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God listens and takes care


As a child, I remember my mother teaching us to sing this Gujarati prayer every evening, “Sau nu karo kalyan, Dayalu Prabhu, Sau nu karo kalyan”, which means, “Oh kind God! Bless everyone for their welfare, wellness!” Right from the time I started to learn this prayer we said this every single evening, along with some other Sanskrit Mantras.

I must have been around 10 years old, when I asked her, “Mom, why do we have to tell God to do good to everyone? Isn’t God kind and compassionate enough? I thought God loves us all.” My mother laughed and said, “Prayer is talking to God my dear.  God knows everything, we remind ourselves of this while praying, that God is always there to take care of all…” This question stayed in the mind for some time. I grew up and forgot about it, while still saying all prayers every evening.

Recently, I was teaching an Art of Living’s course for children(Art EXCEL) in a small village in Assam, in the middle of heavy rains and floods. We had 200 kids on this course and some of them would cycle 10kms one way, to reach the course venue. During this course, I would feel so lucky to teach such committed children. One of the days, while the children were meditating, it started raining very heavily. The meditation got over and all kids shared miraculous experiences. It was evening and time for closing the day. It kept raining.

Due to the heavy rains, none of the parents could come to pick up the children. Here I was, stuck inside a hall, jam-packed with 200 kids. It was now getting dark and rain started flooding the outside area, to an extent that if had continued for even 10mins more, there would have been water in the hall.

At this point a little girl walked up to me and asked, “Why are you not smiling, any tension?” I said to her, “It’s raining so much, how will you all go home, I am concerned?”

This kid smiled back and told me not to worry. I saw her running to the window. She stood there, looked at the sky, closed her eyes for a minute. Then this little angel ran back to me and with so much conviction she said, “Now you please smile, the rain will stop because I have prayed to the clouds to stop the rain.”  Within five minutes the rain reduced and eventually stopped in 10 minutes.

This is when I remembered my mothers’ words, “Prayer is talking to God!”  I always heard this and somewhere knew it as well. There is some Divine force that runs everything, knows everything and is always there with all of us. My journey with Art of Living has me very certain of this benevolent Divinity through many  beautiful experiences.

Author Hetal Mehta is a versatile and dynamic Art of Living Teacher

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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Wisdom

 

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Hacking Inception : Questioning Reality


Has it ever happened to you that you woke up from a dream, think you are awake, and then suddenly you wake up again and find yourself still lying in your bed? The problem is that you didn’t know that you were (still) dreaming, until you woke from that dream. However strange your dream may be, you do not realize how strange it actually is, until you wake up. So how can you be sure? Is this reality, or one more dream?

Inception is a fascinating movie that not only captivates you till the end, but also leaves you with many questions about the nature of the Reality. Cobb and his team use a technology that allows multiple people to share one dream, to ‘invade’ people’s minds and ‘steal’ information for clients. He is wanted by the United States government for murder on his wife Mal, and that is how he ended up in this not-so-legal business. When the powerful industrialist Saito approaches Cobb with the offer to use his influence to make Cobb’s criminal record disappear, so that he can finally go back to the U.S. and see his two small children again, Cobb cannot refuse. This is his one chance at being reunited with his children – but at what cost?

Saito asks Cobb whether he is able to perform ‘inception’ on another very powerful industrialist. Inception means ‘planting an idea in someone’s mind’. Saito asks him: “If you can steal an idea from someone’s mind, why can’t you plant one there instead?” One of Cobb’s teammates tells Saito that this is not possible, but then Cobb interferes: “I know it is possible… because I have done it before. You just have to go deep enough.”

Cobb and his team come up with a detailed plan for which they have to enter a dream within a dream within a dream, to place the most basic form of the idea into the subjects mind: the subject needs to form the idea so that he will believe it is his own. The whole planning gives a fascinating insight into how our mind works.

