Nature has taken 4.5 billion years of evolution to set the stage for the drama of Human Life.
A planet colliding into Earth, Meteor bombardment for more than 20 million years, volcanic eruptions for longer than that, Ice ages lasting 100 million years or more, the dinosaurs being destroyed after being on the planet for 165 million years, mass extinctions, acid rains, earthquakes and tsunamis of ferocity greater than anything we could even dream of … You name the catastrophe, it has happened. All of this slowly nudging our planet over the millennia to become compatible to sustain us, along with approximately 8.7 million other species that also call Earth their home.
Global warming is a very serious threat to life as we know it. The temperatures on Earth are higher than they have been in the last 1000 years and the accumulation of green house gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, in the atmosphere more than what has been in the last 500,000 years. All this has happened in the last 50 years. We have managed to bring ourselves to the edge of destruction in just the last 50 to 100 years.
If things continue the way they are now, we may go virtually extinct. Our version of life will become History…
The good news is that more and more people are becoming aware of how their life style choices affect the planet and the lives of millions of others, and are making conscious, healthy decisions that are planet friendly. Amazingly these choices also contribute to vastly improved quality of life and personal health for these people and those around them.
The Moon has been watching over us since our first baby steps as a species, and frankly, we have given her more reason to frown and cry as we devastate Earth.
This Guru Poornima, let’s make the Moon smile.
We have compiled a short ebooklet of things you can do from now on to improve the quality of your life and tread gently upon this wonderful planet of ours – Spaceship Earth!
Please download by clicking here.
This ebooklet will be updated once in a while, so if you leave your email id, anytime it’s updated, we will send you an email alert. Finally, if you feel there are any other things that an individual can do that need to be added to this list, please drop us a mail to email@example.com and we may add your suggestion in the next update.
Dinesh and I had been having a super healthy diet and exercising at the ashram gym almost everyday for 40+ days. So when we were invited to address the students of Maharashtra Vidyarthi Sahayak Mandal (An old educational institution, estb. 1927) in Poona for their commencement day, we jumped at the opportunity to go gallivanting around Poona and Bombay for a few days.
Of course, it was a superb talk, appreciated by everyone present. It was a packed auditorium, with people standing and sitting in the aisles and even on the stage! They were mainly 11th and 12th standard students and I loved the way they took to the Knowledge and how effortlessly they meditated. Pin drop silence through out the 20+ minute long meditation says a lot about the readiness of our country’s young people to dive into themselves!
Dinesh talked about what they could do for themselves in their own homes and for the people around them. How they could create a career of their dreams and what they could contribute to our country and our planet. He imparted a beautiful vision of how their life could be.
Poona is not Poona without going to various fantastic eateries – There is Kalyan Bhel where we started off, then a fantastic little kulfi shop (best kulfis in the world according to me) tucked away in a little corner, almost impossible to find unless you know where you are going, Kayani’s Bakery, THE venerable bakery which has remained unchanged for the 45 years I have been on the planet, for mouth wateringly delicious Parsi biscuits and cakes (The one big upgrade is, these days, they actually make some stuff without eggs!!!).
I enjoy eating at Stone Water Grill, but they have become very snooty off late, requiring a dress code. I prefer to wear what I want and eat what I like, especially if I am paying for it. They turned us away last time because Dinesh was wearing his German Birkenstocks (sandals) which are actually more stylish than most people’s shoes. So we didn’t go there, choosing to go to Dario’s instead. Dario’s, a superb Italian restaurant which always leaves one wondering why God created us with such small stomachs! Definitely have the ravioli and the panna cotta here, they are outstanding.
Amit and Seema as usual fussed over us and pampered us at their cozy home. The icing on the cake was of course Cocoa, their adorable golden retriever… There is nothing quite like being woken up in the morning by the wet licks of a dog who loves you
From Poona, we took the magical monsoon train ride through the enchantingly beautiful Sayadhris. The mountains and forests come to verdant life as the rain makes nature explode in shades of green you may have never seen before – from the deep green of the trees in the forests to a blindingly fluorescent green of fresh grass growing by the mountainsides.
Add to that majestic waterfalls all around you and baby streams of water that splash you, pristine and pure as the train moves through tunnels. A thick cloudy fresh mist that delights your lungs as the train moves through spaces normally reserved for planes.
