A life transformed mysteriously


My life was defined by strange Idiosyncrasies – Oblivious to the existence of others, strongly preferring solitary activities, avoiding interacting in groups with problems in expressing emotions and understanding social cues. A World Inside & A World outside that was in a whirlpool for thirty long years; a Cry within that needed a release, a talent or rather talents that needed to manifest! How, Where, When, there was no idea!

A childhood spent in boarding schools, from one to the other. There was a deficit of English Schools in the small town from where me and my brother hailed. The memories I carried for indefinite years was the wound of insecurity from the moment my parents would drop me back after the holidays, each time!! It was a survival of the fittest in the Hostel.Vacations at home were spent in classes, all fixed one after the other, from music to baking to being coached in a game. Adolescence came & I was very distinct, notable and perhaps the Centre of Attraction. Naïve, cocooned in my shell, I would never match an eye with anyone. Life moved on with friends through thick and thin. With emotions all suppressed, a victim consciousness had stated taking birth inside.

Art of Living Blog- Richa Chopra beauty queen
I excelled in studies and after graduation, the natural course was a Masters. During the third semester of my Masters I was a ‘gap filler’ in the singing team for college’s annual function. There I was noted, proposed, families met and within three months was married. Not a single day did I spend not weeping from the day I tied the knot. Something knew within that it was not right. It was a marriage of compromise; I had to spend my days with my parents-in-law while my husband lived in another city. There was no reason given. This is how it would be, I was told.

There was yet another semester to be completed. I was married in a traditional Zamindar Family. My father in law would drop me at college and pick me back every day. Walking, or taking an auto rickshaw or an open rickshaw was out of question. I was very lonely, very alone. The only person apart from college mates I would see was the ‘Milk Man’ on the Bike and my parents-in-law. No one else. Food would be under lock and key and measured & any unannounced consumption would become a big issue! I started becoming very weak, depressed, lost all the confidence, would have black outs. By then, I had conceived and become a mother. A renowned neurologist diagnosed me as epileptic and put me on daily dose of 1200 mg Tegratol. I became a total wreck, physically, emotionally, mentally and was sure the child would be born as ‘not normal’.

Art of Living Blog - Malvica at 4 months
And, She was born on 9th September 96. 9.8 pounds, golden locks, fair skinned. I was 34 kgs then. Four months later, my parents came to see me and skillfully took me and my daughter away to Delhi and showed me to the best of doctors. I was diagnosed with, ‘Classical Migraine with Anxiety’, and started getting treated.

Negotiations happened between the two set of parents and we were sent back to in laws place on the condition that we shall stay with my husband hence forth. The next three years turned out to be the worst nightmare of my life — a daughter growing in an environment of abuses, an educated husband with no direction in life and addicted to forbidden vices.

malvica's first steps

With the support of my parents I started a clinic ‘Psyche & Soul’ for the mentally challenged children. During those hellish three years my daughter could not be kept at home, was not permitted to be brought to clinic and so I put her in a crèche, 2 kms away, accessible only through foot. I would walk 8 kms each day to manage all this. I did not know what The Art of Living was;  had never heard of It. Every night my pillow would be soaked with tears of helplessness — this is what me and my daughter’s life would be, “imprisoned for ever.’ Fear of society and parent’s embarrassment left no avenue for escape.

One Night, I dreamt of a bearded man in White robes instructing me to ‘Chant Om Namah Shivaya’. I had taken initiation at the age of 16 from Ram Krishna Mission. And on the same night, I saw this man in white merging with Ram Krishna Paramhansa. Ten days after I started chanting Om Namah Shivaya, clarity and strength dawned. I picked up my daughter and left the house of  in laws in 2000.

