#AOLShivaratri – Celebrations in Art of Living Ashram

On 17th February 2015, a huge ensemble of Devotees descended on The Art of Living International Ashram to celebrate the Maha Shivaratri in the Presence of Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji.

It began with a ceremonial procession of the Grama Devata (with Utsava Murthy) and installation of the same at the Puja Sthala.

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It was a sea of humanity at The Art of Living International Centre, gathered in a scale bigger than ever before. It drew devotees from 61 countries. The live webcast had more than 20,000 viewers connected via 6ooo connections with footprints of 104 countries.

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Starting with a blissful meditation, it was time for the highlight of the evening, the auspicious Maha Rudrabhishekam, performed by Sri Sri. While the atmosphere was filled with the sacred chants, the diverse gathering meditated for the well-being of humanity. This was followed by an evening of music, meditation and wisdom.

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With the Rudram chants of young pandits reverberating in the entire place, it was a perfect setting for an evening to soak in bliss, evening for Bhajans, evening for delving deeper into the self.

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On the significance of Shivratri, Sri Sri said, “One of the factors that affect the mind and its moods is time. Our individual minds follow the rhythm in Nature. For example, the sunrise has a different feeling associated with it than sunset. In the same way, certain days are more conducive for spiritual practice.”

On Shivaratri, the matter and consciousness unite. The subtle and gross worlds come together. And that is the celebration. Shiva is everywhere; there is no place where Shiva is not there. There is not even an atom where Shiva is not there.

When we violate the laws of nature, that is when disturbance and anger happens in nature. All the floods, forest fires, calamities are nothing but the anger of the nature. Nature’s fury. And nature’s fury can only be calmed by the transcendental divine consciousnesses, that is Shiva. Shiva alone can calm down the fury of the nature.

Three types of disturbance are counted: soul, mind, and nature. These disturbances manifest as droughts, earthquakes, floods, and calamities of nature. At another level, these disturbances manifest as restlessness within and lack of direction. When you are in such a situation in life, there is no peace inside and there is no happiness or joy.

Shivaratri is the night when we pray for us to be free from all types of misery: physical, mental, emotional, social, and natural calamities. And bestow peace and wisdom to everyone. Namah means the mind coming back to its center. Manah means the mind going outward. Namah is the opposite. Going back to the origin. The secrets of nature are hidden. Now, we now wifi. But the secret of wifi was there from long time, but it was hidden. It is the blessing of divine that science is developing.

That is what the Vedas say, through your blessing that science gets manifested. Secrets of nature are revealed. Mantras means the secrets in the nature. Shiva is within the mantras. Shiva, you are hidden within the mantras, where no one can reach. And you are the source of all thoughts, positive or negative thoughts that rise in me. You protect us. Kaksha also means the unfathomable universe, which nobody can reach. The secrets of that universe only you can reveal to us.

With this prayer, we pray with our heart and soul for peace in the world, society, happiness in the individual, progress of knowledge and society. Yagyas are done using the five elements from thousands of years. Shivaratri, we perform this yagya from morning to the early hours of the next morning. This morning also we had a pooja.

Divine accepts you however you are. That is why we offer flowers, thorns, leaves in the pooja to signify that God accepts you the way you are.

If you are a fruit or flower, whatever stage of evolution you are (at), the one consciousness accepts you. And that is truth and that is beauty. The synonyms of Shiva are truth and beauty.
Benevolence, truth, and beauty are inseparable.

Know that god accepts you and rest deeply. This is meditation. When you come out of meditation, then work with determination. This is the meaning of Rudra.

Our body is the bow and the mind is the arrow of this bow. The arrow should hit the aim: the eternal consciousness (parama tattva). Our mind should be centered on reaching this goal, then the purpose of this body is fulfilled.

Today is the celebration of nature rejoicing the presence of benevolence, truth, and beauty.

Everyone is enjoying? Thousands of us here and many people have joined us on webcast. All of us collectively when we meditate, we create an electrifying field which will eliminate all negativities and uplift human spirit. Very nice.

Shiva means the most beautiful. Aghora is a word for Shiva, which means most beautiful.

ViruPaksha means there is no form, but there are eyes. Even when you close your eyes, you can still see. Everyone has this third eye, which sees. Not just one, but thousands of eyes. Eyes everywhere.

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He further added, ” Shivaratri is one of the most significant days to meditate and come in touch with the deepest aspect of our consciousness. It is associated with India but the phenomenon is universal and that is why so many people from all over the world come here to experience it.”

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Lord Shiva is one whose worship is simplest of all – He accepts flowers or thorns, leaves or stalks. He is calmness personified as also fierce in His form. Truth, Benevolence and Beauty (Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram) is His personification – attributes that are inseparable. By honoring the truth, appreciating the beauty and worshiping Shiva tattva is the easiest route to elevation of one’s life. Lord Shiva accepts you as you are – knowing this and going withing is Definition. Moving from state of “This should be” & “That shouldn’t be” towards “Let It Be”! Accepting what is as it is… is the Mantra for Bliss.

The Bhajans as always was enchanting and elevating the positive atmosphere – obviously with  Dr Manikantan-ji, Dr Nisha Manikantan-ji, Srinivas-ji, Shalini-ji, Chitra Roy-ji and others.

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Enthusiasts from all over India and abroad – Argentina, China, Brazil, Oman, Kuwait, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Russia, Taiwan were a part of the festivities.

