Sai Suresh Siva Swami, managing editor from rediff was so excited about the whole experience of his meeting with Sri Sri Ravishankar as part of rediff's coverage of Art of Living Silver Jubilee Celebrations, I told him to share it on his blog.
Nikhil Lakshman (Vice President, editorial, rediff), Sai, Jewela and Shailesh (rediff journalists) were at Bangalore Ashram on Monday to facilitate rediff chat and an interview with our beloved Guruji. This chat was held in the Vishalakshi Mantap, (see the photo on my iland home.) while all the devotees were sitting in the auditorium. This is the place where I had done two of my advanced meditation courses including one with Guruji. The above picture shows the inside of the Auditorium.
The following article is from Sai's blog
Art of loving
February 13-14 has a significance in my life that goes beyond words. Years ago, the period represented an end of sorts. In a paradox, the same time also meant a revival. And this year, it found me on the threshold, literally, of a new experience.
In all my meanderings through life, even as I dipped my toe into many pools and some deeper waters, AoL was something I stayed off. This despite the many friends around who swore by the Art of Living mantra. Despite the visible presence the community had in publications.
My first, and till yesterday the only personal experience I had of AoL was attending a satsang by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar somewhere in New Jersey in the year 2001. Let me see what the whole fuss is about, was my attitude. If he can conquer the firangs, obviously he has made it in the spiritual guru sweepstakes, I thought.
So for the few hours I was there I kept an open mind. The session, if my memory serves me right, began with meditation, there was some chanting, and wound up with Sri Sri taking questions from the floor. I remember him emphasizing a lot on love and laughter, his quips keeping the gathering in good humour. The answers were not Theory of Relativity by any means; they were simple, down to earth, homespun wisdom.
A sample could be like this. Q: Where can I find god? A: Look within yourself, not outside. Q: Why am I unhappy? A: Because you have not learnt the art of being happy.
The crowd was mostly Indians, and I could see a few white skins, diehards for who India, anything about India, holds a mystical charm, I guess.
On Monday, I was at the AoL ashram outside Bangalore in connection with the Rediff @10 chat, my first foray into the world. Exactly a year ago I was at the gates of another retreat, but unspurred by professional interest. Was it pure happenstance that brought me to the gate of another one now?
The vision that greeted us as we entered the ashram was of Guruji emerging from his room. His mere sight is enough to reduce his followers to putty, or tears. Among the gurus I have seen or know about, he must easily be the most accessible. There is no barrier or gap between him and them, I could see. And through the most insistent request, he kept his child-like smile.
Through the day, we had a chance to interact in detail with him and his followers who have congregated outside Bangalore and who have converted the landscape into a carnival. And there are some vignettes that won't go away. Here are my thoughts on why Sri Sri is so immensely popular.
KISS. Sri Sri keeps it really simple. Not for him high-falutin spiritual pap. This simplicity keeps him one among his followers, not above them.
The human touch. Everyone talks of their channel to him. I am unable to figure it out, but he is on a one-to-one with his followers.
Love. There is a transparent, simple love he radiates. Can there be a more positive energy than this four-letter word that must be the most misconstrued one in the world? Love heals, love cures, love sets right, is the mantra Sri Sri hands out. And, hey, if you believe the message too, it will work for you.
So have you converted, too, is a question I have been inundated with since I got back. And there has been no change in my answer for all time. I am perfectly all right with the concept of guru; I have no problem with people seeking solace from a guru. We all have a vacuum in us, the need to be tutored, guided, yes. But personally, for myself, I am unable to elevate another human being to the status of god. Saying this is not to imply I am oh-so-strong that I don't need a steadying hand at my rudder. Perhaps I am one of those meant to go through life always seeking, never finding.