The Art of Living International Center, Bangalore is home to some of the finest architectural marvels in Asia. Apart from being a popular spiritual retreat, the Ashram also attracts tourists due to its designs that have simple yet elegant structures. This aerial view of the Ashram showcases a couple of magnificent
Although Navratri festival celebration involves some strict rules, some practices are quite flexible in nature. Some of the practices in celebrating Navratri festival are:
Sustaining only on fruits and milk for the entire fasting period.Involving yourself in prayer or ‘prarthana’ and long meditation sessions.Keeping awake all night and participating in ‘bhajans‘ along with family members.Keeping the mind focused on spiritual activities by reading ‘Durga Shaptashati’ and listening to ‘vrat katha’ or stories/episodes relating to the nine forms of Ma Durga.Wearing different colors each day to honour Ma Durga’s nine forms, such as red on the first day.Tying a garland of fresh flowers every day to the idol/photograph of Maa Durga. Doing charity which includes donating food to the needy.
Thinking pure thoughts during the auspicious period. Eating only one meal a day, a vegetarian preparation without onion and garlic.
Lighting ‘Akhand Jyot‘ or a constantly burning ‘oil lamp’ in front of Goddess Durga’s idol or picture for the entireperiod. Planting nine varieties of food grains to appease the nine planets.Performing ‘arti’ in front of the idol/photograph of Ma Durga.
Abstaining from wearing leather shoes, shaving, paring nails or cutting hair during this period.Avoiding wearing black colored clothes.Inviting married women and seeing them off with auspicious betel nuts and coconut.Honoring Durga Ma’s nine forms by worshipping nine girls and preparing special meal for them.Coinciding the day of starting new ventures or new purchases with Ashtami (eighth day)/Navami(ninth day).
Choosing to fast only on the first, fourth and seventh day of Navratri 2014 festival.
Significance of Navratri :
The beginning of summer and the beginning of winter are two very important junctions of climatic and solar influence. These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother. The dates of the festival are determined according to the Hindu (lunar) calendar.
Navratri is a Hindu festival of worship and dance. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit; Nava meaning Nine and Ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti (metaphor for goddess Durga ) i.e. female divinity are worshipped.
Worship of The Divine as Mother is a special characteristic of the Indian Culture. God is mostly referred as the Father of all creation or the Omnipotent ruler of Nature in other religions. Navaratri or Navadurga Parva happens to be the most auspicious and unique period of devotional sadhanas and worship of Shakti (the sublime, ultimate, absolute creative energy of the Divine conceptualized as the Mother Goddess-Durga, whose worship dates back to prehistoric times before the dawn of Vedic age.
A whole chapter in the tenth mandal of the holy Rigveda deals with the devotional sadhanas of Shakti. The “Devi Sukta” and “Usha Sukta” of the Rigveda and “Ratri Sukta” of the Samveda similarly sing paeans of praise of sadhanas of Shakti.
Before the beginning of the Mahabharat war, Lord Krishna had worshipped Durga – the Goddess of Shakti- for the victory of the Pandvas.
Lord Brahma is cited in the Markandey Purana as mentioning to Rishi Markandey that the first incarnation of Shakti was as Shailputri. Other incarnations of the Divine Mother are: Brahmcharñi, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri in that order. These nine manifestations of Shakti, are worshipped as “Nava-Durga”. The fifth chapter of the Rudra Sanhita of Shiva Purana also vividly describes the various Divine Emanations of Durga.
Since the Vedic Age of the Rishis, the devotional practices recommended during Navratri are primarily those of Gayatri Anushthana.
In the Vedic Age of the Indian Culture, the religious philosophy and devotional practices were focused towards true knowledge and ultimate realization of the supreme power of Gayatri (Bram Shakti). The Vedas were the basis of all streams of spirituality and science those days. Gayatri has been the source of the divine powers of the gods in the heavens and their angelic manifestations and incarnations. Gayatri sadhana was also paramount in the higher level spiritual endeavors of the yogis and tapaswis. Gayatri Mantra was the core-focus of daily practice of sandhya-vandan (meditation and devotional worship) for everyone. As guided by the rishis, specific sadhanas and upasanas of the Gayatri Mantra were sincerely practiced during the festival period of Navaratri by every aspirant of spiritual enlightenment.
