Art of Living Ashram, Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Stories, Gurus, Saints & Sages, Uncategorized.

Narayan Naraayan Naraayan Naraayan!. To those who are regular with the daily satsang at the Art of Living International Ashram in Bangalore, it’s not just a chant of the name of the divine. It tells of a saint of unusual depth!

Sri Sri and Pragyanand Maharaj ji-5

Maharaj ji, as Gurudev called him was a very gracious being, clad in an orange robe, with a clean shaven head and white vibhuti on his forehead, with all his teeth intact and a big smile on his face! I simply loved Pragyanand Maharaj from the first time I saw him in Ashram with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji. His commitment to knowledge was an inspiration for everybody.

Sri Sri and Pragyanand Maharaj ji-8

His devotion for the Lord showed in every word he spoke. I still remember, Sri Sri was in silence and Pragyanand Maharaj ji was talking in the Navratri Satsang to a crowd of about 10000+ people. Suddenly his voice started to break and tears started to roll down. I was wondering what happened, and then his intense devotion just caught on! I realized I also had tears in my eyes among so many others who felt the same!

It was very interesting to witness how Sri Sri interacted with him.  Sri Sri would praise him so much and Pragyanand Maharaj ji would respond by praising him even more. It used to be like a game of who is more humble! Guudev would praise him, by acknowledging him to be a master in Vedic scriptures. Sometimes Gurudev would say something and then would ask “Haina maharaj ji (Isn’t it Maharaj ji) ?” as if asking for his confirmation.

Sri Sri and Pragyanand Maharaj ji-2

Maharaj ji would fold his hands in front and bow down indicating, “Why are you doing this to me!”  and the crowd would laugh! Gurudev deeply loved Maharaj ji  and Maharaj ji would indicate in his talks (sometimes very clearly) that Gurudev is none other than the incarnation of Shri Krishna!

His commitment to dharma was also very inspiring. Many a times, he would be on a wheel chair but still come for the satsang and share some knowledge! In between his talks, he would always crack one or two jokes, that  would make our sides split with laughter. This sense of humour and ability to take life lightly despite possessing enormous wisdom was intact till the last moment.

Sri Sri and Pragyanand Maharaj ji-6

Once in a close group when the topic of “siddhis” was being discussed, Maharaj ji shared  that in his younger days he used to go from one village to another as a wandering monk. He would stay in one village for a few days, give discourses on scriptures and then move on to another village. Once, he happened to come across a tiger. He said, “It came near me, and stared at me. So, I also stared back at him.  And suddenly the feline ran away in the other direction.” It was only after the tiger had gone away that the villagers told him that it had picked away children from nearby villages and eaten them up. It was a Man eater !

Maharaj ji with Sri Sri at Art of Living Ashram

He always equated Divine to a loving mother, who would never fail to respond to a sincere cry from the heart.

He would always begin his discourse by chanting “Narayan” four times. This gave him the sobriquet of Naraayan Swamiji ! His understanding of advaita was so deep that no matter what one asked, he would come back to the same thing – “There is only one… there is no two.”  Very often Pragyanand Maharaj ji would speak the same thing again and again, sometimes sounding repetitive and boring. But the enthusiasm with which he would speak the knowledge would make the listeners believe that he had just discovered it and is saying it for the first time!

Sri Sri and Pragyanand Maharaj ji-4

It was such a delight to be in his presence. We would feel so calm and rejuvenated in his presence.

Our beloved Swami Pragyanand ji (90 years) peacefully left his body on 12th Feb 2013 at 12:25 pm at Art of Living Ashram and returned to the source. The last rites were held in Allahabad during the Kumb Mela in presence of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji. We will always remember him for his humility, his depth of wisdom, his devotion and innocence.

–  Vishal Merani

(Vishal is an IITian and Yes Plus teacher residing at Bangalore Ashram)



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Fond memories of Allahabad Maha Kumb Mela 2013 on Feb 12-12-14th in presence of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Meeting with saints: The Allahabad Maha Kumbh Mela was visited by saints from all over India. During his three-day visit, Sri Sri met many of them including Swami Avdheshanand Giri, Puri Shankaracharya, Chidanand Muni, Pragyachakshu Swamiji, heads of Niranjani Akhada and Kashni Ashram.

Moments with the Master at Art of Living camp in Kumbh Mela: The day at camp would begin with a morning meditation by Sri Sri, followed by Rudra Puja,  satsangs and darshans in the evening. Satsangs became especially celebrative and blissful on Valentines’ Day and Basant Pachami. The camp was packed from morning to night with pilgrims, seekers and devotees.

