Tag Archives: Art of Living

Dawood Ibrahim is an Idiot

Dawood Ibrahim is an idiot.  He succeeded and made wealth in a community of law abiding people, by violating the rules. Dawood would have failed miserably had he lived in a lawless society, where everyone would be free to break the laws.

There is telling evidence to prove his stupidity, the most conspicuous being that not only is he a fugitive, even his family members have been killed. Surprisingly, there are many violators of law in India who are not fugitive; They have dealt with the social consequences of their actions and survived. On the other hand, this man Dawood has chosen to be perpetually on the run.

Nitin Gadkari in his foolishness mentioned his name in the same line with Vivekananda.

Even as a violator of law Dawood has failed. Neither did he conform to the law nor has he been a victor in violation. He could neither be a Duryodhana nor a Arjuna. Even Ravana and Duryodhana faced the consequence and paid the price. They both fought the war and were not fugitives.

Vinod Kumar is Columnist and Current Affairs Commentator

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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Columns by Vinod Kumar


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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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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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Art of Living Navrati decoded

Did you count the divine audience? We have heard Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar talk about this! Many have even captured them in their picture frames. Some try to explain it as a scientific phenomenon. Some even call it a “blue-star” syndrome. Some more even take the liberty of ignorance to dismiss it as a superstition.

Yet the phenomenon of “angels” or divine energies being spotted during various spiritual activities blessed by Sri Sri continues to intrigue those who seek to know the real truth about this creation. It is impossible to dismiss this intriguing phenomenon of angels, after finding out what a Naadi Expert decoded just after this year’s Navratri celebrations at the Art of Living Ashram in Bangalore.

Naadi is an ancient science that decodes the past, present and future of an individual as foreseen by sages in ancient time and recorded in palm leaves. There are very few experts who have the knowledge to decode the inscriptions.

I wish modern science could testify this 7000 year old Akashic records and corroborate the revelation of all devas, devis and sages assembling at the Art of Living ashram in Bangalore for the Navratri celebrations!After the Chandi Homa, the Naadi Expert checked the palm leaves and decoded the following conversation between Kaushik Muni and one of his disciples.

Astonished by seeing that all sages, saptarishis, devas and devis including Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh were present in Art of Living Ashram for all the nine days of Navratri, the disciple asked Kaushik Muni to throw light on it. Hear it from the horses’ mouth:

Disciple: All of you are sitting here for all the nine days. Are you not responsible for rest of the world? Don’t you have to go anywhere else to fulfill your responsibilities? There are places with famines and floods which need your attention, but you all are happily sitting here.

Kaushik Muni: We go everywhere, but here the yagnas have been done for all of humanity and without any selfish motive and without any deceit in the heart. The poojas here have been done for the benefit of whole world. That is why we come here.

Disciple: If someone does a small puja with same devotion, will you go there also?

Kaushik Muni: Even if it was a small yagna, we would have come here because it was done with selfless motive for benefit of whole world. So we would have come to bless so that it reaches the whole world.

Disciple: But you were not even invited here?

Kaushik Muni: But we were welcomed nicely and taken very good care of.  Also, here the pundits don’t do the yagnas as a profession, but with a pure heart. The fruits of yagna have reached even those who are not here physically but have remembered Gurudev, They have all been blessed. Many calamities have been averted; the hearts of people with violent and negative tendencies have been transformed.

Listening to this fascinating conversation etched on thaliyola (palm leaves) 7000 years ago with iron nails in Vatteluttu, the ancient Tamil script, it becomes official and absolute truth that not just millions of mortals across the globe, but even subtle beings called variously as angels, devas, devis and sages are also drawn to purity and authenticity of Sri Sri’s spirituality.

How often we have seen the unseen hands of divinity playing out in our lives. Surely, we don’t need to be told about it by a Nadi expert. Yet, it’s nice to know even the divine comes running where we go!


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Sri Sri and the most wonderful job in the world

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was an exceptionally precocious adolescent, who showed a keen interest for the spiritual world early in life. He completed his degree in science and Vedic literature by 17. He was young, but already felt that a special destiny awaited him: “At 17, I felt the whole world was my family. I had that strong aspiration that people celebrate life and live in harmony, specially where there was conflict,” he recalls today.

