Sep 23, 2008

My 1st poem in life which came out from me on the Janmashtami night dis is for u my beloved guruji " Without You"

Like the river that loses it's identity after meeting the sea
I have lost my identity after meeting u guruji
If u were not to be there
Then where would i be without you.

Where would the fragrance be, without the flower
How could the brightness be without the star
What would the beauty be if one could not see
And how could a devotee be if u were not there guruji.
If u were not to be there
Then where would i be without you.

They say everything has a beginning & an end
But when i look into your eyes
I still stand wondering
Whether i am starting from you or ending in you.

Like the young river flowing longingly
Along it's path to merge with the sea
I am flowing on this path to merge with you guruji.
If you were not to be there
Then where would i be without you.

Over the days & nights have i followed you
Over the lifetimes i have followed you
Finally stopped have you
And i have caught up with you.

Now whether you wish to come downeverytime with me or
Want me to comedown only with you
Choose whichever is convinient for you.
B'coz one thing is for sure
That not even for a moment in eternity
Am i gonna exist without you.

Sep 21, 2008

something i wrote, i call it "Ashes and Dust"

Sun rises, inducing life with its each falling ray;
Setting at dust, for stars and moon it must make way.

Trees blooming in spring ,like a thousand danseuses ,to the music of winds they sway;
Come autumn, the celebration stops for the same winds flit all away.

So let us live and just celebrate all the way;
For like everything else, we too will turn to ashes and dust some day.

The rivers move fiercely, colliding with rocks, falling sometimes a hundred feet people say;
All this although it will be lost forever in vast oceans and bays.

Birds chirp, quarrel, nibbling at grains in merry and fun filled ways;
Soon these little things will fly across endless skies, for road to home is never long as they say.

We are mere mortals, for unlike god we will turn to ashes and dust one day;
But that is the beauty, the boon , that it all ends for us one day.

Sep 15, 2008

The Guru Connection...

This is my 1st post n like Vasudha di said, even im an amature experimenting with blogging, so this post is not gonna be very hi-fi n slick but just simple n direct dil se!

All of us in this Z- 5 family are ordinary youth just like our peers yet so distinctly extra-ordinary. What makes our lives so different n exciting is the one magical thread that binds all of us together i.e our dearest Guruji and his unconditional grace. No languages & words are capable enough to discribe who is He or what is He for us. It can only be experienced by the few lucky and very special ones who come and take this course.

Sharing with you, one of these miracles that changed my life 360*!

It was monday, 23rd june 08, our Yes!++ i.e advance course had come to a memorable end. Most of us were leaving by evening but i was leaving early, in the morning by flight to reach back for my exams which were a day after. We all attended Rudra Puja - a grand Puja performed every monday morning in the Aashram in reverence to Lord Shiva.

I left the aashram by 8:45am for the Bangalore airport.

The Rickshaw Ride

In electronic city of Bangalore, with electronic meters in rickshaw, you still have to bargain before boarding!! So after some bargaining with the Kannada driver in his horrible hindi, I boarded the autorickshaw.

I started my journey with a blissful feeling of contentment n peace unlike the previous times when I would leave this second home of mine with a heavy heart. Stealing few last glipmses of the magnificent Vishalakshi Mantap, a thought ran in my mind, that even if I die the next moment, there won't be any regrets. Along the ride, I was enjoying the sight of Bangalore city in its wee hours.Banglaore is no different than aamchi Mumbai. Just that the hoardings and huge banners were in a language completely unknown and uninterpretable to us!!

It was around 10:15 am and my rickshaw was on the expressway.
Suddenly there was a loud collision with a terrible jerk!When I opened my eyes i saw my cellphone lying on the road. I got down, picked it up,turned around and the most scariest sight was staring back at me. My rickshaw was badly crushed, its windshield shattered and the driver lying unconcious on the wheel with blood gushing out from his face!
For few seconds I was just blank.. and then all of a sudden i heard cars honking all around me and saw people frantically signalling me to move away. The next moment a man was pulling me away from the center of the road, the traffic was stopped,3 people pulled out the unconcious driver ,whose face was so badly cut and he was immediately rushed to the hospital. Another person removed my luggage that was stuck inside. A traffic officer standing besides me was staring at me with a look of shock and amazement, asking again n again whether I was alright or had some injury..
A huge storm of emotions was welling up in me.. I was shocked, scared, confused.. felt like crying as I was stranded in an unknown place all alone with no transport and my flight within one n half hours.

