Meera Nanda’s Ignorance Revisited

About two years ago, writing about how Meera Nanda proudly strutted her ignorance, I observed two things at the outset:

Perhaps it takes only a Meera Nanda to have the guts to strut her ignorance with such confidence. It took me a few days to digest what she actually wants to say.

Now, two years later, we see that she’s lost none of these two distinguishing traits that mark her as a writer–I’d have said “intellectual” and “scholar” but she’s herself left enough records to show otherwise—of ignorant and confounding mass of words. Exhibit N, 12 Feb 2011:  Not as Old as You Think.

The byline in itself is enough to prevent you from reading the ignorant nonsense of oceanic proportions. It says Yoga is not “very Hindu either. There is telling evidence to debunk this nationalistic myth.” But I did myself a disservice by swimming through her verbal scum because scholarly falsehoods are more dangerous.

One of the first things that confronts you when trying to write a rebuttal to any piece of Meera Nanda is: how the hell do I respond? As you sift through her textual muck, you detect a few patterns, which all lead up to the whole picture:

  1. Hinduism is bad
  2. Hindutva is worse
  3. There’s nothing positive about either/both
  4. Nationalism is dangerous
  5. Everything associated with Hinduism is negative/bad/dangerous by default

Her current piece though is novel and deceptive because it preempts “objections” by “Hindutva fanatics” and “nationalists.” Here’re the “objections:”

Indians tend to affirm their claims on yoga by trotting out the familiar icons of the ‘5,000-year-old Vedic tradition,’ which supposedly stretches from the Pashupati seal of the (actually very unVedic) Indus Valley civilisation to the Bhagvad Gita and the venerable Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Yoga, Indians like to solemnly declare, is ‘eternal’ and ‘timeless’ and all the great yoga masters, from Swami Vivekananda to BKS Iyengar to Baba Ramdev of our own time, have only restored or reinstituted an ancient practice. It is also commonplace to hear Indians—even those who are not particularly spiritual themselves—blame Americans and other ‘decadent’ Westerners for reducing their spiritually rich tradition to mere calisthenics. Lately, Hindus in America have started flying the saffron flag over American-style yoga, which consists largely of yogic asanas and stretches. The leading Indo-American lobby, Hindu American Foundation (HAF), has recently started a vocal campaign to remind Americans that yoga was made in India by Hindus. Not just any ordinary Hindus, but Sanskrit-speaking, forest-dwelling Brahmin sages who learned to discipline their bodies in order to purify their atman. The purist Hindu position, articulated by the HAF, is that all yoga, including its physical or hatha yoga component, is rooted in the Hindu religion/way of life that goes all the way back to the Vedic sages and yogis.

Here are just a few problems with this: she doesn’t present any evidence to her claim that the Pashupati seal is un-Vedic. Equally, she doesn’t cite any article or authority that says that BKS Iyengar and Ramdev have restored the ancient practice." She also doesn’t include any evidence to support her claim that the HAF’s definition of Hindus who “made Yoga in India” were the “Sanskrit-speaking, forest-dwelling Brahmin sages.”  This done, she claims with same arrogant air of confidence that

There is only one problem with this purist history of yoga: it is false.

What follows this is pure and naked nightmare. Of the textual variety. Here’s how it begins.

Yogic asanas were never ‘Vedic’ to begin with. Far from being considered the crown jewel of Hinduism, yogic asanas were in fact looked down upon by Hindu intellectuals and reformers—including the great Swami Vivekananda—as fit only for sorcerers, fakirs and jogis.

Really? Who even claimed that asanas were Vedic, to begin with? The mention about “Hindu intellectuals and reformers,” Swami Vivekanada, et al is a case study in selective quoting. I’ve dwelt on this issue earlier so it doesn’t merit repetition here. But the real question to ask is this: why did he and others “look down upon” asanas? Because they’re mere aids, which if relied upon exclusively, can be disastrous. As I’ve said at least thrice in the past, while debunking the spiritual profiteer Deepak Chopra, asanas are not Yoga and vice versa. However, in Meera Nanda’s clever-by-half spin doctoring,

Moreover, what HAF calls the “rape of yoga”, referring to the separation of asanas from their spiritual underpinning, did not start in the supposedly decadent West; it began, in fact, in the akharas and gymnasiums of 19th and 20th century India run by Indian nationalists seeking to counter Western images of effete Indians.

This is barefaced falsehood. The Chandogya Upanishad dating back to at least the 1st Century BCE, says that:

A hundred and one are the arteries of the heart, one of them leads up to the crown of the head. Going upward through that, one becomes immortal. (8.6.6)

The Crown of the Head is the Sahasrara Chakra of the Kundalini Yoga. One wonders how you can have this conception without first having a system of Yoga that defines and explains it. But Meera Nanda propounds that it’s perfectly logical to build the third floor without first laying a foundation. And in a bizarre twist of facts and history, she claims that this “separation” started in the 19th and 20th Indian akharas by Indian nationalists! The rape of yoga is precisely that. Here’s the thing: no Hindu has a problem with gurus and gyms teaching asanas. But to call that as Yoga outrages people. But there’s worse:

Far from honestly acknowledging the Western contributions to modern yoga, we Indians simply brand all yoga as ‘Vedic,’ a smug claim that has no intellectual integrity.

