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India Aims to Safeguard Yoga from Fake Patents

by VR Sreeraman on June 9, 2010 at 4:34 PM
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 India Aims to Safeguard Yoga from Fake Patents

To protect India's rich heritage of medicinal and medical philosophy and practice, a government body has started filming hundreds of yoga poses in an attempt to provide evidence for anyone hoping to patent a new style of yoga that the Indians got first.

A previous effort by the Government to define yoga, based on translations of ancient texts, had mixed results, so now they are trying again to videograph the yoga poses.


"It's like soccer and Britain. You have given it to the world, which is wonderful and generous. But imagine that people started saying they had invented the sport. That would be annoying," said Suneel Singh, one of India's leading yoga gurus.

The ministries of health and science have set up the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library jointly.

Dr Vinod Kumar Gupta, who heads the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, a Delhi-based government organization said: "Simple text isn't adequate. People are claiming they are doing something different from the original yoga when they are not."

"Yoga originated in India. People cannot claim to invent a new yoga when they have not," The Guardian quoted Dr Gupta, as saying.

The campaign to safeguard India's rich heritage of medicinal art and practice has already scored major victories, forcing European companies to reverse patents on the use of extract of melon, ginger, cumin, turmeric and onions for a range of health products.

The government officials were able to use the new digital library to submit carefully translated excerpts from texts ranging from 19th century medical text books to 5th century manuals of traditional ayurvedic medicine to support their claims.

But a new generation of yoga proponents wants something else. Guru Mohan, 31, runs courses for young Indian professionals working in IT companies in Noida.

"The lifestyle was different 2,000 years ago. There were different needs. According to the texts you use cow dung to clean the place where you will practice. That's clearly not appropriate any more, not even in India," Mohan said.

Mohan, who has pioneered what he calls "Call Centre Yoga" with special asanas for those spending hours on end answering phones, some things, however, are eternal.

"Yoga is there for all humanity. It is for serving people. It is traditional wisdom and its reach should never be limited," the paper quoted him, as saying.

Source: ANI


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