The War that No Yoga Teacher Can Run From



When yoga is reduced to a self-obsessed, bourgeois lifestyle distraction, people who are so poor they would never have time to take a yoga class actually die in collapsing Bangladesh sweatshops. So a bare minimum goal in yoga work should be to keep things real.

In preparing for a few upcoming discussions of the Bhagavad Gita, something inescapably real occurred to me. I began by considering the question: “What war is about to begin for me, in this hour?”

It’s not a new question in Gita studies. Commentators have forever personalized the old book in this way. Non-dualists abstracted the battle at Kurukshetra into an attack on the illusory self. Tantrics turned the war upon the fragmented psyche that cannot bring itself to love life and delight in the present moment. Some Indian freedom fighters heard Krishna rallying them to slaughter the British; others heard a pacifist message.

I resonate with all of these approaches a little. But they don’t really bite hard. It always seems like there’s something missing. The question nags: What war is about to begin for all of us, right now?

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