Nest to Rest

As I shared the information on the Social media (Facebook and Twitter) that we are headed to our 61st Gurupuja and Satsang of 2013 this evening, I received a few queries (I assume they were genuine ones) primarily centered around 2 questions:

  1. What is in it for you?
  2. What is in it for others/Society?


Though we never thought about this on lines of question above, I was pleasantly surprised to find that each one of my co-passengers in this blissful journey, pretty much had same reasons for the above questions when I spoke to . This blog is a summary of Why we do what we do 🙂


What is Satsang?

Googling for technical definitions of Satsangs will give you many descriptions: And I found this one pretty close to what has been our experience. Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means “gathering together for the truth” or, more simply, “being with the truth.” Truth is what is real, what exists. So all there is, is Truth.

A few quotes on Satsang from the Founder of The Art of Living Foundation, His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji who is the inspiration behind this journey of ours:

  • “Satsang, the company of the Truth, is the resting place for the mind and the spirit.
  • Give quality time to the divine, it will be rewarded. Give satsang and meditation your highest priority”
  • “Why do people need homes? Can they live like animals in the forest without shelter? Even intelligent animals make their homes. Man needs protection from changing nature. So he builds a shelter for physical comforts. In the same way, for spiritual and mental comfort – Satsang is the shelter”
  • “Satsang is the nest in which you can rest”


If we were to define experientially, On the outside, Satsang is the worldly version of an e-group, an opportunity & platform for us with some common interest to gather, enjoy, share and care.

Considering what a Satsang has done for each one of us, this is a very simplistic (and too limited definition). It is those moments when we just get together, sing, dance, meditate, share knowledge “SPONTANEOUSLY” Yes, the key here is “spontaneous”. We have never have a template (except the Sampradayic/ traditional sequence, though not prescribed has become a feature), we never plan or design a Satsang. It just Happens, the theme or mood gets set spontaneously based on needs of “that moment” A fellow Satsangi added, this clarity and overtness happens due to dissolution of Ego.

It is an expression of the inner joy that we experience, our way to share and show that we care. To summarize, we often refer to such Evenings (we do have Satsangs during the day too) as an evening of Gaana, Dhyana, Gyaana and “Khaana” – a time when it touches our heart and douches our mind, fills our heart and stills our mind.

This also answers “What is in it for us”
Everything” 🙂 is a single word answer. We do it for our own joy and growth. On the material level, an opportunity for whole lot of us to hone our talents, improve confidence – we have been in Satsangs with participants from 30 (at homes) to 2800+ (Brahma Chaitanya Mandira in Chintamani on Vaikunta Ekadashi day), enhance our state of mind when we are able to give those moments of smile and joy to others, better our public speaking skills, network with like minded individuals and groups and the usual perquisites of Gossip (no vile ones though) and of course, the Food 🙂

It is pertinent to also touch upon a question that someone asked – Isn’t this a Hero Worship or Vyakti Puja? Even for a moment assuming that this argument was true, our answer was “So what? Why not, if it enhances our state of mind, does it matter?” It anyway is an essential part of our culture, revering and honoring those who have added value to our lives. Our Satsangs or Gurupuja is not about worshipping the photo or any individual, it is an expression of Gratitude and acknowledging their role in our spiritual quest from a state of fullness.

A few words on the significance of Gurupuja (almost always an essential part of our Satsangs these days) maybe pertinent here. Guru Puja is a thanksgiving ceremony remembering all the ancient rishis, seers, sages in the Holy tradition of Masters, who have brought this knowledge of self. Puja means that which comes from the fullness and the five elements, which are used & one of the highest expressions of devotion and gratitude to the Master. Chanting the Guru Puja unites our minds with the Holy tradition of Spiritual Masters.

Let me also add another important thing here. In more than a decade & a half that I have known and got inspired by this Master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, there has been no attempt on His part to create thought-clones of Himself. He keeps emphasizing that everyone is equally endowed with the capacity to discriminate the Truth and the true teacher, or satguru, is within us. Guru Puja thus is more, a recogntion of the Guru Tatva or Essence of Master that is within us than a chant in praise of anyone else. In any case, Praising is a quality that we should nurture because that broadens our thinking – we always praise that which we aspire to become (or which we value)

What is in it for Others?
Nothing that we really plan for. We do it for our joy, our growth and our well-being. Anything else as the goal of our Satsang would be a lie 🙂

While there, I would like to also mention that many things in life is infectious. Benefits of Satsangs like our Joy, Growth and General Well-Being (both physically and mentally), we believe is infectious too. It rubs off on those around us. A time when everyone turns inwards and realize the temporary nature of our temporal pursuits. A time to realize that real Joy is within us, A time to disconnect our Joy from the Events. Do we need any other benefits that we can be to others and society through this route!


Incidentally,we do also address “Annadata Sukhibhava, Godaaana/Goraksha, Organic Farming, Education, Cleanliness/Hygiene, Women empowerment and Self help Groups, Rural-Urban partnership (on equal terms) and so on. But then these are mundane stuff compared to the Unerasable “Smile” that we put on peoples’ face.

