Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Projects, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Let us celebrate the journey of these 500 women who have risen like a phoenix from the ashes. The story begins with six women starting to write their futures, and little did they know, they were set on the path to change life of several hundred others. They have given the gift of a self-sustaining community to the society for future generations to depend on.

We heard this story at the International Women’s day conference organized by the Art of Living Foundation and couldn’t help but share and spread the joy. Two women, Art of Living volunteers, walked into rural areas of Bangalore hoping to get together women to meditate. Those were, however, their first steps into lives of these women and beginning of beautiful future waiting to unfold.

The Art of Living volunteers fondly known as Sankari Amma and Padmini Amma took very little time to realize that the women and their families were struggling to meet their day-to-day needs. The women were dependent on their husbands and more often than not, the men were consumed in alcohol. They were somehow surviving and living on debts to be able to feed their children. The volunteers reached out to Gurudeva Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and asked for guidance. It was decided that the women need to be vocationally trained to take charge of their lives and families. Two more volunteers were sent from ashram to train these 4 women (to begin with) to make jute bags. These women, who were tired of waiting for the circumstances to change, could now make and sell these bags to earn their living. Unaware of the jargon floating around but tuning into their intuitions, women realized that they need soft skills training or in their words, “learn to talk and communicate.” With support from the Art of Living volunteers, these women could now efficiently market and sell their bags.

 

 

As the word spread, more and more women came forward and joined hands to form an informal self help group. The group started noticing that a lot of these women had skills and were equipped to earn their living; they just needed a platform and motivation. The group started identifying women from the village who already had the knowledge of making aggarbattis (incense sticks), soaps etc. They were brought in to train others who were looking for opportunities to be able to earn their bread. Also, women who enjoyed cooking were identified and trained. They eventually started cooking meals in offices and homes. Some of them now are looking forward to rent a place and run a small canteen.

 

It is amazing how the strategies of the corporate world were intuitively and seamlessly put into practice without realizing the impact that they were creating. Innocently, one step led to another. There were no white boards, power point presentations, meetings and seminars, the women followed their hearts and with the help of Art of Living volunteers pursued their dreams.  Now, each member has a bank account and the only rule to be a part of this self help group is that members need to send their children to school. Art of Living volunteers have not only come forward to empower these women but are making sure that the children are sent to school.

It has been 14 years since the four women first came together. They still do not have an office or a place to meet up. They meet up on one of the volunteer’s terraces. But their journey is inspiring: From struggling to earn their bread to now sending their children off to school and colleges, from burdensome debts to now being able to pay off their loans and save some money, from feeling lonely and waiting for situations to change to coming together to form a big family of close to 500 women who stick to each other and led a shoulder in times of need.

 

While, we were listening to their stories awestruck, these women would burst into smiles and then into tears recalling their journey. They know their life has turned around but they are innocently unaware of the extent of impact that they are creating. Hiding behind their shy smiles, they do not know that these are the stories that move the world to believe in goodness, karma, happiness and writing one’s own destiny. A happy one world family? The Art of Living dream doesn’t seem so far fetched.

 

Shubham Shukla

About Art of Living, Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Yoga and Meditation.

Yoga is back in fashion and how. On World Yoga Day 2017, under the banner of “Sun Never Sets on Yoga” ; hosted by the Art of Living Foundation, Jeyakumar of Chennai attempted to set a new world record of doing 108 Surya Namaskars in less than 15 minutes. One Surya Namaskar consists of 12 different asanas done in sequence. Those who do yoga will agree that one round of Surya Namaskar itself takes the breath away. It is a complete set of body workout that has multiple benefits.

 

 

Jeykumar is an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer  working with KLM Airlines. Passionate about his work he says,” My erratic work schedule, constant travelling and irregular sleeping habits gave me all life-style related problems at a young age. I suffered from severe back and neck ache, knee pain and obesity by the time I hit my 30’s. I became very irritable and depressed.” The turning point came when he came in contact with Art of Living’s Sri Sri Yoga in Chennai. With a job that had was very dynamic he could not keep up with his practices. His body ache continued and increased. Finally on the advice of his yoga teacher Mr. Venkatesh; he set a goal of 48 days regular practice for himself. Jeyakumar managed to squeeze in an hour of yoga in his busy and erratic schedule. His resolve strengthened once he crossed 25 days of regular practice.

