Apr 28

What have we been up to?!

These last few weeks have been both utterly relaxing and super hectic!

Guruji was not (physically) in the ashram for almost 7 weeks. Satsang tends to drag a bit… well, a lot when He is not here, and between dinesh, me, kashi and girin, we decided to do something about it… and we did! We had for some time Satsang unplugged – no mikes for the singers… It was very nice, everyone sang and participated. Now only one mike is used… according to me not as nice as no mike, but still wonderful :). After the singing, everyone chants 5-7 verses from the Bhagawad Geeta accompanied by just a simple translation. Then we watched the entire series of talks by Guruji on the Geeta, and followed it up with a quick discussion on what we heard and other things, usually led by me :)

Satsang at the ashram has become really nice :)

We have been planning our Europe trip. When we announced it, i had no idea what a huge endeavour it was going to turn into… We have around 100 people going with us to Europe for the World Culture Festival and a tour of Europe after that. Tanu has managed everyone and everybody magnificiently and this trip would have been impossible to get going without her patient expertise. All will be applying for their Schengen visas in the next few days… All the Best to everyone!

See you in Berlin!

For almost a year, we have been in the process of designing a board game. When one says board game, people think of chess, snakes and ladders, ludo and monopoly :)

But there are so many, many different types of board games. They are developed mostly in Europe and the US. Gaming unplugged. They are so wonderful to play.

After buying out most of the best ones available, dinesh and i decided we would start to make our own. Our first one is called “The Mumbai Connection” … and it is ready for production now… Watch out for it in stores very soon.

Part of the Board and some game cards and currency

A good friend has been managing our money for some time and through him, we managed to earn a nice sum on the share market … We spent it on getting ourselves a lovely new 55 inch Samsung 3D TV and a superb speaker set (Indian made) called Lithos. We have been listening to all our music and seeing some classic movies with our new gadgets :) … btw, we don’t have a cable connection in case you are wondering. The TV is not for watching TV, only for movies and games (we got a PS3 and got gifted an XBox 360).

Rajeev and Avinash totalled our car. They were attempting a theoretically impossible feat. Reaching the airport from the ashram in 40 minutes. They didn’t, and managed to have a spectacular accident. Nothing happened to them, other than bruised egos (and a few stitches). But nothing much was left of the car.

So it was time to get a new car. We have just finished the formalities and awaiting the delivery of spiffy new red Toyota Corolla Altis. It’s brilliantly fuel efficient, 18-20 kms per liter of diesel in the city and supposed to be almost maintenance free. It’s one of the best selling cars in the world, with 40 million cars sold to date! We liked the car, the comfort, the air conditioning, the music system in it, the fuel efficiency… and also figured that 40 million people can’t be very wrong :)

Our new car!

After a run of a few years serving fairly bad food the canteen in our ashram in undergoing a metamorphosis. It’s going to become a bistro! Run by me and dinesh (recipes are mine, tasted and approved by dinesh). It even has it’s own website (under development but you can check it out)!

We have got a brilliant team of chefs who we have sent to a few places in India over the last few months to learn the authentic ways of making delectable food. They also trained with me in the ashram. Our kitchen had almost become a laboratory :)

We start today evening. A super limited menu for now, while we renovate and redo stuff to the way we want it to be. Tonight we start with Grilled Sandwiches, Bombaiya Batatawadas and Pav Bhaji. Also Ojasvita shakes and tea. We will add to the menu as we go along. You can look forward to salads, soups, pastas, traditional parsi food, desserts, home made breads… You can rest assured that when you come to ashram the next time and want a brilliant meal, it will be there for you!

The Vishala Bistro Team (Sushant is missing in this photo)

I have always been a fan of the concept of network marketing. Next week will post an article about it. I helped milan get Prakriti Network, our home grown direct selling company up and running finally. We will go live sometime today. JD’s contribution to this was invaluable and i don’t think we could have pulled it off without him. I hope many more people will be able to come to berlin and other places to be with Guruji by earning money from this venture. Milan has also promised a substantial part of the profits for the Youth Ashram in Bombay.

