Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Health & Happiness , Antarnaad

What a way to start the New Year 2010 !!!! Join us in Pune for 2 amazing events with Guruji
Learn practical tools from H. H. Sri Sri Ravishankar on how to achieve and maintain health and happiness in our modern day hectic world. Sri Sri will cover a wide array of topics like eliminating stress, challenges faced in day to day life, handling emotions, responding to life style changes, cultivating healthy habits and many more things.

Jai Guru Dev,

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Milestone to Infinity

2 days ago, I finished another reading of a book - perhaps the one book that I can never put down and one that has had and continues to have the GREATEST influence in my life - The Yoga Vasishta by Swami Venkatesananda.

My first reading started in July 2003 and ended 9 months later. After that I tried hard to restart several times, but wasn't successful until last year when a chat with my teacher made me pick it up again. And 2 days ago, my eyes moist, hand trembling, heart reverberating with gratitude, I read the last paragraph.

At the end I held the book with love and reverence and thanked Guruji from the bottom of my heart for blessing me to be able to finish the book.

Some beautiful things about the Yoga Vasishta :

1. It is a unique scripture. Bhagavad Gita is about God giving his devotee Arjuna the knowledge of life. Yoga Vasishta is about Sage Vasishta narrating the knowledge to Lord Rama himself.

2. If you have deep questions about creation, consciousness etc, this book is a must read. Here are the Sections :
  • On Dispassion
  • On The Behavior Of A Seeker
  • On Creation
  • On Existence
  • On Dissolution
  • On Liberation
3. To be read right after kriya/meditation - just 1 page a day.

4. Guruji has this scripture read to him every day.

Available at the following stores :
  • Most Art Of Living Divine Shops in India (it is titled "The Supreme Yoga" in India)
  • Online in India here or here.
  • Online on Amazon.com here.
I leave you to ponder the last para. Hopefully it will inspire you to begin/continue reading this amazing knowledge :

"Thus I have told you the story of Rama, Oh Bharadwaja. By practice of this yoga, attain supreme bliss. He who constantly listens to this dialogue between Rama and Vasishta is liberated, whatever be the circumstances of his life, and he attains the knowledge of Brahman".

On Dispassion......the journey continues.....

Jai Guru Dev,

Saturday, November 7, 2009

He Is Coming :-)

Guruji will be in town Jan 12 - 14th 2010, just 2 months to go :-) :-). Its been 2 years since He came to Pune and we are all understandably excited !

Details : http://www.artoflivingpune.org/antarnaad/event.asp

Jai Guru Dev,

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This Path

Interesting thing spirituality - the promise of enlightenment - something that can only be experienced, never explained.

But also a practical way to live life through its trials and tribulations.

A promise of a deep dive into the unknown or just a simple way to handle the next tough situation.

Simple yet complex, encompassing the micro and the macro, the good and bad.

Something for everyone - from the utterly innocent to the complicated intellectual - everyone can take a dip and take it from there.

Something so attainable yet requiring so much effort.

Something that brings about outward compassion, and inner unshakable strength.

So tangible yet so abstract.

Meant to help with addictions but such a sweet addiction in itself.

Seemingly the end of all things bad and unnecessary in life
Yet the beginning of a seemingly endless journey in itself.

Providing answers to the seemingly simple questions of life
Yet throwing up deep mysterious unanswerable questions of its own .

Right in this moment yet a quadrillion light years away .
In every atom and yet encompassing the entire cosmos.

Attainable by the humble cobbler and the Nobel prize winning physicist.

Destiny brings one to it but only self effort moves one along.

So universal yet so personal. Taking everyone along yet one has to walk alone.

Seemingly everything and yet nothing at the same time.
Beauty of a nature unexperienced before.

Love unfathomable. Grace unlimited.

Whatever it is , life is incomplete without it.

And yet my head is buried in the sand
A small speck in my eye obscuring infinity :-)

Jai Guru Dev,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Om Namah Shivaya Chanting - Join Us

The Swine Flu crisis is a problem all over the world, but here in Pune India, it has truly become a crisis. Death is always tragic - more so when school children are involved. Each passing day brings more bad news of people infected and patients succumbing to the deadly flu. Schools, malls etc. are being closed down in large numbers. The city which is usually a hubbub of human activity is slowly taking on a small-town look-and-feel with people venturing out only when absolutely necessary. Parents are panicking since the papers are reporting that the only available medicine causes serious side-effects in younger children.

Enuf Bad News !

Some of us Art Of Living satsangees in Pune are organizing a 24-hour Om Namah Shivaya relay chanting to pray for the quick recovery of those directly affected by the flu, to strengthen our own minds and to pray to the Divine that this frightening crisis may pass quickly.

The response has been overwhelming. About a 100 folks from across the globe have each(or in groups) picked a 30 minute slot starting Thu Aug 13th 4:00 AM IST so that we can cover a 24 hour window ending Fri Aug 14th 4:00 AM IST.
  • You chant On Namah Shivaya at home or wherever you are. There is NO need to congregate at a specific location. In fact if you live in Pune, it is not recommended to get together in groups.
  • You can chant alone or with family/friends
  • Pick at least 1 30 minute slot / more. Please NOTE the timings are all IST. If outside India, please convert to your specific time zone before picking a time slot using www.time.gov or some such similar website.
The following time slots (IST = Indian Standard Time) are still available if you are interested in joining :
  • Fri Aug 14th 1:30 - 2:00 AM (taken)
  • Fri Aug 14th 3:00 - 3:30 AM
Of course if these timings do not work for you you may pick any 30 minute slot in the 24 hour window specified above.

I do realize this is awfully short notice ! Please leave a comment with your time slot if you are joining.

Jai Guru Dev,

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My Enlightened Helmet

I feel almost foolish writing this post, but hey - how bout some frivolity once in a while :) ?

Something ain't right :) . I thought inanimate objects are further away from a desire to get enlightened than us humans. My headgear has been busy proving me wrong !

Last year I owned a helmet that I did not much fancy. I longed for one with a visor in the front - the kind that looks a little cooler. It was May 13th - you know the significance of that day. I went to Vikram Bhaiyya's satsang in Pune and lost myself completely in the divine music and upon returning home realized I had lost my helmet too. Attempts to find it were in vain.

Secretly I was happy as I could get a new helmet !

Recently by Guruji's grace, I (re)started going to satsang regularly. Owing to the rains in Pune, i wore my helmet each time. It has happened to me consistently over the last 3 weeks, so I refuse to believe it is a coincidence. Every single time I return from satsang, my helmet stays behind. Upon reaching home, I realize it and frantically text a friend there to pick it up for me. Yesterday was the third time and it had me thinking.

Is my helmet's longing for satsang stronger than mine :) ? Sure looks like it !

A friend jokingly remarked yesterday - Its already Hollow and Empty !

