“Yoga: The Art of Transformation”, termed as “world’s first exhibition of the visual history of yoga”, will be held at Smithsonian in Washington DC (USA), world’s largest museum and research complex, from October 19 to January 26 next.
Through over 130 stone and bronze sculptures, devotional icons, illustrated manuscripts, court paintings, photographs, books, missionary postcards, magic posters, medical illustrations and films borrowed from 25 museums and collections worldwide; some as old as 3rd century; it will reportedly explore over 2,000 years yoga’s goals, manifestations, meanings, down-to-earth aspects, central tenets, obscured histories, importance, means of transforming body and consciousness, profound philosophical foundations, visual culture and varied roles yogis/yoginis played in society.
Applauding Smithsonian for exhibition highlighting yoga, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, yoga was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted that yoga was referred as “a living fossil” whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical. Zed added.
Rajan Zed pointed out that yoga had become a global phenomenon and there were splendid yoga studios all over the world. About 20-million Americans practice yoga and about $11-billion goes into yoga gear and classes annually, reports suggest. According to National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress.
This exhibition will reportedly include stone yogini goddesses from Chola temple, folios from the first illustrated compilation of asanas from 1602, watercolor Visnu Vishvarupa, sandstone “Yogini on Owl” sculpture, first movie ever produced about India “Hindoo Fakir” (a Thomas Edison film, 1906), 12-foot scroll of the chakra body and earliest illustrated Yoga Vasishta. Public programs, symposium, concerts and family activities will accompany this presentation. It will later travel to the San Francisco Asian Art Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2014.
Founded in 1846, Smithsonian, whose tagline is “seriously amazing”, has 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, nine research centers and over 177 affiliate museums around the world; about 137 million objects; and over 30 million annual visitors. France A. Cordova and G. Wayne Clough are Board Chair and Secretary respectively, while Debra Diamond is Curator of this exhibition.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three-million Hindus in USA.