Sure. Most Hindus don’t have a problem acknowledging the West’s contributions to asanas. We come from a culture that has honoured the contributions of the Kushans, essentially as “foreign” a race as it can get. And I have little doubt in my mind that had Newton lived in India, he’d have been honoured as a sage, a Rishi. But what this comment from Nanda shows is how her intellectual integrity works. We don’t fail to notice how cleverly she equates Yoga with Asana, an intellectual treason that she shares with the demigods of the Marxist-Secular pantheon and peddlers like Deepak Chopra. “Modern Yoga” eh? Yoga—and I shall never tire of repeating this—is a unified system of which asana is simply a minor component. And Yoga is derived from the Vedas. As an aside, I recommend reading Sarvesh’s really excellent and in depth piece that conclusively demonstrates how you cannot delink Yoga from Hinduism. There’s nothing like “modern Yoga.” And then she does a sudden zig-zag and states that the main theme of her essay is to unearth the “hidden history of modern postural yoga.”

Thus far, we have been handed these menu items on her grand feast:

  1. Yogic asanas
  2. Vedic Yoga
  3. Asanas divorced from their “spiritual underpinning”
  4. Modern Yoga
  5. Modern Postural Yoga

I challenge you to detect one, exactly one logical thread that connects and leads to these conclusions. This is followed by a no-brainer rant on the HAF, which among other things, makes veiled attacks on everybody from BKS Iyengar to Baba Ramdev without—sigh, as usual—a shred of evidence. However, this rant gets interesting towards the end:

Many yoga studios use Indian classical or kirtan music, incense, signs of ‘om’ and other paraphernalia of the Subcontinent to create a suitably spiritual ambience. Iyengar yoga schools begin their sessions with a hymn to Patanjali, the second-century composer of the Yoga Sutras, and some have even installed his icon. This Hinduisation is not entirely decorative either, as yoga instructors are required to study Hindu philosophy and scriptures to get a licence to teach yoga.

Meera Nanda inadvertently drops the boulder on her own feet. The sinister reference to “Hinduisation” apart, she lays bare what she has chosen to “criticize.” Did she wonder why Yoga instructors are required to study Hindu philosophy to qualify? I leave the reader to figure the answer out.

And then she launches a tirade against the Take Back Yoga campaign of the HAF, which is similar in tone and content to the previous sections until we get here:

The take-back-yoga campaigners are not impressed with the growing visibility of Hindu symbols and rituals in yoga and other cultural institutions in the US.

This is a classic case of giving the dog a bad name. If you read several of the HAF’s campaigns, the truth is otherwise: the HAF is more concerned about the way in which these symbols and rituals are represented, and not with their growing visibility. And further,

They still find Hindu-phobia lurking everywhere they look. They want Americans to think of yoga, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the great Vedas when they think of Hinduism, instead of the old stereotypes of caste, cows and curry. They would rather, to paraphrase Shukla, that Hinduism is linked less with holy cows than Gomukhasana (a particularly arduous asana); less with colourful wandering sadhus and more with the spiritual inspiration of Patanjali.

The same technique applied again. If you scan news reports of the last 10 years at least, you find that the debates that raged on Sulekha (very popular then) were about how the US academia and media distorted Hindu concepts and portrayed India in general and Hinduism in a negative light. Then the California textbook controversy where US school children were taught that Hindus worshipped monkeys. If you were a Hindu parent living in the US, how’d you react is a question Meera Nanda never asks. In the same vein, Nanda doesn’t talk about the instant, manufactured outrage when even a frission of perceived insult to Islam occurs in the US. Still further,

It seems this yoga-reclamation campaign is less about yoga, and more about the Indian diaspora’s strange mix of defensiveness and an exaggerated sense of the excellence of the elite, Sanskritic aspects of Hindu religion and culture.

It’s obviously too much to expect Meera Nanda to understand or even have an iota of knowledge about Yoga but we don’t fail to notice her contempt for what she brands is the “excellence of the elite, Sanskritic aspects of Hindu religion and culture.” Any aspect about Hindu culture, tradition and philosophy requires a holistic and “360-degree” view if you sincerely want to understand it. Thus, if you want to understand Yoga darshana (Philosophy), you must at the least have a superb command of Sanskrit and the Vedas.  Else, you’ll spout retarded nonsense like “this yoga-reclamation campaign is less about yoga…and an exaggerated sense of the excellence of the elite, Sanskritic aspects of Hindu religion and culture.” Going by the sheer amount of bile she’s generated about “elite” and “Sanskrit,” we wonder if she favours disbanding a quest for excellence.

What follows is truly mind-numbing for the sheer leap of logic.

This debate is really about two equally fundamentalist views of Hindu history. The underlying objective is to draw an unbroken line connecting 21st century yogic postures with the nearly 2,000-year-old Yoga Sutras, and tie both to the supposedly 5,000-year-old Vedas.

Wait, don’t let the acrid stench disgust you yet. Meera Nanda has shown nothing that proves that this debate is about “fundamentalist views of Hindu history.” All she has given us so far is some incomprehensible terminology: ref the menu items from #1 thru #5 above. As for her note about drawing an unbroken line, again, she hasn’t shown that Yoga didn’t exist in the Vedas or that Yogic postures/asanas are not Yoga. Actually, the fact is the exact opposite: today’s Yoga is the same as it was at the time it was conceived, in the Vedas. No amount of word play and semantic masturbation will make the truth a falsehood. Not especially when even a drop of evidence is absent.

Oh wait, actually she presents “evidence.” Here:

Anyone who goes looking for references to popular yoga techniques like pranayam, neti,  kapalbhati or suryanamaskar in classical Vedic literature will be sorely disappointed.

