'What Does Surya Namaskar Have to do With Religion,' Says Ramdev on Yoga Day Controversy

Yoga guru Ramdev

Haridwar: Yoga guru Ramdev will bring 5,000 of his followers to Rajpath on June 21, International Yoga Day, to perform yoga with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and about 30,000 others at Delhi's Rajpath. But their 35-minute early morning demonstration will not include the famous sun salutation or Surya Namaskar and not just because it is one of the harder yoga routines to perform.

The Surya Namaskar has reportedly not been included for the Yoga Day event in view of objections voiced by Muslim groups. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has said, "It is against our religious beliefs and should not be forced on our children."

At his sprawling Haridwar complex, Baba Ramdev said to NDTV, "What does breathing have to do with any religion?" adding, "One of the reasons the Surya Namaskar got controversial is because some people started chanting mantras with it.'' He said that was not necessary.

"People have not represented it well. In fact, you don't even have to look east while doing the Surya Namaskar." But the yoga teacher defended the chanting of "Om", saying it generates energy.

Seeking to allay the apprehensions of Muslim groups Baba Ramdev said, "When one does Namaz, isn't that exactly like Vajrasana?" pointing out the similarity between the posture for offering prayers in Islam and the yoga asana.

He appealed to religious leaders to join in the yoga day demonstration and said even the Darul ul loom seminary school Deoband had welcomed him and done yoga with him.

Before he heads to Delhi, the yoga guru will train bureaucrats and ministers of the Haryana government in a two-day session from June 15. He is the BJP-ruled state's brand ambassador and has also recently proposed a new education system to the state that includes moral education, Sanskrit and yoga.

"People have reduced the status of Sanskrit; I want it to be restored,'' Baba Ramdev said.

He said he has made a similar proposal to the Centre, also led by the BJP. "I have met Smriti Irani and the Prime Minister and they were very supportive,'' the yoga teacher said.
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