Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Projects.

Few seconds before the earthquake hit, we had just closed our eyes for meditation in the Art of Living centre in Kathmandu. Having experienced it 2-3 times earlier, I immediately realised that it was back! We gathered everyone and ran outside in the open.  Some devotees took time to comprehend what they were feeling. They even thought it was probably a deep swaying experience of meditation that they we experiencing. As soon as we found sanity and realised what was happening, we sat down and started chanting for relief from the massive tremors. Never before had I experienced tremor after tremor. Every now and then that the land would shake we would look at each other gesturing – ‘Oh! It’s here again’. But somehow I didn’t realise it was such a big hit. After some time some of us decided to resume the session, but others said ‘No we are very scared and won’t be able to grasp anything ‘. So we cancelled the class. Some young boys decided to leave for the hospital and help the victims. And some of us walked back home, as there was no way we could take out our vehicles with tremors coming every few minutes, with roads and buildings damaged & crumbled.


My family was on the first floor at home when the earth shook. I could not get to them. Their phones were ringing but no one answered. Evacuating the building and making sure no one was left behind, must have been too stressful for them. No communication with them kept me little worried. They later told me that the staircase of the building was almost falling apart, when they were getting down. Petrified, my mom for some moments stood still in the middle of the staircase. My brother went and got her down. The chandelier was moving profusely. It felt as if the whole house is going to collapse. Everybody in house – my two sister in laws with their kids ( 7 yr and 4  months)  were traumatised and literally in tears.

That night we slept on the ground floor but most of the people slept outside in the open in public places for days to come. When in the middle of the night, anyone of us felt the earth shaking we would jump out of the bed, wake everyone and run out. It happened a number of times on the first night. We cooked food the next day and went out to help people who’d probably lost their everything in the tremors.  We heard that there would be another major quake at 12 pm. So 2 people who had come to help pulled back saying they needed to return home before that. That left 7 of us only. My mother, sister in law, my driver, myself and 3 others (a couple and their 13 years old child). We went ahead to distribute the food in a big ground in the city were many had taken shelter. AS soon as we reached their and sat in a corner with whatever food we had brought for distribution, many started coming forward for food. Some said that since there was no place in the hospital they were waiting there for their turn. On our way back home, another tremor hit the lad and we could see boundary walls shake & roads tear. It was a scary sight. We didn’t know what to expect next, or what was going to be the repercussion. Luckily we were safe and reached home.


Next day again we cooked food and went to a hospital to serve food to the needy. Many patients and their families were waiting outside the hospital, who had come from nearby districts. After serving them food we sat down in the hospital lawns and started our satsang with chanting & bhajans. Suddenly there was pin-drop silence and everybody’s attention was on us,  and they were amazed to see this phenomenon –  where only youth, around 20 of us were chanting joyfully. This gave them lot of peace and strength. And they looked at us with gratitude and appreciation. We felt deep satisfaction, as at such a challenging time in the country we could share what we have – materially and spiritually, due to inspiration from our Master – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji.


As the days went by we started getting used to the tremors. At night all the family members slept together on the ground floor but we weren’t any more popping up and rush out at the slightest shake until it was more than few seconds and we felt it was dangerous. But I loved the fact that all of us were together since we spent more time this way than we could earlier. With time our Relief activities were increasing and we were reaching out to far off districts, where there were no pitched roads too. We also started our trauma relief activities full-fledged. At one remote village I recall one youth came up to us and mentioned that after long he had taken God’s name and felt happy that we came all the way to his remote village and conducted the trauma relief sessions for them. So hope and faith in God was being reinstalled, where perhaps many had lost it.


At yet another place an old woman shared that her chest pain had reduced drastically after meditation, breathing techniques and chanting of mantras that we conducted for them, and she felt so happy that she and her friends came up and asked us with so much of love if we could stay there itself in the school grounds with them where they had taken refuge. This showed the profound effect the trauma relief activities were having on everyone.



One day a person called me up who had done the Art of Living course saying that he lost his 7 year old son during the earthquake and he would like some help from us for his community. Hearing the tragedy, at once I resolved to help his community, at-least. He took us to 3-4 affected areas where we distributed tents, food, water and conducted trauma relief sessions. He also showed us his 4 floored new building which he was getting constructed. It had tilted due to the earthquake and could fall any time. There was immense damage everywhere. We saw so many houses had just collapsed. He shared that instead of drowning in grief staying indoors, he preferred to come out and serve his community. I silently admired the strength he portrayed.

This situation in the country got everyone to think- ‘How can I contribute for my Country?’ Instead of ‘getting’ people started to think of ‘giving’.  Lots shared that they hadn’t interacted with their neighbours much, but the new challenges got them closer, and some others forgot their fights and reunited with their closed ones in this predicament.

