Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Projects, Uncategorized.

Both crime and criminal are treated as unpardonable in any society. Solitary confinement of criminals was thought to be an effective way to help offenders become penitent resulting in transformation. Hence, prison system emerged as the formal way of punishment and is being followed in India since Eighteenth Century.

To bring about a real transformation in the lives of people behind prisons, the Art of living Foundation initiated the Prison SMART program. It involves teaching meditation, yoga, pranayama and Sudarshan Kriya to bring inner peace and transformation. The program has positively impacted the lives of more than 7,00,000 inmates.

Once a person is declared criminal, he is socially unacceptable by the society. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says that prisoners are our fellow brothers/sisters and they need to be transformed from within. The prison SMART program has been started with the objective of increasing social acceptability of the released prisoners. Efforts are also being made to associate the prisoners with the Kaushal Vikas Yojna to provide them employment.

 

 

Bhopal Central Jail, Madhya Pradesh, has implemented the Art of Living Prison smart programs for last 2 years and lives of around 2500 prisoners have been impacted through the program. The YLTP (Youth Leadership Training Program) was conducted in July 2017 followed by Prison SMART-Part II program in August 2017. Another prison SMART-Part II program was conducted in March 2018 by senior Art of Living Faculty, Shri Ajay Valecha, assisted by Shri Raj Kishore, Dr. Lokendra Singh kot, Smt. Lata kot. Dinesh Khandelwal and Dr. Nilesh Arya (DIG, ITBP and an Art of Living faculty) and faculty from government, Medical colleges.

Mr. Dinesh Nargave, Jail Superintendent, shared that there are two types of general tendencies among the prisoners. Either they feel guilty of committing the crime and go into depression or they feel very aggressive towards the legal system considering that justice was denied to them.The course has helped them to understand themselves and accept it as their karma/part of life.

He mentioned that Muslim inmates considered Yoga practices as a part of Hindu religion. But gradually they realized that there is no such religious discrimination associated with these courses.

Quoting some of the experiences from the inmates would be worthwhile at this point.

Shri Santosh, one of the inmates, shares, “The program changed me completely and I want to start a new life” Gurpreet from Punjab shares, “I was extremely short tempered, and had lack of understanding. Now, I experience change and I teach Yoga and meditation to my prison mates. Mohammad Anas shares, “He feels more depth in his prayers/offerings”

One inmate mentioned that Sudarshan Kriya helped him realize that ultimate happiness lies within the Self. Another inmate said that Sudarshan Kriya is like a process that turns dirty water into clean water. Positive feelings emerge from the soul.

 

Chandni Agarwal

Art of Living Experiences, Others, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Uncategorized.

Have you thought beyond these common varieties of rice – Jeera, SonaMasuri, Basmathi, Steamed and Raw etc. Meet Mr. Mahesh Anand from Chidambaram, an ex-techie, converted into a farmer since 2.5 years. His passion to find and revive the traditional paddy varieties! He works with traditional paddy varieties – Kitchili Samba, Konakkuruvai, Katarniyam and AruvadhanKodai.

Tamilnadu was home to 1300 indigenous varieties of paddy and now sadly on 212 varieties of seeds can be  found. Unfortunately, these seeds are not popularly grown and are scarcely found. Mahesh has procured and preserved 12 varieties thus far and aims to find at least 365 indigenous paddy seed varieties. He states the example of Orissa, “A Shiva temple in Orissa offers different varieties of rice everyday to the idol – meaning that they already have 365 varieties of rice.”

Mahesh says, “Eating traditional varieties is beneficial in many ways. Rice is not just a source of sustenance. It is also has medicinal value. I have not eaten any medicines for the past 2 years. Riceseeds provide for my medicinal requirements also. This is how our ancestors lived – they understood the medicinal and nutritional value of indigenous varieties.”

“Promoting traditional varieties of rice can also result in lowered cost of rice.The process used by farmers uses almost 20 to 30 kgs of seeds per acre but the natural farming technique that I userequires only 3 to 5 kgs of seed per acre. This ensures huge savings”, says Mahesh Anand.

