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Are Yogis Communists? Are there similarities between yoga and communism?

Yoga and communism are rarely two words that find themselves in the same sentence. On the contrary, yoga has become so popular in the West, that it is now often identified as much with Americana as it is with its deeply communal Indian roots. …

This ancient science has done much to satisfy our desires for bodily health and wellbeing in recent times. It has even provided a few small elixirs of spiritual nourishment for many along the way.

Who, then, would dare suggest that a yogi could be anything but a free-living, you can have it all, proponent of the utopian democratic dream? I surely would not dare …

After all, Communism, that antithesis of the American spirit, strives to attain a classless society, where no one stands in privilege or dominion over another…

The yogis, of course, would recognize that the “true self,” the essence of each and everyone of us, is identical; that we are, all of us, children of the same Divine spirit, with neither class distinction nor right of dominion over another. Ok, maybe that was a bad example …

How about this though? A popular slogan of the Communist movement claims that “Communism is a world in which each gives according to their abilities, and receives according to their needs.”…

Hmmm …, the Bhagavad Gita implores mankind to find liberation from their desires for personal gain; to selflessly serve humanity; to view the fruits of this world as a Divine gift, not for personal possession, but for the equal use of all. Ok, I guess that was another bad example…

Really though, Communists view that a master and slave, lord and subject, the “oppressor and oppressed,” stand in constant opposition to one another, an arrangement that forms the root of inexhaustible disharmony in life…

Actually, that sounds strangely like the concept of dvaitam, or duality that our ancient Rishis warned us of! They taught us that it is this thing called “ego”, the perceiving of ourselves as unique, individual and separate entities, that is the cause of all our troubles. They told us that we are not alone in this world, but “all one” in it, and that freedom from our discontent can only come through the realization of the unity of all of nature and the equality of all mankind.

Ok, forget all those things. In the end, Communist ideals are surely too radical for the yogi; after all, Communists openly declare that their goals can only be attained by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. “The people have nothing to lose but their chains,” they say, “but they have a world to win!”…

WAIT A MINUTE! The cultivation of the “warrior spirit” is vital in yoga too. In fact, yoga masters have demonstrated that immense effort is needed to overcome the many obstacles on the yogic path, to conquer the ego-self and to pull back the veil of ignorance that overshadows our Divine inner light.

“People of the world, a revolution of the spirit is at hand. You have nothing to lose but the chains of ignorance that bind you. You have the greatest possession of all to win – Freedom … Liberation… Communion with the Universal Divine!”

Are Yogis Really Communists Then?

Communism is a simple three-syllable word that evokes such strong emotion. The root meaning of the word itself simply means to “commune,” to “come together,” to “connect.” Similarly, the word Yoga means “union,” a joining of our lower, worldly self with the higher Divinity; a “communion” of the individual with the Universal.

Does that make Yogis Communists? Surely not in the political sense of the word. In fact, Yogis are no more Communists than they are Republicans, Democrats, Socialists or Anarchists. The “communion of yoga” subscribes to no dogma or politically motivated ideology; it does not strive to subjugate people or impose beliefs. Yoga enlightens, empowers, and liberates.

It seems that great ignorance, misunderstanding, and misuse have befallen this lofty concept of “communing” in our time, both in and out of the political arena. Perhaps in that respect, Yoga and Communism do share some common ground.

And they continued steadfastly in fellowship. And all that believed were together, and had all things in common. And they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”

~ New Testament, Acts of the Apostles

About the Author:

Yogacharya is the director of International Yogalayam, and Editor of The Yoga News

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