About Art of Living, Art of Living News, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, World Culture Festival.

What does Art of Living’s World Culture Festival seek to celebrate? Among many things, it seeks to celebrate 35 years of healing through love and knowledge. Here is a poignant story of healing from a deep and personal loss.

60-year old, Jawahar Lal Gupta runs a small paint business in Muradabad, Uttar Pradesh. Some time back, an incident occurred that shook his life.

”About a year and half back my son passed away,” Gupta said. ”He was 40 years old. I and my wife went into a state of massive depression.”

Gupta’s son also used to run the family business. “His passing was a huge setback for us. We were so depressed that I did not feel like going to the shop. I felt like doing nothing, I had his children to take care of too. But I could not feel a thing.” Gupta said. The void created by the incident was hard to fill.

But then, he found help. An Art of Living teacher from Muradabad sent her volunteers to get him enrolled for an Art of Living program. After much persuasion, he agreed to attend the program.

“I benefited greatly. By the end of the course, I came to a situation, when the mind was ready to accept the loss. I said, what has happened has happened. I was able to collect myself and realized that now I needed to take care of my grand children. Slowly a lot of transformation happened within me and the negativity that had grasped my existence, slowly started waning away.”

Gupta remembers his friends and family asking him, why he looked so happy and at peace. “My depression is over.”

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Gupta, like the 370 million people who have benefited from the program, saw a clear shift in his quality of life. “I gave up drinking tea and liquor after my very first experience of Sudarshan Kriya,” Gupta said, “During the first Sudarshan Kriya that I went through, I felt all my strength came to my forehead. Suddenly I experienced so much strength, like I had never before.”

Now Gupta says, he cannot wait to be one of the 3.5 million people gathering from world over at New Delhi between 11th and 13th March for the World Cultural Festival which will commemorate 35 years of the Art of Living.  “The most important point is, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has raised this feeling of Vasudhaiva Kutumbkum in so many countries, which is the need of the day. Look at all the violence in the world. This is the only way to end all this violence in the world. Such an effort has never been made before,” Gupta said.

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Very often in our chat, the conversation veers towards his loss and the spiritual journey that started after his son’s passing’.  “I think there is more control on the mind. The mind, which would earlier get entangled in small issues and irredeemable situations, is more centered now.  The mind, which used to be perpetually sad, is not so anymore. We do remember him (his son). It is hard to forget, but that sadness attached to it has diminished.”

Jai Gurudev

Ruchira Roy

Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

The year 2016 arrived with hundreds of people from over 46 countries doing the silence course in the beautiful Art of Living retreat centre in Black Forest, Germany. On the morning of Jan 1st;  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar whom we fondly call Gurudev; left the ashram to conduct a Happiness Program in Berlin. Some of us were fortunate to get to travel with him on the flight from Stuttgart to Berlin. It was a typical day at the Stuttgart airport – holiday travellers hustling and bustling around their friends and family either starting or completing a journey.

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Against this backdrop, scenes of followers and devotees eager to meet him, get a selfie or a picture with him; dominated the departure lounge.  As Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ‘s co-travellers scrambled to have their exclusive moment with him, other travellers at the Stuttgart airport paused to take in this amusing sight 🙂

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar walked briskly and purposefully, acknowledging photo requests from his followers and yet at the same time, proceeding to complete all the airport /security formalities required for boarding. Leading the group of devotees travelling with him, He placed his bag on the security scan belt. As he walked through the metal detector, something remarkable happened. The metal detectors went berserk and started beeping continuously. The very professional airport security personnel requested Gurudev to allow them to scan him – which Gurudev agreed to enthusiastically.
The security personnel ran the metal detector all over Gurudev, from head to toe and the beeps were unmistakable. The detectors beeped at every point of contact they made with Gurudev. The security personnel were a bit confused as the beeps also occurred at contact points that were uncovered by clothes. They didn’t know what to scrutinize further, yet they couldn’t wave him off to board the flight either. Could their detectors have failed? Maybe the New Year changed something in the inherent ability of the devices? They looked a bit alarmed and visibly confused.
At this brief moment Gurudev closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It was a deep moment. As he opened his eyes Gurudev instructed the same security staff member to scan him again. This time there was no beep. Not a whisper. Not a whimper.
Just to be sure, the security personnel ran the metal detector once more.  The device that beeped at every point of contact with Gurudev just a few seconds ago didn’t beep any more!
It was probably that Gurudev ’s energy was so high that it was making the metal detectors beep. It was amazing see him regulate it at will, to put the security team at ease!

