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

Rishi Vidyadharji beautifully revealed the mechanics of happiness. He told that, “Happiness (Sukh) is moving towards the ‘Self’ or uniting with your ‘Self’ and un-happiness (Dukh) is going away from the ‘Self’”.

Naturally question arises in the mind, why moving towards the ‘Self’ gives us happiness? What is the nature of this ‘Self’?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, “Self is the consciousness that everything is made up of. That is you, and everything around you.”

To understand the nature of this ‘Self’ one should understand the five aspects of the Universe.




Five aspects of the Universe

According to the Vedanta, each object in this universe or the entire universe as such has five aspects:

  1. Asti : Asti is ‘is-ness’ or that it is.
  2. Bhati : Bhati means knowingness/expression – it knows and expresses.
  3. Preeti : Preeti means Love – it Loves.
  4. Nama : Nama is name or word or words.
  5. Rupa : Rupa refers to forms.

The first three aspects viz. Asti, Bhati and Preeti belong to this universal consciousness or the ‘Self’. The last two aspects viz. Nama and Rupa are said to be the gross aspects of this Universe.

Even though words have been used to explain the meanings of Asti (it exists), Bhati (it is self–effulgent) and Preeti (it loves); words fail to convey the actual truth. These three aspects of ‘Self’ are beyond explanation. Words can only create some concepts in mind but these aspects are beyond any concepts.

Sometimes during deep meditation you may be aware that you ‘exist’, but you don’t know who you are, where you are, what you are. This particular experience is the result of the aspect of consciousness called as ‘Asti’.

The ‘Self’ expresses itself through millions of ways. The whole Universe is organized and works according to certain rules because of the aspect of ‘Self’ known as ‘Bhati’. ‘Bhati’ is the basis of all the knowledge and expression in this world, it is the basis of all scientific discoveries and the basis of all understanding.

‘Preeti’ is unconditional, unblemished, infinite, divine Love. This aspect of ‘Self’ is the basis of all other distortions of love we experience in our daily life. It is love which moves the world.

Nama and Rupa are said to be the gross aspects (or the aspects of matter).

Mind gives labels to all that it perceives through its five senses. These labels are nothing but word(s). All our thoughts are also words. Almost all our memories are nothing but words. This particular aspect of the Universe is called as ‘Nama’.

Eyes perceive the world through so many forms or images. Whatever we perceive through our eyes gets recorded in memory as some image or form. All these forms and images we perceive is ‘Rupa’.

Usually Nama & Rupa go hand in hand. All our perceptions, thoughts, memories, imagination and all the mental garbage of the past, present & future is nothing but words and images or Nama and Rupa.

‘Self’ existed even before the creation, it is existing in the creation and will exist even after the end of this creation. ‘Self’ is not bound by space and time whereas Nama and Rupa  belong to the space-time continuum.  In the Nasadiya Sukta(also known as the Hymn of Creation – Rigveda 10:129), it is said that the first thing to manifest from the ‘Self’ was a ‘desire’ which was the primal seed of the whole manifest creation. That ‘desire’ is nothing but a vibration or Nama which was the root cause of manifestation of gross Universe (space-time continuum). Hence Nama and Rupa are said to be the aspects of the gross or the aspects of the matter.

The ‘Self’ is all pervading universal consciousness. Everything emerges from it, sustains inside it and gets dissolved in it. The world as we see it, is in fact existing inside this ‘Self’. ‘Self’ is the substratum of this world and much more than that. The entire Universe exists as one organism or one system because of this all-pervading ‘Self’. Everything and everyone in this Universe is connected with each other at some subtlest level because of this ‘Self’. As individual human beings, we exist in this ‘Self’ and are connected with each other through this ‘Self’. For every one of us, the ‘Self’ is very personal because it is at the core of our existence; and at the same time the ‘Self’ is Universal as it is the same for everyone.

Different Religions call this ‘Self’ by different names like ‘God’, ‘Divine’, ‘Bhagwan’, ‘Allah’ etc. However, all religions unanimously agree that, it is omnipresent (all pervading), omniscient (all knowing) and omnipotent (almighty, supreme).

If the ‘Self’ or God is all pervading, then it must be present in you and me also. Then why don’t we get a direct experience of this ‘Self’ or God? Why don’t we display that supreme power, infinite knowledge and all pervasiveness of the ‘Self’?

Direct experience of ‘Self’ is not possible because we are totally caught up in Nama and Rupa and the ‘Self’ is beyond all Nama and Rupa. A thick veil of illusion created by Nama and Rupa keeps us away from experiencing this universal consciousness. Maya or illusion is getting caught up in Nama (words) and Rupa (images). This thick veil of illusion is ever changing, but the ‘Divine’ underlying it is the unchanging truth. Even in deep meditation, when the veil of this illusion is very thin or non-existent, it is not possible to experience ‘God’ as a separate entity because the experiencer, the faculty of experience and the object of experience all are one only.

