Paramahamsa Niranjanananda began the session with a short introductory talk in which he spoke about the previous day's deluge as God's mercy in the form of rain. He said, "This rain is a special message for our spiritual upliftment. It is the message that only God's mercy can make the mind pure, clean and calm. God's mercy, God's consideration, is topmost in a person's life. However, it is possible under the influence of pride or ego to forget God for a few moments. When a person does this, God moves further away from him.
"It was God's inspiration that enabled the volunteers and the members of the managing committee to work throughout the night. They arranged for chairs, removed the wet straw and wet carpets, reinstated the pandal. We have given a good sign to God, because we showed that we deserved his mercy and were ready to go to any extent for it. I bow to such workers who put all their hearts into invoking God's inspiration, blessings and strength, so as to perform his work, for the benefit of the many, for the welfare of the many. Observing this, we can tell the world that faith still lives on in the hearts of men."
Dr H.R. Nagendra of the Yoga Research Foundation at the Vivekananda Centre in Bangalore, spoke next on the total approach to yoga as derived from the Taittiriya Upanishad and the Yoga Vashistha. He said that yoga is the science of total living. It is not merely a set of asanas or pranayamas or mudras or bandhas or kriyas. It is a way of living, by which we start elevating ourselves towards that ultimate source. We begin to raise ourselves from the animal level to become normal human beings, ultimately reaching divinity itself. In that march, we must use our conscious faculty, the mind, the buddhi, in order to grow quickly. If we do not use the conscious faculty, we will probably grow very slowly in the natural process of evolution.
Following this illuminating talk on yoga research which was interspersed with beautiful chanting of Sanskrit slokas from the Taittiriya Upanishad, we heard about how yoga can be used to reform the hardened criminals in the prisons and jails. Dr S.K. Vyavahare, the chairman and project in charge at Ghantali Yoga Mitra Mandal in Thane, M. S., spoke on the yoga experiment which he had conducted in the Thane Central Prison. His talk was illustrated by slides of the prison, prisoners and prison life.
After this interesting talk, we were all honoured to witness a heart-to-heart commentary between Dr H.S. Wasir, an eminent cardiologist from the Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and the yogic assembly. Dr Wasir spoke about the role of yoga in heart care. He said that health is defined as the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. This is precisely where the role of yoga comes in. What other modality can give all three forms of well-being to us?
The most important role of yoga in heart care, he said, is the preventative aspect, to keep the heart in a normal state in the midst of a stressful life. Stressful situations exist all around us and these affect our bodies. This is why there are more heart attacks, why the blood pressure is so high. We have to understand that. In order to take care of heart problems, other than by the use of medicines, we must use helpful modalities like yoga.
Following Dr Wasir's heart-to-heart talk, the assembly was once again blessed by the words of Swami Sivapremananda who represented the tradition of our param guru, Swami Sivananda Maharaj. He spoke on the need for integrity in our approach to yoga. He said that in every aspect of our life, in our thoughts, in our actions and in our basic goals, the approach of yoga is extremely useful.
This session was specifically for scientific expositions by eminent doctors and researchers from both east and west, and was chaired by Dr Swami Shankardevananda Saraswati, MB, BS, MSc. from Australia.
The first speaker was Dr P. Jha, Deputy Director of the Literary Research Unit of the Yoga Institute in Lonavala, Pune. He spoke about mudras and their analysis, importance and practice in hatha yoga and tantra. He said that mudra is part of the hatha yoga tradition and is used to awaken the kundalini. Hatha yoga is a secondary system to Patanjali's raja yoga system. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the most thorough text of the hatha yoga tradition, is divided into four sections: (i) asana, (ii) pranayama (kumbhaka), (iii) mudra, and (iv) nadanusundhana. Mudra, therefore, is only practiced after attaining mastery over asana and kumbhaka. In the practice of mudra, the pranic sensations are heightened causing the kundalini to awaken and rise up the sushumna, to unite at sahasrara. This is known as the awakening of the kundalini which culminates in the experience or the discovery of inner sound, nadanusundhana.
The next speaker was Dr A.K. Ghosh, a professor of biology and a yoga researcher who hails from our own place, Munger. He has been affiliated with the Bihar School of Yoga and the Yoga Research Foundation for many years. Dr Ghosh spoke on the subject of yoga nidra and brain-mapping. He used B.E.A.M. ,a highly sophisticated instrument which until now was used for the tracing of diseases of the brain. Throughout the talk he showed slides to substantiate his report.
The first speaker in the session was Madame Dr Doussy from France. She is an eminent cardiologist at the Hospital Tenen in Paris. She has been instrumental in bringing the focus of world attention to the role that yoga can play in cardiovascular management. She delivered her talk in French and it was translated into English by Madame Micheline Flak. She spoke about yoga and cardiology in France.
She said, "In 1969, I was suffering from angina pectoris when yoga crossed my path. That was a true resurrection. I started practicing yoga regularly and teaching it to my patients who suffered from cardiovascular illnesses. Because of the results I obtained, a yoga consultancy was started in the Hospital Tenen where I practiced We chose to study hypertension and then we established a work procedure and preliminary examinations for each patient. We also set up a group which I have followed closely since 1980. Then I discovered yoga nidra, and the effects were remarkable. We continued to check our patients once a year and found them to be completely transformed, not only on the physical level, concerning their blood pressure and the whole related pathology, but especially on the mental level. The lives of these people have completely changed, and some have even become spiritual seekers."
