Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Google Earth - Art of Living Ashram (2004 vs 2010)

Well, if you have not used Google Earth yet. You must. The first time I used it, I could not believe how such a premium software service is available to everyone for free. Its like you can have a look at each and every home on the earth just from the comfort of your computer that too without paying a dime. Google Earth is a free service from Google. You need to download and install it and it starts working like a charm.
 A few years back I had tried locating our Ashram ( The Art of Living International Centre ) on Google Earth and was so thrilled to find the majestic VM looking like a white cream pie. I just then realised how so much green cover was there all around and inside the Ashram. The buildings were very few...

To view Ashram on Google Earth:
Latitude: 12°49'32.43"N
Longitude:  77°30'31.37"E

Well, the reason I'm writing this post is that, Google has just announced its fantastic new feature known as "historical imagery" where you can view the google earth image of that location at any date in the past starting from the day Google Earth started keeping records. You can learn more about this new feature from HERE.

For our Ashram, they have records since 2004. So I was very excited to see the changes that our Ashram has gone through in the past 7 years. Ashramites should definitely check this out!!

Ashram on July 2004.

Ashram on November 2010

So what's changed? 
* I used to think that because of so much construction... the green cover of Ashram is depleting. I couldn't be more wrong... See how much green you see in the Second picture... Also the trees have become big and healthy! The trees around VM and amphitheater have become adults and a lot of new ones have come up!
* Impossible to miss is the Big Green Shed! The Yagnashala. Without it It wouldn't be possible to have 15000 people under one roof.. would it?
* Just below the Yagnashala across the road is the new hall., forgot the name but the Yes Plus Play Anand        and Benaifer was rehearsed here!
* The buildings behind the Amphitheater!
* The Divine Shops Madhurya and other buildings.
* Oh My god! The entire Aparna was not there in 2004!
* Panchakarma building has become majestic comparatively (on the left)
* The new Canteen (the current one) Vishala was constructed making way for the old canteen to be the Darshan Place!
* Ganga Kutir - Still all the same! So Cute!

Talking about our dear Ashram brings so many memories of hearts being blossomed, eyes being filled, desires being fulfilled, smiles being stretched, buttons being pushed, knowledge being soaked, throats being choked, hugs being shared and souls being touched. All because of the Grace of the Master! 

Also Have a look at the following two images showing the lake near the Gurukul in the Ashram..

Ashram Lake 2004

   Ashram Lake 2010

By HIS grace, Did you notice how the muddy pond in such a short time has been transformed into a lush green Lake, so pure and graceful. Has that not happened in your life?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why spiritual shopping won't let you anywhere..

Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation is the cool thing today. Contrary to the previous century where Yoga and Meditation was only associated with mystics and ascetics, today it the modern day spiritualist's stress buster and a gateway to a higher plane where one can get a glimpse of the depth which life has to offer.

However, searching for a true master who can guide you through the maze of your own mind is a tricky business. Mind is a very clever thing. 
It exists in the pretext of diferrences and calms down in harmony.
It exists in desire that some great joy is there in future, but almost dissapears when we are in the present. 
It exists when we believe the future is greater than the present.
It exists when we believe that what we will have is more than what we have.
It exists in duality, dissapears in oneness.

By the sheer unfolding of circumstances, seemingly unplanned, we are led to a teacher who can help us get  a perspective, our mind starts finding reasons why that particular teacher is not your true master. A true master does not promise you rosy days and there will be trials and challenges. This is when we start thinking "Am I in the right place?" On the simplest pretext of uncomfort we try to run away from that Guru or Organization. The mind simply wants to continue existing. 
And the same thing happens when you are at another place, with another Guru. A little discomfort and your mind goes "Even This organization is not for me! I will be better off somewhere else!"
Spiritual Shopping -  A tendency to hop from Guru to Guru, from temple to temple, from organization to organization in the hope of gaining true knowledge. This is a trap. A very deadly one on the path. 
Because true knowledge can only blossom from deep within you when  your mind is silenced. And how will the mind be silenced when you are hopping from one concept to another, not trusting the words of any one teacher. 
That's why perhaps in the Eastern Tradition tremendous importance is given to the teahers words. First comes faith and then proof.  
Even those who are confirmed that they have found their Guru fall for the temptations of the mind. Feeding on the lengthy discourses of intellectuals believing that simply more words means more substance. The true blossoming of a disciple happens only in the Silent communication with a realized master. 
When you come to a Guru, you need to empty your cup!