But there were obstacles. His mother’s relatives would berate her: “What has happened to your son? He talks philosophy, he does not behave like a normal person…. You better find him a job and get him married quickly.” Sri Sri would also spend hours performing elaborate pujas, an art he had mastered very young. So again, people would tell his mother: “Don’t allow your son to do so much puja, he may go mad and crazy. He will not study properly.” Sri Sri recalls that every time he would sit for meditation, his mother would hurry him up saying: “Not yet over? You are taking too long. Come on. Study.” The young Ravi Shankar would somehow escape sports classes, come home and do something else. Then his mother would scold him again: “Why did you come so early? Go and play football.” But the young Ravi aspired to bigger things; he would look at his feet and think: “These feet cannot kick anybody, let alone a ball,” and refuse to go.

To please his mother, he even went for an interview with a bank. But as it turned out, he interviewed the interviewers instead of the other way around! They asked him what he was doing. When they found out that he taught meditation, they got so interested that they wanted to know more. Sri Sri sat down and showed them a simple meditation technique! He was selected and sent a round-trip ticket to New Delhi. He never went.

But shortly thereafter, he met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whose Transcendental Meditation (TM) was already known the world over. Maharishi was at that time conducting Veda and science conferences all over India and bringing scientists and Vedic scholars together on a single platform.

Sri Sri was very young, but Maharishi recognised his abilities and put him to work. He was thus sent to various places to give talks on the Vedas and science. But he had a problem: “I looked so young,” he smiles, “that people did not take me seriously.” Thus, he started growing a beard, “to look a little mature”.

He thought at that time that he had the most wonderful job in the world: Maharishi would send Ravi Shankar to represent him at various maths (monasteries) and ashrams—including the Ordaining Ceremony of Guru Mai Chidvilasanand by her Guru Baba Muktanand. “I went to Ganeshpuri (located near Mumbai) with two truckloads of sweets!” he recollects. Baba Muktanand received him and the group of pandits accompanying him very warmly.

Later, Maharishi dispatched Sri Sri to different European countries to  expound on the Vedas and science. At that time, he thought that to work tirelessly to set up Veda, science and ayurveda, the ancient and unique Indian medical system, was a pioneering job. Indeed, all his life, Sri Sri would keep his commitment to ayurveda, later establishing an ayurvedic college in his headquarters in Bangalore, from where hundreds of doctors graduate every year. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also became one of the best-known spiritual leaders of India, and founded the Art of Living movement, whose volunteers make it the second largest NGO of the world after the Red Cross. LikeOutlook, Sri Sri thought big and made it big!

Source : OutLook India 


Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Art of Living News


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Art of Living Tribal schools in Jharkhand


In 1999, Shri Brij Bhushan Chawla was blessed by H H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living, to start tribal schools in Jharkhand, one of the most backward states of India. Today, Art of Living is running ten tribal schools in Ghatsila Block and twenty more in the tribal belt of Jharkhand and West Bengal. These schools provide education to 2,734 tribal children from 60 tribal villages who come from families that have been ignored for centuries and bypassed from mainstream development.


It is not just the students, but entire families who are being uplifted. The tribal school teachers provide counseling to the villagers besides running the adult education program since many years. Regular medical assistance is provided to the villagers by Art of Living doctors who visit these areas at least once in a fortnight to conduct medical camps. Medicines are made freely available for the patients at these camps. Before Art of Living started its tribal school project, malaria was rampant in the area and child mortality rate was pretty high. Today, the regular supply of medical help by Art of Living volunteers has minimized the death toll.


The team remained unfazed in the face of many challenges that came up while setting up the schools. The first and foremost challenge was lack of proper connectivity to these remote tribal areas. Miles away from roads, there was no electricity, and water supply in the area. Lack of infrastructure prevented sufficient and timely medical help from reaching, leading to deaths of tribals during emergencies. The Art of Living team led by Chawla ji toiled hard to get the electricity lines and the roads built to reach these places. They also created clean water sources by installing hand water pumps at every school and digging wells. The rising spread of Naxalism in the surrounding area was also a matter of great concern. Today, due to the good work that has been happening over the past decade in this area, there is no threat from the naxalites in running these schools.

