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Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards. - Aldous Huxley
An interesting surmise by A. Huxley, yet not all technologists agree with him and most of them are certainly not forecasting doom. Comprehending technology or rather technological advancement is baffling as it mirrors the appearance of a coin with two sides, one side delineating its favored position, and the other, its negative attributes. Technology has indeed made the world flat, but this has not waned the human spirit from yearning to ascend newer mountains and seize the day. Humankind has continued its long standing quest to fill the void formed in the lower trenches of its spirit by relentlessly searching for the Ultimate. This may commence at a tender age and might continue till the autumn leaves begin to fall and old age begins to anchor in. It might be a solitary endeavor or might involve the amalgamation of likeminded individuals under the council of an ethereal mentor. Arduous and wearisome is the search, yet those who actively engage in it, tend to lead more cognizant and aesthetic lives and leave deeper impressions on those amongst them such as friends, family and neighbours.
Currently, the West is facing a crisis of Identity. For almost 1500 years Christianity was the backbone of The Western Macrocosm, but since the ushering of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of Intellectual Scholarship, Christianity is now on the road to its premature decline. Consumerism is not new and dates back to the early civilizations like the Ancient Egyptian Civilization, Babylon etc. however since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, civilization has taken a new turn and has, since then, fallen prey to the Gods of Materialism. From Philosophy we become aware of the verity that Humankind is but Spiritual Beings, and will always hunger for knowledge of the Divine. The loss of its Western-Christian identity is similar to plunging a doubled edged knife into its soul and leaving a bottomless void which cannot be appeased by the virtues of materialism, as it has its origins in the Spirit. Since then, Westerners have been on a quest to satisfy their curiosity for things of the spirit and this has eventually led the seeker to find solace in the traditions of the East.
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|Image via flick user: Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL|
One prime destination that Westerners flock to is India, as it possesses a rich spiritual heritage. They spend time in studying Meditation Techniques, Yoga, Vipassana, Ayurveda and some even take to the study of traditional Indian religions like Ancient Hinduism and Buddhism to amplify their search for the Divine. Indian Spirituality generally comprises of a healthy equilibrium of the mind, body and the spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being, this can also be termed as Wellness. Since the 1950s the term Wellness has been used in conjunction with Alternative Medicine and today, the doctrine of wellness is broadly adopted in Medicine, Psychology and other Person-Centered Therapies. It is accepted praxis that people seeking Fragments of the Divine, attend various programs, seminars and consult experts in Medicine and Psychology. In this outlay, a centre was created, which promotes Wellness by spawning an ambience, amicable towards the practice of Ancient Indian Spirituality and was named “Agnel’s Wellness Ashram”. In the late 1990’s like minded meditators decided to start an institution that fostered Holistic Living at Fr. Agnel Ashram, Sainikwadi Pune (Fr. Agnel Ashram is a charitable institute, founded under the guidance of Fr. Conceicao Rodrigues, an Indian Nationalist and is an annexure to the Society of Pilar, a Catholic Religious Organization from Goa). This led to the nativity of Balbhavan, a home for the underprivileged children and the Vidyankur School, an establishment erected on the dictum “Know Thyself”. A combination of Gurukul and modern Playway Methods would soon form the backbone of the school.
|Dr. Nikhil giving a talk on Ayurveda|
One of the chief architects of the project was Dr. Nikhil Mehta, an Ayurvedic Practitioner, who started the Ayurveda Study Centre on the premises. A small clinic was started and the staff, students and parents were introduced to the Ayurvedic Lifestyle and Traditions and this is now called Jeevak Ayurved Panchkarma Centre. This Centre was responsible for conducting various health related checkups and seminars for the school children and teachers. On one such checkup, it was observed that more than 95% of the students had dental problems and were in need of remedial dental care. In this regard, a Dental Unit was established headed by Dr. Stanny Kedari and is now called the Pearly Smiles Advanced Dental Care Centre. Currently, the Wellness Centre has two branches but there are plans to expand the unit to accommodate alternate holistic therapies which will cater to both, the mind and body.
The initial goal of the Wellness Centre was to provide complementary health services to the staff and students of the Ashram, which was well received, and has resulted in the Centre extending its boundaries to accommodate the needs of the neighboring communities, at affordable costs.
Having introduced you to the Wellness Centre in Pune, I would invite all Wellness Seekers to visit the Ashram and experience wholeness and peace and contribute to the Collective Wellness of the world.
May all beings be Well. May all beings be Peaceful. Sarve bhavantu sukhi nahah.
Fr. Peter D’Souza
Animator, Agnel’s Wellness Ashram