Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

26 September 2016 will go down in history as a memorable day for many peace-loving people around the world, especially those in Colombia (Latin America). It was that moment when the longest war in the world came to an end with the signing of a peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC rebels. And Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, humanitarian and spiritual leader from India, one of the Master architects of that conflict resolution played a creative role in bringing peace to that nation.

On that evening, a few of us wished to partake of that celebration in Bengaluru (India), when Vegetarian Fried Ice Cream took the centre stage of our table. I could n`t hide my sweet tooth any longer and reached out for a piece. Deep fried and crispy attracts any Asian`s attention. In this part of the world, our thirst for the deep fried is very well known. Be it human values, wisdom, celebration or news. It`s a near 100%.

 

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As I lobbed that fried ball into my mouth and broke through the deep fried outer, the cool cool Vanilla ice cream that was hidden inside simply melted into my mind.

At this moment I recollected a unique meeting with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar about ten years ago. We were a motley crowd of twenty people sitting in that simple room in his Art of Living headquarters eagerly awaiting his arrival. Gentle breeze swept through us as we were waiting to catch a glimpse and soak in his radiant energy which a billion people seek every year.

He walked into the room fragrant with silence and settled in the sofa that quickly got enveloped with his white robes. He then gestured to us with his hands indicating “What`s happening” ? A cherubic smile and that famous twinkle in his eyes accompanied that graceful gesture. The silence in the room deepened. Even the rustling leaves in the adjoining garden came to a standstill. “What is he going to say?” slowly took hold of my mind.

He then said “ Sometimes people get so stuck with certain fixed concepts and ideas…. hardens them so much… that they just can`t see another point of view. It sometimes takes months and even years for such people to break-free and recognize the wisdom that liberates”.

My jaws dropped as I did see myself in a similar situation a few weeks earlier in that summer of 2006.

Today, I believe that perhaps the warring parties in Colombia had had their first taste of Fried Ice Cream. They finally dared to break through that crisp hard outer that was keeping them away from the cool, inner peace. This was their moment of truth. They Recognized Wisdom towards Freedom. That there exists a certain wisdom beyond their hard-held stated positions for several years. It is here that the Eastern culture and tradition, values and cherishes the role of a Guru (Spiritual Master) to help people to recognize wisdom.

This week, the President of Colombia and leaders of the FARC rebels thanked Sri Sri Ravi Shankar recalling his support and wisdom as the highest contribution to the peace process in their country. It is a well known fact that several governments and peacemakers across the world tried their best over the last fifty years to bring a closure to the deadly conflict, but to no avail.

 

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During the last two years of conflict resolution initiatives in that country, it is said that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke little to bring the actors in the theatre of war in Colombia to a peace-making path. Instead, it was his inner peace, natural sincerity, gentleness and reverence for all of life that `spoke without speaking`.

This I felt was the perfect Recipe to Conflict, as I relished a second helping of Fried Ice Cream celebrating that night of 26 September 2016.

 

Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Your mind says “Do this”, but `You` want to do something else. You  absolutely positively want a particular thing, but your mind coaxes you to choose another. Society wants it to be “like this”. But you want it to be otherwise. Dad wanted you to become an engineer, but you chose to strum the guitar! You said “Celibacy”; parents said “Better get married”. Government wants to push that law through but Opposition wants it the other way.

A divided mind stares at us every now and then. As an individual, family, society or nation. Call it confusion or conflict. From a Monday morning to the weekend beginning.

This is exactly where you need to know about Spiritual Master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Meditation and Mediation. Several thousand worldwide do his Happiness programs and reach out for his wisdom to bring a closure to their issues of stress and a divided mind.

Simply put, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has helped people mediate and dissolve issues between their very own self and mind (read: confusion, conflicts) through meditation to instil individual peace.

 

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A Master of meditation. And a Master mediator.

If you thought he `s just a peaceful man. I invite you to look further. He`s a man of peace too. There may be a million peaceful people, but it takes a man of peace to commit and share a peaceful intention, time, energy and wisdom to usefully benefit individuals and nations.

Here I wish to spotlight his incredible mediation and measurable efforts towards a definite closure of the world`s longest war in Colombia (northwest South America).

This is the measure of a man of peace.

That beautiful country and the whole world will celebrate this month- end when the warring factions ink an agreement to sink their differences for lasting peace.

An idea that has quickly caught the imagination of people today, is the way Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lends expression to world peace. Unconditionally sharing his inner peace to the outer world of men and matters, pride and prejudice, confusion and conflict, mind and melancholy.

