Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Stories, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar whom we fondly call as Gurudev was returning to the German Ashram from Caracas, Venezuela. However, due to unavailability of a direct flight to Frankfurt, he landed in Paris before going to the Ashram.
Sri Sri In Paris
It was a surprise visit for all Parisians. It also happened to be Gurudev’s birthday according to the Hindu calendar. So a surprise Satsang with a cake was planned in the hotel where he was staying. At around 6 pm, about 150 people had gathered, who had about 1 hour notice to reach the venue. It was a beautiful, intimate Satsang and birthday party. One of the volunteers asked Gurudev, “How did this plan for Paris come up?”. It seemed like a very mundane question.
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Here’s what Gurudev said: “There are plans at many levels. There is a Room plan, what colour to paint the walls, where to keep the flower vase? Then there is a House plan, Street plan, City plan, Country plan and so on at various levels of detail. The biggest plan is that we are all here at the same time, one in Saudi Arabia, one in Germany, one in Bangalore….but we are all here now. When and where we meet is the next level of planning. Often what we think is planned is not the real plan and what we don’t plan for, is the plan!
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Few months back, I went on an unplanned trip to Himachal Pradesh in India. I had gone to inaugurate a power plant and was supposed to return to Delhi by helicopter. Somehow, the helicopter had a problem, some valve was not okay. After trying three times to start it, the pilot said he did not want to take a risk anymore. So we decided to proceed by car. On the way, we stopped at a residence where there were close to 500 people waiting to meet me. There was an 80 year old lady in that house who shared that she really wanted to come and see me but could not because her health did not permit it. She was so grateful and happy that I came to her house. We then went to another house for lunch. There was a 3 year old child in that house who had been saying since 3 months back that Gurudev is coming to our house in March. Nobody paid attention to her but I was there in that house on the 2nd of March! So, looks like perhaps this was the plan :)”
At this point a lady in the satsang in Paris shared,” Gurudev, Even I had a dream yesterday that I was sitting with you and sharing a meal!” Gurudev had just given her a piece of cake to eat 🙂
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Best part in this Guru story is : I was lucky one to be with Gurudev on this trip and He inaugurated my power plant and the 3 year old child is none other than my younger daughter.
Rajiv Batra

About Art of Living, Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Wisdom, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

I am a reader. Not an ordinary one let me warn you. I absorb my books, till they are ready to give up on me.

I got into spirituality at a young age, but I never believed in reading books on the subject. To me spirituality was a personal experience. You cannot read through knowledge. You listen, understand, live, experience and then eventually if you agree with it, you imbibe it.

One of my spiritual teachers recommended this book to me, Celebrating Silence by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, shortly after I had come to realize my spiritual path and calling. But, I did not really want to read it, because I simply “knew” what it was about! Was’nt I already living each day in the same knowledge? It was only recommended to me to further illuminate that concept.

But, like I always say, My books find me, they choose me, “Celebrating Silence” just came to me, and I couldn’t ignore reading it any more. Once I started on this marvellous journey of celebrating the moments I spent with the book…there was no looking back. Each moment was euphoric!

Celebrating Silence is not only a compilation of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s knowledge, it is an answer to dilemmas of each living soul, whether spiritual or not. The book opened knots and strains in my mind, slowly, one after the other, and elated my soul to a journey of bliss. So many questions, unanswered, unattended to, were silenced. Like the name suggests, I was celebrating my journey with it, in totality, I complete silence.

It could be categorized as a modern “self-help book” for those who do not connect to spirituality. The insights Sri Sri Ravi Shankar shares about how we can naturally transform our lives if we are open to it and accept it, comes as a stark contradiction to traditional self help approaches that suggest we must do more to experience change in our lives.

For spiritual souls like me, it is a meditative experience. Many a times, as you read you would want to just close your eyes, and be with the knowledge. It disconnected me with the noise outside, and connected me to my inner silence, and the beauty of it. I looked forward to coming back to it. There were times when I felt, this knowledge is not really for me, but I just don’t want to let the words surpass me. I just went with the trust that, simply “planting the seeds” will enable them to sprout when the time is right for them to unfold. And believe you me, I was so right! The knowledge points come to me when I need them, or I go back to them seeking solutions whenever I want to.

