Uncategorized.

The stories and legends of Lord Ganesha are referred in many sncient texts and scriptures, out of which Ganesha Purana and Mudgala Purana are totally dedicated to Lord Ganesha. As per these puranas, Lord Ganesha got manifested in several forms out of which eight forms were referred to as his incarnations. These incarnations over different cosmic ages include Vakratunda, Ekadantha, Mahodara, Gajavaktra (Gajaanana), Lambodara, Vikata, Vighnaraja and Dhoomravarna. Lord Ganesha is said to have fought with a demon symbolizing a human weakness in each of these forms at different times. For instance, Vakratunda, his first incarnation defeated the demon Matsaraasura symbolising ‘Matsara’ – Jealousy. When he took form of Ekadanta, he defeated the demon Madaasura symbolizing intoxication or arrogance. His third incarnation as Mahodara defeated the demon Mohaasura and his weakness ‘Moha’ (delusion). Likewise, Gajaanana defeated the demon Lobhaasura and his weakness Lobha – Greed, Lambodara defeated Krodhaasura symbolizing anger, Vikata defeated the demon Kamaasura representing lust, Vighnaraja (Remover of obstacles), defeated the demon Mamaasura representing ego & possessiveness and his 8th incarnation as  Dhoomravarna defeated the demon Ahankaraasura symbolising pride. It is believed and said that Lord Ganesha was in existence in all the Yugas.

The Mudgala Purana was the first to list the 32 forms of Lord Ganesha. These 32 forms may also represent a co-relation with 32 paths and spheres of the tree of life. The first 16 forms of Ganapati are known as the ‘Shodasa – Ganapati’ and the rest 16 forms are known as the ‘Ekavimsathi.’

Here is a sneak peek into the first 3 forms of Lord Ganesha, their symbolic representation & the mantra to invoke their blessings.

Bala Ganapati:

Bala Ganpati is the first of the 32 forms of Ganesha and also the most widely worshipped in India. It is the child-like of the lord and represents the Earth element signifying abundance and fertility. The colour associated with Bala Ganapati is the colour of rising sun – Red. The idol of Bala Ganapati is elephant faced and has four hands holding the fruits of the Earth – Mango, Jackfruit, Banana and Sugarcane in his four hands. His trunk garners his favourite sweet; the modaka.

Bala Ganapati is to bestow his devotees with good health and help them get rid of ill habits. He is believed to forgive sins help with the progress of children.

The Mantra to invoke Bala Ganapati is:

करस्थ कदली चूत पनसेक्षुक मोदकम्
बालसूर्यप्रभं देवं वन्दे बालगणाधिपम्

Karastha kadali chootha , panasekshuka modhakam,
Bala soorya prabhakaram, vandeham bala ganapathim,

Meaning:

I salute the boy like Ganapati who shines like a young Sun,
Holding in his hands Banana fruit, mango fruit, jackfruit, sugarcane and Modhaka.


Taruna Ganapati :

Taruna Ganapati is second in the 32 forms of Ganesha and it represents the Air Element. This eight-armed form of Ganesha represents youthfulness, progress and newness. His brilliant red colour like that of the mid-day sun, reflects the blossoming of youth. He holds a noose, goad, modaka, wood apple, rose apple, his broken tusk, a sprig of paddy and a sugar cane stalk in his eight hands. Taruna Ganapati is mainly worshipped on Sankashti Chathurti, Ganesha Jayanti, and Durva Ganapati vrat. Worshipping this form is believed to help in getting good health, happiness, joy and remove obstacles.

The mantra associated with Taruna Ganapati is:

पाशांकुशापूप कपित्थजंबू-फलं तिलान् वेणुमपि स्वहस्तैः
धत्ते सदा यस्तरुणारुणाभः पायात् युष्मान् तरुणो गणेशः

Pasangusa apoopa kapitha jamboo phalam thilan venumapiswa hasthai,
Drutha sadasya tharuna arunabha paayath sayushmaan tharuno Ganesa.

Meaning:

May the young Lord Ganapati , who is carrying in His hands the noose, hook, rice-cake, guava fruit, rose apple, own (broken) tusk, bunch of corn ears and sugarcane and who vividly shines forth with His brilliant youthfulness, bless all.


Bhakta / Bhakti Ganapati:

Bhakta or Bhakti Ganapati form of Ganesha is the 3rd form of the Lord. It is the devotee form of Lord Ganesha. Shining like the full moon during harvest season and garlanded with flowers, Bhakti Ganapati is the dearest to devotees. It carries a very calm and soothing energy around it. He holds a banana, a mango, coconut and a bowl of sweet payasa pudding. He represents the Water element and is mostly worshipped on Sankashti Chathurti, Ganesha Jayanti, Durva Ganapati vrat or Putra Ganapati Vrata. Worshipping this form of Ganapati is believed to help in controlling temper, relax the mind, feel joy and remove obstacles.

