Indian Muslims doing yoga is a testament to our nation’s inherent secularism. As is Baba Ramdev’s practice of appearing on TV, a modern contraption invented by a Presbyterian Scotsman. Mondy Thapar elaborates.india Updated: Jan 30, 2009 12:24 IST
For years, I’ve been trying to get the media and, indeed the world at large, to notice India’s great syncretic, pluralistic culture. But no one seems to have given my efforts much importance. So when I opened yesterday’s Hindustan Times and turned to a wonderful package, ‘Yoga knows no religion’ (January 29), I was overjoyed and at the same time saddened.
I was overjoyed because at last someone had cared to focus on the common grounds between Hindus and Muslims rather than either focus on their differences, or moan about the existence of these differences.
The snapshots of Maliha Madani, Nasser Abdullah, Sabika Muzaffar, Ashrafi Baker and Murtaza Z. Kothawala, all Muslims in Delhi and Mumbai, captured in the lotus position and other yogic postures told a story of how India and India’s Muslims are radically different from those in, say, Indonesia and Malaysia, where yoga is banned for Muslims.
So why was I upset? Because although I had prepared a rather exhaustive list of Hindus who love eating biryani, nobody bothered to take it up seriously.
There were other lists I made also. Muslims who don’t mind a tipple or two; Indian Army personnel who have a soft spot for romantic movies; proud Indians who, despite their fierce patriotism, can’t resist sports footwear of international brands. The list of Hindus afraid of death despite knowing that all is maya is also reassuringly long.
But yes, Indian Muslims practising yoga is a testament to our nation’s inherent secularism. As is Baba Ramdev’s practice of appearing on TV, a modern contraption invented by a Presbyterian Scotsman.