Ask a Dru Yoga coach, teaching the therapeutic style of yoga created by Mansukh Patel over 30 years ago. Or a child, given hope to beat bullying in school because of the Peace Education package. Ask Lynette, whose MS left her in a wheelchair before she started Dru Meditation but who has just finished her first skiing holiday. Or ask one of the thousands of people in India whose sight has been restored by a free cataract operation organized by the World Peace Flame, the organisation Mansukh Patel founded. Ask the thousands of people worldwide who have been inspired by his books or TV documentaries. For each of these thousands of voices will attest to the legacy of one man who seeks to make the world a better place.
Early life in Kenya
Mansukh Patel was born in Kenya in 1955 to Indian parents. He gained familiarity with the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi at an early age since his parents, Chhaganbhai and Ecchaben Patel, had worked in Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement in India. Growing up in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley amidst the violent aftermath of the Mau Mau uprising, Mansukh often witnessed his parents’ Gandhian approach in difficult situations.
Although poor, Mansukh’s parents did their best to support local people in need, by offering food or other small kindnesses when they could. Once, while walking home from work late at night, Mansukh’s father was stopped by guerrillas in a deserted place. The Mau Mau were deeply feared – such encounters were common and invariably fatal for the victim. They stripped Mansukh Patel’s father and were about to take his life when one of the rebels called out, ‘Chhaganbhai, is that you?’ The young African man had recognised Mansukh’s father who gave him small jobs in exchange for food. A heated discussion followed, and finally the young man persuaded the other rebels to release Mansukh’s father. Mansukh learned from this encounter that giving was a value he would dedicate his life to.
“Whatever it is that you want, give that unceasingly to others and it certainly will blossom in your life.”
Mansukh’s mother Ecchaben had no formal education, she was a woman who had a deep love for the Bhagavad Gita, and would sing verses to the children, instilling in them a profound respect for the wisdom of the East. Mansukh’s father would take him into the Rift Valley and teach him the power of nature, meditation and walking to balance and awaken his body and soul. These, and many other early experiences, would guide his later decisions to follow the path of a peacemaker and humanitarian.
Move to England
At the age of 12, Mansukh’s family moved to the UK where he entered the schooling system, quickly picking up the English language. By the 1970s he was studying at Bangor University for his Biochemistry BSc, and his PhD in cancer toxicology.
Mansukh Patel was deeply inspired by his university professor Charles William Evans FRS, who once worked with Alexander Fleming. With Professor Evans, he shared a mutual passion for many aspects of science, including Einstein’s holographic way of thinking.
It was at Bangor that he met Chris Barrington, Rita Goswami, John Jones and others with whose lives his would become so entwined. He began to share with these fellow students some of the sacred indigenous teachings of his own parents, and the group together created Dru Yoga – a synthesis of Eastern wisdom and the best of Western health and scientific research, drawn from the friends’ different backgrounds and strengths.
In 1978, Mansukh Patel and his friends started teaching Yoga and meditation classes at the University, and by 1986 the first Dru Yoga teacher training course started in the West Midlands, England. The courses attracted students from all over the world who enjoyed the therapeutic, flowing style of yoga. Dru Yoga is currently the second largest training school in the UK, and thousands of people have trained as Dru Yoga teachers in the UK, The Netherlands, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Free cancer clinics
Inspired by his work in cancer toxicology, and the team’s growing interest in holistic medicine, Mansukh started a free cancer clinic in Bangor, North Wales, which offered support to cancer patients and their families. In addition, Mansukh Patel and his team organized annual cancer conferences, where leading cancer specialists in the conventional and alternative fields would meet to discuss ways forward.
Walks for peace
Inspired by Gandhi’s practice of long walks and marches, Mansukh walked the length and breadth of the UK and many areas of Europe to spread his message of health and hope. These ‘Eurowalks’ visited war zones and area of conflict, to bring the healing tools of yoga and stress management to thousands of people in need. From 1995-2002 Mansukh travelled to Bosnia, the North Caucasus, South Sudan and Northern Ireland, where he and colleagues ran workshops for child psychologists, aid workers and cross community workers, respectively. In recognition of his work for peace, Mansukh Patel received the Howard Thurman Ecumenical Stained Glass Award in 2003. The award was presented at the Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel in Atlanta during the Gandhi-King Season for Nonviolence.
World Peace Flame
In 1999, Mansukh Patel and colleagues founded the World Peace Flame, created by uniting seven flames from five continents, which symbolised the wish of people worldwide for peace. The flame was shared from person to person, until millions of people worldwide were lighting flames of peace.
2002 saw the inauguration of a monument housing, The World Peace Flame, outside the Peace Palace, home of the United Nations International Court of Justice in The Hague. Two years later, all 197 of the world’s countries united in creating a Peace Pathway around this World Peace Flame Monument. In an inauguration ceremony attended by more than 100 ambassadors, a historic World Peace Declaration, created by Mansukh Patel and colleagues, was signed by the ambassadors of every country, territory and regions of the world.
In January 2006, the Shanti Ratna Peace Award (Jewel of Peace) was presented to Mansukh Patel & Savitri MacCuish in Hyderabad (India) in recognition of their work with the World Peace Flame.
Mansukh’ work with the World Peace Flame has grown, and includes the creation of the World Peace Flame Foundation, which was created to achieve peace through a process of education and the practical support of grassroots peace initiatives. These include installing peace monuments worldwide and presenting flames to international decision makers (including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Richard Attenborough and the King of Belgium). Developing Mansukh Patel’s aims of bringing peace to all, the World Peace Flame Foundation has created an educational peace package which is used by schools in the UK, Netherlands and Belgium.
“My dream is for every man, woman and child in every nation and country, from every religion and creed, to be united by the World Peace Flame.”
Inspired by Mansukh Patel, the World Peace Flame Foundation provides free medical care to people in Southern Gujarat, including providing over 2000 cataract operations in the past 15 years. Tens of thousands of people have been examined and treated by doctors, dentists and nurses, and food parcels and nutritional supplements have been distributed. Clinics are organised monthly by the team, and offer free glasses, operations and other medical care which would otherwise be beyond the resources of so many in impoverished villages and tribal areas.
Author and presenter
Writing has been a major avenue for Mansukh Patel to express his formula for a successful, healthy and peaceful life. His books and TV documentaries contain inspired methods that have proved to be truly effective and adaptable in a wide variety of cultures. His books include the ‘Dru Bhagavad Gita’, ‘The Dance between Joy and Pain’, ‘The Secret Power of Light’, ‘The Peace Formula’, ‘Believe in Yourself’, Crisis & the Miracle of Love, and ‘A Call to Action.’
Over the past 30 years Mansukh has delivered lectures to tens of thousands of people across the world. The essence of what he shares is captured in dozens of DVDs, including his 19 part Bhagavad Gita series (1998 – 2000) which is a modern presentation of this timeless classic. Mansukh is co-presenter of the Dru Yoga DVD (2005), and his 12 part series, Jesus – the Stranger Nearby (2006-07), explores the similarities between eastern and western philosophies. Many of these documentaries were originally screened on TV in the Netherlands, Belgium and the USA.