The movie Inception is based on spiritual knowledge from Yoga Vasistha

Source: 4.bp.blogspot.com

For this project Cobb also needs a very good ‘architect’, and he recruits the young Ariadne. Her job is to ‘design’ the dream world. However, Cobb warns her: “Never recreate places from your memory, always image new places. Because building a dream from your memory is the easiest way to lose your grasp on what’s real and what is a dream.” It is then that Cobb shows her a small spinning top. “All of us carry a totem with us. It is a small object, that you carry on you all the time and that no one else knows about – only you should know all about it.” He explains that by checking it, one knows for sure that he is not dreaming. Cobb uses the top – if it keeps spinning, without falling over, he knows he is still dreaming.

Cobb also tells Ariadne how he knows inception is possible: “My wife Mal and I were exploring the concept of a dream within a dream. I kept pushing things, I wanted to go deeper, go further. I just didn’t understand the concept that hours could turn into years down there, that we could get trapped down there, so deep, that we lost sight of what was real. To wake up from that, after years, decades, to have become old souls thrown back into youth like that, I knew something was wrong with her. Eventually she told me the truth. She was possessed by an idea, this one very simple idea, that changed everything: That our world wasn’t real. That she needed to wake up and come back to reality. That in order to get back home, we had to kill ourselves. She thought our children were projections. That our real children were waiting for us out there somewhere. She was certain. She killed herself. So I ran, left the country.”

In the end, when the job is completed, Cobb wakes up again on the airplane. His team members are sitting in different seats nearby – their job is done. They just look at him, one smiles. There are, however, no conversations, no interactions. When Cobb goes through customs, he is asked no questions, just allowed – the industrialist has kept his word. It makes you wonder, however, if the whole movie was not a dream he had while on the flight back to the United States, and his ‘team members’ are just different people on the flight that happened to smile or look at him…

Spinning Top in Inception - What is Reality?

Source: blastr.com

When Cobb comes home, he almost can’t believe he’s finally home again. Cobb spins his top, to check if he’s really back to reality, but then he sees his children in the garden, he finally sees their faces again, and runs out to meet them. In the mean time, however, the top has still not stopped spinning… so we are left to wonder: is he still dreaming? And if so, was his wife Mal coming into his dreams maybe not his own projection, but his actual wife who, after ‘killing herself’ finally woke up to the real reality, and who keeps coming back into his dream, trying to get him to wake up…?

Those who have read the thrilling ancient Indian scripture ‘Yoga Vasistha’, can recognize instantly how the movie Inception has been inspired by the book.  In Yoga Vasistha, young prince Rama is disillusioned with life and Sage Vasishta gave him advice and knowledge. The book has many stories, told by sage Vasishta to Rama, that deal with the Ultimate Reality vis-a-vis the illusionary nature of the Universe.

One such story is about a lady called Leela who takes several births and dies several times and is then born as a queen. One day she goes off to sleep and dreams of dying and being reborn as a holy man who dies at an old age. Vasistha then explains to Rama that all this was happening in a dream inside a dream inside a dream in the mind of the ‘original’ dreamer, who was a poor lady in a hut and who had been asleep for only a few minutes! Rama was completely bewildered and asked Vasistha how the lady could dream of epochs in a few minutes. Vasistha said that in a moment of a dream an epoch can be dreamed of.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living says: “When you see everything as a dream, then you abide in your true nature. As you keep wondering whether all this is a dream, you will wake up to the real.”

Enjoy watching the movie (again)! And post any other interesting elements or dialogues of this movie that you find, as comments to this post! There are many more 😉

 

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Independence Day Flavors of the Tricolour


Art of Living Bloggers wish India a very Happy Independence Day. On our 66th Indpendence Day, let us pay our tribute to the freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives to win freedom for One billion Indians. Today let us renew our commitment to our motherland to reclaim its lost glory from the jaws of corruption and apathy.

