Modi, the Woo Peddler

ModiIn his address to the UN General Assembly today, Modi said this:

Noting that Yoga is “an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition”, he said: “It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”

“Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being,” he said.

“By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change,” he added.

Modi came up from the ranks of RSS, so I guess it’s not all too surprising to see him peddle the spiritual mumbo jumbo that is standard fare in those circles. There is a whole lot of nonsense surrounding spirituality and consciousness. Like this and this for example.

And then earlier this month, Modi said this about climate change:

“Climate change? Is this terminology correct? The reality is this that in our family, some people are old… They say this time the weather is colder. And, people’s ability to bear cold becomes less.

“We should also ask is this climate change or have we changed. We have battled against nature. That is why we should live with nature rather than battle it,” he said.

That is again is your garden variety Hindu woo. Growing up, I heard stories about how our ancestors were more stronger, robust and lived longer than us. That belief is a derivation from Hindu cosmological idea of yugas – where Satyayuga is the bestestest of times and how it all went downhill from there and things will finally reach their lowest point at the end of Kaliyuga. Not-so-coincidentally, we currently live in the Kaliyuga. Hence Modi’s wondering that it is not the climate which is changing, but us humans who are growing weaker. Human biology be damned.

So those are the kind of beliefs our Prime Minister holds, and more importantly uses his position as an elected leader of India to preach them to anyone who’d listen. I wonder what other crackpot ideas are in store for us in the future.


  1. says

    I heard stories about how our ancestors were more stronger, robust and lived longer than us.

    It’s funny how “the good old days” were always more authoritarian and totalitarian, and that’s what’s longed for. Of course the real reason isn’t what people say…

  2. says


    Yup. And if you look at the dire predictions written by people back then on Kaliyuga, it’s a whole new level of absurdity. Take this from the Mahabharata. These are some of the evils that will befall humans in Kaliyuga

    * The twice born castes (Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas) will be reduced to the level of the Shudra. And the lowest orders of men will rise to the position of the intermediate ones, and those in intermediate stations will, without doubt, descend to the level of the lowest ones.

    * Men will regard their wives as their (only) friends

    * Divested of Yuga, people will become atheists and thieves

    * And no one will ask for a girl (for purposes of marriage) and no one will give away a girl (for such purposes), but the girls will themselves choose their lords, when the end of the Yuga comes.

    * And all men towards the end of the Yuga will become members of one common order, without distinction of any kind

    And so on.

  3. Milind R says

    Hope I’m not unwelcome here.

    I was also disappointed that he had to pull up this nonsense right in the middle of weighty matters.

    Having watched both those speeches, I’d like to provide some additional context :
    1. The rest of his speech was outstanding, in style, and pretty good in content. Being generous, the last line of that paragraph can be taken as the conclusion : yoga can help change lifestyles and hence deal with climate change. Discard yoga, you get the basic truth that we have to change consumerist lifestyles to adapt.

    2. This one makes no sense to me. The second paragraph seems to contradict the first. But again, the last line is in line with accepted advice : the rest of the natural world must be treated more as a precious and critical living being, rather than as a resource.

    Basically it feels like he talks about yoga because he doesn’t know any other way of making this point about environmental concerns.

  4. Milind R says

    @Satish :

    That list of evils that kaliyuga brings almost sounds like a utopian dream. Really shows a very twisted set of values and ideals.

    I’m glad I’m in the kaliyuga if this indicates the conditions in the previous ones.

    Perhaps some great visionary actually predicted all this as a utopian future, and got a little popular, and so they took the exact same thing and made it sound undesirable?

  5. says


    I have no comment on the rest of his speech. There’s a reason why I didn’t mention it. It is irrelevant to the point I’m making.

    Regarding consumerism, what Modi most likely means is a “Western” lifestyle. The Hindu way of life is no less consumerist as should be obvious to anyone who has gone on a pilgrimage to famous Hindu holy places (Tirupati for example) or seen the dick measuring contests during festivals like Ganesh Chathurthi or Diwali. The innumerable rituals catering to every need are also a form of consumerism. The more you consume the rituals, the more you grow dependent on them. But such desire never gets termed undesirable because the craving and dependency is sanctioned by religion.

    However I doubt Modi will find fault with that particular form of consumerism because it will then invalidate his argument. He can’t on one hand say that Hinduism has these great “spiritual” features and at the same time reconcile it with the heavy consumerism of Hindus. So I’m not buying the “discard yoga and change lifestyle” argument. Modi most definitely does not mean that.

    I also don’t buy that he didn’t any know better than to use “Yoga”. He is a swayamsevak and preaching how great Hinduism is, is part of the job description.

  6. Alex says

    Now, if every time you are tempted to use fossil fuels or buy something, you do Yoga instead, that might actually work. But aren’t the issues in modern society a bit more complicated? The “good” old times happen to
    1. be pre industrial
    2. have a vastly smaller world population
    3. be a horrible nightmare

    The Yoga thing may just be correlation not causation, and 90% whitewashing.

  7. says

    Muslims believe that the best of men (and by “men”, they really do mean “male people”) lived in Muhammad’s time, that it’s all downhill from there, and that the end times are nigh. It could be fun to compare the endtimes predictions of Islam and Hinduism.

  8. Milind R says

    Hinduism is such a large religion with multiple layers of contradictory dogma piled upon one another that promoting one part of it over another is going to happen by necessity. Yoga, to the best of my knowledge, does not have much of a connection with the consumerist parts of Hinduism.

  9. says


    Even if Yoga itself doesn’t advocate consumerism, I think it is quite clear that it does nothing to combat it. That was the point of my comment. You have these millions of Yoga practitioners who have given up themselves abjectly to religious consumerism. So obviously Yoga is not a solution. And if you read Sangh ideologues like Golwalker have said, they consider Hinduism as unique in that it looks “inward” (the implied premise being the “West” is “material”). That is where I see Modi is coming from.

  10. smrnda says

    In the US, yoga appears to be quite compatible with consumerism. The authenticity of the yoga could possibly be contested, but No True Yoga isn’t a compelling argument for much of anything.

    If this seems less frustrating to me as a non-solution, it might just be that it’s an unusual one to hear.

    All said, the belief in decline and the prophecy for decay sounds like the privileged people of old having a clear picture of what life would be like if they lost power.

  11. Srishti says

    Modi gave a speech on medicine and plastic surgery at the Reliance Foundation at the inaugration about Ganesh being the product of plastic surgery and genetic science being available in ancient India. Karan Thapar covered it in his program. I always wanted to ask them is there anything that wasn’t there in ancient India.Similar claims are being made in the new textbooks on science and history.I was looking for a nirmukt article for it but couldn’t find one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *