The Perfect Gift !


The perfect gift for Gurudev on his 60th birthday

All birthdays are birthdays but then 18th, 21st 50th are all special. And if you are in the South India, the sixtieth birthday is exceptional. For us his disciples, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar whom we fondly call Gurudev, his Sixtieth Birthday, which falls on May 13th 2016, is very special and calls for an extraordinary gift.


That is where the dilemma begins for the options are many. A gift has to be something that the receiver needs. Well, what would our GOD ‘need’!!  He actually takes care of all our needs more than we could ever do ourselves. Once when asked by a devotee, “Gurudev what can we give you?” Gurudev had said “What I don’t have is problems and worries and pains of life. Give me all of yours. That is why I have come in the first place”.  So I followed the easy path. But I realized that though Gurudev’s birthday came only once a year, my ‘gifts’ to him were far more often in the year!  I felt guilty that I was burdening my Guru with my problems?  Gurudev has given us so much knowledge so that we don’t get into the usual tangles of life but he is always there to resolve our problems if we get into them due to ignorance.

A devotee once commented in a Satsang, “Gurudev, I keep giving you all my problems and they get solved. The world over all the devotees must be doing the same. You must be solving them throughout the day like you do mine. Now I don’t feel good giving you my problems.”

Gurudev replied “My dear one, one drop of problem added to the ocean doesn’t burden the ocean. So don’t worry about that.  Anyway I have come to this only for that purpose. Make maximum use of it. Just know that no amount of problems can bother me “

Aah! No more guilt now. I observed that people gave him a variety of nice gifts like beautifully embroidered dhotis. I too did that a couple of times. Then realized that the dhoti has to be liked by Gurudev and my choice need not match his.  I would only be creating one more irritant for Gurudev. He would be left with so many Dhotis that he doesn’t need.

I thought sweets would be a nice gift. Again how much could he eat? And also would it be right to give him sweets which might take days to reach him and become stale in the process? So I dropped that option as well.

Cash?  It is so convenient but would that really be a good gift for my god on his 60th birthday? My choice became clear when I was travelling and wanted to invite the president of that country to our World Culture Festival 2016.

We met some important people so that we could reach the invitation to the president. I was surprised by their response. All of them had the same answer, “Our president will not come”. It was not a rude answer when we heard their explanation. They said “Our president is a visionary and a great leader. He is already 75. We want to preserve him longer. So we do not strain his calendar in any way except under unavoidable circumstances. He guides us and shows us the path. We work so that he rests.”  Ring Ring !!  I realized they not only loved and respected their president but were very practical.

Here I was just thinking of myself? I remember since the first day I came to the ashram, Gurudev would say “give knowledge to a lot of people and fast. There is no time.” These words were prophetic.  Perhaps never in the history has the world deteriorated so fast the way it has done in the last twenty years. The Art of Living also grew at a phenomenal pace. The more it grew the more busy Gurudev became.  He is active and working for at least 19 hours every day without a break save for the Navratri and the ‘Agyatvaas ‘ which lasts for two or three days in the whole year.

A typical day for Gurudev at the ashram is somewhat like this.  Calls start coming early in the morning and go on till late night from all over the world. These are not only from devotees asking for blessings for the beautiful projects they undertake to spread joy, good  health and self  reliance or dates for visits, but from all sorts people including government officials of different countries, rebels and lay people, all call for assistance and help.  And they call at their convenience and their office hours.

Gurudev comes to office around 9.30 – 10-00 A M. Till lunch time the schedule is packed with meetings for the myriad agendas that people have –some of them similar to Gurudev’s agenda.  After a few reminders, the secretaries have to extricate him from people so that he can have lunch. (Gurudev typically does not have breakfast).  After lunch there are more meetings. Around 3.00pm Gurudev is extricated again so that he can rest.  The rest is usually with a couple of people reading out letters that are written to Gurudev from around the world while Gurudev is lying down and commenting “this is taken care of “ or “this must be an old letter. It has already been handled” or “Remind me about this” etc.


Around 4 pm another set of meetings start. After which Gurudev gives darshan to hundreds of devotees who have come from many cities and countries. His pet elephants eagerly await the tryst which is scheduled around this time and become restless to meet Gurudev.  Then it is Satsang time at 6.30 pm. Hundreds and sometimes thousands experience bliss with the soulful singing and the master’s knowledge. Gurudev usually has a light supper after Satsang followed by a string of meetings. On full moon nights, (rarely) some select singers sing Gurudev’s favorite songs. The secretaries then get busy with Gurudev on various subjects, including concretizing Gurudev‘s schedule (which is usually booked 10 months to a year in advance).  Phone calls continue.  Around 1.00 am Gurudev says “Jai Guru Dev” to everyone present indicating that they have to go and sleep. Many times people find Gurudev walking in the middle of the night checking the storage tanks, to see if they are full for the next day.

Even in this busy schedule, Gurudev manages to visit different projects and developments happening in the ashram almost daily. He also walks to the Gaushala to meet the cows, and other animals. Some mornings, Gurudev walks the whole campus. It is not surprising that He always knows the minutest details of everything happening around him. He makes many visits to the city and the nearby places where people have invited him.  This is what He achieves on a physical level in a single day.


