Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Stories.

Monday, Jul 29, 2013, 10:41 IST | Agency: IANS

Shashank Paliwal, an electrical engineer from Dehradun, was frantically hunting for a job when the June disaster happened. He rushed to the hills after seeing the distraught crying on TVs.

As nature unleashed death and misery in Uttarakhand, scores of youths from across India rushed to the hill state. Some were linked to Art of Living. Their stories are inspiring, heartening. Risking their lives, they crossed mountains, dodged landslides and faced near-death situations to offer respite to the needy. What drove them? Who motivated them? Here are some insightful stories:

Art of Living in Uttarakhand

Shashank Paliwal, an electrical engineer from Dehradun, was frantically hunting for a job when the June disaster happened. He rushed to the hills after seeing the distraught crying on TVs. He reached Guptkashi with a team of volunteers and visited badly hit areas like Toshi and Badasu. There were over 90 casualties in Badasu village while entire families were wiped away in other areas. People were in shock. After hours of counselling, “we managed to break the ice and provide them ration, tents and other essentials”. Paliwal now wants to postpone his career plans. “Jobs will come and go but not always can you get an opportunity to do noble service.”

Art of Living in Uttarakhand-1

“For me, it was a spontaneous decision,” says Gujan Wadhwa, manager with TCS Faridabad. “I learnt that volunteers were required for odd jobs. I knew I had to be there and stepped out of my home, without the slightest hesitation.” Wadhwa travelled all alone to Shrinagar (not to be confused with Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley) and dug debris from roads. “Initially I did worry a little when I travelled through bad roads, in an unknown place that was surrounded by strangers. But slowly everything fell in place… I did not inform my home or office about the problems I faced. When you care for others, nature takes care of you.”

Most of the young volunteers are reluctant to return home. They want to stay for longer periods and help rehabilitate the ruined state. “We intend to stay for three years in these areas,” say Sanjay Walia, Vijay Soni and Parmananda Bahuguna in unison. “We cannot leave our job half-done.”

How do these youths go without food, water or bathing for days together? “Well, pizzas and pastas are passé now,” remarks Maninder Singh. “Forget eating or bathing, we want to work in the right spirit. It makes me cry when I see people plucking leaves from the jungle and munching them to satiate their hunger.”

Maninder Singh, a young engineering student from Punjab, trekked across the most dangerous jungles of Devalgaon village on mountain terrain. “We have been through places where tigers were lurking in the bushes. There were poisonous plants… We managed to bring relief to more than eight families and we are feeling content from within,” add Vasu and Harshit.

Sushant Singh from Chhattisgarh has been living in the most difficult conditions in Badasu. “But it doesn’t matter when I see people smiling after attending our camps and doing our stress-elimination programmes.”

Volunteers Ali, Rahul and Vasu walked 40 km from Rudraprayag to Guptkashi through rain and debris and almost lost their lives! Jitender, Amit, Naresh and others took the arduous climb to Kalimath mountains with backpacks of 35 kg relief material. Says Namita Nainani, a young Art of Living teacher from Delhi: “Come what may, we shall walk the extra mile and work towards reviving Uttarakhand.

Source: DNA

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Art of Living Stories.

I was repeating my Waves of Happiness (also known as Art of Living Part 1 course) in Chicago during the winter of 2007. The teacher gave each course participant Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s picture with a message. I got a nice picture which said – “The only thing you must remember is how fortunate you are. When you forget this you become sad”. I was very happy to get that message with his beautiful picture.

art of living - refrigerated food

After my surgery for brain haemorrhage in Chicago, I started staying as a paying guest with a couple. The lady of the house used to cook food for me but very often she gave me stale food refrigerated for weeks. I was never used to having overnight food. This made me weak and frustrated. One fine day, when I could not stand it any longer, I just decided to move out of her house right that moment. It was after 8 in the night and I had to look for a room mate. I searched in the internet and got 2-3 contact numbers from the craigslist.

Art of Living -sri sri - luggage

I packed my luggage and dumped into the car. It was snowing like madman, high speed winds making it very difficult to drive. I drove for a while and decided to go and stay in Hotel for the next few days until I found a good roommate. Before reaching the Hotel, I decided to call the numbers. The first two numbers didn’t go through and the third number this guy answered my call and said he has a room available, he is a vegetarian and I could come and take a look.

Art of living - drive in snow

So, with an adventurous drive through the snow, my car finally reached his apartment. He led me to the room inside which was pitch dark and he apologetically switched on the lights. On the wall opposite to where I stood, I saw a familiar picture – It was Sri Sri’s picture which said “The only thing you must remember is how fortunate you are, when you forget this you become sad” – which was exactly the same picture I had got in the course a week ago.