 

 

He experienced a wonderful calmness descend on him, all his aches and pains reduced. His body listened to him, his mind was serene and he seemed to have more energy than ever before. During one session he could finish 108 Surya Namskars and 30 push-ups in 30 minutes, his yoga mentors Chayya Anna and Venkatesh encouraged him to think of attempting a world record.  Jeyakumar decided to extend his practice to 108 days. On the 105th day of his practice he is confident of making a world record as he has bettered his timing. It was a happy coincidence for him that his 108 days of sankalp completed on 18th of June on the same day when he attempted the world record. He says,” With the blessing of my Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the support of my teachers and colleagues I can surely reach my goal and make our country proud.” He is also an Art of Living teacher and finished a certificate course in Yoga.

More than 200 people joined him to do yoga on the Sun Never Sets on Yoga Day, 2017 on Elliots beach, in Chennai.  Jeyakumar attempted his world record in the presence of two certified yoga teachers and two gazetted officers on behalf of the Limca Book of Records after the IYD protocol

 

Update:

 

  • He entered the Limca book of records for doing fastest 108 suryanamaskar

 

 

About Art of Living, Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sudarshan Kriya, Yoga and Meditation.

World over, India has come to become synonymous to Yoga and Meditation. An Indian child hears these words even before he begins his formal schooling. They have now become a part of our sanskara. Our parents, elders and ancestors have vouched for the discipline of mind for our wellbeing but we have now come to an era where question things and need evidence to believe.

At the International Women’s conference organised by the Art of Living Foundation, some of these questions were answered. Ms Ronnie Newman, Director of Health Education – United States of America, broke these answers down scientifically for her audience. Clad in white and dressed up in her beautiful and happy spirit, she emphasized that meditative practices are the need of the hour. Drawing from her experiences and research as the Founding Director of Research and Health Promotion, The Art of Living and Co-director for the Advanced Physician Wellness Program; Ronnie said that the meditative practices offer a humane solution to challenges of anxiety and depression.

 

 

 

 

              Quoting a research published by the British Psychiatry Journal on late-night depression, she said that only six per cent of people felt better or made progress until The Art of Living Sudarshan Kriya was introduced in the recovery program. Post that, the numbers rose to an astounding 54%.

             Ronnie further stated that depression casts its spell on people with abnormally low prolactin or in other words, people experiencing depression tend to have low prolactin. She said, “When everything else fails, the mental health professionals resort to electroshock treatments. It is said that human body produces prolactic to soothe the pain caused by electroshock treatments, and that helps people feel better.” Electroshock treatments aren’t considered the most humane form of treating mental illness. Ronnie emphasized that the Art of Living Foundation’s Sudarshan Kriya increases prolactin levels right from the first session. For Indians, this immediately puts the age-old morning ritual of meditation or Kriya in perspective.

             Do we limit this to individuals seeking relief from anxiety or depression? The answer is no. Speaking of the Mirror Neuron System (MNS), she said that human brains are wired to hook up and mirror neurons of each other. “We are living in a world of neuron wifi,” she humored. “So,” she concluded, “our emotions are contagious just like the common cold.” It does make sense to make Sudarshan Kriya a part of our daily routine to be able to be at peace, evoke empathy, experience and spread happiness. In other words, when we choose to meditate, we are doing a lot more than just helping ourselves. More and more people meditating is likely to create a field of positive energy.

             She summed up with, “I think we are living in a remarkable time in the history.”  She smiled and went on to explain that at this point in time, science, spirituality and our emotions are pointing in the same direction- to go deeper within. The world is coming together in more ways than one to decode the secrets within and pursue happiness. Perhaps, this is what the Art of Living Foundation had foreseen when they came up with the motto of “Vasudeva Kutumbakam”.

 

 

Shubham Shukla

About Art of Living, Art of Living News, Art of Living Projects.

 

Project Pavitra- Taking Menstrual Education to Rural India

 

In India, 200 million girls lack awareness of menstrual hygiene and associated healthcare practices. 66% of the Indian girls do not know anything about menstruation before they experience it. Since adolescence is a crucial time for tremendous growth, it is imperative to empower adolescent girls with adequate information and skills for menstrual hygiene and its management. Moreover, sanitary waste disposal is another rising problem in India due to poor solid municipal waste management systems. An estimated 150 kg of sanitary waste is generated by a single woman in her menstruating years.

Gender discrimination in learning-spaces doesn’t end with just construction of toilets. “Over 88% of women resort to un-sanitised cloth, ashes and husk sand. Incidents of Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) is 70% more common among these women…” Report by Neilson and Plan India.

