Art of Living Experiences.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji has said “ Prayer is talking to God and. Meditation is listening to God“. When we listen with total faith and alertness, meditation can truly offer solace to our inner turmoil. Such revelations can both make our hair stand stiff on our arms as well as melt our heart in gratitude, at once!

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This morning as I was getting ready to teach the last day of a course in the Bangalore ashram, I checked my bag to see whether my iPod that contained the course materials was in place. I could not locate it in the usual place. I checked again emptying the bag. No sign of iPod. Panic! Recollected the last time I used it. It was before lunch break the previous day. My God! How could I have been so irresponsible? I chanted ‘ Karthiveerarjuna’ , a mantra that has the ability to retrieve misplaced things. To no avail. Even though it was a bit early, I left the room in the hope that someone would have found it and I would be given my Ipod once I reached there. All the volunteers had already gathered at the course venue and a brisk enquiry followed about anyone finding the iPod the previous day. To my desolation, the answer was ‘No’. My mind went into a whirlpool of mixed emotions.

The strongest feeling was one of faith. I knew I would find my iPod.

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But the monkey mind went into all sorts of ‘ What ifs’. ‘  How will I conduct the sessions today’, I wondered, agitated. I felt worthless, not worthy of my Master’ s love. ‘ What kind of an instrument are you if you cannot take responsibility?’ My conscience poked me mercilessly. By now, I was feeling totally dejected and low. Volunteers around me were cheerful and recounted stories of ‘ Lost and Found’. My mind was torn apart, yet I was aware of holding on to my faith strongly. I prayed to the higher power, ‘ if I have integrity in my SEVA, Let me get my iPod before the session begins’.

I detached myself from the group and sat down to meditate with a single thought reverberating in my mind. IPod.

I prayed deeply. Fifteen minutes past , I heard a voice telling me ‘ Just  look inside your bag. It has not gone anywhere else’. With a smile I quickly completed three rounds of nadishodhan pranayama and eagerly put my hand inside the front pocket of my bag. Lo! There It was. There was no need to even search for a single second! My hands touched the gadget that contained infinity as naturally as one touches ones own skin, the moment my hand went in the pocket. How could I have missed checking the front pocket in the morning?

Or did I search for it and not find it? I frankly don’t know! It is a mystery and I am content to let it be a mystery.

Such miracles happen  when we connect with the source in meditation.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar‘s words ”  Faith is a great wealth that gives you immense strength. Hold on to it” is ambrosia in our life.

What will the divine not do for a devotee with a rock solid faith?! Tears of gratitude brimmed in my eyes.

Happily I walked into the course venue to start my session, on time, with my iPod!

Jai Gurudev.

Leela Ramesh

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.

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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.

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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