Filmmaker Benoy K Behl says that there is a dire need of introducing and promoting yoga in all branches of education, medicine and even workplace to create an atmosphere of harmony and oneness. By Chahak Mittal
We live in a world torn by strife, violence, confusion, drug abuse and a medical system, which is too commercial and exploitative. And one of the best answers to the problems and ills of the modern world is yoga, believes filmmaker and historian Benoy Krishen Behl.
Today, the ancient science of yoga has perhaps become more relevant than it was ever before. The first step towards world peace is the creation of peace within each person. It is through the transformation of individuals that the world would be changed. Each person should grow in the understanding of his true self and develop compassion. This would lead to more harmony within families and groups, in society and finally in the community of nations. The world would become more joyous and peaceful.
Through a 52-minute documentary film, shot in 26 cities and regions across 11 countries over five years, he is set to showcase a voyage of discovery, capturing the poetry and grace of yoga and of the world of nature. The film has interviews with leading medical practitioners, who speak in objective and scientific terms about the positive benefits of yoga, and with leading exponents as well as with academicians and students of the field.
Talking about how he chose the locations across the globe, he says, “These were decided to cover a broad range of the practice of yoga. It began with India, its birthplace. And then shot across East and West Coast USA, as these are some of the places where yoga is extremely popular. To show spectacular seascapes and beautiful backgrounds, we also shot in Bahamas and Costa Rica. We also wanted to show how yoga is proving to be extremely beneficial in areas ravaged with strife and conflict and hence, we shot in Brazil. There, the practice has proved to be useful even in jails and juvenile rehabilitation homes. We shot in dense jungles in Colombia. Other shooting locations were China, Japan and Vietnam to show the spread of yoga in Asia.”
Behl calls these five years of shooting as a “long labour of love,” which has also been a wonderful experience for him “to shoot with and capture the finest yoga asana practitioners and the beauty of nature.”
The filmmaker has been through some unforgettable experiences of meeting some of the “gentlest, kindest and the most generous people in the world.” From hearing the chants of Sanskrit bhajans across the globe at various ashrams every day, he and his team also went to some of the most dangerous and violent cities in the world like Medellin and Cali in Colombia, where yoga is being used to heal the scars of violence. He shares that often the camera had to be kept hidden while in taxis and on the streets. “However, local escorts accompanied us for safety at all times,” he says.
Behl says that making and conceptualising the documentary came very easily and “naturally” to him, as it has been 43 years in practising and researching about the ancient art of India that led him to make a film on the subject. “All Indian philosophy is yoga. It is all about achieving the final knowledge of our oneness with all that is around us, through meditation. Through yoga, we calm ourselves and see that we are less affected by the noise and distractions of the world around us. That is the purpose of yoga, it takes us to a state where the ever-changing perceptions around the world do not assail our consciousness. It represents a state when the constant fluctuations of the mind have been stilled, in which we may be able to direct our consciousness in a search for what is true and lasting,” explains he.
For someone who has been travelling around and researching about yoga since so many years, how has he witnessed the world around him change in terms of its understanding and recognition of yoga? He says that over the years, yoga has become extremely popular around the world and today “even modern hospitals in countries like India, Germany and USA have started taking the benefits of yoga seriously. The initiative of the Prime Minister of India in having an international day of yoga declared by the UN has gone a long way to give the practice its true place in modern international society.”
Yoga has a vision which symbolises oneness in all that there is around us, believes Behl, who says that there is a dire need of introducing and promoting yoga at more branches of education, medicine and even workplace to create an atmosphere of harmony around.
He says, “It is a vision of a great harmony and works towards integrating and joining us with the eternal reality.” However, one obstacle on this way of unity, he adds, is our ego. “Our ego makes us look at ourselves as separated individuals, with limitless desires. This leads to an endless chase towards them. We are never able to attain satisfaction and are constantly restless. We remain trapped in the noise and clamour of the materialistic world.”
He feels that such a vision of life should be introduced at all levels of education and at the workplace and it goes far beyond just the medical system. “It not only prevents disease, but as well covers all aspects of life.”
He believes that yoga not only enables us to understand ourselves better but also puts us on the driving seat for our own health. It is the study of consciousness, understanding one’s body, emotions, mind and beyond that, the true self.
Writer: Chahak Mittal
Courtesy: The Pioneer