Sadhguru at UN: Yoga, the Power of Inclusiveness (Full Transcript)

Sadhguru was at the UN Assembly Hall, Geneva, on June 27, 2019, in conversation with Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, and Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Following is the full transcript of the conversation on “Yoga, the Power of Inclusiveness”.



Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudevji; Mr. Francis Gurry, Director General, World Intellectual Property Organization; Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization; Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this event to celebrate the fifth UN International Day of Yoga, at this prestigious venue, the very first design to be a platform to bring the world together, in a spirit of co-operation and inclusion, to address issues facing mankind.

It was hundred years ago that the League of Nations was conceived, and these very premises were meant to host it. In 2014, the initiative of the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, himself, a dedicated and longstanding practitioner of yoga, to have 21st June declared as an International Day of Yoga, won the overwhelming endorsement of the international community.

Now as the relevant UN General Assembly Resolution notes, yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being and that the wider dissemination of information about the benefits of practicing yoga would be beneficial for the health of the world population.

Traditionally, we have celebrated International Yoga Day by practicing the asanas of physical postures contained in the common yoga protocol, which was developed by the Government of India in consultation with leading yoga experts and institutions in India.

However, this year, we thought of broadening the approach to exploring the many other dimensions of yoga beyond the physical, that are particularly relevant to the issues that the different stakeholders and international Geneva seek to address – those of global health and sustainable development, as well as peace and disarmament.

Our engagement on these issues requires us all to work in a spirit of cooperation and compromise, making sure that no one is left behind. However, this spirit of inclusion at the international level cannot come about, if it is not reflected in our individual lives and approaches.

It is here that we can harness the power of yoga, the very essence of which is union both within and without, hence the theme “Yoga, the Power of Inclusiveness”.

The Permanent Mission of India to the UN in Geneva is grateful that Sadhguru, India’s leading Yogi, mystic, and one of the fifty most influential persons in India, who has been conferred the country’s second highest civilian award in 2017, consented to engage in this conversation on yoga.

We could not have found two more distinguished personalities to engage with Sadhguru than Mr. Francis Gurry, who is not only the head of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), but also an avid practitioner of yoga for over three decades, and Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, who brings her extensive global health perspective and expertise to the conversation as the Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization where traditional knowledge and complementary medicine are seeking renewed focus or seeing renewed focus.

As an emergent India plays a greater role on the world stage, it is with a positive intent and determination to contribute to the betterment of mankind. Yoga is one such contribution by India for the better health and greater happiness of people all over the world. Yoga has now truly become the intellectual property of mankind.

I wish to thank you all for coming here today to be part of the 2019 International Day of Yoga celebrations, and hope you enjoy the conversation on “Yoga, the Power of Inclusiveness”.

Thank you very much.


Yogarathova Bhogarathova…

Sangaratova sangaviheenah

Yasya brahmani ramate chittam

Nandati nandati nandatyeva


Good evening to everyone.

Well, I think the meaning has been put out there. The important thing is people think yoga means I must be like a rubber-band. Yoga does not demand any particular condition. Wherever you are, there is a next step in yoga.

Whatever kind of person you are, whatever kind of mental, physical, emotional states you are, there is a next step from where you are. That’s what yoga is about, the chant is just to acknowledge that.

Thank you.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: Thank you very much, Sadhguru. It’s a great honor and privilege…

SADHGURU: This is okay, microphone?

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: Thank you. I was wondering where the mike was, and I thought there was some magic here.

SADHGURU: You need a beard for that.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: That’s right. So, it’s indeed a great honor and privilege to be in conversation with you, Sadhguru. I would like to start with the theme of inclusiveness since that’s what the Yoga Day is about and the theme as our ambassador pointed out, and the prime minister in his message also talked about all the benefits that can come from practicing yoga.

You know, science has shown that all human beings are basically the same. We share 99.9% of our DNA. So if a genome, the genes that make up our body, the DNA, if it were a book, then every person’s book would contain the same paragraphs and chapters arranged in the same order, and each book would tell the same story but my book may contain a spelling, a slightly different spelling on page hundred-and-thirty of the word “color” from your book, or my book…my choose… might have a type…a typing error on one page, just one letter, mis-spelt. So, that’s what science tells us.

But we see…

SADHGURU: A mis-spelt word is enough to fight about, is enough reason to fight.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: Exactly. So we spell “colour” with “our” or “color” with “or”, you know, it’s a difference between the two sides of the Atlantic. But what we’re seeing increasingly is the world being divided on the basis of ethnicity, of race, of religion, of color, of belief, of sexual orientation, disabilities. Some of this is conscious, some of this is not conscious.

We see large number of people on the move now, refugees and migrants, who have had to leave their homes and are living in camps for many months or years together.

So, when we talk about diversity, very often you know organizationally, we think only about gender diversity, ethnic diversity. But don’t you think that the real diversity the world must tackle is the fragmentation of knowledge, to solve the problems that we have today, and the fragmentation of ethical belief systems to guide our moral choices?

We see inequalities and iniquities increasing. You mention that we live in a world today, where for the first time there is enough for everybody and yet there are large numbers of people who don’t have the basic…very basic needs. If inclusiveness is the very basis of spirituality, how can we enable communities, especially our young people to grow up with a belief and of inclusiveness, and the fact that diversity is important and we have to respect everybody in the community and provide everybody equal opportunities? Can yoga show us the way?

SADHGURU: We are inclusive, not by choice; we are inclusive by the nature of our existence. Every day we are in this process, every moment of our life – by eating, drinking, breathing, and many other things, we’re showing that we are inclusive. If we resist this, we will cease to exist. It’s only by constant transaction with just about anything and everything that we are existing here.

The complexity of what makes this creation, we are a consequence of that. But the magnanimity of creation has given us an individual experience. It’s a tremendous thing. Though we’re just a speck in the universe, still we have an individual experience. We sit here and experience like we’re individuals. This is a phenomenal magnanimity from creation.

But we’ve taken this individual experience rather too seriously — so seriously, that we think we are a world by ourselves, each person. When your personal universe does not work very well, you will gather ten people and then there is a battle. Endlessly it’s going on.

When we are two people we will quarrel, when we are ten people we will fight, when we are million people we have a war. It’s a same thing; the mechanics is the same thing – because we have taken our individual experience of life rather too seriously.

In this cosmic space, this solar system itself is a speck, a tiny speck. In that tiny speck, planet Earth is a micro speck; in that micro speck, Geneva is a super micro speck; in that, you’re a big man. Fortunately, ladies don’t like to be referred to as big, so it’s only one part of the population. A man wants to be a big man.

So, this whole thing has happened to us simply because the boundaries of your individuality, you’ve taken it too seriously. If you pay… On the surface, you’re you, I am me, hundred percent. This is my body, that’s your body, no way to mix this up. This is my mind, that’s your mind. Here and there, our minds may overlap. But anyway, this is my mind, that’s your mind.

But there is no such thing as my life and your life. The life that we are…This is a living cosmos – you’ve captured some, I captured some.

Now what yoga means is, the boundaries that we have drawn with the instrument of body and mind, you consciously obliterate so that when you sit here, your experience of life is not contained just to the limitations of your body or your thinking process or your emotional process – your ability to experience life as a life, not as a body.

Because if you experience this life as a body – this is me, that is you, there is no way to mix this. If you go as a mind or a thought process – this is me, that is you, no way to mix it up.

But if you go as a life, fundamental life process, there is no distinction between this and that – not just between two human beings, between everything and everything, there is no distinction.

So, the word yoga means union, that you consciously obliterated the boundaries of your individuality. That is why you know a sense of union. We are anyway in union with the existence, the problem is it’s not in our experience, because we are too caught up with our individual experience.

The basis of your individual experience is a very flimsy thing – in the sense – right now, if you…Can we experiment with you? Hello?


SADHGURU: Take your right hand and touch your left hand and see. Is that you? Hello?


SADHGURU: Is that you? Touch the chair on which you’re sitting, is that you?


SADHGURU: No. How do you know this? How do you know “this is me, this is not me”? Sensation, isn’t it? Here there is sensation, here there is no sensation. So, the way you’re identifying what is “me” and what is not “me”, is just that – where there is your sensation it’s “me”, where there is no sensation, it’s not “you”.

