantras and related teachings, but without reference to Christ, the Church, or revealed truth. Many Christians have participated in these exercises, even thinking they could ‘Christianise’ them by using Christian language to explain what is essentially non-Christian, for example the use of so-called ‘Christian’ mantras, and putting Christian explanations on yoga or TM practices. But these gurus taught the only thing they knew, which is Hinduism, and the Hindu Pantheon…“
CATHOLIC PRIESTS CONDEMN YOGA [Full reports in the YOGA article]
Fr. John Dreher of the Fraternity of Priests, a U.S. ministry for priests, “Which spirit are you following? Spiritual experiences are for real- but, do they all come from God?” in New Covenant charismatic monthly, February 1984. EXCERPT:
"Undoubtedly, many good things can be learned from oriental religions, things related to the human realm.
But we cannot accept things that contradict our Christian faith and values. Those who have contact with non-Christian religious ideas and practices should guard against false conceptions of the spiritual realm... One area in which spiritual discernment is particularly needed today is in the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism. There has been a large influx of ideas and techniques recently in Western nations from oriental religions- a way of filling the vacuum left by the materialism of our society. It has taken the form of cult groups such as Hare Krishna and practices such as yoga."
2. Fr. John Bertolucci in Is Yoga Any Good ? in NEW COVENANT magazine, October 1991 [see page 68] was replying to a question that reads, "My parish's new youth director started teaching yoga and T.M. techniques to the teenagers in our youth program. He claims there's nothing contradictory to the Catholic faith in this… Is this true?" Fr. John continues:
"Vatican II's 'Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions ' [Nostra Aetate] does state that the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is "true and holy" in other religions and that they 'often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men.' The Document emphasizes, however, that the Church is 'in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth and the life' [John 14:6] and urges us to enter with 'prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions' (n 2).
The [1989 Document] 'Letter to the Bishops…' specifically addresses some aspects of Christian meditation. It affirms that Catholics can take 'what is useful from other religions so long as the Christian conception of prayer, its logic, and require-ments, are never obscured' (n16)… I advise Catholics not to use these techniques. I am especially against their use with young adults who usually do not possess the level of spiritual maturity nor the educational background necessary to discern "what is useful from other religions'. Furthermore, I believe that anyone who has yielded his or her life to Jesus Christ and is in an intimate, loving relationship with him through the Holy Spirit, has no need for techniques and practices rooted in non-Christian religions…"
3. Fr. Louis Hughes O.P., a Dominican priest in Can Yoga be Christian?, a chapter from Yoga A Path to God?
Mercier Press, Dublin, 1997
The Christian response to the popularisation of yoga in the west has taken two forms. The first is represented in literature originating in some Protestant evangelical churches. Some of this sees no good at all in yoga.
Yoga is viewed as highly dangerous: its practice is to be avoided at all costs. More academic studies such as that of John Allan entitled “Yoga – a Christian Analysis”, examine different forms and schools of yoga, including several of those studied in the second part of this book. Allan is dubious about the possibilities of using any yogic practices purely for improving one’s health and he has considerable worries about possible occult or even demonic influences – “at the very least the advanced yogi is leaving himself open to tremendous temptations”. He does not encourage the view that some yogic techniques can be disengaged from their Hindu background and used to enhance the spiritual lives of Christians…
[T]he question will be asked as to whether such an undertaking is permissible in terms of the Catholic Church’s teaching.
THE RATZINGER DOCUMENT
In October 1989 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian Meditation“. The letter was signed by Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation and it represents the Catholic Church’s most authoritative statement to date on matters relevant to the application of yogic methods to Christian meditation.
Like the evangelical writers mentioned above, the Catholic Church too – going by the Ratzinger document- sounds a cautionary note where yogic practices are concerned. It stresses that “getting closer to God is not based on any technique in the strict sense of the word”, but is essentially God’s gift. It warns against identifying the grace of the Holy Spirit with any kind of psychological experience, or sensation of relaxation, light or warmth. It holds that to regard these kinds of sensations as symbols of mystical experience “when the moral condition of the person concerned does not correspond to such an experience, would represent a kind of mental schizophrenia which could also lead to psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations“. While the document does not make any specific reference to yoga apart from one footnote in the introductory chapter, it is true that psychological and sense experiences of the type referred to in the document are used widely within the yogic and particularly the tantric tradition as triggers for a variety of altered states of consciousness… [The priest is PRO-yoga and seeks to find loopholes- to justify using yoga- in what he calls ‘The Ratzinger Document’.]
Yoga is primarily a spiritual discipline… Yoga is incompatible with Christian spirituality because it is pantheistic (God is everything and everything is God), and holds that there is only one Reality and all else is illusion or Maya… Some have masked Yoga with Christian gestures and call it “Christian Yoga”. Here it is not a question of accepting the culture of other people, it is a question of accepting another religion which is irrelevant to our religion and religious concepts.
Fr. Richard Farr, Vicar of St Mary’s Church, Henham, England, in Is Yoga the New Religion? Sunday Telegraph (London) November 25, 2001
Yoga was, he said, an un-Christian practice: “I accept that, for some people, it is simply an exercise. But it is also often a gateway into other spiritualities, including eastern mysticism.”
Fr. Michael O’Brien, Vicar of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Aspen, Colorado, in
Yoga in U.S. Public Schools Draws Opposition from Priests, Laity by Mindy Sink, August 2, 2003
[He] objected to yoga in the schools. “The ultimate goal of the yoga is to balance the body, the mind, the soul and the spirit… When you are talking about the soul and the spirit, then aren’t you in the realm of religion? And if so, which religion?”
7. “Father Lucio da Veiga Coutinho, deputy secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, is former editor of the Indian Catholic weekly The New Leader. A member of the UCA News Board of Directors, Father Coutinho wrote the following commentary which appears in the Feb. 10 issue of ASIA FOCUS: The Times of India, a prestigious daily, recently commented that ‘the Vatican has issued a lengthy encyclical virtually excommunicating yoga.’
EWTN [ETERNAL WORD TELEVISION NETWORK]. Q & A
Question from Jerry on 02-27-2005: Father, In India many Catholic priests are practicing yoga.
I had come to know that in North India many seminaries are preaching this eastern technique. They are doing this in the name “culturisation”. Is it is harmful to Christian life? Can I practice it?
Answer by Father Richard Geraghty on 03-01-2005: Dear Jerry,
Such practices can be harmful when they are taken as substitutes for Christian prayer and worship… [S]uch practices easily get confused with Christian meditation, which is not good.
CATHOLIC LAITY AND MINISTRIES CONDEMN YOGA
[The following are excerpts. Full reports are available in the YOGA article. Also see Errol Fernandes’ article, pages 94-96]
NOT A CATHOLIC MEDITATION TECHNIQUE
The effects of yoga are similar to hypnosis… Yoga is non-Christian practice… Yoga is not a Christian practice and can lead individuals away from the Catholic Church first and then away from Christ…
If you search for “yoga” in the Vatican site26
nothing turns up. Yoga is so foreign to the Catholic faith that there are no specific documents to address the issue.
Paul Savage, in FROM THE NEW AGE TO THE GOOD NEWS Testimony in Nazareth Journal, date not known.
EXTRACT: At 14 years old, I became very interested in eastern religions. I began searching libraries for books on Yoga and Zen Buddhism and other such subjects. [When he met Jesus, he abjured New Age and all its practices, including yoga.]
Mark I. Pinsky The Orlando Sentinel, Orlando,
Florida, in CATHOLIC MELDS EXERCISE WITH ROSARY PRAYER
Some Christians have long been critical of yoga because they believe it emphasizes the physical self, to the exclusion of Christian spirituality. Pope Benedict XVI even weighed in on the subject in 1989 when, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he warned that some Eastern practices, including yoga, “can degenerate into a cult of the body.” Catholics, he said, should not confuse yoga’s “pleasing sensations” with “spiritual well-being.”
That concern is well-founded, Galentino* said.
“In our contemporary society,” [Galentino] said, “it is easy to turn yoga into a materialistic ‘cult of the body,’ in which image and physical experiences become more important than relationships with others and God.”
Galentino, a Jesuit volunteer, runs a yoga program, and
is the author of
Hail Mary and Rhythmic Breathing: A New Way of Praying the Rosary, a book approved by his
Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida.
Brian J. Kopp,
DPM, OF MEDICINE, MAGIC, AND ORIGINAL SIN, Published by The Wanderer Printing Company, March 8, 2001 EXTRACT:
What of so-called healings brought about by practitioners of eastern or New Age mysticism based medicine?
Are there other “powers” by which we may be healed?
The only force or power in the universe is the power of God. We are not permitted to attempt to conjure up God’s power by herbs, potions, incantations,
yoga, “Healing Touch,” Reiki,
or any other technique…
Therefore, in the Catholic understanding of reality, these healings can at best only come from forces which God never intended us to understand or attempt to manipulate.
Two thousand years of Christian thought and proper scientific investigation have not revealed any such powers. At worst, and more likely, they come from demonic forces, and magic is always and only the conjuring of demonic forces.
Erika Gibello London, 5.5.2004 in YOGA.
EXTRACT: Yoga belongs to the six classical “Salvation” concepts of Hindu philosophy…
Yogic exercises came before any philosophical explanation, hence a Christian should avoid them, as they have been streamlined to achieve certain states of the mind that lead away from the Christian goal of humility, love, and positive co-operation with God’s Creation. In all this we are to consider St Paul’s word in I Corinthians 6:12 ff: “A Christian can do everything, but not everything is helpful for us…”, and he ends: “I will not be dominated by anything!” Yoga tends to take over the life of the practitioner!
The Cross and the Veil
YOGA – HEALTH OR STEALTH?
EXTRACT: At the core of the philosophy of yoga are the beliefs in the law of karma, reincarnation, the potential for self-realization or enlightenment without external aid, and a practiced and finally ultimate withdrawal from the world which is deemed to be an illusion or projection. The core beliefs of this ancient discipline are, at best, incompatible with Christian doctrine, having been negated by the radical entrance of Christ into human history. Through the Paschal Mystery of His death and resurrection, we and the physical world were redeemed from sin and we were enabled to enter heaven.
Catholic Evangelist, Eddie Russell FMI, September 23, 1998 Current Update April 2004, WHAT’S IN A WORD?
EXTRACT: Yoga, Literally, “yoking” and refers to “Union with Brahman.” There are many schools of Yoga, and various techniques, but all have the same ultimate goal of, “union with the Absolute.”
The bodily positions and breath control [asanas and pranayama]
are intended as aids to “Eastern Meditation” and are a means of controlling the body in disciplining oneself to renounce all desires which the body might otherwise impose upon the mind…
If you recognise any of these techniques, then know they are taken directly from Hinduism [or Buddhism] and you may be practicing these
religions without realising it.
BUT THE ERRONEOUS PRACTICES CONTINUE
FR. JOE PEREIRA OF KRIPA FOUNDATION, BOMBAY ARCHDIOCESE [see also page 34]
1. Fr. Pereira as well as the Centre have received governmental recognition, acclaim and awards, and can be expected to be in the vanguard of yoga implementation in the Church in case the proposals become a fearful reality.
In 2002 the Foundation was “designated as a Regional Training Centre for the Northeast Region by the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India.” The Kripa model “influenced the federal government to recommend yoga as compulsory therapy in its more than 300 de-addiction centers in India. The government has also asked its centers to appoint a yoga therapist.”
Fr. Pereira “is a member of the high level committee constituted by the Ministry of Finance (Dept. of Revenue, Narcotics Control Bureau) and has been honoured by a Priyadarshini national award for work in Anti-Drug Abuse (1990), a national award from the Anti Narcotics Council of India (1993-1994), a Sahayag Foundation award (1995).”
2. The Foundation does not lack money: “Its funds come from Calcutta archdiocese, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity…“, the United States, Canada, Europe.
It also does not lack support. Its eight-page pamphlet says, “Kripa Foundation. AN ARCHDIOCESAN PROJECT.” Fr. Pereira is “consultant to the Archdiocese
for drug and alcohol abuse” in “a
ministry of healing… with the blessings of my superiors.” Effectively, the official ARCHDIOCESAN YOGA CONSULTANT.
“Mother Teresa… blessed our Calcutta and Vasai centres.” KRIPA is reported in the press as a “Church centre“.
4. In Kripa prayer, you “pray to a God of your understanding” or “a supreme power“. An ordained priest does not use the name of Jesus, the Sacraments or the Word of God for Scriptural counseling of addicts.
5. Alcoholic priests are rehabilitated through yoga therapy. “Their programs are very greatly based on yoga.”
“Kripa’s strength is
eastern disciplines.” “Yoga is the mainstay of my life,” admits Fr. Pereira.
“As a priest, I was a hypocrite, but Kripa saved me,” confesses
Father David Charles Monteiro.
The Centre in the diocese of Vasai is run by a priest, Father Joseph Topno.
Fr. Pereira’s guru is the world’s leading yoga exponent, B.K.S. Iyengar.
The Tree of Yoga says “Iyengar insists that
yoga is a spiritual path involving a great deal more than physical exercise.” The Tree Of Yoga, 1988.
This book, in page nos. 117, 123, 125-126, 131, and two others that I examined, Light On Yoga, 1966, page nos. 130, 273, 348, 439-440, and The Illustrated Light On Yoga, 1966, page no. 66, all deal with Kundalini yoga and Tantra yoga which, by Fr. Pereira’s OWN admission, is “not a science, it is occultism.”
