Yesterday I was faced with a peculiar dilemma. I could stay back home and watch tv – a pretty interesting t20 cricket match was on – or I could stroll down the street and partake of a satsang organized by the “the art of living. And yes, the foundation’s very personable guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was himself leading this meet.

I decided for the satsang and ambled down to the open grounds to see what Sri Sri had to say – feeling that it being a cloudy day, we could have the meet much to ourselves. Imagine my surprise when I saw that more than 500 folks had turned up as well braving the weather.

The program started with a few songs – extremely well sung I should mention. They also had a short video of 5000 musicians rendering an effort that was truly transcendental. You can watch an encore here.

Sri Sri arrived looking immaculate a half hour later and sprinted up the dias. He flashed his evergreen smile and waved to the crowds. I was pleasantly surprised to see the crowds receiving him like they would a matinee idol. Considering this crowd had old men and women, middle aged folks and youngsters in equal proportion – this was unbelievable.

There followed a quick talk where he asked us “are you happy?” It’s a question that had many folks reflecting – happiness he seemed to indicate ought to come from within and not from outside (so your new car cannot make you happy forever, a sense of self worth can!).

He then asked us to reflect on the fact that while we liked everyone around us to be authentic, were we authentic too?

And why is it so difficult to be authentic? It’s because we are mostly operating out of fear. Operate out of a sense of love and gratefulness, and you’ll be living a very authentic life indeed he seemed to say.

He then led the crowd into an effortless meditation, post which he urged the folks present to spare a thought for the Srilankan refugees in India. The art of living was planning to petition the Indian president to help the refugees reclaim their life and the whole crowd rooting for him. And he did this all in Tamil, the local language (of course with English translation as well). A brief q&a, a couple of “honoring chief guest” sessions and a couple of songs later, we were done.

Thinking about it – the short meet led us to understand ourselves better, provided takeaways on what we should focus on in life and suggested a very pressing social challenge we could help address. Time well spent I figure.

The subjects discussed weren’t new but the charm, the laser like logic and the care for a social cause that the crowds identified with ensured it left a lasting impression on everyone.

2 hours, open grounds, a pinch of spirituality, some music – made for a perfect evening. And yes, I got to see the moon in her pristine glory as well – something I hadn’t noticed in a long, long while – so certainly worth a blog post and a heartfelt thanks to Sri Sri and the art of living team.

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