Guruji was arriving in Bangalore at 9:30 pm. Our flight to Goa was at 4:30 pm. What horrible timing!
We grudgingly left Bangalore ashram for the airport, hoping that maybe our flight would get delayed or some other such miracle. Didn’t happen. As we boarded the aircraft, we realized that it was the ATR. Possibly one of the most uncomfortable airplanes to ply in Indian skies. Take a truck and stick some wings on it. Add the noisiest propellers you can find. See, it flies!!
It managed to lurch its way to Goa in record time though, and soon we were safely on the ground. We had a pretty big reception… Hema, Devang and all the people from BITS Goa were there to escort us to Hotle Fidalgo … a blot on the landscape of Panjim. It’s a really ugly building. BITS Goa were having a TEDx event and I was invited to talk there… For reasons unknown, they had decided to put the speakers up in one of the ugliest hotels they could find :)…
After a very nice meeting with all the speakers at the Panjim Inn, a beautiful, old heritage building, we moved out of Hotel Fidalgo and went to Nanutel Resort at the other end of Goa, a picturesque little place on the beach at Betalbatim.
I finished off my presentation and rehearsed it a few times before going to bed at about 2:00 am. Next morning, we had a Sahaj course with 50+ participants and after initiating them, we went off to the BITS Goa campus for the TEDx.
BITS was holding their annual techfest Quark, and the campus was abuzz with activity… We made our way to the convocation hall where our event was scheduled.
I was slated to speak at the very end of the conference and so settled down to enjoy the rest of the speakers.
All were pretty good, some were brilliant, and inspite of the buggy projector and a few technical glitches, the TEDx BITS was a fantastic show.
The ones that stood out for me were, in no particular order:
Young Bennet Orlando, a 13 year old who is world champion solver of the Rubik’s Cube. He does it in 15-20 seconds! He does it with just one hand. He even does it blindfolded!
Mr. Himanshu Parikh of Ahmedabad who has pulled ½ a million people out of poverty by bringing in water and sanitation to slums there. He had some amazing facts ratified by Cambridge University, about how simply providing water and sanitation to individual families can completely transform the quality of life of that family and their neighbours. Cost per family a measly Rs 6000! An amazing, benevolent man. Was a pleasure listening to him.
Mr. Amar Sen did hand shadowgraphy. A source of light, a simple screen and his hands. He did an entire show which kept all of us utterly entertained. Simplicity and Innovation personified.
Mr. Chris Csikszentmihalyi, I defy you to pronounce his name from the media lab of MIT, USA did a brilliant little presentation about what his students are working on. I utterly loved a blender that worked only when growled at
Mr. Arvind Gupta a physicist who works at IUCAA in Poona demoed his toys. Wonderful little things made out of everyday junk. He had all the engineers at one of India’s leading tech institutes enthralled with clever toys made with bits of paper, pencils, magnets, broken cds, bicycle tyre valves and tubes and other junk that others routinely throw away… It was really inspiring to listen to. His talk and Mr. Parikh’s talk were the ones which really made me feel… Science is exciting!
And then, of course there was my talk. It was one of those talks where everything works and falls into place at exactly the right times. Even I loved it. But I am not going to tell you anything about it other than the title which was “Mostly about Om”. Hopefully I should get a video recording of it and we will put it up on youtube and you can see it for yourself then ?
After the TEDx talk, we had another round of QnA with about 300 people from the BITS campus… I will leave it to them to put the transcript of what I spoke there.
Oh yes, there was an incident with the taxi drivers… but it got resolved before it could get interesting enough to merit more than this line over here.
The next day went by in a blur, the evening was very nice, we had a superb dinner at the Park Hyatt’s Italian restaurant, i would heartily recommend it… It was quite expensive, but really, really tasty. During desert, there was a lovely firework display outside which was a perfect ending to a brilliant meal. Later, we went for a midnight walk on the beach… and all too soon it was morning the next day and time to leave for Mumbai.
