Why Do We Meditate on Shivrati Day

15 Feb

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explains on why it is important to meditate on the day of Shivratri.

What is the contribution of Guru in our Lives

14 Feb

Meera was a princess. One day, When she was a young girl, she was looking out of the window, and she saw a wedding procession. The mother pointed out the bride and the groom to Meera. The child asked her who her groom will be and her mother playfully pointed to the beautiful idol of Krishna and said, ” He is the one for you!” Meera takes this to heart and Krishna becomes her best friend, soulmate and companion.

A few years later, an unexpected turn of events takes place. Meera’s sister’s hand is promised to two different kings by the brother and the father. To prevent the impending war between the three kingdoms Meera’s sister powders and swallows a diamond from a ring which her father gives her and sacrifices her life to stop the war. The Bhoja king, admiring the courage of the young princess asks for Meera’s hand in marriage for his younger brother in her sister’s place. The king obliges and Meera is married off in a daze. She tells her husband that you are my king but Krishna is my Lord.

In her innocent way, she brings major transformation in the kingdom. When they were about to sacrifice a goat as part of a custom to welcome the new bride, she very confidently proclaims that the divine does not accept such sacrifices and violence of any kind. She emphasizes that it is the duty of man to protect and preserve nature. She makes an offering of sweet kheer instead. While the rest of the family is shocked, the Bhoja raja admires her innocence, courage and compassion and changes the custom.

aisi-laagi-lagan-meera-ho-gai-magan-anup-jalota

She had carried the Krishna idol whom she always considered as her Lord with her. Even though married, in her mind she was married to Krishna. The King’s sister is unable to understand the depth of her devotion and thinks that she is neglecting her duties towards the King because of the ‘other man’ in her life. At her behest, the Krishna idol was thrown into a well and Meera feels it immediately in her heart. The sister-in-law tells her that now your husband is your God ( pathi hi parmeshwar hai) and Meera replies saying, “God is my husband!” ( Parameshwar hi mera pathi hai).

Though raised as a queen, she does not mind the physical hardship or discomfort as she leaves the kingdom and goes in search of the divine. She meets several saints in the process. She spent time in their company, learnt from them. The company of the wise is essential to nurture and nourish devotion. When she came to Sant Raidas, he asks, “who are you?” She says, ” I am Meera.” ” where am I if Meera is there? And where is Meera if only I am there?” Replies the Saint. In a flash she realized that there is no two, that there is no separation from her Lord. You can never find your Lord in duality.

A guru is necessary even to uplift our devotion and bring freedom. Meera’s devotion was focused outwards on an idol. Only with the grace of her guru, she recognized that the divinity, her Krishna, is within her. You keep searching for the divinity outside till you meet your guru who turns everything around and puts you on the inward journey where you are not separate from the divine. This is the biggest gift from the guru. Raidas was a cobbler turned into a Saint. The Guru can come to you in any form. That is why the guru is a tattva, a principle, and not just the physical form. The guru principle is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. When you are connected to the Master, then you can feel his presence always with you, wherever you are, whatever you do. This connection uplifts you and is the indication of the presence of the Master within you. Whenever Gurudev goes to anyone’s house and they tell him, “please don’t go”, he says, ” I only come, I never go.” Even if you have not met him physically for years, just thinking of him, you feel his presence even thousands of miles away.

With a devotion that had ripened and matured, wherever she went, Meera’s voice evoked the depth of love and longing in all who heard her songs. It is said that even King Akbar came to her in disguise to hear her bhajans. However, as he was considered an enemy of their kingdom, Mira was imprisoned, forced to drink poison, yet nothing touched her. When she was freed, she went straight to the sanctum of the Krishna temple where she merged in a flash of light. Only the tanpura and her dupatta(stole) remained. There was no trace of her body. This extraordinary life is not possible if you are caught in the mundane.

Often people think that aggression is strength. But Meera showed how you can move through the toughest situations without losing the softness. Meera’s devotion is exemplary. Faith is the essence of devotion. Her devotion made her soft. Her faith was her strength. She never doubted that she will be united with her Lord.

Presence of the Master – Guru Purnima Special

10 Jul

Na guror adhikam Na guror adhikam Na guror adhikam Na guror adhikam

Shiva shasanatah Shiva shasanatah Shiva shasanatah Shiva shasanatah

 

Shiva has declared that there is nobody beyond the guru. The concept of the master is time immemorial. It is an eternal principle. The master, the self, the mantra and the ishta (family deity) are the same energy. The more you come close to the master, the more evident this becomes for you.

