By Jamuna Rangachari
Vethathiri Maharishi’s sky programme is a unique system of self-transformation, combining scientific principles and spiritual tenets
How can I describe how Tirunelveli halwa tastes?” exclaims Mr S Rajendiran, a driver in New Delhi.
The delicacy, considered exquisite by gourmets, is made of wheat, ghee and sugar. These are commonplace ingredients, but the transformation is through a unique process of churning. Similarly, says Rajendiran, Vethathiri Maharishi’s SKY process and techniques transform the body, mind and soul into a different level of existence. He attributes his freedom from addictions, stress and depression to the SKY system.
The Guiding Principle…
The Coimbatore-based spiritual teacher, who passed away recently at the ripe age of 96, had his own unique take on what a human being was composed of. According to him, there are eight factors defining and qualifying human life. These are the physical body, life-force, bio-magnetism, genetic centre, brain, sense organs, mind and soul. He stressed that all these need to function properly for a complete, holistic life.
One has, of course, heard about the physical body, sense organs, brains, mind and soul.
But, what are life-force, bio-magnetism and genetic centre? Life-force is the aggregate of individual, infinitesimal energy particles that freely flow throughout the body, generating magnetism by their spinning force in friction with the surrounding compressive force of the gravity. This life-force generates bio-magnetism at the individual level, which is linked to magnetism of the universe. By every sensory perception and activity, the bio-magnetic wave from the body is characterized and stored in the genetic centre. In other words, the genetic centre is a concentric magnetic domain containing all the compressed waves of experiences of this lifetime and numerous generations of the past.
In a sense, this is also a scientific explanation of how the law of karma works, how one’s vasanas accumulate and shape one’s personality, and by extension, one’s destiny too.
The SKY Method
The Swami took great care that the concepts he espoused should not be merely theoretical, but also transformational.
Though educated only up to the third grade, his scientific bent of mind, and his firm belief that the purpose and inherent aim of human birth is to develop consciousness to its fullest, spurred him on to study ancient traditions, and lay them down for the benefit of humanity. In this, Maharishi culled the best out of various traditions, and made them into a potent yet simple mix, and also formulated levels of impartment of this knowledge. For instance, recognizing that the subtle life-force and the gross body are linked by three media – blood, heat and air, the system seeks to restore a normal and balanced flow in these media, using a similar approach to that of acupressure and reflexology.
The basic course that initiates the practitioners into the SKY system consists of physical exercises, simplified kundalini yoga, and kaya kalpa. The siddha approach is the root of the kaya kalpa, while the physical exercises have their root in yoga.
Simplifed Physical Exercises
Though Swamiji’s focus was always spiritual, he did believe that if spiritual development is to take place, the body must be free of diseases and pain to the maximum extent. And from this were born, the simplified physical exercises.
These comprise of hand exercises, leg exercises, neuro-muscular breathing exercises, eye exercises, kapaalbhati, makarasana, acupressure, massaging and relaxation. The combination is such that the entire body gets covered and all aspects of the system are taken care of. For instance, the neuro-muscular breathing exercises regulate the endocrine system, oxygenate the blood, ventilate the lungs fully, purify the blood and increase vital energy, thus helping to cure chronic headaches, migraine, asthma, allergies and sinus conditions. Similarly, makarasana regulates the endocrine system and strengthens the backbone and the spinal cord, while acupressure prevents heart ailments and is helpful in alleviating insomnia.
Simplified Kundalini Yoga (SKY)
This practice prepares the life-force for meditation. There is a meditation at the ajna chakra, a shanti yoga to balance the energies, and thuriya yoga that is the meditation on the sahasrara chakra. The benefits, as in any effective meditation technique, include reduction of the mental frequency, heightened awareness, intellectual clarity, will power and concentration.
Kaya Kalpa Yoga
The term ‘kaya’ means ‘body’ and ‘kalpa’ means ‘immortal’ in Sanskrit. An apt name for this is a potent anti- aging technique that is taken from the siddha tradition of South India, and is known to provide significant physical, mental, as well as spiritual benefits by intensifying the life-force, preventing diseases and relieving the practitioners of many of the troubles of aging.
In keeping with the SKY approach, this is again holistic, and acts on the entire system – reducing the intensity of diseases, activating the brain cells to their fullest functional levels, and helping in the removal of unwanted thoughts and habits.
The whole purpose of the basic course which is taught in two-hour sessions of six days is to enable one to remain attuned to a greater level of consciousness. Keeping in mind practical considerations, it requires the practitioner to devote just 20 minutes each day after learning the technique This, however, is just the first step of the journey, and many practitioners proceed to the next levels, which consist of introspection at four levels, the masters course and the brahma gnanam course
Most of our interpersonal problems arise from the lack of knowledge we have, not about others, but about ourselves. For instance, when we are angry with someone, we usually don’t want to accept that this powerful emotion is really telling us something we need to know about ourselves. If we wish to be true to ourselves, we must take responsibility for all of our own angry feelings and so, must learn to first know our own selves.
At another level, seekers and philosophers through the ages have asked “Who am I?”
Indeed, this basic knowledge has been most elusive to us since time immemorial, and is really one of the most important steps on any spiritual journey. Purging negative traits can happen only if we recognize them. Similarly, positive energies can increase only if we understand their potency.
