YOGA: Why India Fails to Win Olympic Medals

Anyone who loves India and wants it to become a great nation has to ask:

Why does the second most populous nation win so few Olympic medals?

Here is how we stand in terms of Olympic medals:

  • China: 1,444.2 million people — 608 medals
  • India: 1,393.4 million people — 28 medals
  • Germany: 83.9 million people — 855 medals
  • UK: 68.2 million people — 883 medals
  • USA: 332.9 million people — 2827 medals

The difference is made by contrasting world views: Is the physical body good or bad? Should the body be cherished and cared for, or is the soul’s entanglement with body the root of human bondage?

Tons of testimonies attest to the undeniable fact that many people have found Yoga helpful for various physical ailments. That has reinforced a postmodern myth that Yoga equals physical fitness.

The historical fact is that in association with a school of philosophy called Samkhya, Yoga taught India that physical body (“Prakrity”) is evil. The soul (“Purusa”) is good. Entanglement with body is the soul’s bondage. Salvation means Isolation (“Kevalyam”) from the body. Yoga began as the practical means of separating the soul (Purusa”) from the body (“Prakriti”). Later it began to be redefined as a discipline to merge finite human self into the infinite SELF — Brahma. That redefinition did not alter the reality that the non-dualistic philosophy of Adwaita also looked down upon the material realm (the body) as Maya (illusion).

That is not meant to deny physical benefits of Yoga. Yogic asanas (postures) were developed by ascetics who did little or no physical work. They spent hours meditating. That resulted in all sorts of physical ailments, not experienced by most people who walked, cycled, swam, rowed boats, drew water from deep wells and hauled it on their heads.

Meditators with physical ailments needed to exercise their muscles. They had the leisure to perfect techniques that have become useful for middle-class people whose normal life no longer gives them physical exercise.

So, . . . while yogic postures were good for the meditators who did not use their muscles as everyone else did. . . those practical benefits failed to create a culture of physical fitness in India because as a philosophy Samkhya-Yoga system cultivated a negative attitude towards the body.

In contrast, the Bible taught the West that the Creator had declared the human body to be “very good” (Genesis 1: 31). We were not created for sickness, suffering and death. We were made to live for ever, like our Father in heaven. Sin brought sorrows, sickness and death (Genesis 3). That’s why when the Savior came to save us from our sin and to bless us with abundant life, He healed sick bodies and raised the dead. The Lord Jesus commissioned His disciples to feed the hungry, heal the sick and teach truth to override destructive, enslaving ideas.

If you want to understand the secret of the western culture of physical fitness, please google “Muscular Christianity.” The YMCAs (Young Men’s Christian Associations) brought that theology to India.

To understand how the Bible created modern sports culture in India, please zoom with us on Thursday July 1 at 9 pm (India Standard Time) @

Meeting ID: 899 2918 3268, Passcode: 140150

The speaker will remind us of the missionary who trained the “Flying Sikh” Milkha Singh (below)


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

David Marshall

Dr. David Marshall is an educator who has taught in America, China, Japan and Taiwan. He has lectured in many countries, and often writes at The Stream.David Marshall returned to Seattle from teaching Chinese students how to do research in January 2020, and was then stranded by Covid.After riots broke out in late spring, he wrote an ebook entitled “Letter to a ‘Racist’ Nation, explaining the Woke movement from the perspectives of culture, education, and religious history, with added background supplied by his 40-year police veteran older brother, Steve Marshall.


Vishal Mangalwadi

Prof. Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi studied philosophy in Indian universities, Hindu Ashrams and L’abri Fellowship in Switzerland. Along with his wife, Ruth, he founded a community to serve the rural poor in central India and organized lower castes as a political force. Several of Vishal’s 21 books have been translated into 16 languages. Six of them have been taught at university level. William Carey International University honored him as a Legum Doctor. From 2014-16, he served as an Honorary Professor of Applied Theology at the Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences in Allahabad (UP) India. Vishal and Ruth have two daughters and six grandchildren.