 

What does it mean to come closer? The Guru is not just the body. You can feel the presence of the master even from miles away and you still you get the uplifted feeling. However, fortunate are those who can bask in his physical presence. Guru purnima is a wonderful opportunity to be in the presence of your master and to take his blessings on this auspicious day.

 

Every time, during guru purnima, you are reminded of your devotion, your fullness and how you can be useful to people around you. Difficulties in life are the grounding factor. Some of the seemingly difficult situations can be the time to introspect. You are in a situation to really re-think. It is the time to polish, refuel and again you can take off. Renewing your bond with the wisdom is guru purnima. Having a master in your life, you are grounded and confident.The master is always glorified because he is such a psychological strength and security in one’s life. The master is the absolute comfort in our life.

 

The Guru always makes your life full. There is a sense of fulfillment, contentment. Guru purnima is celebrated recognizing that our life is full like the moon in the presence of the Master. It is enriched, total and pleasant. You feel so cared for in the master’s presence. The heart blossoms and the head stops worrying.

 

The guru connects you to your higher self. That is why you feel elevated and happy for no reason in his presence. Meditation in the master’s presence is very uplifting. When you are in his physical presence sattva (purity) is predominant. As a result of this we get deep experiences in meditation. We tend to rejoice naturally. The heart is filled with joy and gratitude and you experience the magic of divine love and bliss.

 

Perfection is the ability to experience the divine love within you. Everything is not material. There are some things you can only experience, you cannot explain. The sense of belonging ness, connectedness, a quality of consciousness with access to higher dimensions – the physical presence of the Master gives you these mystical experiences.

 

The expanded consciousness cannot be understood by the limited realm of the intellect. It is mystical – beyond grasp, you can feel it, but you can’t explain it. All the beautiful experiences in our life are mystic – love, reverence, beauty, gratitude,innocence – can’t be measured. They capture the heart and are beyond the intellect. Living fully the mystery of life is mysticism and this is possible only in the presence of the enlightened master.

 

During Guru purnima, It is like recharging your energy. So many devotees with gratefulness – it is a mystical atmosphere. It feels like this is the experience of a lifetime! To live such a life feels worthy. I have experienced this so many times and each time I feel, this is it, and I am waiting for the next one as well! Life is a joy – magical and mystical in the presence of the master.

Talk on Management by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

19 Feb

Let’s move from formality to informality. Let’s start the discussion on Work Culture on an informal basis. What do you say? I don’t like to hide behind the podium. I think podiums were designed in the olden times when people used to shiver when they had to address an audience or a gathering. The podium used to help them hide their nervousness.

When you are at peace in life and you can create such an ease in your atmosphere, work culture will become better. How do you create such an ease, an informal atmosphere is what as managers you all have to think about. When you walk in & out of the office you always get a Salaam or a Pranam or a Namaste, Sat Sri Akal but do you read behind these greetings, is it genuine or is it superficial and most of these pleasantries that we exchange saying thank you, thank you very much or you did a good job andwelcome have a nice day….. all these come from a superficial level. It’s like the greeting that you get from an airhostess when you leave the plane…. They say “ Have a nice day”… they don’t mean it and the entire work environment is filled with such superficial, sometimes even hypocritical greetings… How can youexpect such environment to produce results which you are looking for? You know when the President of the World Bank met me, he asked me, “What is the secret of your success?” How can you have so much work done with so little money. I said it is not just money that does the job. Something more . It is the freedom in your work place. Just in one year’s time 3000 volunteers could adopt 21,000 villages in India the 5H programs and that also with less than 2 crore of rupees. It is something that nobody could believe but it happened. They could do the roads, they could provide proper drinking water and many things. It is the dedication, the inspiration that comes out. The difference between motivation and inspiration we should know. We can motivate somebody giving them a few hundred rupees but that motivation is short lived. It will stay for 2-3 months, again they want a raise. But if someone isn’t inspired from within, forget about having a good work culture. Work culture will need either inspiration or emergency deadlines and fear psychosis. If fear psychosis is created in people it works for sometime but it is not a healthy thing to do and many of our set ups run more on fear psychosis.