The influence of
Catholic Ashrams movement
on Fr. Pereira is clearly presented in my separate report on him and his KRIPA Foundation.
8. By its Silver Jubilee year, 2006, things had only gotten much, much worse:
“Kripa blends Western techniques with
Indian yoga, Buddhist vipassana meditation, Chinese Tai Chi martial arts and Japanese Shiatsu massage.”
9. The major Catholic archdioceses and dioceses supporting Fr. Joe Pereira / KRIPA, or in which they are operative:
Bombay, Vasai, Goa, Mangalore, Calcutta, Darjeeling, Imphal, Kohima, Shillong and Delhi.
[See also pages 34-58]. While the first report of February 2001 is being updated- to show that there has been no improve-ment over the years, here is a list that I made during my visit to their Good Pastor bookshop in Chennai on March 30, 2007.
1. Moment of Christ, The Path of Meditation, John Main OSB., Preface by Laurence Freeman OSB., St Pauls Better Yourself Books, Rs. 80 [I do not recommend their “meditations” for Catholics; report to follow; see report on KRIPA FOUNDATION]
2. A Handbook of Holistic Healing, Luis S.R. Vas,
St Pauls Better Yourself Books, 2001, 2nd print 2003, Rs. 80
3. Discover the Power of Your Inner Self, Luis S.R. Vas,
St Pauls Better Yourself Books, 1998, 3rd print 2005, Rs. 60
Two of the MOST OCCULT books that I have ever read. I suspect that Vas is a Catholic priest. Any information about him will be most welcome. The books have already been reviewed by me, but a fresh review will accompany the to-be-updated St. Pauls article which will be posted on the website.
4. Nine Faces of God, Peter Hannan SJ., St Pauls Better Yourself Books, 1992, 2nd print 2006, Rs 115
The Vatican’s New Age Document is crystal clear in its pronouncement that Enneagram spirituality is OCCULT.
Note that all the above OCCULT St Pauls “BETTER YOURSELF BOOKS” are going into reprints!!!!
5. The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle, published by YOGI Impressions, New York Times Bestseller, Reviews by New Agers Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey on the cover, Rs 250
6. Sadhana- A Way to God, Anthony de Mello, Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, Rs 65
7. All You Wanted to Know about Bhakti Yoga, Sterling Publishers Rs. 50
8. All You Wanted to Know about Jnana Yoga, Sterling Publishers Rs. 50
9. All You Wanted to Know about Karma Yoga, Sterling Publishers, by Dr. Ravindra Kumar, “Karma Yoga is the first of the Vedic methods recommended for self-realization“, Rs. 50
Yoga for Easier Pregnancy and Natural Childbirth, Anjali Devi Anand and Sri Ananda, Orient, Rs 140
I have always maintained that if I were to try to publish my writings through St Pauls, I would be turned down. I am equally certain that if I wrote a New Age book or a Yoga manual, St Pauls would make a generous deal with me. All they are interested in [as I have seen from my hundreds of visits there over the years] is the sound of the cash register. Read:
CATHOLIC MELDS EXERCISE WITH ROSARY PRAYER
http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/living/religion/16924247.htm By Mark I. Pinsky The Orlando Sentinel, Orlando,
In 1996, when Richard Galentino walked into a Georgetown University gymnasium for his first
yoga class, he was not sure what to expect. For Galentino, raised in a traditional Italian Catholic home and educated in church-affiliated schools, this breathing-and-exercise discipline long identified with Hinduism was entirely new. “I read it in the course catalog and thought it would be interesting,” said Galentino, now director of Catholic Volunteers of Florida, based in Orlando. “I’ve always been interested in health and fitness.” The experience was profound, if not life-changing. A decade later,
Galentino, 32, has synchronized the strands of his life — the Western, Catholic tradition of saying the rosary, with the Eastern religious breathing practice called
pranayama. He is the author of
Hail Mary and Rhythmic Breathing: A New Way of Praying the Rosary.
Along the way, he has become a man of disparate parts: Harvard graduate, marathoner; fluent speaker of French and Swahili;
in Africa and Honduras.
And, yes, yoga instructor.
Galentino first became interested in
during his academic class work at Georgetown, reading about Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi, and the various physical and meditative disciplines that Gandhi followed. Gandhi’s autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, had a particularly deep impact. “It sparked a real, true education beyond the course,” he said. Then a senior at the university’s prestigious school of foreign service, and
seriously considering becoming a Jesuit priest*, Galentino found the yoga class a “reprieve” from the stress he was going through. His instructor, Victor Vyasa Landa, talked about the importance of following your heart, said Galentino, but
nothing Landa said threatened the student’s Catholic theology.
The instructor brought up the Virgin Mary and St. Francis, and “presented them in a yogi perspective,”
Galentino said. The idea of combining yoga and the rosary came to him in late 2002 while he was working on an Advent calendar. One window said “Do Contemplation.” Another said, “Pray the Rosary.” “It happened in prayer,” he said. “Sometimes in contemplative prayer I would just try to rest in the presence of God.” Conventional Catholic breathing and praying traditions, such as saying “in God” while inhaling and then “out me” while exhaling, inspired Galentino. The idea of incorporating “Hail Mary” occurred to him almost by accident. “I found myself combining the two,” he said, “contemplative prayer with the rosary.”
Some Christians have long been critical of yoga because they believe it emphasizes the physical self, to the exclusion of Christian spirituality. Pope Benedict XVI even weighed in on the subject in 1989 when, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he warned that some Eastern practices, including yoga, “can degenerate into a cult of the body.” Catholics, he said, should not confuse yoga’s “pleasing sensations” with “spiritual well-being.”
That concern is well-founded, Galentino said.
“In our contemporary society,” he said, “it is easy to turn yoga into a materialistic ‘cult of the body,’ in which image and physical experiences become more important than relationships with others and God.”
In the same letter, Galentino said, then-Cardinal Ratzinger “also states that we can use the methods of other ‘great religions’ to achieve union with God as long as it is consistent with Christian logic. This is what I am doing with yoga.”
Orlando, Fla., Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Wenski seems to have no problem with Galentino’s book, saying that Western traditions also use similar breathing practices. “Breathing isn’t unique to Easterners,” Wenski says. “Everybody breathes.” “He’s a fine man,” Wenski says of Galentino. “He’s a good Catholic leader.”
The road to publication for Galentino’s slender paperback was not straight. He sent the manuscript to 50 publishers. Some rejected it outright –
several dubbing it heretical. Then, while visiting the shrine at Lourdes, France, he got an e-mail from Paulist Press, a Catholic publisher, saying it wanted his book. “That was my miracle,” he said. The only thing the publishers wanted to change was the title.
Galentino’s primary job, though, is serving as head of Catholic Volunteers of Florida, where he supervises 14 people who give a year of service around the state, sometimes en route to a career in ministry.
A native of Upstate New York, Galentino himself served as a Jesuit lay volunteer in Tanzania for three years, working as a teacher. Afterward, he considered joining his college roommate at a Jesuit seminary but says he felt called down a different path. He received a master’s degree from Harvard in administration, planning and social policy. Today, he and his wife are the parents of a 9-month-old baby.
He practices yoga regularly, and it shows on the job, co-workers say.
“He’s generally a pretty calm and patient guy,” says Sister Florence Bryan, placement director for Catholic volunteers, who has worked with Galentino for three years. “He’s a forthright but gentle mentor.”
Bryan says that Galentino does “a good job of trying to integrate yoga with Christian meditation, as well as encouraging exercise and good eating by the volunteers he supervises. I think he sees all of that as incorporated into one spirituality, based on respect for the body.” END
*He would not have found being a Jesuit too much out of sync with his yoga apostolate.
COMMENT: FIFTY PUBLISHERS REJECT THE BOOK. SOME CALL IT ‘HERETICAL’. BUT ST. PAULS TAKES THE INITIATIVE TO TRACK THE AUTHOR DOWN! OF COURSE, A CHANGE OF TITLE TO DECEIVE THE UNWARY CATHOLIC BUYER, AND RAKE IN THE MOOLAH.
SANDESHA: A FOUNDATION FOR CULTURE AND EDUCATION, DIOCESE OF MANGALORE
Premnagar. Bajjodi, Mangalore 575005 Phone: 2213278 Email: email@example.com Website: www.sandesha.org
SANDESHA FOUNDATION FOR CULTURE AND EDUCATION is a registered public trust, functioning under auspices of the Karnataka Regional Catholic Bishops’ Council.
The Board of Trustees
Chairman – Rt. Rev. Dr. Aloysius Paul D’Souza, Bishop of Mangalore
The Director and Managing Trustee – Fr. Denis D’Sa
The Rt. Rev. Dr. A.P. D’Souza being the Chairman, Fr. Denis D’Sa being the managing trustee and Sri. P.M. Castelino, Sri. Galdin D’Souza, Fr. Jayanathan form the Board of Trustees.
SANDESHA was born on November 26, 1991 with the main goal of fostering a value- based society by promoting universal values of love and harmony among people of different faiths, customs and traditions.
This temple of arts believes that at a deeper level there is a true unity in all arts and they inspire communion of all people.
The institution follows a `guru-shishya’ tradition with emphasis on Indian traditions, values and ethos with the belief that it’s only through the sensitive Guru-Shishya (Teacher-Disciple) relationship can we preserve the artistic traditions of India. In its universal outlook, secular thrust, inclusive approach and its multifaceted activities, Sandesha could be more appropriately called a people’s power than an institution.
Sandesha’s specific thrust has been the application of wisdom, values, insights and experience of all faiths to the issues of human dignity, human rights, the environment and total development of the human person.
‘Beauty diversified into the arts is the true refiner and uplifter of humanity. It is an instrument of culture, the broadener of heart, the purifying fire which burns all prejudices, all pettiness, all coarseness. Without it true democracy is impossible, equality of social intercourse … an empty dream.’
Dr. Annie Besant
SANDESHA has an aesthetically designed
located at the centre of the Sandesha building. It is the heart, the power house, a veritable GUDI of divine presence, prayer and peace.
Sandesha’s annual Kalotsava, a festival of arts and communication skills strives to identify, appreciate and promote the rich cultural heritage of India for a greater interaction and integration of people.
It involves the participation of around 3000 students from over 600 schools from 8-10 districts of the state.
Asta Pushpaarchane: A ballet in Bharatanatyam Asta Pushpaarchane (offering of eight flowers to God)-depicting the triumph of good over evil by the use of talents given by God. Sandesha holds training classes in Bharatanatyam.
The SANDESHA LALITKALA MAHAVIDYALAYA aims primarily at promoting the rich cultural heritage of India for a greater inter-cultural dialogue leading to better national integration.
The Institution prepares students for the B.A. Degree in Bharathanatyam, Carnatic Music (Vocal), Western Classical Music (Instrumental), History and Drawing and Painting. The institution is affiliated to Mangalore University and recognised by the Government of Karnataka. Most Rev.Bernard Moras, Archbishop of Bangalore, is on its Board of Management.
Karnataka Kala Kendra is a school of media and arts, promoting media and the cultural heritage of India. The school aims to identify, appreciate, re-create art forms in Karnataka and promote them for social interaction, national integration and transformation. To achieve this, Karnatak Kala Kendra conducts full-time and part-time courses in
Bharatanatyam, carnatic and hindustani classical singing, Eastern and western instrumental music and fine arts.
In March 2007, Sandesha Lalitkala Mahavidyalaya hosted a week-long Karnataka State level workshop on
in collaboration with by St Mary’s College, Shirva, sponsored by the University Grants Commission, conducted by the eminent Odissi dance exponent Smt Itishree Devi, Disciple of Padmavibhushan Gurushree Kelucharan Mohapatra.
The April/May 2007 Summer Courses at Sandesha include Bharatanatyam dance, and YOGA.
Fr Francis Lewis is the Director, Sandesha.
COMMENT: It is increasingly common for Catholic cultural and educational programmes to include temple dances* [Bharatanatyam, Odissi] and Yoga. *subject of a future study
We have examined a number of instances where Catholic institutions initiate programmes, courses and studies in yoga. But, with yoga being generally accepted as a fitness regimen and stress-buster by corporates, etc., Catholics easily join the bandwagon. An example:
YOGA AND VIPASSANA MEDITATIONS INTRODUCED IN DELHI’S TIHAR JAIL
In 1994, Yoga, along with Vipassana Buddhist meditation was introduced into Delhi’s Tihar jail, India’s biggest correctional facility, holding over 8,000 inmates, by Ms. Kiran Bedi, Inspector General, and India’s first woman police officer. She renamed the prison Tihar Ashram. The meditation ward, a world first in a jail, was called ‘Ashiana’ [home of love]. For this, she was honoured with the 1994 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service.
1. Yoga was introduced NOT as a physical exercise, NOT as a stress-buster, but as a MENTAL and SPIRITUAL discipline.
“Kiran Bedi, India’s first woman police officer, took charge and
introduced some spiritual methods.“
“Their day begins with the sound of bells and the smell of burning sandalwood setting the stage for meditation.
Spiritual exercises and yoga classes follow.”
Every day, groups of
prisoners undergo “vipassana” (insight), an ancient Buddhist meditation
“Yoga is not fast physical work but a process of thought control.” – Kiran Bedi
“I introduced spirituality into the jail environs.” – Kiran Bedi
2. The news reports agree that yoga is a Hindu meditation, and that the programme was syncretistic: “the sum total of all religions,” “[The meditation] has the best of all religions.”
