Yoga group shutters after cultural appropriation complaint

One student’s complaint of “cultural appropriation” led to the dissolution of a university’s Bhakti yoga group. 

American University student Maya Krishnan filed a complaint with the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion and wrote an op-ed in the student paper, The Eagle, after seeing a non-Indian group invited by American University’s Bhakti Yoga Club performing the Indian epic “The Ramayana,” according to ISKCON News

The Bhakti Yoga Club’s faculty adviser, as well as its student president and vice president, all resigned from their posts amid backlash following the complaint and op-ed, rendering the group unrecognized by the university.

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“Having my culture represented by an almost entirely white troupe of dancers is incredibly frustrating,” Krishnan said in her op-ed. “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.” 

The Bhakti Yoga Club had invited Viva Kultura, a multinational performing arts group, to perform"The Ramayana."

“The reality of this is 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,” Krishnan continued.

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The Bhakti Yoga club confirmed its dissolution to Campus Reform on Tuesday.

"The club has been shut down because immediately after Viva Kultura performed, our faculty advis[e]r resigned and president and vice president subsequently resigned as well," a representative told Campus Reform

The group added that another student is now leading the group in its attempt to restart and ISKCON's communications director, Anuttama Das, is serving as an adviser, according to ISKCON News. 

Das did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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