Yoganalizing the Minorities

Image Source: Fair Observer

The minoritization of the minorities continues in the name of cultural nationalism in our country.    Nationalism is often used as a cover for what is often brazened bigotry and fanaticism.  Within this framework, we have to strive to understand the dynamics of production of self and its other. In the construction of the other of the self that happens to be the minority in our country great care is taken to obliterate and forget its biological aspects while the cultural aspects are brought under the spotlight.  Thus, by forgetting their biology, Goans  emerge as Catholic, Hindus and Muslim subjects. The self of the majoritarian community is built on an investment of a kind of cultural narcissism that prides into a hegemonic subculture of the high castes and thinks that mono-cultured culture is the only pure Indian one.  We might understand this in the kind of identification or non-identification  among the Indians that we notice about hata yoga that is being popularized by our ruling dispensation  these days . The plural cultural resources of our people are either abandoned or are to be kept under erasure in a hierarchy marked by caste locations. This means the cultural resources of the tribal, dalits and other minorities can comfortably remain in the oblivion.   But in all these complex dynamics, the other emerges as the shadow of self yet the self retains its sovereignty and normative position.  The self requires its other to derive its own self recognized.  Hence, it is by not being Catholic and Muslim, for instance, the Hindu seems to become a Hindu and vice versa. But within this dynamics, the  majoritarian self and its cultural capital becomes the bench mark for everyone else.  The taxonomy of our people that has evolved with rise of the present ruling dispensation seems to clearly mark the rigid boundaries between the elite self and it’s minoritized other, wherein the other cannot have its unique voice but have to repeat what the elite speaks. 

The minoritized other is an appendage, a supplement, an extra or surplus.  As such this otherised subject has to exist within the fore-closed boundaries constructed by the hegemony of the elite self.  Hence, there is constriction and restriction on the self representation of the other vis-à-vis the elitized self. The otherised other can only repeat what is spoken by the elitized self from a sovereign location. Now within the context of yoga, the minoritised other is not expected to resist. Resistance is construed as anti-national.  Hence, it is important to render visible how the hegemony and imperialism of self operates in relation to it’s other. The otherised  other has to genuflect at the altar of the self to the point of loss of one’s self.  As it is the minoritized other is viewed as lacking subject. It lacks all that is thought to be genuinely Indian or at the most has it in impure form. Hence, the purity/pollination principle of casteism resurrects in a new avatra in the context of the self reinforced by the cultural nationalism that is reigning in our day. Hence, the ortherised other only exists as a surrogate self or the substitute, never enjoying the legitimacy of the majoritarian self. Hence, at all times the minoritized self can only exist as a dislocated, subordinated and often ‘de-nationalized’ self.   The minoritized self is never allowed to bridge the gap between the authentic nationalist culture and his inferior one.  There always remains a gap that is left  which fails to bridge. That is why even a blind submission to the yoga day cannot sublimate the inferior location of the otherized self. Therefore, as such, it can only produce a mirage of oneness of our nation.  Hence, some might say that this attempt to yoganalize everyone cannot be authentically national since it will not translate our hierarchized consciousness of being Indians into harmonious bonding of all. 

Though Yoga has nothing intrinsically harmful and alienating, the way it is being forced on the minorities generates resistance and rejection. Popularization does not occur through forceful imposition. The fact that it comes as forced package, it creates distaste. Hence, a forced yoganalization is all set to fail as it does not generate a condition of natural exchange.  This forced yoganalization does violence to the freedom and agency of the minoritized others although it might feed into the ego of the majority community. It might offer a libidal high to the majority while it will produce a libidal low in the minoritized other. This means yoganalization is indeed  subversive.  The enforcers seem to derive a libidal surge in forcing it upon a minoritized other who being compelled would feel its negative weight. Yoganalization  may be good.  But the question is why is the hurry ?  Why can the dispositions and sensitivities of all be considered? Yoga is supposed to make all of us calm and ethical. Hence the way yoganalization is pushed it seems both un-indian and unyoga like. While promoting yoga we seem to have lost our yogic serenity.  Hence, it is important that we critically reflect on our vyavahara in this respect. Our restlessness to yoganalize everyone in India, itself will need a vrutti nirodha. Otherwise, the yogic samadi that we are striving to achieve in our country will remain a pipe dream.     


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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao