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Arup Da is a simple and sincere individual from one of the rural districts of West Bengal. He has devoted his life to social service and for the welfare of the ones in need. He is a living example of how a pure intention to serve can lead to the manifestation of a great success story that has transformed the lives of poor people.

Arup has set up a soft toy manufacturing and distribution network for the physically handicapped women. These women reside in villages of Haldia, Babur Hat and other nearby places. Having begun with less than 5, now he has a team of 50 individuals working with him.

 

To become a great leader, you need to follow the footsteps of another great leader

It all started with Arup Da doing the Art of Living’s Youth Leadership Training Program (YLTP) at Midnapore in 2009. YLTP is a holistic week long workshop that aims to train the youth in dealing with stress and anxiety, through a combination of breathing techniques, yoga and ancient knowledge. Along with that it develops the skills of the participants to become leaders.

After completing the workshop he was overwhelmed with the peace and love that he experienced. He felt a strong connection with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s vision of a violence free and stress free society. Immediately, Arup decided to dedicate his life to fulfill the goals of the master and inspiration, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

He took up a Sankalpa (intention) to serve the society by involving more number of people with him in his noble deeds. Arup was of the view that this journey was not supposed to be walked alone and he decided that he will connect with more people and bring a positive change in the society.

 

From a soft heart to a soft toy manufacturing set up

Arup had seen many handicapped women unable to move out of their houses. This motivated him to help them in whichever way possible. Soon he had a plan that would transform the lives of these women forever! The idea of a soft toy manufacturing facility from home came to his mind. Taking together around 5 women in the beginning, he did everything on his own and started the manufacturing set up.

Arup raised loans from banks to finance the cost of machines. Each machine costed around 15-20 thousand and it was difficult for him to arrange that money by his own. On top of that, the bank officials demanded bribes which Arup was not determined to pay, in line with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s drive against corruption. With little help from his friends and close associates, Arup was finally able to raise funds for the machines.

 

How the set up works

He has given machines to handicapped women at their homes. There is also a facility in Arup’s hometown where around 8 sewing machines are kept. Arup has taught the workers how to stitch soft toys. Since he himself is very good at the art of sewing, he did not take much help from professionals.

Arup gets the orders and the raw materials needed from the soft toy companies. He then transports them to the houses of the women who are associated with the project and explains them the work. After the soft toys are ready, he himself collects them and delivers the finished product to the companies. One of the companies that Arup works with is Nick Nack Classic Toys. It is really a wonder to see how he manages all this by himself.

“Swami Vivekananda had said that he just needed 100 youth to transform the society. With Gurudev’s blessings, I feel we can have thousands of Yuvacharyas (Youth leaders), who can help shape the new age world.” It is this vision of Arup, that keeps him going.

 

Blowing away the obstacles with a powerful breath of positive change.

Managing procurement of orders, collection and distribution of payments is not a simple task. There are a lot of complexities and constraints involved in it. “Sometimes the companies even after getting the finished product, create unnecessary delays in releasing the payments. This makes it difficult to pay the workers.” Since they are all poor, Arup needs to shell out the payments from his own savings so that they are not affected by the delays.

Arup runs a side business of distribution of farm chicken. He procures the chicken from the farms at Shalimar and distributes them to the retailers in Lake Town, Bangur and New Town area. This work takes up almost whole of Arup’s night time. He needs to get the chicken and distribute it fast by early morning, so that the chicken does not die.

Finally after a hectic schedule in the night, he gets time to rest at around 10 am in the morning. He does little Yoga and practices breathing techniques like Sudarshan Kriya and then rests for a while. By afternoon, he soaks himself in the soft toy business. It is a marvellous thing to see how he manages to do everything with minimum amount of rest!

 

Awakening the Royal Bengal Tiger – the way forward.

Arup Da says“My vision is that Bengal will lead the shaping of a new India. People who could not move are now working and earning money. They are self-employed and are doing good work.This gives me happiness and I want to spread this happiness to all.”