Preeti or the unconditional love is the basic nature of this ‘Self’. Hence the ‘Self’ can be experienced only as a fountain of divine love and joy deep inside us. However during our mundane existence we are not able to experience this pure Love because of the thick veil of ignorance around us. Whenever and wherever this thick veil of Nama and Rupa is lifted (or thinned down even for a moment) we experience that pure divine love emanating from the ‘Self’ and we become instantly happy. Love (Preeti) is the only reason for our happiness when we move towards the ‘Self’ and it is also the reason for our unhappiness when we move away from the ‘Self’.

Every living being longs for this love and happiness. Ignorance is seeing happiness in Nama and Rupa. Wisdom is knowing that love is our very existence and happiness is our birth right.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, “Love is not an emotion. It is your very existence.”




…. To be continued……………

 In Pursuit of Happiness – Part-I


Jai Gurudev

Sanjay Sabnis

Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Wisdom, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Finally the wait was over. After a couple of misses, I was able to join the much awaited Advance Meditation Course by Rishi Vidyadharji at Vasad Ashram and it was worth all the wait. Around 115 fortunate souls did the course along with me. For me, those seven days were like complete overhauling on Physical, Mental & Spiritual level. During the last couple of days of the course, I was smiling without any apparent reason. Bliss was in the air! I was feeling much lighter, younger and happier; as if, I had offloaded a huge unwanted burden from my shoulders.

I have no words for Rishi Vidyadharji.  He is simply amazing. Rishiji displays a unique blend of wit with wisdom, dedication with dispassion, knowledge with lightness and physical fitness defying age.

Here I am attempting to share some of the precious knowledge pearls shared by Rishiji. I wish to clarify at the onset that, I am not sharing the exact words of Rishiji. I am trying to share Rishiji’s wisdom through my limited power of perception and expression. It is a challenging task to express something which is beyond words. Some places analogies have been used to convey the truth but analogies have their own limitations. They can convey only certain aspects of truth and not the entire truth. I hope that whatever I am sharing here can at least serve the purpose of giving some pointers towards the reality.

Give highest priority to ‘Swadhrama’

I was a bit shocked when Rishiji told that “Don’t try to make anyone happy. Your first and foremost duty is to be happy yourself. That is your ‘Swadharma’. Give highest priority to your Swadharma.

I thought, “Is he teaching us to be selfish?”

But after a bit of introspection and little explanation by Rishiji, I realized that whatever he was telling was an irrefutable fact. I don’t even have control over my own mind. How can I have control over others mind? Isn’t it foolish to take responsibility of someone else’s state of mind?

Most of the times, I don’t even take responsibility for my own state of mind. I think that I am happy or sad because of some person, situation or place. I fail to realize that my own mental conditioning and attitude is responsible for the way I respond to outside situation. No person, situation or place can make me happy or sad. If my mind is bitter, I can’t find joy anywhere in the world. If my mind is sweet, I can find joy everywhere. My own internal mental environment is responsible for the way in which I act or react to outside influences. I realized that I am responsible for the state of my own mind and no one else.

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It is my duty to see that people near me are comfortable, but I can’t make them happy. If I think that I can make someone happy, it is an illusion. At the most, I can show someone the way to happiness. It is up to them to find their happiness. Usually we fall in this trap of trying to make others happy and in the process lose our own happiness and also fail miserably in our so called noble mission of making others happy.

Rishiji gave an apt example of safety instructions which the Air Hostess gives regarding wearing the Oxygen Mask during emergency. First one should wear his/her own Oxygen Mask and then help others to wear their Oxygen Mask. Same is the case with happiness.

Happiness is contagious. The company of a happy person makes others happy. So just be happy! Be happy, because it is our ‘Swadharma’.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji has given a beautiful definition of ‘Swadharma’. He says, “Any action that uplifts us is our Swadharma…..Growth comes when we follow our Swadharma.”

In the Bhagavad Geeta (3.35), Sri Krihna tells that: ‘Swadharme nidhanam shreyah paradharmo bhayaavahah’ – It is better to die following one’s own ‘Swadharama ‘ than to follow ‘Paradharma’. The path of ‘Paradharma’ is full of unknown dangers.  

To be happy in true sense, the first and foremost thing to do is to take responsibility of our own mind. But this is easier said than done. Taking responsibility of our own mind requires extraordinary level of awareness and self-effort.  Only with regular Sadhana, Seva & Satsang can one get that heightened level of awareness and energy which can help us to become a true master of our own mind.

What is Happiness?

‘Viveka’ is knowing what is happiness (Sukh) and what is un-happiness (Dukh).

Rishiji beautifully explained the mechanics of happiness. He explained that, “Happiness (Sukh) is moving towards the ‘Self’ or uniting with your ‘Self’ and un-happiness (Dukh) is going away from the ‘Self’”. 

‘Yoga’ is a scientific way propounded by our ancient sages to unite with our true nature or the ‘Self’.

The word ‘Bhoga’ implies enjoyment derived through sensory pleasures. 

You can reach the state of happiness either through ‘Yoga’ or through ‘Bhoga’.

Happiness through ‘Bhoga’ will physically & mentally exhaust you in due course of time whereas happiness through ‘Yoga’ will rejuvenate and energize you.

Happiness through ‘Bhoga’ is limited by the power of senses while happiness through ‘Yoga’ is boundless.