Gurudev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living has said, “India can be proud of seven things and showcase them to the World – Food, Tourism, Clothing, Music & Dance, Yoga & Spirituality, Ayurveda and IT.” (Watch Video) Nowhere else in the World is such richness found. These are the things that we need to put our attention to boost our economy and the image of our country.

 The beautiful tricolor of India being hoisted this morning at Art of Living International Centre. 

Let the spirit of the tricolour paint our lives with courage and sacrifice (saffron), truth and purity (white), peace and prosperity (green) and righteousness (Dharma).

Here are two recipes make your dining table tri-coloured!

Tri-Colour Idly
Idly mix/batter – 4 cups
Carrot – 3 cups
Spinach(Palak/Cheera) – 3 cups
Salt – As required


1) For preparing tri colour idly, cook carrots and grind it to a paste without water. Pour it in a bowl and keep it aside.

2) Steam the spinach and blend it with very little water. Keep it aside.

3) Take a spoon full of the idly batter and pour it in the carrot mixture with salt. Mix well and keep it aside.

4) Take another spoon full of the idly batter and pour it in the spinach mixture with salt. Mix well and keep it aside.

5) Spoon a little idly batter into the idly mould. Put a little spinach mixture in the centre of the idly batter.

6) Take another spoon of the carrot mixture and put it in the centre of the spinach mixture.(Do not put too much of the spinach and carrot mixture. The tri colours should be seen) 

7) Steam it till cooked.

8) Tri colour idly`s are ready. Serve with chutney.

Tri color pudding

For Green Color
Avocado, ripe-1
Pistachios, shelled-1/4 cup
Milk- 1 1/2 cups
Condensed milk- 4tbsp or according to your needs
Agar-Agar strands- 6gm

Preparation:
Place agar-agar strands in 3tbsp water and heat it by constantly stirring to dissolve in water. Strain it to remove any tiny strands present in it.
Blend avocado and pistachios into a fine paste by adding little water to it.
In a saucepan, heat milk and condensed milk.
When it comes to a boil add the dissolved agar-agar and combine well.
Remove from the flame and when it is slightly cooled, add the avocado-pistachios puree and combine well.

Pour this mixture into a cake pan, dessert bowl or ramekin, after it cools down refrigerate to set.

For White Color
Apple-2
Almonds-1/4 cup
Milk-1 1/2 cups
Vanilla extract- 1tsp
Condensed milk-4 tbsp or according to your needs
Agar-agar strands-6gm

Preparation:
Place agar-agar strands in 3tbsp water and heat it by constantly stirring to dissolve in water. Strain it to remove any tiny strands present in it.
Blend apple and almonds together into a fine paste by adding little water.
In a saucepan, heat the milk along with condensed milk and vanilla extract.
When the milk comes to a boil, add the melted agar-agar to it and combine well.
Remove from the flame and when it’s slightly cooled, add apple-almond puree to it and combine well.
Slowly pour this mixture on top of the green pudding that has already been set in the refrigerator.

Let it cool and place in the refrigerator for further setting.

For Orange Color
Cantaloupe juice or Carrot juice -1 1/2 cups
Milk- 1/2 cup
Condensed milk- 4tbsp
Agar-agar strands- 6gm

Preparation:
Place agar-agar strands in 3tbsp water and heat it by constantly stirring to dissolve in water. Strain it to remove any tiny strands present in it.
Blend fresh cantaloupe and strain it to get the juice out of it and keep aside.
Heat milk along with condensed milk.
When the milk comes to a boil, add dissolved agar-agar and mix well.
Remove from the flame, let cool slightly and add the cantaloupe juice to this.

Pour this mixture on top of the white pudding that has already been set in the refrigerator.
Again, keep this in the refrigerator for further setting.
After the pudding has set well, cut into different shapes and serve.
Happy Independence Day 🙂

 
 

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It is the Lord Krishna who made Janmashtami popular


We were pleasantly surprised to find many people at the Art of Living Ashram looking forward to Sri Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations. Krishna Janmashtami, also called Gokulashtami, celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. Many educated urban Indians, we knew, thought of Janmashtami as just another holiday for indulging in good food and putting their feet up.