Twitter town hall with sri sri

To achieve deadlines the insecurity has to drop rather than the motivation. The third thing that we need to attend to is the mind set. In the mind set. I think there are 2 levels. One is the labour union mind & the other, the authoritarian mind. The labour union mind is always pointing the fingers at the others and authoritarian mind also does the same thing. They say,“Only I can do it, nobody else can do this”. Do you see this happening. I am better, nobody can do anything, they are all useless, they can’t do any job. In this country, we are very good at delegating jobs from ancient times. Though God is one, we divided the God, creator, manager & transformer- Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, we divided them in three different allocation of jobs and all important portfolios were allotted to women. Finance ministry – Lakshmi, Education ministry- Saraswati, Defence – Durga, all are taken. We need to learn how to delegate and that can only happen when you step out of the authorotarian mind. Authoritarian mind finds everybody wrong….. only I am right, I can do better.

Nobody can do as well as I can do so one does not take responsibility for making others work. This is on the level of the manager…. They don’t trust anybody. Authoritarian mind does not trust anybody. If you do not trust anybody how can you motivate someone to do work , inspire them to do work . “Isn’t this the problem with you all, tell me, isn’t this the problem in your setup?”

The second type of problem is the labor union mindset that the manager is not good, or the senior is not good, he doesn’t let me function. “Are you all here 100 percent?” If your mind is in the present moment it will stop complaining. Your complaining is a product of your unconsciousmind.

It is very important to dream also but there has to be a fine balance between practicality & dreams. What we mortally feel is impossible, you give these tasks, and you see it will happens and it happens because of your Atmik Shakti, with your Sankalpa Shakti. What you call Sankalpa is your determination. You know I had announced I would go to Pakistan couple of weeks  ago 10 days ago but till the last day I had no visa and everybody whom our people talked to, everybody discouraged….. It’s not good, don’t go now.. and just in a matter of couple of days, we got the visa….. because I was bend on it. The day I was supposed to fly, till 19th I had no visa , till 4’0 clock I had no visa and the last minute they found out I had an Israeli stamp on my visa. There is a policy in Islamabad, they do not give you a visa if your passport has an Israeli stamp on it. So we wondered what’s going to happen because there in Islamabad, in Karachi they had arranged a big programme, lots of people, thousands of people were going to come and I thought what’s going to happen? But it happened, I just said I got to go…….. and 4 o’clock we get the visa 6 o’clock I take the flight and go. And in Pakistan, the Pakistani High Commissioner and we were in the same place where the SAARC meeting was going on. He said, “Who gave you the visa?”

The human mind says “Only we are functioning, I am in charge of everything” – but there is something else that works, something else that works. Against all odds, you can move ahead and do what you want to do. You just have to have the faith with you. You know, yesterday only there was another incident. We had a satsang in Ambala yesterday evening in the big ground. The morning it rained till 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The organizer and all of them had the faith that if we had an evening satsang, the rain will stop. And with that conviction, it will happen – “there was no rain, there was sunshine and a great satsang happened. Not once – It has happened, over and over, again and again. It has happened. The nature supports you when you have the conviction. This country lacked for so long & it was Guru Gobind Singh Ji who gave back the culture to us. The entire country is so indebted to Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who told us to work like a warrior. It is the warriorness in your which us needed to achieve anything not just living in your own comfort zone. Unfortunately our corporate culture is clogged with that comfort zone and we like to live in our own comfort zone and not be adventurous. We do not want to stretch ourselves a little more than we think we can. We need to inspire people to push them a little forward and to make them do what they can do.

Are you all here still ? So, we need to get out of this authoritarian mind and this labour union mind. Labour union mind – which thinks I can’t do anything because so and so is incharge. It is this so and so which is responsible for me not doing my work. When somebody asks someone, “Why did you go wrong?” They will pass the buck and say, “ Because of that person, because of someone else” – and not take total responsibility. We need to teach our persons to take total responsibility and dignity of work- whatever the work is……

— Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

twitter town hall with sri sri

There is the opportunity to ask you questions to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during the Twitter Town hall with Sri Sri event on 23rd February 2014 at 10PM IST.

International Women’s Conference

1 Oct

“The role of women in the development of society is of utmost importance. In fact, it is the only thing that determines whether a society is strong and harmonious, or otherwise. Women are the backbone of society.”

His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, International Association for Human Values

“Women can be leading peacemakers and work together towards creating a stress-free, violence-free society. This conference is a message of peace and unity”

Smt. Bhanumathi Narasimhan (Bhanu didi), Chairperson, International Women’s Conference (IWC)

Bhanu didi - International women's conference-bhanumathi narasimhan

The International Women’s Conference (IWC)’s unique two-tier model – individual development and collective action – facilitates partnership-building and leadership development among.

