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Remarks by Sandeep Chakravorty, Consul General on the occasion of 1st International Yoga Conference June 20 - 21, 2018

1st International Yoga Conference

New York

June 20-21, 2018

Remarks by Sandeep Chakravorty, Consul General

It is my honour and privilege to welcome all delegates to the 1st International Yoga Conference in New York, being organized by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations along with the Consulate. We are also privileged by the presence of Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, President of ICCR, who’s idea it was organize such a Conference in New York to commemorate the 4th International Day of Yoga. I thank him for his vision and for being with us here today. I also would like to thank Dr. H.R Nagendra of S-Vyasa, India’s leading Yoga expert and exponent for very kindly agreeing to be present here today to inaugurate the Conference. I would also like to place on record the hard work put together by Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai of Mumbai University and Vipul Mesariya of the Consulate in bringing together this Conference. I would also like to thank Michael Busch of Maharishi University, who is the unseen hand behind putting together such an incredible galaxy of US delegates. We have with us 18 delegates from India and 11 from the US, all experts in various aspects of Yoga. This is indeed a special commemoration of the 4th International Day of Yoga.

Conferences of this sort are not easy to put together, particularly if one strives for excellence and quality. The number and the academic and professional excellence of the delegates, both from India and the US is testimony to that. I am sure as the two days with 6 thematic sessions unfold we will have enough evidence of this. What is even more challenging is holding such a Conference on the subject of Yoga, an ancient tradition being reinvigorated in contemporary times by scientific and evidence based research and trials. Lot of work is going on in various institutions all over the world. What we are endeavouring is to bring together professionals and experts such that they are aware of the work of each other and share the information leading to empowerment and confidence in the work we are doing. There are many naysayers and sceptics in denying and objecting to this. They can only be challenged by evidence and science. Hence the need for such conferences.

Today the outer and inner worlds are in crisis. The outer world is facing environmental degradation and the inner world is in turmoil leading to many ailments. What is the cure of these crises. I firmly believe that the world is need for a Culture of Yoga, it can be that elusive unifying and ameliorating panacea that the world needs to survive in harmony with nature and give each individual the strength and conviction to leading meaningful lives. We cannot be alive if the world is dead or can the world be healthy if we are not.

Many of us genuinely want minimal damage to the environment and in our own way try different methods - from recycling to environmental activism. Many also think of converting their lifestyles into sustainable ways of living. The question is how to do it. We try to understand nature, environment and climate change by looking at life in bits and pieces. Can technology and investment be the answer? To many being how we are, behave the way we do, that technology and money can clean the dirt, seems to be the obvious answer. Can this really happen without changing our culture? And what is that culture? Can the Culture of Yoga be the answer? Wherein we strive to be in oneness with oneself, with our surroundings and with the universe.

Swami Vivekananda said “Nature is homogeneous. Differentiation is in manifestation. The Sanskrit word for nature is Prakriti and means literally differentiation. All is one substance, but it is manifested variously” So the river is a part of us as forest is within us. Albert Einstein was profound when he said “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty”.

The conventional wisdom is that there are three pillars of sustainability i.e. environmental, social and economic. But where is the pillar for humans? I would say it is the absent 4th pillar that it is the most important pillar because it has to do with Us, you and me, how we are, what we are, our body, our mind and our soul. It is about our self existence and our love for self. Nature or Divinity resides within us. When we realize this, when we have the strength and courage to make an inward journey then we not only discover ourselves but also realize that we can only prosper spiritually and materially if we are in harmony with others and nature. This is the message of Yoga, message of Yogis and perhaps the only remedy for Climate Change and environmental degradation is the Culture of Yoga. If we all make this inward journey won’t the world be a better place and Mother Earth much more healthier without the perils of environmental degradation and climate change. I have circulated my paper on this subject which some of you may care to read.

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