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

Breathes there the man with soul so dead

Who never to himself hath said

This is my own, my native land!

-Sir Walter Scott

In the era of ‘Brain Drain’ where youngsters flock to foreign land in search of greener pastures, it is refreshing to spot youngsters like Varun Prabhakar who realize in time that the grass is greener in our own native land after all!  As a true patriot; Varun has taken responsibility to work towards a more prosperous, healthy, happy and peaceful India. He is back to roots.

I would like to introduce Varun Prabhakar and his journey towards natural farming. I hope his transition inspires many more youngsters to find their foothold in their own native land, identify their area of passion that could become their profession and serve humanity.

 Tete a tete …Read on

Varun, I know that you grew up in Dubai. Can you tell us in brief about your hard core beliefs while growing up there?

Yes! I was in Dubai between the ages of 6 and 17. Dubai certainly helped shape parts of who I am today. The high standard of living and success that I grew up around helped me envision the life that I want to be able to provide for my family. The way the city had transformed during the years I lived there showed me first hand that the impossible can be made possible. My parents provided me with a strong spiritual background from a very young age and it is truly one of the things I am most grateful for. It has instilled strong values in me as well as given me a more grounded perspective on life. I think that as a whole, growing up in Dubai gave me the motivation to do something big yet meaningful with my life.


Later on, you moved to the United States of America for higher studies.  Can you please share your experience of living in the U.S. and the learning?

I moved to the US to study mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin – Madison which is a very good engineering school and ironically, has one of the top 5 agriculture programs in the US. At that phase in my life, I had absolutely no interest in agriculture and was focused on working in the automotive industry. I gradated in 2010, at the peak of recession. Jobs for non US citizens were tougher to get. Fortunately, I succeeded in getting an entry level engineering job at a tech start-up in New Jersey and over the 5 years that I worked there, I was involved in almost every aspect of the business from engineering, recruitment, sales and client relationship management to operations, project management and product development. At the end of my career there, in 2014, I was in charge of all day to day operations for the North American office. It was one of the most amazing and challenging experiences of my life. More than anything else, it gave me the experience of building a company from the ground up and I loved it! I had been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug!

 

One of the things that I feel I should mention is that, spending 10 years in Dubai, a very cosmopolitan city and then 10 years in the US through my youth gave me the opportunity to learn from and interact with people from countless ethnic backgrounds, political leanings, religious beliefs and socioeconomic groups. Along with spirituality, it taught me that there is always some way you can build a connection with someone.

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 How did you make the decision to move back to India?

Throughout my life I have always trusted my gut and in early 2015, out of the blue, I had a feeling that I needed to be in India. I can’t really explain it considering I’ve never really lived in India (born in Bangalore but left when I was 4) but it made a lot of sense to me at the time. My mother says it is India calling her children back!

Here are some of the thoughts that helped me to make the decision to return to my motherland, India:

 

Why should I be working for the US economy, which is not my own, when I can be working to make my country better?

I am very optimistic that in the next 10-15 years, India will progress by leaps and bounds and being Indian, why am I not a part of it? The entrepreneurial spirit is taking India by storm and is supported by major players in the private and public sector. It’s a great place to start a company!

I have the love and support of my family in India, which helps considerably when starting a company.

The pros seemingly outweighed the cons, so I planned to move here and launch a tech start up in the cyber security space.

During this phase in my life I had become more aware of healthy eating and the adverse effects of chemical farming but I still had no interest in agriculture professionally. 


Now that you are back in India, can you recollect that decisive moment and process that led you to take up organic farming in your native land?

I took a few months off after I moved back and got involved in my family’s farm. My father had avidly studied agriculture in his youth and as a ‘passion project’ set up an experimental farm. He had spent the last 5 years collecting open pollinated seeds from all over the world and testing them to grow in Bangalore’s climate. At this point in time, he had identified 150 hyper exotic varieties including blue corn, purple capsicums, red bindhi and purple beans to name a few. We started selling our exotic seeds and curating educational farm experiences. I was struck by a fascination for agriculture! There is truly nothing like planting your own seed and eating the fruit from that plant. It gave me a connection to nature and the earth unlike anything I had experienced before.

