About Art of Living, World Culture Festival.

I came into Art of Living very late in my life when I shifted to Pune from Delhi in 2009. I was staying alone in a Flat in Pune and had no job to give me a sense of belonging. However, through God’s grace I came into Art of Living, which gave me a big family. More than that I got Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the world renowned spiritual leader as a Master in my life and my perspective to the life started changing slowly.

Antarnaad

Then the Antarnaad happened in 2010 in Pune. I was a witness to the endless seva efforts put by the volunteers to make it happen. I came to know the true meaning of what Seva is. Since I had finished part I of Madhyama exam in Music, I got an entry to participate in the big Event which was scheduled to happen with Guruji on 12th January, which is incidentally Swami Vivekanand’s birthday also.

Around 4000 vocalists had participated in the event. Right from the rehearsals to the actual event performed in front of around one lakh audience, I had enjoyed every moment of it. There was a big stage, and the moving camera was trying to capture the faces of the all the participants who were overjoyed when their relatives and friends could recognize them on Television.

antarnaad

The mega event Antarnaad was not only a grand celebration of Indian classic music which was the main aim behind organizing it, but also a celebration of team work, event management and breaking the barriers of age, caste, profession and sex. Vocalists from all walks of life, from 6 years old children to 60 years of men and women had participated in the event. Apart from Art of Living’s lead singers, the event was graced by famous singer Shankar Mahadevan, Rajan and Sajan Mishra.

The joy and divine experience that I had during Antarnaad cannot be described in words. Antarnaad means the voice within or the joy inside. The inside joy that I was experiencing throughout the singing had turned into outward excitement when we saw more than half of audience dancing to the soulful tunes of Bhajans. I am sure that almost everyone present there had experienced the zenith of happiness.

World Cultural Festival and Other Festivals

Like Anatarnaad, Art of Living under the visionary guidance of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had organized other Mega events like Brahmanaad (where 1,200 sitarists performed together on one platform, in a first-of-its-kind concert in Delhi), Venunaad, Naad Vaibhavam, etc. spreading the joy and happiness in life of more and more people.

brahm-naad2

naada-vaibhavam4
Besides these mega events that were organized in India, Art of Living had celebrated its Silver Jubilee as the World Cultural Festival 2006 at Berlin, Germany. Apart from the cultural programs from across the world, the most astonishing feature of the program was a group meditation by a total of 2.5 million people together which had come to join the global celebration from the world over and it was described in the media as ‘Spiritual Olympiad’ of one of its kind. You can imagine how powerful that yagna would have been for the world peace.

Gurudev’s vision of ‘one world one family’ is again going to be realized soon in another World Cultural Festival which will be held in March, 2016 in Delhi, India to mark the 35 years of service to humanity by the Art of Living. The main aim of organizing this festival is another step in the direction of world peace. Musicians from all over the world will be performing music symphonies representing their culture at their best and will also be listening to the music and dance performances from other countries.
From India a music symphony comprising all the musical instruments has been composed to be presented. This symphony is symbolic of ‘unity in diversity’ the motto WCF wants to promote.

I feel that anyone who stands by the world peace should not miss the global extravaganza. Any human being who has respect for the efforts put up by thousands and thousands of Art of Living volunteers all over the world would definitely not like to miss such a wonderful global show. Where else you can get in 3 days such a wide exposure to different and vibrant cultures of the world.

The people coming from far-away places may not know the languages of each other but they are going to perform in great enthusiasm for their love of culture and world peace and watch & enjoy the performances of others!

To put it in another way I will say:

The vast sea of Humanity
where people like waves
will rise in love and dance in bliss
giving a true meaning to
Unity in Diversity
and holding hands will say
it is not ‘me’ but ‘we’

Will you not like to be a part of such waves of happiness!

Why should everyone attend the festival?

I feel that more and more youngster today are getting hooked to the culture of cell phones and spending most of their time in sharing various forms of videos. But in doing so they are drifting away from their ancient culture which binds them to their roots. I feel that more and more youngsters should not miss the golden opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful event if they know how to play any musical instrument. I think they should attend the festival in large numbers to show their solidarity to a good cause.
I have also noticed that social media these days have increasingly being used to criticize how the other people live, eat food, even attacking the religion they follow. This is reflective of the intolerance they have towards other people’s values.

But when a festival like this happens, it automatically promotes the cross-cultural meets. The event provides an opportunity for people from different sections of the society and religions to meet at one platform and interact with other in the environment of great enthusiasm and love. In the atmosphere of festivity and joy, they are surely bound to develop a respect for each other’s culture and have lasting relationships with people from other religions and country.
Along with the cultural exchange programs the festival will have eminent political and spiritual personalities talking on the subject. All the performers will get a chance to listen to the views and when they go back to their home they will take back the message of tolerance with them. The festival in this way is going to promote cross cultural tolerance.

As a responsible citizen who wants to do something good to the society, stands by a good cause should not miss the important global event.

See you in Delhi at World Culture Festival 2016, from 11-March-2016 to 13-March-2016!

Website: http://www.artofliving.org/in-en/world-culture-festival

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheWorldCultureFestival/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WCF2016

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wcf2016

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+TheWorldCultureFestival2016

Jai Gurudev !

Art of Living Recipes.

When diet is wrong medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct medicine is of no need.
~Ayurvedic Proverb

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has always been making us aware of the nature of food and its effect on our body and mind. I am guilty of cooking food the night before ,for lunch on the following day. Once I underwent the Art of Living program, I gave up the habit instantly. I made it a practice to get up at 5 am, play a knowledge tape and cook lunch before leaving for work at 7 30 am. Over a period of time, I noticed my system rejected anything stale! I feel miserable if at all I am forced to eat something not conducive to my well being.

