Wisdom of top healers flows at Indo-American Wellness Conclave

1 Dr Romesh Japra welcoming the guests
Dr Romesh Japra welcoming the guests

Lakshmi Iyer
India Post News Service

SANTA CLARA, CA: On June 22, India Post, FIA (Federation of Indo Americans of Northern California), FOG(Festival of Globe) and the Vedic Dharma Samaj Fremont Hindu Temple in collaboration with Phoenix Expovent, launched their three-day inaugural Indo-American Wellness Conclave and Exhibition (IAWCE) at the Santa Clara Convention Center in the city of Santa Clara, CA.

2 Assemblymember Kansen Chu Dr Romesh Japra Assemblymember Ash Kalra
Assemblymember Kansen Chu, Dr Romesh Japra, Assemblymember Ash Kalra


The exhibition had many vendors from India and some from the local area such as Dabur, Kerala Ayurveda USA, CGH Earth/KalariKovilam, OneLife, Herbochem/Thirigi, Yoga Bharati, Santhigram Wellness Centers, AyurUniverse, AyurVita, Pious Elements and Art of Living among others.

In the evening, there was a formal inauguration ceremony. Consul General Venkatesan Ashok of the San Francisco Consulate was the Chief Guest. Many other local political dignitaries graced the occasion: Assembly member Ash Kalra, Lily Mei – Mayor of Fremont, Fremont city Council member Dave Bonaccorsi, Kathy Watanabe – Vice Mayor of Santa Clara, Darcy Paul – Mayor of Cupertino, Anu Natarajan – former Vice Mayor of Fremont, California State Assembly member Kansen Chu and Saratoga Council member Rishi Kumar.

3 Dr Romesh Japra Fremont Mayor Lily Mei Fremont Concilmember David Bonaccorsi
Dr Romesh Japra, Fremont Mayor Lily Mei, Fremont Concilmember David Bonaccorsi

Among the august guests were Sister BK Kusum – Director of Brahma Kumaris, Silicon Valley, Dr. Jayarajan Kodikannath – Academy Director, Kerala Ayurveda USA and Pandit Krishna Pandey of the Shiv Durga Temple who presided over the ceremony.

Dr. Romesh Japra – Chairman and Convener of FIA/FOG and the Conclave and Publisher of India Post, Rajesh Verma – President of FIA, Manorama Joshi – Fremont Hindu Temple trustee and Rajesh Sharma, CEO of Phoenix Expovent represented their respective organizations on the stage at the lamp lighting ceremony.

4 Dr Romesh Japra Rajesh Verma Santa Clara Vice Mayor Kathy Carolan Watanabe
Dr Romesh Japra, Rajesh Verma, Santa Clara Vice Mayor Kathy Carolan Watanabe

In his inaugural address, Dr. Japra, a seasoned cardiologist with over four decades of experience, said, “I have done a lot of stenting, lot of surgeries, given lot of medications…unfortunately, in many ways, until you practice prevention, until you practice how to avoid these problems, how to stay well, I think these things don’t work.

That’s when I started looking around, there’s lots of other forms of medicine out there which have been forgotten.”


5 Dr Vaidya Jayarajan Kodikannath is being honored
Dr (Vaidya) Jayarajan Kodikannath is being honored

Commenting on the international popularity of yoga and its acceptance in the form of the adoption of International Yoga Day by the United Nations, he added, “In good old days, yoga, Ayurveda, spirituality, and all these herbal medicines, they were all part of one and the same thing. They were so integrated and they were taking care of us in a big, big way. And this is what we are trying to put together here in a small way.”


He mentioned that integrative medicine is catching on in a big way with reputed mainstream American medical institutions such as Stanford and Mayo Clinic adopting it.

Consul General Venkatesan Ashok commended Dr. Japra for his energy and “passion in demonstrating India out here in the Valley.”

6 Assemblymember Kansen Chu Deepak Chhabra Saratoga Councilmember Rishi Kumar Dr. Romesh Japra Rajesh Verma Assemblymember Ash Kalra Cupertino Mayor Darcy Paul
Assemblymember Kansen Chu, Deepak Chhabra, Saratoga Councilmember Rishi Kumar, Dr. Romesh Japra, Rajesh Verma, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, Cupertino Mayor Darcy Paul


Elaborating on the newly instituted Indian ministry of AYUSH, he said that it represented a syncretism of ideas. While Ayurveda, Yoga and Siddha originated in India, Yunani and Homeopathy were, in a sense, imports –Yunani came to India through the Persians and Arabs in the 11th century.

