“Why are there so many monkeys in Vrindavan?” asked a retreat participant of Dr Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji, as he led them on a tour of the Jiva Institute grounds. She pointed to a baby monkey that was scampering across the roof wire fence of the garden.
Another woman looked up and remarked at how cute the baby monkey was. A few others also ooohed and aahed at the “adorable” baby monkey. Babaji did not miss this teaching opportunity. In his typical style, he warmed the group up with a joke.
The group of 15 consisted mostly of doctors and healthcare professionals from Delhi.
Babaji told them about how a bird once said to a monkey, “You have hands, why don’t you make good use of your hands and build a house? Look at me. I have no hands, only wings and feet. But I still have been able to build a nest, so why don’t you also do something productive and useful with your hands?”
So when the bird left its nest to search for food, the monkey shimmied up the tree. He grabbed the bird’s nest and ripped it to pieces, and threw it down from the branches, completely destroying it. The monkey thought to himself as he hooted in laughter, “You stupid bird – now you see that I can do something useful with my hands!”
The group members broke out in laughter, and Babaji flashed them a warm welcoming smile.He then delivered another jab to chip away at the illusion of city dwellers about these “cute monkeys.” He said, “Many holy people take up residence in Vrindavan, and they make offenses when they are living here, pretending to be holy when they are using religion for materialistic purposes. So they come back as monkeys.”
That gave the group a different way to think about monkeys, which Babaji is so expert at doing – breaking through the mind’s thought patterns so one can see things clearly, with no illusion.
So, this is how the 3-day course on Ayurveda and Spiritual Well Being began with the two brothers – Dr Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji and Dr Partap Chauhan, teaching about these ancient sacred jewels of India. Dr. Anoop (Tony) Singh spearheaded this initiative by promoting the retreat to members of the institute he founded, The Quantum Institute for Wellbeing (TQIW). The group is comprised of like-minded healthcare professionals who are pursuing holistic approaches to well-being.
The spiritual approach
As the group – an eclectic mix of doctors, energy healers, therapists, and businessmen, settled into their seats, Babaji began chanting a mantra. A peaceful silence filled the room as his melodious voice permeated their hearts.
Within 15 minutes of his two-hour lecture, Babaji’s turned to the topic of love. He explained that, “The highest manifestation of all qualities is prema, or love. Krishna is a person who goes beyond boundaries because he is love personified.”
Babaji then deftly took the group from high thinking about Krishna’s prema to very practical thinking about how difficult it is to control one’s mind. He shares, “Self-realization is not just knowing that I am atma, but also it is actually knowing your mind, your intelligence, your ego, your subconscious.”
He elaborated on the parts of the mind and how they work to keep one stuck, and how to get out of the sticky grip of the mind, by stating, “It is all about awareness. Whatever you do, do it consciously.”
He recommended to group members that they start practicing sadhana, which he defined simply as, “A set of spiritual practices to control your mind.”
Group members were thoroughly engaged by Babaji’s talk, and asked many questions that prompted Babaji to go deeper into his explanation.
“Right now your mind is wild. It keeps on throwing up desires and thoughts and you act on it. You have to use your buddhi, or intelligence, to be aware of every thought and desire you are having and ask yourself – is this what I want? Where is this thought taking me?”
Babaji goes on to tie this back to his statements on love, saying, “Krishna manifested bhakti yoga, which is also called the path of love. If you have love for God, then your mind naturally flows towards him. What Krishna is teaching is what is going to change your heart. We have the intelligence to know God. All other use of our intelligence is a misuse of intelligence.”
The Ayurvedic View
In the afternoon Babaji’s brother, world-renowned Ayurvedic physician Dr. Partap Chauhan took the stage. Dr Chauhan made a smooth transition from his brother’s spiritual talk to his own lecture on body and mind, which actually ended right back at the same point – on love. He artfully spoke about the same topics, but in a fresh way to help drive home the deep points that Babaji was making. He shared that, “The goal of Ayurveda is to reach the atma, or soul-level, not just to become healthy. But to know the self and to be situated within your own self.”
Dr Chauhan started off with telling these healthcare professionals that, “The root cause of all disease is pragyaparadh – the misuse of intelligence.”
He gave a nice practical example of a patient who takes an anti-acid everyday to control his acidity, but then drinks chai, which increases his acidity. “You have to use your intelligence to figure out why you have a disease. Some very smart people can’t see what they are doing wrong.” Then, he directs his focus back to spirituality, saying, “Without Ayurveda, spirituality is not possible. If you have a backache you can’t meditate. In Ayurveda, they say start with understanding your body first, then you can understand the more subtle levels. We hear many things, but we do not understand. Understanding means you can apply your understanding. If you want to be healthy at the physical level you have to know your nature – your prakriti.”
Dr Chauhan spoke about love from a biological viewpoint, but then also from a spiritual angle. “Cells in the body are designed to help each other. This is love. Out of love they will support and help. The human cell’s basic quality is love. This path of bhakti is the easiest because we all know how to love. We are trying to create the sattvic connection of love so we can help the society.”
