By Shobit Arya
The Isha Yoga Centre near Coimbatore, India, has silently ushered in a spiritual revolution by helping people realize their potential for enlightenment. Its founder, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, has also raised the biggest lingam(symbolic image of Lord Shiva) in the world following a vision
Only sprituality can keep the world sane
Life Positive: Why has there been a spurt in spiritual seeking all over the world in recent years?Jaggi: As societies reach a certain level of affluence, people begin to realize that economic well being that was so important when they did not have it, is a myth. That is when they start looking for inner well being. It is not new. Many ancient sages were kings once. A king has everything that one could need externally but still there is no fulfillment, which is all that everyone is seeking through various means like money, property, power, pleasure, God, heaven, or whatever. With this realization that the external cannot fulfill, people turn inward naturally and spiritual seeking starts.
|Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev|
Why do all spiritual answers seem to lie in the Indo-Chinese belt even though civilizations, new and old, have existed all over the world?
Jaggi: People with spiritual experience and longing have been there in all parts of the world. But it is only in India that the spiritual process was looked at in great depth and understanding. A scientific method of inner development evolved and the whole culture was spiritually oriented. Most spiritual processes in China went there with Indian Buddhist monks.
India has been and will remain the spiritual capital of the world. This is the only culture where a well-established guru-shishya parampara (ancient Indian master-disciple tradition) exists. This is the basis of experiential transmission, the backbone of the spiritual process as opposed to intellectual transmission that only leads to philosophy rather than self-transforming experiences.
Why do spiritual programs seem to be in a race to get more and more devotees? How different is it from religious evangelism?
Jaggi: Religious evangelism is about making people believe your fancy story, but the spiritual process is to help people go beyond belief systems and explore their innermost core. This can be done only by dedicated beings.
Some enterprising people are always seeking to make a business out of everything; otherwise I don’t see any race. We, at Isha Yoga Centre, are eager to offer what has been wonderful in our lives. A lot of care is taken to see that those who transmit it don’t commercialize it.
Despite an increasing number of people on one spiritual path or the other, we still see ourselves on the brink of a war today. Why?
Jaggi: Forces of love-compassion and anger-hate are always functioning in the world. It is a seesaw game. The question is: which end of the seesaw do you want loaded? If we are really on the brink of a terrible situation, it is all the more important that the spiritual process is applied more vigorously as ultimately that is the only thing that will maintain sanity in the world.
The place is the Coimbatore Central Prison. It is 4 p.m. and the main hall throngs with people. They are seated in two groups: visitors and prisoners. On a dais sits a lean man in white robes and a flowing white beard, flanked by the Inspector General and the Prison Warden.
One of the prisoners walks quietly to the microphone. He reads falteringly in Tamil (a South Indian language), his voice choked with tears:
Branded a criminal am I
An outcast among the refuse of society
An ultimate guest of the gallows am I
Heedless to the advice of the innumerable good
Imbibe I did the wisdom of this yogic science
To those I counted my foes before
My smile the only answer now
Forever in me, love in action and being.
The audience applauds and I look around to see that there is not a dry eye left. The man in white, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, also brushes away his tears and nods his head as the next prisoner rises to speak. Every speaker expresses similar sentiments.
‘Inner Freedom for the Imprisoned’ is one of the most remarkable of Isha Yoga Centre’s programs. First conducted at the Coimbatore (India) jail in 1992 by the Sadhguru, affectionately known as Jaggi, this seven-day workshop transformed the lives of 67 convicts serving life terms.
Scheduled once every month, the program has brought about tremendous change within the prison. The inmates have become more peaceful, cooperative and open. A hall is now made available for the prisoners to practice yoga and meditation. Some prisoners even volunteer to assist in the laying of roads on prison premises, planting saplings and looking after patients in the prison hospital. Impressed, the then IG (Prisons) K.V.S. Murthy requested the Isha Yoga Centre to extend the program to all prisons in Tamil Nadu, India.
After my experience in the prison, I needed little encouragement to make a trip to the Isha Yoga Centre itself. It is situated in Poondi, 30 km from Coimbatore. Driving to the Centre, one passes through beautiful villages and fields ringed by mountains. The last stretch skirts a forest reserve. Going up this dirt path, a clearing appears and the huge dome of the Dhyanalingam, against the backdrop of the misty hills, hits your eye.