After all that wonderful nature, the contrast of Bombay at first seems almost too much on the senses. But, one gets used to it pretty quick. We stayed with Shibani who fussed over us even more. I had a long, relaxing hair spa at Taj Land’s End gifted to me by Shweta, which transformed my hair from the semblance of a broom to feeling luxurious and lustrous.
We had dinner at Flamboyante a restaurant at the World Trade Centre, which was good, but nothing to write about, so I won’t. Jimmy Boy, a parsi speciality place denied us entry into their AC section, so we didn’t eat there and went to my dad’s favourite place, Cafe Mocambo. In case you are wondering, they have a drink called Mocambo Khush Hua
A lovely Dhansakh and Lasagna later, we took a car ride along the sea faces and marvelled how the choppy sea managed to look so much like sugarcane juice! Next time, check it out and tell me if you agree.
Shibani took us to this little tea shop, San-Cha Tea Boutique somewhere in the gullies of Kala Ghoda.
A charming little place, tastefully done up. Bright and cheery. They allow you to taste all their teas before you buy them. Mostly green and white teas, all full of good for you anti oxidants, etc… All wonderful to smell, all an acquired taste to actually drink. Almost all of them were shades of varying bitterness.
For dinner on our last evening in Bombay, we had a small party at Trattoria, the Italian restaurant of the Hotel President. Trattoria is always very, very good. But that evening, they outdid themselves. The food was beyond excellent. This was inspired cooking! The mushroom soup was silken and the delicate scent of truffle was unmistakable. The spinach and ricotta cannelloni was baked to golden brown perfection with a killer tomato sauce. The pizzas were an absolute delight. Even Dinesh who tags along to the Italian places I love to go to (always preferring a more Indian fare), commented that it was one of the best dinners he had had in a long time. After the meal, the manager comes up to me and says, “Jai Gurudev!”. He said he had watched a lot of our videos online and that had prompted him to learn to meditate and do the Art of Living course. The pilot of our aircraft also came to me while we were collecting luggage and shook my hands and said, “Great fan, great fan!”. Gowri, Abhi, Mayur, hope you guys are listening.
I also learned to make Malido. It’s a parsi sweet, supposed to be had after a jashan (a parsi Pooja). It’s the only reason most parsi kids (possibly adults as well) actually sit thru the long ceremony and manage to more or less “behave themselves.” Of course, being parsis, many don’t wait for the jashan to have their delectable malido.
There are very few people who know how to make it really well. Nergish Aunty has been making it for 35 years. She graciously shared her recipe with me and taught me how to make it. Look out for it at Cafe Vishala next time you are at the ashram!
BTW, we also managed to squeeze in time to watch Minions. It’s completely crazy and sooooooo funny. Put your brains aside and go watch it with as many friends you can muster. You will have a rollicking good time!
Thanks a lot to Amit, Seema, Shibani, Shweta, Milan, Neeti, Chandra, Bhushan, Alok, Anjana, Vivek and many, many others who love us. They welcome us and take such good care of us whenever we go and stay with them.
We are indeed blessed to have such wonderful people to love and who in turn love us so very much.
bawa n dinesh
Possibly the biggest mistake you make in your life is to get great marks in your 10th standard board exams. In India, if you get great marks in 10th standard, you automatically study science. Mediocre marks means commerce, and terrible marks means arts. Never mind that you may be interested in Shakespeare. You got 90% in 10th. Study calculus.
You foolishly listen to your parents and the rest of your family when they press you to study hard for that most “important” year. After this, everything is set, they say. Not really. A year later you have to study even harder for the “crucial” year 12th standard. Repeat your performance in 10th. Do it even better. Then you will have nothing to worry about. Then you will be happy!
So you slog it out. 12th standard – super grades. Crack the JEE and get into IIT. Here is where the happiness is supposed to start. The first thing that happens to you when you get into most IITs is you get 15 pairs of dirty undies to wash. As you wash those undies, a smile lights up your face as you think, next year someone is gonna wash my undies. Next year everything will change. Next year I will be King. I will be the boss. I will be happy.
