Hindus worldwide are upset over a Sydney Anglican Church in Australia reportedly associating yoga with “worshiping false gods”; and are seeking apology from the Anglican Communion.
A news item pasted under “Media Watch Around The World” on the “Sydney Anglicans” (official website of Anglican Diocese of Sydney) said: Anglican Church in Erskineville doesn’t want yoga classes, over fears of ‘worshiping false gods’.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was highly inappropriate and bizarre to unnecessarily and unreasonably tarnish an ancient, multi-beneficial and rich practice of yoga for which United Nations proclaimed June 21 as International Day of Yoga to raise awareness worldwide of its many benefits.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that it was dismaying for the Hindus to note that instead of disciplining the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Erskineville over such a baseless allegation against yoga, Anglican Diocese of Sydney chose to paste such newsitem on its website.
Rajan Zed invited Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies to study a treatise on yoga and attend few yoga classes to have firsthand experience of yoga. Davies would then realize that yoga did not create “spiritual confusion” (as blamed in the news item) but instead opened up and brought more clarity to the mind, Zed added.
Involved church officials should show some maturity as such wild allegations against the highly respected practice of yoga and attempts to ban it would leave many in 21st century multicultural Australia seriously disappointed, embarrassed and unhappy; many of whom might like to explore various valuable benefits yoga offered; Zed noted and urged Anglican Communion’s spiritual head Justin Welby and Archbishop of Melbourne & Primate of Australia Philip Leslie Freier to intervene.
Rajan Zed further said that Vatican Library carried many yoga related books, including “How to know God. The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali”. Prominent US Roman Catholic universities/colleges—University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University, College of the Holy Cross, Boston College, Villanova University, Santa Clara University, Providence College, College of Saint Benedict, Gonzaga University, Loyola Marymount University (which offers Master of Arts in Yoga Studies program), Marquette University, University of Dayton, Creighton University, John Carroll University, Loyola University Maryland, Xavier University, Fordham University, etc., offered various classes and programs of yoga regularly; and so did Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven) in Belgium, one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Europe founded in 1425.
Yoga, referred as “a living fossil”, was a mental and physical discipline, for everybody to share and benefit from, whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, Zed stated.
Rajan Zed stressed that yoga, although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical.
According to US National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. According to a “2016 Yoga in America Study”, about 37 million Americans (which included many celebrities) now practice yoga; and yoga is strongly correlated with having a positive self image. Yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche, Zed added.
Roger Bray is the Senior Minister at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Erskineville, where both Church and Church Hall are currently being used for yoga. Cost of the church is from $38/hour, while cost of church hall is from $35/hour. “Room for Many” is one the programs of the church. Anglican Church came to Australia in 1788.