Born in the soil of Bengal, he regards himself as a Royal Bengal Tiger. With his commitment to serving the society he wants to make many more such tigers who can make things work on the ground. There was one particular women who had lost her relatives in a tragedy. It was difficult for her to make her ends meet. By getting associated with the soft toy business, she is now able to earn a little and make things running. This is what change really is!

 

– Milind Choudhary

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An ancient non-invasive tool of medical diagnosis

Want to know something really interesting and useful? When someone with a health issue is advised to go to a “lab” and undergo multiple diagnostic tests – expensive, time-consuming and sometimes anxiety-ridden, the ancient  Ayurvedic diagnostic tool of Nadi Pariksha can be a huge relief. And what is the tool of this diagnostic technique? Not wired-up intimidating-looking machines, but something ancient and basic – the human pulse.

“Nadi” is a channel through which the prana (subtle life-force energy) flows. There are 72,000 nadis in the human body. “Pariksha” means inspection, test, or diagnosis. Thousands of years old, Nadi Pariksha is a pulse-based, non-invasive diagnostic and prognostic science of investigation and Ayurveda’s great contribution to health and well-being. It was almost slipping into oblivion, practiced by just a few Ayurvedics, when Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar took steps to revive it. Based on deep knowledge and understanding of both body and mind, it uses the observation of the pulse to diagnose the human body, mind and the sub- conscious.

Now, there are pulses at several places in the body, but for Nadi Pariksha, the Ayurvaid places his or her fingers – the index, middle and ring fingers – on the radial artery at the patient’s Angushtamula (base of the thumb). The pulse here is significant as it is the evidence of life. For men this pulse-point on the right wrist is examined, and for women, the left. Nadi Pariksha should be done on an empty stomach, and preferably early in the morning.

This technique has been mentioned in several ancient Ayurvedic texts in sloka form. Gati (pulse movement), Vega (speed of the pulse, Sthiratva (stability of the pulse), and Kathinya (hardness of the artery) are the properties of the pulse used to arrive at a diagnosis/prognosis. The Ayurvaid (practitioner of Ayurveda) aims to analyse the quantity of Tridosha (“dosha” indicates “life-force”) i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kapha in the patient’s body. Ayurveda states that when the Tridoshas are balanced (that is, in Prakrithi) , it represents sound health, while Vikrithi indicates imbalance or ill-health in the three doshas. Physiological as well as psychological states of the patient can be assessed. Nadi Pariksha thus is useful in diagnosing
diseases as well as imbalances.

Gurudev says, “Nadi Pariksha forewarns potential health risks and gives an insight on how to optimize your health in accordance with your body constitution. Even subtler factors like emotional issues or specific thought patterns that manifest
into physical ailments are understood. It gives you a detailed and accurate personalized and individual prognosis.” The Ayurvaid gets to the root cause of the disease, instead of just going by the symptoms.

What is the next step once the Ayurvaid has arrived at a diagnosis? She may recommend a detailed personalized treatment and therapy, As Ayurveda is based on a holistic approach, you could choose a holistic plan that would include detailed diet and lifestyle recommendations, therapeutic massages,detoxification, and specific asanas and pranayamas, in accordance with not just the disease per se, but also with your body constitution.

The most fascinating aspect of Nadi Pariksha is it can give you advance warning of potential health risks, as well as subtler indicators of emotional issues or specific thought patterns that may get transformed into physical illnesses. Moreover,
many Nadi practitioners meditate regularly to enhance their intuitive abilities, and an experienced Vaidya can detect imprints in the patient’s system that indicate health issues s/he might have undergone many years ago! The wealth of information the pulse holds is a treasure accessible to a competent Nadi Pariksha practitioner with the requisite learning, training and experience.

Next time you or your family or friends need an in-depth medical diagnosis, you could go for Nadi Pariksha, and relax while undergoing it!

Caution: Take the guidance and advice of a certified Ayurvedic medical practitioner in obtaining a Nadi Pariksha diagnosis and further treatment depending on its outcome. Follow expert medical advice, treatment and prescribed regimen. Provide the Ayurvaid with your detailed medical history and current medication programs.

