Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Wisdom.

“Su means good, Darshan means vision, Kriya means action. Sudarshan Kriya means, by doing which action we get a vision of who we really are”.

I was intently listening to the Art of Living teacher before embarking on my first experience of Sudarshan Kriya some sixteen years ago. Who am I? …was a question I was fiddling with, not really making any effort to start a journey of inquiry?  I bumped into infinity by chance!

People shared their experiences. I feel very hungry.  I am craving jalebis. I want to kiss my children this moment. I felt light as though I am flying. I saw Kailash Mountain and Lord Shiva meditating. Electric current passing through my whole body. My fingers became stiff, could not move, but now I am fine. Feeling fresh as though I slept for 10 hours! Well, I was too dazed to speak but I must have shared something like I am so relaxed!  The whole package, with Sudarshan Kriya at the core, turned my life around.  The wall I had built around myself started to crumble and I was no longer afraid to reveal myself. I accepted myself first unconditionally with all my imperfections. I fell in love with myself! My heart sang, I am unique, I am beautiful, I am a masterpiece (Master’s piece, pun intended). I began to feel completely protected. I would look into the mirror every morning and marvel at my image.

A Bollywood song would come to my mind ‘ main wohi  , darpan wohi , na Jane ye kyan ho gaya, ke sab Kuch  lage naya naya’ ( I am the same, the mirror is the same. I do not know what has happened. Everything looks new)
The voice of the teacher reverberated in my ears every morning as I practised the Sudarshan Kriya. “There is rhythm in nature. Sun rises and sets at a particular time. Seasons come and go. So also there is a rhythm in our body, thoughts and emotions. By doing Sudarshan Kriya we are setting a rhythm so that we are relaxed and stress free”.

I noticed the fact that our emotions are linked to our breathing pattern. By changing the pattern we could change our emotions! If negative thoughts and emotions can be reversed by just following a rhythmic breathing practice for a few minutes on a daily basis, I was all for it.  I remembered the great poet John Milton’s words “Mind maketh heaven or hell”. My biggest enemy was nowhere outside. I recognized if I handled my mind, life will be a celebration. I became more aware of my body, breath, mind, intellect, memory and ego that was responsible for all the drama that was happening in my life. The teacher had explained ” as children, we lived in harmony with nature. As we grew up we lost the innocence and naturalness. It is like having all the musical instruments but not in tune. What do you hear if you play an orchestra? Just discordant notes. If all the musical instruments are perfectly tuned, just imagine how melodious the music would be to the ears?  Sudarshan Kriya is setting the tune so that we experience beautiful music of our own being”. The course impacted me so much that I dropped the old Leela and welcomed the new Leela joyously. I was reborn!

sudarshan_kriya_2010

My home became an ashram!

At the end of the course, I came to know that the organizers were looking for a venue to conduct courses.  I looked at my husband who was also equally touched by the course. “Shall we offer our home?”
The saga of Sudarshan Kriya courses started in our home. We moved all our furniture to corridors and made the hall free for Art of Living activities. Just as Sri Sri says, when something is started with good intention, all the necessary facilities will just present it. White sheets were brought in and spread across the hall. Volunteers came in to heat milk to be given after the Sudarshan Kriya.  I would sit through every course never tiring of repetition.
While answering a question by the teacher in one of the courses ‘ what is that one thing you want in your life’, I said “To sit in your chair and teach this course “. It was clear to me that if there was something worthwhile doing in this lifetime, it was teaching people how to be happy, stress free and calm. Gradually tapering off all other activities, I involved myself in sadhana, seva, satsang while attending higher courses that paved my way to be His instrument. My intuition became very sharp. I often got visions of Gurudev although I had still not taken His Darshan.

I gatecrashed to touch His feet!

While in Bangalore on vacation, I registered for Sahaj Samadhi meditation course with Bhanu Didi. On the last day of the course, we were informed Gurudev was arriving in Bangalore. It was pouring heavily. My mother and I hired a taxi and went to airport. Lot of people had already gathered at the Arrivals. While He was still inside, I implored the security to let me in so that I can meet Him properly. He refused. I pushed the glass door and touched His feet just before He got lost in the crowd.  When I stood up, I saw such compassion on His face that I had not seen on anybody’s face before.