3. Delhi Police’s head of crime, Maxwell Pereira, a ‘pillar’ of the Delhi Church saw no problem with the meditations.
On January 13, 1995,
two Missionaries of Saint Francis de Sales priests and two Sisters of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament joined Bedi to assist in her reform programme. It is quite likely that they too fell in with things.
Nuns and priests in Catholic Prison Ministries across India do not offer the traditional Bibles or Gospel tracts to inmates. They instead teach them to ‘meditate’, do yoga [which is time and again confirmed to be a Hindu MEDITATION system] and vipassana, which again is a Buddhist meditation. These ‘inculturated’ apostolates are also the very best that our missionaries have to offer in rehab. and de-addiction centres. See Fr. Joe Pereira and his KRIPA Foundation, pages 34, 78, and also section I 10. in the YOGA document
ANOTHER EXAMPLE: SKY – SIMPLIFIED KUNDALINI YOGA
The following programme was made available to the executives of the multinational company CISCO in Chennai:
“Introduction session on SKY meditation will be conducted on 9-Mar-2005 Wednesday in codc2 cafeteria at 4pm.
The 2 days personality development program covers:
1. Simplified Physical Exercises: A system of exercise tailored to suit our modern times, where there is very little physical exertion but a high level of mental tension. http://www.vethathiri.org/English/skyexercise.htm
2. Meditation on one’s own life energy:
The most natural way of streamlining and strengthening the mind (one is taught to feel the vibration of one’s own life energy) which helps in turning the mind inward and to reach greater depths of one’s inner being.
3. Kayakalpa Yoga: An ancient Siddha practice (exercise) to strengthen one’s vitality, prevent diseases and old age.
http://www.vethathiri.org/English/kayakalpa.htm Classes will be conducted on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8am to 9am in codc2 cafeteria. Course fee: Rs300 You are welcome to learn, practice, progress and flower into a healthier, happier human being, spreading waves of peace, harmony, happiness and prosperity wherever you are.”
‘personality development program’
innocent employees, including Catholics, are introduced to ‘simple’ yoga asanas, then to
yogic meditative techniques and manipulation of ‘cosmic energy’, and finally to
The information was forwarded to me by a Catholic executive who declined to join the programme.
MORE ON THE DANGERS…….
[see pages 24, 25; 59-62; 62, 63]
REIKI – A CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE
is an advanced method which, in the ancient East, would not be available to students until after many years of discipline, yet its energy is supposedly available to Reiki students after a couple of “attunements”. It contains within it spells, black magic and necromancy. It is connected to worship of the “supreme” Hindu goddess Shakti and Shakti is the force behind the power that, in this belief, lies “coiled” at the base of the spine, known as
and which is visualised as a serpent. During
attunement, it is Kundalini energy which is guided to open the seven chakras.
In Eastern practices, it is acknowledged that Kundalini releases immense and potentially dangerous psychic energy which can induce all manner of neurosis and psychosis, if uncontrolled.
Yet as I mentioned, this energy is supposedly available to anyone who goes along for their Reiki “attunements”.
I hope that by now you will have realised that Reiki masters do see this method of healing as being spiritual in nature and that, whatever else may be its claims, it uses the language of New Age.
RELAXATION OR OCCULT?
[Parts of this report have been excerpted from Examining & Exposing Cultic & Occultic Movements, Jack Sin,
“Should a Christian Practise Yoga?” April 2000] http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/yoga.htm
Hans-Ulrich Rieker, in his book The Yoga of Light, also warns that misunderstanding the true nature of Yoga can mean “death or insanity.”
Another little known fact is that virtually every major guru in India has issued warnings similar to these; i.e., deep-breathing techniques such as the ones taught in Yoga are a time-honored method for entering altered states of consciousness and for developing so-called psychic power.
SHOULD CHRISTIANS DO YOGA?
by Laura J. Bagby, CBN.com Sr. Producer http://www.cbn.com/
In yoga they do what they call pranayama breathing. Prana is the Hindu word for life force, the same concept as the word chi in some martial arts. Yoga breathing attempts to manipulate that life energy, which Laurette [Willis, involved in
yoga and the New Age
for 22 years before coming to Christ]
believes is perilous.
PROMOTING A CHRISTIAN ALTERNATIVE TO
NEW YORK, USA, May 18, 2005; also in the Deccan Chronicle, May 18, 2005 EXTRACT:
“From experience I can say that yoga is a dangerous practice for the Christian and leads seekers away from God rather than to him. You may say, ‘Well, I’m not doing any of the meditation stuff. I’m just following the exercises.’
It is impossible, however, to separate the subtleties of yoga, the technique from yoga the religion.
I know because I taught and practised hatha yoga for years,” said Laurette Willis, a former American practitioner of yoga…
Willis offers an intriguing perspective on
pranayama, one of the fundamental techniques of yoga that teaches breathing well. “Yoga’s breathing techniques (pranayama) may seem stress-relieving, yet they can be an open door to psychic influences, as is the customary relaxation period at the end of a yoga session. Before becoming a Christian, I remember numerous instances of ‘travelling outside my body’* during yoga
relaxation periods. I wonder who- or what-checked in when I checked out?” she says. *OBE or Out-of-Body Experience
IS YOGA REALLY SO BAD?
THE TRUTH BEHIND THIS EXERCISE SENSATION
by Sarah E. Pavlik, Today’s Christian Woman, September/October 2001
Next we began “sun salutations.” With our hands raised over our heads, we quickly dropped them to our feet. Finally, we brought our entire bodies to the floor, prostrate.
It was obvious this was an ancient form of sun worship. Now not only was my body contorting, my mind was too. God’s first commandment to not have any other gods before him sprang to mind… The breathing exercises (pranayamas) are also said to promote psychic abilities.
YOGA: CAN WE SEPARATE THE EXERCISE FROM THE PHILOSOPHY?
by Johanna Michaelsen
Like Lambs to the Slaughter, pp. 93-95 posted November 17, 2006
Hatha-yoga is ‘one of the six recognized systems of orthodox Hinduism’ and is at its roots religious and mystical. It is also one of the most difficult and potentially [spiritually] dangerous forms of Yoga…
You cannot separate the exercises from the philosophy. … ‘The movements themselves become a form of meditation.’ The continued practice of the exercises will, whether you… intend it or not, eventually influence you toward an Eastern/mystical perspective. That is what it is meant to do! …There is, by definition, no such thing as ‘neutral’ Yoga.
“THE DECEPTION OF MARTIAL ARTS & YOGA“
It would be true to say that most people are ignorant of the spiritual roots and dangers associated with these two practices…
The Lord Jesus Christ said, “…I came that they (‘they’ refers to us, the people) may have life, and have it abundantly.” (See John 10:10) Yes, His ‘called out’ people can enjoy life in the absolute! He also said that the devil (yes, he really does exist!) is a thief who has three objectives in that, he “…comes only to steal, kill and destroy..”. The devil can, and does use the practices of Martial arts and Yoga to achieve all three of these objectives!
In 1986 Christian leaders in the United Kingdom (UK) sought my permission to use the results of my original studies that eventually became this work, to aid them in their submissions to two public inquiries that were being held in the UK. One conducted by the Ministry of Sport and the other the Ministry of Education. Both government agencies were alarmed at the large numbers of young people, associated with their programs, who were experiencing physical injury and/or the onset of behaviour and personality problems – for their own research had revealed that there appeared to be a common factor for the problems – involvement in Martial arts and/or Yoga!
… Yoga was originally developed by emphasizing the sayings of an Indian sage who lived about 300 BC named Patanjali. Yoga actually comes out of the Hindu Vedas which are the ancient scriptures or revelation, called Shruti, of the Hindu teachings. Shiva, is one of Hinduism’s three most powerful gods, and is called ‘The Destroyer’! He is also called ‘Yogi Swara’ or the ‘Lord of Yoga’!! Patanjali’s sayings (which in Hinduism are called ‘sutras’) contain the necessary steps that one has to take in preparation for the practice of yoga.
Patanjali also stressed the need for one to control and still one’s mind. When one empties one’s mind, as is required in yogic meditation, one in fact actually lowers his own will to such an extent, that the safeguard that was given by God to protect man’s mind from evil influences, is completely removed. Thus for one to control and to empty one’s mind is a very dangerous practice which could open the door that all too often leads to spiritual oppression…
Yoga… seeks to release (by controlled breathing called Pranayama) the dormant Kundalini force (or serpent force) which lays coiled like a serpent in the area of the lowest chakra which is seated at the base of the spine. The object of the exercises is to release ‘pure cosmic creative power’ along the so-called joining channels between each ascending chakra.
In truth, yoga exercises are NOT of a physical nature. It is an impossible task to separate them from their mystical, Hindu purposes.
In case the reader thinks we exaggerate the dangers of practicing Eastern meditation, note what the Theosophical Society, a non-Christian organization which promotes meditation and yoga throughout the world, says in one of its pamphlets, “…among the various systems of Yoga, four are especially valuable for western students. They have fewer inherent dangers than some of the other systems, which can have a damaging effect on the psychic nature if practiced in excess or if undertaken without proper guidance… “
…Martial art tradition also says the Shao-Lin monks saw the need through their breathing exercises; to not only develop their fighting prowess, but also to develop their consciousness to achieve a higher state of mystical awareness. The physiology of breath as taught by the monks, and the full potential that eventually was said to be realised, was also known to the ancient yogis – for the practice of yoga is based on exactly the same principles…
The Theosophical Society, a major authority and promoter of Yoga, openly warns that there are inherent and hidden dangers for one who practices only the physical side of yoga! For they say of Hatha Yoga, “…If only the physical disciplines are followed, without an understanding of the essential purpose of Yoga itself, there is a risk that the psychic nature of the individual will be affected adversely. They suggest that other methods of yoga are more suitable for Westerners. What better testimony does one need for not getting involved with yoga? … It is sufficient to say that if an organization which actively promotes yoga throughout the world, and an organization that most Christians would agree has a warped view of God, feels that it is necessary to openly warn people of the ‘inherent dangers… (of yoga, which)…can have a damaging effect on the psychic nature’ then why would one even entertain becoming involved in such a practice?
…Remember, that martial arts and yoga are not just simple physical exercises, as many would have you believe. Why can we be so sure? Because, what one does with one’s body and mind if we were to practice these spiritually based physical exercises, and their associated forms of meditation, we run the risk of not only being injured physically, but in fact spiritually. Through these practices, one can unintentionally ‘open a door’ so to speak, to the realm of the supernatural, or what many would call the demonic. I believe that if one chooses to do this it would be for all the wrong reasons. God, in His Word the Bible, has strictly forbidden man to relate to anything in the spirit realm that is not of Himself. So, if one were to open oneself up to the spirit realm other than as God directs in His Word, is to willfully violate God’s First Commandment, and to go after other gods!
…It would be true to say again, by way of reminder, that no understanding Christian would have anything to do with any form of yoga or martial arts. Rabi Maharaj, a Hindu Brahmin priest who is now a true Christian, said in the film ‘Gods of the New Age‘, “You can’t have Yoga without Hinduism, and you can’t have Hinduism without Yoga”! The two are inseparable!
DAVID’S EXPERIENCE WITH YOGA AND THE NEW AGE: A CATHOLIC TESTIMONY
I eventually focused on the path of my mystic teacher Swami Satchidananda of Integral Yoga, I was daily devoted to him and almost became a Sanyasin in Yogaville Buckingham Virginia. I fasted 3-6 days many times. I arose each morning with Hatha Yoga, Pranayama, and meditation followed by chanting. I did this with no spiritual protection.
One night, during a meditation, I was opening up Chakras, which are spiritual channels. I was wide open. I began to feel a thickness in the air. An eerie feeling came over me. I was not alone. It came closer. It surrounded me. Then I realized that I was being surrounded by many disturbed “entities.” I could feel them all around me – dozens of them. I tried to shake them away but they came closer. There was a slimy feeling to it all, yet at the same time I had a sick attraction to it – I was giving in! I believe this was the moment Satan was waiting for. The protection of God was waning because I had drifted away from it. These spirits were descending on me. I limply said “someone help me.” Yet at the same time I was giving them permission even though I didn’t want to give in. I could feel them starting to take control (Mat 12:45). It was like nothing I’d ever experienced before in my life.
Suddenly it occurred to me to ask Jesus Christ for help. A surge of courage sprung up from within me and I said “Jesus, help me!” In a moment I could feel Jesus coming. In my minds eye I saw Him with a big stick. He chased away the disturbed entities. (Mat 21:12) The “beings” fled and left me. I stood in shock and thought “what just happened?” I felt like the man of the tombs who was just delivered from evil spirits. (Mark 2:9)
MORE ON YOGA IN INDIAN SCHOOLS
INDIA’S CONSTITUTIONAL TWIST AS PANEL BACKS SCHOOL
Jeremy Page, Delhi
March 16, 2007
De Rigueur among celebrities and the fashionably rich from Hollywood to Hong Kong, yoga now looks set to become compulsory in Indian schools despite objections from Muslim and Christian groups that say
it is a Hindu practice.
A powerful parliamentary committee, including the son of Sonia Gandhi, leader of the ruling Congress party, has recommended that all schoolchildren aged six to 18 should attend obligatory yoga classes.
“Yoga helps one to achieve all-round development. Considering the immense potential of this ancient knowledge of India, the committee recommends that yoga be made compulsory for all schoolgoing children in the country,” the 32-member panel said. The recommendation carries considerable weight because the committee is chaired by a senior Congress leader and includes Rahul Gandhi, who is being groomed as a future prime minister.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development, which oversees Indian schools, made physical education compulsory in 2005 but did not specify what sort of exercise should be done.