Which brings us to the youth ashram. Guruji’s Kutir design is done and the construction will start in a few days from now… Also a temporary meditation hall is getting built and so we will be able to start up the Advance courses there real soon – in a few months from now. We will be starting with housing in tents and maybe bonfire satsangs :)

I learned a new tango (La Cumparsita) and a waltz by Chopin (Les Adieux) on the piano and playing both quite nicely :)

Dinesh has been very busy sealing deals with various educational institutions for making YES!+, YES! or Art Excel a part of their induction programs or their curriculum. We did the Manavathe program with the government of Karnataka, where 250+ teachers from all over the country came here and managed to teach YES!+ to 25,000+ people in 3 weeks. Abhi and Gowri made a film about that. Watch, it’s very nice…

We had a pilot program to rave reviews at IIT Kharagpur. We had a course for all the new entrants at XLRI, Jamshedpur which is now a part of their induction program. Many other institutions are joining in and I think the skill of how to give intro talks for YES!+ is fast becoming more or less redundant :)

Abhiram and Gowrishankar our genius film makers have designed a superb 4-5 day course on film making (with just a little bit of creative interference from me) which they conducted in a few places. People have really loved the workshop and their dates are getting booked left, right and center! Guruji called up and asked them to make a promo on the World Culture Festival event at Berlin. They managed to make this video in 3 days flat! You will get to watch it on TV real soon as well.

After a very long time i found a game that i like… It’s called Rift. Am spending some time in Telara too on the Galena shard. My name there is Razwid – any guesses why?! :)

Razwid (me) in Sanctum, the Capital city of the Guardians of Telara

If you are an Indian classical trained dancer who is really good, then maybe you may get a chance to perform at the Berlin event. Please contact Srividya – srividya@yesplus.org for more details.

A YES!+ Advance course is happening at the Bangalore Ashram from June 8th – 12th. Get details from your YES!+ teacher or pop a mail to rajeev@wayeonline.org

We are starting a DSN tonight at Jayanagar in Bangalore… You can contact hema – nhema12@yahoo.com if you want to do the course or come and volunteer.

Finally, there is a book reading – Suparna’s cute little book – The All Bengali Crime Detectives is going to be read by her, her husband Kanchan, me and dinesh at the Crossword at Residency road Bangalore tomorrow (Friday, 29th April, 2011) evening at 6:30 pm. Be there and buy out her books :)

So you see, we have been quite, quite busy being happy – and happy being busy!

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa (n dinesh)

Apr 25

Seva is Savior

For 7 years, every week Guruji (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) used to send out a page of Knowledge to be read out and discussed at the satsangs happening all over the world. He used to call it the Knowledge fax … This was before email became popular enough for everyone to use :)

Every week we waited eagerly for what Guruji would say through these Knowledge Sheets, many times we would be with Him while He dictated them out and we compiled them. The atmosphere would always be full of wisdom coupled with big doses of mirth. And the Knowledge sheets themselves are always profound, sometimes quite funny…

Dinesh and i decided to do a commentary on them, reliving those precious moments spent with Guruji, reading them out for you and peppering them with stories and examples of how this Knowledge from Him has come alive for us in our lives.

Re reading them now, after so many years of Sadhana, Seva and Satsang has made us realise just how beautiful and precious these words from Him are … We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves making these videos, we know you will love watching them too.

Knowledge sheet no. 53

Watch on youtube

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa n dinesh

Apr 18

What You Know

For 7 years, every week Guruji (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) used to send out a page of Knowledge to be read out and discussed at the satsangs happening all over the world. He used to call it the Knowledge fax … This was before email became popular enough for everyone to use :)

Every week we waited eagerly for what Guruji would say through these Knowledge Sheets, many times we would be with Him while He dictated them out and we compiled them. The atmosphere would always be full of wisdom coupled with big doses of mirth. And the Knowledge sheets themselves are always profound, sometimes quite funny…

Dinesh and i decided to do a commentary on them, reliving those precious moments spent with Guruji, reading them out for you and peppering them with stories and examples of how this Knowledge from Him has come alive for us in our lives.