This is so absurd that it’s brilliant. Some of the immediate places that somebody desirous of learning Asanas and Pranayama will go to are the following:

  • An exponent of these physical practices
  • An instruction manual
  • An audio tape/CD that explains these instructions

“Classical Vedic literature” won’t even figure on such a person’s list. But he’s not Meera Nanda. Even more brilliance ensues.

The four Vedas have no mention of yoga. The Upanishads and The Bhagvad Gita do, but primarily as a spiritual technique to purify the atman.

By mentioning Vedas and Upanishads as separate works, her erudition has truly dazzled the Heavens. One doesn’t wish one’s enemy to be in Meera Nanda’s position. Her claim that the Upanishads do mention Yoga simply means she has negated herself. It’s kinda shocking that Meera Nanda as a visiting professor isn’t aware that the Upanishads are part of the Veda. Equally, her other claim that Upanishads mention Yoga “primarily as a spiritual technique to purify the atman” is again a falsehood because:

Asana had already acquired a technical sense during mahAbhArata, and even before, from upaniShadic times. That patanjali does not need to define Asana itself, but simply add more specific qualifiers to it, also shows that the concept of specific Asanas was already a common knowledge. Such names of Asanas as padmAsana, daNDAsana, bhadrAsana, svAstikAsana, and vIrAsana, vajrAsana etc. were so very common and well known among the Hindus already from very early days. By as early as the 6th century we find the yoga authors not only mentioning them by name, but in a sense that it was such a common knowledge that simply indicating a few names appended by ‘etcetera’ is sufficient to indicate them all.

This also punctures Nanda’s other preposterous claim that

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, devotes barely three short sutras (out of 195) to physical postures, and that too only to suggest comfortable ways of sitting still for prolonged meditation…

And then she writes something that so horribly stretches the limits of ludicrousness that you wonder how this even got published in a mainstream, serious magazine.

Hatha yoga was a creation of the kanphata (split-eared) Nath Siddha, who were no Sanskrit-speaking sages meditating in the Himalayas. They were (and still are) precisely those matted-hair, ash-smeared sadhus…Indeed, if any Hindu tradition can at all claim a patent on postural yoga, it is these caste-defying, ganja-smoking, sexually permissive, Shiva- and Shakti-worshipping sorcerers, alchemists and tantriks, who were cowherds, potters and suchlike. They undertook great physical austerities not because they sought to achieve pure consciousness, unencumbered by the body and other gross matter, but because they wanted magical powers (siddhis) to become immortal and to control the rest of the natural world.

How does one even take this seriously much less respond to it? What next? Some oppressed or tribal guy who conceives a new posture to ejaculate without intercourse or masturbation? Some backward lady who can transform herself into a snake at will? More nonsense follows:

Far from being purely Vedic, hatha yoga was born a hybrid. As Amartya Sen reminded us in his recent address to the Indian Science Congress, universities like Nalanda were a melting pot where Buddhist Tantra made contact with Taoism from China…Taoists were already experimenting with qigong, which involved controlled breathing and channelling of ‘vital energy’. Taoist practices bear an uncanny similarity with the yogic pranayam, leading scholars to believe that the two systems have borrowed from each other: Indians learning exercise-oriented breathing from Taoists, and Taoists in China learning breathing-oriented meditation from their Indian neighbours…But this Taoist-Buddhist-Shaivite synthesis was only the beginning.

And then she uses this ridiculous and misleading “premise” to somehow link it to BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, et al.

The problem for historians of modern yoga is that even these medieval hatha yoga texts describe only a small fraction of modern yogic postures taught today. BKS Iyengar’s Light on Yoga alone teaches 200 asanas, while the 14th century Hatha Yoga Pradipika lists only 15 asanas, as do the 17th century Gheranda Samhita and Shiva Samhita.

Even if we grant her her nonsense,  we can’t overlook her falsehood yet again. What she fails to mention is the fact that there are a few “basic” asanas and that a small variation in any of these asanas can be given a new name. For example, Matsyasana (Fish pose) is, broadly speaking, a variation of the Padmasana (Lotus pose) as it’s impossible to do Matsyasana without first doing Padmasana.  This way, you can experiment and come up with your own variation and give it a name. Because BKS Iyengar teaches 200 asanas and the Gheranda Samhita teaches 20 doesn’t prove anything. If anything, it simply proves the all-inclusive nature of the system of Yoga (notice, I’m not using the word Yoga here). Meera Nanda follows this up with an attack on Iyengar, Jois, and their common guru, Krishnamacharya on the grounds of fabricating and/or inventing ancient texts. This is a charge they should answer if they want to. But the point is, why does Meera Nanda hold them as a kind of final authority on Yoga or asanas? She doesn’t stop there. She unearths some research by a Swede student and some Mark Singleton, who as far as my research has informed me, have no credentials that establish them as authorities on the subject. The “research” basically talks about how Krishnaraja Wodeyar III and IV hired Krishnamacharya to teach “Yoga routines” to the princes and how his “Yoga routines” incorporated some exercises and techniques borrowed from the West. Note again her use of “Yoga routines” instead of asanas as if the two are interchangeable.

Her monumental nonsense concludes thusly:

Hinduism, whether ancient, medieval or modern, has no special claims on 21st century postural yoga. To assert otherwise is churlish and simply untrue.

This “conclusion” is basically the same refrain found in her entire piece. What we really have is this: a presumptuous article written in dense and cryptic prose containing a mass of accusations hurled liberally at people and organizations, and backed by almost no or false evidence by a person thoroughly ignorant of the subject she’s writing about. In other words, it’s a mere smear-pamphlet. Not only does this raise questions about her academic credentials but, and more seriously, damages the credibility of Open magazine as a publication that carries unbiased, factual, and well-researched articles.