Initially the parents were reluctant to send their children to school. They preferred to send children to work or engage them in household chores or baby sitting. The volunteers had to convince the parents of the value of education and make all the arrangements for the kids to attend the schools. These schools run free of charge and provide books, uniforms, school bags, bicycles and transportation, along with lunch and milk to the students.


The schools impart education in a holistic manner as envisioned by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji. In Gurudev’s words, “Every parent would like to have a child whose personality shines wherever the child goes. It is the personality that is appreciated everywhere. Such pleasing personality is what is the main aim of this education.” This is very much visible when we look at kids studying at our tribal schools…


Progressing as a team

Group-based learning is encouraged in the students. This helps them in imbibing human values such as sharing and helping each other to grow. Each group is assigned a leader to encourage the leadership qualities in the students.

Each tribal school has its own garden in the vicinity of the school structure. The garden is maintained by the students themselves. Fruits and vegetables are cultivated using zero budget natural farming. The students learn the value of teamwork and hard work while toiling in these gardens.

Fostering the hidden potential

The tribal kids are very good at arts and their creativity is encouraged by giving them opportunities to make craft and decorations at the school. All the charts put up inside the school are either prepared by the teachers or the students themselves.

The classroom walls are fixed with blackboards which are used by the students to draw paintings of their choice. When we look at the paintings of these kids, it is unbelievable to learn that there is no teacher appointed to teach them drawing and painting!

Fine balance of indoor and outdoor activities

Physical activities are an integral part of their routine at the school and sports events are regularly organized where students from all the schools get a chance to come together and interact with each other.

The culture of the tribes is maintained by encouraging the children to perform dances and dramas in their own traditional language and costumes.

Expanding the horizons of the tribal mind

The middle school has a well-equipped computer lab that provides access to quality educational material. Once in a while excursion tours are organized to give the students exposure to the outside world and expand their thinking horizons. Today these kids have started nurturing the ambitions of becoming doctors and teachers to serve their own community.


Every morning the students arrive happily at their respective schools. Those students who reside far away from their school are provided with bicycles to come to school. Their day at school begins by cleaning the school campus. This imbibes qualities like responsibility and cleanliness in the students. This activity is followed by fetching water from the hand pumps and watering the plants in the garden next to the school building. After this activity students gather for prayers, which consist of Sanskrit chants and patriotic songs. This activity helps to instill sense of pride and moral responsibility towards one’s community, culture and country.

After the prayers, students settle down in class rooms to do exercises and meditation under teacher’s guidance. The breathing techniques improve concentration levels and keep student calm and energetic. The students are encouraged to participate in activities such as singing, dancing, and story-telling to boost their confidence.

The education is imparted in the national language Hindi, and English, while preserving the native language Santhali. Apart from the languages, the children learn modern science, history, geography, ecology and other subjects taught in schools all over India.

Nutritious midday meals and milk are provided to the students. A lot of importance is given to practical learning rather than the rote learning approach. For example, calculating the area of a circle is taught with the help of a board used by the kids to play archery. This makes learning subjects like mathematics an interesting exercise.

Ample amount of outdoor activities happen at the schools. Thus, the students go back home happy and stress-free at the end of the day.


Special attention is given to the development plan for the students when they grow up. A vocational training center is set up to allow the students to learn skills that can help them earn their livelihood. The school uniforms are stitched by some of the students and their elders at this center. The students prepare decorative crafts items that are sold by the volunteers.

The team running the project believes that the locally trained teachers are more suitable for the schools as compared to teachers brought from urban areas, due to the fact that local teachers better understand the language and culture of the students.

Therefore the team periodically organizes teacher’s training workshops to generate quality teachers at the local level.

The project coordinators are also working on programs to facilitate the students with skills that will help them to earn a living within their native instead of relocating to urban areas in search of employment.


His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji says, “Knowledge and spiritual awareness should go hand in hand with social and political system. Only then can justice prevail in the society and there be a sense of belongingness with everyone in the world, irrespective of their religious and cultural background or age group. We need to impart this education – at the levels of schools and colleges.”