Bhakta Ganapati Mantra is:

नालिकेराम्र कदली गुडपायस धारिणम्
शरच्चंद्राभ वपुषं भजे भक्तगणाधिपम्

Nalikeramra kadali gula payasa dharinam,
Sarthchandra bhava pusham , bhaje bhaktha ganapathim.

Meaning:

I worship Bhakta Ganapati , who is the Lord of His devotees and who shines like the autumn moon, with coconut, mango, plantain, jaggery and sweets in his hands.

Art of Living Wisdom, Yoga and Meditation.

When I think of Lord Ganesha, I see a very pleasing, fun looking, completeness harmless & innocent looking being, who is every child’s favourite for various reasons. I have been told he is the remover of obstacles, grants all wishes whispered in those elephant ears & auspicious for new beginnings. Little did I know that this mighty but cute elephant-headed God, is steeped in symbolism head to toe, inside out!

The essence of Ganesha is brought out beautifully by Adi Shankaracharya in this shloka;

अजं निर्विकल्पं निराकारमेकं निरानन्दमानंदमद्वैतपूर्णम् ।
परं निर्गुणं निर्विशेषं निरीशं परं ब्रह्मरूपं गणेशं भजेम ॥१॥

Ganesha (the Lord of all groups) is unborn, unchanging, formless, the one,
Beyond bliss and full of bliss, who is the fullness of non-duality,
The supreme, devoid of qualities, without differences, and beyond desire,
I worship Shri Ganesha, the Supreme Brahman personified.

The Birth

The story of Shri Ganesha’s birth states that he was created out of the dirt on Goddess Parvati’s body, to guard the home while she bathed and not allow passage to strangers. When Lord Shiva returns from an errand, he is forbidden entry to his own home by a strange little boy. Infuriated at being barred from entering His home, the Lord cut off the boy’s head. Devi Parvati is shocked and inconsolable when she discovers what the Lord had done to their own son. To alleviate her suffering, Lord Shiva commanded his troops to get the head of the first living being facing north, they come across. The first living being they chanced upon happened to be an elephant calf. And so the Lord placed the head of the calf on the boy’s body and restored life to him. Thus Lord Ganesha was created.

Devi Parvati is symbolic of festive energy. Her becoming dirty signifies how celebrations, in the absence of knowledge, tend to develop ‘Rajasik’ tendencies like feverishness, greed or stress and take you away from your centre. Shiva, on the other had represents wisdom & balance. When feverishness dawns it obstructs or refuses to recognize wisdom. However, knowledge cannot stand ignorance. This is the symbolism behind Shiva chopping off Ganesha’s head and replacing it with elephant head.

The Form

Lord Ganesha’s physical form is also very symbolic of the deep knowledge of the vedas. His elephant head is symbolic to wisdom & effortlessness. It represents the power of wisdom & his size represents the power of strength. His large ears indicate that he has gained wisdom through listening and reflecting on the eternal truths of the vedas. His head and trunk are curved into the shape of the Om, our most sacred of symbols, representing the primeval sound of creation and our most powerful mantra in prayer and meditation.

It is believed that, with his large ears, Lord Ganesh converts the language of sound (Nāda Bhaashaa) into the language of light (Prakaash Bhaashaa), so that prayers made by humans can be understood by Deities. His big ears pick up on the softest of prayers whispered by his devotees and hence is known to be the remover of obstacles.

Ganesha – means, ‘the lord of all energies (beings)’. Gana means group and a group cannot exist without a lord (Esha), a supreme energy which holds it together. The Lord of all these groups of atoms and energies is Ganesha. Lord Ganesha’s huge belly represents generosity and total acceptance of all.

His single tusk represents one-pointedness or focus. The elephant’s trunk can perform both gross and subtle actions to perfection and hence Lord Ganesha’s trunk signifies the need for us to be able to develop our intellect, in both the gross or material world and also in the subtle or spiritual world.

Ganesha, the elephant-headed God has a small mouse as his vehicle.  Philosophically, the mouse is a connotation of the human mind. Our mind is always full of desires and is often selfish, just like the mouse. The mouse is depicted as an obstacle that we create by negative thoughts and ill feelings. Lord Ganesha seated on the mouse depicts the lord’s supremacy over all negativity of the little mind. The relation of Lord Ganesha and his mouse also symbolises the fact that when God does not discriminate between big and small, then who are we to be judgmental?

The four arms of Lord Ganesha depict his protective hand over his devotees. In His right hand he holds a hook or Ankusa and in His left hand he holds a noose or Paasa. These tools are used by elephant-trainers to tame wild elephants. Symbolically, the mind is like a wild elephant, in chaos, running helter-skelter. Praying to Lord Ganesha, will help calm their wandering mind and bring them onto the path of righteousness. Finally, the fourth hand holds a sweet modak which shows his eternal childlike nature.