...and GRACE in progress
Gathering courage, I took my bags and started walking, suddenly a man came running to me and asked if I needed help. I frantically explained that I had to reach the airport asap. He quickly led me to a nearby bus stop and stopped an official airport bus and helped me board it. After settling down, I slowly started digesting all that had just happened. I couldnt stop the tears of gratitude after realising that there was not even a scratch on my body!! I always wanted to experience some miracles in life, but here Guruji had actually gifted me my life back.. Its impossible to express what I was feeling then, I had never ever felt soo lucky! !

At this time I just wanted to speak to anyone of my friends back at the aashram and incidently at that time, all of them were meditating at Sumeru. After a few futile attempts, Neharika answered my call and hearing her voice I just felt so happy, couldnt hold back those joyful tears.. was so happy to be alive n be able to talk to my friends once again!
Till I reached the airport my friends kept talking to me, making me feel so comfortable n relaxed. On reaching the airport I came to know that my flight, instead of going directly, was now supposed to go to Mumbai via Kochi . Taking my own time I freshned up, had a cup of coffee n proceeded towards the check-in counter. To my surprise I couldn't find any other passengers lined up there (I thought I have reached before time). I went ahead, got checked and as soon as I came out, an airhostess came running towards me asking if my name was Shivangi. I thought how come she knows about my accident, that she is running towards me with so much concern, did I just become famous! The next moment I hear my name being announced on loud speakers all over requesting me to board my flight urgently.
This lady started running with my bags. We were immediately joined by one more officer who was giving orders on his walkie-talkie to send a van. It was so funny :) .. I was being escorted like a VIP!! The van took me quickly to the flight and I was immediately rushed inside and in next 2 mins the plane took off. I just couldnt believe, the whole damn flight was just waiting for 'ME' to board!! Wow !! I just wanted to shout out loud and tell Guruji how much I loved him.. and, it didn't end here.. He didnt leave any stone unturned. A girl sitting few seats behind me came up to me saying that she had seen me before as she was also from the advance course, going to mumbai. And it so happened that she was staying very close to my house.. so i was home dropped, lavishly in an air conditioned taxi :))

Just recollecting all this has made me nostalgic : ).. I couldnt have ask for anything more!

One more beautiful thing which happens on our course, is the friends that you get.. You are woven into the most pure, divine and priceless friendships one could ever find on planet earth. And especially in advance courses, the bond formed here with your friends is simply magical... So those who have not yet taken a YES!++, just register asap u just cant imagine what you are missing!!

Like Bawa puts it.. In Art Of Living we dont believe in miracles... we depend on them! So..have Faith, Believe and Know.. that you are so damn lucky to be on this path.. n as Guruji says.. Give miracles a chance in ur life :)))

Lots of love,


Sep 12, 2008


Hmm…I am neither a poet nor a writer. But here I am this moment wanting to pen down something to write on the Blog. Bau has been insisting that we all start a blog of our own. And has reassured that someone out there in the universe would definitely want to read it no matter what we write, this made me optimistic and execute this idea. So all of you who have never written before, here is your chance to explore the unknown writer that may exist in you :)

We created the vnvyesplusteam blog (Hope you all like the name, Please doooo, as it was suggested by MEEE and “approved by Virat”) (Its very rare that Me and Virat approve of something together ,for those of you who have been around may know what I am saying). Don’t take this wrongly as we have healthy discussions, which may look like fights but we both have a great laugh at the end.
I see this blog as an interactive place where we (the team participants) can express themselves with write ups ,poems ,snaps ,recipes ,games ,thoughts ,etc.. All team volunteers are invited to write on this blog and make it more fun for the readers .
So we welcome you to please leave your suggestions and comments for us to make this blog more interesting and fun and we will surely do what we can to improve .

Will leave you with some snapshots of the team . We started the VnV yes plus team around 6 months back and have had some great moments together.Here is a glimpse
Feb-2008 .The Clean up project.

June 2008 .The terrace rain party

8th July 2008.Mamta and Prashant Birthday treat

24th July .Karjat Picnic

9th July.Last day of 1st Yes Plus by Virat and Vasudha
There is lots more on the way. Will look forward for all your comments.


Sep 11, 2008

My First 'Namaz' !!!

It was a Friday. The one on the Bakra`Eid day. A very special day for the Muslims.

They looked surprised, both Basha and Malik. Although they hid it well, I caught an under-pulse of surprise on their faces. Their surprise was on my request. My request (a very casual one) went like this, "Hey Guys, today being such a special festival for you, I was wondering if I should come along with you to the mosque to offer Namaz". I thought they will be thrilled and happy. They were plain surprised.