Inspired by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Mahesh wants to encourage new organic farmers to explore farming with indigenous paddy seeds and he sells these seeds to farmers. He aims to create awareness of the benefits of using indigenous paddy seeds in natural farming.

 

 

 

 

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

Remembering my revered father on this World Earth Day. He was serving in Railways and had a transferable job. We lived in railway quarters, a different home every couple of years. Those days Railway quarters had a huge backyard. We would grow beans, okra, greens and flowers for family consumption.Once my father decided to plant a coconut tree. He got a sapling, squatted and prepared the ground. Then put the sapling in the small pit, closed with more mud, watered and got up with a face shining with fulfillment. We, children asked him ‘ What is the use of planting a coconut tree? We won’t be around to enjoy the fruits’.

 

 

My father, with such serenity and simplicity, said ‘ so what? Someone else will enjoy’. That day he not only planted a coconut tree but also a seed of sanskar (values) in his children. Years later, when he was no more, I felt a great desire to see the coconut tree he had planted. My husband and I along with my cousin visited our home which was now occupied by the current Railway officials.

We introduced ourselves and told them the reason for our visit. They were happy to receive us. However,I did not sit down for any pleasantries.
I walked past to the backyard. There indeed stood the majestic coconut tree full of fruits. I just stood there gazing, transfixed! I relived those moments of planting the tree and my father seemed to smile from heaven.

The family said ‘ We always remember the person who planted the tree with gratitude, although we do not know who it was’. We talked about the person he was. His love for doing good to others, not just people but also to animals and plants, to honor God given resources. As a young girl, I used to be picky about my choice of food. If I did not like the taste of food, I preferred to leave it in the plate than force myself to eat what I did not relish.My father’s voice echos even today gently but firmly telling me to honor food. The tears glistened and I learnt the value of doing good for the sake of doing good, because we cant help but do good.

I had not dreamt in my wildest dreams that some day Sri Sri Ravi Shankar would make an unannounced entry in my ordinary life and give me an extraordinary vision about all that was initiated by my parents and the extended family members that include my grandparents very prominently. Vasundhara,a Sanskrit word which means ‘Possessor of wealth’ is our Mother Earth. Our ‘ Mother Earth Day’ is everyday , not just once a year, as we express our gratitude to her during Disha Pranayam (Bowing Down process).

Praying for green earth and brimming rivers,

Jai Guru Dev

Leela Ramesh

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

Let us celebrate the journey of these 500 women who have risen like a phoenix from the ashes. The story begins with six women starting to write their futures, and little did they know, they were set on the path to change life of several hundred others. They have given the gift of a self-sustaining community to the society for future generations to depend on.

We heard this story at the International Women’s day conference organized by the Art of Living Foundation and couldn’t help but share and spread the joy. Two women, Art of Living volunteers, walked into rural areas of Bangalore hoping to get together women to meditate. Those were, however, their first steps into lives of these women and beginning of beautiful future waiting to unfold.

The Art of Living volunteers fondly known as Sankari Amma and Padmini Amma took very little time to realize that the women and their families were struggling to meet their day-to-day needs. The women were dependent on their husbands and more often than not, the men were consumed in alcohol. They were somehow surviving and living on debts to be able to feed their children. The volunteers reached out to Gurudeva Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and asked for guidance. It was decided that the women need to be vocationally trained to take charge of their lives and families. Two more volunteers were sent from ashram to train these 4 women (to begin with) to make jute bags. These women, who were tired of waiting for the circumstances to change, could now make and sell these bags to earn their living. Unaware of the jargon floating around but tuning into their intuitions, women realized that they need soft skills training or in their words, “learn to talk and communicate.” With support from the Art of Living volunteers, these women could now efficiently market and sell their bags.