The path of ‘Bhoga’ is the path of short term gain and long term pain whereas the path of ‘Yoga’ is that of short term pain and long term gain.

‘Bhoga’ leads us towards bondage whereas ‘Yoga’ leads us towards freedom.

‘Bhoga’ is seeing happiness in ‘words and forms’ and ‘Yoga’ is seeing it in the ‘formless’.

Seeing happiness in the ‘words and forms’ (‘Nama’ and ‘Rupa’) is an illusion and seeing it in the ‘formless’ is the reality.

Suppose you are a lover of sweets and you are served a delicious ‘Gulab Jamun’. The moment you start savoring the delicious sweet, your whole existence gets effortlessly focused on the sense of taste. Your mind, intellect, memory, ego, everything is almost dissolved in that moment. So you are very near to your true nature or your true ‘Self’ and hence you become happy. Your true ‘Self’ is the real source of love and happiness. As you go near your ‘Self’ naturally you become happy.

However, you may not be aware that this happiness has resulted because of your closeness with the ‘Self’. Usually you attribute your happiness to the ‘Gulab Jamun’ (name & form).  Your memory records that eating ‘Gulab Jamun’ has made you happy. After repeating this experience a couple of times, the impression that ‘Gulab Jamun’ gives happiness gets firmly established in the memory. Next time when you are unhappy, the memory will say, ‘If you eat Gulab Jamun, you will become happy’. Your mind starts craving for the ‘Gulab Jamun’. Now, if you don’t get ‘Gulab Jamun’ you become unhappy. The deep impression in mind that ‘Gulab Jamun’ will make you happy, has now become your bondage.

Here again, not getting the the ‘Gulab Jamun’ is not responsible for your unhappiness. It is your craving for the ‘Gulab Jamun’ which has taken you away from the ‘Self’ and this distance from your ‘Self’ has resulted in your unhappiness.

‘Bhoga’ can give only the glimpse of happiness which is radiating from the source of happiness inside (i.e. our true ‘Self’) but ‘Yoga’ unites us with this very source of happiness.

Now, what is this so called ‘Self’? Why uniting with this ‘Self’ gives us unbounded happiness?

……..To be continued ……………..

Jai Gurudev !

Sanjay Sabnis

Art of Living Experiences.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji has said “ Prayer is talking to God and. Meditation is listening to God“. When we listen with total faith and alertness, meditation can truly offer solace to our inner turmoil. Such revelations can both make our hair stand stiff on our arms as well as melt our heart in gratitude, at once!


This morning as I was getting ready to teach the last day of a course in the Bangalore ashram, I checked my bag to see whether my iPod that contained the course materials was in place. I could not locate it in the usual place. I checked again emptying the bag. No sign of iPod. Panic! Recollected the last time I used it. It was before lunch break the previous day. My God! How could I have been so irresponsible? I chanted ‘ Karthiveerarjuna’ , a mantra that has the ability to retrieve misplaced things. To no avail. Even though it was a bit early, I left the room in the hope that someone would have found it and I would be given my Ipod once I reached there. All the volunteers had already gathered at the course venue and a brisk enquiry followed about anyone finding the iPod the previous day. To my desolation, the answer was ‘No’. My mind went into a whirlpool of mixed emotions.

The strongest feeling was one of faith. I knew I would find my iPod.


But the monkey mind went into all sorts of ‘ What ifs’. ‘  How will I conduct the sessions today’, I wondered, agitated. I felt worthless, not worthy of my Master’ s love. ‘ What kind of an instrument are you if you cannot take responsibility?’ My conscience poked me mercilessly. By now, I was feeling totally dejected and low. Volunteers around me were cheerful and recounted stories of ‘ Lost and Found’. My mind was torn apart, yet I was aware of holding on to my faith strongly. I prayed to the higher power, ‘ if I have integrity in my SEVA, Let me get my iPod before the session begins’.

I detached myself from the group and sat down to meditate with a single thought reverberating in my mind. IPod.

I prayed deeply. Fifteen minutes past , I heard a voice telling me ‘ Just  look inside your bag. It has not gone anywhere else’. With a smile I quickly completed three rounds of nadishodhan pranayama and eagerly put my hand inside the front pocket of my bag. Lo! There It was. There was no need to even search for a single second! My hands touched the gadget that contained infinity as naturally as one touches ones own skin, the moment my hand went in the pocket. How could I have missed checking the front pocket in the morning?

Or did I search for it and not find it? I frankly don’t know! It is a mystery and I am content to let it be a mystery.

Such miracles happen  when we connect with the source in meditation.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar‘s words ”  Faith is a great wealth that gives you immense strength. Hold on to it” is ambrosia in our life.

What will the divine not do for a devotee with a rock solid faith?! Tears of gratitude brimmed in my eyes.

Happily I walked into the course venue to start my session, on time, with my iPod!

Jai Gurudev.

Leela Ramesh

About Art of Living, World Culture Festival.

I came into Art of Living very late in my life when I shifted to Pune from Delhi in 2009. I was staying alone in a Flat in Pune and had no job to give me a sense of belonging. However, through God’s grace I came into Art of Living, which gave me a big family. More than that I got Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the world renowned spiritual leader as a Master in my life and my perspective to the life started changing slowly.


Then the Antarnaad happened in 2010 in Pune. I was a witness to the endless seva efforts put by the volunteers to make it happen. I came to know the true meaning of what Seva is. Since I had finished part I of Madhyama exam in Music, I got an entry to participate in the big Event which was scheduled to happen with Guruji on 12th January, which is incidentally Swami Vivekanand’s birthday also.

Around 4000 vocalists had participated in the event. Right from the rehearsals to the actual event performed in front of around one lakh audience, I had enjoyed every moment of it. There was a big stage, and the moving camera was trying to capture the faces of the all the participants who were overjoyed when their relatives and friends could recognize them on Television.


The mega event Antarnaad was not only a grand celebration of Indian classic music which was the main aim behind organizing it, but also a celebration of team work, event management and breaking the barriers of age, caste, profession and sex. Vocalists from all walks of life, from 6 years old children to 60 years of men and women had participated in the event. Apart from Art of Living’s lead singers, the event was graced by famous singer Shankar Mahadevan, Rajan and Sajan Mishra.

The joy and divine experience that I had during Antarnaad cannot be described in words. Antarnaad means the voice within or the joy inside. The inside joy that I was experiencing throughout the singing had turned into outward excitement when we saw more than half of audience dancing to the soulful tunes of Bhajans. I am sure that almost everyone present there had experienced the zenith of happiness.

World Cultural Festival and Other Festivals

Like Anatarnaad, Art of Living under the visionary guidance of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had organized other Mega events like Brahmanaad (where 1,200 sitarists performed together on one platform, in a first-of-its-kind concert in Delhi), Venunaad, Naad Vaibhavam, etc. spreading the joy and happiness in life of more and more people.


Besides these mega events that were organized in India, Art of Living had celebrated its Silver Jubilee as the World Cultural Festival 2006 at Berlin, Germany. Apart from the cultural programs from across the world, the most astonishing feature of the program was a group meditation by a total of 2.5 million people together which had come to join the global celebration from the world over and it was described in the media as ‘Spiritual Olympiad’ of one of its kind. You can imagine how powerful that yagna would have been for the world peace.

Gurudev’s vision of ‘one world one family’ is again going to be realized soon in another World Cultural Festival which will be held in March, 2016 in Delhi, India to mark the 35 years of service to humanity by the Art of Living. The main aim of organizing this festival is another step in the direction of world peace. Musicians from all over the world will be performing music symphonies representing their culture at their best and will also be listening to the music and dance performances from other countries.
From India a music symphony comprising all the musical instruments has been composed to be presented. This symphony is symbolic of ‘unity in diversity’ the motto WCF wants to promote.

I feel that anyone who stands by the world peace should not miss the global extravaganza. Any human being who has respect for the efforts put up by thousands and thousands of Art of Living volunteers all over the world would definitely not like to miss such a wonderful global show. Where else you can get in 3 days such a wide exposure to different and vibrant cultures of the world.

The people coming from far-away places may not know the languages of each other but they are going to perform in great enthusiasm for their love of culture and world peace and watch & enjoy the performances of others!

To put it in another way I will say:

The vast sea of Humanity
where people like waves
will rise in love and dance in bliss
giving a true meaning to
Unity in Diversity
and holding hands will say
it is not ‘me’ but ‘we’

Will you not like to be a part of such waves of happiness!

Why should everyone attend the festival?

I feel that more and more youngster today are getting hooked to the culture of cell phones and spending most of their time in sharing various forms of videos. But in doing so they are drifting away from their ancient culture which binds them to their roots. I feel that more and more youngsters should not miss the golden opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful event if they know how to play any musical instrument. I think they should attend the festival in large numbers to show their solidarity to a good cause.
I have also noticed that social media these days have increasingly being used to criticize how the other people live, eat food, even attacking the religion they follow. This is reflective of the intolerance they have towards other people’s values.

But when a festival like this happens, it automatically promotes the cross-cultural meets. The event provides an opportunity for people from different sections of the society and religions to meet at one platform and interact with other in the environment of great enthusiasm and love. In the atmosphere of festivity and joy, they are surely bound to develop a respect for each other’s culture and have lasting relationships with people from other religions and country.
Along with the cultural exchange programs the festival will have eminent political and spiritual personalities talking on the subject. All the performers will get a chance to listen to the views and when they go back to their home they will take back the message of tolerance with them. The festival in this way is going to promote cross cultural tolerance.

As a responsible citizen who wants to do something good to the society, stands by a good cause should not miss the important global event.

See you in Delhi at World Culture Festival 2016, from 11-March-2016 to 13-March-2016!






Jai Gurudev !

Art of Living Recipes.

When diet is wrong medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct medicine is of no need.
~Ayurvedic Proverb

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has always been making us aware of the nature of food and its effect on our body and mind. I am guilty of cooking food the night before ,for lunch on the following day. Once I underwent the Art of Living program, I gave up the habit instantly. I made it a practice to get up at 5 am, play a knowledge tape and cook lunch before leaving for work at 7 30 am. Over a period of time, I noticed my system rejected anything stale! I feel miserable if at all I am forced to eat something not conducive to my well being.

