Movies to Watch.

If you’re looking for a slick Hollywood pot boiler, then skip this one. This is a film without a taut story. So, if you want a good story, you’re hunting in the wrong place. The Tree of Life. Does the plot move around a magical tree that materializes over night on the front lawn? Nope!

Even the word ‘movie’ is deceptive here. Yes, there are moving images, but more like a montage or a series of montages tracked onto some stunning music with occasional whispered monologues. It is these precious strands of thought, whispered to the great consciousness, that bring cohesion to the images. And the audience listening to those familiar silent prayers become that Universal Consciousness: listening, witnessing as Life unfolds its dramas.

Life. The very word implies death. Life carries with it the shadow of death. Each character must deal with the reality of death: the death of one’s friends, family members, one’s own death, the death of childhood; each phase of life implies death on some level for the new to flourish…the endless cycle of birth and death, the wrath of Nature and the unexpected renewal and blossoming of life.

The film begins with death…and of living in the shadow and memory of one who has died. “Where were you, to let a boy die? Let anything happen?” is the mother’s anguished cry to God. “Will you die too?” asks the distraught son of his mother. Life rolls on two wheels, made clear as the film opens, “the Way of Grace and the Way of Nature”. The mother, played by Jessica Chastain, ever kind, loving and forgiving, symbolises the Way of Grace. She holds the family together. She is perfectly cast – a delicate beauty much like a wisp of passing life.

Tree of Life Poster 2

The camera closes up on Brad Pitt, the father, as the mother’s voice over reveals, “Nature only wants to please itself, get others to please it too…likes to Lord it over them.” A good introduction to what is to follow…the typical, earning male stereotype, Lord of the Manor, who takes it upon himself to tirelessly ‘educate’ his young sons. Of course he is well meaning, but it comes at a painful price (for his family!).

Are you patient? Has life delivered its lessons of Patience to you? Can you make sense of your life? Have you even tried? Perhaps this is what director Terrence Malick is asking us, the audience. He has done his best to capture the incomprehensible unfolding of life with individual beliefs, confusions, doubts and questions posed by the actors given roles to play in this grand scheme called ‘Life’. Are we not actors struggling to make sense of our lives and although we are so minuscule compared to the vastness of the Universe are not our concerns real and felt and lived?

If these are your concerns: Who am I? Where am I going? What am I doing here? What is all this about? Then this is the movie for you! It unfolds slowly, like huge waves forming and dissolving in slow motion, the movements of Nature merging with the movements of Man.

There are many pauses, slow dissolves, the screen goes black momentarily, reminders of life and death, of the mind going blank, stories beginning, ending and merging one into the other. An effortless meeting of generations living and gone on the sands of Time. The film captures dramatically the meeting of the river with the ocean, and the meeting of the child with the grown up self, the grown up with its childhood parent, as past, present and future freely mingle as one. The movie ends with a grand embracing of the self, forgiveness, love and joy, a quiet celebration on the shores of a grand ocean of life.

It did strike me that had the family learned the Sudarshan Kriya and practised it along with meditation on a daily basis, there would not be an eternal lifetime of mourning. There would be no space or reason to remain unhappy “when all the world is shining around and love is smiling through all things.” Gurudev (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) would certainly have ensured they imbibe the wisdom that “Life goes on, people pass along. Nothing remains the same.” That is the path of viveka, of discrimination we all live by at The Art of Living.

Given the spectacular and recurring images of water in its varied forms (whether in the form of a gardener’s hose enticingly spraying water on the mother’s feet, an inviting swimming pool, a river flowing wide, the lashing waves of an ocean) I wonder whether Ocean of Life would have been a more apt title. This is definitely a must see film for those of you who enjoy experimental movies, classical music, nature that takes away your breath…and mostly for those of you who, long after the show’s over, like to ponder over that mystery we call life, your life!

Jai Gurudev !!

Radhika De

About Art of Living, Art of Living Projects.

Nepal is a country rich in heritage and tradition. It is endowed with mountains as high as the Everest and plains of the tarai. The Nepalese (Gorkhas to many) owe their origin to various surrounding geographies, be it Tibet or north India. The Shah dynasty which ruled Nepal for most part of its existence could perhaps be from the plains of India. The founder of Nepal Prithvi Narayan Shah drew his spiritual strength from Baba Gorakhnath, from where comes the word Gorkha the founding place of the Shah Dynasty, from where they emerged and unified Nepal as one entity. Since time immoral the brave warriors from Nepal came to be known as the Gorkhas. In India, Baba Goraknath’s name is synonymous with Gorakhpur, the history of Nepal and India being intertwined. Siddhartha was born in Lumbini, in present day Nepal and became Buddha in Gaya in present day Bihar, India. Sita from Janakpur in present day Nepal was married to Lord Rama and spent the rest of her life in present day India. The Pandavas were working in the kitchen of Raja Birat during their Agyatwas in present day Biratnagar in Nepal. In fact if local folklore is to be believed they hid their weapons in the Vijaypur Hill in present day Dharan town in Nepal.