 

– Padma Koty

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Kelewali village, a village in Maharashtra transformed completely after the intervention by The Art of Living. From addiction to solving water crisis, from education to solving caste disputes, the village is setting example for the neighboring villages and for all of us.

Nitin Giri, villager, also an Art of Living volunteer shares, “ The village has seen a complete U – turn transformation after the intervention by The Art of Living. Volunteers from the organisation are working since last 10 years which has solved many problems, people have started participating after seeing the continuous effort by The Art of Living”

Kishore bule, an Art of Living volunteer, Sarpanch, Kelewali village shares, “ The caste, political problems have solved after The Art of Living has started work in our village. We have no criminal cases filed in our village since last 10 years. People of different caste and religions stay with love abnd brotherhood today in my village”. Kishore did the Art of Living Youth Leadership training program way back in 2007, a program which instill leadership skills in the youths, Kishore found a complete transformation in himself through this program. He was full of negatviity, greed and selfish he shares. Now completely devoted to service along with The Art of Living yuvacharyas he has been elected as a Sarpanch of his village with more than half population of villagers voting for him.

Kishore elected as a Sarpanch is a story within itself. He was elected as a Sarpanch in a open election where people from all the caste, religion came together and voted him on the basis of work he has done in the village. Such Rural villages face caste problems during election times, generally in the rural village people win elections on the caste they hold. Kishore feels that this election were historical as people from all the caste came together and voted for him in a open election. This was all possible because of The Art of Living programs which brought all the villagers together creating a sense of brotherhood amongst the villagers. Kishore has been organising blood donation camps, promoting natural farming techniques, getting people to solve water crisis and many other things for the prosperity of the people of his village.

The Art of Living yuvacharyas have been tirelessly working for the old aged people, visiting and meeting government officials and starting the pension for such people. Women in the village have been working, doing cleanliness drives, De-addiction camps after the leadership skills through The youth leadership training program.

Also, looking to preserve and improve environment conditions, thousands of trees have been planted in the village, river cleaning work is also in the progress. District in-charge minister has also felicitated the volunteers after seeing the work done by them.

More than 80% villagers have done The Art of Living programs which include people of all the caste and religion. Shaikh Rajique shares “ That he was a failure and a looser all his life, but after The Art of Living program a sense of selfless service felt inside him and now I am tutor giving free education to the needy”

The village is setting a example, where Muslims celebrate Holi, Hindus celebrate Eid, actually there is no sense of caste difference there. People are spreading a message of peace and love which also resulted in a open election where villagers peacefully participated without any chaos. Such is the power of community building, power of love and peace when it comes together.

 

Kishore Bule educating villagers about the pension scheme

 

 

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Two men dreamed to climb Mount Everest and they dared to do it without the support of their guide. Post conquering Mount Everest, Arunachalee Mountaineers Kishon Tekseng and Taka Tamut unfurled Indian flag, flag of their state and the Art of Living flag at the highest peak in the world. They attribute their success to Sudarshan Kriya. The duo’s heroic climb without supplementary oxygen till Camp IV (26,000 ft) has inked a new record. And their willpower to have dared to do this without Sherpas (guide) speaks volumes of their courage and determination. It is said that 99 per cent of mountaineers, from across the world, scale Everest with their Sherpa. Their mentor, Dr. R Meetie’s guidance and his gift of introducing the duo to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Art of Living and the foundation’s meditation programs has held them through their experience of preparing and scaling Mount Everest.

A tete-a’-tete with the mountaineers will take us through their journey of climbing the Mount Everest.

 

Q: Why Mount Everest? And when did you decide/realise that climbing Mount Everest is a dream that you want to pursue?

Ans: Kishon: Five years back, I decided ki Everest karega (I will go on Everest Expedition). I have always enjoyed trekking and that had earned me my first salary. I just had to do it.

Taka: This was my second attempt. The dream to scale Everest had become my life.

For a layman, it takes a while to absorb the information of how an intention to climb Everest (an unthought-of dream) drives someone to not just to ready themselves but also to sign up for the hard work and risks involved. Reminds me of Gurudev’s emphasis on the power of intention.