The unhygienic menstrual practices followed by girls/women would often lead to increased vulnerability to RTI’s, PID’s and other complications. Therefore, good menstrual hygiene is crucial for health, education and dignity of girls and women. It is important to make menstrual hygiene a part of health education for the girl child.

 

Objectives

 

The Art of Living has created Project Pavitra- a nation wide initiative for enhancing adolescent girl’s menstrual health and hygiene. The project aims to provide a two-fold solution to menstrual problems in India by:

  1. Generating awareness amongst adolescent girls about menstrual health and hygiene via sensitisation programs in rural areas and urban slums
  2. Distribution of eco-friendly sanitary pads for women

 

The vision of the project is to empower girls with knowledge and awareness on menstrual hygiene to manage their mensuration in a hygienic way in privacy, safety and with dignity at home, at school and in the community.

 

Outcome

A total of 500,000 girls from rural communities, schools, and colleges across India, are envisioned to be sensitised on Menstrual Hygiene every year. The project aims to create a sustainable change in the menstrual hygiene practice in the country.

Through the project, the Art of Living hopes to create a sustainable change in menstrual hygiene practices in the country, especially in the rural areas. In the long run, it is hoped that better health status and quality of life, would be achieved amongst girls through the sensitisation programs.

 

Approach

The project anticipates sensitising girls on the issue of menstrual hygiene through Health, Hygiene, and Happiness Program for Adolescent Girls. 1500 dynamic female youth champions would be trained to deliver the sensitisation programs across the country. Through the project, 500 empowered young women with great leadership and communication skills are expected to enable advocacy on the issue through press interviews and discussions, meetings with community influencers and stakeholders and by addressing beneficiaries through motivational messages from their personal experience.

 

Health, Hygiene, and Happiness Program for Adolescent Girls

This sensitisation program provides know-how on how to handle menstruation, improve girls’ knowledge of personal hygiene and boost their confidence by answering their unanswered questions through interactive and engaging training methods. It also provides information to dispel myths and taboos surrounding this issue. Girls are also taught yoga asanas and breathing exercises (pranayama) that relieve menstrual discomfort.

 

Objectives of the sensitisation program:

  • To make females aware about the normal phenomenon of menstruation
    and menstrual health and hygiene management, while eliminating social taboos.
  • Help them abide to healthy eating and physical fitness lifestyles
  • Inculcate a sense of confidence, pride and honour being a female.

 

Health, Hygiene and Happiness Program for Adolescent Girls is a 3 day program of 90 minutes per day to sensitise girls between the ages of 11 and 19 years on the issue of menstrual hygiene. The workshops focus on teaching management of mental and physical aspects of stress experienced by girls due to menstruation by teaching them :

  • Pranayama to reduce premenstrual tension (increased irritability, bloating and cramps.
  • Yoga asanas to keep PMS, excessive or scanty blood/menstrual flow under check.
  • Diet for having healthy periods and regaining lost nutrients (using locally available food items (to avoid anemia and weakness).
  • Games and skits to help girls dispel myths and superstitions surrounding this natural phenomenon in a playful manner.
  • Maintaining adequate menstrual hygiene using local resources.

 

Sourcing and Procurement of eco-friendly sanitary napkins

The Art of Living will establish partnerships with NGOs, corporate donors and Government agencies to procure eco-friendly sanitary napkins that can be distributed to the young girls and their mothers. Awareness will be spread on safe disposal of sanitary napkins and eco-friendly sanitary pad making units would be established, where feasible.

 

Pilot

During the pilot phase in December 2017- February 2018, 321 dynamic female Yuvacharyas and volunteers, from 25 states of India, have been trained to spread awareness on menstrual health and hygiene amongst adolescent girls. Successful Health, Hygiene and Happiness Programs for Adolescent Girls have been organised in Karnataka and Jharkhand by volunteer trainers from the Art of Living, impacting lives of 2800 young girls.

 

Collaboration Opportunities

Corporates, Government agencies and Civil Society organisations are invited to partner with the Art of Living for creating social impact through Project Pavitra. Organisations can support outreach and advocacy activities of the whole programme or in selected geographies of their choice. Partners can also support with the procurement and distribution of eco-friendly sanitary napkins.

 

Small steps lead to great things. We invite you to join us as a volunteer or make a donation and be part of this service initiative.