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As I started to explore India’s agricultural industry, the more concerned I became for the farmers and end consumers. With most of our produce, which is chemically farmed, consumers get highly contaminated food and it is barely worth the financial risk for a farmer to produce it, not forgetting the negative environmental impact the chemicals have on our water supply and soil. There is just so much that is fundamentally wrong with the way we are growing and selling our fresh produce today. I also noticed that the Indian farmer is losing out on most of the amazing agtech innovation happening in the US, Israel and Europe since the solutions have no place in the Indian paradigm.

My past experiences had made me realise that stress is going to be a part of life no matter what you do, so you might as well be doing something meaningful with it. 

 So I gave up on my cyber security start-up idea and dove into agriculture, feeling I could really make difference in so many peoples lives with something as important as food!

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How do think we can address the problems facing Indian agriculture today?

For a rural farmer, it all comes down to economics. If we can prove that switching to chemical free farming will give you the same or higher revenues then it’s a no brainer! We need to be able to provide viable business models that eliminate the dependency on chemical inputs, reduce overall input costs, reduce dependency on the big seed companies and connect producers more directly with consumers. We also need home grown tech solutions that address the unique needs of the Indian farmer.

On the consumer side, we need transparency. I believe that consumers will make the right choices with their food if they are exposed to how it is grown. Apart from being a way to connect with nature and gain an appreciation for what we eat, it is an absolutely fascinating industry that we are all losing touch with.

Today, there are some amazing things happening at all levels of the public and private sector to support our agricultural industry. From restructured government funded crop insurance schemes and mobile solutions to connect farmers with daily market pricing to startups focused on natural pest management or predictive agri-weather forecasts. The way I see it is that the problems in agriculture are too big and complex for one entity to solve, we need as much innovation as possible from every source we can get our hands on. It is an exciting time to be in India and be a part of an initiative this meaningful and important to our future.

 

How has Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s vision for organic farming in India inspired you?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s vision is exactly the way that I feel that we should farm. I love it because it puts the farmers back in control by removing dependency on third parties. Gurudev wants the farmers to only have to go to the market to sell their produce and not buy anything required to farm.

He stresses the importance of the desi cow and how by using desi cow dung and cow urine a farmer can eliminate the need for chemical inputs from large multinationals. The science behind this goes back to our vedas and was the way we used to farm 100’s and even 1000’s of years ago. We need to get back to that methodology… we don’t have a choice for the sake our our health as well as the health of our lands.

Gurudev also wants to promote non hybrid and non GMO seeds. The fundamental problem with growing hybrid or GMO varieties is that the farmer needs to buy new seeds from large seed companies every season since the seeds that are created from a hybrid parent plant will not guarantee the same child plant. If you really think about it… it’s a pretty messed up concept

Lastly, Gurudev wants to make farming profitable again. This is easier said than done and involves all levels of the agricultural supply chain.

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My foray into agriculture is my way to support Gurudev’s vision. I only use inputs from Desi cows and am using non hybrid/non GMO seeds hoping to prove out a scalable business model for other farmers to produce these hyper exotic vegetables. I am currently selling my exotic lettuces for up to Rs. 500/kg, my exotic tomatoes for Rs. 300/kg and my exotic capsicums for Rs. 400/kg wholesale. The consumers are willing to pay these high prices because of the uniqueness of the vegetables and the knowledge that they are 100% chemical free. These prices are unheard of for a farmer in India. I am beginning to see glimpses of a road to success. It is going to take at least a full year of production before I can expand to other farmers because I want to be confident that it will work when an average farmer adopts it.

Natural, honest and open minded conversation with Varun has left me with a feeling of contentment. As though I just got soaked in rain after suffering drought!  Was it a divine plan his parents named him Varun, the God of water?!!! Let’s wish him all success in his endeavour

 

Leela Ramesh

 

 

About Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Kashmir has been in the news for wrong reasons since the last four months. Ever since then it been on the boil for past sometime. Violent protests, arson, looting and other forms of outbursts have rocked the very cradle of Jammu and Kashmir that once people called as `Paradise`.

