An Abridged Report of the International Conference on Yoga and Spirituality 17th January 2008

To pay the earnest of the homages to Dr. M. L. Gharote, the Founder-Director of The Lonavla Yoga Institute (India), the yearly International Conference of one day duration was organized in Lonavla on the day of 17th January, 2008. The Conference was on the subject of ‘Yoga and Spirituality’ which was attended by a group of Indian as well as foreign delegates numbering more than 300. The congregation also comprised a number of experts and well-reputed scholars from the related fields.

The event began with the lighting of lamps which symbolizes dispelling of darkness of ignorance. Holy Vaidika prayers were offered to the feet of the Supreme Lord who is the only origin and last resort of all the beings of the universe sung by Shri. Chetan Bhesania and his company.

Two-minute silence (Shraddhanjali) was observed in standing in loving memory of Dr. M. L. Gharote. Dignitaries who graced the occasion were Swami Nikhileswarananda-ji from Rama Krishna Mission, Vadodara, who was the Chief Guest of the Conference.

The renowned scientist Padmashree Dr. Vijay Bhatkar honoured the Conference as the Chairperson. Mr. Ramachandra Tawde, Secretary, The Lonavla Yoga Institute (India) welcomed the dignitaries on the dais by offering a bouquet of flowers. This was followed by a welcome address given by Dr. Manmath M. Gharote, Director, The Lonavla Yoga Institute (India), to all the delegates of the Conference.

The Chief Guest, Swami Nikhilesvarananda-ji who is the head of the Ramakrishna Math, Vadodara was introduced to the audience by reading out his illustrious profile as a fully dedicated and devoted serviceman of the humanity. Swami-ji released one of the publications of The Lonavla Yoga Institute (India) that is ‘Glossary of the Yoga Texts’.

Respected Swami-ji, through his impeccable oratory enchanted the audience on the main theme of the Conference. According to him, Yoga stands for spirituality and spirituality for Yoga. One actually denotes the other. Therefore, these two concepts are non-different. He deplored that in the modern times, spectrum of Yoga has been minimized to certain physical postures alone. The rich scope of mental, ethical, moral and spiritual evolution that Yoga provides has almost been forgotten. At the same time he appreciated the work of The Lonavla Yoga Insitute (India), especially the book Encyclopaedia of Traditional Asanas, which was published in the 1st International Conference. His deeply felt words spoken were highly convincing and therefore motivated the delegates of the Conference which was apparently evident through a long applaud.

A couple of messages received from iconic personalities in the field of Yoga such as Padmabhushan Dr. B.K.S. Iyangar-ji and Prof. Leopoldo Chariarse, Germany, were read out who wished their best and showered their blessings for success of the Conference. They also regretted their inability to attend the Conference due to their busy schedules.

Dr. Vijay Bhatkar who was the Chairperson of the Conference, released the another new publication of The Lonavla Yoga Institute (India), title of which is ‘Traditional Theories of Evolution and its Application in Yoga’.

In his scholarly and highly inspiring speech on Yoga & Spirituality and its Scientific approach, Dr. Vijay Bhatkar convincingly placed the firm argument that both spirituality and science are in fact seriously involved in solving the mystery of the creation. In their respective endeavour, one approaches the self, while the other approaches the matter. Objective of these two systems appear to differ only on the surface. In reality, they enquire into the very nature of the cause and process of life.

Delegates from abroad assembled in good number. There was big group of Yoga teachers from Brazil who came all the way from their country to pay homage to Dr. M. L. Gharote under the leadership of Prof. Marcos Rojo Rodrigeus. In addition, there were many delegates from the countries like Argentina, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Italy etc. Well wishers and branch members from abroad were cordially felicitated for their committed solidarity towards the noble activities of The Lonavla Yoga Institute (India).

The morning session of the Conference was drawn to a close with the expressed offering of the Vote of Thanks by Dr. Shriram B. Sakhalkar. A delicious Indian vegetarian lunch was served to the delegates which all of them relished to their hearts content.

First part of the Plenary Session was chaired by Dr. Samprasad Vinod, Director, Maharshi Vinod Research Foundation, Pune. First speaker Dr. H.R.Nagendra, Vice chancellor, SYVASA, Bangalore, spoke on the importance of the practice of Pranayama for all round development and progress, physical, physiological and also spiritual. Dr. H.R.Nagendra also said that they have come to such a conclusion by undertaking several experimental projects on Pranayama in their Institute Prashanti Kutiram in Bangalore.

Second speaker Shri. Shrikrishna Vyavahare, Head of the Ghantali Mitra Mandal, Thane, enlightened the audience on the importance of regular practice of Yoga through his lecture based on Sahaja Yoga, which he feel has no alternative.

Second part of the Plenary Session was chaired by Dr. Ravindra V. Nisal, Director, Nisargopachar Gram Sudhar Trust, Nisargopachar Ashram, Urali- kanchan, Pune.

First speaker Yogacharya Dr. M. V. Bhole spoke on ‘Yoga and Spirituality’. In his speech, he emphasized on being acquainted about the approach of the ancient masters of Yoga which can be learnt from the Yoga literature which the sages left for the progeny.

Second speaker Swami Udhava from Isha Foundation, Coimbatore spoke on Shambhavi Mudra, its technique, spiritual advantages and other implications. According to him, Shambhavi Mudra is highly effective in evolving spiritually at a faster pace. But one should learn the technique from a teacher.

Chairperson and Plenary Session speakers were honoured by Dr. Manmath M. Gharote, Director , The Lonavla Yoga Institute (India), for their valued contribution.

The day-long Conference came to an end with the mellifluous singing of the prayer Pasayadan of one the greatest saints of Maharashtra Shri Jnaneshwara by Mrs. Nanda Bhesania, with a promise to meet the same date next year on 17th January, 2009. The prayer was offered at the holy feet of the Supreme Providence to grant happiness and joy to all beings. May all live in harmony!!