Sunday, October 14, 2018

The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit!

A year ago, due to stormy rains in the city, a big rain tree fell uprooted outside our compound wall. The tree, circa a century old, stood witness to a couple of generations. It chose to fall without causing any hurt to unwary humans or property.

Planting the heavenly Parijat tree was our tribute to such a great soul! The Parijat is said to be one of the many gifts from Samudra manthan. It blooms occasionally especially after Ganga Dusshera. The flower has a very strong fragrance, used for incense sticks and perfume. Its medicinal applications are indeed vast.

Once when Krishna brought the tree to Dwarka, conflict arose between his consorts Rukmini-Satyabhama , both insisting to have the Parijath plant in their respective gardens. The astute Krishna planted the tree in such a manner that although it was planted in Satyabhama’s garden, its flowers would fall in Rukmini’s garden.In this way, Rukmini got the flowers and Satyabhama got the tree!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Festivities farsighted!

Here comes the fortnight of the Goddess (Devi Paksh). Preparations in full swing-a great time for artisans and idol crafters to showcase their creativity.Be it Ganesh Utsav, Dussera Durga Puja, Bombe Habba - Navaratri Kolu, display of dolls occupy pride of place.

When we explore the origin of these festivities, we cannot but admire the wisdom and farsightedness of our forebears. Traditionally ours being a strong pastoral, agrarian society, it became imperative to encourage dredging and de-silting of irrigation canals and riverbeds. To this end, idol-centric festivals provided strong eco -friendly fillip for requirement of clay sourced from such dredging operations.

Navaratri brings forth creative art & craft skills of family members on themes inspired by legends -Itihasas and Puranas. Pujas, rendition of sacred hymns and bhajans add to the flavour. In many locations now, Garba is performed in honour of Devi followed by Dandiya in merriment with extreme energy and vigour. Overall these festivities bring people closer in joyful, interactive ambience.

Monday, September 24, 2018

LKM- a genial soul, no more.

21 September 2018
With the passing away of Muthuswamy Naidu ( LKM) , sharing a flashback  upon his geniality and sense of humour.  Those were the early days of AOL in TN.  LKM  was continuously hitting the road to render promotional talks for voluntary groups of businessmen in Coimbatore District.
His opening remarks always tickled the curiosity of the audience.  “Friends I have yet to recover from the shock of losing a few lacs of rupees!” He would then unravel the backdrop. “For years I have been nursing a frozen shoulder that made it difficult to shift manual gears in my automobile. The manufacturer was also producing cars with floor gear. To make life easier, I invested in a new vehicle which had that option. A few weeks later I took the AOL course. On the third day they taught me the Sudarshan kriya, which released me completely of my frozen shoulder. The recovery was an enduring one; but it left me wondering, had this blessing been there a bit earlier, I could have well saved the few lacs that I invested in the new car!”
In the early years, he often travelled with his team to the ashram to carry out intensive seva. The courses coordinated by him at the serene Tirumurthy Hills were always housefull. Participants loved his personal touch in hospitality and care.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Teachers Day 2018

During my days at school Dr.Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, in whose honour the day is dedicated, reminded us: ‘The ultimate purpose of education is not the mere acquisition of knowledge and information but initiation into higher life.’ Your role is not confined just to impart the curriculum but to steer the class towards good human values as well.
It takes a big heart to be in this profession as a teacher. You could be just a teacher but to your students you are their role model! The cherished characteristic you can have is to be friendly and congenial with students. It is a plus, if students can share their problems with you without being afraid or hesitant.
Do take care of your health for your students’ sake. Allocate sometime for pranayama and meditation every morning before leaving for the School. This will keep you refreshed through the day. In the fast paced life today, there is a dire need to attend to your physical, mental, emotional health. Remember your class room lectures last for several hours in addition to regular daily conversations. The calories that you burn in the process do impact on your fitness levels. Hence the need to stay sufficiently hydrated during work hours.
May the divine grace and the wisdom of our  Guru Parampara be upon you all.
Extract from my address to Teachers today🦉

Friday, August 17, 2018

Thiru aadipooram – August, 2018

Usually in Southern calendar, the months are named based on the nakshatra that prevails during the Poornima -full moon. In the month of Aadi, full moon occurs during Aashada. During this period, the monsoon peaks on the west coast and the rivers of TN & Kerala, shrunken in the summer heat, get replenished, often to full levels.

The month marks the avatar of Sri Andal at Srivilliputtur, the venue of our satsang. The town comes alive with festivities including the legendary rath yatra that attracts devotees in very large numbers.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Nostalgic moments – Sumeru Sandhya 2018

Bangalore 5th August 2018

One of my early bhajans ‘Shankara Chandrasekhara’ in Madhyamavati was an all- time favourite of Amma. She and Gurudev inspired us to include it in the first album. It was sung in the first ever Sumeru Sandhya evening at the International Centre in 1998.