 

Q: How did you train to go after this dream?

Ans: Kishon: For me, the training began with Sudarshan Kriya. Happiness and Advance courses make your more aware. They make you realize your inner capability, Ki mujhme bhi kuch kabiliyat hai (That I am talented and capable). That was the first step.

Taka: Breath is the most powerful tool while scaling Everest. At that altitude, being able to breathe isn’t easy and Art of Living courses prepare you for that. To realize this dream, one needs to be patient and determined and AOL courses instill that beautifully.

Sudarshan Kriya, Happiness Program and Advance Meditation Program or The Silence Retreat is just an intention away- for all of us.

 

Q: How long did you train for?

Ans: Kishon: It took us 3-4 years to prepare. One has to work on physical fitness, go over the technicalities of mountaineering, build stamina, strength train ,and prepare oneself for acclimatization. Initially, bahut tough tha (it was tough in the beginning). Needs a lot of willpower.

Taka: Pao to chal lega, magar saans kaise chalega? (Without breathing right, the feet will give up too.) For all the training to work, resilience and control over breath is a must.

I find myself hooked to that statement of ‘the feet won’t be able to do their job unless the breath is doing its job’. Without breath, there can be no will power. And without willpower, no dream can ever be realized. The concept of determination, conviction, ambition and passion has been beautifully broken down to the technique of breathing by these two gentlemen- Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s two devotees.

 

Q: Could you take us through the journey of conquering Mount Everest?

Ans: Kishon: I climbed till Camp IV without using supplemental oxygen. We did Sudarshan Kriya and meditated as much as we could. I was feeling quite confident. It is tough to climb Everest but things seemed to be on track. But one of our Sherpa guides had to be airlifted after he met with an accident. The other one developed High Altitude Sickness and he couldn’t travel ahead too. Two of us were left behind to make perhaps the most difficult decision of going back or going ahead without our guides.

Taka: The climb from Camp IV to Everest is extremely difficult. It is called “ the Death Zone”. And for us, it was even more difficult for we didn’t have guide with us. We were on our own. I felt weighed down with fear.

But then, they decided to go for it. Two climbers climbed on their own in a land that knows survival of the fittest. The confidence built up over the last three years perhaps came handy.

 

Q. Wait a minute…Without oxygen and without Sherpa guides! Please share the experience of making it to the top.

Ans: Kishon: Once we reached Camp IV and we were left to decide if we wanted to go ahead or back, the odds were against us. But I thought that I have invested a lot of time and money into doing this. If I quit now, everything will go to waste. Power through- I told myself. After reaching the peak, I felt like a winner.

Taka: When I saw us approaching the peak, I felt energized. I screamed. I couldn’t feeling the exhaustion or my aching body anymore. I forgot everything. I had made it. I felt like a winner. I started crying for the 3-4 years of hard work had finally paid off.

From the fear of “will we survive” to the victory of climbing down alive, Kishon and Taka’s story is a story of perseverance and will power. There is so much to learn (not just about mountaineering) from the duo, these are lessons in life.

Q. Do’s and dont’s for mountaineers aspiring to scale Everest?

Ans: Kishon: Ujjwayi Breath (breathing through the throat), Bhastrika, Sudarshan Kriya and meditation programs are of utmost importance. They help your lungs. Holding breath is easier when one breathes through the throat. A must-do and it makes your belief in your dream and your capability stronger. These courses are also great platforms to know yourself and to know your body. They help one understand their strength and weakness and build on that.

Taka: Knowing your body and self-awareness is very important. One has to take risks and make decisions in high-stress situations and Sudarshan Kriya helps with that. One needs to prepare oneself for freezing temperatures.

 

Meditation, in itself, is a seva (service). Sense of bliss and gratitude are contagious and meditation helps spread that. The expedition was not an ordinary one. It was done with immense awareness, empathy and with detached attachment. Taka gave his spare oxygen cylinder to his guide who was suffering from High Altitude Sickness. Both the men supported each other and knowing that they had to pursue this dream, they made consistent effort to be able to do it. They have done breath exercises and Sudarshan Kriya on their climb at freezing temperatures and unfurled the Art of Living Flag at the peak. They did that to spread the message that Art of Living is doing service to humanity by reaching out to people with their breathing practices. And that the key difference between the aspires and the achievers is the will power that is born during meditation.

