The renowned Spanish philosopher George Santayana, said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s a sage bit of advice that British civil servants and government departments have decided to ignore in this 21st century.
Just over 150 years ago India had a standing army of 253,000 soldiers made up of Hindu, Sikh and Muslims commanded by a handful of British officers. It was formed to protect the interests of the East India Company, which then ruled India from the City of London via a vast network of civil servants and its own army. At the time this was the largest standing army in the world, and it would, in the two world wars of the 20th century, serve the Empire well, its soldiers displaying remarkable acts of courage and sacrifice.
In 1857 however, in a gross display of disrespect for the men of India who served them, the commanding officers put it about that the cartridges they used were coated with cow or pig fat. To use the cartridge a soldier would have to bite the end off before pouring the gunpowder into the barrel of the rifle, requiring their mouths to come in contact with the pig or cow fat.
For any army to work, trust is required: those giving the orders need to be trusted by those receiving them. It was well-known that for the Hindus to make this kind of contact with a cow was completely unacceptable, and that for Muslims such contact with a pig was equally unacceptable. Therefore, the only rationale for lacing the cartridges with tallow in that way, or spreading the rumour that they were so laced, was to denigrate the sepoys (the term used to describe the local Indian soldiers). This led the devout Brahmin Mangal Pandey to take the first steps of armed resistance to the British Rule which in turn led, in 1857, to the First War of Independence on the Indian sub-continent as the soldiers mutinied. British history books refer to it as ‘the ‘Great Indian Mutiny’. Whichever side of history you stand on, it was not a proud moment in British colonial history, nor in military history, and led ultimately to the Colonialists being ejected from India and the collapse of the British Empire.
In the 150 years since, it is to be hoped that we have learned from these experiences. But it seems not. Last year the new British £5 note was issued in a polymer which was contaminated with beef tallow, once again harming Hindu British subjects who have to handle these notes. Although they are not slaves, the British Hindu community of 2% of the population, contributing 6% GDP are at the very least, reliable "economic sepoys, foot soldiers".
The oldest of the worlds' great religious traditions, Hinduism is the only one that worships the Divine equally in both the masculine and feminine. Our agrarian forefathers offered the bull as a symbol of divine righteousness (the male principle), while the cow is a symbol of divine nurturing (the feminine principle). We now, centuries later, still embrace these symbols and hold them close to our hearts to remind us of the path laid out for us by these complementary forces. To handle something from a slaughtered cow would be to insult the Divine Mother, the principle of nurturing and the loving provision of nature. No aware and mindful Hindu will willingly or voluntarily do it.
Did the departments of the Bank of England and the government that allowed this polymer to be used in the new £5 note simply lack an historical perspective? Quite possibly. But I cannot help but wonder whether the civil servants who decided to go ahead with this project actually knew the history and used the polymer anyway, not in the hope of getting away with it ~ that has become impossible in our networked, information driven world ~ but rather to see how far they could carry the insult this time. Or perhaps, I muse, was it a homage from the Bank of England to that successful British joint-stock company of old, the East India Company, that amassed India’s vast wealth and funnelled it home for the Empire for 200 years?
No war will begin over this £5 note but memories are stirred and old half-forgotten insults again taste bitter in the mouth. The fact is that there are currently approximately 817,000 Hindus in the UK, about 2% of the population, for whom this note is abhorrent; it is similarly so for the 542,000 vegans in the country. Hence an online petition against the new £5 note has rapidly garnered over 130,000 signatures. This was condemned by the polymer’s inventor, Australian Prof. David Solomon, as ‘stupid’. I wonder if the commanding officers of the sepoys were mouthing a similar opinion when that first War of Independence began in Meerut, in Northern India.
Sensitivity, empathy, mutual respect and even courtesy have, in our time, indeed become seen as ‘stupid’. Crass, thoughtless and callous responses now seem to be routine and acceptable. But is that really how we want to live? Is that really going to lead to a better life for all of us? The image of Winston Churchill which first appeared on the £5.00 serves for the British as a nostalgic reminder of a great wartime leader, but for Hindus he carries a different legacy. This same man was directly responsible as recently as 1943 for the deaths of at least 6 million Hindus in the Bengal Famines (which in some quarters earned him the moniker of the Butcher of Bengal - ref Churchills Crimes against Humanity). The same Churchill who remarked in judgement of the civilisation which gave the world, Yoga, Ayurveda, Mathematics and Sanskrit - "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion." It is a tribute to Hindu tolerance that no Hindus objected to the face of Churchill gracing the national currency, but to now deliberately add Tallow to the same note seems to be more than just insensitive, suggesting that the Colonialists innate sense of bludgeoning superiority lives on in Threadneedle Street.
