Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahai once sat inside a pyramid, with a bowl in hand, seeking cosmic energy. Another time, he visited the Bhairon temple in New Delhi’s Purana Qila and smeared ash on his body. He calls the first a ‘mystic experience’, and the second saved his life in a bomb blast. “The bomb ripped through the roof of the bullet-proof car. The driver and the commandos were injured, but I escaped,” he recalls. Besides, his belief in Sai Baba gained strength when his mother recovered from an illness after he prayed at Shirdi in western India.
Today he has two guides: Professor Niketan Anand Gaur, who initiated him into vaastu shastra, and his wife Rekha, who unravelled the Chinese art of feng shui to him. Visit his ‘quarter’, as Sahai describes his house, in Lutyens’ Delhi, and there are visible signs of vaastu and feng shui. For starters, Sahai had the diagonal plot reshaped into a square one, shifted his kitchen from the southern corner to the south-east and replaced dark blue curtains with pastel shades. Black was replaced with gold and shiny objects were placed along the north-east.
All this was done at Gaur’s behest, who also advised him to sleep with his head to the south and feet to the north, a departure from the earlier direction Sahai slept in, namely south-east. “Now I sleep better and there is no mental tension,” claims Sahai, who regrets the limitations a government house poses. Had he the freedom, he would have pulled down the office block and kept the north-east portion vacant. “Not possible in the present house,” Sahai rues. He, however, remedied it somewhat by constructing a temple there. “This, according to vaastu, wards off evil,” he believes. Move to the apartment that the Sahais bought in Delhi and one will find it vaastu-compliant. But he says that his interest in ancient sciences is “purely academic”.
The other thing Sahai has always been obsessed with is his weight. When he was lanky, his mother said he looked starved and needed to add some kilos. When he did, she screamed because he had touched 100 kg. “Go on a diet,” she ordered. He sought professional advice, shelled out Rs 5,000, starved himself on a salt-free and sugarless diet, switched from laddoos to sprouts and managed to knock off a few kilograms. “But in the process I lost my hair, became haggard and developed aches and joints pain.”
The next venture was yoga, which has worked well. He has continued with it, though he finds the schedule grueling. He wakes up at 5 am each day to watch the regimen on TV and follow it. “No escape,” he says, considering Rekha keeps a strict watch. There was a reprieve when he influenced the local cable operator to black out the channel. Not one to give in easily, Rekha found an alternative. “Walk,” she ordered. Once again, the cable operator was summoned, this time to be told that if the channel ever went off, he would be a dead man.