Dr R Meetie, their mentor, was present during the interaction. He said, “This was my responsibility. It was important that they come back alive and I want to express gratitude to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for blessing us and making this happen.” The three of them are now waiting to meet Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to handover The Art of Living flag that travelled all the way up to the peak and came back into this world. That will be our way of expressing gratitude, they said.

 

 

– Shubham Shukla

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Childhood is the most precious time in our lives. It is the time when basic culture and values are nurtured and growth in the sphere of health, education, etc. takes place. Still there are many areas where children are being denied of basic facilities. One such area is the slums in Chennai where children are facing day to day challenges like poor hygiene, school dropout, domestic violence,
addiction/alcoholism, child labor and other such issues.

The Art of Living has identified the above challenge and started the Happy Child Project in partnership with the Corporation of Chennai. The Project encompasses a holistic approach to transform the children, their parents and the teachers. The project aims to transform 75,000 children across 1700 slums and covers around 280 Corporation Schools in Chennai.

The program aims to address manifold objectives, few of them being listed below:

1) Address mental health and adolescent issues which involves managing relation with parents, teachers and peers, addressing habits like drugs, alcohol and smoking, dealing with studies and sex intimacy.
2) Develop life skills which includes Emotional Thinking and Social Skills such as Leadership, active listening, appreciating others views, etc.
3) Improve Health through Yoga, Breathing techniques and Meditation.
4) Create Awareness of Personal Hygiene at Home and School.

So far, the Art of Living has accomplished the objective in 15 schools with transformation of around 15,000 children. The implementation of the program was not devoid of challenges. Major challenge encountered was the indifferent attitude of the people and officials and the lack of adequate space to conduct the programs. But the untiring efforts of Mr. Prakash Athrayil and Mr. Sekhar Satagopan, senior Art of Living teachers and the dedication of volunteers helped in achieving the objective.

Some of the testimonials of students and teachers have been shared below to get a glimpse of the transformation encountered in their lives. One of the student mentioned, “I was unable to pay attention to the classes and my mind would get distracted easily. But after attending the Art of Living workshop, within 4 days I am able to concentrate and focus better.”

Another student shared, “Before attending this program, I was suffering from wheezing problem and I was unable to study well. But now, after this program I am finding relief from it and will continue to practice the techniques at home regularly. I am very thankful to the instructor and Art of Living for this.” One student shared that he was very short tempered and would get angry very easily. But the program helped him reduce that tendency and he feels calm now.

One of the teachers mentioned, “Through these programs, the Art of Living is rendering a great service to the student community, especially to those who come from economically weaker sections of the society. In these workshops students learn tools & techniques to handle emotions, negative tendencies, and also good values, life skills and behavioral skills through fun-filled activities.”

The Principal of CHSS, Rangarajapuram mentioned, “Most of the children from our school have parents working in the Cine field and hence are easily exposed to negative influences. Many of the children go through emotional challenges growing up in families with failed marriages and/or separated parents.

The Art of Living program for youth empowerment is welcome step in the direction of providing a holistic learning for these children. The principal of CHSS, Puliyur shared, “As our school is located close to the main road, children here have easy access to drugs being sold in nearby teashops and snack parlors. In spite of our constant efforts in informing local authorities, and taking action against students who take to drugs, we have not been very successful in managing the situation. In my opinion, a lasting solution for this problem can be reached only by educating the students about the harmful effects of these drugs and help eliminate these tendencies. I thank Art of Living and their faculty for their noble and sincere efforts in reaching out to our students.”

 

 

– Chandni Agarwal

 

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Youths in Maharashtra overcomes addictions

According to Hindu Mythology, during Amrit Manthan one of the 14 jewels that the ocean delivered was Varuni – The Goddess of Wine. Also smoking of Cannabis is known in India since 2000 B.C. Thus the use of alcohol and other such agents is not new in our country. According to the statistics, nearly 15% of individuals who try alcohol develop a dependency to it and become alcoholics. It is not just a health problem, it is a social and public health problem becoming one of the gravest public issues which plagues the society as a whole.

