Life is a celebration. Yoga helps us to appreciate the beauty of life. What does man really want in life: Love, Peace, Harmony and above all Happiness.
On one hand there is pleasure through unbounded satisfaction of our desires; on the other there is the bliss obtained through reconnecting with the Inner Light or Self though, for example, the Middle Path shown by Buddha.
The greatest obstacle in following this path is attachment: to our body, thoughts, feelings, emotions, family and possessions. Yoga says detach and attach (to the Inner Self). There are so many nuggets that point to an easy approach. Some say empty your mind and let God come in. Others say “act like an actor/actress, do all roles without attachment.”
But above all, each day we should celebrate life and honour, cherish and worship ourself. Jesus had said Love thy own self. Krishna has said “You are your own friend.” This is what Yoga teaches us to do. If only for a fraction of a second we do that we do experience an Inner Bliss. But sustaining this throughout the day and indeed months and years is the greatest challenge.
The International Day of Yoga proclaimed by UN on Sunday 21st June was a resounding success in Mauritius as well as the world over, with the greatest attendance of 35,000 at Rajpath, New Delhi led by no other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, himself a practitioner of Yoga and initiator of the UN initiative.
SAJ Practices Yoga
In Mauritius, the Indian High Commission had set the ball rolling, six weeks ago by calling for inputs from various organisations and institutions. For weeks, we have been living an exceptional moment of celebration – that of the wellness of humanity. During this period, there was unprecedented awareness and enthusiasm as various organisations and individuals involved with the practice of yoga in Mauritius (such as Centre for Natural Healing and Meditation, Art of Living, Arya Sabha Mauritius, Brahma Kumaris) gave talks, lectures or conducted workshops every Saturday at the IGCIC as a run-up to the International Yoga Day. On the 21st June, the huge auditorium of the Swami Vivekananda International Conference Centre was thronged by thousands of people of all age groups who rolled their mats on the floor. Organised jointly by the Indian High Commission and the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, the event was one of the celebration of wellness and holistic living, with a worldwide resonance. An atmosphere of peace prevailed in the vast space of SVICC.
That Narendra Modi is a yogi is well known. Nelson Mandela, a giant in political leadership was another adept of Yoga, for his ailing knee. But the Prime Minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth surprised more than one when he added that the practice of correct breathing exercises and other yogic exercises had cured him of chronic bronchitis. A statement from the Prime Minister will no doubt give a cue to the common man. The Indian High Commissioner Shri Anup Kumar Mudgal and the Minister of Health and Quantity of Life Anil Gayan both set the good example of joining the crowd on their respective mats by performing yogic exercises that followed the protocol function. The scoop of the day was no doubt the visioning of the speech the Indian Prime Minister given earlier that early morning at Rajpath.
In the atrium several organisations had set up their stalls to add to the laudable initiative of the Indian High Commission in enhancing awareness of yoga philosophy and practice and their seminal impact on the well-being of humanity.
Yoga the Best Companion of Man
In the evening of 21 June, the Art of Living gave a veritable two-hour of blissful cultural display entitled Ananda interspersed with music, rhythmic dances as well as exercises at the IGCIC to close the day. In these days of turbulence, disbelief in traditional religions and the quest for new ways of gratification and fake gurus, Yoga remains the best companion of man in his sojourn on the planet. Ancient as it is, it is yet a relevant method of correct, holistic living in today’s fast pace living.
One beautiful discovery in all these Yogic displays was the blend of good soulful music and chants to calm down and soothe the jarring nerves caught in the vortex of stressful activities and occupations. Too often people tend to believe that Yoga is some weird practice of occult yogic postures or acrobatics carried on by some crazy sadhus or queer gurus. But simply stated, yoga is nothing than bringing a balance between mind, body and soul. As simple as it may sound, it is most difficult for man to grasp and follow. For as Krishna says in the Gita, the mind is most restless and taming it is the most difficult as also easiest thing to do, contradictory as this may sound. Attuned to the mind is the arousing of senses and the growing desires, which may be bad, good desires or simply mad desires. The passions arising in our hearts can lead man to his doom as well as take him to the highest achievement.
Recently at the launch of Shakuntala Hawaldar’s book Aah! The Light, the High Commissioner of India, Shri Anup Kumar Mudgal gave a jolt to the audience when in his keynote address he exclaimed that 99% of people simply do not want to reach or see Light. They are frightened. Yet that Light is in the Centre, the Inner Core of all of us. But who wants to see Light? Why we do not want to reach that Light? Because we all like to live in our comfort zones. Getting out of our comfort zones frightens us! When the dust of desires rises, we are blinded and get confused. When it settles down, we see the Light within. This is what Yoga teaches us in a nutshell.
We should not be frightened by big terminologies, or vocabularies and exercises. Some practices daily can lead to change, this applies to every individual irrespective of religion or creed. We just have to be more disciplined in our ways, but how many of us are prepared to do that? That’s the big question.
* Published in print edition on 26 June 2015