Wherever Gurudev goes we pack up his schedule so tight. I have also heard of instances where our organizers in their enthusiasm have not only forgotten to eat but also forgotten to serve Gurudev lunch. From the bhakta’s point of view, it is understandable that Gurudev comes to a chapter rarely and the opportunity to serve him is a rare privilege. For one does not know when He will give the next dates to the chapter again. But we tend to forget that for Gurudev each day of the year is the same packed. I do not think there must be another human on this planet who travels so much, crossing so many time zones so often continuously for such a long time.

Sometimes I think Gurudev travels so much because we haven’t done our job as volunteers very well. From His side Gurudev has given us so many tools each more effective than the other. We have also seen and experienced the results thereof. Are they any short of a miracle?

Many questions come up in my mind:

  • Have we as Art of Living volunteers and teachers reached our potential?
  • Has Art of Living reached its potential as an organization?
  • Have we as teachers and volunteers used all the tools effectively to spread happiness and good health to our full potential?

When I ask myself this, the answer that comes from within is NO. I could have done so much more, especially when I hear of the wonderful stories of our teachers, yuvacharyas and volunteers.  If so few of these people could achieve so much of which the whole ART OF LIVING is proud of, what would happen to this country if all of us could do our bit before the World Culture Festival and Gurudev’s birthday?

What if Gurudev works only for 30- 40 minutes a day rather than resting only for 30-40 minutes?

What if we took the load off his shoulder so that Gurudev need not travel so much?

That would be the PERFECT gift for Gurudev’s 60th birthday. The best part is that it is doable.

Swami Bramhatej

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  1. Swamiji, Jgd! I have the same gift and am planning and executing the plan for best! Thank you so much for the shower of wisdom! It could not have been better put in words, r u are the best!

  2. From now only … every single minute i will do wat guruji wants .. if i am busy den also i will spread love …. filled wid gratitude this time …. love u guruji …. always keep me in seva .. jaigurudev

  3. It’s extremely painful to know about my GURU s schedule ..!
    It’s we who are responsible making HIM WORK SOOOOO MUCH …

  4. Was aware of HIS schedule briefly. But in this detail was not aware. Thanks for letting us know. Will be very pleased to do any deva I am capable of. Jgd

  5. Jai Guru Dev. Swamiji gave us knowledge. Now we will spread it with Gurudev blessings. Its great oppurtunity for me and all. Please come farward.

  6. Absolutely that’s an ideal Gift for our Master ! We all must join hands and take a Sankalpa to ensure we make this gift a reality !

  7. Dear Swamiji
    Thank you for this message. I wish to live only to spread miles and miles of smiles through Happiness courses and other Seva. Wish to remain His instrument till my last breath

  8. thankyou swamiji for this article. It reminds us again that Its our responsibility to take care of our master who manages our life better than we could have done for ourselves. Jaigurudev

  9. No! No! That’s not it.
    If he isn’t yet done, he will come in your dreams.
    And bless you on a Shravan Monday with a glimpse of the Rudra Puja you could not attend because of your exams. Surreal but true!
    I guess the author opted to not mention this cause it would sound way too hyperbolic for the general audience tongue emoticon

  10. Love you Guruji hope to take your agenda of bringing happiness in lives of all people I come in contact till my last breath

  11. Iam so indebted to my guru my heart just fills with gratitude so knowing ly unknowingly i always try to do my best iam 63 jgd

  12. Amaze to know about Guru dev schedule…how much he is working for world..its true dt after having all weapons I m not performing my karavatya..but now onwards I will definitely I will try to give him True birthday Gift. Thanku Swami ji for awaking me

  13. Thank you Swami ji, I will certainty contribute more towards spreading Guruji’s message of Vasudev Kutubkamb to the world.

  14. JGD – Lots needs to be done, though much is spoken only few are carried over hence request more action within time frame – LOTS SPOKEN BUT …..

  15. Only a devotee full of love for His divine can think for such a beautiful heart touching gift… Swami Ji we all want to give our Loving Gurudev such a noble pleasant gift… Let’s work towards this…

  16. It is my promise n sankalpa to spread this knowledge to my best capacity. Australia art of living will rock!
    As Guruji says”choice is yours n blessing is mine”
    We all are blessed to be on this planet in his physical presence.

  17. Jgd. I am blessed to be here in this planet with my guru to spread the waves of happiness to one and all. Let us all care for the environment; land, air, water, space and fire elements so that they care us protect us nourishes us bless us evolve us transforms us.

  18. Swamilji I agree with you..what you have written in this beautiful article 100%true….Most of the time this thought came to in my mind when Guruji visiting to our place ..we are blessed people having Gurudev… May Divine use me as much as during this life period in Gurudev’s noble vision….

  19. Jai Gurudev thanks for sharing such a Nice message swamiji. M seeking Gurudevs blessings to work more and more to spread this knowledge. Guys please send your blessings too.
    Thank you all. Thank you Gurudev

  20. Jgd Swami Ji, read your blog today and it’s written very well. With all due respect and no offense to anyone, Do you think if art of living courses are done without any course fee, far more people would benefit from it?

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