Below is my updated resume for presentation at the World Sanskrit Conference, which is happening in Vancouver in July.
From within the global wellness industry, this suspicious and critical explication focuses on drawing together the tacit social, political and theological parameters involved in creating unlikely alliances between global yogis and Hindu supremacists. The commodification of yoga rarefies utopian-inspired, yoga-related memes to widen symbolic valency. This leads to porous boundaries across the heterotopic spaces within Yogaland’s social imaginary consumption-scape. And allows for seemingly incommensurable worlds to merge, which can potentially lead to unsuspecting global yogis, who turn to yoga through the anti-modern impulse, to learn more about the wellness benefits of yoga-inspired lifestyles to become unwitting supporters of Hindutva. While not suggesting a conspiratorial cabal, in a seemingly independent, yet commensalic way, this occurs through shared reliance on the Sanskrit episteme and the Romantic-Orientalist-colonial-imagined, utopian-inspired narratives that are promoted by the global yoga industry, the Indian government’s ministries of tourism, health and yoga, and the Hindutva parivar, which promote a “yogic” or “Vedic way of life” as superior to all other lifestyles.
Yet, we do not seem to consider the implications related to how global yogis, who take their leisure/lifestyle seriously, imbibe dogmatically theological propositions related to the history and authenticity of yoga, which has real world implications for marginalized groups in India. Therefore, who, or what, is a yoga fundamentalist? And, why should we care?