Pandey Ji: Be careful - I am giving you addiction!
When exploring yoga schools in India, often we get requests from yoga students to interview particular yoga teachers. We have received quite a few requests about Pandey Ji, the founder of Vedansha Institute of Yoga and Vedic Sciences in Rishikesh, India. Here's a transcript of our talk, and for the full interview, check our video below.
TopYogis: Can you tell us about your path in yoga, how did it all start?
Pandey Ji: Actually, this is my fortune. This is my luck. I am so blessed. I was born in the yogic and Vedic traditional family. In my family, we have a master in the third generation, so I belong to the Master’s traditional family.
And you were learning yoga from your family?
My dear, when I was born, I saw with my eyes, Master is there. Vedic, yogic lifestyle was in my family. So I started to grow in that. And I felt that this is the type of the world, this is the lifestyle, this is the way of human life. That lifestyle was: we would wake up at 3-4 AM in the morning, 30 minutes for cleaning, and then we would sit, with your practice, meditation, pranayama, chanting mantras, till the sunrise. And when the sunrise comes, then we would offer water to the sun, rituals like that. And we would also do the fire rituals, and then after breakfast, the day would start, and I would go to school. This is the way of life in which I began to grow. So I had no need to go anywhere to learn these traditional or ancient things. My grandfather had five brothers, one was an enlightened master. So I learned all these things in my family. So when I grew up, I saw that the world is different, things in the world started to attract me. I grew in the Gurukul, I learned with the masters, slept on the ground, I did not need to have good mattresses and air conditioning, no. But then I felt that there are many good things in the outside world, and I wanted to learn that. So I went to the university and then I ran away from there. I said I am not interested in these traditional yogic things, Vedic things, Veda, Ramana, Mahabharata, all these scriptures, Puranas, Upanishads, I don’t need this knowledge. This samsara is going somewhere else.
So I wanted to know other sciences. I did the graduation in science, and I did the master in biochemistry, and then I did the pharmacy, gold medalist in pharmacy. Definitely, my mind was sharp because of the training I received while I was growing up. So I was sharp physically and mentally. So I tried to do some work like other people, in the pharma industry, and I worked there for a few months. I felt that I am making the formulations, I am involved with the medicines, it means I am doing a very good thing, I am serving human beings with my full sentiments. But you know, pharma companies are money-making companies. They don’t care about health, they care about the profits. So there arose some issues asking me to compromise, and I cannot compromise. I felt very guilty, and I thought, this is not for me. And I cried, I left the job and came back home. Then, my master and grandfather, they laughed and asked, what happened? This is not for you.
So I went again to the Gurukul, and again I started the study of the traditional knowledge, then I did my post-graduation work in Yogic science and human consciousness, then I did the Ph.D. in the yoga therapy, because I could apply the scientific knowledge there, of physiology and anatomy. So how can I use all this my knowledge for the wellness of the human being? What is my yogic way? And yoga, ayurveda, and natural matters, these were already in my blood, and an enlightened master was there, ready to give me more if I want, so I put myself there.
And I never thought about it that I would be a teacher one day. I was never planning to teach or make money like that. But you know, then you start to do these spiritual practices, it works. When you reach some point, when you achieve something in your practice, then whatever thought comes, it starts to manifest.
Then I got married. I did not want to, but my father told me: “No, go through this way. If you want sannyasa, after the marriage you can take sannyasa. You do all your duties”. And I accepted all these things. So I made the family, and there emerged the need to provide for the family. And I felt that if I am not capable of providing for the family, then what should I do? I would pray every day and do my spiritual practice. And my dear, God is everywhere, energy is everywhere, and things that you think, they manifest, if you are really connected somewhere.
