Maha Yog Yoga
   
MIT Research
Samadhi
Dr.William C Bushell ,PhD,made a brief research trip (January-February 2001) to the Kumbha Mela Festival in Allahabad, India, the purpose of which was to initiate a larger, on-going research program on yoga. Here is an extract of his observations on the bhugarbha (underground) samadhi practice that he witnessed.

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The spectacle of the underground (bhugarbha) samadhi that I was privileged to witness at the Kumbha Mela camp of Mahayogi Pilot Baba was truly impressive. Performed by his student, Yog Mata Keiko Aikawa, a Japanese woman, the yogini was buried in an underground pit for 72 hours. She emerged on the afternoon of January 23rd in apparently excellent condition after having entered the pit, which was covered over with earth, on the afternoon of January 20th. The full scientific understanding of this phenomenon awaits an appropriate investigation, which has in fact been scheduled for the spring of this year at the Columbia-Cornell Medical Center. The practice has been observed and written about for centuries by Indians and Westerners, including physicians (eg, Honigberger 1852). An appropriate scientific consideration of the practice must take into account the following: the practice has been done in the past under false pretenses, ie, in some cases a secret tunnel was dug which allowed the performer to escape the underground enclosure. Instances of such deception have been recorded (see Tripathi 1978: 123-4; Siegel 1991: 170f). In addition, the underground enclosure can be constructed so that, in actuality, no special respiratory, metabolic, or other putative yogic abilities are necessary, other than the ability to tolerate the tedium and physical discomfort imposed by the demonstration (although this may not be designed with the intent to deceive). In such a case, the dimensions of the pit, in conjunction with air seepage through the soil, allows for enough oxygen to make survival possible without such reputed yogic abilities.
However, these considerations do not fully explain the bhugarbha samadhi practice, as several previous preliminary clinical investigations, including by members of our own research team, have shown that dramatic voluntary control over respiration and metabolism may in fact be involved. In these several studies, the yogis agreed to perform the samadhi under controlled conditions while being monitored physiologically (Anand, Chhina, & Singh 1961; Heller, Elsner, and Rao 1987; and see also Benson et al 1990, who studied a similar practice in Tibetan yogis). In these several cases, the yogis demonstrated an unprecedented voluntarily-induced state of profound hypometabolism, ranging from 40-64% below resting baseline. Such states are generally only encountered in profoundly hypothermic individuals close to death. .

In these several cases, the yogis demonstrated an unprecedented voluntarily-induced state of profound hypometabolism, ranging from 40-64% below resting baseline. Such states are generally only encountered in profoundly hypothermic individuals close to death.

Furthermore, Mahayogi Pilot Baba has purportedly demonstrated the more extreme variation of this practice, the underwater or jala samadhi, for four days (see for example, CNN World News, November 5, 1992). If such a feat proves to be possible under controlled conditions - as is soon to be tested - this indeed would constitute a revolution in Western physiological science. Such a feat would require, among a number of critical adaptations, the survival of extended respiratory suspension and circulatory arrest. Although human survival of circulatory arrest for briefer durations has been conclusively documented - in, for example, cases of medically induced hypothermia for surgery and cold-water near-drownings - the voluntary induction and survival of such a phenomenon is scientifically unprecedented. (See Bushell, in preparation, for comprehensive review of this data and discussion of allegedly demonstrated heart-stopping by yoga practitioners. On the genetic relevance of hibernation for primates, including humans, see Andrews et al 1998, Srere et al 1992).

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Note: This is an extract from a reprt of a Field Trip made by Dr. Bushell which was sponsored by the Infinity Foundation.

 

 
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