Procedure and vidhi vidhan of Navaratri Puja.
Laghu Anushthana sadhana of Gayatri is recommended as most suitable for the Navaratri period. It consists of twenty-four thousand japa (repeated rhythmic chanting) of the Gayatri Mantra with meditation on the rising sun and adoption of certain self-control disciplines. Mental or upanshu japa of twenty-seven rosaries (malas) needs to be completed every day for this purpose. This can be done in about three hours’ duration by the people who are used to daily practice of the japa of this mantra. Completion in one sitting in the early morning (by commencing the japa two hours before dawn) is the best. However, depending upon one’s constraints, it could be completed in two to three sittings at convenient times. But the regularity of timings and place where the japa is carried out should be maintained. Ideal sitting posture is sukhasana with erect spinal column. One should not sit directly on the earth. Sitting on kusha mat or cotton cloth is most suitable.
Depending upon one’s health and level of self-control, the fasting could be observed by consuming only milk or fruits once or twice a day; taking tasteless (without salt and sugar) food; or taking simple and light vegetarian food only once a day, etc. The other common disciplines include – austere life-style; sleeping on a mat on the floor or on plain wooden cot; attending to one’s personal tasks by oneself; observing honesty and humility in conduct. The advanced devotees may also adopt some higher level disciplines that serve the dual purpose of cleansing and purification of the body and the mind and thorough practice of self-restraint.
A havan (yagya) should be performed on Every Day OR must be at the last day of the anushthana to mark its completion.
All world Gayatri Pariwar Celebrates Chaitra Navaratri in First month of Hindu Calender Chaitra when winter is about to end and summer starts.Parijan of Gayatri Pariwar practice of Nine days anushthan called as laghu small anushthan which involved a 24 thousand gayatri mantra jap and accordingly havan yagya, tarpan, donation.
A treasure box of truths so ancient, they’re new…
Recall the last time you hugged someone dear, and felt love which your arms could not encircle. The last time you smelt a flower, and felt soaked with intoxication that your mind could not contain. The last time you heard a soulful strain, and felt a rhythm your heart couldn’t hold. The last time you saw a thing momentary, and perceived beauty your speech couldn’t express.
Each time, you were celebrating silence.
It is to deepen the relationship of a seeker with his Self, that this book by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar begins with a title that challenges the sense driven experiential norm held by man – Celebrating Silence!
The world teaches us to celebrate with sound, with light, with energy. This manifestation of celebration can be felt and be shared tangibly. However such celebration tires us, while we want it to last, and not get over. This is man’s greatest search.
Indeed the age old dilemma in front of man has been about how to keep the spirit high, how to keep the celebration going without losing enthusiasm.
The beauty of the knowledge in the words of an Enlightened Master is that they keep growing in depth with time, each reading after a passage of some more months and years reveals nooks and crannies of infinite beauty, never stumbled across before. Celebrating Silence contains many such moments on each page.
Sample this gem, “Knowledge is not in an event, knowledge is beyond events. For true knowledge one will have to consider the totality of all events, infinitely. Beyond the event is knowledge”.
Events create noise inside us all the time; somebody was nasty with us, something did not turn out the way we wanted. Vibrations of these could create so much noise inside us that it refuses to die, sometimes even for a lifetime. The result shows up as misplaced interpretations, traumatic impressions and painful entanglements. Whereas an event considered within infinite totality, disappears, becomes insignificant to the point of being laughable.
That leads us back to silence.
It is this journey – from the proverbial darkness to the figurative light, from untruth to truth, from that which withers, to that which doesn’t – that the ancient scriptures speak of. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has brought back the seemingly esoteric but profound truths through simple language and endearing stories in this book meant for today, while being timeless in their appeal.
This is knowledge ancient yet forgotten, and it speaks to us directly holding us by our shoulders, our inner realisation the proof of its truth. Celebrating knowledge enlivens the deep silence in us. Sometimes it is moments such as these, which bring us in touch with the core of life, the purpose for which we were born.
