He is someone who not only has a keen understanding of the significance of the 3100 mile race but has also performed a very practical and vital role there as well for many years. Pradhan is someone keenly suited to finding solutions to the obstacles confronting the runners on many levels, not just the physical. In simple and practical ways his chiropractic treatments helps enable many of the athletes running there to perform at their maximum capacity, day in and day out. He is a chiropractor of extraordinary talent and though he no longer maintains a professional practice he still has been able to serve at nearly all of the multi day races that Sri Chinmoy Marathon team has organized in New York. This is no small feat as he is a resident of Chicago and yet has found time during his busy schedule to visit New York and willingly serve those who are trying to test the very limits of their physical capacity and endurance.
As exceptional as he is as a giver of chiropractic adjustments, Pradhan is also keenly aware of the world beyond the physical. He knows first hand that these exceptional runners sometimes also need encouragement and inspiration on the mental, emotional and spiritual level as well. Physical problems sometimes may be the least of the many obstacles the runners encounter when facing such a momentous task as running 3100 miles. He has great and lengthy experience in dealing not only with the athletes who attempt the impossible but also understanding the great challenges of the spiritual life in general. I had an opportunity during the race to interview him and ask him for some of his thoughts on what these incredible athletic events are all about.
Talk transcribed by Bhadra
Photos by Arpan, Prabhakar, Jowan
Utpal: Why do you think Sri Chinmoy created this world of multi-day races?
Pradhan: I think it was an actual extension of – you know –of his spiritual philosophy. It was something that evolved. He used it as a metaphor for what we’re trying to do inwardly. On our path, there are people who run regularly all the time. And it is understood that the runner accomplishes his goal by placing one foot in front of the other.
And the multi-day races evolved. In the early days, it was just a mile, two miles. I remember in the early days – it was like, the guys ran 3 miles – can you believe it? –it was unbelievable. We’d often have Games Days, or Olympic-style races – these guys would often run outside the field, they’d run out on the street. They’d go three miles, or five miles – then, applying the principles of self-transcendence, eventually it came to be a multi-day race. And the multi-day races, especially the 3100, lend themselves to an inner demand, where you have to go within in order to accomplish the task. So I think that’s why the multi-day races are such an important part of the Sri Chinmoy Centre.
U: You have worked at the multi-day races, from the first multi-day race up until this one. In terms of an experience for you, what do you get out of it? You’ve come all the way from Chicago, you work on guys for a day or so, what happens to you when you’re there?
P: Well, the truth is – first of all, it’s an incredible honor to work on them. I’ll be frank – I mean, sometimes I’m tired, I go, O God, what can I do? But then you enter into their world, and you play some small part in helping them accomplish their goal, and their goal is heroic, especially in the 3100 mile race, by entering into their world – and they’re really heroes, you get a little bit bigger, you feel a little better, you feel more joyful. I come away tired, sometimes, from treating people; but compared to what they do, it’s a small sacrifice to pay. They really accomplish something so significant, especially the 3100. The nature of that race is such that everyone who participates – the runners, who are doing 99.9% of the work, and the scorekeepers, the support people – they all feel that they’re playing some tiny role in that accomplishment.
U: Do you think that what happens at the race – these guys have been there now for 46 days – goes beyond the race the race itself? Do you think it has an impact beyond the perimeter of the race itself? Do you think it reaches out into the world?
P: Yes, I do. I think not just the race, but anything good, carries with it a vibration. I feel – this is my personal philosophy – that anything we do, for lack of a better term, has a little aura about it. You walk through my world when you pass me on the street; you walk through my consciousness – if it’s sweet, it’s good, it’s joyful, you pass through my space, you leave it a little more joyful for the encounter, right?
I don’t think people realize how vulnerable their consciousness is. That is to say, you pass by someone on the street who is depressed or angry, and suddenly your thoughts are like that. Everything you do carries a consciousness with it. So when someone does something that is transcendent in nature, that transcendence isn’t just bound by the physicality of the experience itself. It goes way beyond, way beyond that. We live in an ocean of collective consciousness, think of it that way. So if someone does something good, it brightens the water, sweetens the water, it allows for other people to experience transcendence. I don’t think that it’s limited at all spatially . It goes way beyond that little oval out there.
U: Okay, coming back to a very practical point, as a chiropractor who has worked on multi-day runners -3,100, ten-day people, is there anything new that you haven’t seen before out there?
P: Well, what is new and what is unique? From a physical standpoint, no. Over the years, the physical problems repeat themselves. But what is, what strikes me as new, and I would use the term, almost miraculous, is the fact that I see problems that would halt any runner, on a normal day, in their tracks. You see them, you know — blisters, and shin splints, and back pain and knee pain – and those things would typically stop a runner. And the doctor would say, you know, rest for two weeks, or a month, or two months. Here, it seems that the will of the soul to transcend – the physical surrenders to it. I see these kinds of problems resolve, oftentimes in a matter of days. You know, something that would stop a person for weeks, in a matter of two days, they’re back running, and somehow, it’s not there, it’s almost gone. That is what is new, what is different from what you’d see in a usual, a typical, running situation.
U: I know you’ve given remedies in the past, or even this summer, that are not typically chiropractic, that you’re aware of conditions that are blocks – that may have nothing to do with a bone or a muscle or a tissue – that you’ve told people that they mentally had to change a little bit in order to get through it. Am I correct that you’ve given that kind of treatment? As a guy who’s so familiar with the race, you see a physical problem, but you’re also aware, on occasion, that they have to do something else internally to make it work.