It’s next year now. The authorities have made it very clear that if a senior even breathes near a freshie, they will take drastic action, which could include expulsion, even worse than that, fines of more than Rs 50k! No more Ragging is the new motto of your IIT.
No one to wash your undies. Doesn’t matter. You decide, IIT sucks anyways. I will be happy when I get out of here. 3 more years to freedom. Freedom from dumb profs, idiotic assignments, petrifying exams and most importantly horrible, terrible, appalling, grisly, ghastly mess food!
Fast forward 3 years. The last exam in IIT. Come back to the hostel in utter euphoria which quickly turns into anxiety, coz you don’t have a job, a call to an IIM or an admission in that university in the US. I will be happy if I get any one. Please God, just anything. Even Infosys will do.
Prayer answered. You got a fabulous job. Great money. In a month, you realise IIT was infinitely better. Your boss definitely had past lives as a prof in IIT. Maybe, even the food was better. I will be happy when I get my dream job.
Got it. Bad dream. Nightmare actually.
I will be happy when I get a P.hD. So apply, get into a “prestigious” institute. Slog another 5 years or so. I will be so bloody happy when people call me Doctor. They do. And then they sneer… oh, you are not a medical doctor. Not even a dentist. Hmmmm…
Need a wife/husband now. I will be happy when I can legitimately have sex. I will be happy when I get married. Ok, so get married. You are deliriously happy for about 4 hours. Good food finally!!!
Then the fight happens. And another, and another, and another… There are tender moments of course, and love and all that… But the predominant question in your head is “Do mother in laws have past lives as IIT profs?!”
Everyday it’s the same thing. Happy for a few seconds if you are stars are behaving themselves, otherwise work, eat, sex (if you get lucky), sleep … Rinse and Repeat.
I am sure we will be happy if we have children. 3 years later, 2 bags with cute faces, beautiful eyes and an amazing smile… whose sole purpose seems to be to leak. They leak from everywhere. I will be happy when these kids stop leaking. Or at least go leak in the right places.
I will be happy when they start to walk and talk…
3 years later: Sit down. Sit DOWN!!! SIT in one place. Can’t you sit still??!!!
OH GOD! I will be happy when these kids go to school and I have my life back. School is God’s gift to parents. When will they go to school?!!!
I will be happy when their homework is done.
I will be happy when they pass out of school.
I will be happy when they get into IIT. I washed undies, they should wash undies.
No way young man, no way are you getting married to that girl. I will be happy when he chooses someone I like to get married to. What?? You want to get married to him? You are bisexual. Bisexual?!! Right…
I will be happy when… I retire and all this will be behind me. Woody Allen says Comedy is just tragedy + time. I want the + time NOW!
I will be happy when I have grand children.
I will be happy when they are grown. What a fine young man he is!
I will be happy when.. when… when…. How come it’s all dark?
And now it’s sooooo bright…
We have always wondered if the expression on a dead person’s face is that of surprise (wha… it’s over??!!!) or that of peace…
Be happy now. Not later. Not tomorrow. Not when you get that promotion. Not when you go on a vacation. Not after this last exam. Not after your mother in law dies. Not after retirement… Right Now. That’s all you really have. Happiness is never in the destination. It’s in the journey.
Riley is a 10 year old, with loving parents, a lovely home and great friends. Then one day, out of the blue, the entire family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco.
Riley has to deal with living in a much smaller and a very dingy new house, a new school and new friends. On top of that her loving parents suddenly don’t seem to be giving her attention any more. Her father’s business is not working the way it should have and both the parents are utterly stressed out. Her best friend from back home in Minnesota has suddenly found another friend… the list goes on. This is a lot for a fragile 10 year old to deal with.
The movie could have been another humdrum take on these rather everyday occurrences in many of our lives.
The good folk at Disney and Pixar give it an utterly enchanting twist, by taking us on an adventure inside the heads of the various protagonists while all these things are happening on the outside.
We all hear voices in our heads, right? What if these were real people with distinct personalities, managing us and our reactions and responses to the overwhelming circumstances that could happen in our lives?
How does a breakdown happen? How could a person bounce back from that breakdown to their normal, vibrant self?
That’s the real story of the movie. It’s a very serious topic, dealt with a supremely light touch.
