I am Ved Prakash Gupta, a retired scientist and now I am developing the science of Yog.
I started my career in 1977 as a scientist in the reputed Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, India. I studied Particle Physics and Quantum Electrodynamics in my post-graduation from Delhi University. During the studies I was very much fascinated by the wave-particle duality and I used to contemplate for hours to understand Physics behind this behavior. I realised that the Physics only explains the behavior of matter, it does not explain the nature of matter and how it evolved. I wished to pursue research in this direction but in a Government owned organisation you cannot choose the field of your interest as funds are provided for the sanctioned projects only.
Consequently I became associated with a project named Indus-I which is Particle Accelerator developed to work as booster for Synchrotron Radiation Source, Indus- 1. I was heading a team responsible for developing very high power pulsed supplies for powering the electromagnets for injecting and extracting the electron beam at various input and output ports. I had to veer off from Physics to Electronics, but since Electronics is my second love after Physics, it was not difficult for me to carry out this work.
The work was challenging and I was enjoying it thoroughly and I was successfully heading towards completion of project. Unfortunately, I became victim of lobbying, internal tussle and ego of higher authorities. I had to work under extreme stressful conditions which continued for more than a year and because this I was in the grip of extreme depression. I had to undergo psychiatric treatment and simultaneously I was learning relaxation techniques from a mentor, a clinical psychologist because my breathing had become fatally irregular.
I started to practice relaxation techniques religiously for 2 years but still I was not able to relax because I could not focus my attention as guided by my mentor. The discursive thoughts continued distracting my mind and my breathing problem escalated further. I discussed the problem with my mentor many times but it was of no use. I was observing the whole situation as a scientist and I was reading books and literature in search of a solution to this problem.
One day, I came across a book on positive thinking by Norman Vincent Peale in which the author had explained that the mind wandering occurs because mind searches the solutions to problems you face in your environment and if an appropriate solution is provided to mind by auto-suggestion, it stops wandering. When I incorporated this idea of auto-suggestion with relaxation techniques, it really worked. Within a month, I was feeling remarkable improvement in me. I stopped psychiatric medicines and my depression had cured to a large extent and I was feeling energetic as before.
I had realised by now the effectiveness and novelty of this ‘Modified Relaxation Techniques’( MRT ) and its potential in the treatment of psychological disorders. I decide to veer off again from technology to Psychology. As I devoted more time to the MRT my thoughts stopped for some time and I was having weird but delightful experiences and after each session there was a joyful feeling of sedation. This feeling used to last for few hours and then tapered off. But I wished to have more of it. In order to maintain this feeling I used to go for many sessions a day. It was a sort addiction. This feeling was really intriguing. One day I happened to read a book on meditation by Christina Feldman and after reading the book I found that the relaxation exercise is psychological form of meditation and it is not very effective in controlling the mind. After that, I began exploring the field of meditation.
Being a scientist, I did not follow any spiritual guru or online channels blindly and I explored the field of meditation first. I found that there is no scientific approach in the practice of meditation and the channels and the spiritual gurus are making tall claims on the benefits of meditation. These claims were false according to my earlier experiences. There was a study on the claims of Meditation in universities like Howard and John Hopkins and the study did not agree with the claims. I also found that the meditation has developed into a market and nothing better can be expected. Most spiritual gurus used Meditation as a medium to become popular and to attract crowd to their Ashrams. The crowd, too, is least interested in learning meditation and they are more interested in seeking a blessings from guru and Meditation is no more than a cult and one can not go against the teachings of guru.
I began to explore this subject and found that the books of Swami Vivekanand on Yog, Bhagvadgita and Vedant can provide the true guidance. I became convinced that the popular meditation techniques are not useful to develop the control over mind, that is, to develop the concentration of mind because it is no based on spirituality. A complete control over mind can be attained by the practice of Yog developed by ancient Rishis of India and is described in the text “Patanjali Yog Sutra” I began decoding PYS and simultaneuosly started the practice of Yog according to eight limbs of Yog as described in PYS. I also began studying Vedant and Bhagvadgita. I contemplated on what I studied. After a long time I could found something as interesting and engrossing as Physics. I was really learning new concepts and I was surprised to learn that in ancient India the Rishis were far ahead in exploring the Nature than the modern scientists.
After practicing the Yog for few months only, I found that not only the depression but all old diseases, such as the migrane, severe asthma and repeated infection, have begun to cure and number of regular medicines which I was taking have begun to reduce. This experience was dramatic and it was inspiring the scientist in me to exlore scientifically the cause of this dramatic change. My mental as well as physical health was improving as if I am undergoing some medical intervention.
In addition to all these improvements, I experienced and also observed carefully that during the practice of Yog my breathing rate is reducing by a noticeable amount. I have read in a research paper on meditation published in America, according to which breathing slows down during the meditation. My father was a spiritual person and he used to do meditation for long time. He was initiated by a Saint of Radhaswami philosophy, Sant Kirpal Singh Maharaj ji. I got first exposure to spirituality from my father. He used to tell me the feats done by yogis in ancient India. Once he told me that in ancient India yogis used to practice Yog in an underground pit covered with a thick layer of soil and used to spend days in the pit without oxygen. (The nitrogen chamber experiment is a scientific way of producing the environment of underground pit).
I became convinced that there is a strong relationship between the rate of breathing and the concentration of mind. While studying philosophy, I came to know that there were discussions among philosophers on Mind-Body Relationship. My favourite philosopher, Rene’ Descartes was also a mathematician and a scientist who has written a book on meditation titled “Meditations On First Philosophy”. He also introduced the system of Cartesian Coordinates in Mathematics. Rene Descartes was first to propose the Mind-Body problem scientifically. According to him, Mind can only be studied by its effects on the body and reduction in breathing rate during the concentration of mind was such an effect.
I was overwhelmed to find that I have got a new and unique research field in which I will be able to study Yog with help of devices and instruments. So far the meditation and Yog was discussed on the basis of subjective experiences which can not be recorded by the instruments. I began the development work to make devices and instruments to record the breathing pattern during the practice of Yog.
I employed my past experience in field of electronics for developing devices and instrumentation for recording the breathing pattern which was necessary for assessment of progress in Yog Sadhana. When I reached near attaining Samadhi I experienced one more strong physiological effect which I have named WBC, short name for Whole Body Contraction. When the concentration of mind increases, the muscles of body begin to contract. The contraction of muscles of body makes the practice of Yog very grueling in very advanced stage of Yog. This contraction of muscles was found almost linear with concentration of mind. Therefore I developed devices and the instrumentation to monitor the contraction of the muscles. Now I have two parameters that are independently and directly related with concentration of mind and I call these parameters as the Yog parameters because these two parameters, namely Breathing Pattern and WBC are used to assess the progress in the practice of Yog. My friend H.S. Vora who also retired from RRCAT developed the necessary software for recording the signal in laptop. The progress in the practice of Yog will be assessed by comparing the present signal with previous signal. I am now developing a theory of mind that could establish a relationship between the Yog parameters and the concentration of mind. As I am progressing in practice of Yog and attaining higher states of mind, known as samadhis in PYS, I am developing a theory of mind to explain the various physiological effects in respect of the concentration of mind. For this I am studying Neuroscience, Physiology, Molecular Cell Biology. Spirituality is the basis of practice of Yog for which I am studying a commentary on Vedant written by Adi Shankaracharya Ji ” Brahma Sutra Bhasya” and books of Swami Vivekanand Ji on Yog. I hope I wiil be able to develop a compelete theory of mind by applying the philosophy 0f Advait Vedant to neuroscience.