According to the speaker of the Sermon on the Mount "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Mammon." We all know Mammon has something to do with money. But the word he uses here is not the common word for money. Mammon means unjust gain, greed, or money made an end in itself, an ultimate value, a controlling force.
"Some people use money to provide for their family. Others sell out their family, their country, their integrity . . . for money. This is where money becomes Mammon, a relentless god that demands that all bow before it and offer sacrifice."
Karin Ridgers of VeggieTV, Doug Maw who initiated the 130,000 signature petition and Satish K Sharma of the NCHT(UK) outside the Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, for their meeting with Victoria Cleland, Chief Cashier.
On 15th February 2017 the Bank of England published a statement announcing that " Weighing the considerations below, the Bank has now concluded that it would be appropriate to keep the £5 polymer note in circulation and to issue the £10 polymer note as planned, in September." (Bank of England Statement).
In a nutshell this means that the Bank has decided that although the £20.00 notes are possibly not "fit for purpose", the existing £5.00 notes can continue in circulation, the existing paper £5.00 notes will be withdrawn in May 2017 and additional polymer £10.00 notes will be introduced in September as planned.
So, having recieved and considered the concerns raised by members of the public with the utmost seriousness the Bank of England has decided upon this course of action. Embarking upon a complete "flight of fancy" for a moment, what course of action could the bank have taken if it had chosen to act with disdain and utter disregard for the opinions of the Vegan, Vegetarian, Hindu Sikh & Jain communities as well as human-rights minded members of the public? Purely hypothetically of course... it may have chosen to completely disregard all concerns and objections and decided to leave the £5.00 notes in circulation, withdraw the existing £5.00 paper supply and to introduce the £10.00 notes as planned. Perhaps Timothy's words provide the most appropriate guidance in seeking to know the heart of a person or institution, "by their works shall ye know them".
In one of the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Katha Upanishad, we are given a teaching which reminds us that at every step we are presented with having to make a choice between two paths "Shreyas and Preyas". In the words of Swami Ambikananda Saraswatiji "Whether you are enlightened or foolish, there is a crossroad in front of you at every moment. You can either choose the Preyas response, the old knee jerk response which is always driven by self protectionism, self gratification, self enjoyment and self promotion or the Shreyas response, which is the contemplation-supported choice which serves the well being of all of creation, even if at cost to ones' own comfort and welfare. The teachings of Dharma unequivocally support the choice which challenges the production of these notes, the choice which challenges the view that a living being has value only in its utility as a "polymer source", which challenges the notion that the cost argument automatically outweighs all other arguments and most importantly, the choice which protects the freedom to determine what our bodies can and cannot come into contact with in our dealings with the providers of public services and their products and services.
Therefore and most unfortunately, the NCHT(UK) has no option but to seek legal protection against this impostion upon the "Shreyas guided" members of the Hindu, Sikh Jain and Dharmic traditions, as well as upon the vegetarian and vegan communities of the UK.
All mindful British Hindus stand at the crossroads of Shreyas and Preyas, and with every donation at a temple, or every aashirwaad (blessing) given to a new married couple, or every blessing conveyed by a gift of money given to a grandchild, the choice will have to be made again and again. The next time that PM Theresa May visits a Hindu temple she too will have to make this choice before contemplating making a symbolic donation, and since great importance is placed upon Indo British Trade in a post Brexit Britain, payments made in a morally, religiously and ethically tainted currency may well acquire a totally different "bhavana" sentiment.
The Bank of England and some Hindu organisations have already made the choice of Preyas, the easy expedient, "lets be nice and garner false appreciation and friendship" at the highest levels, but the NCHT(UK), Doug Maw, Karin Ridgers, and 130,000 signatories feel obliged to make the choice of Shreyas, to serve the global holistic, Dharmic and compassionate "good".
The Bank of England's own website declares that the Bank’s mission is to promote the good of the people of the United Kingdom by maintaining monetary and financial stability.. all of us succumb to confusion from time to time and perhaps a gentle reminder will suffice, before a legal reminder becomes necessary.
