Outlook Magazine 7 December 1998

IMG_0599The Age Of Aquarius

Follow it and you’re elevated to a higher cosmic plane. Don’t, and you’re dead anyway.

SUZY Singh, formerly the GM of Lintas, Bangalore, claims she was “celestially initiated” in Wynad, Kerala, a year ago “by a channelled message from ascended masters on the other side of the veil”. Masters who told her that she had been “chosen” to help usher humanity into the New Age. With the celestial voices ringing persistently in her ear, Suzy gave up her successful corporate career in May this year and moved to Delhi to become an apostle of evolution.

Their immense do-it-yourself power is what makes New Age tenets attractive.

Having started The Cosmic Order group in the capital, she now spends her time either meditating to raise the earth’s vibrations, or healing people using crystals, pendulums, pyramids, past life regression, oracles, tarot cards and a variety of alternative energies—the knowledge of which, she says, comes to her in intuitive or divine flashes.

Suzy is not a freak case. Over the last two years, the spiritual messages of the New Age have begun to proliferate among the urban rich in India. Many of whom are waking up to their potential as prophets, reportedly with a feeling of divine eureka. Pop effect, they call it.

In Delhi for instance, two New Age groups have come together in the last six months to meet weekly and pray for the “health of the planet”: Suzy Singh’s The Cosmic Order and The Kryon Group, which started with nine members in July but mushroomed to 60 within three months. These “light workers”, as they call themselves, are bound by their common belief that the Earth will shift into a “higher vibratory field” between the years 2011 and 2016, and they, the “chosen” ones, must help humanity make the leap.

Not the apocalypse, but humanity’s collective ascension into an enlightened state in which every human being will be transfigured in the new millennium. That in a line is the message of the New Age, more colourfully called the Age of Aquarius. Spirituality of the nineties, ironically being imported to India from the West. The ‘trail to Kathmandu’, the ‘on the road’ phenomenon of the ’60s and ’70s come full circle—repackaged, shorn of LSD and free sex, but with the belief in “instant nirvana” intact.

Suzy’s zealous feeling of purpose, the divine messaging, the beatific sense of instant awakening and self-empowerment is common to all New Age initiates—in America, Australia, Argentina, Europe, Singapore. Or India. As is the catalyst: fatigue with the pressures and emptiness of fast-paced careers and hectic social lives. “I was wandering earlier, just existing. Now I am living,” says Shuchi Malik, an ex-advertising person who is now a Reiki ‘healer’ and facilitates The Cosmic Order meditations in Bangalore, a city where three Celestine Prophecy groups also convene routinely to work towards the impending evolution. “Our traditional religions no longer have the answers. With this I have found my mission in life,” echoes Mrs Malhotra (name changed on request), a Supreme Court lawyer who facilitates Kryon meetings in Delhi. And Satish Grover, who owns a printing business, felt such a strong wash of positivity accompany his introduction to the New Age fraternity, he didn’t go to work for two weeks.

But renunciation of former lives is not a rule for New Age acolytes, nor is material abstinence. Suzy charges anything between Rs 500 to Rs 750 for her healing sessions and most workshops which teach pranic healing, crystal healing or reiki—all new age energies—cost Rs 2,500-20,000. In fact, part of the attraction of the New Age is its unworried marrying of the spiritual with material abundance. No more the stereotype of the ascetic in the mountain; the call to divinity and cosmic service could take you while you were driving in a Mercedes and you need not get off it. Road to Damascus type conversion, only Saul need not become Paul.

As Neelam Sood emphasises, “we’re extra, extra ordinary.” A South Delhi housewife-cum-Reiki Master, Neelam claims she wafts through the mundane routines of her plush life with a sense of ecstatic timelessness and detachment because she has already moved into the “fourth dimension”, escaped her “karmic imprint” and transfigured herself out of her material body. All miraculously achieved without sacrifice, rigour or austerity. “I still party, get angry, love material things like this,” says she, fingering the suede sofa she sits on, “but sometimes I feel my body disappear at night.”