A spokesman told London’s The Times newspaper that the committee’s recommendation would most likely be adopted.
Muslim and Christian groups vowed to fight the proposal through the courts, arguing that it contravened India’s secular constitution. “Making yoga compulsory is a step in the wrong direction,” said Abdul Rahim Qureishi, of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board.
“Yoga is directly connected to the Hindu religion and, in many exercises, scriptures have to be recited. “If you want school children to be physically fit, you can make them take any form of exercise – but not yoga.”
The controversy highlights the often-fuzzy interpretation of secularism in India. The constitution says the Government must not favour or discriminate against any religion and that no religious instruction can be given in state schools. Yoga falls into an ambiguous bracket because it is based on Hindu philosophy but is practised by many non-Hindus and does not necessarily incorporate Hindu chants. Some critics accuse politicians of using the issue to garner Hindu nationalist votes in elections next month in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous and politically important state. Mr Gandhi, whose constituency is in the state, is overseeing the Congress campaign for the poll, which is seen as a bellwether for national elections in 2009.
YOGA IN SCHOOLS
The Deccan Chronicle, January 26, 2007, A letter to the editor from Sahadevan R., Chennai:
“Sir, This refers to Muslims Can Skip Yoga in School (DC, Jan. 25).
Everyone can benefit from yoga and surya namaskar which is merely a physical and spiritual exercise. There is no religious significance attached to them. Though the Court has given Muslims the option of not practicing yoga and surya namaskar in schools, it is for Muslims to decide whether they want to benefit from such exercise.”
TAKING YOGA TO CORPORATION SCHOOLS
Mylapore Times, Chennai, June 28-July 4, 2003
The Corporation of Chennai recently launched a programme of yoga classes for its teachers… as a first step for taking yoga to the children of Corporation schools… This is part of an effort of the Central government drive…
New Indian Express, November 25, 2004, Chennai EXTRACT:
Matriculation School and Sokai Yoga Centre joined hands recently to conduct an inter-school yoga tournament…
*This Catholic-managed school is regularly in the local city news for its yoga activities.
The MGM Matriculation School, Coimbatore, owned by the Syrian Christian MGM group of companies, has “yoga sessions”.
Many Catholic schools in the city of Chennai include yoga in the curriculum or activities.
Dr. Sujata Goda, the only holder of a doctorate in yoga [Madras University] is the Director of the Patanjali Yoga Vidya Kendram, Chennai and member, Tamil Nadu Pranic Healing Society.
“Among the educational institutions, she is either a permanent faculty or guest lecturer in [the Catholic] Sathyabama College of Engineering
[owned by Jeppiar, one of the ‘pillars’ of the local Church], Rosary Matriculation School [run by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary] and St. Bede’s Sports Foundation” [the Alma Mater of this writer, run by the Salesians of Don Bosco]…
Her hobbies include tarot reading, palmistry, numerology, vaastu shastra… Effectively combining her knowledge of yoga with Reiki and pranic healing could produce miraculous results.” [Madras Shopper’s Digest, October 2000]
Other institutions are Don Bosco Matriculation Higher Secondary School [Salesian], Loyola Matriculation Higher Secondary School, St. Patrick’s Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School [Brothers of St. Patrick, Summer Programme 2007], Stella Maris College [Franciscan Missionaries of Mary] … the list is endless. Many of these schools and colleges also expose their students to Martial Arts, Pranic Healing, Reiki, etc. courses and programmes.
It was reported to me several times that the students of the Cathedral Free Primary School– located till recently in the compound of the National Shrine Basilica of St. Thomas were seen to be doing yoga exercises on a particular day of the week. The parish priest of Our Lady of Guidance Church organized a “yoga camp” to be conducted by a Hindu for the children of the parish during the summer vacation of 2003. After a fruitless meeting with the parish priest, this writer demonstrated outside the gate of the Church at all Masses one Sunday and distributed informative pamphlets against yoga, only to be condemned from the pulpit by the priest- who reassured the faithful that yoga was good for them, and that this writer was misinformed and was to be ignored. However, there has been no “yoga camp” in the parish since that year.
Yoga enthusiasts are everywhere, and, as far as its proposed compulsory introduction in the country is concerned, it cuts across religious affiliations and party lines. The move is across the entire political spectrum- from the BJP/Hindutva combine in M.P. through the supposedly minority-friendly UPA-Congress alliance at the Centre which includes the Communist Party of India, to the atheistic DMK party currently ruling Tamil Nadu:
YOGA IS THE SECRET OF MK’s ENERGY
New Indian Express, October 1, 2005 EXCERPT:
“My friends always say in a lighter vein that I am 82-years-young. It is not an exaggeration. Yoga exercises and meditation really keeps me young,” DMK President M Karunanidhi said today. Participating in the valedictory function of a month-long international yoga programme conducted by the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram here, the DMK chief who himself was a yoga student for many years, said that yoga was a “nectar”…
So says, and does, the chief of a party that disavows the existence of God, and conducts campaigns against Brahminism and Hindu temples. MK is of the view that yoga is a “secular experience”.
And that exactly is what everyone, including most Catholic enthusiasts, are inclined to believe. I met my Archbishop, the Most Rev. Malayappan Chinnappa SDB., on April 12, 2007. He stated that Surya Namaskar is Hindu, whereas he saw no problem with yoga.
MORE ON OPPOSITION TO YOGA IN SCHOOLS, 2007
BRITISH COLUMBIA [CANADA] SCHOOL YOGA CLASSES SLAMMED
CBC News January 9, 2007 A school program to fight childhood obesity that includes yoga is drawing complaints from some Christian parents in the Quesnel area in B.C.’s Cariboo region. They say yoga is a religion, and shouldn’t be taught in public schools.
Chelsea Brears, who has two children in the school system, said her son was asked to do different poses and “to put his hands together.” Brears, a Christian, said she doesn’t want her children exposed to another religion during class time.
“It’s not fair to take prayer out, and yet they’re allowing yoga, which is religion, in our schools.”
Local rancher Audrey Cummings doesn’t believe Christian children should be doing yoga at all.
“There’s God and there’s the devil, and the devil’s not a gentleman. If you give him any kind of an opening, he will take that.” The two women have complained to the education minister and the Quesnel school board.
But school board chair Caroline Neilsen said the yoga is being taught as a stretching exercise, not as a spiritual practice.
Neilsen also noted that children who don’t want to practise yoga can do different exercises or leave the classroom.
STRIPPED OF SPIRITUALISM, YOGA STRETCHES INTO PUBLIC SCHOOLS
By Rachel Konrad Associated Press Writer http://www.telegram.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070129/APF/701290596
San Francisco January 29, 2007 When Tara Guber created a yoga program five years ago for a public elementary school in Aspen, Colo., she envisioned students meditating in the lotus position and chanting “om” to relax before standardized tests.
She never fathomed her proposal would provoke a crusade by Christian fundamentalists and parents who argued to the school board that yoga’s Hindu roots conflicted with Jesus’ teachings – and possibly violated the separation of church and state. Her critics painted Guber as a new-age nut out to brainwash young minds. But the feisty teacher-turned-philanthropist never gave up on yoga, a sequence of breathing exercises, stretching and meditation first described in Hindu literature 4,000 years ago. To make it more palatable, she eliminated the chanting and translated Sanskrit words into kid-friendly English – yogic panting became “bunny breathing,” and “meditation” became “time in.” “I stripped every piece of anything that anyone could vaguely construe as spiritual or religious out of the program,” says Guber, a Brooklyn native who embraced yoga after moving to California in the 1970s. Guber, who is married to former Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Peter Guber, changed her name from Lynda to Tara in 1991, when a yogi anointed her with the name of a wise Hindu deity.
Now, five years after Aspen rejected her proposal, more than 100 schools in 26 states have adopted Guber’s “Yoga Ed.” curriculum – despite continued protests from critics alarmed by yoga’s religious undertones. Guber herself has trained more than 300 physical education instructors to teach yoga in public schools and some 10,000 have used Yoga Ed. literature and videos.
Countless other public and private schools from California to Massachusetts have adapted their own yoga regimens, believing it may help calm students with attention-deficit disorder and reduce childhood obesity. And the federal government now gives grants to phys ed teachers who complete a yoga training course.
“I see a lot fewer discipline problems,” says Ruth Reynolds, principal of Coleman Elementary School in San Rafael. Her school in suburban Marin County has not compiled objective data since adopting a yoga program six years ago for students in grades K-2, but her observation is that it helps easily distracted children to focus. The Parent Teacher Association provides funding for mats and teacher training.
“If you have children with ADD and focusing issues, often it’s easy to go from that into a behavior problem,” Reynolds said. “Anything you can do to help children focus will improve their behavior. It’s the same principle in adults. If you have trouble concentrating, you go out for a walk and you come back refreshed and able to focus.”
In 2003, Researchers at California State University, Los Angeles studied test scores at the Accelerated School, a south-central LA charter school that was one of the first to adopt Guber’s curriculum. It found a correlation between yoga and better behavior and grades. And the researchers said yoga students were more fit than the district average from the California Physical Fitness Test. In 2004, Americans spent almost $3 billion on yoga classes and retreats, books, DVDs, mats, clothing and related items. About 3 million American adults practiced yoga at least twice a week in 2006, more than doubling from 1.3 million in 2001, according to Mediamark Research.
But despite mainstream acceptance, yoga in public schools remains controversial. Critics, particularly Christian fundamentalists, say even stripped-down “yoga lite” goads young people into exploring eastern mysticism.
[Christian researcher] Dave Hunt, who has traveled to India to study yoga’s roots and interview gurus, called the practice “the largest missionary program in the world” for Hinduism. The Bend, Oregon, author and public speaker says the practice has no place in public schools. “It’s pretty simple:
Yoga is a religious practice in Hinduism. It’s the way to reach enlightenment. To bring it to the west and bill it as a scientific practice for fitness is dishonest,” says Hunt, author of “Yoga and the Body of Christ: What Position Should Christians Hold?” “If you want to use exercises and get physically fit, why don’t you follow a regimen of exercises that was specifically designed for physical fitness?” asks Hunt, 80. “Yoga is being misrepresented and mispackaged. I’ve talked to too many people who got hooked on the spiritual deception of yoga. They come to believe in this and become enamored with Hinduism or eastern mysticism.”
Concerns about yoga’s spiritual implications have also fueled a cottage industry of books and videos that offer the purported benefits of yoga – flexibility, strength and weight loss – without mentioning the y-word.
Laurette Willis*, 49, wrote an exercise regimen called “PowerMoves Kids Program for Public Schools.” The stretching routine includes pauses for children to contemplate character-building quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., Emily Dickenson, Harriet Tubman and William Shakespeare. *see below, and pages 59, 72, 82, and section IV 4 in
“In Webster’s dictionary, yoga means ‘union with God’ – it’s a mystic and acetic Hindu discipline. I realize kids aren’t necessarily going to know that, but they may eventually research those things later,” said Willis, who lives near Tahlequah, Okla., and also created “PraiseMoves: The Christian Alternative to Yoga.”
“I’m not here to say that yoga is necessarily bad, but it is counter to what I think the public education system is for: It should have programs without any form of religious overtones whatsoever,” Willis said.
The rise of Christian breathing and stretching exercise astounds some modern yogis, particularly westerners who say they don’t see yoga as religious indoctrination. Rusty Wells, who runs Bhakti Flow, a donation-based yoga center in San Francisco, was raised Roman Catholic and entered the seminary after high school.
“Yoga is a nonsectarian spiritual practice that is there to enhance whatever anyone believes in,” Wells said. “Yoga’s not here to replace church. … It’s a great way to make calisthenics more interesting.”
Baron Baptiste has taught yoga to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and is one of the most recognized names in the growing yoga industry. His parents founded one of the country’s first yoga studios in San Francisco in 1955. Baptiste, who now owns three studios of his own in the Boston area and produces books and videos, practices with his 7-year-old son.
Baptiste, who endorsed the Yoga Ed. program last week at a conference in San Francisco, said his son takes yoga far less seriously than he does. “We adults need to be reminded to lighten up, breathe in the joy and have some fun,” he said.
SEEKING A ‘CHRISTIAN ALTERNATIVE’ TO YOGA
The New Indian Express, May 19, 2005, New York [for rest of report see YOGA doc section IV 4.2] EXTRACT:
“Another Hindu missionary welcomed into elite circles was Paramahansa Yogananda who started the Self Realisation Fellowship in Los Angeles. He cleverly chose to demonstrate that yoga was completely compatible with Christianity.
Wearing a cross, he came to America in the 1920s with the Hindu Bhagvad Gita in one hand and the Bible in the other.
He reasoned that yoga was the binding force that could connect all religions,” says Laurette Willis.
YOGA‘S DOWN DOG [THE] CAT’S MEOW FOR AT-RISK KIDS
By Margery Eagan Boston Herald Columnist January 30, 2007
Dennis Winn is principal of a hardscrabble New Bedford elementary school where three-quarters of the children qualify for free lunch. It’s not the sort of place where you expect to hear success stories involving . . . yoga.
But Hathaway School’s Dennis Winn has them.
One time during MCAS testing, he saw a student in the back of the classroom who looked like he was deep in thought, maybe even asleep. “What’s happening?” Winn asked the child. “He told me he was ‘finding his center,’ ” Winn said, a technique the boy learned in a Hathaway yoga class. “This is beautiful,” Winn said he thought to himself. “I just had to smile.”