The major categories of drugs include – alcohol, nicotine, tobacco, depressants like barbiturates and benzodiazepines, stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine, marijuana as well as opioids like morphine, heroin and methadone. The main factors of such kind of addictions are peer pressure, poverty, impulsivity, relationship problems, family problems, poor coping skills and so on. Senior The Art of Living teacher of Prana course, Venkatesh Manglaram shares, “that most of the people attending the course move towards such drugs thinking that consumption of the same might provide them some solution or relief or help them in forgetting their problems.”When asked that why is he motivated to do such kind of work he had a very touching answer that, “when someone drinks alcohol or takes drugs and becomes dependent on it; their family suffers; the surrounding suffers and it overall affects the society. Since I am a part of the society I feel responsible for the same.”

Venkatesh Manglaram along with Nitin Pradhan and Ganshyam Gohile have carried out 23 Prana courses together and have successfully benefited around 330 people in the region of Vidharbha. The Prana course emphasises on complete de-addiction and is carried out with an holistic approach. It is a combination of physical, psychological, emotional, social and spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation and kriya. It is found that 80% of the people who completed the Prana course remained in recovery. This is a phenomenal success for us since it’s difficult for the people to give up alcohol who have become addicted to it.

Addiction comes along with a set of problems such as fights, loss of trust, isolation in society, separation to name a few. According to Venkatesh Manglaram the challenging part of this course is to convince the participants since they have the tendency of changing their minds a lot. Till the very last minute of registration it becomes difficult to tell whether the person is going to attend the course or not. But once they complete the course the results they and their families experience are tremendous. One of such participants was Mr. Shrirang Jagtap, a resident of Amravati who happened to be a civil engineer was completely gone in the hands of alcohol. He had tried various de-addiction course in many places and had been to many rehabilitation centres but was not satisfied with the results as he ended up relapsing. He attended the prank course and it has been more than two and a half years that he is living happily without consuming alcohol. Another such participant was Amol, a bus conductor in Yavatmal. He had started taking alcohol due to family problems, he ended up being sustained from his job due to his excessive consumption. The course has benefitted him in such a way that currently he is without alcohol for more than one and a half years now.

The duration of the course is such that the participants and the teachers share a very good relation with each other. They contact the teachers whenever they feel like talking with them. Also once the course gets over, regular follow ups are ensured with the help of residential teachers which are present in the areas where the participants are located. The participants get in contact with the teachers and attend daily satsangs and follow up sessions. This helps them in continuing a clean and serene lifestyle.

Venkatesh Manglaram further states that Education is the best way to deal with this issue and it is important to educate people in order to prevent addiction to alcohol and other harmful drugs. By building awareness amongst the people can we can definitely reduce the intensity of this problem. Moreover, it is upto the society to take it’s destiny and say No to Alcohol.

 

– Aditi Nalawade

Art of Living Wisdom, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Yoga and Meditation.

Every year on Guru Purnima, O Seeker, I marvel at the person that is evolving with constant and diligent work by the Master. Recently Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar shared the story of Siddharta who became Buddha and said there is a little Buddha inside each one of us. Buddha did not have a Guru or a guide. So he had to run from pillar to post doing this and that, knowing this and that , going here and there, all in vain. It was a futile exercise to find solution to his woes in the outside world. That’s when he got tired and dropped his efforts. Viola! The moment he let go, it happened.

 

This Guru Purnima just realize you are more fortunate than Siddharta. You have a Guru who has told you through Ashtavakra Gita discourses that the nature of the world is to cause you irritation.

 

Also He has recently stated that if the world did not cause you irritation, you would be stuck with the world for ever! This, I am sure, has changed your perception towards looking at irritants. But for them, you wouldn’t be finding refuge in the cave of your heart. Be grateful for the irritation in the world. That is your raw material for spiritual growth. Opposite values are complementary.