Pt Satish K Sharma
(with affectionate gratitude to Swami Ambikananda Saraswatiji for her contribution)
A Hindu versed in in the traditions of his ancestors, opens his or her eyes in the morning, the first word being spoken with gratitude, devotion and humility is Aum. The second action is to start the day with the prayer ,
Samudra vasane Devi, parvata stAna mandate.
Vishnu patni namastubhyam,
paada sparsham kshamasva me.
O! Mother Earth, who has the ocean as clothes and mountains and forests as her body, who is the wife of Lord Vishnu, I bow to you. Please forgive me for touching you with my feet.
With this attitude to all of life and the Mother Earth itself, conscious Hindus strive to take only the minimum needed for us to safely and successfully complete our time on this earth. In principle taking more than is necessary, is considered an act of violence, causing harm or suffering in the process of taking is also an act of greater violence. Depriving any creature of life when it is wholly unnecessary, is the greatest act of violence and the soul which resides in all creatures is caused to suffer.
From the Hindu and Dharmic perspective, producing currency and casually incorporating substances which are derived from acts of violence upon vulnerable non aggressive creatures is not the behaviour of gentle civilised beings. It is not something easily countenanced by Hindus and we feel the pain of the creatures who were killed in this process. The £5.00 note ceases to be a simple medium of exchange but becomes a medium for communicating pain and suffering and we would not want to come into contact with it. Hindu temples are centres of positive holistic compassionate humanity and we can fully understand that Hindu Temples would consider that they wish to remain free of a symbol of the wholesale barbaric slaughter of tranquil, vulnerable and fully sentient beings.
We are very comfortable that this has happened without any malicious intent but merely out of ignorance and a lack of sensitivity and knowledge and it seems that steps are being taken to ensure that this error is corrected. We look forward to being able to identify which notes are contaminated and learning of their prompt withdrawal and replacement with “Karma free notes”.
As a historical aside, there is a precedent which it may be worth recalling, the Mangal Pandey inspired Revolution of 1857. Mangal Pandey, a devout Brahmin serving with the British Indian Army discovered that the cartridges used with the Enfield rifle were constructed using the same substance as these £5.00 notes, tallow made from beef and pork. The ensuing revolution has been called the First Indian Revolution (or the Sepoy mutiny by the colonialists) and helped to focus such a sense of national identity that many remark that that it created the wave of anti British rhetoric which coalesced in the expulsion of the Colonialists and ultimately the demise of the British Empire. Could an adharmic £5.00 be an equally expensive mistake? Time will tell.
For further reading
For 10 000 years or more (depending on your prejudices) Yoga has been free of the interference of bureaucratic red tape. Well here in the UK there is now an initiative underway to "regulate" Yoga teachers. This decision has earned the would be regulator a backlash from the well established "free" yoga scene who value their freedom to practice, teach and choose their own yogic journey.
NCHT(UK) whose member temples have been teaching and practicing all of the Yoga Darshans for over half a century here in the UK, usually free of charge, were contacted by concerned Yoga schools and practitioners and we have written to the would be regulator as follows:-
Open letter to SkillsActive re NOS
Thank you for your reply from which I understand the following:-
A decision has already been made to apply standards
The Steering Group will influence which standards.
This is of concern to us and contrary to the conclusion arrived at in my initial request for clarification, in which according to the notes of our telephone conversation – you assured me that the decision to apply standards had not yet been taken.
In your subsequent email you wrote :-
“As there are numerous types of qualifications being delivered already in Yoga this has presented the need for National Occupational Standards to ensure standardisation” ….. why must there be standardisation and who made this decision and on the basis of what research and what evidence ? The fact that there is diversity is to be applauded - why does there need to be uniformity? Please justify this foundational assumption.
To the best of my knowledge, you have not felt it necessary or courteous to consult with my religious community before deciding that we needed your regulation and yet you have pressed ahead holding meetings with the BWY? To us this demonstrates a singular lack of sensitivity or a lack of knowledge, both of which are disappointing in this day and age. We have chosen to respond to you in a reciprocal mode of directness.
Allow me to express that Yoga is a fundamental part of the Hindu Religious and spiritual practices. We have family lineages of priests and guru’s who have been practicing and preserving this body of knowledge for millennia and under no circumstances will we permit any of our religious practices to be assessed, defined, judged or assessed in any manner which curtails or even presumes to pass comment upon our traditions, scriptures or religious practices. This is NOT NEGOTIABLE.
