London, Feb 22 (ANI): Nazi paramilitary organisation Schutzstaffel (S.S) overlord, Heinrich Himmler, was fascinated with the ancient discipline of yoga, a historian has revealed in a new book.
A German historian has discovered how the SS in Nazi Germany recommended its members, including death camp guards, to practice yoga to enrich their "mind, bodies and spirits".
The first ever book probing the Third Reich's fascination with the ancient discipline intended to attain "perfect spiritual insight and tranquillity", was published this week, entitled 'Yoga In National Socialism' by historian and yoga expert Mathias Tietke.
It shows how Reichsfuhrer of the S.S was fascinated with the discipline and perverted it and its ancient roots into a philosophy to justify the Holocaust.
"Whoever thinks about yoga thinks of people sitting in the lotus position, greeting the sun in order to reduce the stress of everyday life," the Daily Mail quoted the author as saying.
"It is associated with mental equilibrium, the search for wisdom and inner peace and is not considered to be about force or persecution. Nevertheless, there is also this side to the history of yoga," Tietke said.
Tietke ploughed through thousands of Third Reich documents to chronicle the history of this most peaceful of pursuits in the time of the savagery of Nazism.
The Nazi interest in yoga lay in its roots in the 19th century when India mysticism was a favourite pursuit of the middle and upper classes and a great influence on romantic poets and philosophers.
During the Wiemar Republic, as the Nazis gained strength, yoga enjoyed a boom among a people weary of war, inflation, unemployment and misery.
More than 50 yoga books were published in the 1920's in Berlin alone. And, as the Nazis corrupted most things they touched, so it was with yoga.
It was seized on by race experts in the party as being the pursuit of 'Ayran' people. Jakob Wilhelm Hauer, an S.S. captain and yoga expert, who influenced his chief Himmler and convinced him that "yoga can internally arm us and prepare us for the forthcoming battles."
In 1937, four years after the Nazis attained power, the country's first yoga centre opened up in Berlin and operated until it was destroyed by Allied bombs in 1943.
The teacher who ran it had disciples in 50 German towns and cities. Himmler, obsessed as he was with hocus-pocus race theories and mysticism relating to his S.S. "supermen", carried around a German copy of the Bhagavad Gita with him wherever he went.
He regarded the ancient Sanskrit epic as being a blueprint for cruelty and terror, using it, said Tietke, to ultimately justify the Holocaust.
"He identified himself and the SS with the old Indian Kshatriya caste and its publicised attitude of unscrupulous killing for one's 'higher purpose'," Tietke said.
Tietke also said that Himmler's attitude to "karma" was never better displayed than at the secret speech he made to senior S.S. men at Poznan in 1943 when he spoke of the noble, virtuous work his butchers were performing in eliminating the Jews of Europe and Russia.
Himmler was also interested in other early Indian religious writings of India, including the Rigveda, which contains the mythology of the Hindu gods.
"These celebrated the racism of the Aryan immigrating from central Asia to India, killing and a driving out designated 'inferior' opponents," Tietke added. (ANI)
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