A network of 13 major Christian churches in the Indian state of Mizoram are telling their church congregations to stay away from the spiritual or physical practice of yoga. The Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitute Committee (MKHC) leader and senior executive secretary of Mizoram Synod of Presbyterian Church Reverend Lalramliana Pachuau said that the churches regarded yoga as something that can ‘dilute’ the doctrine of Christianity (due to its spiritual roots of Hinduism) and asked the constituent churches of MKHC to issue messages cautioning their members. Mizoram is a state located in the northeast region of India where Christianity makes up 88% of the state’s religion, followed by Buddhism and Hinduism.
Christian Reverend Pachuau also stated that he did not have any objection to the Indian government propagating yoga on the official level. He said the issue was raised during the meeting of MKHC at the Synod office on June 2. It was decided in the meeting that yoga is based on Hindu philosophy and cannot be accepted as something that can be blended with Christianity, Pachuau said. “Yoga exercises may be able to heal some illness, but Christians cannot use it to replace the eternal healing of Christ,” he said.
This is not the first time Christian leaders have condemned the practice of Yoga. In the United States, many prominent Catholic and Protestant Christian leaders have stated that doing Yoga can justify a soul going to hell. In 2011, a top Vatican official had made the controversial statement saying “Yoga is the work of the devil” due to elements of Hinduism being embedded in many poses like ‘Suryanamaskar’ and chants such as ‘OM’ & ‘Namaste’.
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline which originated in ancient India. There is a broad variety of schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism. At its broadest, yoga, from the root word “yuj” in Sanskrit, means to unite. Most Hindu texts discuss yoga as a practice to control the senses and ultimately, the mind. The most famous of which is the Bhagavad Gita (dating back to 6th-3rd Century BCE), where Krishna speaks of four types of yoga – bhakti, or devotion; jnana, or knowledge; karma, or action; and dhyana, or concentration (often referred to as raja yoga, though not all sources agree on the term) – as paths to achieve moksha, the ultimate goal for Hindus.