It also answers the eternal question – What’s the purpose of sadness?
And dramatically establishes one of Art of Living’s key contentions “Opposite values are Complimentary”
Don’t make the mistake of dismissing this movie as another animated movie from Disney. It has amazing depth and though I am sure children will enjoy it, more mature people will appreciate it even more!
BTW, there is a very cute little short film called Lava that they show just before the main feature. Be on time, so you don’t miss it.
Khushi had a bike accident and broke her leg in awkward places. There was a long operation and now she is having an even longer recovery period. She calls me up now and then complaining about the excruciating pain that physio therapy causes her. She loves dancing and all I tell her is to remember how it feels to dance and just go through the pain… The last phone call she was a lot more chirpy, I think finally she is feeling much better.
She had written this poem. She said it was a childish attempt. But like a child, it has a sweet charm all of it’s own. Here it is for all of you to read
At times I’m merry
Everything around me so cheery
At times I’m sad
And my mood is really bad
At times I’m bizarre
Whatever happens I don’t care
At times I’m haughty
And at others I’m naughty
At times I wonder
Why do I have so many questions to ponder?
At times I feel empty inside
And I wish God would be on my side
At times I want my life to be pleasant like a song
But something here and there keeps going wrong
At times I’m really confused
And my mind gets almost fused
At times I want to fly
And just touch the silver sky
At times I question “why me?”
And what went wrong I’m unable to see
At times I spend a lot
And I wonder whether I’ll earn that much or not?
At times I cry
Wondering why people don’t give understanding me a try?
At times I’m with Santa, in my fairy land
In those blue skies, green fields and the beaches near the lovely sand
At times at the top of my lungs I want to shout
At others I just laugh, sing, dance and generally move about
At times I really miss my mom
And my heart yearns for things to be normal back home
But in the end I think it’s not just me
There are times when you’ve all felt just like me
There may have been times when I was sad or in doubt
But I really really REALLY love the way my life has turned out
– Khushpinder Kaur Sangha
We were taking a late night walk with Gurudev in Radha Kunj. Beautiful, secluded and enchanting at all times, but even more so at that time.
He was holding 2 beautiful lotuses in His hand and suddenly He said see you can smell a fragrance from these lotuses. You normally don’t get any smell from a lotus… Isn’t it amazing these have a fragrance?
We were all going wow to each other … another little show off miracle just for us, when… He walked a little further, turned back, smiled mischievously and said maybe they had left the lotuses with some jasmine flowers and they have picked up the fragrance.
There is a lesson here… Just staying with the ones who have fragrance, you will also become fragrant!
Of course a little later, the same lotuses started smelling of champa!
Gurudev will have taken 59 trips around the sun today. This year, He almost played a trick on all of us. It was originally “planned” that He would fly in on the 13th of May from Germany to Bangalore. So neither the devotees in Germany, nor the ones in India could be with Him on His birthday.
We were all quite upset about it. He would spend this precious day in the air with a few hundred people, most of whom would not even know it’s His birthday. We consoled ourselves saying, it is His birthday, and He should get to decide what to do on this day.
The last time He was in Bangalore for His birthday, He spent the entire day and a big part of the night, meeting the few lakh people who had come to the ashram to be with Him on that day. He must have been so physically drained after that. It’s definitely not how I would choose to celebrate my birthday for sure!
So in a way, spending the day on a plane, 35000 feet above planet Earth, relaxing, meditating and sleeping would have actually been a superb idea…
Then there were some whisperings in the ashram grapevine. Don’t tell anyone, but you know something?! HE is going to be in ashram on the 13th. Don’t tell anyone I told you… Of course soon it was the most talked about secret, and when ashram admin started to clean up Yagyashala, we knew for sure He was going to be in Bangalore on 13th May!!!
He always says all days are special. It’s how you live them… and all that. Still, a birthday is a birthday and for some unknown reason, I simply feel wonderful, or more wonderful than I normally do on my birthday.
This year in true South Indian style, we are having almost a mini navaratri with Poojas and Homas through out the day for love, peace and joy in the world, and in true Art of Living style, the ultimate party in the evening – Satsang with Gurudev!