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Guruji effects..

Silence is the goal of all answers. If an answer does not silence the mind, it is no answer - Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

How to be always happy? Drop the "always" and you will be Happy! -Shri Shri Ravi Shankar

"Don’t wait for the best person with the best qualities to be in love. Just love them and bring out the best in them.." - Sri Sri

“My job is to create the temptation to go deep in yourself” - Sri Sri

"When you come to a Guru, seeking ends. Blossoming Begins." 
- Sri Sri


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Divine Souls II: Rishi Nitya Pragya

When it comes to Rishi Nitya Pragya ji, only one word comes to mind "ENERGY!". He is a dynamite! Specially when he is on the stage and has a mic in his hand. One of the two Rishis whose grace has flowed through us from the Master ( the other being the awesome Rishi Vidyadharj ji) he has shown by his own life  how an ordinary human being can attain the heights of spiritual wisdom and balanced living through dedication, devotion and surrender. 

Rishi is a Sanskrit word which means "A divinely inspired poet or saint". Nitya means "Ever" and Pragya means "Alert". It fits perfectly. Ever conscious of the need of others and supremely aware of the happenings in the surroundings Rishiji sets an example for everyone to follow. If there is anyone who can be given the title of "ever-alert" then it is Rishi Nitya Pragya ji.

Rishi Nityapragya 

Young Rishiji 1993
Biography: Born as Nitin Limaye in Gujarat, India, he has done his Bachelors in Chemical Engineering and was used to a lifestyle with fast bikes and doing gigs in musical bands until he discoverd something deeply spiritual when he met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the age of 21.  
He says " I was a chemical engineer and I searched for the meaning of life. I felt this structure, this conditioning given to us by society cannot be the purpose of life.This search took me to a lot of places and somebody told me about the Art of Living course. During the Advanced Course I met Sri Sri and I knew I was home!"

Rishi Nityapragya shortly became an Art of Living Teacher and began organising and teaching the Part I Program of the Art of Living. Gifted with a melodious voice, his speciality seemed to be in mesmerising the crowd with his wonderful and energetic rendition of the Bhajans during Satsangs. He has taken the simple talent and mixed it with grace to produce an effect which can only be experienced when he is singing on stage.

Guruji bestowed upon him the title of 'Rishi' to declare the high level of spiritual capacity he has developed. Today he travels around the world teaching the Advanced Meditatioin Course and Divya Samaj Ka Nirman. He is most famous for his energetic satsangs which is packed with deep wisdom and sharing of his experiences and learnings from life.

 In this video Rishiji speaks about Vrittis or tendencies of the Mind.. Really amazing knowledge...

Rishiji Singing in a Satsang...

Some Photos of Rishi Nitya Pragya:

Rishi Nitya Pragya Ji with Prince Charles

In an ecstatic mood during a Satsang

If you have any unique experiences with Rishi Ji , plz share them in the comments below!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Doyen of Indian Classical Music - Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia

Very few have done more for popularising Indian Classical Music than Pt. HariPrasad Chaurasia. Arguably, the most versatile player of the Bansuri or the North Indian Bamboo flute, Panditji has taken classical music to the masses through his innovative style, immense knowledge and sheer dedication.

