Sri Sri Ravi Shanker
Sri Ravi Shanker (Art of Living Guru) and me (Anuja Narain
Kimatrai, Shakun Narain's daughter) at Guruji's aashram on
Friday 16th December 2005
of his followers would give an arm and a leg for the
experience I had on friday. People flock by truckloads and
travel from afar to just get a glimpse of this 'God-Man'.
I, on the other hand had the opportunity to spend 20 undivided
minutes of his time in his personal meeting room. While there
were other devotees sitting around, no one uttered a word
while we spoke.
Sri Sri Ravi Shanker started a movement called the 'Art of
Living' 25 years ago which has grown into a worldwide way of
living with devotees worldwide ranging from presidents of
countries, to heads of multi-national corporations right to
ordinary people like you and me.
I have never attended the 'Art of Living' course but its
something that my mother has been urging me to attend for the
last couple of years. Lethargy and busy work schedules coupled
with the fear of being sucked into a cult kept me away from
Two weeks ago, a random e-mail popped into my box from the
chairman and president of my company. I had been picked to
work on a campaign for the 'Art of Living' (I work in
This got me to start reading up on this 'God-Man' and his 'way
A week passed and I got a call from the chairman of the
company. He said that my campaign had been appreciated (there
was more than one agency pitching for the campaign). He went
on to say that 'Guru-ji' (repected teacher in hindi) wanted to
meet me and that I was to fly to Bangalore to present the
revised campaign (few changes that he requested) myself.
To cut a long long story short. I finally made it to the
ashram on the outskirts of Bangalore city.
It was beautiful!
An oasis in the middle of nothingness...
A stunning meditation structure - lawns - little cottages, a
setting sun with hues of pink and orange and weather to die
I was made to wait outside his private meeting room bare foot
with hundreds of people standing around just waiting - waiting
The energy around was even more than what I had felt at the
live Michael Jackson concert years ago...
People just stood waiting...for a glimpse of their Guru.
Hoping that he would see them. Hoping that they would be
blessed by him. Hoping that they would be able to hand over
the little somethings they had brought as offerings...
I stood there with my portfolio bag waiting and watching..
saw a car approaching from the distance.
saw everyone suddenly scurrying around.
saw his secretary hurriedly working her way to the front of
the crowd in her bright red sari and pashmina shawl. She wasn’t
much older than me but had been living in the ashram for over
15 months. She, like me was a Bombay girl who had studied at a
good convent school in Bombay and had pretty much been brought
up like me… (except I did not go to convent school).
what a mad rush there was.
ran to try and open the door while the secretary struggled to
hold onto her pashmina, her folder, her mobile phone and the
stepped out of the car. And everyone bowed. They crossed their
hands, they bent and took his blessings.
slowly inched his way through the crowd and finally reached
the spot where I was standing. The volunteer standing with me
said “Guruji, This is Anuja. She has come from…”
she even completed her statement, Guruji said “Ahh yes.
Anuja from Bombay. You arrived today. When are you scheduled
have a flight at 11 pm” I said.
call you in soon” he smiled.
with the hundreds of people’s ears on tenterhook to hear
what he was saying to me, he disappeared into the meeting
crowd did not seem to disperse but rushed toward his
volunteers to try and get a private meeting with Guruji. A few
started rushing toward the meditation hall to get good seats
close to Guruji for the satsang (the musical prayer).
continued to stand there waiting and watching.
couldn’t have been more than 3 minutes and the door
had been summoned.
cranked their necks at the open door hoping for another peek
at their beloved Guruji.
was led right in and the door was bolted behind me.
was dark out and the lamps inside the meeting room gave a nice
room was carpeted and at the far end sat Guruji on a couch
with a tiny round table filled with sweets and fruits.
the carpeted floor was loads and loads more of fruits and
sweets (all to be distributed I assumed).
sat on the carpet all over the room leaving the sofa’s on
the edges of the room empty.
worked my way to the front of the room.
really cannot describe the next 20 minutes.
sat there and discussed work with this ‘God-Man’.
around me sat in silence.
continued to talk.
continued to talk.
smiled some more.
the end we just spoke – not work – just spoke.
smiled even some more.
gave me a choice between Indian sweets and bananas.
offered me bananas with his own hands.
asked if I could take a picture with him.
laughed and smiled even more.
secretary said “No flash, please”
moved the table in front of him away to give me place closer
to him for the picture.
kneeled and smiled.
work was done.
got up to collect my things still holding onto the bananas.
I turned he said “Why are you leaving, stay with us tonight”
didn’t know how to react. What to say… I was confused.
Shocked. I don’t even know what…
have not come prepared to stay this time. I will come back.”
smiled this time.
I left his private meeting room all his volunteers and his
secretary came rushing up to me to remind me (again) and tell
me how lucky I was to have such time and conversation with
Guruji especially considering that I had not even attended the
Art of Living course.
I am so lucky.
very close follower of Guruji said only one thing to me when I
told her about the whole experience.
said “Anuja, now that you’ve met him, I just want you to
do one thing. Start counting the coincidences in your life in
the next couple of days…”
minutes later bang – coincidence no. 1 occurred.
that a coincidence. Call it whatever.