 

 

As the word spread, more and more women came forward and joined hands to form an informal self help group. The group started noticing that a lot of these women had skills and were equipped to earn their living; they just needed a platform and motivation. The group started identifying women from the village who already had the knowledge of making aggarbattis (incense sticks), soaps etc. They were brought in to train others who were looking for opportunities to be able to earn their bread. Also, women who enjoyed cooking were identified and trained. They eventually started cooking meals in offices and homes. Some of them now are looking forward to rent a place and run a small canteen.

 

It is amazing how the strategies of the corporate world were intuitively and seamlessly put into practice without realizing the impact that they were creating. Innocently, one step led to another. There were no white boards, power point presentations, meetings and seminars, the women followed their hearts and with the help of Art of Living volunteers pursued their dreams.  Now, each member has a bank account and the only rule to be a part of this self help group is that members need to send their children to school. Art of Living volunteers have not only come forward to empower these women but are making sure that the children are sent to school.

It has been 14 years since the four women first came together. They still do not have an office or a place to meet up. They meet up on one of the volunteer’s terraces. But their journey is inspiring: From struggling to earn their bread to now sending their children off to school and colleges, from burdensome debts to now being able to pay off their loans and save some money, from feeling lonely and waiting for situations to change to coming together to form a big family of close to 500 women who stick to each other and led a shoulder in times of need.

 

While, we were listening to their stories awestruck, these women would burst into smiles and then into tears recalling their journey. They know their life has turned around but they are innocently unaware of the extent of impact that they are creating. Hiding behind their shy smiles, they do not know that these are the stories that move the world to believe in goodness, karma, happiness and writing one’s own destiny. A happy one world family? The Art of Living dream doesn’t seem so far fetched.

 

Shubham Shukla

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

Yoga is back in fashion and how. On World Yoga Day 2017, under the banner of “Sun Never Sets on Yoga” ; hosted by the Art of Living Foundation, Jeyakumar of Chennai attempted to set a new world record of doing 108 Surya Namaskars in less than 15 minutes. One Surya Namaskar consists of 12 different asanas done in sequence. Those who do yoga will agree that one round of Surya Namaskar itself takes the breath away. It is a complete set of body workout that has multiple benefits.

 

 

Jeykumar is an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer  working with KLM Airlines. Passionate about his work he says,” My erratic work schedule, constant travelling and irregular sleeping habits gave me all life-style related problems at a young age. I suffered from severe back and neck ache, knee pain and obesity by the time I hit my 30’s. I became very irritable and depressed.” The turning point came when he came in contact with Art of Living’s Sri Sri Yoga in Chennai. With a job that had was very dynamic he could not keep up with his practices. His body ache continued and increased. Finally on the advice of his yoga teacher Mr. Venkatesh; he set a goal of 48 days regular practice for himself. Jeyakumar managed to squeeze in an hour of yoga in his busy and erratic schedule. His resolve strengthened once he crossed 25 days of regular practice.

 

 

He experienced a wonderful calmness descend on him, all his aches and pains reduced. His body listened to him, his mind was serene and he seemed to have more energy than ever before. During one session he could finish 108 Surya Namskars and 30 push-ups in 30 minutes, his yoga mentors Chayya Anna and Venkatesh encouraged him to think of attempting a world record.  Jeyakumar decided to extend his practice to 108 days. On the 105th day of his practice he is confident of making a world record as he has bettered his timing. It was a happy coincidence for him that his 108 days of sankalp completed on 18th of June on the same day when he attempted the world record. He says,” With the blessing of my Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the support of my teachers and colleagues I can surely reach my goal and make our country proud.” He is also an Art of Living teacher and finished a certificate course in Yoga.

More than 200 people joined him to do yoga on the Sun Never Sets on Yoga Day, 2017 on Elliots beach, in Chennai.  Jeyakumar attempted his world record in the presence of two certified yoga teachers and two gazetted officers on behalf of the Limca Book of Records after the IYD protocol

 

Update:

 

  • He entered the Limca book of records for doing fastest 108 suryanamaskar

 

 

About Art of Living, Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sudarshan Kriya, Yoga and Meditation.