Born in a non- musical family, his father was a wrestler and he expected his son to be the same. He started learning music hiding from his family in secret spots but could not tell his father that he had no interest in wrestling.
"I was not any good at wrestling. I went there only to please my father. But maybe because of the strength and stamina I built up then, I'm able to play the bansuri even to this day." - he says

After learning Indian Classical vocal for sometime he went to the reclusive Smt Annapurna Devi ( thought of by many as the true vault of knowledge of Indian Classical Music). He had to persist to become her student. After persisting 3 years, yes! 3 years during which she even threatened him with police action!, she finally had to accept him as a disciple. For years Panditji had played flute as a right-handed player , for his Master he even changed that to left-handed.
People who play any instrument will understand how big a sacrifice it is. Years of learning has to be unlearned. It becomes like learning a new instrument. But his will to learn was so strong that he was willing to give it his all. And he did.

Been awarded the Padma Vibhushan ( the second highest civilian award to an Indian) and KNIGHT IN THE ORDER OF ARTS AND LETTER (“Ordres des Arts et Lettres”), the highest civilian award of FRANCE, is not the exact reason I'm writing this post.
I'm writing all this to celebrate that here is a true artist whose love is solely his music. Born in 1938, older that the country itself, he still plays! 

Here is a video of 2010 in which he is playing. 


In 2010 he is still doing tours at the age of 72. 
Hats off to him! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The call of the Guru.

A poem by His Holiness Shri Shri Ravi Shankar.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Michael Fischman - First meeting with His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Michael Fischman is one of the first Art of Living teachers and his experience with Sri Sri goes back to the days when Guruji was still travelling with Maharshi Mahesh Yogi. He has written his experience of nearly 30 years of the Art of Living in his super fantastic book Stumbling into Infinity. I had earlier written a review on this book

His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar when still travelling with Maharshi Mahesh Yogi.

In the video below taken in one of the book reading sessions Mike recounts his tale of his first meeting with Guruji. How just the first look from the masters brought out flood of emotions and tears. For me, the most touching sentence he spoke in this video is " It was not the technique that blew me away. It was the Love!"
If you are a devotee, you'll know the truth in this statement. Jai Gurudev!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vote for this Hero from India at CNN.

In this digital age where consumerism rules and there is a mad rush for making a career, earning a fortune and living a lavish lifestyle, we wonder whether there are enough people not selfish enough to save the planet.
Enter Narayanan Krishnan

Image courtesy

In 2002, Narayanan Krishnan, a gifted young chef from Madurai, India, was working for an exclusive hotel group preparing haute cuisine for the ultra-rich. But when he went home to visit his family, something he saw shocked him to his core.
“I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food,” he says.
This incident changed his life completely. He felt deeply the pain and the suffering of the hungry, homeless destitutes still his countrymen. He could no longer go to serve the ultra-rich the gourmets each costing thousands of Rupees. He decided to make a change.
Within a week he quit his job and started the movement known as "Akshaya Trust" with the simple aim of feeding healthy vegetarian food to those who can't afford it. That spark and that inspiration is a driving force still inside me as a flame — to serve all the mentally ill destitutes and people who cannot take care of themselves,” Krishnan says. 
This year he is 29. he has served more than 1.2 million meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner — to India’s homeless and destitute, mostly elderly people abandoned by their families and often abused. Krishnan’s day begins at 4 a.m. He and his team cover nearly 125 miles in a donated van, routinely working in temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
He seeks out the homeless under bridges and in the nooks and crannies between the city’s temples. The hot meals he delivers are simple, tasty vegetarian fare he personally prepares, packs and often hand-feeds to nearly 400 clients each day. Krishnan carries a comb, scissors and razor and is trained in eight haircut styles that, along with a fresh shave, provide extra dignity to those he serves.

Narayanan Krishnan has been voted the top 10 Heroes of 2010 by CNN. You can vote for him and make him the CNN Hero of 2010.
Voting is very simple and requires just a click. Lets make him CNN Hero of the Year. Many more will be inspired.
I think he deserves it. Don't you?   VOTE NOW!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Beginnings(the video) - The initial days of The Art of Living and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Just came across this wonderful video broadcasted by The Art of Living Channel in Youtube. If you have not yet subscribed to it, its high time you do because they have some great stuff over there.
I have waited for this video for a loooooooong time. Not exactly a biography.... but it recalls the initial days of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's people's movement and mission of putting a smile on every face...
The video has wonderful photograph clips some very rare and never seen (atleast by me).....  
It's just a thing of awe that one person (or 'THE' ONE) could bring such a difference in so many lives around the world... Enjoy the video... Jai Gurudev!

