Who is lord Shiva ?

Shiva is the non-dual, eternal principle permeating the Creation. Unmanifest yet personal; to yogis, invisible yet obvious in His presence. You can recognize Shiva wherever there is truth, benevolence, beauty, innocence and knowledge.

There is great significance attached to every symbol associated with Shiva: from the color of Lord Shiva’s body to the serpent around His neck.
Understanding the symbolism allows the seeker to go beyond the form and gives us a deeper understanding of Divinity.

Mahashivatri is the day when material world merges which spiritual aspect. In year 2018, Mahashivratri will be celebrated on 13th Feb.

shivratri 2018

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Bhagwat Geeta – Every Action has Reaction

bhagavad-gita

Lord Krishna has said in The Bhagwat Gita that for every action of an individual, there will be a reaction. The immediate question, which arises is, should an individual refrain from performing any action, to escape from the eventual reaction? Of course, it is more than obvious, that Lord Krishna did not imply the latter. Because during the Mahabharata war itself, he asks Arjuna, not to run away from his duties, and to perform his actions. What does one make of this? Because if we look at the statement logically, then we will conclude that an individual will forever be trapped in this cycle of action and reaction. Moreover, are our actions, our own? In so many instances, during court hearings, we have heard of murder convicts say, that what they did, was beyond their control and they could not have done any other action at that moment. It happens with us too. Most of our actions and reactions are driven by factors beyond our control. For example, I get hungry, now what I eat depends on my mood and my mood could depend on so many other factors. So when my actions themselves are beyond my control, should I be worried about the reactions which accompany them? Thankfully, there are instances given throughout the Bhagwat Gita, where Lord Krishna himself answers these questions. Awareness of actions while performing them, and surrender of those actions, once they are performed, are two important ways, to ensure that the impending reactions are not damaging in nature. There are many more answers, and one needs to dive deep into the Bhagwat Gita to find them. Happy exploring!!!

VenuNaad in Presence of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Organised by the Art of Living (AOL) Foundation, the music concert titled ‘Venu Naad’ was scheduled on January 12 in Nashik and attempts to bring together thousands of flautists on a single stage measuring over 80,000 square feet.

“These musical concerts are a way to revive Indian classical music, values and spirituality,” says Santosh Kapdne fronm the Aol Foundation.

Pandit Ronu Mazumdar terms this opportunity as the biggest achievement of his life.

“This opportunity of conducting the ‘Venu Naad’ is the biggest achievement of my life, even bigger than my nomination for the Grammy awards in 1996. I wasn’t as happy even then. It is an emotional moment for me”, says Mazumdar.

Organisers say the legendary flautist Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia is set to attend the ‘Venu Naad’ as Chief Guest.

His presence stands to be a major inspiration for the artists playing in the event shares Pandit Mazumdar.

“I wanted him to bless all the flautists who would be present on stage, it would be a big inspiration for them to perform in front of the greatest flute player ever,” he says.

The ‘Venu Naad’ is based purely on the use of bamboo flute along with accompanying percussion, playing the ‘Raag Kalyan’, an evening raaga meant to spread the message of peace and belongingness.

Apart from the main seven-minute long ‘Venu Naad’ symphony, the evening would also compromise a solo piece by Mazumdar and a performance by International Art of Living Singer Vikram Hazra. The sound for the evening is set to be managed by Warren D’Souza.

Mazumdar says the the idea of the symphony came from the founder of Art of Living , Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Venunaad

“In the western world, it is popular for symphony orchestras to bring harmony. Gurudev asked us why can’t Indian instruments do the same. That is how the idea of the Venu Naad developed. We’ve been practicing for about two months now,” Mazumdar says.

Mazumdar has altered the conventional ‘alaap’ format to be able to maintain unison of the flautists for the duration of the concert.

“When we start the ‘Alaap’, it is not played in any kind of tempo, which creates scope for mistake. I’ve maintained a kind of tempo, like in a symphony orchestra, so as to minimize the chances of mistake and to keep up the unison in sound. I’m using my experience from the west here, it is going to be the same raag, yet the audiences will get to see something different”, he says.

