Manana – Picture and the Frame


An organisation should be like a picture frame. The frame shouldn’t eat away the picture.” In other words, just as it isn’t possible to hold a picture in the absence of a frame, without an organisation any work, whether spiritual or social, can’t happen. At the same time, if the organisation becomes too bureaucratic, it’s like the frame eating the picture.


Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar words rings true as we watch the Art of Living volunteer based organisation grow by leaps and bounds. Knowledge, service and celebration …the three pillars of joy experienced by the chosen fortunate ones on this path know instinctively that picture spills out of the frame all the time! Knowledge is boundless.  So is service, that emanates from knowledge culminating in celebration.

God loves fun! He creates situations where in frame and the picture seems to be in conflict. As we realise there is no duality, it makes us steadfast in faith and gives conviction of our purpose.



As I watch the picture getting divided inside several frames to ease functionality, my vision refuses to lose the whole picture, the masterpiece with the caption ‘crime free and stress free society ‘ where there is a smile on every face. This is the grand picture that He is painting as an ongoing service. Frame, in other words the organisation is only a loose structure to contain the picture. If the frame is unable to it, the frame maker has missed the boat! As simple as that.

Gurudev mentioned in one of His talks that although He has created many positions in the organisation, there are many volunteers who are doing excellent service without any label, infact some, more than those holding positions.

When I came into the Art of Living about 2 decades ago and read about ‘ frame and the picture’ in a Knowledge Sheet, it was only bookish knowledge not yet a living reality at the experiential level. Today it is an experiential truth… volunteers who work without any selfish agenda for the good of others are found everywhere if we have eyes to see. These unsung heroes need not even belong to any NGO. They do well because they can’t help but do good.



These thoughts are stirred up in me after meeting an illiterate villager from Gadag, a district in Karnataka who had come to take Gurudev’s Darshan and blessings in Bangalore Ashram last week along with Gadag team. He has invented a wind mill and a spray device that can be used in a tractor or motor bike to water the fields and has several other brilliant ideas. He says he was invited by a reputed company in England to share his knowledge in return for whatever amount of money he quotes. He was also offered the services of an interpreter as he cannot speak any other language apart from his mother tongue.

The lure of money did not deter him from serving his mother land. He has stayed put here, patiently waiting for Gurudev’s grace and directives.

People, the good samaritans do not care for worldly riches. For them richness lies in caring and sharing. They know the value of a good contented sleep after doing a deed that benefits the larger society. Working for greater good is being rich. In Karnataka, India, we had a poet called D.V. Gundappa (DVG). He has composed a huge volume of poetry that holds universal truth and knowledge. When the society recognized the worth of his writings, they wanted to honour him with cash prize. But, DVG refused to accept on the stage saying he had no use for money. Not that he was reeling in luxury. He just had an elevated sense of greater good. He announced the same money to be used to print 1000 copies of his poetry and to distribute it free in schools. What a noble thought! He knew the value of imbibing knowledge and values in young minds.

Likewise, we find many examples of selfless service, the redeeming factor for a good society.

Picture is always bigger than the frame because the world is full of good people who do well.

If the frame cannot contain the ever burgeoning picture, the only thing to do is expand the frame! It is shortsightedness to think picture should fit into the customised frame. Frame can never be customised nor can picture ever be bound in that for long! The frame and the picture, both are made by our Gurudev and both are fluid. All that we can do is watch the phenomenon called Guru Principle in awe and wonder!!!

Smile and serve is the only mantra that works here in any given situation, never for an instant forgetting there is only One Doer!




I always remember that great quote which has been my favourite since I was young.


“For when that One Great Scorer comes, He asks not whether you won or lost, but how you played the game”.


Leela Ramesh

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Leela Ramesh

One Comment

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  1. Very nice article. Written straight from the heart and touches the heart of the reader. Jai Gurudev

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