Understanding the importance of self-knowledge, the SKY system has practical self-analysis tools designed to take stock of positive and negative characteristics in one’s personality in four stages of introspection, ranging from neutralization of anger, and eradication of worry, to life before birth and after death, to evolution of living beings.
The higher levels take one to even higher realms of self-realization and enlightenment. After the masters course, candidates are deemed fit to impart basic training to others.
Seek and You shall Find
The scientific and rational explanation of SKY has helped many seekers from diverse backgrounds, age groups and professions in their quest.
Dr V Chockalingam, chief cardiologist, Madras Medical College and Apollo Hospital, Chennai, was convinced about the body-mind link even before it became more widely acknowledged. Vouching for the principles of Vethathiri Maharishi, he says, “The rational explanation of Vethathiri Maharishi, his eschewal of dogma and rituals, and his focus on self-awareness, with the simple principle of seeking happiness within oneself, was most appealing to me.” Mr R R Sekar, now the Secretary of the Delhi centre of the World Community Service Centre, also affirms that the answers he had been looking for in temples and pilgrimages, was found with Maharishi.
Bjorn Schunner, a physical therapist from Germany, avers, “The one big step that Vethathiri made, which I found nowhere else, is a logical explanation about what God is, and what the self is, and how these are connected. I understood that God is the source of the universe and all existence.” As is the way of the SKY system, there were practical benefits too. As he says, “I benefited from the practice of analysis of thought, neutralization of anger, eradication of worries, and streamlining of desires, as well as the physical exercises too.”
“I had been attending yoga camps and classes, but found the SKY exercises quite unique as they are simple yet wonderfully energizing, ” says Jamuna Akillanen, Senior IT Consultant, Oslo, Norway.
Madhu Nanda from Muscat found its all-encompassing nature most appealing. She says, “The system covers body, mind, soul, life, society, politics, economics, government, and much else, ignoring nothing in its sweep.”
Sheikha Al-Harthy from Oman finds its explanation of abstract concepts and its practices very appealing. She says, “This practice has made me understand my scriptures better. As a result, I am a better Muslim.”
“The maximum number of people with cardiac problems are in the age group of 25- 38, which speaks volumes for the stress levels and lack of peace that we are experiencing,” says Dr Chockalingam. He is quite certain that the SKY system holds the key to better health.
Nirupama Saxena, a homemaker in Delhi, would agree, for the exercises brought her diabetes totally under control. She is off medication today.
In Tamil Nadu, Bharathidasan University, Avinasilingam Home Science Deemed University and Sports University in Chennai are offering Diploma courses on SKY Yoga System. Many universities have adopted the book entitled Value Education, based on the SKY system as a part of their syllabus for undergraduate students. Many schools too, recognising the immense value of Maharishi’s teachings, have introduced them in the school curriculum.
Mrs Jayanti Balachandran and her husband Mr G Balachandran, assisted by Mr R R Sekhar, are now committed to spreading his message in the Northern region, and head the World Community Service Centre in Delhi. As Mrs Balachandran says, “It is our duty to help others access the wisdom that was given to us, which is why we have dedicated our lives to this mission.”
Vethathiri Maharishi was a visionary in the complete sense. He has written 2,000 poems and 70 books. Though born in a poor family, Vethathiri Maharishi went on to achieve great success in business. A drastic fall in material well-being due to heavy losses made him realize the transient nature of the world. Though the business bounced back, he never forgot the stress he had gone through. This made him empathize with the problems of all beings in the world and spurred him on to devise a mechanism to help them lead a better life, more in control of their own inner selves.”
His social concern and world vision led him to establish his organization, World Community Service Centre, based in Aliyar, near Coimbatore, under whose aegis is the SKY programme. He was also very vocal on the rights of women, openly condemning regressive elements in society. Deeply concerned about the direction in which the world is headed, he wrote a play, Anu Visham (Atomic Poison), as early as 1957 – depicting the horrors of atomic weapons. Life Positive President and a long-time admirer of Maharishi, D R Kaarthikeyan, who ensured its translation into English in 2002, points out, “The message of this play is much more relevant today than ever before.”
For the Maharishi, responsibility increases in concentric circles, beginning with “the individual, then the family, society and thus, the whole world”. The Temple of Consciousness in Aliyar, Tamil Nadu, which he has set up, is dedicated to raising the consciousness of the entire world by raising each person’s consciousness.
On the spiritual level, Swamiji had transcended narrow loyalties of religion or geography. His prayer was for entire humanity. In fact, for him, the purpose of the entire process of self-transformation is to achieve the strength to live according to right principles. Participants use a mantra to reinforce this.
With the same principle, he designed his courses to make it accessible to people of all backgrounds.
D R Kaarthikeyan says, “Maharishi’s unique legacy is that anyone – even a common man or woman, even an illiterate – can practise spirituality, and attain enlightenment.” Madhu Nanda, a practitioner from Muscat, exclaims,“Even the gardeners and workers at the ashram had been initiated into the meditation and exercises.”
I remember reading in Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People about the Chinese bamboo tree that is planted after the earth is prepared. For the first four years, all the growth is underground. The only thing visible above the ground is a little bulb, and a small shoot coming out of it. Then, in the fifth year, the bamboo tree grows up to 80 feet. I cannot help feeling that Vethathiri Maharishi spent most of his lifetime in preparing the earth, and planting the root.
The growth had begun in his lifetime and one hopes the tree will grow in might and power, fulfilling Maharishi’s vision of world transformation through individual transformation.
Website – www.vethathiri.org
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