Two decades later, the bhajan featured in our Sumeru Sandhya last evening as a musical tribute to Amma at the iconic Visalakshi Mantap.
Sumeru Sandhya is the premier Art of Living Satsang experience. It is an evening event packed with Quality Music, heart touching Bhajans, Meditation and Knowledge.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

An ode to Ranganatha:

Srirangam in Southern India, located on an islet formed by the Twin Rivers Cauveri and Kollidam, is the foremost among the 108 Divyadesas. It has an eventful history, both traditional and historical. The beauty of Lord Ranganatha enshrined in this huge temple (156 acres), in his characteristic Yoga Nidra , has captivated all the legendary Saint Poets (Azhwars), leading to many beautiful hymns.
Legend talks about the Lord having informed Brahma of him appearing on his own volition, as an idol. Brahma appointed Surya to do the daily pooja as per agamas. The idol later passed on to the Ishvaku dynasty of Ayodhya. On his triumphant return from Lanka, at the coronation, Ram gave the idol as a gift to Vibhishana. Enroute to Lanka, when Vibhishana halted by the banks of Cauvery for his mid-day prayers, he placed Ranga at a place called Chandrapushkarani; upon return from bath, he performed the Pooja and lo! when he tried to lift the Vimana, it would not move. The Lord appeared before the distraught Vibhishana and consoled him saying that he had already decided to make the place His abode, where he could be worshipped daily. It is said that Vibhishana worships the Lord everyday at midnight.

Power of music and devotion

Reportedly, Saint Thyagaraja, one of the greatest musical composers of devotional hymns, arrived here during a 'Brahmotsava'. Being a stranger to the place, he could not get near the horse-vehicle. But the bearers could not move forward. It was soon known that the divine procession could be continued only after the Saint had his darshan of the Lord. The musical composition “O Ranga Sayee” was dedicated by the saint to the Lord, after this exhilarating experience.

Sri Sri Publications Album ‘Celestial Nectar’ Vol 3 contains the author's  Ode to Ranga; Here's a youtube link.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

"Gurudev-On the Plateau of the Peak"

The life of Gurudev has been one of simplicity and visionary intent. His biography "Gurudev-On the Plateau of the Peak" has been written by the author who has been the closest witness to Sri Sri’s extraordinary life. It offers insights into relatively unknown years of his life with captivating stories laced with humour. The author has been able to write the story in a way that attracts and keeps the reader’s attention.

It is said that a good book is more than just a well-written story; no matter how often you open a page and start reading, there is still something new to be discovered and the offering falls into this genre.

(With the author Smt.Bhanumathi Narasimhan. She leads the women welfare and child care initiatives at AOL)

Monday, April 23, 2018

An enchanting evening of Gaan and Dhyan at OK Mandapam

21st April 2018

The day marked events across the Nation to celebrate the avatara jayanthi of two spiritual titans Adi Shankaracharya (1230th Birth Anniversary) and Ramanujacharya (1001 birth anniversary) and our own Master (his star birthday)

It was fulfilling to see the large turnout from all age groups and sections of community from several Districts. They braved the scorching summer to reach the venue and were treated to the cool and gentle evening breeze.

It is said that when many meditate, energy multiplies exponentially. They could experience this phenomenon in full measure.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Guru, Super (Snow) Man

Weggis was the location chosen for the first overseas Advanced Meditation retreat in mid-nineties. When Gurudev told us about it, I was thrilled to my bones. It was the thick of winter too.
Swiss, the country with its numerous lakes, villages and the glorious Alpine peaks, not forgetting their cheese, chocolates, clocks, and snow everywhere flashed all over my eyes! 

The pride of Weggis namely Lake Lucerne and our venue was in proximity. The tranquillity of the beautiful lake and mountain panorama took my breath away. Mark Twain rightly named it the “loveliest place” he had ever visited. 

However “where is the snow” I asked myself. I thought the minute I landed in Switzerland, I would be immersed in soft white snow. Two days passed without a speck of snow! The climate was extremely mild and we only felt the presence of a warm down wind, providing clear views across Lake Lucerne. Every morning I would get up and rush to the window to see if I could catch a glimpse of the white fluffy snowfall. But it kept eluding. I was very disappointed and during the evening boat trip over the Lake, when the Master asked if I was enjoying myself, I said with my head down, “ Yes and No; I have not been able to see any snow at all!” With a twinkle in his eyes, he reacted with his usual Hmmmmm!

The next morning when I rushed to the window sceptically,was amazed to see before me a marvellous carpet of snow and snowflakes falling. I ran out of the room and woke up my friends shouting “It’s snowing, it’s snowing”. 

Hours later, the Master took all of us out. My joy knew no bounds when he showed us how to carve an angel in the snow. All day we spent outdoors, making snow man, snow balls and throwing snow over one another spurred by him. Those magical moments remain etched in my memory.

Courtesy - the travel diary of Chitra Madhavan:

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In memory of Acharya Srimushnam Srimadh Andavan:

In memory of Acharya Srimushnam Srimadh Andavan:

He has left in the path of light to serve the divine couple in the abode of Vaikunta  forever. Salutations to his lotus-like holy feet.

Devotees  will fondly cherish his benevolence and soulful singing, impeccable medicinal knowledge and an unsurpassed authority on scriptures. 

We carry fond memories of Gurudev’s interaction with him at Kumbakonam amidst our Southern tour two decades back along with all our devotees. During his tenure, for nearly three decades, as the Pontiff of this great heritage institution, he took many new initiatives of social relevance.