May 2016 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. Day 1 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 Shruti Nada Poddar demonstrated the power of nada. “Na means prana and da means being struck or ignited. This way, nada means kinesis,” she said. Shruti demonstrated the significance of sound by asking the participants to close their eyes and note the emotions or images stirred by the alaaps she rendered. Even without knowing which raga it was, many were able to describe feelings and images that was symbolic of the particular raga. For instance, the morning raga evoked joy and freshness while the twilight raga evoked pensiveness and inwardness. Describing the healing power of sound, she related an instance from her own life. “I once had a surgery and was suffering from a shooting pain at that time. I chanted ‘Om’ to that area and the pain vanished in an hour. That is how my journey with beej mantras began,” she said. Beej mantras are sounds for corresponding chakras through which one can heal himself or herself. “With sound, when you lose your sense of self, you allow yourself to loosen up and that creates harmony. That is when the healing begins,” she concluded. Day 2 Mohanji gave a soulful discourse on the significance of going within. The second day of the Expo began with the mystic Mohanji’s session on the importance of awareness in connecting with one’s true Self. The master created a tranquil space of peace and serenity by starting with the Silent Lung meditation followed by a blissful Power of Purity meditation. He then expounded on the virtues of ‘awareness’ and ‘emptiness’. Mohanji stressed that going within was the only tool which will help one’s evolution. “Nothing outside of you can do it for you, not even a guru,” he said. Mohanji also answered an array of questions put forth by the audience, and dispelled many a myth confounding the seeker’s mind. He exhorted the gathering to step out of their minds and become empty. “There is a lot of intellectual obesity these days. We accumulate a lot of spiritual knowledge from so many sources but unless we practise it, it will just remain stored,” he explained. Further explaining the best way to meditate, he said, “Spend time with yourself. Meditation is not an activity. It is a state – wherein you dissolve within, communicate with yourself, and meet yourself.” 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 Mohanji’s session was followed by a discourse by Sister BK Shivani. The renowned face of the Brahma Kumaris, Sister Shivani is an endearing constant at every Delhi expo. With her usual pristine and calm self, she held a loving and peaceful space. The audience basked in her serene radiance while she explained practical ways to vibrate positivity for the Self and the others. Generally, we try to do things for others to make them or keep them happy but that happiness is momentary. That is because we ourselves lack happiness. “We buy gifts for others to make them happy. But that gift doesn’t give them happiness; it can give them utility but not happiness. My contribution towards others’ happiness is not in what I do for them; it is in me being a radiator of happiness,” she said. 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, &ld
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