Harsha, Niraj, Jatin, Vaidahi, Poorva, Krupa, Archa and many others all took great care of us, as did the main organizers of TEDx Swetanshu and Shalini. A big thank you to all of you for making our stay in Goa so very nice!
PS I hope this loooong post makes up for my silence for the past week … Watch out for some really interesting stuff about Mumbai in the next day or 3
This one is too nice to resist
A big thanks to Shivani from Melbourne who digs up the bestest and most obscure little pieces for all of us to read…
I was out walking with my 4-year-old daughter.
She picked up something off of the ground and started to put it in her mouth. I took the item away from her and I asked her not to do that.
‘Why?’ my daughter asked. ‘Because it’s been on the ground; you don’t know where it’s been, it’s dirty, and probably has germs,’ I replied.
At this point, my daughter looked at me with total admiration and asked,’Mum, how do you know all this stuff? You are so smart.’
I was thinking quickly and replied, ‘All mums know this stuff. It’s on the Mum Test. You have to know it, or they don’t let you be a Mum.’
We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but she was evidently pondering this new information.
‘Ohhhh… I get it!’ she beamed, ‘So if you don’t pass the test you have to be the dad.’
‘Exactly,’ I replied with a big smile on my face.
Dinesh wrote a beautiful article about Seva, i edited it and made it even more beautiful
‘Love expresses itself as Seva (Selfless Service)’.
‘Its impossible to know what true love is until you have done something selfless for others’.
When I did my first few Art of Living courses, I heard these lines, but never realized what they meant, and how much power they had…
In those early times, one night, I came home utterly exhausted. I saw that my mom and dad were sleeping. A thought wandered lazily in my mind, let me press my parent’s feet. But the overwhelming feeling was to instantaneously hit the bed. But the second I willed my spirit to go ahead and just do it, fresh energy surged through my body, all my fatigue vanished… That too in just a moment – it was like magic! (But then, so is love, a magic that is always sparkling, ever new!) That commitment of ‘I want to do it, come what may’, brought in a wave of liveliness, quite unlike any other I had ever experienced.
Over the years, like me, I have seen many, many people suddenly come alive with smiles and enthusiasm, ready to help and serve… Their tiredness and fatigue just dissolve like an early morning mist which simply evaporates as the sun rises. The immense joy and fulfillment that one gets by doing something for other people, by lending a helping hand is simply unparalleled and doing Seva can be quite an addiction ?
The energy and the inspiration are always there for the taking, you only need to care!
But unfortunately many, many people have a limited and myopic idea of Seva.
For most people, Seva is normally limited to going to a slum or a village and clean the gutters and roads, or giving money to a beggar (and feeling good about it), or giving away old clothes (and making space for new ones), or donating blood or going to an orphanage and spending time with the kids there, or feeding people, or merely wearing a red ribbon at an AIDS charity concert, etc (With a few exceptions, many celebs have mastered doing this kind of politically correct Seva). This kind of Seva typically increases the dependency of the people who are being “helped” on the “helper” and is done out of a feeling of pity and no belongingness at all.
Seva of course, is all this, but it can be much, much more.
First and foremost we realize that every soul on this planet is desperately yearning for peace and fulfillment. This, it can get, only through the Knowledge of the Self, through meditation and through the process of giving love. Making THAT happen would be the ultimate Seva. Because now you are doing your actions out of genuine compassion and care for people. And you are making them self sufficient, not dependent and obligated.
When I did the Art of Living series of Workshops I realized how they empower people to experience profound peace, unconditional love and enthusiasm and sustain those with Knowledge and meditation. This in turn allows people to be good and creatively do good, to achieve success with minimal or no stress and to celebrate and live life to its fullest.
Sa ae va (word Seva split in Sanskrit) means ‘to be like Him’, to be like God or Nature. The divine has created such amazing beauty, such abundant variety, just so that we can be happy. If each one of us can be happy and in turn can spread that happiness, we would be fulfilling the planet’s greatest need.