Being a born vegetarian and adopting food rules at least 80 percent of the time helps me to stay on even keel. Negative energy or low Prana vegetables hardly make their way into my kitchen. I keep looking for tasty, healthy recipes using high Prana vegetables. We all know humble lauki is a vegetable of high Prana. Yet, it is quite boring to consume on a regular basis. It is heavenly! Taste bhi, health bhi! ( taste as well as health) .
Hope you will make it and enjoy!

Tawa Lauki (bottle gourd)
Long, slender and tender Lauki -1
Chilli Powder 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste . I use rock salt
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
Tomato – one medium
Ginger- small piece
Green chilli – one piece
Coriander powder – I tsp
Garam masala 1/4 tsp
Oil 1 tbs. I use filtered Gingelly oil


Wash, peel and cut Lauki into roundels like we do for potato chips.
In a bowl, combine chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder. Add roundels and toss well. Heat a thick bottomed flat skillet and add half the oil. Add the roundels and sear them for two to three minutes.
In the same skillet, heat rest of the oil . Add cumin seeds, minced ginger and green chillies. Then add crushed tomato. Cook till dry. Now add the roundels and cook for further three to five minutes. Add coriander powder and garam masala. Switch off the fire.

Enjoy with plain rotis and a crunchy green chilli. I De-seeded the green chilli and sauteed it in the same skillet.

I also made Doddipatre Raita (Colian aromaticas or Cuban oregano) which is healthy, tasty and balances aggravated pitta. Doddipatre leaves are available in the organic shop of the ashram.

To make raita, simply fry washed and cut leaves in a tsp of ghee along with some cumin and whole black pepper. Grind with curds. Add salt and enjoy.


Jai Gurudev

Leela Ramesh

Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Stories, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Yoga and Meditation.

The sacred river Ganges flows through the doorsteps of Rishikesh, one of the ancient holy places in India. And when she sees man violating nature, she gives a polite but firm reminder, raising her flow with fury. I happened to be there in 2008 to prepare for a Yoga Teachers’ Training Program. I reached very late that August night to the gushing sounds of Ganges and the light rain was picking up. There was no one on the streets. And streets had no names. I had lost my way and found myself standing in front of an ashram when a young man came to shut the gate for the night.

I suddenly recognized this man to be the disciple of the now late Pragyanand ji Maharaj Swamiji (a revered holy man) who was a great friend of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji and used to often visit the Art of Living ashram headquarters in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore). “Narayanji” I called out. I told him that I was from the Bengaluru ashram. He instantly ushered me in and said “Stay with us tonight. Maharaj is here”. I was given a simple comfortable room and told that I can meet Maharaj the following morning. He was also gracious in serving me some hot rotis (Indian bread) with rajma beans curry and a sweet to close the night and celebrate my newly discovered lodging.

The following morning I woke up early and eagerly to meet with the Swamiji who was known for his popular discourses on the Upanishads (Scriptures). He was known for his metaphor-filled stories to bring to life the finer aspects of the scriptures. I went up to his room to pay my respects when he had just about started a discourse on the Mandukya Upanishad scripture. There were about ten of us in that room. And a man seated in the front stood up and asked “Why do we behave, the way we behave?” After a pause he continued “…Why do people commit mistakes or crimes?”

The elderly Swamiji had a very child-like aura and smile. He was like a compassionate and loving grandfather. He gracefully signalled the man to sit down and closed his eyes. I waited with abated breath for the answer. He said “Souls who have passed away are hovering all over space. And some souls have unfulfilled wishes and desires. Good or wicked. So they sometimes choose a living person through whom they can fulfil those desires.” He continued after a silent pause “They simply get into the living person, get that person to perform the desired action and quickly exit after their job is done!” Some people in the room broke into a smile. Many were amazed.

And I was left with the lingering thought that ‘Soul play‘ is perhaps true. They don’t need to buy tickets to enter whether it’s a morning, matinee, evening or night show! They simply enter you, make you a hero/heroine or the villain and flee!

One doubting Thomas seated there asked Swami ji curiously “How can this be true?”. Swami ji replied “Go and ask any criminal in the prison, how and why he did the crime. Most of them will tell you that they did not intend to do it at all, that it just happened or they may insist that they simply didn’t do it”.

Doubting Thomas pressed for further explanation. And Swami ji retorted with a smile “When your prana (subtle energy) is very low. Awareness is also low. These souls find it very easy to sneak into your consciousness. This is your moment of weakness”. He added “That is why it is said that when you do chanting, prayers, yoga, breathing techniques and meditation every single day, a subtle shield of protection envelops you. Your prana and Sattva (harmony) is high. This makes it very difficult for the souls to enter and create havoc”.


Swamiji then looked at me and said “Last night my disciple Narayan must have been sent by some good soul to receive you at the gate so late in the night, when you just needed help. It is not a coincidence. Even good souls do seek entry into living persons to perform good deeds”.

