‘Chant Om on Yoga Day’: Row erupts over UGC directive to varsities
A fresh controversy broke out on Tuesday over the UGC’s directive asking universities and colleges to follow Ayush ministry’s yoga protocol that begins with chanting of ‘Om’ and some Sanskrit sholakas during Yoga Day celebrations on June 21.
While Congress criticised the BJP-led government for being “insensitive”, saying yoga, a great discipline of ancient India, does not belong to the saffron party, JD(U) termed it as yet another attempt to “impose the communal agenda” on Indian masses.
“Yoga is a great knowledge of ancient India. It is not something that belongs to BJP. It should be made more acceptable system for the people to practice...Probably this government is unconcerned about these sensitive aspects,” Congress spokesperson PC Chako said.
Senior JD(U) leader K C Tyagi flayed the government, saying “This is again (an attempt) to impose the communal agenda on Indian masses. We are opposed to that. How can you say to a Muslim, Sikh, Christian to say ‘Om’. For me, I am a Hindu and I have no problem, but how can you ask people of other religion (to do it). This is again communalism... the divisive agenda of RSS. We condemn it.”
In his letter to universities last week, UGC secretary Jaspal S Sandhu had sought the “personal indulgence” of Vice Chancellors in celebrating yoga day in their varsities as well as affiliated bodies.
“I request you to draw action plan for International Day of Yoga and also ensure wide participation of students and teachers of your esteemed University in the yoga day celebrations,” the senior UGC official said in his letter along with the Ayush ministry’s 45-minute protocol for practising yoga.
The protocol starts with a two-minute prayer preceded by chants of ‘Om’ and some Sanskrit Shlokas and followed by 18 minutes of yoga postures and pranayam.
As per the protocol, participants would sit in a meditative pose for 9 minutes and there would be ‘Shanti Paath’ towards the end.
However, the government and BJP insisted last year’s protocol has been maintained and no changes have been made.
“There is no compulsion to chant ‘Om’,” a senior Ayush Ministry official said.
BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said, “There is no compulsion. Some people are linking yoga to religion while it is essentially meant for holistic well being. It should be a matter of pride that the UN celebrates Yoga Day and about 196 countries follow it. The dirty tricks department of the Congress is behind the controversy.”