This sunny Sunday morning I took to writing on this amazing facet of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar because I was a witness to his consistent peace-building and reconciliation initiatives while I was on secondment voluntary service in Colombo, Sri Lanka (Asia). That pretty island – nation was also in a civil war for 30 years that concluded in 2009.

I recollect the enormous time, compassion, spiritual energy and wisdom that he brought to engage the civil society and the actors in the Sri Lankan theatre of war towards peace and prosperity.

In my understanding a key hallmark of his peace initiatives (both individual and worldwide) is that it goes beyond boundaries, transcending tried and tested concepts, beyond the tangible. Mainstreaming meditation and bringing it to the common man, he has rightly enlarged the footprints of peace.

From Colombo to Colombia. The spiritual Master, Meditation and Mediation were the only passengers to peace.

 

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Jai Gurudev !

Vidyut Udiaver

About Art of Living, Art of Living Projects.

For most of us who have been privileged enough to have electricity in our homes and money in our pockets, this fact may be hard to stomach-In India about one lakh villages do not have access to electricity and in many more villages, economic difficulties render it unaffordable.

Among the many problems that lack of electricity brings with it, a crippling problem is poor availability of lights or no lights for children to study. Children may even be enrolled in schools, but if they do not have electricity, you know not much can happen with textbooks lying in the dark.

But the world’s largest volunteer-based organisation, The Art of Living has taken it upon itself to make sure, no child is left behind on the path of education because of this darkness.

The organisation is removing this darkness through its flagship Project Nanhi Kiran which was launched in November 2015 at the Art of Living International Center inspired by the founder of The Art of Living, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

As part of the project, Art of Living has provided about 1150 rechargeable solar study lights so far, of which 810 solar lights have been distributed in the remotest corners of Arunachal Pradesh(about 160 of them in Lohit District), 90 in Karnataka, 30 in Manipur, 140 in rural Bangalore near the Art of Living International Ashram.

The Art of Living through the Nanhi Kiran Project has also encouraged local entrepreneurship and youth empowerment. The organization identifies a local entrepreneur, develops a youth leader and looks for youth who want to work for this project along with wanting to be entrepreneurs. They are taught to repair these especially designed lights. He becomes the go-to person for these lights in the area. He makes a small commission on the repair as well as sales and distribution of the lights.   A part of the donation made in buying these lamps, also pays the salaries and commissions for these youth.

The cost of making each light is Rs.450 and this does not include the transportation and cost of paying those who make and repair these lights. So far the project has been funded by Sri Sri Rural Development Program. The project is looking to collaborate with companies and government agencies to bring this light to more lives.

The Art of Living is looking to reach out to ten thousand children through its Nanhi Kiran Project in the most isolated and neglected corners of the country.

The implementation of Nanhi Kiran Project, especially in the far flung areas of a state like Arunachal Pradesh, has not been without its share of challenges. The Art of Living has reached out to over 10 schools in Arunachal Pradesh that lack even the basic connectivity to the other areas of the state, apart from lack of electricity, transport and basic infrastructure.

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From The Horse’s Mouth

The remoteness of the region and the problem of poor accessibility is hard to imagine unless, seen through one’s own eyes. “I was working in some project for Assam, and I received a call from Tezu district, AP, saying  the 60 lamps that we have sent across was waiting to be distributed,” shares Chaitanya Sangawar, Coordinator of Nanhi Kiran Project, “When I arrived there I went to a government school. The kids were from different ethnicities and economic backgrounds. They were very shy children. Some of them could not afford the light, because Rs.100 was a lot. So we collected Rs.50 from them. But, still some of the children could not afford the light. I noticed that many children did not even have slippers. We asked if there were more schools that needed help and they said, ‘Yes, but you have to go more deep to some villages, you have more than 100 students that need your support’. I was shocked, because I thought, if this is remote and this is how the people live their lives, what can be more remote than this, what kind of economic condition do they live in? The lights have to reach the children. We are planning to go to the region, but it is impossible for a regular person to go and work there. We need the help of the Indian Army, helicopters, trucks for the logistics of distribution.”

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How can you help?

Anyone who is interested to buy the solar lights or support the Program can get in touch with Sri Sri Rural Development Program, in Bangalore. In order to make it feasible, the organization would need- a school with at least 100 students, the details of the school, number of the students, contact details and a local  distribution person from Art of Living  or someone that wishes to support this project.

