From the Desk of Coordinator, Bioinformatics Centre

Business of Spirituality

The fast changing life style, ever increasing competition, growing urge to earn more and acquire more are destroying the peace of mind today making more people turn towards spirituality. Quest for the Divine and peace has resulted in organizing Millennium World Peace summit by religious and spiritual leaders and global alliance for new humanity by Global celebrities, Presidents, film makers and writers to create a compassionate world and instill softer values in business, entertainment and politics. Matters of spirituality and faith are no more personal preferences with usurping of globalization, liberalization and aggressive commercialization. Earlier business and spirituality were looked as different walks of life. Rapid growth in business is not possible with charity and ethics. Nowadays Corporates are opting for spirituality as one of the components of corporate culture with meditation rooms for their staff. However how a really meditated person works with ruthless competition and targets, a company demands, is to be seen. Commercialization of spirituality is making some spiritualists and Gurus earn millions and in the process the non-material and divine aspects of spirituality is suffering. As spirituality is turning into profitable activity, number of ‘Gurus with Palacial  Ashrams, Satsangs and Bhajan mandals are coming up with considerable organizing and marketing skills to attract devotees. However some organizations are still working quietly maintaining its spiritual nature with emphasis on simplicity, divinity and service of humanity.

Marketing opportunities have also engulfed spirituality with their beneficial and harmful effects. The market is flooded with books, music, insignia, VCDs and DVDs related to spirituality. Some TV channels in India with spiritual discourses, Bhajans and clips of holy places are enchanting the masses and at the same time flourishing with commercial advertisements on  products and services, some spurious and with unproven claims. In America as per the International Association of Yoga Therapists, 2.2 million Americans are practising yoga with 80 percent of commercial health clubs offering yoga classes. It is estimated that people were spending about $20 billions a year on yoga and meditation.  Five to six new yoga books are published practically every month. With American marketing touch, yoga is taking various shapes and styles. Yogic exercises are combined with eastern martial arts and conventional exercises, calling it “Fusion” yoga to suit sportspersons including weight lifters, according to a report in “The Washington Post”. Yoga is offered under various names, including yogabutt (squeezing a grapefruit size blue rubber ball between thighs), yoga - pilates - resist - a- ball; yoga bar for weight lifters, combining submerged yoga with tai chi and pilates, hot yoga done in a 105 degree room etc. with availability of Trendy yoga clothing. Twelve hundred modified yoga teachers met in Washington area and demonstrated their techniques, changing ancient discipline of yoga with its divinity for commercial exploitation. As the competition increases Gurus are going for trademarks and copyrights. The Art of Living (AOL) has registered the name ‘Sudarshan Kriya’ based on exercise of breath and its rhythm to ‘reestablish balance on life’. Only licensed instructor can teach it, possibly making it authentic. The founder of ‘Bikram Yoga’ in US plans to copyright Bikram books and Bikram yoga asanas, which are conducted in heated room. (Consumer Voice, Sep-Oct. 2004)          

Positive aspect of globalization of spirituality is research using modern scientific tools to assess the beneficial aspects of yoga, meditation etc. in more objective fashion for reduction of suffering in chronic diseases, resulting in the development of discipline  Body – Mind Medicine. 



October 1, 2004                                      Prof. B.  C.  Harinath