Ganesha Chathurti

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most popular of Hindu festivals. This is the birthday of Lord Ganesha. It is the day most sacred to Lord Ganesha. It falls on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada (August-September). It is observed throughout India, as well as by devoted Hindus in all parts of the world. The occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi gives us, as spiritual aspirants, an opportunity to remember what Lord Ganesha stands for.

The 32 Forms of Ganesha

Impossible as it is to contain Him, ancient Sanskrit texts list thirty-two forms of Lord Ganesha that give us a glimpse of His manifold attribute. The Ganesha Purana describes the 32 forms of Lord Ganesha and among them, Mahaganapathi is widely worshiped. The first 16 forms of Ganesha are known by the name “Shodasa Ganapati” and the later ones are known as “Ekavimsathi”.

In the coming 11 days of prayer, meditation and celebration we shall know more about these forms, there significance and the shlokas that glorify their meaning.

Stay tuned for more blogs on the 32 forms of Ganesha coming up in the subsequent days.

Om Shri Ganeshaya Namah!

 

Anamika Khosla

Anamika Khosla is an Art of Living Teacher, a Cranio-sacral therapist, a Gourmet-Chef, a blogger & much more. Her blog is beyondname.blogspot.in.

 

Art of Living Wisdom, Gurus, Saints & Sages, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Long time ago, there was a magician in Tibet. He was so powerful that with a small guest urge of his hands, he could topple the mountains, huge trees , cause heavy rains and floods. He would set fire to the paddy fields and destroy the live stock.

 

 

The villagers were terrified of this magician. They would cut him out of fear. He was intoxicated with the power he could wield on the poor hapless villagers. One day he decided to get married. He got married and started a family. Once while crossing a river, his whole family drowned in the river. His eyes opened after that incident. He realized that the extent of the distraction he had caused devastated him. The death of his family opened his eyes. He was depressed and desolate. He could not set his mind on anything. He was overcome with remorse. But he was not able to control his emotional outbursts at his will. By the sheer force of habit, he would indulge in his heinous activities.

He fell at the feet of a saint and sought his help. The Saint consoled him and said” to realize one’s own mistake is a big step on the path to liberation. The main reason for the sorrow in this world is self centeredness. In reality, there is nothing like “I” . The thing that makes “I” work is the consciousness. This consciousness is present in everything and everywhere in the universe . The primary thing that is present in everyone is the consciousness. There is nothing other than that. Hence consider everyone as your own self since the same consciousness is present in everybody. Find your happiness in the happiness of others. There is a lot of potentials in the actions that you do. Be a pillar of support to the needy and helpless. Serve those who are in misery. Pluck the violence like a thorn and discard it sow the seabed of happiness and peace.

These words struck a chord in his mind. He understood that mere liberation from the action will not help. But only liberation from the mind will help.

People thronged to meet him , fell at his feet to take his blessings, not out of fear, but out of veneration.

This is a beautiful story. The hero of the story is “Milarepa” the sad guru of Tibet. He lived in a cave on the way to “Kailas Parvath” . He was a man of immense power. He would fly to the top of the Kailas Parvath at sunrise and come back at sunset. One day he left in the morning and did not come back in the evening. Even now The Tibetans believe that his spirit still lives there

 

 

As our beloved Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says””When you are deeply pained by something, the pain will rid you of that habit. If you are pained by your shortcomings, then you are a Sadhak – a seeker. Pain takes you out of addiction. If by your skill you could move your desires deeper within you towards the center of your existence, another dimension of everlasting pleasure , thrill, bliss and undying love will be yours. Lust, greed ,power and jealousy are powerful because they are nothing but energy and you are the source of it. – the pure electricity. With dedication and devotion maintain the purity of your electricity, moving you upward”

 

Jai Gurudev

Geeta Murthy

Art of Living Stories, Art of Living Wisdom, Gurus, Saints & Sages, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Yoga and Meditation.

It is Guru Purnima again. The most precious day for a devotee. Each Guru Purnima has been revealing a different facet of mine to myself leaving me in utter amazement! It has ranged from just celebrating the day with Sadhana, Seva and Satsang to understanding in depth the Guru Principle, experiencing the infinite vastness of our Master and slowly recognising the same within me, gratitude flowing out as grace and finally dissolving in love. The process of mellowing into ‘Somebody to Nobody to Everybody’ has been very humbling. The blissful journey continues.

 

 

Now, the baffling question. Where am I?! Frankly, the answer is ‘I don’t know!’ and I don’t care. I have been running to sit on the conveyor belt. Now that I am there, I have stopped running. I will reach home. I have nothing to do but RELAX. I just watch the world go by with amusement and wonder! The scenery has lost its power to affect the Seer to a great extent.

I watch Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji go through the nitty gritty of Maya world and I know He is putting Himself through it all to uplift humanity.

