University Yoga Club Shuts Down Over “Cultural Appropriation” Complaint

January 14, 2019 | No Comments » | Topics: Story

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A student accused a yoga club at the American University of “cultural appropriation” causing the club to shut down immediately.

Maya Krishna took offense to an event in October, seeing the touring group Viva Kultura, who was invited by the yoga club, perform on campus for its “India Day” festival.

The Bhakti Yoga and Vegetarian Club that had been active on the University’s campus had to dissolve due to that one complaint filed by Krishnan.

In an op-ed, Krishna accused the yoga club of “cultural appropriation,” on account of the group- Viva Kultura being “almost entirely comprised of white European dancers,”

"Having my culture represented by an almost entirely white troupe of dancers is incredibly frustrating. Additionally, the director, and other representatives of the theater company absolve themselves of cultural responsibility by saying that the point of the show is to increase exposure of Hinduism and its traditions. Hinduism is not widely practiced by white people. Hinduism is not widely practiced by Europeans. Hinduism is practiced mostly by South Asian people, who are historically not white and have faced discrimination for that. ”

“White European dancers will never know my intersectional experience as a Hindu woman, being a brown bodied person and the other aspects of systematic racism that I, as well as other South Asian people, have experienced,” the AU student further wrote.

Krishnan had also made a complaint with the President’ Council on Diversity and Inclusion, according to a report by ISKCON News.

The yoga club’s faculty adviser, president, and vice president then decided to step down leading to the disbandment of the club entirely.

Although the club has shut down, many of the members of the club are still against the decision.

“This is an affront to free exercise of religion on this campus, for anybody who meditates or has a spiritual practice,” Ben Zavaleta told ISKCON News. “There were some Indian people in our group too. Maya has targeted other Indian students because she didn’t like a performance.”

Zavaleta who has been with the club for over two years said he came to the group “out of sheer curiosity,” and subsequently became interested in it. Anuttama Dasa, the senior editorial adviser for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness News is urging the students to start the club again.

“If it helps people calm their minds and come closer to God, that’s exactly what we want. We don’t care who owns yoga – we care about who makes progress from yoga,” Dasa stated at a recent event. “So I think we should, in fact, learn about and use others’ cultural and spiritual practices.”