Dr. Chandra Shekhar Mayanil is a Neuroscientist who is currently living in Naperville, Illinois. He has a very profound knowledge about Yog Asanas, Yog, Dhyan and Sanatan Dharma. Dr. Mayanil has given several talks on Yog and Harmonious Health in USA, and in India through various seminars, symposiums, and virtual mediums as well. One of his sessions on Zoom titled “Strengthening the fortress within” was attended by more than 600 people across the globe during high COVID-19 times in the United States. Dr. Mayanil’s talks and facts weave around ensuring the proper way of physical and mental wellness with due regard to the scientific basis of Yog and Dhyan.
NewsGram’s Kashish Rai got an opportunity to have an interaction with Dr. Chandra Shekhar Mayanil where he has talked about the importance of Yog Asanas and Yog in the current unprecedented times of COVID-19 and has also shared about the eminence of Ayurveda and Sanatan Dharma.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Kashish: You are so much into the practice of Dhyan and Yog. I wish to ask you~ What is your definition of Yog? What do you feel Yog is all about?
Dr. Shekhar: See, many people comprehend Yog with some form of physical activity- that is often understood as the practice of “yoga” but “Yog” on the other hand is not about twisting your body but straightening your mind. The experience of the union with infinite existence by obliterating the boundaries of your limited physicality is Yog.
It can be understood by this example: Yog is nothing but a drop falling into the ocean. As the drop falls, it merges with the ocean! That drop loses its own limited identity and then the ocean becomes its identity. So, in a similar way, the expanse of your identity from “limited” to “unlimited” is Yog! This is what has been my experience so far. Now you may ask, what is the relevance of Yog Asanas that you are showing on your YouTube channel, “Yogic Realization”, to Yog? My answer to your question is that the reason you do Yog Asanas is because it helps you discipline your body, so that you can sit still for some time. It is not as easy as it may sound. Try sitting still for 10 minutes and you will know what I am talking. A still body makes our mind still so that we can contemplate and transcend this limited body identification.
Kashish: That’s so great! So, for how long have you been practicing Yog? What inspired you to get into the practice of Dhyan and Yog?
Dr. Shekhar: Oh, this has been so long! I think I was 14 or 15 years old when I started. We used to live in Prayagraj at that time. My father had just come back from a camp by B.K.S Iyenger who was considered as one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. My father got a booklet from there in which there were some visuals of Yog Asanas. My father asked me to practice those Asanas, but I replied I do not know how to do all of it! After that, my father started showing me how to perform various Yog Asanas and since then I am actively doing it. I started with the King of all Yog Asanas, the Surya Namaskar. So, this was my initiation to Yog Asanas. Mind it, its Yog Asanas and not Yog, that I got initiated into by my father!
Later on, as I started to learn more about this practice, it was my mother who got me to appreciate “Yog”. I used to be a very argumentative person, always asking questions, and questioning everything she did. I was also an Atheist! And my mother on the other hand was soaked in Dhyan, and Yog. When I asked any questions to my mother, she would say “I can only give replies to your questions, but not answers. You need to find the answers to your questions yourself”. It was this that coaxed me to think deeply. I remember her saying, “Shekhar, why don’t you just sit down, and the answers to your never-ending list of questions shall come to you”. Just sit in silence. Silence is the source or the womb of all creation. Silence is where you will find your answers. She used to say, “if you can’t sit in silence, you can’t appreciate Yog, and if you cannot appreciate Yog, you cannot serve the people because only when you establish yourself in Yog, you will see the oneness in others. And when you see oneness in others, meaning that you and the people are the same throbbing consciousness, you can serve them, otherwise you will only exploit them. Many well-meaning people are serving people, but if they do not see that one-ness they will eventually end up exploiting them. By this she showed me a window to Yog but told me to figure out more about it on my own.
Then I came to the United States. Having a deep logical and ruthlessly analytical mindset helped me pursue Neuroscience with gusto, but the lingering never-ending list of questions never left me. One thing I must tell you is that anyone who is a genuinely sincere scientist, one day will exhaust all his questions when he questions the questioner and asks, “Who is actually asking these questions ?” Present day modern science has taught us about objective reality but who is the one trying to know, is taught by subjective science or Yog. This quest led me to a Neurologist and a neuroscientist as well as a Kriya Yog practitioner who further deepened my perspective on Yog and made sure that I am practicing Yog properly. It took me 9 years to practice this in a correct way, and finally it happened.
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Kashish: So, can we say that Science, Dhyan and Yog are somewhere interlinked?
Dr. Shekhar: Actually yes! Yog, Dhyan and Science are all interlinked because all three of these are in pursuit of truth. Science is seeking the truth in an objective way, but Yog and Dhyan are seeking all answers in a subjective way. For any experience to happen, it must fulfill three criteria: (i) an object (or the experienced), (ii) the observer (or the experiencer) and (iii) the interaction between the object experienced and the experiencer. Science has helped me to understand the objective aspect of certain things, but it is Yog which brought the second dimension to my experience, without which there is no experience of fulfillment. I am convinced that all sincere students of science will one day gravitate towards Yog and Dhyan. Essentially, the yogic science is based on the teachings of Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Yog Sutra because it has got all the pointers to find your own answers for all existing causality.
