Since the inception of the International Day of Yoga and after having celebrated the first leg of its series at the UN headquarters in 2015. The stage is all set to commemorate its 3rd anniversary on 21st June 2017. Before, we begin to explore the idea behind this concept of International Day of Yoga, let’s trace back to the very foundation of Yoga and see how this practice has evolved over the years. Yoga has been a part of India since pre Vedic times. It is believed that Yoga was developed by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga is claimed to be first mentioned in the oldest sacred text, the Rig Veda in hymn 5.81.1 which is a dedication to rising Sun-god in the morning. However, Rigveda has a very little evidence to show as to what the practices were. The practice of pranayama in Yoga has made references in in hymn 1.5.23 of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, and the practice of pratyahara is mentioned in hymn 8.15 of Chandogya Upanishad. The Bhagavad Gita also uses the term Yoga extensively by naming each of its 18 chapters after a different Yoga. It introduces three prominent types of yoga –
Karma yoga (The yoga of action),Bhakti yoga (The yoga of devotion) and Jnana yoga (The yoga of knowledge).
It was in 1893, when Swami Vivekananda addressed the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, wherein he introduced Yoga to the western world and has been a part of the lifestyle of many people since then.
The very idea behind the foundation of this landmark day, goes back to 24 September 2014, when Mr.NarendraModi during his speech at UNGA stated that) –
“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. 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 wellbeing. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”
Followed by his speech, on December 11 2014, AsokeMukherji introduced the draft resolution in the UNGA (Resolution 69/131). The idea received a whooping support from 177 Member States which is the highest number of sponsors ever for any UNGA resolution of such nature. This idea attracted support from many global leaders as well. It is likewise imperative for us to know that, when we talk about the International Day of Yoga, the date 21 JUNE holds a very vital connotation as it is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere having special significance from the perspective of Yoga. the summer solstice marks the transition to Dakshinayana. The Hindu God Shiva, who is known as the first yogi (Adi Yogi), is said to have begun imparting the knowledge of yoga to the rest of mankind on this day.
Spiritual leader and the man behind Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lauded the idea behind International Day of Yoga by saying-
“It is very difficult for any philosophy, religion or culture to survive without state patronage. Yoga has existed so far almost like an orphan. Now official recognition by the UN would further spread the benefit of Yoga to the entire world.”
Since then, the world is celebrating this day with utmost devotion and enthusiasm. The first function for the International Day of Yoga on 21 June 2015 was conducted by Ministry of AYUSH which made the necessary arrangements for the event. The celebration witnessed a staggering 35,985 people, including NarendraModi and a large number of dignitaries who performed yoga asanas at Rajpath in the capital city of New Delhi. The theme for the global celebration was SYNERGY.In the following year, i.e 2016, the Ministry of AYUSH organized an event “The National Event of Mass Yoga Demonstration” with the theme CONNECT THE YOUTH at Chandigarh.
Subsequently, to mark the celebrations of this day in the year 2017, a world record is set to be made in Mysuru at Mysuru Race Course where it is reported that a total of 60,000 people would perform Yoga. A group of school students from the City Montessori School are going to perform at the UN headquarters in New York.
Prime Minister NarendraModi along with many Yoga enthusiasts, several dignitaries, politicians and bureaucrats will gather at Lucknow’sRamabhaiAmbedkarSabhaSthal to showcase the event, and Sri SriRavishankar would be leading the celebrations at Himachal Pradesh. The central theme for this year is YOGA FOR HEALTH. It is also to be noted that, the UN Postal Administration is all set to issue a set of stamps showing 10 yoga asanas. The 10 stamps of $1.15 denomination each depict a different yoga pose next to a large ‘Om’ in Devanagari script. The aim to celebrate this day is to make the citizens aware of the benefits of Yoga and lead a healthy and peaceful life.
IIIrd Year, B.A. LLB (Hons.), Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad
Editor at Indian National Bar Association