I have never visited that place, but my parents told me that our ancestors belonged to Kashmir, living and thriving along the banks of the once mighty river Saraswati. We therefore came to be called as `Saraswats’, the people of the river Saraswati.

At that time, Kashmir Shaivism gave India the powerful spiritual wisdom of peaceful co-existence. The invaders from the West, forced us to migrate down south and some to the east of India, while imposing and promoting a totally non-Kashmiri philosophy.

In those days, one of the most inspiring core principles of Kashmir Shaivism that made Kashmir a true Paradise was thus – `That bondage, suffering and misery happens when one clings to a very strong sense of identity on the basis of race, region, religion, caste, creed and language`. That’s how the people of Kashmir survived the millennia, bonded together.

Has this sense of bondage come to haunt the people of Kashmiri once again?

That little bit of `Kashmir – in – me’, prompted me to write this piece on why I love Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s refreshingly new and profound initiative to restore Kashmir – Back to Paradise.

This is exactly the theme of the conference which he is scheduled to address on November 23rd in Jammu.

I have my own deep reasons to underline just some of his rare qualities which I believe, recognise him as a pioneer to `break-the-ice` in Kashmir today where human values, mutual trust, dialogue and understanding stand frozen.

 

Reason 1: A peacemaker who does not want to win!

 

Shocking it may sound. Someone who puts absolutely everything at stake for the larger good of people, takes risks and makes efforts to make others progress and win. A genuine conflict-resolution expert will never let anyone go back as a loser.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has offered to rebuild 27 schools in Kashmir burnt down by miscreants. With this offer, he has committed to the progress of Kashmir`s young and future. This I reckon is one of the true signs of a peacemaker.

 

Reason 2: Himalayan patience!

 

He is known to be a keen listener and brilliant observer. This is a virtue of someone who has a deep understanding of Meditation and also who is a successful Mediator. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in his initiatives towards conflict -resolution, brings immense objectivity and impartiality to a situation. He has a Himalayan patience and the people of Kashmiri now want to be heard on their uphill situation as soon as possible.

 

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The attendees of the upcoming Jammu conference are :

The stone- pelters and their leaders who engaged in violence in Kashmir, Gujjar Bakarwals, teachers and professors of colleges, trade unions, ex-militants, Sufi representatives, the representatives of communities like Sikhs, Buddhists, etc., NGO s from the State, support groups of Army, writers and poets, Youth leaders, media persons, leaders from women organisations, leaders of Kashmiri Pandit community, representatives from Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Travel Agent Association of Kashmir, representatives from J&K Hoteliers Club etc.

Reason 3: Season for Change

 

As this season changes, bringing a shift in attitudes and perspectives becomes imperative. His skill, creativity and wisdom for transformation has been record – breaking, if not magical. The need of the hour is to bridge the gap of mistrust, suspicion, doubt and complete breakdown of dialogue. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar`s vision and mission are both critical now for Kashmir. That`s why we look up to men of wisdom. This raises hope for that much-needed shift.

 

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Should I say `A Paradigm Shift for a Paradise`.

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

Duality in life 

 

I have always been a person who enjoys worldly life to the hilt, be it travel, food, beautiful objects that please the eye, hobbies that excite or movies and plays that make me laugh, cry or think. I love life in its many splendour and at the same time acutely aware of a spiritual bent of mind that thirsts for answers about higher purpose of life. If there is one person who has confused me to the core, it is myself! How can I be a thoroughly worldly person and yet effortlessly dissolve in the inner world?! Is something wrong with me? Well, in the fourth decade of my life, my Master decided to shower grace on me by His living presence. The process of unravelling the duality in mind, layer by layer, began and continuing…

 

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Walking on the path that Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has shown and looking up to Him with total faith has put my mind at rest to a great extent. Duality exists! Accepting and dealing with it playfully yet with profound wisdom is the art of living.