He said,“But we made it our own in the sense that what came and what it finally became was very different. This is what we are very proud of in India that when we absorb something, we make something new out of it.”

Sister BK Kusum said in her address, “Total wellness comes when I pay attention to my mind, when mind experiences peace…because mind is the seed. When I pay attention to the seed, then all the branches will get the nutrients.”

7 Dr Romesh Japra Sister Kusum San Jose Councilmember Sergio Jimenez Rajesh Verma Pandit Krishna Kumar Pandey
Dr Romesh Japra, Sister Kusum, San Jose Councilmember Sergio Jimenez, Rajesh Verma, Pandit Krishna Kumar Pandey

Assembly member Ash Kalra said, “Regarding alternative and mainstream medicine, Assembly member Ash Kalra said that medicine was medicine, no matter its origins. Now the West has started to validate what the East has known for a long time. And that’s why I think that it’s perfect I am here with Kansen Chu. Whether it is acupuncture or Ayurveda, the reality is that with Eastern medicine, they knew something a long time ago that the West is just figuring out.”

About himself and Kansen Chu who is of Chinese descent, he added, “I don’t think it is ironic that Kansen’s the first Buddhist, I am the first Hindu in the state (California) legislature.”

Before presenting Dr. Japra and India Post/FIA/FOG with the Certificate of Recognition, Kansen Chu credited his youthful appearance to Chinese herbs and acupuncture.

8 Kris Murthy Dr Romesh Japra Ritu Maheshwari
Kris Murthy, Dr Romesh Japra, Ritu Maheshwari


Mayor Darcy Paul of Cupertino related his trip to India to visit Cupertino’s sister city of Bhubaneshwar, Odissa, which he said, is the intersection of Hinduism and Buddhism. He had the honor of visiting a herbal garden there, where there were around 4000 herbal plants identified. These days, it is

9 Ganesh Pooja
Ganesh Pooja

about 800. The mayor said, “It would be wonderful to see that kind of revival.”

Mayor Lily Mei of Fremont said that one of the great things about Silicon Valley was the ability to have this exchange of ideas from people hailing from different parts of the world. She thanked all the speakers who had come all the way from India.

Vice Mayor of Santa Clara, Kathy Watanabe praised Dr. Japra for evolving the importance of health and said that he was not just a heart surgeon.“It goes so much more beyond that… you really are working on the heart, mind and soul.”

10 Lamp Lighting
Lamp Lighting


All the cities – Santa Clara, Fremont, Cupertino and Saratoga presented Dr. Japra and FIA/FOG/India Post with certificates of recognition.

Dr. Japra also recognized the contribution of several key FIA members including Fremont Temple Trustee member and Chair – FIA/FOG Parade – Deepak Chhabra, FIA/FOG senior member and spokesperson Yogi Chugh, FOG Chair – Development Kris Murthy, Executive Director Vidya Sethuraman, FOG Media Chair Ritu Maheshwari and others.

Common kitchen herbs

11 L R Sunila Pradhan Ritu Maheshwari Manali Brahmbhatt Sister Kusum Guest Deepak Chhabra
(L-R) Sunila Pradhan, Ritu Maheshwari, Manali Brahmbhatt, Sister Kusum, Guest, Deepak Chhabra

Dr. Jayarajan Kodikannath gave the opening keynote address of the Conclave. It was fascinating to hear about the benefits of common kitchen herbs, spices and roots such as ginger and garlic. He also talked about various disorders and stress and how Ayurveda views these, in contrast to allopathic medicine.

12 Vishal Sharma Pradeep Ganatra Neelaj Sharma Mayor Darcy Paul Councilmember Rishi Kumar Shawn Ramani
Vishal Sharma, Pradeep Ganatra, Neelaj Sharma, Mayor Darcy Paul, Councilmember Rishi Kumar, Shawn Ramani


He revealed how Sushruta’s methods of transplantation surgery are now considered highly advanced, and Ayurvedic methods of dispensing medicines such as using ghee as a medium have a basis in scientific facts as lipids are important for the transportation of certain compounds in the body.