Also, in true Guru style, He is giving all of us a very special gift. On 15th, 16th and 17th of May, just a day after His birthday, He Himself is going to teach the Art of Living Happiness program! Not once, but twice in the day – 6:00 am to 9:00 am and 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. There will be a few thousand wonderfully lucky people who will attend these courses with Gurudev and go back with stories to tell their grand children. I would say it’s worth flying down from the US to attend these courses. He doesn’t do this too often, and when He does, history happens.
Happy Birthday Gurudev!! You always manage to overwhelm us giving us more than we expect, before we expect, and when we absolutely don’t expect!
Bawa n Dinesh
I keep telling people to do something new. So I decided to do something new. I started to learn how to use Final Cut Pro, the film editing software for the mac.
For Abhi’s birthday I made him a video. Mayur shot the video on a cell phone, the music is by Prasanna and the editing is by me!!!
Recently I was asked a question, “How do I know the path I have chosen is right for me?”
You have to make it the Right path.
When do you need to make a choice? When you have two or more options, and all those options are equally good. If any option is even just a mite better than all the others, there is no confusion, simply choose that one and be done with it. Confusion arises when every option in front of you is equally enticing. Then you go into the infinite loop of What iffing, and spend too much time sitting on the fence, not willing to commit yourself anywhere. My advice is, if you are faced with equally good options, don’t think too much, just choose one. Anyways they are all equally good, so how does it matter what you choose!
Actually, it’s not so difficult to choose. The difficulty is to stick to your choice. As soon as you choose one, all the others start to look light years better. This is a habit of your mind. Most of what it has, it doesn’t want. Most of what it doesn’t have, it craves for. Recognize this and stick with your choice.
Remember the last time you went a to good restaurant? Remember how you went over the menu 16 times before ordering? And after finally deciding what you wanted, placing the order and having your meal bought to your table, remember how the food on other tables looked so much more mouth wateringly good? Chances are most of the people on the other tables are probably looking at your meal and having the exact same thoughts you are having!
When faced with a choice, quickly decide. Then make the choice work for you! Believe that you have made the best choice possible. Close yourself to the other options, knowing that they are no longer available. This is what you have. This is what you have chosen. This is the best. Right away it may not seem so. Trust yourself and go ahead. In time, you will realize that the particular path you chose was really the perfect one.
Gurudev said it so beautifully. All ways don’t lead you (to the goal).Only One way does!
PS The Ultimate “Right” Path is that of Sadhana, Seva and Satsang. When you walk this path diligently, you will not go astray.
Nasturtium is a pretty plant that grows very easily with very little care and has gorgeous orange and yellow flowers. What I didn’t know till now, was that both the leaves and the flowers are edible, taste amazing and are fabulous additions to any salad!
Here is my recipe for a fantastic starter.
300 gms fresh paneer, crumbled
7 small pieces of (preferably) green garlic, washed and finely chopped
2 sprigs of baby spring onion, washed and finely chopped
2 generous slices of pineapple, finely chopped
1 large tomato, peeled and finely chopped
7-8 fresh basil leaves, washed and finely chopped
5-6 slices of jalapeños, finely chopped
20 (Big) Nasturtium leaves and flowers with their stalks, washed well
1 tsp (or less, or more depending on how fiery you want it) of red chilly flakes
2 tbsps of pomace olive oil
salt to taste
Add olive oil to a heavy bottomed pan and on medium heat lightly sauté the garlic, jalapeños and pineapple for about 5 minutes.
In a bowl combine all the raw ingredients along with the lightly sautéed ones.
Leave to chill in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes. The mixture should NOT be hot or even warm.
Add some filling into the each leaf and fold it. Poke the stalk through the back side of the leaf to the front to hold everything in place. Decorate with a flower.
Serve cold as a salad. Just pop the entire leaf into your mouth and enjoy the explosion of freshness that happens.
You are welcome to modify and add or subtract anything you want to the filling. Just remember that the filling should be cold otherwise the leaf will wilt and loose its fresh green colour.
The leaves and flowers can be used in a salad with a simple olive oil, garlic, chopped basil leaves and lemon juice dressing.
Katherine taught this recipe to Anand who is Prama Bhabhi’s chef, who taught it to me. I have of course modified it to my taste, but the inspiration is Katherine.