ART OF LIVING WITH RISHI NITYAPRAGYA
According to Keith Famie, executive producer of ‘Our India Story’, there is no single characteristic of the Indian people more distinct than their humbleness—even passivity--in the face of adversity. It’s a sentiment that is echoed by Art of Living instructor Rishi Nityapragya, whose impromptu lesson in a pastoral setting within in Northville Ridge subdivision offered insight into the Indian character, and especially, offered a better understanding of the non-violent protests of Mahatma Gandhi.
“Gandhi was a revolutionary, even in India,” said Nityapragya, “People could not understand how his techniques could possibly work. But as you see, they did. Gandhi exemplified the India spirituality which pervades all aspects of their lives. He showed the tremendous powers of human intelligence—cultured intelligence, the best of all.”
Nityapragya, a striking figure whose flowing, jet-black hair and a full beard, arrived from his native Bangalore to teach a DSN course at the Sheraton of Novi. During this powerful three-day seminar, created by Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, participants allow their dormant energies to become more active through a powerful mix of yoga postures, special pranayamas, meditations, and group processes. Coupled with spiritual knowledge, this intensive and dynamic course is designed as an energy uplifter, meant to help participants come out of self-imposed boundaries or shells.
We were fortunate to snag an hour of Niyapragya’s valuable time for a one-on-one interview in which he spoke both spiritually and pragmatically, describing the value of the Eastern philosophy as incorporated into the overly-materialistic Western lifestyle. It is interesting to note that most of his students are not Indian, but Westerners looking for an alternative to the stress-filled, nine-to-five workweek that defines most lives in our hemisphere.
“I’m honored to bring techniques for better living to the rest of the world—these are techniques than most Indians learned from childhood. They were passed on by our grandparents, who lived in their hearts and allowed basic spirituality to be a part of their lives. It’s a study of consciousness, and offers an amazing liberation to the soul.”
As a former chemical engineer, Nityapragya acknowledges with fascination that the changes his DSN students undergo is not restricted to the spirit: “The alpha, beta and gamma waves change immediately. It is remarkable to see brains physically transformed, even as the participants claim, nearly to a person, that the course allows them to feel like children again. Dropping whatever does not serve your best interests is a completely liberating experience - it makes you so strong that nothing in this world can shake you."