#AOLShivaratri 2014 – All about Expansion

This journey in Art of Living and walking to keep pace (or sprinting) with His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has never ceased to Amaze me (I am sure many who have been here would feel the same)

From the Old Ashram which in those days was considered to huge enough to accommodate the entire AOL family, was not enough to take in a minuscule percentage of the Ever-growing One World Family, that it is today.

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Amphitheater in the Old Ashram

Then came the Vishalakshi Mantap and the Amphi Theater which we thought would definitely cater for ever expanding family atleast for 50 years, and Lo! It was rendered too small even for a weekend Satsang these days.

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Vishalakshi Mantap – The Temple of Meditation
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Amphitheater in Front of Vishalakshi Mantap

Action moved to the Yagyashala (which was further extended) and even that today appears to be like a One-Room Tenement accommodating 30 member family in a Metro.

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Yagyashala

And came up the Marquee Location in the Art of Living International Ashram, Gurupaduka Vanam last year. I was certain that it would be enough “for ever”

Gurupaduka Vanam – Eve of Shiva Ratri 2013
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Gurupaduka Vanam – Eve of Shiva Ratri 2013 – 260 Gram Devata Pujas

I ate the humble pie in exactly an year. From comfortable crowd that was accommodated last Shivaratri, every inch of the front stage and back stage was packed with sea of Humanity. Shivaratri 2014 saw record crowds participating in the Maha Rudrabhisheka – 75 countries, and every single state (29) of India was represented here. Presenting Shivaratri 2014 in 4 Collages below:

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Gurupaduka Vanam – Shiva Ratri 2014
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Gurupaduka Vanam – Shiva Ratri 2014 – Ashramites and Sevaks
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Gurupaduka Vanam – Shiva Ratri 2014 – Sea of Humanity
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Gurupaduka Vanam – Shiva Ratri 2014 – Speechless :-O
||Jai Gurudev||Om Namah Shivaya||Enhanced by Zemanta
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How Genuine is Sri Sri

Does it matter to anyone? I guess not. Reframe the question to something worthwhile – How Genuine is His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ‘s contribution to the mankind. Yes! I have answers for this, based on my personal experiences. No one can fault Him or Pick holes on this count.

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Rudra Puja

Call Him Satguru or Businessman or whatever, He indeed is  an entrepreneur par excellence albeit into a very noble Business – Bringing smiles on everyone’s face – humans, animals and environment. Wasn’t this the same almost insignificant personality who unlike any other speaker in the ‘Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders’ – United Nations, New York” wished that He would like to a smile on everyone’s face.

Nothing great about this wish since every leader worth his/her salt makes such wishes day in and day out. However defining difference was that He “committed & took responsibility” to make it happen.

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Remember we are talking about a time when the organization, The Art of Living (AOL) that He founded was not as popular as today and with limited resources at His disposal that indeed was a very populist commitment. There was stamp of Fake all over it. Greater leaders with virtually unlimited resources also had their eyebrows up and with question “How Genuine is Sri Sri” consuming them. This Satguru or Businessman Sri Sri also decided that charity or no meaningful social transformation can be done with an empty bowl. Businessman in Sri Sri decided to make an invaluable secret discovered by Him unselfishly to the world. Decide whether this is a sign of a Satguru or Businessman.  It also provides answers in great measure to the question “How Genuine is Sri Sri”

But wait a minute. Why do we have to look down upon “business”? In our ancient tradition we have always worshipped “Lakshmi” – The Goddess of wealth. We have honoured businessmen & entrepreneurs from time immemorial, with a varna dedicated to them.

Appointing ambassadors to carry the message of peace and love to every corner of the world, catering to every section of the population without any kinds of any barriers whatsoever – the program was self sustained, offering “affordable” stress management techniques  – yes the keyword is “affordable”. If certain section can afford no money, it was delivered free. Is this sign of a Satguru or Businessman?

Agreed! Ambassadors are not perfection personified simply because they are not HIM, just imperfect instruments trying to contribute their bit to the larger goal.

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Wait there are more answers to “How Genuine is Sri Sri”

That commitment made in UN speech was not forgotten. This Fake Satguru or Businessman also ensured that the funds thus generated is pumped back into the service of mankind in the form of Projects specifically targeted towards ensuring Home, Health, Hygiene, promoting Human Values and Harmony in diversity under the flagship initiative – 5H

Oh! Yes. Does the questions “How Genuine is Sri Sri” or is He a “Satguru or Businessman” linger? If yes, probably time to enrol and experience the program. As the saying goes there is not much you can do to define pain – you have to experience it. It is true in case of Bliss too.

I experientially discovered my Self as also answers to these questions. You deserve it too.

3Ps of Blogging – Purpose, Polish and Publish

A purpose firmly established decides the impact on the kind of blogger that you are, the contents you provide, the update frequency and maintenance of the same. A synergy of these activities would drive you towards the established purpose of blogging.

Establish a clear purpose : Common mistakes any blogger do (atleast early on) is not to define a specific purpose. Decide at the earliest, purpose of your blogging and ensure that you build relevance and a good fit as you continue building over it, lest it become an odd brick in an otherwise Architectural Marvel

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Else what? A big woolly Mess. What Else 🙂 You have a messy place. To draw an analogy it would be a miner’s nightmare. They hunt for Gold (very expensive, just like contents in your blog) but a messy dredging is unpleasant.

