Is Yoga a Religion?

A recent controversy has been making the news in the United States about banning yoga in schools because of its supposed religious and Hindu overtones. Sadhguru explains that yoga is a technology, and religion has nothing to do with it.
Is Yoga a Religion?

A recent controversy has been making the news in the United States about banning yoga in schools because of its supposed religious and Hindu overtones. Sadhguru explains that yoga is a technology, and religion has nothing to do with it.


What religion you belong to has nothing to do with your ability to make use of the yogic systems, because yoga  is a technology. Technology does not make any distinction as to what you believe in and what you do not believe in. What you may believe in or not is purely a psychological process – it has got nothing to do with making use of a technology.

Yoga is Hindu just the way gravity is Christian. Just because the law of gravity was propounded by Isaac Newton, who lived in a Christian culture, does it make gravity Christian? Yoga is a technology. Anybody who is willing to make use of it can make use of it. It is ridiculous to even think that there could be a religious tinge to yoga.

The spiritual process and the technology of yoga predates all religion. Before human beings started thinking of forming religious groups to fracture humanity in a way that you can’t fix them, the idea that a human being can evolve himself came from Shiva, the Adiyogi.

Hindu is not an "ism"

Why the yogic sciences have gotten labeled as Hindu is because this science and technology grew in this culture. And because this culture was dialectical in nature, naturally they delivered the science in a dialectical manner, involving the cultural strengths of the land, which is essentially the Hindu way of life. The word “Hindu” has come from the word “Sindhu,” which is a river. Because this culture grew from the banks of the river Sindhu or Indus, this culture got labeled as Hindu. Anybody who is born in the land of Indus is a Hindu. It is a geographical identity, which slowly evolved into a cultural identity, and when some very aggressive religions came into the land and a big “competition” was set up, they tried organizing themselves as a religion – which has not happened yet. You still cannot put them together because they don’t have one belief system.

We need to understand this – Hindu is not an “ism;” it is not a religion. Being a Hindu does not mean having a particular belief system. Whatever you did in this culture was Hindu. There is no particular god or ideology which you can call as the Hindu way of life. You can worship a man-god and be a Hindu; you can worship a woman-god and be a Hindu; you can worship a cow and be a Hindu; you can give up all worship and still be a Hindu. So you are a Hindu irrespective of what you believe or don't believe.

The God-makers

At the same time, there was a common line running through all these. In this culture, the only goal in human life is liberation or mukti. Liberation from the very process of life, from everything that you know as limitations and to go beyond that. God is not held as the ultimate thing in this culture, God is seen as one of the stepping stones. This is the only culture on the planet which is a godless culture in the sense that, there is no concretized idea of God. You can worship a rock, a cow, your mother – you can worship whatever you feel like – because this is a culture where we have always known that God is our making. Everywhere else, people believe “God created us.” Here, we know we created god so we take total freedom to create whatever kind of god we can relate to. It is a science of how to take a human being to his ultimate potential.

We evolved a whole technology of God-making – not just creating forms, but energizing them in such a way that it will assist you to touch that dimension of life which is the basis of creation. It is not because somebody believes in it that it reverberates. This is the science of consecration where we know how to turn a stone into the Divine.

Isha Yoga classes for children are conducted during the summer vacations. For more info visit the Isha Yoga Programs page.

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5 years 9 months ago

How about there is now " Christian Yoga". ( google it).We never put it as Hindu Yoga, and trade marked it,but there are religions out there( which believes in exclusivity or extreme when it comes to God). These religions are out there to take and digest what we have and claim it theirs. What about them?
Yes anybody can use Yoga as technology but at least appreciate the founding fathers of Yoga and recognize them too.
Meat lovers should be acknowledge with the yam and niyama of Yoga before they practice. Otherwise 500 yrs from now when you come back in this world there will be no Hindu or Hinduism because the way of our life will be merged and digested and ......

7 years 6 months ago

Dont know what to say Guru ... such a deep insight u have .... love u guru

5 years 9 months ago

'It is ridiculous to even think that there could be a religious tinge to yoga.' I have to dis agree with this staement. First they say Hinduism is not a religion (taught by westerners) and then they can disconnect anything with Hinduism . Definition of religion is very recent, and bcz, we cannot define Hinduism, doesn't mean it is not a religion. It has all the attributes of the religion, all samskaras, and the salvation processes. Now, bcz we cannot define GOD, does it mean all are agnotists? Yoga was mentioned in Bhagavadgeeta more than hundred times. In Asthanga Yoga, it talks of eight step process for salvation! That's not religion? Pathanjali Yoga sutra is not part of Hinduism? Is it just a technique in a meterial sense? Yes, any one can practice Yoga, without being a Hindu or by practicing Yoga one doesn't become a Hindu either. Hinduism is universal it is the innate nature of humankind.

7 years 6 months ago

All is fine Sadhguru first can we get Bhakthi Yogis to accept that Kriya Yoga is also a path? They make fun of it. They consider chanting a particular Mantra and grace of God is more important and doing Kriyas and Hatha Yoga are silly.
I think ancient Indians didn't proselytise Yoga to the rest of the world like other religions did. Now its going to be a difficult job to propagate Yoga. Yoga, TM are associated with cult rather than being perceived as Technology.

5 years 9 months ago

The point is to avoid any known definition as it sets limitations to knowing experiencially. By saying Yoga is a technology, it definitely eliminates a "brand name" and it totally justifies what we know of technology; i.e., when built appropriately, it is reproducible no matter who uses it. For the one who knows the mechanics of driving a car, the machine does not discriminate who is driving. So this could be the context why Sadhguru deliberately uses certain terminology, just to keep distortions to the minimum. And moreover, Buddha was not a Buddhist and Jesus was not a Christian. They just wanted to take humanity towards the ultimate Truth. Religions as support systems, emerged after these Masters left.

7 years 6 months ago

We need to dis-illusion those assumptions, if we are benefited through technology. People will adopt to better technologies, it is just matter of time

7 years 6 months ago

I understand the truth behind u'r teachings sathguru.Yet u have said sathguru....being human itself is "super",so why settle down to bow before a stone.Even that comes with an expiry date isn't it....u have said even the dyana linga's energy will remain for 5000 years....after that it will become in-animate isn't it.

7 years 6 months ago

somehow i feel people who venerate idols or no idols.....cannot find the same divinity in fellow humans..Isn't it time we teach people to respect the divinity in one another...dear.

7 years 6 months ago

This is really great insight because this way people who get these various concepts interchanged get to see the clearer picture of things. Thank you Sadhguru, I am actually a Christian yet I do incorporate yoga and even meditation in my life not just the mere exercise like what most people think of it. I meditate when praying and it has really helped me improve my spiritual life. I have become more open to different traditions, cultures, religions and differences and it has made me feel more peaceful.

7 years 5 months ago

A common concept about the any religion is a specific set of beliefs and practices, moral codes governing the conduct of human affairs, generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects. A fundamentalist can not think beyond the boundary of set of codes laid down by his particular sect.

'YOGA' is technique of SELF PERFECTION.

SADGURU has quite sufficiently elaborated 'YOGA', to open the eyes of narrow minded self styled religious leaders.

5 years 9 months ago

They are banning it probably because science, music, dance, gymnastics and celebration is harmful to the whole idea of Christianity. Christianity is inflexible and fragile like the crack pots that run its con. I know because I'm catholic.

5 years 9 months ago

Masters of masters, shiva himself reveals secret