Ritu Maheshwari thanked the various media channels AB24 TV, INDTV USA, INDO US News and RadioDeHotties for their coverage.

It was a fantastic start to a highly enriching conference.

Day 2 begins and ends with meditation, extremely informative content in between

6 Anita Srivastva Ritu Maheshwari Kris Murthy Dr. Romesh Japra Rajesh Sharma Rajesh verma
Anita Srivastva, Ritu Maheshwari, Kris Murthy, Dr. Romesh Japra, Rajesh Sharma, Rajesh verma

Day 2 of the Indo-American Wellness Conclave and Exhibition got off to a flying start with the talk and meditation session by former director of US Art of Living Foundation, Michael Fischman.

Mr. Fischman explained the ease of meditating, which he described as simply doing nothing. He guided the audience through a session, which included deep breathing, alternate nostril breathing (‘naadishodhana’) and powerful exhalations through the mouth.

He also emphasized the importance of a guru or mentor in learning to meditate.



The next session was one of the most popular in terms of knowledge – Dr. J L N Sastry, the Vice President of Dabur Research and Development, spoke on non-communicable diseases with special reference to the lifestyle in the US. His presentation was a treasure trove of knowledge with wide ranging references from the recent Nobel Prize winning work on circadian rhythms, to


traditional Ayurvedic texts and quotes.

Infused with humor, Dr. Sastry pointed out how our modern lifestyle – staying up late, not getting enough sleep, eating processed foods such as burgers, pizzas, fries, pasta, etc. rather than our traditional, well-balanced meals, are all compromising our health and well-being.

He also elaborated on the beneficial properties of certain herbs for various health conditions.


Chronic conditions

An allopathic doctor, Dr. Ronesh Sinha, a physician with the local group, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, was the next presenter. Dr. Sinha has especially studied South Asian populations for chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases and is the founder of Culturalhealthsolutions.com.

Ashwini Anil Surpur


Anita Kumari Srivastava the Founder and Chief Strategist of HappinessFactors
Anita Kumari Srivastava, the Founder and Chief Strategist of HappinessFactors

He gave a brilliant, easy-to-understand presentation on the causes of these diseases and how they can be prevented. Dr. Sinha, who was born and raised in the US, has parents who hail from Kolkata, India and relatives there. He compared the lifestyle and body composition of rickshaw pullers in Kolkata with that of an average software engineer.

He also explained how adding more movement to one’s day rather than sitting for hours on end and eating a well balanced diet with a good amount of protein can keep lifestyle diseases at bay.

In keeping with the fast paced tech dominated nature of Silicon Valley, he gave a nod to several apps that track metrics from steps to squats and emphasized weight training to build muscle that eventually burns calories.

Travel and tourism

The mood shifted to travel and tourism with Vijay Kumar Karai, the Founder/CEO of AyurUniverse – a network of Ayurvedic wellness spas. Mr. Karai explained the challenges in expanding the business of Ayurvedic spas, one of which was insufficient information among the general public, especially the US, on what Ayurveda actually is. He said that more such retreats were needed in closer proximity for people in the US.

Dr Ronesh Sinha Internal Medicine Physician
Dr Ronesh Sinha, Internal Medicine Physician


Dr. Anurag Nair, the son of Dr. Ambika and Venugopal Nair of Santhigram Wellness Retreats, presented his company. The Nairs who are natives of Kerala, famous for its Ayurvedic institutes and products, established their first wellness center in Delhi, India and have expanded to 12 more in New Jersey, Illinois and Texas. They have plans to open one in Fremont, California soon.

Dr Anurag Nair the son of Dr Ambika and Venugopal Nair of Santhigram Wellness Retreats
Dr Anurag Nair, the son of Dr Ambika and Venugopal Nair of Santhigram Wellness Retreats

Correct labeling of ingredients

The afternoon session had a special guest – FDA (Food and Drug Administration) representative, Ms. Mary Ellen Taylor, who explained the requirements to pass regulatory standards such as correct labeling of ingredients according to their percentages, the chemical names of vitamins, Latin names of botanicals and so on. (In the US, the FDA is the primary regulatory body that evaluates all food and pharmaceutical items. The standards are very stringent. The FDA does not endorse most

supplements and cosmetics.)

