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    Saving the world

    The remarkable achieve- ments of a remarkable man: Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev Words: Martin Gill

    India is a great nation, steeped in a rich cultural heritage that has provided four of the world's major religions (Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism), 17 major languages, and ancient spiritual practices including yoga and medita- tion. After China, it is the most populated country in the world, with the fourth-largest economy in purchasing power and the second-fastest growing economy, which is expected to continue through the rapid growth of informa- tion technologies. Despite this economic stability the country is facing a severe crisis. Statistics report that that almost 400 million of its 1 billion population live in poverty, 75% of which occupy the rural areas, and at least 40% of Indian people are illiterate*.

    However, there is one man who is at the forefront in the efforts to change this. He is a modern-day guru who dresses in jeans and rides motorbikes, and attracts crowds in excess of 100,000 people who flock from across the globe to hear his lectures on Inner Engineering or attend his Isha Yoga programmes. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev effortlessly touches the lives of the people he meets; whether addressing the United Nations Millennium Peace Summit, charring business events such as the World Economic Forum and the Indian Economic Summit, working with the business community for which he delivers Inner Wellbeing programmes to powerful organisations such as Time-Warner and Microsoft, or working with society's most hardened criminals as part of his Prison Outreach programme that runs in America and India.


    10 YOGA magazine

    Sadhguru grew up as an intelligent child who experienced meditative states at a young age. He became utterly disinterested with school life and classed teachers as "talking about something that didn't mean anything in their life. It was just a job they were doing," Refusing to enroll in University and follow in his father's footsteps of becoming a doctor, Sadhguru decided to educate himself and spent a whole year in the library of the local univer- sity for this purpose.

    Eventually, when he did decide to enroll in col- lege and obtain a degree, he chose English litera- ture. Whilst he missed most of the lectures and spent times in the college gardens, he formed the Banyan Tree Club with his friends, where they would share their passion for motorcycles and plan how to make the world a better place. He then spent time travelling India on his motorbike and exploring nature, before passing his final college year exams without attending any of the classes. Instead of furthering his studies, Sadhguru thought about making some money which would enable him to travel, and so set up a successful poultry farm, much to the dismay of his family and friends.

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  • He is a modern-day guru who dresses in jeans and rides motorbikes, and attracts crowds in excess of 1 00,000 people who flock from across the globe to hear his lectures

    This lifestyle enabled him to spend time reading and writing poetry, meditating and being by himself which gave him time to explore what had begun happening to him a few years later. It was not long after this that his spiritual transformation began, which occurred on the 23rd of September 1981.

    According to his book, Mystic Musings, Sadhguru entered a medita- tive state and felt himself become part of the environment and the envi- ronment become part of him. This experience was attributed as being that of samadhi, which literally means the "merging of the subject and the object." These "states" became more frequent and lasted as long as 13 days. People who witnessed Sadhguru in these "states" held him in reverence, trying to touch his feet and adorn him with garlands. During

    this period, Sadhguru's body began to physically alter, and "changed so drastically that people around me could clearly see that something was happening to me." Sadhguru was overwhelmed with "lifetimes of mem-

    ory" and the sceptic within him led him to meet the people and explore the places that he had previously lived. The experiences began to recur more frequently and became a permanent reality. He clearly saw that it was possible for every other human being to also experience these states, and began searching for methods to make this happen. This led to the formulation of the Isha Yoga and Inner Engineering programmes. For a while, he spent half his time divided between farming and travelling to various cities and towns offering these programmes to people. Once there was a sufficient number of people who wanted to experience yoga full-time, and plunge deeper and deeper in search of the ultimate, he created Isha Foundation as an appropriate social mechanism to fulfill the needs and aspirations of the people.

    From this point, Sadhguru's mission was to develop Dhyanalinga. In Sanskrit, Dhyana means meditation and Linga the form. When a per- son enters a deep state of meditativeness within, the spiritual energy

    YOGA magazine 11


    Participants from all over the world gather at Isha Yoga Centre to attend the Wholeness Programme with Sadhguru

    takes the shape of a Linga. Linga means perfect ellipsoid which is scien- tifically the only shape that can serve as a perennial storehouse of ener- gy. The construction of the Dhyanalinga Multi-Religious shrine was completed in 1999, the first of its kind in over 2000 years. It was conse- crated by Sadhguru through a 3 year intense period of prana prathista, where the energies of all the 7 chakras were raised to the peak and locked to prevent dissipation over time. It is expected that the energies of the Dhyanalinga will last for at least 5,000 years. In the tradition it is always said that for one to experience meditation or dhyana, one has to be initiated by a Guru. Seekers do much penance or sadhana just to receive this grace. But, the uniqueness of the Dhyanalinga is that even those who are unaware of meditation can experience deep states of meditativeness and feel the divine energy that radiates from the shrine.

    The basic thrust of the Dhyanalinga is to foster spiritual growth and evolution of a person. However, the shrine emanates 7 different: quali- ties of life on the 7 days of the week, by which one may derive various benefits including synchronicity with nature, concentration, and the quickening in the dissolution of karmic bondage.

    Sadhguru formed a yoga programme called Isha Yoga which gave birth to the Isha Yoga Centre and Ashram near Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, in South India in 1992. From this base, he further established the Isha Foundation, a non-religious, non-political, non-profit making organisation that set up a number of social and environmental projects planned to address India's problems. Its aim was to help the most underprivileged people in the rural communities with the basic human requirements of food, shelter and medical help and education. Besides

    Even those who are unaware of meditation can experience deep states of meditativeness and feel the divine energy that radiates from the shrine. As Sadhguru states, "Anyone who comes within the sphere of Dhyanalinga cannot escape the sowing of the spiritual seed of libera- tion." According to Sadhguru the Dhyanalinga sows the spiritual seed into the individual's etheric body which lasts forever, compared to other practices which work on the physical, mental or energy bodies that only produce a Temporary transformation that can be lost anytime in life.

    Isha Foundation's Project GreenHands is a grassroots environmental initiative that aims at restoring lost ecological resources through large-scale tree planting and nature awareness campaigns

    12 YOGA magazine

    providing these necessities, the core of each project was based on Sadhguru's notion of Inner Wellbeing as a holistic approach of uniting the mind, body, spirit and emotion to create inner harmony amongst individuals and communities as the key to coping with difficult situa- tions they will inevitably face in life. One such project is the Action for Rural Rejuvenation (ARR) which was set up in 2003 to provide imme-

    diate medical care and support for rural com- munities. The methods of Inner Wellbeing focused on reinstating herb gardens for home remedies which will eventually reduce rural dependence on allopathic medicines, yoga pro- grammes to improve inner wellbeing, and the introduction of games and tournaments to develop a sense of community. The ARR has also been specifically designed to educate the villagers to become more self-sufficient and to take responsibility for their own lives and that of the community, which serves as a model of empowerment through participation.

    Another noble crusade, The Isha Vidhya project, focused on combating India's bleak educational future. At present, there is a short- age of skilled men between the ages of 18 and 50, and this alarming "trend" shows no hope of change, as backed up by the damning ASER report in 2005, which concluded, amongst other findings that 40% of children aged between 6 and 11 are deprived of primary

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  • One of the boats made by the In-Home Boat Manufacturing Unit to help tsunami

    survivors to restore their livelihood

    education. The first Isha Vidhya School was set up in June 2006, in Sandegounden Palayam, Coimbatore. This groundbreaking institution caters for over 260 children, all of whose scholarships are paid for by the Isha Foundation. The school intends to empower the next genera- tion of rural Indian children through education, preparing them to be able to compete on a globa