Modi has been bashed unjustly for years and years: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Posted on: Friday, May 30, 2014 | Posted by: Art of Living Universe

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As a new government begins functioning at the Centre, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke with Narayani Ganesh on the swearing-in ceremony, managing political complexities — and steps towards good governance:

How did being at the swearing-in of the new PM and his cabinet at Rashtrapati Bhavan feel?

In ancient days, the gurus used to do the rajyabhishek to the raja, administering the oath. Today, it is the president. Still, in many countries, it is the bishop or cardinal who places the crown on the head of the king or queen. That is because wisdom is given first place. The wise have no personal agenda; they work for the welfare of humanity and so, they occupy first position. They practise what they preach.

But today, we're a secular democracy with multiple faiths, cultures and beliefs — wouldn't a guru administering the oath smack of Hindu nationalism?

I only told you what it used to be. Today, you saw leaders of different Saarc countries as invitees. So many religious leaders too were present. So, there's no question of any one religion dominating others.

We spiritual leaders are not there to give Narendra Modi any advice but to give moral and ethical support and ask him to be accountable for moral and ethical wrongs. Black money and corruption were our main concerns — and on the very first day of office, he addressed those issues. We've talked about promoting good governance.

How can the new government ensure good governance?

See, Arvind Kejriwal too had the same intention but his methods have not paid off. How does a leader take everybody along, without causing disturbance? That's the question. Conflict is unavoidable — that Modi invited all Saarc heads was a very wise thing to do. It got us international mileage and boosted good neighbourly relations.

But there are protests against Sri Lanka's Mahinda Rajapaksa and Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif being invited. Sometimes, we have to overlook these. We have to progress to step two.

But can we ignore firing at the border while Sharif was here and human rights violations against Tamils in Sri Lanka?

The situation is complex. Modi has inherited huge baggage, so we need patience and perseverance — overnight, no one can expect that everything will turn rosy. We have to deal with the thorns.

We definitely need a stable government with a majority mandate — no more khichdi government. Secondly, we need a person of good experience and with no selfish motives to lead the country.

We need to also promote soft diplomacy — encourage people-to-people contact rather than expect governments to step in every time. We need to have a vision of a global family beyond borders. The Art of Living has conducted courses in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. We have two orphanages in Sri Lanka and work there in many villages, camps, etc — we have good relations with Sri Lankans.

Modi did the right thing by inviting Rajapaksa. At the same time, you cannot blame Jayalalithaa and others for protesting as they have to respect sentiments of their people.

Nations are very complex entities — good leaders have to navigate these complexities with dexterity.

But there's the shadow of Godhra?

These accusations are all made up. Read Madhu Kishwar's writing on this. She has done good research. It calls the bluff of all Modi-bashers — he has been bashed unjustly for years and years.

He withstood all that and has come out with flying colours.

Source: TOI

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Food for the Soul

Posted on: Sunday, May 25, 2014 | Posted by: Art of Living Universe

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Meditation is the journey from movement to stillness, from sound to silence. The need to meditate is present in every human being because it is a natural tendency of human life to look for a joy that doesn't diminish, a love that doesn't distort or turn into negative emotions.

Is meditation foreign to you? Absolutely not. This is because you have been in meditation for a couple of months before your birth. You were in your mother's womb doing nothing. You didn't even have to chew your food -- it was fed directly into your belly and you were there happily floating in the fluid, turning and kicking, sometimes here and something there, but most of the time happily floating there. That is meditation or absolute comfort. You did nothing, everything was done for you. So there is a natural tendency in every human being, in every soul, to crave for that state when you are in absolute comfort. And getting back to that state which you have had a taste of, just before entering the hustle bustle of this world is very natural because in this universe everything is cyclic, everything wants to go back to its source. When the autumn season comes, the leaves fall and go back to the soil and nature has its own way to recycle them.

The natural tendency to recycle all that we have collected in day to day life as impressions, getting rid of them and getting back to the original state that we were in when we came on this planet is what meditation is. Becoming fresh and alive again is what mediation is. Getting back to that serenity which is your original nature is meditation. Absolute joy and happiness is meditation. Pleasure minus excitement is meditation. A thrill without anxiety is meditation. A love without hatred or any of its opposite values is meditation.