We Share…. We Care….
||Jai Gurudev||

Updated with the 61st Satsang 🙂


Futile Outside-Cleansing Inside

There was this boy who thought he was being pestered by his father when he was asked to chant Bhagavad Gita everyday.

He demanded of his father “What is the point when I don’t understand a word of Samskruth it is in written in”

“Just do as I say, Son” replies the father. “you don’t lose anything anyway by chanting it”

A reluctant but choiceless son begins his Chanting practice everyday. A couple of weeks passes by. Apart from the fluency in chanting, he still doesn’t see any benefits or point in continuing this meaningless exercise.

He decides to rebel and goes back to his father, “It simply is torturous going through the motion with no benefits. Pardon me, with due respects to you, I don’t intend to continue this henceforth”


Father smiles and asks the boy, “See that basket (Tokri) there. Now use it and get water from river and fill this tank ?

Son see the futility of using this leaky basket but agrees nevertheless, anything to escape chanting Bhagavad Gita by rote. He picks it and goes to the river and fills water and walks towards the tank but water is drained out by the time he reaches there. He decides to do this a bit faster


No matter how fast he was, he was disappointed that he could not add more than a few drops into the tank, let alone fill it.

With a sense of resignation he goes back to his father and says, “I failed to achieve much but what was the point? When you well knew I could not fill the tank with a leaky basket)

Father smiles and replies, “Son, you really think that yours was a wasted effort? No! Look at the basket now. Your effort cleaned it as is now it is as good as new. Bhagavad Gita chanting seemingly appears pointless to you, but effects would be similar – It cleanses you!”


During my National High School days, Bhagavad Gita Chanting was an essential part of our compulsory morning School Prayers (Starting with Namaste sate te jagat kaaranaaya… which in itself is an amazing sloka to begin the school day with).


Though not so enthusiastic at that time, “Compulsory for Attendance marking”  left us with no choice but to be a part of it. Led by either Sri KT Sundara Sampath Kumarachar (KTS) and Sri Alasinga Bhattachar (SAB), two of my Samskrutha teachers who lead the chanting session, I vividly remember once Sri KTS saying, “Lord Sri Krishna intended and offered different levels of knowledge/instructions starting with basic level meant for every seeker and then building on it to take a more serious and observant seeker to Elevated levels” It did not make any sense to me at all. It was more of those naughty, not-so-complimentary nick names for those abbreviations KTS & SAB that was more interesting 😉

I also recall when SAB elucidated what KTS said on another day. Bhagavad Gita has a level for everyone like that milk fed to calf first. After milking the cow it is collected in cans which is more elevated (and deeper). Then it has cream and when churned further it gives out Butter and on slow heating gives out Ghee. Each level of more clarified, deeper and purer essence.


It is Bhagavad Gita discourse time these days from His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in The Art of Living Ashram. If you ever been here one of these days you would agree that, in HIS inimitable simple style,  He is elevating us to the next level of understanding Bhagavad Gita. Somethings that a few intellectuals with limited knowledge (even with the so called Science which itself has been proved and disproved again and again) would never understand. You want to see how beautiful the world is, with the guidance of  a Master, look through my eyes you will know the truth.

||Jai Gurudev and Jai Sri Krishna||

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PS 🙂

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Got back to my karma bhoomi, Chennai this morning. The best part of the drive is naturally beautiful landscapes and thanks to the Ex-PM Vajpayee, this road is a part of Golden Quadrilateral and worth the toll (4 in total) that we pay. I more than make this up in terms of time saved and fuel burnt too (4 1/2 hours drive with a loo break of about 10 minutes added in). Wondering why is it that I tire easier while returing from than while driving to Bangalore. Hey! no one need to explain the reasons. But a big emptiness is a result each time I return back. Especially the visits which includes lot of visits to Ashram.

It was amazing Christmas and New Year Eve – very different from my usual ones. Spent 2 days with who else but the guide and the Master in HIS presence. Cant help posting my report for both the days here –

25th December 2006

It was Christmas Party(an excuse for us to celebrate a birthday – Thanks Jesus!) very unlike the previous one of very many years. Gurudev was scheduled to be in The Ashram to celebrate Christmas with all of us and the festive mood set in early 25th Morning from the special breakfast which was indicative of things to come during the day. Yummm….delicious breakfast and then eagerly awaited Arrival of our beloved Guruji. The whole place was packed and it was a riot of colors predominantly red (Santa Caps, Red Jackets etc) and of course what is Christmas without that fat, jolly good Santa Claus. Art-Excel, YES, YES2 and YES+ course participants boys and girls brought in the required gaiety and mood which was nothing but JOLLY all the way. As an icing to this festive cake, lot of International Courses’ participants started landing in Ashram giving this Christmas in Ashram a truly International Flavour. The moment everyone eagerly awaited for weeks arrived and HE arrived! The air in Ashram resounded with the Jai Gurudev!!! and it was a treat to the ears. With his characteristic swaying and waving, he got down from the car and walked through – for everyone there it was the best Christmas Gift – proximity and presence of the Master. Gurudev then urged everyone to leave and have their lunch which was a great treat again. The Christmas tree in front of Kashyapa was tastefully decorated with lights, festoons, bells, stars and gifts 😉 Amphitheatre decorated even better (in fact acknowledged by Guruji during the Satsang with a congratulatory message to the volunteer team who decorated the amphitheatre).
The amphitheatre was getting filled up by the moment and by the time the Satsang got underway, the place was packed. The evening began with a nice rendition of Gowri Nandana, followed by Guru Narayana by Sahil. Next came Har Har Bole Shankara and in the middle of the song, in walked Guruji to the electrifying applause of the whole crowd. It was a sight to behold, an unforgettable Christmas for anyone present there in Ashram. He joined rendering Jai Jai Jai Devi Jagadamba. Subsequently on popular demand, Guruji rendered Madhava Madhusudhana, Yadava Yadunandana. It is amazing, indescribable feeling whenever HE sings this song. This was followed by a percussion performance by students of our Ayurveda college. This number that they performed had earlier won them a 2nd prize in the University cultural fete. It was a lovely performance which deserved the prize (maybe the first). It was wisdom time and in response to a question, Guruji says, Celebration happens when the mind stops chattering and stops working. Nothing is there to understand about Celebration. Life should be like a Christmas tree, full of lights and gifts for everybody and green for ever.