The Gorkhas who were recruited into the British Indian Army have a very rich tradition of Velour from time immemorial. So much so that one of the bravest sons of Free India Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw once commented “If a soldier says he is not scared, then either he is lying or is a Gorkha”. To this day the Chief of the Nepalese Army is the Honorary Chief of the Indian Army and Vice-Versa and they exchange words when they meet. In fact the present day Indian Army Chief is from the Gorkha Regiment.  A Gorkha Officer in the Indian Army spontaneously greets with the salutation Jai Gorakh. In fact recently when a Colonel of the Gorkha regiment made the supreme sacrifice in Kashmir, his young 11 year daughter saluted her dads mortal remains with the Gorkha War Cry” Katar Hunu Bandha Marno Ramro”(its better to die than being a coward) electrifying the already emotionally charged Gorkha troops of his regiment.

A country so rich in tradition with its various tribes and castes and sub-castes, people here have very high kinship within their own tribe or caste group and as a downside of which racial strain with other groups. With the coming of democracy, these differences long swept underneath have started coming to the surface resulting in mushrooming of political parties and interest groups of all shades and colour, many a times pulling in different directions. The Gorakhwani of Baba Goraknath “ Hath na Kariba, Padha na Rahiba, Dhera Dhariba Paon”(Neither be too aggressive, nor to passive, move gently) seems to be fading.

In this present day environment Nepal needs a new wave of spiritual awakening, a call for which was given by the world renowned spiritual master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation,  when he visited the city of Dharan on 1st March(Fagun 18th Gata) 2013. He said “from now on every 1st of March (Fagun 18th Gata) should be celebrated as Nepali Topi Diwas” so that Nepalese who are fast losing their traditions and pulling in different directions,  to come together under the banner of the Nepali Topi and start moving with a common agenda and direction with pride in their culture and tradition. A people need to be proud about their past to be confident about their future. Societies that have forgotten their roots have had various ills affecting them like drugs, AIDS, depression and divorce.

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Since the clarion call given by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, the Art of Living Nepal along with various other organization like the, Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Red Cross, Udyog Vanijya Sangh, Janjati Mahasangh, Marwari Samaj and many other like minded organizations have been celebrating Fagun 18th Gata as Nepali Topi Diwas each year.  On this day thousands of people from across various towns and cities, wearing their traditional dresses and the Nepali Topi march through the streets singing songs in praise of the Nepali Topi and their country. More and more organizations and people are joining each year, including parliamentarians, senior police officials, college lecturers and businessmen with the custom also spreading to the villages.

Today many calenders across Nepal have entered March 1st (Fagun 18th Gata) as Nepali Topi Diwas. The aim is to instil pride in your own culture along with accepting the good things from other parts of the world, with the overall vision of  what             Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji  says, “Deepen your Roots and broaden your Horizon”. While addressing the United Nations, Guruji   said, “Those who take responsibility do not pray and those who pray do not take responsibility. I pray as well as take responsibility” . This statement becomes important and relevant to emulate since for years Nepal went through exactly the same dichotomy.

Also, what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji said while addressing the World Culture Festival in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, where people from across the world were presenting their cultural diversity celebrating 30 years of Art of Living ” One Divinity, One Humanity, Celebrating the Diversity is our Sacred Duty” cannot be more true today in the context of the logjam being witnessed.

Jai Gurudev

Samir Jolly

An International Faculty of the Art of Living, Samir Jolly is the son of a Gorkha officer Late Brig S.C. Jolly, VSM.

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

A profile of a joyous warrior who fights on peacefully amidst adverse and scary events in a lab for living in enlightenment!

I couldn’t help laughing whenever Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji shares the story from the Ramayan in which a stray dog asks Lord Rama to make his attacker the head of an ashram as a punishment! It’s ironical to presume that being the head of an ashram would be such as a tough job that even a dog would consider it to be a harsh enough punishment to be meted out to his tormentor!

As the story goes, the dog had been a head of an ashram in his past life and it was so tough a job that he wished that we would be better off being a stray dog rather than a head of an ashram! And he was born as one!

The moral of the story is that it’s not easy to take care of an ashram! Fortunately, one doesn’t have to take another birth to experience it. Just a posting as the head of Art of Living’s ashram located in Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh would be enough to realize this profound wisdom and become strong enough not wish to be born as a dog!