The process of bringing together such a large number of flautists was a long and exhaustive one. Mazumdar sent his students across the country to pick flautists who could play on the E scale, which has been structured by Pandit Pannalal Ghosh.

“For this concert, we have 800 professional instrumentalists, the rest being amateurs. The training sessions were really tiring and it took us two-and-half months to reach this point. Our volunteers went to Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh, which is known as Bansuri Nagari or the land of flutes, to get 4,000 flutes for the concert”, says Mazumdar.

International participants from Pandit Mazumdar’s Indian School of Music in Chicago are also participating in the event, according to organisers.

The Responsibility of knowledge

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Responsibility of Knowledege by Sri Sri

“The day you feel hopeless, horrible, and worse, on that day get out of your room and ask people, What can I do you for you? The service you have done that day will bring a revolution inside you ”

Words always fall short, yet we endeavour, Shivaratri in Kollam, Kerala in the presence of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was yet another such splendid event indescribable in words. “Shivaratri is a journey from duality to devotion and devotion to oneness.”

Being in the presence of Guruji, to be in touch with such a Being, to exist in the same frame of time as Him and to learn from His knowledge and be a part of His love and grace is such a blessing.

Earlier this month Guruji traveled to West Bengal where he inspired youth to dedicate atleast six months of their lives in nation building. At a gathering of Government officials, corporate and media barons Guruji said “ A spiritual frame of mind is incorruptible.” At a visit in Patamda, Jharkhand Guruji urged naxalite youth to abdicate bullet and abide ballot. From there to Jails of Jharkhand He melted the hearts of many. Speaking at the International Women’s conference in Bangalore

Ashram Guruji delivering the inaugural address encouraged women to realize their potential as they are storehouses of talent and ability.

Our Cover story this month demystifies the concept of freedom. “Freedom is realizing that the world is of change, while the self is of non-change. You have to rely on the non-change and accept the change. To achieve and retain freedom there must be
awareness in the mind, love in the heart, and righteousness in action. “

March’s Knowledge of the month, “Changing mind sets” focuses on interpersonal relationship and the importance of relaxing and letting go. This knowledge leads us into the corporate section which focuses on improving communications and channelizing energies in creative development rather than making money by unethical means.

Our Seva column tells an inspiring story about the work done by youth leaders (Yuvacharyas) in West Bengal. We also explore the healing properties of orange and holy Basil in our Fruit and Herb columns. The food section carries a few recipes just right for the hot summer and yoga section highlights a couple of simple asanas to balance our body movements.
We love hearing from you, so please keep your comments and suggestions coming.

The Maya Called “Money” – Talk by Sri Sri

Following is the talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Maya (Ilusion) and Happiness.

Money gives one a sense of freedom and ownership. We feel that by having money, we can own anything or put a price tag on anybody’s services.

Ownership of something means total control of its existence from beginning to end. When we pay for a piece of land, we feel that we own it, although the land continues to exist even after the owner is long gone. How can you own something that outlives you?

Money also gives the idea that you are powerful and independent, blinding you to the fact that we live in a world of interdependence. We depend on farmers, cooks, drivers and the services of so many people around us. Even an expert surgeon cannot operate on himself; he depends on others. By paying a few currency notes we do away with the fact that we depend on them. Instead of feeling grateful we think it is we who oblige them.

If you take a look at why most people with money are arrogant you will find it is because of the feeling of independence that money brings. The awareness of dependence on the other hand makes one humble. The basic human tenet of humility is taken away by this false feeling of independence.

Human values have been eroded to such an extent that we even measure people in terms of their net worth on the money scale! Often in the west one talks in terms of “so and so is worth five hundred million,” etc. Can money really reflect the worth of a person? Calling someone a millionaire or a billionaire is not a compliment at all. Labeling a person so is actually a disgrace to the dignity of humanness. You cannot put a value to human life.

Wealth is attained through ones skills and abilities, inheritance or through corrupt means. Each means

of attaining wealth brings its own consequences.  The very motive for corruption is peace and happiness. Yet peace and happiness remain elusive when the means are corrupt.