Celebrating silence without awareness is to mistake the source of joy to be in the world.
Celebrating silence with intention is to merge with our selves.
There are two attitudes that we have to pay attention to. One is when we go inward, we say everything is Ok. Not a blade of grass moves without Divine intervention. God has kept us like this, so let it be so. Everything is Ok.
So while acting, we see where we can improve and what we can change.
When we retire into meditation and say that everything is perfect, only then we can go in.
Usually when people close their eyes and go inward, they say, ‘This is not ok, that is not ok and find fault with everything’. They can neither meditate, nor be quiet. And in activity, people think that everything is fine the way it is, why do we have to do anything about it? Then, we are at a loss.
So when we are acting, we see what we can do and when we have to retire we say everything is Ok. This attitude will help you go deep in meditation.I want nothing
I do nothing
I am nothing
These are basic principles of meditation. We have to pay attention to this thing.
So Navratri will start from tomorrow. These nine days are nine days of inner connection to the Divinity.
In these nine days, let us keep all our small, petty things, petty desires, requirements, our small small issues that bother us – all in one side and just say to Divine, ‘Let thy will be done. I am yours, let thy will be done’.
With this conviction, when you move forward, doing your practices you will lack nothing. All that you need, will just come to you naturally, spontaneously.
So we move into our sadhana, our practices with a trust that we will be taken care of, we are being taken care of.
Navratri is a time when all those needs- physical, mental and spiritual, are taken care by the Divine. At the same time, help each other, help all those people who need your help. It is nine nights, it is very auspicious and it is uplifting to the spirit.
Yagyas (pujas) are done from thousands of years to bring peace, prosperity, to dissolve all the negative karmas and to uplift the human spirit. It has been practiced from a very long time.
It is best not to engage yourself in all other socializing, talking wordly things with people. Just be with yourself. If at all you speak, only speak some knowledge or bare essential things. It is better not to sit and gossip. But these few days its best to be in Divine knowledge.
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has inspired a global phenomenon of compassion and service. A spiritual leader and humanitarian, his programs have impacted more than 25 million people worldwide. He is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, a multi-faceted organization that offers a wide array of educational and humanitarian programs that uplift individuals, make a difference in local communities, and foster global change.
Q: How do I know if I am making the correct decision?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you make a decision, somewhere you get the gut feeling that says, ‘Yes, this is correct.’
Even if you take a wrong decision, it always leads you to growth. You become stronger; you learn a lesson somewhere deep inside.
Q: Please speak about compassion.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In life there are three things, which are essential:
Passion is like breathing in, and Dispassion is like breathing out. No one can say, ‘I want to only breathe in, I don’t want to breathe out.’ Impossible! So breathing in is essential, and that is Passion for things in life. Then, there is also a need for Dispassion. Dispassion means the ability to just let go of everything. Dispassion brings you relief and then Compassion becomes your nature. So you must have Passion when you do work, Dispassion when you want to rest, and Compassion as your very nature. That is it!
Q: Please talk about Reciprocity.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Reciprocity is very natural.
At a higher state of mind, reciprocity is instantaneous. Only when someone is not sensitive there is no reciprocity.
Often people reciprocate the bad things. If you blame somebody, they are ready to blame you immediately. If you insult somebody, they insult you immediately, but it is not the same for the good.
If you do something good, not everybody think they should reciprocate the goodness. That happens only when the mind is at a higher state.
Q: I am going through a separation. My wife and I have chosen different paths and live different lives. We both want our child to be with each of us. In this situation, what is the wisest thing to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The child should be exposed to both paths and allowed to choose.
If there is no understanding between the couple, it is definitely a strain on the child.
What both parents should keep in mind is that they should not go on blaming each other in front of the child. Putting the child against one of the parents is no good. That is a very narrow minded approach.
Q: Gurudev, sometimes what make me happy conflicts with the expectations of my family and friends? In that case what do I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, you need to balance both. Balance between your search for happiness and the expectation of others from you. It is a little delicate but you should definitely make an effort.
Q: What is the need for meditation and relaxation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you relax, the mind expands.
Have you noticed when you are happy what happens? Something inside you starts expanding.
