07 Oct Heart to Heart with Smt. Hansaji on her 70th Birthday
Heart to Heart with Smt. Hansaji
Our beloved Guru Smt. Hansaji completes 70 years this month. On this occasion of this milestone, Shri Ajay Kalra interviews her. In this candid interview, she shares about her growing years, marriage, motherhood and vision for The Yoga Institute.
As you turn 70 what thoughts come to mind when you reflect on your life journey so far?
I have had a tremendous life with a variety of experiences. I have learnt from every situation, hence I see every life experience as an effort to reach towards divinity. Most of my life has been around educating people to overcome their pain.
What were you like as a child? Could you share some interesting incident from your childhood?
I was a happy child. If a situation was gloomy I would sing, dance, play and make the atmosphere happy. I studied in a Gandhian school. As part of the school activities, I was often given the task of cleaning the toilet maybe because I was from an affluent family. Initially, this was shocking and disgusting! But I soon realized that no work is bad and every work is to be respected. We would sing the Gita and Gandhi bhajans emphasizing all regions are the same. This had a strong impact on me.
What was your adolescence like?
I took up science and then law. Every day I would also attend music class where I learnt the sitar and classical singing. I hardly saw any films and going to a hotel was an absolute no. My father was a strict disciplinarian. He would wake us all up at 4 am to study. When I grew up, this strictness bothered me. This aggravated my asthma more. As a result, I started watching my breath carefully. I would practice a variety of pranayama. This made me understand the flow and depth of prana.
When did your association with The Yoga Institute begin?
My father used to come to The Yoga Institute from the time I was a child. Around that time The Indian Film Institute wanted to make a film on Yoga. My family and the Yogendra family were featured in the first documentary film on Yoga. I was two years old at that time. When I was 21, I came to the Institute again with my father.
What attracted you to Dr Jayadeva? How did you decide to marry him?
When I started coming to the Institute, I saw that Dr. Jayadeva had a unique personality. He was very sincere, hardly spoke, was busy all the time and not at all bothered about how he looked. I would wonder what kind of a person is this.. At the same time, I respected him for his profound knowledge, simplicity and hard work. Around this time my father began looking for suitable groom but mostly from rich families. I was a thinker with a philosophical bent of mind. I had a fearless nature because of my complete faith in God. One day I sat across Dr Jayadeva and told him “I want to marry you.” He accepted.
What was your experience of being a mother?
After Patanjali was born I soon realized that Dr Jayadeva and I represented two different sides of yoga. He represented yoga for the sanyasi and I represented yoga for the householder. He did not use the fan, ate simple food and had strict rules and regulations. He was like Ram and I was like Krishna. (Cheerful and bubbly)I was clear though, that a child should have holistic growth. Every Sunday I would take him to my parent’s home where he could eat what he wanted. Neither of us ever forced him. We came to his level to see he got proper ‘samskars.’
How do you deal with tragic events?
I have faith in God and accept tragic events as his wish. My brother was detected with cancer and he passed away within three months. This was the first shocking event for me. My formula for dealing with tragedy is to start giving attention to who is living. I sing philosophical songs in my mind and not think about past memory. I kept busy with helping people and the Institute work.
You play many roles of daughter, mother, wife, Yoga guru and counsellor. Is there any role you find more fulfilling than others?
All these roles are equally important. What gives me immense satisfaction is when I counsel somebody and there is a transformation in their life. My deepest desire is to free people from their suffering through knowledge.
What is Smt. Hansaji like with friends and family?
Accepting and adjusting to every situation. I see myself as a mother to the whole world. I like to take care of my children.
Share three formulas that help you to keep a balanced state of mind all the time?
First is a strong philosophical background. I believe, whatever happens, happens for good. Change is always for good. Second is to be selfless. If I hold on to my pain and suffering that is not good. I believe whatever life brings, be it deaths, accidents, separations or pain; I must accept it gracefully and emit only joy and positivity. The third is to take the support of Yoga through asana, pranayama and daily routines. This keeps the mind in control.
What is your vision for The Yoga Institute?
The vision is to uphold pure Yoga values. Yoga is becoming physical training. So we must now reach out to people and share the right understanding of Yoga. Our goal is not to make money or be famous. I am glad that the new generation is thinking in the same way.