By Life Positive July 2003 Medley of Inspirational Stories Postcards from the Other Side She channels messages to and from what she calls ‘the other side’. A distinguished line-up of seers avail of her transmitting facilities, including Shirdi Sai Baba, Paramahansa Yogananda and Osho. She is familiar with their individual quirks. The Paramahansa has a penchant for writing backward. ‘‘Illiterate,’’ she calls him indulgently. Osho, meanwhile, writes so forcefully that the point of the pen sinks deep into the paper, shredding it. Through their offices and that of her own guiding spirits, Kashmira Elavia, a frizzy-haired 40-something Parsi with a goofy laugh, dispenses wisdom, counsel and healing to a growing number of supplicants. Kashmira stumbled upon channelling inadvertently when, after completing a crossword puzzle one day in the daily newspaper, she lay down the pen to find it possessed of a life of its own. Before her eyes, it made a 360-degree turn. On taking it up and poising it over a paper, the pen took off in untidy scrawls across the page, fashioning a prayer. She channels her messages in a big register, which is covered with lettering over an inch high, mostly illegible. She takes the precaution of having someone write down the words that come to her mind at the same time as they come through the pen. ‘‘I started giving readings to those who had lost someone, parents whose children had died young, and people who wanted answers for their problems. Those on the other side want to be of service to humanity.’’ But what about taking responsibility for your own actions? ‘‘Oh, the choice remains yours,’’ she says. ‘‘They only give you whatever information you need to make that choice.’’ ‘‘I only channel good energies,’’ she says firmly. ‘‘I never think of negative forces and therefore there is no chance of them channelling through me.’’ She conducts healing based on the channels, with additional help from crystals and handwork. Many people claim to have been healed through her. Veera R. Barsiwala talks of having recovered completely from burns in the face, neck and shoulders inflicted by a pressure cooker that burst. ‘‘Kashmira came running with her healing cream and sent me cool healing energies. By the fourth day I was 80 per cent better and soon, the scars disappeared.’’ -Aarti Gopal’s husband healed of a severe and stub Quelling Quackery in Medicine At the 46th Annual Delhi State Medical Conference at Ashok Hotel in New Delhi, the Delhi Medical Association (DMA) chose to debate on what is better—allopathy or holistic medicines. By organising ‘The Big Fight: What is the best Bet’, DMA’s intention was to quell the quackery creeping into medical systems with the increasing popularity of holistic treatments. According to Dr Anil Bansal, DMA President: ‘‘There is confusion among the masses regarding what is the best bet. Holistic treatments have become popular. All we say is that the quackery coming with it should be avoided.’’ He said that it is important to ensure that those practising ayurveda, homoeopathy and such systems have proper qualifications. Of the four panellists, Dr Kalyan S. Sachdev went all out to support allopathy, which he said, is the ‘‘only rational and scientific approach.’’ ‘‘Only allopathy can bring about economic development and higher quality of life,’’ he said. He argued that ‘‘others thrive in India on our (the medical fraternity’s) deficiencies.’’ But interesting contrary points of view came from other panellists. Speaking for ayurveda was Dr Srikant Gaur, who questioned the definition of science and of good health. He went on to prove the importance of ayurveda as an ancient science which has come down to us from the sages and saints of old with its theory of three doshas and five elements Describing the word holistic as a derivative of ‘wholesome’, Dr R.K. Tuli, acupuncture expert associated with Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in Delhi, said the word was initially used for medicine as well. He suggested synergising the science of modern medicine and the art of traditional systems of medicine for total well-being. He brought out the importance of the spirit, not known to science, which is the omnipotent, omnipresent energy sustaining life. ‘‘Understanding the nature of the human body as the microcosm of the universe, is the aim of all alternative therapies,’’ he said. Drawing parallels between homoeopathic philosophy and medical technology, Dr K.K. Aggarwal, of Moolchand The Power of One The world has passively witnessed a lot of violence in the recent past—human rights abuses, terrorism and bigotry. While the perpetrators seem to get away, the victims struggle through it all, bearing the maximum brunt. The seething magma of hurt and humiliation boils over in further acts of meaningless violence. So what can you or I do to stem the seemingly inexorable stream of violence and hate? A photo exhibition titled ‘Gandhi, King, Ikeda: A Legacy of Building Peace’, has tried to provide an answer. Conceived by Morehouse College, the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr, it was showcased in Bangalore by Gandhi Smriti, Darshan Samiti and the Bharat Soka Gakkai. It drives home the point that a single, determined individual can indeed make a difference. The exhibition focussed on Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Daisaku Ikeda, who have demonstrated ‘The Power of One’ in their lives. Inaugurating the exhibition, Karnataka Governor T.N. Chaturvedi said: ‘‘When you see this exhibition, you realise that peace lies within you. And peace within leads to peace without.’’ The exhibits demonstrated the commitment of the three towards lasting peace through non-violence. Not a passive peace of the absence of difference or disagreement, but a thriving, dynamic peace that is based on the recognition of the sanctity of all life and on mutual respect. Today, Gandhi is either seen as part of a bygone history or is ridiculed. But it is precisely in this atmosphere of hatred and frustration that the values Gandhi espoused become most relevant. Chief guest D.R. Kaarthikeyan (former CBI director) emphasised: ‘‘Gandhi is not the past. He is the future.’’ Gandhi used satyagraha against the oppressor, which demanded tremendous personal renunciation, patience and purification. For King, non-violence meant meeting ‘‘violence with non-violence, hate with love’’. Ikeda, on the other hand, stresses on ‘heart-to-heart’ dialogue ‘‘to identify a common basis for belief and action’’. The author of Spinning for Fitness, It is all about staying fit and active for this fitness freak, who opened the first spin cycling studio at Jor Bagh in Delhi. American-born Sarah Killough Dhar has started a well-equipped group fitness studio, Tailspin, at Defence Colony. She is credited with introducing the concept of ‘spinning’ in Delhi, which has been popular in America for the past dacade. Spinning is a comprehensive workout, which involves pedalling on a static bicycle in a studio to different rhythms and tempos of music. Other than spinning, Sarah has packed in classes of intensive training on cardio dances, body sculpting, reiki and tai chi, popular with the Tailspin clientele, which includes the rich and the famous of Delhi. New Age techniques like chakra healing, Panchaagni Yoga and meditation have all been rolled into one package to complete a solid cardiovascular workout. ‘‘Delhiites always have some excuse not to exercise. My most difficult task, initially, was to convince them to exercise,’’ says the athletic-built Sarah, who has been active in sports since her childhood. She also has a dance programme that includes jazz, ballet, salsa, hip-hop and funk choreography—all aimed at improving body coordination, body awareness and muscle toning. She employs ancient techniques like Shakti Sword and Tai Chi to achieve mental concentration and over 150 books and recipient of over 100 honorary doctorates, Ikeda continues to act on the principles that Gandhi and King stood for. Based on the philosophy of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, the Soka Gakkai International founded by Ikeda works to create a climate of non-violence through peace, culture and education.
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