The yogi bureaucrat
What inspired the chairman of Mumbai Port Trust to become a sadhaka? Sanjay Bhatia discusses his journey of enlightenment and yoga at a lecture
Actively involved in sports in his youth, Sanjay Bhatia often thought, "Yoga is for the lazy guys." A member of the Indian Administrative Services, he was competitive, extroverted and aggressive. It was then that he also took to drinking and partying. But when Bhatia turned 40, his bar turned into a bookshelf of mindfulness.
"There were two deaths in the family. All my beliefs were shaken. I started questioning the purpose of life and life after death. And I went on to read 30 to 40 books," he recalls. That’s the time when Bhatia, currently chairman of Mumbai Port Trust (MPT), took to meditation. And the advantages were obvious. "I became much more balanced. My level of intuition, concentration and efficiency increased. The atmosphere in my family became divine after my wife and two daughters also started meditating," he adds.
Today, Bhatia has gone beyond the asanas. He practises heartfulness meditation, a technique that is rooted in the Raja Yoga tradition and doesn’t involve the repetitive chanting of mantras but one where the focus is on the heart. He credits two books — The Heartfulness Way by Joshua Pollock and Kamlesh D Patel and Designing Destiny, another one by Patel — for this transformation. Bhatia has also been delivering lectures on the subject for the past four years or so, and will be talking today on yoga, meditation and its manifold benefits as part of Asiatic Society’s literary club.
He advocates for meditation to be more integrated with the curriculum across schools and colleges in India. "As an MBA aspirant, we were taught a lot of tools to manage employees and officers. But during my tenure at CIDCO and now at MPT, I noticed that a lot of people were stressed. At MPT, we’ve introduced meditation as a component of employee training and motivation levels have risen," he says. But the notion of undertaking meditation is still ridden with misconceptions. "A common thought is, ‘I’ll do it after retirement’. But it’s more useful when you’re working. People also expect instantaneous results and that becomes difficult. It needs at least three months. And each day, one should do it for 30 minutes in the morning, followed by another 20 in the night-time," he suggests.
The session today will see the bureaucrat hold a 25-minute-long lecture and then, he will sit down with attendees for a live session, which is suitable even for beginners. With his daughters taking it up when they were 15, Bhatia says it is crucial that the younger generation open up to meditation. "I’ve noticed that they are way ahead of us in terms of IQ, but their emotional quotient is low. They are easily put off by small incidents. There are also a lot of suicides happening. For them, it’s either euphoria or depression. There is no balance," he elaborates, proceeding to speak of how his daughters practise it. "They don’t meditate regularly. But whenever they’re troubled, they come for a sitting. So, at least they have a tool in their hands now."
ON Today, 5.30 pm onwards
AT The Asiatic Society Mumbai, Durbar Hall, Fort
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