But here the story was different. Probbaly, because of the gusto and fullness with which the celebrations are held in the presence of Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji. From Makhan Mishri and Chappan Bhog to rocking Krishna bhajans and beautiful decorations, the festivities make one feels so complete and fulfilled. Well, Krishna himself is supposed to be a “Purna Avatara,” complete in all aspects!

As Sri Sri says, “You see from any angle, there is a totality in Krishna’s personality. This indicates that your innermost has these qualities just like a ray of sun which has all colours. Janmashtami is the day when you enliven the cosmic vision of Krishna in your own consciousness, once again. Letting your true nature manifest in your day-to-day life is the real secret of Krishna’s birthday”

Seeing Krishna reverentially and fondly as a complete incarnation of Divinity is deep rooted in the Indian tradition. How about taking a look at Sri Krishna as a historical figure?

HISTORIC KRISHNA

The practice of Sri Krishna’s birthday being celebrated year after year for 5000 years, confirms that he is a historical figure. This year we celebrate 5124th birthday of Sri Krishna.

Krishna’s birthday is called by different names such as Janmashtami, Sri Krishna Jayanthi, Gokulashtami and the likes, since Krishna was born on the 8th day of the increasing phase of the moon, which in the Indian Calendar System is called Ashtami. The word Ashtami is etymologically similar to Octa in Greek, from which comes the word ‘eight’ in English.

Janmashtami: Since Krishna was born on the day, which was the 8th phase of the moon (Ashtami) and Janma means “birth”, the day when He was born is called Janamashtami.

Gokulashtami: As Krishna’s birth was celebrated first in Gokul, Vrindavan, the day is also called Gokulashtami. The word Gokula means, “place of cows”, Go meaning “cow”, and Kul meaning “lineage”. Gokula is the place of the lineage of people who nurtured cows. Even though Krishna was born in Mathura, His father was in chains along with His mother in prison, where they could not celebrate His birth. They sent him away to safer place, away from His maternal uncle, the vile Kamsa. So, His birth was first celebrated in Gokula, Vrindavan and this day is also called Gokulashtami.

Sri Krishna Jayanthi : Krishna’s birthday is also called Sri Krishna Jayanthi.
Why is it called a Jayanthi? Some aspects in astronomy continue to remain mysteries. Ancient Indian astronomers seem to have fixed certain nomenclature for certain configurations, besides the names of the stars.

The lunar phases occurring at certain stars seem to have been accorded special names. For example,

  • Those that occur at Punarvasu star is prefixed with Jaya. Jaya Mahadwadasi is the Dwadasi, 12th phase of moon, during Shukla Paksha, bright fortnight and when the moon is found at the Punarvasu star in Gemini constellation.
  • Similarly, Jayanthi is prefixed when the moon is at the Rohini star, Aldeberan in Taurus.
  • Nasini is prefixed when the moon is seen at the Pushya star in Gemini constellation.
  • Vijaya is prefixed when the moon is seen at the Sravana star in the Aquarius constellation.

Since on the night of Krishna’s birth, the moon was at Rohini star, a Jayanthi configuration, the day has come to be called “Sri Krishna Jayanthi.” From then on the word Jayanthi, has also come to mean “celebrations”. Over time, every birthday celebration has come to be called a Jayanthi and today we have,

  • Buddha Jayanthi
  • Mahaveer Jayanthi
  • Shankara Jayanthi
  • Shivaji Jayanthi
  • Gandhi Jayanthi
  • Ambedkar Jayanthi and so on…..

 Jayanthi has become popular because of her association with Krishna!

Krishna’s exact birth date

From the unique star configuration described in the Puranic texts and searching for the same back in time, using the planetarium software, one can date the star position when Krishna was born in the prison at Mathura.  The date of His birth in the modern calendar works out to 27st July 3112 BCE.

