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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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Ex guerillas get a new life with Art of Living


The 250 calm faces, deeply immersed in meditation, belie the fact that everyone in this group belonged to armed militancy that has claimed thousands of lives in the North East of India.  An amazing transformation is unfolding currently at the Art of Living International Centre in Bangalore where over 250 surrendered militants from Assam, belonging to various outfits, are undergoing a month-long rehabilitation training programme.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar with former ultras in rehabilitation training at Art of Living International Centre

“It’s a new life for me. I find a lot of enthusiasm and determination to lead a new life,” these simple words coming straight from the heart of Shyamanta Handique, 45, met with instant applause and nods of approval from the group of former insurgents during an exclusive session with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji at the Art of Living International Centre, Bangalore. The words echoed the sentiments of almost everyone present.

Former insurgent groups from Assam receiving arms training in jungles of Myanmar and Bhutan

The quick and definite transformation of these men, whose major expression of life was laced with violence, into higher versions of themselves — happy, sensitive, respectful and responsible has been quite dramatic. Surely, the group hadn’t anticipated this kind of turnaround when the government sent them to Art of Living Ashram for a training. A senior intelligence officer, assigned to keep a tab on the trainees, was so touched by the change in former rebels that he has decided to join the Art of Living after retiring from paid service in two years and further this work of inner transformation.

A majority of the former rebels had been baptized into guerrilla warfare in the Kachin jungles  of Myanmar and Bhutan. A couple of them received their training in China. The former militants now feel comfortable dropping the guns and explore non-violent ways of resolving the problems of life.

So what is the secret of transformation? Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living explains, “Most rebels are good human beings with a lot of dedication and commitment for the country. If they could do a little bit of understanding of spirituality, they could do what others cannot.”

The commitment was palpable, when a few of them shared with Sri Sri that they have renewed commitment for the betterment of their people after training at the Ashram. To quote one of them, “Earlier we were lions. Now we are bigger lions!” Realizing that vested interests used them by putting guns on their shoulders, they vowed to continue working for the betterment of Assamese people not through bullets but through the ballot!  22- year-old Ratul Boras said that he would join politics, win the hearts of people and bring about a development in his district. Amarendra had similar plans. Sri Sri blessed them saying Art of Living would provide full support to such self less endeavors.In the past, he has commended such youth for their strong commitment, which needs to be channelised appropriately to bring about a positive change in society.

It is remarkable that in a few weeks of the training, that ends of August 4th, the youth are ready to return to the mainstream society and are clear about what they want to do. Many of them, who own land back home, want to practise organic farming and dairy farming. A few are looking forward to further training and become yoga teachers to spread the inner peace they have experienced for the first time in their own life. As part of rehab training the group was taught yoga, pranayams, Sudarshan Kriya, meditations, various life skills and vocational training in mushroom cultivation, paper products and electrical maintenance.

Surrendered militants sell paper products made by them at Art of Living International Centre

Former Ulfa members Maqbool Hussain and Monuj Roy have made a common promise, “We will change our society for the better.” Well they have already started walking the talk. In a heart rending gesture, the group of surrendered militants donated the proceeds from their first sale of paper products to the victims of the current riots in Assam.

“The condition of our life and that of our state Assam, would have been better off had we received this kind of training and met Guruji 30 years ago, ” the group shared. Well as they say, better late than never. Once begun is half done!

Our very best wishes to the new members of the Art of Living family to start a new life back home in Assam 🙂

 

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