Amen to that !

Jai Guru Dev

Monday, July 6, 2009


Nitya Suddham Nirabhasam Nirakaaram Niranjanam
Nityabodham Cidanandam Guru Brahma Namamayam

I prostrate to that Guru, who is the Eternally Pure Brahman, free from reflection, formless, taint less eternally awake as Pure Consciousness and Bliss.

A day for gratitude, meditation, service and longing. What a wonderful day ! My heart is with Guruji in Chicago and though he is thousands of miles away, I feel so close to HIM.

My salutations today also to R - my first Part I teacher, who with her love and masti and very presence made Art Of Living a part of my daily life for the last 8 years.

My salutations to M - my Ashtavakra teacher, at whose place I literally spent my most precious and definitive growth years between 2003 - 2006. She treated me like a younger brother though I was a year older and it was her not-so-gentle (LOL :-) ) pushing that got me to take responsibility and do seva regularly.

My salutations and love to N - a dear friend who taught me to do seva with a smile- no matter how tough or irritating the circumstances. That smile stays with me day and night and inspires me whenever I feel low.

My love and salutations to all my teachers, the countless volunteers and satsangees (that includes you) many of whose silent work, encouragement, sharing and smiles have been instrumental in my progress on this beautiful path.

And for them, on this occasion of Guru Poornima, I remain eternally grateful to you Guruji ! Love Hugs Masti Devotion !

Jai Guru Dev,

Monday, June 29, 2009

Guru Poornima Day

Thousands are expected on Guru Poornima day (July 7th) in Chicago. Ahh..the lucky ones who'll get to watch Guruji do Guru Pooja himself, listen to some divine knowledge, attend an ethereal satsang, meditate and feast with thousands of other spiritual seekers !!

Attendance is free, but the organizers are asking for a mandatory RSVP to help budget for food and other logistics.

RSVP : http://secure.artofliving.org/event_details.aspx?event_id=3432

Jai Guru Dev,

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Several years ago when I was not associated with the Art Of Living, a friend from Mumbai who was quite active but a little dismayed by what he saw as "advertising" of AOL courses wrote me an email that went something like the following :

"A good product should sell itself, don't you think ? Something that is inherently good does not need promotion, people will understand it without being told"

Back then I agreed with him completely. Stark irony is that he is today employed in the ad industry :-) . Recently too a friend accused me (in jest) of advertising Guru Poornima on this blog. Which had me thinking : Is advertising really a BAD thing ?

Advertising According to Wikipedia :

Advertising is a form of communication that typically attempts to persuade potential customers to purchase or to consume more of a particular brand of product or service. ......

Many advertisements are designed to generate increased consumption of those products and services through the creation and reinvention of the "brand image"

Advertising is a powerful medium. Used too often to spread the wrong message. The biggest spenders of advertising money these days are the wrong people - cigarette/liquor companies, sellers of carbonated drinks and junk food. All this targeted at the most vulnerable audience - children, teens and youth - the future of tomorrow's world.

And they are all too successful. Just look around at what kids eat and drink today. Look at a group of young kids on bikes gathered at a corner and one sees columns of smoke emerging . Advertisers know their target audience and its vulnerabilities - only too well. Make something hip and happening, find a film star or music icon to endorse the product, throw in a slick ad campaign and they will fall for it - hook, line and sinker.

On the other hand, talk to a youngster about yoga, pranayam or spirituality and what you get back is bemused stares. This is the whole problem - IMO.

The effects of bad advertising stare us in the face.

It has become cool to burn your lungs out using Malboro Lights (even though the manufacturer tells you you are going to die from its consumption) , uncool to strengthen them using yoga and pranayam. Cool to party hard and get high on liqour and other substances, uncool to find the same high in a bhajan satsang. Cool to watch movies, hang out and waste time, uncool to do service. Cool to read pulp fiction - uncool to read knowledge(after all it is PHILOSOPHY) .

I was just driving and saw an ad for a tobacco based chewable product that was displayed on the back of a bus : Only Rs 1 !! How slick ! Just Rs 1 to get someone addicted to a dangerous, toxic substance that may result in anything from mouth, tongue or throat cancer not to mention a foul smelling mouth and destroyed public hygiene.

In this commercial busy world, with ads such as the above being blasted at us through every possible avenue including newspapers, TV, radio, the Internet, where is the hope for messages that extol the virtues of vegetarianism, regular exercise, doing yoga, pranayam, kriya, meditation, service etc. Does anything good stand a chance in this deafening din made by advertisers ?

Therein lies the mistake that many have made and continue to make. It is often though that one should keep such practices and ones own religious/spiritual beliefs to oneself. Talk about a movie you just saw or food you just ate but don't talk about your meditation practice !

As Guruji says often, we need to take take the message of peace, meditation to all. Not because we want to benefit from it - but because we want society to see and experience the benefits of our age old traditions that are being fast forgotten and abandoned in favor of a fast paced materialistic existence that will bring nothing but a diseased body, confused intellect and a troubled mind.

Sorry dear friend - but I stand corrected. Advertising is just a medium. Its whats advertised that counts. In fact all that should NOT be advertised, is advertised way too MUCH. The only option left for "inherently good things" is to shout even LOUDER- otherwise the precious message spirituality has to offer v.i.z the benefits of yoga/pranayam/meditation/Ayurveda/peace of mind - will stand subdued and stifled - much to the detriment of society.

Advertise the living daylights out of it I say :-)

And such advertising is a GOOD thing ! Opinions welcome.

Jai Guru Dev,

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Gauri Nandana Gajanana

A beautiful bhajan by Vikram .....

Lyrics :

gauri nandana gajanana girija nandana niranjana || 2
parvati nandana shubhanana || 2
parvati nandana shubhanana
shubhanana shubhanana

parvati nandana shubhanana
shubhanana shubhanana || 2

gauri nandana gajanana girija nandana niranjana
parvati nandana shubhanana || 2
shubhanana shubhanana || 2

paahi prabho maam paahi prasanna
gauri nandana gajanana girija nandana niranjana
oh..gauri nandana gajanana girija nandana niranjana
parvati nandana shubhanana
shubhanana shubhanana || 2

parvati nandana shubhanana
pahi prabho maam paahi prasanna || 2

gauri nandana gajanana girija nandana niranjana
oh..gauri nandana gajanana girija nandana niranjana
girija nandana niranjana || 2

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Case Of The Self-Driven Car

Twas Guru Poornima 2006 at the vast expanses of the San Mateo Expo Center in the Bay Area, CA. Guruji was there, the full moon was blossoming eagerly in anticipation of Guru Poornima, the expo center was a hubub of frenzied nay devoted activity to host the multitude of people on the various courses. The advanced course had started and we were in silence. The course was a non-residential one, so we all had to drive up to the course center from our homes each day.

