History has a way of burying artefacts, scriptures, even civilisations. It can take years of digging to unearth lost stories, practices and cultures. And yet, certain ancient traditions–like yoga–find a way to stand the test of time. Yoga has long been an established tradition in the Hindu culture, dating all the way back to the 4th century AD, if not earlier, with Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. After all, archaeologists place the practice as far back as the pre-Vedic period (2700 BC)!
We can only be grateful that this tradition has managed to stay through the ages. Even the Persian, Arabic, and Turkish invaders in the Indian sub-continent let it be, no matter what else they chose to destroy. But when the British colonised India, the tradition of yoga was threatened. They associated yoga practitioners with black magic. Eventually, most of the yoga schools were shut down.
In the 18th and 19th century, when it seemed like yoga might fade off the pages of the Indian history, many kingdoms strived diligently to preserve it. Mysore was one among them. This International Yoga Day, Soulveda delves into the story of yoga’s survival in the Indian sub-continent, revival in Mysore, and its eventual veneration across the world.
The Mysore royals were perhaps the most instrumental keepers of the yoga tradition. Says P V Nanjaraje Urs, a history enthusiast and retired professor from Mysore University, “The British may have initially dismissed yoga as madmen’s antics. However, the royal family of Mysore Wodeyars, dispelled their misconceptions. The royals patronised yoga practitioners to keep the tradition alive.”