46 comments for “Meera Nanda’s Ignorance Revisited

  1. November 21, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    The facts about real Yoga are really very simple for any honest individual.
    1. Real Yoga is Hindu Dharma.
    2. Real Yoga is taught by Hindus.
    3. Real Yoga is not up for sale.

    Obviously the modern phony yoga strikes out on all three counts.

    Yoga is a Sanskrit (“The ancient Aryan [noble] language of the Hindus”) word. The Sanskrit/Hindu definition for Yoga is “Yuj Atman Brahman ca” (“to yoke to one’s individual Soul and Soul Source”). The various real Yogas are the means by which Hindus achieve this Soul/Self-Realization: Karma; Bhakti; Hatha; Raja; Jnana; Mantra; Japa; Nada and Nata Yoga.

    Hatha Yoga (the one most abused by simply the use of “yoga”) is highly Hindu devotional. The very Sanskrit/Hindu word “Ha/tha” means devotion to Siva (Hara); Vishnu (Hari) and the Moon and Sun (tha), respectively.

    The least bit of research (Dictionary; Encyclopedia; books on comparative religions; books on Hinduism as well as books on other religions [to know where Yoga is not]), will reveal the facts to any honest individual.

    Divorcing any aspect of Yoga from Hinduism is dishonest and cruel and simply another example ego-driven invader mentality.

    Swami Param
    Dharma Yoga Ashram
    Classical Yoga Hindu Acadcemy

  2. August 4, 2012 at 4:49 AM

    I have your rebuttals to Meera Nanda’s articles. They are great.
    My mother teaches me a few things about Hinduism every-time I visit home in holidays. From her my faith in my religion has strengthened over time. I strongly believe that Hinduism is the most scientific religion and all our traditions in their proper form derive from logic, reasoning and knowledge of the nature. Sadly people like Meera Nanda defame our beautiful religion. She is using her Hindu name too, it is clearly obvious if she were to write all that stuff using a Christian name no one would pay attention. Good job and thank you for these posts.

  3. March 21, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    By this twisted logic of Mrs. Meera Nanda :

    Bharatanatyam has nothing to do with Hinduism. It is invented by Rukmini Devi Arundale, who mingled with theosophists and even studied western classical dance. Bharata Muni didn’t exist, all the books and postures attributed to him are falsehoods. The temple statues of dance were just advertising prostitutes working there. Nothing connected to the spiritual tradition or Hindu philosophy.

    This is, of course, utter tosh.

    Meera Nanda is really worried to accomplish in a hurry what colonialists and proselytizers couldn’t finish in 300 years of British rule : whitewash all aspects of Hindu culture as not Hindu (except for the really loathsome ones).

    Yoga is a fundamental aspect of Hinduism : forming one of the 6 astika darshanas (philosophical traditions) that refer to the authority of the Vedas. The Yoga Asanas have come from a careful study of the Pancha Sharira (5-fold human body, extending from the materiall plane into the planes of breath, mind, understanding, and bliss) by learned sages of the past, who treated the human body as a sacred realm of gods, and not an object of contempt – as Meera Nanda’s employers (Templeton Foundation) – would like us to believe.

  4. November 19, 2011 at 2:40 AM

    I hope somebody here will be able to help me out. My pal and I discovered some very nice brand new yoga outfits from MeSheeky that we wish to own, but I cannot find where to get these products on line. I was informed about them when I was in Alaska this summertime and stumbled upon a new fantastic store that I highly recommend everyone to go have a look at if you’ve got the opportunity… bodyphlo 1002 W Northern Lights Blvd, Anchorage, AK 99503 (907) 276-1464. Thanks!

  5. Harry Rakhraj
    March 3, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    Prof Meera Nanda seems to have missed the woods for the trees!
    Nary a peep about the spiritual-somatic miracle that is ‘Yoga’.
    A well researched and logical rebuttal.

  6. Sid
    March 1, 2011 at 5:20 AM

    It is a news to me that they have a print edition. So, they have taken slimes route (slimes keep publishing opinion-makers such as Tarun Vijay in web while they get no mention in the print edition). I guess u r right then, but I was initially impressed that at least a protesting voice gets registered there.

  7. Ranvir
    March 1, 2011 at 4:51 AM

    More examples of standing asanas.

    1. Here is one such from the Virupaksha Temple in Pattadakallu. This is
    from the 7th century:
    2. Yet another from the same temple:

    3. Here is a depiction of the 16-armed Vishnu from the 6th century Badami
    Caves (Vatapi, the capital of the Chalukyas):

  8. February 28, 2011 at 11:33 PM

    Unless I am mistaken, while Nanda’a original piece was a cover story for Open’s print edition, Swaminathan’s (from HAF) response has only been made available in their website. And BTW, Nanda replied back with more ignorant ranting accompanied by her characteristic arrogant haughtiness. I presume HAF will give a riposte to Nanda’s latest verbal vomit.

    Some years back Outlook published an interview of Doniger by Seema Sirohi (a JNU graduate and a compulsive Hindu hater) where not surprisingly consummate bile was regurgitated upon Hinduism. Aditi Banerjee gave a very erudite response brutally exposing Doniger. However, Banerjee’s riposte was only put online and didn’t make it to their print edition.

