The Golden Wonder from India By Dr Elizabeth Menon
by Elizabeth Menon
He is neither the front man of a Rock ‘N’ Roll band nor he is a magician or an actor, but he has the looks, charisma, the body, movement and the capacity to alight an entire stadium with his presence. He doesn’t stalk the stage like a panther, but mostly he sits in ‘Padmasana’ or ‘Vajrasana’, except of course when he is worshipping the sun or walking on his hands! He does magical things with his abdomen, but only with the use of fresh air and a bit of muscle power. He is a celestial being completely detached from worldly pleasures and committed to serving the humanity; he has this great desire to change the world into a ‘Healthy world’ with no illness. And how does he plan to do this? Just with the aid of controlled breathing and fresh air, otherwise known as ‘Pranayama’! He does not preach religion, but the divine power surrounds him like a halo and anyone who comes near him feels that power and draws on that infinite energy. In spite of all these attributes, this saint of a man almost celestial is very humble but has the power to hold an audience in the palm of his hands by doing just a little ‘Nouli’! (For the un-initiated few, ‘Nouli’ is the magical massaging movement of one’s ‘Stomach’!)
If anyone is wondering if such a person exists, ‘The saintly golden wonder from India’, His Holiness Swami Ramdev who has transformed India to wake up to a healthy tomorrow, is the answer! Swami Ramdev was initiated in the ascetic order on the banks of the sacred River Ganga. He established Divya Yog Mandir Trust in 1995 with the help of Muktanand Maharaj and Acharya Balkrishen. His kindness, loving nature and dedication to serve humanity have won him an enormous following in India and all over the globe, just within a short span of 6-7 years! He is highly proficient in Ayurved and Vedic philosophy, Sanskrit and yog practice. Yog is an ancient Indian art that has been in practice for over 5000 years. But it was Saint Patanjali who compiled it so that it could be understood by the common man and called it the ‘Ashtanga yog, the eight yogic practices’, that brings about the positive way of thinking. Swami Ramdev follows in the footsteps of Maharshi Patanjali and he brought it to the masses, in the form of simple ‘Pranayama and Asanas’. Though Pranayama was known to be an essential part of Yog practice, it was seldom given the pride of place it deserved. Swami Ramdev can solely take the credit for changing the image of yog and its practice.
One must understand that Yog is not a religion and the word ‘Om’ is not part of only the Hindu religion, but the Buddhists and Gregorian Monks used it as the sacred sound for chanting; Yog is oneness with the divine, a holistic approach to the art of living through commitment and understanding. It is paramount that everyone understands the real meaning of yog and the practice of its various techniques to correct the imbalance of prana (Life force) and physique, which will then be reflected in the body, mind and intellect. Therefore, the presence of Swami Ramdev and his yog workshops in the UK was a blessing in deed. These workshops were of colossal magnitude, attended by people of multinational origin; language was no barrier as Swami Ramdev is beyond any language; his presence was enough motivation for the adoring crowd and they followed his every single word and magical move! Most of these people were already practicing yog through ‘Astha Television’ that brings Swami Ramdev to their midst, twice a day through the week. These workshops (Shivir) held in Ilford, Leicester, Bolton and Harrow, were organized by different body of people with such skill that all these events were total success. Swami’s visit to UK was to raise money for the progressive work at the Patanjali Peeth in Haridwar.
Swami Ramdev was in total control of what went on at each session and he conducted it with such grandeur that, three hours of music, asanas, Pranayam, Ayurved and teaching of philosophy looked like only a few minutes! His wonderful sense of humour kept the audience captivated and Bastrika, Kapal-bhati, Anulom viloma, Bahya Pranayama, Bhramari Pranayam, Omkar japa, and asanas were conducted like a well choreographed works of art. Though there are various methods of Pranayama and asanas, Swami had selected seven methods of Pranayama that can be completed in about 20 minutes and a few highly useful asanas, which would give maximum benefit. His unique wonderful sense of humour was evident at every session through the week. He made it very clear to everyone that he is very proud of being an Indian and the celebration of India’s Independence Day on 15th August was scintillating, to say the least. He placed great importance on the problems in India and emphasised his dedication to the causes and advised the audience that one should only buy goods made in India and prevent malpractices like corruption!
The benefits are endless to those who complete these chosen exercises. Manipulation of breathing pattern will improve transmission of impulses resulting in functional changes leading to an increase in immunity and finally an evolved state of eternal bliss. Various systems in the body improve maintaining good health and treatment of ailments to those who are in poor health. Diseases like asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, allergy and Hay fever, migraine, diseases pertaining to lungs, heart and brain are cured, improvement of eye sight and memory, hair loss and premature graying are relieved by rubbing your nails, but not the thumbs in women, he says!
There were many patients in the audience at each venue who were completely cured of various ailments such as asthma, hypertension, migraine, diabetes, high cholesterol, hay fever, fibroid uterus, crohn’s disease, skin conditions such as leucoderma, psoriasis, eczema, ovarian cysts, various malignancies and improvement in nervous disorders such as Parkinsons disease! I was amazed at the revelations at the workshop in Harrow; there were even consultant physicians, surgeons and GPs who were disclosing details of cure among their relatives and patients. The unmistakable improvement in spinal ailments, paralysis and especially in PD (Parkinsons) was reassuring to many of the sufferers who attended the venue. Swami Ramdev who brought Pranayama to the forefront believes in 75%of Pranayama and 25% asanas to remain healthy and get rid of diseases, quite different to the earlier concept of asanas being the main component and thereby giving Pranayam a subsidiary role!
It was overwhelming to witness the benefits of Pranayama in fibroid uterus, ovarian cysts, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, fibrosis of lungs, rheumatoid arthritis, frozen shoulder, migraine not responding to any treatment, various malignancies etc, narrated by the patients themselves in most instances, showing benefits within 4-9-12 months. (Graves disease, carcinoma of prostate and bladder were disclosed at Harrow) These patients had the test results with them taken prior to starting Pranayama and during, at regular intervals. (Anulom viloma, kapal bhati and basthrika are most beneficial) Obesity showed remarkable improvement, loosing from 5- 11kg among most and up to 40 kg in a few, in 4-12 months! These revelations are quite difficult to believe until one has witnessed it and even I was skeptical in the beginning. His desire to meet all doctors attending the workshop was highly commendable -- a conference was arranged where medico-legal points were discussed and the need for evidence-based medicine was stressed. Most doctors were of the opinion that publication of data from Swami Ramdev’s clinical trials is of paramount importance. Prof. Gokal presented the data from the workshop at Ilford, including the blood results from patients suffering from hypertension, Diabetes and high cholesterol, which showed hugely encouraging results; detailed paper will be published soon.