Friday, December 26, 2008

Baba....

Baba...
His greatgrandfather was a saint
;
his grandfather was one of the most success
ful businessmen of his taluka;
his father was a bhajan singer and a harmonium player...


and Baba, thats how we (my two brothers and me) address him, our father, has been an inspiration for me in several ways, and am sure for my brothers too.

Born and brought up in Murud Janj
ira a taluka in Raigad district, now famous as a tourist attraction, he fought in the Hindu-Muslim riots when in school and topped the entire taluka in Matriculation (now SSC, earlier it was 11th std). Scored 97/100 in Maths. Mr. Dattatraya Balkrishna Pulekar wanted to be a mathematician. But the village kid didnt even know that something like IIT exists. He had to take up an early job to help clear the debt and losses his father had incurred. He worked himself and sponsored the higher education of his two younger brothers and a sister.

He wanted to get into politics and devot
e his life for spirituality. But finally ended up being a 'sansari'. He was destined to bring three divine souls in the physical form, and so he had to be our father (Rashmin, Harshal and myself)!!!

Baba has played an instrumental role in the three of us (Pu brothers as we are known, thx to Bau ;-)) getting into spirituality. It was he who ignited the spark in us and aai (our mother) complemented it very well. I would love to share a few stories of how they did it....I feel so
grateful to have been born of and brought up by such wonderful parents. More about them in the next few posts.

Baba celebrated his 66th birthday on 22nd Dec'08. And here are some snaps which give a glimpse of the undying, childlike and innocent enthusiasm that Baba is infused with!!!





On the bench..God knows what he is doing up there!! Its the park on the beach in Murud




Thats the fort in the background, the Murud beach



In Rishikesh...playing in Ganga waters.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Working or Serving?

I am sure the one page reading below will make some difference in your mind set.......

One evening a scholar was addressing the participants on the concept of work culture.

One of the participants asked the following question:

"I am a senior manager of Materials Department and I joined an organization 25 years ago as an Engineer Trainee and over the last 25 years I have gone through every experience in the organization.

During the initial part of my career, the job was very challenging and interesting.

However, all those exciting days are gone since I do not find my joy any more interesting because there is nothing new in my job. I am now feeling bored because I am doing a routine job.

However, Sir, I am living in the same house for over forty years, I am the son for the same parents for over forty five years, I am the father for the same children for the past ten years and the husband for the same lady for the past twenty years! (the toughest job!)

In these personal roles I do not feel bored Please tell me why I am bored of the routine in the office and not in the house?"

The response from Scholar was very interesting and convincing. He asked the executive the question: "Please tell me for whom does your Mother cook?"

The executive replied that obviously the mother cooks for others.

Then the Scholar said that the mother "Serves" others and because of this service mindedness, she is not feeling tired or bored. But in an office, we "Work" and not "Serve". Anything we consider, as service will not make us feel bored. That is difference between Serving and Working.

He asked the executive to consider his work as service and not merely a work!! This was a very interesting analysis!! Whenever you put a larger context around your work and see a broader meaning for your work, you will take interest in your work and it will make a very big difference in your internal energy.

Attitude Matters!!!

If you think you are working for the organization you will get frustrated. If you feel you are doing a service and getting some service charges you will feel happy. After all -doing what you like is freedom but liking what you do is happiness! It is just a paradigm shift that is required!

"What I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Entrepreneur's Inspiration: A crorepati who lives in a hut!





A crorepati who lives in a hut! His story is an inspiration for millions. A self-made entrepreneur, his mission is to help the poor through job creation.











My inspiration: My mother, who sold idlis and worked as an ayah in aanganwadis to educate me. (-:



My dream: To buy a house and car for my mother. :-)




My source of energy: The hut where I still live!!!



E Sarathababu hit the headlines after he rejected several high profile job offers from various MNCs after he passed out of IIM, Ahmedabad two years ago.





He instead started a catering business of his own, inspired by his mother who once sold idlis on the pavements of Chennai, worked as an ayah in an Anganvadi to educate him and his siblings. As a child, he also sold idlis in the slum where he lived. "We talk about India shining and India growing, but we should ensure that people do not die of hunger. We can be a developed country but we should not leave the poor people behind. I am worried for them because I know what hunger is and I still remember the days I was hungry," says Sarathbabu.



In August 2006, Sarathbabu's entrepreneurial dream came true with Foodking. He had no personal ambition but wanted to buy a house and a car for his mother. He has bought a car but is yet to buy a house for his mother. The "foodking" still lives in the same hut in Madipakkam in Chennai. Today, Foodking has six units and 200 employees, and the turnover of the company is Rs.32 lakh a month.






But it has not been a bed of roses for Sarathbabu. After struggling and making losses in the first year, he managed a turnaround in 2007. How has his experience as a 'Foodking' been in the last two years?





Sarathbabu shares the trial and tribulations of an exciting and challenging job in an interview with Shobha Warrier.