Let’s take a step together towards women empowerment.

As our team grows, our efforts to empower women will be magnified. Fill up this form to join us as a volunteer:

 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScub3CG0nezcQXR98zrYdjON5yfJygbbv6THvmL11PnsVrETA/viewform

 

For more information please email pavitra@projects.artofliving.org or call +91 80 674 33708.

About Art of Living, Art of Living Experiences, Sudarshan Kriya, Yoga and Meditation.

She was the first woman chairman* of the State Bank of India. That statement, in itself, spells out her might and her success story in India but Arundhati Bhattacharya went on to claim her share of space in the world. In 2016, she was listed as the 25th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. Foreign Policy Magazine ranked Arundhati amongst the FP Top 100 Global Thinkers. Fortune named her as the 4th most powerful woman in Asia Specific.

 

 

Sporting her quintessential cheek-to-cheek smile, Arundhati lit up the International Women’s Conference organised by the Art of Living Foundation on February 23. She was also invited to be a part of the Global Leadership Forum organized by The Art of Living.
Arundhati effortlessly carries her success in her eyes. She has a way of going through subject profound with utmost ease while she leaves her audience with some food for thought. Recalling the times when she had introduced a two-year sabbatical leave policy for the bank’s female employees to use either for maternity or elder care; Arundhati mentioned that her colleagues were concerned that such a move might perpetuate the stereotype. She does believe that equality needs to come from society.

“Both men and women need to participate equally in child rearing and running a household for a change to come about,” she says. But until such a time comes, women need to be supported with policies so they can remain an active member of the workforce. A natural at conversations that matter, she switched from one topic to another with ease while smiling at people queued up to greet her.

Having done the foundation’s Happiness Program, she says that she finds Sudarshan Kriya quite effective. Acknowledging the health benefits of Kriya, she adds that she tries to meditate as often as she can.

Born in a small-town of Bhilai, Arundhati went on to become an example of strength for women to look up to. Her professional journey that started in Calcutta in 1977 with large manual ledgers all around to getting featured as 25th most powerful woman in 2016 is a must-tell Women’s day tale.

 

 

Shubham Shukla

 

 

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

In one of his famous dohas, Sant Kabir Das ji says,

पोथी पढ़ पढ़ जग मुआ,पंडीत भया न कोय;

ढाई आखर प्रेम का, पढ़े सो पंडीत होय I

(Pothi Padh Padh Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye;

Dhai Aakhar Prem Ka,  Jo Padhe so Pandit Hoye)

 

 

Meaning: In this mortal world, caught up books, words, thoughts and concepts; nobody became Wise, nobody got Enlightenment. However, one who understood the two and half letter word called Love (प्रेम), he attained all the Wisdom, he transcended the Time.

In this small Doha, Sant Kabir Das ji has revealed the greatest secret of wisdom.

He says the secret of Wisdom is Love!

To understand the real meaning of what Kabir Das ji is saying, we have to understand the real meaning of Love & Wisdom.

Many times the word ‘Love’ has been misused. Particularly in western culture, the word ‘Love’ has been used synonymously for ‘Lust’ and ‘Sex’.  However, there is a vast difference in meaning of these words.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, “In love even an object gains life. Stones speak to you, trees speak to you, the Sun, the Moon and the whole creation becomes alive, divine…..  In lust even a living being becomes a mere object. You want to use even people like objects.”

In lust one wants to possess whereas in love one dissolves.

Lust has a very limited meaning. It is usually used for bodily attraction between two individuals. However, Love has a very vast meaning. You can Love – yourself, people around you, animals, food, your work, books, knowledge, music, nature and almost everything in this creation.

Gurudev says, Love is that magic which binds everything together.

 

 

Love is connecting totally with something or someone. Love is merging. Love is dissolving (the mind) and becoming ONE with.

In the moments of complete Love, the mind is silent and at the same time it is totally open and receptive. Everyone experiences these fleeting moments of Love frequently in life (in all situations) but we are not aware of these precious moments because our mind (with its innumerable thoughts) immediately takes over those moments.

Understanding is subtler than words and thoughts. Understanding can happen only when you are totally connected with something. Total connection can happen only when the mind is silent and receptive. A silent mind is one which has dropped all its concepts, judgements, thoughts and desires.

If I am reading a book but I have no interest or no Love for what I am reading, if I am not at all connected with what I am reading and my mind is on its own trip; then it will be almost impossible for me to understand a single word. I can understand only and only when my mind is silent, receptive and becomes one with what I am reading.

