"I am happy to be with all of you at the inauguration of the centennial year of one of the oldest schools of yoga in the world, the Yoga Institute, Mumbai.
This is a momentous occasion, a moment of celebration. This is a celebration of a century of dedication to the ancient Indian science of Yoga.
Yoga is a holistic approach to well being. It has physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions.
The word Yoga is derived from two roots. One signifying “connection” and the second signifying “concentration”. It connects physical health with mental equilibrium and emotional tranquility. It promotes concentration and focused attention.
The ancient Indian thought saw life as a unified whole. It perceived that there is a vital connection between physical health and emotional well being. The ancient seers have said ‘Shareeram Adyam khalu dharma sadhanam’ which means that you need to have a healthy body to fulfill your responsibilities and follow your dharma. Without physical health one cannot carry out one’s duties and responsibilities. At the same time, Indians believed that focusing only on physical exercises is limiting the vast potential of human endeavor and excellence. Beyond the physical, there is a metaphysical plane. That is why the proponents of yogic science have gone deeper into the interconnectedness in human life. They emphasized the importance of ‘concentration’ and being able to think, reflect and meditate quietly on the events happening around us. In those quiet moments, they visualized that all of us can make sound ethical decisions.
Sage Patanjali who compiled the first yoga philosophy defines yoga as an ability to control one’s own random thoughts and achieve a stillness, a calmness that creates inner harmony. This philosophy is usually referred to as Ashtanga Yoga.
This world view has ethics as the underlying bedrock of a harmonious, sustainable lifestyle. The components of this yogic philosophy form the ethical principles that are so universal: Non-Violence, truthfullness, non-stealing, fidelity to one’s partner and not being avaricious. It advocates purity of mind, speech and body, contentment, acceptance of others, perseverance, self study, self reflection, contemplation of the Supreme Being. Among its other facets are the posture, breathing exercises, abstraction, concentration, meditation and liberation. Clearly these aspects of the yogic philosophy cover both the physical as well as the metaphysical and the spiritual. The vision is so uniquely comprehensive and eminently practical.
Yoga has been a guiding philosophy for a number of variants in Buddhism and Jainism as well.
The emphasis on the physical exercises emerged around the 11th century AD in a branch of yoga called the Hatha yoga. These exercises have gained world-wide importance and prominence over the years. We, in India, felt that this treasure house of knowledge should be shared with the entire world. We are so pleased that, in 2014, the United Nations General Assembly has established 21st June as International Day of Yoga. This resolution has given a new impetus to the popularization of this ancient science.
Viewed from purely the physical aspect, yoga has proved to be a very powerful set of graded exercises which can be practiced by all – from children to youth and adults and even elderly. Studies have shown that many psychosomatic disorders can be healed through Yoga.
I congratulate the Yoga Institute which has been rendering yeomen service by training instructors and providing excellent services to humanity. Yoga Institute’s contribution has indeed made yoga a true global phenomenon. I congratulate the management, especially Smt. Hansaji Jaydeva Yogendra and Shri Hrishi Jayadeva Yogendra, for their continued dedication and hope that this strong tradition will be maintained for many more years to come.
Lord Krishna in the Bhagwat Gita talks of three Yogas – Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. These three dimensions - Action, Knowledge and Devotion - are relevant in all walks of life. We should be always active and work with total dedication and devotion. At the same time we should keep learning and spreading the knowledge as we keep doing our work.
If work, knowledge and devotion are combined, the work we do gets transformed into something quite extraordinary. Institutions like the Yoga Institute that have combined these three aspects have been pace setters. They have designed the Yoga Institute as a “Life School” and have been spreading the “yoga for the householder” movement in the world. I hope many more institutes will also follow the example set by this Institute and continue to make our lives healthier and more fulfilling.