Right now there’s a glass of water here, is that you? No. If you drink it, does it become you? What is it that you did? All you did was you included this into the boundaries of your sensation. Isn’t that the way you have grown? Hello?


SADHGURU: Isn’t that the way you have grown? What was not you yesterday, has it become you today? So, anything that is within the boundaries of your sensation is experienced as myself.

What yoga means is, you stretch the boundaries of your sensations. As there is a physical body, there is a sensory body. If your sensory body expands, let us say your sensory body became as large as this hall, then you will experience all these people as a part of yourself. As you experience the five fingers as yourself, you will experience all these people as yourself.

Even for a moment if you experience all these people as a part of yourself, after that do I have to teach you morals, ethics, be good to this person, don’t kill this person, don’t harm this person – would you need teachings, I’m asking you?


SADHGURU: This is what yoga means – it is not a teaching, it is not a philosophy, it is not an ideology – it is a technology of obliterating the boundaries of your individuality. Because your individual nature is your psychological pattern that you have created. Nothing else says you are individual.

If you don’t understand what I’m saying, keep your mouth closed, hold your nose for two minutes, you will know you’re not an individual.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: I think what you say makes a lot of sense and yet – you know, it’s very intuitive the way you explain it – but it’s not part of our educational system, it’s not part of a thought process. More and more people are growing up in urban environments far away from nature, far away from the experiences – you need to feel one with the environment.

And so we have to, I think, consciously promote this… this thought and particularly I think, for decision-makers and policymakers, it’s really important to have this… this philosophy when they think about making a policy, what impact is it going to have, not just on yourself or your neighbors, but on the wider community, on the water, on the land, on the forest, on the air.

Unless we start thinking about each and every policy like that, I don’t think, you know, we can appreciate really this oneness of being that you described.

SADHGURU: See, if you… if you take something as a value, or a philosophy or an ideology, this will work when you and me sit on separate chairs like this. Suppose there is little space, five of us have to sit on the same chair, that’s when the trouble begins. Okay?

You got your big chair, I got my big chair – no problem. But if three, four of us have to sit on that chair – now trouble begins. Well, you can have philosophies, “love everybody”. Can you, I’m asking you genuinely? Please tell me. You’ll love selectively, isn’t it?

“Love thy neighbor” – can you love your nasty neighbor? You would not, okay? It is nice to say these things because it helps to cool you a little bit. But when life puts you to test, it won’t last. You’ve seen it again and again. You said it is not the nature of our education – one hundred percent that’s where the problem is.

The real problem is in the way we are educating our generations of people. The question is not about what, it is the way we’re doing it. Right now our education system is 100% dependent upon human intellect. We are treating intellect as the only dimension of intelligence existing in this human being.

If I ask you a simple question – you must answer this question because I’m going to bless you – do you want your intellect sharp or blunt?


SADHGURU: Okay. Those of you who didn’t say anything – blessed. So I’ll give you one more chance – sharp or blunt?


SADHGURU: Sharp for sure. Intellect should be sharp. Why? Because it’s a cutting instrument. It’s like a knife, it’s like a scalpel. The sharper it is, the better it is. A knife is a good cutting instrument. If you want to dissect something, you need a razor-sharp knife. It’s good to have it.

But now you want to sew your clothes, but you do it with your knife – you will be in tatters. That’s all that’s happening to the world. Tell me who is messing up the world – educated people or uneducated people? Hello?

AUDIENCE: Educated.

SADHGURU: Educated people. Because this is the nature of their education. They think they can fix everything with their intellect. They are not even acknowledging other dimensions of intelligence which exist in your system. When I say other dimensions of intelligence, there are…in yoga, we look at human mind as 16 dimensions. Let’s not go there, it will… it’s a long thing.

Simply…to come very simply to this, if you eat a tch – it’s mango season, though I am in Geneva I can talk mangoes, right, okay – suppose you eat a mango, whether you’re a man, woman or a cow or a goat, it goes into you and becomes who you are, isn’t it? Hello?


SADHGURU: Mango doesn’t look like you, taste like you, feel like you but it goes into you and becomes like you in you. If you are a woman, it becomes a woman; if you are a man, it becomes a man; if you’re a cow, it becomes a cow; if you’re a goat, it becomes a goat. Very smart mango you think? Hello?

No. There is an intelligence here in this one, whatever comes here, it knows it has to be made into this. If I take a mango… If I take a mango in my hand and make it into a human being, who would you think I am? Tch, very Creator, isn’t it? So, the very source of creation is functioning within you.

The problem with us is, we’ve been taught all kinds of things. Somebody said those who are deprived of love in their life, that they could not love anybody around them, or nobody around them loved them, they said God is love. Somebody who’s fallen on the desperate conditions, they said God is compassion. But if you don’t assume anything, if you are looking at creation – because you’re…you can only see the creation, you’ve never seen the Creator, all right – if you look at the creation, if you look at a flower, if you look at a leaf, if you look at a blade of grass – intelligence, intelligence, intelligence, isn’t it? Phenomenal intelligence, yes or no?

But nobody said God is intelligence. If you had said this one thing we would have much smarter world today. Because creation is the highest level of intelligence you have seen. You’re just one little product of that, isn’t it so? Hello?


SADHGURU: With all your brains, you still not figured out one atom in its full… in its entirety. We know how to use it, we know how to break it, we know how to fuse it, but we don’t know what it is. Because, the basis of creation is a phenomenal intelligence beyond anything that you can imagine.

So, if creation is such intelligence, the source of creation must be a fantastic dimension of intelligence. But we said all kinds of things to manage social situations. But if you really pay attention to your own system, the way it is working, is it working because of you? Hello? Can you operate your kidneys, I’m asking? Can you make your liver go better? No. It is not happening because of you, it’s happening in spite of you. Yes or no?

There’s a tremendous intelligence here, how come you think you can never access that? How come you think you can only function from the little bit of memory that you’ve gathered in the name of education, and you can only use that little bit of memory? Let’s understand this.

Because in the next five – ten years, artificial intelligence is going to come big time. People who read ten books became scholars, people who read one book became religious, people who read a thousand books suddenly became so many things – by memory, isn’t it? We are misunderstanding memory to be intelligence. This is the biggest mistake humanity has made.

Memory is like this – my memory is my memory, your memory is your memory, isn’t it? Isn’t this the boundary? Hello? Isn’t this the boundary that my memory is like this, your memory is like that? This is the boundary. We have misunderstood memory as intelligence. So, we are all become small islands of our own. We are identified with our knowledge. Whatever knowledge you have, if you’ve read the libraries on this planet, still compared to this cosmos, you are a miniscule knowledge. Yes or no? Hello?


SADHGURU: Because many of you are “Doctor, Doctor, Doctor” I am asking. I’m not trying to insult you, but is it not miniscule compared to the nature of this cosmos of what’s happening here? If you identify with your knowledge, you become that miniscule. Now you have your own world, I have my own world, but our ignorance is boundless.

If you identify with your ignorance, we are all together. This is what yoga means. We are always identified with our ignorance, because our ignorance is limitless, and our ignorance is seamless. Our ignorance does not separate you and me. Because “what I do not know”, if you see “I do not know” – your intelligence is constantly alert. The moment you think “I know”, your intelligence sleeps. If you want to do an experiment, if I ask you to walk from there to there, you will walk maybe being self-conscious everybody is watching you.

But if I turn off all the lights and make this pitch dark, if I ask you to walk from here to there, you become super alert, isn’t it? Hello?


SADHGURU: Because the power of ignorance, you don’t know where the next step is. Suddenly, everything in you is alert. This is the way you’re supposed to live. But the moment you gather a certain amount of memory, and identify with that, you sleep through your life.

In India, the word that is used for enlightenment is always “awakening”. When you’re already awake, how to awaken you? Because everybody is not awake to the same extent. You can become awake in various levels and dimensions. So the idea is to be fully awake, because your wakefulness is your life. Hello?

If you’re asleep, would you know that you’re alive? Your wakefulness is your life. How awake is how rich and inclusive your life is. Right now, the problem is just this, we’re identified with our own little memory pools. So, every one of us, is a world by ourselves.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: I would like to take the theme of technology and artificial intelligence you mentioned a little further. See, previous industrial revolutions have liberated humankind from animal power. It has made mass production possible. And it has brought digital capabilities to billions of people.