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All in all – A Blissful Shivratri!!!

|Om Namah Shivaya|

Enjoy 6 Collages of my collection of Pictures

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Click here for complete collection of my photographs (uploaded on Facebook)

You can follow Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Twitter

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Kallahalli Temple – An Unforgettable Vaikunta Ekadashi

The Kallahalli Temple, also called Chikkatirupati (or small Tirupati) is a village near Kanakapura Taluk near Bangalore – renowned for its unique Sri Venkateshwara Temple (or Srinivasa Temple) . The Idol of the Main Deity, Sri Venkateshwara which is over 7000 years Old was a manifestation of the Lord Vishnu Himself in this form answering to the prayer of Sage Vashishta who did not beget any offspring. He worshipped Lord Venkateshwara and upon granted the wish he moves on to Shwetadri (Biligiri Rangana Betta, BR Hills)

The Idol then gets submerged in a lake around Kallahalli and remained submerged for nearly 6000 years. The Lord then appears in the dream of a Palegar (Feudal title of Military Governors appointed by Nayakas rulers) and indicates presence of this Idol which is the Lord Himself in the lake of Village Bannimukodlu near Kallahalli. He also orders Palegar to get the Idol extracted from this lake and build a Grand Temple for it. A wave of electrifying pulse passed through the body  & a Divine energy was felt by the Palegar as soon as the Idol is lifted from the lake and he knew there was something unique about this form of the Lord.

The Grama Hebbagilu (Portal)
The Grama Hebbagilu (Portal)

As he set out on transporting the Idol, after a small distance the wheels of the cart gave away exactly in the middle of Kallahalli Village which was taken as Lord way of signaling the place of installing the idol. This renowned temple came into existence as a result.

Another unique feature to note about the Idol of Kallahalli Srinivasa – Lord Venkateshwara is armed with Mace (Gada hasta dhari). He also holds Lotus holding Sri Mahalakshmi in the heart region (an unique feature since he is always seen with Goddess Padmavati too). Further the idol can be seen adorned with a Divine Crown, Ear Studs, an Attractive smile with perfectly carved lips, Sharp nose, a broad forehead region,  Divine palms in Varada Mudra and Kaustubha Garland. He also carries Panjajanya (the Conch), Sudarshana Chakra and has anklets, This Lord standing on the Lotus is a mesmerizing sight indeed.

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Presiding Deity – Lord Venkateshwara with Sri Vakshasthala Mahalakshmi

The Priests of this temple as a practice and custom has to be descendants of Sage Bharadwaja (Gotra has to be Bharadwaja).

It is believed that during the famous Chariot festival (called Maha Brahma Ratotsava) of Kallahalli on Vyasa Purnima day of Magha Month (around early February usually) Lord Venkateshwara surreptitiously leaves Tirupati exactly at the time of Mahamangalarati and becomes one with the Idol in Kallahalli – the reason why it is also known as Kallahalli (as he visits this place surreptitiously), Chikkatirupati (Smaller Tirupati) and the Lord is often referred to as Chorapura Srinivasa.

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You can reach this place by road from Bangalore City towards Kanakapura. Landmarks enroute Banashankari and the World famous The Art of Living International Ashram on your right and about 3kms before Kanakapura, turn right at the Mahadwara on your right (picture above) and the temple is off Kanakapura Main road (walkable distance)

We had great pleasure and privilege to conduct an Art of Living  Satsang in this temple on the auspicious occasion of Vaikunta Ekadashi and the authorities say the crowd easily exceeded 25,000 to 30,000 devotees. The experience was unforgettable – surreal atmosphere, highly vibrant and huge non-stop crowds running late into the night. Ever grateful to His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for His Blessings and grace and providing us with the opportunity as His Instruments to transform the soceity into a Divine one and the wherewithal (confidence, talent and situations to make it happen successfully)

A Satsang to Remember
A Satsang to Remember

Govinda Govinda

Jai Gurudev

#NavratriWithSriSri – Quiz

Posting all the questions here based on request from various friends (due to restricted access to facebook)

Identify the locations where the object in this photograph is clicked

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Rules and Regulations

  1. These are the set of 10 questions that was put up everyday starting from 8th October to 10th October 2013 i.e. a total of 30 questions
  2. You can use any resources within your means (except blackmailing us into giving out the answers)
  3. Quizzes were uploaded on Facebook between 0000 hrs and 0030 hrs on all the three days.
  4. Responses would be accepted (for each set) till 23:59 hrs of 30th October 2013 (to allow for those who are in Ashram for Celebrations to return). Please send your answers to aolquiz@gmail.com
  5. PLEASE NOTE: ANSWER ONLY BY EMAIL AND NOT ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER
  6. Answer format Photo number # (Check the number below the photograph) and the location which is your answer.
    E .g.  Email you answer in this format   Photo no 50 : Yagyashala  to aolquiz@gmail.com
  7. Please ensure specific Locations. Generic answers like Art of Living Campus or Kanakapura Road, Old Ashram side etc shall be avoided. Answers that identify exact location would get preference
  8. In case of tie, top 3 would be selected by draw of lots.  We shall however explore possibility of tweaking this rule to make it less dependent of fortune (one thought is to award those who answered  the earliest) – Suggestions are welcome
  9. Top 3 amongst the winners (since we consider every participant a winner) would be awarded the following:
    • FIRST PRIZE: Abhayanga Treatment for One (Visit http://www.srisripanchakarma.org/ for more details)
    • SECOND PRIZE: ”Yog Vashista” ACD
    • THIRD PRIZE: 1 Years’ Subscription of the Popular Art of Living Magazine – Rishimukh
  10. Once winners are announced, request you to mail your Preferred Language (check http://www.artoflivingmagazine.com for options), mailing address and mobile number
  11. Hint: All locations are on Art of Living’s Campus in Kanakpura Road, Bangalore, India
  12. Decision of Quiz Master is Final!!!

HAPPY QUIZZING!!!