World over, India has come to become synonymous to Yoga and Meditation. An Indian child hears these words even before he begins his formal schooling. They have now become a part of our sanskara. Our parents, elders and ancestors have vouched for the discipline of mind for our wellbeing but we have now come to an era where question things and need evidence to believe.

At the International Women’s conference organised by the Art of Living Foundation, some of these questions were answered. Ms Ronnie Newman, Director of Health Education – United States of America, broke these answers down scientifically for her audience. Clad in white and dressed up in her beautiful and happy spirit, she emphasized that meditative practices are the need of the hour. Drawing from her experiences and research as the Founding Director of Research and Health Promotion, The Art of Living and Co-director for the Advanced Physician Wellness Program; Ronnie said that the meditative practices offer a humane solution to challenges of anxiety and depression.

 

 

 

 

              Quoting a research published by the British Psychiatry Journal on late-night depression, she said that only six per cent of people felt better or made progress until The Art of Living Sudarshan Kriya was introduced in the recovery program. Post that, the numbers rose to an astounding 54%.

             Ronnie further stated that depression casts its spell on people with abnormally low prolactin or in other words, people experiencing depression tend to have low prolactin. She said, “When everything else fails, the mental health professionals resort to electroshock treatments. It is said that human body produces prolactic to soothe the pain caused by electroshock treatments, and that helps people feel better.” Electroshock treatments aren’t considered the most humane form of treating mental illness. Ronnie emphasized that the Art of Living Foundation’s Sudarshan Kriya increases prolactin levels right from the first session. For Indians, this immediately puts the age-old morning ritual of meditation or Kriya in perspective.

             Do we limit this to individuals seeking relief from anxiety or depression? The answer is no. Speaking of the Mirror Neuron System (MNS), she said that human brains are wired to hook up and mirror neurons of each other. “We are living in a world of neuron wifi,” she humored. “So,” she concluded, “our emotions are contagious just like the common cold.” It does make sense to make Sudarshan Kriya a part of our daily routine to be able to be at peace, evoke empathy, experience and spread happiness. In other words, when we choose to meditate, we are doing a lot more than just helping ourselves. More and more people meditating is likely to create a field of positive energy.

             She summed up with, “I think we are living in a remarkable time in the history.”  She smiled and went on to explain that at this point in time, science, spirituality and our emotions are pointing in the same direction- to go deeper within. The world is coming together in more ways than one to decode the secrets within and pursue happiness. Perhaps, this is what the Art of Living Foundation had foreseen when they came up with the motto of “Vasudeva Kutumbakam”.

 

 

Shubham Shukla

About Art of Living, Art of Living News, Art of Living Projects.

 

Project Pavitra- Taking Menstrual Education to Rural India

 

In India, 200 million girls lack awareness of menstrual hygiene and associated healthcare practices. 66% of the Indian girls do not know anything about menstruation before they experience it. Since adolescence is a crucial time for tremendous growth, it is imperative to empower adolescent girls with adequate information and skills for menstrual hygiene and its management. Moreover, sanitary waste disposal is another rising problem in India due to poor solid municipal waste management systems. An estimated 150 kg of sanitary waste is generated by a single woman in her menstruating years.

Gender discrimination in learning-spaces doesn’t end with just construction of toilets. “Over 88% of women resort to un-sanitised cloth, ashes and husk sand. Incidents of Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) is 70% more common among these women…” Report by Neilson and Plan India.

The unhygienic menstrual practices followed by girls/women would often lead to increased vulnerability to RTI’s, PID’s and other complications. Therefore, good menstrual hygiene is crucial for health, education and dignity of girls and women. It is important to make menstrual hygiene a part of health education for the girl child.

 

Objectives

 

The Art of Living has created Project Pavitra- a nation wide initiative for enhancing adolescent girl’s menstrual health and hygiene. The project aims to provide a two-fold solution to menstrual problems in India by:

  1. Generating awareness amongst adolescent girls about menstrual health and hygiene via sensitisation programs in rural areas and urban slums
  2. Distribution of eco-friendly sanitary pads for women

 

The vision of the project is to empower girls with knowledge and awareness on menstrual hygiene to manage their mensuration in a hygienic way in privacy, safety and with dignity at home, at school and in the community.