If you do presume to rush forward with standards, we will ensure that any person who is harmed physically, psychologically or intellectually by one of your “approved teachers”, by our standards has the full support of our community in pursuing legal redress, and we will be publicising our availability as legal experts in this field. The standards of the BWY with whom I note you have already had meetings do NOT pass muster on many counts and do not adhere to the traditional teachings of Yoga. As long as their activities in this regard, were minimal we were willing to tolerate their pretensions to be a” Governing Body” . The very fact that they have not withdrawn from this title is a display of a lack of integrity and a disregard of the very basic requirements of those who aspire to learn Yoga, never mind teach. I personally have spent significant time picking up the emotional pieces of so called Yoga teachers whose tranquillity and mental well being had been significantly disturbed in the process of “qualifying” with the so called leading organisations. In future we may encourage them to seek legal redress. If this proceeds, we will also turn our attention to the BWY’s own teaching and “output” and begin scrutiny of the suitability, stability and tranquillity of their “teachers”, more so than we have to date.
I would draw your attention to the UN Resolutions on both the rights to Religious Freedom, specifically Article 18, and UN Rights of Indigenous peoples and their cultures, specifically article 8 which states -
Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
“Recognizing, the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of indigenous peoples which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies …”
Please be aware that these UN resolutions were passed to protect humanity from the depredations inflicted upon the First Nations, all non white and non Christian, by predominantly European barbarians in their various colonial exploits, especially in their attempts to perpetrate cultural genocide. It therefore is NOT for you to determine what is or isn’t Yoga and what is or isn’t Hinduism nor indeed to attempt to extricate or separate them so that you can regulate them. YogaVidya is a religious, philosophical and spiritual resource of the Hindus and we have safeguarded it through the last 2,000 years of aggression, so that all may have free and open access to it purely on the basis of merit and humility, and that its capacity for liberation and human empowerment do not become the subject of limit by those who hold lesser aspirations for humanity.
Unless you can first establish that Yoga and the religion of my ancestors are separate, you cannot legally proceed. We have already tolerated the foolishness, endorsed by the BWY parading itself as the Sport England Governing Body of Yoga, as if Yoga were a Sport, allowing the BWY to work its course as one does with adolescents in the hope that age will mature and bring understanding if not wisdom but your “expedition” transgresses upon our religious freedoms.
We are very comfortable with the manner in which the understanding of Yoga is developing in this country with an increasing number of persons’ who are becoming aware that unless they have mastery, they honestly cannot teach and in order to attain a degree of stable mastery, freedom of personal exploration is vital.
Please note that this is an experiential science where a person’s demonstrable ability is the determinant of their suitability to teach and in the UK there are no more than a handful of Yogi’s who are able to demonstrate sufficient mastery of their own thought processes and moral and physical purification to be entrusted with the well-being of another human being, we have the ability to judge this and we will begin to do this should the need arise.
I personally would not presume to even speak on say “birthing” if I were seated in a gathering of midwifes, I would feel it dishonest, lacking in professional integrity and above all hugely disrespectful. Unless the persons involved in all aspects of Yoga adhere to the same moral standards which are clearly defined in the basic practices of Yoga, what right do they have to do otherwise? I would very much like to know the basis upon which you, professionally, have been authorised to venture into this “space” and your religious, spiritual and philosophical dimensions. Bumbling good intentions no matter how well meaning, are not adequate qualification in any field, least of all Yogabhyasa.
Since this is an issue affecting many genuine practitioners, this letter is an open letter and is being sent to the BWY, the IYN and other yoga related bodies and individuals. I note that you have advised that only one person per organisation is attending, please confirm that this applies to ALL organisations who have been invited.
Satish K Sharma B.Sc. (Hons) Econ MBCS FRSA
General Secretary, National Council of Hindu Temples (UK)
Chair, British Board of Hindu Scholars
Chair, City of London InterFaith
Director, InterFaith Network UK
"Separating Yoga from Hinduism,
is like trying to separate Shiva from Shakti, water from wetness, love from life.
