As we move forward with hope, news on varied topics continue to boil across various media. Some argue, some offer solutions; some of the latter are even implemented, but a semblance of lasting peace, prosperity and progress, where all the sections of society are in harmony with each other, seems yet out of reach.
In 1958, a man with hardly any resources embarked on a journey across the world to fulfill his spiritual preceptor’s wish – a way to extinguish the conflagration of anxiety and sorrow that is consuming all of humanity ; and usher in a new era of sustained happiness for all the nations making up the ‘family of man’.
He had undying faith in the potency of a very easy technique of meditation rooted in the universal and timeless knowledge of consciousness as described by the Vedas. It was bequeathed to him from his Guru Dev, the erstwhile Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati. Often referred to as Maharishi ji by His followers, His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, thus took the first step towards the global revival of the now forgotten Vedic scriptures in their true light.
This knowledge, which was being practiced by only a few enlightened men and women in a few isolated pockets of the country, had by that time been reduced to intellectual discussions and gross mis-interpretation, with the actual component- the experience of unbounded consciousness that is the fundamental of all creation, being relegated to merely being described in beautiful Sanskrit prose and poetry. Maharishi effectively lay to rest all doubts by first focusing on the experiential aspect, designed to make the knowledge a living reality. This is the technique of Transcendental Meditation (TM). It is an easy, effortless technique to remove stress and access higher states of consciousness, which contributes, through enhanced brain function, promotion of good health and ideal behavior to the holistic development of all aspects of life individual and social life.
The technique and effects of Transcendental Meditation are precisely validated by the verses of the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is one of the most widely commented texts of the Vedic canon; however it is also the most widely misinterpreted. What constitutes beautiful descriptions of higher states of consciousness by Lord Krishna himself has been turned around on its head as the means to achieve these states, being reduced to arduous practices in the process.
For example, the ‘sthitapragya’ state or the state of equanimity is a natural consequence of the practice of Transcendental Meditation and is a characteristic of a stress-free, coherent brain. It is not only counter-productive to try to maintain this state through willful mental effort, it doesn’t really happen, and stays as a temporary state of mood making.
He then initiated systematic analysis by some of the brightest scientific minds known to mankind that time, into this technique, in order to validate its efficacy and bring meditation effectively out of the shroud of mysticism that always seems to accompany it. TM is now one of the most researched meditation techniques in the world, with more than 750 research studies (and continuing) at some of the premier research institutions including Harvard, Stanford, UCLA and Johns Hopkins.
With the widespread practice of TM, some of the most pressing problems of mankind were gradually seen to be heading towards a permanent solution. Burdened students started performing better in their studies, harmonious behavior developed amongst stressed people, hardened criminals reformed their violent streaks and their recidivism rates dropped, civil wars ended, and entire cities started registering growth in their prosperity indices.
The effects of the group practice of Transcendental Meditation have been studied as part of one of the most successful sociological experiments in human history. The fundamental theory behind it is derived from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, one of the canonical treatises on Yoga. According to the 35th verse of the Sadhana Pada, ‘तत्सन्निधौ वैरत्यागः’ – violent tendencies are eliminated in the vicinity of the Yogi. This field effect of consciousness, applied in big groups for establishing peace and prosperity in the region/city/country was first demonstrated by Maharishi and the effect was thus named after him.
Maharishi subsequently trained teachers to teach this technique across the globe and also systematically revived other prominent Vedic systems, including Ayurveda, Jyotish, Vedic Recitations and Vastu, in a scientific manner. He has left a lasting legacy on a practical framework and made its study available to the society, being interpreted in the context that the Rishis who cognized this knowledge had intended it to be.
Let us pay homage to this great personality today, who has bridged spirituality and science seamlessly and forever etched our country’s name in the global psyche as a knowledge leader.