His lecture was packed full of practical tips on how to clean the body and senses, so the mind could become calm and clear for spiritual practice. At the end of his lecture, Dr. Chauhan handed out surveys for participants to determine their prakriti (Ayurvedic mind-body type) as well as their predominant guna (sattva, rajas, tamas).
In the evening Dr Chauhan met with interested parties to go over their survey results, generously working with them until every last question was answered, including taking people’s pulses and patiently giving advice on Ayurvedic home remedies. And still, this kind doctor was smiling and jovial as he walked up the stairs to retire for the night, having no time for himself during the day.
Earlier that night he had shared with me his goal for these healthcare professionals at the retreat, “I want people to use Ayurvedic principles to clean their body and senses and mind so they can attain the goal of life.” So, it looks like the good doctor is well on the way to his goal.
Stephen Rudolph and Multiple Natures
On the last day of the retreat, Steven Rudolph, one of the co-founders of Jiva, spoke to the group. He had just arrived the night before from France, where he has been successfully teaching Europeans for the past year about his concept of Multiple Natures.
He cited a Gallup study that found that only 11% of people reported that they love their work. He explained how, “The vast majority of people are out of flow with their work, and they make up and compensate for it by doing these silly things like smoking and drinking. This is the cause of disease, stress, unhappiness, depression, and excessive drug use. This is a cause of unsustainability. Sustainability is inside. Sustainability means that everybody has their place and follows it. The problem comes when people work outside of their nature. The happiness will never come from something external – the happiness will only come from being who you are, from working within your nature. Work without being attached to the outcome. When you are in your state of flow – you are working according to your nature and you are enjoying it while you are doing it.”
He went on to explain how he created an assessment tool,under the guidance of Babaji, in which a person can determine their nature. The tool is based on the concepts of the gunas: sattva (peaceful), rajas (active), and tamas (inactive). He described this ‘flow state’: “People have a natural tendency to do different kinds of work. We have something in our blood that makes us inclined to do things. Krishna told Arjuna that you have to fight – it is in your blood. Society was smooth and flowing when different people work towards their natural capacity. People were in their flow state. There are some things that you do that you enjoy so much you lose track of time, you lose hunger. If you are good at something and you are doing it, then you get in the flow state.”
Group members began asking questions on how they can learn about their nature, and Steve explained each of the nine natures briefly. The group eagerly requested Steve to conduct a future workshop for all interested members.
The retreat concluded with a wrap-up and brainstorming session on next steps. Tony Singh asked the group participants to each share what they learned from the retreat. And then he asked to Babaji, “Can you comment on anything more to help us transform?”
Babaji responded, ‘“I am very happy that people have said take-aways because people understood what I was speaking. That is the greatest joy for me when people understand it. I would like to add a few things to it.
- “Every day you should read something on these topics. I have written many articles on www.jiva.org. There are articles on love, relations, japa, sometimes questions and answers. Go through that and you get very nice material. I request that you please do that. We get influenced by media, so make use of the media. I have 1,000 youtube lectures. Every day either listen or read.”
- “Try to meditate or chant everyday. I give retreats on just chanting. I call it Svadhyaya. We just find a place and we do our own cooking. I give class and we chant and we have question and answer. No phone. No internet. Nothing is allowed. That is the way to get rid of these samskaras. Otherwise you do meditation for 15 minutes, and other 23 and three-quarter hours you get other information that influences you. We should do this retreat and I will give you the philosophy at the retreat. But you should start chanting now yourself.”
- “The whole day you should think that whatever you are doing you are doing it for love of God. Instead of thinking that I am doing it for my family, for making money. The whole thing is changing your awareness. Think that whatever you are doing, you are doing it for God. So you should keep that in mind. Every opportunity – see as the grace of God. Even if some problem is coming – think that God is trying to purify me. There is something in me and I have to purify it. If you think that every situation is grace of God, then you will see that it is true. It is true.”
Tony Singh thanked Babaji, Dr. Chauhan and Steve for all of their time, wisdom, and teachings. He told everyone that he would like to collaborate in the future together. He shared some ideas of creating an Integrative Ayurvedic hospital. The group all seemed in agreement that they would like to continue with their discussions, and retreats to deepen their relationship.
Rishipal, the business mastermind behind all of Jiva’s amazing endeavors, quietly took in what his brothers and Steve were presenting over the 3-day retreat. I asked him, what would he like to see as next steps upon completion of this retreat? He explained to me, “Like minded people should come together. They should spread and practice the message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and make a modern institution for the next generation.”
He also shared his take-away from the retreat, “Most of the time we are doing work in a process, and our buddhi (intelligence) is sleeping. How to activate buddhi so it should be awakened, alive, and it should check the mind all the time and it should do a sattvic activity?I’m going to implement this in my life and my students life.” He then passionately described his vision, “Jiva institute of Vedic Science and Culture. I want to donate this organization to the community. Community can design the Vedic hospital and I will give my whole life and last breath to work for this organization. Everybody should have the faith that we are going to do it!”