 

Outcome

A total of 500,000 girls from rural communities, schools, and colleges across India, are envisioned to be sensitised on Menstrual Hygiene every year. The project aims to create a sustainable change in the menstrual hygiene practice in the country.

Through the project, the Art of Living hopes to create a sustainable change in menstrual hygiene practices in the country, especially in the rural areas. In the long run, it is hoped that better health status and quality of life, would be achieved amongst girls through the sensitisation programs.

 

Approach

The project anticipates sensitising girls on the issue of menstrual hygiene through Health, Hygiene, and Happiness Program for Adolescent Girls. 1500 dynamic female youth champions would be trained to deliver the sensitisation programs across the country. Through the project, 500 empowered young women with great leadership and communication skills are expected to enable advocacy on the issue through press interviews and discussions, meetings with community influencers and stakeholders and by addressing beneficiaries through motivational messages from their personal experience.

 

Health, Hygiene, and Happiness Program for Adolescent Girls

This sensitisation program provides know-how on how to handle menstruation, improve girls’ knowledge of personal hygiene and boost their confidence by answering their unanswered questions through interactive and engaging training methods. It also provides information to dispel myths and taboos surrounding this issue. Girls are also taught yoga asanas and breathing exercises (pranayama) that relieve menstrual discomfort.

 

Objectives of the sensitisation program:

  • To make females aware about the normal phenomenon of menstruation
    and menstrual health and hygiene management, while eliminating social taboos.
  • Help them abide to healthy eating and physical fitness lifestyles
  • Inculcate a sense of confidence, pride and honour being a female.

 

Health, Hygiene and Happiness Program for Adolescent Girls is a 3 day program of 90 minutes per day to sensitise girls between the ages of 11 and 19 years on the issue of menstrual hygiene. The workshops focus on teaching management of mental and physical aspects of stress experienced by girls due to menstruation by teaching them :

  • Pranayama to reduce premenstrual tension (increased irritability, bloating and cramps.
  • Yoga asanas to keep PMS, excessive or scanty blood/menstrual flow under check.
  • Diet for having healthy periods and regaining lost nutrients (using locally available food items (to avoid anemia and weakness).
  • Games and skits to help girls dispel myths and superstitions surrounding this natural phenomenon in a playful manner.
  • Maintaining adequate menstrual hygiene using local resources.

 

Sourcing and Procurement of eco-friendly sanitary napkins

The Art of Living will establish partnerships with NGOs, corporate donors and Government agencies to procure eco-friendly sanitary napkins that can be distributed to the young girls and their mothers. Awareness will be spread on safe disposal of sanitary napkins and eco-friendly sanitary pad making units would be established, where feasible.

 

Pilot

During the pilot phase in December 2017- February 2018, 321 dynamic female Yuvacharyas and volunteers, from 25 states of India, have been trained to spread awareness on menstrual health and hygiene amongst adolescent girls. Successful Health, Hygiene and Happiness Programs for Adolescent Girls have been organised in Karnataka and Jharkhand by volunteer trainers from the Art of Living, impacting lives of 2800 young girls.

 

Collaboration Opportunities

Corporates, Government agencies and Civil Society organisations are invited to partner with the Art of Living for creating social impact through Project Pavitra. Organisations can support outreach and advocacy activities of the whole programme or in selected geographies of their choice. Partners can also support with the procurement and distribution of eco-friendly sanitary napkins.

 

Small steps lead to great things. We invite you to join us as a volunteer or make a donation and be part of this service initiative.

Let’s take a step together towards women empowerment.

As our team grows, our efforts to empower women will be magnified. Fill up this form to join us as a volunteer:

 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScub3CG0nezcQXR98zrYdjON5yfJygbbv6THvmL11PnsVrETA/viewform

 

For more information please email pavitra@projects.artofliving.org or call +91 80 674 33708.