A tough beginning...
As I am a first generation entrepreneur, the first year was very challenging. I had a loan of Rs 20 lakh by the end of first year. I had no experience in handling people in business, and it was difficult to identify the right people. Though I made losses in the first year, not even once did I regret my decision of not accepting the offers from MNCs and starting an enterprise of my own. I looked at my losses as a learning experience. I was confident that I would be successful one day.



My first unit was at IIM, Ahmedabad. When we started our second unit in October 2006, I thought now I would start making money. But I made losses of around Rs 2000 a day. A first generation entrepreneur cannot afford such a loss. But I worked really hard, working till 3 a.m. in the morning. What reduced my losses were the birthday party offers. I started the third unit again in Ahmedabad but it also made losses. All my units were cafeteria and I understood then that the small cafeterias do not work; I needed huge volumes to work. My friends who were extremely supportive in the first year when things were difficult for me. I had taken loans from my IIM-A friends. They were earning very well.






In December 2006, an IIM Ahmedabad alumni event took place in Mumbai and I decided to go there mainly to get a contract. I was hopeful of getting it. I also knew that if I got the huge contract, I would come out of all the losses I had been incurring.




I booked my train ticket from Ahmedabad to Mumbai for Rs 300 and I had Rs 200 in my hand. As the meet went on till late at night, I could reach the station only at midnight. I missed the train. I decided to sit on the platform till the morning and travel by the next train in the morning.. I didn't have the money to check into a hotel. I didn't want to disturb any of my friends so late at night. It was an unforgettable night as I was even shoved off by policemen from the platform. It was quite insulting and embarrassing. After two hours, people started moving in, I also went in. A man who sat next to me on the platform gave me a newspaper so that I could sleep. I spread the newspaper and slept on the platform! I slept well.






I got my ticket refund in the morning and went back to Ahmedabad. And, luck did not favour me, I didn't get the contract.






In March 2007, I got an offer to start a unit at BITS, Pilani (Sarathbabu was an alumnus of BITS, Pilani). That was the first medium break for me. For the first time, I started making profits there though the other units continued to make losses. The reason for our success at BITS, Pilani was the volume; there were more students and there was a need for a unit like ours while in Ahmedabad, they have at least a hundred options.




If I made Rs 5000 a day at Ahmedabad in two shifts, here I made Rs 15,000 a day. BITS, Pilani unit gave me the confidence to move on. Unless you make money, you can't be confident in business.




What changed my fortune ...




When all my friends who worked for various MNCs made good money every month and I made losses with my venture. But I kept telling myself, I am moving in the right direction to reach my ambition and vision. My dream was to provide employment and I was doing just that. I continued to work till 3 a.m. but I never felt tired. Through BITS, Pilani, I got the BITS, Goa contract and that was the biggest break for me. It was not a cafeteria like the earlier ones but the dining hall that we got. We had to feed 1300 students. We started our operations in July 2007. At Rs 50, for 1300 students, our sales was Rs 65,000 per day. We soon started making a profit of Rs 10 to 15,000 a day. Around 60 to 70 people work there. I gave the charge of the Ahmedabad operations to one of my managers and moved to Goa.




I was still in debt by Rs 15-20 lakhs but I knew BITS, Goa would keep my dream alive. Within six months of starting our operations in Goa, I repaid all my debt. I was called to give a speech at the SRM Deemed University.. After the speech, I asked the Chancellor, can you give me an opportunity to serve in your campus? He said, "If not you, to whom will I give such an opportunity?" It's a food court but a big one, similar to the one at BITS, Pilani. There are around 17,000 students there.






Now, I have the BITS, Hyderabad contract, ready to start in July 2008. Other than the six units, I have approached a few more universities and corporate houses too. In the first year, I had made a loss of Rs 25 lakh. Right now, we have a turnover of Rs 32 lakh every month, which works out to 3.5 crore (Rs 35 million) a year. I have hired about 200 people. Indirectly, we touch the lives of around 1000 people. By this year end, we will have 500 people working for us.






Only 10% of my workers are educated, the rest are uneducated. I want to make a change in their lives. If they have any problem, I will take care of it. We support the marriages and education of poor families. We are paying more to the employees as the company is doing well. Now that the foundation is strong, I plan to have ten units and a turnover of Rs 20 crore (Rs 200 million) turnover by next year.




His advice ...


When I thought of starting a company, I felt India needed 100 people like Narayana Murthy and Ambani. If 100 such people support 2 lakh people each, imagine how many Indians get supported. Entrepreneurship is needed to uplift the poor. It is not easy to be an entrepreneur, especially a first generation entrepreneur. There will be lots of challenges in the beginning but you should learn to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Never give up even if there are hurdles. There are many who give up within a week. You need determination and a tough mind to cross the initial hurdles.




Value of food and value for morals...




He still lives in the same hut As I am in the food business, I know how much the price of every food item has gone up. We can be a developed country but we should not leave the poor people behind. I am worried for them because I know what hunger is and I still remember the days I was hungry. That is why I feel it is our responsibility to take care of them.




Simply touching and humbly inspiring ...