    Open is no better than say Frontline, Outlook, NDTV, CNN-IBN or any other news outlet. They are all, as the saying in Hindi goes, “ek hi khet ki muli” (a crude English equivalent: “leaves of the same tree”).

  9. Sid
    February 28, 2011 at 1:00 AM

    Here is a rebuttal of the article of Meera Nanda from the same Open Magazine:

    Me thinks that Open may not be same as NDTV or IBN/CNN. If we do not like some of the point of views proposed in Open Mag, we should try to publish a rebuttal in Open Mag.

  10. February 26, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    Well analyzed

  11. Jooske
    February 25, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    great analysis of the scum/vomit that Meera Nanda writes.

    also see

  12. February 24, 2011 at 3:42 AM

    Great rebuttal. Meera Nanda’s outrageous vomits have been published in the past by Mainstream Media as well. Her misfortune however is that, everytime she gets published, she tickles enough people and earns herself hard-hitting rebuttals. Keep it up.

  13. Mas
    February 22, 2011 at 1:40 AM

    Manu Joseph, the editor of Open Magazine, recently received the FrontLine best Fiction Award. So the criteria for FrontLine award are: publish anti-Hindu or Bharat Culture, promote communist writers. So we can expect more and more anti-Hindu articles in OPEN Magazine. So Rs. 500,000 is the amount one needs to pay to to turn a real secular magazine to pseudo-secular magazine. Shame, shame! Just like the famous quote (non-existing) used by Christians, “Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins”, we could say, “Manu Joseph betrayed Hindus and secularism for Rs. 500,000 from Commmies.

  14. trueq
    February 20, 2011 at 5:09 AM

    thinking hard , read the times of india report on naxals going global ( Just rationalise how it can go global. isnt it funny and revealing the hidden agenda) and read Rajiv Malhotras bk posted above , you will get all answers.

  15. trueq
    February 20, 2011 at 4:53 AM
    Sandeep , please read this bk and do a write up on this.

  16. Amit
    February 20, 2011 at 2:03 AM

    Sandeep, excellent rebuttal. Seems like she hasn’t changed her colors since you rebutted her trashy piece in 2009.

  17. thinking_hard
    February 19, 2011 at 12:41 AM

    Conversion lobby is going too far with their diabolical agenda. Consider the struggle that Sadhvi Pragya is going through without any credible proof against her. Now Swamy Aseemananda is the next victim. Whether he is really culprit or not is a matter for court to decide. Unlike the crowd that worships Binayak Sen, we are not preposterous enough to suggest that he should be released without trial before the courts. But please sign this petition to ensure that there is justice to both likes of Aseemananda and the victims of the terror which he has been alleged to commit. We do not want to repeat the things that happened with Sadhvi Pragya, do we?

  18. cynicalcount
    February 18, 2011 at 3:10 PM’s-confession/

    Please read this and you all will know how these organisations/ people work.

  19. February 18, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Hindu Dharma Shastras say contributing even a brick to construct a temple derives the same benefit as that of performing Ashwamedha Yagna. My humble appeal to this group of Hindu Aasthiks – There is a 500+ year old temple in Mogappair, Chennai that is in needs of funds for building the temple and main Gopurum. The temple is presently in ruins and needs to renovated. The estimate is close to Rs. 1 Crore (including building the Main Shrine in black granite stones). Please contribute whatever you can.
    Please send contributions to favor “Sri Vaikundanathaswamy Seva Samithi”.
    Address: SriVaikundanathaswamy Temple, Vellalar Street, Periya Nolambur, Mogappair West, Chennai 600 037.

  20. February 17, 2011 at 8:48 PM

    The Christian link is apparent in this hit-peice — Editor of Open magazine is a Christian and this lady Meera Nanda regularly visits a Christian fundamentalist college in the US. Here is a comment on Open magazine website under this story:


    Apparently this author visits a CHRISTIAN college in US called “Trinity College” whose motto is “For the Church and For the Nation” along with many other Christians..

    This CHRISTIAN College in US organizes many programmes related to religion..

    Info on the Christian College’s site about her participation :-

    And info about this very CHRISTIAN college :-,_Hartford

    It is very obvious that Christian are scared of Indian Culture and Religion, hence is using these agents to separate Yoga and its VERY HINDU roots..

    Their agenda is to take away the credit from Hindu society…

    People.. please boycott this Magazine and other agents of Christian Nations who are working against the interest of Hindus..

    BOYCOTT this ANTI Hindu Magazine..

    Boycott Meera Nanda..

    – A Citizen exercising his right to freedom of speech.


  21. sridhar
    February 17, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    Hi sandeep,

    This is an eye opener for all those who are carried away by these nonsence magazines. Thank you very much for such a wonderful write up.

  22. Jay
    February 17, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    Gr8 rebuttal to Meera Nanda’s ignoramus rant Sandeep bandhu! Kudos! :)

  23. Sudarshan
    February 17, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    FYI, slight correction. Where the Chandogya says “A hundred and one are the arteries of the heart, one of them leads up to the crown of the head. Going upward through that, one becomes immortal. (8.6.6)” it does not refer to the Sahasrara Chakra – it refers to the “Naadi system”. That one naadi is called the Sushumna Naadi. If the Atma is liberated through that, it is supposed to give Moksha to the Aaatma.

  24. Malavika
    February 17, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Sometimes it is good to look at the bio data, backers and source of funding for these ‘scholars’. Ms Nanda is a Templeton sponsored scholar, and Templetons ideological leanings are ‘Southern Baptists’. Is it any surprise that she sings for her supper. Recently she did a hit job on Sam Harris for his denunciation of Christianity and Islam and his fascination with Hindu Buddhist spirituality.