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This naturally-endowed beautiful ashram has its own ways of teaching most profound wisdom in very chaotic ways!  It’s like Bagavad Gita in action. Profound wisdom of life in the midst of chaos! And chaos inevitably leads to bliss! That’s why I often joke around in AOL circuit that any long-term seva in Arunachal Pradesh is like training in how to live in enlightenment. And that’s what Swami Bhavyatejji, the current head of Art of Living’s Itanagar Ashram, is going through! And in dramatic ways!

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The serenity, the beauty, the remoteness, the isolation of the ashram makes for a heady mix! Just being able to be happy without the creature comforts of a city life itself is a challenging proposition if one has even a little attachment to the material realm! For the sake of clarity, WiFi is a luxury and mobile network as erratic as the human mind! The beauty of the hill on the front and cool breeze from the river behind could become irritating if that’s all what you have to live with all the time!

Swamiji has no choice. He has been tasked by Sri Sri to develop and grow this remote but virgin ashram into one of the most beautiful ashrams of the Art of Living! And if you don’t take in the spirit, that could be a harsher punishment than the dog sought from Lord Rama! In these parts of the world, sometimes even getting a skilled labourer could be tougher than getting into samadhi! The same holds true of getting any type of raw materials! The nearest functioning airport is nearly 500 km away! And until recently, the nearest railway station used to be equally far!

To Swamiji’s credit, he has handled this challenging task like an enlightened soul! The ashram has been transformed beyond recognition. Infrastructural development is visible in every corner of the ashram. The atmosphere too has changed; there is a welcoming vibe that every visitor is noticing! The ashramites breathe easy with a sense of responsibility and commitment! Like a true sevak and sadhak, Swamiji has been putting his heart, head and shoulder into it. Being available and hitting the ground himself (often shedding his attire of dhoti and angavastram and getting into soiled Ts and shorts, he has been making sure that best is being done at the lowest cost.

Local dance to welcome Sri Sri

He also has to deal with land encroachers on all sides of the ashram and secure the boundaries of the ashram. He even had to evict a group people who have settled themselves on the ashram land. The land issues can get very emotive in a place where non-locals are not allowed to own land. One has to manage the anger and emotions of all kinds of people from those who call you a ‘pakhandi’  a gundha to those who threaten you with a dao (sword). He has also to listen with patience to those who come seeking for large donations or to those who want help in getting mega projects sanctioned by the Central government!

And this has become a comfortable routine for Swamiji! And for sure, divine doesn’t like a routine existence!  Last month, a gentleman who owns a plot just behind Gurudev’s kuteer in the ashram started baying for Swamiji’s blood without any provocation. First, his younger brother came and started abusing ashramites, calling them names and threatening with dire consequences! And when Swamaji tried to figure out what’s happening, he too was verbally abused. Without being cowed down and provoked, Swamiji explained to him how we had worked out the approach road they wanted through the ashram land! He looked convinced, yet they appeared hell-bent on scaring us to conceding a significant area of land for the approach road without suitably compensating us as agreed before!

The motives became clear an hour later when the gentleman, who happens to be a local politician, came with a group of supporters and started verbally abusing Swamiji. All attempts by Swamiji to talk out the matter were foiled by flatly saying he wouldn’t talk to a “son of a bitch”. The language used was so unparliamentary that it cannot be reproduced here! Yet, Swamiji kept his cool and refused to be intimidated! Instead of apologetic of his behavour, the gentleman filed a false FIR against Swamiji another ashramite, accusing them of misbehaving with him and sheltering undergrounds elements in the ashram!

The politician returned the same evening with a gang with the intention to provoke us. They even fired a few rounds in the air just to scare us! Yet, we tried our best to reason him out that we are here for social good and a politician like him shouldn’t be fighting with us and differences, if any, can always be sorted out mutually. But to no avail. We went away warning us that if the police don’t take action on his complaint within two days, his goons will cut Swamiji into pieces, saying it is the customary way of delivering justice!

The next day a police team arrived at the ashram with a Magistrate to take cognizance of the complaint! When the truth was seen, they couldn’t but laugh at the pettiness of the politician. They all felt if actions need to be taken, then it should be against the politician for trespassing into the ashram and spoiling the tranquility of the place! And when an assessment to this effect was filed by the Magistrate, the politician reportedly tried to put political pressure on the officers to take action against Swamiji. When that didn’t happen, a portion of the compound wall of the ashram was damaged under the cover of darkness!