 

Spirituality is our nature !

 

Learning the true meaning of dispassion (Vairagya) relieves one of duality. People on the spiritual path are often regarded by others as some special species who shun tasty food, good life and worldly enjoyment, not knowing that spirituality is not averse to enjoying life. In fact, those who are not following any Master or a Path, are also spiritual. We are first spiritual beings and then human beings. Spirituality is our very nature. Spirituality is nothing but being natural and living all the virtues that we are endowed with by the Divine. If we see opposite of this in society or in ourselves at times, it is because of the company, environment and food habits that affect our state of mind. To combat this, we can just attend to these aspects and make our practice more regular and strong. Within a couple of days, we can surprise ourselves with the positive change!

During Navaratri satsang, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar mentioned about the effect of company. There is a lone horse called Raja. He lives in Goshala among cows. Someone brought two mares as gift to relieve the loneliness of Raja. Raja got so flustered at the sight of the mares that he began to run away from them! Raja has forgotten that he is different from cows and believes he is one among the cows. This is the effect of sangha if we lose sight of our unique identity. It is very easy to get pulled in opposite direction, specially as a beginner on the path. The whole thing becomes a snake and ladder game.

 

Strategy ! 

 

As Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says so simply and beautifully, the strategy to move up as a Seeker is to set short term goals, then increase the span gradually as we get more and more strength and will power. Not to feel guilty if we slip occasionally. In fact, our resolve should become stronger each time we slip.

When we play in the world with total awareness, not losing sight of the goal of the Being even for an instant, dealing with duality becomes a cake-walk. Krishna philosophy is having one foot firmly rooted in the ground and play all the roles one is required to play as a human being. The other foot is off the ground, totally untouched by the worldly affairs. That is who we are at the core.

 

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Balancing both worlds with equanimity, playfulness and joy will awaken the Krishna consciousness in us. Thus we make our life a celebration enjoying every aspect of life, within and without. Where is duality to deal with?

Without my Master, I would still be groping in the dark, as reading any amount of scriptures would not give me the experience that the living Master provides. A Master, as a friend and guide helps us integrate and live the knowledge of Krishna philosophy. He creates situations to help us grow and glow.

Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Projects.

India is slowly coming to terms with the government`s move to demonetize its 500 and 1000 rupee notes in a massive effort to curb black money, corruption and terrorism. While this move has been hailed by many as a rightful masterstroke by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the rush for new currency notes and smaller denominations has been creating a near-chaos on the streets.

Long queues at banks and ATM`s across India is a familiar sight. Bankers are stressed while the serpentine queues outside are distressed. When someone thought that it was a nightmare on Indian streets. This weekend the scenario was changing for the better.

Thousands of volunteers of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar`s Art of Living have spread into the streets of India to comfort, care and help people at banks and ATM`s.

 

 

 

“A wave of goodness has gone viral” said Anjesh Thakur as she was busy distributing water and biscuits to a five hundred people long queue outside a bank in rural Bangalore.

Similar moments of volunteerism are happening in various parts of India where selfless and inspired people are helping and cheering-up those waiting for their turn to touch, feel and use the new currency notes.

In Kerala, a massive wave of inspired volunteerism sparked by Art of Living volunteers is galloping at a rapid pace. The towns of Kasargod, Kozhikode, Pathanamthita, Thrissur, Trivandrum are seeing people being helped in many ways – filling out forms, music for the bored and reassurances for the panicking citizens.

The famous Kerala banana chips and tea is also making its rounds to anxious people waiting in the scorching sun. Senior citizens and the physically challenged are being given much attention as volunteers chat with them and take them ahead of the line to special counters set up by the banks.

A bank manager in Nasik, Maharashtra is reported to have profusely thanked Art of Living volunteers saying “Without your support we would have landed in hospital”. Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar are also seeing the goodness go viral.