Many of us driving in from the South Bay would car pool to the course. The communication in silence was so interesting and yet amusing. Let say I had to pick up S at her home at 6:00 am. I'd drive up to the street, and call her on the cell. I would not say anything. She would answer - in silence. Moments later she would appear on the sidewalk and sit in the car. This process would repeat until the car was full. We would then start driving towards the center.

One one particular day, B and me were the only 2 folks in the car and I was driving. We were a little late and finally arrived on the street on which the entrance to the expo center was located. Moments later we should have taken a left into the parking lot of the expo center, as was our daily routine on those 7 days.

I can't explain what happened in those next few seconds. But suddenly I found myself on the wrong street. My mind had completely blanked out and I was on a 1-way street opposite to the Expo center. There was no turning back. I would have to take 3 right turns and come back on to the street of the expo center. We were going to be delayed.

B and I looked at each other in surprise. No words since we were in silence. There was no option - only another right turn and we found ourselves on a street where 2 hotels were located. These hotels were housing out-of-town participants who were on the course. There was a seva group responsible for picking up folks from the hotels and driving them to the course location. Since we were already on that street we decided to go to one of the hotels and see if anyone needed a ride.
Accordingly we turned into the entrance of one of the hotels.

S was the volunteer in charge of making sure that all the participants in that hotel had left for the course. He signaled us as we arrived - Everyone has left. You can leave too. I began to turn my car around and just about to leave when it happened.

An old gentleman waved to us frantically from the top floor of the hotel - Wait for me ! Turned out he woke up late that day and missed the regular shuttles to the course. He was the last one to leave the hotel and we were the ones that drove him there.

Driving back, B and I looked at each other in awe, bewilderment, amazement and gratitude. How the Master had taken care of this situation so beautifully. There were hundreds of participants on the course and yet His attention was on each one. And how we were made instruments of His grace. And all this in total silence.

On the last day, we came out of silence and I was sharing this experience with a dear friend D. His mouth opened in surprise. He had the exact same experience except he had ferried 4 waiting passengers to the course after finding himself mysteriously on the wrong (right :-) ? ) street. They too had awakened late at a different hotel and were in silence unable to communicate their need for a ride, but it was SO taken care of.

Have a Guru Poornima story to share ? Add it to the comments or better yet, blog about it and leave a link.

Guru Poornima 2009 is happening in Chicago, Jul 2-7th. Will you be there ?

Jai Guru Dev,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Guru Poornima 2009 - Will You Be There ?

As you must already know, Guru Poornima 2009 will be celebrated with Guruji in Chicago, July 2nd - 7th, the 7th being Guru Poornima day. I can't go, but my heart is already there. Fond memories go back to Guru Poornima 2006 in the Bay Area, CA when I did the Advance course in the presence with Gurudev. What an unforgettable event it was for me ! My first Guru Poornima (not technically), with Guruji - so many beautiful experiences, amazing miracles ...........cherished memories to last several life times.

If you can attend, please DO. I can't think of a reason not to, but if you need some reasons, here are a few I would give myself :

1. Its Guru Poornima.
2. Guruji will be there.
3. He will be giving a discourse on the Bhagavad Gita (4th chapter onwards). Ever saw Ashtavakra Gita / Bhakti Sutras and wondered how lucky those folks were that were getting the knowledge directly at his feet ? Well here is your chance .
4. There will be thousands waiting to see him - where else would rather be ?
5. People will travel from all over the world to be there - what about you ?
6. Be with the master during Guru Poornima. Imagine - the disciple and the master in HIS physical form - together.
7. The most amazing knowledge flows from Guruji at this time (when does it not ?), but during Guru Poornima - it has a special flavour.
8. Rocking Satsangs with some of the most amazing AOL rock stars like Bhanu Didi.
9. Many Advanced course sessions with Guruji.
10. Courses for all age groups. Its the most amazing family event for the spiritually inclined at this time of the year.

Still need convincing ? Didn't think so :-) I pray you can make it.

Jai Guru Dev,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tera Main

Image Credit : http://www.artofliving.ie/Images/guruji.jpg

Happy Birthday Dearest Guruji ! Tears, Love and Gratitude !

A beautiful song from the album - Tera Main - by Sachin Limaye. Every word rings so true and touches the heart.


Pyaar Ke Saagar Ho Gyaan Ke Mandir Ho
Aakhon Me Baste Ho Hoton Pe Haste Ho
Har Pal Jatate To

Tera Main Tera Main Tera Main
Tera Main

Pyaar Ke Saagar Ho Gyaan Ke Mandir Ho
Aakhon Me Baste Ho Hoton Pe Haste Ho
Har Pal Jatate To

Tera Main Tera Main Tera Main
Tera Main

Duniya Main Aaye Ho Roshini Laye Ho
Sabke Dulare Ho Har Dil Pe Chaaye Ho
Har Pal Jatate To

Tera Main Tera Main Tera Main
Tera Main

Oh Man Ke Charaago Main Tum Jhil Milate Ho
Bhooli Si Yaadon Ko Roshan Kar Jaate Ho
Yaad Dilate Ho

Tera Main Tera Main Tera Main
Tera Main

Sabke Do Peheron Main Raahat Ban Jaate Ho
Sabke Dilon Ki Tum Chahat Ban Jaate Ho
Haskar Keh Jaate HO

Tera Main Tera Main Tera Main
Tera Main

Sunlo Yeh Gaate Hain Gaake Sunate Hain
Sunlo Yeh Gaate Hain Gaake Sunate Hain
Aaj Batate Hain

We Love You Oh Guruji
We Love You Oh Guruji
We Love You Oh Guruji
We Love You Oh Guruji
We Love You Oh Guruji
We Love You Oh Guruji

Jai Guru Dev,

Saturday, April 25, 2009


The Times of India (TOI) - Pune edition carried a front page article on April 24th (the day after Pune voted for the Lok Sabha elections) with the following title :

At 40.6%, poorest show in Pune.

..........The Pune Lok Sabha constituency witnessed a paltry turnout of 40.6% on Thursday - the lowest ever in the history of the 15 LS Polls held in the city since 1952. More than 10 lakh out of the 18 lakh electorate in the constituency did not exercise their constitutional right to vote.

My heart sank. Pune has been known as the "Oxford Of the East". Home to the famous Pune University and educational institutions like Symbiosis that attract students from all over India, Pune has always prided itself on its educated middle classes. It is also the cultural capital of Maharashtra. Its citizens are known for being socially active and taking up cudgels and protesting vociferously when things go wrong in the city.

What happened then ? Why this terrible apathy when the country really needs its citizens to go out and make a noise and tell the politicians that enough is enough. After 26/11, it seemed for a while that India had awoken.

Going in to vote in the morning it was obvious something like this was bound to happen. I had to wait 1 minute to cast my vote. A relative who went in later in the afternoon reported the same wait time. There was no flood - only a trickle.