Bitter experiences make one spiritually stronger. Through our Trauma Relief activities people have started grasping the essence of breath, meditation and the effect of mantras in having a positive impact on our minds, and understanding that the quality of our life, depends upon the state of our minds, irrespective of the situation we are in.

In service ,

Jai Gurudev

Ritika Lohia

Art of Living Experiences.

It is a great blessing to be an Art of Living Blesser. During the course of a decade of being a Blesser, I have been blessing personally and sending distance blessings to many upon request. I am also registered in the community of Art of Living Online Blessers. Many come back to me with gratitude and report their issues being resolved after receiving Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s blessings through me. I take it in a matter of fact way because I know how powerful He is and how He lovingly takes care of everyone who comes to Him with total faith.

I would like to share one such Guru Blessing Story with you all. Please do read till the end. There is a climax to the story. Surprise!

I reproduce the following FB messenger message from Neha Anand Vohra.

1/8/2014 5:28 pm

Jai Gurudev Leela Ma’am

I finally found you on FB. I had done a Silence Course with you in Jan 2014 and I really enjoyed it. Looking forward to another one in November.




Just had a fabulous time with Gurudev in Canada two weeks ago

smileys - Copy



Jai Guru Dev…..

Me: Great! Happy for you. Jai Guru Dev.
You can see I had no personal bonding with Neha. I do not remember the face and name of all my participants who come to ashram to do the course. That does not mean we are not connected though!


Then another message follows from Neha.
10/12/2014  6:45 pm

Jai Gurudev Leela Aunty

Please send Gurudev’s blessings to me and my husband Ankur Vohra. It is our 5th Wedding Anniversary. An extra blessing so that we can complete our family soon. Right now, it is just the two of us. Trying for a baby these days. I need His blessings so that a good soul enters our family..a spiritual soul


Much love

smileys - Copy (2)

Me: Blessed  abundantly. Close your eyes and receive. Jai Gurudev.

Neha: Much love and gratitude.

18/12/2014  6:01 am
Dear Aunty,
Exactly one week ago, I asked you for Gurudev’s blessings and what grace! Today I found out I have conceived.


It is just three weeks along but I wanted to tell you and thank you.


You won’t believe, it has happened a week after Silence Course finished! 5 years, no child. In the Silence Course I released something during Hollow and Empty meditation in between the chest and navel chakras.

I just hope Gurudev has sent a good soul and all is normal. Just scared till first ultra sound test. I pray for normal pregnancy, not ectopic.

With lots of love
Jai Guru Dev.

I warmed up to her. Her persistence in seeking His blessings, faith and a feeling of belonging captured my heart.

Me: So, so very happy for you. All will be well. Do not be tense. Sending blessings along again. Close your eyes and receive. Jgd


Neha:  Jai Gurudev . Thank you so much


smileys - Copy (2)




9/1/2015  9:35 pm
Neha: JGD. Blessings worked! Ultra sound was normal. Baby is growing in the uterus, not in the Fallopian tube.
All His grace.
Much love and affection.

Me: nice! Your faith has worked. I am sending distance blessings to many people every morning and you are in from now on. Jgd.

Neha: WOW! That is such a nice feeling Thank you for sending me blessings every morning.
I am due in August. I will bring the baby to Bangalore in December. Hopefully we can meet
Much love and gratitude.




Me: yes sure….

6/5/2015  5:05 pm
Hi Aunty,
Saw your message on Blessings site today. Tons of gratitude for sending blessings daily. Everything is going very smoothly by His grace. I am due in August. 25th is the date.

I am attaching some ultrasound pictures. 2 D pictures in black and white and 3 D pictures in colour which are more clear.
In the  picture, you can see the baby’s face slightly 

Much love and gratitude


Me: Oh good. All is well. Jgd

18/8/2015. 7:51 pm
Neha: hello Aunty,
Hope this reaches you in good health and high  spirits. It is my final week. Baby can come anytime between now and 25 th.
I just hope I don’t go overdue else they will do C section. Right now, they are trying for natural delivery.
Shall keep you posted.
Much love and gratitude.

Me: sending you special blessings for normal delivery

Blessings were special because I was  doing a 7 day Silence Course with Swami Brahmatej ji along with Bhagavad Gita discourse by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

I am sure the merit was shared with Neha and her baby because the very next message I see  carried  good news!

Dear Aunty,

Gurudev has been extremely kind. He has blessed me and my husband with a little angel. She came on 22nd, natural delivery, not even a tear or any stitches.

We have named her Aahna Vohra.

I could feel His presence throughout. There are no words to express gratitude to my Master.

