By Roozbeh Gazdar
About 220 km from Mumbai, nestled in the verdant hills of the Sahyadri range lies Pune. Its location at the holy confluence of the Mutha and Mula rivers has earned it its traditional sobriquet of punya nagari or ‘holy place.’ Today Pune is fast becoming a mecca for revolutionary alternative systems, whether in the fields of medicine, education or spirituality.
The region around Pune forms a spiritual heartland. Alandi, samadhi of Sant Dnyaneshwar, and Dehu, that of Sant Tukaram, are in proximity of Pune. In the holy month of Ashadh, devotional singing and dancing processions from these two towns converge at Pune. Also close by is Shivapur, home to the shrine of Sufi saint, Qamar Ali Darvesh, famous for the mystery of its levitating rocks.
More recently, Pune became home to Sadhu T.L. Vaswani, who preached a universal philosophy revolving around reverence for all life and service to all beings. His mission in Pune continues its charitable work. Thousands of his devotees flock here to pay homage at his samadhi and receive darshan of ‘Dada Vaswani’, the current spiritual head of the Vaswani Mission.
Koregaon Park, a suburb of Pune, was put on the world spiritual map by Osho Rajneesh. Since his death in 1990, his commune, renamed Osho Meditation Resort, continues to draw thousands of visitors. The commune includes a swimming pool, sauna, bookshop, bistro, tennis and basketball courts, massage and beauty parlours, the grand Zen garden ‘Osho Teerth’ and the Buddha Hall, besides Osho’s samadhi .The commune also runs a multiversity that offers a variety of courses in meditation as well as New Age techniques.
Pune is the centre of the world famous Iyengar yoga. The Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) is dedicated to the wife of Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar. The aesthetically designed RIMYI has three floors, each representing the body, mind and soul, and eight columns as the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. Students from over the world are initiated into yoga here.
Other spiritual attractions of Pune include Mata Nirmala Devi’s ashram, Meher Baba’s camp, Christa Prema, a Christian ashram, and the Jnana Deep Vidyala, a premier Christian Seminary.
Urlikanchan, a village near Pune, plays host to one of Mahatma Gandhi’s successful experiments on natural healing and social health. The Mahatma started this nature cure ashram in 1946. Today his ideals are maintained by making available affordable treatments such as massage, water therapies and mud baths for various diseases and ailments.
Pune is also home to other holistic centres such as the National Institute of Naturopathy, Colon Hydrotherapy Clinic, Karehealth, Jeevana Holistic Health Centre and Om-Shakti for ayurveda, Vishwanand Kendra for a synthesis of ayurveda with nature cure and yoga, Aura-Soma for colour therapy and CHEFR for research into integrated holistic health care.
What is it about Pune that has made it such a throbbing centre for alternatives? Says Bach flower therapist Sahil Surti: ‘The Osho Commune attracted the world’s best therapists and alternative healing people came here and slowly they opened their own places.’ Dr Sudhir Arora feels that the reasons are much deeper and have something to do with Pune’s highly cultured society.
Arun Wakhlu of Pragati Learning Systems describes Pune as poorna—whole. Suresh Padmanabhan, who conducts workshops on money, attributes Pune’s uniqueness to its consciousness. ‘Each place has a special consciousness that denotes its distinctive flavour. For instance, Mumbai is associated with business and commerce. Similarly, the energy of Pune, due to the mountains and other characteristics, is one of spiritual advancement and learning’.
Niket Karajag, corporate trainer, who runs the Institute of Metaphysics in Pune, says: ‘Pune is a spiritually aware town. The energy field here is conducive and supports these activities. Also, people are intellectually advanced and they gradually start looking at the abstract side of things. This leads them to the exploration of alternative systems such as reiki, pranic healing, and so on’.
Whether it is due to conducive circumstances or its own innate proclivity, Pune continues to be host to the better side of life.
Aura-Soma is healing through colour. A non-intrusive therapy, it is based on an ancient knowledge revived in 1984 by Vicky Wall, a blind chiropodist, pharmacist and herbalist. It is a system that brings you closer to the understanding of yourself, using visual and non-visual energies of colour, herbs from essential oils and herbal extracts, and the energies of crystals and gems.
At the heart of Aura-Soma are 103 jewel-like bottles with two coloured liquids. Supporting this system are the closely related quintessences, pomanders and colour essences. When four bottles are consecutively chosen, a trained practitioner profiling you through the significance of your choice of colour, enables a deeper investigation of the colours and their messages. The aim is to help bring your being into a state of equilibrium.