A fools errand promoted by those who know of neither,
but are intent on the destruction of both" Satish K Sharma
For thousands of years Hindus have been practising what the west calls "Yoga" and what the west calls "Hinduism" and have enjoyed the peaceful exuberant journey called Life as a result. Never invading any other nation, placing all life on a pedestal and worthy of worship, never harming a flea as a result of this synergistic philosophy. Millions of Hindu's have enjoyed health, tranquility, wealth and even enlightenment and have sought merely to preserve and share the blessings they received from their ancestors. Never to "patent", to deny or to pollute or taint and always seeking to protect this most humanist of cultures from infection with the disease of commerce, rampant rapacious profiteering, always hoping to share and nurture, support and bless.
Enter stage left the Western urge to colonise and pillage. As Samuel P Huntingdon said “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.” Violence takes many forms and if you can no longer colonise geographical continents, then colonising the Continents of thought will do nicely. If you want to colonise the Continent of Hindu Knowledge the oldest and deepest repository of wisdom and science known to human beings, you need academic foot soldiers to perpetrate academic atrocities. Academic violence uses the same colonial principles and the assault on this continent is under way.
The Western corporate mind, exporter of GM manipulation, subprime finance, and warfare unceasing now has turned its attention to the gentle Yoga practices of the Hindus. The cry has gone out "Yoga IS NOT Hinduism" and "Yoga IS Hinduism" and the campaigns are afoot and gathering steam. When you want to exploit Yoga or attack Hinduism, the battle cry is "Yoga is nothing to do with Hinduism" and when you want to attack Yoga, the cry goes out that "Yoga IS Hinduism". Academics, occidental and sadly some deluded orientals too, are having a field day with the Yoga/Hinduism question and in the runaway train of academic intellectual debate, a few simple questions are being conveniently and quite deliberately overlooked and we are asking those questions. The questions which every racist, white colonist just doesnt want to address is : -
"What in Gods name has it got to do with non Hindus anyway?"
If it doesnt trouble us Hindus, and it has never troubled Yogis and Hindus alike for millenia, why are non Hindus getting into such a tizz over this question? There they are, having their forums and their conclaves, producing academic research on the "Yoga in the West" phenomenon but ask yourself WHY? It strikes me that the Western corporate mind is only ever interested if there is an opportunity for exploitation, whether it is of oil or knowledge doesnt matter, or perhaps if its dominance is threatened. Do you hear Hindus huddling together and holding conferences about the flaws in reasoning behind the "reason-averse" rhetoric which has been spouted by the Church of Empire in its history and even today? No, and since the reason why Hindu's dont do this seems to be beyond the capacity of predominantly European "academics" to understand, lets spell it out once and for all, ITS BAD MANNERS to nail a neighbour to the wall and dissect away at his or her history, tradition, religious and spiritual practices as though they were not quite human in the same way as our paler white supremacist friends, or even worse as though he or she were dead. And yet they do it without a second thought. The West spawned a whole generation of Indologist's to study the Hindoo's, the same barbaric mind set studied and categorised the people of Africa for exploitation and although it has become less strident, there is a definite sense that this mind set is still there, naming and looking for differences to pounce upon, seeking opportunities to criticise what it usually can't understand in the hope of convincing itself of its own superiority. The Hindu mind set, developed and nurtured for 5,000 years with elevated ideas such as "Athithi devo bhav - the guest is God" wouldnt dream of being so crude and insulting as to engage in deeply personal poking and prodding, rummaging around in the psyche and sensibilities of a living culture, whilst members of that culture were sitting in the very same room.
Do Hindu's produce academic papers and award each other degrees on the publishing of statistics of the insane mind set, peculiar to the West, which can enslave whole races, rain war upon weaker nations, whose religious ideologies have supported everything from global genocides against indigenous peoples all over the world, upto and beyond the Holocaust ? Naom Chomsky has said that, "if judged against the principles set out at the Nuremberg Trials, every postwar US leader would be found guilty of war crimes" ? Surely here's a field of research worthy of Doctorate's! And then Hindu's too could create forums, invite leading occidental academics and clergymen and then in front of them dissect the very fabric of their personalities, their quaint "culture" and rustic philosophies, their latent aggression and immature self image - exploring and rummaging around in the deepest innards of their darkest demons, just like with the poor rat above. Its the height of bad manners and no self respecting Hindu would dream of being so uncultured.