Tim Donahue grew up in New Bedford in a troubled home. He lost a brother to a drug overdose. Yet he has yoga stories, too. That’s because he’s the yoga instructor in a half-dozen New Bedford schools and runs the nonprofit Yoga Kids (yogakids.inc.com) out of his Marion home.
There was the third-grade girl who suffered panic attacks whenever the fire alarm rang. Yet with yoga breathing techniques, she learned to calm herself, he said. There was the child born to a crack-addicted mother who likewise learned to calm himself, to sit up straight and stop shaking. And there have been many children, Donahue says, who’ve begun doing yoga breathing meditation at home. They tell him it helps so much they’re able to cut down on medication for attention deficit disorder, other anxiety-based ailments, and cope better with difficult families.
“I led a meditation to settle your heart down,” Donahue says, “to let it beat nice and slow. The class got so incredibly quiet, when I ended it, no one moved, as if they felt so calm they wanted to stay there. And these were fourth-graders, some from pretty rough situations. “This is why I love coming here, to teach these skills to kids at an early age.”
OK, you grown-up yogis who’ve made yoga the rage across America: Feel vindicated. What’s happening in New Bedford – yoga kids, says Winn, who are “more reflective, who focus better, solve problems better and pay closer attention” in class, thus getting better grades – is part of a national trend.
Increasing numbers of public and private schools from here to California are getting grants or public money to begin yoga classes in lower grades. They’re finding what Winn and Donahue have: calmer students, help with the national epidemic – obesity – and fewer discipline problems. One California report found that test scores and fitness levels at an inner-city Los Angeles charter school went up while behavior problems went down.
In the West and Midwest, yoga’s Eastern mystical Hindu roots -its lotus and down dog position and
– has caused backlash among certain fundamentalist Christian parents. They fret that yoga conflicts not only with separation of church and state, but undermines Christianity itself.
To avoid any uproar, one yoga teacher changed the names of certain yoga practices to kid-friendly, nonreligious terms. Yoga panting became “bunny breathing,” and “meditation” became “time in.”
Donahue, who's been teaching yoga in schools for six years now, said in all the classes he's taught, "only a few kids had said 'I can't do this' because of religion. "But meditation basically is about calming your mind down. It's about positions that strengthen and stretch. There isn't any religion involved in my classes." What's involved, he says, is teaching them skills to handle stress, "and finding a little inner focus as opposed to what they're used to, everything coming at them from the outside, so fast," like video games and TV and computers and iPods, everything else wired. "It takes them a little while to understand," he said, "but once they get it, they learn how to have some time in their lives that is quiet, and peaceful." And that matters.
FORMER INSTRUCTOR WARNS OF YOGA’S SPIRITUAL IMPLICATIONS
By Jim Brown Journal Chrétien 2007 AgapePress http://www.spcm.org/Journal/spip.php?article6226
February 2, 2007 Translation from French: Aloys Evina, Pastor in Paris and president of the Global Christian Mission, an organization of defense of Christian freedom affiliated with the Conference of NGO (Non Governmental Organizations) having consultory relations with United Nations. An ex-yoga teacher turned Christian evangelist says he is disturbed by the growing popularity of yoga programs in schools. He feels adding
regimens to public school curriculums
is not only dangerous but also violates the Constitution’s Establishment Clause.
More than 100 public and private schools across the U.S. are reportedly teaching yoga to young people using a secular curriculum developed by a California woman named Tara Guber. The program she developed for school kids uses terms like “bunny breathing” for yogic panting and “time-in” for meditation. But innocuous as the program may sound, one former yoga instructor says Guber’s curriculum and others like it are a bad idea.
Mike Shreve was a teacher of yoga and meditation at four universities before he was “saved” out of Eastern religions and went on to found a Christian ministry called The True Light Project. He sees some definite dangers in introducing such programs to young people in U.S. schools. “First of all I believe it is a violation of the commitment this nation has made to the separation of church and state,” Shreve says. And secondly, he notes, “I’m surprised that so many schools have started using this in their curriculum – apparently without it being challenged by those who understand the religious roots of yoga.”
Yoga has Hindu roots and retains that religious system’s influences, the former instructor contends. Even teachers of Hinduism themselves have acknowledged that there is no way yoga can be separated from its religious base, he asserts. “Maybe it is being reduced to just an exercise regimen”, Shreve says. But for those who are not taught the differences and those who are not exposed to the spiritual roots of yoga”, he warns, “that can be the first step – in a very wrong direction – that will lead them into the meditative aspects of yoga and the false religious overtones that are involved in the practice of yoga.”
The head of the True Light Project was himself once a student of an Indian guru and also formerly operated a yoga ashram with a number of people who had dedicated themselves to full-time study of the practice. He says the whole purpose of practicing yoga in any of its aspects is to bring a person to an altered state of consciousness.
Yoga programs do not belong in schools, Shreve insists, both for legal and spiritual reasons. He says he is disturbed by the prevalence of yoga programs in public and private schools, where they introduce children to Eastern religion under the guise of a secular curriculum.
OPPOSITION TO YOGA IN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
From August 1998 to January 1999, there was a heated debate, through the letters to the editor column in The Examiner, the Catholic Archdiocesan weekly of Bombay, on the issue of the introduction of yoga in Catholic schools.
This debate is in reference to the Vatican Document, “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation” of October 15, 1989.
Let us examine the views expressed…
YOGA. “New Age Trends”, Mr. and Mrs. Brian Lobo, August 22, 1998
I was horrified to note that yoga is a subject being taught and its virtues extolled in our Catholic schools. While I do not claim to be a theologian or one well-versed in apologetics, the Letter is crystal clear in both thought and content and spells its verdict in the Introduction itself. Christian prayer, says the Letter, is a personal intimate and profound dialogue between man and God. The Holy Father reiterates this point in his book, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope“.
In the chapter “Buddha?” the Holy Father makes an emphatic reference to this particular Letter to the Bishops, I quote:
“Here we find a clear answer to the question Whether and how Christian prayer can be enriched by methods of meditation from Oriental Religions.” The Holy Father also expresses concern over the return of ancient “Gnostic” ideas under the guise of the “New Age”. If one goes by the Letter and the Holy Father’s emphatic views, then yoga is the very negation of this.
According to yoga, man is not a fallen being, a distortion of the image of God, but rather God himself. Yoga means yoked- union with Brahman. In fact it will be a truism to say that it teaches the deification of man.
This is a grisly reminder to the Book of Genesis Chapter 3, when Satan tells Eve two blatant lies in the Garden of Eden:
(i) you shall be like God (ii) You will never die. Yoga, therefore, to our mind is steeped in the occult and is a negation of Catholic concepts of prayer.
We know for certain, that like us, there are other parents who are distinctly uncomfortable with their children doing yoga. Could these children not be exempt from yoga, and could they not instead pursue other physical activities?
I am sure that asking for a response would not be expecting too much. END
2. FOR YOGA. “My Journey to Yogic Prayer”, Fr. Eddie D’Mello SVD., September 12, 1998
My prayer life is a journey and has a history of its own. I was born and brought up in a Christian family of a long tradition.
Every member of my family was expected to be present for the family prayers- the morning prayer (much before sunrise), evening Rosary, and then the night prayer. It was a routine type of prayer which I resented except for the readings from the Bible which brought in some variation. The introductory period of my Religious life- a two-year novitiate- was not enjoyable for me where prayer was concerned. I was willing to pray, but my meditation was a struggle, full of distraction and dryness. I am a priest now. And as a priest my life has been busy, with plenty of plans in my head. But since I learned and put into practice the Yogic Prayer, I have been more comfortable with my prayer life.
It is not that I have no difficulties in prayer- I have them but it does help me in inner peace, satisfaction, joy- and a new awakening. Nowadays people are time-conscious… We look for time-savers… In prayer life, too, there is a tendency to look for quick experiences… Prayer experience is a gift of God but it is also the work of man. In many instances,Yogic Prayer is an answer to this human endeavour in prayer. Some people may be put off by the expression Yogic Prayer because they associate it with yogic feats. “Yogic” here means integrated, unified, or centred. Yogic Prayer is meant for all…
It consists of an integrated approach with a relaxed posture, centred mind, and making use of a mantra (faith expression) synchronised with comfortable breathing. Once I thought Yogic Prayer was not for me: today I think differently.
With proper introduction, and by practising a few exercises (which anybody can do), one can easily get into Yogic Prayer.
Not long ago, I introduced an elderly woman who was not used to meditation, to the practice of Yogic Prayer. Soon she was at ease with it and won’t give it up for anything. She enjoys her Yogic Prayer everyday, and wants to teach it to others.
Yogic Prayer is a way of praying. Prayer is not automatic, but as I have said, a gift. But when one considers prayer from a human point of view, Yogic Prayer is an efficient approach to prayer and many find it beneficial…
3. FOR YOGA. Christian ‘Yoga’, Fr. Eddie D’Mello SVD., September 12, 1998
It seems Mr and Mrs Brian Lobo, Mahim, are not fully aware of the different levels/schools of Yoga and what is being taught at the school as Yoga. Their comments on Yoga under the title “New Age Trends” are quite provocative. Let me draw their attention to the meaning and purpose of this discipline. Yoga is the union or harmony of body-mind-spirit; Self-Society-Cosmos; man-God-Society. It helps to discipline the body and mind; helps to find integration of one’s being, helps to improve physical and mental health. No doubt, there are different schools of Yoga and what is being taught in the schools is only elementary ‘asanas’ and breathing exercises which will help the children to become healthier and give them better concentration of mind. Since it is growth-promoting, we must on the contrary encourage such exercises.
4. FOR YOGA. Christian ‘Yoga’, Dr. Trevor Colaso*, September 12, 1998
Mr and Mrs Brian Lobo have got themselves “misyoked” in their letter to the editor “New Age Trends” by stating that “Yoga
teaches the deification of man, is steeped in the occult, and is a negation of the Catholic concept of prayer.” The fact is otherwise. Yoga is an age old integrated philosophy, whose noble science I shall briefly propound, especially in relation to Christian meditation.
Patanjali postulated the ‘Astangayoga‘ or the eight limbs of yoga [here they are named and described]. After performing Niyama which embodies cleanliness, austerity, study and worship, (which in Catholic tradition includes reconciliation, penance and charity, Bible reading and Mass), one practices the twin disciplines of Asana and Pranayama. Here, I recommend slow, deep in-breathing of ‘JE’ with prolonged exhalation of ‘SUS’. This ‘JE-SUS’ articulated with each rhythmic breath will infuse the yogi to concentrate and meditate on Jesus, and thus attain samadhi, or ecstatic ‘Christ-consciousness’- “Christ is all, Christ in all” (Col. 3:11). *see 11, page 91
YOGA. Yoga- A Correction, Errol C. Fernandes, September 12, 1998
In my letter (The Examiner, 5 Sept.*) I pointed out that the letter of Mr and Mrs Brian Lobo had been mutilated in editing.
It is ironical that in printing my letter the same act has been repeated, dropping two clauses that are fundamental to my argument. The sentence that ends para 1 should correctly read, “These systems are rooted in pantheism, and ignore the most basic truth in Christian prayer, that of the distinct identities of Creator and creature.”
NOTE: *I do not have The Examiner issue of Sep. 5, 1998. I contacted Mr. Brian Lobo, but he has not preserved any records. Errol, the relentless crusader against New Age, went to be with the Lord in June 2004]
6. FOR YOGA. Yoga in Catholic Schools, A.F. Nazareth, September 19, 1998
It’s a pity that an unnecessary hornet’s nest is being stirred up by some of your readers in their letters… over the teaching of Yoga in certain Catholic schools because in the eyes of a few parents Yoga involves methods of meditation which attempt to “fuse Christian meditation with that which is non-Christian” as per the Letter to the Catholic Bishops by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1989.
Although I am not in a position to pontificate on such matters as they fall outside the ambit of my profession, it is only through my personal experiences that I have come to accept Yoga as a science of healthy, peaceful and contented living, through the use of certain techniques which govern mind and body, without recourse to any religion.
Although Yoga was discovered by the Rishis more than 5000 years ago in the course of their austere lifestyle and meditations, one doesn’t have to practise Yoga the ‘Rishi’ way where the ultimate goal is “Jeevan Mukti” or the “free-soul state” and in the ultimate stages of samadhi the yogin is united with the supreme “Brahman” and becomes “Brahman” himself. There are several intermediate stages of great value which are experienced and enjoyed by the yogin, which by no means are non-catholic, and can be safely practised without violating Church directives.
A healthy mind needs a healthy body. For this Yoga offers an excellent prescription for healthy living through a series of postures (asanas), breathing practices (pranayamas) and personal hygiene (kriyas) which help to achieve a mind-body coordination and bring them into synchronous harmony. ‘Hatha’ Yoga deals with the physical exercises, while ‘Raja’ Yoga caters to the spiritual aspects. Yoga which is included in the curriculum of some Catholic schools is therefore a step in the right direction. It certainly doesn’t churn out “Rishis” through various Ashramic practices like “Sadhana” and “Transcendental” meditation, but inculcates in students healthy practices which will be useful in coping with the inevitable modern-day stress once they are out of school. It is therefore time that we remove our blinkers and stop being narrow-minded. As Catholics who believe that man can be united with the Almighty and attain salvation only through sanctifying grace, why should we feel uncomfortable when others are yoked to the “Brahman” through Yoga? END
7. FOR YOGA. Yoga in Catholic Schools, Fr. Joseph M. Pithekar SJ., September 26, 1998
Maybe Mr. Errol C. Fernandes feels the urge to share his knowledge with others. His letter however does not throw any light on the matter. I would also like to comment on the letter of Mr and Mrs Brian Lobo.