I can understand what you are saying, or for that matter, I can understand anything around me only when I am connected with that thing. That fleeting momentary connection is Love.

Feeling that connection and becoming ONE with the words/things/situations/person makes me understand those words/things/situations/person.

Young children have much more grasping power than grown-up adults because children have no strong concepts in their mind and they are connected with (in Love with) everything around them.

In the moments of Love, the seer, process of seeing and the scene become one. That is when understanding happens, knowledge dawns.

In my opinion, it is not the physical structure of the brain which decides the intelligence of a person. Just like all people with healthy eyes have same capacity of seeing, all people with healthy ears have same capacity of hearing; all people with healthy brains have same capacity of perception or understanding.

Intelligence of a person in a particular subject depends solely upon his interest or Love for that subject. A person who loves Physics will be brilliant in Physics, a person who loves Arts will be brilliant in Arts and a person who loves History can become a great Historian.

Two identical twins with exactly identical brain structure can have different IQ levels based on their level of interest or Love (or lack of it) for different subjects. So physical structure of brain has a limited role in deciding the IQ of an individual.

It is because of Love that the weaver birds know how to build a beautiful nest, monkeys know how to take care of their young ones, birds can teach their young ones how to fly, humans know how to communicate with each other, and so many amazing things happen in the nature.

Love is the basis of all understanding, knowledge and wisdom in this world.

According to the ‘Advaita’ philosophy, everything is but the manifestation of the ‘ONE’ consciousness. My experience of ‘sweetness’ of sugar is same as your experience, my experience of ‘blueness’ of sky is same as your experience, my ‘sorrow’ is same as your ‘sorrow’, all this is, because of the inherent underlying unity behind everything.

Quantum Physics also agrees with this theory of connectedness. Quantum Physics says that it is impossible to completely isolate the observer from the observed. That means at some subtle level everything is connected with each other.

Love is experiencing this Oneness of Existence, not as a mere concept but as a reality.

An Enlightened Master is one, who is always in this state of total unconditional Love with the entire existence. He is ONE with the entire creation. Just like I know all the fingers of my hand, he knows everything in this Universe. For him all the past, present and future is in the purview of known. He has truly transcended the barriers of Time and Space.

Human birth is said to be very precious. Every Human being is blessed with the capacity to Love unconditionally. Every Human being is blessed with this seed of all-knowingness. However this seed is covered with a thick veil of ignorance which needs to be lifted.

Ignorance (or Maya) is getting caught up in one’s own web of ego-sense, concepts, judgements, thoughts, cravings and aversions.

Spiritual practices like Yogasanas, Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya, Meditations etc. help us to thin down this veil of ignorance (Maya).  With these practices, one comes closer to the truth of existence. One starts experiencing one’s true nature, which is Love. A sense of belongingness (with everything) starts blossoming. All negativity slowly drops off and positivity shines forth.

Knowledge requires duality. Knowledge requires a Subject (knower) and an Object (knowable). For the one who has attained Oneness with the entire creation, there is no duality, there is no Knower and there is nothing to be known. A Guru (Enlightened Master) has no need of knowledge for himself. He has no desires left because there is nothing to be gained and nothing to be lost. In-spite of all this, only because of the infinite compassion and love in the heart of the Guru, he steps down to the level of the Disciple and uplifts him. Only because of this Love, the Guru’s words can bring about that silence of understanding in the mind of the Disciple. The veil of ignorance can get completely lifted only with the grace of a Guru.

Knowledge gets distorted with time. Time and again Knowledge needs to be re-interpreted and rejuvenated, otherwise what remains is only words and dead concepts. The Enlightened Master or a Guru, through his infinite compassion and Love, helps to rejuvenate and protect the Knowledge in this world. It is Love which protects the Knowledge and keeps it alive.

 

 

Many times people ask Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji about the meaning of the ‘Art of Living’ logo. Gurudev says it is up to you to give it a meaning. One meaning for this logo can be – The pair of Swans signifies pure unconditional Love. The ‘Art of Living’ symbol signifies that, the all illuminating Sun of Wisdom rises from the very centre of pure Love and is preserved and protected by Love!

Be in Love with everything and everybody and be Wise! Jai Guru Dev!

 

 

Sanjay Sabnis

About Art of Living, Art of Living Projects.