The story of Ekalavya shared by Gurudev recently elucidates the power and compassion of a Guru. Ekalavya, a low caste boy who was not qualified to get archery lessons from Dronacharya , keeps a stone idol of him as his Guru and practices the art of archery. He excels in the art to an extent that Arjuna becomes insecure. Arjuna wanted none else to exceed him in the proficiency of archery. Dronacharya, seemingly to please Arjuna, asks for Ekalavya’s thumb as Guru Dakshina knowing very well that he won’t be able to shoot arrows without his thumb. Ekalavya, without a moment’s hesitation cuts his thumb and offers to his Guru.

 

 

Can anything be more confusing than this relationship of Guru-Disciple? How can Dronacharya be so unjust, cruel and heartless? What right had he to ask for such a Guru Dakshina?

How can Ekalavya be so naïve as to offer his thumb and sacrifice his years of practice to a Guru who did not teach him with his physical presence?

These questions are natural to surface at the superficial level. A devotee who has experienced the unconditional love of a Guru will see beyond the event. In Puranas, Ekalavya has been accorded an elevated place as a disciple par excellence because of his unflinching faith in surrendering to his Guru’s command. In fact, his place is higher than that of Arjuna. It is understood he would have excelled Arjuna had he continued his practice of archery.

Let’s look at the compassion and skill in thought, words and action of the Guru, Dronacharya. Without disappointing Arjuna, has elevated Ekalavya to a place we look up to for ever. Dronacharya is seen as unjust, unreasonable and partial Guru. But, a Guru does not care about his reputation. All he wants is to uplift his devotee. Even when He does a seemingly unfair act, deep inside He has the best intention for His devotee. Difficult to digest but happens to be the truth.

Do I see glimpses of Dronacharya and several Ekalavyas on this path? Yes, I certainly do. Many a time, nothing makes sense but then if everything makes sense where is the element of wonder? Where is the element of faith?

Faith is beyond doubt. When the prana is low, it is natural to dwell in doubt. The scenery also pulls one towards doubt. Retracting senses, moving from the scenery to the Seer, doubts are removed and faith becomes steadfast.

Lord Hanuman, a perfect example of a devotee, puzzled even Lord Rama. He wondered ‘Why is Hanuman so devoted to me when I am not doing anything for him! In fact he is helping me out by doing extraordinary feats.’ ‘Show me what is inside your heart’ commands Rama, out of curiosity. Hanuman tears his chest apart and shows Rama who dwells in his heart. Rama sees himself and Sita residing in Hanuman’s heart. Hanuman says ‘It is the strength and power of chanting your name that enables me to do extraordinary feats’.

In Kannada, we have a Dasara Pada, (Song of a Saint) ‘Neenyako ninna hangyako, ninna namada bala ondiddare sako’, means, I do not need you or your obligation. I only depend on the power of chanting your name. Gurudev has said ‘Whenever you are in trouble, whisper my name and I will attend to you’. What more reassurance does one need? Wherever in the world He is, He is available to us in an instant! Inner technology! Log in to the power of devotee, Inner Net. . It will connect instantly.

‘Connection with the Guru is already there. Or else, we cannot even come anywhere near Gurumandala’- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

 

 

 

The moment we recognise the connection, we become part of our Guru. Just as Guru dwells in our heart, we too dwell in the heart of our Guru. He has already sung years ago ‘My home is in your heart and.. Your home is in my heart’. That’s why I am an Antevasi, an ‘In-dweller’ in my Master’s heart.

Leela Ramesh

Art of Living Wisdom, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

A rich man lost all his wealth in share market. Overcome with grief and fear, he lost his confidence and thought his life was not worth living. He was contemplating on committing suicide, but his good friends took him to a saint. He fell at the Saint’s feet and broke down while telling the guru about his misfortune.

 

 

The guru patiently listened  to his story and said, “Son, come out of your grief, remember the happy moments of your life, just like bad moments good moments are also part of your life, life’s happiness and sadness are like two sides of a coin. Now tell me about one happy incident in your life”.

 

The man stopped crying  and his face instantly showed some pleasure when he started narrating the happiest moment of his life. He said that the happiest moment of his childhood was when he learnt that he had topped the class in 10th standard exams.

 

Guruji asked him.”Is it so? Did you have all the money you have lost now at that time? “.  The man replied, “not at all”. My father was a school teacher. We led a simple life. We were happy and contented because the whole family stood together. “That was the happiest moment of my life”.

 

Guruji said, “Son,  the materialistic things that you think you have lost , were not there with you when you were a small boy, still you were happy.  This shows that the materials were not the cause for happiness. It is only the thought that you possess them made you happy. Just as you were happy when you were a school boy,  you could be happy now too. Because you have enough to survive. There are scores of people on this earth who don’t know if they would survive the next day. They are not even sure of one square meal every day, Or shelter.  Sometimes, a person might be having everything, but still unable to enjoy life. A happy and healthy man can lose his life in a mishap, life is unpredictable. So be happy when you have health.