Celebrating Silence, tends to support, encourage, and gives insight, to pursue real transformation with faith. If everybody in the world could fully live what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar teaches in just the first half of this book, our world would be a far more developed, compassionate, and transformed place.

I sincerely wish that everybody who has a passion for personal transformation, spiritual or non, reads this book. I also recognize that this is a book that I will read again and again over the years, and always get something new out of it to take me deeper and further into my silent soulful celebration!

Celebrating Silence

 

In service

Anamika Khosla

 

Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The World Culture Festival, World Culture Festival.

Before, am judged for taking sides, let me make it clear, that I am here-taking up your mind space, not to offend my professional fraternity (the media) nor to defend my personal loyalties (The Art of Living).

It has been few weeks since The World Culture Festival in Delhi drew to a close. Like everything else, time has eaten up this event too. The media however, has found numerous headlines from the event. They’ve tweeted vociferously and ensured that the event reached every home of the country. The portfolio of NGO’s and work they claim to do as well as the urgent need to clean and revive a dying Yamuna river was the talk at every breakfast table. From a third person perspective, it is fun to read leading newspapers report extremely opposite views about the same event, from the very same location. And am so grateful I wasn’t in that uncomfortable situation that Ayurvati & Parvateshwar were in – having to choose between their job & their Lord (Oath of the Vayuputras- remember).

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6 years as a journalist, 4 years into Corporate communications, many continents travelled, many events attended I must admit- all the chaos besides – the event per se was magnificent. It was jaw dropping to watch 37000 artists on a 50 feet high floating stage, 7 acre in width, complete with special effect lights. Performers from world over, bringing with them, sights and sounds of their cultures, costumes, musical instruments, dances and good wishes. What a dramatic & impressive platform it was!

 

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The audiences were enthused. They had travelled to Delhi from far and wide; walked into a huge event venue and made their way to the earmarked enclosures. Ever since the names of delegates and globetrotting celebrities who were going to attend the event had been made public, I knew there would be a stampede, I’ve seen it at every event I’ve attended; people clamouring for an autograph and now a selfie! What I saw here was mind boggling, a crowd so well-behaved, more so when an entire galaxy of stars have descended. No one broke out of the enclosures, no one yelled or screamed, everyone just sang and danced together and hollered for encores of course!

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The discipline of the performers was truly exemplary: no matter how electrifying the energy, or how hard the hail storm, not one moved from their place and ensured that the performances went on as scheduled. The moment that stole my heart was right at beginning on Day 1. It rained, some say nature played spoil sport. Some others say that the Gods showered their blessings. I only saw the determination, grit and enthusiasm of the performers. Over a 1000 Dhangari Dhol performers from Kolhapur danced in bliss as the chants of ‘Jai Jai Ram Krishna Hari’ reverberated in the air. Drenched, on a wet stage, 1700 Kathak performers exhibited impeccable footwork as the audiences applauded and demanded an encore.

 

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Beyond it all, stood the man who was the inspiration for so many people gathered at the venue, the person responsible for an event of this scale to be imagined and executed. I saw Gurudev (as He is fondly called) Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji standing on a raised dais, beside Indian Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi ji, waving to the audiences and performers. Beyond the rousing welcome He received, I saw Him standing drenched and soaked to the bone, smiling and welcoming audiences and dignitaries alike. Here was someone who walked the talk. The devotees, audiences, artists, performers, organisers were drenched in the rains, how could He not show solidarity with them. And before someone decides to troll me just because Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was drenched and expressing solidarity with the others at this event, let me clarify that this is not just one instance. I am sure that the devotees have more to share. I am just sharing what I saw and experienced.

 

 

PMandsrisri

 

 

Of course, walking the venue was not easy. But given the size of the event, it was never going to be simple. Even lesser was finding parking or getting to the venue. But then, right from simple wedding celebrations to Bollywood performances, we in India have almost always had a problem with venue, parking, people management. For the scale of the free for all event (3.75 million people), we’ve had no stampede, just a few cases of pick pocketing or lost and found FIRs, no accidents, no brawl, I think it is beyond just commendable. The volunteers who’ve stood in rain and shine deserve their credit and does the inspiration behind it all.

 

Shwetal Rai