"I still live in the same house, the same hut. I can build a house right now but I want my business to grow a little more. I feel good in the hut; that's where I get my energy, that's where I lived 25 years of my life. I want to remind myself that the money and fame should not take me away from what I want to achieve. But within six months, I will build a good house for my mother. Her only advice to me is, don't waste money. Till I was in the 10th, there was no electricity in my house. I had to sit near the kerosene lamp and concentrate hard. That's how I learnt to concentrate.
The two year journey has been very enriching. It seems like a 20-year journey for me. I was living every moment of the two years, from sleeping on the Mumbai railway station platform to this level."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Guru bina gati nahin"


MORE EXCERPTS OF GURUJI'S INTERVIEW :


SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR (AOL) WITH ANURADHA SENGUPTA (CNN-IBN), FEB 2006



1. I was reading what you have said, there are different points. Some of the things that you say are so lucid and yet they are like motherhoods, they are like axioms, they are like home truths. Why is it that we need to find a Guru before we can understand any of this?


Sri Sri : Why do you want the answer for this question? You want the answer, right? When you want the answer, whoever gives the answer and you accept it, they become a Guru. If there is no need, then the question does not arise at all.



2. I mentioned that when I came into Bangalore, at the airport, I saw delegates waiting. You reminded me that it is at the train stations, at the bus stops. Why is it that the Art of Living is only for the elite or the upper strata?


Sri Sri : I think that it is a wrong perception. If there are 25 lakh people, who were only the rich and famous in this country, the shape of this country would have been very different. It is not so. We have so much more in villages, in every nook and corner, in tribal areas. It is a perception of the media. Perhaps they think that only celebrities come here. In fact, media follows celebrities. Of all the funds that we have received, we have not taken any donation from any industries. It is all coming from the grass root levels. All our finances are taken care of by the local chapters. I think when we kindle the spirit in them, the true spirit in them, the people are able to take responsibility for their own lives and they make things work.



3. I have heard from people who have been to the courses say that sudarshan kriya has changed my life. What I cannot connect with is the satsangs, bowing to the portrait of Guruji. Do you see this as your thoughts getting corrupted by people as it gets disseminated?


Sri Sri : Everywhere in the world, hero worship is a common thing. However, you tell them that you don't have to do that. In fact, you simply have to go deep into your meditation. It is a big problem for me when I go somewhere and everyone wants to come and touch the feet and bow down. People who are behind them cannot see them and then they fall and it becomes to manage. But this reverence to elders, for the Gurus has been in our tradition. Whether it is a veena Guru or a violin Guru, this tradition has its value and beauty. I remember I used to touch the feet of my mother everyday. Sometimes I used to fight with her, argue with her, then also I used to do pranam and run to schoool. So, there is a sense of connection, same they do for any other religious leader anywhere else in the world. But unfortunately, our journalists only question only when it is done to Indian teachers or Indian Gurus. Because, you call Indian Gurus as godman and you put a tag and look at them as something fishy. In every area, there are some who are not genuine and there are some who are authentically working and who are people have great reverance for their work. But this prejudice against India spirituality has become much less now. Ten, twenty years ago, there was a lot of prejudice about Indian spirituality around the world.



4. Even with the Indian middle class, isn't it?


Sri Sri : The only so called educated people.



5. You have changed that?


Sri Sri : I hope so. The lack of spirituality brings two extreme types of problems. One is domestic and societal violence, other side is the suicidal tendencies. Anyone who has a Guru, there is no way they can get into suicidal tendencies. That shift happens. That is why they say - Guru bina gati nahin hai. (There is no speed without the Guru) That is a common saying throughout India. More so in the North - Punjab, Haryana - than in the South.


The Strengths & Science of Spirituality

MORE EXCERPTS OF GURUJI'S INTERVIEW :
SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR (AOL) WITH ANURADHA SENGUPTA (CNN-IBN), FEB 2006

1. You have studied Christianity deeply. Today, if you pick up any newspaper, you can't miss the fact that there is all this factual information as well as analysis and this great debate about - If and is Islam on a collision course with the rest of the world i.e the Western world. What are your thoughts on this?

Sri Sri : India can stand as an example. In India, we have lived with many religious traditions for centuries in peace.

2. But not without moments of tumult?

Sri Sri : That is very minimal when you compare it to the conflicts that the world has faced. We have always lived together and this the world needs to understand. In the rest of the world there is this conflict - only I will go to heaven and the rest of us will go to hell. Only my way is the correct way and if you believe in this set of principles, only then will you go to heaven, otherwise you will go to hell. This sort of philosophy or indoctrinisation has caused intolerance in the world. And they always think that when I am good, then there must be somebody who is evil. In India we say - tat tu samanvayat - coordinate them all. Find the common thread in between different philosophy, different ways of thinking, practices. That is why we have so many sampradayas. Hinduism is also not one religion. It is an amalgamation of many philosophies, many schools of thoughts and yet it is moving. It is the same with Buddhism, Jainism. It is the tolerance, I would say, the harmony in diversity that India can teach the rest of the world. And that can happen only when we find a common thread, which I would say is spirituality. Spirituality gives you an experience first, there are mainly two streams of thought in the world. First you believe and then you will experience and come to know the truth, this is the 'oxidental' way of thinking. The 'orient' is the other way around - first you experience and then comes the belief system. The second, orient type is very akin to science. Science also says, let me first know it, experience it and then I will believe it. So, that is why science and spirituality were never in conflict in the East. Their modes and methodology have been the same all the time. The yoga , the meditation and breathing is a step further, beyond the rituals. There it can unite. Not only that, your understanding of the religion that you are following becomes deeper and better.