Solar electrification for 113 schools in Uttar Pradesh

 

Rekindling Hope

 

According to the Annual Status of Education Report 2016, analysis based on data from government schools in 70 districts of Uttar Pradesh, the below were the results:

Despite the obvious connection between electricity and educational achievement, however, as one expert laments, in the educational community, “we focus largely on pedagogy and little on access to energy”. Such an absence of focus is detrimental because, as another study put it, “education is also widely recognized as one of the most essential components for poverty reduction”. True, just having great school infrastructure is not sufficient to improve learning outcomes, but it is certainly a necessary condition.

Art of Living Foundation is a responsible and social enterprise working diligently towards rural development since many years. Under the aegis of the Art of Living Foundation, Sri Sri Rural Development Program Trust (SSRDP) implemented the HCL foundation initiative to solar electrify 113 schools in Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh where the grid had not yet reached. This project that started on August 28, 2017 was successfully completed on October 14, 2017 in a short span of just 47 days wherein HCL foundation arranged for the funding and SSRDP implemented the complex project.

 

The implementation journey

 

  • HCL foundation has adopted 113 government schools in 3 blocks of Hardoi district i.e. Kachhauna, Bahender, Kothawa in Uttar Pradesh to achieve their objective of walking towards electrification and eventual digitalization of the schools
  • 30 engineers trained under the SSRDP skill development program were hired as interns to implement the project
  • A warehouse for storage of procured material was provided by HCL in Sandila town which was approximately 80 kms from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh
  • The majority of the critical components for the project such as solar panels, inverters batteries and structures were sourced from various parts of India and made available to the implementation team. The rest of the installation material was sourced from the Lucknow market.
  • A total of six Bolero Jeeps were hired for transportation of material from the warehouse to the schools
  • SSRDP implementation team would work closely with the HCL foundation coordinators present in each block to strategise the way forward so as to effectively install solar electricity across the 113 schools. These coordinators would act as mediators between HCL foundation and SSRDP providing necessary support whenever required.
  • The project was implemented in two phases :

 

Phase 1:

 

  • Initial 15 days were utilies for setting the ground for solar installation
  • Foru generators were hired to do the basic drilling and initial wiring related project
  • The entire civil work including fixing the structure for the solar panels on the roof top and the structure for the solar batteries

 

 

Phase 2:

  • This phase involved Affixing the solar panels on the roof-top
  • This was followed by developing a wiring system to enable electricity to flow from the solar panels to solar batteries

Challenges:

 

None of the schools were connected to grid and as a result of  which implementation has to be started form scratch including hiring generators to do the basic drilling and wiring

The implementation team of the 6 vehicles had to travel daily on an average 175 kms of ‘kachha’ rural village roads back and forth from the warehouse in Sandila tow and between indicidual schools

Roads leading to Shcools did not had ‘pakka’ roads andtime taken to reach from one schoolto another was on average 2 to 2.5 hours

The vehicles would even get stuckin the muddy waterlogged village roads frequently and at times tractors/bullock carts were engaged to pull out the vehicles from the muddy roads

 

Benefits:

 

Solar electrification of 113 schools in rural areas of Hardoi district, Uttar Pradesh

Impacted more than 5,600 students across all the solar electrified schools

Enabled a platform to engage interns and gettingthem hands-on training during execution of live projects

 

 

Seema Kalro

About Art of Living, Art of Living Projects.

Around 85 kms away from the heart of Kolkata city, Kakdwip a small town in South 24 Parganas of West Bengal has become witness to the unravelling of a brand new tale. Art of Living volunteers and teachers, in collaboration with International Association for Human Values (IAHV), Sri Sri Rural Development Project (SSRDP) and Kent have undertaken an ambitious project of improving the lives of the villagers by providing skills training.

 

How the difference is being made in Kakdwip

 

Under the project a three tier approach has been adopted to improve the standard of living and health the health of the people at large, in Kakdwip town. Mushroom farming is going to be taught to the villagers of the town. Under this skill development initiative, 50 farmers are going to be trained. Another facet of the project involves distributing filters to around 1000 families. The filters are going to be supplied by Kent. Water in Kakdwip has high iron content and some areas which are close to the see have salty water. Supplying filters to the family is going to help hem have access to water that is filtered and fit for consumption.The project is being headed by Pallav Haldar, an Art of Living teacher from West Bengal and Ramesh Raman from IAHV is working with Pallav in this noble initiative.

