Category Archives: Art of Living Review

Art of Living Review

Art of Living and Siddartha

The movie Siddhartha, an adaptation of a novel with same name by Hermann Hesse, depicts the life of a young Indian seeker, who lived during the time of the Buddha. While the Book “Siddartha” by Hermann Hesse is my all-time favourite, the movie doesn’t really make the same impact. But the movie is still worth watching, if possible on the big screen. We have reprdouced the movie here along with the plot summary for you to get a flavour of it. Enjoy!

The protagonist Siddhartha, who is the son of a rich Brahmin, leaves his home to seek truth and enlightenment and joins the nearest group of wandering ascetics.

Joined by his best friend Govinda, Siddhartha fasts, becomes homeless, and meditates, eventually seeking and personally speaking with the Buddha. Convinced by the elegance of the Buddha’s teachings, his friend Govinda  joins the Buddha’s order. But Siddhartha does not follow, and decides to carry on alone, believing that he cannot simply be taught these things from teachers and he must figure out and experience the Truth himself.

Siddhartha meets a friendly ferryman, fully content with his simple life. Siddhartha crosses the ferryman’s river and comes to a city, where he is enchanted by a beautiful courtesan named Kamala.

He knows she would be the best one to teach him about the Art of Love, but Kamala tells him that he must become wealthy to win her love. Kamala directs him to work for Kamaswami, a local businessman. Siddhartha easily succeeds in business with his wisdom, patience and tranquility. Alongside Kamala becomes his lover and teaches him what she knows about love.

Soon, he is leading an affluent life, gambling, drinking, dancing and enjoying all pleasures of the material word.  In his middle years, Siddartha realizes that the material world is slowly killing him without providing him any spiritual fulfillment.  One night, he leaves it all behind without telling either Kamala or Kamaswami. He returns to the same river and seeks out the peaceful ferryman Vasudeva. The ferryman shares that he attained inner peace through the revelations that came from the river.

Siddhartha decides to live and work with Vasudeva.  He intently studies the river and spiritual illuminations start unfolding in him like never before. While sitting by the river, he contemplates the unity of all life, and in the sound of the river he discovers the word Om.

Some years later, Kamala, now a disciple of the Buddha, is travelling with her son to see the Buddha at his deathbed.  She is bitten by a poisonous snake near the river and dies.

Siddhartha recognizes her and realizes that the boy she left behind is his own child. Siddhartha attempts to console and raise the rebellious boy, until one day the child flees to a city. Siddhartha becomes desperate to find his runaway son, but  Vasudeva advises him to let the boy find his own path, just as Siddhartha did in his youth.

In contemplating the river, Siddhartha has a revelation – Just as the water of the river flows into the ocean and is returned by rain, all forms of life, their birth and death are interconnected in a timeless and infinite cycle. With Siddhartha’s moment of realisation, Vasudeva announces that he must depart into the woods, leaving Siddhartha peacefully fulfilled and alone.

Toward the end of his life, Govinda hears about an enlightened ferryman and comes to the river to seek wisdom from the now-elderly Siddhartha. He did not recognize that the ferryman was his old childhood friend! Siddartha explains that neither he nor anyone can teach the wisdom to Govinda, because words are limited and can never communicate the totality of Truth. Instead, he asks Govinda to kiss him on the forehead, and when Govinda does, the realisation that Siddhartha has experienced is communicated instantly to Govinda. Govinda bows to his wise friend and Siddhartha smiles radiantly. Both were enlightened!

Watching the movie reminded me how Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been espousing total acceptance and celebration of Life through his personal example and the Art of Living movement. This precious knowledge of Life is coming to us as an inner experience not just borrowed words and concepts. Despite all his brilliance and commitment to the Truth, Siddhartha had to be helped and guided by the boatman. It is a great fortune that we in the Art of Living are gently being guided on the path to Truth with so much wisdom and love.


