Art of Living Courses, Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Stories, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

It was indeed a thrilling moment for me when it was announced that Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar would be teaching Special Part2 course pan India and we, His instruments are blessed to facilitate HIS course. I was asked whether I was willing to travel out of state and I jumped at the opportunity. A few choices came my way and I chose Jaipur. There was no rhyme or reason for my choice because I did not know any one there nor I had any clue where in Jaipur I would be facilitating.

Research began. I saw photos of Jaipur ashram on the website and enquired whether course would happen in the ashram. Answer was in affirmative.

I had visited Jaipur 35 years ago as a north India tourist with family but frankly had forgotten the experience. I believe ‘A thing of beauty is a joy for ever’ so, subconsciously I must have chosen the place, pink city, for its sheer beauty!

Clean and wide roads sans maddening traffic took us to the Sri Sri Ashram on Nov 8 .

Food came from the kitchen to my room in serving bowls, Serving spoons and plates with the sevak telling me rather curtly, ‘Do not waste food. Take as much as you eat”. Amused I said “yes Bhaiya, I will serve myself as much as I need and send back the rest untouched. You can use it”. I was happy about the instruction I got from the Sevak. It showed concern about wastage and honour for Annabrahma.

Thick and warm Jaipuri blanket of grace comforted me to the core and I rested with a smile on my face.

The next morning I was requested to lead long kriya follow up and it was filled with humorous warm up followed by calming long Kriya. A group Sankalpa was taken to bring maximum people to the course with Gurudev. There was still a good 24 hours before the course began and we all agreed with firm sankalpa, even mountains could be moved.

The day passed checking connections, deciding on the menu and other details ensuring there would be no obstruction in the flow of the course.

Satsang in the evening was again to bring people together in celebration and service. The young singers sang bhajans in a mesmerizing way that we all felt the energy of Silence Course had already set in. Demonetization that coincided with the course date did have an impact on the numbers yet the organizers succeeded in registering 63 people, many first timers.

It would be a futile attempt to describe the course as no words can justify the beauty of the Master’s presence or His knowledge. Long meditations,  joyful, soulful satsangs,  question and answers, He urging the devotees to follow Him  on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, share creative ideas and  invitation to writers to come together saw a flurry of activity in the hall with brimming  faces!

For the nth time I wondered how one being can have such a huge positive impact on thousands of people at a time! But then, He always says His secret is, He does not do anything that is not in His nature.

Simple, honest, down to earth… The factors that pull people to Him like a magnet. Needless to mention, course was wonderful, beautiful, amazing, boundless grace …goes without saying.

Lets us look at behind the scenes action.

 

Gurudev always supports scientific research about the processes we do in our courses. Benefits are tangible but validation is necessary.

Doctors from Rajasthan University of Health Sciences associated Medical College and Hospital, Jaipur, took initiative to conduct a study before and after the course. Dr Mohit shared the Abstacts with me.  Please have a look.

 

 

RUHS-CMS (Rajasthan University of health sciences associated medical college & hospital, Jaipur)

(Doctors in the Pic: Dr. Sudhanshu Kacker (HOD Physiology RUHS-CMS), Dr. Mohit Sharma (Asst Professor Dept of Cardiovascular & Thorasic Surgery SMS Medical College), Dr Mahima Sharma (Senior Demonstrator Dept of Physiology RUHS-CMS), Dr Neha Saboo (Asst Professor Dept of Physiology RUHS-CMS)

The kitchen has one main cook and an assistant. Prior to the course, I kept urging that we need lot more hands in the kitchen during the course.  As per the menu directed by me, main breakfast item on the first day of course was semolina upma with lot of vegetables.  After Long Kriya , I walked up to the kitchen and witnessed our Cook pouring packet after packet of semolina into a big pot of boiling water. Is this the way upma made here? I wondered. When we all sat down to eat, there was upma that looked more like thin porridge! No one complained. I offered to teach him how to make proper upma and told him to stick to his poha upma and Dalia (Broken wheat upma) which he was adept at making.

We south Indians take our dishes for granted believing that everyone knows how to make such a simple but wholesome items. But in the north it is as alien to them as making a perfect kachori or samosa for us.

Remembered Gurudev’s observation about how varied our cuisine is in India. It varies not only from state to state but within the state too. He has mentioned varieties of food as one of the seven wonders of India.