    She was severely criticized for that too.

  25. February 17, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    In order for these ideologically motivated “scholars” to win, all that is required is that people who do know the truth to remain quiet. Thankfully, the Internet gives bloggers like Sandeep a platform to debunk these lies. Otherwise the Marxist historian cult will continue to hold sway as it has done in the period when there was nobody to answer them.

    @Manas: D N Jha is an old cog in the Marxist machine. Read this:

  26. February 17, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    The same open magazine that publishes Nanda’s ignorant and mendacious piece attempting to decouple yoga from Hinduism, reports favorably on inculturation (read cultural appropriation) by the Church in India as means for facilitating conversions:

  27. February 17, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    Sandeep, could you please start all such articles with the line

    “He/She is a JNU historian”

    This one line, kind of, creates a summary of the character of the person you are going to describe. I recommend everyone to read “Eminent Historians” by Arun Shourie to learn about how and how much of poison these jokers are putting into our society.

  28. seadog4227
    February 17, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    The eminent historians, communists and western collaborators desperately wish to create a parallel universe.
    Despite repeated efforts since at least a 150 years, Sanatana Dharma stands tall.Swami Vivekananda states as much in his works about the mud slung at us.
    We learn, respect and tell the truth to whomsoever we meet as a beginning against this onslaught.
    Btw, Wikipedia notes that Meera Nanda is a biologist. There are no interviews credited to her. As in the Ram Janmabhumi case, the “eminent historians” who provided evidence in court against the Hindus, were all Hindus. Their hatred runs deep, as does Nanda’s. Their bias, shoddy scholarship and criminal intent was instantly exposed by the online copies of the Ram Janmabhumi case verdict.
    A thoroughly discredited philosophy like Communism bears unbelievable hatred against us and keeps increasing its’ numbers through govt. funded institutions like the JNU.
    Youtube has a series of interviews with Yuri Bezmenov, former soviet spy. Pls google and watch.

  29. Rama
    February 17, 2011 at 6:20 AM

    Great article, Sandeep, as usual. Also, thank you Mr Krishnadas, you made my day!

  30. February 17, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    Great rebuttal Sandeep!

    Unfortunately, it seems a lot of people got carried away by Open’s work in the “Nira Radia-Barkha Dutt” matter. Publishing Nanda’s ignorant and hate-filled repugnant bile against Hinduism is only a continuation of Open’s subtle yet gaining in strength campaign against Hinduism. Take a look at this interview of D.N. Jha (an eminent historengineer from the labyrinths of Indian Marxist historicity) by Hartosh Singh Bal (

    Open is starting to look like Frontline Part-2. The agenda of these groups is very simple. Prevent any sort of Hindu consolidation. And in order to do that, one of their rubric is to prevent Hindus from gaining any pride or sense of belonging towards its more than 5000 (even going by avowed Marxist and Eurocentric “scholarship”) year old heritage. I recall in one of her articles some years back, Nanda had written that, The more prominence Hinduism gets abroad, even for wrong reasons like the new age and paganism, the more prestige it gains in India.”. Her current attempt to mendaciously decouple yoga, or haThayoga to be more specific, from what is now know as Hinduism nicely ties into her own aforementioned admission. Make no mistake if instead of yoga another school from Hinduism say pUrva mImAMsA had been this popular, the same idiotic arguments and perfidious polemics would have been used by folks like Meera Nanda to try and decouple pUrva mImAMsA from Hinduism. And Open would have then published that piece titled: “Purva Mimamsa: Not as old as you think and not very Hindu either”.

    Until and unless nationalist and pro-Hindu folks put together their resources and bring out an alternate media outlet, there will be more of these sort of nonsense on Hinduism published by magazines like Open.

  31. February 17, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    Great rebuttal Sandeep!

    Unfortunately, it seems a lot of people got carried away by Open’s work in the “Nira Radia-Barkha Dutt” matter. Publishing Nanda’s ignorant and hate-filled repugnant bile against Hinduism is only a continuation of Open’s subtle yet gaining in strength campaign against Hinduism. Take a look at this interview of D.N. Jha (an eminent historengineer from the labyrinths of Indian Marxist historicity) by Hartosh Singh Bal (

    Open is starting to look like Frontline Part-2. The agenda of these groups is very simple. Prevent any sort of Hindu consolidation. And in order to do that, one of their rubric is to prevent Hindus from gaining any pride or sense of belonging towards its more than 5000 (even going by avowed Marxist and Eurocentric “scholarship”) year old heritage. I recall in one of her articles some years back, Nanda had written that,

    . Her current attempt to mendaciously decouple yoga, or haThayoga to be more specific, from what is now know as Hinduism nicely ties into her own aforementioned admission. Make no mistake if instead of yoga another school from Hinduism say pUrva mImAMsA had been this popular, the same idiotic arguments and perfidious polemics would have been used by folks like Meera Nanda to try and decouple pUrva mImAMsA from Hinduism. And Open would have then published that piece titled: “Purva Mimamsa: Not as old as you think and not very Hindu either”.

    Until and unless nationalist and pro-Hindu folks put together their resources and bring out an alternate media outlet, there will be more of these sort of nonsense on Hinduism published by magazines like Open.