If we can make a fire in the hearts of people by kindling that spark of inspiration which is already there, to support each other’s highest ideals- Then that would indeed be Seva in it’s full glory and this planet will transform into a paradise, a true Divya Samaj…
This is my dream… what’s yours?
dinesh (and bawa)
We had a fantastic few days with Guruji at Poona.
Antarnaad saw 2500+ Hindustani classical singers on stage together, the world’s largest such gathering (its got into the Guinness Book) performing for over 80,000 people who had gathered in Poona’s S P College grounds to listen to them.
It was a superb program, with the likes of Shankar Mahadevan, Chitra Roy, Rajan and Sajan Mishra, Gayatri and many other really great singers singing with perhaps the biggest chorus they will ever sing with in their life … The chorus had very difficult passages and they managed it flawlessly, even though they had about 2-3 days only of rehearsing the songs together!
Guruji didn’t sing much to my disappointment like He had in Bhramanaad, but He lead all of us into deep meditation and give some wonderful Knowledge about Indian Classical music, the origin of the 7 notes and the importance of chanting in sanskrit… a recent research shows that people who do regular chanting in Sanskrit, learn and pick up languages really fast and have a greatly increased aptitude in mathematics… He also emphasized on the importance of organic farming, saving the indigenous seeds and the local variety of cows, as well as protecting the girl child.
A brilliant job done by the Poona Antarnaad organizing team… everything was nearly perfect!
The huge ground was given over to YES!+ for the next 3 days and we had the biggest ever YES!+ course with more than 1100 young people participating on it!
Guruji gave a surprise appearance and wowed everyone on the first day itself!
People had amazing, life transforming experiences on the course and many have vowed to come to Bangalore for the Summer Magic course…
One girl asked me a question: I could smell chandan (Sandalwood) and jasmine while i was doing the Sudarshan Kriya, can you explain what was happening?
I answered: No. You cannot explain a miracle. If you could explain it, it would be science
The Poona YES!+ team did a phenomenal job in organising the course, and everything was really just right… Last day, just 45 minutes before the course was scheduled to start, the big LED screens were suddenly taken down on the whim of some foolish, malignant person on the Antaarnaad organizing team… teaching a course from that big stage without any screens would have been almost impossible, but our bright young people didn’t miss a beat! They simply organized a few plasma screen TVs in the ground and the course went on perfectly!
I stayed with Tehmu at his lovely home in Camp area in Poona and he took such good care of all of us, even Guruji decided to come visit :)… Guruji was there at Tehmu’s house for a few wonderful hours, before He whizzed off back to Bangalore… Tehmu is a great cook, and taught me how to make some really tasty stuff… will put the recipes up on the blog real soon
We are in Bombay now… planing some really big stuff here… it will all be finalized in a few days and then i will let everyone know about it…
ps While we were in Mumbai, Guruji suddenly sat at the piano in Vishalakshi during satsang, and banged out notes which of course sound surprisingly good! Here is the link to the video
The Art of Living and The Times Foundation have mutually appealed to the public to sign their joint petition to airlines to make flights meat free…
Here is the letter that will be going to all airlines…
Global warming has reached alarmingly dangerous proportions and governments all over the world now are taking measures to contain it. It is our collective responsibility to join in these efforts in all our capacities to save our precious planet.
A 2006 United Nations report summarized the devastation caused by the meat industry by calling it “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” Everybody today is aware that the environmental cost for producing a meat-based diet is monumentally higher than a vegetarian one. These costs have escalated to enormous proportions and now pose as very disturbing details.
Additionally, more and more people are increasingly becoming aware of the unhygienic and cruel practices involved in producing meat. Apart from the horrible treatment given to animals reared for meat, they are also injected with harmful chemicals and hormones to add bulk to their bodies, which show strong signs of being poisonous for human consumption. Consequently, health agencies are also recommending people to reduce meat consumption.
It has been established that if a small fraction of the population brings down the meat consumption, by even a little bit, it will do wonders for the environment. Leading researchers all over the world have started recommending a vegetarian diet. Therefore, we would like to solicit your support in declaring all flights meat free. Such a policy change would not only benefit the airline industry, by cutting cost and increasing profit margins, but also the environment and is both economically prudent and ecologically responsible.