My Mother pushed me into the Art of Living Course and I was so resistant. She would sit on the door step with my daughter so that I would not run out. On the last day of the course, I saw Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s picture and told my teacher of my dream. She said, ‘You have a long way to go’. I liked the program so much that I ended up doing the Art of Living Part 1 Course 16 times

I enrolled for a PhD program in Gauhati University. I also joined the same neurosciences hospital as a Child developmentalist where I was treated for withdrawal of epileptic medicines. My daughter was put in a day boarding and we stayed as paying guests. Wherever there would be an Art of Living Course, or Seva I would somehow reach there with my little girl travelling in buses/ rickshaws.

Art of Living Blog - with Swami Brahmtej
My parents grew worried seeing my involvement with Art of Living and shifted us to Delhi. I was in a new city – jobless, frustrated, just out of a marriage and grappling with legal battles. One day, Swami Brahmatej ji visited my home and I was narrating my frustration. That night, I had the second vision of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, walking towards River Ganges in Rishikesh. And I was following Him. He turned around and showed me ‘Two’ with His fingers.

I got my job in a Swedish Embassy Aided Project exactly after two days. It is still a Mystery. I had not yet met Gurudev. Very soon I went to Rishikesh for Holi special Meditation and Celebrations with Gurudev. On the last day of AMC small groups were being taken up to Gurudev’s Kutir for private Darshan. Our group was on the stairs, waiting for the group inside to come out. Physically, it was impossible for Gurudev to see all of us on the stairs. HE told someone in the room, ‘That Girl from Shimla has come’. As I stepped inside, my mother was weeping. Gurudev said, ‘She is mine, She has come back’.

Art of Living Blog - Malvica in Sri Sris lap

I had quick professional growth in the NGO I was working and was awarded the best worker for three consecutive years. I got promoted to senior levels and simultaneously completed my Art of Living Teachers Training Course Phase 1 and 2. My Daughter Malvika was admitted to Army Public School. Litigation was on full spree and at each court hearing, I would almost faint with fear and anxiety of old memories.

Something was shifting inside beckoning me for something higher. And I knew I had to spend the rest of my life with and for my Master. I came to Ashram, my HOME on 18th March 2004.

I had no seva, no direction for what to do. Six months passed. My daughter would play all day in the mud, we were both lost. And there were constant threats from my father to leave the Ashram not only to me but others as well. One Day in agony, after 6 months, I went up to HIM saying, “I am very intelligent, You have no idea of my skills’. Sri Sri gave me an apple in return and I grew more angry thinking, ‘Here I am doing nothing and He gives me an apple, does not understand me’. I came out of his Kutir. It used to be ‘Kashyapa’ in those days. Gurudev came out after a while and held me hand and took me inside and openly stated, “This girl is going to lead projects and conference one day world wide’.

Art of Living Blog - UN Conference 2005 on Female Feticide
I had no idea what HE was saying. And then very soon, I started working on a project at the Sri Sri Ayurveda factory. Very soon with Gurudev’s blessings I conceived, established and sustained Projects Management Unit at Art of Living International Center, Bangalore. The first project got sanctioned from ministry of Health and Famliy Welfare, Central Government. I had no team, no resources and there was no one who understood this realm. I walked this path for almost 9 years all alone, my only volunteer and support being My Master.

96 odd collaborative projects with UN & Governments happened through this office. The most unimaginable global projects such as Stand Up Speak out 2007, Mission Green Earth 2008, Faith In Action -2010 with 500 dharma Gurus on HIV and the recent Youth Summits on 7 social issues is only and only a manifestation of My Master’s Grace.

During my first Music album Mehar
In 2007, during the management of the Stand Up Speak out event, I was coordinating with 26 states of India and 56 countries all alone. It was unimaginably crazy and hectic with no proper office set up, staff and managing with the world on one front and the UN systems on the other. I was choked with Work and was breathless each day. Not a word of appreciation from My Master, no acknowledgement from anyone. One day, Gurudev called me to His Kutir and there were many senior teachers around Him. He reprimanded me for something I had not done. I started crying and for fifteen minutes kept thinking, ‘Someone has filled His ears’ against me’. He ignored me for fifteen minutes and then looked at me and said “You think someone has filled my ears? What I am telling You is not for You but for all those standing here. Richa , I shall grind you (he did that circular motion with His hand) till the gold in you starts shining”.