About Art of Living, Art of Living Experiences, Sudarshan Kriya, Yoga and Meditation.

She was the first woman chairman* of the State Bank of India. That statement, in itself, spells out her might and her success story in India but Arundhati Bhattacharya went on to claim her share of space in the world. In 2016, she was listed as the 25th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. Foreign Policy Magazine ranked Arundhati amongst the FP Top 100 Global Thinkers. Fortune named her as the 4th most powerful woman in Asia Specific.

 

 

Sporting her quintessential cheek-to-cheek smile, Arundhati lit up the International Women’s Conference organised by the Art of Living Foundation on February 23. She was also invited to be a part of the Global Leadership Forum organized by The Art of Living.
Arundhati effortlessly carries her success in her eyes. She has a way of going through subject profound with utmost ease while she leaves her audience with some food for thought. Recalling the times when she had introduced a two-year sabbatical leave policy for the bank’s female employees to use either for maternity or elder care; Arundhati mentioned that her colleagues were concerned that such a move might perpetuate the stereotype. She does believe that equality needs to come from society.

“Both men and women need to participate equally in child rearing and running a household for a change to come about,” she says. But until such a time comes, women need to be supported with policies so they can remain an active member of the workforce. A natural at conversations that matter, she switched from one topic to another with ease while smiling at people queued up to greet her.

Having done the foundation’s Happiness Program, she says that she finds Sudarshan Kriya quite effective. Acknowledging the health benefits of Kriya, she adds that she tries to meditate as often as she can.

Born in a small-town of Bhilai, Arundhati went on to become an example of strength for women to look up to. Her professional journey that started in Calcutta in 1977 with large manual ledgers all around to getting featured as 25th most powerful woman in 2016 is a must-tell Women’s day tale.

 

 

Shubham Shukla

 

 

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

In one of his famous dohas, Sant Kabir Das ji says,

पोथी पढ़ पढ़ जग मुआ,पंडीत भया न कोय;

ढाई आखर प्रेम का, पढ़े सो पंडीत होय I

(Pothi Padh Padh Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye;

Dhai Aakhar Prem Ka,  Jo Padhe so Pandit Hoye)

 

 

Meaning: In this mortal world, caught up books, words, thoughts and concepts; nobody became Wise, nobody got Enlightenment. However, one who understood the two and half letter word called Love (प्रेम), he attained all the Wisdom, he transcended the Time.

In this small Doha, Sant Kabir Das ji has revealed the greatest secret of wisdom.

He says the secret of Wisdom is Love!

To understand the real meaning of what Kabir Das ji is saying, we have to understand the real meaning of Love & Wisdom.

Many times the word ‘Love’ has been misused. Particularly in western culture, the word ‘Love’ has been used synonymously for ‘Lust’ and ‘Sex’.  However, there is a vast difference in meaning of these words.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, “In love even an object gains life. Stones speak to you, trees speak to you, the Sun, the Moon and the whole creation becomes alive, divine…..  In lust even a living being becomes a mere object. You want to use even people like objects.”

In lust one wants to possess whereas in love one dissolves.

Lust has a very limited meaning. It is usually used for bodily attraction between two individuals. However, Love has a very vast meaning. You can Love – yourself, people around you, animals, food, your work, books, knowledge, music, nature and almost everything in this creation.

Gurudev says, Love is that magic which binds everything together.

 

 

Love is connecting totally with something or someone. Love is merging. Love is dissolving (the mind) and becoming ONE with.

In the moments of complete Love, the mind is silent and at the same time it is totally open and receptive. Everyone experiences these fleeting moments of Love frequently in life (in all situations) but we are not aware of these precious moments because our mind (with its innumerable thoughts) immediately takes over those moments.

Understanding is subtler than words and thoughts. Understanding can happen only when you are totally connected with something. Total connection can happen only when the mind is silent and receptive. A silent mind is one which has dropped all its concepts, judgements, thoughts and desires.