Though it does not even cover the cost of making the lights, the students  need to pay  Rs,100. This amount is for the student, family, to value the light that he or she is buying.

Art of Living Stories, Art of Living Wisdom.

I recently had the great fortune of listening to Srimad Bhagavatam. The stories started with Matsya, Kurma, Vamana and so on avatars of Lord Vishnu. But as soon as we reached Krishna avatar there was a vibration of love spread all across the hall.

 

It is amazing how every time we talk of Bhuvanasundara Sri Krishna, we experience an un-explainable intense love!

 

I hope you are not expecting an explanation for the question of what makes Krishna so lovable from this post! For I have none..

 

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Rukmini in a letter written to him calls him,“Bhuvanasundara”, the most beautiful of all..And mind you she has Only heard about him..not even met him once! He has dark blue complexion, he has a huge fan following meaning he has many to give attention to, he is a so-called thief who loves to steal and eat & yet he is so much loved! Even the dispassionate iron hearts get pulled towards his magnetic form.

 

For me, Krishna paintings & idols are something which have managed to go even beyond the heart and touch my soul!

 

We are so used to keeping god at a distance..many pedestals above us. He is something to be respected & worshipped (that’s what our parents told us).

 

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But with Krishna there is no distance.. He takes on all the roles for you. Naughty, trouble-maker, mischievous child with those big innocent eyes,best friend, perfect lover..perfect Sakha..amazing Guru! There is a connect with him which is not just because of obligation & respect but because of a sense of belonging completely to him..

 

There is a Shloka in Sanskrit which says that there is no difference between Guru, God & Self. We are ‘That’. It’s true! But Krishna is like that mirror which makes you see and feel the divinity & love inside of you! For we can see us in him so easily..He is a child who has refused to grow up & tell me who doesn’t love a child!

 

Sometimes I feel that the purpose of his birth was not to receive the love of Gokul, Vrindavan, Mathura & so many others..But to evoke that love that Bhakti in each one of those who witnessed & even just heard about his Leelas.. And it’s amazing how after more than 5000 years his name & leelas have the same effect!  🙂

 

Anjesh Thakur

Anjesh is an Art of Living teacher. Her blog www.bhuvanasundara.wordpress.com is a meeting place for all Krishna Lovers.

 

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

Year after year, through joy and pain, 

Gliding me through rain and shine, 

You make sure  I am baked and baked 

Like  gold put in fire twice ashine, 

I glow and glow  with love divine! 

 

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Guru Purnima is a day to measure our progress on the path and express our gratefulness to the Guru Principle in the form of our Master. Yes, I have been doing it all these years. How much have I grown in knowledge? Where was I on this path the previous year and where am I today? What do I lack and what more should I do ? I have pondered over this ‘ intellectual’ inquiry. I have immersed myself in His words of wisdom till they became part of me. I have watched Him attend to me and thousand others with effortless ease and peel off layers of misery with just a glance or the  touch of a flower. I have been bewildered, amazed, awe-struck and teary eyed when multitude of  people throng Him and come back with a personal Guru Story. It is my incredible good fortune that I am participating and witness to this divine phenomenon that enraptures me every single moment.

He is simply there with ‘ Unconditional Love‘ for  the entire creation. To me, He is not Shiva or Krishna, Jesus or Allah or any other entity. He is He! And whatever He is, I am That!

It strikes me like lightening , all this knowledge, Sadhana,  Seva, Satsang is nothing but an excuse to bring us to the awakening  of the ultimate purpose of our life. Love! Of which He Himself is a living example if we have eyes to ‘see’. It feels like these 18 years have been an experience of one ‘long Sudarshan  Kriya’ , an action that has given me the vision of who I truly am.

I am Love!

 

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The emancipating surrender of marjara reeti that comes after applying discrimination and valour of markata reeti simply allows me to be in my true nature, Love.

Oh, the ecstasy after agony! Not having to hold on to anything, not even knowledge, but to surrender oneself  to the power of love. I don’t shed tears of gratitude any more because i simply melt and lose my ‘little Self’. Drop becomes the ocean. So, who is there to shed tears?!

A jasmine bud goes through the pain of opening in order to spread fragrance.

A peacock opens feathers and dances to give joy to others.

A Master shows us by walking  His talk what it means to live by your true nature, just like a jasmine or a peacock.

 

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This Guru Purnima marks my blossoming in Love, in gay abandon of everything else. A love that knows no compartments, no boundaries, no names, no definition, no other.