But the fourth industrial revolution – everyone believes is fundamentally different, because it is characterized by a range of new technologies that is able to cross the boundaries between the physical, the digital and the biological worlds. And this impacts therefore all disciplines, it impacts our day-to-day life, it impacts economies, industries and it has even started challenging us about what it means to be human.

We have these mega computers that are able to beat human’s act at different tasks. So, the resulting shifts and disruptions mean that we live in a time of great promise but also great peril. The world has the potential to connect billions of more people to digital networks, we can dramatically improve the efficiency of organizations, and even manage assets, our natural assets in a way perhaps that we can minimize environmental damage or even try to repair some of the damage that we have done.

But if organizations are unable to adapt, if governments fail to regulate new technologies and to capture them for their benefits, if shifting power creates new security concerns, then inequalities may grow and societies get further fragmented. And perhaps what we could… perhaps call a digital divide, might then start one more divide that might start dividing societies.

In fact, the WHO has been looking very seriously at this issue and we are looking into not just the new technologies and the public health benefits, but what the potential risks could be, especially what are the ethical, social, moral, legal implications of new technologies like artificial intelligence, gene editing, gene drive mosquitoes and so on.

So really, the central question is: how can technologies enable a meaningful future for humankind? And what role should humans play in an increasingly machine dominated world? How can values and ethics become part of the technological development process?

SADHGURU: You know, I remember this situation probably in seventies, when in the Mumbai docks, which is called as the Mazagon docks, they installed the first gantry. And all the labor, the coolies, who were there went on strike, protesting — it was a major strike. Because till then the vessels which came, were unloaded by men carrying sacks out. Those days most of the vessels were of a capacity of 25 to 30,000 tons were the largest vessels. Today most vessels are over 100,000 and even quarter million tons kind of vessels.

So, they were taking anywhere between 26 to 28 days to unload one ship. And they went on strike because what are we supposed to do? What do we do with our muscle? That’s a question. So, man’s muscle became irrelevant, because the machine came.

To all the ladies, I want you to understand, all of you are here today not because there’s been a serious evolution in human consciousness, simply because of technology, that man’s muscle does not determine how big or small you are. If muscle determined who should rule this place, still situations would be still the same. So, from muscle to machine we shifted.

Now, again a time is coming, people who have a certain amount of memory – which they call as education, scholarship, or religiosity or whatever – they’re all feeling threatened. The strange thing is they’re inviting me to all kinds of artificial intelligence conferences. I say, “Why are you inviting me? I’m not artificial.” They’re saying, “No, but if this comes, what will happen? We’ll lose our jobs.”

I said, “That’s fantastic.” If all of you lose your jobs, it’s fantastic. Because even when I went to school, I just thought somebody just read a book a few years ahead of me, how come they’re acting so superior? They just read a book ahead of me. A few years ahead, that’s all. If I had come fifteen – twenty years ahead, I would have also read the damn book.

So just by holding some memory in your mind, we’ve been acting big, just like muscular people were acting big at one time. They were the kings. If you had big muscles you became a king at one time. Today, we will put you out there at the gate. So the same thing will happen now in a different way, your memory will be of no value. It’s a great time.

Because today my phone has 600 GB memory, it can do 10 PhDs a day. It has enough knowledge to do its own thing. So these days are coming, this is fantastic.

Why do we fear technology? We fear technology because of the kind of people who will handle it. That’s a problem. Technology is a fantastic facilitator. Technology is a big relief from a huge burden we’ve been carrying on our heads. But we fear this well-being because we have not taken care of what kind of human beings we create on this planet. We have not focused on that. We have not focused…Our education systems have not focused on what sort of human beings we produce in this world. We’re trying to fix it with five ethics or morals or “don’t do this, do this”. This is not going to work.

Forever they have taught and these things have not worked, because you cannot restrain a human being by telling him “do this, don’t do this”. If there was a sense of inclusiveness, as we went through this earlier, if you sat here and experienced all of them as part of yourself, you will not need any kind of guideline from anybody, you will not do anything unnecessary for somebody else, isn’t it? This is yoga.

Yoga means there is a union with everything around you. Right now, we are valuing only people’s memory. Well, we will produce machines which will have a million GB, all right. So your brains cannot contain that much. So, now it becomes significant, we are coming to a time where human consciousness will become the most important thing. One thing the machine cannot do is to be conscious.

So, what kind of a human being you are, will become more important what…than what nonsense you carry in your head – isn’t it great time? Hello, great times are coming. So we should not fear technology.

Well, as you said, laws to regulate this, that, you can do. But within no time there will be technologies to circumvent those laws, as you’re seeing always. Well, all these years if you make a law, it takes fifteen – twenty years to circumvent it. But time is coming, if you make a law, within three days they’ll circumvent it. Yes.

Because the capability is such. So these are great times that none of your laws will work. The only thing that will work is what sort of a human being are you. Then human energy, human education, everything needs to focus on what sort of human beings do we produce. This should become the prime interest of humanity, that what kind of a human being am I – am I inclusive or exclusive? This is the basic question.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: Yes. You’re absolutely right, because right from the first invention of man, which is fire, it can be used for good and for bad purposes. So, I think every invention of man has a dual use, you can use it for good, you can also use it for harm.

And I think as you rightly pointed out, it is only your inner ethical and moral compass that guides, you know, how… what use you put to that technology. But I think we have to be very watchful to see that the good… the benefits outweigh, you know, some of the potential harms and unless we are proactively thinking about it, it may just come upon us and it may be too late.

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SADHGURU: Can I say something which is a little ahead of time, but it’s time to look at it because times will roll faster in the coming years. See, please look back and see, in this world, people who thought they’re really good people, they have created more harm in this world or so-called bad people have caused more harm in this world, please tell me? Hello?

AUDIENCE: Good people.

SADHGURU: Good people cause more harm, unfortunately, because it’s a good Indian fighting a good Pakistani. It is a good Muslim fighting a good somebody else. It is a good American fighting just about anybody. Because the more good you think you are, you have more reason to fight, unfortunately.

Bad…so-called bad people, criminals, they kill one or two. The real razing of civilizations happen by people who believe they’re doing a great thing, isn’t it? They’re very proud. They are fulfilling their moral… moral compass, they are fulfilling their ideologies, their philosophies. They really believe they’re doing a great thing. Especially the moment you think you’re not just doing good, you’re doing God’s own work, you will do the maximum damage.

Because the nature of human action is such, our actions are never perfect – never ever. One who thinks they are doing perfect action is a fool. Our actions are never perfect. When our actions are not perfect, there must be little hesitation in everything that we do. But the moment you believe you are the best, or the greatest, or the best possible creature on this planet, then you can do horrible things with absolute confidence. Yes. If you have little doubt, you will hesitate.

So this is very important. We have tried to manage humanity by the fear of God – it’s not worked. We have tried to manage humanity with goodness and karma, “you do this, you will be punished somewhere else” – it has not worked. We have tried to manage human beings by teaching them ethics, morals, everything, but you know in how many different ways they circumvent that when it’s to their advantage.

But what you know as myself, what you know as a part of yourself – with that you don’t need any of these things, isn’t it? If I see you as a part of myself – I don’t need the fear of God, not to harm you; I don’t need morals not to harm you; I don’t need ethics to keep myself away from harming you. I just won’t do it, because such a thing never arises within me.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: So, I think you brought us back to the theme of…

SADHGURU: I’m sorry, if I am very abrasive…

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: No, no, no, you brought us back to the theme of inclusiveness.

SADHGURU: Inclusiveness.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: Yes. I want to ask you next about primary healthcare and preventive health because after all, I come from WHO and we have to remember that we have only about ten years left for the Sustainable Development Goals, to achieve health for all – that is the “SDG 3”.

Now, health was enshrined in the very constitution of the World Health Organization, and health was defined even at that time, not just as a physical health but also mental, spiritual and social health and not just the absence of disease, but of well-being. It was also stated that it’s a fundamental right of every human being to attain the highest attainable standards of health, that governments have a responsibility of providing basic healthcare services to their population, but also that individuals and communities need to take active responsibility and cooperate in order to improve the health of the people.