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And by the next morning, the administration ordered the deployment of police protection in the ashram for the safety of Swamiji and ashramites. Though we didn’t feel the need of police security, they insisted on it, saying the past records of the politician cannot be taken for granted. A team of 4-5 police personnel patrolled the ashram round-the-clock for a week! They ensured the damaged portion of the compund wall was re-erected without any disturbance!

The things are quiet now, though no formal settlement has taken place! We hope with time, this gentleman will also see reasons and recognize the solace we are bringing to the people of Arunachal Pradesh through Sudarshan Kriya and other activities!

Though scary, these episodes undoubtedly instilled us the feeling of being protected all the time. It reaffirmed in us the wisdom to accept and moved on! And, if this isn’t training in living in enlightenment, and what would be!  And surely that stray dog knew what it takes to head an ashram!

Jai Gurudev

Rajaque Rahman

Art of Living Wisdom.

Continued from AYURVEDA AND AGNI – 1

Ayurveda says that the Nature or entire Universe is governed and composed by five gross elements (Pancha Mahabhutas) viz. Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The human body is part of this nature so it is also governed and composed by these five elements. All these elements, more than physical substances, represent the specific qualities and properties associated with these elements.

Agni (or the biological fire of the body) has been given prime importance in Ayurveda from the point of view of health. Agni refers to the universal principle of transformation in all its forms. The Agni in human body is responsible for digestion, absorption, assimilation and transformation of food into nutrition and energy. Agni is also responsible for transformation of sensory perceptions and information into knowledge and understanding. Agni is vital for visual perception, skin lustre and regulation of temperature, confidence, courage, enthusiasm, laughter, mental clarity, intelligence and reasoning capacity. Agni is responsible for respiration and utilization of Prana. Agni helps in cellular metabolism (cellular level breathing) and maintains flow of cellular communication. Agni gives us patience, provides strength and maintains lifespan, vitality and vigour.

Ayurvedic Agni

According to Ayurveda each of these five elements is linked with specific sensory organ, specific sensory perception, specific organ of action and specific motor faculty.

In case of Agni this co-relation is as below:

Element SenseQuality SenseOrgan SensoryFaculty Organ ofAction MotorFaculty
Agni(Fire) Form Eyes To See Feet Movement

After looking at this table, one can easily understand why it is necessary to walk for some time every day to keep the vital fire inside burning.

It is said that each part of the human body is associated with a particular God. ‘Padayo Vishnu tishtatu’, meaning Lord Vishnu is present in the feet. Lord Rama is said to be present in the naval region, the seat of Agni (here, referring to the digestive fire). Lord Rama is also one form (avatar) of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu represents the maintenance principle. This again signifies that Agni is vital for maintenance of human body and walking is the best way to keep this Agni alive.

If you really go into the details, originally the Vedic tradition had only fire ceremonies. Fire sustains life. Without fire nothing will move. The first mantra of the oldest scripture known today to mankind, the Rig Veda, is about Agni, the sacred fire. In Vedic tradition, not a day passed without worshipping the Agni.

The fire element which is present in nature in different forms is also present in human body.  When you worship the fire outside, the fire inside also gets rejuvenated. Our ancients knew this secret of life. Now also in many Hindu households there is this beautiful tradition of offering water early in the morning to the Sun. Water element denotes union, love, togetherness, being one with something. Sun denotes the fire element. In many parts of India “Chhath Puja” is performed where fast is kept and rising and setting Sun is worshipped by standing in water up to naval region and offering water to the Sun. Naval region is the seat of Jatharagni (digestive fire inside). Offering water denotes the union. When we worship Sun by offering water it revitalizes the Agni inside us.

“Surya Namaskara” or Sun-Salutation is a beautiful sequence of Yoga developed thousands of years ago. It is said that Sri Krisha used to practice this yoga sequence and taught it to Pandavas. Surya Namaskaras” help in development of Manipur Chakra, (naval energy centre). Sri Krishna was also called as “Padma Nabha” because his naval chakra was said to be the size of fully blossomed Lotus (Padma). The qualities of clarity of mind, self-confidence, bliss, self-assurance, knowledge, wisdom and the ability to make correct decisions are associated with blossoming of the Manipur Chakra. It is the seat of digestive fire. Its mantra is ‘Ram’.

Agni is the fire inside us, the consciousness in us, which is so alive. It is such a great purifier. But the problem is – we do not allow the Agni to do its purification work.

In fever, our body becomes hot. Body activates its defence mechanism. It is burning all those foreign particles and bacteria that have entered the body. When this foreign bacteria or virus goes out of the body, our fever comes down. The purpose of fever is to purify our body. But as soon as fever comes we take medicines to subside the fever. We should remember that fever in a controlled form is good for us.

