For many in the west, anything “Vedic” (Skt. ‘Vaidika’) and the system of vegetarianism and ahimsa have become systems to make them feel good about themselves. Ahimsa itself is one of the most culturally misappropriated facets of yoga in the west and the world today – that arose not with Hindu yogis, but with the political interests of Mahatma Gandhi – not with true Hindu acharyas as Gorakshanatha, Matsyendranatha, Agastya and others historically, or Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and others in modern times.
Often, there’s little true interest and more of a social interest to improve one’s spiritual resumé. We see this with Facebook groups and posts that misappropriate the entire basis and teaching of the Mahabharata and it’s Bhagavad Gita and try a turn it into a neo-Buddhist system of non-violence (when even Buddhist monks gave us Martial Arts!) -trying to reclaim some sense of a moralistic high-ground for their own purposes of forming a new order of chardonnay socialists!
This has become dangerous for many reasons, as it superimposed ideologies from Christian cultures upon the eastern systems and takes their statements and tenets out of cultural and historical context in a similar heir to how Europeans first interpreted the Vedas, as a result of Eurocentric biases and preconceptions.
Social media today has become a tool for such people as well. It gives their diminutive learning a voice and stamina with which to proselytise their garbled half-truths, hearsays and other misappropriated and hyperbolic statements and views. This doesn’t end there. Many Vaidyas from India have been setting themselves up as Gurus since the ’70s, often having no real learning in yoga, vedanta and such systems back home or in the west. Paraphrasing has become the new “Vedic” and fueled with western blind-faith based naivety, gives rise to a dangerous cocktail.
Often we see articles and posts from Ayurvedic practitioners and yoga teachers that are quite laughable, due to getting basics facts wrong or completely misrepresenting quotes out of philosophical context. Others confuse systems and act as “experts”, which pasteurises the systems and tenets themselves; an example is how we often see “dosha” in Ayurveda as representing a “mind-body type” – which is incorrect and doesn’t even represent the prakriti of a person correctly! Others like to split yoga, ayurveda and tantra up into separate systems, which they are all part of, or buy into the Tantric-Vedic split, which goes along with the Aryan-Dravidian racial divide, that is also not only illogical and scientifically proven to be incorrect, but incorrect as per even the traditional meaning of these within India itself!
Sadly, the maxim “a little knowledge is dangerous” doesn’t seem to resonate with these people. Instead, they see this as in invitation to express their little knowledge as true, gospel and final, and when confronted with complete or integral systems and wisdoms, cannot grasp it and so rather learn, expand and embrace, take to trolling and abusive diatribes! We find little in the way of citations, quotations and references substantiating their claims, beyond their dubious Gurus’ words (which are often in the same contextually incorrect category) – on their websites, blogs and articles or posts, but instead a culture of “I feel so” emotional-isms, that epitomises this modern-age of social media and how it becomes a tool for spiritual sociopaths!