(L-R) Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Anupam Kher, HH Pujya Chidanand Saraswati and Dr Deepak Chopra with copies of her memoir ‘Hollywood to the Himalayas’. (Picture Credit: Parmarth Niketan Ashram)
LEADING spiritual leader Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati and Indian American wellness guru Deepak Chopra discussed the “power of spirituality to heal and transform us” at an event in New York on Thursday (16).
Sadhvi Bhagawati is in the US promoting her memoir, Hollywood to the Himalayas: A Journey of Healing and Transformation.
She describes how she travelled to India 25 years ago and had a life-changing experience on the banks of the River Ganges.
In a conversation with Chopra, Sadhvi Bhagawati, who is now the secretary-general of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, explained her path to enlightenment when she visited India as a young married woman.
Chopra, who is also a yoga practitioner, asked Sadhvi Bhagawati about the role of yoga and meditation in her healing and transformation.
“Yoga is my whole life,” Sadhvi Bhagawati said. “Not the on-the-mat part, but the yoga of love, the yoga of wisdom and the yoga of action. I try to live every minute and moment in yoga – in union.”
On Indian spiritual tradition, Sadhvi Bhagawati said, “The teaching that I am not my body, not my history, not my emotions, but that I am the soul, full, whole complete consciousness changed my life and enabled me to find healing.”
Sadhvi Bhagawati was born in an upper middle-class Jewish family in California and graduated from Stanford University. She was pursuing her doctorate in 1996 when she left the US and visited Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, north India, where she later decided to live. At the time, she was grappling with trauma, suffering, addiction and shame.
Four years later, she was officially initiated into the order of sanyas (monastic renunciation) by His Holines (HH) Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati (HH Pujya Muniji).
Among those in the audience were HH Pujya Muniji and Indian actor Anupam Kher.
Following the discussion, HH Pujya Muniji said, “In this book Sadhviji has shared not only her own story but she’s shared the pain and challenges that are everybody’s story.
“You will find, as you read the book, that this is your own story. Like everyone these days, Sadhviji had everything set externally, but she was upset. This book teaches you how to be set.
“Spirituality makes you set. Dr Chopra has brought this concept to the West so beautifully: how we can be set in life and even when things in life go up and down, but with spirituality we don’t go up and down.
“Through this book, Sadhviji has brought the Himalayas to you. These truths and teachings are available for you whether you live in the mountains or in Manhattan.”
Kher later said on social media, “It was such a pleasure to be at the release of Sadhviji’s book Hollywood To The Himalayas. Listening to Deepak Chopra ji and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji in the august company of Pujya Swamiji of Parmarth Niketan was such an amazing and a learning experience! Looking forward to reading the book!”
Hollywood to the Himalayas delves into Sadhvi Bhagawati’s time of learning, sacrifice, joy, challenges, ecstatic experiences, and peaceful contentment in India as well as her work in the development sector, focusing on health, water, sanitation and hygiene, and the rights and empowerment of women and girls.