I was thinking of delivering a prepared speech, but having heard the other speakers, I thought I might as well go extempore, and share some of my thoughts in this absolutely fantastic gathering of people, who obviously have great knowledge about and interest in the science, or should I say art, of yoga.
To begin, let me quote our ancestors, who I believe were people of great wisdom.
Sarve bhavantu sukhinah,
Sarve santu niramaya,
Sarve bhadrani pashyantu,
Maa kashchit dukha bhagabhavet.
The first sentence says that everybody in this world should be happy, which is the purpose of man's life. The second sentence, "Sarve santu niramaya", refers to how we could be happy: everybody should be healthy.
The quest of human beings, ever since they evolved from the earlier species and became homo sapiens, has been to search for truth. The purpose of searching for truth is to find happiness; the purpose of discovering truth is to find everything that makes a person, physically, mentally and spiritually happy; to find the truth is to attain the goals a person or society has asked or tasked people to do. The search for truth, I think, is the essential search, a search mankind has been trying to evolve for a long time, and the search for truth and scientific discoveries are intermeshed.
It was not a great surprise for me that, some months ago, I was sharing a dais just like this one, with a gentleman called Dr Luc Montagnier who was sitting on my left. This gathering was at the Science City in Kolkata, and 3,500 delegates from all over the world were in attendance. I was introduced to Dr Professor Luc Montagnier as the discoverer of the AIDS virus, and I became a little self-conscious that I was sitting next to a great scientist. Then they introduced him further and said he is a Nobel Prize winner. I shook hands with him and told him that it was a privilege to be with him. What I thought immediately was, 'I marvel at how you named the virus AIDS – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome!' If you reverse that, it also suggests that the body is capable of producing antibodies that enhance immunity, sufficient immunity for the body to withstand the invasion of a foreign virus. Now, ladies and gentlemen, this was a huge gathering of a few thousand people and a dais full of people. On my left was Dr Luc Montagnier, on my right was the Vice-Chancellor of Jadavpur University, to his right was the former President of India, Dr Kalam, and so on. Dr Montagnier said, "I am going to talk about this subject, the body's immune system or the body's immuno-capability." He was the keynote speaker and he went on to deliver the lecture. In a little while, the person sitting on my right, Dr P. N. Ghosh, who was a physicist, started shaking my arm and said, "He is not a medical scientist, he is a physicist. He is talking about physics. He is talking about the electrical charge generated by a foreign body or an immune system, he is talking about resonance and how resonance from our body gets measured, and electrical charges get measured. He is not talking about medical science." So, ladies and gentleman, today's science, at the highest level, is a joining of hands of medical science with physics, biology, mathematics and all other sciences.
If the search for the truth is really on . . . and I am absolutely delighted that Dr Nagendra is here, so I can conveniently quote him to express what I want to say. As our ancestors and all others who are much better versed in the knowledge of our spiritual volumes say: Aham Brahmasmi. The truth is within me, the entire brahmanda is within me, and I am capable. All activities that mankind undertakes in search of truth are ultimately to find the truth within oneself. This truth will reveal an enormous capacity and replenish the belief that mankind can evolve in a manner that these words come true: Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niramaya.
In this quest of finding the truth, I congratulate this gathering, this body of very dedicated people doing yoga and service, everybody in this organization. They have called people, and have linked and joined hands with people who make a difference, and who will ultimately be able to prevail upon the rest and impress upon them that we are capable, we have the desire, and we shall do it.
My association of linking yoga with health goes back to when I was the Secretary of the Department in the Ministry of Health. How is it that yoga provides better chances of a healthy body and mind? I quote Dr Nagendra: "Health is not the mere absence of disease or infirmity, but it is a state of well being of the physical, mental and social as well as spiritual."
I am sure that in our quest for truth we shall, by climbing different steps, attain that goal of reaching complete health. Nothing can be obtained without understanding the truth, what is good and what is not good. It must be the good that humankind pursues and that will lead to the other goals of good health.
What does spirituality intend? I am not an overly spiritual person, but I would say its intention is that one should be good. How can you be good without adversely affecting someone else? If it were plain arithmetic, then when you get pluses there would be some minuses being given to another person, so your pluses are at the cost of someone else's minuses.
Is that what society wants? No! I think good can be attained by some other values: to be kind, to be considerate, and to give the other person dignity, because human beings require dignity. There are so many other virtues that go hand in hand, so that at the same time that you are good, you remain healthy. You can obtain all the pluses in life. While we go into the mechanics, some of the basic philosophical aspects should never be left out.
I am taking another cue from Dr Nagendra, who is a fantastic person. I am sure you have heard or read about the way he has been evolving from space to self and yoga, and yoga's effect on the body, mind and the well being of society. He has given me this, 'Yoga: a solution to manage post-nuclear crisis'. Through this I found that the features of yoga are very similar to what I was talking about: how do we obtain greater immunity to withstand the impact of virus and bacteria.
Immunity is a self-generated systematic improvement within the body, and everybody has been blessed with that system. Now, how do we retain this immunity, how do we ensure that the body will be able to meet the challenge of fresh bacteria and viruses? When we go into the various aspects of cell biology, we will find that although human beings have perhaps mutated long ago to become human beings, no further mutations are happening, whereas other biological systems, like virus and bacteria, continue to mutate. Therefore, ailments are coming in many forms today due to these mutated bacteria and viruses, and the body's immune system must be able to withstand that. We have to provide the ability to the body so that our immune system is able to withstand that.
As Defence Secretary, I had the opportunity of coordinating and getting all these abilities put together, due to the advent of certain pandemics like SARS or swine flu and bird flu. When each of these diseases came to India, they caused panic. A lot of people died because of these pandemics and we had to mobilize everybody. Scientists had to work and find different vaccines. What do vaccines do? Vaccines provide an outside stimulant to the body so that it can produce antibodies that can contain these bacteria and viruses. Yoga has the capability of inducing this action internally, from within oneself. How? Through the mind. The mind is capable of generating instructions that the body follows, thereby leading to the creation of different immune systems.
Our quest for truth has begun and is ongoing. I would welcome a large number of people like Dr Nagendra to come and see the various scientific aspects so that in collaboration, we can induce these states, absorb the knowledge, and train the mind of the human being through exercises and yogic prakriyas, techniques, to concentrate and be able to stimulate the body to generate antibodies, to generate the mechanism providing immunity.
I would also like to discuss another aspect, physiotherapy, the art and science of reflexology, which again does the same thing. It stimulates the nerves, which in turn stimulate the brain, and the direction from within the brain enables the body to cure itself. There are a group of scientists working on reflexology at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, and the subject is being studied in depth. They have also found that our old scriptures and ancient sculptures provide clues to the nerves that have to be stimulated in order to enable the mind or the brain to give those directions. That is yet another science that is being studied, and when it is validated, it will help the body to find a cure for all ailments.
I would say it is a fantastic sort of paraav, leg of this journey, the journey of searching for truth, and everybody who is involved in it should experience joy; joy in search of truth. May you have joy, happiness and all the other feelings which arise when one is nearing the truth, as truth is the purpose of our existence. Thank you very much.
Address, 24 October 2013, Polo Ground, Munger