Banks around the country are working round-the-clock to ensure that people receive smaller denominations and the new currency notes. A tall order indeed for a nation of a billion people with 2,00,000 ATM`s and several thousand bank branches.

 

 

Care for You. Care for Queue.  This seems to be the password of goodness that`s gone viral this weekend. Inspiring all those volunteers sweating it out. For India. 

Art of Living Wisdom, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

A group of frogs was travelling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit. When the other frogs saw how deep the pit was, they told the two frogs that they were as good as dead. The two frogs ignored the comments and continued to jump out of the pit with all their might.

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The other frogs repeatedly kept telling the two frogs to stop trying, that they were as good as dead. One of the frogs resigned itself to its fate, fell down and died.

The other frog did not give up. He continued to jump as high as he could. Once again, the other frogs yelled at him to get out of the struggle and succumb. But, he jumped even harder and finally made it! When he got out, the other frogs asked, “Did you not hear us?” The frog explained to them that he was deaf. On the contrary, he thought they were encouraging him, the entire time.

 

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This story teaches two lessons:

1. There is power of life and death in the tongue. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it in life.

2. A destructive word to someone who is down can kill them.

 

Be careful about what you say. Speak ‘LIFE’ to those who cross your path. The power of words is sometimes hard to understand! An encouraging word can go a long way. Never speak words that tend to rob the spirit of those who going through difficult times. Special is the individual who will take the time to encourage others!

 

Many times Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has spoken about how powerful our words can be. In this video he talks about how our words have immense power and how we should be sensitive to those around us.

 

Do share with us how someone’s words have made a positive impact in your lives!

Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Stories.

My birthdays have assumed a totally new dimension after the advent of my Master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in my humble life. Days before the D -day, mind starts celebrating in anticipation of being in the presence of my Guru.

 

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I become a little child of Kindergarten and look up to Him with shining eyes and declare’ Guruji, its my birthday!’ Totally participating in my childlike enthusiasm, He says ‘Oh ho’ and places something in my hand as prasad that means a world to me. A lotus, a string of jasmine, a saree or a scarf, a sweet or a fruit, anything that passes from His divine hands to mine acquires a special meaning. I know it is not just the object He has placed in my hands. It contains infinity.

This birthday on 14 Oct was way beyond my wildest imagination. Lingering in the euphoria of Navaratri celebrations that had concluded two days ago,I looked forward eagerly to be in His presence. After Rudrabhishek and Devi puja I went to the backside of Yagyashala for His Darshan.   He was playing and feeding bananas to the Ashram elephant while the elephant respectfully accepted Prasad. A sight we all love to watch! In between He glanced at me a couple of times to my utter delight.

Then a stream of people went up to Him and He kept blessing them with flowers and shawls that His designated sevaks handed Him. When my turn came, the sevaks had run out of flowers. I eyed His huge garland that was put on Him after Puja. My Guruji thought for a split of a second, removed the garland from His neck and put it on me. I do not or cannot express my state of mind at the moment I felt the garland on me, which was on Him just a second before. I leave it to the readers.

 

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The intensity of an intention and the purity in it translates into appropriate action by the Master. I experienced the power of intention and the connection.

On my birthday, every year, I distribute notebooks to students as I honour knowledge above everything else. I believe youngsters are the architects of our future world. Only though proper knowledge they can chisel out a better world.

However, I could not distribute the notebooks in the morning. I said to myself that I would surely find our Veda boys in satsang where I can happily give away the books.

My husband was quite flustered that I did not go to a school in the morning to complete my yearly ritual. I sat through satsang with the faith Gurudev would create situation for me and a band of Veda boys would for sure receive books from me.

Satsang was mesmerizing with full moon and dancing fountains adding lustre to the soulful bhajans. Rishiji sang my favourite; Tum gagan ke chandrama ho’. I had heard this song from him for the first time in 1999 when he visited Abu dhabi for DSN. I learnt to link all romantic bollywood old numbers to the divine from him..To hear it again after 17 years with more depth in his voice simply transported me to another level where there was fullness of emptiness, or is it vice versa?!