 

“Life is testing you. You know how?  We plant a sapling, we add manure, we cut the unwanted branches besides the pain of going through this, the plants have to bear the stench of the manure yet the plants never complain and use these setbacks to their advantage by blossoming profusely and yielding fruits.

 

“A complete man is shown as sitting on lotus. “ You know why? Lotus plant grows in the slush but when it blooms, not even a single drop of slush sticks to the leaves or the beautiful flower.  “Trimming is necessary for the growth of a person remember happiness and sorrow are part of every life. Every drawback in your life is an opportunity for you to emerge stronger and successful.”

As our Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says “Keep your money in your pocket, not in your mind, because happiness does not depend on the money you have, it is only “the state of your mind”. He says “see life from a bigger perspective, success and failure are temporary. Everything will change. Even a most successful man is going to perish one day. Have faith in the supreme power and take life each moment as it comes..”

Jai Gurudev
Geeta Murthy

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

An organisation should be like a picture frame. The frame shouldn’t eat away the picture.” In other words, just as it isn’t possible to hold a picture in the absence of a frame, without an organisation any work, whether spiritual or social, can’t happen. At the same time, if the organisation becomes too bureaucratic, it’s like the frame eating the picture.

 

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar words rings true as we watch the Art of Living volunteer based organisation grow by leaps and bounds. Knowledge, service and celebration …the three pillars of joy experienced by the chosen fortunate ones on this path know instinctively that picture spills out of the frame all the time! Knowledge is boundless.  So is service, that emanates from knowledge culminating in celebration.

God loves fun! He creates situations where in frame and the picture seems to be in conflict. As we realise there is no duality, it makes us steadfast in faith and gives conviction of our purpose.

 

 

As I watch the picture getting divided inside several frames to ease functionality, my vision refuses to lose the whole picture, the masterpiece with the caption ‘crime free and stress free society ‘ where there is a smile on every face. This is the grand picture that He is painting as an ongoing service. Frame, in other words the organisation is only a loose structure to contain the picture. If the frame is unable to it, the frame maker has missed the boat! As simple as that.

Gurudev mentioned in one of His talks that although He has created many positions in the organisation, there are many volunteers who are doing excellent service without any label, infact some, more than those holding positions.

When I came into the Art of Living about 2 decades ago and read about ‘ frame and the picture’ in a Knowledge Sheet, it was only bookish knowledge not yet a living reality at the experiential level. Today it is an experiential truth… volunteers who work without any selfish agenda for the good of others are found everywhere if we have eyes to see. These unsung heroes need not even belong to any NGO. They do well because they can’t help but do good.

 

 

These thoughts are stirred up in me after meeting an illiterate villager from Gadag, a district in Karnataka who had come to take Gurudev’s Darshan and blessings in Bangalore Ashram last week along with Gadag team. He has invented a wind mill and a spray device that can be used in a tractor or motor bike to water the fields and has several other brilliant ideas. He says he was invited by a reputed company in England to share his knowledge in return for whatever amount of money he quotes. He was also offered the services of an interpreter as he cannot speak any other language apart from his mother tongue.

The lure of money did not deter him from serving his mother land. He has stayed put here, patiently waiting for Gurudev’s grace and directives.

People, the good samaritans do not care for worldly riches. For them richness lies in caring and sharing. They know the value of a good contented sleep after doing a deed that benefits the larger society. Working for greater good is being rich. In Karnataka, India, we had a poet called D.V. Gundappa (DVG). He has composed a huge volume of poetry that holds universal truth and knowledge. When the society recognized the worth of his writings, they wanted to honour him with cash prize. But, DVG refused to accept on the stage saying he had no use for money. Not that he was reeling in luxury. He just had an elevated sense of greater good. He announced the same money to be used to print 1000 copies of his poetry and to distribute it free in schools. What a noble thought! He knew the value of imbibing knowledge and values in young minds.

Likewise, we find many examples of selfless service, the redeeming factor for a good society.

Picture is always bigger than the frame because the world is full of good people who do well.

If the frame cannot contain the ever burgeoning picture, the only thing to do is expand the frame! It is shortsightedness to think picture should fit into the customised frame. Frame can never be customised nor can picture ever be bound in that for long! The frame and the picture, both are made by our Gurudev and both are fluid. All that we can do is watch the phenomenon called Guru Principle in awe and wonder!!!

Smile and serve is the only mantra that works here in any given situation, never for an instant forgetting there is only One Doer!

 

 

 

I always remember that great quote which has been my favourite since I was young.

 

“For when that One Great Scorer comes, He asks not whether you won or lost, but how you played the game”.

 

Leela Ramesh

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

Existence has two aspects – the visible and the invisible; the gross and the subtle; or the tangible and intangible. Our body is concrete, it is visible; but our breath, mind, intellect, memory, ego and the spirit is the invisible aspect of the same reality.