After visiting the tribal schools in Jharkhand, one can truly feel that this vision of the founder is becoming a reality in this nation with the dedicated efforts of the volunteers of the Art of Living with his inspiration. The Art of Living has started 209 such schools all over the country, making education a reality for 24,209 students.

For more details about the tribal schools of Jharkand, contact Mr. Brji Chawla,

 Author Sandesh Sawant is a faculty of the Art of Living foundation and works as software engineer at Cisco Systems in India. The author enjoys working on social causes and has written the article on the basis of his visit to the tribal schools in Jharkhand.


Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Art of Living Projects


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Music, Navratri & Sri Sri

Music, to put in a gross way, is a group of musical notes of different frequencies or pitch arranged in a particular pattern and rhythm. However, this gross description is incomplete as it is limited only to the subjective aspect of music. In reality, music is a means of finding the Self.

The purpose of music is to transport the listener (and the musician) beyond the mechanical sound of the notes to the inner silence, another realm of one’s being. That’s why music is also known as nadyoga. Through music one can attain the transcendental. It is an important aspect of life like bhakti, gnana and karma. A nadayogi focuses on nada as the absolute brahman of which this entire creation springs out.

The finest aspect of music comes alive every year during the annual Navratri celebrations with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the Art of Living International Centre in Bangalore.

The evening before the day of Maha Chandi Homa a musical bliss dawns when Sri Sri plays Veena, the instrument of Goddess Saraswati. It is an out-of-the-world experience by itself. One can literally feel that the strings in one’s heart are being played that resonates throughout one’s life. Sri Sri’s Veena rendering is followed by the offerings of devotees in the form of dance, music (instrumental and vocal), Vedas, ancient scriptures,stotras in praise of the Mother Divine!

It’s not just a divine rendition of Veena, but elevating music as a form of worship. Goddess Sarawati is worshipped on the last three days of Navratri as the sattvic expression of Devi, known to bring self knowledge.

The Goddess, who is worshiped as the deity of music, is depicted to have a veena, the symbol of music, in one hand and a book, the symbol of knowledge, in the other. Knowledge is the subject of the left brain. Knowledge is not complete without music, which is the subject of the right brain. Music balances knowledge. For the journey of life to be complete, both music and knowledge are essential.

During the sacred Navratri celebrations at Bangalore Ashram, music is intricately intertwined with the invocation and worship of Shakti – the pure energy.

The ancient scriptures say, ‘Shruti is the mother, and laya is the father of music.’ Shruti is translated as pitch and laya is translated as rhythm. But they are much more than pitch and rhythm.

Shruti and laya are not separate. They merge into each other and have to remain indivisible throughout for music to exist. Laya, the rhythm, is in the soul of the universe. Everything in this creation changes, and this change follows a very precise rhythm. The universe itself revolves in a rhythm.

Laya is the attribute of music that is beyond the tangible rhythm of the music. Laya means to let go, to unite. Laya is complete cessation. It is the merger of all the different rhythms at the levels of one’s body, senses, mind, intellect, memory and ego to the one consciousness, the non-dual brahman. It is through this laya that the notes in the music are absorbed into the ‘swara’.

Music ‘happens’ when swara takes over! There the music, the musician and the listener, if any, with all the instruments cease to exist as individual entities, and dissolve into the one brahman, the nada!Swara is subtler than and far beyond the subjective sensation of the musical notes. Swara translates the subjective ‘anubhava’ to the objective ‘anubhooti’.

‘Swa-ra’ in Sanskrit means, ‘that which illumines itself’. It cannot be obtained through mere practice or penance, nor can one be trained to get it. It has to dawn by itself! And when it dawns in the musician, it shines forth itself through his music.

It is the swara and not just the technical correctness of the pitch or the quality of tones or the voice of the musician that makes music transcend and transport one to its destination.The sound that is beyond the finest vibration, the seed form of all the sounds is the state of absolute stillness, the nada, which can only be attained, not perceived through the physical ears.

Posted by Dr Manikantan Menon; Dr Mani promotes ‘Holistic well-being’ thru a blend of Ayurveda, Music and Indian Spiritual Knowledge & Yogic Practices


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