If I am reading a book but I have no interest or no Love for what I am reading, if I am not at all connected with what I am reading and my mind is on its own trip; then it will be almost impossible for me to understand a single word. I can understand only and only when my mind is silent, receptive and becomes one with what I am reading.

I can understand what you are saying, or for that matter, I can understand anything around me only when I am connected with that thing. That fleeting momentary connection is Love.

Feeling that connection and becoming ONE with the words/things/situations/person makes me understand those words/things/situations/person.

Young children have much more grasping power than grown-up adults because children have no strong concepts in their mind and they are connected with (in Love with) everything around them.

In the moments of Love, the seer, process of seeing and the scene become one. That is when understanding happens, knowledge dawns.

In my opinion, it is not the physical structure of the brain which decides the intelligence of a person. Just like all people with healthy eyes have same capacity of seeing, all people with healthy ears have same capacity of hearing; all people with healthy brains have same capacity of perception or understanding.

Intelligence of a person in a particular subject depends solely upon his interest or Love for that subject. A person who loves Physics will be brilliant in Physics, a person who loves Arts will be brilliant in Arts and a person who loves History can become a great Historian.

Two identical twins with exactly identical brain structure can have different IQ levels based on their level of interest or Love (or lack of it) for different subjects. So physical structure of brain has a limited role in deciding the IQ of an individual.

It is because of Love that the weaver birds know how to build a beautiful nest, monkeys know how to take care of their young ones, birds can teach their young ones how to fly, humans know how to communicate with each other, and so many amazing things happen in the nature.

Love is the basis of all understanding, knowledge and wisdom in this world.

According to the ‘Advaita’ philosophy, everything is but the manifestation of the ‘ONE’ consciousness. My experience of ‘sweetness’ of sugar is same as your experience, my experience of ‘blueness’ of sky is same as your experience, my ‘sorrow’ is same as your ‘sorrow’, all this is, because of the inherent underlying unity behind everything.

Quantum Physics also agrees with this theory of connectedness. Quantum Physics says that it is impossible to completely isolate the observer from the observed. That means at some subtle level everything is connected with each other.

Love is experiencing this Oneness of Existence, not as a mere concept but as a reality.

An Enlightened Master is one, who is always in this state of total unconditional Love with the entire existence. He is ONE with the entire creation. Just like I know all the fingers of my hand, he knows everything in this Universe. For him all the past, present and future is in the purview of known. He has truly transcended the barriers of Time and Space.

Human birth is said to be very precious. Every Human being is blessed with the capacity to Love unconditionally. Every Human being is blessed with this seed of all-knowingness. However this seed is covered with a thick veil of ignorance which needs to be lifted.

Ignorance (or Maya) is getting caught up in one’s own web of ego-sense, concepts, judgements, thoughts, cravings and aversions.

Spiritual practices like Yogasanas, Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya, Meditations etc. help us to thin down this veil of ignorance (Maya).  With these practices, one comes closer to the truth of existence. One starts experiencing one’s true nature, which is Love. A sense of belongingness (with everything) starts blossoming. All negativity slowly drops off and positivity shines forth.

Knowledge requires duality. Knowledge requires a Subject (knower) and an Object (knowable). For the one who has attained Oneness with the entire creation, there is no duality, there is no Knower and there is nothing to be known. A Guru (Enlightened Master) has no need of knowledge for himself. He has no desires left because there is nothing to be gained and nothing to be lost. In-spite of all this, only because of the infinite compassion and love in the heart of the Guru, he steps down to the level of the Disciple and uplifts him. Only because of this Love, the Guru’s words can bring about that silence of understanding in the mind of the Disciple. The veil of ignorance can get completely lifted only with the grace of a Guru.

Knowledge gets distorted with time. Time and again Knowledge needs to be re-interpreted and rejuvenated, otherwise what remains is only words and dead concepts. The Enlightened Master or a Guru, through his infinite compassion and Love, helps to rejuvenate and protect the Knowledge in this world. It is Love which protects the Knowledge and keeps it alive.