Meditation is food for the soul. When you are hungry, spontaneously you go to eat something. If you are thirsty, you want to drink some water. In the same way, the soul yearns for meditation and this tendency is in everyone. That is why I say, there is not a single individual on this planet who is not a seeker. It's just that they don't recognize it. The problem is that we try to look for that food where it is not available. It is like going to a grocery shop when you want to fill gas in your car. You keep going round and round the grocery store saying, "I want gas for my car." It won't work, because you need to go to the petrol station. So, that right direction needs to be found. Meditation happens in transition. Actually meditation happens, you can't do it. You can only create a congenial atmosphere for it to happen.

Meditation is uplifting the energy and mind and spreading it out. Whenever you have been happy, that happiness has been associated with a sense of expansion. And whenever you have felt miserable, that has been associated with a sense of shrinking or contraction. There is something in you that expands when you are happy and contracts when you are unhappy. But we never pay attention to what is contracting and expanding. We only keep our attention outside. We have not paid attention to the reason. One of the sages of the past, Gaudapadacharya, said, "There is something in you that is expanding that is worth knowing." Even a glimpse of this consciousness, this energy inside you can make the smile on your face so strong that nothing whatsoever can take it away from you. Nobody can make you miserable; nobody can take away the joy from your life. Life assumes another dimension suddenly -- just a glimpse of this, an idea about that something inside us that is expanding. You don't have to leave things here and go. Just being amidst all the noise and still recognizing that beauty, that thing that's so beautiful, so wonderful, so fascinating, right here and now is meditation. The peak, the most supreme type of prayer is meditation. All powers are hidden within the Self and everything will manifest when you connect to your consciousness.

Join global humanitarian and peace ambassador Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lead a live meditation on "I Meditate Africa." "I Meditate Africa" is an initiative that is aimed at promoting peace in the African continent by encouraging the use of meditation as a mainstream peace-building tool.

Log in on May 25, 2014, at 11:00 am CAT (Central African Time)/2:30 am IST (Indian Standard Time) for a 30 minute session at

Source: Huffington Post

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I can't afford to be apolitical

Posted on: Monday, May 19, 2014 | Posted by: Art of Living Universe

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If India is the spiritual heart of the world, as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has often said, the spiritual leader is easily one of its most recognizable faces. As head or "inspiration" like he likes to call himself, as Art of Living Foundation (AOLF), an educational and humanitarian group, he has gathered millions of followers across 152 countries.

On the day we are to meet the 58-year-old and his sister Bhanumathi Narasimhan, 56, at the sprawling AOLF headquarters in Udayapura on the outskirts of Bangalore, he is busy with visitors at a building that's a short walk from the Secretariat. Sunk into a sofa, his diminutive frame shrouded in white flowing robes manages to command attention. A handful of followers are seated on the floor beside him, Bhanumati is on a chair to his left, smiling. She says this is the first time she has agreed to a joint interview with her brother.

This is the sibling whose divinity she claims to have experienced all her life. There are too many instances to share, she says, casting a sidelong look at him, while he waits for her reply. "When he was eight, he'd tell me that people are waiting to see him. I'd listen and simply nod. Then when we travelled abroad in 1989, everyone he met said the same to him — Gurudev, we were waiting to see you. That's when it struck me how he had divined that people were waiting for him."

Sri Sri smiles.

Born to Visalakshi Ratnam and RS Venkat Ratnam, an automobile businessman in Papanasam, Tamil Nadu, Sri Sri remembers being eager to visit temples all through his childhood. "And all she was interested in was good food and nice dresses," he laughs. Bhanumathi blushes and admits she had a weakness for fried eats. "She still does," he says, pulling her leg.

During the 1980s and '90s, Bhanumathi would accompany Sri Sri on his spiritual tours to foreign countries. "But I travel so much, she can't keep up with it," he points out. She has chosen to settle into her role as Director, AOL's women and children programmes wing, managing 175 rural schools and schemes for women empowerment.

Often, Bhanumathi is credited for being AOL's financial brain. "No, no. Luckily she doesn't manage finance," Sri Sri interrupts. "Nor do I. Left to us, AOL wouldn't have become as big as it has. It is my team that is responsible," he says with self-deprecating humour. At this moment, he sounds like the head of a conglomerate, not very different from how ex-Infy man Mohandas Pai identified him. Forget business houses, he had said. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the man who runs the biggest empire, was his opinion.