Swamiji closed his eyes and said a beautiful Sanskrit prayer while tears rolled down his soft sparkling face. After a few minutes he opened his eyes and said “The play and display of souls is very mysterious. But when you are with a Guru like Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji you are protected, you pass the final exam easily”.

sri sri

So the next time you wonder why someone is behaving in a particular way, whether good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. Understand that he or she is simply broadcasting ‘Soul play’ to an audience called ‘You’! And feel reassured that you know the remedies now.

I must mention here that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji has given such simple and practical wisdom on the ‘body-mind-soul’ aspect through his various books and discourses specifically in Kena Upanishad, Ishavasya Upanishad, Ashtavakra Geeta, Yogasara Upanishad, Patanjali Yoga Sutras and Mind Matters.

With knowledge and understanding ‘Soul play’ becomes a game of joy.

Jai Gurudeva !

Vidyut Udiaver

Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

December 26th, 2009. It was a cold and a beautiful morning as the train whistled into the Bangalore City Railway Station. I was all set to stay for 10 days in the Art of Living International Ashram popularly known as Ravi Shankar Ashrama by the cab drivers and bus conductors. I was attending the YES!+ Winter Break program. The real reason was that I wanted to see and meet  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Cut to August 2009. I came to know about an introductory talk on YES!+ happening in my college BITS Pilani through a friend and decided to attend it. I loved the conviction of the organisers at the talk and enrolled for the course straight away. A week later, I was sitting at the YES!+ workshop happening in my campus facilitated by Shilpa Rau and Venkatesh (Venki). The course started with simple little things like Ujjayi breathing and art of questions and moved to powerful techniques like Sudarshan Kriya. I could see a sea change around in people after the 1st Sudarshan Kriya. Settled eyes, calm speech and a certain home coming in everybody around me. The Sudarshan Kriya surely did a great calming effect on my mind too.

All through the workshop which I thoroughly enjoyed, the only question to me was: “Who is this person who designed Sudarshan Kriya which works magically on everybody irrespective of their personality and nature?” And obviously I could decipher that such a person should definitely be a super cool person and an iconic personality who intends to do good to people around him. As I was rejoicing my fan boy moments, I made up my mind to meet him. I walked up to my teacher and asked him – “Where can I meet this guy?” pointing to the photo right behind them. My teacher gently smiled and replied – “For this you need to travel to Bangalore and do another course. A course with more fun!” As we were nearing the Ashram, I was mentally making a list of what to ask him, a picture with him (selfies weren’t a rage then) and to actually do something under his aegis.

Probably that was what a 19 year old could think then! As soon as I walked into the ashram which was a world in itself, the first shock met me at the reception. The volunteer checking us in patiently answered my questions and told – “Gurudev (that’s how we all refer to him) is out of country. He is in Germany currently for the New Year and would be here on the 3rd of Jan. You can meet him post your silence course.” “Oh! One more week of waiting!” I mentally consoled myself and started my Winter Break.

Winter Break is a perfect wholesome package specially designed for youth from 18 to 30 years of age which includes a challenge, youth forum and a silence program (the advanced course) by renowned Art of Living faculty Bawa and Dinesh. This plus lot of music, dance and unlimited fun. True to its name, Winter Break was perfect break. The meditations were deep and relaxing. The knowledge on the course was strikingly relevant. I felt like a car going in for a service where it is scrubbed and cleaned with 17 kinds of shampoos and oil. In middle of the course, we moved to the New Year 2010. It was possibly a beautiful experience where everyone was in silence and yet the celebration and joy was so palpable. The course concluded the following morning. It was surely a new beginning for me as I felt much lighter, much stronger and much peaceful from within. The course was followed by a youth forum and a series of talks by some renowned personalities on entrepreneurship, contemporary art and judiciary.

Of course, there was a magnificent evening with a music concert by Vikram Hazra. That night I was told by one of my dorm mates that Gurudev will arrive next morning from Europe wrapping up his foreign schedule. All through this week, there were countless experiences and stories about Gurudev from how he setup this organisation from scratch in this very own campus, how he went around the world teaching this knowledge to people, how he created various wings of this organisation, brought people to work with him and later evolved Art of Living as a committed force for transformation and social change. Then there were these chilling experiences of how he travelled to Iraq when nobody could dare to amidst the warring factions and shared peace and how he went into the no man’s land in Srilanka to put an end to a 40 year long ethnic crisis.

Hearing all this, the eagerness to meet him only mounted. The following morning at around 11am we gathered in the Visalakshi Mantap, a 5 storey gem of a meditation hall named after Gurudev’s late mother. There were close to 2000 (people) packed in the ground floor of the hall. An asana with aqua blue cushions arrived out of nowhere. I could slowly feel the silence setting in amidst the noise. May be the nature was preparing for the meeting. The clock was nearing the 12 noon mark. I instinctively turned back. A figure around 5 and half feet tall totally clad in white slowly started coming in. I still remember how he walked in. He neither walked nor did he run. It was as though he floated. Like how a deer walks in the forest effortlessly. He patiently met people on both sides of the walkway accepting all that they brought for him. There was an unmistakable depth in his smile and genuine warmth for everyone. He slowly walked onto the stage and took the asana. He greeted everybody walking around the stage receiving thunderous applause and cheer. Did I mention the countless – “Love you Gurujis”? Much like what he was projected, he wasn’t. There wasn’t a single inch of hype around him. Not a single feeling of build-up or artificiality. Here was a man who spread the recipe of yoga, meditation and ancient Indian knowledge around the world in 150+ countries sitting in the front clad in a simple kurta and veshti and a million dollar smile.


