Guided meditation by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The sound to silence meditation helps in cleaning all the clutter accumulated in mind and takes you from all hustle bustle to pleasant joyful silence.
Check out more Guided Meditation by Sri Sri.
Guided meditation by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The sound to silence meditation helps in cleaning all the clutter accumulated in mind and takes you from all hustle bustle to pleasant joyful silence.
Check out more Guided Meditation by Sri Sri.
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explains on why it is important to meditate on the day of Shivratri.
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.
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.
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.
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 )
Every woman has within her the right blend of strength with grace, courage with compassion, abundance with values and wisdom with vision. In her lies the seed for the most profound social transformation. Bhanumathi Narasimhan ( Bhanu Didi ) firmly believes this.
Q:You are the Director of Child and Women Welfare activities of the Art of Living Foundation, meditation teacher to thousands worldwide, a gifted singer with albums heard by people beyond boundaries of faith and culture, you have authored books, you run 119 schools for the under-privileged, you have institutes for training rural women and so many come to you for guidance and counsel and are married with two children and playing the perfect homemaker. How do you manage all this and continue to smile continuously?
Bhanu Didi: Spirituality is what makes this harmony possible.
Q: How do you find time for so many diverse activities?
Bhanu Didi: Time moves very slowly when you are waiting, sad or bored. Time seems to fly when you are happy or celebrating. Only in meditation, you are with time and events happen within you. Established in that space, you are able to manage many tasks skillfully and cheerfully.
Q: You have taught meditation around the world for over 15 years. What do you see as the benefit this has brought to people? Further what are the differences you perceive while teaching people of various nationalities or backgrounds?
Wherever you go, people want peace. People want happiness. This search is common and meditation can bring you that peace and help you recognize that you are the source. Wherever I go, when I see the smile on people’s faces and the gratitude in their eyes, I know that the power of meditation has touched and transformed their lives for the better and that is enough for me.
Q: You have sung many albums of bhajans and verse which are primarily part of the Indian tradition. Yet how is it that they are appreciated globally?
Music transcends boundaries of language. Further, the songs I have sung are in Sanskrit, an ancient language, and the words used work like mantras, bringing relaxation to the listener even if they do not understand the meaning.
Q: You have authored two books, Lalitha and Tejasvini. Can you tell us a little about these books?
Bhanu Didi: The Hindu way of life guides the seeker step by step from the outer world to the inner Self, from idol worship to a state of Samadhi (a profound state of your being). However, the idols also bear significance knowing which the seeker can go beyond the form more easily. Tejasvini guides the seeker on this journey inward. Lalitha takes this journey deeper.
Q: You are the chairperson of the International Women’s conference. What is your vision behind bringing these women together? What is unique about these conferences and what value addition do the participants get from attending them?
Bhanu Didi: An ancient Sanskrit adage, ‘Sanghe Shakti Kaliyuge’ says that in this age, there is strength in the union of the hearts and minds of people. The collective energy of thousands, with the intention of reviving human values, can bring about a far greater transformation in society than individual effort.
The conferences do just this. Women from over 70 countries have come together to share and learn from each another. These conferences are unique in their capacity to tap the source of energy and enthusiasm in the speakers and delegates. They are vibrant and inspire the delegates to serve and catalyze change in their respective countries. The first conference was titled ‘Strength of a woman’ with an intention to recognize this very strength in her.
The moral values that a woman imparts to her children, the support she provides to her family – all these really matter. They say women are emotional. I accept this as a compliment. This is the aspect that makes her soft, gentle and feminine. The delicate and sensitive nature of a woman allows her to create an environment of peace and harmony wherever she goes.
The consecutive conferences have explored themes such as ‘Celebrating Women’, ‘The Light of Leadership’ and ‘Waves of Beauty’ and have all resulted in dynamism and a resounding resolve for greater harmony, peace and service.
Q: All these conferences have supported girl child education as one of the primary outcomes. Can you tell us a little bit about your passion for education?
Bhanu Didi: During the past three decades, I have been committed to bringing education to the rural and underprivileged children in India.
The parents of these children send them to the farms or as domestic help. They are illiterate and do not dream of an education for their daughters. They are mostly under-nourished and hardly ever get to eat more than one meal a day. Initially, the mid-day meals provided at the school enthuses the parents to send the children to the school. We give them new uniforms, books, schoolbags and also send school buses to the villages to transport them. When you see the children, how clean and bright they are in comparison to the condition of their homes, it is really amazing! They meditate everyday and practice some yoga and breathing techniques meant for children. This keeps them free from the stresses of poverty and domestic violence they are faced with when they return home everyday. These free schools, 119 in various remote locations across India, provide holistic value-based education and have been successful in shaping the lives of these children into successful pillars of society un-affected nor limited by their backgrounds of poverty, illiteracy or domestic violence.
However, there are the innate values of caring and sharing that is abundant in the villages of India. These family values must be emulated and encouraged further. We have so much to learn from the rural women as well.
Q: Can you tell us something about what you have done for the mothers of these children and other women in the villages to empower them?
Bhanu Didi: Empowerment is not just economic independence. Real empowerment enables a woman to deal with any circumstance or situation with confidence and an unshakeable smile.
I started VISTA India 15-year ago old to bring self-esteem, confidence and inner strength in rural women along with providing them skills training to earn money.