So we see now more and more countries the heads of states are actually committing to universal health coverage. In India, we have Prime Minister launch the “Ayushman Bharat” program last year, which aims to cover 500 million people with… not only with health insurance but also with primary healthcare services.

But again, primary healthcare many people think – it’s had been interpreted in different ways – people think about it as an essential package of health services. People have interpreted it as just a selective package of health services which you provide only to the poor, and others have interpreted it through… from social and political and economic aspects.

But the way we…WHO defines primary healthcare is, of course to deliver the basic health services across the life course, to address again not only treatment and diagnosis, but preventive services, rehabilitation, palliative care, long-term care throughout the life course – from the newborn, to the elderly.

And we have to appreciate now that the proportion of elderly is growing worldwide, and we will have by 2030, about 500 million people globally over the age of 80 years. And the most rapid increases are going to happen in Asia, Latin America and Africa of elderly.

How do you integrate them? How do you make sure they live good quality of life till the very end? But primary healthcare is also about making the right policies… public policies, like banning tobacco and smoking in public places by making sure that there are water and sanitation services.

SADHGURU: We are banning tobacco and make marijuana legal.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: That’s another debate. Yes.

And also, the third element of primary healthcare is to empower individuals and communities actually, to take action at the local level so that they can optimize their own health. They can advocate for policies, we see young people now Greta Thunberg, the sixteen-year-old who has been advocating for climate change and who’s actually managed to get heads of states to stand up and you know, take notice of what she’s saying.

So I think, a lot of hope now in young people, but people need to be co-developers of health and social services, but also they are self-carers and caregivers to others, within their own families and communities. How can we integrate the practice of yoga and traditional medicine into our primary healthcare services, so that they keep people healthy? It’s not a question of treating illness – once they are already ill it’s a bit late. Of course there are medicines and things which you can use, but the aim should be to keep people healthy as long as possible.

How do we integrate this and have you had personal experience in India of being able to scale that up?

SADHGURU: Mhmm. The last part of your question is easy for me to answer – how to integrate yoga, how to make it available large scale? Various things are being done.

But the larger part of your question, will not settle with a simple answer from me – because better than anyone, you know the complexities involved in that. And as you come up with more solutions, people will come up with more issues. Let’s say now you spoke about India,“Ayushman Bharat.”

The wonderful thing is prime minister is taking two parallel ways. One is he is pushing yoga on one side and talking about insurance when you fall sick. Falling sick is not your privilege. Every human being needs to understand this, that it’s not a privilege or your right to fall sick. You have no business to fall sick.

But if it happens, it is only an emergency net. But in advanced countries… in western countries, particularly I’m watching in United States, people think insurance is their privilege and they must exercise it. A nation with over…See, an individual person or a society or a nation seeks affluence – in the initial stages, because affluence promises choice of nourishment, in later stages, affluence brings choice of lifestyle.

This is all human beings are seeking through affluence. So the most affluent country on the planet, which has a wide choice of nourishment and lifestyle, 20% of them are on prescription medication – spends over 3 trillion dollars as healthcare bill. A country which has so many choices of nourishment and lifestyle, should not have a healthcare bill like that, isn’t it? Hello?

But 70% are on prescription medication; the remaining 30%, of course buying it off the backstreets. This…every nation is heading in this way as if this is the example to follow. Every nation is moving in that direction, that people are beginning to think “my health is my government’s responsibility or maybe it’s WHO’s responsibility”. No.

Every individual needs to understand “my health is my business”. If it goes wrong, somebody will support you, that’s a different matter. But staying healthy is my business as an individual person. This is what yoga inculcates, that your health is one hundred percent your business. You should not misunderstand the insurance net and government healthcare systems as a place that you need to go every day because it’s there, it’s your privilege to go there and exercise your right as a citizen. You have no business to go there as a life.

As a life you have no business to go to a hospital. You must live well and go straight to the undertaker. Yes! You’re going to the hospital because not enough attention has been paid as to how this mechanism works. The most complex, the most sophisticated machine on the planet is human mechanism. Do you agree with me?


SADHGURU: No, I’m not saying how complicated you are. I’m talking about the human mechanism. But the problem is most human beings are trying to live here without even reading the user’s manual. So the initial aspect of yoga means, first thing is you read the user’s manual – how does this work, what does what in this one?

I was just talking to a group of American people. They said, “Sadhguru, why there’s so much ill-health in America?”

I said, “See, there are many aspects. Let me not go into a big talk about what are all the things you need to fix.” I said, “If you just allow me to redesign your furniture in America, you will see your healthcare bill as a person will come down minimum 30% to 40%. Just your furniture – the way you sit.

Most furniture is made in such a way, if I go sit like this, this is the only way you can sit. You cannot sit like this. If you sit like this, you’re inviting illnesses because – just to tell you a little bit, all of you know this, many of you are medical doctors – in this… here all the vital organs, none of them are fixed with nuts and bolts – it’s all hanging in nets. Hello?

Only if you sit like this, they all function to their best. If you sit like this, they’ll all pile on each other and they will not function well. It’s as simple as that. Especially with a full stomach, after lunch if you sit like this…definitely you’re asking for trouble.

Now like this, there are many things we can go on with. I’m saying small things, if we just understand how this works. Simple forms of yoga is just that, you just understand how your breath works, how your heart beats, how things are functioning, how you should sit, stand and breathe. If this much you understand, most probably you will never go to a doctor.

But there are other influences – you are breathing chemicals, you’re eating chemicals, drinking chemicals, exposed to so many things, there are infections. And above all, there is a population where hardly you find a space where there are no people. People are infection, you know? Hello?

Once there are a group of people they’re chimneys of infections going on. Our bodies have to battle to somehow manage this stuff. If only there is enough space, if there was enough space on the planet- I think they’re transporting all the men to the Mars, then I think the ladies can live well here – if there was enough space on this planet, that is, if the populations were little less than what it is, a whole lot of this healthcare wouldn’t be necessary simply because there’s simply little more distance between human beings. Well, we have not addressed that at all.

United Nations made a prediction by 2050 we will be 9.7 billion people. Well, they’re going by the predictions by looking at the rate of growth and the extension of human life which is a wonderful thing. But why don’t we plan by 2050 or ’75 we will be 3.5 billion people? We need a plan, isn’t it? We are so smart, if we think there are too many elephants in Africa we cull them, all right? Hello? We are that smart.

How come we don’t understand – if we extend or postpone our death, we also need to postpone our birth? How come we don’t understand simple arithmetic? We got too much going in our head, too full of ourselves. We don’t see that “one of me is bad enough. I don’t have to leave ten behind”. I’m not saying…

Children are wonderful, all right, but we produce children, we must also leave a wonderful world for them to live, isn’t it? If you create a nasty and harsh world…If you create a very harsh world and go, these wonderful children that you bear will become ugly animals, believe me. It’s very important that we leave a pleasant and wonderful world so that they can fulfill their lives as wonderful human beings. Is this not important?

So if we want to address healthcare without addressing population issues, I think we are not serious about what we’re talking. We cannot talk about human health without addressing the population issue in a big way. Most nations have just given it up because it’s religiously sensitive or whatever.

Even in India, there was a Family Planning ministry. Now that has been transformed into Family Welfare. I appreciate the intention but we must be able to gauge the realities of our existence, not ideologies of what we think, isn’t it? In the beginning of twentieth century we were only 1.6 billion people. Today we are 7.6 billion people, in one century! This is not just because of reproduction. This is because human life…people are living more full.

For example, in 1947 when India got its independence, the average life expectancy of an Indian was 28 years. Today it is 71. Fantastic! We want it to become 91, if it’s possible. Average life expectancy should be 85, 90. It should get there. But when we postpone death, we must also postpone birth. It is not compulsory that everybody must reproduce. This is coming because of a tribal mindset, “What will I leave behind?” It is because of this, people want to accumulate things that they don’t need – they want to grab everything, half-the-world they want to conquer because they got ten children. This needs to go.

A time has come where human consciousness should become more important than human biology. If you’re identified with your biology, you’re still having an evolutionary issue, isn’t it? Hello? If your biology is the most dominant force in you, you’re still having an evolutionary issue. It is time we think beyond our biology.