Mahatma Gandhi, who influenced his family and childhood, is always a subject for robust debate. Sri Sri's paternal grandfather is said to have stayed at Sabarmati Ashram and served Gandhi for 20 years after his wife moved to her parents' home, handing him 10 kilos of gold jewellery saying, "I will take care of the children. You go and serve the country." In fact, Sri Sri's teacher Pt. Sudhakar Chaturvedi was also Gandhi's tutor, having taught him the Bhagavad Gita. We examine what Gandhi said about spirituality and business. 'When any organization or individual has too much money, they lose their spirituality.' Sri Sri ponders and counters. If poverty is the cause of spirituality, the poorest African countries would be spiritual. That isn't so, he says. Money and spirituality are two dimensions, and have little to do with each other. "But money should not overpower humaneness," he says, and Bhanumathi nods.

Have they always agreed on such core issues or were there bloody fights? "Never!" is his emphatic answer. The good-natured fighting was with their mother, says Sri Sri. "I have lost my temper precisely nine times in my life, and I remember each instance." One was in 2004 when Sri Lanka was struck by the tsunami. Materials from AOL weren't distributed for a whole day because the person responsible for disbursement was waiting for a camera to document the distribution.

Those nine instances apart, Sri Sri is a man known for his witty repartees and calm spirit. Not many spiritual leaders are known to extol their followers with: Don't take life too seriously. You will never come out of it alive.

"You have to relax, free your mind," he says. "When I look at certain TV shows and watch people laugh when someone on stage falls, I wonder if that's humour. Wit can't be cultivated. It has to come naturally to you."

'Naturally' is also the word used for funds that flow in from across the world to propel AOL's projects. "It is Divine grace. I am not good at marketing. When you start something with good intent, money will come. Various AOL centres are constantly engaged in wonderful projects and sometimes, I receive information on them only once they are completed. It's hard to keep track. But my job is not to manage, it's to inspire."

Bhanumathi has remained silent for most part of the interview, but Sri Sri cannot enjoy that luxury. We veer to a discussion on his political leanings. Anything he says is fodder for the media, especially when it has to do with governance or politicians. When he was questioned about Modi's Gujarat model, he acknowledged the government for providing water and electricity. Immediately, he says, he was branded pro-Modi. If he were to remain silent, he would have been called pro-Congress, he laughs.

"I can't afford to be apolitical," Sri Sri ruminates. But it's issues that concern the common man and society at large that catch his interest. Corruption and the hoarding of black money, for instance, are top of mind. And, of course, the viciousness characteristic of the 2014 elections concern him. Before we leave, we have a pressing question. Has he thought of a successor? Bhanumathi shakes her head. Sri Sri falls silent again, before asking,"You mean, after me?"

"No, I haven't."

Source: Bangalore Mirror

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I Meditate Africa - LIVE Webcast

Posted on: Sunday, May 18, 2014 | Posted by: Art of Living Universe

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"Even if 1 percent of the population meditates, it benefits the rest of the 99 percent." - Sri Sri

I Meditate Africa - A Global Peace Meditation Initiative for Africa, by Africa!

Join the LIVE webcast for the peace meditation with Sri Sri on 25 May at 11:00 am CAT | 2:30 pm IST on

Details of event available at:

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Are you Happy?

Posted on: Thursday, May 15, 2014 | Posted by: Art of Living Universe

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Every living creature wants to be happy. Whether it is money, power or sex, you seek it for the sake of happiness. Some people even seem to enjoy misery because it gives them happiness!

To be happy, you seek something. But despite getting it, you are not happy. A schoolboy thinks that if he goes to college, he will be more independent, free and, therefore, happy. When you ask a college student whether he is happy, he feels that if he gets a job, he will be happy. Talk to somebody who is settled in his job or business, and you may find that he is waiting to get a perfect soul mate to be happy. Then what? When he gets a soul mate, he now wants a child, to be happy. Ask those who have children, if they are happy. They respond that how can they relax until the children have grown up and have had a good education and are successfully settled on their own? Ask those who are retired if they are happy? They long for the days when they were younger.

All of one's life is spent in preparing to be happy someday in the future. It's like making your bed all night, but having no time to sleep in it. How many minutes, hours and days of your life have you spent being happy from within? Those are the only moments you have really lived life. Those were perhaps the days when you were a small kid, completely blissful and happy or a few moments when you were surfing, swimming or sailing or on a mountain top, living in the present and enjoying it.

