Since 2002, I (Laj Utreja) have been toiling with an idea of establishing a school of harmony based on the principles of spiritual healing. In the same year, I opened a home-based school that teaches yoga asana (different postures to stimulate the endocrine glands), pranayama (different dimensions in the way prana, the life-energy is utilized for the bodily functions, so that the mind is balanced) and dhyana (meditation for focus and concentration to achieve a state of an equipoise mind). The underlying thinking was that if one is in harmony with the self and the surroundings of people, objects, events, and the environment, then one would be able to heal oneself of any mental agony, worry, anxiety and the resulting stress. It is essentially stress caused by modern life-style, consumption of modern day processed foods, exposure to polluted environmental conditions and ignorance about human values that produce enough mental negativity to cause body sickness, organ defects, and mental disorders. The resulting faults in human behaviour bind us in degraded human relationships that are responsible for most faith-based, racial and cultural problems.
In December 2011, circumstances afforded me an unexpected visit to Gandhi Vidya Mandir (GVM) and the Institute of Advanced Studies in Education (IASE) in Sardarshahr, Rajasthan. There, at his office at the IASE, I met Sh. Kanakmal Dugar, Chancellor, in whom I developed a likeness of the minds. Both at GVM and at IASE, I saw the result of human will that had turned the desert land into a platform for the delivery of education. This is where and when, during one of the discussions with the Chancellor I conceived the idea about an Institute of Global Harmony (IGH). And so I conveyed to Sh. Kanakmal Dugar.
In Feb, 2012, Sh. Kanakmal Dugar invited me to speak at the International Seminar on “Teacher Education for Peace & Harmony” in New Delhi hosted by IASE. More than 100 papers were presented by teachers and other speakers from all over the world. While the Seminar was a success, I was not too convinced that academic papers could ever achieve peace and harmony. Peace and harmony cannot exist without our willingness to do so. In the midst of technological progress, competing businesses, economic and political breakdowns all over the world, a polarized world, and uncountable human distractions, how can one have a willing mind for peace and harmony. At the seminar, I presented a paper, “Teacher Education for Peace & Harmony-A Vedic Perspective,” which delineated factors suitable for preparing the mind for such a transformation.
Based on the factors outlined in the paper, I presented a proposal at a scheduled Workshop following the Seminar to establish an IGH at GVM, Sardarshahr. The proposal was approved by the Chancellor, GVM and by those who attended the Workshop, pending a decision by the GVM Board. In May, 2012, The GVM Board approved the proposal as well. I further explored the concept of achieving harmony through education. After over 10 years of research, conversing with educators from around the world and working with members of the Global Harmony Association (GHA) and the International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP), it became clear to me that there was a distinct need for harmony education in a teaching environment. In the remaining part of 2012, I began planning for the IGH. New ideas pertaining to delivery of harmony education began crystallizing in my mind. In March, 2013, I presented my ideas in the form of a technical paper at the Oxford Round Table for Child Education. The ideas were received as a challenging step in the education reform. In May, 2013, I submitted a Business Plan to the Chancellor, IASE, which was approved as a starting point.
There was another unusual happening during the course of my preparations for the IGH. During the Seminar on Teacher Education for Peace and Harmony, and again in October 2012 on my arrival in Sardarshahar, Mr. Himansu Dugar, CEO of IASE conveyed to me that Rev. A. Nagraj, a learned man in Amarkantak, M.P. had expressed an interest to see me. The idea of an unfamiliar person expressing an interest to see me aroused a curiosity to meet with him. In December 2012, accompanied by Dr. Surendra Pathak, Director, Value Education, IASE, I went to see A. Nagraj at his house in Amarkantak. I saw this old man (around 93 lying down on the bed, apparently due to some hip problem) attended by two of my juniors from my alma mater, I.I.T., Kanpur. Rev. Nagraj didn’t waste any time for introduction and started teaching me Vikalpa (An Alternative). For the next 5 days he taught me regularly for 2 hours daily. While I didn’t realize at the time why he chose to teach me Vikalpa, it became apparent to me in another six months that he was really preparing me to think about an alternate system of education. The realization provided a clear direction for me to work toward a shift in the education system.
In the meantime I learned more about Rev. A. Nagraj and his greatness. For 25 years, he had practiced extensive austerities of Samadhi (a state of intense meditation in which one achieves a direct revelation of reality) and for 2 years of Samyam Samadhi (a perfect control of mind in which a deeper knowledge of qualities of the object contemplated is received). I also learned that Rev. Nagraj had a vision of the reality that he penned down in 14 books on philosophy, isms, and the science of Existence as Coexistence. After this finding, I considered myself very privileged to have the fortune of meeting such a unique person in my life time. Following that and until his passing on March 5, 2016, I went to see Rev. Nagraj 4 more times. His life, his vision, and his teachings became a source of continued development for planning the IGH.
In 2013, GVM offered Milap Bhavan, a 40,000 sq. ft. floor space for the immediate operation of IGH. In addition, it offered 100 acres of land on the Delhi Highway to lay down infrastructure for the establishment of IGH. The building is being altered to suit the needs and requirements of IGH.
“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”
“The point in history at which we stand is full of promise and danger. The world will either move forward toward unity and widely shared prosperity – or it will move apart.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt