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Address by External Affairs Minister on the occasion of International Day of Yoga (June 21, 2018)

June 21, 2018

" Namaskar ” and a very Good Afternoon,
Aadarniya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji,
Hon’ble Members of the European Parliament,
Friends of yoga,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


It gives me great pleasure to be here today, in the premises of the European Parliament, to join you in celebrating International Day of Yoga.

Excellencies,

The European Union represents a powerful group of nations, living together in peace and harmony. You, as the representatives of these great nations, have, every year, come together to have this joint session to acknowledge the efficacy of this ancient science of well-ness.

It is interesting that you have chosen the Yehudi Menuhin Hall for this event. He, of course, was one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century but, Yoga also had a very special place in the violin maestro’s life.

Shri B.K.S Iyengar had taught yoga to Menuhin, who went on to become an avid yoga practitioner. In fact, we are told, that Menuhin famously conducted the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony standing on his head, while giving directions to the orchestra, with his feet!

While mentoring young musicians, Menuhin, would advise them, to incorporate yoga postures into their routine. Today, yoga classes are still offered to the young musicians at the Yehudi Menuhin School.At the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on 27 September 2014, Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that ‘Yoga is an invaluable gift of ancient Indian tradition’.

As I speak today, countries across the world are celebrating International Day of Yoga, thereby redeeming their pledge to endorse and embrace this ancient holistic approach to health and wellness.

India believes in the concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ that means ‘The world is one family’. If this concept represents one of the finest traditions of India, Yoga represents one of the most powerful means for uniting the world.

As we come together to celebrate yoga, we are also celebrating our shared humanity, recognizing our shared opportunities and acknowledging our shared destiny.It is extremely heart-warming to see that India’s gift to the world has been so heartily adopted by Europe.

I have learnt, with great delight, that Belgium has a very special connection with yoga – when 83-year old, Queen Elisabeth of Belgium mastered the ‘Shirsasana’ or headstand, demonstrating that yoga can be practiced without barriers of age, race, religion, culture or station.

This year, the celebration ofInternational Day of Yoga will have an added vitality as this is 70th year of our special friendship. I am delighted to know that a number of cities of Belgium- including Brussels and Antwerp are preparing to celebrate the International Day of Yoga.

Friends, Today, more than ever, the world needs yoga.Since we lead highly stressful lives fraught with social, environmental and economic challenges. We seem to be living in a state of chaos which is disrupting the delicate equilibrium between our mind and body.

With the frantic pace of modern day life inducing the rise of diseases such as cardiovascular problems, diabetes and obesity, yoga holds the potential to alleviate their associated complications.

Yoga, with its focus on postures and routines that require the mind and body to work in tandem, restores the harmony within. Within minutes, you will experience this harmony with the blessings of Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji. I am personally grateful to you Gurudev for your gracious presence for this event.

Friends,

I would like to thank His Excellency, Mr. Gefforey Van Orden , the Chair of the European Parliament, Delegation for Relations with India. Her Excellency, Mrs. Neena Gill, the first Vice-Chair of the Delegation and Her Excellency, Mrs. Caroline Nagtegaal, the second Vice-Chair of the Delegation and the Hon’ble Members of the esteemed European Parliament for their commitment, encouragement and strong support in organizing International Day of Yoga annually at the European Parliament.

I also take this opportunity to thank all officials and functionaries of the European Union institutions who have put in concerted efforts, to make today’s celebrations a grand success.

Friends,

At the end of this yoga session, there will be chanting of some mantras for World Peace. Peace in Sanskrit is called ‘Shanti’. Please try to pronounce Shanti .After every mantra, we will chant thrice – Shanti, Shanti, Shanti ! By this chanting, we all will pray for peace in the turbulent world of today.

In conclusion, I would like to say that let the light of yoga illuminate the world, elevate the mind and empower mankind everywhere.

Thank you! धन्यवाद !

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