Saturday, June 22, 2024

Dil Se : Kamlesh D Patel Enlightening millions via meditation

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Deepika Pasham

Spiritual leader, author, and Padma Bhushan awardee Kamlesh D Patel, endearingly known as Daaji, is thepresident of Shri Ram Chandra Mission and the current Guide ofHeartfulness Institute, which propagates Heartfulness meditation — a Sahaj Marg system of spiritual practice in the Raja yoga tradition.

Daaji shares with The Pioneer’s Deepika Pasham his remarkable journey from being a pharmacist to enlightening millions of followers worldwide with a simple and effective technique of meditation as propounded by his Guru Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur.


I was born in Kalla, a small village in Bharuch District of Gujarat, into an ordinary agricultural family. I had an elder brother and three sisters. After finishing primary school, I went to a nearby town for further education. I had a very joyful childhood and a good, loving family. My father had knowledge of many of the Ayurvedic treatment methods.

Turning point

I came to the feet of my guru Babuji (Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur) in 1976, while I was a student of Pharmacy in Ahmedabad. After graduating, I moved to the USA at the age of twenty-four and became a pharmacist in New York City, while continuing the practice of heartfulness meditation with great love and devotion.

Dream of becoming doctor

I wanted to become a medical doctor when I was a child. During the open test, I got 241 out of 300. At that time, the cut-off was 241 and there were two people who had 241 – another student and me. So, the one who had a higher mark in Biology got the seat, not me.

Exceptional pharmacist

My family would not allow me to go outside Gujarat for my studies. So, I couldnot apply to other medical colleges either. The only choice I was left with was the Pharmacy College. So, I went to Ahmedabad, filled in the form, and they said that they donot accept students from MS University, where I studied previously. So, I submitted my application and told them that if they have a vacancy they can call me.

As I was just walking out, the principal ran after me and asked me to come to his office. He said that my performance was exceptional and so he was making an exception that year alone, and thus I came to be a pharmacist. I sometimes wonder what would have been my life like had I become a doctor. Reflecting on it, I would say I do not think it would have gone so great.

A memory that always brings a smile

While pursuing Pharmacy, I used to stay in a hostel where I tried to meditate on my own, often ruminating on profound thoughts. I did not know what to do. That is when my friend took me to a trainer of Heartfulness meditation with whom I had a heartfulness session. I received Pranahuti or Yogic transmission of divine energy. The trainer told me, “If God is everywhere, He is also inside you. Why not look for him in your own heart during meditation?”

I met my spiritual mentor a few months after I started meditation practice. I went to Shahjahanpur to meet him and learnt quite a few lessons which have helped me immensely to this day. For example, he taught me the importance of connecting to the heart when you start any activity. He taught me the importance of focusing one’s mind to achieve total success in one’s efforts. There are so many life lessons he taught me, a few of which I have covered in my books like ‘The Heartfulness Way’ and ‘Designing Destiny.’ Every memory of my spiritual teacher, Babuji, brings a smile to me.

More time with grandchildren

My family stays with me. Everybody has their own lives and interests and things to do during the day. But we also spend time together as a family, just like any other family. My three grandchildren like to be around me just like any other grandchild adores their grandfather. In my younger days, when I was a businessperson, I was focusing more on my career, and I was also building my life as an entrepreneur in New York City which is very time-consuming. I was also spending time with my spiritual guru, Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur. My spiritual pursuit was especially important to me. Because of all these factors I spent relatively lesstime with my children when they were growing up. But all that has changed now, and I spend more time with my grandchildren than I spent with my children.

Wife pillar of strength

Mine was an arranged marriage. My wifeis a wonderful person and has been a support to me all through my life – in my career life, and in my worldly life. She is a major pillar of strength to help me continue to serve my spiritual guru in the spread of spirituality through Heartfulness. If not for her solid support, life would not have been easy. What we make of our marriage, our lives, and our relationships is in our hands. That way, I am grateful to God that we are both a mature couple who live a balanced life and support each other in all that we do.

Hobbies or interests

My hobbies and interests and the way I spend time are all the same. It is in the sharing of Heartfulness meditation, in the development of Kanha Shanti Vanam, and in supporting many of its related projects. Those things capture my interest, attention, and time.

How do you deal with stress?

You may know that there are two kinds of stress – eustress and distress. Eustress is a good kind of stress that is short-term. It motivates us and helps us complete our tasks on time. It helps us focus our energy in an incredibly positive way and improves our performance. Distress causes anxiety and it is a bad kind of stress. It leads to reduced performance because the body secretes adrenaline and various hormones that are detrimental to our productivity.

