In response to Meera Nanda’s polemics on OpenMag seeking to mendaciously decouple yoga from Hinduism, Swaminathan Venkataraman of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) gave a very fitting reply decimating her ignorant assertions. In response to Venkataraman’s rebuttal, Nanda retorted with a characteristically arrogant and haughty piece which yet again but not very surprisingly was bereft of any veracity to back her aforementioned attempts. In fact the sanctimonious and intemperate tone of Nanda’s piece coupled with a near complete lack of any pedantic references, provides a nice insight into what really drives her. In her latest diatribe, if we discount the quotes she provides from Koenraad Elst and David Gordon White, all that remains are ignorant rants, consummate red herrings, and of course an ample offering of uninhibited bile regurgitated upon HAF.
Venkataraman’s article however provides very specific references from the haThayoga pradIpikA, shiva saMhitA, gheraNDa saMhita, maitrAyaNIya upaniShad, shrItattvanidhi to conclusively demolish Nanda’s assertions in her previous rant filled article, as well as their continuation in her latest piece. He provides statements from both Singleton and Sjoman (Nanda’s own sources from her previous piece) that actually go against her position. Venkataraman mentions svAmI YogeshvarAnanda‘s book in 1970 titled “First Steps to Higher yoga” containing 264 Asanas. He also mentions other non-kR^iSNAmAchArya yoga traditions, dance poses of shiva, as well as the Indian government’s move to compile a digital database of yogAsanas that has thus far resulted in documentation of 1,300 Asanas with the cooperation of nine traditional yoga institutions. All of which decisively demolish Nanda’s ignorant rants. Readers are directed to Venkataraman’s article for more.
While Venkataraman’s article is very restrained and erudite, Nanda chooses to write in anger and throws dung at HAF even after her assertions have been decisively decimated. Many people have previously pointed Nanda to a well researched article by Sarvesh Tiwari that provide historical evidence for yogAsana being a Hindu dhArmika tradition. Evidence that goes against what Koenraad Elst says in the quote Nanda has provided. Not to mention debunking Nanda’s pontifications. In fact Sarvesh himself has challenged Nanda for an open debate. Which to my knowledge has gone unanswered.
Both Sarvesh’s and Venkataraman’s articles provide incontrovertible evidence that go against Elst’s assertion on this particular issue, which Nanda has gleefully quoted. Yet Nanda conveniently chooses to ignore any such evidence and continues with her ignorant rants. Not to mention throwing hate-filled innuendos and verbal vomit at HAF in particular and Hinduism in general.
In a paper by Nanda some years back, she said,
The more prominence Hinduism gets abroad, even for wrong reasons like the new age and paganism, the more prestige it gains in India.
This quote provides a very clear insight into the motivation behind the ignorant, hate-filled rants in her sorry attempts to mendaciously decouple yoga (or yogAsana to be more specific) from Hinduism. Which presumably she, back then, perhaps in an attempt at derision, referred to as “the new age and paganism”. Make no mistake, if instead of yoga another school from Hinduism say pUrva mImAMsA had been this popular, the same idiotic arguments and perfidious polemics would have been used by Meera Nanda and her bedfellows to try and decouple pUrva mImAMsA from Hinduism.
In response to the aforementioned quote by Nanda, this is what the very Koenraad Elst that she now quotes, had to say. Emphasis added.
Here, she really lays her cards on the table. It is very good that, unlike many other "secularists", she does not try to be clever and claim to speak for "true Hinduism" against a "distorted Hinduism" of the Hindu revivalists. Instead, she clearly targets Hinduism itself, deploring any development which might make Hinduism "gain prestige". Let us see if I can translate that correctly: wanting something or someone to suffer rather than to prosper is what we call "hate". She hates Hinduism, and her academic work is written in the service of that hate.
Notwithstanding Meera Nanda’s apparent deep hatred for Hinduism and the resultant mendacious rants, she would do well to learn from this saMskR^ita gem, “alpa vidyA bhaya~NkarI”. Or, its English equivalent, to quote Alexander Pope, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. What is really amazing however, is that in spite of her articles having been dissected and deconstructed multiple times and her assertions conclusively disproved and decimated, she still has the audacity to keep regurgitating with her characteristically arrogant haughtiness. A result perhaps of her ideological moorings or her ignorance. Or perhaps it is a combination of both.
Truly, the following text from the vAlmIki rAmAyaNa, ayodhyA–kANDa, is befitting to Meera Nanda.
बालाः पण्डित मानिनः
bAlAH paNDita mAninaH
(ignorant considering himself/herself to be learned)
Swaminathan Venkataraman makes a second reply to Meera Nanda, whom he rightly calls a “self-appointed pseudo-scholar” and aptly takes to task for her browbeating and ranting after her mendacious polemics being decisively decimated by the veracious references in his previous piece.
 ^ White’s quote being a total non-sequitur to her mendacious thesis of yoga largely being un-Hindu
 ^ Dharmic ecology and the neo-Pagan international: the dangers of religious environmentalism in India", presented at panel no. 15 at the 18th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies, 6-9 July 2004
 Given Sarvesh’s erudite, well researched article and the references that Venkataraman provides in his article, I won’t dwell on historical and scriptural evidence for yoga’s (and/or yogAsana’s) relationship with and undeniable inseparability from what is now known as Hinduism, in this post. Readers are directed to their articles.