BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
The Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium in Taleigao hosting the Yog Shibir by Baba Ramdev was packed yesterday.
Busloads of teachers and students had to return as Baba Ramdev started at 4 pm sharp, without waiting for Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who finds it difficult to keep to the time given.
Close to ten thousand teachers and students from most parts of Goa made it to Taleigao by bus, car and scooter to participate in the Yog Shibir – an exercise of understanding yoga. But, many of those who managed to get a seat returned disappointed like those who could not attend.
The Yog Shibir, despite the apprehension of some teachers, did not fulfil its objective of creating awareness or educating those present.
The whole exercise was conducted at ground level with no screens made available for people seated at different levels of the stadium. So, many who were present, could neither see nor hear what transpired properly.
With the stadium filled to capacity, it was not possible to stand up to watch nor was it possible to find a better place from where one could see what was happening.
The organisers, according to Director of Education Shailesh Zingde, wanted students to attend, but it was decided against due to the logistics involved. However, the Department of Education’s oversight of not erecting screens was a major dampener of the evening.
“I could not follow anything” was a common refrain as participants left the auditorium in the evening.
Apart from not being able to see, many could not hear clearly what was being said as people unable to see, resorted to chatting.
Baba Ramdev and his students performed various yoga asanas and discussed their benefits, but most present were overwhelmed when Ramdev walked with his hands – that too at walking speed.
Many asanas and their utility were shared during the two-hour session. But in the end, it was clear that the Yog Shibir could have been organised with a little more thought.
Yoga is not a sport because it has no clear demarcations to determine a winner nor is it a science, or yet needs to be proved to be a science. At best, it is a way of living that was dormant in India but is finding life again.
Yoga is becoming popular in the West like many other Indian ideologies and systems of well-being, and its popularity has increased with the present political dispensation pushing it to unheard limits in the last few years.
The Oxford Dictionary defines yoga as “a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practised for health and relaxation”.
The yoga widely known in the West is based on hatha yoga, which forms one aspect of the ancient Hindu system of religious and ascetic observances, and meditation, the highest form of which is raja yoga.
The ultimate aim of raja yoga is spiritual purification and self-understanding leading to Samadhi, or union with the divine.
Ramdev, who styles himself as a yoga guru, finds ways of putting himself in the spotlight through unsubstantiated comments, the latest being that cancer cases have increased in India after the pandemic – a claim that was immediately rebuffed by medical experts.
Ramdev planned his visit to Goa during the ongoing festival of Carnival, which annually draws thousands of tourists from various states of India.
He has been seen running on Miramar Beach in Goa where his Patanjali Yog Samiti had organised a yoga camp.
The Yog Shibir was supposed to be held at Miramar Beach but was shifted at the last minute to not inconvenience teachers and students who would have had to brave the hot evening sun.
Going by the crowd at the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium, it was obvious that more people than expected made it.
If the organisers intended to hold a Yog Shibir to educate or propagate yoga, a better methodology should have been adopted so that all who participated could have benefitted.
Sessions could have been held for a group of a thousand or so and spread over Goa to make transport convenient.
At the end of the evening, few people appeared to have learnt anything because the atmosphere to absorb knowledge was missing. It was more of a mela where the meow could not be discerned from the moo.
Some teachers were sceptical about attending the function, and those who did, left disillusioned because of the manner in which it was conducted.