The confused couple mentions that “Yoga is a negation of Catholic concept of prayer”. That “there are parents who are distinctly uncomfortable with their children doing yoga”. Mr. E.C. Fernandes talks about yoga as “essentially a spiritual discipline”. I cannot answer their assumptions through this column. But it is very clear that the letter writer or the confused parents and the school authorities are not talking about the ashtang Yoga. They are talking of only one aspect of eight-fold yoga, that is Asanas. This is the least part of Yoga philosophy or spiritual discipline.
These difficulties come from fear, lack of knowledge and some sort of fanaticism. When these aspects govern our thinking, decision-making and behaviour, there is no room for spontaneity and intuition*! If we could stretch the argument a little further, we could prevent our ‘Roman Catholics’ from adhering to vegetarian diet, since that is part of Indian spirituality.
Experience should be a genuine teacher and guide in this matter than a cartload of information. I would refer the confused readers to a book an article. Vandana Mataji‘s “Find Your Roots and Take Wing” (ATC Bangalore, 91), and the article on Yoga and Health by Dr. A.V. Sardesai in the current issue of Suvarta of Vasai diocese.
I would like to congratulate the authorities who have introduced Yogasana and Pranayama in their schools. Our restless young generation needs to learn to be quiet and sit still in a structured manner. END
NOTE: 1. VANDANA MATAJI. I request the reader to check out pages 27, 28, 33, 59, 65, where I have analysed some of Vandana’s writings and even quoted from her book that Fr. Pithekar SJ recommends.
What priest is this that would guide Catholics on the road to perdition?
2. This Jesuit offers a 9-day “Maun Sadhana retreat which is a combination of Vipassana and Centering Prayer“, as well as one-day sessions at Catholic centres, to name a few : Vinayalaya [Mumbai], House of Prayer [Khandala], Berchmans Training College and Sanjeevan Ashram [Pune] etc. According to Pithekar, the benefits of Vipassana are limited, and inclusion of Centering Prayer techniques will enhance the results.
His advertisement brochure includes quotes from New Age authors like
Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and
in The Alchemist…, nothing from the Bible. His programmes are announced in The Examiner, News- Local.
3.*INTUITION: Please read what the Vatican Document on NEW AGE has to say about the New Age use of INTUITIVE THINKING and INTUITION [n 2.1. n 2.5, n 4], and you will know where the Jesuit is leading us.
4. Note also the condescending attitude he exhibits towards laity [“The confused couple“, “These difficulties come from fear, lack of knowledge and some sort of fanaticism“] and his dig at ‘Roman Catholics’. He requires us to be ‘Indian’ Catholics.
5. I gather that Suvarta is the Vasai diocesan publication. If that is so, and it is promoting yoga through articles written by Hindus, it is a tragedy, considering that the present Bishop of Vasai, Most Rev. Thomas Dabre is now the Chairman of the CBCI’s Doctrinal Commission.
YOGA. Yoga in Catholic Schools, Dr. Joseph A. D’Souza, October 10, 1998
Being no authority on this matter I can only claim an informed opinion which is always subject to correction. I am glad at the enthusiasm for the inclusion of Yoga in the school curriculum, but foresee certain pitfalls which could have far-reaching consequences.
Fr. Eddy D’Mello has already cited the existence of various types of yogic discipline in vogue today. A current series of vignettes in the Asian Age (21/9 onwards) throws further light on the same. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, far from being a mere physical discipline, which could be quite salutary as such, it is in reality an intellectual and spiritual discipline– which as the word ‘yoga’ itself indicates, aims inter alia at ultimate union with the divine, however the “divine” is variously understood.
I am now writing in the spirit, both of the Letter of the Vatican Congregation referred to By Mr Nazareth and that of the recent Asian Synod. It is perhaps incontrovertible that despite the strenuous efforts of several recent towering stalwarts of inculturation, beginning with the late Swami Abhishiktananda (Dom Le Saux OSB) there is as yet no glimmer of a synthesis between the Biblical transcendent/immanent “God and Father of Our Lord Jesus” and the advaitic “deity” which is the summit of Vedanta. While Christian spirituality has as its term the adoring absorption of the person into the Trinitarian mystery of God, the Vedantic counterpart has in contrast, the identification of the same according to the classic injunction “tat tvam asi.”
Whatever the ultimate resolution on the matter, it seems to me almost self-evident that the latter would lay itself open to an invasion of the age-old temptation, “I will not serve; I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13). The gradual envelop-ment of the person in this mental climate seems fairly inevitable; to pre-empt which, according to the Vatican Document, one would need a profound Christian catechesis on this theme. And we have so far no sign of this happening, even in the best of Catholic schools (may I hopefully be proven to be mistaken).
YOGA. Yoga in Catholic Schools, Errol C. Fernandes, October 17, 1998
Your issue of 22 August, 1998, reports the Archbishop of Osaka saying, “Western Christianity makes a clear division between God and the universe, between heaven and hell… Asians think differently. They have a pantheistic view of the world.”
This is an important background to the letters in these columns on the subject of yoga in Catholic schools.
The Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation was approved, and its publication ordered, by the Holy Father, obviously as Pastor with a concern for the flock. While various “authorities are quoted on the subject, nobody seems to want to hear what the Church has said.
Some points the Letter makes: “Christian prayer is always determined by the structure of the Christian faith, in which the very truth of God and creature shines forth.” “It expresses therefore the communion of redeemed creatures with the intimate life of the Persons of the Trinity.” “It flees from impersonal techniques or concentrating on oneself, which can create a kind of rut, imprisoning the person praying in a spiritual privatism which is incapable of a free openness to the transcendental God.” In other words, a) it never blurs or denies the distinct identities of Creator and creature; b) it recognises man’s need for a Redeemer; and c) it focuses not on the self, or on empty nothingness, but on God.
A.F. Nazareth (19-9-98) seems to equate the Christian communion with the Trinity with being “yoked with Brahman through yoga”. There is an infinite difference. He also writes, “There are several intermediate stages of great value which are experienced and enjoyed by the yogin, which by no means are non-catholic, and can be safely practised without violating Church directives.” In other words, although the orientation and the destination are contrary to the Catholic Faith, the intermediate stages on that journey “are of great value and can be safely practised without violating Church directives.”
The logic is elusive.
Some argue that what is being introduced in Catholic schools is only postures and breathing exercises (“yogasana” and “pranayama“) which they try to distinguish from ashtang yoga. Others, including note yoga promoter Fr. J.M. DeChanet, do not make this distinction. Many, including some priests, are promoting yoga as “A Way to God”. These “least part ” of the spiritual discipline (words of Fr. Pithekar SJ.) are preparatory, and often the thin edge of the wedge. Ironically, those who ask for the issue to be discussed in the Church (surely a reasonable request) are dismissed as “fearful, lacking knowledge and fanatical” (Fr. Pithekar SJ, 26-9-98). But those who pose as liberals are themselves intolerant of another point of view and oppose any discussion.
Fr. Pithekar, in support of his position, recommends Vandana Mataji’s book “Find Your Roots and Take Wing“. I have not read it, but I have read “A Few Small Things Which Matter” (The Examiner, 26-9-98). In it, Vandana Mataji asserts that we “can be transformed into the Holy Spirit-God… we are ourselves meant to become the everlasting, unchangeable, eternal spirit, to become so ONE-with-God that we become a-dvaita, not-dual, not two but Oned… Yes! We are called to become nothing less than God”. What? No communion of saints?
That underlines the relevance of the point made by Mr and Mrs Brian Lobo when they referred to the serpent’s promise to Eve (‘your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God‘- Genesis 3:5). Some “enlightened” Catholics, on their way to becoming “nothing less than God“, (“yoked with Brahman“?) are keen to take the rest of us along. But the Church stresses that Christian prayer springs from the Faith, which recognizes the distinct identities of Creator and creature.
I thank Fr. Pithekar for his well-meant advice, but I would rather be formed and guided by what the Church teaches.
It helps one to distinguish between mystics and mistakes.
YOGA. Yoga in Catholic Schools, Linus W. Rego, November 7, 1998
Two small excerpts from a speech by the Archbishop of Osaka have been quoted by Mr. Errol C. Fernandes whose opinion it is that the quotes are “an important background to the letters in these columns on the subject of yoga in Catholic schools.” To serve the stated purpose, the quotes should not be considered in isolation, but in the context of the Archbishop’s address to the participants of the Special Synod for Asian Bishops (April 19 to May 14, 1998) on the question of the very poor success of evangelization in Asia, Japan in particular.
The Archbishop had made the point in his address that as Asians think differently from Westerners, Christianity would be more acceptable to the Asian people if it was presented in consonance with the variety of Asian cultures and customs.
But this new way of approaching and offering Christianity by no means entails separation from the universal, all-embracing heart of the Church. Unity and diversity should be maintained without loss or hurt to either. While the all-embracing maternal instinct is uppermost in Asian minds, the paternal and the maternal character of God must be understood- (all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity should be addressed in male terminology, as revealed by Jesus Christ and directed by the Holy See in its norms on “inclusive language”.)
As regards Yoga in Catholic schools, much has already been recorded for and against the same.
I now request our Archbishop or the Archdiocesan Board of Education to kindly arrange to make clear, before correspondence on this subject is closed, what is approved and what is not, and the precautions to be observed by all in the light of “The Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation” issued with the approval of Pope John Paul II by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on October 15, 1989.
YOGA. Consensus on Advaita & Christianity, Dr Joseph D’Souza, January 9, 1999
I have been accustomed to follow with breathless anticipation the insights provided regularly in letters and articles by Dr. Trevor Colaso* in your esteemed journal. I was therefore dismayed to see (The Examiner 14/10) a justification claimed in John 10:34 for the celebrated identification of self and the Divine (Aham Brahmasmi – I am God) in Advaitic Hindu philosophy. When Jesus said, “You are ‘gods'”, he was engaging in a polemic with the Pharisees who found it scandalous that Jesus being a man could claim to be the Son of God. Jesus is here quoting from Psalm 82: 6-7 which in full reads, “I said, you are ‘gods’ (elohim – judges), and all of you, children of the Most High, (elyown – the Supreme Being). But like men you shall die, and fall like one of the princes.” The psalmist is delivering a stinging rebuke to Israel’s unjust judges who were despoiling the poor.
“God stands among the mighty”, thunders the psalmist, “He judges among the ‘gods’. How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?” From the context it is clear that these human ‘gods’ have feet of clay, and can hardly be used to endorse a consensus between Advaita and Christianity – far less the possibility of “becoming” Brahman by realising a type of goodness or ‘godliness’. END
*see 4 page 89. This is an excellent example of how good yoga-promoting Catholics inevitably slip into serious error.
YOGA. Yoga in Catholic Schools and Other Forms of Meditation,
Dennis D’Souza, January 9, 1999
1. The Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education (SCCE) has issued a document on Catholic schools, ‘Malgre les declarations‘ – June 24, 1977, which describes the nature, character and purpose of Catholic schools. It would be a good idea for those interested in changing the present curriculum of our schools to carefully read this Document.
2. The Bishops’ Synods of 1974, 1977 and 1980 all produced merely interim messages- leaving it to the Pope of the times to issue a definitive message in the light of the deliberations and findings of each Synod. This led to the publication of Pope John Paul II‘s ‘Catechesi Tradendae‘ (Catechesis in our Times, October 16, 1979).
In this Apostolic exhortation to the Church, he unambiguously states,
“And why should we appeal to non-Christian elements, refusing to build on elements which even if they need to be revised and improved, have something Christian at their root?”
In our times there seems to be a varied school of thought regarding the merits of yoga, reiki, T.M., etc. as meditations which bring the practitioner closer to Christ! How is it possible when all these eastern meditation techniques have no Christian roots whatsoever? We must remember that Catechesis is an education of children, youth and adults in the faith, and no true catechist can lawfully on his own initiative make a selection of what he/she considers the truth.
Those who prepare the Catechism text etc. must take their inspiration from the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy (S.C.C.) General Catechetical Directory- Ad normam decreti, April 11, 1971, which remains the standard of reference and states:
“It can also happen that the Christian faith can become contaminated by a new form of paganism, even if a certain religious sense still remains, and a certain belief in a Supreme Being. A religious sense can be far removed from the Word of God and from sacramental life, being nourished by superstitious practices and magic; the moral life can recede to a pre-Christian ethic. Sometimes elements of nature worship, animism and divination are introduced into the Christian religion thus inducing in some places a lapse into syncretism. It happens too that religious sects are propagated which mingle elements of fables of antiquity with the Christian mysteries.”
A faithful and sincere study of the above-mentioned documents will leave no room for any debates regarding what the Official stand of the Church Magisterium regarding Catechesis is: “Preach the Gospel and not by means of wisdom of language, wise words which would make the cross of Christ pointless.” (1 Corinthians 1:17).
Well said, Dennis. Dennis’ letter could not have been a more fitting seal on the debate.
The following is a letter from Errol C. Fernandes to The Examiner. It was NOT PUBLISHED!
Dear Fr Charanghat,
Following is a letter for publication in The Examiner. Thank you.
Errol C Fernandes 304, Asit Apartments, Kane Road, Mount Mary, Bandra, Bombay 400 050 E-mail:
“Christian Yoga” and the Role of Teachers
The letters of Michael Prabhu (22 November 2003)* and R. Coelho (13 December 2003) raise some very serious concerns.
