Taking on those linking yoga to Hindu religion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that yoga was no religious activity and people must embrace it for better mental and physical health.
Addressing over 30,000 yoga enthusiasts at ‘City Beautiful’ Chandigarh’s Capitol Complex, Modi also said that the UN-declared International Day of Yoga had become the biggest global mass movement.
The rain gods, who had given a scare just hours ahead of the yoga event, kept away during the nearly one hour session on Tuesday morning. However, minutes after the event ended, Chandigarh received rains again.
“Yoga is not a religious activity. Many people do not understand yoga completely. It is not what you will get from yoga but what is important is what you will give to yoga and what all (ailments) will it rid you of.”
He said yoga was for both believers and non-believers, and there was no need to create any controversy over it.
“It helps in getting mukti (salvation) from health issues,” Modi said, in an attempt to de-link the belief among some that yoga was a part of Hinduism.
“Among all days marked by the UN, no day has equalled the mass movement the International Yoga Day has become. It has become the biggest mass movement worldwide,” said Modi, who was instrumental in getting the UN to declare June 21 as the International Yoga Day.
Modi, after addressing the gathering, got down from the stage and took a supervisory round among volunteers doing yoga to mark the day. He later joined them in performing yoga, which he practices daily.
“Yoga is not about the other life. Therefore, it is not a religious practice. It is the science of this world, it is about what we will get in this life,” said Modi, dressed in a white and speaking in Hindi.
“Make yoga a part of your life,” he said. “Just as the mobile phone is now a part of your life, make yoga too a part of your life.”
Yoga, he said, helped to control the mind and maintain a healthy body. It helped people to lead a disciplined life.
Modi said yoga was a guarantee for wellness, not just fitness.
“Yoga binds body, mind, intelligence and soul. It provides a balance to mind and body. Yoga gives health assurance at zero budget… Anyone can do it anywhere…
“We are busy in our lives. We are cut off from ourselves. Yoga helps to link us to ourselves.”
He said yoga had become a big economic activity worldwide, with a huge demand for yoga trainers.
Modi said people in every corner of the country and in other countries too were taking part in the International Yoga Day.
Expressing concern at the rising number of diabetics in India, he urged people to focus on the disease so that it could be tackled in a better way by the next International Yoga Day.
Modi announced two annual awards to be given from next year: for doing exceptional work for promotion of yoga at the international and national levels.
When the yoga session ended, Modi walked past scores of volunteers who wanted to shake hands with him and take selfies. His security had a hard time keeping the excited crowd away from him.
Donning T-shirts and track-pants, the yoga enthusiasts, shortlisted to perform yoga, had begun lining up around the spruced up Chandigarh complex around 4 a.m. on Tuesday.
Over 96,000 people had registered themselves to take part in the event. Of this, over 30,000 were picked: 10,000 each from Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana.
Haryana and Punjab Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, Chief Ministers Parkash Singh Badal of Punjab and Manohar Lal Khattar of Haryana too were present.
Also on Tuesday, hundreds of thousands across the country did yoga exercises to mark the global event.
Yoga guru Ramdev presided over an event in Faridabad town in Haryana, adjoining Delhi. Organisers said that over 100,000 people performed yoga with Ramdev, setting a world record.