By Drew McLachlan
Indian yogi and visionary Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev has said he is collaborating with the Indian government on a new river policy, designed to rejuvenate the country’s waterways.
As summer takes hold and temperatures touch 35-39 degrees Celsius in parts of India, Sadhguru noted the impact of lack of water on the farmers’ community, with many suffering years of drought and driven to suicide.
Recalling his childhood in the south Indian state of Karnataka, he said: “From the age of 12 to 17, almost every day I swam in the Cauvery (river).
“Today, when I go to see Cauvery, I feel like crying because it is only 40 per cent of what it was 45 years ago. For three months, Cauvery doesn’t even touch the ocean, it stops 3.5 km from the coast.”
The respected spiritual leader and bestselling author was speaking at an event hosted by the Asian Media and Marketing Group (AMG), publishers of Eastern Eye and Garavi Gujarat, in London on Monday (3).
A select audience of 200, including top business personalities and community leaders, gathered at the May Fair hotel to hear Sadhguru speak as part of AMG’s Thought Leaders event. It marks 50 years since the launch of Garavi Gujarat newsweekly by AMG editor in chief Ramniklal Solanki and his wife Parvatiben.
In an informal conversation with the audience, Sadhguru addressed a range of topics, including living to one’s fullest potential, yoga, dharma and leading mindful lives.
He said that the depletion of rivers across India was partly a consequence of the shortsighted nature of democratic governments.
“Generally, the leadership is only interested in what happens over five years. Nobody wants to think 50 years or 100 years because their reign is only this much.
“In this sense, democracy has caused huge damage, because everybody is only interested in how exuberantly they can run the place for those three to five years. After that, whatever happens is somebody else’s can; they have to hold it.
“Imagine 1.3 billion people: if the rivers dry up, how will their life be?”
He conceded that action to save India’s rivers could be too little, too late.
“We either need to do it consciously or nature is going to do it to us in a very cruel way.”
“Corrective measures we can do, but all this is still too little. Even if you do the correction, it will be twenty years before it shows up,” he said.
To deal with this and other environmental crises, Sadhguru said we must be prepared to tackle overpopulation.
“It’s a good thing turned bad on us: life expectancy has gone up. Sadhguru noted that in 1947, when India achieved independence, the average life expectancy was 28 years. Today it is 64, he said, adding, “That’s a very good thing, but because of this there are many families that have five generations living. This is not practical.
“There was a time when a woman started delivering at age 15; now it’s gone up to 18 to 21. If we push it to 35, it will still happen, you just need to push it back a little bit. But who is going to do it? We either need to do it consciously or nature is going to do it to us in a very cruel way.”
Sadhguru took the audience through a breathing exercise and addressed a wide range of topics, among them:
Sadhguru spoke about the catastrophic effect civilisation has wrought on the natural world, explaining the concept of a compulsive, irresponsible mind versus a liberated thoughtful one.
He said: “As humanity, we are living crime. We must consult the other creatures, as the worms, the animals, the trees – they will say ‘you are the worst criminals’.
“If all the worms disappear, within 14 months all life will disappear. But if you and I disappear the world will flourish.”
On spiritual growth, Sadhguru clarified that dharma is separate from religion and should instead be understood as the “laws of our existence”.
He explained the concept by comparing it to a hang glider, working within the laws of aerodynamics, instead of simply opposing gravity.
Asked about the “third eye”, he said our sense organs limit us to what we need to survive, leaving reality unseen.
“There is a longing within every human being to know something beyond the survival process. There is a longing in every human being to go beyond sense perception. It is just that, it is not a conscious process in many people. Unconsciously, they are looking for something more.
“Whether a man goes to temple, goes to the bar, gets drugged out, meditates, whatever – the fundamental goal in himself is that he wants to have a larger slice of life.”
“How do you see religion playing a part in looking inwards and with meditation practices?” one guest asked.
Sadhguru responded: “Religion is about looking upwards, not inwards.
“Belief means, essentially, you have lost the ability to admit ‘what I do not know, I do not know’. Only if you say ‘I do not know’ is there a possibility of ever knowing.”