So, now how do I deal with the bad kind of stress? Of course, the simple answer is meditation. But let me elaborate more. When we meditate, the guidance that we get from our heart is tremendous and it is terrific.

How Heartfulness began

I started the practice of Heartfulness meditation in 1976 when I was a third-year Pharmacy student in Ahmedabad. Initially, I used to meditate on my own, just thinking that the whole bodywas filled with light. This is how Swami Vivekananda used to meditate.

One day, my classmate came up to me and said, “Kamlesh, you have been meditating every day, why don’t I take you to a meditation trainer? She will help you experience deep meditation right away!” So, we went to this trainer’s house. She was a very pious lady. That was my first session of meditation under proper guidance, and it was one of the most memorable meditations I have had thus far.

Introduction to Guide

Later I was introduced to the Guide or teacher of Heartfulness meditation, Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur, and that is something words cannot describe; only the feeling is etched deep in my heart. In the summer of 1977, I took a train and went to Shahjahanpur with my friend, to meet my teacher and guide, Shri Ram Chandra, affectionately known as Babuji. It was my first out-of-Gujarat visit. We met him for the first time the next morning at 9:00 am. He was sitting in his usual room and invited us all to meditate.

So, there were hardly 6 or 7 of us and we all sat around him for meditation. This was my first meeting.There was no direct interaction except the beautiful meditation session with him. And over the next two days, we were indeed lucky to have more such meditation sessions with him. When the time arrived for us to leave, I was choking inside.

I was crying and crying for no apparent reason. Though, the reason was obvious – missing the spiritual giant. So, the meeting with my guide had a very deep impact on me on a spiritual level. The imprints of those moments were very deep. Sometimes, spending hardly 2 or 3 minutes in the company of certain personalities has a lifelong impact on you. He stirred something within us.

Padma Bhushan

I am honored to receive Padma Bhushan from the Government of India. This is not a personal achievement but an acknowledgement of the services of thousands of Heartfulness and Shri Ram Chandra Mission’s volunteers and millions of practitioners worldwide who made it their life’s purpose to serve society tirelessly, seeking nothing in return. I am grateful to everyone who shares visions of peace and selfless service.

A mission for retreat

Our organization, Shri Ram Chandra Mission, has been in existence for 75 years in the service of humanity. Its current headquarters is located outside Hyderabad and is called Kanha Shanti Vanam. Our journey at Kanha Shanti Vanam began in 2014 from a dry, arid land pocket of about 1,000+ acres which now has grown to about 1400+ acres of abundant greenery. There are many projects that we have implemented at Kanha and at the other 280 Heartfulness retreat centers all over the world.

Farming a major initiative

We want to enable people to improve their economic situation by farming. People can plant high-value trees like sandalwood even in small spaces of land. We started hydro-farming, without the use of large plots of land, and everyone can raise enough vegetables in their own roof garden.

We are also planning a new project to increase the micro-forests throughout the country. It is not a mere increase in green cover, which by itself is very useful. We go far beyond, by planting rare, valuable herbal plants, medicinal plants, and other high-value plants, in these micro forests.

Once barren land

Prior to our taking over this land for development, there were barely any trees or vegetation. This place, being part of the erstwhile Mahabubnagar district, was part of one of the driest areas of the state. Much of the land was barren.

We surveyed the land for contours, and water features like water bodies, and potential water channels, and carried out geological surveys to identify the opportunity and to apply the most appropriate methods to develop the area.

Outcomes surpass expectations

The outcome of all these initiatives has surpassed our expectations, and we continue to invest our time and energy, and effort in it for continuous improvement. Overall moisture content in the soil and the atmosphere has improved significantly.

The groundwater level improved to the tune of 200 to 300 feet difference from where it was to where we are now. In fact, not discounting the heavy rainfall this year, we have seen the water table just about a few meters below the natural ground level. We were able to grow coconut trees here in this once dry/arid land which is an indicator of the transformation of this place.

Rapid fire:

How would you describe yourself?
I am a student of spirituality.

Your nickname at home?
Every family member calls me differently. I am a father, grandfather, husband, etc. They all call me differently. My spiritual associates call me Daaji.

Favorite color?
Favorite food?
Homemade Gujarati food cooked in remembrance of God.

Favorite movie?
I do not watch films. I read books and one of my favorite books is The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Mahendranath Gupta

Your inspiration?

My Guruji, Shri Rama Chandra of Shahjahanpur, whom we call Babuji.

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