Shreya Chugh - Art of Living Experience

Posted on: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 | Posted by: Art of Living Universe

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I was born and raised in Bangalore, India. I went to Sri Aurobindo Memorial
School and hold a Masters degree in International Business. I’m an ardent lover
of adventure sports and hold the Kirmani Award for rappelling . I've also won
many accolades in white water rafting and trekking. My passion lies in graphic
design, photography, music, cartooning and painting. I’m currently working
as the National Coordinator for The Art of Living -Youth Empowerment programs
and focusing on teenage youth from all across India.

The ABC of My Master

My Friend - My Guide - My support - My ALL

I was raised on a golden platter with luxury at its highest peak! Money, gadgets, cars, 5 star hotels meant everything. I thought I owned the world. My ATTITUDE was up in the air until I met Ajay, who was my best friend at school and HIS UNCLE (His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar), mother– Bhanu Didi, Narasimhan Uncle, Amma– Gurudev’s mother, Pitaji – Gurudev’s father and Arvind! Not to miss, Chickoo - Ajay’s little pet dog !

Years passed by and I started to work for an Australian firm – Your Practice Online. Every day I would somehow feel I could be much more useful to the world in a different way. Every evening, I saw myself running back home, Ajay’s Uncle’s home – Sri Sri’s home! Often, I would visit the Art of Living International Ashram with Ajay, Pitaji and Amma to see Guruji. Initially, it was a picnic for me, a joy ride down the country side. In the ashram, I would sing, play, dance, meditate, serve and make new friends. All my friends were people from different countries, races, religions and backgrounds – This was an ideal place for me! My life! My Vision! My Expression! - An ideal Home! A One World Family!
After playing in the ashram, I would visit the Ved Vignan Maha Vidya Peeth school with Bhanu Aunty. This school was started by Guruji in 1986 with a handful of students and now it provides primary education to over 2000 students from over 20 villages around the ashram. The children studying in the school were mostly first generation learners. Aunty, Ajay, Arvind and I would visit the school very often and distribute books, uniforms and stationary to them. Aunty would listen to the children with such intensity and reply with such positivity, as if they were her own children. She herself would serve them their mid day meals. This was the atmosphere in the school. One always felt loved and at home. Bhanu Aunty inculcated great values in my life. From her, I learnt to love, to stretch my hand first and to share and care.

I heard Uncle – “His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar” once say - " Rich are those who share their food, richer are those who share their wealth, even richer are those who share their power and Richest are those who share themselves". This ONE statement Transformed my life, 180 degrees!

Guruji’s simple messages to me as a child gave such depth to my existence! He would call me aside and give me small responsibilities. I remember, one day during Shiva Ratri celebrations, in the center, He called me and told me to light the lamp that was placed on the stage. I went running looking for the match and some oil. It was a windy day and each time I lit the lamp, it would go off. He watched me with such love and care, that look in his eyes which said – go ahead! I'm here with u, it will light up! and there it did! He always taught me to do small things, with great love!

Some years later, the ashram was to celebrate the inauguration of its new Meditation Hall – The Vishalakshi Mantap. Dignitaries, Heads of States, Saints, Spiritual leaders, Industrialists, Farmers and Students, had to be invited. For this, an invitation card had to be designed. The ad agencies were approached and they came up with certain design formats. Gurudev, looked at the designs and immediately said, “Our shreya, she is very good, she will make a beautiful design". I looked at Him and wondered ' Where did He see such talent in me? I was a child! To design a card that would reach the world, inviting people, for this huge event?' He looked at me and asked "By evening it will be ready, right ?" I immediately, said ‘YES! Guruji ‘ With great confidence in my voice. I sat down to work, and it was done! I quickly took a color print and took it to Him. He looked at it with such appreciation and shared – "She is brilliant, right!" There were so many others in the room, who smiled and applauded! This is Guruji. He uplifts you. He sees the best in you. He gives you the freedom to express! He makes you aware of the impossibilities that you can do!

In time I started to volunteer for the the Youth Empowerment Seminars in Bangalore city. At the end of each course, I observed a beautiful change in the participants. There was so much belongingness, love, care, happiness, joy, celebration and smiles. People came together and broken homes got repaired! Relationships between parents and their children improved. I observed the same effects in my best friends who underwent the program. Then one day, I thought to myself, what am I doing? Guruji is doing so much for the society. He visits over 40 countries every year, transforming so many millions of lives. I can be of much more use. I decided to be an instrument of change! I wanted to bring a smile on every face! Guruji was arriving in Bangalore after 3 months. This time, there was only one thought in my mind. I wanted to ask him, if I could teach and before I did, He read my mind. He told me, “Go do YES!”. For a second, I didn’t understand what He said. As I walked down from his Kutir, I saw myself becoming a part of the Teachers Training Program.

I had decided, I will do something BIG. Guruji has always blessed me with such confidence and guided me in every step of my life, just like a father would do to his child. He gave me such FAITH, that nothing in the world seemed impossible. I had decided to be his BEST INSTRUMENT! His best teacher! 

My first challenge was going to Nagaland to conduct the YES program there. Before I left, I seeked His blessings for the youth of Nagaland - "I always prayed for a stress-free and violence-free world." As soon as I reached Nagaland (a small state in the fast east of India, troubled with insurgency ,drugs and AIDS), I organized Youth Empowerment Seminars. We had 50 youth to start with and have now reached out to several thousand. The training not only focused on building their personality and communication skills, but it also worked on their emotional and spiritual aspects as individuals. It inspired the participants to be free from violence, quit drugs, alcohol and smoking . Moreover they were inspired to volunteer for rural projects. The youth built homes for the homeless, organized health and cleanliness camps and also educated others about HIV- Aids.

In Nagaland, Guruji's teachings of love, practical wisdom, and service have promoted harmony among people, and encouraged individuals to come together, love each other and follow their chosen spiritual path, while honoring other paths. Guruji travels to so many countries every year to share his message of social responsibility, conflict resolution, disaster and trauma relief, prisoner rehabilitation, women's empowerment, female foeticide, child labor, and access to education.

Today, with His Love and Care, I have touched the lives of over a million youth.
How much ever I write, its only going to fall short. I sincerely believe that dedicating myself to this cause, I am surely fulfilling the purpose of my life.

My pranams to my Guru , Jai Gurudev!