Another leg of the project involves teaching specially designed courses to the villagers. Two programs – Rural Happiness and Art Excel programs are going to be taught to them. In Rural Happiness Program, the participants are taught Sudarshan Kriya, a rhythmic breathing technique that helps in dealing with stress, anxiety and addiction. The plan is to organise several Rural Happiness courses, over the next few months and reach out to 1300 villagers. Art Excel is also being organised for young kids in which they are taught easy to practice meditation and breathing techniques. These processes help them to improve their focus and creativity. A similar target of conducting Art Excel for 1300 participants have been put in place. The reason why this program is going to be conducted for children is that, the Art of Living has seen a sharp decline in addiction rates in villages where the Art Excel programs have been taught. This will help to address the problem addiction which is a major cause for domestic violence and low standard of living.

 

How the challenges have been braved with a smiling face

 

Subhra ji, a resident of Alipore is the one who is supervising over the project. Distributing filters to the families does not pose much of a problem but organising courses and making infrastructure for mushroom farming is somewhat a real challenge. The sheds and other things required for mushroom cultivation is not available locally in Kakdwip. This poses a big challenge as the team needs to source these materials from Kolkata city and transportation turns out to be a real hassle. In the first leg of mushroom cultivation itself, the production got spoiled due to unavoidable circumstances.

 

 

Another challenge is to mobilise people for the courses and find a hall or place to conduct the courses. Since the course involve a lot of yoga and pranayams, given the large number of participants, it is a difficult task to find a suitable venue. But this has not deterred the team from continuing with their efforts and they are trying to find out the solutions to these problems.

 

100% organic – One of the many reasons to gleam.

 

A complete organic farming technique has been adopted. The spawns and straws required for mushroom cultivation are readily available and other ingredients like manure, water and supplements being used in framing are all organic. Sabhra ji explained why mushroom farming was taken up – “We wanted to take up a project which would show results within a short span of time. Given the high demand of mushroom in the local market and the limited resources required for mushroom cultivation, we thought it was best to take this up.” A typical shed requires an area of 150 sq ms. The best part is that they have already found a buyer who is ready to pay a decent price and purchase in bulk from them.

 

 

Progress so far

 

Water filters, being supplied by Kent has already been distributed to around 180 families. 15 Sheds for mushroom farming have already been constructed and the remaining 10 would also be constructed within a couple of months.

 

 

The long term plan for the project is to establish a self sustainable model in which the farmers can themselves grow the mushroom and sell the produce directly in the market. This will ensure higher margins for the farmers, due to the absence of any middlemen and hence increase the income of the village. The Art of Living team wants the farmers to set up their own cooperative within the next six months and start catering to the market demand themselves. They would always be there to guide and support the farmers.

 

Regards,

Milind Choudhary

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

The First Sanyam is unforgettable. Everyday Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar served us with food -specially prepared to cool down the system after a lot of Yoga and Meditation. Each and every dish was planned by Him and prepared according to His instructions.

I can still vividly taste the carrot and Vermicelli Kheer that we had. It was creamy, subtle and delicious. I have reconstructed it here from memory.

 

We prepared, and enjoyed this Kheer for Bhogi Festival, the equivalent of Lohri.

 

Ingredients

 

  • 3/4 cup roasted vermicelli
  • 1 small Delhi carrot
  • 1/2 Lt.A2 milk
  • 3/4 cup powdered jaggery
  • A pinch of saffron soaked in a tbsp of warm milk
  • 1 tsp powdered cardomom powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder

Method

 

  1. In a heavy bottom saucepan , add about a cup of water and when it starts boiling, add the roasted vermicelli and let it cook till done. It usually gets done within 5 minutes, and the vermicelli absorbs all the water.
  2. Boil the milk and keep boiling it in low heat for 10 mins more.
  3. Pressure cook the carrot for 2 whistles. Blend it to a fine paste.
  4. Add the milk to vermicelli and cook for 5 minutes. Add the carrot paste and cook for a minute more. Lower the heat, add the powdered Jaggery and let cook for a few minutes.
  5. Turn off the fire, add the spices: Saffron, Cardamom and Nutmeg powder.

Garnish with Sliced almonds and roasted cashew halves.

This quantity will serve a family of 4.

 

 

About Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Bhanumathi Narasimhan is the younger sister of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Innocently at first, and with joyful awareness later, she has followed her brother, her Master in every step. Walking the path, she has witnessed the unfolding of the mystical life of the Master at each turn and would like to share these insightful and precious moments with every one of us.

