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Thursday, October 24, 2019

The fountain in the closet


Tags : Peter Keldar | Colonel Bradford | Fountain of Youth! | Prashanto Banerji |

Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth! With a title like that, Peter Keldar’s little treatise was bound to find success on the publishing charts, over and over again. Written in 1939, Keldar’s little gem has since spawned hundreds of editions, translations, versions, workshops in spas and health centres, discussion forums and YouTube videos. But a question still lingers… Does this fountain really quench one’s thirst for everlasting youth?

Peter Keldar’s book was based on the adventures of Colonel Bradford, a retired British army officer. Apparently, Bradford’s constitution had been ravaged by the excesses of his demanding profession. Old before his time, the balding, stooping grey haired colonel chanced upon Keldar on a park bench. The colonel and Keldar strike up a conversation and thus began an enduring friendship.

On one of their afternoons together, Bradford mentions that during his time in India, he had heard of a monastery in the Himalayas where bubbles the fountain of youth. Keldar had dismissed it then as one amongst many legends that the colonel had picked up during his travels in distant lands. But one day the colonel returns with a map and an invitation – Would Keldar want to accompany him on his search for this fountain of youth? He has a map that he believes could take him there…

Though tempted, Keldar refuses, citing professional engagements that wouldn’t allow him to run off on what could well be a long and fruitless wild goose chase.

Years pass until Keldar receives a missive from the colonel claiming success in his mission. When they meet , Keldar finds it nearly impossible to believe that the tall and robust young man with a head full of thick dark hair  standing in front of him is indeed the once old colonel.

Gradually, the colonel reveals that the fountain he found was in fact a set of five exercises practiced by monks in a monastery hidden in the high passes along the Indo-Tibet border.

I first came across these exercises, now called the Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation, or simply the Five Tibetans in a book by Christopher Kilham. I tried them out, and even wrote a column about them. A few years later, I met Manfred Miethe in Interlaken, Switzerland. Manfred is a Tibetan yoga teacher and he was kind enough to teach me the finer points of the rites and the breath work associated with these techniques.  Before meeting Manfred, I had practiced these moves with enormous amounts of optimism but had little evidence of the miraculous benefits of age reversal promised by Keldar and hinted at by Kilham in their books. But Manfred was amongst the fittest and happiest 60 year olds you could ever hope to find. So I assumed that there was bound to be some truth to all the enthusiastic reviews that Keldar’s book had generated.

But I still wondered… If these five rites were so effective, where was Colonel Bradford now? And what about Peter Keldar?  Is he still around? Has the fountain of youth drenched his mortal form with its elixir too? What about all those people who have been practicing these five rites? Where are their testimonials?

And at times I would wonder… are the five rites an imaginative hoax? But then I would push the thought aside and continue to practice. I have been reasonably fit for years now because of a consistent yoga and martial arts practice and when I added the five rites to my regimen, I couldn’t really tell if they helped me feel even better. And I’m in my thirties now, so I believed it was too early to be celebrating the reversal of the ageing process. Time would tell, I thought. Anyway, these rites only took about 15 minutes to complete and they couldn’t possibly do me any harm. At the very least, they were a good warm up for my yoga workouts.

But last week, in a little book shop in Delhi, I happened to spy a spine that said ‘Ancient Fountain of Youth – Book 2’. And in those pages I found my answers and a reassurance that indeed these rites were truly potent movements that could turn back the clock.

On two occasions, I have used this platform to encourage readers to start practicing the five rites. I had held back my doubts from leaking into print then because I am a great believer in the potential of possibilities. But with this book, I can safely urge you to banish your doubts as I have banished mine. Reader after reader has written back to the publishers about how these five rites have firmed up sagging muscles, energized tired and ageing bodies, brushed away wrinkles and restored hairlines to their original glory. The list of age defying miracles goes on… some claim it has improved dimming vision, while others have found relief from debilitating arthritic pain. Memories and life spans have been lengthened and a general sense of youthfulness and well being has touched nearly every body that has tinkered with the Five Tibetans.

So if the fruits are all you care about go on to YouTube and check out the five rites. They are simple to understand, easy to learn and take very little time. And if you want to understand why this extremely efficient system works as well as it does - the energy vortexes called chakras and how each rite optimizes their vibrations, the dietary principles that enhance the rejuvenating effect of these rites and the historical and cultural traditions which aided the evolution of the Five Tibetans, then all you need to do is pick up the book from a local or online bookstore.

But whatever you do, don’t let a day go by without the Five Tibetans doing their bit to keep you soaked in the fountain of youth.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017