By lunch time kitchen was buzzing with several AOL teachers and volunteers pottering around with pots and pans!  I breathed easy! Things were under control.

Our participants, enthusiastic seva warriors, joined hands to roll out rotis and cut vegetables beyond their allocated seva time in the morning.  It looked like seva was their breath! I had to pass by kitchen every time I was going to the course venue and signal to them to move to the session.

Whether it is cleaning ashram campus, Course Hall, or cleaning the rooms, the participants gave their 100%. The result was shining faces, supple body and deeper meditations.

Another challenge appeared by evening. Course time was announced 7am to 7pm. Now, Gurudev’s satsang ended after 8pm. Nonresident participants, who were not ready, began to panic. It would be well over 9pm by the time they could set off homewards to their waiting family.

Love, care and dedication of kitchen sevaks ensured dinner was available to nonresident participants before satsang. We saw smiling faces again.

That is the beauty of this path! We are ready to smile through changed plans, uncertainty and discomfort for long term joy.

It was a cake walk there on. Seamless flow of the course was only possible because of excellent technical support from the Bangalore ashram team. . Our volunteers had zero problems accessing the network.

I had to do something which is not normally done while teaching a course.  I was on WhatsApp most of the time! Because that’s where we got updates from NTC regarding Gurudev’s arrival to the course and other information. One local  Swamiji who was attending the course remarked to STC, Abhishek ji, after silence was broken, that the teacher was always on the phone while the course was going on! Abhishek ji had to explain to him why.

Now that things were under control from the 2nd day of the course, it was time to spend some precious moments with volunteers by bonding over the dining table. It never fails to amaze me how we connect in an instant. There are no strangers in this global family. One thread binds all the pearls together.

Well, I am sure readers already know what conversations took place during breaks. GURU STORIES!

Hours of toiling in the kitchen hardly tired them. Each one with a glowing face shared their story.

A story that left me speechless yet again is about Chappan Bhog when Gurudev visited Jaipur ashram.

250+ dishes were lovingly made by devotees for their Master. There were 2 glasses of lassi (thick buttermilk), one sweet and another salty standing on the table side by side. No one knew which one was sweet and which was salty. Gurudev asked for the salty one. “But, Gurudev, we do not know which glass holds salty lassi” said devotees in unison. “Give me the right glass. That has salt lassi” said gurudev calmly and it sure was the salty one! Has anyone fathomed the depth of the Master? We can only wonder!

Tears of joy and gratitude flowed at the end of the course. I am especially touched and admire young couples, to be married who choose to attend the course to celebrate togetherness. May this tribe increase!

I read in a knowledge post of Gurudev, that one of the vows couples who get married according to Hindu tradition take during Sapta padi is, that they will serve together for the up-liftment of the society.  Gurudev’s idea of starting Sri Sri Matrimony is to facilitate such ideal marriages. What a blessing!

By the way, I am married according to Hindu tradition 40 years ago, but I never knew such a clause existed in sapta padi.  Today I am blissed out to realize that because of Gurudev, we are able to fulfill this divine vow by doing our bit for the humanity.  Ever grateful to my husband who walks the path with me lending great support. His selfless attitude has enabled me to walk smoothly in my quest to find myself.

Are you ready for another great Guru story? I know you have said ‘yes’!

As I was taking a walk around Ashram campus feeling so very content, two yuvacharyas joined me and said Jai Gurudev  Didi.

They recounted a Guru story that again made my hairs stand stiff on my hands!

A huge YLTP course had taken place in August at Jaipur ashram this year. It was monsoon time and the course was outdoors without any roof. One evening there was thunder and lightening.  The participants saw a shaft of light slowly descending and feared it would fall on them.  Instead, it changed its course and cut through a cement umbrella made on top of Gurudev’s room!  Later on, a participant shared that he had seen lightening descending on them while doing Hari Om meditation. Because he was in meditation, he could not share what he saw with others at that time.  A Master would go to any length to protect His devotees.

The next morning we went up to the terrace to take a snapshot of broken umbrella that is symbolic of His promise to protect us, come what may.

After a fulfilling day of sadhana, seva and satsang, it is always sheer bliss to slip into the blanket of grace, placing our head at the feet of the divine in the form of pillow and sleep like a baby.

After the course, I had another day to explore the beautiful pink city,  Jaipur, all the splendor it offers.

 

 

I hope to write my travelogue on Rajasthan in the coming episodes.

Leela Ramesh

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