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Seeking solace in spirituality

Celebs are flocking to new age gurus in an effort to increase their spiritual quotient, writes Vidhi Bhargava.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 11:15 IST

Food, shopping, theatre and music, Mumbaikars have their hands full. But descending on the city in full force are spiritual camps, seminars and lectures. And Mumbai’s who’s who, seeking a reprieve from their fast-paced life, are flocking to them in hordes.

Seen as a getaway from the stresses of life by some, more and more filmstars, models, designers, politicians are seeking solace in spirituality, the supreme power and even the inner self.

Swami Ramdev’s yoga camp being held at the Bandra Kurla complex is one such event, which is drawing a liberal dose of stars.

Shekhar Suman and Anil Kapoor inaugurated the camp on January 26 and the same evening Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and actor Sanjay Dutt were seen hobnobbing with the guru. Shilpa Shetty, Mallika Sherawat are the other glam babes who in all probability would be attending the yoga camp, which is on till February 1.

Also attending the camp are bureaucrats and politicians, who throng the venue each day along with the common folk. Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhra Raje Scindia, Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, are some of his famous followers.

Lectures by Jaya Row, the founder of Vedanta Vision, at the Kala Ghoda Festival last year, also drew a high-profile audience.

Coming up soon on the spiritual calendar are the silver jubilee celebrations of the Art of Living Foundation.

To be held at Bangalore on February 17-19, the celebrations that mark the 50th birthday of the spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will see Bollywood stars, celebrities and politicians attending the programme.

The event, estimated to draw a crowd of 2.5 million, will be inaugurated by Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and the valedictory address will be made by the first citizen of the country, President APJ Abdul Kalam.

Others expected to attend the function include former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, BJP leader LK Advani, and actors such as Hema Malini, Vinod Khanna etc.

What’s more, free Art of Living courses will be held all over Mumbai to commemorate the celebrations of 25 years of the Foundation’s existence.

Talking about why spiritual programmes are more in demand now than ever before, Natasha Pratap, an Art of Living and Sri Sri Yoga teacher, says: “Levels of stress and the demands on people are greater than ever before, making them seek ways to eliminate this stress and cope better.”

“Secondly, people all over the world are arriving at a new level of maturity. They are recognising that there is more to their existence than going through the motions of life: getting married, having kids, succeeding at work. They are curious about that something more, and spirituality leads them to understand the core of their existence,” she adds.

Actor Rahul Bose does not believe in external spirituality. He says, “I believe in the power within. However, having said that I also keep myself open to all influences as the last thing I’d like to do is be judgemental and closed to new ideas.”

“Initially, I was planning to go for the Art of Living silver jubilee celebrations. However, I felt while there were a couple of interesting lectures, those were just for intellectual pursuits rather than spirituality.

Actress Pooja Bedi says spirituality comes to her from her family. Her grandfather Baba Bedi was a spiritual healer and cured ailments like kidney stones, while her grandmother embraced Budd-hism and became a nun. Her mother too was deeply into spirituality and read the teachings of Osho, J Krishnamurthy and UB Krishnamurthy extensively.

Pooja herself is quite moved by the philosophy of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, UG Krishna-murthy and Osho and has even done the Art of Living course.

Besides she is also into Pranic healing and Reiki. Talking about spirituality Pooja says, “Religion comes with several diktats but spirituality doesn’t have any rules. I believe in one energy that is benign, loving, warm and nurturing power.”

Designer Rina Dhaka found her true calling in Buddhism. Besides being a practising Buddhist, Dhaka tries to attend all meetings and lectures. Talking of her initiation into Buddhism Dhaka says, “I was looking for a religion that showed results when someone I spoke to about my problems told me about Buddhism. When I started attending the weekly meeting I felt my life changed.”

For her spirituality means overcoming obstacles with struggle. “Faith” she says, “is daily life”.

She adds, “Spirituality gives me the strength to comprehend that everyday is not sunny. I must be able to overcome obstacles.”

First Published: Jan 28, 2006 03:14 IST