By Jimena Clarke
The 12th International Congress of Complementary Medicine was held from August 22-23 2015, in Santiago, Chile, and featured the promotion of Agnihotra and Homa Therapy. The Congress was organized by the School of Oriental Medicine and Culture, the Amanecer Clinic, and Fivefold Path Foundation Chile, a foundation recently created for the support of Agnihotra and Homa Therapy.
Dr. Ulrich Berk from Germany spoke about the effects of Agnihotra on human health. His lecture was very well received by a large number of the Congress participants.
Sponsors of the Congress were the Faculty of Medicine of Finis Terrae University of Santiago, and the Medical Association of Chile.
On the second day, two students from this university presented a research paper on stress reduction effects of Agnihotra. These studies were conducted at the suggestion of Drs. Andrea Chavez and Ernesto Vega.
Stress level was measured by testing hormone concentration in the saliva.
In order to avoid placebo effects, the persons tested were not performing Agnihotra or even sitting for Agnihotra; they were just sitting for some time in a room next to the Agnihotra room.
Still the results were highly significant. This was motivation to start a larger experiment with more people and over a longer period of time. Also they will try to find a way to show any differences in a scientifically acceptable way among being next to an Agnihotra room – sitting for Agnihotra – and performing Agnihotra oneself (avoiding the possible objection that it is all just due to placebo effect).
In the two days, more than 50 Agnihotra kits were sold, evidence of peoples’ enthusiasm about Agnihotra after listening to Dr. Berk’s talk. He talked about how regular practice of Agnihotra can lead us to a happier life in harmony with nature and each other.
Dr. Purushottam Rajimwale from India, grandson of Shree Gajanan Maharaj (who revived the practice of Agnihotra in modern times), spoke on Ayurveda. Also he gave a workshop on the second day of the conference on Ayurveda and diet, with practical solutions, easy to use in everyday life.
Dr. Berk has been working for many years with various universities around the world, urging scientists and researchers to conduct more studies on the effects of Agnihotra and Agnihotra Ash and their underlying mechanisms. One of the things he said that created a strong impression among those who did not know of this technique, was that this fire, performed in such a small copper container, has such immense power, which not only produces significant environmental changes, but in many levels of our lives.
After nearly 30 years of living in England and having only returned to Chile 12 months ago, it was a wonderful surprise to hear about the visit of my dear friend Ulrich Berk. So I came down from my beloved Elqui Valley to have the privilege to accompany him and be at his service as his translator during his stay in Chile, and also to share with old and new friends.
Events like these help us to consolidate ties, unify our knowledge, learn from those with more experience, but above all interact in harmony with each member of our global family of fire.
There is no doubt of the impact that the visit of Ulrich to Chile had, especially in giving a push to the promotion and teaching of this magnificent tool that Shree Gajanan Maharaj, via Shree Vasant, has left us, for these times of so much misery and uncertainty which our society faces.
Once the Congress was over, the Fivefold Path Foundation organized a series of talks and presentations, both in Santiago and other regions of the country. In these, Ulrich shared with the audience in a very precise, clear and accurate way some of the results of research made so far and the work that in recent decades, he has been doing to encourage scientists to investigate the enormous benefits of Homa Therapy, whether in the fields of agriculture, medicine or other sciences.
At one of the talks held in Santiago in a Center for Ayurveda studies, Ulrich talked about Homa Therapy and health and how Agnihotra may decrease the levels of stress, among other things. This topic was the subject of a research, which is still in process, carried out by students of Medicine of the University Finis Terrae in Chile. These experiments and researches will continue, even though some immediate results have already been obtained. More details on these studies will be officially published in the near future.
Another topic of his lectures was Homa Organic Farming. He had the opportunity to meet with various officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, both in the center of the country, as in the South, where we stayed for 4 days.
In the meeting with officials from this ministry it was agreed that Agnihotra Ash preparations and Homa Biosol (a preparation of several ingredients including Agnihotra Ash) will in future be part of the products allowed for Organic Farming. This will be the first time this has been done.
Ulrich met with a group of organic farmers from small and medium-sized farms. They were interested in hearing about Homa agriculture and how they could implement it on their land. The talk was informative as well as practical, speaking of the use of the ash in the plantings, in production of Homa Biosol, etc. These farmers are now aware that climate change is undoubtedly affecting them, despite using organic agriculture. Recently in this area of the South a volcano began erupting after having been passive for over a hundred years; also last summer, we were told, was a hotter season than usual and without rain, which is unusual in the area.
During those days, thanks to the efforts undertaken by the agronomist and Agnihotri, Paula Heinsohn, Ulrich also had the opportunity to make a brief presentation about Homa agriculture to a small group of important officials of the INIA (Institute of Farming and Stockbreeding Research) who are in charge of projects and research in the area of organic farming. These officials were very interested in the subject and it is expected that next year they will submit a project at regional government level, for the implementation of Homa Agriculture at the level of organic farmers in the area. Meanwhile, they intend to begin to do some research on the use of Agnihotra Ash.
Coming back to the capital, in Curacaví, an agricultural area near Santiago, Ulrich gave his last public talk, in the Town Hall of Curacaví, to a group of farmers and individuals, interested in learning a little more about Agnihotra and Homa therapy and its practical uses. The following day was Ulrich’s last day in Chile and we went back to Santiago for a private meeting with a former adviser of a past President of Chile, who was in charge of issues related to air pollution, and now is head of an institute working in this field. This was a very good meeting, especially because this person was willing to do some experiment to see how Agnihotra could greatly help to solve the problem of air pollution in the capital of Chile, which suffers severe air pollution. He has all the equipment and instruments to start with some tests, so now it is important to follow up on this. It was a good last meeting with some good possibilities of further research.
Ulrich remained in Chile for a bit more than 3 weeks, bearing a tight schedule during this period, giving lectures and specific workshops, but also having informal meetings with Chilean Agnihotris and old friends.
Many ideas and new projects are now on the table, including managing Homa Therapy Teachers Certification and the future training of Homa agricultural technicians, in the country.
Time will tell how this will develop, but I have no doubt that the visit that Ulrich has made to Chile has turned “the wheel of fire”, so-to-speak and we can see an interesting future on the topic of promoting these sacred fires, at a more scientific level but at the same time at a very practical level as growing food. Above all it is unified work with a constant exchange between the international family of fire.
I personally want to thank the organizers of these events, Dr. Ernesto Vega and his wife Dr. Andrea Chavez, Paula Heinsohn, Héctor Rosas, among many others, but specially to Karina Ohme for her tireless work, her big and friendly heart and infinite patience and for welcoming us in her home for 3 weeks!
Thanks again to Ulrich, for having accepted the invitation to come to the end of the world land! We hope that he will be able to return to Chile in the future; especially to once again have a dip in the wonderfully healing waters of our sacred Cochiguaz River, in the Elqui Valley, that he also had the opportunity to go to on a short visit. We hope it will be longer next time!