If the Vatican has seen fit to commission a study and publish a document on New Age and the various philosophies/ spiritualities it covers, showing these to be incompatible with Christian spirituality, how is it that some priests and nuns continue to promote these among the laity while the hierarchy remains largely silent and seemingly unconcerned?
Many Catholic publications carry advertisements promoting Enneagram programmes, Yogic Meditation, Reiki healing, Vipassana etc. There is no move to correct this, although the document “Jesus Christ, Bearer of the Water of Life. A Christian Reflection on the New Age” notes, “It must unfortunately be admitted that there are too many cases where Catholic centres of spirituality are actively involved in diffusing New Age religiosity in the Church. This would of course have to be corrected, not only to stop the spread of confusion and error, but also so that they might be effective in promoting true Christian spirituality”.(6.2)
The laity at large also seem confused in the matter of teaching authority in the Church. I have met many Catholics who, on being shown what has been clearly written in Vatican documents, argue on the basis of “but Father —– says” and “but Sister —- says.” Isn’t it time the shepherds spoke to the flock?
Errol C Fernandes
Sent: Sunday, December 28, 2003 4:33 PM Subject: Fw: Christian Yoga and the Role of Teachers
Just for your information – don’t be surprised if the letter is not carried. Errol
Letter to THE EXAMINER by this writer dated
November 16, 2003, published in the issue of November 22, 2003.
In your Local News [The Examiner, October 25, 2003] there is mention of Yoga Courses
being organised regularly by the
Jeevan Darshan Kendra/Diocesan Pastoral Centre
These free courses, conducted by the disciples of Nikam Guruji from the Shri Ambika Ashram, Thane have attracted ‘more than 200 persons’ to the second course, currently in session, compared to 90 participants in the first course of 13 evenings.
Fr. Francis D’Britto
is quoted as saying that “Yoga is a time-tested science of purifying one’s body and soul…”
One wonders how many Catholics are learning the practice of yoga here with the aim of purifying their bodies and souls, and imbibing yogic philosophies with the “aim (of) creating harmony between mind and body as well as the self and God.”
As a scientist I am unable to figure out the manner in which the “science” of yoga is capable of or can achieve “purifying” one’s soul, and “creating harmony between (one’s) self and God.”
Yoga is not physical exercises. It is a meditation (concerning the mind) system in which the various asanas or postures only help one to progressively reach a state of ‘enlightenment’. The realisation that the self and God (the Self) are one.
And the same. It subscribes to a monistic (all is one, one is all) understanding of the nature of god, which is incompatible with the Christian dualistic concept of God and creation. I possess over four dozen books by Christian authors that agree on this. But more importantly, so do all works on yoga authored by non-Christian proponents of this meditation.
Fr. D’Britto’s words themselves are an admission that with yoga there is more than just the physical (the body) aspect, as it involves the ‘mind’; and that there is a spiritual component: it aims at union (not harmony, but a monistic union, YOGA derives from the Sanskrit yug meaning ‘union’) with God.
The recent (3rd February) Vatican Document on the New Age warns Catholics about the dangers of holistic health therapies that attempt to treat a person holistically i.e. body, mind (soul) and spirit. The Document discusses yoga as a New Age practice. Another Document, the “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Christian Meditation”(October 15, 1989) also warns of the spiritual dangers of Eastern meditation techniques like yoga.
For these very reasons, the Bishops of Croatia ‘fiercely reacted’ and ‘strongly protested’ to their government which resulted in a ‘scrapping’ of yoga from their schools (Times of India, July 18, 2003)
In the light of all this, I am perplexed as to why the Church in India makes no official statement, while yoga is increasingly propagated in diocesan centres, church summer camps, and schools, and is now an elective subject in Catholic colleges.
A note with regard to the above letters published in The Examiner:
1. The laity who defended the introduction of yoga in schools are seen to be poorly informed on the nature of yoga as well as on the correct interpretation of the Documents.
2. The [only] two priests who joined in the debate were pro-yoga. What does this have to say concerning the priests who followed the debate and remained silent.
3. It is certain that the Bishops of Bombay, Vasai, and many other dioceses are reading The Examiner. Despite the obvious confusion in the minds of Catholics, they do not speak.
Another letter from Errol, two months before his death from leukemia on June 25:
Sent: Saturday, April 24, 2004 10:07 AM Subject: Yoga and Christian prayer
In response to Bishop Dabre*‘s article in VJTR (Christian Influence on Indian Society — Jan 2003) I have raised certain points which I would like to share with you and hope for a response. First is the quotation from the article, followed by a poser. *Most Rev. Thomas Dabre is Chairman, Doctrinal Commission, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
“The Hindus do not have the concept of the Church. Their idea of salvation and spirituality tends to be individualistic rather than communitarian. Moksha is the release from existence in space-time conditions through realization of the soul’s identification with the Absolute (aham brahmasmi, tat tvam asi).”
As in case of “moksha” which is a kind of release from the human condition into a kind of nothingness, are we not some-times too glib in translating these concepts into Christian concepts (e.g. “salvation”) which they do not even approximate? Does this not blur essential differences and confuse the trusting Catholic who is not a specialist in these matters?
2. “The characteristic Hindu practice of
is SELF-centred and not oriented to the other, i.e., the human and the world.” In being “SELF” centred rather than oriented to the other, does it not also completely ignore the “other-ness” of God? In this, is yoga not intrinsically advaitic and pantheistic? Can a discipline designed for and oriented towards self-deification (regardless of whether it has ever succeeded in that goal!) be used to achieve the very opposite, which is total surrender to God?
Can it ever be an aid to prayer considering that “Christian prayer is always determined by the structure of the Christian faith, in which the very truth of God and creature shines forth” (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation***). ***Vatican Document, 15 October, 1989.
Why is it that the above-quoted document is never referred to when the matter of yoga is raised in the Church?
It would nice if we could have an exchange of views and opinions in the Church, rather than restricting “dialogue” to other faiths.
In Jesus, Errol
Exactly 4 months prior to his passing on, he had been instrumental in submitting a petition to the Parish Priest of St. Peter’s, Bandra. The following is the
text of that petition. It was signed by 128 parishioners:
Dear Rev. Fr. Benji,
At Mass on Sunday 25th January 2004, it was announced that
“yoga and meditation classes“
would be held in the parish. Both “yoga” and “meditation” were mentioned in the same breath, and
yoga is certainly not Christian; so evidently the kind of meditation offered is not Christian either.
As parishioners of St Peter’s, we see our church as dedicated to Catholic worship and the building up of the faith of God’s people, not a venue for the promotion of practices that are in conflict with Catholic spirituality.
Pope John Paul II has stressed the need “to caution those Christians who enthusiastically welcome certain ideas originating in the religious traditions of the Far East – for example, techniques of meditation and ascetical practice. In some quarters these have become fashionable, and are accepted rather uncritically. First one should know one’s own spiritual heritage well and consider whether it is right to set it aside lightly.” (“Crossing The Threshold of Hope”.)
The Pope also refers to “the brief but important document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on certain aspects of Christian meditation” (15 October 1989) as providing “a clear answer to the question ‘whether and how [Christian prayer] can be enriched by methods of meditation originating in different religions and cultures.’ ”
The passage referred to by the Pope (no. 3), from the “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church On Some Aspects of Christian Meditation”, stresses that “Christian prayer is always determined by the structure of the Christian faith, in which the very truth of God and creature shines forth.” This foundational truth of Christian meditation/prayer is contradicted by eastern spirituality and meditation techniques like yoga, that do not distinguish between Creator and creature, and have as their objective the realisation of one’s divine identity (in effect, the deification of self).
Those whose own background is Hindu make no secret of the true objective of yoga and other such techniques, and that is their prerogative (as can be read regularly in columns like “The Speaking Tree” in the Times of India). But it is shocking that “Catholic” promoters and teachers of yoga and other eastern meditation techniques never tell their Catholic audiences this. As Catholics, we can see how this objective mirrors the words of the serpent to Eve, “when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5)
The recent Vatican document “JESUS CHRIST THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE, A Christian Reflection on the ‘New Age'” (February 2003), also stresses that the New Age movement and its component ideologies (which certainly include
yoga, Zen, vipassana, transcendental meditation
etc.) are incompatible with Christian spirituality.
We recall an earlier instance when
vipassana meditation programmes were sought to be imposed on the children of St. Stanislaus’ High School, and it required the intervention of higher ecclesiastical authorities to stop it.
The document “JESUS CHRIST, THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE” laments the fact that “there are too many cases where Catholic centres of spirituality are actively involved in diffusing New Age religiosity in the Church.
This would of course have to be corrected, not only to stop the spread of confusion and error, but also so that they might be effective in promoting true Christian spirituality. (6.2)
As faithful Catholics who seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in obedience to the teachings of His Church, we request you, as our shepherd, to prayerfully consider the concerns voiced by us, and decide against the propagation of yoga and other eastern meditation practices that conflict with Christian spirituality. We love you and will be praying for you as you seek to carry out your God-given responsibilities and work to fulfill your holy calling.
As I attempt to wind up this study, it is as fitting a time and place as ever to include one of Errol C. Fernandes‘ many writings [he was the producer of the EMMANUEL quarterly].
WAS JESUS A YOGI?
by Errol C. Fernandes
There is a keen interest in yoga the world over, even among Christians. To some, it is a means of relaxation and easing of tension, others see it as a form of exercise promoting fitness, and some have claimed cures from serious medical conditions.
yoga is primarily a spiritual discipline, and there are Christians who promote yoga as a help to meditation and prayer. There is much confusion in the mind of the average Catholic – lay and cleric – because yoga as promoted among Catholics is neither entirely a health discipline nor entirely a spiritual discipline, but sometimes one, sometimes the other, and often a mixture of both.
One well-known proponent of yoga has been quoted as saying that Jesus was a yogi. And presentations of Jesus in yogic postures of meditation are becoming more common, even in the rooms of some priests.
It is in this regard, particularly, that the sincere Christian should enquire into yoga’s compatibility with Christian spirituality, and the wisdom of incorporating its techniques into Christian prayer and meditation.
What is yoga? Derived from a word meaning to yoke or unite, it is a spiritual discipline aimed at enabling the practitioner to attain liberation from the human condition and realize his/her own divinity.
As we look into the meaning and significance of the discipline of yoga as presented by persons whose own background and spirituality is Hindu, we encounter a reality disturbingly different from the innocuous “relaxing and breathing exercises” presented to us by Catholic promoters of yoga – some of whom, unfortunately, are priests. Examples of these follow:
‘The absolute is within oneself,’ declares the Chandogya Upanishad, `Tat tvam asi’ or`Thou art That’. The Divine dwells within each one of us through his microcosmic representative, the individual self or jiva.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna describes the jiva as `My own eternal portion.'”
(“Gain the Self, Lose the I” The Speaking Tree, 18-08-2002). “The manifestation of inherent divinity is in reality the revelation of the divine self of man. This is not different from the Supreme Self that permeates even the tiniest particle in the universe. It is accessible to all human beings.” (“Cosmic Vision Alone Reveals the Truth” -Ashutoshji Maharaj, The Speaking Tree).
the objective of yoga is the deification of man. Such a view is radically different from Christianity, which clearly distinguishes between Creator and creature, God and man. In Christianity God is the “other”, and never the “Self”. As the “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation” states it, “Christian prayer is always determined by the structure of the Christian faith, in which the very truth of God and creature shines forth.”
While everyone has the freedom to believe as one personally chooses, the Christian cannot be oblivious to the striking parallel between this view and the serpent’s promise to Eve: “But the serpent said to the woman, `You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God . . .'” (Genesis 3:4-5)
There are two questions we need to ask:
1. Was Jesus a yogi? And
2. Is yoga compatible with the practice of the Christian faith and Christian spirituality?
To answer the first, “Was Jesus a yogi?” A yogi is one who practises yoga with a view to achieving its stated objective. The objective of yoga is the realization, the awareness, that one is divine, sharing identity with the ultimate reality, the impersonal Absolute.
The Jesus of orthodox Christianity, revealed in the Bible and the consistent faith of the Church, is the eternal divine Word, the Son of God, who became a man in order to identify with sinful man and atone for the sins humanity. Jesus did not “attain” or “regain” divinity through meditation and yoga.
Nor is Jesus a “guru” – a guru is one who, having meditated and practised yogic disciplines, has
achieved enlightenment and divinity, and now shows his disciples how to likewise become enlightened and divine.
The guru’s traditional pose, right hand held up in the upadesa mudra (thumb and index finger forming a circle, the other three fingers upright) has two important meanings: one, the guru communicates what he has himself attained; and two, his communication is not by spoken words or logic or reason or coherent ideas.
To call Jesus a yogi is to deny His intrinsic divinity, holiness and perfection, and suggest that He had a fallen nature subject to ignorance and maya, that He needed to be liberated from the human condition through the exercise and discipline of yoga.
Moreover, Jesus instructs His disciple by His word: “Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, `If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
This “knowing the truth that makes one free” comes from hearing, obeying and abiding in Jesus’ word – for He Himself is the eternal Word. And His word transforms and renews the disciple’s mind with a knowledge of what is good, true, holy and according to the will of God: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2). In contrast, the yogi is to suspend the will, still the mental faculties, and make no choices (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, I.1-3).
The second question is whether yoga is at all compatible with Christian spirituality. Precisely because it is pantheistic (God is in everything and everything is God) and holds that there is only one Reality and all else is maya or illusion,
the philosophy behind yoga presents serious problems for the Christian. Flowing from the elimination of any distinction between Creator and creation, we encounter other basic beliefs that are incompatible with Christianity.