Krishna’s birth chart

Krishna was born in 3112 BCE. This year is 2012 CE. The difference between 3112 BCE and 2012 CE is 5124 years. So, this year we are celebrating the 5124th birthday of Krishna.

A few Learnings

Every year, Janmashtami reminds us to celebrate the historical, the divine and the adorable Krishna along with all the knowledge that He gave us through his life and the Bhagavad Gita.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, “Krishna was so attractive and mesmerizing. There are so many stories to indicate that the Divine is extremely attractive. This is so that the little attractions that the mind hankers after are freed and that is why he is called Mohana. The Taste of love hooks you on to the infinity, to the Divinity and intoxicates you. That with the knowledge brings stability in life”

Krishna always stands with a perfect balance — with one foot firmly on the ground, the other foot crossed over, as though it is touching, but not really touching. Life is about balance. Through his life Sri Krishna showed how to balance materialism and spirituality. He ruled the country, advised as minister and so on… and He gave the highest knowledge to Arjuna and Uddhava. Hence the most authentic way of celebrating Janamashtami is knowing that you have to play a dual role — of being a responsible human being on the planet and at the same time to realize that you are above all events, the untouched Brahman.This could perhaps be the secret of Krishna’s ever present smile even though his life was filled with troubles of many kinds.

Imbibing a bit of avadhoot and a bit of activism in your life is the real significance of celebrating Janamashtami.

On the auspicious occasion of Sri Krishna’s birthday, let us renew our commitment to imbibe these noble virtue of Krishna in our everyday lives. Happy Janmashtami to you and your near and dear ones.

D.K. Hari and D. K. Hema Hari are authors, research collators and founders of Bharath Gyan. They may be contacted through bharathgyan@gmail.com . Follow Bharath Gyan on Twitter@bharathgyan and join on FaceBook at http://www.facebook.com/Bharathgyan

 
 

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29 Gift Ideas : Random acts of kindness


Some books have a longlasting impact on us. ’29 gifts’ is one such book.I read the book almost six months back and was deeply moved by the autobiographical account of the author.29 Gifts shows how a simple, daily practice of altruism can dramatically alter your outlook on the world and make you a master of the Art of Living.

At age thirty-three, Cami Walker was burdened by an intensified struggle with multiple sclerosis, a chronic neurological disease that left her depressed and she was barely able to walk.This happened just a month after her marriage.Then she received an uncommon “prescription” from South African healer Mbali Creazzo: Give away 29 gifts in 29 days.“By giving,” Mbali told her, “you are focusing on what you have to offer others, inviting more abundance into your life.”

29 Gifts is the insightful story of the author’s life change as she embraces and reflects on the naturally reciprocal process of giving. The gifts were simple—a phone call, spare change, a Kleenex. Yet the acts were transformative. By Day 29, not only had Walker’s health and happiness improved, but she had created a worldwide giving movement.

By the time I finished reading the book, I signed up for the 29 Days Giving Challenge and have been on the giving journey since then.It’s great to be a part of this wonderful community and have met some amazing people there: Deb,Lois,Ann,Michelle…It’s inspiring to read the amazing stories about the power of giving.This small community is working towards reviving the giving spirit in the world.

I had written the following post on my personal blog some time back…Am sharing this here as a tribute to Cami Walker- a living inspiration for people suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Random Acts of Kindness

What this world needs is a new kind of army – the army of the kind.  ~Cleveland Amory

What is it that brightens up your day when you are feeling a little low ? A gentle smile , a kind word or a friendly hug ? You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you. Imagine how beautiful the world would be if everyone is kind to others.

Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns. Giving begins the receiving process.Whatever you want in your life,give it to others.If you want joy then give joy to others.If you want happiness,spread happiness wherever you go.If you want love, give love. You will see how abundance increases in every aspect of your life if only you learn to be kind and generous.

