By Suma Varughese August 1996 A new generation guru, Rishi Prabhakar teaches a course with an innovative mix and has started diverse programs to help usher in a better India A new generation guru, Rishi Prabhakar teaches a course with an innovative mix and has started diverse programs to help usher in a better India THE PROMISE ‘Life will soon be experienced by one and all as heaven and ecstasy,’ says Guru Rishi Prabhakar. He particularly envisages a great future for India. In fact, his spiritual search was guided by his fervent love of the land. ‘The Siddha Samadhi Yoga (SSY) program came about as a byproduct of my quest to transform India,’ he says. ‘We are the only light of the world,’ he adds and predicts that within six months India wilt make dramatic progress. Comparing Japan to a kshatriya (the Hindu warrior caste), the USA to a vaishya (the trader) and India to a brahmin (the intellectual), he points out: ‘We have simply not realized our brahminical powers. ‘ THE PERSON A graduate in engineering from the Bangalore University, 48-year-old Rishi Prabhakar has been an aeronautical engineer, computer scientist and management graduate before his transformation. Given his background, he draws deep from the wellsprings of both Indian spirituality and western rationality. As he illustrates complex philosophical concepts with analogies drawn from the world of computers and cricket, he is perhaps more accessible and acceptable to the urban Indian than ochre-robed swamis. The luxuriously bearded, lungi-clad Prabhakar, whose luminous eyes are the most captivating part of a generally striking face, is quite jovial when speaking in public or while addressing his students. THE PREPARATION Though Prabhakar mused on metaphysical matters even as a college student, his quest really began in 1974 when, as a successful computer scientist working in Canada, he learnt Transcendental Meditation (TM) which gave him ‘a new vision which did not depend on anyone doing anything’. Joining Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, he rose up in the TM movement. While TM emphasizes effortlessness, Prabhakar felt it involved some doing and began to chart his own course. That meant uprooting himself to return to India. Followed intense spiritual practices under the guidance of various teachers, including his master, Sri Visweswaraiah, bringing him to the point of enlightenment. But evolving the SSY course took some more time and inspiration from varied sources, including Werner Erhard’s est. Prabhakar’s mother, C.A. Rama Devi, who shares the limelight with him now, recalls: ‘Initially the SSY course only had meditation. Gradually pranayama was added. Thereafter Guruji discovered the benefits of raw food and introduced that too. Being a scientist, whenever he hears of something new, he experiments on himself before introducing it in SSY.’ SSY literature says that the course’s equivalent in the ancient days was Brahmopadesam (a sermon on Brahman), which dramatically altered one’s outlook towards life. THE PHILOSOPHY For a guru who is trying to change the society and the world, the core of his philosophy sounds paradoxical: non-doing. ‘Everyone who is ‘doing’ something is only making a greater mess. You cannot ‘do’ anything without creating its opposite,’ he points out and adds: ‘Our philosophy is to discover the unbounded happiness within, which does not depend on any doing whatever, and all doings will naturally blossom.’ While non-doing has a long and venerated tradition in India in advaita vedanta , SSY’s uniqueness, feels Prabhakar, is its ability ‘to transmit the technology required to shift from doing to non-doing’. He says: ‘Adi Sankara might have had an understanding, but no one has been able to give it as a sadhana procedure for the last two to three millennia.’ A unique aspect of his teaching is taking responsibility for everything around us. This is because, he says, ‘everything is yours’ and ‘nothing is yours’. This paradox gets resolved by Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of trusteeship. Again, the guru suggests accepting that ‘everything is OK—as is’ before we go about changing things. THE PRACTICE For Prabhakar, meditation is non-doing. Meditation is basic to the intensive 13-day SSY course which includes a series of pranayamas and yoga mudras such as the chin mudra and the chinmaya mudra. There are also daily discourses by Prabhakar on issues such as responsibility and leadership. The course culminates in a four-day retreat meant for intense meditation and silence to acquaint the participant his own inner happiness. All these collectively cleanse the five sheaths or bodies of our being—the process is traditionally called pancha kosha suddhi. These are: the physical body (annamaya kosha); pranic or aural body (pranamaya kosha), the mind body (manomaya kosha), the intellectual body (vignanmaya kosha) and the ego body (anandamaya kosha). By virtue of this multi-pronged cleansing, the body heals, the mind becomes still, the heart opens up and a transcendental understanding becomes possible. Rishi Prabhakar says that many systems like yoga take you from the physical to the egotistical, but SSY reverses this process. Similarly, he points out that most self-improvement systems try to change what you are thinking; the practice of samadhi changes the way you think. Advanced courses, including one to train as an SSY teacher, are also open. THE PURSUIT Since its inception in 1979, SSY has attracted over two lakh (20 thousand) participants. But Prabhakar estimates the number of those who regularly practice it to be much smaller. There are over 500 men and women who devote their time and energy to help conduct the course. The SSY has already grown deep roots in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, and is gaining ground in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat as well. The Rishi Samskruti Vidya Kendra (RSVK), under whose aegis the courses are held, has 300 centers running courses in India, with an overseas presence in North America. ‘We are growing exponentially,’ claims Prabhakar. ‘What we accomplish in one week now, we could not accomplish in one year earlier. In Pune, India, we have a three-month queue for participation.’ ‘The world has discovered something that was not there before,’ he continues. When reminded of other bigger and equally spiritual movements, he is dismissive: ‘I know all of them. But they do not know of non-doing. So, they are all do-gooders. They will not take people very far.’ THE PROGRAM What certainly sets Prabhhakar apart from other gurus is his consistent work in fields not overtly spiritual. But then he has been inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and represents an emerging understanding that spirituality is not divorced from life, rather it is the basis of life. Personal transformation should contribute to social transformation. On the social front, SSY volunteers are assisting Anna Hazare, known for single-handedly greening Ralegaon Siddi village in Maharashtra, India, in developing 300 model villages through water management techniques and social reform. The RSVK has also taken up similar work in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Cleaning India is another RSVK project. Its centers adopt neighborhoods and villages, cleaning them for a few months until the local residents take the responsibility. Rishi Prabhakar has also envisaged an ‘enlightened management’, which for him is simply being one with everyone and transmitting the vision for others to own, which makes them automatically ‘do things’. Symbiosis, a management school in Pune, believes in him and insists that all its students undergo the SSY course. The irrepressible guru’s prediction: ‘Management technology will revert to the Indian guru-shishya (teacher-student) tenets. There will be no more carrot-and-stick manipulation. In a few months, Harvard professors will be here to learn About management.’ To strengthen the foundations of education, the RSVK tries to introduce a children’s SSY program in schools which have to set aside two periods daily meditation. The idea is gaining currency in the south. In Bombay, three schools have introduced it. The ‘Government of Wisdom’ is Prabhakar’s latest and most ambitious experiment to restore the rishi culture to India. This is prompting him to enter an arena most spiritual gurus avoid. But, he says firmly: ‘If we don’t give direction to world, we are not real gurus.’ He has already set up an Advisory Committee of Elders (ACE) in Karnataka, India, to steer the government in the direction truth, integrity and just administration. Those who took part in the ACE conclave in Bangalore, India, in early June included M.N. Venkatachalaiah, the former chief Justice of India, Rama Jois, the former Chief justice of Punjab and Haryana, and Vishwesha Teertha Swami of Pejawar Mutt. Another ACE is coming up in Goa. Will the Indian government take the ACE seriously? ‘People taking it seriously will make it happen,’ says Prabhakar. THE PRAYER ‘May the whole world live in peace .’
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