The fire of fasting (Jatharagni) can purify our blood and remove the toxins from the body. In Hinduism, Christianity, Jainism, Islam and in almost all the religions of the world, fasting and prayer are prescribed for purification. Hunger is connected with primordial survival instinct and it touches the deepest mental impressions (sanskaras) in us. If we do meditations and sincere prayers while fasting, it has manifold effect. It can burn all the rubbish that we collect due to actions of the past. It can burn lot of past Karma. But we never let the fire of hunger to come up. We keep stuffing our tummies before we feel hungry.

The fire of pure love and knowledge (awareness) can purify our entire existence at all the levels. But we never allow that to happen.

Let us again honour that ‘Agni’ or fire inside and outside which sustains our life and gives direction to our life.

             “Om Mahaajvalaaya Vidmahe, 

                                          Agnidevaaya Dhiimahi, 

                                                             Tanno Agnih Prachodayaat”

 

~ Sanjay Sabnis

(With inputs from Vaidya Shrikant Bagewadikar, excerpts from the book “Ayurveda Simplified” by Dr. Nisha Manikantan and talks of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji)

Art of Living Wisdom.

Recently at Pune my wife and I were fortunate enough to meet a renowned master of Ayurveda. He was an elderly gentleman of around 60-65 years with an impeccable reputation as an Ayurvedacharya. It was vouched by many that he can tell the exact number of blocks in your arteries just by checking your pulse (Nadi Pariksha).

We were lucky to get his appointment even though it was one of his ‘off’ days. After doing our ‘Pulse Diagnosis’ (in which fortunately no blocks were declared), we got some time to talk with him. My wife asked him, “How come some people though very old still have a very alert and attentive mind, whereas some people lose the alertness of mind and enthusiasm even at the age of 50 -55 years?”

His answer to this question was an eye-opener.

He explained that, as per Ayurveda the body is made up of seven ‘dhatus’ (seven constituents):

  1. Rasa – Blood serum, lymphatic fluid
  2. Rakta – Blood cells
  3. Mamsa – Muscle tissues
  4. Meda – Fat tissues
  5. Asthi – Bone tissues
  6. Majja – Bone marrow and nerve cells (Brain neurons, spinal cells)
  7. Shukra – Reproductive cells (Eggs & Sperm cells)

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Ayurveda has beautifully explained the process of digestion. Ayurveda says that it is the fire (Agni) element in our body which helps in digestion. The digestion process is similar to a distillation column of a refinery. In a distillation column, different constituents get separated from the feed at different temperatures. Similarly during digestion separation of different nutrients from the food takes place at different intensities of fire (Agni). At low levels of ‘Agni’ the Rasa dhatu is produced. For producing Rakta a little higher amount of ‘Agni’ is required. Mamsa requires still more amount of ‘Agni’. And so on. Shukra requires the maximum amount of ‘Agni’ (energy).

Now with age, if we do not take proper care, this ‘Agni’ gets diminished. Suppose the  ‘Agni’ in our body is just sufficient to convert food to ‘Meda’(fat) but not sufficient to generate ‘Asthi’ (Bones), then there will be accumulation of fats. Bones will not get sufficient nutrition. Bone problems will start. At the same time nutrition to bone marrow, nerve cells as well as reproductive cells will get affected. Brain neurons will start showing degenerative changes. Memory, attentiveness and alertness will reduce.

So the key to good overall health is proper digestion. If you don’t want to lose your vitality with age then you have to keep the fire inside you burning. How to keep this fire burning? The Ayurvedacharya suggested simple lifestyle changes and told that the key to maintain the ‘Agni’ was very simple – keep walking.  .

He said that every day one should take ‘nature walk’ for minimum 45 minutes (at a stretch). Exercise inside a gym or any other type of yoga cannot be substitute for this ‘nature walk’. We have to walk in an open unprotected environment for 45 minutes. He said that the hormones released by the body when exposed to unprotected environment are different than those released under the protected environment.

He also insisted that we can have heavy breakfast and lunch but try to minimize or avoid our dinner. We can have fruits and liquids for dinner. We should keep a gap of minimum 3 – 4 hours between dinner and sleep. We should reduce the intake of wheat because wheat flour produces ‘Gluten’ which is not good for digestion. Roti of Jawar, Bajara, Makai or Rice can be taken in place of wheat roti. We should not drink lot of water immediately before or after meals. Only small sips of water should be taken during meals. Water can be taken 15 minutes before meals or 30 minutes after meal.

I have followed these simple steps since last few weeks and I am already feeling much more energetic and lighter.

This interaction with the Ayurvedacharya compelled me to read some more on Ayurveda and ‘Agni’.

More About ‘Agni‘ in the coming post.

