Shashwat Aalingan – A Hug for Sustainability


For past several years I have been struggling to influence the Government, investors, business and people regarding sustainability. But all the efforts made so far have been more or less in vain.

I thought of consulting Lord Vishnu this time. I went to the Dadar beach in Mumbai. It was a full moon night and I walked across the patchy sands, jumping sometimes to avoid the litter.

After a graft of three stents in my heart (I call them as the trident), I now have a kind of instant communication system with Lord Vishnu. These stents apart from maintaining good circulation of blood in my heart, function as a cosmic communication device. So I sent the message to Lord Vishnu using my trident of the stents.

Lord Vishnu appeared in a moment responding to my call. But he came in his Viraat Swaroop that swirled the sea and churned the cover of the clouds. There was a thunder and flashing illumination. His enormous body was radiating blinding my eyes. I got worried (as people should not think that it is a repeat of 26/11) and requested the Lord to change his form to someone human.  Lord Vishnu agreed to my request and took the form of Krishna.

I then stood like Arjuna as in Mahabharata in front of him.


Viraat Swaroop of Lord Vishnu

Lord Vishnu said “Sorry Dr Modak, I had to take this Viraat Swaroop, as while rising from the deepest portion of the oceans where I live, I had to weed through so much of muck, especially the plastic waste, sewage and the sludge – and only way was to assume a Viraat Swaroop and simply ambush. I never realized that the mankind focused only on land based management of pollution and took the oceans for granted. Anyway, what can I do for you this time Dr Modak?”

I explained the Lord about my frustration on the acceptance of sustainability in practice. “There is only a talk” I said.

Lord Vishnu (now Krishna) heard me patiently and gave a divine smile. He said “Dr Modak, you cannot bring in this change alone or all by yourself. You will need everybody to participate. The only way to involve and influence people is to give them a sustainability hug. Remember the use of touch enhances the transfer of spiritual or subtle-energies up to 100%, when compared to a greeting that does not involve touch.”

He continued.

“When you will hug someone following my instructions, you will simply transmit your passion regarding sustainability to the other person. The person you hugged will not only get possessed but will be able to transmit the message of sustainability when he or she will hug someone else. This process will thus be viral and cascade rapidly. As you keep travelling across the word, keep hugging as you meet with people in each country. I estimate that in a year all people on this planet will live sustainabily”

I was really impressed with Lord Vishnu’s hug strategy. I must become a hug-holic I said to myself.

But I had some stupid questions

“My Lord, some cultures don’t accept hugging and if hugged can get seriously offended. And few or hardly anyone travels in the mountains where nomads and tribal live. And can you ever imagine hugging the security guards at the airports?”

Lord Vishnu smiled and said “Don’t worry, I will tell you how to handle these exceptions. For example, tribal already live sustainably and so you don’t need to go to the mountains to hug them. They should be the one to descend the mountain and hug. You don’t need to hug the security guards as they hug you! But we will go step by step”

He opened his arms and invited me for a good hug. “It’s called Shashwat Aalingan (meaning a hug for sustainability)” He said. Then he hugged me and whispered in my ears

“First bow to each other and recognize each other’s presence. This is a desirable step but not essential. Next, open your arms and begin hugging, holding each other for three in-and-out-breaths. With the first breath, become aware that you are present in this very moment and feel happy. With the second breath, become aware that the other person is present in this moment and feel happy as well. With the third breath, become aware that you are here together and you want to do something good for this Earth. You will feel deep gratitude and happiness for the togetherness and taking a joint responsibility on sustainability. Finally, release the other person and bow to each other to show your thanks. I will send you a Gmail (means God’s email) with more detailed instructions”[1]

While he was giving the guidance, I was simply lost in his divine hug. I thought I should just continue and remain in his arms. I also realized that it was He who was managing sustainability of the Planet and Beyond. Seeing me in a Trans, he tapped my head and woke me up. I was disappointed.

While separating, he said

“Now devote the remainder of your life by replacing the usual hand shake with a sustainability hug. Open your arms to new people you meet and embrace them. This deeply transformative practice will change everybody’s life and every person you will hug will appreciate and practice sustainability”

Before assuming his Viraat Swaroop, he cautioned

“Becoming a hug-a-holic is a practice that requires a delicate balance of giving and receiving love. This doesn’t mean that you’re running up to embrace every single person you see on the street. The hugs that come from you are more of a natural effect that comes through a deeper devotion and passion to sustainability. My best wishes Dr Modak”

And then with all the thunder and flashing illumination, Lord Vishnu in his Viraat Swaroop disappeared.