Posted by on November 4, 2012 in Art of Living Review, Movies to Watch


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Art of Living : Navratri For Who’s and Who’s

For the uninitiated, it is a time to dance, party and socialize in a grand way! For the Master it is a time to set an example of honoring the practice of silence! For the seeker it is a time to go within and let go of identifications with the modulations of the mind! For the ashramites it is a time to brace themselves up to handle the chaos of the crowds with their wit and patience!

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

That which brings rest at three levels is ratri.  Someone caught up in blaming,  regretting the past, hankering  for pleasure or anxiety of their future well-being is unable to really rest despite having material comforts. For such people Navaratri could be translated as Nava( no)-ratri(rest)- that the lifestyle and attitudes they are pursuing is not bringing them any deep rest.

However, for a seeker who has tasted something deeper than the transient sensory charms of the world, it is a time to honor that which moves the senses. A scenery is charming because it captures the mind, stops it from running around. The same scenery which for the bhogi is a habitual channel to run away from oneself, for the seeker-the yogi is a channel to return within.

What is the energy, what is the power by which the eye is able to see? The power by which we are able to connect to the world outside? The ancient Rishis called this the Shakti-the divine energy which is a part of the Brahman, the absolute. Manifesting as the play of the three qualities- the satvic, rajasic and tamasic tendencies,  this energy brings about the cognition, activity and ignorance or forgetfulness respectively.

Of course when we first hear about the tamasic energy manifesting as ignorance the reaction would be that of aversion–wanting to move away from that. However, Navaratri is the time to honor even  that. Slumber, procrastination, delusion, inertia, ignorance — if one consciously decides to honor them it is not hard to see the value they bring to life! Honoring these aspects directs them toward what is life supporting. For example procrastination is a blessing when it comes to reacting to an insult! Not knowing all that is going on in people’s minds is a blessing, else imagine the amount of noise one would experience sensing the thoughts of everyone around!

Without this tamasic energy one would not be able to sleep-as anyone who has been excessively worried and anxious sometime has experienced. Without the rajasic energy, it would be impossible to be active at all, there would be no movement! Lord Buddha as he got enlightened, just stayed silent in ecstasy as the rajas, tamas had completely subsided. The angels had to request him, nudge him, cajole him into speaking, traveling and sharing the light for the benefit of the seekers.

All these three energies are divine – and yet if one does not honor the divinity of them, the truth, the infinity which moves them, it is impossible to fathom them. In other words, on a day one feels dull and lethargic, taking a few moments to acknowledge that this is not really something that is their own but just the tamasic energy manifesting can free one! Just taking a little time to honor it — which is not same as indulging or encouraging it — and knowing that this is just a play of the divinity, of the timeless, of something much much larger! The moment this shift happens one is able to be light and playful again and not caught up in identifying oneself with the effects of these qualities!

Navaratri is the time to consciously honor these three aspects of the Shakti, which sustain life, just remembering their divine origin, their true source which is the pure untainted consciousness  brings deep rest. All the meditations, ceremonies, rituals are aimed at this. May this Navaratri move you from the limited to unlimited, from bondage to freedom!

Watch the live webcast of Navratri Celebrations 2012 in presence of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar from Art of Living International Center, Bangalore:

Posted by Dr Birjoo Vaishnav


Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Art of Living Review, Art of Living Wisdom


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Art of Living with one’s own mind

Usually we think of scientists as people narrowly focused on their specialities. What would a scientist have to do with spirituality?

Richard Feynman

Well, one of the greatest physicists since Einstein, the famous Richard Feynman was fascinated by the workings of the mind and experimented with different meditation techniques. His experience with hypnosis and the power of belief is very insightful in to how our mind often fools us. Here is his story in his own words!

On Wednesdays at the Princeton Graduate College, various people would come in to give talks. The speakers were often interesting, and in the discussions after the talks we used to have a lot of fun. For instance, one guy in our school was very strongly anti-Catholic, so he passed out questions in advance for people to ask a religious speaker, and we gave the speaker a hard time.