Many of you who are here with your spouses or your partners – you didn’t deliver your spouse, isn’t it? But you’re doing quite fine with them. I’m saying you can do quite fine with people that you don’t deliver.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: So maybe just the last question for this session could be, I think, what you said made me think about a couple of things.

Immunization – vaccines have been one of the greatest public health discoveries. In fact, one of the reasons why the lifespan increased so much…

SADHGURU: Yes, definitely.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: … is because of the availability of vaccines. We used to lose — half the number of children who were born used to die of pneumonia, diarrhea and other infections. Today that mortality has been brought down significantly, thanks to vaccines but also to antibiotics.

But now suddenly we are seeing a different trend. If you look at the news, every day you hear about measles outbreaks not in some remote corner of Africa but in France, in Germany, in Ukraine, in the United States. In fact, the President of the United States and most of the Mayors and Governors have been speaking up about the importance of immunization.

Because if you take a disease like measles, it’s not enough for me to vaccinate my child and hope that it will be protected. You need what is called “herd immunity” and to get herd immunity, you need about 90%, 95% of the children in that community to be vaccinated.

So, an individual action – a parent decides my child does not need a vaccine because of whatever belief. It’s sometimes religious, but very often it’s not religious. And a recent survey just came out a few days ago, showed that people believed in the safety of vaccines 95% and above in Asia and Africa but only 70% in Western Europe and even less in Eastern Europe; only 15% of people… adults believe that vaccines are safe.

So there’s… this is beyond logic, it’s beyond science, it’s beyond any factual information that we give to people doesn’t seem to be working. And yet, it impacts many others. You don’t vaccinate your child but the child who gets measles and dies may be somebody else’s child.

And so I think it comes back to what you were saying about – it’s not just yourself, we need to think about… you need to think about the humanity, community, society and most importantly, the planet, where we live and how we can modulate those actions.

SADHGURU: This is a phenomena that we must observe historically or within families or individuals. Human beings get tired of well-being; they want some trouble. They like trouble, you know? They like it really.

See, America spent billions and billions of dollars to build highways. But now everybody buys off-road vehicles because people like some trouble. Too much order creates a certain level of irritation in the human being. He wants little chaos. They must visit India. So this campaign is gaining momentum in… particularly in California, big time.

A whole lot of parents coming to me and asking this, I’m telling them, “Don’t be a fool.” Because when you find your child is either crippled with polio or something else…I remember this very well – when I was in school, there were four children in my school…I never stayed in one school for too long.

So I was there maximum two years, three years in any given school – three was the maximum. So, in that high school, where there was…I was in one school for three years, in high school, there were four polio-affected boys – three of them boys, one girl – who came to school in what… in a wheelchair. But many places the wheelchair wouldn’t go in those days so they would drag themselves and go. Tch, it was so terrible to see them.

But today, even if you go to the remotest village in India, even if you go to the government schools where we work, there’s not a single polio-affected child. It’s fantastic to see that. So we don’t know the value of these things. Unfortunately, we get tired of well-being, we want to invite some trouble.

But having said that, I was talking to some of the parents in California; they were saying they’re being put through some forty or forty-two different types of vaccines. They’re saying it is causing learning disability, this, that, for all kinds of things. Maybe in United States – and I don’t know what’s the situation in Europe – maybe they are overdoing it a little bit.

Apart from treating the basic things which were affecting children which would cause death or cripple… you know, it would cripple a child, I think they’re attaining to… trying to give vaccine for just about everything. This may be affecting. I’m not a… some kind of a medical expert or something to make a commentary on this.

But from listening to the parents, this is what I gathered. I don’t remember all the things that they said they are giving vaccines for. I thought some of them were just absurd; some of those illnesses a child can go through, it’s okay. He catches a flu, if something happens, it’s all right to go through those things when you’re growing up. But they’re giving vaccines for a whole lot of things which is… which may not be necessary, which today parents are apprehensive – may be causing learning disability or some other problem.

It may not be connected, I don’t know but this is the fear that is being spread. But the power and the well-being that vaccines have brought to our lives – most of us are sitting here because we were vaccinated. Hello?


SADHGURU: Yes. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here. Definitely we wouldn’t be here, many of us. So, we should not…

See the problem is just this, especially now because social media and things we either go this extreme or that extreme. I feel being the World Health Organization, please look into this, I’m not an expert but what kind of vaccines they’re giving in… the spectrum of vaccines they’re giving in United States for example, if it is too much, I think WHO should tell them “this much is not needed – this is compulsory, rest is by choice.” If it’s made like that, I think there’ll be a more healthy proportion.

Otherwise, some parents are just not vaccinating their children. I said, “You must be crazy. You’ll lose your child. Anytime it can happen; the child goes to school and that may be the end of it. But out of their… you know, their fear that vaccine is going to damage their brains or something, they’re going for this kind of decision-making. I think a clear statement from an organization like WHO would help parents to make a better choice.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: Thank you, Sadhguru. And I just wanted to clarify that vaccines cause adults, that’s what you said, none of us would be sitting here if not for vaccinations. So let’s think of vaccines as causing adults and I don’t think there’s anything as too much of a good thing.

So the problem has been the “anti-vax campaign.” Skeptics who have spread many, many…There are side effects of everything. Everything has a side effect but one in a million maybe, one in two million. But they have been blown out of proportion and this gets circulated through social media.

So social media can have both very good benefits but also can propagate falsehoods very rapidly. And I think one needs to be always a little skeptical of things that we see on social media and… check for ourselves the veracity. As far as WHO is concerned, we have absolutely very clear-cut guidelines on vaccination.

And there is, as I said, very clear guidance both for the public and for practitioners on which vaccines are absolutely essential for all children.

SADHGURU: Well, I think it needs to be more public…

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: Perhaps it has to be more…

SADHGURU: Or if you give such knowledge to us, we will publish.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: That will be wonderful.

SADHGURU: Because when I spoke to the parents, their concerns were genuine. They are not… tch. They are not those flaky, New Agey types. They are genuinely…

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: Hmm…Well-educated.

SADHGURU:…concerned that this may affect their children.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: You’re right. I think the messaging probably needs to be done through people whom they believe. And some people believe the doctors but maybe they also like to hear it from others. So…

SADHGURU: If there is credible scientific information…


SADHGURU: And also clearly what is a must and what is choice…

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: What is a option.

SADHGURU: …if that is created, I think it’ll be good.

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN: Thank you very much for this opportunity. Namaskar.

SADHGURU: Thank you.

MOUMITA: Thank you, Dr. Swaminathan, for the truly insightful and absorbing conversation.

The next segment of the program is a question-and-answer session of thirty minutes of duration. It’s my pleasure to invite on stage Mr. Francis Gurry to moderate this session.

FRANCIS GURRY: Thank you. Thank you so much.

SADHGURU: She was a doctor, it’s okay. You’re a lawyer, don’t ask difficult questions.

FRANCIS GURRY: Sadhguru, it’s really a privilege to have this opportunity to interact with you. And please allow me to thank Ambassador Rajiv Chander for giving me this opportunity. I think actually it’s a sign of the greatest inclusiveness that India should invite an Australian on International Yoga Day during the middle of the World Cricket Cup.

SADHGURU: No. It doesn’t mean we are begging to…go… this doesn’t mean we are going to be kind to you on the cricket field.

FRANCIS GURRY: I’ve noticed.

SADHGURU: This is…

FRANCIS GURRY: So now I have many questions from many people in the audience who would like to ask for your wisdom. But may I start by asking you one myself?


FRANCIS GURRY: So the power of inclusiveness – now if we go back in the world, say thirty years, we see that there was… there were many signs of opening — walls were coming down, many initiatives were taken to open up the world, which I think brought many benefits.

If we look around the world now, there are many signs of closure – walls are being constructed, there are many policy measures being taken by many governments closing borders, closing borders to persons, closing borders to goods. I wonder if I may ask how you see all this.

SADHGURU: See…Yes, it’s true you’re seeing that as a global situation. But we need to understand this. Bringing down walls without bringing down economic disparity is not going to work.