From ‘Projects’ the Journey marched ahead to the Conception of ‘Punarnavahas’ (a series of back to back courses topped with various Art of Living services such as Nadi pareeksha, Sumeru Sandhya, Food fest etc) and then to the Pre TTCs. I was made the first Pre TTC teacher of India. What a faith my Master had in me, a life that was only and only a lump of charcoal.

Art of Living Bog - Dr Richa with daughter
And now, After 9 years, the long legal battle ended, I was set free. My husband later did the Art of Living”s Part 1 and Part 2 Course, met Gurudev. I visit my in-laws and do Satsang there every time I am in their city. My father is so proud of me. And, as a human being, I can proudly say today my life has truly blossomed. Nurtured by the love and wisdom of my master, I find that my Emotional Autism is gone, I can relate to and Love everyone unconditionally. I feel so free and complete as if I have re-united with my Self.

Today, I teach the Art of Living Courses all over the world. My daughter is an accomplished Sitarist and Life is a Full Circle. The Battle Inside and Outside is all over.

Dr Richa Chopra, is a Counselor, Psychologist and a Senior Art of Living Teacher.

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  1. Just amazing journey Richaji…..Words cannot really express our love for the Master and HIS LOVE for us.. But you have captured it to an extent in this piece of writing…Keep the good work going…Jai Gurudev

  2. really appreciable how you have expressed everything so beautifully… Our master is great, no words can ever describe the greatness.. You and all of us are so so lucky to have him in our lives. He truly is a diamond cutter who grinds all our CORNERS and makes us a diamond that is for ever…
    Sangchatvam!! Jai Guru Dev! 🙂 🙂

  3. Amazing would be a very tiny word to describe this story of yours! Read it with teary eyes, goose bumps!!!! My respects & Pranams … JGD 🙂

  4. now i know why i feel so connected with you..life has experienced quite similar shades like you..i’m so grateful to my master that i was with you in my TTC and i’m so proud that you r my mentor in my PTTC journey..lots of love nd filled with gratitude..Divya puri.

  5. Stunning! Unbelievable! This is the stuff love is made of. Albeit we never met it seems to me we know each other very well. Gurudev has connected us all. I am glad to be a member of this huge family. Thank you for sharing your story and giving us insight into your path. Namastee.

  6. Richa di,this is an amazing and inspiring life story…..I am blessed to have done DSN course under you at Bangalore ashram in 2011
    Jai Guru Dev

  7. If a Master could transform such a complex life in the most revolutionized was, the Purpose of taking all those reading my life’s chapters is to awaken and reaffirm to ourselves that we are on the most beautiful path with A Guru that is beyond our comprehension. Even if there remains an iota of doubt, it is better to ‘let the mind to die’ and ‘steadfastly hold on to faith’. Allow yourselves all the beatings, the vicissitudes, the churning on the path~ how does it matter in your realm of faith?. What do we want after all, ‘nothing’? Just here at HIS feet & serving selflessly.

    1. Very True Richaji.
      Thanks for your golden words.
      I admired the way you conducted (so amazing and blissful) Yoga and PS sessions during TTC1.
      Your words (in the previous reply) shall light the path of several sadhaks in their journey to infinity!

  8. Jaigurudev Richaji, I was inspired greatly by you in my Phase 1 TTC when you took care of our sadhana and would admire your Yoga and your easy way of doing it all…. gems like you who help us march ahead in this path… thanks to Gurudev for all this…

  9. Your story shows the Strength that is there deep within all of Us & how it gets blossomed in a Satguru’s Presence !
    Hope this should inspire many more in every nook & corner of this Globe.
    Pranams……Guruji !
    Jai Guru Dev !