In the great big dining hall with stained-glass windows, where we always ate, in our steadily deteriorating academic gowns, Dean Eisenhart would begin each dinner by saying grace in Latin. After dinner he would often get up and make some announcements. One night Dr. Eisenhart got up and said, “Two weeks from now, a professor of psychology is coming to give a talk about hypnosis. Now, this professor thought it would be much better if we had a real demonstration of hypnosis instead of just talking about it. Therefore he would like some people to volunteer to be hypnotized. I get all excited: There’s no question but that I’ve got to find out about hypnosis. This is going to be terrific!

Dean Eisenhart went on to say that it would be good if three or four people would volunteer so that the hypnotist could try them out first to see which ones would be able to be hypnotized, so he’d like to urge very much that we apply for this. (He’s wasting all this time, for God’s sake!)

Eisenhart was down at one end of the hall, and I was way down at the other end, in the back. There were hundreds of guys there. I knew that everybody was going to want to do this, and I was terrified that he wouldn’t see me because I was so far back. I just had to get in on this demonstration!

Finally Eisenhart said, “And so I would like to ask if there are going to be any volunteers . . .”

I raised my hand and shot out of my seat, screaming as loud as I could, to make sure that he would hear me: “MEEEEEEEEEEE!”

He heard me all right, because there wasn’t another soul. My voice reverberated throughout the hall–it was very embarrassing. Eisenhart’s immediate reaction was, “Yes, of course, I knew you would volunteer, Mr. Feynman, but I was wondering if there would be anybody else.”

Finally a few other guys volunteered, and a week before the demonstration the man came to practice on us, to see if any of us would be good for hypnosis. I knew about the phenomenon, but I didn’t know what it was like to be hypnotized.

He started to work on me and soon I got into a position where he said, “You can’t open your eyes.”

I said to myself, “I bet I could open my eyes, but I don’t want to disturb the situation: Let’s see how much further it goes.” It was an interesting situation: You’re only slightly fogged out, and although you’ve lost a little bit, you’re pretty sure you could open your eyes. But of course, you’re not opening your eyes, so in a sense you can’t do it.

He went through a lot of stuff and decided that I was pretty good.

When the real demonstration came he had us walk on stage, and he hypnotized us in front of the whole Princeton Graduate College. This time the effect was stronger; I guess I had learned how to become hypnotized. The hypnotist made various demonstrations, having me do things that I couldn’t normally do, and at the end he said that after I came out of hypnosis, instead of returning to my seat directly, which was the natural way to go, I would walk all the way around the room and go to my seat from the back.

All through the demonstration I was vaguely aware of what was going on, and cooperating with the things the hypnotist said, but this time I decided, “Damn it, enough is enough! I’m gonna go straight to my seat.

When it was time to get up and go off the stage, I started to walk straight to my seat. But then an annoying feeling came over me: I felt so uncomfortable that I couldn’t continue. I walked all the way around the hall.

I was hypnotized in another situation some time later by a woman. While I was hypnotized she said, “I’m going to light a match, blow it out, and immediately touch the back of your hand with it.

You will feel no pain.”

I thought, “Baloney!” She took a match, lit it, blew it out, and touched it to the back of my hand. It felt slightly warm. My eyes were closed throughout all of this, but I was thinking, “That’s easy. She lit one match, but touched a different match to my hand. There’s nothin’ to that; it’s a fake!”

When I came out of the hypnosis and looked at the back of my hand, I got the biggest surprise: There was a burn on the back of my hand. Soon a blister grew, and it never hurt at all, even when it broke.

So I found hypnosis to be a very interesting experience. All the time you’re saying to yourself, “I could do that, but I won’t”–which is just another way of saying that you can’t.

Posted by Art of Living Blogger Dr Birjoo Vaishnav 


Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Art of Living Review, Art of Living Wisdom, Others


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Sunday Morning Thoughts of a Mango Man !!