When we brought down walls, then itself we should have understood that we must strive to bring down disparity in the world. No man or woman wants to leave their home and go somewhere else to some strange land and live there just for survival. Nobody wants to do that.

But it is estimated that in the next decade there could be about 1.7 billion to 1.8 billion people moving or migrating. When that many people start migrating, your wall is not going to work anyway. Wall…Wall will work…Wall will work when they’re in a few thousands, maybe a million. But when they go to a billion, your wall is not going to work – it’s going to be a tragedy because now you see a stream of people coming.

Well, can every nation just open up its borders and say “Welcome, live on the streets”? Not possible. Yes?

So the thing to do is which I’ve been striving to do and I’m failed to do is, in the last twenty-five years I’ve been trying to bring some key people in the world together so that…This initially we started as “” and I try to create a board and every time we are about to do it, some war-like situation comes and some nations back away and it never happened.

All right? The idea was just this – one percent of what we invest in our defense forces as we call them, arms and armaments what we invest, if we contribute and we institute a board of people who are from responsible businesses, to be given a soft loans to these businesses to start enterprises in impoverished societies, where it’s not profitable to do business. A business will naturally try to do business where it’s most profitable.

You cannot ask them to go and do business somewhere in one corner of Asia or Africa, because they are looking at their profitability. Essentially, this is… this attitude is because money is expensive. The money is expensive. If you give them a softer money which is not expensive for a gestation period of twelve to twenty years and very soft kind of cushion for them to develop an enterprise, develop the talent and create industry and business in impoverished societies, the reason for these people to migrate will go.

Instead of making that investment you invest in putting up walls – you will see… walls will work to a certain point. I’m not even saying it’s wrong because the sovereignty of a nation is essentially determined by the geographic borders. I’m not saying every nation can open up and let people inside. It’s not possible to do that but you will not be able to control it this way, nor is it very humane to do it that way.

So the only way is, in some way we must see how economic disparity is lowered. We cannot level it absolutely. It’s very, very far away – leveling it. But if we strive in the next ten years, if there is enough investments going into various parts of the world from where people are migrating, if you start businesses there, if you start enterprises there, if you start economic activity there, then the need for them to go elsewhere to make a living could be reduced and migrations could be controlled.

Because, nobody wants to leave their homeland if they can make a living there.

FRANCIS GURRY:  So if I may turn to audience. The first question is from Jitendra Khanna, who comes from… who’s an ex-WHO employee. And the question is, “Physicists have concluded as of now, that the universe is deterministic. So is there freewill for humans or is freewill an illusion”?

SADHGURU: See, right now…Hello? Is my microphone working?

FRANCIS GURRY: It just went off, I think.

SADHGURU: Hello. Hello? Hello? Is that good?

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FRANCIS GURRY: It is okay now.

SADHGURU: See, right now all of you sitting here – whether you sit here in a pleasant manner next to the person who’s sitting next to you or you abuse them or you stab them or you throttle them – is it by your will or is it by some universal law? I’m asking? Hello? Is it by your free will or no?


SADHGURU: Whether you look at them wonderfully or you look at them nasty, is it by free will or is it because of something else? The way the planets are spinning, lot of people thought so forever. Because people think they are the way they are because of the way the stars are moving right now.

Unfortunately, a whole lot of stars they’re looking at don’t even exist; they’re gone long time ago. But they’re determining your future and your life. So, I see many Indian-origin faces – in India, we have something called as karma. Today it’s become an English word. In the Oxford English Dictionary, it is an English word. So I can use this word.

Karma means action. Action means this – when you sit here, your body is doing its own things – it’s acting, that’s why we are alive; mind is doing its own things; our emotions are doing its own things; our life energies are doing their own things. Every moment of your life, in wakefulness and sleep, these four dimensions of activity or karma are happening, isn’t it?

From the time you woke up today morning to now, whatever number of hours  – if you are a twelve o’clock person, it is just six hours, if you’re a six o’clock person, it is twelve hours – in these twelve or six hours that you’ve been awake, how much of your physical, mental, emotional and energy activity has been a conscious process? Hello? How much do you think?

Believe me, it’s… well below one percent. So when ninety-nine percent of your activity is unconscious, obviously you think something is hitting you from elsewhere. If you make ten percent of what’s happening in body, mind, energy conscious –suddenly, people around you think you’re a superhuman being. Yes, people think you’re superhuman, you’re determining everything.

If one hundred percent it is determined by you, they’ll start worshipping you god-like. Because all that happened is, you became more conscious. And the significance of being human is, that we can be conscious. See, if you look at the nature and activity of your life, you’re not very different from other creatures on this planet. They are born, you are born; they eat, you eat; you grow up, they grow up; you sleep, they sleep; you reproduce, they reproduce; you die, they die.

It’s just that they do it more gracefully, you do it with lot of fuss. So your activity and the life that you do is not very different from other creatures. Only thing is we can do the same things consciously – that’s all the big thing about us, isn’t it? Hello?

That is all the big thing about us. We can eat, sleep, reproduce and even die consciously. This is the big dimension of being human. So if you do not exercise this one thing, it is an evolutionary problem. You’re going backwards in evolution. The life is striving to go forward. This is not your or my intention.

Life is naturally striving to move forward. When you were a monkey…I’m sorry, this’s not my statement. Charles, that Englishman, you know?


SADHGURU: Charles Darwin said this – when you were a monkey, you did not desire to become a human being but the life within you is longing to move on to the next possibility. Out of that, we are a consequence. Hello?

So the consequence is not of physical super capabilities as Hollywood movies are trying to show. Essentially the consequence is we are more conscious. Because, physically if you become, let’s say, far more capable than a chimpanzee or far more capable than a cheetah or a panther or something, you would just be a super animal.

You became human, only because you became more conscious than other creatures. If you do not exercise that consciously all the time, you will fall back in no time.

FRANCIS GURRY: Thank you. So now we have a question from [inaudible] former employee of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, “What is the future of our planet? We are running out of water. The glaciers are melting. What happens when we run out of water? Will mankind and life go extinct on earth?”

SADHGURU: We are not running out of water. Millions years ago…can you raise the volume. I’m shouting, just a little bit, whoever controls this. Sir…Hello, is it better?

We are not running out of water. Million years ago, how much water was there on this planet, still the same amount of water is here. Only if some men go off to Mars, they will take some water and go. Otherwise the same amount of water is here. It’s not gone anywhere. It’s not where you want it. That is something that you need to look at.

Why is water going away from human habitations? Why is it lodging itself somewhere else? Obviously, we are not living the way we should live. Very simple. Hello?

We always went in pursuit of water. Where there was a river, civilizations developed. But now water is trying to move away from us. We must be doing something fundamentally wrong. Hello? Isn’t it? We’re doing something very fundamentally wrong in the way we are organizing human habitations. We need to look at this seriously now. Very important.

Otherwise you have to go and live under the ocean, because that’s the only place there will be water.

FRANCIS GURRY: Thank you. So I stay on water. And this one comes from Sashank Pai, a Cognizant. “I came to know the Isha Foundation through Rally for Rivers. Please could you enlighten us on the possibility and progress and how we can contribute?”

SADHGURU: Oh I think they showed something on the video, for… about Rally for Rivers. We made a 760 page policy recommendation as to how Indian river should be managed — because on an average, all Indian rivers, on an average have depleted about 40% in the last 70 years. Some rivers have receded over 60% to 70% – major rivers. We must understand this, the European rivers are of a different nature, and Indian rivers are of a completely different nature.

Here largely the precipitation comes in the form of rain and also snow. And glacial water is probably the main source, I believe about 55% to 60% of European rivers are coming from glacial waters. In India only 4% of river water is glacial. Rest of it is forest-fed.

River is not the source of water in a tropical land; river is a destination into which the water comes. The only source of water we have is monsoon. And this monsoon pours down in forty-five to fifty days in a year. What comes down in fifty days, all in the form of water, not in the form of snow, because snow will pile up and stay for two months and slowly melt and trickle into the land. That is not how monsoons come.

Monsoons come like a torrent of water, all liquid. So, how do we hold it? We were holding it because there was substantial vegetation everywhere. So vegetation and the richness of the soil held it and slowly let it go in the form of streams and rivulets, which all joined together and became a river.

