Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Stories, Wisdom, Yoga and Meditation.

Question: Guruji, whenever I see You, I start running after You. Is this devotion or lack of self respect?

Guruji: In the beginning you run, it is ok. But then you should learn to stop and look within. Dive deep within yourself then I will run after you and the whole world will run after you.

A story from mythology comes to my mind. The story is from Mahabharata. Venerable Dronacharya was teaching archery and warcraft to young Kauravas and Pandavas. However, that he had a soft corner for Arjuna troubled Duryodhana’s mind. Unable to control his jealousy, one day he uttered loudly “What is so great about Arjuna? He is like all of us’, making sure Dronacharya who was standing within the earshot heard his remark. Dronacharya heard him but did not say anything.

Next day Dronacharya hung a wooden bird amidst the branches of a tree. He called out to all the princes, made them stand 100 yards away from the tree and said

“There is a little test for you”.

Yudhishtira being the eldest, he called him to come forward first.

“Aim your arrow to the bird” he said.

Yudhishtira pulled back his arrow aiming at the bird and waited.

“What do you see Yudhishtira?” Drona asked.

“Why?! The bird, the tree, branches, my brothers and you of course, my revered teacher”, exclaimed Yudhishtira perplexed at the question.

“ Laydown your weapon” said Drona.

Yudhishtira retraced his steps.

“Now, it is your turn Duryodhana”, called out Drona.

Smirking at Yudhishtira, Duryodhana came forward. As it is, he was not happy about his poor cousins getting the lessons from Dronacharya as his equals.

He aimed the arrow at the bird.

‘What do you see” asked Drona.

“The bird, the tree and you my venerable master” replied Duryodhana and was about to shoot when Drona said,

“Place the bow and arrow on the ground and go back to your place”.

All the other younger princes came forward and failed the test.

It was Drona’s son Ashwathama’s turn. Ashwathama said that he could see nothing but the wooden bird. Little disappointed Drona sent him back reluctantly. After all he was his own son!

Now Drona calls Arjuna to come forward and aim the bird. Arjuna, with supreme confidence yet with lightness and in a relaxed manner pulls back his arrow and waits.




Here I paused…..Time for Manana (Contemplation).  This is the crux of the story I thought. I am sharing my personal thoughts with you, my dear readers. It connected so well with what Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar answered to the question about running after Him. Arjuna was Dronas favorite student which means he need not had to run after Drona.

The ‘supreme confidence’, ‘lightness’ and ‘relaxed manner’ of Arjuna at the time of taking test where all his predecessors had failed stems from him being established in the self, I thought. If others had failed, it was because of lack of self awareness and feverishness to please their teacher, perhaps?! As explained in Ashtanga yoga of Patanjali, Arjuna must have mastered Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama that gave him steadiness to move confidently towards his goal. The physical presence of his teacher Drona did not distract Arjuna from his goal.

Drona asked “What do you see Arjuna?”

“Only blackness in the eye of the wooden bird my revered teacher” answered Arjuna without wavering his gaze.

“Don’t you see anything else, the forest, tree, branches…” urged Drona.

“No sir, I see only blackness in the middle of the eye of the bird” replied Arjuna still keeping his gaze steadily at the target.

The 5th limb of Ashtanga Yoga, Pratyahara, that occupies the middle place, needs a sadhak to retrieve his senses just as a tortoise retrieves its limbs into its shell to get established in Samadhi. Arjuna must have shut off all the external stimuli of senses like tress, branches, people around him including his revered teacher to get ‘fixed’ (Dharana) in his goal, to shoot the bird’s eye. Our mind is often compared to the tortoise shell and its limbs the senses. Mind is also likened to the Queen Bee after who runs all other labour bees, the senses. When Queen Bee stops running, all other labour bees also freeze! Then one is prepared for Dharana. Revelation indeed !

Exulted by Arjuna’s answer, Drona says “Shoot!”

Next moment the bird lay on the ground with an arrow pierced in its eye, right in the middle!

Was Arjuna in a state of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi when he shot the arrow? Was his one pointed devotion and focus to whatever he wanted to achieve the key for success in life, worldly or otherwise?

Is there something profound for us to learn from Arjuna, especially when all others see ‘Dronacharya’ while aiming the bird except Arjuna? Does it connect with what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says; when you look within yourself I will run after you. The whole world runs after you.

A Master manifests in physical body to make one realize whatever He is, so is His disciple. He walks us through the path with utmost love, compassion and patience till we reach home. But then, is it not my responsibility to keep the focus on the path rather than making a relationship with the Guru Principle?

“In the beginning it is ok to run. But then you must stop and look within yourself. Then I will run after you. The whole world runs after you”.
Gurudev’s words pregnant with profound meaning.

The truth struck like lightning!

No wonder Arjuna was the privileged one to get Geetopadesha from Lord Krishna. He was ready! What will a Lord not give to the one who is ready?



It is crystal clear. The only aim and focus walking the path with Sri Sri is to become Arjuna.

