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Category Archives: Art of Living Ashram

Articles about Art of Living Ashrams in Bangalore, Germany, Unites States, Poland, Canada, India

Sri Sri and Mr Cobra


Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji loves going out for morning walks. Back in 2006, it was a regular feature. Everyday during the walk a snake used to cross his path; As if it was a daily ritual, the glimmering reptile  would wait for Sri Sri and slither away after seeing him walk by. He was a majestic cobra with a mark of 1o on his hood. His mud abode glorified the lawns of the garden outside Sri Sri’s kutir.

One fine day during his morning walk, Sri Sri found that the movement of Mr cobra was unusual. The cobra was seen on one side of the path, but it did not endeavour to cross the path like it would do everyday. Sri Sri mentioned to Dilip, who was with him that morning, that something was amiss and the cobra needed to be attended to.

By the time we came in to check, the long, glimmering and majestic creature was lying on the ground almost motion less, though it was still breathing. When we touched him to find whether he had any movement, he would just widen its hood laying flat on the ground signifying life. What a plight it was to see this, for in its full glory, it is almost impossible to find a live agile cobra allowing anyone to be near (snakes are solitary reptiles with their territory clearly marked).

The cobra exudes the beauty and grandeur of the king of snakes when it raises the hood to show off its handsome mark. And now it was struggling to raise the hood, breathing very slowly. Something had to be done immediately! Very often, the animal world depends upon humans for help. When animals come near humans, seeking  help, do nut shoo them off. Many organisations ready to help are just at a phone’s length away.  Snakes are very shy creatures. At the faintest sound they rush to hide in crevices in stone.

So our cobra surely needed medical help immediately. I got in touch with Dr Salem of Banerghatta Rescue Centre. He sent trained volunteers to pick our critical patient, who was carefully picked up and packed for a comfortable and safe journey to the Hospital. He was admitted in the intensive care unit and monitored for about one and half months. There, by series of injections in his tail, the cobra was cured of the poisoning and the lung infection.

Probably he had eaten an infected frog who had consumed some pesticide used by the farmers on the neighbouring farm.  The lung infection was due to the chemicals used in the detergent as the cobra used to stay in a water pipe. Humans have created a havoc by heavily using chemicals and pesticides. Sri Sri had once warned us that even if one species is wiped off from the planet, we are inviting a catastrophe. Let us refuse to use products in our daily life which may be harmful to the Earth.

A few weeks later Sri Sri asked how our fellow being of the gardens was doing. I went to see the cobra.  By now he was very strong, though still confined to a glass chamber. When injection was given in his tail he would promptly raise the hood in resistance to the prick and almost would (may be just on impulse) want to turn and attack. It was a delight to see his natural glory restored!

I wondered whether he ever understood that he survived due to the treatment he received due to Gurudev’s attention. Sri Sri wanted him back in his home on the farm, where he belonged to.

After two months, when he was strong and fit to be released, the authorities decided to release him deep in the forest where the conditions would be very natural. As for me, I believe that he would be much more happier to come back to his land where his master trod.

Posted by Meenal Moray, trained architect from J J School of Arts, who cares for the animal world. She lives and teaches yoga and meditation at the Art of Living International Ashram, Bangalore.

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Navratri: The Sri Sri connection


As a kid, Navratri  was a welcome relief to the reluctant student in me, it being the only day in the calendar, when even parents encouraged us to not study! Beyond that heavenly relief, I never understood or even cared to figure out, what the celebrations were about! To confess, for a long time, I even believed that people celebrated Navratri  because it was a welcome escape from their regular routine!

But in the years to come I was destined to realize that my childhood perceptions were true, but from a very different angle! Navratri was indeed a celebration of breaking patterns!

“So who scripted this change?” is a very inevitable question. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the wonder beyond my imagination, is the answer! Years ago when I first came to the heavenly Art of Living ashram for Navratri , I was initiated to this beautiful experience. Since then Navratri  became the most anticipated event in the year. As I progressed through my teens, I started realizing the depth and meaning of the wonderful celebrations! I slowly started realizing that Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, is silently taking us through that most divine experience, often unreachable for the common man.

I remember distinctly going to temples during the Navratri  and waiting with folded hands for the abode to open for arathi! But since the day, I chose to walk the Master’s path; the differences in my Navratris earlier and now have been starkingly evident! Those meaningless folded hands transformed into tears of gratitude; the memorized mantra chants often gave way to prayful silence! Instead of waiting for the abode of Devi to open for darshan, I searched for the divine’s presence inside my heart. This inward journey was beyond comparison and explanation!

I remember Sri Sri explaining the science and philosophy of Navratri  in a Satsang before the start of the nine nights! I sat amazed realizing the meanings behind many of those symbols! A few days before, I had heard a scientist explaining to a crowd, the science behind the poojas. As I sat hearing and loving every bit of the talk, he chose to spoil my party!  He concluded his talk with this strange remark that meant the divinity of the pooja, is nothing more than a psychosis factor to motivate people to participate in them. The debate on religion and science is a never ending one and almost all intellectuals who have graced the Earth have spoken volumes about it. I am no one to question the scientist’s remark.