Due to the illusory notions of independence, ownership and security that it brings, money is considered a part of ‘ maya .’  In Sanskrit it is said- “miyate anaya iti maya” which means ‘that which can be measured is maya ’. Hence everything in the world that can be measured is considered maya, money being one such measure.  Human values are eroded when you try to put a price tag on all that cannot be measured, like love, truth, wisdom and life itself.

On the other hand, there are those who criticize money and blame it for all the ills of society. There are some others who even consider it as evil. Not only does possessing money bring arrogance, rejecting it does too. Some people who renounce money take pride in their poverty just to draw attention and sympathy.

Happiness without money

However, the ancient sages never denigrated money or maya. In fact, they honoured it as a part of the divine and thereby transcended the grip of its illusion. They knew the secret that when you reject or hate something you can never transcend it.

They honoured wealth as Goddess Lakshmi – the consort of Narayana.  She is born out of yoga (yogaje yoga sambhute). It is yoga that transforms the bad karma and brings out latent skills and talents. It also brings up ashtasiddhis – the eight perfections, and nava nidhis – the nine wealths. It is this wisdom of yoga that transforms one from arrogance to self-confidence; from meekness to humility; from the burden of dependence to the realization of interdependence; from craving for freedom to the recognition of unbounded-ness, from a limited ownership to oneness with the whole.

In a state of ignorance, people forget that the most reliable thing in the universe is ourselves and start relying on money as a source of security. When people lack faith in divinity, in their own abilities and in the goodness of the society, they suffer from a

deep sense of insecurity. This is a major problem today. In this situation all that appear to provide security is money. They rely on something that is not certain, and they get upset.

Often people are certain about the world but uncertain about God. Uncertainty causes craving for stability. You can be at ease with the uncertainty of the world when you realize the certainty of the consciousness.

The world is of change; the Self is of non-change. You have to rely on the non-change and accept the change. If you are certain that everything is uncertain, then you are liberated. When you are uncertain in ignorance, then you become worried and tense. Uncertainty with awareness brings higher states of consciousness with a smile.

Often people think that certainty is freedom. If you feel the freedom when you are not certain, that is “real” freedom. Often your certainty or uncertainty is based on the relative world. Being certain about the uncertainty of the relative makes you certain about the existence of the absolute and brings a certain faith in the absolute.

Can one still be enthusiastic when one is uncertain? Yes, in knowledge you can be enthusiastic in uncertainty. Often people who are uncertain do not act; they simply sit and wait. Acting in uncertainty makes life a game, a challenge. Being in uncertainty is letting go. Certainty about the relative world creates dullness. Uncertainty about the Self creates fear.

Uncertainty about matter brings certainty about consciousness. When you feel time is too short, you are either restless or in a state of expanded awareness. When you feel time is too long, you are either miserable or keen-minded. When you are happy and love what you are doing, you lose track of time. When you are ahead of time, it is dragging and boring. When time is ahead of you, then you are surprised and shocked. You are unable to understand the play of events. In deep meditation, you are time and everything is happening in you. Events are happening in you like the clouds come and go in the sky. When you are with time, you are wise and at peace.

When the mind is happy, it expands; then time appears too short. When the mind is unhappy, it contracts; then time appears too long. When the mind is in equanimity, it transcends time. To escape from the two extremes, many resort to alcohol or sleep but when the mind is dull or unconscious, it is unable to experience itself. Samadhi – no-mindedness or timelessness – is peace, the real peace.

Just as the mind experiences time, this moment has a mind of its own, a Big Mind which has enormous and infinite organizing power. Thought is nothing but a ripple in this moment, and thus a few moments of samadhi infuse the mind with energy. Before you fall into slumber or as soon as you wake up from sleep, in the moments of twilight in the consciousness, experience timelessness.

When something is unbelievably beautiful or joyful, you wonder if it is a dream. Often what you perceive as reality is not joyful so when misery is there, you never wonder if it is a dream. You are sure it is real. This is like perceiving the real as unreal and unreal as real. In fact, all miseries are unreal. A wise man knows that happiness is real, as it is your very nature. Unhappiness is unreal because it is inflicted by memory. When you see everything as a dream, then you abide in your true nature.

The Art of Living International Center(Aerial View)

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