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HELLO! 100 Most Influential: Sadhguru

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Sanghita Singh

Why he matters: A yogi, mystic, visionary and New York Times bestselling author, Jaggi Vasudev is also the founder of the world’s largest people’s movement, Conscious Planet – Save Soil, that’s touched over 3.91 billion lives. Sanghita Singh speaks to the spiritual doyen, discovering how untouched he is by the hullabaloo surrounding his larger-than-life personality.

It’s hard to miss Sadhguru, even if you’re not a follower or seeker of spiritual matters. Be it social media, magazines, newspapers or television channels, he’s the poster “guru” of the country and India’s best-known spiritual hero in the West.

“Outside situations do not influence the way I am within. This is the fundamental of yoga. Whatever people say or don’t say about me, they can’t make me happy, angry, unhappy or miserable… While I’m terribly embarrassed by any awards, at the same time, I’m ready to go through the embarrassment if they are going to enhance my work,” says the Padma Vibushan recipient, as we get talking about the relentless interest he draws.

His followers infinitely outweigh the sceptics. In fact, the way he attracts people in droves is no ordinary sight. The young, the restless, the elderly, the professionals, the high and mighty and the common man… None seem to want to give up on the opportunity of having a glimpse of his physical presence.

A Guru to Millions

Sadhguru’s rockstar popularity is no coincidence. His brand of spirituality today has mass appeal. He has shunned the robes that people traditionally associate with Indian gurus. Impeccably and fashionably turned out, he speaks chaste English and injects humour into his conversations, even taking jibes at people when they get too serious about the business of life!

For all those looking to understand spirituality differently, Sadhguru offers a new lens with which to view the mind, body and soul. So what does he think is his biggest contribution to people today, I ask.

“In the pursuit of inner well-being, some adhere to one philosophy, some go to the temple, mosque, or elsewhere… The Isha Foundation is focused on offering inner wellbeing in a scientific manner, through tools for transformation. We take away the cultural trappings from the spiritual process and present it as a science. We are hugely accepted worldwide primarily because we don’t subscribe to any religion or denomination.”

A Father Figure

A family man who has embraced his sanghaand opened his Coimbatore ashram as a home to seekers from multitudinous dimensions, for Sadhguru, there has hardly been a line between his private and public life. His daughter, Radhe Jaggi, fondly remembers the widening of the circle of love as his popularity grew.

“Growing up, I was always surrounded by people. My idea of family extends beyond 20, 30 or 100s of people. As we travelled countrywide, we stayed in different homes—villages, apartments, mansions. I was never treated as a guest, nor was I expected to behave as one. If there were children, I was just another one of them!” says Radhe.

Sadhguru’s small family of three was left smaller when he lost his wife and constant companion, Vijaykumari, in 1997.

“Vijji was like my shadow, not just my wife. She was deeply involved even in the spiritual process and my work. I miss her, not just as my wife but as a person, because rarely can a person be so intense. But there’s no grief in me… Let’s say, a flower blooms in your house today. Tomorrow morning, when you go to see it but the flower is not there, you miss it, but don’t grieve or cry over it. That’s how it is with Vijji and me…”

For Radhe, life with her father was replete with people and their involvement in yoga as a full-time activity. “When he became such a public figure, it didn’t strike me as different… He was the same Sadhguru, but now, he was on television or at a business conference, or on YouTube!” she says, with a smile.

From being a father at home to being a father-figure to millions, Sadhguru has also been a crusader. ‘Rally for Rivers,’ his mission to save the soil, is about bringing in policy changes that would necessitate agricultural soil to have a minimum of 3 to 6 percent organic matter. Next up is taking ‘Conscious Planet’ to a new level in 2024, focusing on making humans conscious of the Earth.

The Art of Stillness

Not an average man who can be viewed one-dimensionally, Sadhguru retains his simplicity, despite his juggernaut body of work. His one big quality is his ability to be still and meditative, despite the explosion of activities around him.

“The main aspect of meditation is this: right now, your mind is the boss and you are the slave. As you become more meditative, you become the boss and your mind the slave… If you cultivate your body, mind, energies and emotions to a certain level of maturity, you become meditative. Once the quality has become a living process, whether awake or asleep, the meditative process remains,” he elaborates.

“I sit with my eyes closed for 20 seconds in the morning — that is all the yoga I do. But I’m meditative every moment of my life,” he says, unravelling the part of him that’s easy to read.

To see who else is on the list, grab the copy of HELLO! India’s August 2023 issue right here!