If there is only one Absolute Reality, and all else is illusory, there can be no relationships, and no love. Intrinsic to the Christian faith is the Trinity, the perfect model of living in relationship. Christianity is all about relationships, with God and among men: “And he said to him, `You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:37-39)
Moreover, good and evil, like pain and pleasure, are regarded as maya or illusion, and therefore unreal. For example, Swami Vivekananda, one of the most respected icons of modern Hinduism, has said, “Good and evil are one and the same” and “The Murderer, too, is God.” (Vivekananda: the Yogas and Other Works, pub.
Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Centre, NY, 1953). The same idea was expressed by “Bhagwan” Rajneesh a.k.a. Osho, “My ashram makes no difference between the demonic and the divine” (The Sound of Running Water, Pub. Poona Rajneesh Foundation, 1980).
In Christianity, the vexing problem of sin as an offence against the holiness of God is inseparable from our faith, because sin is the reason why we need a Saviour. The Incarnation, the baptism and ministry, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus was “for us men and for our salvation” (Nicene Creed).
Some attempt to dismiss these very fundamental differences as irrelevant to the absorption of yoga and other eastern meditation techniques into Christian spirituality. Their argument is that throughout her 2,000-year history, the Church has borrowed and “Christianized” elements of the local culture and religion.
That argument may have some validity when applied to external rituals and celebration of festivals. The difference with yoga is its intrinsic incompatibility with Christianity, arising from its very objective of self-deification. If this spiritual discipline, almost as old as the Church, has for 2,000 years been shaped, developed and employed for the specific purpose of achieving divinity – regardless of whether it ever succeeded! – how can it, or the techniques it employs, now be used to achieve the very opposite – the Christian’s total surrender to God?
Again, the concepts in Hindu philosophy have no accurate parallels in Christian theology, because they are rooted in a totally different set of ideas. The differences go beyond just language and culture,
and cannot be bridged by mere translation. For example, the term moksha is often translated as “salvation” but its meaning is very different from the Christian concept of salvation. Moksha is a kind of liberation from the tyranny of the human condition, and a flight into nothingness. Christian salvation, on the other hand, is the destruction of sin, reconciliation with God and the resurrection of the body. This is just one of very many examples, but glib translations have obscured the difference to the average Catholic.
It has been argued – and even stated in one foreword to a book promoting yoga as a way of spiritual growth – that “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.” (Vat II, NA2). As has now become customary, the foreword omitted the very next sentence, without which the two sentences quoted mean quite the opposite of what they were meant to communicate: “Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ `the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.”
The foreword referred to also implies that a spiritual discipline conceived, developed and employed for the deification of man is necessarily “true and holy”, and necessarily “reflects a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.”
A desire to become God is the first sin (chronologically) recorded in the Bible: “You said in your heart, `I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit.” (Isaiah 14:13-15)
Another letter from this writer to the publisher of ‘THE EXAMINER’, BOMBAY
Subject: NOT FOR PUBLICATION
KIND ATTENTION: Fr. Anthony Charanghat, Editor
Dear Reverend Father,
As a priest, I am sure that you would be very concerned about all matter that is published in THE EXAMINER.
Especially when it is incompatible with Christian values and Church teaching.
In case they have not come to your attention, I now bring some of them to your notice through these attachments. Kindly share them with others on the editorial board as well, especially Ms. Ronita Torcato so that she stops writing those awful film reviews that do NOT belong in a Catholic magazine, and so that ENNEAGRAMS [which is discussed in the Vatican Document on the New Age],
and VIPASSANA retreats are not publicised in your esteemed Catholic monthly.
Copies of these attachments were sent [as a routine] by this ministry to a few hundred lay leaders in the Church, and Bishops, by email as well as hardcopy, nationally and worldwide. Love and prayers,
In Jesus’ Name, Michael Prabhu, METAMORPHOSE MINISTRIES, CHENNAI
ATTACHMENTS: NEW AGE IN THE CATHOLIC MEDIA, ENNEAGRAMS, VIPASSANA docs.
A letter from this writer to 'THE NEW LEADER', a Catholic fortnightly from Chennai
Dear Fr. M A Joe Antony,
With reference to the NL issue of April 16-30, I was surprised to read the UCAN report about Fr. Alex Varickamakal SJ. propagating yoga in Japan*. I am under the impression that yoga may not be practised by Christians, as mentioned in the Vatican Document “Letter to the Bishops… on Christian Meditation” of 15th October, 1989 and the Provisional Report on the New Age of 3rd February 2003. Maybe someone can clarify the Church’s position on yoga for the ordinary lay Christian?
The second-year student Ms. Florence Masih [“Ephphatha“] has shown a wisdom far beyond her years in dealing with a demanding situation when Christianity was publicly denigrated. I sincerely congratulate her. The story gripped me till the last syllable. Michael Prabhu [Published in The New Leader June 1-15, 2006 *see YOGA
doc. section I 1. for the report
Especially with respect to the Archdiocese of Bombay, I have received a number of letters from laity and priests who are deeply concerned about the propagation of yoga by priests, and the attitude of the Bishops to this situation. Two of them:
1. From: XX To:
Sent: Tuesday, July 13, 2004 12:38 AM
Dearest Mike, Wow! that’s a great job! Well done! Continue the good fight of faith! I also thank u for the various articles u sent… The battle is really great and I wonder how many Bishops have seriously replied to ur articles and queries in a positive manner. The other day
was… giving the leaders of SCC core a session on prayer which was absolutely New Age in nature*. In short, he recommended the Jesus prayer as a panacea for all ills and a solution for all problems. How? Repeating it JJJJ! He himself practices it from 1974- Alas! from an authority! What is more at the same workshop when answering a query
he even explicitly said Yoga is good!
Thank u bp. for promoting New Age in the Church and teaching us true obedience to magisterial authority. For even the Examiner on Laity Sunday carries an article by him which suggest that all religions r equal. As for the crowd at the seminar, I presume they were atleast 30 to 40 people. Father XX
*at ST. XAVIER HIGH SCHOOL & JUNIOR COLLEGE, Bhandup, July 10, 2004
Thanks for your mail along with the attachments. I have just returned from my retreat [at a religious institution called “Atma Darshan”], and I want to send you some material that I cannot agree with… Because I know that your mission is to help root out wrong teachings, I am sending this to you in confidence… Father YY
From: YY To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 9:07 PM
My Dear Michael,
Thank u 4 yr mail. My first impulse was to thank God for people like you who are so dedicated in doing God’s Will.
Yes the Holy Father desires that the challenges and heresy of the so called New Age is to be met head on. Unfortunately, few; if any priests are prepared to spend time and money for the tremendous research and hard work that is required…
I am also involved in “Christian Meditation”… In fact I was about to ask you about Fr Joe Pereira. His Kripa seems OK in so far as it helps people recover from adiction, but he is also a teacher of Ayanger Yoga and is at the moment in the USA. My association with him is in the group in Mumbai known as “Christian Meditation” This is a diocesan association and seems OK because other priests are involved. He stresses John Main, a Benedictine monk who was influenced by an Indian Yogi. Have you done anything on John Main?
Michael, I will be very grateful to receive the fruit of your research which I know is very useful to my priesthood…
With Blessings and prayers to yourself and the family Love, Father YY
It is not only Catholics and other Christians who have sounded the warning against yoga. Check out these news reports:
MORE ON MUSLIM OPPOSITION TO YOGA
YOGA VIOLATES ISLAMIC LAW- ‘IT IS AN ABERRATION’
http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?id=13570835 Cleric, Jerusalem, September 20, 2004
The growing enthusiasm for yoga in Egypt has received a setback with a mufti reportedly issuing an edict declaring it un-Islamic. The edict signed by mufti Ali Gomoa, considered the highest theological authority, says:
“Yoga is an ascetic Hindu practice that is forbidden for use in any manner – neither for exercise or for worship”, local media reported quoting an Al-Hayat report. “It is an aberration” whose practice in any form is “forbidden under Islamic law”, the edict says. Yoga centres are said to have sprung up at all the tourist resorts in Egypt and is said to be very popular among western tourists. END
The Hindu, September 21, 2004, Cairo A religious edict is threatening to sap the energy out of yoga enthusiasts in Egypt, where clerics say the 5,000-year-old practice violates Islamic law. Answering a religious question, Egypt’s highest theological authority has termed yoga an “ascetic Hindu practice that should not be used in any manner of exercise or worship.”
The edict was signed by the mufti, Ali Gomoa. The edict, published in the pan-Arab daily newspaper Al Hayat, called the practice of yoga “an aberration” and said mimicking it is “forbidden religiously”.
The religious edict said yoga could distort Islamic beliefs, relying on a saying from Islam’s founding Prophet Muhammad about how if Muslims hold on to what he has instilled they will never stray from God’s book or the Prophet’s teaching. -AP
There was strong Muslim opposition even to “Vande Mataram”, the ‘national’ song penned by Bankim Chandra Chattopa-dhyaya in 1881, during its 125th anniversary celebrations in August 2006. Followers of Islam claim that “significant portions of the song violate their religious beliefs.” Recently, a fatwa [religious edict] was issued against a Muslim youth Gul Chaman Sherwani, 26, for singing the Vande Mataram* at his wedding. At his earlier engagement to another girl, he did the same thing, resulting in the annulment of the ceremony by the authorities. New Indian Express, April 23, 2007
*see pp 6, 10, 12
Muslims who practise yoga are known to have been excommunicated from their communities:
EXCOMMUNICATION FOR ‘OFFENCE’ OF YOGA
The New Indian Express, September 2, 2005, Bangalore EXTRACT:
A young Muslim woman in Silchar, a remote village in Assam, was recently excommunicated from her community for the offence of practising yoga and meditation.
Humera Begum, a 23-year-old, started practising yoga and meditation under the Art of Living‘s Youth Leadership Training Programme. Soon the mullahs in her community came to know of her ‘evil’ ways and her entire family was barred from praying in the local mosque… Humera Begum did not stop practising yoga despite the mullahs warning her she was going against the tenets of Islam. “The interpretations of Islam are erroneous”, says Humera… END
NOTE: Please read my article on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s ‘Art of Living’ programme. Most Rev. Bernard Moras, the Archbishop of Bangalore, and Most Rev. Vincent Concessao, the Archbishop of Delhi, were two of the dignitaries at the “interfaith Jubilee celebration hosted by Sri Sri [which] drew 2.5 million people to the first ever ‘spiritual Olympics’, who meditated together as a ‘One-World Family’, in February 2006.”
As the organizers wrote to me, “during our recent 25th Silver Anniversary Celebrations in Bangalore, both the Archbishop of Bangalore and the Archbishop of Delhi were on the stage as part of the celebration”.
Thereafter, at another Catholic programme, the NBCLC-Bangalore*
and its “director Fr Thomas D’Sa
honoured HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Saturday April 1, 2006… Fr Ronnie Prabhu S.J.*
presided over the function, while the… Carmelite superior general Sr Victorine
were chief guests,” according to news reports. *separate reports to follow
Just a few days ago, on April 11, the New Indian Express ran an ad. for a Yoga Camp – targeting school children during the summer vacation, to be conducted by the Sun Ashthanga Yoga Centre in Chennai. It says that “The yoga classes will cover asanas, pranayama, meditation, suryanamaskaram, talks on natural diet and free workshops on memory.”
The ad. confirms what I have been saying all along- that the asanas, pranayama breathing with meditation, and the Surya Namaskar, are all members of the YOGA family.
Sahadevan [above] is greatly misinformed. We have examined ample evidence that Surya Namaskar and Yoga are not merely physical exercises- they have deep Hindu religious significance- which Sahadevan himself admits, contradicting himself. The problem here, with Sahadevan as with many Catholics, is that they accept that the practices are ‘spiritual’ while at the same time denying that they are ‘religious’, whatever they mean.
You may be ‘New Age’ in your spirituality, but not ‘religious’. For the Catholic, one’s spirituality is tied up to one’s ‘religion’, the Catholic Faith. So, let Catholics beware of any spirituality that contradicts the Faith which is itself based on Biblical revelation.
Muslims, monotheists like Christians, are fanatical about strictly following their Holy Book, the Koran, which they adopt as the measure of all their deeds, especially abhorring any symbols or actions that might even be faintly construed as idol worship.
It is my fervent hope and prayer that this study, along with the recently completed document on YOGA, will help Catholics, especially our Bishops, to take informed decisions.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION INCLUDED AFTER APRIL 2007
GAYATRI MANTRA IS HINDU
John Dayal. All India Catholic Union President, writing on the attacks on Christians in Kandhamal, July 9, 2008 http://groups.google.com/group/JohnDayal/browse_thread/thread/13389056ed79ae45
This is an ashram with a few hundred young girls and women who are taught Sanskrit and a few of the martial arts. At the swami’s call, they come out, squat on the road while their male colleagues chop down two trees on their side of the ashram’s boundary walls. All vehicles come to a grinding halt. Pedestrians and motorcyclists who get caught by the swiftness of the operation are given a simple test to prove their faith, and their loyalty to the swami. They are asked to recite
the ‘gayatri’ mantra. If they do, and thereby pass the test, they are told as loyal Hindus they should extend moral support to the road closure and stay back for three hours. If they cannot, they are given the thrashing of their lives. I have met several Christian youth who could not recite the Mantra and were beaten up. You could conceivably also add the point of persecution. One matter which I feel cannot be restressed [enough] is that the Brahminical Hinduism which is majority of the commentary may not be accepted by the Dalits and tribals who have a different heritage.