3. There is a science conference coming up later in a couple of months. You have always stressed on giving spirituality a rational basis, isn't it?

Sri Sri : That has been our path of the vedanta, of the ancient darshanas. They were always rational and they always went step by step. Whether your knowledge is erroneous or correct, there is a whole shashtra about it. You see the sun setting, but is it really setting or not? Is your eye deceiving you? Is it an optical illusion or is it a reality? What is real? What is unreal? This whole thing is dealt in our scriptures, in our vedanta. So, it is free from dogma, it is a scientific, logical understanding of what truth is. And that scientific temper or enquiry must be encouraged. Unfortunately, that is not done as much as it should in our country. When they make movies like Matrix, based on the same principle of yoga vashishtha, people are watching them. But they need to know that all this knowledge is present in the ancient books. One of the most amazing books is yoga vashistha and people read that book and understand it with a certain silence, withmeditation. That broad avenue of understanding will open rightaway.

4. You have said that we need not be afraid of death because sleep and death are very similar. Like sleep energises you, invigourates you and gives you another day that starts again, death does the same thing. So, do you believe and accept rebirth?

Sri Sri : It is not just me, today it is proved beyond doubt and almost all psychiatrists use regression as a therapy. Past life regression is used all over the world. I think that time has gone when people used to wonder whether it is true or not, whether it is there or not there? For West it is a new discovery, but in the East it has always been there.

5. While you do believe in this, you do not subscribe to the fact that you do poonya (good deeds) in this life, in the next life, you evolve to a higher caste. That is notconnected to the way you see the concept of rebirth?

Sri Sri : No. Rebirth simply depends on the strongest impression on the mind. Even here, in the aashram, there is a boy who is just eight years old and he speaks four languages. He has never gone to school. He is a boy of a farmer. He speaks Sanskrit, Hindi, Oriya and English. He just closes his eyes and he starts talking. He talks deep knowledge and philosophy. I myself had this experience. I know Gita from when I was very young.

6. And you graduated in Physics?

Sri Sri : Yeah. Physics is very fascinating. In our Vashishta Priyadarshana, it said, Padarthanand moksha. Even if you know one particle thoroughly in the creation, you are liberated. The wealth we have is amazing. But unfortunately, we have ignored it and nobody knows it, nobody studies that. They are more interested in following the ritual without even understanding the ritual properly. But understanding them makes your life so much richer.

Related Links:

1. Guruji's Interview - CNN Video on Quest for Spirituality

2. Guruji's Talk on Science of Spirituality

The MASS is silent. Good people need to be more proactive, more dynamic...Sri Sri

MORE EXCERPTS OF GURUJI'S INTERVIEW :


SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR (AOL) WITH ANURADHA SENGUPTA (CNN-IBN), FEB 2006



1. You have said that relegion is like the skin of the bannana, spirituality is like the banana and we all left holding the skin. Why does that happen, why do we get so caught in the trappings of customs, rituals and symbols? As human beings, we seem to be, it is like a manufacturing defect.


Sri Sri : I don't think that it is a manufacturing defect. The nature has manufactured us perfectly. I think the maintainence department needs to take care.



2. There is this conflict of not being able to grasp what you have said - the values that all the religions preach are the same. And yet we do not seem to grasp this and civilisations seem to an end?


Sri Sri : You know, there are many people who do understand this. The thing is that they are very passive and the few who do not understand are very aggressive. That's how it all appears that the entire mass is not understanding and they are all fighting, everybody is in conflict. I don't see it that way. You speak to anybody from any religious background and they are all peace-loving, wonderful, good people. But it is just that there are fringe elements in every religion.



3. I feel that what you have just said is very interesting - the mass is silent. So, do you think that the mass is sort of shirking it's responsibility?


Sri Sri : It needs to be a little more proactive. The so-called 'good people'. I don't think that there are any bad people. I think that everybody is good. But the so called pious or good people need to be more dynamic. They are, there are people who are doing good work in the society, but they need to be more involved in bringing people together, bringing communities together. And the basic problem is stress and the lack of spirituality. It is because of the stress and the lack of spirituality that even the families are breaking up. Tension between husband and wife, tension between brothers; in a household if there are so many problems and court cases, what do you talk about communities who don't meet and keep themselves so apart. I feel that it is quite natural.

Effortless, natural, spontaneous, easy-flowing and yet so lucid and profound

EXCERPTS OF GURUJI'S INTERVIEW :
SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR (AOL) WITH ANURADHA SENGUPTA (CNN-IBN), FEB 2006





The Art of Living turns 25 this week and followers are trickling from all aver the world. There is a sense of expectation in the air and a sense of belonging. We are going to try and cut through this haze of feel good and find out what is like being Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Who is the man behind the Guru?