 

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Celebrating Love,

Leela Ramesh

Art of Living Wisdom, Others.

 Presenting before you a story with a very important moral: Dharma!

Many times in order to impart many valuable lessons to kids and older generation, stories have proven to be very instrumental ! 

 

Dharma and the missing protractor

 

One day, little Raju came home crying, his shirt torn and dirty. Immediately, his mother Meera rushed to console him.

“What is the matter, my child?” she asked. Sobbing inconsolably, Raju said, “Amma, Rohit punched me in school and tore my shirt.”

“Did you do something to make him angry?” Meera asked Raju.

“Well…” mumbled Raju, “Me and some friends were having fun with him. I took his protractor away from him yesterday without his knowledge, so he hit me today.”

 

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“Did anything happen to Rohit because of your ‘joke’?” asked Meera.

Raju nodded. “Rohit’s sister consoled me today after he punched me. She said that he discovered the missing protractor only late at night and so couldn’t complete his Mathematics homework. Since shops were closed by the time Rohit discovered the missing protractor, he couldn’t buy a new one. Because of this, the teacher punished him in school.”

“Well, he had a right to be angry with you, didn’t he?” asked Meera. Seeing fresh tears in her son’s eyes, she added, “Of course, he had no right to hit you!”

“But, Amma, I just took the protractor from Rohit as a joke! I had no idea that he would be punished because of a simple joke,” said Raju.

Meera felt that this was a good time to teach Raju about dharma. She briefly told him the story about Dharmaputra, the eldest of the Pandavas, and how he had to spend time in the forest after losing a game of dice.

“Lord Dharma, who is also called Yama, wanted to test his son Dharmaputra. That is why he came as a Yaksha and decided to question Dharmaputra.”

“I know that story. Grandma told it to me. She said it is called the Yaksha Prashna. Dharmaputra answered all the questions correctly, didn’t he, Amma? I wish that I too can answer all questions that my teacher asks me!”

Meera smiled. “My dear child, anybody who is clever can answer such questions. No, the real test for Dharmaputra was the final question. When all the questions were answered, Dharma told his son that he would let one of his brothers live. Before I tell you Dharmaputra’s answer, let me ask you, my son, if you were Dharmaputra, whom would you have chosen among your brothers?”

Raju was a clever boy. He knew all about the Pandavas and said, “Amma, I would have asked for Arjuna to be brought back to life. He was the bravest of warriors and he deserved to live.”

Meera nodded. “Yes, Raju, there is logic in what you say. But Dharmaputra said that his father, Pandu, had two wives, and he himself was the son of Kunti. So, he felt that, in the interests of dharma, which upholds equality, one of the sons of Madri, Pandu’s second wife, should live. So, he chose Nakula.”

“But Arjuna lived, didn’t he, Amma? Grandma told me about the Bhagawad Gita and how Lord Krishna told Arjuna that he had to fight.”

Meera said, “Pleased with his son, Yama bought back all the slain brothers to life. When you grow older, you can read about the Bhagavat Gita. But know this now and forever-always uphold dharma, or you will pay the price.

Dharma protects when protected. You, in a small way, broke dharma by stealing Rohit’s protractor. No doubt, it was a joke, but you caused pain and anguish to Rohit. As a result, you had to experience pain when he punched you.”

“But I was sorry for what I did! I prayed to Lord Krishna and told Him that I was sorry, but still Rohit hit me! Why didn’t Krishna protect me, Amma? Grandma told me that Lord Krishna is God. Is it not Krishna’s job to protect me?” asked Raju.

“My son, God is impartial and if He doesn’t punish the wicked, then He is partial to somebody. That is why the only safe way is not to harm anybody. God can guide you and teach you how not to harm others. But if you disobey Him and cause pain to others, He will have to punish you.”

“You mean that I should not cause any harm to people at all if I don’t want to face problems?” asked Raju.

“Yes,” said Meera. “In fact, dharma can be described in one line-if you do not want something to happen to you, do not do it to anybody else.”

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

It was August 2010. I attended a Long Sudarshan Kriya session in my college BITS Pilani. Post the Long Kriya, my teacher Venkatesh (Venki) mentioned about the Guru Puja course he attended recently and expressed his wish to chant it then. We all closed our eyes and then I heard something so melodious and powerful that I didn’t realize that I meditated for about 25 minutes without any effort. That small experience of nothingness really shook me from inside. Since then, I would always ask Venki to chant Guru Puja whenever we would get a chance and he would gleefully oblige.