Think for a moment all the excuses one can give for not having voted that day : a holiday to relax, IPL on television, the sweltering heat, messed up voter lists, new voting booths with not many people knowing about it, an "I could not care less" attitude etc. etc. Ironically our domestic help (maid-servant) who came in to work after having worked for 4 hours in various homes and was going to return home walking in the sweltering 40 degrees C heat, said to me enthusiastically that she was going to vote after going home !!!!

The next day , TOI carried another article on Page 2 titled "Urban apathy cause of low turnout". The article went on to say "It was an issueless election".

Issueless ? Issueless ? Surely not everything is hunky-dory in India right now.

Isn't massive corruption an issue ? Isn't rampant religious conversion in the North East an issue ? Isn't terrorism - that has resulted in so many attacks on Indian soil in the last 4 years - an issue ? Isn't massive poverty an issue any more ? Isn't pseudo-secularism that slams anything and anybody who uses the word "Hindu" as being communal an issue ?

Or perhaps the public wasn't made aware. Maybe they've heard political parties talk about stuff so often only to forget it right after the elections that the whole exercise has become a sham. Maybe thats why we were - as AOL volunteers - asked to go out and campaign hard to get people to vote. Many of us did - as did other NGO's and student bodies. Obviously it wasn't enough for Pune to wake up.

Hope folks in places where Phase III and Phase IV polling is yet to be done are doing all they can to inspire a large voter turnout.

The Bhagavad Gita asks us to do our duty and not focus on the result. It also asks us not to be attached to inaction. Thats tells me we should not be discouraged by the above result and continue to work hard on multiple fronts.

One - to bring the message of peace and spirituality to people. Only an aware and awake mind will know what is happening and decide to take action. And this awareness can only come from spiritual practices. Two - to keep telling people to come out and use that most precious gift that democracy gives us - OUR VOTE .

As Guruji said in Mumbai after 26/11 - there is a need for becoming a Sant-Sipahi for the sake of our nation.

Please read Bawa's article on why voting is critical. A picture of Guruji casting his vote.

The journey has only just begun.

Jai Guru Dev.

A Humble Request

It is an honor to have you visit this blog. Whether you comment or not, it inspires me when I see that you found it worthwhile to spend your valuable time reading what I write. Recently however a few of my writings have showed up on yahoogroups - that I am a part of :) - or other blogs without any link back to the original blog post and worse - the blog owner flat out denies having used the material on this blog. This is a little disappointing ! Whenever I use any material from another blog, I always add a link to the original writings. This is how I give respect to the person who thought up the stuff in the first place.

I know this does not apply to most of you, so please don't mistake me.

Sometimes however these acts of "plagiarism" happen inadvertently. I have too in the past - without malice - committed such mistakes. Here are a few guidelines that helped me.

1. If you like a post and feel like forwarding it to someone, please copy and paste the URL link to the entire post to that person. Don't just copy the text and send it off by email. If you do this, the material begins to take on a life of its own. People make contextual modifications and keep forwarding it and the original author is nowhere in the picture.

2. Another reason to copy the URL from the browser bar and email that link is that it is simpler and also saves precious bandwidth since the text is only read when the recipient clicks on the URL.

3. Use the "Email Post" Link at the bottom of the post and it gives you a nice form that contains your name etc. that identifies you to the recipient - while still preserving the integrity of the original post.

4. If you want to include the contents of the original post in your own blog post there are 2 ways : a) As above, please only include a link. b) Copy and paste the text into your blog BUT ALSO please add a link to the original to give credits to the original author.

By following the above simple guidelines you are giving credit and honoring and encouraging the original author to write more.

Your views as always are welcome . I hope I have not hurt anyone's feelings. It feels almost stupid, but I've added a non-commercial license (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5) to the blog to prevent plagiarism of the writings here.

Jai Guru Dev,

Monday, April 20, 2009

Satsang with Swami Pragyapada

The vast grounds of New English School in Pune was witness to a beautiful satsang in the presence of Swami Pragyapad (formerly Prashant Rajore). It was my first satsang in many months and I was in sheer bliss. I don't know who was singing but dudes - you totally rock !!! I mean it. I was in meditation in 2 seconds flat. They started with this beautiful bhajan : Hey Shivanandana

Hey Shivanandana Lambodara Hey Vishwavinayaka Namonamaha
Namonamaha Namonamaha Vishwavinayaka Namonamaha || 2

Siddhivinayaka Mangala Daata || 2
Parvati Nandana Gajanana || 2

Namonamaha Namonamaha Vishwavinayaka Namonamaha || 2


This other bhajan "Ek Tara Bole..." went straight deep in somewhere.

Swamiji then started in his trademark funny style. He told us a joke and asked those who had already heard it to laugh again (phirse has lena) :-) LOL....

His first "joke" was about a person who slips on a banan peel. The next day he sights another banana peel and thinks " Man I gotta fall again today". :-) He then went on to explain how we get stuck in similar patterns everyday. A thought or memory of someone (the peel) we dislike or have a problem with is enough for us to "slip" (i.e. get angry , mad, furious). This had me totally in splits as I have had this problem with a relative for years. Even though I was thousands of miles away, just the memory of this person would have me fuming.

He then suggested the remedy - the next time you encounter the peel - say to yourself silently - Dear peel, I am not gonna slip today :) Man was I impressed or what.

A few jokes later a Q&A started and he dwelt forth on issues such as terrorism and dharma and why it was so important for us to VOTE - FOR CHANGE in the coming elections. I had to leave then but came away totally blissed out and grateful for the 2 hours of pure happiness that the Divine had given me in the midst of turmoil.

Jai Guru Dev,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

TOP 10 Reasons Why I'll VOTE

A few reasons that inspired me to register to VOTE this year.

10) Cos something within me says strongly I should.

9) I stood in line on the last day of the voter registration in Pune and braved a suffocating room, edgy impatient crowds, a yelling policeman, people breaking the line, being nudged by several sweaty arms etc. to register. I am not gonna let all that go waste now - am I :)

8) The ability to vote in a democracy is a right. Right means power. Power implies responsibility. So its my responsibility to vote.

7) I am eager to practice what the Civics books preached back in high school. All that stuff about democracy and why voting is **essential** to its success - nay survival - needs to now be practiced.

6) I firmly believe MY Vote has the power to change India. In the Art Of Living, we believe that the power of good intention combined with responsible action DOES result in manifestation.

5) I am a member of the vast educated middle classes that have given up on voting and consequently democracy and consequently this country. Such cynicism has become the bane of the democratic process in India. Now the politician does not even CARE as he/she knows that all he/she needs is about 20% of the vote which can be bought with liquor, sarees, lungis, shawls, 100 rupee notes, coercion, bogus voting, just belonging to a particular caste etc. I want this to change.