1. I know we are doing a longer interview, but on the eve of the Silver Jubilee celebrations, the three days, all the world leaders, 2.5 million people, to what purpose?
Sri Sri : What purpose? To reinstate the faith in human values and to dedicate our self to doing good in the society.

2. You have explained why people need a Guru and why they need to look up to somebody, to the philosophy. How do you keep the philosophy going when the charisma and the personality of the Guru have passed?
Sri Sri : You should go beyond the personality and charisma and go deep within to the silent corner of your heart, that's the main purpose.

3. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, this is such a wonderful week to be meeting you. 25 years of the Art of Living foundation, everything, the entire philosophy that you have given to so many people all over the world, how are you feeling right now?
Sri Sri : Before I used to feel very shy when people used to compliment me and adore me but now I don't, that's the only difference.

4. Is the man we know today as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, is he still there an individual or is he sort of completely subsumed or consumed by the Guruji?
Sri Sri : No Guruji is a relationship that others have. For me, it doesn't have any sense. I am just what I am. Like the tree, the stones, the nature is there, like that I am here. To me, I am not playing a role all the time or any time. Are you understanding what I am saying?

5. I think so.
Sri Sri : It is very difficult to put in words and make you understand. It is like you know you have a pain in your leg and you can't tell others what the pain is. You can't make them understand what the pain is, so it is very personal. Knowledge, that's why I say the knowledge takes you from being some body to being nobody, and from being nobody to being every body.

6. When you gave us the sudarshan kriya, did you come into your own as a spiritual leader or do this things not cross your mind at all? Because my questions are there where I am.
Sri Sri : I didn't intend to become a leader or to do something. I just let the nature take its course. I never had any ambition that I had to make organisation or build something. Not at all. Everything just simply kept happening. I am quite satisfied and fulfilled in myself.


7. I was talking to a few people who have had an opportunity to hear you and all of them say that when you speak, then they feel that you are speaking only to them, no matter how large the audience. So, you are a master communicator, isn't it? Isn't that the key skill? I want the key skill to propound your philosophy.

Sri Sri : I don't know whether it is a skill, I think that it is just my nature. I can't do any othe way.



8. You are just being very modest.

Sri Sri : No. I think that I am just myself. I'll never do anything that is not in my nature.



9. When you hold discourses, is it completely free flowing like water?

Sri Sri : Absolutely, I never prepare my speech. I don't prepare at all and I don't read at all. I just sit and sometimes I feel that there is nothing big in talking of what you have read and known. To talk something that you don't know is really beautiful. If you are talking from that intutive level of yourself, your speak own mind. Speaking from your memories is one thing, but when you speak from that nowhereness, it is where you are.



10. So, you are saying that acquired knowledge is nowhere close to where experience is?

Sri Sri : This is a secondary thing. But that which comes from your soul, from your heart, you also learn. It is spontaneous and it is invigourating.



11. When I came here, I saw all the preparations, I have been hearing about all the variety of people who are going to be there over the next few days. I asked one of yuor volunteers that it must be very stressful, isn't the Guruji stressful? And he started laughing and he could not relate to it at all. How could you not be stressed?

Sri Sri : Yeah, I understand that it is difficult to understand the situation. When you know that the power behind all that is happening in the world and you know that it is taking care of everything, there is no stress.



12. Stress of all these interviews, all the people, of the organisation, of time?

Sri Sri : Nothing stays.


13. I think we are going to let ypu go into the satsang, just one second. In the week of the 25th anniversary, I want you to leave us with something really special.

Sri Sri : Know that you are very special and be a very ordinary person.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Guruji on Terrorism - Interview to TOI







Anger is Energy... says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar urging Mumbaiites to channelise this energy after 26/11MARK MANUEL Times News Network (Times of India, Bombay Times, 08 Dec 2008, page 1.



This time, the smile of welcome didn’t quite reach Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s dark and mischievous eyes. The face was troubled, the mind still burdened by the pain of the hundred thousand people he had addressed the previous evening at Priyadarshini Park.

Some survivors of 26/11, others bereaved family members of victims, everyone a Mumbaiite let down by the state — all looking for a shoulder to cry on, a spiritual hand to apply the healing touch. That Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had already done. “I told Mumbai, if you stay with anger too long it will take a toll on your health, your mind, your thinking,” the Art of Living guru explained to me at the bungalow of Yash and Avanti Birla yesterday morning. “We need to channelise our energy,” he added. Energy or anger, I asked. “Anger is energy in a more proactive way,” he corrected, “and how to channelise it, is in itself a skill. There’s no point doing the extreme thing in anger and then regretting it. Or being passive and not doing anything at all. Find the inbetween path.”

He’s gone beyond the Art of Living and is into trauma relief around the world now. Like a healing wind with the spiritual touch, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has gone from Ivory Coast to Iraq and Kosovo to Kashmir, reawakening human values in people, making them violence-free, teaching them Gandhian principles, yoga, meditation. His lessons in spirituality are not just for victims of terrorist attacks, but also for survivors of earthquakes, floods, tsunamis.