 

 

Many times people ask Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji about the meaning of the ‘Art of Living’ logo. Gurudev says it is up to you to give it a meaning. One meaning for this logo can be – The pair of Swans signifies pure unconditional Love. The ‘Art of Living’ symbol signifies that, the all illuminating Sun of Wisdom rises from the very centre of pure Love and is preserved and protected by Love!

Be in Love with everything and everybody and be Wise! Jai Guru Dev!

 

 

Sanjay Sabnis

About Art of Living, Art of Living Projects.

Solar electrification for 113 schools in Uttar Pradesh

 

Rekindling Hope

 

According to the Annual Status of Education Report 2016, analysis based on data from government schools in 70 districts of Uttar Pradesh, the below were the results:

Despite the obvious connection between electricity and educational achievement, however, as one expert laments, in the educational community, “we focus largely on pedagogy and little on access to energy”. Such an absence of focus is detrimental because, as another study put it, “education is also widely recognized as one of the most essential components for poverty reduction”. True, just having great school infrastructure is not sufficient to improve learning outcomes, but it is certainly a necessary condition.

Art of Living Foundation is a responsible and social enterprise working diligently towards rural development since many years. Under the aegis of the Art of Living Foundation, Sri Sri Rural Development Program Trust (SSRDP) implemented the HCL foundation initiative to solar electrify 113 schools in Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh where the grid had not yet reached. This project that started on August 28, 2017 was successfully completed on October 14, 2017 in a short span of just 47 days wherein HCL foundation arranged for the funding and SSRDP implemented the complex project.

 

The implementation journey

 

  • HCL foundation has adopted 113 government schools in 3 blocks of Hardoi district i.e. Kachhauna, Bahender, Kothawa in Uttar Pradesh to achieve their objective of walking towards electrification and eventual digitalization of the schools
  • 30 engineers trained under the SSRDP skill development program were hired as interns to implement the project
  • A warehouse for storage of procured material was provided by HCL in Sandila town which was approximately 80 kms from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh
  • The majority of the critical components for the project such as solar panels, inverters batteries and structures were sourced from various parts of India and made available to the implementation team. The rest of the installation material was sourced from the Lucknow market.
  • A total of six Bolero Jeeps were hired for transportation of material from the warehouse to the schools
  • SSRDP implementation team would work closely with the HCL foundation coordinators present in each block to strategise the way forward so as to effectively install solar electricity across the 113 schools. These coordinators would act as mediators between HCL foundation and SSRDP providing necessary support whenever required.
  • The project was implemented in two phases :

 

Phase 1:

 

  • Initial 15 days were utilies for setting the ground for solar installation
  • Foru generators were hired to do the basic drilling and initial wiring related project
  • The entire civil work including fixing the structure for the solar panels on the roof top and the structure for the solar batteries

 

 

Phase 2:

  • This phase involved Affixing the solar panels on the roof-top
  • This was followed by developing a wiring system to enable electricity to flow from the solar panels to solar batteries

Challenges:

 

None of the schools were connected to grid and as a result of  which implementation has to be started form scratch including hiring generators to do the basic drilling and wiring

The implementation team of the 6 vehicles had to travel daily on an average 175 kms of ‘kachha’ rural village roads back and forth from the warehouse in Sandila tow and between indicidual schools

Roads leading to Shcools did not had ‘pakka’ roads andtime taken to reach from one schoolto another was on average 2 to 2.5 hours

The vehicles would even get stuckin the muddy waterlogged village roads frequently and at times tractors/bullock carts were engaged to pull out the vehicles from the muddy roads

 

Benefits:

 

Solar electrification of 113 schools in rural areas of Hardoi district, Uttar Pradesh

Impacted more than 5,600 students across all the solar electrified schools

Enabled a platform to engage interns and gettingthem hands-on training during execution of live projects

 

 

Seema Kalro