Yoga and Politics

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

There are different types of yoga practitioners. One type is the swami or guru, who should keep himself completely out of any type of politics. There are not many, and even if they do not participate in politics it makes no difference at all. They are the guardians of a sublime culture and must stay away from any kind of politics. This is why yoga was guarded and preserved properly in India and lost elsewhere.

The aspirant

However, other yoga aspirants, teachers or yoga students must participate in their national or local politics. Politics is an important part of society. If everybody ignores it, there will be a vacuum in the political thinking and process. In India, disciples take part in politics and choose their particular ideologies. In the ashram, people belonging to different political ideologies gather together. They understand that the swamis do not belong to any political ideology, either right or left.

I tell them not to discuss politics in the ashram. When the government changes, people ask me, "What do you think?" I simply say, "Some disciples have lost, some disciples have gained." Therefore, one can and should definitely take part in the political process of the national life and should not ignore it just because one practices yoga.

The guru

If you are a guru, have a following and initiate people into the spiritual culture and sadhana, you should keep your hands off and have cordial relationships with everybody. Only on rare occasions in history did demons rule and good people were completely suppressed.

Therefore, when the good values in society are in decline and inauspicious values are being encouraged and patronized, when adharma is considered supreme and dharma inferior, when the spiritual values are undermined and the people's spiritual aspirations are suppressed, at that time a swami is fully authorized to voice his concern. This, however, does not happen many times in history.

—August 1981, Chamarande, France