It was well known that Dr Tony Nader had been toying with the idea of holding a grand World Peace Assembly (WPA) of over 10,000 Transcendental Meditation practitioners for the last few years as he knew that these many meditators were needed to achieve the Maharishi Effect, and thus contribute towards enhancing the much-needed world peace, but disruptions were many. COVID-19 was one such interruption that came in as a big hurdle.
Finally, after a long wait, it was decided to go ahead with the Assembly. To finalise a suitable location, Dr Nader spoke to Dr Kamlesh Patel 'Daaji', the President of Shri Ram Chandra Mission, who agreed to make their spiritual retreat centre, known as Kanha Shanti Vanam in Hyderabad, India, available for the cause. The site chosen is ideal for various reasons. International Airport is 35 km away, and Hyderabad weather is suitable during the December/January months. The place is large enough to cater for big gatherings. It has well-established facilities such as substantial meditation domes, numerous halls and dining places, and adequate public bathrooms. Large open areas also exist within the campus, catering to the pitching of additional tented accommodation. Since heartfulness meditation is practised here, the ambience and environment suit transcendental meditation.
The process to hold the WPA was soon rolled out, and meditators across the globe were intimated on September 23, asking them to prepare for the Assembly. This was followed by a regular flow of information, which made it possible for all to start preparing for the meeting from December 29, 2023, to January 13, 2024.
Two webinars held on October 01 and December 02, 2023, respectively, helped the prospective participants come onto the same platform, and the stage was set for the final countdown for the start of the program.
Arriving at 10000 for World Peace Assembly.
I arrived at the Hyderabad Airport at about 4.15 PM on December 29, 2023. As intimated in the Joining Instructions, I was met by the reception party of four volunteers near Pillar No 10, who guided me to a nearby station bus. Within half an hour, a group of about 25 other meditators who had gotten together by then and I were on our way to Kanha Shanti Vanam (KSV). We reached the Registration Counter established in KSV at 6 PM. Since hundreds of meditators had arrived simultaneously, the Registration Party found it challenging to handle the situation.
After Registration, at about 9 PM, I boarded a bus heading towards the Tentage Area and arrived at T3 accommodation. Minor issues, such as water supply and electricity, were more or less settled by the next day.
The Program Commences.
The next day, on December 30, at about 10 AM, we met in Hall No N 31, the place earmarked for all those who had come to attend the Yogic Flying Course (YFC). Here, Ms Claude Newell Lesslauer, our Community and Course Coordinator, Mr Aalok Shrivastava, and a few others briefed us on how the whole program would be conducted. And with this, we were launched straightway into the course. Allotted to Group No. 11, including both Indian and Nepalese meditators, we were shown our meditation area, briefing and administrative halls.
Exquisite arrangements had been made for all activities, and the large dining hall served delicious, well-thought-out meals throughout the course. The timings of meals, starting at 6.30 AM (breakfast), 11 AM (lunch) and 6.30 PM (dinner), were a bit out of place for most of us in the beginning but not only did we get used to these timings in due course but also started liking the same.
Meditators Take to Meditation.
The group meditation program commenced daily at 7.45 AM. Starting with Maharishi Yoga-Asanas, meditation and time to Rest. The post-lunch session included two hours of Briefing, Feedback and Discussion, followed by evening meditation sessions. After a few days, due to additional commitments like addresses by prominent personalities and sharing their experiences, the morning sessions began 30 minutes earlier. Post dinner, invariably, a video of Maharishi was screened, followed by a sharing of experience by a few meditators, discussion and comments on the same by the Teachers.
Until January 09, Yogic Flying Course (YFC) participants practised meditation in separate halls and the established Siddhas in the Main Assembly Area; on January 10, the whole lot shifted to the Main Assembly Area. The experience and effect of this mammoth group practising meditation together in one place were incredible.
Besides screening of videotapes of Maharishi, night sessions also included addresses by Dr Tony Nader and other distinguished leaders, including Dr Neil Paterson and Dr Girish Momaya, who also answered meditators' questions and doubts. At around 9 PM, the night sessions ended, and all walked/ mounted buses for their respective places of stay, happily satisfied and contented.
Indian and Nepalese Yogic Flying Course (YFC) participants, close to 110 in number, were designated as one group and allotted halls for practice. The halls where we practised meditation were covered fully with cushioned mattresses. In addition, yoga mats were provided to all, and some who needed them were supplied with yoga chairs for comfortable seating.