  32. Rankie
    February 16, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    Extraordinary post, Sandeep. Although I think Meera Nanda’s post was so magnificently retarded, even a child could have picked a dozen holes in her argument ;D. Doesnt take away credit from your brilliance, though. One point – you wrote that the Chandogya upanishad dates back to at least the 1st century BCE – that is true, but it is thought to in fact date back to even before the 1st millennium BCE. At least that is what I have read.
    I was shellshocked when I saw that Open issue in the newsstands, I just stood there on the spot reading it – didnt want to buy it because of the reprehensible character of the cover story.
    And I couldnt swallow the fact that Meera Nanda thinks that only sanskrit, brahmins and vedas are representative of hinduism. i dont understand how saying shiva and shakti worshipping sadhus are not hindus can make sense to anyone. if she had said “yoga isnt as vedic or brahminical as you think”, i might have indulged her, and at least been willing to listen to her arguments. but to say that shiva, shakti and the indus valley are not hindu is just ridiculous. we as hindus are as much the cultural descendants of those people as we are of vedic brahmins (i say this even though i am a brahmin).

  33. February 16, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    Thanks for the great rebuttal.

  34. parthaSarathy
    February 16, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    India Pulls The Plug on Yoga As Business

    NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 6, 2011: In order to stop yoga gurus from claiming copyright to ancient asanas, like Bikram Choudhury’s Hot Yoga — a set of 26 sequences practiced in a heated room — India has completed documenting 1,300 asanas which will soon be uploaded on the country’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), making them public knowledge.

    According to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research ( CSIR) and Union health ministry’s department of Ayush, ‘once the database is up online, patent offices across the world will have a reference point to check on every time a yoga guru claims patent on a particular asana.’

    CSIR’s Dr. V. P. Gupta, who created TKDL, said, ‘All the 26 sequences which are part of Hot Yoga have been mentioned in Indian yoga books written thousands of years ago.’ He added, ‘However, we will not legally challenge Choudhury. By putting the information in the public domain, TKDL will be a one-stop reference point for patent offices across the world. Every time, somebody applies for a patent on yoga, the office can check which ancient Indian book first mentioned it and cancel the application.’

    Nine well known yoga institutions in India have helped with the documentation. ‘The data will be up online in the next two months. In the first phase, we have videographed 250 asanas — the most popular ones. Chances of misappropriation with them are higher. So if somebody wants to teach yoga, he does not have to fight copyright issues. He can just refer to the TKDL. TKDL will have photos and explanation of the postures. Dr Gupta said, ‘A voice-over will also point out which text mentions the posture.

    Till now, it is estimated that the US patent office alone has issued over 200 yoga-related copyrights. Experts say yoga has become a $225 billion market in the West. The TKDL, which has 30 million pages of information, has been created to prevent those living abroad from claiming patent for existing knowledge.

  35. vijayashankar
    February 16, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    I would suggest readers of this blog to read a kannada book called YEGDAGELLA AITE, by belagere krishna shastri on sri mukunduru swami.

  36. krishnadas
    February 16, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Hari Bol
    I am from Poland and been in the Hare Krishna movement for 38 yrs . India on getting freedom should have deleted the word Hindu and called it Sanatan Dharma. Hindu is a labelled word like the Abrahamic faiths. Prabhupada Srl La was also of this opinion.

    It was WWII which opened the eyes of the West ( if you like to call so) to diffrentiate between religion and spirituality. Sanatan Dharma unlike the Abrahamic faiths of commandments and books has eternal works almost infinite. It is a miracle that these works are kept and for the world to read and find solace.

    I feel that many in the West and even the English educated Indian elite including Sanatanis understand very little Sanskrit. This is root of all the problems. I have been learning Sanskrit for the past 25 yrs. I have understood very little.

    Many in the West put up a show ( a false pretence) that they are experts in Sanskrit. Please take them with a pinch of salt. Sanskrit is not an easy language to comprehend , unless and until you have lived through it thoroughly.

    I doubt whether the author of this Yoga article ever has learnt Sanskrit. This author reminds me of the writers in medevial Europe who used to provoke Jews just by writing to provoke. The author must be following medievial lessons of Europe to provoke Sanatanis.

    The blogger has rightly said that Upanishads have some sub section in Vedas. From my rudimentary knowledge , I would say that Taitterya Upanishad has some parts in Yajur Veda. There are many more examples like this. This post is not enough for this.

    Sanatan Dharma is an ocean . In one life time even if you study 20% of the texts it is an achievement.

    I would advice all Sanatanis not to get provoked by such writing. Yoga is from Sanatan Dharma.
    Let them keep on churning, we will keep on chanting.

    Hare Krishna Hare Rama

  37. shadows
    February 16, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Well, the stuff by Meera Nanda is so twisted, that I could read more than a few paragraphs of this blog entry, leave alone the original article.
    I wonder what kind of muck inside this Meera Nanda makes her write such convoluted and ignorant articles.

  38. Raghav Hegde
    February 16, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    My (yet unpublished) letter to Open Magazine…

    I thought attacking hinduism as being a definition of being “cool” was a thing of the past. But Open Magazine shows that is not the case. For a long time, India’s pathetic economic growth rate was pinned on the backwardness of hindus and hindusim, and not on Nehru-Indira socialism by Meera Nanda’s predecessors. Now that that theory has been proved conclusively false, the same people move on to finding new things to denigrate hinduism. Attacking advocates of the hindu religion like the HAF, attacking hindus and hinduism in general, saying yoga has nothing to do with hinduism is just a business as usual.

