By: Vinít Kurup
Oh Lord शिव
you are said to have been the first आधी गुरु
I stare at angry foreigners
wearing “I Yoga” bracelets
unable to enter your temple.
I wonder if they see my eyes
My eyes that have seen the craft you mastered
reduced to neon pink yoga mats
A धोती traded for “yoga pants”
Asanas mixed with kittens, goats, and beer
And निर्वाण become the result of teen spirit.
Yogis are often mocked here
Though in foreign lands – they are certified
they call themselves “Registered Yoga Teachers”
They quote বিবেকানন্দ
They say नमस्ते
They sometimes even choose to say ऊर्ध्वमुखश्वानासन
in place of the more complicated up-dog…
They even go to India – to गोंय
where they tell locals, “I expected to see more of you Indians doing yoga …”
The प्रसाद is what they call a detox shake
GMO Free and Organic most likely
Only readily available for the wealthy and privileged
How else can they keep it exclusive?
Really, it’s just the only way to stay #blessed.
Your poses are now found everywhere
On surfboards, all the way to people’s graves
Eager posers showcasing their हठयोग
trade in their flexibility for respect.
They say, “Do it for the gram.”
I ask you, சிவன்
or should I say நடராஜர் ?
What pose do you bear?
Please, before your final dance!
On the shores of the बागमती, let me chant:
ॐ नमः शिवाय
–Kathmandu, Nepal (2016)
I am Vinít Kurup, an Indian-American born and raised in Madrid, Spain. I have been writing poetry for a few years, using my extensive time traveling and learning languages as my main inspiration for writing. My poetry typically is written in Spanish, Hindi/Urdu, English, Portuguese, Bengali; often times working together in several pieces.
“The poem was borne out of my visit to the Pashupathinath Temple in Nepal. They have a strict code of not allowing “non-Hindu’s” into the temple.
Whereas I don’t condone that viewpoint, as the Nepali military guard was stopping people based on their outward physical appearance as the gauge for determining who was/wasn’t a Hindu; the commentary in rebuttal to the guards by several western foreigners edged and brushed the mists of racism and colonialist attitudes. This along with my frustration at the constant appropriation of South Asian customs and symbology in the west led me to write this piece as a critique, with some tongue in cheek humor.”
पशुपतिनाथ (Pa-shoo-pa-ti-naath) - Nepali/Gorkhali - The holiest Hindu temple in Nepal. Known in English as Pashupathinath Temple; it is a temple built to venerate Lord Pashupati (an incarnation of Shiva)
शिव (Shi-vaa) - Sanskrit - One of the three principal deities of Hinduism, known as the “destroyer and transformer”.
आधी गुरु (Aa-dhee Gu-ru) - Sanskrit - “First Guru”; referencing Lord Shiva as being the first teacher/master of yoga.
धोती (Dho-tee) - Sanskrit - a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth wrapped around the waist. Typically worn in the Indian sub-continent.
निर्वाण (Nir-vaana) - Sanskrit - In South Asian religious philosophy (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, etc.), it’s the state of enlightenment where an individual’s desires and suffering are removed. Also a famous 90’s grunge band.
বিবেকানন্দ (Vi-vek-a-non-do) - Bengali - The name of Swami Vivekananda, a Bengali monk credited with the introduction of mainstream hinduism and yoga to the west, the revival of hinduism in India, and contributing to political nationalism in British occupied India.
नमस्ते (Nama-stey) - Sanskrit - Formal greeting in much of South Asia, stemming historically from Hindu tradition.
ऊर्ध्वमुखश्वानासन (Oor-dh-mookh-shvaa-naa-san) - Sanskrit - A popular yoga pose, known in English as Upward Facing Dog. More trendily, it’s shortened to Up-dog.
गोंय (Goa) - Konkani- A state in south western India, known for its coast. It is a major tourist destination - especially for westerners. It was the last Indian territory to be liberated from European Colonial power in 1961; when India militarily annexed the region from Portugal.
प्रसाद (Pra-sad) - Sanskrit - material substance typically consumed after a religious ceremony and acting as a form of a religious offering. It can be liquid or solid food.
हठयोग - Sanskrit - the ‘physical’ side of yoga, its asanas have been adopted as a form of physical exercise; often dubbed just “yoga”
சிவன் (Shi-van) - Tamil - Shiva is rumored to have been a deity conceived/originally venerated in the Tamil speaking lands of Dravida (Southern India). For more information on the deity please see above at Shiva.
நடராஜர் (Nat-a-raja) - Tamil - The Hindu god Shiva in his form as the cosmic dancer, typically sculpted in metal or stone, and popular in Shaivite temples in South India. He is said to have two forms in his dance, Lasya (associated with creation) and Tandava (associated with destruction). As the god of creation and destruction; he destroys in order to create, and tears down to build again.
बागमती (Baag-mat-i)-Sanskrit/Nepali- a river flowing through the Kathmandu valley which is holy to Hindus and Buddhists
ॐ नमः शिवाय (Om Nama Shi-vaa-ya) - Sanskrit - A mantra typically spoken when addressing or praising Lord Shiva.
ॐ (Om) - Sanskrit - sacred sound and spiritual symbol in South Asian religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism) that is said to connect chanters with the “source” or “ultimate consciousness”. Popular mantra, often uttered prior, during, and after meditation and yoga exercises.