It has become imperative that all of us attend to this issue. We, therefore, request all Airways to serve completely vegetarian meals during flights. To increase awareness among people, we have launched a massive signature campaign in support of this drive.
We look forward to a positive response from you.
The Art of Living India & Times Foundation.
Two old men decide they are close to their last days and decide to have a last night on the town. After a few drinks, they end up at the local brothel.
The madam takes one look at the two old geezers and whispers to her manager, “Go up to the first two bedrooms and put an inflated doll in each bed, these two are so old and so drunk I am not wasting two of my girls on them… They won’t know the difference.”
The manager does as he is told and the two old men go upstairs and take care of their business.
As they are walking home the first man says, “You know, I think my girl was dead!”
“Dead?” says his friend, “why do you say that?”
“Well, she never moved or made a sound all the time i was loving her.”
His friend says, “Could be worse, I think mine was a witch.”
“A witch??! Why the hell would you say that?”
“Well, I was making love to her, kissing her on the neck, and I gave her a little bite, then she farted and flew out the window… Took my teeth with her!”
Lets do it in space!
Rape another planet of its natural resources… “The reason why we are here is this little grey rock, it sells for $20 million a kilo!”
Pandora is the planet somewhere out of the beyond, a lush green rain forest, perfect and beautiful, pregnant with possibility, full of the most fantastic flora and fauna, a naturalist’s dream, a biologist’s paradise, an army commander’s nightmare… the locals are evolving “savages”, humanoids who have developed language, art and culture but who are still on the bow and arrow stage. The little grey rock will solve earth’s energy crisis. Too bad that their entire village of a few thousand is sitting right on top of the biggest deposit on the planet. The humans come up with an attempt to a diplomatic solution, trying to get them to relocate… but right from the start you know that the attempt is an eye wash, and force will be used when it inevitably fails…
The diplomatic solution consists of a body which is created using human DNA mixed with the DNA of the locals of Pandora, thus creating a link between the two (don’t ask me how… the link is there). So when the human counterpart is sealed inside a hi tech box, his awareness is transferred to the corresponding body and he takes it over. This body becomes his Avatar in Pandora so that he can mingle with the natives and seek out some compromise with the locals…
Marine Jake Sully has lost the working of his legs, his twin brother who was a brilliant scientist whose DNA was used to create a local body manages to die in transit from Earth to Pandora. Conveniently Jake’s DNA matches his twins and so he can take control of the local body… It can become his Avatar. The commander of the marines has no doubt that force will be eventually have to be used and so bribes Jake to become his man… give him tactical knowledge about where what is, so that when the time to strike comes, its smooth, efficient and he can be back to the base in time for dinner. The bribe? A very expensive operation that will bring back the use of his legs to Jake in his human body…
The commander had not counted on the power of Love, the sheer joy of being in the alien body and the tremendous inspiration that can come to anyone who utterly believes he is doing the right thing. The commander was going to be very late for dinner
The story is quite predictable after the first 15 minutes or so but absolutely brilliantly executed.The music will have your pulse pounding and the action, the drama, the tragedy and the triumph against unbeatable odds will have you spontaneously clapping and cheering, at least it did for me… This is a wonderful feel good movie that must be watched on the big screen, preferably in 3D… though truth be told, the 3D technology has not really been exploited much and you will miss almost nothing if you watch it in regular 2D…
There are many scenes in the movie that seem to be inspired by Art of Living. There is a particular group Kriya scene that’s unmistakable :)… there is also some group chanting that could have easily been a type of Satsang … It’s wonderful to see popular media being influenced positively by Art of Living and becoming a run away best seller
Go see it with many people
In a line: Superb movie, perhaps one of the best movies i have ever seen. Do yourself a favour and go see it!