4) The Bhagavad Gita says that one must not be attached to inaction. Inaction is also action. If I don't vote thinking that nobody deserves my vote, someone else casts my vote for the wrong guy and by not acting, I have actually acted in the wrong fashion. So this time the least of the evils gets my vote.

3) Being the Change ! If I don't vote, I have no right to complain when I get a paunchy, raunchy, rude, pan chewing, insolent, selfish, creepy pseudo-secular politician as my representative for the next 5 years. Even if I vote, this individual may show up, but at least I did my bit.

2) I refuse to be taken for granted. I believe in secularism provided it is defined right. Democracy has been defined as the rule of the majority combined with rights of the minority. In India it has of late become "Rule of the Minority and the Majority be damned" As a member of the majority community in this country, I believe I deserve respect and equality. Not more than anyone else in this country - but certainly NOT less.

1) Guruji said so.


Jai Guru Dev,

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Jaago Re India

As you all know Guruji has asked everyone to come out and vote this year and inspire at least 10 others to vote. The Pune satsangs have been organizing a "Parivartan Padayatra". As part of this campaign, many AOL volunteers have been standing at traffic intersections, malls, under flyovers holding banners that say the Hindi/Marathi/English equivalent of "Wake Up and VOTE".

Picture of one of our volunteers standing under the University Flyover.

Yesterday was my first time. I started out with trepidation in my heart. Stand in public in front of hundreds that would drive past and smirk and smile derisively ? What if someone I know or knows my family sees me ? Blah Blah......

Turns out I was dead wrong. Little did I know I was in for an evening of fun and adulation. As I stood under the university flyover with a banner that read "Utho Jaago - Vote Karo", heart in a flutter, arms aching, eyes trying to avoid the direct gaze of commuters that whizzed by in bikes, auto rickshaws and cars, I became a witness to the mood of a microcosm of India today.

People - young and old alike - whizzed by with thumbs raised and a broad smile on their faces. One guy even whooped as he whizzed by :) An MBA student from Pune University stopped by to talk about who we were and what we were doing and why. When I said we were AOL volunteers, he was even more impressed.

Then it happened - my 2 minutes of fame :)

A group of youngsters in a car actually STOPPED in the middle of the traffic junction (youngistan - you have guts I'll say) , yelled out at me and - took a picture of me with the banner. Then yelling out "We will vote", they whizzed away ! LOL !

Ah - My Dear Aching Arms - This was so worth it :) :)

This is such an easy and fun seva. If in India, you should do it too. Its so important for us to take responsibility. Many drops make a mighty ocean.

And seriously - as Mahatma Gandhi said : Be The Change You Wish To See In This World ! As someone remarked in satsang yesterday, unless the educated middle classes make the politicians realize that their vote matters too, there is no way they will take their job seriously. And this change will only happen when India's vast middle classes go out and VOTE in large numbers. Until then votes will be bought by money/liquor/coercion/bogus voting.

So whether you are a member of Youngistan, Middle-Ageistan or Senioristan, come Your Voting Date, PLEASE COME OUT AND VOTE !!! And between now and then, please inspire others to do so too .

Guruji's article in the Times Of India Speaking Tree

Sri Sri Urges People To Vote

Guruji talks about the upcoming elections in this video .

Jai Guru Dev

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Feeling Your Presence

Just this morning, I had a beautiful thought like never before : Guruji, I know you are there. What more can I want ? Why should I worry ?

Since then the sun shines brighter, the birds sing merrier, the sky is bluer, the mind is calmer, the smile is prettier...the heart is fuller, the intellect is clearer, life is easier....Ahh.....

Jai Guru Dev, :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Utsav With B & D

Bawa and Dinesh are teaching an UTSAV course April 2nd - 5th in Pune for the first time. Don't miss it !

UPDATE :Times Of India covered the event in this article.

Jai Guru Dev,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Interesting Website

I recently started reading this website http://www.historicalrama.org after a friend recommended it highly. Started by a couple D.K.Hari and D.K.Hema Hari (more about them here), the website along with its parent website - BharatGyan, tries to put India's amazing Vedic culture, its rich heritage and history in scientific and historical perspective. For me it made fascinating reading especially the research done on Lord Rama.

I do wish more details had been added on the main website. 2-3 paragraphs certainly do not do justice to the amazing knowledge that the land of India has given to the world over the ages. I'd like to see more on the amazing concept of cosmic time (1 day of Bramha) , vedic mathematics etc.

In any case, I think it is time we stand up to who we really are. The west has been able to accept India up to Buddha's time and many narrow minded people in our country cannot stand any talk about this rich spiritual heritage in the name of (pseudo)secularism. The world needs to know what Sanathan Dharma really is. In it, I believe lie the answers to the world's woes.

Guruji has blessed their efforts too
Jai Guru Dev.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Is Spirituality Selfish ?

Selfishness is often thought of a non-spiritual quality. In the world One craves for possessions - money, gadgets, a big house, swanky cars etc. or people - relationships, friends, popularity, power etc. At some point the mind gets tired of these amusements and starts looking at spirituality. One does the Art Of Living course and now finds himself or herself in new exciting company of people in search of other things.

It starts with small things. The craving now shifts : How many courses have I done, How many senior teachers do I know / hang out with ? How many spiritual friends do I have ? What organizational position do i hold ?

For a while all this troubled me. Whats the point of being on the spiritual path if the objects of craving change but the tendencies remain the same ? But there was a realization that I also had the company of kriya, meditation, satsang, knowledge and the Master - stuff I did not have before. All these brought me back to the center whenever the focus was on gaining something.

As someone said : Being on a spiritual path does not mean it won't rain, just that you now have an umbrella.

Then the cravings moved to less material and more abstract ones.

"I want to conduct a satsang at my place so that the sattva of my home goes up". "I want to meditate so I am peaceful". "I want to do kriya every day so I have less problems in life". "I do seva so my karmas are dissolved". "I will volunteer for this event so I can meet Guruji"

The goals then move higher. Let me meditate so I am liberated / enlightened in this life time.

It is so interesting - this path of spirituality. One maybe selfish in ones goals, but the result is yet a better life for a lot more people other than myself. If I meditate regularly, I am a more peaceful person and that means people around me are more peaceful. At the very least I am less of a pain for others around me. If I do seva - even non-altruistically - people benefit from my efforts. If I participate in a group meditation / long kriya - the group effort results in a more peaceful environment around for all. As I am more spiritually inclined, I am also more grateful and consequently more generous with my money, time, effort.

And when one reaches the ultimate goal - Nirvana / Liberation / Enlightenment - then What ? Just looking at Guruji's life gives the answer. One who has nothing to take cannot but give.

As Guruji says : The Divine is complete responsibility.