The next speaker was Madame Micheline Flak (Swami Yogabhakti Saraswati). She has taught children of all ages, all her life, and she has in recent years pioneered the introduction of yoga into the educational system of France and many other European countries. She is the founder of R.Y.E. (Research on Yoga in Education). She spoke on yoga and education.
She said, "Modern research in the field of cognitive science is very close to yoga. It shows that learning goes through some inner processes which cannot be escaped nowadays when there is so much to be learned by the young generation. Our children are in need of new ways of education and yoga can give that to them. In order to learn, the mind must be calmed down and made silent. It is only when the mind becomes silent that information can be fixed into it. For that purpose, I have prescribed four procedures: (i) awareness of body and breath, (ii) use of music, (iii) telling of myths and stories, and (iv) use of mandalas. However, the spiritual aspect of yoga must be introduced with great care, in order not to offend the creeds or beliefs of any of the children, or their parents. Therefore, we tell them that yoga practices are not meant for religious purposes, but for better learning, and this is very true".
The next speaker was Swami Janakananda who is the oldest working sannyasin disciple of Paramahamsa Satyananda in Europe. He is the founder of the Scandinavian Schools of Yoga and Meditation which have nine branches in Scandinavian countries. He spoke about antar mouna meditation in depth.
He said that antar mouna is a meditation that starts with our personality the way it is, without having to change it. This is a meditation which starts not only from the inside, within our personality, our habits, our thoughts, our emotions, but also from the outside, listening to the sounds, experiencing our environment as a whole, and this is very valuable. Then the awareness travels all the way in, through different dimensions of our being, to our essence, to our innermost being, from where we experience everything.
He said, "During this practice I tell my students: don't be idealists. Don't try to change yourself when you sit down to meditate, don't take on a holy face.
Sit down as you are. Whether you feel happy, unhappy tired or full of energy, it doesn't matter. Whether you feel restless or dull, sit down and allow the meditation to begin where you are and how you are. If you want something out of the meditation, don't put any fancy images between yourself and what you have to experience. I don't say that you should think in a negative way about yourself. Simply withdraw, and don't interfere at all.
"When you trigger relaxation through a meditative method, and you start with the sounds going around, suddenly your mind relaxes. Then when you allow the thoughts, your mind relaxes a little more. If you can't relax enough, you can also watch your breath a little in between, but usually it is enough to just watch thoughts. Then your state changes; you get into a different state. I call it the open state, because it is full of possibilities, open to creativity and to insights, starting with the things that are related with your daily life."
The next speaker was Professor Upen Baxi, the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University and one of the greatest scholars and intellectuals of the country. He was the original secretary for Swami Satyananda and one of the architects of the International Yoga Fellowship Movement. He spoke about Paramahamsaji, about his greatness and his tyag, in terms of being responsible to memory.
He said, "Paramahamsaji ordains us now, and for decades to come, to a mission for responsibility to memory. In yoga six types of memory are recognized: (i) of origin, (ii) of purpose, (iii) of body, (iv) of evil, (v) of mission, and (vi) of future. Yoga is a reconfiguration of memory in our eternal struggle against oblivion.
Yoga is the active memory of the origin, of purusha and prakriti, of a great chain of being which has to be recalled here and now in our terrestrial boundaries. Yoga is the memory of purpose in the aspect of the four purusharthas: dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Yoga is the memory of the body as the temple of the spirit. It is important for the spirit not to be alienated from matter. Yoga reminds us about the link between internal and external evil. Yoga is the memory of mission in order to establish and reinterpret the principles of truth in the contemporary world. Finally, yoga is the memory of future, because we carry the future within us, and we must promote and protect this memory here and now in order to create a better world for tomorrow. Yoga can only become the culture of tomorrow, when we fashion memory of the future with fellowship. This Convention is a shining example of international fellowship and of what it is possible to achieve through yogic fraternity.
The first speaker of the evening session was Mahamandaleshwar Swami Poonyananda Giri Maharaj, Acharya of Niranjani Akhara, Varanasi. He delivered an erudite and inspiring lecture on the vedic origins and principles of yoga.
He said that in the vedic tradition, the shruti, revealed texts, are considered only to be the final authority. The Vedas and Upanishads were not inspired or created by any man; they were revealed and that is what is unique about them. The Vedas were existing in the first kalpa, era after creation. Before creation the Almighty first exposed the Vedas through his breath. The principles of yoga are all contained within the Vedas. Maharishi Patanjali has just collected and codified them from the different Upanishads. He was not the original expounder, nor did he create the principles of yoga, he just formulated them systematically. This yoga philosophy is eternal and vedic. It was in the Vedas from the very beginning.
Following Sri Swami Poonyananda Giri's talk, Paramahamsa Niranjanananda spoke for a short interval on surrender. He said, "In spiritual life, if we wish to do business, it is better to do it with God. In order to set up a connection with God, we must 6rst say to Him that, I surrender all that I have to you. I only ask in return that you, at your whim, steer my life in any direction that you wish. I have no selfish motives, no personal endeavours. Naham karta harih karta, harih karta hi kevalam".
These inspiring thoughts were followed by the 'nightingale' or kokila of Ramacharitamanas, Srimati Krishna Devi. During her discourse she said that the greatest misfortune of life is to forget God, and the greatest fortune lies in remembering him. In whose life has there been greater misfortune or calamity than in Mother Janaki's? But when Lord Hanuman returned from Lanka and Lord Rama asked him, 'Tell me one thing, is Janaki very crestfallen because of this adversity?" Lord Hanuman replied, ''O Lord, I really am not sure, because wherever your name is being chanted continuously, how can calamity tread? Mother remembers you continuously. She is totally immersed in thoughts of you, and continuously repeats your name."