#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.

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.


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
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

Walking and Leading my Path

On my wife Aparna’s  _th birthday (I dare not fill that up) my thoughts on what makes her very special. Let me start with a few words about her. A great thing about her is her over-riding desire to just give , give and give. Amazing lady who simply loves doing for others giving her 100% Ask any of our friends and relatives for endorsement – I am sure she would get overwhelming votes to beat Pranabda if it were for Presidential Elections.

With our Children

I always know she is my greatest supporter yet not afraid to challenge me and help me grow into a better person. Her faith in our chosen path I feel far exceeds mine, many a times and in the path some giant leaps that we have taken together successfully as a couple would have never happened without her support, willingness and strength.

To our children, she is the best mom one can hope or even imagine to get. She has created a wonderful home out of this house, that we all look forward to come back and chill.

Today, on her _th birthday (no, I still don’t dare to fill that blank despite the good words written earlier), I want to honor Aparna for being my wife. She is my best friend and mate that I could ever get. The Divine as always knew that my destiny is with her and led me to Aparna. And most importantly boy! I am extremely elated that I listened to Him!

Here is how her birthday began – blessed by whom we adore, respect and follow. His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar ji or the Art of Living Foundation

With HH Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar ji

Happy Birthday, Dearest Aparna and thanks for everything (and the delicious food that you always cook, I have to say this in anything that I write). We love you just the way you are! Wishing you a wonderful day which we surely would try to make. May this day which started on a great note, get better and better through the day and the year ahead.

Raising the toast on your Birthday – here we are… with Love

Me with the Birthday Girl

PS: The occasion sweetened due to the presence of Ashwin, Aparna (Addanki), Deepika, Bhanu akka and many senior Swamis and Teachers of AOL

Thou Art Priceless!!!

It indeed was a very overwhelming weekend and the Monday that started this week . Meet this nice person, let us call “X” whom I met recently and was saddled (according to this person) with irretrievable marital relationship. “X” felt so worthless when even someone who just met (yeah, myself) refused to see “X”‘s side of the story.

I went on an overdrive trying to convince this person to give the relationship another shot, because the decision that had just been taken seemed so final and very critical considering the society that we live in. While trying to salvage the marriage, I also told that nothing should be at the cost of one’s own happiness (first time someone thought for me is what “X” said – not even my parents or elders in the family thought about my needs) and I also added in our society, happiness is also hinged on being HAPPILY married.

“X” kept on reiterating “Personally, I am a failure, I am nothing, worthless, useless” whatever superlatives that could be used to run oneself down. I somehow sensed that “X” was upto something very stupid and told in so many words, that come what may, I dont expect “X” to resort to something violent and to make it abundantly clear told “taking out one’s life does not solve the problems and that doesn’t get the happiness to you anyway”

As a parting words, I also added that whatever the decision, me and my wife would stand by “X”- whatever be the cost to us, socially or financially. I forwarded a story to “X” once I got back home.

The story…..

A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a Rs. 1000/- Note. In the room of 200, he asked, ‘Who would like this Rs. 1000/- Note?’ Hands started going up.

He said, ‘I am going to give this Rs. 1000/- to one of you but first, let me do this. ‘He proceeded to crumple the note up. He then asked, ‘Who still wants it?’ Still the hands were up in the air.

‘Well,’ he replied, ‘What if I do this?’ And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe crumpled and dirty.

‘Now who still wants it?’ Still the hands went into the air.

‘My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth Rs. 1000/- .

Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless.

But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you should never lose your value in your own eyes. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless.

The message of this story was driven home and last night I got a email from this person “X” which said,

Dear Sureshji

“I had decided to end my life, more than for my happiness, “to ensure troubles” for my spouse. Don’t know what made you say it, but I realized that my contemplated action doesn’t bring me happiness which is the basic purpose of the whole exercise. As you rightly said, decided not to miss my Sadhana since it gave me succour in such a short time of practice.

I am so glad to say that you opened my eyes to realize my own worth (not that I did not know it, I was blinded like many others in this world – so a close friend like you is required just to sprinkle a bit of water and wake us up). Yeah! When I don’t realize my worth, I can’t expect it from anyone else (spouse, parents, friends, children or anyone for that matter). I would never run down myself even in my mind henceforth. Please quote this story or mine in your blogs, there are many who are on the verge just like I was on Sunday – who nevertheless deserve to live and fight on! If any life is saved by reading my experience, I consider a favour returned back to you.

I am sorry to state that my decision to walk out of the marriage stays – it is gone beyond repairs and at this time even sadhana is not helping me to come to terms with this reality (sure you are not pleased to hear this decision of mine ). Am shifting out next month. Will be in touch and will seek out when in need, I am sure there are a couple of strong shoulders  in you and your wife and Guruji (She means – Sri Sri Ravishankarji here – Follow HIM  here – @SriSri), that I can rely on. My love to kids and pray for me”



Sharing it here, because “X” wanted this posted all over the world. Another thing, please dont stay with the negative part of this blog. I would like everyone to stay focussed on the “Note” story and the positives that this story effected.