One who can go to the Himalayas and quietly sit in meditation is instead on the road, in the air, day after day, meeting terrorists and naxalites, resolving conflicts, bringing more peace to this planet. What a wonderful state to be in - where one cannot but give !!!!

And He wants us all to be like HIM !!! How fortunate we are !!!

What a beautiful journey this - from utter Selfishness to utter Selflessness, from doership to complete and total responsibility, from taking to giving, from darkness to eternal light.

Jai Guru Dev,

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

? , !

Been reading the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Vasishta regularly for a few weeks now and pondering on how the infinite wisdom within applies to my life and the knowledge that I have gained in Guruji's grace. A little Q&A with myself.

Q> Do spiritual people also face suffering ?
A> The Mahabharata is full of spiritual folks that were divided across the battlefield and perished.

Q> When one has a Guru, does one face tough situations ?
A> Arjuna had Krishna Himself as a charioteer in the Kurukshetra war and lost his own son, Abhimanyu, on the battlefield. Whats the point of being given precious knowledge like "Accept situations as they are" if there are not going to be any situations to deal with ?

Q> Why do some folks progress more than others on the spiritual path ?
A> The Yoga Vasishta starts its amazing commentary by emphasizing "Self Effort". As a teacher of mine used to say "The Sun is always shining. Its your choice whether to open the blinds or stay in darkness".

Q> If God is doing everything, why do I need to do anything ?
A> The entire Bhagavad Gita is devoted to this question. Even while showing Arjuna the Vishwaroopa Darshan where the entire Kaurava army was dissapearing into Krishna's infinite form (i.e. they were already dead), Krishna exhorts Arjuna to fight and do his duty as a warrior.

This reminds me of something a teacher of mine used to say regarding seva "The event will happen - whether to participate or not is your choice". I used to think of it as arrogant - why should I participate if my participation makes no difference ? Now I see it differently :) Participation is not about changing how things evolve - it is about my own evolution as part of the universe's evolution i.e. being God's hands and thus becoming a channel for HIS grace.

Q> If all is ONE, then why so many shapes and forms, joy and misery, the dualities ? Could the ONE not just BE ?
A> This question is still the deepest one I have. No answers anywhere yet - not in the Gita, not in Yoga Vasishta. The only thing I notice is that I want things to get over only when I am miserable. When joyous, I can accept the world as is. But this question comes again and again. Maybe thats why Guruji says in Ashtavakra "Wonder about it" !

It so interesting - suffering. A beautiful intense phase where one comes face to face with ones own boundaries, cravings, desires, limitations, fears. If I give knowledge a chance, all this will dissolve in a second, if not, I continue to reel in misery.

Guruji - Can I accept ?


Jai Guru Dev,

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Words That Trouble Me

Philosophy and Social Service. Two beautiful words. Used (actually abused) a lot in daily conversations. Have the potential to have deep profound impact on an individual and society but get relegated to the back of the conversation line so often that they almost become obscure. Thats why I call them bad words.

Friend : I am facing this terrible problem

Me : OK did you try this or that .

Friend : Yeah they did not work .

Me : Hmm...did you try talking to XYZ.

Friend : Yeah that did not work either.

Me : Hmm...yeah just stay calm and have faith in God. Things will get better.

Friend (getting upset) : Don't give me philosophy.

"Don't give me philosophy" - What a fine way of taking the real solution to the problem and throwing it into a deep well and continue to reel in misery !!!

This I believe is the problem. You visit someone's home and find beautiful bound copies of the Bhagavad Gita ,writings by Swami Vivekananda, Srimad Bhagwatam - all nicely adorning the top shelf of a bookshelf - conveniently out of bounds to the hands or the mind. Whats the point of this precious knowledge if one is unwilling to incorporate it into daily life ?

This for me has been the most beautiful experience on this wonderful path called the Art Of Living. Guruji's path of seva-sadhana-satsang is so simple, practical yet so profound that it really almost forces one to LIVE the knowledge. Regular Sadhana builds the awareness and the calm space for the knowledge to settle, knowledge and bhajan satsangs fill this space with awareness and beauty and seva is the ultimate lab/practical/ expression of this awareness and beauty. How amazing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The other word is "Social Service". I remember commuting between Pune and Mumbai some years ago. The train pantry would serve snacks in paper plates and beverages in paper/plastic cups. Where do you think these plates/cups would settle after they had been used ? Under the seats, in the passage, in the toilet bowl. Some kindred soul decided to take it upon himself to fix this mess. He would put on a pair of gloves and a trash bag and go from seat to seat asking people for their trash. He would collect it all together and dispose it off at the next station in a trash can. Guess what he got in return - Smirks from passengers, snide comments like "Dekho Samaaj Seva Kar Raha Hai", cold unfriendly stares. The poor guy gave it up after some time.

Why has "Social Service" become such a catch phrase that applies only to a small group in school or NSS groups in college or college graduates in Social Work ? What about the rest of us ?

My memories go back to school when in the 8th Grade we were given the option to join the Boy Scouts or join the Social Service group. Here is how it would work : All the tall, well built, cool guys who were on some sports team or those with a pleasing personality used to get selected for the Boy Scouts group. The rest had no choice. Rejected by the scouts group, they joined the Social Service Group. Their job - keeping the school premises clean while the scouts folks had cool camps to attend. What they got in return : Snide remarks from the smartly dressed students in a Scouts uniform : Abbe Jhaduwale (Hey Janitor). Smarting under the humiliation of being rejected by the scouts group and the remarks they got, these folks would obviously disregard their duties.

Small wonder that social work is not a fashionable thing to do in our country. Until it finds its place of pride along with professions like medicine, engineering, finance and other exalted (and overrated) occupations, this beloved country of ours with a brilliant past faces a bleak future.

Words like philosophy (read knowledge) and service need to be the most important words in our vocabulary. Until them I will call them "bad words" :)

I am so grateful to Guruji for his guidance that turned my priorities upside down . I have learnt that to give is to really acknowledge the abundance I have been given.

Jai Guru Dev,

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Misery is - well - a miserable thing. Sucked into its vortex, life takes many tumbles. Like clothes in a washing machine spin cycle, it turns me around and around. Like a whirlpool or quicksand, it sucks me into its fold. Like jeera or pepper just added to boiling oil in a cauldron it makes me jump, crackle and cry. Like freshly cut onions it makes me weep. OK enough analogies.......

More recently I've thinking a lot about misery. In those moments when I am not consumed by it just watching its ways provides some truly interesting perspectives into life.

What is Suffering ?

Guruji says that "Suffering is the product of ignorance". Ignorance of what ? Ignorance of myself. Ignorance of my purpose in this life and body. Not accepting people and situations (however horrible) as they are.

Now what prevents me from accepting situations and people as they are ? Lets see. Tough situations put life into a tailspin. My own plans for life have to be set aside. A lot of compromise is necessary. Sacrifice is necessary. I am forced to stop taking from life and start giving.