While major segments of society remain marginalized in the movement toward socio-economic and political development , increasing numbers of women emerged as strong and predominant leaders in multiple fields. The IWC builds on this trend, working with women leaders to enhance their individual impact, while establishing collective goals for the advancement of women globally.

To achieve its vision, the IWC’s agenda integrates unique leadership development modules based on the principles of the personal development programs offered by the Art of Living Foundation.

Conference Highlight: – The IWC’s panel discussion showcases women’s unique contributions in fostering human values, and in sustaining peace and development. The Conference also provides a global platform for women, often-key policy and decision makers, to engage in dialogue and exchange best practices. The IWC agenda focuses on two key initiatives: advancing the status of women in fragile and post-conflict states, and promoting girl child education.

Read more about International Women’s Conference.

Shakti – By Bhanu Didi (Bhanumathi Narsimhan)

3 Jun

Bhanu didi on Shakti

Shakti means strength, power and energy. Shakti is the womb for all creation and is therefore expressed as the mother aspect of the Divine. Shakti is the seed for all dynamism, radiance, beauty, equanimity, peace and nourishment. Shakti is the life-force.

There are five aspects of creation.

Asti – Is-ness

Bhati – Knowledge and Expression

Preeti – Love

Nama – Name

Rupa – Form

Matter has two aspects, Name and Form.

Consciousness has three aspects, Asti – it is, Bhati – it knows and expresses and Preeti – it is loving. Maya – ignorance or delusion is not being aware of the three aspects of the consciousness and getting caught up in the name and form.

Different functional aspects of this divine energy, Shakti, have different names and forms. The “i” (ee) in Shakti is energy. Without the “i”, “Shiva” becomes “shava” which in Sanskrit means lifeless.

There are seven centers of energy or Shakti in the body called Chakras in Sanskrit. In the Saktha system of worship, there is focus on all the energy centers. The Sri Chakra is thought to represent the whole body with the Devi in different forms, residing in different Chakras.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, in his discourse, has spoken in detail about the Chakras. He says, “Different emotions are linked with each of these energy centers.”

The first Chakra, Muladhara, is located in the base of the spine. Here, the energy manifests as inertia or enthusiasm. The Devi residing in this chakra is five-faced representing the five sense organs. Musical instruments are also associated with these energy centres. The sounds vibrations produced by the bass drums are connected to this chakra.

The second Chakra, Swadhistana is the sex center just four inches above the base of the spine. Here energy manifests as pro-creativity or creativity. Here, the Divine mother has four faces representing the four Vedas.

The third Chakra, Manipura, is the navel center where energy manifests as four emotions: Generosity, joy, greed and jealousy (two positive emotions and two negative emotions). In the Manipura, She has three faces representing Sristi (creation), Sthiti (maintenance) and Laya (dissolution). Wind instruments like trumpets and clarinets are connected to this energy centre.

The fourth Chakra, Anahata, is located in the chest region. Here, the energy manifests as three emotions- love, fear and hatred. Here, she is represented with two faces, signifying inward and outward focus. This energy centre is influenced by the sound vibrations of string instruments like the violin and harp.

The fifth Chakra, Vishuddhi, is located in the throat region and is the center where energy manifests as two emotions – gratitude and grief. In the Vishuddhi Chakra, Her form has a single face. She is beyond all duality. The melody of the flute connects with this chakra.

The sixth Chakra, Ajna, is located between the eyebrows and is the center where energy manifests as anger and alertness. In this chakra, the Devi is six-faced, representing the five senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste) and the mind. Cymbals, chimes and bells connect with this energy centre.

The seventh Chakra, Sahasrara, is located on the top of the head and is the center where energy manifests as bliss. The Sahasrara is also called Brahmarandhra. In the Sahasrara, She is represented as a fully blossomed lotus of thousand petals. All the qualities in creation belong to her and are blossomed to their complete potential. The conch is the musical instrument connected with this energy centre.

When we lead a Sattvic (pure and disciplined) life, the Chakras are properly activated and the presence of the different qualities of the Devi is felt through their functioning For instance, creativity, sweet speech, being noble, joy, awareness, gratitude- these qualities are enlivened through proper focus on Sadhana (spiritual practises).

Divine intelligence is a combination of intelligence and intuition. Ojas is the intuitive power – the Sattvic field of energy which is present or developed only by Sadhana.