Manana (Contemplation) continues…..Thank You Sri Sri.

Leela Ramesh

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Wisdom, Yoga and Meditation.

Once upon a time, there was a very strong woodcutter. He asked for a job from a timber merchant, and he got it. The pay was really good and so were the work conditions. For that reason the woodcutter was determined to do his best.

His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work. The first day, the woodcutter brought down 18 trees.


The Boss was very much impressed and said, “Congratulations keep it up!”

Very motivated by the words of the boss, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he only could bring down 15 trees.

The third day he tried even harder, but he only could bring down 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing down less and less trees.

“I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought to himself.

He went to the boss and apologised, saying that he could not understand what was going on.

“When was the last time you sharpened your Axe?” the boss asked.



“Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my Axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees.

The moral of the story:

Our lives are like that. We sometimes get so busy that we don’t take time to sharpen the axe. In today’s world, it seems that everyone is busy, but less happy. Why is that? Could it be that we have forgotten how to stay sharp?



There is nothing wrong with activity and hard work. But we should not get so busy that we neglect the truly important things in life, like our personal life, taking time to care for others, taking time to read, divine activity sharpens the in heart.etc We all need time to relax, to think and meditate, to learn and grow. If we don’t take time to sharpen the axe, we will become dull and lose our effectiveness. So start from today, think about the ways by which you could do your job more effectively and add a lot of value to it.

“To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart.”


Jai Gurudev

Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Stories.

Rehman and five others were waiting at the edge of the stage at the Vishalakshi Meditation Hall with huge cake boxes in their hands and a twinkle in their eyes. The cake was thick, deep brown oozing with chocolate in every corner. The white icing on the top struggling to make its presence felt ! I had just peeped into Ajit`s box.

Perhaps they were waiting for their rare moment of truth.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar seated on the chair had just announced “Anyone`s birthday, anniversary today?”. It was the closing moments of the daily Satsang (an evening of music, wisdom and meditation) public event that he has been conducting for over thirty five years every single day, no matter where he is.

Moreover, he makes it a point to ask this question at the end of every Satsang.

Hundreds of people had just imbibed the fabulous celebration of that evening and were dripping with joy, asking for more.

Just then Gurudev asked Ajit to come on to the stage. He ran with the cake and placed it in front of him beaming with a smile. He rose from the chair and walked forward gingerly towards the crowd that was beckoning him time and again.

He tip-toed slowly, in a graceful style that sent people into a rapture. His eyes had a cute mischief that a child springs on you.

I thought perhaps he is going to break into a great jig, a special one between the Master and his fans. The music and the famous `Sundaranana`  bhajan had reached a superb crescendo by then. He clicked his fingers to every rhyme and rhythm of that song.

Something was about to happen? It was a goose-bump moment.

He gestured to all the other birthday boys and girls to come on stage. I could see six cakes and Gurudev.

Suddenly he swirled the well-dressed knife and plunged it into Rehman`s cake and took out a nice big slice on his hand. I could clearly see strawberry was feeling lucky to be on his finger tips and Rehman went red blushing in the background.

People gasped. What was going to happen next ?

Gurudev swayed the cake to the music that had really hit a high note by now. His right hand swinging back and forth. People in the dozens lunged forward. Some with mouths wide open. Others trying to catch it.

Ecstasy, playfulness and laughter was running riot. All heaven broke loose!

Was this cake ready to fly ? It`s path and target unknown ?

Flew it did, in different directions. Making Gurudev`s way of celebrating legendary.

Do we have that quality of making an individual`s celebration collective and inclusive?

Today Saturday 13 May 2017. A million people will be asking a question at the end of the Satsang “Anyone`s birthday, anniversary today?”.



And who do you think will stand up ?


(A tribute by Brahmachari Vidyut Udiaver to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on his 61st birthday)

Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

The sun was sharp and thousands of people had lined up on either side of the road. Luckily the lush green flora in the International Art of Living Centre in Bengaluru was giving that much needed cover. The flowers in the gardens swayed to the once-in-a-way summer breeze. The crowd kept their cool and a certain silence was in the air.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (popularly called as Gurudev) was seated in his car that was slowly winding its way down that road. I was sitting behind him as he had beckoned me earlier to travel with him that evening.

I had several things to discuss with him. Questions and clarifications.Ranging on issues from personal to social-work related.

Before getting into the car, he had already met with, over a thousand people in the beautiful Vishalakshi Meditation Hall listening to their queries, welfare, woes and requests. And now from the car, he was very keen to meet those eagerly waiting along the road too.

As the car stopped at some points from time to time, I could see a whole procession of emotions of people who were seeing him almost face to face.

Happiness, excitement, wonder. Eyes going big with joy. Tears flowing down some eyes. Some doing a respectful Namaste (the traditional Indian way of greeting), others waving out cheerfully. Few were seen spelling out their woes and seeking advice.

