13th May marks a very special day on my calendar. Perhaps for many others too. Certainly for the entire Art of Living family ie. 1/3 of the globe! All for one person. Or icon. Or legend. Or Being. It’s his birthday! Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s. God’s gift to humankind!
The celebrations were incredible…I only wish they would last and last and last!!
Only 12 hours have passed and already it feels as though it was an event of yesteryears!
I’m not sure if it had ANYTHING to do with the actual planning and laying out and manifesting of the celebrations themselves. Instead I feel it had everything to do with just the presence of my Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar whom I had seen exactly one month and twelve days ago…or so.
It felt as though my eyes were taking in his image after EONS of time! My eyes, like a happy ecstatic puppy (that’s been left home alone for days), kept lapping in his Presence. Kept on giving Him these big, syrupy licks of joy…couldn’t contain themselves or the deluge of happy tears that splashed about my face and dress.
I had been unwell for days…still under medication for a truant digestive system. But the moment Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar stepped into the Yagyashala where the homas were unfolding…all my symptoms and complaints vanished and were magically replaced by a magnificent joy similar to the welcome and startling sight of sun rays piercing through a darkened sky of cumulonimbus clouds.
Until the previous day we had no idea whether Gurudev would be joining us or not in Art of Living’s headquarters at Bangalore for his birthday. So it all seemed so dreamlike when in the midst of the vedic chantings there was a sudden beating of drums & playing of bugles to welcome Gurudev’s entry!
I opened my eyes slowly to witness him appear like a mirage in a regal procession under an ornate cloth umbrella, customary to the traditions of the Guru’s formal arrival. The scene was reminiscent of Navratri puja days at Bangalore Ashram: So many agnikund pits to present offerings to various Gods. The weather itself had undergone a significant change with rain lashing down the previous two nights transforming the atmosphere to a pleasantly thrillingly hill-station clime. I’ve noticed it usually rains before his arrival – Nature itself celebrating his homecoming!
There was tree planting drive on the ashram grounds which I skipped as a nap was my ailing body’s demand. In the evening there was long Sudarshan Kriya followed by satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. This is nothing particularly out of the way from our usual ashram programs. It was a cozy, smaller than usual gathering. But that was because no one knew whether he was going to celebrate in Germany or up in the air – comfortably on his flight seat without the usual frenzied circle of fans around.
For any regular visitor to the ashram it was not a particularly BIG event, like the last birthday when Sri Sri personally met a lakh or more people in the Yagyashala – and it took him more than 3 hours to do so! A special choir singing was arranged and a couple of dance programs…not different from any other satsang with Gurudev. Even the usual troupe of ‘senior’ singers was missing! And yet it was probably the most special birthday I ever celebrated…just the person mattered…and the longing that had preceded it to make it one of the most glorious days in my life!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had said “Any excuse to celebrate is good enough,” and I would like to add, “Any excuse to celebrate with YOU is the best!!” Because celebrating with you is the perfect mix of love, longing, gratitude and silence…travelling into that quiet inner space of eternal celebration!
Happy Birthday Sri Sri and thank you for the most incredible Birthday!!