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

Celebrating navratri festival:

Navratri celebrations

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.

Yagyas During navratri

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.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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.

Meditation is the best form of prayer

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.

This is the attitude when you have to go inward (Nivriti).When you have to come out and work (Pravritti), then you see perfection in even small details. Wherever you see imperfection, you have to pay attention on how you can correct it. Find out ways to improve on all the things.

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.