    1. Truly Pray let every life become a celebration and that can happen when one has the correct knowledge of oneself and infinite faith & infinite patience.Our Lives, if in any way can raise the happiness, wisdom in anyone, it is always available to serve

  10. Jgd didi,
    I saw u first time during my TTC in july 2011… I came to know that u are the Mother of all AOL projects. Something inside me would tell me that there is something very deep inside you than this white skin…. here is ur inspiring faith-filled sharing… very close to my life happenings. Now, as I spend my first day at Noida TOK ( aftr being desserted by my husband and in-laws), I was wondering what is in store for me… where am I going from here…. I stumble upon ur blog and realized ” I am Guruji’s child too and he has brought me back HOME”….

    1. HE has a unique journey for each one of us, just hold on steadfastly onto your faith and contemplate on a direction. And then let that be your final goal, no matter what comes or goes.

    1. if my life has touched and risen the spiritual quotient, am blessed
      to be available in whatever way i can serve

  11. Inspirational. Thanks for sharing Richa ji so many of our lives have been transformed ,worthless lives made precious and worthwhile …ever obliged ,eternally grateful to the beacon of hope ,love and compassion His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji

    1. Feeling grateful for what we have and for what we don’t at every step is the highest worship and with this state, limbs engaged in seva, sadhana and satsang till the last breath of our lives:-)

  12. JGD Mam !! I was there in your Punarnavahas. You are amazing teacher.I feel blessed being there. Only Guruji can do this miracle. Thanks for sharing this. Love you ….. 🙂 🙂

  13. Richadi my part 1 teacher. No words to speak about her because i cannot put thm in alphabets in my journey on this path she plays a very imp role.

  14. Not gold….. diamond started shining!!!
    I am the one of the fortunate students of you dear Richaji!!

  15. I am teaching a part 1-waves of happiness in Bangalore Ashram 12th-14th july 2013, after a very time long and probably shall be teaching after a very long time after this one, since would be traveling all over for PTTCs…lets celebrate the knowledge by repeating the course again and untying the subtlest knots, if any left in the mind:-) and also send many many for to be touched by this wisdom~~~love richa

  16. OOPS…. Are you Real ??? Its like a shot from celluloid ! Being a single mother I know what life is.. But reading your grinding story, so compelling, so touching, so eternally endearing I am sooo happy that our Guru takes care of us when we dont know what life has in store for us…

    Best wishes for your daughter of course she has the best…
    Tina from Mumbai

  17. An Unbelievably inspiring story!!..A proof to the fact that anything ispossible with Grace. Thank you so much for openly sharing it. JGD & Love!

  18. Jai Gurudev Richa di…
    Very inspirational & touching story… You have always been source of inspiration for us and I feel proud to be a participant of your first ever VFABI – DSN, Whitefield Bangalore…I learnt from you that faith and love can move mountains.. Thanks for taking us ahead on this path of knowledge… Jai Gurudev.. ~Sameer

  19. Wow!!! Great and very inspirational. Seen you many times. But really feeling blessed to have the previledge to read this story.

  20. Richaji .. I am currently going through a turmoil in my life. I am unable to handle the situation. I just don’t know what to do. Was feeling helpless. And here I read your words at the right time. Very touching and very inspiring. It will help me rebuild the faith. Thanks a lot. Jai Gurudev !!

  21. JGD didi. My story matches to yours. I was also kept away from my husband and even he was abusive and violent. I have come to my parents place and don’t wish to go back. I was also forced to marry during my master’s. Its all the same. But I don’t have kids. I have spent all my 2 yrs weeping. But now, my parents want me to go back. They aren’t supportive. I feel its like my turn now to go through all this all over again. But Gurudev will take care of it.

  22. Inspiring.
    Who’d have thought a fragile & delicate-looking being
    could endure so much and accomplish so much MORE?!!