It started then! The feeling of immense love and respect! He was looking all around the hall and he looked at me too. I still remember how he looked at me.  I still remember that look. My mind simply read a note: “Were you that magic beyond the realms of the dreams which I waited all this while to meet.” Then it gently struck me. “Who is this person? What is his role in my life?” And then, Gurudev first led us into a meditation which was about 25 minutes long. Then he took a few questions from the audience.

Somebody from the back asked him – “Gurudev, what is my relationship with you?” To which Gurudev smiled and replied – “What is the relationship with yourself. Did you ever wonder about it.” Ahaan! That was an answer I was looking for. Did he just read my mind? Do I need to give this relationship a name?  Do I need to call him something? It was something more than what I could describe and much more than what I could feel about it. It was an experience and only it had to be experienced.” By then I was almost feeling like a champagne ready to burst out and had already the craziness of 19 year old rooted right in me.

And also I was a fan boy! Out of the box, I sprung up like a bed spring and shouted – “Guruji, do you believe in love at first sight ?” He looked at me almost instantly. I continued – “I believe in it. I saw you here for the first time and I am in love with you.” To which he smirked and replied – “Oh! You Love me? Very Good! Then Keep up that Love”. After this brief encounter and a full heart of gratitude, happiness and joy I started back to Hyderabad.

Jai Gurudev

Surya Tej Borra

Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Wisdom, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

” Grace has the ability to change anything at anytime”.
” Have faith that the Divine loves me so much that only the best will happen to me”.


Such powerful words from Sri Sri Ravishankar Guruji, my Master, rang true in an unexpected, out of the blue turn of events. I was going through some emotional turmoil and needed the attention of my Master.

My heart prayed ” Anyata sharanam nasti” ( I have no one but You).

In a disturbed state of mind, after a week of my return from the U.S., in August this year, I signed up for a week long Silence Course with Swami Brahmatej ji along with Bhagavad Gita discourse by Sri Sri Ravishankar, my Master. It was a spur of the moment decision. I can only attribute it to the divine plan.

The experience of listening to Gita by Gurudev in silence is something that cannot be expressed in words. A mesmerising transformation took place and my fluttering mind rested in tranquility!

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says in Ashtavakra Gita that, the entire existence is a futile attempt to express the inexpressible. Yet I am attempting to express my experience knowing fully well it is a futile exercise. There is an urgent urge to share, a calling, a divine plan perhaps. I am letting my fingers to flow on the keyboard. I am not the writer!

Life is a jungle, full of wild animals, both within and without. The importance of Sadhana, Knowledge and Service without expecting anything in return to be at peace with myself came into sharp focus during the course. This awareness can only happen with the loving and compassionate guidance from our Master.

With Swami Brahmatej ji’s guidance, I became Arjuna as I proceeded towards the New Meditation Hall for the discourse. Mind was caught up in the multitude of worldly affairs waiting for the solace that only my Master could give. I prayed ” Please, do not ever let me go. Help me do my duty keeping You with me”.

The silence and chanting in the hall while we awaited Gurudev ‘s arrival was electrifying. As He entered the hall, I felt His gaze on me and I folded my hands in reverence. I remembered a verse from Gita I had read years ago. ‘ Consider yourself blessed if the gaze of the Lord rests on you even for a split of a second’. I held on to the gaze and closed my eyes. Discourse began. I dozed off! Suddenly I felt someone tapping on my right shoulder, three times, to wake me up. I opened my eyes and looked to my right. There was no one! I was overcome with His attention, compassion and care for me.

I was wide awake and fresh. He was saying “Gita was given in a battle field , but here, you are all listening sitting comfortably in this beautiful hall. But haan, if there is a war going on inside you, it is a different story. Keep me with you and fight the war. It is the test of your faith”. Just what I needed! He woke me up so I don’t miss these vital words. He gave me all the answers to the duality in my mind in just two or three sentences. It was a moment of instant peace, contentment, faith, discrimination, valor and surrender, all at once!

Ever since like Arjun, whenever I am disturbed, I have learnt to bring my chariot to the middle to get an impartial, non judgemental view of the situation. From this space I find peace.

I also ask myself ‘ what could be the reason behind God creating this situation for me ? What lesson does He want me to learn from this?’ Stepping aside and be a witness helps me detach from the situation and to rest at the core of my being. From this space one can fight any war within or without. This space is Krishna, the absolute joy! One foot on the ground, firmly rooted to play in the world, to do one’s calling and the other in the air, untouched by Worldly affairs , just a witness. When I was ten years old, some one had asked me ” Do you know the meaning of your name? Leela means Play. You are the Play of the Divine.” I had laughed not knowing what it means to be a Divine Play.

