Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on karma, the pandemic, and politics in India


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Meredith Lake in conversation with Sadhguru, for the ABC Radio National program Soul Search.

Today on Soul Search, an exclusive interview with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. He’s a Ducati-riding yogi and spiritual teacher, who has caught the attention of millions worldwide.

Sadhguru had a mountain top experience when he was 25 years old, back in 1982, and he went on to found the Isha yoga center in Tamil Nadu.

He has critics as well as fans in that part of southern India, but the Isha centre has nevertheless become the hub of an international network – and Sadhguru and his programs attract millions of people, with a message of self-transformation.

Sadhguru says that we can craft our own destiny, if only we embrace what he calls ‘the technologies of well-being.’ Its a message and method he expounds in his bestselling books and courses to fans — including Hollywood’s Will Smith.

But in a world in the grip of a devastating pandemic, there are questions to ask about how much a person really can control, and about the experience of extreme suffering. Sadhguru has also faced criticism recently, on political grounds, given his proximity to Indian political elites.

From karma to COVID-19, there’s a lot to discuss as Sadhguru joins Meredith Lake over Zoom from Florida.

Side view of South Asian man with long curly white beard wearing white turban looking into the distance, at a formal event
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is a yogi and spiritual teacher who has caught the attention of millions worldwide with his message of self-transformation. Source: Twitter
portrait of South Asian woman smiling with cropped black hair wearing yellow sweater
Associate Professor Monima Chadha is an expert on classical Indian thought, and she teaches Philosophy at Monash University in Melbourne. Source: Monash University

Now Sadhguru, as that very term implies, is not a scholar on the notion of karma. He claims to know by perception, rather than by a particular study or understanding of the Indian scriptures.

But what can we learn from looking into the texts?

We hear from a scholar of ancient India, Monima Chadha. She’s an expert on classical Indian thought and Associate Professor in Philosophy at Monash University in Melbourne.

She joins Meredith Lake to talk about how the concept of karma has developed, from its origins way back in the Sanskrit Vedas of the second millennium BCE, and the misconceptions that surround karma today.

The interview will air on Sunday 16 May on ABC Radio National on Soul Search, you can view it here.

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