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What followed was smooth take off and landing, like every journey undertaken to spread the Art of Living. Lucky were those who got a glimpse of this divine power on the first day of the New Year. Lucky are also those who read it later and shared the goose-bumps.

 

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Jai Gurudev

Swami Jyothirmayah

About Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, World Culture Festival.

SEVA was part of my life even before the Art of Living happened to me. The  vital difference is, there was an expectation and a desire for recognition. Whatever honorary post I served in, although I saw the nobility of purpose, there was an element of selfish desire to be somebody!

When I heard Sri Sri Ravishankar saying ‘ SEVA is its own reward. It is an expression of joy’ , a shift happened in my perspective and I was ready to lose my identity as a drop to become an ocean by merging into the huge volunteer force, all guided by One!

Back in Abu Dhabi, in early 2000 , when Art of Living was fairly new, I would engage in SEVA during landmark days such as Guru Purnima, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s birthday, Shivratri and so on along with the team. Raising donation for ‘Gift a Smile’ was an on going project. I remember initiating joining hands with a local group for a walkathon on Corniche beach in support of cancer patients which got good reports in local press as well as a certificate of participation to the Art of Living.

When I moved back to India for good, my mind was already cultured. I had tasted the sweet nectar of SEVA for the sake of SEVA.

Soon an opportunity to get involved in Prison SMART project presented itself. Conducting  courses for lady inmates of Bangalore Central Jail and engaging them in rehabilitation programme by vocational training was a truly satisfying experience. The transformation was tangible. Their written testimonials are safe with me to go back and relive those fulfilling days. The Jail almost turned into an ashram. Lot of work needs to be done in that area. Sri Sri Ravishankar ji’s words ‘ inside every culprit, there is a victim crying for help. Help him’ keeps ringing in ears.

Integrating human values in the main stream of education has been one of my passions.  How I wish I could revamp the whole of our so called education system that only prepares individuals to earn a livelihood but not to live life that only gives degrees but not the quality of altruism, the true purpose of education. With Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji’s vision for education perfectly in sync with altruism, I strove to bring human values in our students of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar PU college. The positive response and enthusiasm the teenagers showed is a promise that we can and will integrate human values in the main stream of education.

The expansion of Art of Living activities in Karnataka is the current project I am associated with. I am madly in love with my home state Karnataka and the vernacular, Kannada. More so now, because, my Master belongs to Karnataka and speaks Kannada! How lucky can I get?! Travelling in Karnataka, building a tryst of love and belonging with our people, inspiring and gearing them up to ‘ Wake up and Shake up’ has been a very fulfilling experience. With all the districts in Karnataka participating in the historic event WCF2016 , I am sure the flag of Art of Living Karnataka will fly high. The diversity of Karnataka is mind boggling. The same language Kannada spoken in different dialects, cuisine varying from region to region, variety and style of costumes worn, musical instruments played, local festivals, wedding procedure….the whole panorama is spell binding! I am proud Karnataka fiber is woven bright and strong in the fabric of the forthcoming phenomenon called the World Culture Festival in Delhi, March 2016. Speaks volumes about the energy, enthusiasm and devotion of our volunteer force in Karnataka which is growing from strength to strength day by day! Tears of gratitude keeps flowing to touch the lotus feet of my Master.

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How has SEVA changed my life?

I can only say it is a shift from ‘ what about me?’ to ‘ what about others?’

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar has said ” You do my work. I will do yours” .

It is an effortless effort, immense joy and privilege to do His work.

In return, a big relief to surrender the burden of running my life to my Master.

It is a deal. I bet, there isn’t a better deal anywhere, in any place or field in this whole world!

Jai Gurudev!

In Service

Leela Ramesh