Excellent meals were served in numerous dining halls. The F2 Hall catered for over one thousand YFC and other meditators. The delicious Indian continental menu, prepared daily, was liked by all. Long lines to reach the serving counters often happened when all group meditators (including the few meditators who joined from the Main Assembly area) came in simultaneously. Still, never was any individual seen agitated or disturbed due to some delay – a sure sign of the calming effect of the meditation. Food was served with great love and affection by volunteers from Shri Ram Chandra Mission, comprised of enthusiasts between up to 70 years old!
The variety, quality and quantity of food remained of very high standards throughout. Tea, too, was served on two days, but probably not being popular with the majority, it was discontinued.
Safe & Friendly Environment.
One could leave his belongings unattended at a place in the morning and collect them from the same place in the evening - such was the trust levels that prevailed in the environment. The positivity that existed can be gauged from the few stray dogs who inhabited the place, never barked or fought with one another, and never posed any threat to us.
The fact is that Transcendental Meditation certainly affects surroundings, and the widespread belief that old-time Rishis who practised in deep jungles never feared wild animals and reptiles inhabiting these places is proved right.
While visiting the local provisional store or canteen, where we interacted with locals of the area, we always came across positive and friendly individuals. Indeed, the effect of meditation– whether it is Transcendental Meditation or Heartfulness, is the meditation technique practised in KSV.
Progress on the course
Mrs Manju and Mr Arjuna Jena, Mr Ajeet Yadav, Mr Minraj Adhikari, Ms Bimla and other teachers took immense interest in motivating and helping us learn this technique. Administrative support in making more mattresses available was always present.
Ms Claude, Ms Ajaya Shrivastava, and Mr Aalok Shrivastava were always present in the Transcendental Meditation halls. Different video recordings of people's experiences and Maharishi ji's clear explanation were also screened, enabling us to understand the finer nuances.
As parting instructions, Maharishi's tape covering essential points when we would be back home and practising independently, recorded in 1977, was screened for us on January 11, 2024 — a sure way to clear any doubts that still lurked in our minds.
Noteworthy people at the World Peace Assembly.
Mr Mohan Bhagwat, the National President of RSS, visited us on January 06, 2024, along with other Vedic Pundits/ dignitaries. He and Dr Tony Nader addressed us in the Main Assembly area. Peace, unity, prosperity, harmony for the world, and Vedic knowledge were the subjects that dominated their talks.
Dr Tony Nader also highlighted the news items that showed the results of the Assembly of 10000 in the form of peace initiatives that had already started in the Russia-Ukrain conflicts and peace initiatives that had commenced in the Gaza conflict. To achieve continued peace in the world through the Transcendental Meditation movement, Dr Tony Nader requested Mr Mohan Bhagawat's support in having a permanent group of 10000 Yogic Flyers always available in India.
Mr Laksmi Mittal, the world-renowned industrialist and a great supporter of the Transcendental Meditation movement, visited us and was honoured by Dr Tony Nader on January 08, 2024. He was accompanied by his wife and a few of his family members. More prominent personalities like Shri Giridhari Kale, Raja Andreas Thrasy, Mr Casper and others were honoured by Dr Tony Nader for their outstanding work for the cause of our meditation movement.
Dignitaries honoured at World Peace Assembly.
Maharaja Adhiraj Rajaram, Dr Tony Nader's birthday celebrations were held in the Main Assembly Dome on the afternoon of January 10.
Furthermore, Dr Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, Chief Imam of the All India Imam Organization, Giri Raj Ji, and Dr Devendra Triguna- President of the All India Ayurvedic Congress and Vice President of Central Council of Indian Medicines, were all present to celebrate the 107th Birth Anniversary of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on January 12, 2024.
On the special occasion, Dr Varma also informed the gathering that he would soon be gifting to the movement the Maharishi Tower of Invincibility envisioned by His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi during his lifetime.
Dignitaries who were honoured and addressed this gathering included Dr Kamlesh Patel 'Daaji', Swami Govind Dev Giri Ji Maharaj, Sadguru Sri Madhusudan, Swami Virendranand Maharaj, Dr Ajay Prakash Srivastava and Brahmachari Dr Girish Chandra Varma.
The video-recorded message of Amma Mata Amritanandamayi Devi was also screened. She highlighted the importance of Inner Stillness, peace and harmony. She appreciated the work being done by the Transcendental Meditation organisation in this regard.
