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Spiritual Masters discuss how to ‘Bridge Divide during Divisive Times’ at IYF



RISHIKESH, 12 Mar: The fifth day of the world-renowned International Yoga Festival (IYF), today, witnessed Spiritual Masters and Yogacharias described how to Bridge the Divide. In a world in which wars are ongoing, and people increasingly feel themselves to be in opposition, what path forward might exist to bring people back together?

Those who spoke included Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, the disciple of Yogi Bhajan; Seane Corn; Anand Mehrotra, and Kia Miller. The event was hosted by Tommy Rosen.

“Many people feel like they’ve woken in up a world they no longer understand,” host Tommy Rosen said. “Suddenly we’re living in a world of fear and incredible divisiveness, where people are more concerned with being right than unifying.”

“Sahan Shakti power, which is the power to tolerate, to sit with that which disturbs, is a fundamental teaching of yoga that seems to be disappearing in our communities,” Sadhvi Bhagwati said. “It hasn’t been a quality in the west for some time, but lately it is getting much worse. My father was a divorce lawyer, so he saw a lot of disfunction. The advice he would give to couples who wanted to get married was, ‘you can either be right or be married.’ It’s such a powerful teaching because wherever you look at husbands and wives, or in the way in which we are married to each other in societies, and in one world, we’ve let go of the commitment to love each other. Instead, we care about being right. We are losing the ability to love people who are different from us.”

“One of the biggest dangers of our time is that we are giving up our humanity, our nature, our fundamental existence to a fabricated universe,” added Anand. “We are outsourcing our intelligence to AI. And this will only increase because the technologies play on the addictive tendencies of the human psyche. There are propaganda machines telling us who to demonise now. My guru taught me, ‘don’t try to be right, try to be wise.’ Learn. Listen.”

“One of the beautiful things about Indian culture is the deep sense of humility,” he added.

“There were two things given to me that I held very closely in my heart” Seane Corn shared. “One was our liberation is bound. We have a moral responsibility to the whole. None of us are free unless all beings are free. The second is ahimsa is not just ‘do no harm’. Passivity can cause harm to others. Silence can make you complicit.”

“After five years of deep introspection, I have learned that everything I think is about someone else is about me. If I don’t talk time to go inward with my own lived experience with deep consideration, all I can do is react and create more drama in the field,” Kia Miller said. “With all of the information we are constantly getting, we often act from our own unprocessed trauma, or generational trauma.”

Participants joined in sunrise Vedic chanting with Sudhanshu Sharma, acclaimed teacher and instructor of Vocal Music and Voice Culture. Stewart Gilchrist led an ashtanga asana themed The Teachngs of Yogasana: Mind Set Arjuna. London-based Yoga Instructor Claire Missingham also led an enlivened Vinyasa asana themed OM Cycle Vinyasa Karma: Strength and Harmony.

After brunch, Simone Gode and James Cassidy led a Kirtan Concert on the Sacred Sound Stage, while Kia Miller led a kundalini asana on The Illuminated Mind. Also on the mat, participants experienced the joy of movement in Seane Corn’s Revolution of the Soul. Sudhanshu Sharma taught a Nada Yoga Class, where students realised the potential of their own voices.

After lunch, participants joined Sadhvi Bhagawati in a special satsang, a spiritual question and answer session where students sit in the presence of wisdom with whatever appears to block their spiritual path. Vaidya Dr Padma Nayani Raju dove deeply into what Ayurveda can offer women, specifically, in her lecture and workshop, “Synergy of Ayurveda with Women’s World”.

Participants gathered to sing kirtan and meditate as the sun set over Ganga at Parmarth Niketan’s iconic Ganga Aarti, led by Swami Chidanand Saraswati and Sadhvi Bhagwati Saraswati.

After the Ganga Aarti, internationally acclaimed artist Daphne Tse filled participants’ hearts with joy with her special blend of singer-songwriter sounds blended with the Bhakti lineage of yoga. Tse strummed her acoustic guitar while participants chanted and sang along to beautiful mantras.

The Nrityavali dance ended the evening with a cultural performance of traditional folk dance styles of Gujarat and Rajasthan.