A random act of kindness is a gift that costs nothing but is always appreciated.And the giver too receives the return gift of joy and happiness and a sense of fullfilment.So how to get started ?

Here I have listed a few ideas.Put them into practice and also create your own:

  1. Smile Today, give a stranger one of your smiles.  It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.
  2. A word of appreciation Sometimes all we need is a little appreciation. At the same time, let us not forget to appreciate others around us.
  3. Hugs There’s something in a simple hug That always warms the heart, It welcomes us back home And makes it easier to part…. ~Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr., “A Simple Hug”
  4. Donate old clothes or toys to a charity or an orphanage
  5. Feed the hungry While eating out or when you see someone hungry,don’t forget to share a slice with the less fortunate.
  6. Flower power A bunch of flowers is the sweetest gift that can be given on all occasions.Try the flower power by giving out rose buds to strangers.
  7. Volunteer for a cause Find a cause that interests you and be a volunteer by devoting some hours from your busy schedule.
  8. Spend time with the elderly The elderly have so much to offer, not the least of which is valuable life experience. Visit old age home or spend time with the elders of your family.They will love it  and this is certainly a time well spent.
  9. Kindness to animals Feed a stray animal or keep an earthern bowl filled with water outside for the birds.
  10. Online donations You can donate online for some NGO. There are so many organisations who are doing amazing work for different causes and they are constantly in need of money to support them.
  11. Thank You Cards Put your creativity to use ,make some beautiful thank you cards at home and send them to the ones who have helped you in the past.
  12. Books Gift a book to a friend or donate your old books to a library or old textbooks of your child to someone needy.
  13. Be anonymous Send someone a small gift anonymously.
  14. Surprise treat Treat a friend to the movies for no reason or pay for the drinks on the next table at a café or buy chocolates to a kid in the departmental store.
  15. Domestic chores Help your mother in the kitchen or walk your friend’s dog.
  16. Cleanliness drive Pick up some rubbish in the road which would otherwise be lying around.
  17. Giving up Give up your seat for someone, not just an elderly person.Give another driver your parking spot.Let someone jump the queue at the bank or ticket counter.
  18. Stretch your hand first Stretch the hand of friendship to someone new or if you have fallen out with an old friend, be the first to set things right.
  19. Sharing your talents If you are good at cooking,painting,dancing,public speaking or any other creative form then you can teach it to others for free.
  20. Drop boxes We find donation boxes placed at departmental stores or hospitals etc.Make sure to put in some change in the drop box.

Keep doing the random acts of kindness.Don’t think what difference it will make.Just remember that no matter how big or small, every act of kindness makes a difference!

 

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Nadhopasana – an easy way to reach the Self


Can anyone attain liberation without Nadhopasana ?? – Sings the muscial Saint Swami Thyagaraja (One of Trinity in South Indian Carnatic Music)

The word Nadhopasana, coming from Sanskrit lanuage, is made up of two words Naadha –and Upasana.

Upasana means sitting near or being with. Naadha Upasana means being with the Naadham.

Naadha is the primodial vibration that controls the entire Universe. In every sound that we hear, we can observe a certain Naadha. In the rotation of the Earth, the Naadha associated is called as the Omkara Pranava (The AUM). This sound Aum has been used in all religions. We can not claim that Aum belong only to the Hindus. The Christians, Jews, Parsis as well as Muslims use different dimensions of this very same Aum.

Similarly, the expansion and contraction of this Universe has an associated Naadha. Even our inner most self has a Naadha associated with it.

In the year 2010, at Pune, The Art Of Living Foundation had organized an event named “AntarNaad” which means Inner Naadha. At Chennai, in the year 2011, Naadha Vaibhavam (meaning Celebration of Naadha) was organized by Art of Living. Way back in 2008, a thousand Sitarists & string musicians played on one platform for the first time in the world, in the Brahm Naad concert for world peace. The superlative performance held in New Delhi brought Art of Living in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Why is Naadha very important

This question will dawn on many of the minds of who are reading this. There are basically seven Swarams (notes) in Indian music. These seven swaras are associated with the seven chakras (Energy Centers) of our body. Similarly, each energy center has a syllable associated with it. Hence, when we associate ourselves with Naadhopasana, these seven energy centers of our body get tuned leading to greater spiriutal and material well being.