Anyways they took me along. Basha had to stay back to finish some urgent work in office, so I went with Malik. Malik is an Indian Muslim, born in Bihar and raised in States. The mosque was in Bellevue downtown, and hundreds of Muslims, from India, Pakistan, Middle East and some American Muslims too, had gathered for the afternoon Namaz. I got reminded of my school days in Delhi when I used to go to Jamma Masjid to play with some of my Muslim classmates.

The mosques (and even temples for that matter) in the US do not quite look like the mosques and temples here. Many times you find regular buildings converted into mosques and temples, and hence you miss all the lovely religious architecture we enjoy in India. Yet you feel a sense of purity and sacredness as soon as you enter such a place, for the prayers of devotees can turn a ‘Khandar’ into a ‘Mahal’!!

As we entered the mosque I sensed an uneasy feeling drawing over Malik. The reason, I learned was that non-Muslims were not always welcome to enter mosques. Its different with Dargas. Anyone is welcome at the hundreds of Dargas around the world. Sufism in that sense comes very close to Hunduism! I was born in Ajmer and have been to the famous Darga of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, and have loved it. But this was different. I caught on to the uneasiness and was soon wondering if I did the right thing by coming along.

Then suddenly, this thought came over me, 'Hey! Wait a minute! What we do say on the course!?! 'I belong to you'! Every human is One. God is One!'. The next second i was flashing my 1000 watt Art Of Living smile and walking like I was entering the Vishalakshi Mantap in the Ashram!!

As we entered the mosque, Malik whispered in my ear, "Do exactly what I do". "Ok" I said. And so I watched him closely and copied him move to move, word to word. We first went to wash-up. And it was quite a wash-up. Folded our pants to the knees, folded our shirt-sleeves to the elbows - washed our faces, hands and legs. I was impressed with the diligence with which each person was cleaning the physical body before we entered the holy mosque.

Then we went inside and the namaz started. Many times we bent down and stood up again, many times we looked to the left and then to the right, and many times Malik looked at me to make sure I was not goofing up! I noticed that just like in temples or churches, no one was smiling! They had a serious appointment with God and were busy prioritizing their demands from the Almighty. I sat down and meditated for a few minutes. I remembered the stories Michael Fishmann had told us about Guruji meditating in Mecca and some of the oldest Jewish synagogues in His trips to Palestine.

The old noble Maulavi explained to us the essence of Islam, and encouraged all to do kind things to others. In my head, lines from the Indian Ocean song popped up.

"Vo hi baat madina mein hain, Jo hain baat Shivalay mein". So true. All faiths preach the same old ragged truth, and yet humans cleverly succeed in misunderstanding and manipulating the truth!

We got ready to leave. I was disappointed to realize that there wasnt any "prasad"! I was hoping to find some hot sevaiyas!! I bowed to Allah once again and exited.

Looking back, it was quite an experience. I recommend that we have one day in India, where all Hindus go to the mosque and offer a Namaz, and all Muslims go to a temple and chant Om Namah Shivaya! It is so difficult to be intolerant to another faith once you have participated in it!

And today, being Ganesh Chathurthi and the commencement of Ramzan, is a day which marks the beautiful blend of two oldest faiths in the world. India alone is a nation on the planet which can boast of a cultural heritage that peacefully allows all traditions to express their beliefs without any conflict (unless provoked politically)!!

Bismillah al Rahman al Rahim!

Ganbatti Bappa Moriya!

Sep 10, 2008

The Ferrero Rocher Knowledge

I found a few amongst us(YES!+ team) disturbed by a few people who preach knowledge but don't live it. So for all you folks who are victims of gyan and pravachan, heres a quick tip to get over this syndrome.
Its a very simple and yummy comaprision of knowledge with Ferrero Rocher(FR) (to those who do not know what Ferrero Rocher is, Please read-'1001 ways to Suicide').

Like we say in our intro talks, no gyan, no pravachan but sheer fun. And when we say that, we mean, no knowledge that sounds impractical and impossible for us to implement. Each and every one of us makes it a point that before we preach, we ourselves live that knowledge to avoid sounding it like 'pravachan'. So if someone is giving you a so called profound knowledge without him/her implementing it, that person is basically giving you a pack of Ferrero Rocher(FR). And when you open it and offer him/her the same, the reply is 'No sorry, I don't like choclates'. Now apply the 5th level of existence i.e. your intelligence. You are left with a sceptic thought about that knowledge and its your decision, whether to implement it because it is profound or drop it because it's preacher is not practising it. In chocolaty terms- whether to enjoy and relish the Italian chocolate, or to say No thanks. With due respect to the lipsmacking, crunchy bits of hazelnut wrapped in crispy thin layers of chocolate with roasted hazelnut in the core, will you ever, ever want to say NO THANKS. How do you care if the other person doesn't enjoy having it.
We are even more grateful to them who only preach knowledge, because they spare that bite of delicacy for us. So do not bother if someone doesn't like FR and is offering you. Just have it and thank that person for offering it to you.