The Indian College of Engineering has a student,who actually loves machines, applies the knowledge he has learned in class to real life situations, doesn’t believe in learning by rote, wants to genuinely help other students in need, is an all round nice guy and is in love with the director’s daughter… Naturally he is an idiot! He simply doesn’t do what he is expected to do. He wants to understand stuff, he wants excellence in his field not success (as in great grades). He knows fully well, that when one has Knowledge, success has no choice but to follow…
The other 2 idiots are his buddies in arms, who support him, drink with him, follow him… and basically think he is superman… AND manage to scrape through their exams, one because he lives on fear and guilt, the other because he loves animals more than engines, and is doing the degree to please his father who he has no guts to stand up against…
All the college gags that are on the internet, all those silly jokes and short videos are put in the movie with great effect. The acting is flawless from every single person in the movie, the attention to detail is immense and it shows. All the songs are hummable and melodic and none of them are superfluous, which is saying a lot for a hindi movie
All out YES!+ Knowledge points have been touched upon, Aamir khan’s character reminded me strongly about myself and dinesh put together when we were in IIT… though i was never top of my class, and the director’s daughter was already married
As far as the noise that Chetan Bhagat is making, he has written a truly remarkable book five point someone based on which this movie was made. But it is really only based on the book, just a few scenes are lifted from there and anyone who has read the book will say the movie is really different from the book. The book is definitely brilliant in its own right… and so is the movie. And Chetan should stop making the noise and really start to enjoy the movie
1. There are some profs (very few of them) in real life who are wonderful human beings and brilliant teachers… not every single ones are villains and dumbos as was portrayed in the movie. One or two profs in a better light would have made a huge difference to bring to light the reality that’s there in the educational institutions of India and possibly the world.
2. Similarly there are parents who truly want their children to be happy, not simply fulfill their dreams, so they can get some sort of vicarious pleasure or have some loans repaid. There are parents out there who dont emotionally blackmail their kids… all the parents in the movie are shown to be fairly shoddy… and i do agree that most parents will act the way these people are acting in those situations… but there are some precious few who wouldn’t and those could have become a great role model for parents, just as Aamir’s character is for the young people watching the movie.
3. They should have credited YES!+ and Art of Living somewhere in the movie.
Having said that, i would tell everyone to go watch the movie… and then tell them, if you liked the movie, you will LOVE the YES!+ course!
ps grouse 4: Idiot was a favourite gaali of mine, after this movie, the word idiot is going to be regarded as high praise
pps there is much more to the movie, i have deliberately not written it, coz i dont want to give away all the nice twists and turns in the story…
Winter Break 2009-10 was the best YES!+ program we have had so far. 1382 young people from many parts of India and the world had an absolute blast.
We started with the Challenge of the seven levels – a super fun bonding activity on day one, masterminded by Priya Mani and Gowri Shankar with plenty of interference from me… You will hear all the stories about this one from everyone who has gone back
Then the Advance Courses started and almost everyone kept strict silence (except for the very, very few who confuse an Advance course with a picnic) and had extremely deep meditations, and sublime experiences. All the ashram departments where the Winter Break participants did Seva were utterly impressed with their sincerity and dedication. Harshal, Shilpa and Krishnan took over the satsangs and we were treated to glorious soul stirring music every evening.
At around midnight on New year’s Eve, Dinesh and I chanted the Guru Pooja in the last few minutes of 2009 into the first few minutes of 2010. This has been our tradition of almost 15 years, and the entire group joined us in welcoming the New Year 2010 in Silence and Gratitude… Then we had a rocking Satsang for about an hour after which treat of treats, there was a live web telecast of Guruji’s New year satsang at Bad Antogast the German Ashram!
January 1st went by pretty quick, with everyone getting into smaller groups with their teachers and coming up with ideas and forming strategies to get even more people to Guruji’s beautiful Knowledge in this year.