But we have removed green cover in such a way, if you have flown over India, if you fly from Delhi to Chennai or Bangalore, if every five minutes you look down, it looks like one brown desert! Except for the Western Ghats and a few patches here and there, rest is all farmed, totally. Because there is no vegetation and there is no richness in the soil, we are not able to hold the water.

When the rains come there is flood, otherwise there is drought. At the same time at the upper regions of the river, there is flood, lower regions of the river there is drought at the same time… at a given time. This phenomenon is happening mainly because of removal of vegetation.

To what extent means you must understand this – for example, Ganga basin, where it accounts for 25% of India’s geography, 33% of India’s agriculture, we have removed 92% of green cover in the last 60 years. What’s the plan?

So Rally for Rivers mainly is pushing towards putting back at least one-third of the green cover back on the Indian subcontinent. So right now, as a sample of that we’re doing one short river which is 54 kilometers, which unfortunately became notorious as the suicide capital of India, which is called as Yavatmal in Maharashtra where maximum number of suicides happen. Almost every third family we meet has had a suicide, in their families.

So we have taken this up hands-on project, where recently the cabinet approvals have happened and we are working on the ground. Our volunteers are meeting every family; 9600 families in the Yavatmal region are being contacted and given a cell phone number, in case of any distress they can get back to us.

The fundamental is – to change them from regular farming, where there is no scaling. They’re just scratching land which is two acres, three acres per family, they cannot invest enough in a two-acre land. If they invest they become debt ridden and that drives them towards suicide.

So we are seeing how to make them an integrated way of approach and also towards agro forestry, which will revive the river. A larger project that’s coming up which all of you can participate in, whatever way you can because we need a big push for this, is called Cauvery Calling.

Cauvery is a river which flows mainly between two southern states Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. These two states have been at war with each other as to who should drink more Cauvery water.

See, if there were two glasses of water for both of us, we will drink our water and be nice to each other. Suppose there’s only one glass of water between the two of us – we are nice people, but we will fight. Yes or no?



FRANCIS GURRY: I’m sure you won’t.

SADHGURU: No, if there’s no water I will also fight. I’m saying people will fight, isn’t it? Because of scarcity, people will fight. Even nice people will unnecessarily clash with each other. This is what has been happening.

Here we have removed 87% of the green cover. Cauvery is very dear to me, because I grew up around this river. Once I floated down this river for thirteen days on just four truck tubes and a few bamboos. I lived off the river. In my experience, I never saw this river and fantastic forest that was around as natural resource.

I always experienced this as a life larger than myself. It’s a much bigger life than you and me. And it has been there before you and me, and it should be there after you on me. But right now we brought it to a place where it may not be there. What’s been there for a million years, may not be there for the next generation. We are bringing it to that place.

Right now the scientific studies show Cauvery has depleted 46%. But I don’t agree with this, because they are taking the monsoon flow also as the volume of water. If you leave the monsoon flow, if you just go and see the river after October, in my eyes, it seems like it’s 25% to 30% of what it was, when I was a child around that place. So it’s depleted so sharply. It’s been troubling me.

So now we’re doing this. This is a rally of a different kind. The Rally for Rivers was purely an awareness, because river is a concurrent subject in India – between the central government and the state government, we wanted to bring that concurrence which we managed for the first time. These sixteen states, at that time, were ruled by six different political parties. For the first time they came together on one cause.

Otherwise opposition parties have always been… you know, whatever one says the other will say just the reverse of it. This is how it’s been, but they came together and spoke in one voice which itself was a tremendous thing.

It showed the maturity that there is… in spite of the daily fighting that happens, when real issues come, they stood up and stood up for one cause – that was fantastic. 162 million people supported this cause in thirty days’ time, I personally drove 9300 kilometers, 142 events. Literally we were on the road, thirty days non-stop driving and talking ourselves hoarse. But this did the job.

Now, the Rally for Rivers recommendation became the official recommendation for the twenty-nine states, that the government sent this as an official recommendation. Three to four states are very proactive. They’re going and doing their own thing, which is very good.

Another six states, we’ve signed MOUs, but now we leash a… need a large scale demonstration. See, the important aspect of this is, we have shifting farmers from three-month, four-month crop pattern to agro forestry, which will multiply the farmers’ income.

Right now we have transformed 69,760 farmers into agro forestry, and their incomes have multiplied five to eight times in a matter of ten years’ time. So this multiplication of income will happen.

Why I’m saying this is – this is an economic plan, with a significant ecological impact. That is what is important, because the moment you talk ecology, all the businesses become cautious because these guys are going to come and bash us. All ecologists or ecological activists are always trying to hit some industry or some business.

So, this is what I want to change and this is what we have successfully changed is – economy and ecology have to go hand in hand. If you put…pit one against the other… if you pit one against the other, economy will win hands down. Ecology will be battered. So that is what has been happening, especially now in India, because we are looking for an economic surge.

We are talking about becoming a 5 trillion-dollar economy. When we go like this, there is a possibility, ecology could be trampled. So we are working with the governments because it’s very, very important. This is something always at least in India, the people who represent ecological concerns have never worked with the governments – always against the government. If you’re serious about doing something you have to work with the government. There’s simply no other way.

Well, there may be compromises, because they have their own concerns, they have their own political and budgetary issues and various other dimensions are there, not just some ideal that we hold. So this is a new trend that we have created, that ecological concerns are not of…People have always treated like this – economy is today’s concern, ecology is tomorrow’s concern. I’m saying ecology and economy are today’s concern, and they have to go hand in hand.

So if you want to support in some way, “Cauvery Calling” will start in September. Just to tell you how it is being done, we are… this time we are on a motorcycle. A group of us are riding down 1500 kilometers. Nearly 1500 kilometers down the river, camping on the river, creating about thirty-five events along the way. We are asking for the governments to give an incentive for farmers to shift from regular farming which destroys riverine terrain, into agro-forestry. This is yet to happen.

Both the governments are examining the budgetary proposals that we have given. Whether it comes through or not…If it comes through, we will go propagating the benefits. The government is offering the incentives. If it doesn’t, we use it as a people’s movement to push the government towards that policy. But this has to be done now.

What I see is, if we don’t do this in the next twelve to fifteen years’ time, I think particularly southern region, right now it is… the most water-distressed region is Tamil Nadu and it’s also entering Karnataka in a big way. I think it’s a clear manifestation -we don’t care a damn about our children and their children how they live here. It’s a very clear statement – as far as I’m concerned, I don’t want to leave that statement.

FRANCIS GURRY: Hmm. Thank you. So this takes us… this question takes us more explicitly to yoga. Yoga seems to be the current buzzword from exercises, asanas, to meditation for body and mind well-being. How exactly do you define yoga?

SADHGURU: Oh, I thought we’ve done a plenty of that – “Yoga means union.” Even the chant we did was just that -“You do it somehow.” Okay? You do it with austerity, or you do it in a pleasurable way. You do it sitting alone in a mountain, or you do it being with everybody – somehow. How the hell you do it, it doesn’t matter. Somehow, you should become like this, that if you sit here, your experience of being alive is fantastic. Nothing needs to happen.

If you sit here, you’re alive and it’s fantastic. Let me tell you this – right now, what is the most important thing in your life? Your bank balance, your business, your family, your relationships, what you’re planning or you’re alive right now – which is most important? Hello?


SADHGURU: You’re alive right now – that is the most important thing, isn’t it? So you do this much. I’ll teach you a simple yoga right now. Tomorrow morning if you do wake up — See, you think it’s a joke! You’re thinking it’s a joke!

No, mortality is not a joke. This is the problem with most people. Most people think other people die. No, you and me will die. Hello?


SADHGURU: You and me will die, isn’t it? I will bless you with a long life. But still you die with a blessing, isn’t it? Mortality is a real thing. Every day, nearly quarter million people don’t wake up tomorrow morning. By natural process. So in case you wake up tomorrow morning, check if you’re still alive. If you are, will you give yourself one big smile, you’re still alive? Hello, will you do that?

And every day if quarter million people die, at least five to ten million people would have lost someone who’s dear to them. Tch, you check those five-ten people who matter to you, if they are all alive, will you give yourself one more smile? Hello? To yourself, not to somebody.