Aaj Sunday hai
sote rehne ka ye ek aur Bahana hai

Aate daal ho Rahe mehenge
Tang ho rahe choli lehenge
Roj badh rahe Tel ka Tum bhav na pucho
Ab to gaadi ko hi bikwana hai
Neta Giri to ek dikhawa hai
Chai paani ke bhrast kharche ko chhupana hai
Ajj Sunday hai …

Kisan Ki apni pareshani
Ho rahi videsi company Ki manmani
Karje me dooba, Beej gawaya
ab is banjar Jamin ko bikwana hai.
Sharab to yar ek bahana hai
Namardangi, gam, lachari ko chhupana hai.
Aj Sunday hai, sone do
Akhir Yahi to sote rehne ka bahana hai

Atyachar bhrashtachar durachar ke samachar chal rahe din raat
Aam admi Ki garibi ke piche kiska hai hath
Wo kehte hai banayenge sapno ka Bharat
Kya wo yehi Sapna dekhne ke liye so rahe hai sansad me?

Desh ka paisa Bahane ka ye bahana hai
Apne baap ka Kya Lena Dena hai

Bas muje sone do ….aaj Sunday hai

Kisne uthayi unke khilaf awaz
Koun hai wo sher .. Kya hai unka raaz
Kuchal do Daba do Khatam kar do unko
Hum hai gandhiji ke rishtewale
Wo koun gandhigiri karnewale
Sabak sikhao unko,
Kaise jaage ? Jaagne ka Nahi koi kaaran na koi bahana hai
To chalo sote raho kyu Ki
Ajj Sunday

Roj ye aam admi der tak nahi sota
Ye baat yad rakhe bhrastachari
Ki Roj roj Sunday nahi hota
Jis din ye jagega,
tu bachke kaha bhagega!
Banega wo lokpal
Khinchega in rakshaso Ki khal
Khoon pine wale amir, neta aur babu yad rahe
Jis din ye aam admi jag Gaya
Pine ke liye pani bhi na milega
Fir na wo tujse darega
Isi umid par ye sapno Ki duniya Kayam hai
Ki aam falo ka raja hai
Aam desh ka raja banega.
Aur saza dega in behrupiye a Rajao ko
Dilayega Nyay aam janta ko.
Akhir aam hi aam ke kaam ayega.

Na netaji na udyogpati na jamindar na afsar Ke liye
Sant sipahi banega wo desh Ki Raksha ke liye
Bahut ho Gaya Rona dhona
Sone ka bhi bhav badh Gaya hai
Ab mehenga padega Sona
Jaago jaago mere aam
Chidiya hai sone Ki
Desh mera Bharat
Koi na ise kar paye badnaam
Iske liye ekjut hokar kare kaam
Na chahe daulat na koi inaam
Jaago mere aam ..  Hey raam


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Learning Art of Living at Railway Station

Do you remember the first time you went to the railway station?

I still remember the day when I went to a small railway station with a friend who said it was fun to just hang around at a station.

Unbelievable now, but then I was crazy enough to nod my agreement, remembering all the goodies I could munch on while we hung around there!

Crowded station? That surely is the understatement of the century. I wondered how such a small Begumpet Station (a small station in Hyderabad) could hold so many people. All that I could see was a sea of people, without an inch of place. As my friend bought the platform tickets for us, I entered the station, feeling excited with the newness of the whole experience.

We sat on a cemented bench, looking at the train that was standing in front of us, both lost in thoughts. I wonder what she was thinking; but for me it was an eye opener and my thoughts went thus…

Some people getting on the train
Some disembarking
Some laughing as their dear one alighted
Some crying seeing their dear one go

One lost in thoughts….
One looking for adventure
One wanting it all to stop….

What an amazing sight …. Different people, different destinations.