I went to my office in IL&FS. My Secretary Kermeene came to meet me. “Sir, I need your signatures” She said “and Sir do you know I am on vacation from tomorrow for 2 weeks?”.

I said “Oh dear, print the papers ASAP so that I sign up. Enjoy the break Kermeene, You take care” I said this,  got up and gave her a good hug. I followed instructions of Lord Vishnu.

As we parted, I realized the sustainability hug was not all that difficult. Kermeene did not realize (perhaps) the special treatment I had given which she actually reciprocated.

In minutes, Kermeene came to my desk with papers that were printed on both sides. “Sorry Sir, it took little longer as I wanted to use Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) paper this time. I had to locate the right paper pack”

I was shocked to see this change. Normally Kermeene would print on single side and use “ordinary” chlorine bleach paper. After the sustainability hug, her behavior had changed.

So what Lord Vishnu said was right.

While I was signing the papers, Pretty (Oops Preeti!) Mistry, our facility and catering in charge and Kermeene’s good friend passed by. Kermeene stopped her to greet and hugged her saying “long time no see!” Kermeene must have given her a sustainability hug, as within an hour, Preeti came to my desk asking my help to rehaul the food menu towards organic, eliminate use of plastic water bottles in the meetings and asked me how to send the waste food for composting.

While returning from my desk, I saw Preeti was seeing Ramesh Bawa, Managing Director of IL&FS Financial Services (IFIN). Since they knew each other for long, Preeti gave him a friendly hug saying “Sir, hope all is well”.

In minutes, I saw Ramesh Bawa lifting his phone and speaking to one of his senior deputy, Asesh. “Asesh, aren’t you actioning what Dr Modak has been requesting several times – a serious implementation of the Environmental & Social Management Framework (ESPF). Please take this up ASAP – ESPF is not to be looked at as a compliance requirement of the Corporate but a risk management tool to our business. And remember it adds value and builds our brand attracting international investors”.

I thought this was amazing. The cascading effect that Lord Vishnu spoke about was actually happening.

I flew to Delhi next day and was at the Ministry of Environment & Forests – MoEF (and Climate Change). I met A K Mehta, IAS, Joint Secretary, in charge of Pollution Control and (Acting) Chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board. When he saw me, he took out his hand for a handshake “Oh Dr Modak, how come here today?” I did not want to waste this opportunity. I stepped ahead and gave Mr. Mehta a sustainability hug. I could sense that he was surprised and a bit awkward. But I managed to hold him for 30 seconds following the three steps. We parted saying “let us catch up some time”

The next day’s edition of DNA carried a news on Page 3. “MoEF relaunches its Eco-Mark label with update and improved implementation mechanism. Relaunch of this eco-label demonstrates MoEF’s commitment to move beyond conventional pollution control and bring in the dimension of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP)”

I was very impressed with this announcement.

So Shashwat Aalingan was making the magic and the transformation I was looking for.

I decided to take appointment of Mr. Arvind Kejariwal for the interest of Delhi’s air quality. The appointment is still in the queue.

Anyways, let us get back to the subject of hugging.

Being hugged and touched by parents is important for the emotional well-being and development of children. I remember that when I was small and young, my parents used to hug me regularly and every day. Did this help in transmitting the DNA of my family to me? May be.

I now hug my kids when dropping them or receiving them at the airports. When did you last hug your children? Try giving them Lord Vishnu’s sustainability hug. We want to see that the next generation understands and practices sustainability as not much time is left.

Have you ever hugged a tree when you are on a walk in the park or in a forest early morning? Science has already proven that hugging trees is good for health. According to Amanda Froelich, hugging trees brings in a change benefiting human health by altering vibrational frequency. In a recently published book by author Matthew Silverstone, Blinded by Science, evidence has been given that benefits of tree hugging include reducing severity of mental illnesses, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression and the headaches. So go ahead and hug a tree and encourage others to do so for the interest of sustainability.

