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

It was August 2010. I attended a Long Sudarshan Kriya session in my college BITS Pilani. Post the Long Kriya, my teacher Venkatesh (Venki) mentioned about the Guru Puja course he attended recently and expressed his wish to chant it then. We all closed our eyes and then I heard something so melodious and powerful that I didn’t realize that I meditated for about 25 minutes without any effort. That small experience of nothingness really shook me from inside. Since then, I would always ask Venki to chant Guru Puja whenever we would get a chance and he would gleefully oblige.

 

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It were also these days when I started actively volunteering for Art of Living and slowly started shifting under the umbrella of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Volunteering for the Art of Living courses and witnessing participants from all walks of life effortlessly letting go of their layers; become natural and experience peace brought a lot of admiration and respect for Gurudev. The admiration for Gurudev slowly turned into love and as I started observing Gurudev closely. He was a simple man who walked the talk. It might seem simple to write this out but it is one of the toughest principles a mortal human can adopt into his or her lifestyle. To stick to one’s words and standing by them come what may and working for them be it sunshine or rain is no easy task. That striking authenticity and his unconditional love for people around him made me idolize him and love him in a way that I put him on a pedestal. This aspect is often regarded as “Bhakti” or devotion in India. Yes, I found my master. Sorry! My master found me.

Just like a tea picker goes around in the plantation and choice fully plucks tea leaves, a master goes around and chooses his disciples. Just like a jeweler puts an eye-lens and polishes diamonds, the Guru pulls you up from a pile of stones and polishes you to perfection. He is a veteran crafts-man at work. It is a blessing to have a Guru in your life and this is probably the best thing to have ever happened in my life.

 

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The more I embraced Gurudev, the more I came closer to the tradition of masters and the lineage of masters (Guru Pampara). Thanks to the reading habit I developed when I was very young, I had the chance to read countless stories about many masters who lived in flesh and blood which included – Adi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Shiridi Sai Baba, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Guru Nanak and so on. All the stories had one common thread in common. Wisdom! Wisdom which has been carefully preserved and passed on to the mortal beings over the generations pristine.

A little later, upon the advice of Gurudev I read the Bhagavad Gita – the epic dialogue between Lord Krishna and his pal Arjuna. It is often said that Bhagavad Gita has the answer for every question which has sprouted on this planet. I found Bhagavad Gita to be deeply reflective. Time and again, it reminded me the importance of Wisdom in one’s life and pat came the realization! I had a living master in my life. A master, who travelled 300 days a year, works for 20 hours a day lives out a modest apartment and is tirelessly works for this planet. He symbolizes Wisdom for me. He is the priceless wealth of all the Vedas and Upanishads together for me. He is the embodiment of the nectar of all the Shaastras and books of wisdom mankind has ever written. And another Aha moment happened! Words really fall short to describe this experience!

 

I would always think that there should be something to honor and express our gratitude to this master and the wisdom he has bestowed upon us. Like Thanksgiving day in US and Sankranti in India! During Navaratri 2012, I heard an announcement about Guru Puja course which on completion entitles one to chant the Guru Puja – a song which honors the lineage of masters who have walked the planet and have carefully preserved the knowledge and passed it onto the humans through generations. Another short course which follows this enables us to perform the Guru Puja – a short Puja which symbolises all the beautiful things the Divine does to us.

Traditional yet powerful, Guru Puja is one of the most exquisite experiences one can have.

How I learnt Guru Puja …

 

I wanted to register for the October 2012 batch of Guru Puja and couldn’t due to leave problems in office. I patiently waited for March 2013 and the leave problem sprung up again. Oh! Some more waiting! Longing does good as they say! Come October 2013 and the Guru Puja Phase-1 was announced again. This time, my manager then Bharathy Harish (also my senior at College BITS Pilani) gladly agreed! . Guru Puja course (both phases) are conducted by Bhanumathi Narasimhan or Bhanu Didi as we affectionately call her, who is the very own sister of Gurudev. Bhanu Maa has this undying smile on her face and is very loving & caring to everyone around her. I think she gets this quality from her brother. One of the most earliest memories with her is the her Satsang in Winter Break in 2009 with chartbuster bhajans in her melodious voice loaded with devotion which would put some of the most trained singers also to shame.

 

Guru Puja Phase 1

 

Every day in Guru Puja Phase-1, we would arrive in the Visalakshi Mantap and chanted and practised the verses of Guru Puja repeating after Bhanu Maa multiple times. The chanting sessions would often be sandwiched between these beautiful stories and very own stories of Gurudev. The icing on the cake would be the Guru Puja every afternoon Bhanu Maa would perform. 2 minutes into the Puja and finish! I would slip into meditation and would probably open my eyes after 30 minutes. Going beyond time! It was an astronomical explosion of Sattva! Post lunch, there would be more chanting sessions followed by Satsang and then later more stories post Dinner after which would retire to our rooms. The chanting sessions were so intoxicating. We could feel that electric energy and the deep cleansing inside us erasing our slate clean. The Guru Puja Phase-1 ended only so that we could come back after 6 months for our Phase-2 which would qualify us as Guru Puja Pandits and allow us to perform the powerful Guru Puja. The next 6 months, I would chant the Guru Puja everyday and I would notice how handy it would be to calm the mind and relax. And of course, it was a beautiful way to feel grateful

 

Guru Puja Phase 2

 

Came February 2014, the Guru Puja Phase-2 arrived and coincided with Valentines Day! Ya I was spending time with my Valentine – my Gurudev. I performed my first Guru Puja. Tears of gratitude rolled out helplessly. After 3 days of learning to perform the Guru Puja again with Bhanu Maa herself along with some many more amazing stories. Every time we had a chance we would perform a Puja because the ending of the Puja would have Bhajans by Bhanu Maa and it would be an excuse for all of us to make her sing. It was a thick waft of divine energy all around us to perform the Guru Puja collectively multiple times a day. Another burst of energy clubbed with so many memories with friends around! One memorable course ended! Another course began – a course of taking positivity to people by performing Guru Pujas.