The entire idea of this personification was to let you guys know that the knowledge points in AOL are as delicious as this chocolate, in fact even more delicious. And you can enjoy it only when you implement it. So go out and open yourself for as many FRs as you can and relish each one of them.

Jai Gurudev:-)

Sep 5, 2008

YES!+ is official in Cornell University.

Very happy to share the following Yes!+ success story with you (in case you havent already read the Esatsang).FYI - Cornell is an Ive League school - one of the TOP Universities in the WORLD!!!! Guruji spoke there a few years ago!!!This means that Yes!+ is now an official part of the curriculum at Cornell University!!! Something we should mention in our intro talks!!

From: Annelies Richmond <>
Date: Sep 2, 2008 11:50 PM
Subject: First YES!+ Course for credit at Cornell University

Tonight we finished our very first official YES!+ course for credit ( at Cornell University. Yeaayyy!! It went great!! We had a lot offreshmen since we only had three days to advertise during orientation for thisfirst one. The P.E. director was pleased and told us that as long as thestudents liked the teachers, then the word will spread and it will get more andmore popular.
We ran it more like Denise Marcus runs the Kaiser hospital courses, and how wedo the YES! Courses in schools: we did not have a picture of Guruji or tablewith flowers/candle, we avoided saying "God" or even "divine" much on thecourse, we did not do the bowing down process, and we kept it very interactive. Of course they asked about Guruji, and we showed a Knowledge video of him thatthey were GLUED to!!
The students are all super-excited about doing Part 2's!
This is how we listed YES!+ in the course catalog (and people actuallyregistered from this brief description, even with other meditation and yogaclasses listed!):
"YES!+ is an innovative and dynamic life skills program which empowers you withtools to eliminate stress, increase energy, handle negative emotions, increasemental focus, heighten awareness and develop strong social and leadershipskills."
Here are some of the responses!……
"This course has taught me a lot about how to look at life and work withwhatever comes my way. It has proven how the good comes with the bad but howpositive will always outweigh the negative. It has given me techniques tofocus and ways to slow down worrying. It helped put everything intoperspective about the big picture (accepting people, situations, the present)and so far has really changed my attitude about negative people/situations.Thank you sooooo much!!!" ~Cornell University freshman, 2008
"After YES!+ I feel much more relaxed, happy, and less stressed. This was avery life-changing experience that everyone should have the opportunity to try. I will carry these lessons and this experience with me throughout my future."~Cornell University freshman, 2008
"YES!+ is a course of self-discovery and liberation from the world. I feeltransformed. It was a discourse into a way of life that leads to astress-free, happier society. It's a very intense course that not only helpsyou to calm down but also to look at life with a different perspective."~Cornell University senior, 2008

Lots of Love and Jai Gurudev,Annelies and Asma

Sep 2, 2008

Indian Politics and its Pseudo Dynamism

When the British parliamentary system was launched in India, everyone thought that alike the former rulers we might have the sophisticated ‘House of commons’ and ‘House of lords’. But since India is famous for its great elephant walk i.e. doing every thing in its own style. We not only had loud-chirpy rajya sabhas and lokh sabhas but also had the political saga written in its own Rajneetik style.

India is said to be diverse in every aspect; be it its dignified foreign policies or our very own cultures and religions. A unique example of this historical diversity is the revolutionary freedom fight in which some preferred literally attacking the antagonists of the story, whereas others were led by non-violence. With such historical and geographical diversity, India had to be strategically and politically diverse as well.

The Indian politics, characterized by ‘democracy’, generated its own political concepts moving away from the usual diplomatic science. If the western have the Democrats and the Republican, India has its very own SANHGHS and PARIWARS, who not only influence the central government planning but also go on to write history in the form of riots.

In the post - independence era, the Regional parties have sowed more seeds of discrimination than what racism and caste system could ever do in the pre -independence period. Regional parties in the form of the Senas and Janta parties are kind of underworld dons in their own constituencies. Their major contribution to the great ‘tamasha’ has been the induction of the ‘Bandhs’. Bandhs, ironically, are enjoyed by many as ‘unofficial surprise holidays’ since supreme court has declared them illegal.

