The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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If you can’t fly, nirvana is just a hop on a gadda away

Mumbai, July 13: Hop your way to nirvana.

Two thick mattresses lie on the floor of the outer room at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi centre for meditation in Vile Parle. On these, people learn to fly. Rather hop, as they sprint inwardly towards higher consciousness.

“It’s a separate course called Transcendental Meditation Siddhi,” says Pandit Dinesh Kumar Dwivedi, one of the two instructors at the centre. “The first step is the course on Transcendental Meditation (TM),” he says. It raises the mind from the three mundane states of consciousness — waking, sleeping and dreaming — to a transcendental consciousness, which frees the mind from ground-level realities and eliminates stress. It costs about Rs 750 a year.

Once a practitioner has mastered meditation, comes the next stage of evolution — levitation. This costs about Rs 3,000 per head. “Transcendental Meditation Siddhi is for Rs 2,500 per head. For levitation we charge Rs 500 more,” says the instructor.

“But not everyone flies,” says Dwivedi, explaining the course designed by Mahesh Yogi. “They hop like frogs. That’s why we have kept the gaddas, otherwise they will hurt themselves.” But hopping is liberating enough, it seems, and they choose to call it levitation anyway. It is the result of attaining a very high level of consciousness, says Dwivedi, and happens from within.

“There’s a sutra from Patanjali that is used for levitation,” he says. Then the inner energy is realised 100 per cent, he says, and it manifests itself outwardly by making the body lift itself. But it is not to be witnessed by the uninitiated. The chance would also not be there — they have stopped conducting the Sunday group levitation sessions at the centre now for some unavoidable reason.

“Different people levitate for different periods of time. Some even hop for two to three minutes,” says the instructor.

The idea of yogic levitation is as old as the Himalayas, with ancient sages having said to have practised it. But levitation as healing therapy is only as old as the advent of Mahesh Yogi, former guru to the Beatles, in the late 1940s. Now, with the spiritually needy having grown into a huge market, there are more takers lining up for TM levitation.

One boost to the spiritual services has come from another sunshine sector — the beauty and slimming business. TM has also been helped. Dr Nigam’s Goodhealth clinic, a burgeoning health, beauty and weight-loss centre, regularly sends its patients to Mahesh Yogi’s centre, where they learn to meditate. And eventually levitate. Or whatever.

“Levitation is the in thing now,” says Dr Nigam, who says “inner cleansing” is as vital for the beauty business as outer health and fitness.

Without Dr Nigam, too, there seems to be a whole lot of takers for Transcendental Meditation Siddhi.

Kamala Tina, teacher of TM, has taught 20,000 people in 27 years, though she says she does not take in too many people for her courses now. Manju Sharma, another TM teacher who began in the Nineties, says she taught 4,000 people.

Sharma says people fly — that is hop — when there’s a state of perfect coherence between mind and body. Giving the requested list of names of six persons she has trained, Tina says five of them levitate.

One of them, Vinita Tellis, a Jet Airways official, says TM has made her much calmer as a person, but she has levitated only a couple of times. She is a “soft hopper”, only rising a little from the ground. It happens when the meditation reaches a very intense level, she says. She practices TM with her husband, who has benefited a lot, too.

Dr Anand Shandilya, a child specialist who is just four months into TM, is yet to fly. But he says he is happy even if he doesn’t take off, for he has already greatly benefited from TM. His temper, he says, is very much under control.

Namrata Bhasin, a Reiki master who blends TM with Reiki, says the flying takes place after the practitioner feels certain vibrations.

“The eyes remain open and shut at the same time. It is deeply distressing. It seems to me that it’s a release of one’s old karmas,” says the ex-software professional. “The vibrations used to be small earlier. Now the hopping is much smoother,” she adds.

A case of mind over matter'

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