for ISKCON News on Jan. 28, 2012
Radhanath Swami, co-chairman for a panel at the conference, touched the audience with his inclusive yet non-compromising approach to the practice of Yoga with genuine God consciousness
Renowned masters from various Yoga schools—including ISKCON’s Yadunandana Swami and Radhanath Swami—met for an international Yoga conference this past December 4th and 5th at the headquarters of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation in Bangalore, India to agree on a date for a special World Yoga Day.
World Yoga Day, which representatives hope to have approved by the United Nations and UNESCO, will see the different schools of Yoga, regardless of their specialization, promote Yoga around the world for the benefit of everyone.
More than 300 delegates from all over India, Europe and the U.S. attended the conference, entitled Yoga: A Science for World Peace.
Yadunandana Swami, the principal of ISKCON’s Bhaktivedanta College in Belgium, and Radhanath Swami, who teaches Bhakti Yoga at various high profile venues around the world, joined prominent Yoga masters Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of the Art of Living Foundation, and B.K.S. Iyengar, President of the Yoga Teachers Association of India, for the event.
In his speech at a panel dealing with challenges faced by Yoga masters and practioners, Yadunandana Swami emphasized Bhakti and surrender to God as the essence of Yoga
Also attending were Svami Ramdev of the Patanjali Yogapith at Divya Yoga Mandir, Haridwar, Swami Paramatmananda, the General Secretary of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, and Dr. Nagendra, Rector of the S-VYASA University and Vivekananda Yoga University.
In his keynote speech at the event, B.K.S. Iyengar, who, at 94 years old is considered the grandfather of Yoga, stated that Yoga without Isvara Pranidhanat, or surrender to God, is not really Yoga.
Representing the Bhakti school of Yoga, Yadunandana and Radhanath Swamis also spoke at the event, which they were personally invited to by Jagat Guru Amrita Suryananda. Suryananda started the initiative to establish a World Yoga Day ten years ago in Portugual, where he is the spiritual master of the Portuguese Yoga Confederation—an organization with more than thirty ashrams and centers.
“We met in June 2011, during a celebration he was organizing in Portugal,” says Yadunandana Swami. “Meanwhile, he met Radhanath Swami while visiting the holy town of Mayapur in West Bengal with a group of disciples, and was very impressed by him.”
Some of the Grand Masters and Lineages at the closing ceremony
So much so that Radhanatha Swami was co-chairman with Amrita Suryananda Swami for one of the panels at the Yoga Conference, on keeping purity and authenticity in the practice of Yoga.
In his talk, Radhanath Swami referred to Bhagavad-gita 5.18, which discusses ‘pandita sama darshinah,’ or seeing with equal vision on the basis of God consciousness. The audience—which included nearly 3,000 guests at the height of the conference—were touched by his inclusive yet non-compromising approach to the practice of Yoga with genuine God consciousness.
“I also spoke, on another panel dealing with challenges faced by Yoga masters and practitioners,” Yadunandana Swami explains. “I referred to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and connected it with Rupa Gosvami's teachings in Sri Upadesamrita as well as the Srimad-Bhagavatam verse ‘sa vai pumsam paro dharmo’ in order to emphasize Bhakti and surrender to God as the essence of Yoga.”
By the end of the Conference, June 21st—the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere—was selected as World Yoga Day on the basis of a proposal by the Portuguese Yoga Confederation.
Delegates at the Conference agreed that World Yoga Day would be celebrated around the world by the Yoga institutes they represented, with the aim of popularizing the practice of Yoga around the world.
Representatives of various yoga schools gather at a post-summit meeting
“For ISKCON, I think this is an important opportunity to teach people who are attracted to Yoga about pure Bhakti,” says Yadunandana Swami. “Yoga brings people to the mode of goodness. If ISKCON devotees who feel attracted to this type of programs become involved, we can help Yoga teachers and practitioners to experience the process of Bhakti, especially through Krishna Kirtan.”
Yadunandana Swami is already helping to organize programs in Spain with Yoga teachers and organizations for 2012.
“I have participated in Yoga festivals in the past and the results are always very favorable, with a very favourable response from the participants,” he comments.
Amrita Suryananda Swami, along with a delegation from India, is expected to present World Yoga Day to the United Nations and UNESCO for their official approval later this year.