All the above are not easy. Why ? Desires Desires Desires Desires.

My own desires in the form of goals, ambitions, likes, dislikes, all subdued by the situation start a tug of war with the present moment. The situation demands I accept and be and do what is needed NOW, but desires pull me in the opposite direction. This tug of war tears my mind apart and results in my not being able to function fully in the NOW.

The Use Of Suffering

Suffering has been a great way for me to realize that pleasure is temporary and that more indulgence in pleasure will only bring more suffering. My own suffering also teaches me to look around and realize that there are others in deeper pain. By supporting them I see that my own pain is not that bad.

Why Suffering ?

Obviously karma has something to do with it :) Why would a benevolent God want to heap suffering on his children ? A good thing about thinking about karma is that is prevents the blame-game / self pity cycle from going on and on. I realize that I have dues to pay and that suffering is basically payback time.

But why does suffering even exist ?

This is a deep question. What if there were no suffering ? What would happen to this world ? Life would become one endless indulgence in the pleasures of life leaving no time or need to dwell into the true nature of who we really are. Nobody would have any problems and obviously removing the need for anyone to solve them. Would life have any meaning left ? Would it even exist ? The Yoga Vasishta chapter on Prahalada and Vishnu goes much deeper into this aspect.

Another Way ?

A baby struggles out of its womb causing pain to itself and its mother before that moment of bliss called birth. A butterfly struggles out of its cocoon before spreading its beautiful wings. Any achievement in life is preceded by a struggle of some sort. Just wondering, is this the only way life can evolve ? Chaos always preceding and resulting in bliss. Could it not have been easier ? Even possible ? Just wondering.

Jai Guru Dev,

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


My third visit to the remand home. This time it was different for a variety of reasons : more volunteers to control the kids, a warden to help us out - things flowed more smoothly. However I saw and learnt something this time that taught me to revere even more this precious knowledge I have and make me more committed to sharing it with others.

I was trying to gather a group of reluctant kids who refused to participate in the meditation and get them to join the rest of us. Among them sat this lean lanky kid who absolutely refused. I was intrigued and told him "Aao Aao bas kuch minton ke liye" (Come on it'll just be a few minutes). The other kids laughed and said "Ise kuch samajhta nahin" (He does not understand anything). The kid looked at me and gestured that he did not want to come. I thought he was being particularly difficult and was mocking me as some kids there do.

Then it struck me - He was mute.

I gestured to him to join the meditation and he agreed. Ah - i was finally talking his language - the language of silence. As the group sat down and closed their eyes, and the meditation started,I realized something else was going on. This kid was the butt of others ridicule. He was being pushed and prodded by others, some kids sat in front of him and imitated him. Small wonder he did not want to participate.

With the help of another volunteer I seperated him from the rest of the group. He finally settled down and closed his eyes. It was so touching - he could not chant "Ram Ram", but his eyes were closed throughout the meditation. Then he lay down. As the satsang started, he kept his eyes closed and began to clap. Even though he could not sing, he was totally immersed in the bhajans.

It was a touching experience for me as I realized how fortunate I was. Just having a place and environment to meditate is something to be so grateful for. I realized I had more than I actually deserved and comparing myself to people who have more would not get me anywhere. As a volunteer I realized I have to be more resourceful and tuned into the seva to be able to realize what is actually going on and how I can help.

Each time I go to the remand home, I learn something new - not just a new skill - but gain a new insight into life itself. Thanks Guruji for showing me the light !

Jai Guru Dev,

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Just came across this video of Guruji arriving at the AOL Toronto Center. Just watching it brought back beautiful memories of many such moments I've been privileged to witness and experience. The air is filled with love, expectation, happiness, fragrance, devotion, prayerfulness, gratitude - those moments a culmination of years - nay - lifetimes of merit and a touch of His grace. Moments to live for, Moments to die for.

On one such occasion, after Guruji had passed us, a volunteer in bliss said "If life ends this moment, it will have been worth it". Amen to that !

Jai Guru Dev,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why Should I Do This Course ?

If you have taken an Art Of Living Course or are a volunteer, then no doubt you've asked yourself this question from time to time. A course is announced, a senior teacher is visiting town, the volunteer team is formed and the phone calls begin .

A conversation from many years ago :

Caller : Hi Jai Guru Dev

Me : Jai Guru Dev

Caller : Hey did you know that ABC is coming to town to teach the XYZ course ?

Me : Yes

Caller : So you have to take it

Me : Why ?

Caller : Pause. Because it is the most wonderful course that has ever been offered by Art Of Living.

Me : Did you not say this the last time Course MNO was being offered ?

Caller : No No. You don't understand -this is the BEST course ever. You must take it. All strong volunteers must take this course.

Me (under pressure trying to figure out a way to end the call) : Yeah thanks for informing me, I'll check my schedule and call you back.

Caller : Yeah sure. Please sign up today ok ! JGD!

Me : Ok Thanks Byeeeeee JGD. (Thinking : Talk to you like NEVER again)

Whew !

Often times I have thought - Why so many courses, and Why do we have to take them all and Why is there so much pressure to take them ? Initially these thoughts irritated me to no end. But I have finally made my peace with them. There was a time when I could but refused to take courses. There was a time when I could and did. Now is a time when I yearn for an opportunity and am willing but cant. Interesting phases of life -huh ?

I thought I'd write a little FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) to myself. These are questions my little mind brought up from time to time and the answers gleaned from interactions with helpful teachers and volunteers, introspection and experience. Whether you agree or disagree - hopefully you'll find them interesting.

Q> Why do you call it a course ? Isn't this knowledge available freely or in books or on the internet ?
A> Some things can't be read up in a book. Like learning to play the guitar or playing football. You need a teacher. The modern commercial mind understands 2 things - time and money. Isn't it ? When someone asks you to do something - what are your 2 questions ? How long does it take ? How much will it cost ? RIGHT ? So there you go - thats a course.

Q> Why are there so many courses in AOL ? Part I, Part II, Sahaj, DSN, Blessing, TTC1.....?
A> In the ancient days a student would go to the ashram of a master and serve and learn at his/her feet for about 8 years gaining all the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the choppy waters of life before returning to his/her worldly duties. Today this is not possible for most of us in our commercial modern world. Also our modern day education has no provision to teach valuable life skills that truly equip us to navigate the pressures of life. Hence Guruji (Sri Sri Ravishankar) has created these little courses (packets of Grace I call them), that can be taken one at a time with a limited time/money commitment. Once you take one and practice it, you will see the profound effect it has on some dimension of your life. If you want to grow, take the next one, if not - well !

Q> Why does the course cost so much ? You say it is priceless - why charge so much ?
A> The course is priceless - not worthless. Do you see the difference ?

