Shiva Taught Yoga to our Ancestors and India Gifted Yoga to the World

Speaking in the UN, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev said that though Yoga originated in India, as an absolute science and technology for the well-being it cannot be Indian. He added India gifted it to the world. WHO was trying to integrate yoga and traditional practices into the allopathic medicine system and primary health services. To further this, India and WHO had recently signed an agreement. The folklore states that Shiva, the Adi Guru (First Great Master) taught Yoga to our ancestors. A report by Arindam.

Though Yoga originated in India, it is not Indian, said the seer Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, speaking at a UN meeting on Monday. He reasoned, rhetorically, yoga is “an absolute science and technology for the well-being….Science cannot be Indian” because of its universality.

He was addressing a multinational audience of diplomats and international officials.

He added, “The very fact that the UN has declared an International Yoga Day (popularly known as Yoga Day) means India has gifted it to the world.”

Vasudev was speaking at the Yoga Day eve event “Conversation with Masters: Yoga for the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

As part of Yoga Day celebrations, a series of yoga poses were projected on to side of the UN Secretariat building on Monday night.

In his address, Vasudev focused on yoga as a science and technology for human betterment that, he said, went beyond just physical well-being.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) executive director at the UN office, Nata Menabde, said yoga was India’s gift to the world and it was special because of that. WHO was trying to integrate yoga and traditional practices into the allopathic medicine system and primary health services. To further this, India and WHO had recently signed an agreement.

Background of International Day of Yoga

The idea of an International Day of Yoga was proposed by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), on September 27, 2014. He said, “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. This tradition is 5000 years old. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well-being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”

Following this initial proposal, the UNGA held informal consultations on the draft resolution entitled “International Day of Yoga”, on October 14, 2014. The consultations were convened by the delegation of India

On December 11, 2014, India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Mukherji introduced the draft resolution in UNGA. The draft text received broad support from 177 Member States who adopted the text without a vote. This initiative found support from many global leaders.

A total of 175 nations co-sponsored the resolution and had the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any UNGA Resolution of such nature.

When proposing June 21 as the date, Modi said that the date was the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, having special significance in many parts of the world. From the perspective of yoga, the summer solstice marks the transition to Dakshinayana. The first full moon after summer solstice is known as Guru Poornima. Shiva, the first yogi (Adi Yogi) is said to have begun imparting the knowledge of yoga to the rest of mankind on this day and became the first guru (Adi Guru).

Dakshinayana is also considered a time when there is natural support for those pursuing spiritual practices.

The Folklore of Yoga and Shiva

According to a legend, Lord Shiva is credited with propounding Hatha Yoga. It is said that on a lonely island, assuming nobody else would hear him, he gave the knowledge of Hatha Yoga to the Goddess Parvati, but a fish heard the entire discourse, remaining still throughout. The fish (Matsya) later became a siddha and came to be known as Matsyendranath.

Matsyendranath taught Hatha Yoga to his disciple Gorakshanath.

There are two versions about who Lord Shiva chose to impart knowledge of Yoga. One version says that he chose the longest day of Summer Solstice (June 21), to educate Parvati on that lonely island. Another version states that Shiva taught Brahma Tattvam (Hatha Yoga) to all Yogis, Saints, etc. The ‘when’ (longest day of Summer Solstice) remains unchanged in both versions.

Folklore varies many a times. There might several other versions of this story.

Every year in Northern hemisphere, the Summer Solstice falls on June 21. It is the day when Day is longest and the night is shortest. It is the day when Earth is at its closest distance from the Sun on its orbit.

Both versions of the folklore agree that on this day Yoga was taught by Lord Shiva. This is the reason why several Yogic Preachers had advocated celebrating June 21 as the International Yoga Day.

©Arindam Roy


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Arindam Roy

Arindam Roy

Arindam Roy has 35 years experience in various newsrooms. He was the Managing Editor of a reputed Gurgoan-based Citizen Journalist portal and has held senior positions in several publications. As Correspondent and Bureau Chief, he has written extensively for Associated Press, Times of India, Hindustan Times and multiple news outlets. He has contributed 13 chapters to various publications. Of these, seven chapters were published in two Coffee Table Books, published by the Times Group. He is a co-author of a novel, Rivers Run Back that he penned with Joyce Yarrow. The novel was launched at the American Centre, New Delhi, on January 2015. He lives in Allahabad.
Arindam Roy