compare with the hospitality at Humayun's Tomb exactly
a month ago (anyone know if the Guru caught a Taj cold
or got Ah-Taj hospitality?)
---

Daily Pioneer

Yoga class at Taj leaves ASI blushing

Vijay Upadhyay/ Agra

In a glaring security lapse on the part of the
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Central
Industrial Security Force (CISF) at the Taj Mahal on
Saturday, at least three to four dozen foreigners, led
by international yoga "Guru" Bikram Chowdhary,
practised various yoga postures at the monument's main
dome in a semi-nude state. The whole event was filmed
by at least three movie cameras, all in clear
violation of an ASI Act.
 
As a face-saving measure, the ASI has charged Bikram
Choudhary, a US national, for alleged violation of the
Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains
Act, 1958, Sections 7 and 8 subsection (b) by
conducting "unauthorised commercial activities" in a
monument protected by the ASI. Muslim organisations
have also presented the Agra District Magistrate with
a memorandum alleging that the Guru had defiled the
monument's sanctity.
 
In an FIR lodged on Monday by Assistant Conservator of
ASI posted at the Taj Mahal, the Guru's activities at
the Taj Mahal were in clear violation of the Act which
demanded strong and immediate action against him.
Following this, Choudhary was taken into custody by
the police only to be released later on a personal
bond. Choudhary is a champion NRI weightlifter who
claims to have evolved the "Bikram yoga" which is
apparently an effective therapy for some forms of
arthritis and chronic back pain.
 
Talking to The Pioneer, Senior Superintendant of
Police, Agra, Rajiv Krishna said Choudhary could not
be arrested as in its complaint, the ASI had not been
able to provide sufficient evidence to implicate him
in any cognisable offence. He said according to the
complaint, Choudhary had violated the 1958 Act,
Sections 7 and 8 subsection (b), but the only
punishment in this offence is a fine of Rs 500 which
in fact should be charged by the ASI. The police
clearly has no role in the case. However, the police
did charge Choudhary with Section 188 of the IPC for
disobeying orders issued by a public servant for which
he may be charged a fine of Rs 200, if the charges are
proved.
 
According to information available, Choudhary
conducted a "yoga expo" at the Taj Mahal on Saturday
which he had widely advertised in the local dailies to
recruit students. Upon entering the monument, the Guru
quickly stripped to just his "boxer shorts" and led
his "students" to the main dome of the monument,
prancing about semi-nude at the Taj Mahal for about an
hour, instructing his disciples on various yoga
positions, all under the nose of the ASI and the CISF,
who remained ignorant of the exercise even as hundreds
of foreign and Indian tourists watched in amusement
the Guru's antics.
 
Notably, the main dome of the Taj Mahal is a
restricted zone for video photography and permission
for video shoots at the main dome is only granted in
"special cases" at a whopping fee of upto Rs 10,000.
Yet at least three video cameras were unauthorisedly
used to capture the exercise on film by the Guru's
crew despite the presence of the ASI's Watch & Ward
staff at the main dome.
 

 
When ASI officials in Agra were contacted on Monday
regarding this incident, they claimed they were
completely unaware of the Guru's exercise and insisted
they came to know about it through photographs of the
incident published by some local dailies the following
day.
 
Meanwhile, local Muslims have seriously objected to
the "half-naked" Guru prancing around the Taj's main
dome. Yusuf Khan, a local Muslim leader said the Taj
is "Holy Ground" being the burial place of Mumtaz
Mahal and Shahjahan. Also, there is a mosque nearby
because of which no adult is allowed near the main
dome or the mosque in a nude or semi-nude state. He
said keeping this fact in mind, allowing Choudhary to
conduct yoga lessons in a pair of shorts is indeed
disturbing and an immediate investigation should be
ordered to ascertain why and on whose orders this
transpired.
 
The issue has kicked off a debate on the risks posed
to the safety of the Taj Mahal due to non-cooperative
atmosphere between the two Government agencies, the
ASI and the CISF which are responsible for the
monument's security. While the ASI blames the CISF for
having allowed the "Guru" to film at the main dome,
the CISF has returned the ball to the ASI's court
insisting that the role of the CISF is to protect the
Taj and it is the duty of the ASI to make sure that
such people do not enter the Taj premises. The CISF,
they say, can only ensure that no such activities that
could damage the Taj take place inside the premises

 

               
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