Some looked dumb-struck perhaps not knowing what to say, how to express. Others asking him for blessings, wishes to be fulfilled. Some giving pieces of paper in his hand with their message or supplication.

Were they seeing the face that launched a billion smiles?



Just then I saw a young boy, perhaps in his early twenties, hold on to the car window. His slim and weak frame was emanating body odour. I could see him dripping with poverty. I felt sad as I saw him reaching out to Sri Sri.

The boy suddenly told Gurudev in Hindi “Mein car mein kabhi nahin baitha hoon” (I have never sat in a car). Gurudev gently gestured to him saying “ Aajao” (Come). The boy`s eyes widened in wonder asking “Mein aajaoon” (Shall I come). He replied “Yes”.

He hopped across the other side, opened the door and sat next to me in the back seat. `Our` car moved on! I kept looking at the boy as he settled himself in the seat with loads of smiles.

I was totally immersed in his new-found happiness, as he joyfully started waving to the crowd. Basking in the moment of having a dream being fulfilled.

Gurudev then asked him what he did and where he was from. He replied with the name of a village in the deep rural pocket of Karnataka and said his parents were daily wage laborers.

A few minutes later, he told Gurudev “I`ll get down here because I have a bus to catch back home”. Gurudev smiled, gave him some money and gestured his blessings saying “Have Prasad (food) at the dining hall before you leave”.

Soon after that I saw him frolic and melt into the crowd.

(This article is a tribute to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on his birthday 13 May 2017)


Vidyut Udiaver

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

India’s wildest and least explored state, isn’t just called the land of the rising sun for no reason. Arunachal Pradesh’s pristine beauty and lush greenery still remains beyond tourism’s reach. And this can only be a blessing in disguise. Especially with numerous rivers that bless this state with their abundance, it becomes essential to keep these rivers from the reach of miscreants.

The scenic Art of Living Ashram is situated along the bank of the river Jullang. Few river panoramas are as awe-inspiring as this one. Anyone who has sat on the banks of a river and gazed at the flowing water can testify to this. Given the serenity this can offer, its hardly surprising that Ashrams and other retreat centres are situated adjacent to a water body.



The sound of the flowing Jullang river, however, is not the only sound that emanates from the quiet surroundings of the Ashram. Even in the darkness one can hear noises that seem out of place in the setting – the sound of vehicles – trucks plying behind the Ashram in the river bed. One wonders what are city trucks doing in such a place. The reach of man can never be underestimated. Its common knowledge that river beds are the source of sand, gravel, and stones that are required for construction activity ranging from roads to bridges and buildings. Excessive quarrying for stones and gravel in the river bed can, however, have long term severe negative impact on the environment. This includes excessive erosion of the river banks leading to landslides and other damage to property. There is a sincere effort in other parts of the world to ensure economics and nature coexist. The Art of Living Foundation has been working incessantly for the last 35 years to serve mankind and nature alike.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has always championed the cause of the environment in today’s times. The 40 odd rivers that are rejuvenated in India today stand testimony to his and the organisation’s commitment, along with its teachers and volunteers who have contributed relentlessly to this cause.

One such champion is Swami Bhavyatej, who is currently in charge of the Arunachal Ashram. He had been observing the mining activity for some time. He had assumed that it was being done with the proper authority, since it was being done openly but started becoming concerned at the sheer scale of excavation. When the Ashram boundary wall was constructed a few years back there was more than thirty feet distance between the wall and the edge of the river. Over time, the Jullang river slowly ate away at the river edge to the point that it is now eroding the foundations of the boundary wall! Parts of the Ashram boundary have surrendered to the raging water in the last couple of years. Twice, sections of the boundary wall have been rebuilt at considerable cost. A stretch of about sixty metres of the boundary wall is currently damaged and is in need of repair. Is this just a natural phenomenon due to excess rains? Is it due to natural changes in the river flow due to landslides upstream? Arunachal Pradesh being a hilly region is prone to landslides and other such disturbances. Or is it due to the human activity in the river bed that was causing changes in the span of a few years that nature took millions of years to make.





Swamiji decided to inspect the activity himself. He politely talked to the truck drivers and other people engaged in the quarrying to be mindful of property near the river banks and how the boundary wall had been damaged in the past by the water. Of course, polite request fell on deaf ears. Subsequently, at a meeting with the Deputy Commissioner of Itanagar, Swamiji, requested a review of the mining in the area.




Officers visited the site to inspect the river and the surrounding area. They communicated that the quarrying activity was definitely excessive and illegal since the area in question was not “notified” for legal mining of river minerals. Coincidentally, while the review was being conducted, the Deputy Commissioner was transferred to Delhi. I assume it was a routine transfer but the timing did seem strange. Was it possible that invisible hands were at work?

A word here about how things run in Arunachal. The official writ is largely ignored in many matters. If a piece of land is unused, anyone who starts using is, for whatever purpose, since the owner doesn’t need it currently, becomes the unofficial owner of the land.