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The Reverse Possibility: Blogging for a Purpose

Be honest to yourself when you answer this question. If it is for money, so be it. Be clear! In any case the blogs would reveal the purpose (a clutter of Adsense Keywords in your blog content is a big give-away). By the way, there is nothing to be ashamed if it is for money – it is your personal space and efforts, none can grudge you this purpose.

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Now that importance of purpose is realized, the task is easy if you started the blog with a purpose – say, for promoting a business, or a person, or for critiquing – Here the goal of blogging is predetermined, the contents and update frequencies get defined by the purpose itself – for e.g if it is promoting business, it is pretty sure that it may not do anything with the blog itself but to do draw attention of target audience and channelizing that interest. This is where SEO pressures rules the roost and define the contents too. Similar is the case with any blogging that has a clearly defined purpose.

We have yet another purpose for blogging, which predominantly is where AOL bloggers can be classified. Blogging for hobby. It is generally assumed that it can be “free for all”, “no-hold barred”, “stress-free” blogging and has no purpose. Let’s get this clear. If there is no purpose for putting your thoughts on paper (or on a blogsite) it has no business to exist in the first place. Determine and brand even a hobby blogging – Humour, Current Affairs, Health or alternately I can suggest an easiest branding – Art of Living or His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. For one, you have so much that you can write about. Added to it, it can get you a lot of traffic (AOL is a world by itself).

This brings a new dimension and purpose to your blog. From Blogging as hobby, it now gets positioned as Blogging for Others/Someone (I will call it AOL, hereafter). Again, writing something on Gurudev or AOL doesn’t ensure success, it has to be formatted, designed and executed for Success.

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The Goals, Objectives and Values that represents AOL has to be factored before we Publish the blog.
The next few steps are specifically in respect of Hobby Bloggers writing about AOL/Gurudev. http://justconnect.artofliving.org does this for approved bloggers and the underlying philosophy can be adopted and applicable to your individual blogs too
Having established the purpose of a blog, it now needs to be reached out to the world viz Marketing. It involves two components

1) Identifying target audience
2) What is Written

This is a double whammy. Audience is automatically decided by “What” is written or you have to specifically write keeping in mind your target audience.

As any marketing person would know : Reaching out in any manner including Advertising is an aerial attack, but the war is won only on the ground. You don’t win readers or traffic to your blog from aerial attacks. You have to win them on the ground.

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Even in the age of internet, products (your blogs) are bought and sold online only if the customer (reader) has some advance knowledge about it. To explain better, in any modern war the Air Force is used to hit key targets, destroy capabilities and soften the enemy’s forces. But the war is won only when soldiers on the ground move in and capture lands, kingdoms, enemies or whatever their target was. No matter how superior an air force a battle is never won from the air. Marketing a blog (or for that matter Social Media itself) is similar to an air force, an aerial attack. No war can ever be won through just Marketing. It may soften the adversary, score a few major points or victories, win a few battles, but it will never win the war unless there is action and stuff on the ground. Therefore, Having Exciting Stuff to aspire for on the ground is the first step and a good start.

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About what is Written, or having a good stuff now calls for a dream or a vision for your blog itself. This also brands your blog and also entails being able to see the “finish line”. Blog on a whole has to have a vision and mission to be accomplished by each individual article/post needs to be aligned to this vision. In other words, all members in a group can share a “mission” but all may not have the same “vision”. It helps if the your blog can outline the vision and the finish line and ensure each post on it subscribes and aligns with it. (Extend this logic to a group blogging site, like http://www.artoflivingsblog.com or http://www.artoflivingsecrets.com) In order to achieve this, we need to have a STRATEGY.

Strategy is a much abused term. In cricket you will hear the commentator frequently talk about strategies, that is pure rubbish. The strategy in cricket is simple: Bat, ball, wicket, 11 players, bowling batting, boundary lines, pitch and higher run scorer wins. Simple! These don’t change every over or after every four or six as commentators keep asking. What can be changed is “Tactics” based on a particular situation of advantage or disadvantage that forces us to publish a post on the blog. However to start the game we need to adopt the best tactics that will suit our strategy once we have decided on the “WHAT I WRITE”. Once those tactics mature and keep producing good results they can be hammered to advantage. As marketing guru Al Ries says: Tactic is the nail, strategy is the hammer.

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Let me demonstrate the difference using the example of India Against Corruption in its earlier avatar. Arvind Kejriwal’s overall strategy was change in fighting corruption through Lokpal bill. Tactic was hunger strikes, gheraos and building local chapters of IACs in many metros. But when the tactics failed he decided he will go political. His strategy Lokpal failed. With a new political strategy, he has now made strange un-measureable and unrealistic “whats” like Direct people rule, laws to be made after direct consultation with people, prices to be decided by people, no unpopular laws blah blah etc. It’s destined to fail. Do his tactics back up his strategy? No. His current tactic is to expose corruption of individuals, allegations against top names and politicians. There is no match between his strategy and tactics. Those are, of course, his stated strategies. If there are certain hidden strategies, we don’t know. While he may manage to expose some individuals, his political strategy is destined to fail. It’s like George Bush saying: “We are not doing well in Afghanistan, let’s go bomb Iraq” – Our blog should not be like Aghanistan/Iraq bombing cited above.

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Now that the Strategy and Tactics are executed and first finish line is reached a newer finish line will get defined. It’s an on-going journey, an on-going process. It then becomes easier to define how, when and where our blogging journey leads or any course correction is needed.

This Blog of mine : Originally Published on http://justconnect.artofliving.org/blogging-tips-3ps-purpose-polish-publish/