The UK Charity, the British Wheel of Yoga under the guidance of Chair Paul Fox, seems however to have reconnected with its own deeper hitherto latent sense of "white supremacy". Completely unaware of a phenomenon again best described by Samuel P Huntingdon..“In the emerging world of ethnic conflict and civlizational clash, Western belief in the universality of Western culture suffers three problems: it is false; it is immoral; and it is dangerous” the British Wheel blunders forward making ill researched remarks, blindly stomping around in the spiritual and religious lives of British Hindu's, choosing to remain blithely ignorant of the damage being done to inter-community harmony.
Since legal and statutory avenues of redress are now being explored, this new colonialiist development is best left at this point for the time being. The greater tragedy is that only harm to all concerned has already been acheived by the Wheel, the self styled Governing Body, pursuing this agenda of cultural and religious appropriation.
For a clear explanation of how Cultural Appropriation works... No one does it quite like Sri Louise..
and if you would like to see how Matthew Remski, Paul Fox and others following the notion that the sacred can be freely invaded by those who have no scriptural knowledge of worth .... again Sri Louise is pure shakti! Here is how Hindu ideas which permeate the Yoga scriptures are being stripped out....
Academics would do well to recall the words of Swami Vivekananda...
"In regard to the teacher, we must see that he knows the spirit of the scriptures. The whole world reads Bibles, Vedas, and Korans; but they are all only words, syntax, etymology, philology, the dry bones of religion. The teacher who deals too much in words and allows the mind to be carried away by the force of words loses the spirit. It is the knowledge of the spirit of the scriptures alone that constitutes the true religious teacher. The network of the words of the scriptures is like a huge forest in which the human mind often loses itself and finds no way out." The leadership of the Wheel has clearly lost its way.
Hindu's do not dissect the psyche of others and thats because Hindu's are practising Yogis and if there is one thing that authentic Yoga practice does, it brings refinement to the coarse mind, it brings genuine compassion to the hardened heart and the desire to serve to the grasping thief. It brings sensitivity to the feelings of other humans in particular and living things in general. And perhaps thats why the Western religious powers fear Yoga so much - in Yoga lie the seeds of the Wests long overdue civilisation - the revelation of all lies and the final unavoidable recognition that the fears which lie at the heart of the Western minds aggression, were the only true heathens. Like all fears, the fear of ones own flaws having to be faced and reconciled is the greatest fear of all and it drives them to attack verbally when not physically, anything which requires them to confront their own flaws. It turns out that the heathen natives the world over, have lived more in harmony with the earth and with themselves than any Western nation, and yet they have been deliberately consumed and digested by the unendingly consumptive psychosis which is generously referred to as Western civilisation. Thank God for Divinity, for as our most famous Yogi, the first to courageously minister to the West said, and the corporate structures of spiritual repression promptly ignored, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth".
The NCHT(UK) whose member temples have been teaching and practicing all of the Yoga Darshans for over half a century here in the UK, usually free of charge, were contacted by concerned Yoga schools and practitioners and we have written to the would be regulators of the British Wheel of Yoga as follows:-
Open letter to the British Wheel of Yoga re NOS
It was a pleasant surprise to meet you yesterday and being able to also bump in to the “oh so safety concerned” but uneducated and uninformed non-practitioners from the SkillsActive team, at the same time, was a an unexpected boon. I hope that you too found the event of value.
Thank you for being so courageously open to discussion and engagement, it is necessary and the wholly misplaced and unfounded “governing body” attitude and positioning, which is unfortunately becoming associated with the BWY, has been destructive and counterproductive to date. I will do you the courtesy of being direct and frank in my communication since time is of the essence and if something is to be salvaged from the BWY, wiser counsel must prevail and its current trajectory be quickly corrected.
Despite evidence to the contrary I am going to assume that the BWY is merely guilty of innocent bumbling naivety and not crass monopolistic commercialism and from this perspective present to you what the non BWY world is now seeing in your team. The Wheel has abandoned the Yamas and the Niyamas and is selling Asana for profit. Further it is exploiting Hindu religious and cultural imagery, iconography and vocabulary dishonestly for commercial gain and it is promoting NOS to merely clothe a predatorial desire for market dominance.
We have an understanding that asana should not be taught to those who have not yet accepted and intellectually established, that the Yamas and Niyamas are core and foundational prerequisites, not optional. To ignore any one is folly and this principle is ignored at one’s own peril. Only misguided innocents, fools and the naive could elect and appoint to a position of Yoga representation, a person who has a blatant disregard for the basic “occupational standards”, which have been refined over millennia and which are already enshrined in the Yamas and Niyamas.