But in Mumbai on Saturday, he was addressing terrorism. “Terrorists are ill-educated people with distorted, poisoned mindsets,” he said derisively. “It’s not true that the uneducated become tools of terrorism, or the poorest of the poor, but ill-educated people with hateful motivation. And they have to be addressed with words. Not guns. You just cannot quell violence with violence. But through dialogue, and spiritual education, I’ve seen this in Iraq.”

And what were politicians, I asked. “Politicians are narrow-minded people who, for the smallest gains of position and money, do things which later harm themselves and also the people,” he said in ill-concealed disgust and some anger.

What would he have done in Mumbai last week, I asked. Would he have been able to make the difference during the siege by engaging the terrorists in dialogue, by negotiating with them for the lives of the hostages, or convincing them to lay down the gun? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar regretfully shook his head. “You cannot learn archery on the battlefield,” he replied. “At that moment, the terrorist is not in the mood to talk, he is only in the mood to destroy.”

I asked what was the difference between spiritual education and religious, because the terrorists are Islamic jehaadis, boys indoctrined to become men with mindsets that believe the Quran okays mindless killings of innocents. “Spiritual education is different,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said, “it makes you a soft, gentle, caring person, it teaches you the principles of ahimsa... of nonviolence. We must teach these principles, the Indian ethos of peaceful coexistence, of inclusiveness, to our neightbours and the rest of the world.”

At this point of time when Mumbai was at the crossroads of change, when emotions were still ragged and the wounds of 26/11 yet festering, did we need spiritual education or an aggressive movement against violence? “Not just Mumbai, the whole of India needs an overhauling,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar answered. “In Mumbai’s case, just changing the Chief Minister will not help, the new man will take six, eight months to settle in and then make change. But, immediately, there must be a change in values — of the police, especially; a change in vision — of the people responsible for the city; a change in self — people must be true to the country and themselves; a change in sensitivity — people have woken up, but the spate of violence doesn’t touch all, we feel the heat only when the shoe pinches; and, a change in direction — let go of the past and go forward. Move on. Yes — the heart is heavy, but the healing touch will be complete only when hands unite and reconcile with the past.”

When I left him, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was smiling in welcome at his next visitors — Bollywood stars Kunal Kapoor, Dino Morea and the lovely Lara Dutta, but the smile still didn’t reach his eyes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beautiful Muktagiri


The YES!+ in Akola had an extra filling - a picnic to a small hill station called Muktagiri. It has a white marble Jain temple. There are more than 50 small temples with idols of all the Tirthankars.

Here are some more pics.
http://picasaweb.google.com/ask.saleel/PicnicMuktagiri

Love, Jai Gurudev
Saleel

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Guru Gyan - Feelings

So, a mental agitation, feeling, emotion is associated with some
physical sensation in the body and some specific point. All those
feelings in the mind has been transformed as feelings in the body at
the physical level, they dissolve through meditation. Meditation
transforms all the different emotions. When we remain as a small
pond, a stone will create a big ripple. If somebody says something
that can blow your peace off. So the peace is thrown off by people
around you. But when you become an ocean, even a big mountain
falling into it, does not affect it. Being an ocean, we behave like a
pond – that is the wonder. The greatest wonder is man who is an
ocean of peace and joy, behaves as though he is a little pond when
he is disturbed by any little small thing. The small somebody does
something that irritates you. You go crazy over little insignificant
things and that worries you over and over again, day and night for
several years. Once you are surrendered, there comes a depth in you
and nothing what so ever can throw you off.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Aurangabad - Conquest of Devgiri

Check this exciting photo album which says it all, take your time to read the captions carefully!! Watch it as a slideshow to Enjooooyyy!
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/ask.saleel/AurangabadYESDevgiriTrek
Cheers!
Saleel

Monday, July 28, 2008

Celebrating Mumbai Showers in Style




Football in the rains.


Water levels are going up not only in the lakes in Mumbai but also the gutters, nalas, drains, streets, grounds etc. It has been raining almost continuously from last 3 days. On Sunday (yesterday) our dynamic YES!+ teachers of GHATKOPARRRRRRR, Upasana and Manisha decided to get into action. They were quite high after attending long kriya conducted first time by brand new YES!+ teacher DHARA ( also from GHATKOPARRRRR.

2 hours of non-stop action, with bricks as goal posts, middle of a road as the football field, gutters as boundaries. Yes we did have injuries, fowls, red cards and the peak of excitement was when teams levelled scores in the last minute of the second half. So, yes, you guessed it right - Penalty shoot out. Upasanas team won 3-0!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hibernated in Satva

Hellooo.. everyone! So with that previous post (about Guruji in New York), I am back on the blog after a long hibernation. One month in the ashram in Bangalore was a 'knowledge-thirst' quenching and a 'satvik-soaking' experience.

