By Punya Srivatsava and Jamuna Rangachari
Discourses from five gurus, mini workshops on dance and sound, two panel discussions and a Congress on the rise of alternative medicines all added up to a delectable four days, say Punya Srivastava and Jamuna Rangachari
The 20th anniversary hoardings around the venue, India Habitat Centre, announced the lush opulence of the occasion. The entire team of Life Positive – Delhi, Mumbai, and executives from Kolkata and Bangalore – were gathered together for the first time on this grand occasion of the celebration of the 20th anniversary, at the Life Positive Expo, Delhi.
“I have been attending the Life Positive expos for many years. But this time, there was something different in the air. For the first time I felt a deep sense of happiness looking at the smiling faces of the LP staff. Each one of them was radiating joy and positivity, despite shouldering huge responsibilities and carrying them with ease,” said Delhi-based Krishna Singh.
The much-awaited spiritual festival was flagged off with Anandmurti Gurumaa’s inaugural keynote address.
Gurumaa is a Sufi minstrel with a deep knowledge of Vedanta, yoga and ayurveda, which was reflected in the wisdom that resonated through her discourse on how to live a happy life. For instance: “Modern medical science is yet to comprehend consciousness. It is still wondering whether it is the mind that makes the brain work or vice versa.”
Here is another: “Swami Nirmal once said, ‘Yaaron mujhe maaf karna main nashe mein hoon… kisi aur ki nahi, khud ki mohabbat mein hoon.’ (Please pardon me, friends, I am intoxicated in my own love). Being with one’s Self gives liberation. It gives you wings; it makes you the king and you are then able to give.”
Recounting the tale of a simpleton’s sadhana on a buffalo, Gurumaa explained how one’s focussed meditation on any object makes him or her one with the object. Just as that man meditated on a buffalo, and eventually came to think of himself as one, similarly, meditating on the Supreme soul enables one to become one with the Supreme or one’s higher self.
Her extempore speech swiftly travelled from point to point without missing a beat. Her trademark wit and wry sense of humour resulted in many a dimpled smile that disarmed the audience, even as her sharp insights penetrated their minds. Her final reflection: “Simply becoming aware of the Self itself is liberation; it is effortless. It becomes a bondage only when ‘efforts’ come into picture. One needs to find one’s own liberation. Others are just mediums to that knowledge.”
Commending Life Positive’s efforts in pioneering positive journalism for the last 20 years, she hailed the magazine as a much needed manual for an individual’s body-mind-spirit wellness.
Gurumaa’s discourse was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Has the New Age arrived?’. Noted author and retired doctor, Dr Ramesh Bijlani from Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Sister Rama from the Brahma Kumaris, and Life Positive’s Founder Editor, Parveen Chopra, were the eminent panelists. The discussion was moderated by Suma Varughese, editor-in-chief of Life Positive. It was flagged off with a riveting presentation by Dr Ramesh Bijlani, proving that the New Age had definitely imprinted itself in the global consciousness. Dr Bijlani explained that while the world was familiar with revolutions that overthrew governments in a bid to resolve problems, the New Age was an evolution. “This time, we are going towards the root of the problem. The evolution this time is at a higher level of consciousness. We have exhausted all the possibilities of mental consciousness and now we can only go towards Soul consciousness.” Quoting Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, he said that we are evolving from beings with five sensory organs to beings with multiple sensory organs.
Sister Rama pointed out that although the New Age was clearly here, people still needed to bring their spiritual convictions and insights into the way they lived their lives. She said, “The shift only happens when one ‘becomes’ the practice.” Chopra too pitched in with his take on the New Age, explaining that the very presence of magazines like Life Positive reflected the efflorescence of spirituality. “Many spiritual masters have come into the limelight and gathered millions of followers,” he remarked. He also hailed internet as a significant tool which has brought about a paradigm shift in the way spirituality is being approached, especially in the West. Finally, all agreed that a better future for the world was taking shape.