Something of the phoney there, shades of self-delusion perhaps? “You have to separate the society spirituals from the genuine,” argues Suzy. But it’s difficult to sift the two because instant, struggle-free transformation is the basic premise of the New Age, and it is available to ‘all’—read urban rich. Besides, as its eponym suggests, the New Age is marked by an optimism which silences the sceptic. It speaks of an ordered, loving—and involved—Cosmos, in which everything is “as it should be”, and a complex celestial machinery is deployed to serve and guide Earth and Mankind’s evolution to a “higher consciousness”. All manner of divine entities—angels, spirit guides, ascended Masters, Old Souls, et al—are hovering in the air and within, ready to whisper Truths in people’s ears, the moment they open themselves to it.

“It’s so beautiful. You have to experience it,” chimes 21-year-old Rashi Bahl who has left NIFT to join the “service of the Universe”. Pavan Sony, a 23-year-old freelance journalist and a recent convert, also hugs his newfound experience. Apparently, in a recent meditation, a divine voice flashed him the message: “Only Beauty”. “I have interpreted that as an instruction to drop all negativity,” says he. Less prosaic, Abe Dubash, a pranic healer, has received messages to study stonehenges and Suzy has dream visions that she was a priest in the sunk city of Atlantis in a previous birth.

One can’t pillory New Age doctrines for much more than being an amiable, ‘feel-good’, meaning-generating system. As Rishi Nanda, professor of Philosophy at Delhi’s St Stephen’s college puts it: “To call it spirituality is a bit of a misnomer. It’s a band-aid.” Self-deceptive sops for urban neuroses, or genuine millennial premonition—New Age tenets are attractive because they confer an immense “do-it-yourself” sense of power and purpose for the tired urban heart. Adhere, and you become a key player in the “Grand Plan of The Universe”. At the same time, “channelled messages” remove the anxiety of self-willed action.

THE whiffs of phoniness, however, are difficult to ignore. Neelam Sood’s enlightenment was initiated by a guru she calls The Glowing One, whom she admits she had trouble accepting at first—not only because “she wore nail polish, western clothes and had a fancy house,” but because she could not experience any of the son et lumiere The Glowing One was describing. “I pretended to see lights in the beginning”, says Neelam, “but then suddenly I felt the Love Force so strongly I rushed out to hug the trees.” Interestingly, many of these ‘gurus’ are incommunicado. The Glowing One is currently travelling in the US in “service of the Universe”, and refuses to meet the public or the press. Much like Madam Keywan, an ex-garment exporter and designer who is now the “celestially chosen” guide of the Kryon group in Delhi. Or Huzur Hukum, a woman who is apparently setting up one of 15 global ‘cities of light’ on a 10,000-acre piece of land on the banks of the Sutlej in Ropar.

Also problematic is the totalising sanguinity of New Age-speak. Kryon, a celestial entity which channels messages through Lee Carroll, a businessman in California, claims it is 11-sided, exudes a copper glow, and came into the earth’s orbit in 1989 in a spaceship called Excalibur, to adjust the magnetic grids of the planet (sic). Yet it claims to be “from the same source that spoke to Moses from the Burning Bush”. This is typical. New Age mythology co-opts everything—from Maya, Karma, Hopi Indians, Aboriginal Australians, Sai Baba, Sri Aurobindo, Lao Tzu and Tao to Jesus, the Buddha and Edgar Cayce, oblivious of epistemological hurdles. Add to that, talk of ‘chakras’, kundalinis, mer-ka-bas, magnets, spirits and astrophysics—and you have the expansive scope of this catch-all theology.

But despite the loving messages of the New Age, doomsaying is not absent from it: field fires in Mexico, unseasonal rain, melting Polar ice to solar flares, comets and shifts in the earth’s axis are proffered as ‘signs of the times’. When he is done, the earth will stop rotating, announces Kryon. Those who refuse to tread the paths of the New Age will be eradicated. “We have to hasten the process and get more people onto the path,” says Werner Goodwin, a New Age worker in Delhi, urgently. “Otherwise one-third of humanity will perish, unable to make the evolutionary shift.”

But worry not, in the New Age, even that is as it should be. Spiritual sci-fi, capitalist fantasy, or a portentous millennial awakening? Take your pick.



One Comment

  1. Dana says:

    I hope that all the members of The Cosmic Order and The Kryon Group continued with their ‘Light work’. Maybe it is time to put them all together once again for the benefit of all… Anyway Suzy, you must be having an appropriate guidance in regards to this… May we all be supported and guided at all times… Love, Dana

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