Then it happened! I watched a line of Veda boys marching towards Gurudev and I knew my prayers had reached Him. At the end of  satsang, I stood at the gate and gifted each Veda boy a notebook with a smile and Jai Gurudev! What a Master would not do for a devotee? Faith and grace go hand in hand.

Gurudev was calling out for people with birthdays and anniversaries to stand up and greet each other. Some had made their way to the stage for His blessings. Ankush Dada who was sitting beside me suggested ‘You could have gone too’. I smiled and said “I am content. No more desires left to be fulfilled”.

The way back home was filled with music and dance reverberating throughout my being. The full moon smiled at me as though it represented our Gurudev and I hummed ‘Tum gagan ke chandrama ….’

Still in euphoria….

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

How does one express the inexpressible?! Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has already stated in Ashtavakra Gita that the ‘ entire life is a futile exercise to express the inexpressible’. Yet, here I am longing to unleash the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.

 

On this auspicious day of Durgashtami, I settled myself in Yagyashala, ready to dissolve in the chantings, puja and bhajans of the Shatha Chandi Homa, the culmination of moving through trigunas.  A week of passing through tamas (inertia) and rajas (restlessness) by soaking in daily pujas and satsang, I could distinctly feel the lightness, softness and joy surfacing my being. By the time Jago Jago Maa was sung, my throat got choked with gratitude for the millionth time!

 

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A bit overwhelmed, I walked to the kitchen for Prasad. My ecstatic husband was sharing his experience but I was only half heeding. Mind was totally inward. Oh, the blissful state! Nothing existed but Shakti.

 

Evening Satsang saw everyone tapping their feet to the mesmerizing bhajans.

 

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It is not the rajasik dancing of the world of maya. Dancing with oneself, with the divine, totally lost to the outside world is real. Enraptured devotees swaying their arms up, with a contented smile, to the bhajan ‘Hari sundara nand mukunda’ resembled the newly installed ‘Dancing Fountains’ in the Gurupaduka vanam. I did not want the bhajan to end.

 

Then He spoke!

 

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“When you dance out of love, the divine dances with you. But when you dance behind your desires, you suffer hunger and thirst. It tires you. So, make your desires bigger.”

 

On the day of Durgashtami, everyone should dance. Mother Divine will be pleased.

 

The entire exercise of navaratri rituals was to awaken the energy of the Mother divine in each one of you.

 

Looking majestic in His attire and inimitable twinkle in the eye, Gurudev stood up and started to sway which sent a new surge of energy in the body of the inebriate devotees. His exit to the car did not put a break to the flow of the body of the devotees, scintillating with divine energy.

 

The dancing fountains of joy danced their way to their destinations humming ‘Hari Sundara nand mukunda’ with the satsang singers.

 

The desire to go deeper is becoming more pronounced and I wait ‘patiently and in love’ for Navaratri 2017.

 

Jai Gurudev

 

Leela Ramesh

Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

26 September 2016 will go down in history as a memorable day for many peace-loving people around the world, especially those in Colombia (Latin America). It was that moment when the longest war in the world came to an end with the signing of a peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC rebels. And Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, humanitarian and spiritual leader from India, one of the Master architects of that conflict resolution played a creative role in bringing peace to that nation.

On that evening, a few of us wished to partake of that celebration in Bengaluru (India), when Vegetarian Fried Ice Cream took the centre stage of our table. I could n`t hide my sweet tooth any longer and reached out for a piece. Deep fried and crispy attracts any Asian`s attention. In this part of the world, our thirst for the deep fried is very well known. Be it human values, wisdom, celebration or news. It`s a near 100%.

 

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As I lobbed that fried ball into my mouth and broke through the deep fried outer, the cool cool Vanilla ice cream that was hidden inside simply melted into my mind.

At this moment I recollected a unique meeting with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar about ten years ago. We were a motley crowd of twenty people sitting in that simple room in his Art of Living headquarters eagerly awaiting his arrival. Gentle breeze swept through us as we were waiting to catch a glimpse and soak in his radiant energy which a billion people seek every year.