For the sake of an example and for clarity, the BWY in deceitfully and duplicitously calling itself the “Governing Body” commits an act of intellectual and emotional violence on other traditions, practitioners and schools - and in your heart you know this to be true. We, and others, have communicated with Paul Fox and Pierre Bibby on this and their squirming responses are worthy of shame. This “Governing Body” approach and positioning is contrary to the very core of the traditions ie AHIMSA and by creating an US and THEM scenario you create tension and friction – the enemies of Yoga. The word Govern means to control and cannot not be spun into “humble service in the safety of all the vulnerable” no matter how manipulative, self-delusional or conceited the spin doctor. By seeking to negate others by ignoring their contributions whilst emphasising and highlighting at every juncture your own (seeking to IMPOSE your limited attainments and tragically narrow vision) is HIMSA. You really should take note that in the history of Yoga those who were QUALIFIED BY ABILITY to govern, chose instead to nurture, to serve and to support – perhaps they weren’t as wise, enlightened and elevated as the Olympians of the BWY and SkillsActive?
I can’t help but wonder if somewhere in the ancestry of the present day Trustees of the BWY, there isn’t a link to the colonialist raider of the Raj, James Canning who, proud in the belief in his own natural superiority, told a gathering of Hindus “You are all a parcel of poor ignorant semi barbarians, you do not even understand your own language and system as well as we enlightened Englishmen who have been at regular Grammar schools..” We are able to recognise neo colonialist theft when we see it.
The “outer worlds” perception of the Wheel has changed in the last two years. You have moved from “innocent bumbling but harmless do-gooders” to ambitious, grubby grasping monopolists and in doing so you have abandoned Aparigraha i.e. non-grasping. Where is the generosity of heart and desire for heart based sharing which Aparigraha fosters ? In its place the Wheel now projects this message “Sure we can teach about Aparigraha but you have to sign up for a paid course and our courses are regulated and better than everyone elses..” Nauseating and morally reprehensible – totally unacceptable.
What about the pinnacle of the Yamas and the Niyamas, Isvarapranidhana "to lay all of ones actions at the feet of Ishvara." ? It is the contemplation on Isvara, the Divinity in one’s own breath, in order to become attuned to the Divinity present in the flow of the Universe. It is the recognition that the spiritual suffuses everything and through our attention and care we can attune ourselves with our role as part of all of Creation. The practice which makes clear that there is the possibility of a presence larger than ourselves that is influencing, guiding and directing the course of our lives leading to real humility and a deep sense of service. But the Sport England Governing Body, the Wheel “doesn’t need this at all because its religion and Hindu”, and for this stupidity and arrogance alone your organisation is worthy of reform or if this is resisted, deconstruction, before you do more harm.
Your Chair has mistaken our Hindu tolerance for vulnerability and this is a tragic mistake - a loss for all of the members of the Wheel and for those who are interested in Dharmic practices (yes Yoga is a Dharmic practice). We have never asked anyone to “become a Hindu” or become religious, NEVER, but we will not permit you to re-define us or any our traditional religious practices.
I have written already advising the Wheel, that if you wish to attempt to deconstruct, delineate and separate Hindu and Yoga practices then you must NOT uses Hindu religious texts in your activities. To do so would be dishonest and offensive in the extreme, and this is universally accepted by all of the Yoga practitioners outside of the Wheel and many inside also. Please do not oblige us to act further to protect our traditions and practices from such disrespectful and dishonest distortion, corruption and outright cultural theft.
If the Wheel had an ounce of integrity it would recognise what the UNESCO has declared only last month“Based on unifying the mind with the body and soul to allow for greater mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing, the values of yoga form a major part of the community’s ethos. Yoga consists of a series of poses, meditation, controlled breathing, word chanting and other techniques designed to help individuals build self-realization, ease any suffering they may be experiencing and allow for a state of liberation.” Which Community are they referring to ? Yes the Shiva and Ganesh worshipping Hindu community.
In the spirit of robust transparent and frank discussion and engagement, I am copying this to the IYN and others who too who feel that you have injured the practice of Yoga in this country.
My mobile number is XXXXX and I am available to discuss any initiatives which may be beneficial to British Yoga students.
Satish K Sharma B.Sc. (Hons) Econ MBCS FRSA
General Secretary, National Council of Hindu Temples (UK)
Chair, British Board of Hindu Scholars
Chair, City of London InterFaith