Revered Saints and Spiritual Masters, Including Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Seane Corn, and Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Discuss how to Bridging the Divide During this Time of War and Divisiveness that Permeates the Globe at Day 5 of the International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan; Internationally Acclaimed Artist Daphne Tse of ers a concert in the name of Love Day 5 of the International Yoga Festival was dedicated to a Wisdom Talk on a huge question on so many minds today: with so much war and divisiveness, what can we do to bring peace and healing to the world?

IYF is organised by Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh with the support of Incredible India, Ministry of Tourism, in association with Ministry of Culture and Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India and was officially inaugurated by the Hon’ble Governor of Uttarakhand Lt Gen (Retd) and will have the visit of other Hon’ble Ministers, Diplomats and Dignitaries throughout the week (please see more below).

RISHIKESH: The fifth day of the world-renowned International Yoga Festival (IYF) was overflowing with another full day of diverse offerings in yoga, meditation, lectures and talks throughout and today eminent global presenters had the great opportunity to hear from Revered Saints, Spiritual Masters and Yogacharias on how to Bridge the Divide. In a world in which wars are ongoing, and people increasingly feel themselves to be in opposition, what path forward might exist to bring people back together?

On the enlightened plenary were none other than Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, International Director of Parmarth Niketan who also serves on the United Nations Advisory Council on Religion and on the steering committees of the International Partnership for Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) and the Moral Imperative to End Extreme Poverty, a campaign by the United Nations and World Bank; the illustrious Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, the disciple of Yogi Bhajan who founded Yogi Bhajan’s first yoga center in the United States; leading voice of Yoga and social change Seane Corn; Anand Merotra, who along with founding Sattva Yoga, established the Sattva Yoga Academy; and Kia Miller, founder of Radiant Body Yoga, and hosted by Tommy Rosen, founder of Recovery 2.0.

The panel came together after Pujya Sadhviji posted a conscious call for unity on Holocaust Remembrance Day of all days, which was met with violence and vitrial in online comments. It was an awakening moment in which she realized how divisive American in particular, and much of the Western world, has become.

“Many people feel like they’ve woken in up a world they no longer understand,” host Tommy Rosen said. “Suddenly we’re living in a world of fear and incredible divisiveness, where people are more concerned with being right than unifying.”

“Sahan Shakti power, which is the power to tolerate, to sit with that which disturbs, is a fundamental teaching of yoga that seems to be disappearing in our communities,” Pujya Sadhviji said. “It hasn’t been a quality in the west for some time, but lately it is getting much worse. My father was a divorce lawyer, so he saw a lot of disfunction. The advice he would give to couples who wanted to get married was, ‘you can either be right or be married.’ It’s such a powerful teaching because wherever you look at husbands and wifes, or in the way in which we are married to each other in societies, and in one world, we’ve let go of the commitment to love each other. Instead, we care about being right. We are losing the ability to love people who are different from us.”

“Spiritually and psychologically,” Pujya Sadhviji continued, “this deeply troubles me because we are all seeing ourselves as the violated party. So we feel entitled and righteous. You have traumatized me, injured me, your very presence on earth has injured me. There is an ‘all-about-me-nesss’ that is a major block to our spiritual growth.” “One of the biggest dangers of our time is that we are giving up our humanity, our nature, our fundamental existence to a fabricated universe,” Anandji said. “We are outsourcing our intelligence to AI. And this will only increase because the technologies play on the addictive tendencies of the human psyche. There are propaganda machines telling us who to demonize now. ‘You didn’t change your profile photo to a flag of Ukraine,’ you should be demonized. We need to bring in an awareness to our lives so that our value system isn’t being subjugated to social media. My guru taught me, ‘don’t try to be right, try to be wise.’ Learn. Listen.”

“One of the beautiful things about Indian culture is the deep sense of humility,” Anandji continued. “The teachings of the tradition are to become no one. My father went to America and said it was a hyper ego culture. Everyone tries so hard to be somebody. We have this great teaching. The emptier the vessel the more sound it makes. It’s time to stop policing everybody else and surrender in humility from the heart. This is why I love this land so much. This is what India can teach the world.”

“There were two things given to me that I held very closely in my heart” Seane Corn shared.  “One was our liberation is bound. We have a moral responsibility to the whole. None of us are free unless all beings are free. The second is ahimsa is not just ‘do no harm’. Passivity can cause harm to others. There was a part of me that didn’t want to turn towards pain or suffering. But my silence caused ahimsa. Silence can make you complicit.”

“I know for myself,” Seaneji said, “I’m going to commit to showing up and teaching trauma informed work, helping people learn how to self-regulate their nervous system, invite them into accountability and responsibility to the ways in which they create separation and division and the ways they heal that divide. It doesn’t mean you lose your voice. It doesn’t mean you don’t speak truth to power. I don’t yet know how to do this. I work hard at this. But as someone who believes in justice and equality, and freedom and fairness, liberation, peace, love, for all, it can’t be done through the lens of spiritual bypass, or my own lack of accountability. I’m still in that fire and I’m still contributing to it. So I feel that as awful as this moment is–and it is uncomfortable and awful–if we continue to step into leadership, take accountability, take responsibility, find the languaging, invite other people into a process, teach them to operate not from a place of contempt, with compassion. Maybe we can move through this moment learning, and find a new way. Social media isn’t going anywhere. As dark as it is, is as light as it can go.”