Nestled in the foothills of the Velliangiri hills, the Centre reflects both the stillness and the grandeur of the surrounding mountains. Within the temple that houses the magnificent 13-ft Dhyanalingam, the energy is almost palpable.
The story of the Centre and the movement it has spawned is unique despite the unassuming manner in which the residents speak of it. They call it ‘the silent revolution of self-realization’.
It was in 1992 that a small band of seekers guided by their master, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, came to these foothills searching for a space for their work. Here, the Sadhguru found the image that had haunted him since childhood.
The Isha Yoga Centre aims to help seekers transcend illusions of physical reality to reach ultimate awareness or enlightenment. To sow this seed of spiritual revolution in every individual, the Centre has designed several programs., with Sahaja Sthithi Yoga (attaining yoga through one’s natural self) as the centerpiece. It is experiential and can be easily integrated into one’s daily life.
Presented as a 13-day, three-hours a day workshop, Sahaja Sthithi Yoga combines dynamic raja yoga practices, breathing techniques, and ‘shoonya‘ meditation (an effortless process of conscious non-doing). It stimulates the release of physical, mental and emotional blocks and activates the spontaneous expression of vital energy. This workshop is offered through centers in over 50 cities and towns in Tamil Nadu. The Silent Revolution has also spread to parts of the USA.
Says Jaggi: ‘This life for me is an endeavor to help people experience and express their divinity. I wish to see those of you who have seen or experienced something beyond the limited offer the same possibility to everyone.’ Friendly and accessible, Jaggi can often be seen playing volleyball with the brahmacharis (monks) of the Centre in the evenings or listening to the Beatles or Balamurali Krishna.
Born in Mysore, Jaggi was drawn to yoga at the age of 12. But what changed the course of his life was a deep spiritual experience in the Chamundi hills. He recalls: ‘One day I went to the Chamundi hills in the afternoon and sat on a huge rock, my usual place. I sat with my eyes open and after a few minutes, I did not know where I was. I felt myself spread everywhere, no longer bound by my body. I was in the rocks, the trees, the earth. Everything was me. Tears flowed down my cheek in a torrent. I thought this had lasted for a few minutes. But when I came to, it was late in the evening. I wondered if I had hallucinated but in the days that followed, this experience recurred and each time it left me in a state of utter bliss.
‘After each such episode, I would not sleep for the next three or four days, nor would I eat. Also, the urge to share that bliss with the world grew each time. The experience brought back memories of several lifetimes. It became clear to me that the single purpose of my life was to create the Dhyanalingam. Since 1982, I have worked to fulfill that purpose.’
Completed in 1999, Dhyanalingam is a sacred shrine of divine energy. It is the largest lingam in the world, and the first of its kind in 2,000 years to be fully consecrated.
The Dhyanalingam is not a place for worship or rituals; rather it is the powerhouse of primordial energy that radiates the different vibrations of the seven chakras to augment the spiritual potential of all who come here. In the metaphysical sense, it is a guru, an energy center of tremendous proportions and a space where the spiritual transformation can happen in an instant. The multi-faith temple housing it is built with traditional materials (no concrete or steel) and ancient techniques ensuring that it will last for at least 5,000 years. The temple is open daily to persons of all faiths.
Apart from Sahaja Sthithi Yoga, the Centre conducts ‘Bhava Spandana‘, a three-day residential program designed for personal exploration and transformation. It provides the opportunity to experience higher levels of consciousness, taking you beyond the limitations of body and mind into a world of limitless love and joy.
The Sadhguru also conducts ‘Samyama‘, a residential camp in which the participants spend seven days in complete silence, meditating for 16 to 18 hours every day. Samyama meditations provide the possibility to free one from the bonds of karma and purify the body and mind to awaken the kundalini. It presents the potential for the participants to reach deep levels of concentration and experience explosive states of samadhi in the presence of a master.
The Isha Yoga Centre is a well laid-out place. The triangular block houses the brahmacharis and brahmacharinis (nuns), who come from varied backgrounds, including the corporate world. The thatched meditation hall, where residential programs. are conducted, stands next to a large open ground. During Maha Shivaratri, the biggest event at the ashram, 50,000 people assemble here. Isha Fest is another annual event.
Silent revolutionaries are forging ahead quietly.
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