 

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It were also these days when I started actively volunteering for Art of Living and slowly started shifting under the umbrella of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Volunteering for the Art of Living courses and witnessing participants from all walks of life effortlessly letting go of their layers; become natural and experience peace brought a lot of admiration and respect for Gurudev. The admiration for Gurudev slowly turned into love and as I started observing Gurudev closely. He was a simple man who walked the talk. It might seem simple to write this out but it is one of the toughest principles a mortal human can adopt into his or her lifestyle. To stick to one’s words and standing by them come what may and working for them be it sunshine or rain is no easy task. That striking authenticity and his unconditional love for people around him made me idolize him and love him in a way that I put him on a pedestal. This aspect is often regarded as “Bhakti” or devotion in India. Yes, I found my master. Sorry! My master found me.

Just like a tea picker goes around in the plantation and choice fully plucks tea leaves, a master goes around and chooses his disciples. Just like a jeweler puts an eye-lens and polishes diamonds, the Guru pulls you up from a pile of stones and polishes you to perfection. He is a veteran crafts-man at work. It is a blessing to have a Guru in your life and this is probably the best thing to have ever happened in my life.

 

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The more I embraced Gurudev, the more I came closer to the tradition of masters and the lineage of masters (Guru Pampara). Thanks to the reading habit I developed when I was very young, I had the chance to read countless stories about many masters who lived in flesh and blood which included – Adi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Shiridi Sai Baba, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Guru Nanak and so on. All the stories had one common thread in common. Wisdom! Wisdom which has been carefully preserved and passed on to the mortal beings over the generations pristine.

A little later, upon the advice of Gurudev I read the Bhagavad Gita – the epic dialogue between Lord Krishna and his pal Arjuna. It is often said that Bhagavad Gita has the answer for every question which has sprouted on this planet. I found Bhagavad Gita to be deeply reflective. Time and again, it reminded me the importance of Wisdom in one’s life and pat came the realization! I had a living master in my life. A master, who travelled 300 days a year, works for 20 hours a day lives out a modest apartment and is tirelessly works for this planet. He symbolizes Wisdom for me. He is the priceless wealth of all the Vedas and Upanishads together for me. He is the embodiment of the nectar of all the Shaastras and books of wisdom mankind has ever written. And another Aha moment happened! Words really fall short to describe this experience!

 

I would always think that there should be something to honor and express our gratitude to this master and the wisdom he has bestowed upon us. Like Thanksgiving day in US and Sankranti in India! During Navaratri 2012, I heard an announcement about Guru Puja course which on completion entitles one to chant the Guru Puja – a song which honors the lineage of masters who have walked the planet and have carefully preserved the knowledge and passed it onto the humans through generations. Another short course which follows this enables us to perform the Guru Puja – a short Puja which symbolises all the beautiful things the Divine does to us.

Traditional yet powerful, Guru Puja is one of the most exquisite experiences one can have.

How I learnt Guru Puja …

 

I wanted to register for the October 2012 batch of Guru Puja and couldn’t due to leave problems in office. I patiently waited for March 2013 and the leave problem sprung up again. Oh! Some more waiting! Longing does good as they say! Come October 2013 and the Guru Puja Phase-1 was announced again. This time, my manager then Bharathy Harish (also my senior at College BITS Pilani) gladly agreed! . Guru Puja course (both phases) are conducted by Bhanumathi Narasimhan or Bhanu Didi as we affectionately call her, who is the very own sister of Gurudev. Bhanu Maa has this undying smile on her face and is very loving & caring to everyone around her. I think she gets this quality from her brother. One of the most earliest memories with her is the her Satsang in Winter Break in 2009 with chartbuster bhajans in her melodious voice loaded with devotion which would put some of the most trained singers also to shame.

