The shape and transformations of both yoga practice (the referent) and the meaning (use-value) of this practice is defined by (1) the dynamic competition between groups and individuals within the yoga cultural field and (2) this cultural field’s interaction with the rest of society.
When I arrived, the headlines read loud and clear that Yoga poses for three people this was a catastrophe far worse than the rest of the world was imagining. Each day Yoga poses for three people the rising death tolls were printed alongside the Kumbh coverage of daily accounts of the traffic there. Suddenly the purpose of the pilgrimage, as well as the dharma, became crystal clear to me.
We must accept these tragedies and come together in light of them. Sad events present the opportunity to commune with ourselves and with others. If we were to look at all strife as a blessing, it is no wonder that India and the East offer this wealth of spirituality, for their history has left a legacy of it.
Though the Kumbh reports mimicked the media sensationalism of the West, highlighting only the numbers, eccentrics, and famous visitors including Sonia Gandhi and the Dalai Lama, when we arrived at the sangam, where the two rivers merge, and the fairground itself, I was both surprised and relieved that it was the ordinary people who were the real heart of this gathering. There were day-trippers and Kalpvasis, those who stay the duration of forty days.