The Art of Living International Centre conducts Navratri celebration to embark the reverence to Mother Divine.
The Art of Living International Centre conducts Navratri celebration to embark the reverence to Mother Divine.
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!!!
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.
“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 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.
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.
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, 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.