Art of Living Stories.

Performing pujas as a ritual was an integral part of my growing up years. Belonging to Madhwa Brahmin community meant there was a ritual almost every month. Yes, ritual, that is all it was to me. Significance of every ritual was told to us ,children , but hardly do I remember feeling merged with the divine that everything else went in to oblivion while performing rituals.

Till I sat on the  Art of Living Guru Puja program.

My unshakeable faith in Sri Sri, our beloved Gurudev prompted me to take the Guru Puja program. The sheer joy of Bhanu Didi’s presence, her simplicity and innocence, Guru stories, playful and yet focused in drilling us left me in pure bliss. I completed the course completely awe struck! Nobody had guided me before to feel the divinity abound around a seemingly simple act of performing a puja.

Art of Living Guru Puja

While performing Guru puja, I feel deep connection with my Master. The whole process soaks me in an ocean of gratitude. I am aware of the state of my mind before and after puja too. The act of gathering flowers and other materials for puja is celebrative. Cleaning and setting up a spot to perform puja is celebrative. Preparing Prasad is celebrative. Dressing up is celebrative.

After the puja is over, just to look at the Mantap full of flowers, fruits, lit silver lamps and to inhale the fragrance of incense sticks, to feel the aura of Guru’ s presence is extremely fulfilling — a state of ‘ I want nothing more from life’.

Oh yes, I was chanting and performing puja before doing my Guru puja course too. But, the difference it has made to me after the course is beyond expression.

Each time, I am born new out of fullness!

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The story of the monk who sold his Ferrari made it to the list of Best Sellers! The story of the saint who never sells his smile touches the hearts of millions and beckons as the hope for the humanity! Here’s a moving chapter from the book yet to be written!

Art of Living -Sri-Sri-smiling-2

The occasion was momentous. It was an event that will change the destiny of India. The turnout was more than what was expected. The mood was upbeat! Expectations were high! Tens of thousands of eyes were set on him, looking up to him for inspiration. Yet the man — I call him that for lack of more acceptable description – who was the source of it all remained his natural Self, completely untouched by the occasion. Not losing his trademark smile even for a moment!

art of living - sri sri - vbi

That Sri Sri didn’t play to the gallery and incite people to go on sloganeering at the Ram Leela Maidan during the Volunteer for A Better India (VFI) launch on 3rd February isn’t probably big deal. But that he didn’t lose his sense of humour even for a moment in such a charged environment speaks a lot about the depth of the movement. This is what will make it a milestone in the history of India.

sri sri-volunteer-for-a-better-india-rally-ramlila

Sample this. The serious point of alcohol being the main culprit of majority of the crimes in the country was hammered home with a humorous story. It goes like this. A man who comes to attend a public gathering gets a headache after listening to speech after speech and goes to a friend seeking a treatment to get rid of his headache. The friend promptly advises him to have a glass of alcohol. The bewildered friend asks how alcohol would help. “My land, job, wife and everything else left me after I started taking alcohol. Why wouldn’t it take away your headache too, when it has capacity to rob of you of everything you possess?”
Only a mind that is free of a personal agenda and has no feverishness for achievements can handle such a serious topic in such a light manner without diluting to the essence of the message he wants to communicate.

His sense of humour isn’t momentary! It is in the spirit! He could sense a few egos were getting hurt as their speeches were cut short because of paucity of time. Then just to lighten them up, he came up with the hilarious story of a speaker taking off and giving away his kurta when it was repeatedly pulled from behind by the prompter as signal to end his speech! This combination of sensitivity and supreme awareness is what makes Sri Sri stand out.

sri sri at tihar jail

Even the authorities’ attitude towards previous confluences in Ram Leela Maidan was dealt with wittily when Gurudev commented that he visited Tihar Jail the previous day to pre-empt the bad omen of being sent to Tihar after the agitation! For the record, Gurudev went to Tihar Jail to inaugurate a skill training centre!

What moves me the most about Sri Sri is the way he looks at everything from a space of wisdom and with compassion, even at the height of adversities. I recall a live event Gurudev attended in Bangalore some years ago! It was billed as a debate between Sri Sri and Zakir Naik to establish the unity of God. But it turned out to be a pre-planned conspiracy to indulge in Sri Sri-bashing.

sri sri and zakir naik

I could see blood boiling among Gurudev’s devotees in the crowd as the self-styled Islamic evangelist went on belittling Hinduism and Sri Sri with blinkered logic (kutark), parroting verses he has memorised from the scriptures. Everybody expected Gurudev to give a fitting reply and waited with bathed breath for his rejoinder! Nothing of that short happened. He stood up with his trademark smile and demolished Zakir Naik’s hard-laboured (il)logic in a sentence. “Pothi Padh Padh Kar Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye Dhai Aakhar Prem Ke, Jo Padhe so Pandit Hoye.” His opening couplet of Kabir was enough to make everybody including Zakir’s hardcore fans realise who is the real wise man!

sri sri- javed akhtar

The story repeated at the India Today Conclave of 2009 where Javed Akhtar mocked Indian spirituality and called spiritual gurus hypocrites. Instead of joining issue with him, Gurudev delivered profound knowledge through a beautifully written article titled, ‘Everyone has the right to be ignorant’. He wrote, “Should I argue and put him down? No! I have never put anyone down. I can’t deviate from my nature. So I simply said, everyone has the right to be ignorant.

“A flash of Aurangzeb, who butchered thousands of gurus and would not listen to any reason or logic, came to mind. An intelligent man would look into all the avenues before he makes a comment or accusation. It is necessary to stand up for justice and expose the misdeeds of the world. Instead the so-called activists only engage in accusations. Blaming the entire modern-day spiritual guru and sadhu community is as foolish as branding the entire Muslim community as terrorists.”

Art of Living - smiling Sri Sri

Only an enlightened sage can see such mockery through an eye of wisdom. How blessed to have found such a master, who doesn’t have to perform a miracle of manifesting a golden ring from from thin air to tell of his status! His fully blossomed being is the biggest miracle and blessing!

Art of Living News.

In a TIMES NOW exclusive, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living Foundation, speaks to TIMES NOW’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, says politicians not afraid of people anymore.