 

 

Inspired by his vision for a stress-free world, she leads the women welfare and child-care initiatives of the Art of Living. From a small free school with 30 children of construction workers, the gift-a-smile project now supports 435 schools with over 58,904 underprivileged children. 

 

 

Bhanumathi is also a meditation teacher. Her workshops have brought an experience of deep inner peace to thousands worldwide. Trained in her younger days as a Carnatic singer, people across the world wake up to her melodious voice in which she has rendered sacred chants and soulful bhajans through several albums.

She has previously authored two books, Tejasvini and Lalitha that expound the spiritual significance and mystical meaning behind popular Hindu scriptures and practices.

As the chairperson of the International Women’s Conference (IWC), her vision is to make a global connection of responsible women to catalyse positive transformation in society. Over 5000 women from 80 nationalities have participated in these conferences so far with eminent speakers from diverse spheres.

 

 

When asked about how she balances so many roles to perfection, she says, “My mother continues to be a great source of inspiration to me. She taught me by her example how to take responsibility for one’s own life. My grandmother taught me to see the smoother and happier side of life. My aunt taught me the value of independence. My husband taught me the value of freedom, my children and grandchildren, the value of innocence, my father, friendliness and my brother, love and compassion towards the whole of humanity. My guru has taught me to combine all these values appropriately and move on joyfully in the journey called life. When you have the right guidance, your life is an ocean of contentment.”

She holds a Master’s Degree in Sanskrit Literature from Bangalore University. She is married with two sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. She lives in Bangalore, India and travels all over the world to spread the message of meditation and service.

 

The Making of “Gurudev: On the Plateau of the Peak”

 

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a person who has touched millions of lives – what was he like as a child? Did he know that this was his path? How did he reveal it? What challenges did they face? What was the family like? Bhanumathi Narsimhan, Gurudev’s sister, speaks about her new book, Gurudev: On the Plateau of the Peak, a first of its kind biography of Gurudev that chronicles the spiritual master’s early life. The book, already a bestseller on Amazon released on the 11th of January’18.

 

Q1) How did you contemplate on writing an intimate account on Gurudev’s life? How did the idea take shape?

The decision to write the book was not taken in a moment. The idea has been building for a long time. So many people would ask me, “How was he as a child? What games would he play? What was he like in school, how were his college days, when did we find out about his chosen path?” So many questions! Each time I would be able to answer a few but it inspired me to pen down these precious memories so that I could share them with everybody.

 

Q2) The world knows Sri Sri as a humanitarian leader, and spiritual master. But, what is it like to be the sister of an enlightened master? How is he both as a brother and Guru?

I feel deeply grateful whenever I think about it—to be the sister of my Guru! And there has never been a conflict. I have always followed him, innocently at first, as a younger sister following her elder brother, and later, as my Master. You feel completely secure and taken care of when you have a Master in your life. Even when he was travelling, teaching and giving talks, he made it a point to be present for all the important occasions in my life. He was there for the baby showers, he was there when my children were born. He was always there.

 

Q3) What is a reader likely to find in the book? And how is it different from other books written about him?

Most of the other books are based on Gurudev’s wisdom. I suppose this is the first biography that shares moments from his younger days. I have shared several personal experiences for the first time. So I am sure it will be different!

 

Q4) Have you revealed any secrets about him in the book?

He is an open book! There’s nothing mysterious or secretive – only mystical and sacred!!

 

Q5) What can we look forward to in the book? How will it impact the young seeker’s mind?

This book is for everyone who enjoys reading.  It’ll be a joyride. It’s for those who know him, those who don’t, and those who are curious. There are no conditions. Anyone can take the journey with me.

 

Q6) As a writer, how thrilling it has been for you to capture the mystical essence of Gurudev’s life through your pen?  Could you provide us a glimpse into your journey of writing the book?

It has been a magical journey. It is always a joy to recollect our childhood and younger days, the days of travels, teaching, the coming together of the world as a family – I went through them innocently, but when I look back, the wisdom beyond the events is now clear to me.

I was writing bit by bit, whenever I found the time. I’ve written in hotels, in the Bangalore ashram, the German ashram, wherever I could find a quiet corner. Spending some time by the sea in California worked wonders. Words would flow out effortlessly as I gazed at the waves from the window. Each time I’d get new insights and the journey kept continuing.

But I had to complete it sometime!