It was my destiny…to be His instrument. As I write this episode on 15 th of August. 2014, I complete 14 years as an Art of Living teacher.  On this Independence Day, he made me free by placing a Sudarshan Kriya tape in my humble hands and telling me gently but firmly to teach well. Motherhood and teaching Art of Living courses have made me a complete person.  In fact, being an art of living teacher is to be a mother to the whole world.  God has given me one beautiful biological daughter but my Guru has blessed me to make the people of this world my children! What bliss! And what responsibility!

Sudarshan Kriya…transforming lives
One needs to be really fortunate to get Sudarshan Kriya. I know many people who have been striving for years to take time out to attend the program. I also know people who say they don’t need the program as they are already happy. I know many who have attended the program but not practising. Also there are people who got back to practicing after a gap. Guruji has said “There are only two kinds of people in this world. Those who have done the course and those who will do the course”. He wants everyone to be stress free.

The kind of transformation one experiences after starting to practice Sudarshan Kriya varies from person to person.  It could be health related, outlook towards life, relationships, understanding one’s own self and many others.  It is very individual and personal. It is a wrong notion that one has to become a follower if one attends the program.  Sri Sri just wants everyone to smile. He wants to increase the happiness quotient by giving happiness program to people. If people flock around Him, it is out of choice, as an expression of gratitude and love for the invaluable knowledge that they have received. If people serve in the organization by promoting Art of Living programs, it’s but to share with others.

It is human nature to share something good. Don’t we tell other people dear to us to go watch a nice movie that we have enjoyed? Don’t we talk about a new restaurant that has opened in our area that serves yummy food? Happiness multiplies when we share. When we share such mundane things as movies and restaurants, why not share the experience of Sudarshan Kriya that transforms life? It is also human nature to doubt the positive. Although there is no reason to doubt the efficacy of Sudarshan Kriya, some of us being human question its effect. For intellectuals, there is a lot of scientific research papers available on how Sudarshan Kriya works. But then, the simple explanation that Sudarshan Kriya works like a vacuum cleaner sucking out all kinds of accumulated garbage from every cell of our body should be sufficient enough to prompt us to practice it for a few minutes every day. My personal experience is that my observation, perception and expression is improving a lot which helps me lead a better quality of life.

 

More to come…

– Leela Ramesh

Art of Living Experiences.

Exactly eight years ago, the early morning of September 21st 2006 was very eerie for me in Colombo, Sri Lanka. There was that beautiful silence in the air but a whole lot of expectations were storming my mind. It was the International Day of Peace. And the war between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tiger rebels (LTTE) was reaching an alarming point.

It was just about 5 am when Sri Sri RaviShankar (popularly called as Guruji) stepped out of his room. He started walking towards the beautiful open courtyard of our host`s house and looked deep into the sky while I stood in silence. He then asked me “Are we ready to leave?”. I said “In a few minutes”. And he sat on the garden bench looking into the sky again and closed his eyes in bliss and went into meditation. My moods changed for the best.

I quickly rushed to the kitchen, picked up the lunch basket and placed it in the car boot and ran up to him to say that everything`s ready for the travel. Swami Sadyojathah who was leading our Sri Lanka operations then and Harish Ramachandran one of our senior Art of Living teachers were to accompany him to Killinochchi town, the LTTE`s war-time `capital – headquarters` to meet Prabakaran. Guruji cheerfully stepped into the car to leave for the Ratmalana (a Colombo suburb) helipad to fly to Omanthai town, the high-tension border between the LTTE controlled territory and the Sri Lankan Governments` area.

We had all valid permissions from the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. Both parties were extremely keen to consider the peace initiatives proposed by Guruji. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa granted immediate permission for the travel to Killinochchi including the provision of a special helicopter. I stayed behind in Colombo to co-ordinate with the Government.

