Russell Simmons and yoga

Russell Simmons, an American celebrity of sorts[1], on twitter, liberally quotes from the bhagavad gItA, a Hindu scripture, frequently refers to shrI kR^iShNa, the much loved Hindu deity, and tweets philosophical ideas of Hindu saints and from Hindu canon. Some samples provided here[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]. While certain translations he provides are at best questionable, we won’t dwell upon that in this post.


Now, see this tweet[13].


Yes, yoga is not religious in the Abrahamic sense. It is not Jewish, Christian or Islamic. But teachings of yoga not Hindu! As per Russell Simmons’s “logic”, the deduction would be that bhagavad gItA, shrI kR^iShNa, paramahaMsa yogAnanda have nothing to do with Hinduism [sic].

In reply to his outrageous tweet mendaciously decoupling yoga from Hinduism, I felt compelled to tweet this to him[14].


Not surprisingly, there wasn’t any reply.

He did however make this self-serving tweet[15] not too long after.


Among the countless commentaries on truth and its reverence in the Hindu canon, in the taittiriya upaniShad, it is said, satyaM vada . dharmaM chara (speak the truth, practice dharma). Clearly, Mr. Simmons’s idea of truth is very different from the scriptures that he claims he studied for many years. He would do well to know that shrI kR^iShNa, in the bhagavad gItA, taught to learn through humble homage.

The perfidy of the philosophical profiteers and cultural miners is outright repugnant. Their reluctance and even arrogant refusal many a time to acknowledge the very heritage and belief system from whose teachings they make their living and sell their books is only a pointer to how antithetical they are to what they claim to practice and teach. Their self-proclaimed study of scriptures serves only to sell their books and keep their yoga “studios” running. Truly, these self-styled new-age guru-s and “spiritual” “transformationalists” know as much about yoga, karma, dharma or spirituality as the pope about quantum physics.



















11 thoughts on “Russell Simmons and yoga

  1. Just another profiteer?

    The problem with such persons is that they, like many others, put Hinduism in the same box as the Abrahamic “faiths”. There are very distinct differences.

    The word Hindu is not a credal identity, it is the mark of a civilisational ethos. So if a science, or a tradition originated in India, it is Hindu. Denying the Hindu roots of Yoga is ignorant at best and deceitful at worst.

    1. The problem with such persons is that they, like many others, put Hinduism in the same box as the Abrahamic “faiths”. There are very distinct differences.

      Excellent point! In fact I would go one step further and say that dhArmika systems are not religions as is defined in the Abrahamic sense.

      yoga along with being rooted in what is now known as Hinduism, also has an inseparable and undeniable relationship with Hinduism. It is in fact a transcendental expression of sanAtana dharma or its more recent moniker Hinduism. Be it the Asana-s, or the high philosophies in yoga they are all Hindu. To claim otherwise, as you put it succinctly, is ignorant at best and deceitful at worst.

      1. “…dhArmika systems are not religions as is defined in the Abrahamic sense.” I like that very much! In fact, I am “preaching” that since many years.
        I used to say: Either Christianity is a religion and therefore Sanatana Dharm (or any aspect of it) is not. Or Ved is a religion and therefore Christianity is not – because it does not meet the standards of a religion.

      2. “yoga along with being rooted in what is now known as Hinduism”. Especially the word NOW is unrealistig. As far as I know, Hinduism as it is known now exhausts itself with chanting and singing and, at best, discussions. I visited many places of pilgrimage which in the past were places of meditation and now they being flooded with loud bhajans and markets. It’s on the way to the degenerated state of christianity.
        Yoga and Veda as a whole is he basis of Hinduism. Not the otherway. Of course, in your words, it “also has an inseparable and undeniable relationship with Hinduism”.
        There are many aspects of the Veda – most
        of them not considered or forgotten (or not being lively) in the practice of Hinduism.

    2. Yoga is not rooted in Hinduism but Hinduism is rooted in Veda whose part is Yoga. And your rude allegations are at best non-Hindu.

  2. Yoga is one of the ‘Shat Darshana’ or six perspectives of the Veda. Like all other Indian systems of philosophical thought, Yoga originates from the Veda. If the Veda is Hindu, then surely an interpretation of the Veda cannot be not Hindu!

    1. And if Hinduism is just an off-shoot of Veda, then his interpretation that Yoga is non-Hindu as it is non-Christian etc. is correct. Veda predates Hinduism as we know it and as it is practiced today.

      1. @4aaf5a003d051e6f5bbd1e36eb0035eb:disqus I am afraid your (conditional) assertion that “Hinduism is just an off-shoot of Veda” is as ludicrous as Deepak Chopra insinuating veda-s not part of Hinduism or Russel Simmons liberally quoting yogika teachings from Hindu scriptures and then promptly saying yoga has nothing to do with Hinduism. As your reply to @twitter-17553689:disqus  your reply to @twitter-3336:disqus  is also seemingly based on what you erroneously consider to be a clear distinction between what is now known as Hinduism and the veda-s. I would however like to invite you for a dialog. Perhaps we can start with you defining two words: Hinduism and veda.

      2. Veda being the blue-print of creation, total knowledge, Shabda-Brahma, is the basis of all religions and sciences. With fine enough consciousness you can find all sciences in 1 verse of Rik Ved.
        In the same way on the tree of the Ved, there are many branches as religions – nearer to the main trunk or further away, each reflecting the truth more or less. Hinduism is the nearest off-shoot of the Ved. It is still consciously based on the Ved. India still contains rests of the Vedic Civilization. And we are immensly thankful to the tradition of Brahmin families who maintained the Vedic knowledge and Vedapath through all kinds of time throughout history.
        Yoga is an integral part of Veda and as such the root of Hinduism. We have to put the horse where it belongs – in front of the car.

  3. Manas, in current times accepting your faith or following a particular form of faith receives negative connotation almost all over the world. Still people derive strength, joy and motivation from their faith (whatever faith that may be). Simmons wants to share his faith but is ashamed to attribute it to Hindusim which is *gulp* a religion.

    1. What you say is specially true in case of Hinduism. This can be attributed to the preponderance of colonial, Marxist, missionary and Eurocentric constructs of Hinduism. It has definitely not helped that after titans like Jadunath Sarkar and RC Mujumdar, Indian historicity was subverted and hijacked by the Marxist history engineers led by DD Kosambi and RS Sharma. These ’eminences’ and their incestuous minions have only served to perpetuate the Catherine Mayo-ish constructs of Hinduism, whom by the way Gandhi rightfully called a drain inspector. As a result, Indian scholarship instead of challenging and correcting the western drain inspectors, ended up abetting them. This is very apparent in the fact that most of the western ‘Indologists’ and the Indian Marxists are hand-in-glove in most of their projects involving defilement of Hinduism and its history. Which is why today, people like Simmons, who feel attracted to the teachings of Hinduism, specifically its transcendental fruits like yoga, in public life they are not comfortable acknowledging the tree that bore those fruits.

      I came across a very pertinent talk by Prof. S.N. Balagangadhara ( which dwells upon the perpetuating of the colonial, Eurocentric, missionary constructs of India and Hinduism. You might find it interesting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s