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Since then, I have performed Guru Puja every time I was blessed with an opportunity by the Divine in my house, at houses of my friends and other volunteers of Art of Living. Guru Puja is a ceremonial Puja at every occasion in my house – birthday, anniversary, celebration, festival and also times when you would feel low and need some real inspiration and energy. And I can see in live how people around me would relax and rejoice in themselves during the Guru Puja.

It is my personal recommendation to everyone reading this to experience Guru Puja to learn to chant Guru Puja. It is a lifetime experience to share this experience with many millions around our beautiful planet. Those moments of Guru Puja are precious! They are intimate sprinkled with love, joy, peace and unparalleled happiness. And a splendid opportunity to thank the Master in our lives

 

You can also listen & perform Guru Puja with Bhanu Didi Live from her Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/Bhanumathi.Narasimhan/  on 9th July , 2016 7:00 Pm on-wards IST

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Sri Sri Gurucharana Kamalebhyo Namaha!

Jai Guru Dev!

Surya Tej Borra

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

Yoga is an ancient Spiritual practice which has benefited mankind immensely. Many yogis have brought the attention of the world towards Yoga. From a long time now, many yoga institutions have been formed and millions of people have taken up the practice on various levels in nearly every country of the world. Appealing to everyone, Yoga has been very popular world over.

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The International Yoga Day is a recognition of this ancient spiritual practice. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji initiated and Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji voiced for implementation of International Yoga Day. Thus, the draft resolution establishing the International Day of Yoga was proposed by India and endorsed by a record 175 member states. The proposal was introduced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji in his address during the opening of the 69th session of the General Assembly and recognising its universal appeal, on 11th December 2014, the United Nations proclaimed 21st June as International Yoga Day.

 

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Last year, on this same day (i.e. 21st June) the iconic Times Square turned into Yoga Square when about 30,000 yoga enthusiasts joined in with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji to perform the ancient spiritual practice and celebrate the first UN International Yoga Day.

 

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We all know yoga is the key to happy life, it brings an equilibrium between mind & body and has never been alien to us. It’s a way of our life. We have been doing it since we were a baby! The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” which means “to unite or integrate”.

 

As I sat remembering the last years’ events of International Day of Yoga, the pictures of various countries & people participating in the Yoga day celebrations all over the world, I realised that this event not only brought more awareness about Yoga among people far and wide but also brought together many nationalities together to celebrate the way of life. People, irrespective of country, community, language, gender came together to celebrate The International Day of Yoga! In true sense Yoga united everyone.

 

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Thus this day started a new practice of celebrating Yoga! It has become an occasion where people get together celebrate & be grateful for this age old practice that has been benefiting generations after generations.

On 21st June 2016, second anniversary of the International Yoga Day, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji will inaugurate the International Day of Yoga at the European Parliament. He will be the Chief Guest and lead MEPs and staff through a guided meditation, when for the first time the Parliament’s Yehudi Menuhin Hall will turn into a big Yoga Space. Join us for Live webcast on www.artofliving.org/webcast from 03:45 pm IST onwards.

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As Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, the Sun Never sets on Yoga. How true! And now I can see the Sun rising and Yoga uniting everyone world over.

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

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar whom we fondly call as Gurudev was returning to the German Ashram from Caracas, Venezuela. However, due to unavailability of a direct flight to Frankfurt, he landed in Paris before going to the Ashram.
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It was a surprise visit for all Parisians. It also happened to be Gurudev’s birthday according to the Hindu calendar. So a surprise Satsang with a cake was planned in the hotel where he was staying. At around 6 pm, about 150 people had gathered, who had about 1 hour notice to reach the venue. It was a beautiful, intimate Satsang and birthday party. One of the volunteers asked Gurudev, “How did this plan for Paris come up?”. It seemed like a very mundane question.
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Here’s what Gurudev said: “There are plans at many levels. There is a Room plan, what colour to paint the walls, where to keep the flower vase? Then there is a House plan, Street plan, City plan, Country plan and so on at various levels of detail. The biggest plan is that we are all here at the same time, one in Saudi Arabia, one in Germany, one in Bangalore….but we are all here now. When and where we meet is the next level of planning. Often what we think is planned is not the real plan and what we don’t plan for, is the plan!
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Few months back, I went on an unplanned trip to Himachal Pradesh in India. I had gone to inaugurate a power plant and was supposed to return to Delhi by helicopter. Somehow, the helicopter had a problem, some valve was not okay. After trying three times to start it, the pilot said he did not want to take a risk anymore. So we decided to proceed by car. On the way, we stopped at a residence where there were close to 500 people waiting to meet me. There was an 80 year old lady in that house who shared that she really wanted to come and see me but could not because her health did not permit it. She was so grateful and happy that I came to her house. We then went to another house for lunch. There was a 3 year old child in that house who had been saying since 3 months back that Gurudev is coming to our house in March. Nobody paid attention to her but I was there in that house on the 2nd of March! So, looks like perhaps this was the plan :)”
At this point a lady in the satsang in Paris shared,” Gurudev, Even I had a dream yesterday that I was sitting with you and sharing a meal!” Gurudev had just given her a piece of cake to eat 🙂
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Best part in this Guru story is : I was lucky one to be with Gurudev on this trip and He inaugurated my power plant and the 3 year old child is none other than my younger daughter.
Rajiv Batra