Christ depicted in a yogic posture
in an exhibition at Agra's St. Peter's College, where a
sustained effort is being made to populairise the ancient
Indian scientific regimen.
Agra: Efforts to take
yoga to the masses is nothing new. But they remain largely
restricted to trained instructors and camps. In a rare initiative
here, benefits of the ancient discipline are being publicised in a
A 6,000-square-foot gallery has opened in the St Peter's College
campus, adjacent to the historic cathedral, in which embossed
reliefs and paintings show the benefits of 'asanas' or postures to
health in general.
Each day students, parents, drivers, rickshaw pullers, cyclists
and pedestrians stop to read and admire Hindi descriptions of each
asana, elaborately explained in simple language.
The paintings are bold and invite attention. One can take a
leisurely walk through the gallery, taking notes or shooting
A brainchild of Father John Ferreira, principal of St Peter's
College, founded in 1846, it has taken two years of hard work
conceptualising and executing the project in a unique style.
"The idea was to bring the esoteric science of yoga to the masses
from the closets of ashrams and libraries. The visual appeal had
to be striking and the message simple to relate with the needs of
the common man," Ferreira told IANS.
Five years ago, when John Ferreira took over as the principal, he
introduced a one-hour daily yoga regimen for students.
"Not just the Catholic church but parents, teachers stood up in
opposition. They thought it was a waste of time and energy, but
today the miracle has been achieved. The boys are regular
practitioners of yoga.
"Some of them have become yoga teachers; the Catholic priests are
also yoga fans, including the archbishop. The whole campus exudes
positive vibes. Other schools too have taken to yoga and the
various school boards are now planning to introduce yoga in the
curriculum," Ferreira said.
He has built a huge yoga hall on the campus, which is open to the
general public morning and evening to practise and learn the
intricacies of yoga. "I have stopped all junk food on the campus
and brought out a series of calenders on various diseases and how
yoga and natural cure methods can help."
As one enters the portals of this grand institution, it is
difficult to miss the huge painting of Jesus Christ in a yogic
posture, in sublime tranquillity.
"You will not find this picture anywhere in the world. It's unique
in every respect," says Ferreira, who switched over to yoga 30
years ago. "I was perpetually sick and had lost all hope of living
a normal life. From then on, there's been no looking back."
He says the record was not the objective.
"It just happened," he says. "We are now trying to get this listed
in various record books, including Guinness and Limca. It's a
permanent and durable project. The embossed pictures have been
sculpted with special cement and adhesive materials and follow a
An exclusive Neem-Vatika has been developed. "An eye-sore for so
many years, a huge mound of garbage has been cleared to make way
for a Shanti Vana. The morning assembly begins with chantings from
scriptures, the echo of mantras and Om resonate," explains
mathmatics teacher Anubhav.
Father John says, "It is always good to start early in life. No
point doing yoga when your body becomes a factory of diseases."
(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)