And when you are unhappy what happens? Something inside you starts shrinking.
So when you relax the body, then the mind starts blossoming.
Miles of Smiles
“The Whole World is made Up of People and Mistakes, Forgive the mistakes and Love the People.”
– Acharya Ratnananda
Acharya Ratnananda, affectionately called ‘Pitaji’ was a renowned vedic scholar from Bangalore. He hailed from a family of spiritual masters. His parents were associated with the youngest son of Mahatma Gandhi and took active part in India’s freedom struggle. He was the father of the world renowned sage and scholar His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the inspiration behind ‘The Art of Living’ programs all over the world.
He was a founder trustee of Ved Vignan Maha Vidya Peeth (VVMVP) – a well known educational and charitable trust and VISTA (Value Integrated Services To All) India – a charitable organization engaged in uplifting poor rural women and children in Karnataka state, India. He received his education in a Christian institution and studied the ancient Indian scriptures at home. This twofold approach gave him a clearer perception of the eastern and western schools of thoughts, in matters influencing life on the physical, mental and emotional planes.
His special field of research was Ancient Indian heritage and its practical applications in modern times, as also the Ancient sciences of medical astrology, yoga and ayurveda. Pitaji compiled many notable folklore tales of India, which have great relevance in the present day. There are being presented as “Tales for Young and Old”, “More light on the lesser known” and “A Bird’s Eye view of the Religious Traditions of the World”.
He has travelled far and wide in India and abroad, spreading the message of love and joy and creating awareness about the reservoir of scientific and spiritual wisdom in the Ancient scriptures.
We express our gratefulness for his guidance and strength.
The following are the answers given by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar by the questions asked by audience at Bangalore Art of Living Ashram on August 30th, 2013.
How do we deal with constant blame, especially from a dear one?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, you get used to anything that is constant (Laughter). So don’t worry about it. If someone constantly keeps blaming you, then do not care about it.
It happens so often, when mothers constantly blaming their children, the children stop caring about what their mother is saying. This is because they know she is going to continue the same behaviour every day, right?
The trouble happens when someone who never complains suddenly complains. When someone who is never rude suddenly becomes rude, that bothers you more, isn’t it so?
Either you are eternalizing the problem, or you lack the skill to deal with what is happening. These are the only two aspects to it. So skilfully handle these situations and do not eternalize them.
Everybody has a right to be a little imperfect. You should accept others’ imperfections and your own imperfections as well. When you do not accept peoples’ imperfections, you get angry. And when you do not accept your own imperfections you feel guilty and then you become angry at yourself. Both situations are not healthy and congenial for you. So, you need to keep a little space in life for imperfections, and just move on. Do not get stuck in the past.
Gurudev, Lord Krishna revealed His Vishwaroopa form (the Supreme Universal form of the Lord) to Arjuna. When will you reveal your Vishwaroopa form and to whom?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, the entire creation is the form of the Lord. This is what Vishwaroopa Darshan means. It means seeing the one Lord in everything around you, whether it is the rivers, the mountains, stones, people, or animals.
God is love. You must acquire this special vision first, only then will you be able to behold the Universal form of the Lord.
The narrow vision with which you perceive the world will not help. It is because you keep thinking, ‘Oh this person is like this, and that person is like that’. You cannot perceive the Universal form of the Lord when you vision is so clouded with cravings and aversions. First you must acquire this broad, all-encompassing vision of love, which I am anyway giving to you. Once you have this, you will automatically be able to see the Vishwaroopa form of the Lord.
Gurudev, you say that the human birth is precious and one gets this birth after passing through 84 lakh yonis (births or incarnations of the physical body). But the human beings today have to wake up early in the morning, rush to work on a scooter or in a local train, and face lots of problems, only to come back home tired, and goes to sleep. Sometimes one cannot even sleep due to stress. I am thinking if it was worth going through 84 lakh yonis to face all this.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It’s a good thought. There is a saying in Hindi: ‘Ajgar kare na chaakri, panchhi kare na kaam. Daas Maluka keh gayye, sabb ka daata Ram’ (One need not make efforts for anything as God provides for everyone).