Though I was all set to be on the YES!+ Advance course from 18 June, I decided to pull out and be with Bawa and Dinesh in the organising of the upcoming first ever YES!+ TTC. Basically it was an excuse to spend time with them, having retained the freedom to talk (avoided the silence of advance course ;-) ). Though I didn't do much, just being with them and observing them steer, engineer, alter, enhance, fine tune, improvise, guide and finally conduct the TTC was a great learning.

It was very gratifying to watch 111 young stalwarts emerge stronger and confident to take on the challenge of empowering the youth at large.

Late night feedback and planning discussions, sudden changes, running noses (mine even had clots due to excessive sneezing and blowing), sore throats, intense padmasadhanas, 'daanto-and-jhhaado' sessions, new range of sounds - with a tone of 'please have mercy' from Rashmins larynx (when tickled on the first three ribs), Bawas mouth watering recipes, Bawas magic tricks and Western Classical Music appreciation workshop, Bawas Mathemagic, Dinesh's wake up calls and leg massages, late night football with Dinesh and early morning stories with Vishwas bhaiya (which started late night) were amongst the other highlights.

With so much action, energy and satva packed in me I had a strong feeling, rather intuition, that the Aurangabad YES!+ course is going to rock! And what a BLAST it was!!! Highlights of that in the next post....you better get ready for some action...so fasten your belts and hold your breath............well.....doesn't matter, just let go and watch your breath, thats fine enough :-).

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Guruji in New York, 2002

An anonymous article of 2002, Gurujis visit to New York, US

To see for myself what it was all about, to find out why this frail, young man with the deep, dark eyes was so popular, I decided to go to one of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s talks in New York.

The huge synagogue on Manhattan’s west side was already filled to the rafters when I arrived. An enthusiastic group of young people sang bhajans and the audience swayed and sang along as though they were at a rock concert. There were people of every nationality, color and age group, dressed in a variety of clothes from blue jeans to silk saris and kurtas.

Many had already done the Art of Living course, a program of breathing, meditation and yoga that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has put together to “relieve stress, improve communication, develop leadership skills, increase vitality, expand awareness and increase enjoyment of life.”
Very soon, the guruji bounded up the steps to the stage, dressed in gleaming white silk, his long, dark hair forming a halo around his face. The resemblance to images of Jesus Christ was evident to more than a few in the audience.

“What should we talk about today?” he asked his audience. The suggestions were many and varied: “Peace,” “guilt,” “miracles,” “trust,” “who am I?” One woman, almost in tears, asked “Why is there so much evil? Why Sept. 11? Why? Why?” Another said, “Tell us a joke.” Guruji took them all in his stride.

In life, began Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, strength comes along with challenges. If we focus on the strength instead of the problems, we will become stronger. All the problems of the world are due to narrow-mindedness — a lack of a broad world vision and stress or lack of personal peace. A truly stress-free person will never harm anybody.

Even a small pocket of ignorance can endanger the world, the guru told his rapt audience. For instance, the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan was a prelude to the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar exhorted his audience to accept wisdom from every part of the world. The only true religion is love, he said.

The guru is given to long pauses. One of his books is called ‘Celebrating Silence.’ In the midst of his peroration, he stops for long intervals, gazes soulfully at the audience as though to draw strength from them and then goes on with his theory for a stress-free world. A stress-free mind and a disease-free body are the birthright of every human being. “People should learn how to handle their emotions,” he said. A lot of domestic violence is because people have not been taught, either at home or in school, to handle negative emotions or rid themselves of unwanted stress. Breath is the link between our emotions, our thoughts and our bodies. But, we must learn to control our breath.

Guruji went on to speak about rebirth, karma, and what he called “coffee karma” and “Hagen Daaz karma.” “Come back to your innocence,” he advised his audience. “We need to nourish the child within us.”

The event had been billed as ‘An Evening of Wisdom, Music and Deep Meditation,’ and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar answered questions from the audience with wit and humor, before leading them into a spell of meditation. There was a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his lips.

“What is the art of living?” someone asked. To appreciate life and to accept people as they are. His answers were short and to the point.

“When will you get married and start a family?” another asked, perhaps not aware that gurus are normally celibate. “The whole world is my family,” he replied, without missing a beat. “I don’t need to get married to raise a family.”

And to a questioner just about to get married, his advice was: “Don’t question the love of your spouse — do not demand proof of love from someone who loves you.”

This guru does not fit into the stereotypical mould. There was lots of laughter and lots of audience participation, but he did manage to get some serious points across.

In a subsequent interview at the luxury apartment of a devotee, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar amplified his philosophy. The essence of his message was simple, he said. “Keep smiling — even in tough times,” he told Desi Talk.

And times have certainly been tough after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Within days, volunteers from the guru’s Art of Living Foundation were in New York offering their healing powers and their stress-management techniques to fire-fighters, policemen and traumatized citizens.
Over 1,000 people have done the course in New York since 9/11, learning the deep relaxation techniques that bring relief from stress and anxiety.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Heaven

Jai Gurudev,

It feels great to be in the ashram (in Bangalore) after a long time. I was here this holi in March, but that was for advance course. This time I am not on any course, no fixed schedules to adhere to, just being to myself, chilling out with Bawa, Dinesh bhaiya and Vishwas bhaiya and other YES!+ ashramites Rashmin, JD, Devang. And the highlight of course is satsang with Guruji. The last time I spent like this in ashram was in 2006.


