Hindus are asking Vatican to take action against recently retired Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln (Nebraska, USA), for calling yoga a “serious sin”.
In a letter sent to “Women of Grace” ministry, Bruskewitz was quoted on its Blog as saying: “It would be most desirable for persons who are Catholic to abstain from the practice of yoga and use other methods to exercise . . . . We are never allowed to place our Catholic faith unnecessarily in any danger, and certainly the practice of yoga could be an occasion of serious sin . . .”
The Blog posted on “Women of Grace” adds: He correctly points out that yoga originated in, and is an important part of, various forms of the Hindu religion which is, in the Catholic perspective, “a pagan religion based on heathen beliefs and false doctrine of revelation involving such things as transmigration of souls, and so forth”.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged His Holiness Pope Francis to discipline Bruskewitz for unnecessary condemnation of yoga.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that on the other hand, seeing the proven benefits of yoga, it should be introduced in all the schools of the world; stressing that incorporating yoga in the lives of the students would be a step in the positive direction. According to US National Institutes of Health (NIH), yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. A recently released NIH survey report revealed that more Americans of all ages were rolling out their yoga mats in an effort to improve their health and approximately 21 million adults and 1.7 million children practiced yoga.
Rajan Zed further said that yoga, although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical.
Yoga, referred as “a living fossil”, was a mental and physical discipline, for everybody to share and benefit from, whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, Zed pointed out and added that yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche.
Rajan Zed noted that Vatican Library itself reportedly carried various yoga related books; like Bhaktiyoga, Yoga, Yoga-system of Patanjali, Yogic Powers and God Realization, etc.
Zed indicated that they would also inform United States Conference of Catholic Bishops about this.
“Women of Grace” claims to be “a Catholic apostolate whose mission is to transform the world one woman at a time by affirming women in their dignity and vocation as daughters of God and in their gift of authentic femininity”. With tagline of “Authentic Femininity”, mailing address of “Women of Grace” is listed as Oldsmar (Florida, USA); and Johnnette Benkovic is its Board President, while Bruskewitz and Bishop Terry Lavalley are Directors.