    But coming back to this article, why does Nanda spend so much time and energy on saying yoga has nothing to do with hindus and their religion ? Well, she wouldn’t have bothered had yoga been unpopular. But fact is yoga is very popular, considered to be hip in the West, which to Nanda is a strict no-no. So what does she do ? She says yoga has nothing to do with hinduism or India. It is too cool to be associated with these diabolical entities – India and hinduism. And those who say yoga is a part of hinduism are nasty fascist bigots who would put the Nazis to shame.

    Sure, and by the way, Coca-cola has nothing to do with USA. I dont know who these people are fooling ? And I include the Open magazine editors among these people. There are enough anti-India and anti-hindu magazines in India. I dont need to buy Open magazine to get my fill of this behaviour. So congratulations Manu Joseph, you have just lost a reader.

  39. February 16, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    Meera Nanda is a rabid communist. Look at her entry in Wikipedia — she has written the following books:
    Ayurveda Today : A Critical Look, with C. Viswanathan. Penguin. ISBN 0143065122.
    Postmodernism And Religious Fundamentalism: A Scientific Rebuttal To Hindu Science. Pub: Navayana. 2000. ISBN 8189059025.
    Breaking the Spell of Dharma and Other Essays. New Delhi: Three Essays Collective. 2002. ISBN 8188394092.
    Prophets Facing Backward: Postmodern Critiques of Science and the Hindu Nationalism in India. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2004. ISBN 8178240904. Excerpts
    Wrongs of the Religious Right: Reflections on secularism, science and Hindutva. New Delhi: Three Essays Collective, 2005. ISBN 8188789305
    The God Market. Random House, 2010. ISBN 8184000952.

    She as a communist is doing what these sewer-mouths do in any country. What is surpirising is that Open magazine decided to carry her drivel. Well, Open mag’s editor is a Christian — didn’t take too long for him to bare his fangs against Hnduism, did it? Who gave him money to start this magazine? The church? Be suspicious of all “journalists” who suddenly acquire the capital to start their own papers, magazines and channels. Their source of funding is either the church or the Whites.

  40. bragoonanan
    February 16, 2011 at 4:01 AM

    Some of these sons and daughters of India, coming from such a rich legacy of the oldest and richest, living cultural heritage, are only looking for every opportunity to hide themselves under the guise of being Indian critics, as if that is a solution to their feelings of ugliness as descendants of a Hindu heritage.

    One wonders if they ever observe that their non-Indian counterpart in the West are looking for every opportunity to become Indians, and are gulping up Hindu wisedom as if it is going out of style.

    What a pity a small minority of Indians do not even understand the wealth of their religion and culture which their ancestors toiled so hard to leave them as enrichments, never to be abandoned, and upon which to build.

    But we are reminded that the passage of time has a way of healing all wounds, and it remains the best of all hopes still left for all.

  41. Sid
    February 15, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    So this lefty and supposedly scholar of “science” from JNU stable has re-invented herself as a scholarly marketing tool of the yoga baniyas like DeepaK Chopra. This is the new trend in West, every marketing fad is backed up by supposedly research from supposedly scholars and scientists. Superbly argued.

  42. Deepak
    February 15, 2011 at 8:37 PM

    what can one expect from a JNU trashcan like meera nanda..she is born to throw muck on hinduism. it’s the bare minimum qualification to join JNU and all the institutes with the family’s name on them.

  43. February 15, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    Sandeep: Great post…superbly argued…
    The real pity is not that people like Meera Nanda are considered “scholars” and get high visibility..The real pity is that articles like this are/will be dismissed as rants of the “Hindutva brigade”

  44. Rashmi
    February 15, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    Sandeep first time i have come to know of this character through you. There are many more writers like this in India and abroad.
    Sandeep I want to Add What is the real Yoga- i have understood through my Guru Revered Swami Ramswarupji who had spent years and years in dense jungles of Rishikesh, He himself is an engineer from City and Guilds in London. He was imparted this brahma vidhya by His Guru Baba Bankhandi Nath Ji in the quest of truth. When you here his yogic experiences it mesmerizes you and to you it appears unbelievable. But in the worls of spiritualism everything is possible which seems impossible in material world.

    I further want to add in Kathopnishad whose Writer is Kath Rishi.He says Human body is like an inverted tree, knowledge of one hundred one arteries and veins.
    Further Shwetashwataropnishad It contains discussion on-
    (i) The reason for creation i.e., by whom the universe was created.

    (ii) God gives birth to soul based on his deeds.

    (iii) Soul is bound in the ties of karma.

    (iv) Knowledge of God, Soul and prakriti.

    (v) God is within human-beings like oil is present in seeds of Til.

    (vi) Meditation, Praise and Prayer.

    (vii) Dhyan Yoga and Prannayam.

    (viii) Yog sadhna.

    (ix) To know the God who creates, nurses and destroys.

    (x) God is the Lord of Soul and Prakriti.

    (xi) Illusion.

    (xii) Definition of Knowledge (Spiritualism) and illusion.

    (xiii) He is called Brahma who knows Vedas.

    (xiv) Form of soul.

    (xv) The reason of rebirth.

    (xvi) The reason of creation is not natural or due to time. Because creation relates to Almighty God.

    (xvii) Those who have equal faith- in God as well as in Guru, they realise God.

    Sandeep these pseduo writers should be taken by task and people with knowledge should debate with them. Unfortunately the number of such people is large.
    I sincerely appreciate your effort and zeal how you write in spite of your professional and personal commitments. Many a times i fail though presently not engaged in any professional commitments.

  45. P. Venkat
    February 15, 2011 at 6:49 PM


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