SEVA was part of my life even before the Art of Living happened to me. The vital difference is, there was an expectation and a desire for recognition. Whatever honorary post I served in, although I saw the nobility of purpose, there was an element of selfish desire to be somebody!
When I heard Sri Sri Ravishankar saying ‘ SEVA is its own reward. It is an expression of joy’ , a shift happened in my perspective and I was ready to lose my identity as a drop to become an ocean by merging into the huge volunteer force, all guided by One!
Back in Abu Dhabi, in early 2000 , when Art of Living was fairly new, I would engage in SEVA during landmark days such as Guru Purnima, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s birthday, Shivratri and so on along with the team. Raising donation for ‘Gift a Smile’ was an on going project. I remember initiating joining hands with a local group for a walkathon on Corniche beach in support of cancer patients which got good reports in local press as well as a certificate of participation to the Art of Living.
When I moved back to India for good, my mind was already cultured. I had tasted the sweet nectar of SEVA for the sake of SEVA.
Soon an opportunity to get involved in Prison SMART project presented itself. Conducting courses for lady inmates of Bangalore Central Jail and engaging them in rehabilitation programme by vocational training was a truly satisfying experience. The transformation was tangible. Their written testimonials are safe with me to go back and relive those fulfilling days. The Jail almost turned into an ashram. Lot of work needs to be done in that area. Sri Sri Ravishankar ji’s words ‘ inside every culprit, there is a victim crying for help. Help him’ keeps ringing in ears.
Integrating human values in the main stream of education has been one of my passions. How I wish I could revamp the whole of our so called education system that only prepares individuals to earn a livelihood but not to live life that only gives degrees but not the quality of altruism, the true purpose of education. With Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji’s vision for education perfectly in sync with altruism, I strove to bring human values in our students of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar PU college. The positive response and enthusiasm the teenagers showed is a promise that we can and will integrate human values in the main stream of education.
The expansion of Art of Living activities in Karnataka is the current project I am associated with. I am madly in love with my home state Karnataka and the vernacular, Kannada. More so now, because, my Master belongs to Karnataka and speaks Kannada! How lucky can I get?! Travelling in Karnataka, building a tryst of love and belonging with our people, inspiring and gearing them up to ‘ Wake up and Shake up’ has been a very fulfilling experience. With all the districts in Karnataka participating in the historic event WCF2016 , I am sure the flag of Art of Living Karnataka will fly high. The diversity of Karnataka is mind boggling. The same language Kannada spoken in different dialects, cuisine varying from region to region, variety and style of costumes worn, musical instruments played, local festivals, wedding procedure….the whole panorama is spell binding! I am proud Karnataka fiber is woven bright and strong in the fabric of the forthcoming phenomenon called the World Culture Festival in Delhi, March 2016. Speaks volumes about the energy, enthusiasm and devotion of our volunteer force in Karnataka which is growing from strength to strength day by day! Tears of gratitude keeps flowing to touch the lotus feet of my Master.
How has SEVA changed my life?
I can only say it is a shift from ‘ what about me?’ to ‘ what about others?’
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar has said ” You do my work. I will do yours” .
It is an effortless effort, immense joy and privilege to do His work.
In return, a big relief to surrender the burden of running my life to my Master.
It is a deal. I bet, there isn’t a better deal anywhere, in any place or field in this whole world!