Sri Sri with Youth at Yuvotsav in Allahabad: On Feb 12th, Sri Sri, trailed by a cavalcade of cars, was welcomed at United College, Naini, Allahabad where he interacted with thousands of youth. Addressing the eager youth at Yuvotsav at UIT Campus,  Sri Sri said: Success means having an undying smile and a determination that keeps one moving ahead come what may. “

Vairagi is one whose world has become bigger, one whose heart feels for the entire world!. “

Woh dil kya jisme dard nahi,
woh jeevan kya jisme umang nahi,
woh mastishk kya jisme taazgi nahi”

Sri Sri spent lot of time with the the sacred rivers (Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) at the Triveni Sangam and spent special time on the banks of the Holy Ganges.

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The Maha Kumbh Mela, the grand spiritual expo, as Art of Living founder  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar calls it, is in full swing for 55 days at the holy city of Allahabad.  Sri Sri is at the Maha Kumbh Mela on February 13, 14 and 15.

Sri Sri - Kumbh 2013

This year, in 2013, we are witnessing the Maha Kumbh which happens after 12 purna kumbhs, every 144 years, and always at the holy city of Allahabad. The city is also famouly called as Tirtha Raj Prayag with the holy confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati.


Apart from Maha Kumbh Mela which comes once every 144 years, we have two other kinds of kumbh: 1)Ardh (or half) kumbh is held every six years at two set locations (Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain); 2) purna (full) kumbh which alternates every 12 years at four set locations (Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain).

Maha kumbh - Sri Sri's kutir and Courtyard

View of Gurudev’s kutir and courtyard at Maha Kumbh Camp

The Art of Living volunteers have built a beautiful camp at Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, keeping with the founder’s mission of bringing joy, enthusiasm and love into the lives of people everywhere.

Maha Kumbh - View from dining hall-1

View of sacred Tulsi plant from dining hall at Maha Kumbh Camp


 The Art of Living Maha Kumbh Melacamp, set up in Sector-8, plot no. 2, Naag Vasuki Road is packed during the day with devotees gathered to hear Katha on Srimad Bhagavatam by Art of Living Swamijis.

Daily Rudrabhishek pooja and meditation in the morning is followed by Divya Satsang in the evenings at the Maha Kumbh camp.

At night, the Art of Living camp turns into a shelter for hundreds of pilgrims at the Maha Kumbh.

Maha Kumbh - Housing facility at AoL Camp

Beautiful residences at Art of Living Maha Kumb  Mela Camp

The Maha Kumb Mela camp managed by Art of Living Swamijis is also providing Free Naadi (Ayurvedic) check up, apart from running a Bhandara (food supply) for all pilgrims visiting the camp.

The camp,  set up right on the banks of the Ganga with the Ghats of the holy city of Prayag gives a breathtaking view from the front. For Maha kumbh Mela Accommodation near the Art of Living Camp  contact- 9651492637.

The upcoming Maha Kumbh Mela bathing dates are:

15th February 2013 Friday Basant Panchami Snan
17th February 2013 Sunday Rath Saptami Snan
18th February 2013 Monday Bhisma Ashtami Snan
25th February 2013 Monday Maghi Purnima Snan
10th March 2013 Sunday Shivaratri Snan
Mahakumbh 2013

Explaining the significance of the Kumbha Mela, Sri Sri says, “Kumbh means a pot of a pitcher and it represents completeness. In the ancient times, all the sages, who felt complete and content- enlightened would gather at Kumbh Mela and relieve themselves of the burden of the merits gained through Sadhana by bathing in the rivers. Water has the quality to absorb the energy that they radiate. The seekers, who come from all corners to be in the company of the seers and saints, gain that merit when they take a dip in the rivers.

When you experience that fullness and contentment within yourself, you too would become like a kumbh – a pot full with contentment and joy.

Sri Sri in Kumbh

On why Kumbh Mela comes every 12 years, Sri Sri explains, “In the ancient days, organizing a mega event like this every year would be very expensive and also tiring, as people had to walk many miles to attend it. So it was decided to organize the Kumbh Mela every 12 years.”

“This was also done in accordance with the revolution of Brihaspati (the planet Jupiter) around the Sun, which takes 12 years. So on the basis of this, the Kumbh Mela was held once every 12 years, where everyone- Saints, wise sages, house-holders and even children come together and discuss about Divinity, the holy scriptures, and do Satsang.”

By bathing in the Ganges the chitta (consciousness) becomes joyful. Your consciousness is purified. The sins are washed away. It’s so beautiful. The sins are so superficial that just by a dip in the Ganges they can be washed away. The ever-pure consciousness can never be dirtied.”

 Related Article :  Sri Sri at Allahabad Kumbh Mela