Wednesday, April 8, 2015

TWISTS OF FAITH- In Mumbai, Fr. Joe a Catholic priest -yogi attacks Western propaganda against yoga

In Mumbai, a Catholic priest-yogi attacks Western propaganda against yoga
Father Joseph Pereira, who teaches Iyengar yoga around the world, believes its opponents are extremist 'God addicts"
Is yoga incompatible with Christianity? Conservative Christians in Europe and the US have been posing this question with growing fervour in the past few months, accusing India’s biggest export to the West of propagating Hinduism and leading Christians down the path of evil.

The controversy was in the news again again last week, when an appeals court in California ruled that yoga is secular, “devoid of religious or mystical trappings” and can be taught in schools without violating students’ religious freedoms. The ruling was in response to a 2013 lawsuit filed by worried Christian parents of Encinitas town, who claimed that yoga classes introduced in a local elementary school were promoting Hinduism and Buddhism amongst their children.

But an Indian Catholic priest from Mumbai has a thing or two to say to the Christian groups in the West whipping up fears against yoga in the West.
Joseph Pereira, a Catholic clergyman and proponent of Iyengar yoga, wears both his hats with perfect ease as he teaches yoga around the world. He studied the practice directly from BKS Iyengar, the legendary founder of Iyengar yoga, and his students include everyone from Christian priests to Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. Through his 34-year-old organisation Kripa Foundation, he uses yoga to rehabilitate people with alcohol addiction problems.
Father Joseph Pereira with BKS Iyengar. Photo courtesy Kripa Foundation
Anti-yoga propaganda, says Pereira, is the work of a specific lobby of fundamentalist, “born-again” Christians who he describes as “God addicts”. This may sound strange coming from a Catholic priest, but Father Joe – as most people know him – has chosen his words for a reason.

Opium for the masses

“Jesus, for me, is the supreme yogi, because he spoke about being one with God,” said Pereira, who emphasizes that Iyengar yoga transcends all ideologies and philosophies with its ability to unite people. Just this year, Pereira published a book called Yoga for the Practice of Christian Meditation, connecting the practice of various yoga asanas to teachings from the Bible.

The Catholic church, he says, has actually been open to the idea of opening up to practices like yoga since the Second Vatican Council of 1962, when the church issued two documents – one about the church in the modern world and the other on its relationship with non-Christian religions.

“In both documents, we have been encouraged to imbibe spirituality from world religions,” said Pereira. It is in this spirit that Bede Griffith, a British Benedictine monk living in India, began to promote Hindu-Christian dialogue, wrote a Christian reading of the Bhagwad Gita and came to be called a yogi.

“How many people in the West know about all of this?” said Pereira. The anti-yoga propagandists, he said, not only fail to see the spiritual aspects of yoga, they also fail to delve deeper into the meaning of their own religion.

“So many people who come to church every day are lost in religion – they make a fetish out of their idea of God but don’t know what it really means,” said Pereira. “Marx was right when he said that religion can be like opium for people.”

Christian denominations like the Pentecostals, the Southern Baptist churches in the US and various television evangelists – the groups that routinely oppose the practice of yoga – are highly fundamentalist “God addicts” who Pereira likens to the Hindutva Bajrang Dal or the Islamist Al-Qaeda. “All these groups preach the prosperity gospel – the idea that if you follow the gospel, you will prosper,” said Pereira. “They are only in it for the money and power.”

Acrobatics versus yoga

To Pereira, yogic spirituality is primarily about healthy living, and he plans to promote the idea this year on June 23, which Kripa Foundation will mark as an International Yoga for Addiction Recovery Day. Representatives from de-addiction centres from at least 25 countries will participate, including the US.
Pereira emphasises, however, that it is mainly Iyengar yoga that he chooses to defend from opposition in the West. “All kinds of yoga are being popularised in Western countries these days, and some of them do present yoga through a Hindu religious lens,” he said. “Most, however, have just reduced yoga to acrobatics. But yoga is not just a work out – it is a work in.
Submitted by 
Wednesday, April 8th 2015