Art of Living Sri Sri message

It so turned out that my room mate was an art of living devotee from my hometown Bangalore and the most amazing cook as a roomie. I thoroughly enjoyed the food he made for the rest of the time I stayed in Chicago.

Gurudev not only provided me with a shelter in that dark,windy, snowy night but also an excellent friend.I never imagined I would find a room so soon. What I got was beyond explanation. I was in tears when I saw the same picture of Guruev that night.

Gurudev is my shelter.

In Gratitude….
P S 

A birthday gift like never before 

The winter in Chicago got really harsh. Dark windy nights with snow storm made it very difficult to commute. It was my new Job so I decided to buy a car. For more than a month, I did research on the internet, went to automotive shops, consulted friends, but couldn’t find the car I was looking for.

art of living blog new car

One afternoon out of frustration I walked down to a car dealer and immediately purchased a car. After I came home, I looked at the price of the car on the internet blue book. Not surprisingly, the dealer had sold the car for 2000$ more than its actual price.

I was very disappointed at the thought of having been cheated and having paid way too much than its actual worth. This haunted me for days. About a week after, I got a mail from my previous employer that employees who had worked overtime in California will be paid the due. I received the payment and surprisingly the amount turned out to be exactly what I had spent for the car.

I got the car for no cost. This was during the month of Diwali festival – around my day of birth. I had never before received anything like this on my birthday:)

God is pouring on you every moment- The divine loves you so dearly.

In Gratitude…


Art of Living Wisdom.

Extracts of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Guru Purnima message on 22 July 2013 at International Art of Living Center, Canada :

Once upon a time, a Guru was giving darshan to a congregation. People were coming and bowing down, seeking blessings. Gurudev was silent most of the time and when somebody would come and share their troubles, looking for a response, he would say only one thing. One person came to him and said, “I failed in my exam.” Gurudev said, “Well, you are very lucky.” Another came and said, “My wife has left me.” Pat came the reply, “You are very lucky.”


No matter what problems people shared – “None of my friends are talking to me” or “I lost my job”, Gurudev kept telling them that they were very lucky. Even though it was the same response, strangely, those people would walk away happily, as though they received the right advice for their situation.

Guru Purnima with Sri Sri

After a while, one person came forward and shared, “Gurudev, I feel very lucky and I am so grateful that I have you in my life.” When Gurudev heard this, he got annoyed and gave this person a tight slap. Even more strangely, this man, with tears in his eyes, started dancing in joy.

Another person who was watching all this, got totally confused at everybody’s behavior. But he could not gather enough courage to ask Gurudev directly. So he went to a senior disciple and confided, “I can’t make any sense out of what I saw. Could you please explain to me the meaning of all this?” On being asked to give an interpretation of the Guru’s actions (which devotees love to do anyway), this person replied, “It was perfect what Gurudev did!

The first person realized he was lucky because when you fail in an exam, you end up studying it more thoroughly. The person who lost his job and the one whose friends left him are lucky because they now have some time to introspect.

People in jobs never have any time and one has to be really lucky to get some time in life to reflect on the Truth, on ‘who am I’. The person whose wife ran away is lucky because now he can learn what mistakes he made in his relationship. He now has an opportunity to become sensitive to her wife’s welfare and that’s why Gurudev’s words made him happy. Every challenge in life is an opportunity and every opportunity is a step towards Divinity.”

“But why did the last person who was grateful get a slap?”

“Because when he said, ‘I am grateful’, he was still centered around the ‘I’. When he got that slap, he realized that even to be grateful, there need to be two. The Master told him, ‘Me and you? Two? Come on, wake up. There is only One Brahman.’ When you realize this, misery vanishes from life.

On becoming aware of the Oneness, that person started dancing.” Usually people exist, they don’t live. Existing without life is ignorance. Living as if you don’t exist is enlightenment.

There are three levels of human consciousness. The first and the lowest is pure inertia, when one does not feel anything. The second is when one realizes that there is misery in life. Buddha took people from inertia to awareness of misery.

Every misery wakes you up and that is when dispassion and discrimination dawn in you. That is why many people become spiritual when they see sorrow in life. The third step is realizing that life is all blissful. This is where the Guru Tattva (Principle) is needed. In the presence of the Guru, misery gets transformed into bliss.

Shoonyata and Poornatameditation and celebration go together and today, Guru Poornima, is the day for both.

View complete video of Gurudev’s Guru Purnima 2013 talk here