Re reading them now, after so many years of Sadhana, Seva and Satsang has made us realise just how beautiful and precious these words from Him are … We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves making these videos, we know you will love watching them too.

Knowledge sheet no. 52

Watch on youtube

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa n dinesh

Apr 13

Samadhi

For 7 years, every week Guruji (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) used to send out a page of Knowledge to be read out and discussed at the satsangs happening all over the world. He used to call it the Knowledge fax … This was before email became popular enough for everyone to use :)

Every week we waited eagerly for what Guruji would say through these Knowledge Sheets, many times we would be with Him while He dictated them out and we compiled them. The atmosphere would always be full of wisdom coupled with big doses of mirth. And the Knowledge sheets themselves are always profound, sometimes quite funny…

Dinesh and i decided to do a commentary on them, reliving those precious moments spent with Guruji, reading them out for you and peppering them with stories and examples of how this Knowledge from Him has come alive for us in our lives.

Re reading them now, after so many years of Sadhana, Seva and Satsang has made us realise just how beautiful and precious these words from Him are … We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves making these videos, we know you will love watching them too.

Knowledge sheet no. 50

Watch on youtube

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa n dinesh

Apr 8

Appeal

“I appeal to Anna Hazare to end his fast” – Pranab Mukherjee

“I appeal to the Indian Government to end corruption” – Anna Hazare

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa

Apr 4

Enlightenment

For 7 years, every week Guruji (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) used to send out a page of Knowledge to be read out and discussed at the satsangs happening all over the world. He used to call it the Knowledge fax … This was before email became popular enough for everyone to use :)

Every week we waited eagerly for what Guruji would say through these Knowledge Sheets, many times we would be with Him while He dictated them out and we compiled them. The atmosphere would always be full of wisdom coupled with big doses of mirth. And the Knowledge sheets themselves are always profound, sometimes quite funny…

Dinesh and i decided to do a commentary on them, reliving those precious moments spent with Guruji, reading them out for you and peppering them with stories and examples of how this Knowledge from Him has come alive for us in our lives.

Re reading them now, after so many years of Sadhana, Seva and Satsang has made us realise just how beautiful and precious these words from Him are … We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves making these videos, we know you will love watching them too.

Knowledge sheet no. 50

Watch on youtube

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa n dinesh

Apr 4

India Against Corruption

“Dhyan karna seekh liya, ab dhyan rakhna bhi seekho!” – H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

India Against Corruption

Corruption is happening every minute and at almost every possible level of the system in India right now. Together, we have the power to remove it from its roots, and make India the starting point of action against corruption across the world. But to make that possible, we need to ask ourselves the following 3 questions…

1. Why is corruption happening?

It’s happening because of poor laws and policies in the government, which keep changing according to the whims and fancies of politicians and get mended according to what suits them best.

Guruji says, it’s happening because of lack of belongingness and the only obvious cure is Spirituality which can bring back the Human Values. Corruption happens because people don’t feel that they belong to each other. “apne hi hai sab log”. No one would want a bribe from his own family member would they? Every action arises out of our own thought, and self purification is the cure. To feel that belongingness, Self purification is required. Yoga, Pranayama, Meditation, Sudarshan Kriya, Seva, Satsang, Silence and Grace can bring about that transformation in an individual and hence in society.

2. Is there any solution to corruption?

Yes!

The first thing is to eliminate corruption at your own level. Say no to bribes; join hands to fight corruption through marches, awareness campaigns and mass vote. For the India Against Corruption movement, the solution is to lay strict Anti Corruption rules by the formation of the Jan Lokpal Bill by the citizens.

What is and What could be...

3. What can I do? How do I contribute to this movement?

a. Join the India Against Corruption movement, by giving a missed call to 022 61550789 (we need at least 25 Lakh missed calls, around 5 Lakh are done so far). We will SMS you a message from Anna and others, on what you can do today, and every day.

b. Stay in touch with minute-by-minute progress, join us on facebook.

c. Spread this message. Write on your facebook walls, publish this article on your blog. Print it out and stick it in your lifts and office notice boards. Do whatever it takes to get it to the public at large. Invite people to join Anna at the Jantar Mantar Event. Do anything and everything in your capacity! Our nation needs LAKHS to join Anna at Jantar Mantar!

For any suggestions/queries: – write to: iac.noida@gmail.com

Our Nation needs responsible, empowered people right now, so let’s help our India, our Bharat Mata in every possible way we are capable of!

Another of Guruji’s quotes to end with: “When you come out of your personal comfort zone and take a higher responsibility, you will find that whatever you want gets magically taken care of!”

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa

Apr 1

More about Berlin

Kiran, well, we called him Kiran. His real name was Chris. He was from Germany. He was my TTC teacher, and i had done a few advance courses with him too.

He was so calm and composed all the time, i thought he was enlightened. He radiated joy and love. He stayed in India for more than 3 years, roughing it out at our Ashram, when the ashram was a barren piece of red earth. Patiently beautifying, sometimes inch by inch. He wrote out a piece that was circulated to  everyone in Norway where he now stays with his family… Here it is:

IT IS SO MUCH MORE

“Let the silence speak of a peace you seek. Feel the love divine –

for every shining star tells you who we are in the grand design”. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

“The one who works alone, adds – those who work together, multiply”. Unknown

As we are preparing to be present at the World Cultural Festival in Berlin in July, I want to share with you my personal reflections on the importance and significance of this important opportunity for us all.

I remember the state of my mind many years ago. I was worried most of the time, not only about my own personal future but also the future of mankind. Whenever I met a happy person, I thought this person had to be an egoist. I just could not understand how anyone could be happy in the face of tragedy, pollution, conflict and misery. It felt most natural to be depressed.

Today, it looks very different. No, not the headlines and not mankind’s prospects of survival, but the way I see our role in all of it. It was not until after my first Art of Living course in 1987 (one year after Chernobyl) that I realised that I was not really changing anything by being depressed. What I was doing instead was adding my own fear and worries to the already heavily burdened collective consciousness.

It is no secret that we are all connected and influence each other by our actions and non-actions alike. Strike a tuning fork and you will find that any other tuning fork placed within a fair distance will start vibrating sound as well. Similarly, our moods affect the world around us. No matter whether we are happy or unhappy, it is contagious. Awareness of this fact will make us want to take more responsibility – for our own lives, that of others and that of the planet.

Yes, the World Culture Festival in Berlin in July will be celebrating Art of Living’s 30th birthday. But it is so much more than that. Choosing a venue in the heart of Europe where war and destruction were ignited in the past is no coincidence. For us today, it is an exceptional opportunity to come together and send a different message – one of light and peace, acceptance and tolerance, knowledge and love. Imagine people from all over the world coming together from different cultural and religious backgrounds and setting an example, celebrating harmony in diversity and taking responsibility for peace and joy in the world.

Back in early 1989 I attended a silence retreat with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Timmendorfer Strand in the north of Germany. When we broke silence after a week, he appeared very pleased and I will not forget what he said: “Your silence and meditation has helped to bring down the wall.” I remember feeling honoured, but to be honest, it sounded completely over the top. I had grown up in a divided Germany and anyone predicting that the wall would come down peacefully any time soon would have been considered a dreamer (at its best!). But then, just a year later we saw that the wall had come down and Germany was on its way to be reunited.

70,000 people meditating together – do not underestimate the effect this will have on the collective consciousness. This is a very important contribution that we can make. Also if we can encourage others we may know from other faiths and practices to join us, this would be a significant step towards harmony and unity at this pivotal time for the world.

The festival in Berlin should be seen in this light. It is a major chance to enliven the collective consciousness with impulses of harmony and positivity and create an awareness for the vital role Yoga and spirituality can play in building and preserving peace.

I will be in Berlin. Let’s be there together – and make a difference.

