By a stroke of karmic fate, I was born into a distinguished spiritual family in India. In fact, this family is part of an ancient lineage, known as a parampara, a succession of spiritual masters that have been imparting healing wisdom for thousands of years, next to the banks of River Sarayu, in Ayodhya, a holy city in northern India. My ancestors are renowned folks, who have accomplished much on the Indian soil, both in spiritual and dharmic realms. 


Interestingly, the body I was born with into this great lineage and its inbuilt opportunity to ascend spiritually, came with inbuilt obstacles to a life of purpose and spiritual quest. My body had hidden triggers to get auto-inflamed. Modern physicians call it an incurable and progressive autoimmune genetic condition, which puts people in wheelchairs, and quickly. There were days, even when I was very young, when I could not even move my fingers, without significant pain. 


Thankfully, my immediate paternal grandfather, Baba, with whom we lived in an extensive joint family, was not only a spiritual mystic and master teacher of spiritual wisdom, a Guru to hundreds in our small town Ayodhya, but also an Ayurvedic healer and accomplished Yogi. He helped me go beyond the pain, each time. In between episodes, I would forget about the pain. Such is the nature of childhood.

Can’t walk? Why not plan on flying?

acharya shunya, my story, ayurveda, vedanta

Once, when I was 14, the inflammation suddenly increased beyond description. I was in severe physical and emotional distress.


My Baba laughed cheerfully and said to me, “Why not plan on flying?”


I looked at him, shocked. Baba explained gently, but directly to my soul: 


“Shunya, it is time for you to evoke your inner healer instead of looking to me to fix you each time. You are now old enough to internalize a way of living, thinking and relating with people and the world, so that your body will no longer get triggered into pain. Why not begin to live the teachings I am imparting you academically for some time now? Why not employ Ayurveda’s lifestyle wisdom fully to walk again, yoga to tell your mind (and the cosmic mind) you can do this, and live the spiritual knowledge from Vedanta to connect with your true spirit Self? And thereby make walking effortless playtime – a flight from darkness, untruths and stories of the mind, into health and radiance of the Self?”

Baba’s words were a wake up call. Instead of depending on Ayurveda drugs, I wanted to awaken and lay claim to my inner health. Baba had assured me that my health was waiting for me; it has merely fallen asleep, but it is never gone. I can awaken it with my own healing intentions and actions.

I thereafter plunged myself wholeheartedly into my study, beyond academics into real life health achievements, day by day, in ever building increments. I failed at times, but I started again, gently helped along by my wise teacher, Baba. 


Sometimes dis-ease and pain is a good thing. It makes us open the right door, the doorway to abiding heath, known as Arogyam. 


I not only learned Ayurveda and related sciences scholastically in my teacher’s traditional and experiential school called Gurukulam, but also literally fell in love with the healing wisdom of a lifestyle that has come down from my Rishi (sage) ancestors, over the ages. I wanted to fly, you see. 


Today I run daily, in spite of the same old genes. I teach nonstop. I live my whole life, as I want to. 


And this is how I fly, crossing an entire ocean of (so-called genetically doomed) existence, without painkillers, exploratory surgeries, or wheelchairs. Through the pitfalls and unexpected deaths and losses of life and relationships, physical falls and traumatic accidents, I have learned that health is my true nature, my birthright. 


In fact, thanks to healing truth and wisdom, I can finally drop all the masks, the masks of learned helplessness, societal bondage, dysfunctional dependence, questionable diagnosis, poisonous prescriptions, blame and shame. And in this spiritual freedom, I recreate myself, and my health, every day. 


Will you fly with me?