We had an array of inspiring speakers on January 2nd and 3rd to talk to everyone about their personal passions. Topics covered were Dynamics of Creative Thinking by Montoo Bassi, an idea expert and creative genius, the brains behind the Polo Mint with a Hole ad, Understanding and appreciating Indian Classical Dance form of Kathak with Dr. Shila Mehta, a scintillating talk on a few aspects of Astronomy in Ancient India with Hema Hari from Bharath Gyan, Dhaval Bathia taught some simple but really effective Vedic Maths techniques, Aspects of Cranio Sacral therapy (CST), with some demos and a few easy techniques with Dr. Bente from Denmark, one of the best practitioners of CST in the world, an intimate chit chat with the ex chief justice of India, Justice Venkatachaliya, Suhas Gopinath one of the youngest CEOs just 21 years old had an interaction, Avijit Bhattacharya MD and CEO Tata Securities talked about investing and finance and Shantanu Prakash of Educomp gave a brilliant presentation on Entrepreneurship. Dad also made a quickie guest appearance and told a story about how he bought his first scooter by investing money in shares.
I talked very briefly about set theory and infinity from Mathematics and played a Chopin Waltz
Every single speaker was impressed with the level of participation and appreciation that the entire audience gave to him or her and said that they were privileged to talk to such wonderful, dynamic young folk.
Vikram flew in from Dubai, especially for a Satsang Concert that evening. Miso and Ajay accompanied him. Julia a trained opera singer from Russia and Gavin from Australia who is a flamenco guitarist and part of the band Urban Gypsies also joined Vikram for a few numbers. Both happened to be on the international TTC. Needless to say it was an absolutely splendid end to a marvelous day.
Then the moment that we all had been waiting for, Guruji floated onto the stage just as everyone was opening their eyes after meditation and charmed every single soul in the audience with His beautiful smile and deep, simple and powerful Knowledge. I was watching Him from the side of the stage and waves of gratitude were overwhelming me. I felt so blessed, so very grateful, so special. He also led everyone into Yoga, something i have only ever seen Him do with a TTC…
The surprises were not over. This year we had decided to give everyone some mementos of their time on the Ashram and so, everyone got a pen with the YES!+ logo, a DVD with videos of me, dinesh and rashmin, lots and lots of photos of Guruji, the Ashram and me and dinesh and 2 bhajans recorded live during the winter break of harshal and a really, really cool t shirt designed by our very own Rupal.
We wanted to give everyone custom designed eco cloth bags too, but those didn’t come on time… Also all the people on the winning teams of the Challenge of the seven levels got a certificate and some cool gifts
Sunday evening Satsang Guruji dressed up as a mage right out of any good RPG, complete with cloak, staff and crown! I sincerely dont remember what He said, was too busy doing utter emotional listening
And yet, it was not over, Guruji came to the Winter Break session yet again and spent another precious hour delighting everyone, except of course for the very few silly ones who were in such a hurry to leave, that they didn’t wait for the end of the course.
Monday morning dawned and we had a Rudra Pooja with Guruji physically there, and everyone was lost in meditative bliss listening to the ancient chants recited by our children from the Vedic School… Almost half of the people left that afternoon and missed the very special personal Darshan that Guruji gave every single person who stayed back that evening.He took his time and interacted with almost everyone chit chatting with them as He walked in their midst.
Everyone went back with the hearts full of gratitude, their minds calm, settled and serene and with intentions of super dynamic activity to make a difference in their own way to the lives of people around them.
130 young people have opted to go full time with YES!+ and pursue a career with Art of Living, and many will be joining our team this year as soon as they finish their education.
Everyone including Guruji felt that it’s just too long to wait an entire year for this Bliss again and so with Guruji’s Blessings, in the last week of June 2010, we have planned the summer counterpart of the Winter Break course… Summer Magic! Everyone also felt this wonder needs to be shared with many, many more people and so we have all decided to make a bit of History and have the largest ever YES!+ Advance course with 10,000 people during the Summer Magic program.
Not only are we making History, but we are also altering the Geography of the ashram! Guruji has already instructed the Ashram construction team to make 500+ new rooms and create a hall that will host the 10,000 people who will come for Summer Magic…
Exciting times ahead for all of us!
Please Copy this onto Notepad (Textedit on a mac), press Ctrl + H (or cmnd + F on a mac), enter 6 in the find box and underscore _ in the replace box and then click the replace all button… and see what happens
bawa n dinesh