Finally in the face of determined enquiries by Swamiji and in light of the official review report, the district administration had no choice but to pass an order banning the illegal mining. The order was passed under section 144 of the criminal code. Once the order was communicated to the people engaged in the said mining, truck traffic greatly reduced, though it did not completely stop.

The river mining activity was being carried out by local politicians and thugs. Within days the Ashram was visited by people of various hues, explaining how the mining ban was affecting their livelihood, how people’s construction projects were on hold because the supply of raw materials had stopped and how poor labourers would lose their jobs. The visitors were accompanied by mining officers. It seemed as if the official machinery did not want to enforce the order at all.

Swamiji was handed a copy of a letter on their behalf saying that mining be allowed for personal use and that it would not affect the environment is any way and wanted his signature on it. Swami ji flatly refused. He explained that the order had been passed by the district administration, based on a review by their expert committee and that the Art of Living had nothing to do with it. He also suggested that they should petition the DC office to legalise and regulate the mining activity in the area and issue proper permits so that the activity could be carried out in a sustainable manner. Even after the order banning illegal mining was issued, enforcement was halfhearted at best. Activity continued in a distance. One day, Swami ji saw a truck parked in the river bed about half a mile away from the Ashram. The mining officer was called but initially did not answer the phone. Swami ji went up to the people loading the truck and explained the mining order. In the meantime, the officer had arrived as well. This happened a number of times in the first few days.

It seemed as if the Art of Living was in charge of enforcing the order also. Swami ji joked that the district administration should be paying the Art of Living for doing their job! Swami ji was told a number of times that he had to “live with the neighbours” and as long as mining did not happen immediately behind the Ashram it should not be a problem. This was by the district officer in charge of enforcing the order.  Swami ji said “The whole river is mine!”. Since the order mentions nothing about the Art of Living campus it needed to be enforced wherever illegal activity was happening



At a followup meeting with the Deputy Commissioner, Swamiji mentioned that the order had been partially enforced and some activity was still ongoing. The concerned officer was summoned but on questioning gave excuses saying that development work needs sand and gravel from the river. After the meeting, outside in the parking lot, things got a little heated. The said officer confronted Swamiji. “Why are you always complaining?!”, “Nothing will happen! I will not visit the area again to enforce the order” “You will have trouble with the local people!” Swamiji didn’t back down and told him that we will not be cowed down, that we were not afraid and that he should not threaten us. I personally felt a little scared by this exchange and also wondered why Swamiji had to make this matter so personal. Maybe it wasn’t personal and it just seemed that way to me. Or maybe it was : I said to Swamiji – “I have not felt afraid in a long time and have forgotten how it felt like”.

Swamiji smiled and said that “It is all a game”.

This exchange was communicated to the Deputy Commissioner who replied saying that he would resolve the matter peacefully. The next day, an official complaint was lodged with State officials regarding the concerned district officer. I realised that by this time my fear had vanished and I had started participating fully in the process. I wondered how this was going to unfold. Time will tell.

At this time when the Art of Living World Culture Festival is again in the news for “damaging the Yamuna flood plains”, and all the good work that the Art of Living has done to rejuvenate 27 rivers in the South of the country seems to have been forgotten, the Jullang river is an Art of Living story that is not making the news. But what is doing the rounds is the fiction that the NGT and the likes have made up. For me, it is absurd to even hear that a man and his organisation that has invested so much in creating a better world can be accused of something like this. As I witnessed this story unfold with my own eyes, I found it quite ironic that the Art of Living people were going out of their way to fight for nature here in Arunachal disregarding personal safety. The story of this Swamiji is only one amongst many. There are many champions like this around the world who mirror their leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s, vision and conviction to create harmony, inside out.

Dr Rajesh Kumar

Art of Living Happiness Teacher

B.Tech. Computer Science. (IIT Kharagpur 2002)

Ph.D. Computer Engineering. (Carnegie Mellon Univ, USA 2007)


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

Sakshi – Part-I 

During the morning session, Gurudev had told that everyone should write something. He said, unless you use your creativity, it will not blossom. You should write your experiences, write about knowledge. Guruji said how he had told one of his teachers to write about his experiences regarding ‘Art of Living’. That teacher had no experience of writing but his book turned out to be extremely popular. It got translated into many languages.

By evening many creative writers were born. Gurudev had to patiently bear with the new born creativity of the course participants. Some of the creations were extremely good but some were plain childish but Gurudev listened to everyone with the same attention and love.

Next day Gurudev himself conducted the morning Yoga and Sadhana session. Everyone was pleasantly surprised and happy. He came sharp at 6:00 am. The way he conducted Yoga was hilarious. It was an amazing experience. Short Sudarshan Kriya with Gurudev himself doing the kriya with participants was an experience beyond words.

During evening Satsang, Guruji again led everyone through another round of Sakshi meditation. Someone asked Guruji, “We can have inner peace by directing our awareness inside. How wonderful it would have been, if the outside problems would also disappear just by directing our attention to those problems.” Gurudev said, “Pahle andar to sab thik karlo; bahar ke problems to sirf Gabbarsing hai!” (First set right the things inside, the outside problems are just like an imaginary bogeyman).