There are two ways of looking at life. One is thinking: "I'll be happy after achieving a certain objective." The second is saying: "I am happy come what may!" Which one do you want to live by? Life is 80% joy and 20% misery. But you hold on to the 20% and make it 200%! It is not a conscious act, it just happens. Living in the moment with joy, alertness, awareness and compassion is enlightenment. Being like a child is enlightenment. It is being free from within, feeling at home with everybody, without barriers.

Don't judge and don't worry about what others think of you. Whatever they think, it is not permanent. Your own opinion about things and people keeps changing all the time. So why worry about what others think about you? Worrying takes a toll on the body, mind, intellect and alertness. It is like an obstruction that takes you far away from yourself. It brings fear, and fear is nothing but the lack of love. It is an intense sense of isolation.

Relaxing through meditation and breathing exercises can handle this. When one is relaxed, one realizes that they are loved, and connected to everybody, and are a part of the whole universe. This will liberate you and the mind will completely shift. You will then find so much harmony around.

To find harmony, it is not as if you have to physically seek it by sitting somewhere for years. Whenever you are in love, your mind is in the present, you feel joyous. At some level, to some degree, everybody is meditating without being aware of it. There are moments when your body, mind and breath are all in harmony. That's when you achieve yoga. The Art of Living lies in the present moment.

Source: Huffington Post

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Every Stone is Precious

Posted on: Sunday, May 11, 2014 | Posted by: Art of Living Universe

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A sculptor for a temple uses all types of stones.

Certain stones he uses for the foundations. These never appear outside.

From certain stones which are good to carve, the sculptor makes the walls and pillars of the temple.

From other stones he makes the steps.

Certain stones become the tower of the temple.

Only those stones which are extremely suitable for carving will become installed as the Deity.

When a stone becomes part of the temple, it no longer remains a stone. It becomes sculpture, art - it becomes the Living Deity.

In the same way, many people come to the Master. According to the degree of their surrender, they are installed by the Master.

All are essential.

If there were no steps, how could a person reach the temple?

If there were no foundation, how could the temple be there at all?

What can a tower do without pillars?

For a sculptor, each stone is precious and valuable.

Source: The New Indian Express

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13th May - Live Webcast of Sri Sri's Birthday Celebration from Bangalore Ashram

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Dear ones,

Service spreads happiness, and happiness brings peace.

This May 13th, on the occasion of Sri Sri's birthday, we honour the spirit of selfless service that he has epitomised and invite you to a special webcast.

Celebrations begin 6:30 pm IST onwards at

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Birthday Celebration at Bangalore Ashram

Posted on: Saturday, May 10, 2014 | Posted by: Art of Living Universe

Subscribe to Sri Sri Updates Sri Sri's Birthday Celebration at Bangalore Ashram

Dear ones,

Art of Living International Ashram invites you to be a part of the Birthday Celebrations with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on 13th May 2014.

Events scheduled:
  • 8am -10am: Clean Bangalore Program Inauguration
  • 11am: Annadanam
  • 6pm - 8:30pm: Birthday Special Satsang at Guru Paduka Vanam

For more details call: 080 67262626 / 27 / 28

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Inaugurates Rehab Centre at Sakra World Hospital

Posted on: Friday, May 2, 2014 | Posted by: Art of Living Universe

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living organization, inaugurated the integrated rehabilitation centre at Sakra World Hospital and also addressed the gathering about the 'live well, work healthy' approach. Mr. Toshimasa Yashima, Managing Director, Sakra World Hospital was also present at the inaugural ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said, "Patients become better through the environment around them. Sakra is creating such an atmosphere favourable for patients' speedy recovery. Japan is known for its hospitality, keen work, and precision. India is known for its human values, encompassion and kindness. Sakra blends both to give the best hospitality. Doctors once they relax and meditate during their breaks improve their efficiency."

Source: PR Newswire

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Download Sri Sri Calendar - MAY 2014

Posted on: Thursday, May 1, 2014 | Posted by: Art of Living Universe

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Dear ones,

Download MAY 2014 Calendar with beautiful picture of Sri Sri (Gurudev), by visiting the Art of Living Universe website :

PS: Send us a blank email to and get notified as soon as the new calendars are uploaded.

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