Q> Last time the same volunteer said that the previous course was the most wonderful. Now he says this course is the most wonderful. What should I believe ?
A> There are 3 degrees of praising in the English Language : Good, Better, Best. All AOL courses are the BEST in their own way. What can the poor volunteer do ? The English language falls short of ways to describe one's experience and infinity.

Q> I am doing great on all fronts - health, friends, job, studies, fun. Why are you asking me to do this course ?
A> Do you buy home insurance after it has burnt down ? Health insurance after you've been admitted to hospital ? Start saving money after becoming bankrupt ? Life can be like the Titanic - icebergs in the form of karma lurk around unexpected blind corners. When the ship of life does hit one, what would you like to be holding in your hands - a life jacket or a violin :) ?

Q> No but seriously WHY should I take this course ? And for WHOM ?
A> You have to figure that out. Sometimes I took a course because a friend was going. Sometimes because my favorite teacher asked me to. Sometime just to see who this International Traveling teacher that everyone was raving about was . Sometimes for Guruji. Sometimes I was choice-less. No matter what the reason, I NEVER regretted my decision. All the skills I gained are applicable at every moment in my life these days.

If you asked me today - I would say that I want to take all that my dear Guru has to offer to me in this lifetime of mine. Not to please a teacher / volunteer - but for myself. After all who benefits after a course - it is me !

This post had to be written. Like it or not :) There - the years old itch has been scratched !

Jai Guru Dev.

Friday, February 6, 2009

For a Few

I accompanied E again to the remand home about a week ago and it was another amazing tryst with the lives of some young souls in search of peace. As we arrived, a bunch of kids ran up and said "Not today please...we want to play...these folks never let us play". Seeing us come, the warden rounded them all up and sent them to the hall that serves as their sleeping quarters, TV room, and meditation hall. As we entered, a few kids ran up and wanted to be picked up and hugged. Seeing them others ran up and for the first few minutes, all we did was to hug them and smile at them. Ah...all the world wants is love and how many are out there just looking for a kind smile and some affection !!

This time despite having another volunteer ,M help out with controlling the kids, things were pretty chaotic. The warden was busy helping another kriya session that was on below that involved convicted criminals and could not help us out. The result - CHAOS. Kids disturbing each other, refusing to co-operate, nudging each other, shouting out loud. I have to admire E's poise as she led them through the bhastrika, OM and Ram Meditation. M and I ran about trying to get them to sit up, close their eyes and stop troubling each other. As it got done, we were in despair.

Then a serene E pointed out to 2 kids sitting up front. Among 80 kids who were creating a ruckus after the meditation was over, 2 sat still in padmasana, their eyes shut, completely oblivious of the chaos around them. So beautiful..........

Just as I was to conclude that this session had not been a success, more touching events were to unfold. One kid walked up and took Guruji's picture and put it into his pocket. Another one took me aside and told me in real earnest "Can you please bring Sri Sri Ravishankar here next Monday". I told him to pray each night for Guruji to come, but he was not satisfied :). As I turned to leave, 2 more kids ran up, said Jai Gurudev, suddenly touched my feet and ran away. I thought of Guruji and asked Him to bless them...I felt an immense gratitude that moment - Guruji all this respect - do I deserve it ?

As we left, E remarked : Bas un dono ke liya hua aaj ka session". (Today's session happened just for those two). All the drama just to reach out to those who are ready. Wow Guruji, Amazing are your ways.....

Jai Guru Dev,

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Visit to a Remand Home

Last week, E called and asked me to accompany her to a NCS (Nav Chetna Shibir) follow up at a remand home (juvenile home). A few seva warriors who conducted a NCS camp there some time ago, go there every day to conduct a meditation for the kids interned there.

I was totally reluctant given my own woes but was fortunate to remember what Guruji says "Give the Divine your most precious time". Also trying to look at family members for excuses did not work - they all said GO.

OK I said - Guruji this time is yours and off I went.

Walking into the center was an experience itself. E said "We are from Art Of Living" and we were greeted with "aaiye" / "haan haan aap jaa sakte hain" ( Please come / You may go on). Speaks volumes for the kind of respect the work of Art Of Living had generated at this place.

Walking up to the hall was gut wrenching. Young kids, mostly less than 10 years of age were lined up on the staircase. E told me that they had either committed crimes and were too young to be jailed or were put here since both their parents were in jail and there was no one to take care of them. Swallowing this bit of reality I entered the hall.

At the far corner a large group of kids sat - their eyes glued to a television set. Upon seeing us a few kids ran up and greeted us. As an official set up the mic and speakers, one of them espied my helmet. With great fascination he put it on. That attracted the attention of a whole bunch of kids who ran up and took turns putting it on. I began to feel connected to them.

It was time to start. Most kids sat down but a few started creating a ruckus. E asked me to call their "sir", a burly looking man with a stick, whose very look scared the jeepers out of these little ones. They all settled down and E started bhastrika. I was tasked with making sure the kids closed their eyes. In the next few minutes I was witness to so many facets of life. It was a touching and moving experience.

Some closed their eyes tight and followed the instructions. Some merely ignored the process. Others did bhastrika with their eyes open and I went around gently asking them to close their eyes. Some complied, some ignored me, others stared back coldly. Some "little krishnas" were full of masti. They were deliberately making funny sounds to disturb the others :)

For me playing "cop" was quite an exercise (pun intended).

As the bhastrika ended, more eyes were closed and they all chanted OM. Finally as the meditation started, many settled down. It was a touching sight to behold. Some faces peaceful, some contorted, some disturbed, others disinterested, some angry, some confused, some curious, some playful - all striving for the same peace they had been denied at this tender age.

Then satsang started. I mean WOW....7 1/2 years in Art Of Living ....my most fun satsang. Kids singing along to Achutam Keshavam, standing up and dancing, asking for the mic, correcting E when she said "sote nahin" instead of "khate nahin".....man it was fun. I danced with gay abandon too...mind you this comes from someone with 2 left feet who would not dance if his life depended upon it.

E then asked them to keep faith and told them that they needed to study and listen to elders if they wanted to get ahead in life. She reminded them that Guruji was there for them. It was time to leave. We said our goodbyes saying we would be back next week.

Guruji says that seva is its own reward. That beautiful feeling of love, bliss and gratitude that I was floating in was a stark reminder that life is not always painful, that there are others who have nothing and that if I accept and move through life, giving the highest priority to seva, sadhana, satsang and the pursuit of truth, no sorrow can overcome me.

Deep down a prayer went out for all these kids. Happy that through their troubled times, they had the company of the knowledge and the blessings of a Guru. A reaffirmation that "Having a Guru does NOT mean there will be no storms, just that the boat will NOT sink"

For the next few hours, there was no pain - just bliss.

I pray I can go back there often.

Jai Guru Dev,