Thank you for being with me and blessing me daily during this journey, from conception to birth.

I have attached some pictures of our angel Neha.

Sending you Tons of love and best wishes



The pictures of Aahna and her enraptured parents uplifted my spirits. For the nth time, my throat got choked at the compassion, love and care of our Master. I called Neha to congratulate her but naturally she could not pick up the call.

The story of Neha’s faith, persistence in seeking blessings and experiencing grace is remarkable. Her Bhakti made God helpless and He had to come running to her every time she called Him. What God would not do for such a devotee!

The thought of sharing her story of faith on the Art of Living blogs occurred to me just that  so many can be touched and inspired. I wanted to use her real name, photographs and the actual conversations that took place between us on FaceBook Messenger. I sought her permission.

Here is one more hair raising account of Gurudev’s Grace as experienced and shared by Neha to me. Be ready to get mesmerised!

Neha : Jgd Aunty

No, I don’t mind at all about sharing this Guru story on the blog. 

This story actually started in 2013. Many miracles have taken place since. On my 32nd birthday, I had sent an email to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. It was the most ridiculous email. I was really hurting inside out. I had mentioned not being able to have a baby. He replied, to my surprise, saying He was sending His blessings! The very next Long Kriya session was very powerful. As I got up from the floor, a note fell from my shawl from nowhere! The note gave me goose bumps! ” It is a girl!” .


At that moment I was not even pregnant. I got pregnant a year later.

I was worried whether I will be able to conceive or not. I had bought very expensive ovulation monitors in preparation to start trying for a family. But His grace was such that I did not have to even open the package. have Aahana today!
Please go ahead and use this story for the blog.

There are myriad ways for the Master to come to our help. All we need is awareness, alertness, gratitude to receive the grace and the unshakable faith that “The divine loves me so much, only the best will happen to me”.

For, as HE has said “Grace has the ability to change anything anytime”.


Here is a personal message from Neha to all our readers…


What is Grace? When all our efforts fail, and perhaps we are not deserving by our karma, yet our Guru takes such mercy on our soul and grants us what we long for the most-that is Grace!!! When you have unshakable faith in God/Guru despite all the challenges and circumstances and when the time is right, not only does the Guru grant our wish but he grants it in ABUNDANCE!!!

With HIS Grace I had a very smooth pregnancy and delivery!!! Aahana is everything and more than I had desired for. Blessings work miracles! I have seen it many times for the most simplest desires to the most important desire- the next most important ingredient after blessing is faith,love and surrender on the part of the seeker.

Jai Gurudev ️​

Leela Ramesh

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

The perfect gift for Gurudev on his 60th birthday

All birthdays are birthdays but then 18th, 21st 50th are all special. And if you are in the South India, the sixtieth birthday is exceptional. For us his disciples, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar whom we fondly call Gurudev, his Sixtieth Birthday, which falls on May 13th 2016, is very special and calls for an extraordinary gift.


That is where the dilemma begins for the options are many. A gift has to be something that the receiver needs. Well, what would our GOD ‘need’!!  He actually takes care of all our needs more than we could ever do ourselves. Once when asked by a devotee, “Gurudev what can we give you?” Gurudev had said “What I don’t have is problems and worries and pains of life. Give me all of yours. That is why I have come in the first place”.  So I followed the easy path. But I realized that though Gurudev’s birthday came only once a year, my ‘gifts’ to him were far more often in the year!  I felt guilty that I was burdening my Guru with my problems?  Gurudev has given us so much knowledge so that we don’t get into the usual tangles of life but he is always there to resolve our problems if we get into them due to ignorance.

A devotee once commented in a Satsang, “Gurudev, I keep giving you all my problems and they get solved. The world over all the devotees must be doing the same. You must be solving them throughout the day like you do mine. Now I don’t feel good giving you my problems.”

Gurudev replied “My dear one, one drop of problem added to the ocean doesn’t burden the ocean. So don’t worry about that.  Anyway I have come to this only for that purpose. Make maximum use of it. Just know that no amount of problems can bother me “

Aah! No more guilt now. I observed that people gave him a variety of nice gifts like beautifully embroidered dhotis. I too did that a couple of times. Then realized that the dhoti has to be liked by Gurudev and my choice need not match his.  I would only be creating one more irritant for Gurudev. He would be left with so many Dhotis that he doesn’t need.

I thought sweets would be a nice gift. Again how much could he eat? And also would it be right to give him sweets which might take days to reach him and become stale in the process? So I dropped that option as well.

Cash?  It is so convenient but would that really be a good gift for my god on his 60th birthday? My choice became clear when I was travelling and wanted to invite the president of that country to our World Culture Festival 2016.