After the helicopter touched down at the Omanthai air force base, Guruji and his entourage drove towards the Sri Lankan controlled border check-post after which there was a very long stretch of land called `no-man`s land`. This particular stretch of land between the `enemies` was under the  supervision and authority of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as per an international agreement and anything that happened on this patch of land was neither the full responsibility of the LTTE nor the Government of Sri Lanka. However, this particular place did have a long history of indiscriminate shoot-outs.

Just a week prior to Guruji`s visit, Government officials in Colombo had cautioned me that they were not going to be responsible if a bullet or a multi-barrel rocket fell when his peace delegation was crossing the `no-man`s land`. One senior official particularly told me “Guruji has real guts to walk into the Tigers` den at this time…when the war is raging…hats off to him”. To which I replied “Guruji is a man of peace…not just a peaceful man”.

As they drove towards the no-man`s land, Guruji asked the car to be stopped. He got down and started walking on perhaps one of the most dangerous zone`s in the world then. A European officer from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was seated in his small cabin looking at Guruji walk on this stretch of land where no one dared to during those months of conflict. He walked up to him and welcomed him to his cabin. They were engaged in a brief chat. All this was happening when they were waiting for a green signal from the LTTE side to cross into their territory. The call came through after a two-hour wait. Swami Sadyojathah accompanying Guruji suddenly thought why such a long wait from the LTTE side when they had already approved of the visit.

It was well past noon and Guruji did not wish to have any food or even water. He had had nothing since that early morning I saw them off in Colombo. In the blistering heat of the day they had reached the LTTE check-point on the other side and were lead towards Killinochchi the `capital-headquarters`. A group of senior LTTE members welcomed him and engaged in pleasantries. They appreciated his trauma-relief work in Jaffna and charity initiatives in several parts of the world.

It was almost over fifteen minutes when Guruji asked them about Prabakaran`s commitment to meet him. They looked at each other intriguingly and one of them took the courage to tell him that because of security reasons and the war in progress, Prabakaran was unable to come. Guruji then went on to explain that his visit and mission was purely to build mutual trust for a lasting solution to the Tamils` problems and stop the loss of precious life on both sides.

world-peace (1)

Just as Guruji was about to leave he placed white shawls on each of them (as he usually does during his tours) and gave an additional one to be handed over to Prabakaran. He then told them “Choose peace…go for peace “. Guruji was seeing their future and giving a very clear hint.

One of the LTTE members who was a Christian then told Swami Sadyojathah on the sidelines “I feel Guruji is not just a Saint… but Jesus himself who has come to show us a way out…and our Thalaivar (meaning `Leader` in the Tamil language and referring to Prabakaran) has not come to meet Guruji….this sounds really very scary and indicates the bad times we Tamils are in for”.

Perhaps Prabakaran did not want to give peace, that one more chance. Guruji returned to Colombo rather disappointed (as he himself had publicly declared recently in a Satsang program) but not dejected. That same evening I received him at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo for their onward journey back to India. I pulled Swami Sadyojathah aside and asked him “What happened? What happened? ”.  He said “Looks like they prefer to choose war…Prabakaran did not come nor even speak on phone to Guruji”. He added “Guruji did not eat the whole day nor did he have water”.

I then went up to Guruji and asked “ The lunch basket is full and heavy exactly as I had kept it…are you fasting for the people of Sri Lanka…for the Tamils…the Sinhalese”. He just closed his eyes. And a silent prayer was on his lips. The airport staff signaled to me that the flight is ready for boarding. I informed Guruji accordingly and he got up to leave the lounge. Swami Sadyojathah and Harish quietly followed him into the inner airport lounge, while I stayed back in Sri Lanka. For another seven years!!

Tears welled-up in my eyes as he left the lounge to board the flight. And a few minutes later i broke down inconsolably thinking of all the sacrifices Guruji had made over the years to bring peace in Sri Lanka.

The precious time, energy and resources that he dedicated to bring peace in that country and in many other communities and nations is simply invaluable. Such is the commitment of a man of peace that transcends borders, language, nationalities, religion or culture.

Sri. Vidyut Udiaver with inputs from Swami Sadyojathah

Art of Living Wisdom.