On next day, Gurudev shared a beautiful story about the ‘night watchman’. When Gurudev was 23-24 years old, he was given enormous responsibility but there was no authority to get the things done. There were the numerous problems but things were not happening the way Gurudev wanted. When Gurudev used to bless others their problems were getting solved, but his own problems were not getting resolved. One day, due to so many unresolved problems, he was unable to sleep in the night. He decided to take a walk outside. He saw the night shift watchman standing at the entrance of the Ashram gate doing his duty. Gurudev stood behind a nearby tree and kept watching. The watchman was stopping each and every vehicle passing through the gate and patiently noting down the details. Gurudev thought, “Main bhi watchman ban jata hun….” (Let me also become like this watchman). The watchman was doing his job with total responsibility but at the same time he was not attached with any of the vehicles passing through the gate. He was just a witness to the events. Guruji told that, the next step beyond taking responsibility is to be a witness. Take total responsibility, put your 100% in whatever needs to be done but at the same time be a witness to all that is happening.

Taking ‘responsibility’ and being a ‘witness’ appear to be totally opposite things but in fact they complement each other. The burden of ‘doer-ship’ which comes with responsibility gets dissolved by ‘witness consciousness’ and one gets more energy for work. Witness consciousness also gives the sharpened awareness and intellect needed for skilfully executing the jobs.




Some of the precious pearls of wisdom shared by Gurudev during the course are –

  1. Gurudev said, “Save your mind and use your brain ….usually we save our brain and use our mind.”… Mind is full of likes, dislikes, desires and all the garbage. When our life is guided by mind rather than by intellect, we land into problems. When our decisions are based on intellect rather than our likes and dislikes, we become successful in life.
  2. The moments of disrespect are the moments where your true qualities shine forth. When someone insults you, just observe what is happening inside you. How you react at these moments of disrespect shows your true nature.
  3. Become angry only if it is going to give some good result. Use anger as a tool only if it is required. Don’t get consumed by anger.
  4. In meditation only three things bother you ….your ego, intellect and desires. If you are able to freeze these things you can meditate. If you are able to let go of your ego, intellect and desires while meditating, then only you can meditate.
  5. वैराग्य क्या है? जो देखे हुए सुने हुए बात की तरफ तृष्णा न हो तो वो वैराग्य है। (When you don’t have any aversion or craving towards anything seen or heard, then that is dispassion.)
  6. कमलनयन मने क्या? पुरे कमल जैसे आँख हो लेकिन कुछ अंदर ना ले। ( What is the meaning of Kamalnayan? One whose eyes are fully open like a lotus – one who is fully aware – but at the same time he is not attached with anything seen or heard.)

Those seven days with Gurudev were filled with lot of insights, meditations, wisdom, Satsang, fun and happiness. Finally the day to go back arrived. With a heavy heart I bid adieu to the Ashram. The course came to an end but this beautiful journey on the path shown by Gurudev continues.


II Jai Guru Dev II

-Sanjay Sabnis



About Art of Living, Courses, Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sudarshan Kriya, Wisdom, Yoga and Meditation.

One day my close friend called me to inform that Swamiji was at Ahmedabad and he had agreed to come over for dinner at his home. My friend invited me along with some others for dinner and knowledge session with Swamiji. I was delighted because I had tremendous respect for Swamiji.

I remembered the day when I first met Swamiji. It was way back in the year 2000. It was the last day of my first ‘Advance Course’ at Surat. Swamiji had graced that course as a guest of honor and gave a small talk to the participants. He told us how fortunate we were to be on this beautiful path shown by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji. He shared that, before coming to ‘Art of Living’, he had practiced many different types of Spiritual techniques (Sadhana). Some of those techniques were so tough that, it was like undergoing major surgery without anesthesia. In contrast, the path of ‘Art of Living’ was like operation under complete anesthesia. The patient doesn’t even realize that he is being operated. It is a path of smiles and laughter. It is a path of celebration. I was deeply moved by Swamiji’s words. Over the years I have realized the truth behind his words.

That day, the knowledge session with Swamiji was amazing. We were a small group of 8-10 people, so it was more like a one-to-one question-answer session. During discussions many of our doubts got cleared. Someone asked something regarding meditation. While explaining, Swamiji told that meditation is nothing but complete awareness. He said that many people lose their body awareness during meditation, their spine and head stoops down while meditating. According to Swamiji this was not meditation.



I was totally confused. I had seen many senior ‘Art of Living’ teachers meditating with their heads bent down. I vainly tried to argue with Swamiji that even Gurudev’s head bends down when he goes into meditation during Satsang. But Swamiji was very firm on his opinion. I was puzzled. I knew that Swamiji was a very learned, rational and down-to-earth person. He had many years of spiritual experience behind him.  He was a revered personality in ‘Art of Living’ circles as well as outside. He couldn’t be wrong. I also remembered Gurudev himself saying that, “A mind in the present moment is meditation.” Being in present moment is being totally aware. So, Gurudev’s statement was also corroborating with Swamiji’s views on meditation. However, this doubt about meditation kept nagging at the back of my mind for many days.