Jai Gurudev

Sanjay Sabnis

Movies to Watch.

Released in 2007, August Rush is a moving drama of hope and unwavering faith, the touching story of the 11 year old protagonist, August Rush, orphaned since birth, yet holding onto this one core belief that it is through music he will find his parents again.

August is born of intense parents, both musicians, and although he is unaware of this fact, his sensitive soul grasps music everywhere. He hears music in the rattle of the tram, in the clanging noises of New York, and all these sounds he intrinsically imbibes and harmoniously transforms in his soul, later creating an indelible and unique stamp on the music he composes.

The movie itself unfolds like a musical composition – opening softly with a scene of August in the fields listening to the music of wind moving through the paddy. It is here right at the beginning that he shares his secret to the audience: “Listen…can you hear the music? I can hear it everywhere…in the air, in the lights, it’s all around us! All you have to do is open yourself up… all you have to do is listen!”

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It is innocence, and a return to the self, a sense of belonging to all of nature and the universe that can make one open to the music of the cosmos, the music that moves the planets and moves the self. It is this “opening” to a higher force or call it the “higher self” that invests the little boy with creativity and such unshakeable faith, even in the face of cruel opposition from those who have lost their innocence.

The boys at his orphanage taunt him and roughly awaken him at night. They have come to shake his faith, to break him, the way some people take joy from merciless acts. The huckster, who falsely claims to be his father, also mocks Evan (August’s birth name) when he is afraid of losing him, by cruelly telling him, your parents must be dead and gone, you are wasting your time looking for them.

This is a movie that will make you wonder…about that mysterious power that brings things together, scatters and then reunites them again. This is a story of ultimate victory of good over bad; one that proves that devotion beats doubt. It reveals that if there is something you want, more than anything else, and that if it stems from a pure intention, the Universe is there to support you, despite all the odds. It is a story of love, undying faith, loyalty, and supreme effort. What ties the trio together is their sincerity to find each other. The flame of faith that burns in them colors the certainty of their coming together.

Spiritual leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says life is a combination of fate and free will. When confronted by challenges it is foolish to despair and wail, “This is my destiny! I’m helpless!” Gurudev encourages us to apply our efforts. Our efforts will surely pay, if not bringing us the result that we desire, at least the relief that we tried our best. “Put your efforts and then let go.” The results are not in our hands. So it is best to do your best and then surrender to the Divine will.

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Just when we begin to relax and rejoice at the prospect of a reunion of this star-crossed family, the movie reaches a crescendo as we watch August helplessly snatched away by his foster father, in the midst of the rehearsal for his grand debut performance. The tables turn once again when in a random meeting at the park, where August is back to collecting coins in a cap, his father walks up to him, admires his playing and rekindles his lost faith. Only a few hours before the performance August manages to run away from the peddler; ultimately breaking from the tyranny of deceit and doubt.

The movie ends in a gentle yet powerful finale with the long lost lovers finding each other in the crowd and August, on completing the composition, turning around to face the audience and his parents whom he intuitively recognizes. The movie ends with his winning smile.

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This is a movie for music lovers and those inclined to muse over the dramatic twists of fate, a film that will certainly lift your spirits and rekindle the lost child in you, and make you believe once again: that in this world of uncertainties if you have the faith you can turn your fate around!

Art of Living Wisdom, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Vasant season is here !! The cheerful season of Vasant comes afterall the body stiffness experienced during Shishir. Cool mornings and warm afternoons of Vasant open up our limbs ecstatically. The Vasant season is all about beautiful flowers, awesome weather and diverse colorful nature. One such festival that comes during this time is HOLI!!!

With celebration in the air along with colorful faces, the festival of Holi is not just about all this. The scientific purpose is much larger. The energy conserved during the winter months is utilized for the celebrations of Holi. The type of foods eaten in winter produces kapha. This stored kapha begins to melt and dilute in the sunshine of the changed weather causing health problems, obstructing the tubes. Bonfires are lit and coconuts, tender plants of Vasanta, i.e pungent mango and neem flower stalks, are thrown into the bonfire. The smoke emitted from the burning of these plants burns up our kapha on one hand, and on the other, the aromatic steam which spreads in the atmosphere, prevents the new diseases borne out of the rising pitta.