|Shovan Narayan gave a soul stirring Kathak lecdem on dance as a way to God|
The second half of the first day saw two lecture-demonstrations on dance and on music by renowned artists – Padmashree Dr Shovana Narayan and Shruti Nada Poddar. Dr Narayan enthralled the gathering with her soulful performances as she displayed how classical dance harmonises the polarities within. “Dance is a form of Yoga. We lose ourselves – our sense of self – and seek merger with our higher self, the Supreme Soul,” she explained. Dr Narayan gave breathtaking performances on various themes – vandana to Vishnu, Story of Yashodhara, Kabir’s couplet, Krishna’s Holi – all depicting various spiritual philosophies.
|Shruti took the audience on an inner journey with her alaaps|
|Mohanji gave a soulful discourse on the significance of going within.|
When asked about the difference between prarabdha (the karmas that we will experience in this present life) and free will, the master explained that we attract a situation because of our prarabdha, but the way we respond to that experience is a function of our free will.
Talking about illness, he said, “Any illness is a blockage of energy. It means you are running away from reality. One can decrease the level of illness or depression by ‘being’ awareness, accepting awareness and practising awareness. Awareness brings clarity, clarity leads to wisdom, wisdom leads to purity.”
|Sister Shivani unlocked the secret of happiness in her powerful discourse|
For that, one needs to charge oneself emotionally, regularly. “The moment we become emotionally charged, we shift from expectations to acceptance. This is one simple parameter to check whether I am on the right path of my spiritual journey or not,” she explained. The emotionally charged Self does not need others in order to be happy. She then explained how we can help other souls to charge themselves, “First, by being charged ourselves, and sending that charged radiations to others – the best gift we can give to anyone.”
“Acceptance comes when we recognise others as souls on the journey who are carrying various samskaras from previous births. Only love and acceptance can help these souls overcome their samskaras. Our role is to empower each other, not to do things for each other,” Sister Shivani concluded.
|Sadhvi Bhagawati spoke effusively about the significance of spiritual values in life|
She narrated a thought-provoking tale on the matchless beauty and value of our Higher Self which was set in a temple in Cambodia, where monks used to worship the idol of a clay Buddha. One day, as a monk was cleaning the idol, he saw something glinting on the statue. He rubbed harder and harder, and discovered that the idol was actually made up of gold! “We are that clay moulded by layers of pain, grief, betrayal, stress and ego. We need to strip these away to become the golden Buddha that we are!,” she remarked.
Talking about the role of samsakaras, Sadhvi explained how continuous expression of negative samskaras like anger, can imprint them on our psyche. Suppressing them is also not a good idea as they turn into depression. “The only way out, as written in ancient Indian texts, is forgiveness. Forgiveness gives freedom from these samskaras,” she said.
|Rajiv Mehrotra on the central role of compassion in Buddhism|
Today there is a lot of scientific dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the scientists to establish that when people meditate on compassion, there is a tangible difference in the state of their minds. “This proof was sought only to bring in more compassion into the world as today’s world does wish to have more proof of whatever they are doing or pursuing,” said Mehrotra, while advocating the diligent practise of compassion. Explaining the basic truth of accepting responsibility for ourselves and the state of the world, he was sure that with more and more people becoming aware of this tenet, the state of the world that we live in is bound to change.
|Both Dr Karan Singh and Maulana agreed that the essence of all faiths was the same|
He dashed the hopes of aspiring seekers by assuring them that they would attain enlightenment in the next 100 lifetimes which was his own aspiration! When it was explained to him that they were looking for enlightenment in this life itself, His Holiness chuckled merrily and said that he did not believe in lying!
“ I wish to improve by one per cent in this life – that is the minimum expectation for me. This is not bad. This means I will be enlightened in 100 lifetimes! People can also have lesser expectations – that may be in one million lives, you will be Buddha, and each life will be one-millionth times better, which is not bad,” he said. He added, “Achieving Buddhahood does not depend on one’s good karma; it is beyond the realm of good and bad karma.”