Kashish: Amazing! Sir, you also keep spreading knowledge about Bharat, Dharma and other philosophies concerned with Sanatan Dharma. So how do you convince the younger generation to believe in the relevance of Sanatan Dharma Culture and Heritage?
Dr. Shekhar: Undoubtedly, Bharat is the land of intellectuals. There have been many great people from India whose theories have been acknowledged worldwide, one such is the great mathematician Ramanujan. His mathematical derivations and algorithms are now applicable in artificial intelligence. He was born maybe a century before time. If his math were rubbished because it was old, we would have not appreciated artificial intelligence. Same goes with the Upanishads and books like the Bhagavad Gita and Yog Sutras. These books contain cryptic information embedded in them and someone has to decode what is inside them. Yog is the way. Once decoded, they can be applied for the betterment of our human race and planet too.
The answer of how to really teach the youth about the relevance of Sanatan Dharma culture is not easy, but I think that the parents are the one who can really bring this up in their children. Firstly, the parents should be well versed about the truths hidden in our scriptures. The girl child holds the key to changing and educating newer generation about the values of Sanatan Dharma scriptures, because it’s the girls who become mothers and are child’s first Guru for showing what good values are., I remember how my mother influenced me by showing me instead of telling me the value of eternal values as enshrined in the Upanishads. So, it is the mother who can really influence the children. The younger generation will never learn these values from outside, they should always be told about all this in their homes.
Kashish: Alright! So here comes my last question for you. Do you believe that Yog, Dhyana and Indian values are the key for people to get through these unprecedented times of COVID-19?
Dr. Shekhar: See, when I was doing my own research on COVID-19 using various literature searches and knowledge databases, I observed that many people who were dying of COVID-19 in New York were youngsters. European models suggested that those people who are immuno-compromised and have lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes etc. were more prone to COVID-19. The New York model showed that there were a majority of younger patients among the dead who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I realized that stress is the main reason which is affecting many people and making them more vulnerable to COVID-19. Stress is the reason for making our immune system function poorly. The biggest stress in the world is fear of death, and this fear of death is responsible for making more people prone to this infection.
So now this question arises, “how do we overcome this fear of death?” This question was asked to me in all the talks I have given.
I ask, “Is death real?”
“Yes, it is real”
“Death of what?”
“So, you agree that you and your body are two different entities”
“Out of these two entities, you and your body, who dies?”
“Body, of course”
“But the body is an accumulation of all inert material. It was never living to start with, so how can it die? And that which makes it living never dies. So essentially death is a lie. It is not real,
“Shekhar that is all well and good, but in death who dies then?”
“In death, the thing that dies is our identification with this inert body. The notion, “THIS BODY IS ME”, dies. That is all. The truth is, “this is my body”, similar to when we say, “this is my car, or this is my house”. We never say, “this car is me or this house is me”. But when it comes to body, we say this body is me. This false and limited identification with this body of ours is what dies in death.
The ancient wisdom enshrined in Sanatan Dharma put maximum emphasis on understanding and realizing this truth, “we have a body and not that we are this body”. The moment you cease to identify with your body, you immediately identify with the entire existence. You are in Yog. The drop (your body) has now consciously merged with the infinite existence, the ocean (consciousness).
The people who practice Yog have a strong state of mind and a strong immune system. You may have heard about Sadhguru and Isha Foundation, I would like to tell you that a joint study conducted by Harvard University, Indiana University and University of Virginia have shown that those who practice Isha Kriya Yog have upregulation of 230 essential genes in them which are related to immune system functioning (unpublished observations). These individuals are less prone to Corona Virus infection.
For details check out the URL below:
Also, the remedies which are mentioned in the Ayurveda are equally essential for maintaining a healthy body amid these challenging times. Ingredients like clove, ginger, coriander, tulsi (Ocimum Sanctum), lemon, turmeric, raw mangoes are like a boon. You will find it nowhere but in Ayurveda. Indian civilization survived 15,000 years or more. They must have done something right. After all its not just this Coronavirus humanity had to deal with. There must have been several such life-threatening pathogens and they did deal with them successfully. The “kahada” and Coronil medicine which is suggested by Baba Ramdev is also highly effective in preventing the Corona Virus infection, because it is geared towards boosting one’s immunity. Based on the composition of this prophylactics, I can assure you on that. There is no cure for Coronavirus at least till 2021 or early 2022, which people can be treated with. And if there is a one, it will not be bereft of side effects. So, till then, the people around the world will have to sustain on these preventive measures for boosting their immune system to keep themselves safe. So, people should believe in the might of these helpful practices, that can only be found in, Yog, Dhyana and Ayurveda to get physical and mental strength. That is all!
We sincerely thank Dr. Chandra Shekhar Mayanil for this fruitful discussion and hope to have him for further discussions at NewsGram!