Contrary to popular belief, the invisible aspect of our existence is much bigger and powerful than the visible aspect. Usually we think that our mind is inside our body, however in reality the body is inside the mind. Mind is much bigger than the body. Mind is also much powerful than the body. The body can’t take a single step unless the mind tells it to do so. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, “A strong mind can carry a weak body but a weak mind cannot even carry a strong body.”

It is the invisible aspect of our existence which governs the visible aspect. But ironically, the invisible aspect of our existence is the most neglected aspect. The root cause of all the human suffering can be traced, by one way or other, to this gross neglect of the subtle aspect of existence.

Sadhana is one way to take care of this invisible aspect of our life. Sadhana refers to the discipline of spiritual practices like yoga, pranayama, meditation, japa, chanting etc. undertaken to elevate and enliven the spirit inside. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, ‘Sa’ means true and ‘Dhana’ means wealth. Sadhana is the real wealth, which nobody can take away from us.

Sadhana gives benefits on all levels of existence; physical, mental as well as spiritual. Sadhana enhances the process of evolution of individual consciousness. Consciousness evolves from animal to human and finally to the Divine consciousness.

Sage Patanjali says, “Sa tu dirgha kala nairantarya satkara sevito drudha bhumihi”. We can get firmly established in the Abhyaasa (practices), when we do our practices with regularity, without break, for a sufficiently long time and with honour and love (devotion).

Honour and love for the Self, for the technique and for the Guru accelerate progress on this path. Here, doing Sadhana as an expression of honour and love is the key. Respect helps us to maintain a one pointed focus, discipline and gratefulness. Love helps to maintain an unbroken connection with the Self, with the technique and with the Guru.

Gurudev says, “Repetition either leads to boredom or elevates you to perfection.” Our daily Sadhana is nothing but repetition. When the Sadhana is done mechanically as a routine job, it may lead us to boredom. However, when the same Sadhana is done with honour and love, it elevates us to perfection.

When Sadhana is done as an expression of honour and love, then there are no expectations from Sadhana (Achaah), no doer-ship (Akinchan) and a natural effortlessness (Aprayanthna).

The benefits of Sadhana increase manifold when we do our practices in a group. Scriptures say that, ‘Sanghe Shakti Kaliyuge’. In this age of Kaliyuga, if you are in a group, if you are united, that has more power than an individual. Thousands of years ago, the individual mind was very simple, focussed and full of faith. In present age, mind has become overloaded with information and concepts. Mind has become highly complex, stressed and divided. Individual mind has lost its original strength because its energy is dissipated multiple directions. However, when many minds join together in a group activity like Sadhana, the synergy produced benefits everyone.

 

 

Quantum Physics says that the whole world is made up of waves or vibrations. Individual mind or individual consciousness is also nothing but vibrating energy. When many individuals come together for some spiritual practice like meditation, chanting etc., it produces effect similar to ‘resonance effect’ in Physics. This helps in amplifying the effect of Sadhana for every individual in the group.

To have a better insight into the mechanics of ‘Group Sadhana’, let us understand the phenomenon of mob psychology.

Have you closely observed small kids in a play group? If couple of children start crying, it is very likely that the whole class starts crying.

Have you listened to any powerful speaker who is making some emotional appeal to a large mob? The mob simply gets carried away. The logical, intellectual part of the individual brain simply stops working and the mob blindly believes in the speakers appeal.

Have you ever ventured out on the roads where riots and arson is going on? If you have ventured out, you might have noticed that your mind also gets affected by the mob violence. You also want to throw a stone or burn down something, even if you are a law abiding citizen.

The above phenomenon of mob psychology can be used in a positive or in a negative way. It can be used to unite people or it can be used to spread hatred and violence.

During Group Sadhana, the phenomenon of mob psychology is used in most positive way to unite minds of people to spread peace and love.

 

 

 

 

In 1993, Maharaishi Mahesh Yogi effectively demonstrated the power of Group Sadhana. A two month study was conducted in Washington D.C. where up to 4000 Transcendental Meditation practitioners regularly practiced group meditation. It was observed that the violence crime rate in the city reduced by up to 23.3% during this period. This came to be known as Maharishi Effect. This experiment proved that Group Sadhana not only gives benefits to the individuals, but also spreads positive vibrations in the environment. It gives benefits to all the people in the vicinity.

When we practice our daily Sadhana individually, it is called as ‘Tapas’. When the same Sadhana  is done in a group, its benefits increase manifold and it is called as ‘Yagna’.

A ‘Yagna’ has three essential aspects:

  1. Deva Puja: Acknowledging and honouring the Divinity, honouring the subtle existence.
  2. Sangatikarana: Bringing everyone together, taking everyone along with you. Hastening the process of evolution by bringing together all elements and people in creation. Another meaning is bringing harmony among your different faculties like body, mind and the breath.
  3. Dana: Sharing and giving what one has been blessed with.

