Recognizing yoga’s universal appeal, on 11 December 2014, the United Nations proclaimed 21 June as the International Day of Yoga by General Assembly resolution 69/131. The International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga. The 2019 main events for the 5th International Day of Yoga at UN Headquarters in New York, held on 20 and 21 June, were organized by the Permanent Mission of India in association with the UN Department of Global Communications, with the theme “Yoga for Climate Action.”
Dr, Kusumita Pedersen, Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at St. Francis College, was kindly invited by the Permanent Representative of India to the UN, Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, to take part in the Panel Discussion held the morning of 21 June in the ECOSOC Chamber. Kusumita has been a student of Sri Chinmoy since 1971 and has published a number of essays on his philosophy and poetry. Kusumita is also a Trustee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and a founding member of its Climate Action Task Force. She has organized Climate Change conferences at the UN and other venues, and is Co-Editor of Earth and Faith: A Book of Reflection for Action published by the UN Environment Programme.
At the beginning of her statement for the “Yoga for Climate Action” Panel, Kusumita said, “What is the relation of Yoga to the climate emergency and climate action? Ethically the connection is strong and deep. The philosophies that frame Yoga affirm the unity of existence and hold that all living beings are interrelated as they share an inner nature, which is their real nature…. As my own spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy, has said, ‘In His transcendental aspect, God is the Lord of Nature. In His universal aspect, God is Nature itself ’.” During the question and answer segment as well, Kusumita spoke at length about her experiences with Sri Chinmoy and his philosophy.
The panel discussion was webcast on UN TV, as was the event the previous evening, “Yoga with the Gurus,” a yoga demonstration held in the General Assembly Hall and attended by many members of the Peace Meditation Group. Please visit http://webtv.un.org/search/5th-international-day-of-yoga-yoga-4-climate-action/6050891138001 to hear Kusumita’s statement starting at 30 minutes into the programme and her response to a question starting at 80 minutes.