P: Yeah, that happens, in the 3100 more than in any other race, the mental state, and the consciousness state of the individual, has as much to do with it as the physical state. Let’s face it: the physical state is exhausting. Think about it – what is it — 62 miles a day? How can they endure that? If their mind, or their consciousness, is depleted, if they enter into sadness, or they are in a funk, then it becomes overwhelming. We experience this in our normal everyday life – when the mind is down, the physical is down. When I go running, I only go running for two miles – if my mind is consumed with issues and worries, I weigh 10,000 pounds. I weigh more than I should anyway, but on those days when I’m mentally consumed, I weigh 10,000 pounds. Or if I’m joyful, I’m lighter. And that’s what I experience in a short race. That becomes more exaggerated in a race of 3,100 miles. And that’s where sometimes I’ve told them, that the problem isn’t with their foot or their ankle – they have to do something about their attitude, their joy.
My treatment is really a joke. These guys – do they really need me? I come in here for three days – I’ve been here for six days, and how many days has this been going on? (U: 45 or 46.) Okay, there are other guys who treat them. But I treat them for ten minutes. Most of what I do, I contend, is just to create joy. We laugh when they’re on the table, we have a good time, we share inspiring stories. And yeah, I’m treating them, I’m doing this and that, but really, it’s joy-creating. And the joy-creating is healing.
U: Sri Chinmoy seemed to have a very special connection with the race. This race – this is its fourteenth year. And up until his last year, 2007, he came several times a day; he seemed to be giving a lot of attention to it. What do you think that was all about?
P: My feeling is that this race, more than any other race, I would describe it as —
Pradhan Inteview Part 1
[end of first tape]
The 3100 mile race in comparison to the other races – and they’re all heroic – I find the 3100 mile race to be the most spiritual – and I’m guessing that it’s for this reason that Guru took the most interest in it. In our short, little races – the 6-day, the 10-day, the 700 mile race, the 1000 mile race, the 1300 mile race – which by comparison are short – you never leave the world. What I mean by that is this: Say you’re doing the 1300- mile race, and you’re in the sixth day of it. Twelve days later you’re back home. You can already start thinking about paying your bills, you can already start thinking about what happens at the end of the race. The 3,100-mile race, for two months, a month and three-quarters, you’re running. That’s all you’re doing. From 6 in the morning until midnight, you’re running. And whether or not you succeed is 100 per cent dependent on your inner space, 100 per cent dependent on your inner space. For that reason, I think Sri Chinmoy felt a special joy, a special identification with it, because of its spiritual value.
And there’s, you know, another aspect. Guru loved the transcendent aspect of it. I mean, can you imagine running a 3100 mile race? You know, I’m happy if I can have a 3100 mile decade (laughter, both). I mean it, I’d be very pleased with that. And these guys are doing 62 miles a day! When you think about the sheer scope of that, it’s unbelievable.
U: But he would come several times a day. He would be there, he would drive by, he would bring treats.
P: Yeah. I think it’s because of its incredible spiritual sport/transcendent nature – to be there, to feed the runners inwardly, to identify… I mean, as you know, Sri Chinmoy is not merely about running races, but about a path, a spiritual path. It’s about perfection, self-realization, God-manifestation…whatever term you’re comfortable using. And we will often use these things as a metaphor – oh, look how far they’re running; they’re climbing a mountain.
But I think it’s even beyond that, way, way beyond that…I think Sri Chinmoy has a special fondness for these tasks that are heroic in nature, because they give us a glimmer of the kind of effort that’s required to accomplish the end goal, which is way, way beyond 3100 miles. The joy is in the process of achievement. And Guru would always remind us of that – I mean, you’re training for a marathon, today you do two miles, tomorrow you do four miles, the day after that you do six miles. So it’s not merely the achievement of the goal that’s of value, it’s the process of achieving the goal, the transcendence-progress of achieving the goal. And I think this race probably came closest…Sri Chinmoy loved running, you know that. And to watch these guys go around, and endure, I think maybe had a special appeal to Guru.
U: It’s continuing. I mean, we’re into…2008, 2009, 2010…I mean, he’s not there physically, but he is there, isn’t he?
P: Yes, the force, the vibration. They’re still very present on the course; perhaps even more so, because before the runners could depend on Guru being there two or three times a day – they could run from visit to visit. Now, to succeed, they have to create that. It’s incumbent on each one of them to reach for that. Now that feeling is perhaps even a little bit thicker – he’s more present.
U: You were here, of course, for many of the years that Guru was here at the race. Did you ever get the impression—some anecdote or story, that puts a physical, or puts a name, on the race and your experience of the race.
P: Well, that’s a challenge. I’m sure he has, and you’d have to…I did spend a lot of time with Sri Chinmoy personally and intimately, and work on Guru. But in a general sense, not only did Guru visit the race two and three times a day, but when I was with him in the afternoons, his awareness, his sensibility, his attention, his concern, was always at the race. He would talk about them, and he’d say, oh, this one has such a nice smile when he’s running, or this or that, or this or that. Definitely Guru was all the time present with the runners, even when he wasn’t there.
Pradhan Interview Part 2