HOW I wished this evening never ended. The saving grace was that we have a New Year Eve Celebrations with Guruji to look forward to.

Wishing everyone a great Christmas!

31st December 2006

It was a another evening – as usual with all the gaiety and merriment that comes to be associated with any New Year Eve Celebrations. Spirits of non-liquid type flowed all over the place, reverberating with melodious strains of Bhajans. The fading lights never dimished the brightness surrounding the amphitheatre for the dais was filled with a galaxy of stars – led by Guruji along with stars from the Kannada Cine Industry, erstwhile Spin great, Cricketer BS Chandrashekar, HAL’s MD Mr. Saxena, AGM of SBM, Mr. Rao of Wipro who also bought the first ticket for Pranayam Dhyan Shibhir and Thiru Swamy from the ISKCON, Bangalore. It was also a curtain raiser event for the Pranayam Dhyan Shibir scheduled to be held in Bengalooru starting from Feb 5th 2007. The curtain raiser event began with lighting of lamp (incidentally the lamp moved from the edge of the dais right to the place where dignitaries were seated upon HIS request). All the speakers emphasized the importance of Pranayam and Dhyan and the great work being done by Art of Living and Guruji.

Some notable excerpts of the talk from the speakers:

Vishnuvardan, the star of Kannada cinema mentioned, “Guri muttuvudhakke, Guru Hinde Irabeku (If you have to reach your aim, you need to have a Guru behind you), But we are lucky because here is a Guru, Sri Sri who walks with us and helps us reach our aim.”

Thiruswamy of ISKCON, said, “Like how the lamp came to Guruji just as HE wished, the whole world today has come to HIM seeking HIS guidance. He commended relentless travel and efforts that Guruji puts in to spread the message of love and it was so visible in the Ashram” HE also recollected the characteristic composure of Guruji during SJC totally undaunted by the magnitude of the task. He also exhorted everyone to ensure that Bangalore PDS should be attended by not less than 1 Lakh people since it is not money nor title but the inner calm that brings happiness and this is possible only through the traditional spiritual pratices.

Then came the event of the evening – Guruji’s talk! He guided us through a meditation – linking it to the setting sun 3 Aum chants to bid a fond farewell to the the last sunset of the year and to welcome the Sun for the New Year. The next 10 minutes or so was pure bliss in meditation! and HE told all of us to retire and get ready to welcome the New Year at sunrise (making sure that sunrise time is not 8:00 AM 🙂 🙂 He stressed that as per Indian traditions, the day starts at sunrise and we dont have to wait till midnight to usher in the New Year.

His message for the New Year to all of us –

Accept both good and difficult times – learn from both good and difficult times that we went through during the previous year. Pray that we derive the Strength to face difficulties instead of wishing that there should not be any difficulties since we can learn a lot from difficulties too. We usually hold on to the difficult times in our minds instead of letting it pass after learning the lessons, just like the sugar cane which is sent to crushing unit – the juice (Knowledge) which needs to be held on to and the bagasse (difficulties) need to be dropped behind. He then asked us to question ourselves as to what we can do to the country, the world and to others, take a sankalpa for the New Year.

A Bharatnatyam performance followed and it was felicitaion time thereafter. The evening ended with delicious prasad and it was time to bid Bon Voyage to our beloved Gurudev who is leaving to Bad Antogast, Germany late in the night before which HE had an appointment to keep in the city. While it was retiring time for us, for HIM the day just began!

Wishing everyone a great New Year 2007 filled with joy and smiles.


  1. Did someone say that Divya (my daughter) was so lucky – first it was Art Excel and Now YES course in Ashram (though she was a few months underaged). Yes! Lucky Her! We never had these courses or God knows where I would have ended up
  2. Check the photo and carefully observe the circled face. Yes! it is Vishnu (my son) in the bottom circle and his cousin Abhay on the upper one, eagerly waiting for a handshake from HIM! on the New Year Eve – a photograph from the Indian Express.