Advance Meditation Program 


After a few months, luckily I got an opportunity to attend 7-days ‘Advance Meditation Program’ (AMP) in presence of Gurudev at Bangalore Ashram. By that time, I had almost forgotten about Swamiji’s visit and my doubts about meditation. But by some strange coincidence (as usual?), Gurudev cleared all my doubts on the very first day of reporting at Bangalore Ashram. Being Sunday, the Satsang was in the open amphitheater. During Satsang, Gurudev led everyone into a very beautiful meditation with eyes partially open during the meditation. It was ‘eyes open’ meditation with complete awareness. Gurudev told that this was Sakshi meditation (witness meditation).



Gurudev said, in Sakshi meditation, you are simultaneously witnessing all that is happening inside and outside. Like a candle (diya) kept on the boundary wall, your awareness lights both inside and outside environment simultaneously. With the practice of Sakshi meditation your awareness sharpens. Your intellect sharpens. But if you keep on practicing only Sakshi meditation, you may become dry. You will not get the juice (ras) of life.


Laya Meditation


Gurudev then explained about Laya meditation In Laya meditation, one dissolves totally. It is like meditating while getting totally engrossed in the music of Satsang. Even Sahaj Samadhi meditation, as taught in ‘Art of Living’ courses is a Laya meditation. In this type of meditation, the mind becomes no mind. If you keep on practicing only Laya meditation you will definitely get happiness and peace of mind but you may not have that sharpness of intellect which is desired of a meditator. So we should have a combination of both Laya and Sakshi.

Gurudev said, “For a seeker it is essential that the mind is alert and awake, at the same time emotions are also alive.” I suddenly realised that, the combination of ‘Sudarshan Kriya’ followed by ‘Sahaj Samadhi Meditation’, as given by Gurudev, is a beautiful combination of ‘Sakshi’ and ‘Laya’. During ‘Sudarshan Kriya’ the awareness is effortlessly focussed on the breath. Breath is always going on in the present moment.  By following the breath, mind comes in present moment. So during ‘Sudarshan Kriya’ the consciousness automatically becomes ‘witness consciousness.’ On the other hand, ‘Sahaj Samadhi’ is an effortless Laya meditation. During ‘Sahaj Samadhi’ meditation, mind simply dissolves with the help of the ‘mantra’.

On that particular day, it was extremely hot outside. After the Sakshi meditation by Gurudev, many felt that the weather has suddenly become bearable. Gurudev said that a Yogi is not perturbed by hot or cold. For a Yogi hot weather or cold weather both are same.

In the evening miraculously there were clouds in the sky and there was thunder and rain. Temperatures fell by around 5-6 degrees. Weather became very pleasant. Next day, one of the participants thanked Guruji for rains. Guruji said, “The key was in acceptance. During Sakshi meditation, you accepted the extremely hot weather. As soon as you stopped resisting the hot weather, it changed.”

….to be continued

II Jai Guru Dev I|


Sanjay Sabnis

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

‘Child is the father of man’ said William Wordsworth 3 centuries ago. What does it mean?!

As a student of Literature, it intrigued me. I read through lot of annotations. Wordsworth meant, whatever experiences a child goes through in childhood shapes the person he becomes as an adult. I looked at myself. Yes, I am a product of my childhood, like everyone else is. The upbringing, culture, values, tradition and unconditional love of not just my parents but a large extended family of grandparents, aunts, and uncles made a huge influence on the person that I became as an adult. With such strong ethical foundation, I built myself as an independent thinker to blossom in my swadharma. Swadharma is our inherent nature.

All literary figures drive home the point ‘Literature reflects life’.

As a young girl of 6 or 7, I remember getting up in the morning and looking at the picture of a God, then looking at my right palm to chant ‘Karagre vasathe lakshmi, kara madhye sarswati, Kara mole sthithe gauri, prabhate Karadarshanam’.  This would continue throughout the day. A different shloka for almost every daily activity; be it going out of the house, sitting down for a meal, a dusk time prayer when lamp was lit, a prayer before beginning to study and conclude with a bedtime prayer to avoid bad dreams.

The house always brimmed with relatives who would come unannounced to be greeted with a warm welcome and special food. We as children touched their feet as they took leave. Birthdays were marked with special pujas and favourite home made goodies. We always had a band of relatives to rely on when parents had to go somewhere without us.

I have watched with dismay as this value system gradually started collapsing. Children are left confused. We cannot blame just the nuclear family system. Values have taken back seat to a degree where parents are focused on achieving a good standard of living; provide the best of best for their kids, everything they themselves could not have. Somewhere we missed the balance, tipped the scales by changing priorities.