Friday, April 3, 2015

Fr. Joe's Easter Greetings to You in the Latest Kripa Newsletter April 2015

                        Double Click Image for lager view

Double Click Image for lager view

Submitted By
Ashutosh Mandelia
Rachna Images - Worli, Mumbai


Ossie returns to Kripa......Warm welcome by Fr. Joe

Oswald Pereira, know as Ossie  returned to be with Fr. Joe at Kripa Vasai last Sunday. It was indeed a touching  home coming, as Fr. Joe guided and helped Ossie around as he was a little fragile and needed assistance in his movements. Accompanying him was his younger son Aron and Ramesh bhai along with Nitin Shanbag
Ossie was given a warm welcome by Fr. Joe,Kripa  staff and patients at Kripa Vasai  by the staff performing the traditional aarti amongst singing of Bhajaans. Indeed a real home coming after he had gone in 2002.

Fr. Joe has instructed two assistants to look after him 24x7 as he needs assistance as he is feeble and also has bouts of dementia. he is housed  in the deluxe room on the ground floor of Kripa Vasai.

Those wishing to visit him are free to do so accept advised to avoid 1 to 4 pm as he rest. It would be best to contact Fr. Joe directly or Fr Seraphinus ( Fr. Sera) to seek prior appointment to visit Ossie.

Telephone no at Kripa Vasai (0250 )2326069/2326521


Fr. Joe reaches out to the poorest of the poor in Education @ Dhamori, Maharashtra.

Taking time out from his hectic itinerary , and following his passion and dream of Education and empowerment to villages, Fr Joe visited St Joseph Seva Sanghs Yashoda English medium school Dhamori, which is located in a remote tribal village This school caters to the underprivileged and impoverished populace of a dozen other surrounding villages namely,Chasnali,Mahegaon,Devi,Kandalas,Shirwade, Manjarewasti.  This school has classes from Nursery to STD III, with a strength of 300 students and 13 qualified Teachers.
Despite the Governments RTE (Right to Education) policy, 2085,many villages in Maharashtra have no schools, forcing children to walk 8 to 10 kms  to attend formal schooling. A report published by Directorate of Education. With this thought in  mind  Mr. Francis Anil Dhawar founded,Yashoda English Medium school  founded by Francis Anil Dhiwar in 2010 with an aim to cope up with this gross inequity faced by the children in these villages.
It is here that Fr. Joe is continuously guiding and helping this school to flourish, with the support of his church and Friends of Kripa. Fr. Joe has adopted this school and assured his support in future developments.
Viewing the  absenteeism and high drop out rates in villages, Fr Joe has further assured improvement of various facilities that would attract the children to come to school.Even to the extent of constructing a protective boundary and proper RCC constructions as per the Government norms.
Fr. Joe who was the chief guest at the schools 4th annual day celebration commended the President Mr. Francis Anil Dhawar  for the team spirit and dedication of the his teachers and well disciplined students.and further stated that the students of the school, have the great quality of developing into future scientists and distinguished citizens.
          To mark the occasion various cultural programs of story telling, poetry, songs, dance and karate demonstration was presented. by the children from the school.  
Parents who attended the program were highly inspired by Fr Joe’s speech to them. As a token of gratitude,they presented him with grapes and other products from their farms. A touching episode was an intoxicated gentlemen staggered to greet Fr Joe   and fell at his feet. Fr Joe lifted him and hugging him said to him “Your place is not at my feet. It is in my heart.” and invited him to seek  recovery at Kripa Bandra.  The man was son touched that he  went away with tears of joy. Later at night, he phoned up Mr. Francis Anil Dhiwar  and vowed never to go for a drink again. Surely a steeping stone to recovery. Hearing this news Fr. Joe immediately informed that as a Class A Trustee of AA, he would start an AA meeting group and extend his support through and extension of kripa Foundation in the village for further rehabilitation for alcohol and drug abuse which would include HIV care.
 In memory of Guruji Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar the school has decided to start Yoga classes for the villagers in the school campus. 
The program was a grand success with the students, staff and parents going happily home with memories of a great annual day celebration.

Submitted by
Francis Anil Dhawar