He walked into the room fragrant with silence and settled in the sofa that quickly got enveloped with his white robes. He then gestured to us with his hands indicating “What`s happening” ? A cherubic smile and that famous twinkle in his eyes accompanied that graceful gesture. The silence in the room deepened. Even the rustling leaves in the adjoining garden came to a standstill. “What is he going to say?” slowly took hold of my mind.

He then said “ Sometimes people get so stuck with certain fixed concepts and ideas…. hardens them so much… that they just can`t see another point of view. It sometimes takes months and even years for such people to break-free and recognize the wisdom that liberates”.

My jaws dropped as I did see myself in a similar situation a few weeks earlier in that summer of 2006.

Today, I believe that perhaps the warring parties in Colombia had had their first taste of Fried Ice Cream. They finally dared to break through that crisp hard outer that was keeping them away from the cool, inner peace. This was their moment of truth. They Recognized Wisdom towards Freedom. That there exists a certain wisdom beyond their hard-held stated positions for several years. It is here that the Eastern culture and tradition, values and cherishes the role of a Guru (Spiritual Master) to help people to recognize wisdom.

This week, the President of Colombia and leaders of the FARC rebels thanked Sri Sri Ravi Shankar recalling his support and wisdom as the highest contribution to the peace process in their country. It is a well known fact that several governments and peacemakers across the world tried their best over the last fifty years to bring a closure to the deadly conflict, but to no avail.

 

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During the last two years of conflict resolution initiatives in that country, it is said that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke little to bring the actors in the theatre of war in Colombia to a peace-making path. Instead, it was his inner peace, natural sincerity, gentleness and reverence for all of life that `spoke without speaking`.

This I felt was the perfect Recipe to Conflict, as I relished a second helping of Fried Ice Cream celebrating that night of 26 September 2016.

 

Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Your mind says “Do this”, but `You` want to do something else. You  absolutely positively want a particular thing, but your mind coaxes you to choose another. Society wants it to be “like this”. But you want it to be otherwise. Dad wanted you to become an engineer, but you chose to strum the guitar! You said “Celibacy”; parents said “Better get married”. Government wants to push that law through but Opposition wants it the other way.

A divided mind stares at us every now and then. As an individual, family, society or nation. Call it confusion or conflict. From a Monday morning to the weekend beginning.

This is exactly where you need to know about Spiritual Master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Meditation and Mediation. Several thousand worldwide do his Happiness programs and reach out for his wisdom to bring a closure to their issues of stress and a divided mind.

Simply put, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has helped people mediate and dissolve issues between their very own self and mind (read: confusion, conflicts) through meditation to instil individual peace.

 

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A Master of meditation. And a Master mediator.

If you thought he `s just a peaceful man. I invite you to look further. He`s a man of peace too. There may be a million peaceful people, but it takes a man of peace to commit and share a peaceful intention, time, energy and wisdom to usefully benefit individuals and nations.

Here I wish to spotlight his incredible mediation and measurable efforts towards a definite closure of the world`s longest war in Colombia (northwest South America).

This is the measure of a man of peace.

That beautiful country and the whole world will celebrate this month- end when the warring factions ink an agreement to sink their differences for lasting peace.

An idea that has quickly caught the imagination of people today, is the way Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lends expression to world peace. Unconditionally sharing his inner peace to the outer world of men and matters, pride and prejudice, confusion and conflict, mind and melancholy.

This sunny Sunday morning I took to writing on this amazing facet of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar because I was a witness to his consistent peace-building and reconciliation initiatives while I was on secondment voluntary service in Colombo, Sri Lanka (Asia). That pretty island – nation was also in a civil war for 30 years that concluded in 2009.

I recollect the enormous time, compassion, spiritual energy and wisdom that he brought to engage the civil society and the actors in the Sri Lankan theatre of war towards peace and prosperity.