Then with a sudden flash an insight was revealed, “LIFE IS LIKE THIS”

Like a train, while Life is moving towards its destination, some people come into it while others move away; situations come up and dissolve on their own. Everything from love to business is there…taking us up and down like a roller coaster ride, and in all this….We FORGET… where we came from or where we are headed to.

We also forget that this journey will come to an end and we have to get off the train at some point. We think we are here to stay. Everything we own is ours forever.  FOREVER?

During this journey of life what is it that we achieved? How many friends did we make on this train called life? How many people did we help? How many smiles did we share? How many tears did we wipe?

Is there anything we did at all? Did we make a difference???

Or did we just take the free ride on the train…….

All these thoughts were spinning in my head and making me dizzy. My first thought was, “How come I am living such a hollow life? Is it worth living like this? Is there anything I can do to enrich my life?”

This was the start of my journey for seeking the truly worthwhile in Life and I found ‘The Art of Living” or rather The Art of Living landed on my lap. Thanks to the Art of Living, I started doing what I wanted to – Making a difference in my life.

And what a difference I made!

What about you? Are you waiting for something to land in your lap? Well, we can’t be lucky all the time. Just go beyond the outer façade and start living life totally and completely.

~~ Author Mallika Krishna co-ordinates the free schools project of the Art of Living


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Transformation ….

She was surrounded by criticisms … By people who only shrugged her …

By people who never respected her .. By people who never saw her worth …

By people who never loved her…

By people who made her miserable …

Yes she started believing she was Mad .. Ugly … Worthless !

She saw the light of wisdom...

She learnt that there is hope …

She loved herself …

She hugged herself …

She patted her back ..

Love flowed

Friends noticed her worth …

They noticed her beauty within …

They noticed her SELF..

She filled with all in gratitude

She became all forgiving ...

She turned all compassionate ..

She understood all the love

She transformed into a beauty ..!

And then the world was hers

As much as she was of the world !!


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Art of Living victory for Indian Army Colonel

A decade and half ago, I suffered from an ailment very common to the soldiering community ‑‑ a torn knee ligament.  Having been a frontline sportsman with excellent skills at arms and field craft, life could not have been more bothersome in the wake of the injury.

More than the jerked knee, the pain lay in the heart, for not being able to be in the midst of soccer matches, the heat of basketball games and scoring at handball fixtures; for not being able to lead the charge of men and getting soaked in blood, guts and the glory which follows.

Life hit its lowest ebb when I was confined to superficial duties of data collation and info interpretations rather than being in the thick of a patrol, to lead the finest soldier in the world, the Indian Infantryman, amidst the Insurgent infested forest, amidst the snow clad mountain and in the hot desert of Thar.  The gung-ho of past glories seem to fade away  into oblivion of disgust with oneself.

Life seemed jacked up. There seemed no hope and confidence in sync with my aspirations.  Even the body started to give away and bloat without exercise which was staple few years back. Every well wisher gave suggestions according to their experience ranging from Pillets, Weight Loss Belts, Reiki to Pranic Healing. But, as any Commanding Officer across armies would tell you, young lieutenants are least likely to listen to any one.

During a holiday in one of the hill stations, a poster announced ‘Come and Meet Yourself’ with details of address, time and contact for ‘The Art of Living’ workshop. Taking a note and quickly reminiscing the other spiritual shopping list including reading and fully consuming ‘The Autobiography of a Yogi’, I walked towards the resort hosting the workshop. A large poster of a unshaven Guru who may not have had a hair cut since birth hung on the wall, smiling with twinkling, broad eyes. My ‘McCulay’s Education System Bred Mind’ asked me to beware. For anything which did not pass the ‘Western Test’ was to be suspicious about.

It was not possible for anything except ‘rarest of the rare’ to hold the young colt in me for six days. The workshop was interesting, with lot of interesting games, spiritual processes and interactive sessions thrown in, with no insinuations of ‘GyanGiri’ by the instructor. It was a perfect blend of Eastern Spirituality, Human Values and Western Scientific Thought and delivered with American Professionalism.