When the Kundalini Shakti is invoked, the Ojas travels through the Sushumnanadi (channel for energy flow) along the six chakras to the Brahmarandhra giving rise to Siddhi or a state of perfect equilibrium.

The upward and downward movement of energy through these Chakras gives rise to the play and display of consciousness as the various positive and negative emotions. Sadhana, self-effort or practice, and Satsang, the company of the wise, facilitates the upward movement of the energy through the various Chakras and enables us to maintain a pleasant state of mind.

 Read more talks by Sri Sri.

Bhanu Didi’s talk on Enlightenment

23 May

Bhanu didi on enlightenment Enlightenment is a state where one is totally at ease with oneself. It is a state of relaxed awareness; an inner state transcending limited identities of faith, nationality or gender and beyond outer behavior. All spiritual practices like yoga, meditation, Sudarshan kriya experiences facilitate the journey to enlightenment. Adi Shankara beautifully describes this in the verses of the atmashtakam: “I am not the body, breath, mind, intellect, ego or memory – I am the ever pure consciousness whose nature is bliss, I am that innocence and benevolence.” Friendliness, compassion, contentment, an attitude of sharing and caring – all these are the qualities of one who is in their nature, centered. When we think ‘women’, soft, gentle, emotional, caring and sharing are the qualities that usually come to our mind. The emotional tendency of women allows them to be naturally more sensitive, a quality that plays a great role in understanding oneself and others. For example, a mother is sensitive to the child’s needs. A newborn child has no communication skills. It is dependant on the mother’s sensitivity. She is capable of an understanding beyond words, a mastery of the language of the heart. Enlightenment is also a realm where words have no access, but sensitivity has. The innate sensitivity of women, when combined with sensibility and wisdom, facilitates moving into the space of the Self. Enlightenment is a state of being where we are balanced. Women, playing so many roles, are constantly engaged in this balancing act. However, what is the difference between a woman who is spiritual and one who has not experienced that silent space yet? In the balancing game, one gets stress while the other gets bliss. The choice is ours. A mother, from the time of pregnancy, to child- birth, undergoes considerable discomfort physically, yet is unmindful and full of care and unconditional love for the child. When this sense of belongingness extends to the universal family, that enlightened state of the seers becomes visible in her. There are many women who have attained this state. Like flowers in the forest that go unnoticed, these women blossom not for recognition, but because it is in their nature. They lead contented and happy lives and spread it too. There are also the seers who have come with a purpose to uplift humanity from the crisis of values faced from time to time. Gargi, Maitreyi, Akka Mahadevi, Meera, Andal are all such women seers who have created waves of transformation`. Through wisdom and devotion, they helped people to connect to their higher Self. Enlightenment is all about this connectedness. In meditation, we experience this connection, or enlightenment for a few moments. Enlightened masters are connected 24X7. Once you have tasted this bliss, through self-effort and the grace of the master, these few moments can be extended. This is where the guidance of the master is required. Once Uddhava, Krishna’s cousin and gyani, went to the gopis to offer guidance and teach them meditation. They did as he said because they thought that Krishna wanted them to do so. He asked them to close their eyes, take deep relaxing breaths, take their attention to their heart, imagine that their heart is like a fully blossomed lotus and in the centre of the lotus is the lotus feet of the master, Lord Krishna. The gopis, at this point, could follow him no more. Why should Krishna be only in their heart? Every cell of their being was only Krishna. There was no existence for them outside Krishna. This meditation was not for them. This was the love of the gopis for Krishna. It is said, that a devotee, immersed in divine love, does not even care for enlightenment. Buddha’s disciple, Sariputra, upon enlightenment was asked to travel and spread the knowledge. Instead, he was lost in tears. When Buddha asked him, He simply replied, “Who wants to be enlightened? I was so happy serving you! Do not send me away!” He valued love and service above enlightenment. Sri Sri says,” When you don’t even care for enlightenment, you attain Divine Love.” Attaining a spiritual level is simply recognizing that there is life everywhere. This whole world is a combination of spirit and matter. The finest aspect of matter is spirit and the grossest aspect of spirit is matter. So, spiritual practices are not any different from you being spirited, happy, contented, and compassionate and in love.  As women, these qualities are natural to us.  So we should just learn to be happy, smile from the heart, stop worrying, meditate, serve and celebrate life. – Bhanumathi Narsimhan ( Bhanu didi )

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