Being a born vegetarian and adopting food rules at least 80 percent of the time helps me to stay on even keel. Negative energy or low Prana vegetables hardly make their way into my kitchen. I keep looking for tasty, healthy recipes using high Prana vegetables. We all know humble lauki is a vegetable of high Prana. Yet, it is quite boring to consume on a regular basis. It is heavenly! Taste bhi, health bhi! ( taste as well as health) .
Hope you will make it and enjoy!

Tawa Lauki (bottle gourd)
Ingredients
Long, slender and tender Lauki -1
Chilli Powder 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste . I use rock salt
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
Tomato – one medium
Ginger- small piece
Green chilli – one piece
Coriander powder – I tsp
Garam masala 1/4 tsp
Oil 1 tbs. I use filtered Gingelly oil

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Method
Wash, peel and cut Lauki into roundels like we do for potato chips.
In a bowl, combine chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder. Add roundels and toss well. Heat a thick bottomed flat skillet and add half the oil. Add the roundels and sear them for two to three minutes.
In the same skillet, heat rest of the oil . Add cumin seeds, minced ginger and green chillies. Then add crushed tomato. Cook till dry. Now add the roundels and cook for further three to five minutes. Add coriander powder and garam masala. Switch off the fire.

Enjoy with plain rotis and a crunchy green chilli. I De-seeded the green chilli and sauteed it in the same skillet.

I also made Doddipatre Raita (Colian aromaticas or Cuban oregano) which is healthy, tasty and balances aggravated pitta. Doddipatre leaves are available in the organic shop of the ashram.

To make raita, simply fry washed and cut leaves in a tsp of ghee along with some cumin and whole black pepper. Grind with curds. Add salt and enjoy.

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Jai Gurudev

Leela Ramesh

Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Stories, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Yoga and Meditation.

The sacred river Ganges flows through the doorsteps of Rishikesh, one of the ancient holy places in India. And when she sees man violating nature, she gives a polite but firm reminder, raising her flow with fury. I happened to be there in 2008 to prepare for a Yoga Teachers’ Training Program. I reached very late that August night to the gushing sounds of Ganges and the light rain was picking up. There was no one on the streets. And streets had no names. I had lost my way and found myself standing in front of an ashram when a young man came to shut the gate for the night.

I suddenly recognized this man to be the disciple of the now late Pragyanand ji Maharaj Swamiji (a revered holy man) who was a great friend of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji and used to often visit the Art of Living ashram headquarters in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore). “Narayanji” I called out. I told him that I was from the Bengaluru ashram. He instantly ushered me in and said “Stay with us tonight. Maharaj is here”. I was given a simple comfortable room and told that I can meet Maharaj the following morning. He was also gracious in serving me some hot rotis (Indian bread) with rajma beans curry and a sweet to close the night and celebrate my newly discovered lodging.

The following morning I woke up early and eagerly to meet with the Swamiji who was known for his popular discourses on the Upanishads (Scriptures). He was known for his metaphor-filled stories to bring to life the finer aspects of the scriptures. I went up to his room to pay my respects when he had just about started a discourse on the Mandukya Upanishad scripture. There were about ten of us in that room. And a man seated in the front stood up and asked “Why do we behave, the way we behave?” After a pause he continued “…Why do people commit mistakes or crimes?”

The elderly Swamiji had a very child-like aura and smile. He was like a compassionate and loving grandfather. He gracefully signalled the man to sit down and closed his eyes. I waited with abated breath for the answer. He said “Souls who have passed away are hovering all over space. And some souls have unfulfilled wishes and desires. Good or wicked. So they sometimes choose a living person through whom they can fulfil those desires.” He continued after a silent pause “They simply get into the living person, get that person to perform the desired action and quickly exit after their job is done!” Some people in the room broke into a smile. Many were amazed.

And I was left with the lingering thought that ‘Soul play‘ is perhaps true. They don’t need to buy tickets to enter whether it’s a morning, matinee, evening or night show! They simply enter you, make you a hero/heroine or the villain and flee!

One doubting Thomas seated there asked Swami ji curiously “How can this be true?”. Swami ji replied “Go and ask any criminal in the prison, how and why he did the crime. Most of them will tell you that they did not intend to do it at all, that it just happened or they may insist that they simply didn’t do it”.

Doubting Thomas pressed for further explanation. And Swami ji retorted with a smile “When your prana (subtle energy) is very low. Awareness is also low. These souls find it very easy to sneak into your consciousness. This is your moment of weakness”. He added “That is why it is said that when you do chanting, prayers, yoga, breathing techniques and meditation every single day, a subtle shield of protection envelops you. Your prana and Sattva (harmony) is high. This makes it very difficult for the souls to enter and create havoc”.

Mistakes-1

Swamiji then looked at me and said “Last night my disciple Narayan must have been sent by some good soul to receive you at the gate so late in the night, when you just needed help. It is not a coincidence. Even good souls do seek entry into living persons to perform good deeds”.

Swamiji closed his eyes and said a beautiful Sanskrit prayer while tears rolled down his soft sparkling face. After a few minutes he opened his eyes and said “The play and display of souls is very mysterious. But when you are with a Guru like Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji you are protected, you pass the final exam easily”.

sri sri

So the next time you wonder why someone is behaving in a particular way, whether good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. Understand that he or she is simply broadcasting ‘Soul play’ to an audience called ‘You’! And feel reassured that you know the remedies now.

I must mention here that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji has given such simple and practical wisdom on the ‘body-mind-soul’ aspect through his various books and discourses specifically in Kena Upanishad, Ishavasya Upanishad, Ashtavakra Geeta, Yogasara Upanishad, Patanjali Yoga Sutras and Mind Matters.

With knowledge and understanding ‘Soul play’ becomes a game of joy.

Jai Gurudeva !

Vidyut Udiaver