Yesterday the satsang happened in VM - Vishalakshi Mantap. @ 3000 people . There was no place to sit, many were standing. After a rocking 'Narayan Narayan Jai Jai Govind Hare' Guruji started answering questions.

Yesterday I was feeling ill and also worried about an issue. But when Guruji started talking it was as if layer by layer he removed the worrisome thoughts. He spoke about being alipt, meaning being untouched like the lotus though floating in water does not get wet, the water does not stick on to it, similarly we can stay in the world involved in material life and yet not be affected by it. This alipt state, was, for me the highlight of Gurujis talk yesterday.

A lady shared about having a cyst in her brain which has affected her speech. Normally when she does bhastrika she feels an unpleasant impact around the cyst, but yesterday when she did it in the advance course during Sudarshan Kriya, she felt very good.

A devotee asked, "Guruji, should I treat you as God? Whats the difference between God and you?"
Guruji said, "What difference do you see? (kuch pharak dikhta hai tumko?)". Everyone laughed. He then quoted, "Log kehte hai khuda nazarnahi ata, hum kehte hai khuda ke siwa aur kuch nazar nahi ata" and a thuderous appaluse and cheers followed.


He explained the meaning of pooja, the significance of idol worship and its various forms in different religions and answered a few more questions. I shall write more about it in the next post.

The atmosphere in the ashram is totally charged up with more than 2000 people staying, most of them are doing advance courses. There are almost 600 on the YES!++ and @ 1500 on the general advance course which has participants mostly from Punjab, Assam and Orissa; a few from the Gulf too. And guess what? - there are a handful of them from PAKISTAN tooo!

There is so much to write about todays satsang and the beautiful full moon meditation in the amphitheatre. ....later :-)

Love,
Jai Gurudev
Saleel

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

मराठी बाणा

मराठी बाणा
बर्याच दिव्सान पासून हे बघायच राहिल होत
Its a stage show. Yday we saw it finally at Kalidas Mulund.
What a brilliant presentation of Marathi folk music and dance, of marathi culture and tradition, the heritage of Maharashtra. Its a must see even for non-Marathi speaking people staying in Maharashtra.
It was sheer energy and intensity. Wish we had taken some pics.

My first violin lesson





Well...I have nothing to write about my first lesson....as all I could get the violin to do was screeching sounds of car breaks and horns of trains and a lil bit of puppies barking. Actually, I think its not all that bad....could well be a voiceover for animation movies ;-)

Monday, May 19, 2008

My first ANR in Jaipur

Guruji had cooled down Jaipur even before I reached there. 2 days before I reached there were light showers and drizzles. And the day I reached there was heavy rain with thunder and lightning.

Had an OSIM (read awesome) - that's how it was written in the feedback sheet: osim satsang. Just two bhajans, but it rocked.

The volunteer team led by Upasana had put up an excellent effort with super commitment. In the scorching heat of 45 degree Celsius, roaming in the afternoon giving talks and collecting registrations requires greater degrees of dedication!


Seeing Upasana, not only guide and lead the team in every way but also work at the grass root level, was truly inspiring.

Canvassing at 11 pm outside the cricket stadium after the IPL match was one of the highlights. Man of the match was VIPUL - you have to talk to him, better still meet him.

For security reasons the course could not happen. But I am sure this is the first course in the entire AOL tenure for which we have 475 fully paid registrations 3 months in advance!!! (UTSAV Jaipur has been rescheduled to 28 Aug' 08)

Love,
Jai Gurudev
Saleel

Meeting bomb blast victims in Jaipur

I accompanied Darshakji to two hospitals on 14th evening (almost 24 hrs after the bomb blast). The premises of the SMS (Sawai ManSingh) hospital was full of people, police, press, and lots of scocial groups. The RSS was the most active. They were the first ones to reach immediately after the blast. Very efficiently they had prepared thier own data of the victims, their family memebers, address etc; so well that the hospital authorities and govt was also using that data!

We also referred to the same and visited few patients. Darshakji gave healing. We visited another hospital where we got miraculous results. An old lady on wheelchair was able to stand up within 10 min of healing!!

The atmosphere was so depressing. There was so much pain everywhere, physical as well as emotional. On our return we got the mewa of seva - Guruji called up Darshakji to take an update of the situation. It was a blessing to hear his voice.

Love,
Jai Gurudev
Saleel

Friday, May 16, 2008

My birthday gift to myself!

Hello friends,

This is what I gifted myself today...a blog in my name. Always wanted to share a lot with my students, volunteers, colleagues and janta in general. Life has been very eventful and graceful (full of grace) since Nov 1997. The last one week also has been full of 'dhamakas' (well I am in Jaipur). Some highlights will be posted soon.

You can post your questions to me on ask.saleel@gmail.com

Love,
Jai Gurudev
Saleel