The idea to celebrate a day to uphold the values of democracy first came up at the meeting of United Nations General Assembly in the year 2007.

Etymology

The word democracy comes from the ancient Greek word democratia, demos meaning, “assembly of ordinary people” and kratos meaning “strength, rule”. Democracy is the rule of the land whereby the power rests solely in the hands of the people.

Janapada

In different parts of India, right from the Mahabharata period, there have been many Janapada, republics. The very word, ‘Janapada’ means “People’s Republic, democracy”. Jana meaning people and Pada is position, where people come together, to choose their leaders.Janapada, democratic republics of Ancient India

Janapada, democratic republics of Ancient India

Spirit of Democracy

Mahatma Gandhi in a quote expresses that, “The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.”

Mahatma Gandhi

India has survived as a democracy for many millennia, as it is the innate spirit of the land.

Panchayat System

Panchayats are democracies at the village level. Democracy has been a part of the people and the ethos of the land. The thinkers of ancient India had realized the ground reality that, kings may come and go, kingdoms may change in size and boundaries, but the prosperous land needs to be governed such that, the change of powers does not affect the basic social fabric, nor the sustainability of the land.

It is precisely to meet this challenge, that they had envisaged a local administration system called the Panchayat System, a unique system of local governance, keeping in mind the vagaries of time.

Panchayat

      A Panchayat in Progress – An artist’s impression

What is so singular about this system and its practice that helped tide over the vagaries of time and rule?

Panchayat – A Self Contained Model

The contribution of this Panchayat democracysystem to the prosperity of the land as a whole, has been summarized by Sir Charles T. Metcalfe in his Report of Select Committee to the House of Commons in 1832.

Slide4 Select Committee

 

Slide5

House of Commons

Slide6

Sir Charles T. Metcalfe’s observations on Panchayats

Slide7

While there were many kingdoms ruled by different rulers, the model of governance was framed, independent of the individual ruler and the kingdom. The Panchayat administration, followed in every village, was uniform across the land, across kingdoms.

This model of local self governance was uniformly practiced, undisturbed even during times when there was no king or kingdom.

Policies and priorities framed locally by the Panchayat were not disrupted, ensuring continued and sustained prosperity.

This Panchayat democracy model, could be singled out as one of prominent administrative reasons for the continuous prosperity of India for over 5000 years.

Local Self Governance

It is the local administration of the village, by the villagers, for themselves.

This village governance system has been followed in India from time immemorial wherein, people elect and empower a local village council to handle matters of

• Fund collection

• Fund allocation

• Need assessment

• Planning

• Deployment

• Community Development

It was a council of five members who would decide on matters. They were called Panch Parameshwar, the 5 leaders. Hence the name Panchayat, for this model of governance.

We can see a sample of this Panchayat System of administration of the villages, in the stone inscriptions at the Srinivasa temple, in Uttiramerur, in Tamil Nadu, listing the rules for the conduct of elections.

Slide8

 

DK Hari

D K Hari pointing at the Inscriptions in Uttiramerur

Uttaramerur inscriptions

The election system has been in vogue in the land from time immemorial. Voting rights were not suddenly introduced only after independence.

One of the early inscriptions specifically relating to elections in villages is available at the Srinivasa Temple in Uttaramerur village. Uttaramerur is a small prosperous town, 100 kilometres to the south of Chennai. These inscriptions are now popularly known as Uttaramerur inscriptions.

The inscriptions throw light on the mode of election to Village Assemblies, Panchayat of those days.

Slide10

Uttaramerur Inscriptions at Srinivasa Perumal Temple

 

Slide11

 English translation of the Uttaramerur inscriptions

Democracy idea not alien to India

Thus we see that even though India had kings and kingdoms, the Panchayat institutions, the main stay of the administrations system of the land is based on principles of democracy.

Democracy since Mahabharata times

This existed in India, since the times of Mahabharata, which means for over 5100 years.

These show that democracy existed in practice in India, atleast 3000 BCE ago, which takes the antiquity of democracy back 2500 years, before the ancient Greece practiced it.

Rahul Kaimal

Bharath Gyan 

www.bharathgyan.com

 

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