 

Guru Puja Phase 1

 

Every day in Guru Puja Phase-1, we would arrive in the Visalakshi Mantap and chanted and practised the verses of Guru Puja repeating after Bhanu Maa multiple times. The chanting sessions would often be sandwiched between these beautiful stories and very own stories of Gurudev. The icing on the cake would be the Guru Puja every afternoon Bhanu Maa would perform. 2 minutes into the Puja and finish! I would slip into meditation and would probably open my eyes after 30 minutes. Going beyond time! It was an astronomical explosion of Sattva! Post lunch, there would be more chanting sessions followed by Satsang and then later more stories post Dinner after which would retire to our rooms. The chanting sessions were so intoxicating. We could feel that electric energy and the deep cleansing inside us erasing our slate clean. The Guru Puja Phase-1 ended only so that we could come back after 6 months for our Phase-2 which would qualify us as Guru Puja Pandits and allow us to perform the powerful Guru Puja. The next 6 months, I would chant the Guru Puja everyday and I would notice how handy it would be to calm the mind and relax. And of course, it was a beautiful way to feel grateful

 

Guru Puja Phase 2

 

Came February 2014, the Guru Puja Phase-2 arrived and coincided with Valentines Day! Ya I was spending time with my Valentine – my Gurudev. I performed my first Guru Puja. Tears of gratitude rolled out helplessly. After 3 days of learning to perform the Guru Puja again with Bhanu Maa herself along with some many more amazing stories. Every time we had a chance we would perform a Puja because the ending of the Puja would have Bhajans by Bhanu Maa and it would be an excuse for all of us to make her sing. It was a thick waft of divine energy all around us to perform the Guru Puja collectively multiple times a day. Another burst of energy clubbed with so many memories with friends around! One memorable course ended! Another course began – a course of taking positivity to people by performing Guru Pujas.

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Since then, I have performed Guru Puja every time I was blessed with an opportunity by the Divine in my house, at houses of my friends and other volunteers of Art of Living. Guru Puja is a ceremonial Puja at every occasion in my house – birthday, anniversary, celebration, festival and also times when you would feel low and need some real inspiration and energy. And I can see in live how people around me would relax and rejoice in themselves during the Guru Puja.

It is my personal recommendation to everyone reading this to experience Guru Puja to learn to chant Guru Puja. It is a lifetime experience to share this experience with many millions around our beautiful planet. Those moments of Guru Puja are precious! They are intimate sprinkled with love, joy, peace and unparalleled happiness. And a splendid opportunity to thank the Master in our lives

 

You can also listen & perform Guru Puja with Bhanu Didi Live from her Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/Bhanumathi.Narasimhan/  on 9th July , 2016 7:00 Pm on-wards IST

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Sri Sri Gurucharana Kamalebhyo Namaha!

Jai Guru Dev!

Surya Tej Borra

About Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Yoga and Meditation.

Yoga is an ancient Spiritual practice which has benefited mankind immensely. Many yogis have brought the attention of the world towards Yoga. From a long time now, many yoga institutions have been formed and millions of people have taken up the practice on various levels in nearly every country of the world. Appealing to everyone, Yoga has been very popular world over.

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The International Yoga Day is a recognition of this ancient spiritual practice. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji initiated and Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji voiced for implementation of International Yoga Day. Thus, the draft resolution establishing the International Day of Yoga was proposed by India and endorsed by a record 175 member states. The proposal was introduced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji in his address during the opening of the 69th session of the General Assembly and recognising its universal appeal, on 11th December 2014, the United Nations proclaimed 21st June as International Yoga Day.

 

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Last year, on this same day (i.e. 21st June) the iconic Times Square turned into Yoga Square when about 30,000 yoga enthusiasts joined in with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji to perform the ancient spiritual practice and celebrate the first UN International Yoga Day.

 

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We all know yoga is the key to happy life, it brings an equilibrium between mind & body and has never been alien to us. It’s a way of our life. We have been doing it since we were a baby! The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” which means “to unite or integrate”.

 

As I sat remembering the last years’ events of International Day of Yoga, the pictures of various countries & people participating in the Yoga day celebrations all over the world, I realised that this event not only brought more awareness about Yoga among people far and wide but also brought together many nationalities together to celebrate the way of life. People, irrespective of country, community, language, gender came together to celebrate The International Day of Yoga! In true sense Yoga united everyone.

 

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Thus this day started a new practice of celebrating Yoga! It has become an occasion where people get together celebrate & be grateful for this age old practice that has been benefiting generations after generations.

On 21st June 2016, second anniversary of the International Yoga Day, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji will inaugurate the International Day of Yoga at the European Parliament. He will be the Chief Guest and lead MEPs and staff through a guided meditation, when for the first time the Parliament’s Yehudi Menuhin Hall will turn into a big Yoga Space. Join us for Live webcast on www.artofliving.org/webcast from 03:45 pm IST onwards.

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As Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, the Sun Never sets on Yoga. How true! And now I can see the Sun rising and Yoga uniting everyone world over.

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