Coming Home- Art of Living International Centre,Bangalore
Art of Living
Art of Living is a volunteer based NGO which was founded by Spiritual Leader H.H.Sri Sri Ravishankar in 1981. Through its happiness programs, courses and service initiatives, Art of Living is committed to Sri Sri's vision of a violence-free and a stress-free society. Art of Living has regional centres in more than 150 countries with its headquaters in Bangalore.
My journey in Art of Living started in 2008 when I did the basic course and learnt Sudarshan Kriya. Sudarshan Kriya is a breathing teachnique wjioc h is very effective in reducing stress. Researches have proved that Sudarshan Kriya helps in improving well-being and peace of mind.
After doing my basic course, I soon did other courses offered by Art of Living- Advance meditation courses, DSN programs, Sehaj Samadhi Meditation, blessings course etc. I eventually became an Art of Living teacher in 2009 by my Master's grace.
It was in 2009 when I first went to Art of Living's International Centre at Bangalore, popularly called 'ashram'. Ashram is like our second home, paradise on Earth.
Life at the ashram is not easy. It's like a continuous yagya, where sincere seekers sacrifice their worldly vices to attain the ultimate bliss. Life at the ashram is a tapa which makes you physically and mentally strong. Here you live the life of a yogi who is in eternal bliss.
Do you meditate?
Vishalakshi Mandap is a floral shaped meditation hall which stands majestically at the centre of the ashram. A beautiful statue of Nandi is at the main entrance of Vishalakshi Mandap. H.H.Sri Sri Ravishankar, fondly called as Guruji by his devotees has this vision of 'Vasudheva Kutumbkam'- one world family and this is beautifully reflected in Vishalakshi Mandap. The meditation hall is named after amma (Guruji's mother) and there is a portrait of amma on one of the walls.
Thousands of devotees visit ashram every year. There is quite a rush during Navratri which is celebrated in a big way in ashram with homas and pujas during all the nine days. Stay at ashram is a pleasant experience due to excellent lodging facilities. The biggest of them is Aparna, which is right next to the ashram kitchen.
There is a small lake in the ashram and beside it, is the serene and beautiful Radha Kunj. It is a quiet pathway lined with plants and trees. A nature walk in Radha Kunj is such a soothing experience.
Sumeru Mandap is the old meditation hall which is situated on a hillock. It is an open floral shaped meditation hall which is an ideal place for meditation. On the way, you come across the old ashram buildings.
Ved Agam Sanskrit Maha Pathshala
Ved Agam Sanskrit Maha Pathshala is a Gurukul where boys study the ancient Vedic literature. It is situated besides the lake. You can hear the chants coming from the pathshala while you are taking a stroll in Radha Kunj at evening.
Sri Sri Ayurveda Panchakarma
Ashram has a Panchakarma Centre where Ayurvedic treatments, massages and spas can be availed. Ayurvedic doctors are available for consultation all the time.
Ashram kitchen has a huge dining area which can accomodate hundreds of devotees at a time. Satvic, vegetarian food is served at the kitchen at designated times. Devotees can also help in vegetable cutting seva at the kitchen during their spare time.
Yagyashala is a huge open space,covered by a shed where yagyas and satsangs take place. It can accomodate thousands of devotees at a time.
Cafe Vishala is a cafetaria in the ashram which serves yummy delicacies at nominal prices. The cafetaria is decorated aesthetically and is located at a pristine location.
Ashram has its won gaushala where there are cows of the desi breed. Going to the gaushala and spending some time there tending to the cows is an unforgettable experience in itself.
Other attractions at the ashram include Divine shop where you can buy books and cds of Sri Sri Ravishankar's discourses, Madhurya where you can buy clothes and artefacts, Sri Sri Kriti which sells products made by rural women, a rural school which provides free education to hundreds of kids from the nearby villages, Badri Vishala where Guruji meets visitors, Ganga Kutir and Shakti Kutir. Amphitheatre in front of Vishalakshi Mandap is the place where open satsangs are held every Sunday. Gurupaduka vanam is the new amphitheatre being created just at the entrance of the ashram. Indrani and Maheshwara, the ashram elephants are another attractions for the visitors.
More about the Ashram
Happiness programs take place regularly at the ashram. Weekend advance courses and Yoga retreats are a regular feature. Anyone who wants to do a course or wants to stay in the ashram are most welcome. The details about the courses are available on the official website of Art of Living.
© 2014 Shaloo Walia