All spiritual Gurus step in at the nick of time to save our rich heritage. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, envisaged setting up Sri Sri Sanskar Kendras not only in India but in other countries too where children could imbibe these precious values in a friendly, fun filled atmosphere. A dedicated team of volunteer teachers of the Kendras fill the void left by dissolution of joint family system and the values associated with it.

The age old practice of bed time or meal time story telling by grandmothers to young kids kindled the imagination and encouraged creativity. The stories were animated by the hand gestures and facial expression of grandmas.  The same scenario is recreated in Sanskar Kendra classes. Thus IPads and laptops fade in to oblivion saving the health of the child. A strong bond of love develops between teachers and kids. What a relief!



Holistic education is about integrating spirituality into main stream of education. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says ‘Education is not about stuffing information. It is much more than that. True education should impart values and create beautiful citizens on this planet’. With the hectic academic schedule, schools can hardly take relaxed time out to teach sanskars (values) to children. Sri Sri Sanskar Kendras bridge this gap and help mould the character of children who blossom to their full potential.



The most noble and much needed initiative that promises a generation of young adults who will not need stress management or de-addiction programs. Training programs are held periodically. It is a calling for every responsible citizen to join the team.

Bangalore is the base for one of the world’s largest NGO, The Art of Living Foundation.  Sri Sri Sanskar Kendra will be holding a 2 day Teacher Training sessions on 29th and 30th of this month  in Bangalore. Centres or Kendras will be set up throughout Karnataka thereafter.

For more information, connect with

Sri Sri Sanskar Kendra office





Leela Ramesh

About Art of Living, News, Projects, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Nature’s bountifulness has always helped our life grow in prosperity. One such element out of the 5 building blocks of Life on this planet that have beautified the variety of existence that we see around us, including ourselves, is water. Water is an inseparable part of the life on our planet. Water is so important that we may call it life itself. But today, Nature has been taken for granted by us while we are busy stitching technology in our lives and we don’t even realise how it has suffered. This happened largely because of unawareness of the consequences of our actions.

Due to indiscriminate actions taken by humans of cutting trees and constructing concrete jungles, nature couldn’t shower enough rains and all the living creatures got affected. The forests faced soil erosion, while rivers and greenery vanished. The global warming eventually led to the droughts which struck almost everywhere in the interior parts of our country. The farmers who earn their living relying on rains got disheartened and were deprived of their livelihood. The major rivers also faced droughts. The problems of water-wars, crop failures, farmer suicides, environmental degradation and unsustainable agricultural practices started dawning.

It is said that an aspiration to make a change can inspire many to achieve a righteous cause. One such inspiration for us is Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar himself who is Humanitarian & Spiritual leader and an Ambassador​ of Peace. He knew that the rejuvenation of rivers was the only means to remove misery from the lives of millions thirsting for water all over India. This strong intention to empower the lives of our ‘Annadaata’ farmers was also the inspiration to help them become the able pillars of our country. The Art of Living volunteers gathered spiritedly to rejuvenate the life-giving rivers.

Various projects were taken up for the rejuvenation of rivers like Vedavathi, Kumudavathi, Banjara, Palar and many many more. Vedavathi river rejuvenation’s success inspired the Government of India to learn from this project and initiate similar projects across the country to revive the drying rivers. Kumudavathi river rejuvenation aims to reduce Bangalore city’s water dependence on the river Kaveri. 2700 volunteers including corporate employees’ engagement saw a remarkable resolve with youthfulness exhibited an astounding result which directly benefited 70000 people. Manjara river which was desilited over 14 kms  in length and was cleaned in 5 months time has saw its revival. The humble citizens of Latur contributed Rs.6.25 crores from the household savings to take the charge of curbing sudden water crisis.

Palar river rejuvenation project which when completed will bring back water to various districts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. This will set an example of how a model of inter-state river management should be.

The scientific approach with community engagement and project management complemented in such a way that till now 27 rivers have been revived and 3000 villages have benefited along with 50,00,000 people.

The river rejuvenation teams are committed to not just reviving rivers but also to rebuilding lives by empowering individuals and to rekindle the hope of fortifying the future of the country. All the projects taken up are employed with the latest scientific technology, insightful scientific knowledge and guidance by experts.



The success in the projects has been achieved by providing local solutions to restore water sources and to directly benefit many people by providing a reliable and safe water supply. There are various other steps taken to reduce contamination of water sources and to improve sanitation and hygienic conditions in many rural areas thereby securing lives from diseases and ensure basic health to many.

The fact-sheet that can leave us in wonder is that work has been done for over 290 kilometers of river lines and 60 kilometers of similar work is in progress. This work done till now; covers about 9 districts and 6 more districts are to be covered in the ongoing projects. 21 rivers have been rejuvenated in Maharashtra, 3 in Karnataka and one in Tamil Nadu. The projects have revived 75 canals, 18 lakes and ponds and the list continues.


This effort by the Art of Living Foundation is not just a project but a way of touching the lives of millions under the guidance of a caring spiritual master who aims at establishing heaven on earth by creating happiness and love for all across the globe.