During the soul-stirring symphony AntarNaad, Poojya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (can be followed on @SriSriSpeaks on Twitter) explained that, each of the seven swaras is associated with a particular animal. Namely, Sa – Peacock, Ri – Rishab (Bull), Ga- Goat, Ma – Gounch Pakshi , Pa – Kokila , Da – Horse, Ni – Elephant. Gurudev added that, only human beings have the capability to sound all the seven swaras.

Even if you are not able to sing or play instruments, its advisable to listen to good music. A great quality of the Naadha is that even if you do not play or sing yourself, listening to the music produces the same effect. Thus all the seven chakras get tuned, leading to a meditative mood. Deep meditation releases stress from the body and mind, and makes us more calm, joyful and focused.  Poojya Gurudev hence, has made Satsangs an integral part of the Art of Living. It is my understanding that Naadhopasana happens in satsangs and that is why we feel so expanded and uplifted during and after satsangs.

If we start giving more time to satsangs, we can easily attain more sattva and Nadhopasana will start happening naturally within us.

Aravind Soundararajan

 

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What no one told you about the Olympics


By Dr Hari & Hema

So the Olympics 2012 are upon us. The London games started off with a pretty good opening ceremony throwing open the way for thrilling competitions to begin. The Olympics Games are the largest sporting event drawing worldwide interest and participation. Every four years, the games remind us that the World is One Global Family- Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Every human being, every living being, both from the plant kingdom and animal kingdom belong to one Universal family.  This very philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is shared and practiced by The Art of Living enthusiasts in different parts of the world.

How Olympics made a comeback 1896

The modern Olympics Games, as known today, were revived in 1896 in Athens, Greece after a discussion between William Penny Brookes and Baron Pierre de Coubertin in a small town, Much Wenlock in 1866 in England. After the discussion Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee in 1894. Baron Pier de Coubertin, was instrumental in organizing the first Olympics in 1896 and is considered the father of modern Olympics

How the Olympics were revived

From L to R – Willwam Penny Brookes, Baron Pierre de Coubertin and the town of  Much Wenlo

The Ancient Times

The name Olympics is attributed to the fact that the ancient games were conducted at the town called Olympia in Ancient Greece between 776 BCE and 394 CE, close to 1000 years. It is said that the Olympic Games started as a festival to honor the Greek gods Zeus and Hera, the king and queen of Mount Olympus.

How the Olympics started

Ancient town of Olympia

The Olympics comprised competitions among representatives of different city states of ancient Greece. During this period, hostilities between the city states were dropped and truce was declared so that athletes, officials and spectators could travel and participate in the games in a conducive, friendly atmosphere. Thus the games ensured periods of friendship among the different member states of the Greek civilization.

The games at Olympia also provided a platform for politicians to merge alliances, for artists, poets and scholars to interact and exchange ideas. Much as it is today, the games provided a platform to one and all.

In 394 CE, Roman Emperor Theodosius I banned the games as a part of his campaign to impose Christianity as a state religion in Greece.

Games in Ancient Rome

Conducting large game festivals in ancient Europe was unique to Olympia or Athens, Greece. Similar sporting events, especially Race, were held in Ancient Rome regularly. A clear reference to this is available in thefamous play of Julius Caesar written by Shakespeare.

An interesting conversation between Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonious at one of the games, was that, if a runner touches a woman during the race, then that woman is blessed to give birth to a child. Julius Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia had not given birth to a child till then. So, Julius Caesar requested Calpurnia, to stand by the lane and asked Marcus Antonius to touch her, in course of the run and not to forget to do so, “in haste”.  Such games were very popular in many parts of ancient Rome and many beliefs were attached to them.

