UN Inscribes Yoga As Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity


United Nations:  It’s a proud moment for India. UNESCO has inscribed Yoga in its list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Talking about it, in his press conference, MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Thursday, “This declaration of yoga as a ‘Human Treasure’ enjoyed the unanimous support of 24-member intergovernmental committee for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage, which overturned the decision of an evaluation body of technical experts, seeking to defer the case to the next session of the Committee in 2017.”

The inscription and classification as a ‘human treasure’ brings immense recognition to yoga, as it went through rigorous criteria set out by UNESCO, the only UN body mandated to capture the intangible aspects of culture, Swarup further said.

“As well, it can potentially foment a dialogue on the ideas of peace and tolerance, how these can be extended to meet the goals of sustainable development and where India can play a leading role in this global dialogue on intercultural relations,” he added.

In its citation, the UN body observed the following:

“The philosophy behind the ancient Indian practice of yoga has influenced various aspects of how society in India functions, whether it be in relation to areas such as health and medicine or education and the arts. Based on unifying the mind with the body and soul to allow for greater mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing, the values of yoga form a major part of the community’s ethos.”

“Yoga consists of a series of poses, meditation, controlled breathing, word chanting and other techniques designed to help individuals build self-realization, ease any suffering they may be experiencing and allow for a state of liberation. It is practised by the young and old without discriminating against gender, class or religion and has also become popular in other parts of the world.”

“Traditionally, yoga was transmitted using the Guru-Shishya model (master-pupil) with yoga gurus as the main custodians of associated knowledge and skills. Nowadays, yoga ashrams or hermitages provide enthusiasts with additional opportunities to learn about the traditional practice, as well as schools, universities, community centres and social media. Ancient manuscripts and scriptures are also used in the teaching and practice of yoga, and a vast range of modern literature on the subject available.”

The eleventh session of the intergovernmental committee is being held in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, from November 28 to December 2. In December 2014, UN had proclaimed June 21 as International Yoga Day.