I spoke about my conversations with Lord Vishnu with my Professor Friend and the sustainability hug. As usual, he was not impressed at all. He said he does not believe a word of what I said.

He then spoke in his characteristic matter of fact tone.

“Hugging a person causes your brain to release serotonin, dopamine and endorphin to trigger reactions of happiness and joy. These secretions negate the worries of mortality by decreasing the levels of stress hormone, by altering the perception of brain by evoking out positive emotions in us. The hug can cause a massive release nueurohormones in our body that we are unknown of. These neurohormonal changes calm our mind[2]. And in this calmness, you discover and believe in sustainability. So what your Lord Vishnu told is something rather basic”

I did not like that the Professor looked at the Shashwata Aalingan as something basic and so trivial.

Then while lighting his Cigar, Professor asked

“By the way, have you come across the Hug Shirt™ – A shirt that makes people send hugs over distance!”

I said “No”.

Professor said

“The Hug Shirt was invented by Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz in 2002, the co-founders of CuteCircuit. Embedded in the Hug Shirt™ there are sensors that feel the strength, duration, and location of the touch, the skin warmth and the heartbeat rate of the sender and actuators that recreate the sensation of touch, warmth and emotion of the hug to the Hug Shirt™ of the distant loved one. The Hug Shirt™ was awarded as one of the Best Inventions of the Year by Time Magazine in 2006. Do you know that research has shown that People need to be touched at least 70 times a day! You can do this easily with the Hug Shirt. This hug is non-physical and can be “executed” over a distance.

The system is very simple: All you need is a Hug Shirt™ (Bluetooth with sensors and actuators), a Bluetooth enabled smartphone with the Hug Shirt™ App running and on the other side another smartphone and another Hug Shirt™. A Hug Shirt is Rechargeable and washable and is available in Womenswear, Menswear, and Children Childrenswear styles.

I was awed and impressed with this information that was new to me.

I asked “Professor, do you have a plan to get Hug Shirt technology in India?”

Professor got up and closed the door of this office – then turned to me and spoke in a low voice.

“Dr Modak, in fact this is a secret mission assigned to me by the Prime Minister himself. Like you were introduced to the so called Shashwat Aaalingan by Lord Vishnu (I noticed here a smirk on his face), I am developing an algorithm of processing “senses” in combination with nanotech based sensors that will promote the NDA  Government (instead of sustainability).

Our Hug Shirts will communicate to the “other party” NDA’s good governance. This will make the “other party” believe that NDA is the only party to support and vote in the next election. NDA will provide all opposition party workers free Hug Shirts. A undercover team of NDA will give electronic hugs to these workers and lure them to the NDA team. Of course this will be done on select basis and in a guarded manner. The process of convincing will however become viral. We are currently in a pilot stage and results so far have been pretty good.”

I was simply shocked with this deep strategy.

“I am sorry I cannot reveal you any further information” Professor said this while extinguishing his cigar.

And then he ended the conversation with a thick voice

“What is sustainability after all? Having a political ruling that is sensible & stable over years is what counts. And this is what this country needs. We don’t need “your kind” of sustainability”

I gave a shashwat aalingan to the Professor (without him realizing!) and quietly left.

[1] — based on Thich Nhat Hanh in Chanting from the Heart

[2] See Dr. Fahad Basheer, Author of “The Science of Emotions”



  1. Hmmm!!! there was indeed something in the hospital that operated upon you…the whole approach towards sustainability changes…the Godly version of continuous “love”ly messages is adorable.
    Good that your doctoral degree is recognized by Lord Vishnu who addresses you as “Dr Modak” relieving you of the pains of getting it certified by Arvind Kejriwal.

    The article is not just interesting, it exemplifies another Shaswat virtue of Dr Modak- Honesty of purpose for touching the human psyche to meet the ends, when the routine approach fails.
    I always look forward to the next post

  2. Very well written Dr. Prasad Modak!

    People today want an “App” for everything they can do… even sustainability…

    Maybe in your next article you will have to educate them that the “Human Brain” is an “App” and they can start start using it…

    They wont know where to find the App called brain on the Playstore… So you will also have to tell them that it was part of the firmware which came with factory installed software… they just have to clear the cache of unnecessary and unsustainable ideas and start using it…

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