Western students showing more interest in learning Hinduism & Yoga

via Newindpress published on January 9, 2007

Palakkad : More and more western students are showing interest in learning about Hinduism and practising yoga, the products of Indian culture, according to Subhas R Tiwari, professor at the Hindu University of America located in Orlando, Florida.

Speaking at the Arogyodayam Ayurveda Hospital in Kalpathy in Palakkad, where he has come for treatment, Subhas said initially there was an outcry against practising yoga in the US because many considered it a part of the Hindu tradition.

But when a few Westerners took to yoga and began to experience its benefits, this approach was reversed. He said that according to the Harris Poll, 18 million Americans are practising yoga daily.

In 1989, the Vatican had brought out a white paper advising its followers not to practise yoga because it was in conflict with their faith. But in the mid-1990s this was reversed, but words such as Om and Namasthe, which were in conflict with their faith, were bracketed.

In America there are 16,000 to 17,000 teachers in yoga. One cannot segregate Hindu tradition and customs from yoga. The spiritual tradition is rooted in the Vedas and one should see the whole world as a kutumbakam: one family, he says.

There are 130 students at the Hindu University of America, most of who are Americans of non-Indian descent. Subhas said that the university is licensed to award masters and doctoral degrees. All aspects of Hindu studies, including jyotisha, ayurveda, yoga and divine music are taught at the university.

The university also sponsors ten students from the Sri Aurobindo University in Pondicherry, says Subhas, who holds dual citizenship of US and Canada. His ancestors had left India 170 years ago.

“Apart from undergoing treatment, I am here to explore ayurveda which I believe exists in its pure form only in India in the hands of the vaidyas.

Ayurveda has been passed from generation to generation in the past 5000 years and therefore we have to approach it with reverence,” says Subhas who has a master’s degree in yoga philosophy from the Bihar Yoga Deemed University.

Subhas Tiwari says that the Hindu University is planning to launch the paurohita programme (training for Hindu priests).

It is aimed at producing Hindu priests who not only know sanskrit slokas but also have a broader awareness of the Western culture. Such priests can participate in inter-faith dialogues and deliver lectures to Western audiences including students of various universities.

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