Chris

(Christopher Kiran Byrt)

Mar 24

Europe 2011 – B

We will be spending a week in Berlin attending the World Culture Festival at the Olympic Stadium which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Art of Living, doing a YES!+ Advance Course and soaking up the physical presence of Guruji.

Berlin

Dinesh and I felt that instead of returning back to India right after that, maybe we could go around Europe for a while. Not simply a tour of Europe, rather we hit upon a formula: Yoga and Meditation most mornings, adventures and sightseeing during the day, satsangs and Knowledge (or overnight trains) most evenings.

We decided not to go monument and museum hopping like most people do. Go “See” things. So the whole thing feels like one blur and you return tired from your vacation, needing another vacation to recover from the one you just had. Yet we definitely wanted to douse ourselves in the culture and magic of Europe. So here is what we are going to do…

July 1 – 7: The World Culture Festival and the YES!+ Advance Course

July 8: We take a train from Berlin to Venice. We will travel mainly by TGVs, the Super Fast trains which reach speeds of more than 500 kms/hr! Early morning 4:00 am we leave Berlin and traverse the whole of Germany, a little bit of Switzerland and into Italy to Venice via Milan. We reach Venice late evening.

Trains a Grande Vitesse (TGV) - Very Fast Trains

July 9: Though Venice itself is the main attraction, a walking tour of the main attractions of Venice has been organized the next day. The evening is free to enjoy how you wish to.

Enchanting Venice

July 10: We go from Venice to Switzerland by bus to the lovely Lucerne and Interlaken areas. On the way we stop by Milan and do a quick tour of the fashion capital of the world. We will reach Switzerland by evening.

Jungfrau in Summer

July 11 – 13: A trip to the “Top of Europe” Jungfrau where all year round, even in peak summer there is ice and snow is slated for the next day.  The next 2 days in Switzerland are more or less free. We could go for some nice walks or people would be free to do anything they wish (and can afford). We are also organizing a short cruise on the lakes.

Interlaken

July 14: Switzerland to Paris by train.

July 15: Visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre one of the biggest museums in the world, Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur, two of the most beautiful and serene churches i have seen.

Paris

July 16: A full day trip to Fontainebleau, which will include a visit to the magnificent Napoleon’s Palace of Fontainebleau, as well as possibly a satsang in the very beautiful and serene forest of Fontainebleau.

The Fontainebleau Palace

July 17: Paris to Bad Antogast, our home in Germany – The German Ashram which is right in the middle of the picturesque Black Forest.

Our German Ashram at Bad Antogast

July 18 – 21: We take walks in the forest, cook nice meals for everyone, do some Seva, meditate, have fantastic satsangs in the evenings.

We also take a half day trip to the nearby town of Baden Baden. So beautiful, you can’t say it once. You have to say it twice :) … But we are not going there to gawk at the beauty only. There is one of the most amazing hydrotherapy spas I have ever been to The Caracalla Spa in Baden Baden and we will spend 4 relaxing, invigorating, refreshing hours there.

The Carcalla Spa in Baden Baden

July 22: Bad Antogast to Maastricht in Holland for a classical music concert. You didn’t think i would leave that out did you?! Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra in an open air concert at the Vrijthof Square of Maastricht. Even if you have never listened to classical music, you will throughly enjoy this show. Andre is a brilliant violinist, a fantastic conductor and a born showman.

A classical music night like none other! Andre Rieu performs in Maastricht

July 23: Maastricht to Amsterdam to fly back home to India

The cost of the entire trip:

Rs 1,45,000

This includes:

India – Europe – India (ex Delhi and Bombay only)

Entry to the WCF at the Berlin Olympic Stadium.

YES!+ Advance course in Berlin.

All travel in Europe.

All accommodation in Europe in very basic hotels or motels (Does not include accommodation in Berlin). To upgrade your accommodation to 2 or 3 star hotels all over Europe except for Berlin will cost approximately Rs 19,000 more.

4 hours at the Carcalla Spa.

Stay and food at the German Ashram.

Vegetarian Buffet Breakfasts.