These women who were very shy and used to cover their faces with a veil; they are seen giving talks and lectures today. They drive auto-rickshaws, run post-offices, design garments -they empowered themselves without rebelling, getting agitated or accusing someone else of robbing their power. Nobody told them to stand up. They just did it one day and knew that nobody would oppose them.
Q: You have with you a large team of women volunteers who work with you. In what direction does your guidance take them?
Bhanu Didi: I would like every woman to come to the forefront and take responsibility. I would like them to become the light of leadership with a passion to serve humanity.
Only a lit candle can light another and when the light is of inspiration, it spreads like wildfire. Being the sister and disciple of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, I am inspired and share his vision for creating a stress-free, violence-free society. I want every woman who works with me to share this same vision.
Q: You are a perfect homemaker in spite of your many roles. How did your family support you for this?
Bhanu Didi: My mother continues to be a great source of inspiration to me. She taught me by her example how to take responsibility for one’s own life. My grandmother taught me to see the smoother and happier side of life. My aunt taught me the value of independence. My husband taught me the value of freedom, my children, the value of innocence, my father, friendliness and my brother, love and compassion towards the whole of humanity. My guru has taught me to combine all these values appropriately and move on joyfully in the journey called life. When you have the right guidance, your life is an ocean of contentment.
Q: You are ever-smiling and gentle, your words are subtle and pleasing, you don’t seem to have a forceful or dominant attitude that is normally associated with dynamism and power. How do you inspire and lead hundreds of volunteers?
Bhanu Didi: The ability to be multi-faceted, dynamic and radiate positivity and peace is innate. However the blossoming of this potential happens through spirituality. I call it blossoming – not development or progress. This naturalness is the essence of all the effortlessness and skill.
There are three qualities that are very effective when imbibed. One is Aishwarya – wealth and lordship. One may seem to have lordship through fear or power due to position but they are not pleasant. Lordship that comes out of love and respect has a different dimension to it. It is the true wealth in the relationship. The second is Madhurya or sweetness – sweetness in thought, word and action. It is our nature to be in a pleasant of mind. When you are stress-free and centered, this comes naturally to you. When you are pleasant, you create the same atmosphere around you. Others feel relaxed, comfortable and ‘at home’ in your company even if they had come with a disturbed mind. The third is Saundarya or the beauty and attraction that comes from inner strength. This strength can be developed through meditation. These refined qualities of the consciousness enhance one’s life and beauty. The mind is attracted to that which is beautiful. The mind likes to follow, but the goal is towards the Self, the source of divinity within us. When we move towards the source, we cannot return empty-handed. The Self or inner Being is the true leader. The Self has complete Lordship, is full of sweetness and is the source of all inner beauty and strength and as we move towards the Self, we become true leaders.
Q: Speaking of beauty, you don’t even use any make-up and look so beautiful. How do you manage this?
Bhanu Didi: Isn’t it wonderful to not have to depend on make-up etc? When your life is full of wonder – that is the secret.
Q: Would you like to share a few words of wisdom with our readers?
Bhanu Didi: Smile, Serve, Meditate and Celebrate!
It is with such effortless grace that Bhanu Narasimhan lives her life. Every achievement crowns her passion to celebrate service and reinforce human values.
Here is the video of the welcome address given by Bhanu Didi (Bhanumathi Narsimhan) at the International Women’s conference.
As a woman on the path to success we expect to feel a sense of achievement when we see that we have reached the top, where we wanted to be. How does it look from there? Will the world and people around you look beautiful? Will the journey to the top be pleasant and memorable? For so many women whom I have met this journey has certainly not been easy. It is not always a journey of mutual support, upliftment and friendliness. Instead, you have to be careful about who is conspiring to push you down. There are many challenges, not just due to gender bias, but also due to an unhealthy competition and jealousy from other women themselves! This kind of journey can be very stressful and takes its toll on our body and mind.
Sri Sri says that one who manages all challenges that life gives is successful. However, what are the skills that we need to be able to do this and succeed?
A woman has to balance her family, relationships, work, interests – all of these and more on the road to success. When you realize that you are multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, you can multi-task. This realization comes when you are in a calm and serene state of mind, which is achieved through meditation.
When you meditate, the task that took you four hours to complete earlier gets done in two hours. It is necessary that you give prime time to yourself, to relax yourself, to realize your potential to do better. Otherwise you limit your capabilities. When you meditate, you realize the expansion within you, that limitlessness within you.
The meditative woman is successful.Belongingness, commitment, connectedness – all these qualities are a byproduct of meditation. Sri Sri often says, “success means strength, an unshakeable smile that nobody can take away and a courage that does not diminish. It does not mean having a big bank balance. There are some very rich people who do not have the strength of character. They don’t have a sense of belongingness or love. They are unable to appreciate the subtleness of life.”
True success is when it extends to both the material and inner realms. Are you enjoying the little things in your life? Have you lately observed the glistening dewdrops in the grass? The birds chirping, the sparrows drinking water, the blue jay feeding, the eagles circling overhead, the beautiful flowers, have you cleaned your window pane, have you watered the small little plants in your garden? Have you observed the lucky bamboo with two more leaves, enjoyed the design on your carpet and the craftsmanship – the beautiful colors, made a new salad dressing, experimented with your sandwich – this is the sign of a successful woman – living every moment to the fullest.
I have always believed that a woman is the heart of the family – she keeps everyone together. A woman is the heart of society – when you empower women to succeed, you are enabling society to prosper.
– Bhanumathi Narasimhan
The article source is from http://artofliving.org.