Art of Living? A rich man’s world? Make believe – whose founder Sri Sri Ravi Shanakar had many colours –– this was the perception of a female single, heading the southern secretariat of a large reputed Organization. The year was circa 2002-2003, when she first saw Gurudev, after her sister had done the widely acclaimed Art of Living course.
Well, How could it be any different! Like her corporate acquaintances, she had grown up in cosmopolitan suburbs, born in Bangalore, besides having tasted the metropolitan life of Delhi and Chennai. It was true in a sense, growing up the hard way – changing schools, learning from experiences, questioning the customs, castes and religion which were forced upon. “At 17, Falling out of customs, I took a subject which people made fun of – Philosophy. I was reading Brahmasutras, Upanishads, Bible in search of the ultimate Truth. I was a frequent at Bangla Sahib and the Cathedral at Connaught place.
“At one point of time I wanted to change my religion from Hinduism to Christianity, as I was deeply touched by Jesus, but for some reason Providence stopped me. Anyway there were too many sects in Christianity as well.
Being a lady in a senior corporate position in a male-dominated office was a great challenge. “there was so much stress that I became diabetic. That was when my mother prevailed asking me to leave my position, salary et all. “While resigning made me more spiritual, I still doubted Sri Sri when sister, friends and neighbours spoke about their beautiful experiences with him.
As said, experience is the biggest teacher and it also sketches the life-path! There are infinite numbers of experiences but the precious of all, is one’s own experience of enquiry and growth.
Months passed, I was on strict diet due to the high sugar level. Once more Ma said, “at least Art of Living is well known, your sister has benefited from it so much. For once, do the course.” “So, I gave in, took the course and floated through it. On the last day was party time. I eagerly joined the party and had all the sweet dishes and ice-cream. And lo and behold, my diabetic condition vanished! This MIRACLE totally surprised me!!!
After the course I felt as if my prayerful thoughts just manifested in the form of Sri Sri. “Some have had pre-conceived notions on spirituality; some have had the effortless acceptance of the beautiful thing. Some have come a long way – I count myself in the last category. This journey into that fragile, untouched space within, right from my first step has been a deep fulfillment of a long yearning!
After my Art of Living Part 1 program in Chennai, celebrations with real Sri Sri on his real birthday on May 13th were just a week away at Art of Living Bangalore Ashram. So I got myself registered for the Advanced Meditation Course with Sri Sri. This was despite the Ashram announcing ‘no more place’ – Truly a miracle, followed by many more miracles. An unknown stranger brought my luggage to the room, I only had to exclaim ‘ it’s so cold’ and the water I had filled in the pail, warmed up. I was ensconced in super delightful Divine grace right from the time I entered the Ashram!
My mind was now just waiting for Sri Sri to return to Ashram from Germany. The D day came, and there he was right in front of me, in the Advanced Meditation session in Vishalakshi Mantap. But the biggest doubt arose in my mind, “but he is a man!” And when I lifted my eyes up and looked at him, I saw a huge light flash, no man –only light and my long-standing doubt vanished forever.
Age nor money doesn’t matter here, nor position, nor beauty, nor color, nor religion nor caste – it is but breaking of these barriers
if I look back, it is unbelievable, this journey of out of world experience of all the knowledge acquired – indeed a miracle, sometimes amazement, sometimes love or just stillness! This is an experience, which has brought me to the world of reality beyond the horizon of material life and chaos that mind files in the memory!
Each one I meet and encounter is none but the Divine itself – some like neem leaves and some like nectar – and both are necessary – nudging me, silently chipping off and chiseling me into the beautiful sculpture hidden in me.