This price doesn’t include:

Stay in Berlin. We can book you into a dorm, which will cost you approx Rs 15,000 or into a tent which will cost you approx Rs 6000 for the entire week. If you are choosing to stay in a tent, remember to bring your own sleeping bag. The shower and loo facilities are very, very basic. If you wish to stay in a hotel, please use the WCF website to book yourself in. Sunit at Bangalore ashram can help you with this. His email is india@worldculturefestival.org

Travel in Berlin, a weekly ticket which will allow you to go wherever you wish in Berlin costs approx Rs 2100.

Entry to the various monuments, museums and other attractions that we will be going to. Entry to these vary between 10 euros to 40 euros (Rs 700 – 2500) per person. If there are discounts for groups, be sure that we will get them. Most places, you get a fairly good reduction in the prices if you are 25 years or younger. Jungfrau is approx 100 euros.

Lunch and Dinner, basically any food other than breakfast is NOT included in this rate. Dinesh and i are busy talking to people in Europe to see if we can get good cheap food. I would suggest that everyone carry heaps of food from India. Stuff like thepla, khakhra, handvo etc which doesn’t spoil easily. Food in Europe can be quite expensive and will cost a minimum of 7 euros (Rs 500) a meal. A meal in a nice restaurant can be 15-25 euros (Rs 1000 – 1500).

Visa fees which hover around Rs 6000.

Entry to the Andre Rieu Concert. We have only 24 tickets, 12 of which are already taken as i write this. Each ticket costs approx Rs 6000. You can book your own ticket from his website if you wish. His concerts get sold out very fast, so please book your tickets right away if you are coming. Ensure that you are booking tickets for the concert in Maastricht on the 22nd of July.

Please note that whatever money you pay is non refundable. Even in the unfortunate event of your visa getting rejected, the money you have paid is non refundable.

The above prices are for the first 70 people who register only. Expect at least a 20% increase in most prices after that. Please allow +/- 7% variation on the price as we may possibly get better deals.

Initial payments of about Rs 25,000 will be due in 2-3 days, by monday latest. Details for this and for registering for the trip, further instructions and everything else you may wish to know, please drop a mail to berlin@wayeonline.org

This is the first time that Dinesh and i are organizing something like this. We cannot promise that this will be the most perfect trip, but we can definitely promise that you will be really glad you came :)

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa (n dinesh)

ps For people who want even more of Europe, watch out for Europe 2011 – C in a few days…

pps For people who want to earn some money for this trip pop a mail to Rashmin (rashmin.pulekar@gmail.com) or Virat (virat.chirania@gmail.com). They may be able to help.

UPDATE:

We have found a 4 star Hotel, which is giving us twin sharing rooms at 70 euros a night, which works out to almost the same price as a dorm. Most people have upgraded themselves to the Hotel Estrel in Berlin.

Mar 24

Quickie QnA

Q. Below is 76th page of Guruji’s book Celebrating Silence.

With whom do you really feel comfortable and at ease?

You feel comfortable with someone who does not question your love, someone who takes for granted that you love them. If someone doubts your love and you constantly have to prove it, this becomes a heavy burden on you.When someone doubts you love, they start questioning you and demanding explanations for all your actions. Explaining everything you do is a burden. Your nature is to shed burdens, so when your love is questioned, you do not feel comfortable.

When you question the reason behind an action, you are asking for justice for yourself and you create  a distance.Your whole intention is to come close, but asking for justice creates  a distance.When someone asks for explanation they are speaking from doership and are imposing that doership on you. This brings discomfort.

If someone is just there with you, a part of you, they do not question you. They are like your arm. There is a thorough understanding and questions do not arise. Neither demand an explanation or give an explanation.

You are a witness to all your actions. You are as much a stranger to your own actions as you are to someone else’s actions. You are the eternal witness.

Based on this i have a doubt. Does this mean that when anyone asks us why we did something we need not give any explanation or answer?

A. There are many levels of Being. If someone and you exist on the level that Guruji is talking about, they are not even going to ask you a question. But if your boss/girl friend/wife/student etc are asking you some question or for an explanation, then please give it… Like right now i am answering you :)

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa

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