    “My heart, make friends with grief
    and if you do, what luck!
    Embrace it, for your grief is the call
    the Beloved answers.”
    – Rumi

  23. Thanks Richaji for sharing the wonderful experiences with Guruji you are really blessed. By reading this everyone will be motivated to join the AOL family.

  24. Dear Richa,
    I had tears in my eyes!!! Its amazing-your dedication, immense faith & pure love for Gji and all of us!!!
    love & JGD

  25. What an amazing life story this is…filled with tears in my eyes…what an amazing master he is, we feel sometimes he ignores us but that is also with a purpose…have gone up in leaps and bounds in faith…really want to meet my guru now.you are truly inspirational richaji

  26. i belong to you 🙂

    Feeling of Guruji taking care is awesome and everyone should feel it and experience the gratitutde

    Thanks for sharing this

    JGD !

  27. Loved reading such a heart-touching account of your life and miraculous experiences and change of life after meeting with Gurudev….

  28. Jai Gurudev….

    Truely inspired..!
    An amazing story of Master’s grace!

    I had the oppurtunity to work with you at Standup mission & lucknow NGOs training.

  29. Let Our Karmic Struggles be All Converted Into Focus, Strength & Wisdom…These are Not Challenges But Mere Levers , beckoning Us Ever towards Self realization and with a Guru, nothing feels, hurts:-) Lets live our lives enlightened ~ HE has shown us the Path~~~Love, JaiGuruDev, Richa

  30. Wow… now I know from where all the strength comes in you…”I shall grind you till the gold in you start shining”.
    I can see that HE is really keeping HIS promise to you… and you are responding so aptly to each project that HE gives you… 🙂
    Thank you so much for sharing such inspirational story… I hope that more and more people read this and take the clues to get their life transformed!!!
    Lots of Love….

  31. She has transformed life and made us realize that every movement we breath is a new one and we have to drop every movement which is passed away. Jai Gurudev.

  32. Richa didi the blog was awesome..filled my eyes with tears… and learnt a lot from it.. Million thanks didi for sharing the same..Loads of Love..JGD

  33. Richaji your life was full of struggle.Even then u overcome from, is source of inspiration to everyone .thanks for sharing.JGD

  34. I can totally relate to your story. I used to feel exactly the same after my marriage ( except my husband and in-laws are better than yours,My husband is educated but with no direction, my in-laws are born and brought up in small village, have conservative mindsets, very superstitious, I used to feel very suffocated), So this fight inside and outside is always there. Like you I always studied in boarding schools due to deficit of good schools in my small town..excelled in everything..got a good job in multinational in bangalore. i I have done all the art of living courses but it doesn’t help as much as it used to do before marriage. I sometime feel that art of living knowledge works good when you are single and independent. Many time I felt like leaving marriage and home but couldn’t escape because of the shame my parents may feel due to my act. I can totally understand how difficult it would have been for you to leave home with your small daughter. It’s not easy to have such courage, it’s all your hard work, faith in Guru and Guru’s direction which have paid off pretty well. Whenever I used to see you in Ashram I used to feel so nice..you truly look like a goddess and I used to think can I someday be like you :). Richa di you are really awesome. And now when I really knew about you from inside, my respect for you have increased 100 times. This is really very very inspiring . Thanks for sharing this, it helps a lot.

  35. Hats off to you didi. I do not have words to explain as to how I have felt after reading the text. I am sure this will change the lives of many after reading it.

  36. Really very inspiring….. m so grateful to u for sharing these moments of ur life
    Really making me feel more strong n encouraged confident….
    Master’s love can’t be imagined
    Thank you so much Richa Di

  37. Such a heartfelt and honest description of the lst part of your life,Richaji.2nd part of your life with the master we all see you now.How the Master has changed the lives of all of us to be an example in the society.

  38. JaiGurudev Richa madam I was the participant of your 1st Pre TTP which made me to grow in this path courageously n greatful to you for the guidance to experience the grace of the master.your journey is inspiration to all the true seekers

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