By Parveen Chopra May 1996 Rapidly gaining in popularity, reiki and pranic healing use the energy, which is around you and within you, to make you healthy and whole ‘Why did this have to happen to me?’ cried Maya Ravindranath, when confronted with a tragedy that left her with multiple rib fractures, head injuries and a spinal dislocation. Maya had fallen off the parapet at her mother’s house in Chennai, India. The 10-feet fall left the bank executive unable to walk or, for that matter, do any of the elementary things that we take for granted. Maya’s husband, M. Ravindranath, was in England on a scholarship, but her children, Srinivas and Lakshmi, provided her the much-needed familial support system. Remembers Srinivas, ‘I cried to see Mom that way, but I knew God would heal her. I had faith.’ Seven nightmarish months followed—moments dominated by agonizing visits to various doctors and hospitals, 50 X-rays, abdominal belts and neck collars, rigorous physiotherapy exercises—a prison-like existence where recovery seemed like a distant destination. It was then that Ravindranath decided to take his wife’s case to the caring hands of a pranic healer in Delhi. Come sundown, and the Aurobindo Center in New Delhi, India, resembles any busy hospital’s outpatient department. A large number of patients of different ages and ailment wait their turn at the healer’s hands with an air of uncertain expectancy. But the difference becomes clear when the attendant, espying the photojournalist accompanying you, questions: ‘Are you going to take pictures of the patients or of the energy?’ Another person asks: ‘Is that a Kirlian photography camera you are carrying to shoot the patients’ auras?’ Indeed, the patients have assembled to take treatment from one of the 15-odd practitioners of pranic healing, a drugless therapy that entails the transfer of an energy, whose existence is probably unknown to most of us, from healer to patient. At this center, you meet Ravi Kher, a Delhi court advocate, who had a paralytic stroke last year and lost his ability to speak. While extensive allopathic treatment failed to improve his condition, after just three days of pranic healing, Kher could move his affected left limbs and also speak a few words at a time. One more case of what seems like another miraculous cure at the same clinic is that of Renu Rosha, a real estate agent. Rosha was a thyroid patient for 5 years and was constantly on steroids, but was completely cured after 15 days of pranic healing. Another system that uses hands as the instruments of healing is reiki. In a sense, reiki is more of a hands-on approach for, unlike pranic healing, it involves the actual laying of hands of various parts of the body. And going by the growing number of cured and happy patients, reiki, too, is entering the healer’s handbook. Last winter, Suman Sahai, a housewife, lost all sensation in her right hand, save a frequent shooting pain. After doing the mandatory rounds of doctors in vain, she started taking reiki sessions from a retired Army officer in her locality. In the very first session, she says: ‘I got so much relief that I fell asleep at his house. After 8 sittings, the problem cleared.’ Maya relives her initial encounter with a pranic healer: ‘The first time I visited a pranic healing center, I saw people gesticulating away. I thought, almost irreverently, ‘ What is this mumbo-jumbo?’ But with my very first session, I discovered I was a clairvoyant. I could actually see all the aura colors! I understood what was happening. I began feeling as if this is what I had been waiting for all my life. I took to it like a fish takes to water.’ She attended the sessions for over two months and gradually felt her strength increasing. Maya simultaneously carried on with her physiotherapy course, but found that while in physiotherapy , she would improve by 80 per cent, then fall back 10 per cent , in the pranic sessions there were no downs, it was always up. Maya’s physiotherapist told her: ‘I think this is what you were waiting for.’ While pranic healing’s curative aspect is usually emphasized, reiki is finding wide application as a tool for personal and spiritual growth too. Reiki masters claim that it makes you ‘whole and complete’. Only appropriate things happen to you, and you live in abundance. In short, reiki is about taking your life in your own hands. Vivek Gaur, who is in the infrastructure leasing business, finds reiki very soothing. And whenever he is anticipating an unpleasant encounter with a difficult client, he gives advance reiki to the meeting, Says he: ‘It is remarkable how people respond to a positive build-up.’ Others use reiki to improve relationships, to fulfill desires and even in mundane matters such as making a computer behave or bringing a ‘dead’ telephone back to life. But how do these systems work? Quite simply, reiki and pranic healing involve working on our bio-energy body or aura (which permeates the physical body, and extends a few inches beyond it) and our chakras (there are seven major chakras in the body, each related to an endocrine gland, each with its specific color). Disease first manifests itself in the aura, before even appearing in the physical body. Energy healing works on the aura level and corrects the blocked or malfunctioning chakras to cure the disease. According to Barbara Ann Brennan, healer, researcher and writer of popular books such as Hands of Light and Light Emerging, there are two types of life energy that are used in healing: ‘One that surrounds and permeates everything is the universal energy field and the one associated with human beings is the human energy field, commonly known as the human aura.’ Pioneering works to investigate the human energy field was started in Eastern Europe half a century ago, work that is, unfortunately, still imprisoned in the quasi-science category. Most people would have heard of Kirlian photography, named after Semyon Kirlian, its Russian inventor. It is a technique of photographing objects immersed in a high frequency, high-voltage electric field. What you see are glowing, multicolored emanations said to be auras of bio-fields. Reiki and pranic healing are quietly coursing through the better-off sections of Indian society, particularly in the metros. In the suburban trains of Mumbai, capital of the western Indian state of Maharashtra, a watchful eye can detect commuters doing self-reiki, even while balanced precariously on each other’s toes. In Surat, an industrial town in the western Indian state of Gujarat, there is a Reiki Street where almost every household has at least one reiki graduate. The number of masters who conduct reiki workshops has crossed the 100 mark. Pranic healing already has more than 1,500 active healers in India. Says Krishnan Veerappan, one of the six pranic healers who worked on Maya, ‘Till Maya came to our center, I had never encountered such a case before. It was a turning point for the center itself, because it involved the regeneration of bones, muscles ad tissues. This in turn meant a complex combination of techniques, which in the early stages, we ourselves were not sure of. But the fact that she was amazingly receptive was great help, for she was able to receive and immediately assimilate the treatment.’ Maya’s quick recovery in the short span of five months impressed her healer, who remembers his patient with gratitude,’The confidence we gained then has helped us to fine-tune our abilities today.’ Reiki (pronounced ray-kee) is a Japanese term which means universal life force energy. The system was recovered from ancient Indian texts about 150 years ago by Dr Mikao Usui, a Christian minister in Japan. For qi or vital energy that animates and sustains life, the Indian equivalent is prana, a key concept in yoga. The term prana was borrowed by Choa Kok Sui, a Filipino of Chinese extraction , who developed pranic healing more than a decade ago. Although energy healing originated in India, Buddhism may have taken it to China, where qi was investigated further. It then became the basis of the martial arts and acupuncture, which believes that the flow of qi through the body’s 12 meridians can be manipulated to cure disease. But it was the legendary healing power of Jesus Christ that triggered the discovery of reiki by Dr Usui. The story goes that one of his students asked him whether he could heal like Jesus. DR Usui found the answer after years of combing through religious texts the world over. His search fructified in some Sanskrit-Tibetan sutras and he developed his own healing power through austerities and meditation before starting to teach. Reiki officially came to India in January 1989 when a German master, Paula Horan, held a workshop in Bombay for about 30 people. One graduate, Shamal Durve, went on to train as a master. She and eight other masters are now part of the Reiki India Research Center near Mumbai, the only reiki cooperative in the country. They have initiated over 10,000 people into reiki and now plan a bigger retreat-cum-center near Mumbai. Pranic healing followed a little later. The man who has played a stellar role in spreading it in India is C. Sundaram, a Bangalore-based industrialist who suffered from acute spondylitis. Recovery started when, admitted in a clinic in the USA, he was given pranic healing. Curious and grateful, he met the master, Choa Kok Sui and started the Pranic Healing Foundation in 1992. Today he is the president of the All India Pranic Healing Association. Choa Kok Sui doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of a guru. A chemical engineer by training and a successful businessman by profession, his aim is to demystify the su
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