In and around the region of Marwad, there is an old custom to smear the leather in the drums with poison removing herbs before drumming, so that the particles that rise up & purify the atmosphere. Another custom during the Holi festival days is to throw colours and coloured water at one another. Formerly, the colour used was only the colour of boiled Kesuda (flowers of Palasha tree) along with dried Abil and Gulal powders. Kesuda and Mogra flowers are coolants that protect against the heat and sunshine. This custom is meant to check our body constituents from being over heated in summer. Kesuda is a normalizer of pitta, balancing cold and heat. It keeps us cool in the heat and builds up resistance in the blood, preventing disease.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji explains the significance of Holi in a very simple manner, Holi is a festival of colours. Just like in nature there are different colours associated with our feelings and emotions. Each person is a fountain of colours which keep changing. Your emotions and desires burn you like fire. But when they are a fountain of colours, they add charm to your life.

Sudarshan Kriya harmonizes the rhythms of the body, emotions and puts them back in tune with the rhythms of nature. Being in rhythm, we feel good about ourselves, love flows naturally in all relationships.

So, this Holi, lets add this charm in our lives, Let the celebration begin !!!

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Art of Living Courses.

In the recent “Mann Ki Baat” by our Honourable PM Shri Narendra Modi ji, on “Drug Free India“, He mentioned about the dire need for awareness among youth about the impact that drugs have on any human being.

 

What may seem to be fun for a short duration of time, can ruin your entire life. They say that about 98% of cocaine users started with cigarettes. According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, over 10 lakh people die due to tobacco addiction and related diseases in India every year. Those who smoke tobacco easily fall prey to other addictions. 44 per cent of tobacco users (in the age group of 12 to 15 years) have been found to be addicted drugs such as ganja, cocaine and heroine, according to various studies 65% of ganja and 98% cocaine users surveyed said they began with tobacco Those who smoke 15 cigarettes and more per day were found to be addicted to using ganja frequently.

 

Well, there is no dearth of research on this topic, but what is the need of the hour for the drug addicts is a loving, caring environment, where they can shun such addictions and rehabilitate their lives.

 

 Art of Living’s De-addiction program is the natural Solution to Drug & Alcohol De-addiction. The program gives a natural and clean intoxication from breathing techniques or pranayama gears one to take on life’s challenges without resorting to old addictive behaviours. It purifies the nervous system  which is worst affected by substance abuse. In turn, one regain good health.

 

In one of the worst affected states of India, Punjab; De-addiction program has helped transform lives of many.

 

A small video shows the work done.

 

You can also visit http://www.vvmrc.com/  for more details

 

May our society be free from this curse of Addiction of Alcohol and Drugs.

By Namita Bohara

Art of Living Wisdom.

Seeing God as a Child

One can see an expression of the Indian love for children in the manner in which they have idolized even their gods in the form of a child.

We thus see portrayals of Shiva as Bala Shiva, Rama as Bala Rama, Krishna as Bala Krishna, Ganesha as Bala Ganapathy, Karthikeya as Bala Muruga and Hanuman as Bala Hanuman.

Seeing god

Godly Children

Indian legends, the Purana are replete with enjoyable stories of the acts of various divinities in their child like form, some among these divinities being Tattva, cosmic principles and some others being historic personages.

The history epic, Valmiki’s Ramayana contains portrayals of Lord Rama and His brothers as ideal children. Through the behavior and life of these historic and ideal children, the Ramayana conveys the message of obligations of brotherhood, obedience to parents and obeisance to teachers. It celebrates childhood as the budding point for all qualities displayed in later adulthood.

The other history epic, Vyasa’s Mahabharata, through the lives of the five Pandava and the 100 Kaurava brothers, brings to focus competitive spirit amongst children. It showcases how impressions both positive and negative, formed during childhood can assume far greater proportions and cause great impacts to society in years to follow. It alerts us of the propensity of children to retain impressions and emotions well into their lives.

Purana dealing with tattva divinities such as Ganesha, Kartikeya have portrayed them symbolically in child like forms and through symbolic stories of symbolic acts of these divinities, have conveyed principles of the cosmos, of mankind, of mind, of intellect and of ego to help elevate man’s thinking and behavior.

Yet other Purana have immortalized some of the children of long bygone eras, in the saga of the land for generations that have followed in the last many millennia. The story of the boy Sravana’s devotion to his parents, the story of Markandeya’s unshakeable faith in the divinity Shiva, even in the face of death are known to most, through the land, even in this day.

The Purana legends have also showcased scientific possibilities involving children and their upbringing. We thus have legends showcasing the ability of the foetus to grasp happenings and sounds outside the womb. The story of Prahalada showcases how he imbibed devotion towards Narayana while in his mother’s womb and carried it forth as a little boy. The story of Ashtavakra again highlights how Ashtavakra imbibed the Upanishad while in his mother’s womb and used it later to help his father in times of need. Yet again, the story of Abhimanyu reiterates how a child starts gaining knowledge right from the time it is in the womb of its mother.

