When Puducherry-based author-turned volunteer at Midam Ashram Sushrut Badhe started administering the Vedic Chants Intervention Program—designed by the Midam Charitable Trust—to autistic children in schools of Puducherry in 2013, kids were unruly. “A boy grabbed my eyeglasses, another scratched me, some of them even passed out and others hit the speakers. But at the end, children showed stark changes and the ones who were creating troubles started disciplining other children and even came forward to switch on the speaker and so on.
Moreover, a girl with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder sat silently for five minutes,” says Badhe, who has been working as a researcher at the ashram for past seven years.Each 17-minute session in which the chants were played on a music system was conducted under the guidance of a child educator.
Now, he has got geneticist Dinesh to take this research forward on a larger level for the trust. Dinesh says, “I met Sushrut during a programme at Madurai, where he told me about the study he had done at a special school in Puducherry, and then I did a similar study in several schools of Chennai. The result was positive, so he asked me if I could work with him on further research on the subject and I agreed to it.”
“The findings from both the studies revealed significant behavioural changes in kids then, and those were presented at the international conference on human genetics in 2014. The presentation was even adjudged winner in the therapeutic category,” says Badhe.Meanwhile, Dinesh has now joined the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) as a post doctoral fellow. “I am working on the project in collaboration with Dr Sunil Narayan, Professor of Neurology. We will study the impact of Vedic chants on children with autism,” he says.
Meanwhile, Sushrut is keeping up his good work by helping children out using the therapy. But one would think how a mechanical engineer got inclined towards all things spiritual.“I first went to Midam Ashram with my mother—a senior professor at the Department of Pathology at JIPMER—who teaches the Bhagavad Gita to schoolchildren as a volunteer of the trust. As I was a patient of sinus and was shifting to the UK, a cold country for a PG programme, I wanted to learn pranayam from Guru Sri Madhusudan Raghunath Damle,” says the 28-year-old.
He was so awestruck by the way guruji answered his questions that he asked Damleji, if he could stay with him for some time. “He agreed and it has been seven years now that I am living with Guruji at the ashram,” says Badhe, who then took forward Vedic Chants Intervention Programme designed by the guru for treating children with autism.
Reminiscing the first drama we did for the children at Sathya Special School in Puducherry, Badhe says, “It was comical wherein we made clowns of ourselves. Children laughed at our jokes and it was a great experience because we were doing something for autistic kids. Damle ji was so happy on seeing the recording that he designed a module using hymns from Vedas, which Damleji felt induced soothing effect on kids.”
But his quest for exploring the spiritual scriptures did not stop there. The youngster is working to pass on the wisdom from the past. So, he wrote the Bhagavad Gita, Isha, Mandukya, Kena and Anand Upanishads in rhyme format, making the ancient texts accessible to the youth using mobile applications and his YouTube channel ‘Rhythm of Krishna’.
“While at college, I used to like Eminem’s raps. When I had written Bhagavad Gita, my friends were reluctant to read it. So I thought of uploading it on YouTube,” says the author.
“When I wrote a few Upanishads in rhyme, I wanted to make them available on apps so as to make it reach the mobile generation,” says Sushrut, who has now developed a first-of-its-kind app called ‘Instaveda’ in which he has sung verses from Isha Upanishad. “I have used sounds of water tumbling down from the clouds and roaring thunder as a backdrop. And this app that was launched two weeks back has also been declared as the first mobile app to have Upanishad in audio rhyme format, by Assist World Records Research Foundation, Auroville.”
Ask about Badhe's future and he says, “I am now writing verses from the Rig Veda in rhyme format. I also want to explore the benefits of Vedic Hymn therapy to persons with mental retardation and hyperactivity.”