"The sun rises and there will be light everywhere!" 
                                      -Maharshi Mahesh Yogi

Friday, November 5, 2010

Funny things out here.

First of all, Happy Diwali to all. Its festival time in India.The time to burst crackers and eat a lot of sweets and laugh a lot. Just wanted to do a quick recall of the Funny Posts I've written over the past few months:

Now, All of you must have come across Yahoo Answers some time of the other.. mostly after searching for something on Google. Yahoo Answers is a good place (not great) to get some information about something specific but some of the question and answers really make you wonder about the questioner "Why have you been away from humanity for so long!!"

A few snapshots:

Justin Bieber.. that is!

No One can Answer that!

Air Guitar Training Online

Future of Technology

Talk about the Walrus and the Carpenter....

Parenting IS Hard.

Go Play Twitter !!

If you like this post, Share it with others!! Have a cracking Diwali!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Funny searches on Google - courtesy - Google Suggest.

Now this is not the annual list which Google announces about the most searched words or phrases in the world. This is more interesting than that. Ever since Google released what it calls as Google suggest, now suggestions appear which is most likely what you are searching for ( according to them). You must have seen this. When you start typing something in Google, it starts giving suggestions which is pretty harmless.... that is until we figure out a way to use it as entertainment.
Now how does it work... this Google Suggest thing !!
Google says  "Google Suggest uses data about the overall popularity of various searches to help rank the refinements it offers."

Okie then, Google Suggest basically suggests what most people search for.... right?

Now this serious activity of searching for something can be a great source of fun... so have I discovered.....
Here are a few examples.....

Now stinking and cheap might be adjectives uncalled for but most people are intrigued about why Indians win spelling bee ? Ya that's what you have to ask about 1 billion people !!  And yes, that red dot ! lol!

Regarding Future, most people are worried about what their baby will look like.... and some are bothered about how they will look when they are older and some have already given up and wondering what heaven will look like?? 

Now this is what all Indians must be proud of .. The whole world atleast anticipates India to be a superpower..... but look at the pun here....  will India be ready for Commonwealth ?? 

Nothing much to say about this one.....  The most interesting one is not " Why did i get married" but  thats about the canadian... Since when people (in other countries) started owning Canadians ?

The Big Question ..... Why MBA ????

Two points here   
1. The Ayodhya verdict may not have solved anything but it made Nirmohi Akhara a top search in Google.           
 2. Has Google advanced so much that it can tell you the meaning of your name without you actually typing your name. Perhaps that is what is 3G.(another Q above).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Value of listening to Knowledge.

What do we do most of the time ?
If we really sit and take account of the 24 hours given in one day and categorize them, what would we find? How much time is used (?) for acquiring a living (earning money), how much time is spent in resting, how much time is spent on entertainment, how much time is spent on eating, talking, gossiping and the other myraid number of things we as humans do!
How much time is spent in service? How much time is spent on meditation? And how much time is spent in the company of the wise... listening to knowledge ??

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says "When you go to heaven, only two question will be asked - How much love you gave and How much knowledge you gained ?"

Guruji has given so much knowledge on so many topics all ranging from the subtlest philosophical connotations to the solutions of simple practical issues of daily life! How much time do we spend  listening to knowledge?
I have noticed that my life has moved so smoothly and effortlessly in love, joy and devotion when I have made the habit of listening to the knowlegde tapes ( Bhakti Sutras, Yoga Sutras, Ashtavakra Gita etc.).
Sri Sri says "When life gets stuck, you have to go to Narada, he will connect you to the centre!"

Let us move in knowledge, let us take out time to listen to knowledge. Jai Gurudev.