People in ancient Rome loved to play all kinds of games

L to R-Ball games, Naval games and Board Games were played frequently in Ancient Rome

Games in Ancient India

Similar games were also conducted in Ancient India, not just around the turn of the first millennium, when games seem to have become popular in Ancient Europe, but much much earlier in 3000 BCE itself. In the excavation, at the Kalibanga and other excavation sites of India that are contemporary to the Harappa and Mohenjo-daro period, similar stadium sites as of Greece and Rome have been excavated.

Ranga Manch

These ancient stadia, play fields of India, date back to 5000 years. They were referred to as Ranga Manch. Ranga stands for “colourand Manch for “platforms”. These were platforms to exhibit cultural pageants, dances and the sporting events of those days which included sports such as archery – Dhanur Yuddha, wrestling – Mal Yuddha, mace fight – Gadha Yudha, running and various other such games – kreeda, which found flavour in those times.

Lighting the flame

In modern Olympics, the first ceremony is lighting the Olympic flame. It starts with young women lighting the torch with the heat from the Sun.The flame is kept burning throughout the games.

Young women lighting the Olympic flame

young Women lighting the Olympic flame

This modern ceremony of lighting the Olympic flame evolved from the practices of ancient Olympics that were held in Greece, where the flame was revered and used as a mark to start the game. The modern practice of lighting the Olympic torch at Olympia, taking it to different parts of the world, and finally reaching it to the city where the games are to be played, culminating in the Olympic stadium, started at the games of 1928, at Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The flame ceremony has been respected across the world, during all times and in all traditions.

6 Vestal Virgins

Similar to the ceremony of the women lighting the flame in Greece, ancient Rome had the concept of the six vestal virgins guarding the flame.

In ancient Rome the fire was also worshipped

Vestal Virgins of Rome

Persia

Similarly, further to the east in ancient Persia, we have the concept of eternal flame, Azure. This was venerated and popularized by Zarathustra.

Azerbaijan

The modern day country of Azerbaijan, whose name comes from the word Azure, still has an eternal flame, burning to this day.

In Azerbaijan the fire is also sacred

The Eternal Flame at the Fire Temple in Azerbaijan

India

Further to the east in India, for the last 5000 years and more, the concept of flame in the form of Agni has been venerated through the ages. Agni is one of the primary divinities in the pantheon of divinities in the Indian thought..

In India the fire still plays an important role in worship

Homa Kunda

Since in practice, as found from archaeological excavations, Fire as Agni has been venerated in India, right through antiquity, in the mists of time, probably the concept of venerating Fire could be traced to Indian practice and knowledge system.

America

In America today, the main symbol of freedom is the statue of liberty. The figure in the statue carries a flame in her hand, symbolizing a similar ethos across times, across traditions.

Statue of Liberty also upholds a flame

Statue of Liberty holds the flame

Olympic Village

The Olympics and its tradition bring together practices, sporting excellences and people from all around the globe in a spirit of fair play and brotherhood.  The Olympic village where people from different parts of the world congregate and live together in fraternity, as well as every game played in all earnestness to compete and win laurels, bring forth an aspect of human nature — a multifaceted blend of competitiveness and friendship.

Olympic village 2012 in London

Olympic village 2012 in London

It is befitting that the primal human spirit of sportsmanship and brotherhood has been acknowledged this year by opening the One Planet Centre at the heart of the Olympic Village. The One Planet Centre is a reflection of the desire of London 2012 games to build a better world for future generations through information and activities about positive steps to be taken to build a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future. Basically, what the folks at Art of Living have been talking about all along – Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam!

The Art of Living sees the World as One Family: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

D.K. Hari and D. K. Hema Hari are authors, research collators and founders of Bharath Gyan.They may be contacted on bharathgyan@gmail.com and followed on twitter on @bharathgyan 

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2012 in Art of Living Review, Others

 

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