So one day it happened, it was more than 18 years ago, I was there near Laxman Jhula, I was doing some practice in front of the Moksha ashram, I came there to do my puja, to the Shivalingam, I was serving that ashram area and temple area. One day one person came to me there, he was a manager in a hotel. At that time I only spoke Hindi and Sanskrit, I couldn’t speak any English. So he said, “I am a manager in a hotel, and there is a group here now, and they saw you in a temple and want you to give a yoga lesson for them.” First I felt fear because they were all foreigners and I did not speak English well. Till now, I also don’t have very good English, but I’m trying. But he said, “No problem, I will translate.” So I went there, and I gave the class, and they all felt very good. I gave just a few asanas, and a little bit of meditation, pranayama, it was a mixed class of approximately 1 hour. And when I finished the class, the manager gave me an envelope with 3000 rupees. I felt this was too much. At that time, I did not know that all this knowledge could give me money. And you know, 20 years ago, not many people were attracted to this yoga. People looked down on yogis and yogi masters. It did not mean much respect at that time. But the manager said, “This money is for you, you keep it.” And the group leader came to me and said: “Come every day for the next 8 days, and you will be paid every day”. Then I started to count, it meant 24000 rupees for eight days! I will be very rich in just eight days! And that was the beginning. And after making 24 000 rupees, I walked around Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula and felt that I am a very rich man. I was sharing money with the monks that I met. And then, when lion knows the taste of the blood, what happens?
I have no fear to say and accept these things. But I cannot be just like a salesman. I opened here many schools, I helped many people, but I did not open my own school, because I felt that all the schools were my schools. I wanted to be free. But my students would tell me: “Pandey Ji, you need to open a school. You need your own place”. I said, OK, you make. So they all united and designed the school. I said, I will teach anything you want. But I cannot say to anyone: “This is my price, this is my cost, this is the cost of my lesson.” Never. Anybody knows these things. Many people ask me to teach lessons in their places. And they ask me, “How much do you need per lesson?” I say: “Whatever will make you happy.” My belief is that the diamond will never tell you “this is my cost.” If you know this is a diamond, you will pick the cost. If you have nothing to give, you just say “thank you” with respect, and I will be fine. But if you want to make me fool, like many people tried. They sold my classes for 200 dollars per person, and I did not know. And they collected lots of money. And then, after I found out about this, I said, it’s not good, I will not come.
So now you have your own school?
Yes, this is my school.
Very good. Pandey Ji, what is the purpose of yoga practice for you?
See, it makes me healthy. I am 50 years old. In regards to energy, I feel much younger than any young person. And I always feel warm and healthy, and I always feel balanced. I can sleep properly, seven hours every day when I want. Physical health, mental health, emotional health - everything I have.
And you think that it's all thanks to your practice of yoga?
Yes, only thanks to yoga. Because for me, yoga is not just a physical practice. Yoga is the union, is the connection, connection with yourself.
Because everyone is disconnected from himself. He knows more things about others, but he doesn’t know anything about himself. When you start to move towards yourself - that’s why I tell everyone to return to the source, the source is inside you, connect with yourself, connect with the source. And the source of everything - everything is inside you. What is the need to connect with you? No need. If I need anything, I will connect to the source, and I can get. Everyone is disconnected. So, my dear, I found myself, I am connected.
So now you help others to connect to themselves through yoga.
Yes! Through yoga. That’s why my slogan is “connect with yourself.” This is the era of connection, of networking. But networking is where - outside. My networking is inside. That's why we opened the Vedansha - Veda is the knowledge, ansha is the part. The part of the knowledge that we are spreading here, giving to everyone.
And what you will get if you come to Vedansha - connection with yourself. You were disconnected, that’s why the problem. You forgot yourself, that’s why there is a problem in your life - the physical, mental, emotional - any level of problem. It’s because of disconnection. What we need - connection. Where to connect? I am trying to give you all the techniques that will disconnect you from outside and help you connect with yourself. And help you to know more about yourself, explore yourself, reduce and remove your disabilities.
And those things are painful and are the cause of your sadness. Because you are connected outside, and inside - you don't know how to go there. So I am providing here those things, people can get access to find themselves, the way of life.
Pandey Ji, sometimes people are very busy nowadays, they have no time, and say they have just 15 minutes for practice. What can they do?
My dear, I want to ask you. For example, if you come to me and you say I am very busy. I will ask: you are busy - for what? Tell me - for what?
They will say - I have so much work and family, I run around…
Work for what?
To provide for my family.
OK. Family for what?
Well, responsibility, obligation, as you say.
Responsibility for what? If you have no time for yourself, what will do for the family, what will do for the work? Master says: first you should do those things that make you healthy and happy. And you are saying: “I have no time to make me healthy and happy.” OK, go to hell and die immediately. This is my answer, my dear. I have no time for myself - OK, you die immediately, my dear.