Aura-Soma works on the principle that you are the colours you choose. They reflect needs that lie hidden within. Your chosen colours even have the capacity to support you in a deeper understanding of your ‘soul’ selves, past present and to come. Through the wavelengths of the colours you chose, you are given clues to self-empowerment and to the discovery that you can really create your own future.
Aura-Soma enables you to be in touch with the essence of yourself that reflects your inner beauty. Aura-Soma has also introduced a range of cosmetic products using energies of colours, plants, and minerals. Made from the finest available ingredients, they are not tested on animals and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Contact: Ph: (020) 26135757, Fax: (020) 26132111, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Centre for Human Energy Field Research (CHEFR)
‘Your work is a huge step forward in enabling the requisite paradigm shift required to facilitate the expansion of complementary medicine,’ said J. Goddard, Chair of The Complementary Medical Association, UK, to the Centre for Human Energy Field Research (CHEFR).
CHEFR is developing a sustainable preventative healthcare model. It researches, treats, qualifies and quantifies diseases and validates the benefits and effects of various healing methods and equipment. With headquarters in Exeter, UK, and The World Peace Centre, Pune, CHEFR uses modern technological advances in holistic assessment to establish a framework for an integrated approach to healthcare.
The focus of research is in identifying stages for the onset of ‘dis-ease’. By collecting images and data of different dis-ease states, an ‘Atlas of Disease States’ is being built to provide valuable information on where what illness is likely to occur. As imbalance patterns are visible in the human energy field before affecting the physical body, the Atlas will allow an independent assessment procedure to compare an individual’s scan with known cases. CHEFR organises a One Year Course in ‘PIP Energy Field Imaging and assessment’.
Contact: Ph: 9821421822 (Dr Streeter);
(020) 25431795, extension 352 (Wing Commander Zutshi)
colon hydrotherapy clinic
The colon, the last five to six feet of the digestive tract, is a major organ of the body. Its primary function is to absorb water, electrolytes and vitamins and store fecal matter prior to elimination. Inappropriate dietary choices, including animal products, refined flour and processed foods, caffeine and alcohol play havoc with the digestive system, resulting in decay of undigested food which then turns toxic, leading to disease.
Colon Hydrotherapy is a safe and gentle solution to prevent diseases arising from the accumulation of fecal matter in the digestive tract. The treatment involves slowly running water into the colon. After a build up of pressure, the water is released to enable the colon to flush out its contents. To avoid the possibility of infection, sterilised water, waste line and speculum are used. This process is repeated in one hour-long session, during which approximately two to six litres of water passes through the intestines.
Colon Hydrotherapy removes years of encrusted fecal material, thereby enhancing the level of functioning of the body. It cleanses, detoxifies, tones and rejuvenates and imparts overall wellbeing. At the Colon Hydrotherapy Clinic in Pune, started and run by Simone Mody, trained therapists attend to your needs and advise you on the correct diet and lifestyle for a long and healthy life.
Contact: Ph: (020) 26140959, 9822550120,
Jeevana Holistic Health Centre
Dr Vinod P. Nair is one of a handful of practitioners who have learnt ayurvedic medicine in gurukul style from the International Institute of Ayurveda. Then he studied Kalaripayattu and clinical yoga for 10 years. Subsequently, he was conferred the prestigious ‘Ayurveda Acharya’ degree by the Central Council of Indian Medicine. Today, he is renowned for curing even the most chronic ailments.
This young doctor wanted to be at the cutting edge of healing techniques and so, along with wife Dr Preetha Nair, he started Jeevana Holistic Health Centre at Pune. Dr Nair takes the entire physiology of the body into consideration and not just the ailment symptomatically. In future he plans to start a gurukul style ayurvedic medical college and an ayurvedic hospital for in-house treatment.
So, whether you are just stressed out and need someone to relieve your pain, or maybe have a chronic problem that will just not let up, walk into Jeevana, the holistic health centre that practises the traditional Indian way of life with Kerala ayurveda. According to the 5000-year-old science of life that is ayurveda, every human being has a different body constitution and hence treatment varies for each individual. Jeevana follows this principle, aiming to restore life to the body, rather than just palliative medicine.