In my understanding a key hallmark of his peace initiatives (both individual and worldwide) is that it goes beyond boundaries, transcending tried and tested concepts, beyond the tangible. Mainstreaming meditation and bringing it to the common man, he has rightly enlarged the footprints of peace.

From Colombo to Colombia. The spiritual Master, Meditation and Mediation were the only passengers to peace.

 

colombia-award

 

Jai Gurudev !

Vidyut Udiaver

About Art of Living, Art of Living Projects.

For most of us who have been privileged enough to have electricity in our homes and money in our pockets, this fact may be hard to stomach-In India about one lakh villages do not have access to electricity and in many more villages, economic difficulties render it unaffordable.

Among the many problems that lack of electricity brings with it, a crippling problem is poor availability of lights or no lights for children to study. Children may even be enrolled in schools, but if they do not have electricity, you know not much can happen with textbooks lying in the dark.

But the world’s largest volunteer-based organisation, The Art of Living has taken it upon itself to make sure, no child is left behind on the path of education because of this darkness.

The organisation is removing this darkness through its flagship Project Nanhi Kiran which was launched in November 2015 at the Art of Living International Center inspired by the founder of The Art of Living, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

As part of the project, Art of Living has provided about 1150 rechargeable solar study lights so far, of which 810 solar lights have been distributed in the remotest corners of Arunachal Pradesh(about 160 of them in Lohit District), 90 in Karnataka, 30 in Manipur, 140 in rural Bangalore near the Art of Living International Ashram.

The Art of Living through the Nanhi Kiran Project has also encouraged local entrepreneurship and youth empowerment. The organization identifies a local entrepreneur, develops a youth leader and looks for youth who want to work for this project along with wanting to be entrepreneurs. They are taught to repair these especially designed lights. He becomes the go-to person for these lights in the area. He makes a small commission on the repair as well as sales and distribution of the lights.   A part of the donation made in buying these lamps, also pays the salaries and commissions for these youth.

The cost of making each light is Rs.450 and this does not include the transportation and cost of paying those who make and repair these lights. So far the project has been funded by Sri Sri Rural Development Program. The project is looking to collaborate with companies and government agencies to bring this light to more lives.

The Art of Living is looking to reach out to ten thousand children through its Nanhi Kiran Project in the most isolated and neglected corners of the country.

The implementation of Nanhi Kiran Project, especially in the far flung areas of a state like Arunachal Pradesh, has not been without its share of challenges. The Art of Living has reached out to over 10 schools in Arunachal Pradesh that lack even the basic connectivity to the other areas of the state, apart from lack of electricity, transport and basic infrastructure.

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From The Horse’s Mouth

The remoteness of the region and the problem of poor accessibility is hard to imagine unless, seen through one’s own eyes. “I was working in some project for Assam, and I received a call from Tezu district, AP, saying  the 60 lamps that we have sent across was waiting to be distributed,” shares Chaitanya Sangawar, Coordinator of Nanhi Kiran Project, “When I arrived there I went to a government school. The kids were from different ethnicities and economic backgrounds. They were very shy children. Some of them could not afford the light, because Rs.100 was a lot. So we collected Rs.50 from them. But, still some of the children could not afford the light. I noticed that many children did not even have slippers. We asked if there were more schools that needed help and they said, ‘Yes, but you have to go more deep to some villages, you have more than 100 students that need your support’. I was shocked, because I thought, if this is remote and this is how the people live their lives, what can be more remote than this, what kind of economic condition do they live in? The lights have to reach the children. We are planning to go to the region, but it is impossible for a regular person to go and work there. We need the help of the Indian Army, helicopters, trucks for the logistics of distribution.”

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How can you help?

Anyone who is interested to buy the solar lights or support the Program can get in touch with Sri Sri Rural Development Program, in Bangalore. In order to make it feasible, the organization would need- a school with at least 100 students, the details of the school, number of the students, contact details and a local  distribution person from Art of Living  or someone that wishes to support this project.

Though it does not even cover the cost of making the lights, the students  need to pay  Rs,100. This amount is for the student, family, to value the light that he or she is buying.