Group Sadhana has all the three aspects of a ‘Yagna’.

Deva Puja: Scriptures acknowledge that God or the Divine is omnipresent. So Divine is also present in every individual. Spiritual practices are nothing but acknowledging and honouring that Divinity inside.

Sangatikarana: In Group Sadhana, individual minds are united together. All minds vibrate in harmony. In a group, even if one person is doing Sadhana with total love and honour, this will influence the whole group. The whole group consciousness will get elevated to a higher level.

Dana: The benefits of Group Sadhana do not remain limited to the group but the whole subtle environment gets blessed. The prayer at the end of Group Sadhana is for the benefit of entire humanity.

Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah, Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah |
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu, Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||  

Om, May All become Happy, May All be Free from Illness.
May All See what is Auspicious, May no one Suffer.

May there be peace on physical level, mental level and spiritual level!

 

Sanjay Sabnis

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

Question: Guruji, whenever I see You, I start running after You. Is this devotion or lack of self respect?

Guruji: In the beginning you run, it is ok. But then you should learn to stop and look within. Dive deep within yourself then I will run after you and the whole world will run after you.

A story from mythology comes to my mind. The story is from Mahabharata. Venerable Dronacharya was teaching archery and warcraft to young Kauravas and Pandavas. However, that he had a soft corner for Arjuna troubled Duryodhana’s mind. Unable to control his jealousy, one day he uttered loudly “What is so great about Arjuna? He is like all of us’, making sure Dronacharya who was standing within the earshot heard his remark. Dronacharya heard him but did not say anything.

Next day Dronacharya hung a wooden bird amidst the branches of a tree. He called out to all the princes, made them stand 100 yards away from the tree and said

“There is a little test for you”.

Yudhishtira being the eldest, he called him to come forward first.

“Aim your arrow to the bird” he said.

Yudhishtira pulled back his arrow aiming at the bird and waited.

“What do you see Yudhishtira?” Drona asked.

“Why?! The bird, the tree, branches, my brothers and you of course, my revered teacher”, exclaimed Yudhishtira perplexed at the question.

“ Laydown your weapon” said Drona.

Yudhishtira retraced his steps.

“Now, it is your turn Duryodhana”, called out Drona.

Smirking at Yudhishtira, Duryodhana came forward. As it is, he was not happy about his poor cousins getting the lessons from Dronacharya as his equals.

He aimed the arrow at the bird.

‘What do you see” asked Drona.

“The bird, the tree and you my venerable master” replied Duryodhana and was about to shoot when Drona said,

“Place the bow and arrow on the ground and go back to your place”.

All the other younger princes came forward and failed the test.

It was Drona’s son Ashwathama’s turn. Ashwathama said that he could see nothing but the wooden bird. Little disappointed Drona sent him back reluctantly. After all he was his own son!

Now Drona calls Arjuna to come forward and aim the bird. Arjuna, with supreme confidence yet with lightness and in a relaxed manner pulls back his arrow and waits.

 

 

 

Here I paused…..Time for Manana (Contemplation).  This is the crux of the story I thought. I am sharing my personal thoughts with you, my dear readers. It connected so well with what Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar answered to the question about running after Him. Arjuna was Dronas favorite student which means he need not had to run after Drona.

The ‘supreme confidence’, ‘lightness’ and ‘relaxed manner’ of Arjuna at the time of taking test where all his predecessors had failed stems from him being established in the self, I thought. If others had failed, it was because of lack of self awareness and feverishness to please their teacher, perhaps?! As explained in Ashtanga yoga of Patanjali, Arjuna must have mastered Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama that gave him steadiness to move confidently towards his goal. The physical presence of his teacher Drona did not distract Arjuna from his goal.

Drona asked “What do you see Arjuna?”

“Only blackness in the eye of the wooden bird my revered teacher” answered Arjuna without wavering his gaze.

“Don’t you see anything else, the forest, tree, branches…” urged Drona.

“No sir, I see only blackness in the middle of the eye of the bird” replied Arjuna still keeping his gaze steadily at the target.

The 5th limb of Ashtanga Yoga, Pratyahara, that occupies the middle place, needs a sadhak to retrieve his senses just as a tortoise retrieves its limbs into its shell to get established in Samadhi. Arjuna must have shut off all the external stimuli of senses like tress, branches, people around him including his revered teacher to get ‘fixed’ (Dharana) in his goal, to shoot the bird’s eye. Our mind is often compared to the tortoise shell and its limbs the senses. Mind is also likened to the Queen Bee after who runs all other labour bees, the senses. When Queen Bee stops running, all other labour bees also freeze! Then one is prepared for Dharana. Revelation indeed !

Exulted by Arjuna’s answer, Drona says “Shoot!”