He observed, “Human nature is perfect; in fact every nature is perfect – be it an animal or a mountain. We constantly try to better ourselves but we need to pause and reflect; we need to meditate on who we are, what we want to be, what we don’t have. This questioning gives you clarity.”
He charmed the audience with the suggestion that the best way to really love the other is to imagine that they were our mother in one or other lifetime. It is through this attitude that we shall work on increasing the positives and removing the negatives.
At the end of the three days, the participants drew in a deep breath of satisfaction, as at the close of a sumptuous spiritual banquet. Everyone had points to ponder over, insights to absorb, and friendships to savour. After all, the Expo was as much about bringing seekers together, as it was about exposing them to the great sages of this land.
As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations, the Life Positive Foundation also organised a one-day international Congress on the ‘Rise of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) and its Movement towards Integration’.
|Dr BM Hegde held the audience captive with his brilliant presentation|
D R Kaarthikeyan, President of Life Positive and Chairman of the Life Positive Foundation, quoted from one of the papers written by Dr Hegde, “Eighty per cent of funding to FDA and WHO is done by vested interests. Present medication is disease-oriented and not patient-oriented.” (sic)
Dr Hegde continued in this vein, condemning the medical casteism that exalted allopathy and looked down upon alternative therapies. Laying the blame on the intellectual classes, who he drolly called ‘resident non Indians’, he lamented their unwillingness to endorse ayurveda, even though there was clear proof that most of the earlier Western healthcare practices were derived from the ancient Indian texts. “Thus, modernity should come from antiquity; from ancient wisdom,” said he. Repudiating the inadequacy of modern scientific medicine, he explained that studies are proving its reductionist approach to be entirely wrong and unsuited for human healthcare, adding, “Antibiotics kill your gut’s flora and finishes off your immune system. We need integration of the ‘good’ in all the healing systems.”
Dr Hegde’s address was followed by a panel discussion on the ‘Rise and impact of CAM on our health’. Moderated by Dr Ananthanarayanan, CEO of Santosh Education and Healthcare Private Limited, the panel had Dr Salila Tiwari (naturopath), Dr NK Sharma (reiki), Dr Partap Chauhan (ayurveda), and Dr Ravi K Tuli (integrated healing) putting forth their opinions. Dr Salila Tiwari vociferously spoke on the principles of leading a healthy life through healthy diet, exercise, rest, cleanliness (within and outside) and positive thinking. “Why the question ‘rise of CAM’? Naturopathy is not CAM; it is the original curing modality. Local medicine should be taken but Western medicine is not local,” she said. Dr Chauhan, Founder, Jiva Ayurveda, pointed out that we invite diseases because of our failure to abide by our intelligence (pragnya apradh). He also pointed out the folly of depending on another person who has no clue about our body-mind-spirit, to keep us healthy.
The second panel discussion, moderated by Dr Hegde, was on the topic ‘Can Complementary and Alternative Medicines work with each other? Possibilities and Pitfalls’. Dr Ramesh PR, Chief Superintendent of Kottakal Arya Vaidya Sala, Delhi, maintained that integrative approach needs clinical application. Dr Ashwani Chopra, Founder, Aashlok Hospital, Delhi, remarked that if there is any field that is in dire need of integration, it is medicine. “We have to invest in humanism, instead of only investing on technology,” he said, adding, “Healthcare should be approached with consciousness.” The others on the panel included Dr HK Chopra, and Dr Sharmila Anand, managing director of Santosh Education and Healthcare Private Limited.
The last session of the day was dedicated to the miraculous healing from alternative therapies. Jamuna Rangachari, editor of the Life Positive website, Babbu Gill, a heal-your-life trainer and Benita Sharma, pranic healer – all three shared their experiences of healing through perilous ailments like Multiple sclerosis, and breast cancer through alternative approaches. In Jamuna’s case, it was acupuncture that came to her help while homeopathy healed Benita, and self-work, particularly the practice of gratitude and forgiveness, redeemed Babbu’s health.
At the end of the Congress, everyone was convinced that alternative therapies along with the judicious use of allopathy was the way forward for our very sick planet.
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