 

Two decades ago, when you came under the umbrella of the Master, the only mode of communication was a Landline telephone, Fax or an email. But now, with the plethora of modes of communication, the senses get bombarded and overloaded with information. The soul longs for the ancient. But the nature of life is to evolve. You need to find balance without losing out on the nectar of fresh knowledge the Master is oozing out so lovingly.

 

sri sri ravi shankar.art of living blog

 

Slow down….cool down…you are not in any race. Dont live under Prabhav (influence) and dont live in Abhav (lack) but live in your swabhav (nature).

You are light and be light.
You are Love.
You are a fountain of joy.
You are that Scintillating energy.
Be grateful.
Be like a bee.
Just be.
Be natural.

See you next Guru Purnima, shining brighter and feeling lighter.

Jai Guru Dev.

Your well wisher on the path,

Leela Ramesh

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Krishan Verma, our favourite Yogi shares with us, a moment that changed his life forever!
Many years ago, I used to go to the temple to attend their weekly service. One day it so happened that the priest couldn’t come, and for some reason, the management of the temple asked me if I could lead the sermon. Perhaps it was because I was sitting right in the front. I felt very uncomfortable. First, I had never given any sermon in my life. Second, I had chicken for dinner the previous day. So I didn’t feel eligible to go up there and do it.
 
I was in a dilemma. A voice suddenly came up in me and said, if you promise to become vegetarian from now on, you can go up there and perform the service. Certain moments in your life are very powerful. After that, I just dropped the habit of eating non-vegetarian food. It was so natural. There was no effort. It was so natural. I never felt any craving for it ever again and it’s been 40 years now.

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Menstruation and menstrual hygiene has always been a silent topic in many parts of the world. This topic has been often considered as a taboo. Many people feel uncomfortable while discussing these topics and to a surprise most of them are females. Women spend about 6 to 7 years of their lives menstruating, as compared to this statistic the level of education about menstrual hygiene is very low.  Project Pavitra sensitises girls on the issue of menstrual hygiene through Health, Hygiene and The Art of Living Happiness Program for adolescent girls.

One of the dynamic Pavitra Star is Mrs. Neera Chopra. She has reached over 2500 girls within a short span of two weeks with great spirit and enthusiasm. She shared that while conducting the programmes, the girls in the workshop used to feel embarrassed as well as ashamed to talk about menstruation. It was after Neeraji told that even she gets menstruated and it’s completely normal for a healthy body to menstruate once a month, the girls felt comfortable and normal. For her the ice breaking was quiet easy as she herself becomes a kid with the younger ones in the workshop. According to her this helps the younger girls to gel up with her and to share their problems with more intensity.

 

“ Women spend around 6 to 7 years of their lives menstruating. ”

While conducting such workshops she came across a girl, Neerja who thought of menstruation as cancer. At the age of 12 she got her periods, she hesitated to share it with her mother for two days. On sharing it with her mother she got a long list of rules to follow, such as – carrying a dupatta, wearing salwar kameez, not to talk to boys, not to wear frocks, not to play much, to name a few. These restrictions made her feel that menstruation is rather a punishment given to her by the god anti was better if she was a boy. Only after the intervention of Neera Chopra she realised that menstruation is a natural process and is an eternal part of a woman’s body which helps in keeping the human body healthy.

Neera Chopra further shares that the workshop should not only be conducted with girls but also with their mothers. The mother is the first person to whom a girl speaks with. She is the one who sows the seed of knowledge and understanding in her daughters. If the are ignorant of the topic then they might end up in giving misleading guidelines just as Neerja’s mother. Thus it is important that the mothers are well aware of menstruation, hygiene and sanitation. It includes awareness about sanitary pads, their disposal, type of food to eat during these days and so on. Mother is the first school at any house, thus the women should be made educated about menstruation so that they further educate their daughters about it.

Neera Chopra truly sticks to the saying that, “ A well educated woman not only educates but also empowers the entire house.” Her contribution has changed many mindsets of the adolescent girls and women. The number of girls using sanitary pads instead of cloth have increased with good numbers. She is an ultimate inspiration who works with complete zeal and passion for the project. Such enthusiasm if shown by each one of us will definitely lead in changing the current scenario.