We met some important people so that we could reach the invitation to the president. I was surprised by their response. All of them had the same answer, “Our president will not come”. It was not a rude answer when we heard their explanation. They said “Our president is a visionary and a great leader. He is already 75. We want to preserve him longer. So we do not strain his calendar in any way except under unavoidable circumstances. He guides us and shows us the path. We work so that he rests.”  Ring Ring !!  I realized they not only loved and respected their president but were very practical.

Here I was just thinking of myself? I remember since the first day I came to the ashram, Gurudev would say “give knowledge to a lot of people and fast. There is no time.” These words were prophetic.  Perhaps never in the history has the world deteriorated so fast the way it has done in the last twenty years. The Art of Living also grew at a phenomenal pace. The more it grew the more busy Gurudev became.  He is active and working for at least 19 hours every day without a break save for the Navratri and the ‘Agyatvaas ‘ which lasts for two or three days in the whole year.

A typical day for Gurudev at the ashram is somewhat like this.  Calls start coming early in the morning and go on till late night from all over the world. These are not only from devotees asking for blessings for the beautiful projects they undertake to spread joy, good  health and self  reliance or dates for visits, but from all sorts people including government officials of different countries, rebels and lay people, all call for assistance and help.  And they call at their convenience and their office hours.

Gurudev comes to office around 9.30 – 10-00 A M. Till lunch time the schedule is packed with meetings for the myriad agendas that people have –some of them similar to Gurudev’s agenda.  After a few reminders, the secretaries have to extricate him from people so that he can have lunch. (Gurudev typically does not have breakfast).  After lunch there are more meetings. Around 3.00pm Gurudev is extricated again so that he can rest.  The rest is usually with a couple of people reading out letters that are written to Gurudev from around the world while Gurudev is lying down and commenting “this is taken care of “ or “this must be an old letter. It has already been handled” or “Remind me about this” etc.


Around 4 pm another set of meetings start. After which Gurudev gives darshan to hundreds of devotees who have come from many cities and countries. His pet elephants eagerly await the tryst which is scheduled around this time and become restless to meet Gurudev.  Then it is Satsang time at 6.30 pm. Hundreds and sometimes thousands experience bliss with the soulful singing and the master’s knowledge. Gurudev usually has a light supper after Satsang followed by a string of meetings. On full moon nights, (rarely) some select singers sing Gurudev’s favorite songs. The secretaries then get busy with Gurudev on various subjects, including concretizing Gurudev‘s schedule (which is usually booked 10 months to a year in advance).  Phone calls continue.  Around 1.00 am Gurudev says “Jai Guru Dev” to everyone present indicating that they have to go and sleep. Many times people find Gurudev walking in the middle of the night checking the storage tanks, to see if they are full for the next day.

Even in this busy schedule, Gurudev manages to visit different projects and developments happening in the ashram almost daily. He also walks to the Gaushala to meet the cows, and other animals. Some mornings, Gurudev walks the whole campus. It is not surprising that He always knows the minutest details of everything happening around him. He makes many visits to the city and the nearby places where people have invited him.  This is what He achieves on a physical level in a single day.


Wherever Gurudev goes we pack up his schedule so tight. I have also heard of instances where our organizers in their enthusiasm have not only forgotten to eat but also forgotten to serve Gurudev lunch. From the bhakta’s point of view, it is understandable that Gurudev comes to a chapter rarely and the opportunity to serve him is a rare privilege. For one does not know when He will give the next dates to the chapter again. But we tend to forget that for Gurudev each day of the year is the same packed. I do not think there must be another human on this planet who travels so much, crossing so many time zones so often continuously for such a long time.

Sometimes I think Gurudev travels so much because we haven’t done our job as volunteers very well. From His side Gurudev has given us so many tools each more effective than the other. We have also seen and experienced the results thereof. Are they any short of a miracle?

Many questions come up in my mind:

  • Have we as Art of Living volunteers and teachers reached our potential?
  • Has Art of Living reached its potential as an organization?
  • Have we as teachers and volunteers used all the tools effectively to spread happiness and good health to our full potential?

When I ask myself this, the answer that comes from within is NO. I could have done so much more, especially when I hear of the wonderful stories of our teachers, yuvacharyas and volunteers.  If so few of these people could achieve so much of which the whole ART OF LIVING is proud of, what would happen to this country if all of us could do our bit before the World Culture Festival and Gurudev’s birthday?

What if Gurudev works only for 30- 40 minutes a day rather than resting only for 30-40 minutes?

What if we took the load off his shoulder so that Gurudev need not travel so much?

That would be the PERFECT gift for Gurudev’s 60th birthday. The best part is that it is doable.

Swami Bramhatej