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?

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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 🙂

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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”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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 🙂

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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”

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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

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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!”

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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).

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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.

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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||

You can follow Sri Sri Ravishankar on various Social Media here (look for Verified mark for official accounts):

@SriSri (On Twitter)

https://www.facebook.com/HHSriSriRaviShankar (On Facebook)

https://plus.google.com/+SriSriRaviShankar (On Google Plus)

PS 🙂

I am on twitter https://twitter.com/surnell and on FB : https://www.facebook.com/SureshEn (Profile) and https://www.facebook.com/surnell (Page)

Selfless Service – Best Antidepressant

Why do we have the mood swings – against which was the very reason why we took up such practice in the first place. This question was posed  by an ardent devotee to the Master, His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar – (you can follow HIM on twitter here @SriSri or through the official Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/HHSriSriRaviShankar)  Many of us get into suspicion mode as to why despite so much of sadhana (spiritual practices like yoga, classical music etc) we are not elevated.

HE went about explaining the phenomenon saying, sadhana raises energy levels to such high levels that unless it is channelised productively, there could be some restlessness and uneasiness. The most productive channel is to be of service to others (Seva). Seva thus  is the panacea for these kinds of ills. But then to sustain Seva levels regular Sadhana is a must – therefore both of them go hand in hand. While on the subject, here is a nice story on selfless seva and its benefits to the sevak later on. (The original story is in German and here is the best translation that I could manage – all Credits to the original author for this wonderful story)

The Clouds

One hot summer morning a little Cloud rose out of the sea and floated lightly and happily across the blue sky. Far below lay the earth, brown, dry, and desolate, from drouth. The little Cloud could see the poor people of the earth working and suffering in the hot fields, while she herself floated on the morning breeze, hither and thither, without a care.

“Oh, if I could only help the poor people down there!” she thought. “If I could but make their work easier, or give the hungry ones food, or the thirsty a drink!”

And as the day passed, and the Cloud became larger, this wish to do something for the people of earth was ever greater in her heart.

On earth it grew hotter and hotter; the sun burned down so fiercely that the people were fainting in its rays; it seemed as if they must die of heat, and yet they were obliged to go on with their work, for they were very poor. Sometimes they stood and looked up at the Cloud, as if they were praying, and saying, “Ah, if you could help us!”

“I will help you; I will!” said the Cloud. And she began to sink softly down toward the earth.

But suddenly, as she floated down, she remembered something which had been told her when she was a tiny Cloud-child, in the lap of Mother Ocean: it had been whispered that if the Clouds go too near the earth they die. When she remembered this she held herself from sinking, and swayed here and there on the breeze, thinking,–thinking. But at last she stood quite still, and spoke boldly and proudly. She said, “Men of earth, I will help you, come what may!”

The thought made her suddenly marvelously big and strong and powerful. Never had she dreamed that she could be so big. Like a mighty angel of blessing she stood above the earth, and lifted her head and spread her wings far over the fields and woods. She was so great, so majestic, that men and animals were awe-struck at the sight; the trees and the grasses bowed before her; yet all the earth-creatures felt that she meant them well.

“Yes, I will help you,” cried the Cloud once more. “Take me to yourselves; I will give my life for you!”

As she said the words a wonderful light glowed from her heart, the sound of thunder rolled through the sky, and a love greater than words can tell filled the Cloud; down, down, close to the earth she swept, and gave up her life in a blessed, healing shower of rain.

That rain was the Cloud’s great deed; it was her death, too; but it was also her glory. Over the whole country-side, as far as the rain fell, a lovely rainbow sprang its arch, and all the brightest rays of heaven made its colors; it was the last greeting of a love so great that it sacrificed itself.

Soon that, too, was gone, but long, long afterward the men and animals who were saved by the Cloud kept her blessing in their hearts.

As seen, the fruits of seva continued to linger in form of blessing of the people and animal long after our existence – in case of the clouds the blessings ensured continuing supply of clouds to the mankind. How many songs or verses are written everyday in praise of Clouds to this day.

While we involve and indulge in seva and sadhana, it definitely raises our spirits (the extent of seva should be so high that we should’t have time to worry about our silly problems). We also find that our problems which were insurmountable (in our minds, of course) compares pitiably to the problems many other face much more bravely than us.

Seva is not a duty – it is an Opportunity! I am blessed with loads of opportunity that keeps coming my way, almost every moment. It has indeed enriched and enlivened my life. I am sure it does that to everyone.

To summarize, It pays to serve…It pays to do sadhana

PS: The photograph clicked from a flight in Chennai Skies on return flight from Colombo