If there is one thing that the West is an expert at, and Indians very bad at, it is marketing.

Hindus had yoga for over 6,000 years as an integral part of the lives in various forms of yoga (bhakti, jnana, karma, raja, kriya, etc). The word yoga occurs tens of thousands of times in every major Hindu spiritual literature, in not just Sanskrit, but every major language across India. Hindus have had numerous philosophical texts and expositions on the various types of yoga, and in depth treatment of each yoga by numerous yogis, rishis, siddhars, etc., through the eons.

And yet, the West, with just one whiff of yoga, turned it into a billion dollar industry, commercialized and commoditized in every aspect, with over 20 million practicing it in the USA alone.

And that too, when the yoga of the West is just a small component of yoga called asanas, — just the physical exercise parts. Technically yoga as it is practices in the West should be called “asanas” or “yoga asana”. And yet, it has been marketed with such bravado as yoga.

Not just Marketing, but Theft

If somebody steals your book and makes a lot of money with it, and just tells you that you should be happy, because he’s made your idea popular throughout the world… and not give you one penny nor even tell others that you are the original source of the work… would you sit quietly?

When someone steals another persons discovery and renames it as his own, acts like he or she independently discovered it (or just adds some frosting/decoration to it, and calls it a different product, with no royalty nor attribution to the underlying base product), it is called intellectual property theft. It shouldn’t belay the fact that 6,000 years ago that we did not have copyright laws. 

That is why the World Intellectual Property Organization has now provisions for protecting traditional knowledge systems from outright theft [by mostly Western companies]. In fact, India won the case when they took some of the largest Western pharmaceutical companies to international court for trying to patent numerous Indian medicinal plants (it’s not really the plants themselves, but really the ancient indigenous medicinal knowledge that has been in use for thousands of years).

Maybe India should really patent yoga (I’m joking, but let’s just entertain this thought) and take Western companies to international court for intellectual property theft if they give no attribution to the source. You’ll have the yoga industry and pseudo-liberal leftists up in arms, shouting: how dare India try to patent yoga, yoga is for everyone, yoga is for humanity, etc. Really? so you can make yoga into a billion dollar industry, but India (the creator) cannot even claim a penny? Belying the fact that I never said India should ask royalty but just attribution (and fines for those who don’t). Having said that, I wouldn’t mind if they did in fact ask royalty. Why not? it should not be that difficult, considering whether you know it are not, you are paying some sort of royalty to someone for many of the everyday products you use. Just a personal computer, has probably over 100 intellectual property licenses (from the semiconductor fabrication process of the microprocessor to the keyboard design) that you pay for indirectly.

The same can be said about other Hindu concepts, like chakras. A YouTube search comes up with over 2 million videos on chakra. Even a sampling of the first 10 pages shows they are mostly Americans who have taken the ball and are running with it. Well done and thank you (seriously!)… but if and only if, you attribute it to the source, its Hindu origins. The duplicity is visible when Western culture feels it’s not so important to attribute the Hindu origins to things they take (steal), but do not hesitate twice to attribute anything negative as Hindu. And even worse, to brand and stereotype Hindus only by their weaknesses and eccentricities. See Discreditation.

Another example, is the number of Hollywood films commercializing on Hindu purunas: The Matrix, Star Wars, Inception, Avatar, Interstellar, etc. In fact, I would call it outright plagiarism — that’s what it’s called when you don’t attribute the source. Just because you give the characters Western names, and Western looks, but it in some far far away setting, doesn’t make it any less plagiarism.

Another example, is Aesop’s Fables. Any Hindu who has read both Aesop’s Fables and the much older Panchatantra, will tell you that the former is an outright ripoff, story after story, of the Panchatantra that every kid growing up in India reads. Only the characters have been changed, the stories are again identical.



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