First - bliss, and first - pleasure, and first - happiness. You should be healthy. Second - you are healthier, and you should be prosperous, wealthy, rich. If you have health, you can earn money. Make yourself healthy. You are healthy, you are strong, you are rich. Then you find a woman that can be your life partner, she can help you, can save your money, save your family, save your health, make your family. And she knows, you are healthy, powerful and rich. She will always be by your side, she will not go out of the track, my dear. Otherwise, she will not respect you.
Because you cannot fulfill her desires because of the weakness of your physical body. Because of the weakness of your money system. The responsibility first goes towards you, and then your children. Your children will know that their mother is perfect and the father is a healthy and principled person, and he has money. My dear, how the children will be? Very good. This is a good family. It comes from your health, happiness. Because of yoga. You do not do yoga, you do not have time for that - OK, you cannot enjoy your family, you cannot enjoy your children. Yoga is actually the life system, how to live. How to understand what are your life goals? That’s why I ask many times what is the goal of human life? Work like a machine? Are you machine or human?
Pandey Ji, so what is the minimum time for practice that you would recommend?
My dear, in 24 hours, minimum you give one hour to your practice. In 24 hours, minimum 1 hour you need for the bathroom and toilet, but you don’t have time for 1-hour yoga? If anybody says I have no time for yoga, then you should stop everything, but you do not stop yoga. Yoga should be necessary for everyone, minimum 1 hour. If you really want to have healthy, happy, harmonious life.
What should we do in this 1 hour?
Some physical practice to make warmer, circulation will be faster. Some breathing practice - pranayama, to control your energy. And then after 10 to 15 minutes is your time to normalize yourself and relax. You start your day with this, and then automatically what will happen - you will start to take 30 minutes in the evening time, because you will be addicted after 1-2 months. Yes, I tell everyone: be careful. Every day in the fixed time I give you pranayama - I am giving you addiction. You will be tranquilized, this is my natural tranquilizer. After one month, if you continue this tranquilizer, one day you will reach that unconscious state, without reason you will be happy. You will not need any reason for happiness. Do we need any reason for happiness, for smiling? I think a smile is the gift of the God, of nature. So one hour, some physical asana, we make a few rounds of Sun Salutation, 10-15 minutes meditation, 10-15 minutes breathing practice, and it’s 1 hour. If anyone comes to me and says “I want a 1-hour set” - OK, I will make the module for him. This is your module, you can do every day according to your need, to your health. Yoga is an ocean. And I am requesting everyone: don’t try to drink the ocean. From this ocean, what you need - you can take according to your need. Don’t go in the deep water, you may not come back, you may lose everything.
Pandey Ji, if somebody comes to Rishikesh, would you have any advice for that student? They see so many schools, so many teachers. What would you advise them, how to find their way?
If people come to Rishikesh, it’s very good. I ask, how did you reach Rishikesh, how did you choose this place, and why did you choose this place? For peace, for yoga, for spirituality, for the change of lifestyle, for happiness?
But you know, (in Rishikesh), this is market, all type of people is here. Sometimes people reach wrong hands, and they feel as they are cheated. Some people take the money and give the certificate, but what about the knowledge? What I can say about this - it depends on the (student’s) fortune.
I personally share only what I have, I cannot advertise things that I don’t have to teach. And those people who come here (to my school), they do not go anywhere else. They say that they found everything they wanted.
So those who are supposed to find a good teacher, they will find a good teacher, and those who don’t - this is a part of their journey.
Yes. Maybe some people come and feel cheated by some schools - I cannot say that there are schools that try to cheat you, they just give what they have. Maybe they don't have much skill, but at least they have more skill than you. So you feel, OK, I already come here, I learn. And you get a certificate, and you go home. Next time you’re here, then you come here to this school, and you say” Oh my god, why didn't I come to this school last year?” It happens. This is your journey, my dear, how you can find a good place or a good teacher. Maybe someone can help, there are many students, the entire world. They can advise you some schools - word of mouth. This is also possible. This is a journey, my dear, it depends on your fortune.
Thank you, Pandey Ji!
You can contact Pandey Ji and see where he is teaching at his TopYogis page. If you have practiced with him you can share your experience there. On that page, you can also find directions to his Vedansha Yoga School.
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