Rejuvenated rivers will rejuvenate lives, rejuvenated lives will rejuvenate society, rejuvenated societies will rejuvenate the country, rejuvenated countries will rejuvenate the whole world, one step at a time and then this planet will undeniably be the best place to live in.


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Jai Gurudev !

Meeta Soneji


About Art of Living, Courses.


The Art of Living courses have found takers from across the length and breadth of the world. People from all walks of life have found the courses beneficial to their well-being. It is surprising to see the courses, despite being just stress-relief courses in their essence, have been doing more than just relieving individuals from stress – after doing the courses individuals have blossomed with efficiency, new-found talents, and smiles which don’t disappear easily.


“Under the pressure of work and a new lifestyle as a fresher who had just started her corporate journey, I had soon started to smile less and less. After doing the happiness program, I saw a great shift happen within me. I started smiling more and more. And even my work efficiency doubled.” – Manisha Tayal, Software Engineer, Sapient, Gurgaon


So, how does a simple stress-relief program deliver much more than simple relaxation? Or is our idea of relaxation not similar to the relaxation the courses wish to bring about? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the organisation says, “Deep rest cultures talents and brings you closer to your nature. And your nature is all bliss.”

And endowing individuals with the ability to rest deeply seems to be the objective of the Art of Living courses. But how do they achieve this? To know how, let’s dive deeper into the Art Of Living’s basic-level courses:


Happiness Program


If we observe carefully, the source of stress is our own mind. The situation or person bothering us is outside, but the stress created by them is an inner-world phenomenon. Through the application of practical wisdom and practice of meditation, the mind can be trained to keep calm despite the presence of stress stimulants.

The practical wisdom and profound processes of the Happiness program give individuals tools to train their mind into calmness and restfulness with ease.

What to expect in the course?

-Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing technique which has been scientifically proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone and shown to boost immunity.

-Profound processes which give a glimpse to your inner self

-Practical wisdom that helps you remain dynamic in action and peaceful in mind



Sri Sri Yoga


Twisted hard postures is what comes to our mind when we think of yoga. But, the course content of the Sri Sri Yoga Program is bound to change your mind. The program not only teaches Yoga which is easier for beginners but also offers profound experiences which a practitioner of advanced level of Yoga craves for. The objective of the course is to help individuals unite with themselves and lead a healthier life.

What to expect in the course?

-Yoga postures ranging from mild to intense


-Breathing techniques


-Simplified knowledge from the ancient Patanjali Yogsutras

-Lifestyle tips


Sahaj Samadhi

Meditation  is often thought of as a difficult exercise done to obtain the state of thoughtlessness. What the Sahaj Samadhi course does is to simplify this exercise and make it easy for an individual to reach this state. The Sahaj Samadhi course uses the principle of mantra chanting to lead an individual into meditation. While an ordinary thought when repeated becomes a worry, a mantra when repeated becomes a tool to cut the web of thoughts, thereby leading one to a space of serenity.

The simple technique offered by the course makes itself appealing to anybody who wants to learn an easy way to meditate.


What to expect in the course?

-Effortless meditation by the use of a particular mantra


Art Excel

Studies show that meditation has numerous benefits for kids, including improved focus and self-awareness. However, what studies don’t show is how difficult it is to make kids stay at one place, let alone make them meditate. The Art Excel program solves this difficulty with fun-filled activities interspersed with meditation and mindfulness lessons.

What to expect in this course?

  • Sudarshan Kriya
  • Meditation and other breathing techniques
  • Techniques for overcoming fear and anxiety
  • Interactive processes
  • Simple tenets for daily life
  • Team games
  • Group discussions
  • Learning through fun and games


Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES!)

Adolescence is one trying phase of life where an individual faces a host of challenges: peer pressure, entrance exams, expectations of parents, and their own intense emotions. The YES! program employs meditation and practical wisdom to endow teens with the skills to overcome these challenges with confidence.


What to expect in this course?

-Sudarshan Kriya

-Meditation and breathing techniques

-Techniques for overcoming anxiety and fear

-Techniques to develop concentration

-Simple tenets for daily life

-Interactive processes, group discussions, and team games

-Confidence building and leadership

-Fun-filled activities and games




As studies find happy employees more productive, organizations can no longer ignore their well-being. And while health insurances of employees can take care of physical health, there are no official arrangements ensuring the emotional health of employees. The APEX program bridges this need and not only ensures calm and happy individuals at the workplace but also ensures improved workplace performance.


What to expect in this course?

-Sudarshan Kriya

-Practical Wisdom

-Leadership development



There are no pre-requisites for doing the above courses. Just age eligibility for the YES! And Art Excel programs. And while the course contents are different, the objective of all courses is one: a happier and healthier individual. So what are you waiting for? Come on board to the journey to your happiest and highest self! And send your loved ones on it too.


So Which program are you enrolling in?


Vandita Kothari