Inner experience Continues to Grow.
Practice of the TM-Sidhi Course and Yogic Flying Course continued during the last two days, thus enriching the experience of all. Also, the Gandharva Veda concert was held on January 11 and was performed by Ms Reshma Srivastava. All attended the last group practice of the TM-Sidhi and Yogic-Flying Program on January 12, concluding the conclave positively and happily.
20 Volvo Buses were arranged, making round-the-clock trips to drop the meditators at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad, for their onward journey home. These were supported by numerous minibuses and taxis, which acted as feeder conveyance for moves from various stay areas up to the Volvo Buses points. Volunteers from Shri Ram Chandra Mission were of great help in executing the 'send off' using multiple means of transport.
Key Takeaways from the World Peace Assembly.
Since I am not competent in drawing out the technical effects of WPA, my observations are limited to a layman's analysis of the YFC, which are as follows:-
The leadership, vision and guidance of Dr Tony Nader are unparalleled. An international event for bringing peace and harmony worldwide can only be visualised and executed by a person who has at his disposal the natural support in the true sense and blessings of the great Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Dr Tony Nader's constant guidance and interaction with meditators throughout the course were highly motivating. It enabled us to achieve the aims we had gathered in KSV, Hyderabad.
Mr Ajay Prakash Shrivastava, Chancellor at the Maharishi University of Information Technology and a leader from India of the Maharishi's widespread organisation 'Spiritual Regeneration Movement Foundation of India', motivated, encouraged and supported meditators to participate in the course for which we owe him deep gratitude and sincere thanks.
The complete dedication, devotion, positive approach, humility and untiring commitment of Ms. Claude Newell Lesslauer, our Community & Course Coordinator, towards the groups made it possible for us to smoothly and blissfully complete the Yogic Flying Course.
Mr & Mrs Jena, Mr Ajeet Yadav from India, and other teachers from Chennai and Nepal strived to make our meditation experience jubilant and teach us new techniques. The satisfaction and joy that we could feel in them when an individual said that he had succeeded in the technique reflected how heart-fully they were involved in our progress. Their contribution to the success of the course is paramount.
A team from Maharishi University of Information Technology, Noida, and volunteers from Spiritual Regeneration Movement Foundation of India led by Ms Ajaya Shrivastava and Mr Aalok Srivastava, supported by Mr Pyarelal and others, worked diligently throughout the course. The smooth conduct of such a grand historic event was only possible with this team's active and dynamic, round-the-clock involvement. My TM teacher - Mr Ankit Thaplial, who was also organising some aspects of the course for one of the groups, and Ms Kamana Gaur have a special place for me.
Excellent administrative arrangements were made for various activities held at different locations because of the forethought, planning and execution of all Rajas (country heads) and their teams. Positive support from the Heartfulness & Shri Ram Chandra Mission, good stay facilities including tented accommodation created by our organising teams, extensive medical arrangements and healthy meals, all these enabled complete focus of meditators on meditation without having to look over their shoulders for basic amenities and wasting time on mundane things.
Videotapes were screened, and historical talks by Maharishi Ji, Dr Tony Nader and other eminent personalities broadened the participants' outlook, which accelerated the experiences of the Yogic-Flying Course.
Regular practice of Asanas, Transcendental Meditation and its Advanced techniques, and the TM-Sidhi Program, including Yogic-Flying, were undertaken religiously. All participants gained experiences way beyond expectations.
Guidance by teachers, interaction with peers and guidance through Maharishi tapes further helped in greater understanding and practice of Transcendental Meditation technology.
Interacting closely with people from different nationalities broadened participants' outlook. It also enabled us to understand that the world is one family, that the exceptional effect of Maharishi's program is universal, and that all people meditating together not only helps them individually but also has a worldwide impact.
A lifetime experience has been gained by more than 10000 meditators from 139 countries who took part in WPA at KSV, Hyderabad, from December 29, 2023, to January 13, 2024. An exceptionally well-planned and superbly executed Assembly enabled these meditators to rise to a higher plane and thus gain immensely. At the same time, the gathering positively affected the entire world population and environment.
Technical studies conducted during the WPA will bring out the overall impact this Assembly has had and will go a long way in planning more such events at regular intervals, thus improving the lives of millions across the globe and making our world a better place to live in.