Contact: Ph: (020) 25663385, (020) 26855080,
Karehealth was started at Koregaon Park in Pune as a follow-up centre for KARE ayurvedic retreat, Mulshi Lake. It has thrived under the able leadership of Navneet over the last four years. Staffed with doctors, masseurs and masseuses trained in traditional ayurvedic panchkarma techniques, treatments offered include abhayangam (whole body massage), udvartavam (body massage with medicated powders), chavetti uzhichil (body massage by foot), dhara (pouring oil/buttermilk on forehead), pizhichi (oil bath with rice, leaves and powders), kidi (application of cloth pouches containing healing powders), metravashti (eye treatment), nasyam (administration of medicated drops and powders through the nose) and kati vasthi (treatment for the back).
Various conditions such as obesity, coronary heart diseases, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, paralysis, post-stroke rehabilitation, spondylosis, frozen shoulder, lumbago, slip-disc, Alzheimer’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, mal-absorption syndrome, depression, hypertension and insomnia are treated here. While Dr Priti Bamb and Dr Abhijit Sale overlook the therapy and consultation, Dr Prakash Kalmadi, founder of KARE, also sees patients by appointment.
Karehealth offers educational courses on ayurveda at the Kare Academy, which conducts nine university courses and 15 autonomous courses. Its classrooms are equipped with visual aids and training facilities, backed by a strong experienced and qualified faculty. Students of one-year post-graduate courses at Karehealth are also offered placements.
The KARE Academy was conceived by Dr Kalmadi along with Dr V.Y. Doiphode, dean of ayurveda at Pune University, to impart knowledge about ayurveda to lay citizens and western visitors to India. It is run by the Dr B.V. Rama Rao Medical Foundation, which is recognised by the University of Pune.
Contact: Ph: (020) 26113337, 4001628,
The National Institute of Naturopathy
The National Institute of Naturopathy (NIN) is located at the historical ‘Bapu Bhavan’ in Pune. Named after Mahatma Gandhi, who used to stay here, it formerly housed the Nature Cure Clinic and Sanatorium run by the late Dr Dinshaw K. Mehta. In fact, the Father of the Nation was the life-long partner of the All India Nature Cure Foundation Trust established here by Dr Mehta, and also conducted many of his campaigns from here.
NIN came into existence in 1986 with the following objectives:
• To conduct and encourage research activities in all aspects concerning human health.
• To develop naturopathy as a ‘system of medicine; and as a ‘way of life’
• To impart, provide facilities and encourage training in naturopathy.
• To provide and encourage facilities for all kinds of treatment in naturopathy.
• To provide and encourage facilities for standardisation and propagation of existing knowledge in application through research in naturopathy.
The institute has a ‘governing body’ headed by the Union Minister of Health as its President. Besides a modern naturopathy clinic, the Institute also has a health shop where hygienic and organic health food items like brown rice, jaggery, herbal tea, honey, aloe vera, mud, herbal oils, face packs and naturopathy equipment including enema sets, jal neti pots, and books are available. The Institute publishes a bilingual monthly Nisargopchar with articles on naturopathy, yoga, health food, longevity and natural living. Besides, the institute holds yoga classes, lectures and workshops and has a library of more than 8000 books on naturopathy and related subjects.
Contact: Ph: (020) 26059681, 26069682-5,
Fax: (020) 26059131, email: email@example.com
Om Ayurveda Shop
The Vedas, the ultimate source of our philosophy of life, have also conferred on us the gift of ayurveda. The Om Ayurveda Shop reveals this ancient Indian 5000-year-old tradition. Besides a range of herbal remedies and oils for complete rejuvenation and revitalisation, it conducts seminars and workshops on ayurveda and other spiritual therapies for increased awareness and abundance. Its range of scientifically balanced combinations of herbs for prana, body, mind and soul fosters health and wellbeing as well as complete harmony with nature.
Contact: Ph (020) 24267847, 24262754, 9890330094, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vishwanand Ayurveda Kendra
Vishwanand Kendra is an institute that specialises in yoga, ayurveda and naturopathy under one roof. The aim is to ‘reach the root cause of the problem and provide relief’. The patient is also provided a ‘guideline to long term lifestyle management’.
Professionals from the fields of ayurveda, naturopathy and yoga sit together and exchange views on treatments of individual cases by studying the constitution and lifestyle of the patient. This results in the patient undergoing both ayurveda and naturopathy treatments and following yogic postures by which his ailment is initially relieved and later, good health maintained through occasional follow ups.
This concept has worked miracles in more than a thousand cases of chronic joint diseases like osteoarthritis, spondylitis, spondylosis, diabetes, psoriasis, kidney and liver dysfunctions, respiratory disorders, digestive disorders and stress-induced disorders that have been successfully treated at Vishwanand Kendra.
Contact: Ph: (020)24222900
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