Going back to the source again and again helps me get established in peace more and more. I am grateful to have a living Master to guide me lovingly. I wish the entire world to come in to the fold of the Art of Living to find the peace with in. I wish the butterfly effect of my Sadhana to reach far and wide to make a difference. My Sadhana is not just for me anymore. What a feeling of expansion!

As a young girl I was very fond of a picture of Vishwarupa that was kept in the puja room of my grandmother. ” Can I have it when I grow up? ” I used to plead to her. However, when I grew up and had my own home, I could not locate the picture as she kept moving from house to house of her four children. Desolate, I gave up. Years later Gita has taught me ‘ Whatever I am, you are That too’. I don’t need the picture anymore!

Gita is the source of peace. International day of Peace is celebrated on September 21 every year. Why do we need to celebrate peace only one day in a year when peace is our very nature?! I wonder! I am Peace, I am Joy, I am Love. The presence of a Master in ones life keeps one kindled. Listening to Gita by my Master has filled me with the longing to see Bhagavad Gita put on the world map as a blueprint for a life of peace and pure bliss.

OM shanti shanti shanti hi!
Leela Ramesh

Art of Living Recipes, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Navaratri is a period of nine days. It is a joyful period, strolling in the moonlight to one’s heart’s content and dancing in rings, to the accompaniment of songs and drums.

During these days, the old and the young alike, soak in the good things of life. Fasting and chanting hymns certainly give good health. The fasting and proper diet bring the body’s Pitta to its normal state. This bestows coolness and health in the body constituents. The body having been made healthy and strong thus, is ready for embarking on enterprises of any kind.



Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji has always been making us aware of the nature of food and its effect on our body and mind.

Food plays a major role in the way we think. We all have experienced it. Negative thoughts cloud the mind when we consume stale, Tamasik food. Lot of useless activity in the mind happens when we consume high calorie Rajasik food sometimes translating into action that we regret later. Whereas, consuming Satvik food elevates our consciousness to a higher plane giving rise to noble thoughts and actions.

We all know humble Lauki (Bottle Gourd) is a vegetable of high Prana. Yet, it is quite boring to consume on a regular basis.

I make this Lauki (Bottle Gourd) soup which is so perfect for a Navratri diet.

Recipe for Bottle Gourd soup


Tender lauki,

Medium potato cleaned ,skin peeled and cut into thin roundrels 1 no.each.

Butter 1 TBS

Indian Bay leaf or TEJ patta 1 no

Saindhava salt (rock salt) Milk 1/2 cup


In a thick bottom pot heat butter and add TEJ patta. Then add lauki and potato roundrels. Saute till tender but crunchy. Cool. Remove TEJ patta. Process in a grinder with very little water till smooth. Add hot milk and heat the soup. Add salt and slurp. Have this on 4 5 and 6th days of Navratri.


Jai Gurudev !

Leela Ramesh

About Art of Living, Art of Living Experiences, World Culture Festival.

The best half of the year 2016, is going to be in March when the world comes visiting India. People from around the world will be marching miles with loads of smiles and celebrations to look forward to, at the World Culture Festival (WCF) to be hosted by the Art of Living in New Delhi.

Inspired by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, Founder of The Art of Living, the WCF is sure to be a rich confluence of world cultures. Each country, culture and its people will be raising a toast to the others` song, music, dance, cultural nuances and style. All in one venue. And for three days in India`s national capital. All this to strengthen and celebrate our shared human values. A refreshingly new creative peace-building initiative if I may add. To make life a celebration.

A riot of color, fashion at its best, great legends of song and music, waves of musical instruments and thousands of dance steps are all going to joyfully lash the mind`s shores on that beach called WCF. Soak it all up, is all I can say. Because the scintillating performances are only going to leave you thirsty and hungry for more of it. Now I don`t wish to spoil your surprise buffet by telling you what`s going to be there on the menu for those three days.

The music, song, dance and yoga menu card is going to be as varied, vast, rich, colorful and celebrative as the food menu.

Italy`s Tiramisu will smile over Kerala`s sweet Payasam, while Sushi and vegetable biryani do the rice dance in your belly. The French Meringue will make you plead for that Irish coffee thereafter. India`s Idly and Dosa will rub shoulders with Italy`s Pizza. Russian salad will be quietly nestled beside that Chinese Schezwan noodle overflowing into the south China seas. And don`t see red if someone jumps the long food billing queue like a bull in a China shop! Because several thousand people are expected to dine there just like you and me.

And you may get much of that beautiful Sri Lankan island food on a silver spoon. While Pakistan and India make friendly claims over that tasty Kashmiri pulao and Navratan korma! I will not spill more beans now on that mile-long menu that you are going to possibly have there.

But for now do just one thing. Go tell it on the mountains, over the hills and everywhere. That the World Culture Festival 2016 is happening from March 11th -13th. And you will be there. Because the world is coming home to visit India. Roll out the red carpet now.

Art of Living and the new New Delhi is simply waiting to host you.



Jai Gurudev !

Vidyut Udiaver