Next moment the bird lay on the ground with an arrow pierced in its eye, right in the middle!

Was Arjuna in a state of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi when he shot the arrow? Was his one pointed devotion and focus to whatever he wanted to achieve the key for success in life, worldly or otherwise?

Is there something profound for us to learn from Arjuna, especially when all others see ‘Dronacharya’ while aiming the bird except Arjuna? Does it connect with what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says; when you look within yourself I will run after you. The whole world runs after you.

A Master manifests in physical body to make one realize whatever He is, so is His disciple. He walks us through the path with utmost love, compassion and patience till we reach home. But then, is it not my responsibility to keep the focus on the path rather than making a relationship with the Guru Principle?

“In the beginning it is ok to run. But then you must stop and look within yourself. Then I will run after you. The whole world runs after you”.
Gurudev’s words pregnant with profound meaning.

The truth struck like lightning!

No wonder Arjuna was the privileged one to get Geetopadesha from Lord Krishna. He was ready! What will a Lord not give to the one who is ready?

 

 

It is crystal clear. The only aim and focus walking the path with Sri Sri is to become Arjuna.

Manana (Contemplation) continues…..Thank You Sri Sri.

Leela Ramesh

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

Once upon a time, there was a very strong woodcutter. He asked for a job from a timber merchant, and he got it. The pay was really good and so were the work conditions. For that reason the woodcutter was determined to do his best.

His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work. The first day, the woodcutter brought down 18 trees.

 

The Boss was very much impressed and said, “Congratulations keep it up!”

Very motivated by the words of the boss, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he only could bring down 15 trees.

The third day he tried even harder, but he only could bring down 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing down less and less trees.

“I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought to himself.

He went to the boss and apologised, saying that he could not understand what was going on.

“When was the last time you sharpened your Axe?” the boss asked.

 

 

“Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my Axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees.

The moral of the story:

Our lives are like that. We sometimes get so busy that we don’t take time to sharpen the axe. In today’s world, it seems that everyone is busy, but less happy. Why is that? Could it be that we have forgotten how to stay sharp?

 

 

There is nothing wrong with activity and hard work. But we should not get so busy that we neglect the truly important things in life, like our personal life, taking time to care for others, taking time to read, divine activity sharpens the in heart.etc We all need time to relax, to think and meditate, to learn and grow. If we don’t take time to sharpen the axe, we will become dull and lose our effectiveness. So start from today, think about the ways by which you could do your job more effectively and add a lot of value to it.

“To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart.”

 

Jai Gurudev

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

Rehman and five others were waiting at the edge of the stage at the Vishalakshi Meditation Hall with huge cake boxes in their hands and a twinkle in their eyes. The cake was thick, deep brown oozing with chocolate in every corner. The white icing on the top struggling to make its presence felt ! I had just peeped into Ajit`s box.

Perhaps they were waiting for their rare moment of truth.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar seated on the chair had just announced “Anyone`s birthday, anniversary today?”. It was the closing moments of the daily Satsang (an evening of music, wisdom and meditation) public event that he has been conducting for over thirty five years every single day, no matter where he is.

Moreover, he makes it a point to ask this question at the end of every Satsang.

Hundreds of people had just imbibed the fabulous celebration of that evening and were dripping with joy, asking for more.

Just then Gurudev asked Ajit to come on to the stage. He ran with the cake and placed it in front of him beaming with a smile. He rose from the chair and walked forward gingerly towards the crowd that was beckoning him time and again.

He tip-toed slowly, in a graceful style that sent people into a rapture. His eyes had a cute mischief that a child springs on you.

I thought perhaps he is going to break into a great jig, a special one between the Master and his fans. The music and the famous `Sundaranana`  bhajan had reached a superb crescendo by then. He clicked his fingers to every rhyme and rhythm of that song.

Something was about to happen? It was a goose-bump moment.

He gestured to all the other birthday boys and girls to come on stage. I could see six cakes and Gurudev.

Suddenly he swirled the well-dressed knife and plunged it into Rehman`s cake and took out a nice big slice on his hand. I could clearly see strawberry was feeling lucky to be on his finger tips and Rehman went red blushing in the background.

People gasped. What was going to happen next ?

Gurudev swayed the cake to the music that had really hit a high note by now. His right hand swinging back and forth. People in the dozens lunged forward. Some with mouths wide open. Others trying to catch it.

Ecstasy, playfulness and laughter was running riot. All heaven broke loose!

Was this cake ready to fly ? It`s path and target unknown ?

Flew it did, in different directions. Making Gurudev`s way of celebrating legendary.

Do we have that quality of making an individual`s celebration collective and inclusive?

Today Saturday 13 May 2017. A million people will be asking a question at the end of the Satsang “Anyone`s birthday, anniversary today?”.

 

 

And who do you think will stand up ?

 

(A tribute by Brahmachari Vidyut Udiaver to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on his 61st birthday)