Day 2 saw a good balance of topics with Ashwini Surpur of the local organization, Yoga Bharati, taking to the stage. Ms. Surpur, who worked as a software engineer for several years, took up the pursuit and teaching of yoga full time a few years ago.

Dr J L N Sastry the Vice President of Dabur Research and Development
Dr J L N Sastry, the Vice President of Dabur Research and Development

She was followed by people at the intersection of technology and wellness. First was Anita Kumari Srivastava, the Founder and Chief Strategist of HappinessFactors and author of the book, “Find Your Happy: A Survivor’s Guide to Finding Joy Inspite of Life’s Challenges”. Ms. Srivastava – she is also a coach and speaker – talked about emotional wellness and technology. Ironically, the need to disconnect from our devices from time to time is all the more pertinent in today’s world.


FDA Food and Drug Administrationrepresentative Ms Mary Ellen Taylor
FDA (Food and Drug Administration)representative, Ms Mary Ellen Taylor

Wellness in workplace


Another dynamic speaker was Dimple Bindra of the startup, InstaVital that matches wellness providers to companies seeking them. In short, InstaVital brings wellness to the workplace in all its forms – nutrition, exercise and mental health. Ms. Bindra narrated her own story of her early years in the corporate world where she started eating unhealthy food and sat at her desk for prolonged periods, leading to substantial weight gain.She gave the audience tips on increasing their activity levels and eating better; for example, she encouraged everyone to get a pedometer, drink 6-8 glasses of water a day and go for walking lunches at work.

Dimple is also an avid practitioner of yoga (she calls herself a “yogapreneur”) and has her own channel on Comcast, the major Internet provider.

Dr Vijay Pratap Kushvaha
Dr Vijay Pratap Kushvaha

Raising capital

One of the Bay Area’s most active startup pitch event organizers, Kaustav Chaudhuri (also known as KC Wisdom), came up with an investor, John Ricci, to speak on the possibilities and pitfalls of raising capital, especially for businesses based outside the US.

Mr. Chaudhari’s company, Pitch Globally, has regular events in the Bay Area, to bring together startup founders looking for funding and investors – angel as well as venture capitalists. They now have chapters in Los Angeles and are launching in London.

Dr Inderjeet Kaur

The day closed out with a beautiful talk and meditation session led by Sister BK Kusum, the Director of Brahma Kumaris in Silicon Valley on “Yoga for Total Wellbeing”.

FOG and India Post give many thanks to AB 24 TV, OurTripVideos, Olga Media, TV Asia and Yo India TV for their coverage of Day 2 and other parts of the Conclave.

Day 3 – Ancient art of analyzing the pulse

 Day 3 of the Conclave saw a good range of speakers as well. It started off with a talk by Dr. Inderjeet Kaur of Pious Elements. Dr. Inderjeet’s subject was the ancient art of analyzing the pulse.

She explained how feeling the pulse at different points for various Ayurvedic‘doshas’‘vata’, ‘pitta’ and ‘kapha’, helps in deciphering disorders of various internal organs. To elaborate, she gave the example of constipation. In this condition, the intestines are stressed, and this, in turn, puts pressure on the diaphragm and the lungs and heart, thus impacting the pulse.

Vijay Kumar Karai
Vijay Kumar Karai

There are other metrics, too, for analyzing the pulse such as feeling its temperature, how soft or hard it feels and the area of the body where it is dominant. These areas correspond to various deities (psychological archetypes) and their characteristics so the pulse gives an insight into the internal makeup of the person, thus helping to diagnose anxiety and depression in addition to other ailments.

Dr. Inderjeet also gave a brief overview of planetary influences on the human body, making her talk ‘integrative’ at its highest level.

Heartfulness meditation

Gaurav Aggarwal OneLife
Gaurav Aggarwal – OneLife

The next session was by Naren Kini of the Heartfulness Institute, a non-profit organization with branches in many countries. They offer free meditation sessions with emphasis on a technique that focuses on the heart and eventually helps connect the meditator to the Divine Source through ‘praanahuti’ (offering of one’s life force) or ‘yogic transmission’.

This technique was discovered several generations before Raja Dashratha, the father of Lord Rama, and was rediscovered in the 18th century. The only condition for those who wish to pass on this knowledge is to offer it free of charge.