The legend of Dhruva symbolically narrates the scientific phenomenon of precession of the earth and its effect on the pole star seen in the skies. It is a beautiful way in which the principles of astronomy have been woven into a simple legend.

Srimad Bhagavatham contains many anecdotes on the pranks played by Lord Krishna, His brother Balarama and their gang of friends, Gopa and Gopi. This text highlights the qualities of innocence as well as impishness in children. It celebrates children for the adorable and affable beings that they are

Seeing God in a Child

Children by nature are mischievous. To be mischievous is an innate quality of children.

Krishna’s precocious pranks are part of the rich folklore of this land

Krishna's pranks

Krishna, His pranks and His lovable, playful ways, set the trend for how people regarded children, in the land of India across millennia.

This land, by culture, for the last 5,100 years since the times of Krishna, has viewed children as a replica of Krishna and has relished their pranks as they would Krishna’s. The mischief of children has rarely been associated with punishment and reprimanding. It has instead been eulogized and happily expressed as an imitation of Krishna.

Given this ethos, when elders admonish their children for their harmless pranks, it is not stern and wrathful. It has in it an admiration for their innocence and a tolerance with an understanding that by nature, children are given to their ways of pranks.

A culture that gives space for children to grow up with their mischief also automatically gives them the space to grow out of their mischief as a part of the transition from childhood to adolescence.

Holding Children in High Esteem

It is no wonder that various political, religious as well as social leaders have focused specially on the children in the society. They have not only showered affection on them, but they have also invested time and effort in grooming the children in society, in morals, ethics and values. We thus have in many languages, simple couplets composed specially for inculcating good conduct and values in children. These couplets served as the nursery rhymes in this civilization much before the British replaced them with theirs.

Children’s day celebrations are a facet of the high esteem in which this civilization holds the development of its children.  Classic examples of this commitment, even till a couple of centuries ago, can be seen from the quote of Brigadier General Alexander Walker of East India Company from 1780 to 1810.

Children

Dedicating November 14th, the birth anniversary of prominent leader Jawaharlal Nehru, who was close to children, as Children’s Day, is a representative gesture of the high esteem in which children have been held through the ages.

Nehru with Children

It is a day for us to recognize the value of children, the values in children and the values that have to be taken to the children for the development of a valued society.

It is a day to rededicate ourselves to the cause and joys of children.

By

Rahul Kaimal

Email bharathgyan@gmail.com
Website www.bharathgyan.com

Others.

It is in the white of light of truth and red light of emotion that I write about one of a legendary performing artist. My lessons as a shishya have surmounted to a realization that truth remains meaningless without emotion and emotion is in vain if it is not for the sake of truth. Thus, if I had to explain what Maharaj ji represents in one phrase, it would be with something I heard say in a moment of emotion once, “Khudrat ki meherbaani” or a gift of nature.

natalia

As the wonder of nature lies in its power to infinitely create and recreate itself, in turn, Maharaj ji is constantly composing landscapes of rhythm, movement, song, and poetry. As nature can only be complete onto itself, likewise, his approach to art expresses an internal aesthetic logic connecting culture, spirituality, and humanity. This is especially needed in a world that is becoming increasingly mechanized and commercial, impersonal, and ready-made. On the contrary, Maharaj ji makes an effort to connect his work to those around him.

Born at the perfect time in Indian history, at the perfect place in the artistic heart of Lucknow, and with the several personal qualities to imbibe such a family legacy, Pt. Birju Maharaj ji has done much to advance the art form of Kathak. I have often thought that even if colonialism took the Kohinoor away from India, no one would ever be able to take away India’s true cultural richness which is embodied by such artists as Maharaj ji.

Therefore as a student, I can say that from the first footwork I ever witnessed him dance…to the first tihai I ever learned at his Kalashram academy…to the first words of Hindi I ever spoke to him…to the first smiles I shared with his grandchildren…to the first paran or bhav he encouraged me to perform…to the first meal he had in my home… to the last time I bowed to offer him a Pranaam – today and always, this person will live as a symbol in his fans’ and his students’ reflections as a constant call to duty: to honor the legacy we have inherited.

Be this art or tradition, if called by any other name, remains our way of sharing and understanding that which matters most in life.

Details of the Course:

Dates: 27th – 30th November 2014
(Check-in: 26th evening, Check-out: 30th 6 pm onwards)

Programs: Basic and Advanced Levels

Eligibility:  Basic(Beginners)- Open for all above 17yrs
Advanced- Above 17 yrs with minimum 3 years training in Kathak

Pre-Registration Required.

For More Details
Email: aolnrityasadhana@gmail.com
For Details call: 080 67262637, 8123474509
Register: www.bangaloreashram.org

Source : www.artofliving.org