On the second day, we went through the ‘Sudarshan Kriya’, a unique rhythmic breathing technique that filled me with so much calmness and serenity that the whole being deeply rested in a perfect meditative state. After the day’s closure of the workshop, the whole body-mind complex felt attended to and in perfect harmony with itself, the surroundings and Nature. It all seemed beautiful, like never before.

The Instructor listed out the ‘Home Going Notes’ on the last day. Art of Living provides Follow Ups on weekends and holidays through Qualified Instructors. I realised that a life-long free support was available through the organisation’s extensive network of centres and instructors in 156 countries including our over-friendly neighbourhood of Pakistan. The practices taught in The Art of Living Workshops are free from any rituals, and can be performed easily once learnt under the guidance of a qualified instructor. Very soon, constant practice of the yogic breaths starts to positively uplift all the levels of human existence. The body becomes supple, the mind attains the ability to
remain in the present moment, the intellect starts to sharpen and the memory retention improves by leaps and bounds.

The Part I course, like the preamble of any constitution, was to prove merely a preamble, and I found myself wanting more of this relief; This succor, which touched the very soul, is easily available through Sudarshan Kriya at the comfort of home. Soon, I enrolled for a Part-2 course, and the four days of deep meditations, spiritual processes and silence changed the entire set of notions I had towards spiritual organisations and Living Masters. A slew of other ‘Post Graduate Workshops’ like to Sri Sri Yoga, DSN and Blessings Course followed and it brought to the fore a quotient of happiness from deep within, hitherto, totally unknown and unrealized, but hereafter blossomed, with tender thoughts, connection with the whole humanity, leaving the small mind thousands of miles away. Very soon, I was a regular at Weekly Follow Ups and Singing Sessions, and humanitarian efforts of The Foundation.

Then, during His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s tour in Kashmir to oversee local humanitarian efforts, I had a chance to meet Him in person. By then, having read most of his books, undergone most of His workshops, His Wisdom and spiritual practices were only second nature. I found being in the company of our new age ‘Guru of Joy’ to be simply joyous. A serene, joyous and calm atmosphere surrounds him. He meets everyone with the same intensity and listened to them with same rapt attention. In a cycle of 24 hours, he meets more people than a regular human being would meet in 6 months, and this cycle repeated itself every next city. His simplicity, His ability to retain the energy levels to look after each one of His devotees and skeptics alike, is something which every leader across fields should learn about.

He travels across continents, one day everyone in Africa is tweeting about His Love and Compassion, the next day more than 1.5 Lacs are participating in #ElPlanetaMedita programme in Argentina. In the US, the initiatives are operated out of a church building. The Europeans celebrate the 30th Anniversary of The Foundation as ‘World Culture Festival. ’The Iraqi Government  invites The Art of Living teachers to partner spiritual reconstruction in the war torn states.  Argentina and Mongolia have honoured His Holiness with the Highest Civilian Award of their respective countries.

The US Army finds the workshops extremely effective to combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The workshop is delivered to war veterans returning from the Combat Zones. The Russian Military also found it useful for reintegration of its troops in the infamous School Seize.

I continue to return the challenges and dangers of serving in Rashtriya Rifles, an outfit containing the neighbor sponsored insurgency in J&K. Obviously, there are resource-crunches, adverse situations, dangers lurk at every corner, the terrain expects tough physical standards, and the leadership skills are tested every second. Combat stress builds up every day in the rank and file. But the spiritual practice and meditation helps to remain calm in tense situations. There exists a superb recharging mechanism in the practice of ‘Sudarshan Kriya’.

From a ‘Skeptic’ of yesterday, I just moved to enjoy ‘Fulfilling Existence’,  to be ‘Sampoorna’. Your Holiness, thank you for being the Lighthouse to the current generation of humanity. Ahoy, ‘The Guru of Joy’ is here!


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