With lots of humor and a mixture of Hindi and English, Mr. Kini asked the audience to turn off their 73rd organ (cellphones) and guided them through a brief Heartfulness meditation session.

Santhigram Wellness
Santhigram Wellness


He informed everyone about the programs that the institute offers, such as From Burnout to Joy” for doctors. About the modern medical system, he said, “Compassion is getting diluted” as doctors are under pressure to perform their patient exams and fill out paperwork to claim insurance, among other mundane tasks. Many physicians have reported a marked improvement in their performances as caring professionals.

Similarly, the institute’s program at UC Berkeley has benefited 72 students.

P1010021Arpit Sharma of Sevenseas Spas properties presented a vision of rejuvenation and relaxation to the audience. The properties offer several luxurious treatments and wine from Nashik’s Sula Vineyards to help their clients de-stress and pamper themselves.

Secrets of lasting beauty

Keeping in line with the self-care theme, Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar of Ayurvedic Healing gave a talk on ancient secrets of lasting beauty.

She expressed dismay at modern beauty standards that emphasize a skinny, emaciated appearance and the fact that many young women these days do not feel comfortable in their own bodies.

She spoke about real beauty from the inside out – one that can be attained by valuing one’s uniqueness, eating a well-balanced diet and having a full, meaningful life.

“ShubhangaKaranamSundaram”, Dr. Manisha said. ‘Shubhanga’ meaning auspiciousness; ‘Karanam’ – Transformation and Sundaram’ – Beauty. True, lasting beauty results when you transform all the body parts to the highest level.

She emphasized cultivating stellar inner qualities. “When you feel good about yourself, it will show on your outer body part”, she said, closing with lovely quotes on qualities such as compassion and cheerfulness featuring the timeless beauty, Audrey Hepburn.P1000689

Dietary precautions 

The afternoon’s highlight was the much-awaited talk by Dr. Vijay Pratap Kushvaha on diabetes and Ayurveda. Dr. Kushvaha is an experienced Ayurvedic physician with a chain of clinics in India. He has made diabetes his mission, having lost his father to the disease when the latter was just 53 years of age.

Unlike modern allopathic medicine, diabetes is treated differently in Ayurveda and not classified as Type 1 or 2.  Dietary precautions take precedence over medication. ‘Kapha’ producing foods such as water based fruits, even large amounts of milk are to be avoided.

It is surprising how much misinformation is out there. For example, Dr. Kushvaha referred to an Internet message that propagated fruit juice being beneficial for diabetics, when, in fact, it can be fatal to blood sugar spikes. Often, vegetarians are not mindful of the high sugar content of healthy vegetables such as green peas, which can affect them adversely if they are severely diabetic and they consume too much of them.

P1000753He called upon a couple of elderly people with diabetes to come forward for a brief assessment.The Conclave was highly informative and beneficial, with many attendees of different ethnicities wanting to know more about Ayurvedic remedies.

FOG and India Post thank AB 24 TV and Bharat Today News/Sargam TV for their coverage of Day 3.

Networking Dinner at Dr Japra’s place

On Saturday, June 23, there was a networking dinner for the Conclave participants at Dr. Japra’s place with investors and long-time Silicon Valley veterans who are well acquainted with the technology and investments space such as Paul Mahal, Brij Chandok, Mohan Trikha, Kaustav Chaudhari (KC Wisdom) and his investor friend Lenny and others.

The invited guests shared their thoughts on getting funding. All of them had a very high regard for Dr. Japra as a mentor and said that the participants in the Conclave, who were seeking help in establishing themselves in the US, were all lucky to be under the protective umbrella of Dr. Japra.P1000843

KC Wisdom emphasized the role of a good mentor for a startup and the importance of strengthening one’s own network instead of jumping about from one circle of friends, associates and possible investors to the next.

Andy Khanna, a long time friend of Dr. Japra whose American wife, Sally, is a student of Ayurveda herself, shared his story. In the 70s, when he came to California, he personally did not have much knowledge of this ancient system of healing. When his wife got ill after the birth of their third child and was almost paralyzed, the veteran Dr. Vasant Lad treated and cured her. Sally Khanna then started taking courses herself.

Their son, Kush Khanna who manages the family business of Vedic Care importing herbal products, offered to help those seeking distribution.



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