India’s prime minister Narendra Modi urged people to embrace the age-old practice of yoga, saying that rejecting an idea because it is ancient could be “potentially harmful”.
Yoga is constantly evolving, the prime minister said as he unveiled a 112-foot statue of Adiyogi, Lord Shiva, on the occasion of Mahashivratri at the Isha foundation in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu last Friday (24).
As a tribute to Adiyogi, Modi lit the sacred fire to commence the Maha Yoga Yagna across the world. He urged one million people to take an oath to teach a simple form of yoga to at least 100 other people each over the course of the following 12 months, so that 100 million additional people practised yoga by Mahashivratri next year.
“Yoga is ancient yet modern, constant yet evolving, but the essence of yoga has not changed. It is important to preserve this essence,” Modi said.
A brainchild of spiritual leader Jaggi Vasudev Sadhguru, the statue showcases Shiva’s contribution as Adiyogi.
“It is essential that the next generations of people on this planet are seekers, not believers. As philosophies, ideology, belief systems that don’t stand the test of logic and the scientific verification will naturally collapse in coming decades, you will see the longing for liberation will rise. When that longing rises, Adiyogi and the science of yoga will become very important,” Sadhguru said.
During his visit to the Isha Foundation ashram, Modi took part in the “Pancha Bhuta Aradhana”, a yogic process of cleansing. He also visited the shrines of Dhyanalinga and the Linga Bhairavi.
The tallest bust of its kind, the height of Adiyogi’s face is symbolic of the 112 possibilities he explored for human beings to reach their ultimate potential, besides scientifically representing the 112 chakras of the human system.
Sadhguru said: “For the first time in the history of humanity, Adiyogi introduced the idea that the simple laws of nature are not permanent restrictions. If one is willing to strive, one can go beyond all limitations and attain liberation, moving humanity from assumed stagnation to conscious evolution.
“But, it also has a scientific significance – there are 112 chakras in the human system, with which you can work, to explore 112 dimensions of life. In pursuit of the divine, you don’t have to look up because it is not somewhere else. Each of the 112 possibilities is a method to experience the divine within you. You just have to pick one.”
The statue was designed by Sadhguru over a period of two and a half years, and built over the next eight months by the foundation’s in-house team. Sadhguru also expressed a desire to place similar statues of Adiyogi in the other three corners of the country.
Excerpts from Modi’s speech
Maha-Shivratri symbolises a union of divinity with a purpose, of overcoming darkness and injustice.
It inspires us to be courageous and fight for good. It marks the shift of seasons, from the cold to the lively spring and brightness.
From Somnath to Vishwanath, from Kedarnath to Rameshwaram and from Kashi to Coimbatore where we have gathered, Lord Shiva is everywhere.
Standing here before this 112-feet face of Adiyogi and the Yogeshwar Linga, we are experiencing a colossal presence enveloping everyone in this space.
In the times to come, the place where we have gathered is going to be a source of inspiration for all, a place to immerse one’s self and discover truth.
Today, yoga has come a long way. This is the beauty of yoga – it is ancient, yet modern, it is constant, yet evolving. The essence of yoga has not changed.
Yoga is the catalytic agent, ushering the transformation from Jiva to Shiva.
By practising yoga, a spirit of oneness is created – oneness of the mind, body and the intellect. Oneness with our families, with the society we live in, with fellow humans, with all the birds, animals and trees with whom we share our beautiful planet… this is yoga.
Yoga is the journey from ‘me’ to ‘we.’ Today, the whole world wants peace, not just peace from wars and conflict but peace of the mind. The burden of stress takes a heavy toll and one of the sharpest weapons to overcome stress is yoga.
There is ample evidence practising yoga helps combat stress and chronic conditions. If the body is a temple of the mind, yoga creates a beautiful temple.
That is why I call yoga a passport to health assurance. More than being a cure to ailments, it is a means to wellness.
Yoga is about Rog Mukti (freedom from diseases) as well as Bhog Mukti (desisting from worldly greed). Yoga makes the individual a better person in thought, action, knowledge and devotion.
It would be very unfair to see Yoga only as a set of exercises that keeps the body fit. You may see people twist and turn their bodies but they are not all yogis.
Yoga is far beyond physical exercises. Through Yoga, we will create a new yuga – a yuga of togetherness and harmony.
The coming together of so many nations to mark the International Day of Yoga illustrates the real essence of yogatogetherness. Yoga has the potential to herald in a new yuga (a new era)– a yuga of peace, compassion, brotherhood and allround progress of the human race.