“After five years of deep introspection, I have leared that everything I think is about someone else is about me. If I don’t talk time to go inward with my own lived experience with deep consideration, all I can do is react and create more drama in the field,” Kia Miller said. “With all of the information we are constantly getting, we often act from our own unprocessed trauma, or generational trauma. We live in a different paradigm right now. Before we react, do radical introspection, and act from wholeness. Every action you take, chose to stay in love instead of fear and you can impact wholess in the world. It takes conscious working with the mind and our conditioning.”

“I don’t understand any of this,” Gurmukhji joked. “You have 60 likes, or 6 million likes, or no likes and now you’re a nobody. Who cares who likes you? You don’t even know them! Yogi Bhajan taught his first class and you know what happened? No one showed up. And you know what he did? He taught it anyway. It’s really very simple. People want to love and to be loved.  Get up at 2 or 3 in the morning, and pray to the sun. Thank you for give me another day of life. Thank you for my time here. It’s time to be here, to be thankful. If life gets complicated, say to yourself, how can I slow down. And then you can serve. Your whole life will change.”

DAY 5 SCHEDULE Highlights:

To greet the rising sun, participants joined in sunrise Vedic chanting with Sudhanshu Sharma, acclaimed teacher and instructor of Vocal Music and Voice Culture in New Delhi who is trained in the Guru-Shishya tradition under the tutelage of Pandit Baldev Raj Verma, he is the fourth generation of performing artists in the Indore Gharana lineage. Stewart Gilchrist led an ashtanga asana themed The Teachngs of Yogasana: Mind Set, Arjuna. Gilchrist’s intense sadhana commenced after a severe back injury in the 1980s which left him in constant pain and mild disability. He experienced an amazing recovery through intensive Astanga Vinyasa Mysore yoga practice. London-based Yoga Instructor Claire Missingham also led an enlivened Vinyasa asana themed OM Cycle Vinyasa Karma: Strength and Harmony.

After a satvik brunch, Simone Gode and James Cassidy led a Kirtan Concert on the Sacred Sound Stage, while Kia Miller lead a kundalini asana on The Illuminated Mind. Also on the mat, participants experienced the joy of movement in Seane Corn’s Revolution of the Soul. Sudhanshu Sharma taught a Nada Yoga Class, where students realized the potential of their own voices.

After lunch, participants joined Pujya Sadhviji in a special satsang, a spiritual question and answer session where students sit in the presence of wisdom with whatever appears to block their spiritual path. Meanwhile, Vaidya Dr. Padma Nayani Raju dived deeply into what Ayurveda can offer women, specifically, in her lecture and workshop, “Synergy of Ayurveda with Women’s World.” Dr. Padmaji has been trained in Ayurveda since childhood and holds a BAMS in Ayurveda from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Karnatika, and was an illustrious panelist on Day 4’s Wisdom Talk, the “Power of Ayurveda to Heal.”

Participants gathered to sing kirtan and meditate as the sun set over Ganga at Parmarth Niketan’s iconic Ganga Aarti, led by Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President of Parmarth Niketan, and Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Director of International Yoga Festival and International Director of Parmarth Niketan.

After the sacred Yagna and divine Ganga Aarti, internationally acclaimed artist Daphne Tse filled participants’ hearts with joy with her special blend of singer-songwriter sounds blended with the Bhakti lineage of yoga. Tse, who has released five albums, including her newest album, SoulSongs, strummed her acoustic guitar while participants chanted and sang along to beautiful mantras.

“I am honored to be part of the Bhakti yoga family of presenters,” Tse shared before her moving concert dedicated to love. “Bhakti yoga offers healing in the most easeful and heart-opening way.  No effort, just immerse in the sound vibration of your own voice, the vibration of our community, and the bliss of Devotion to something greater than our individual selves. Bhakti yoga invites us to delight in the power of the Divine and help us to tune into the present moment and gift of Being here – right now. Love is all there is.”

The wonderful Nrityavali dance ended the evening with a cultural performance of traditional folk dance styles of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Nrityavali is derived out of the Indian words “Nritya” and “Avali”. Nritya means Dance, and Avali means a Series, a Legend. Together making the meaning of a Series and a Legend of Dance out of Nrityavali. Founded by India’s Ace Performing Artists, Mr. Bharat Bariya and Mr. Akshay Patel, Nrityavali, is an emotive creation of an Independent Dance Company. With the artful choreography of the energetic troupe, thus ended the 5th day of the International Yoga Festival.


Claire Missingham (Jahnavi Devi) who has been teaching Yog for the past 24 years internationally, and is sharing her vinyasa style with students at the IYF, when asked what teaching she feels is most relevant for the current cultural moment, said, “Currently I think the teachings from the Upnishads are especially relevant for me, remembering the connection between the 4 states of consciousness and that everything has it’s cycle, yet, it is in the quiet moments, the reflective ‘inhalation’ of silence that Shakti has her powerful opportunity to create something new, and change, and grow. This teaching of OM reminds me that all will evolve, inside and outside, through moments of stillness and listening.”

“I love it here in Rishikesh at the Yoga Festival, there are so many different linages on offer which gives me so much choice to have many different experiences. The offerings are beautiful and the ashram is an awesome place to be, there is great energy here!” said Robert Henry from Australia.