– Aditi Nalawade

 

About Art of Living, Art of Living Courses, Art of Living Experiences, Yoga and Meditation.

Paritranaya sadhunam vinashaya cha dushkrutam

Dharma samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge

From time immemorial, whenever adharma has raised its head, enlightened Masters have taken birth in human form to uplift humanity and re-establish dharma. In the past, Lord Sri Krishna, Gautam Buddha, Adi Shankaracharya and such have taken the onus for social transformation through spirituality.

In Kaliyuga, we are fortunate to walk the planet as contemporary of our spiritual Guru and humanitarian Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji (Gurudev). He is uplifting humanity through various programs designed for people from every walk of life, adults and children alike.

‘Catch them young’ is a famous proverb that has profound significance. Sri Sri Sanskar Kendra (SSSK), an initiative of the Art of Living under the aegis of Ved Vignan Mahavidya peetha is envisioned and blessed by Pujya Gurudev for inculcating human values, imbibe our tradition, culture and develop a sense of pride towards our desh, dharm and sanskriti in children between the ages 7 to 11 years.

Gurudev says, “Just as a sapling needs watering to blossom fully, young children need ‘Sanskars’ for nurturing human values”. Spread in 18 states of India and 7 other countries of the continent, there are currently 1,150 Kendras running with around 45,000 children getting established in spirituality and human values. 4,500 SSSK teachers are imparting this precious knowledge to children joyfully with dedication and commitment. Numbers are growing consistently

What do we teach?

“Education is not about feeding our kids with useful information. It is to make them beautiful citizens of our planet”-Sri Sri

Children and youth need value based leadership. While schools impart formal education, children imbibe values from elders in the family and society. The hindrance to nurture values in children can be attributed to disintegration of joint family system, changing priorities and the advent of gadgets. Economic growth must be supported by a strong foundation of values for a nation to develop. In the present scenario of changing ethos, it has necessitated bridging the gap.

Therefore, starting from the age of 7 years, we, in Sri Sri Sanskar Kendra instill values in children through teaching from a manual blessed by Gurudev,

1. Shlokas, Dohas, Mantras

2. Simple and effective Yoga Asanas

3. Inspirational stories

4. Wonderful explanation of science behind simple things, ‘Wonder!’ that brings out a WoW.

5. Grand ma’s home remedies to reduce dependence on doctors and pharmacy.

All in a playful, family like atmosphere complemented by lot of learning through games and activities, singing Bhajans and dancing.

Regional and national festivals are celebrated.

Children and teachers look forward to 2-hour, once a week, interactive joyful session. Parents report remarkable change in the outlook and conduct of their children, so much so, they are requesting for similar sessions for themselves!

Thus laying a strong foundation, we encourage children to attend other programs blessed by Gurudev such as

Prajna Yoga (Intuition Process)

Children who are attending SSSK sessions are reported to exhibit sharper intuition.

Utkarsha Yoga (8 to 13 years) and Medha Yoga (13+ to 18 years)

Human values like compassion, belongingness, caring and sharing are further nurtured along with other spiritual practices and Sudarshan Kriya. Again, it is observed that Sri Sri Sanskar Kendra children absorb the learning better and practice. Established in Sadhana, Seva and Satsang, they become strong pillars of support to the society, nation and world at large.

Some of the long term changes we can foresee

The need for Deaddiction Centres becomes redundant.

There will be a drop in juvenile delinquencies.

Children realize the importance of revering our cows, farmers and natural farming, honouring food, custom and tradition such as rangoli, lighting lamps, pujas and many more.

They stand up for the nation and be the change to rebuild Ramarajya where dharma prevails above all else.

Jai Guru Dev
Leela Ramesh
Teacher-Advanced Meditation program
Teacher-Sahaj Samadhi Dhyan Yoga
Teacher Trainer-Sri Sri Sanskar Kendra
The Art of Living Foundation
Bangalore

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Sri Sri Sanskar Kendra
Website: www.srisrisanskarkendra.org