The new trend, which has hit the Indian political scene, is the ‘Coalitions Governments’. Last time these parties agreed on something was while forming the majority. The seemingly eternal fight between the ruling parties and the Lefts reminds us of the famous conflict between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. B R Ambedkar.

From poets to Cambridge returns, corporate workers to criminals, filmstars to sportsmen and doctorates to school drop outs ; India has had its leaders coming from every section of it. Unfortunately, only a few managed to make a difference. And of course not forgetting the important ‘C’ in politics lately, ‘corruption to politics’ is like ‘terrorism to humanity’ – Simply destructive.

A long ago, when our politics was spotted at its vulpine best; we had the epic, ‘Mahabharata’ written. ‘Shakuni’ and ‘Krishna’ both played tricks to make things work their way; though we know that there was only one ‘God’.

We may have reached 20,000 plus in Sensex or having jumping GDPs every year or our smart brains may be all set to dominate the worldwide software industry; but in governance, we still need another tryst with Destiny.

Sep 1, 2008

To the Americas and back!!!

Warning: Long sentimental Write-Up!

4th August, 2003. It's about 1am in the morning…….the scene is abuzz at the airport. Mom n Dad, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, friends, cousins, neighbors, ex-girl friends, more friends – all there to wish me good luck. Amidst the never ending lines of advice from elders, and the continuous reminders to keep in touch from friends, I steal the last glance of my motherland as I bid farewell to my family and friends. I leave a part of me behind in India. I make a promise to myself – I will return one day. Come what may!!

Within a few hours, I enter another planet. The US of A. I am living the American dream!

Time goes by….I learn new things….and forget few old ones……I train myself to roll my tongue when I say "r", I learn to call it the 'skedule' and not the 'schedule' (who cares what the Queen said), I change my DNA to throw in as many 'thankyous' and 'pleases' as I possibly can in every sentence. I am amazed by the roads, and by the sizes of things……

We create a mini India where we live. I return every evening to old bollywood songs and chai….we discuss cricket and Indian politics over tortillas replaced for rotis, we spend hours chatting with family and friends online…we graduate from school….join the IT army in the US.

There are times I cry and times I laugh….times I regret I left India and times I feel glad that I am not in India……..but there never is a time when I feel shaky about my decision to return – never. I know I will go.

And one fine Jan morning, the day comes for me to implement the plan…… bid farewell again…..I buy, for the first time, a One Way ticket to Bombay!

I come back with dreams and apprehensions……there is a shine of hope, mixed with a cloud of uncertainty, there are fears (some real, others unfounded), and there is excitement and happiness. Mostly, there is contentment. I am keeping the promise I made to myself. I come back to contribute to my country, for it needs good sons. I went as a boy and I come back as a man! I come back with skills to blend the Orient and the Occident, I decide to take the best of both the cultures and make my own. From the quick NY head nod of 'wassup, to the authentic folded namashkar, from pesto salads to bhel-puris, from Starbucks mochas to Nukkad Cuttings, from Minus 20 degrees to + 40, from bald eagles to peacocks………..I can do it all!!!

28th August 2008: Today, its been 6 months that I came back……I now live in Bombay.

As I sit by my balcony on this rainy wet night, I see the city wrapping up for the day. Although it never sleeps, Bombay does quieten up a little towards the night you know!

Tonight, there are approximately two thousand one hundred and fifty seven thoughts in my head!!! I take a stroll back to the Orange streets of Syracuse on a cold October evening, and I can still smell the hot coffee as I walk past the big old tree in the quad!

I catch glimpses of my life in the US while I do my mundane bits in the routine day. It’s just the same feeling that we get when we move to the US for the first time and keep seeing flashes of India now and then!! There are times I feel like running back to Seattle – and there are times I want to just be here. There are times when I feel like walking to the middle of nowhere and just vanishing into thin air!!

As I said, it’s been 6 months now. India has successfully swallowed me, just the way it does to anyone who comes to its shores. Some people pat me on the back and proudly call me a ‘True Indian’, others think I made a wrong decision in moving back to the rut of the Indian life. I take both and make nothing of them.

I have learnt that it’s not the place where you live – it’s how you live!!

"Mitti ki jo hain khushboo, tu kaise bhoolaayega
Tu chaahe kahin jaaye, tu laut ke aayega"

"The greatest journeys are the ones that bring you home"!!

Jai Hind – In God We Trust!


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