All of them are alive today, all the people who matter to you, immediately – will you give yourself one more smile? It is seven o’clock and you’re still alive. Please understand this – what is ticking away is not a clock. It’s your life which is ticking away. Since you came and sat here, you’re two hours closer to your grave. Hello? Yes or no? Mortality is a real thing.

If you are conscious of it, then you will make the best out of this. You think you are eternal, then you live like a fool. You have time for all kinds of idiotic things. If you know life is ticking away, you will do the best things that you can do, isn’t it? Hello? You will not do the best thing. You will do the best things that you can do. And this is all we can do.

In your life, if you do not do what you cannot do, that’s not the issue. But if you do not do what you can do, you’re a disastrous life. So yoga means to avoid this disaster.

FRANCIS GURRY: So, this question takes us to education, and it comes from Meenakshi Dana, of the Bluebells School International, in New Delhi. What can schools do to inculcate ethical living in a joyful way?

SADHGURU: The moment you have lot of ethics, your face becomes long. Because I…

It’s like this – let’s say there is an ethic “Thou shall not kill”, for me. So I’m just holding my hands back, but I want to kill. But why do I want to kill? Why…Why is it that I want to kill? We must look at it more fundamentally, isn’t it – rather than stopping it with a value, that I set for — “No, I’m not going to do this. I’m not going to do that.”

See, please understand this, just try this right now. Shall we try and experiment with your mind? Next thirty seconds, nobody should think of a monkey. Try. Please close your eyes and try. Only monkeys, isn’t it? This is the nature of your mind.

In your mind if you say, “I will not”, only that will go on! Why are you making life so difficult? Why do you think you are born wrong and you have to be fixed? No. You think creation has made a mistake with you? Hello? You think creation has made a mistake with you? No, it’s fine.

The life, the way it is, is fine. You become something, because you imbibe all kinds of nonsense from other people. You call this religion, you call this education, you call these morals, you call these values. You call these philosophies, ideologies. For religions, and ideologies, and philosophies, we have killed more people than for crime, isn’t it so? Hello?

FRANCIS GURRY: Hmm, that’s right.

SADHGURU: So all these morals, ethics, values, philosophies, ideologies are only an effort to prevent crime. But in the end, these preventive measures have caused more death and horror on this planet, than crime would cause, isn’t it? So why do you think I would like to steal, what is in your pocket? I don’t care first of all.

Why are you telling me, “Thou shall not steal?” I never thought of stealing anything from you. All this comes because you’re in pursuit of happiness. That’s the problem. Have you seen, every one of you – when you’re very joyful, what a one wonderful human being you are! But if you’re looking angry, frustrated, miserable – you’re nasty. Yes or no?

So this is what we need to create. We have been always trying to produce good human beings, which is a terrible mistake.

We need more joyful and sensible human beings. This is what yoga is about. Joy is an insurance. Joy is an insurance. When you are joyful, you want to kill somebody? Hello? Only when you’re miserable, you want to kill somebody, isn’t it?

FRANCIS GURRY: Thank you, now I think if I’m reading, we’re coming to end… we have one last one? Perhaps. Okay.

There are many, many questions, but the last one from (inaudible). Spirituality – and I think you’ve just been addressing this to some extent – spirituality and religion often… are often misunderstood at all levels. How could you explain the difference and the overlap, in easy-to-understand terms?

SADHGURU: Spirituality and…?

FRANCIS GURRY: And religion…

SADHGURU: Religion? Okay.

See, if you say, “I’m religious,” you naturally identify yourself as a believer, isn’t it? Hello? That you believe something, whatever that is.

What is belief? Let’s look at this. Something that you do not know, you assume. And if ten of us assume that, this is my religion. If larger numbers happen, it becomes a big religion. But essentially, belief means you are assuming something that you do not know. Or fundamentally, you are not willing to admit “I do not know”.

But “I do not know” is a tremendous possibility. Only if you see “I do not know”, the longing to know, the seeking to know, and the possibility of knowing becomes a living reality. Everything I do not know, I believe.

Now, what is the… all the problem in this world? One man’s belief versus another man’s belief, religious or otherwise. Yes?

If you saw that you do not know, would you have a reason to fight with anybody? So, if you saw you do not know, what do you do? The nature of human intelligence is such it cannot simply sit here with “I do not know”. It will seek. When you become a seeker, a spiritual… Somebody who’s on the spiritual path, always refers to himself as a seeker. The qualification to become a seeker is – you have realized that you do not know. Yes?

You know that you do not know. Once you know that that you do not know, seeking is not an option. It is the nature of the human intelligence. Once you really see “I do not know the nature of my existence”, sitting, standing, sleeping, your intelligence will seek. You don’t have to go and seek somewhere. Seeking does not mean you join a group. If you simply bring this home to you, that I really do not know a thing about this life…I’m asking you, do you really know?

Do you know where you come from and where you go? Hello? You don’t know.


SADHGURU: You can bullshit yourself. “I came from heaven. I’m going back to heaven” – if you’re so sure that you’re going back to heaven, why don’t you go today? I’m saying, those who are dead-sure about it are doing such things, isn’t it? Hello?

If you knew that you are going to a better place than here, why don’t you go? This is the greatest crime upon humanity, that we told people, there is a better place than this. This is a crime. Because, this is not allowing human beings to live their life to their full depth and dimension because they think the real life is elsewhere.

Now, do you have any proof that you are not already in heaven, and making a mess out of it? Do you have any proof?


SADHGURU: If you understand…if you pay enough attention to life – if you see on the surface, this is a leaf, this is a flower, this is this, this is that, everything we know but – if you pay enough attention, you don’t know a thing. You really don’t know a thing. Not even about your own existence, isn’t it?

When this really comes home to you, that “I do not know” – you are a natural seeker, you don’t have to join any group. You don’t have to follow anybody. You are a natural seeker – in whichever way your intelligence can seek, it will start seeking. In every possible way it will seek, because this is the nature of human intelligence. Seeking is not a choice. You can stop seeking simply because you make up something and you believe it.

If you don’t believe or disbelieve anything, you simply pay attention to everything, you will become a seeker. Because it is only human attention, which opens the doors of this universe. Without a penetrating attention, nothing will open for you. But once you believe, you don’t have to pay attention to anything, because you know it; you know everything, how it happened and how it’s going to end. It’s already ended.

FRANCIS GURRY: Thank you so much.

SADHGURU: Thank you.

MOUMITA: Thank you very much, Mr. Francis Gurry. We are grateful to the Permanent Mission of India for its impeccable organization and facilitative support.

I now take this opportunity to invite Mrs. Rajita Bhandari, the counselor of Permanent Mission of India, to the Conference on Disarmament to propose the vote of thanks.

SADHGURU: Hey… hey, why…? But I am not armed, but I am not armed, I mean.

RAJITA BHANDARI: Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, Namaskar, Good evening, bonjour. As we celebrate the fifth International Day of Yoga at this magnificent setting of the Assembly Hall at the United Nations in Geneva, I, on behalf of the Permanent Mission of India, would like to express a deep appreciation to all those who have contributed towards the success of today’s event.

First and foremost, I would like to thank SadhguruJi for his very inspiring talk, and his words of wisdom, which will continue to motivate us all, long after we have left this hall.

I would also like to thank Mr. Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization and Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization for their presence amongst us today. Thank you.

I would also very much like to acknowledge the enthusiastic participation at this event by representatives from diplomatic missions from international organizations, from Geneva based yoga organizations, and the Indian community in Switzerland. Thank you.

We have also been very fortunate to receive the support and cooperation from the entire team of the Isha Foundation and a special mention for their interpreters, who have interpreted Sadhguru’s address in French for the benefit of Geneva’s French speaking community. Thank you.

And last but not least, a note of thanks for the team of the United Nations officers in Geneva, in particular, the technical support staff. Thank you.

Before I conclude, I would like to invite Mr. Gurry and Dr. Swaminathan to please join Sadhguruji on stage. And I would also like to invite Mrs. Shalini Chander to please present our dignitaries with flowers as a small token of our appreciation.

Thank you very much.

SADHGURU: Thank you.

RAJITA BHANDARI: Thank you all very much indeed. Wish you all a wonderful evening ahead.