We at the Ministry of Unsolicited Advice and Healthful Advertising (MUA-HA) wish you a very Happy International Day of Yoga! We hope you have received at least one or fifteen SMS messages this week reminding you to practice yoga. Some of you lucky citizens may have received it daily for the last three days at the auspicious hour of 6.00am. You are welcome! We would love to encourage you more often to be early risers. With the right attitude, you too can be punctual, efficient and wise like those of us in government offices.
We took the liberty of sending the messages to everyone in our database, including those on the Do Not Disturb (DND) register. Dear citizen, this was purely done in your interest, since scientific studies prove that yoga is an antidote against unsolicited spam. With the daily practice of pranayama, you will soon forget your rage at the ineffectiveness of the DND register. Our own government officers have experienced this. One of them said that they used to get very annoyed at SMS ads. “Friday early morning I used to be getting some nuisance Pest Control ad: ‘50% off Bed-Bugs when you book Cockroach Annual Maintenance’, like that. But now, when I get such SMS, simply I do Shirshaasana (head-stand) and my anger evaporates through my feet. Plus, I am able to clearly see if at all cockroaches are there hiding under the sofa”.
All are invited to today’s yoga demonstrations, regardless of caste, creed, religion, or UK visa status. Some of our Muslim and Christian brethren have been a bit suspicious of our motives. We are very upset and perplexed by this. The way they are going about, it’s like we have a history of discriminatory practices or something. Regardless, we have decided to follow the well-trodden path and appease all such minorities. Maybe, after regular yoga, they too will learn to be as open-minded as Hindus.
You may be a little surprised that so many politicians and celebrities have suddenly revealed themselves to be practitioners of yoga. Isn’t it amazing? It’s like we have even more guru-jis and babas around us now. Now you know where they all get their high principles from. Through sustained practice and penance, they have been able to overcome lowly emotions, and rise high above materialism. This is why you never hear of sex scandals or shady business empires involving yoga gurus. Further, they have been able to awaken their inner divinity and love everyone without prejudice. It is out of this everlasting sea of love and wisdom that they make statements like “Go jump in the sea if you oppose Surya Namaskar” or “Yoga will cure homosexuality and increase GDP”. Such great role models, all of them.
Although it is firmly rooted in ancient Hindu–sorry, Indian SECULAR–tradition, yoga provides many useful tools for the 21st century politician. For example, asanas like Urdhva Dhanurasana train the body in bending with grace. This is useful for those countless situations when politicians need to bend over backwards, sometimes on humanitarian grounds, to accommodate the rich and the powerful. Asanas that teach the body to contort are useful during news-channel debates. While all others, including the moderator, are shouting at the camera, a yoga-practising politician can simply take some deep breaths and twist the facts. Finally, since nearly all asanas improve flexibility, politicians can use it to keep their morals agile and flexible to suit any sticky situation.
All our political parties, without exception, come from a long tradition of peace and love. Today, they will all come together to promote yoga as the traditional Indian path to world peace. Naysayers may point out that India still ranks in the bottom 25 countries when it comes to peace but we at MUA-HA know that this is not the result of divisive politics or power-play. It is simply because you, dear citizen, aren’t doing enough yoga. You are clearly not Indian enough. Hence, our SMS asking you to join us for an hour of simple yoga asanas this morning. If you don’t attend, we will be very upset at your disregard for your health and your nation. More importantly, we may not make it to the Guinness Book of Records. Sure, we may get into the Limca Book, but as you know, that is simply not the same thing as validation from the West. And what could be more Indian than that?
[This is a version of my column that appeared in Deccan Chronicle/Asian Age on 21st June 2015. ]