When one has this faith, that God is the one who provides everyone with everything, then you will never lose your enthusiasm, come what may. When you go to office or travel in the local train, just look around you and see, there are so many good people who have such good and positive thoughts, as they go about their daily routines.
Work never gets done by worrying about it. It gets done by intelligent thinking and clever action. For that your mind needs to be calm and happy. And how do you bring that calmness and happiness to your mind when there are so many difficulties at work? It is by having that faith that God is there to look after and provide for everything that I need.
Tell me, how many of you here feel that whatever you wish for gets fulfilled? (Many devotees in the audience raise hands).
I am not able to do anything consistently. How can I develop this quality in me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankari: This you need to realize for yourself. How do you say that you cannot do anything consistently? Why do you label yourself like that?
First you should admit that you do not truly know yourself. When you do not know yourself, you do not know how much potential you have within you.
You have no idea about how many things you can do. So you have to first simply remove this label that ‘I cannot do this consistently’. That was the past. Right now you are different. Every moment you are new and different from what you were earlier.
Our life is like a river. You cannot get into the same water twice. So life is both new and ancient at the same time. Your consciousness is older than the stones, the rivers, the mountains and everything else in the universe. In fact, it is much older. Just like the sun is so old; it is around 19 billion years old. Yet every day the rays of the sun are new and fresh. You do not ever get the same rays tomorrow.
Gurudev, how can I live my life to its full potential?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is exactly what you are learning here (at the Art of Living). It is the ability to accommodate the opposites in life: rest with activity. If you are simply active all the time, it will not work. If you are only resting it will not work then too. You have to accommodate both. Got it?
Similarly you cannot be fun-loving and keep having fun all the time. You cannot also be serious all the time. You need to have fun and seriousness.
Similarly you need to be sensible and sensitive. Those who are sensible are not sensitive, and those who are sensitive are not sensible. You need both. You have to be direct yet you also have to be gentle. People who are direct often find themselves labelled as rude, and those who are gentle are many times considered to be weak and meek. We need a combination of the two: to be direct and gentle.
Gurudev, while expounding the Purushottam Yoga (The Yoga of the Supreme Being), Lord Krishna speaks about three Purushas or types of beings: Kshara, Akshara and the Uttam Purusha. Please throw some light on this.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Kshara means that which keeps on changing. The whole world and everything in it keeps on changing. So that which is constantly changing is a kind of Purusha (person or being).
Just observe within yourself, so many thoughts arise in your and so many feelings arise in you. Your body, your thoughts and your feelings, they all keep on changing constantly. Now that which does not change is what is called Akshara.
And the most subtle and fundamental Tattva (element) that is beyond these two modes is what we call as the Parama-purusha.
Gurudev, you have said that our ancient scholars never allowed our sacred scriptures to become limited or relevant only to one particular place or time. In that case, are these scriptures just stories told by these scholars, or are they real life events?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: They are all true events. But even while writing about these true events, our scholars did not allow the narratives to become specific or relevant to one place or time alone. This is the specialty of our scriptures.
It is like how someone was asked to write a poem that would hold true for all time and be relevant everywhere. If you write a poem only for a particular event or festival, such as Diwali or Holi, then you can sing that poem only during that time. You cannot sing the songs for Holi during any other festival, isn’t it? Such songs are for special times and specific occasions.
But some songs are such that they can be sung at any time. So our scriptures were written keeping in mind that they should be relevant everywhere and at all times.
Gurudev, you had tweeted two days back, ‘Celebrate with the inner stillness amidst all chaos and take full responsibility. Awaken the little Krishna in deep rest, because it is time to get witty, seriously! Inculcate wisdom playfully’. Please speak about this.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, celebrate with the inner stillness amidst all the chaos outside. So when there is chaos outside, you find that inner stillness.
Wisdom should not be a burden on the head. It should be very natural. So you should become playful through wisdom. Got it?
Gurudev, I am not able to behave intelligently or cleverly before the one whom I love and respect a lot. I do too many silly things because of this. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Never mind, it is alright. There is some beauty even in behaving foolishly. That silly behavior also amuses people.
Sometimes an intelligent person cannot give the joy and amusement that a foolish person gives because of his ways.