But I guess I have a genuine doubt! If these poojas were a mere scientific procedure, then we could recreate them in any controlled laboratory setup by combining a few chemicals. But will such experiments succeed in stimulating the positive vibes which uplifts your being! Will such chemical reactions help to stimulate a person to move towards the higher goal? Will those mechanisms transform negativity to positivity the way poojas do? I do not know the answer. Perhaps my limited knowledge shuns my understanding!

I believe there must have been a million scientific phenomenona that our ancient Rishis would have mastered, before giving shape to these powerful rituals. But should we bank on a few scientific theories, which can be proved wrong any other minute from now, to prove the significance of these rituals?  Don’t we have a bigger and deeper spiritual and philosophical significance to highlight? The lines of science and spirituality are at times blurred and at times distinct! So every individual reading this blog can interpret or introspect on this question to the best of his\her knowledge!

But I believe the real success of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar comes here! He gave a new dimension to these age old traditions and made them accessible to many parts of the world with the perfect blend of scientific reasoning. He attracted the seekers craving for scientific rationale to the Yagnashala without diluting its spiritual quotient! Many intellectuals have bitten the bullet, failing to strike this balance. Today when thousands are celebrating and rejoicing the poojas of Navratri in the  Art of Living International Centre in Bengaluru, similar kinds of poojas are happening around the world under his direct guidance.

Millions of people caught up in the hassles of daily life, are now coming to these celebrations where subtle energies are invoked through mantras and yagnas and are experiencing deep and authentic joy! Sri Sri, has undoubtedly revolutionized this spiritual wave which is bringing together people from all age groups and cross sections to participate in the Navratri celebrations as enjoined by the Vedas.

Every year, I see more and more youth, taking up the responsibilities of the festival and turning out in large numbers for participating in these poojas! Isn’t this the revival that Swami Vivekananda spoke off? If we can sustain this spring in our footstep, then many of our social dogmas and evils will not have a place in our society in the years to come! I was travelling across USA, when the Christopher Nolan movie “The Dark Knight Rises” hit the cinemas. I witnessed the enthusiasm and excitement of the youth those days! It was an absolute frenzy! But today, when I see the excitement of the youth in the Navratri Yagnashalas in organizing the pooja celebrations, I doubt if “The Dark Knight Rises” can even come close! Of course, the comparison itself is very unfair and illogical! After all, these nine nights are undoubtedly the “brightest”, spreading the light of love & knowledge!

Perhaps the time is ripe to ensure that this precious and ancient knowledge is passed on to the next generation.  In this auspicious moment I pray that we realize the significance of these poojas in elevating us to become better individuals. Let us all celebrate with true spirit, the victory of the good over the evil, the victory of unconditional love over hatred! Let us get drenched in this amazing eternal bliss & devotion! I Happy Navratri!

Posted by Rahul Riji Nair –  Noted Film Maker,Columnist, Business Analyst, Social Entrepreneur, Founder Director of Save My Ten Foundation and Active volunteer of The Art of Living Foundation. 

 
 

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About The Art of Living And Behind The Scenes


On any given day, thousands are present in satsang at the Bangalore Ashram. Many years ago, it was just a few hundreds.On one such day after the satsang, Sri Sri began moving through the crowd and distributing sweets.

A little boy crept through the crowd and made it all the way to Sri Sri and held out his hand. Sri Sri smiled at him and lovingly placed a sweet in his little palm. Bubbling with excitement, he turned back and vanished into the crowd. Sri Sri continued distributing sweets and had moved just a few steps ahead when the little boy appeared again through the crowd and stretched out his hand. He was given another sweet and he rushed back again. When this happened a few times, the volunteer holding the packet of sweets pointed out to Sri Sri, “He has come for the fourth time.”Without stopping for a moment, Sri Sri replied, “Jab tak ye baant-ta rahega, main ise deta rahunga.”(As long as he keeps distributing them further, I will continue to give him.)

Anybody who has ever come forward to take any initiative with even a trace of sincerity has only received encouragement, appreciation and compassionate guidance from Sri Sri. If not forced by circumstances, most people would spend their lives within the small pond of their limited experiences. What he had to offer opened them so much that in profound gratitude, they disregarded all shortcoming they believed they had and stepped forward with the sentiment, “What can I do for you?”  It is very tender and delicate inside the person who feels it but when it acts, it moves with a tremendous force.It is this force which has  driven the mammoth expanse of  the Art of Living movement all around the world.

For these people, stepping out of their shells and taking responsibility has caused enormous growth in them. Most people who are teachers now had no prior experience of speaking in a group; most people who lead satsangs are not trained singers; people who have done massive construction projects started with hardly any knowledge of construction. “If God has really made me in His own image, what is it that I cannot do?” This conviction comes to them and they are able to do phenomenal things. They don’t do it for their ambition or a sense of achievement. They do it in gratitude for the person who unlocked something profound in them.

Art of Living may give off the appearance of an organization but this whole movement is not run by any management strategy or policy. It is run by an authentic personal experience that deep within, you are love and it is the same love that you are made up of, that moves this world.This realization, because of its purity and universality, has brought so many different people together. Love is the force that binds these people and looking at the magnitude of this phenomenon, it can only be a force of Nature.

Posted by Nakul Dhawan

 

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