We float in the effulgence of one scintillating unseen cosmic energy called the ‘Devi’ – the Divine Mother, womb of all creation.
Bhanu Narasimhan has played a key role in The Art of Living Foundation, since its inception. Founded in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The Art of Living Foundation is a non-proﬁt, educational and humanitarian NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) engaged in stress-management and service initiatives. The organization operates globally in 152 countries. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, her brother and guide, has been a constant source of support and direction for her. Bhanu has been instrumental in instituting the “Care for-Children” program, which provides education for underprivileged rural children, free of cost. The ﬁrst School to be supported by this program started in 1981 with 30 children in rural Bangalore. Now, 30 years later, there are there are 404 schools educating over 39,222 children in India. She is especially focused on education for girls and empowerment of women.
In 1997, Bhanu was one of the founding members of VISTA India (Value Integrated Services to All), an initiative that aims to provide economic and social self-sufficiency for disadvantaged women. The project was launched under the aegis of the Art of Living Foundation, and it has provided vocational training, entrepreneurship, and self-development workshops to more than 8,000 women in India. As part of their training, women are also introduced to programs that promote hygiene and women’s health in rural areas.Sri Sri Women’s Empowerment Program is another initiative on similar lines of VISTA and caters to underprivileged women in rural areas. There are two centers currently operating – one in rural Tamil Nadu and another in the outskirts of Bangalore. Women are trained in various vocational skills like tailoring, candle making, incense stick production, packaging and marketing, and other related skills in order to make them economically self-reliant.
Bhanu started the HARA (HIV/AIDS Awareness in Rural Areas) project to create awareness on HIV/AIDS in rural areas. The youth volunteers trained under a qualiﬁed medical doctor receive training in this ﬁeld and disseminate information in the rural areas. Since 2009, 40000 individuals across India have beneﬁtted from this initiative.In support of traditional art and culture, Bhanu has initiated the Weaver-to-Wearer project. The project identiﬁes skilled craftsmen in the traditional arts from rural areas and connects them with consumers around the world.
Bhanu has convened and chaired four international women’s leadership conferences since 2005. These conferences seek to provide a platform for women leaders to share their successes, and inspire one-another to s쳮d against formidable odds. Bhanu has been instrumental in bringing together people from different countries for various forums and guiding them on humanitarian projects.
Bhanu teaches Sahaj Samadhi Meditation and has initiated thousands of individuals around the world. A gifted singer, Bhanu has several albums to her credit comprising devotional bhajans and shlokas heard by people across the globe irrespective of their nationalities.
She holds a Masters Degree in Sanskrit Literature from Bangalore University. She is married with two sons, and lives in Bangalore, India.
Teachers play a pivotal role in the life of every child. Their presence and guidance lays a strong foundation for the child’s personality to blossom. When we think of our teachers we are reminded of our childhood and adolescent years making one nostalgic with fragrant and vivid memories of friends and our learning process, not to mention exam times!
Shiksha or learning begins when the child approaches the teacher with respect and reverence. A gardener puts a small fence around the sapling and provides all nourishment within that space; in time the small plant grows into a big tree. Similarly, the teacher develops and nurtures the child’s mind in a protected environment.
Whenever we learn something we get ‘disciplined’. There is a definite framework that is created in our life from which we can express ourselves clearly. Most of our problems are due to lack of proper expression and proper communication. When we know ourselves and when we know what we want in life, then we are able to put the two together and are able to express ourselves better.
Along with proper expression, skilful action is also necessary. Real education is when the learning is integrated in our life with skill. This is called ‘diksha’ and comes only from our guru or spiritual master. In the Indian tradition ‘Dakshinamurthy’, is honored as the first teacher. ‘Daksha’ means skill –skill in action, not just information.
In the olden days teaching was considered to be very noble and honorable. Teachers had the responsibility to mould the child in a stress-free environment. Today teaching is sometimes just another profession. When there is reverence, it reflects and makes so much difference in the ability to express and absorb the knowledge.
Further, learning is a never-ending process. Even a teacher is a student at many levels. When we realize that we are also constantly learning we can resonate well with what we do as a teacher. With an open mind, when we realize that we have so much to learn, then everything in creation teaches us something.
The majestic mountains teach us steadfastness and strength. The lotus flower teaches us how to be pure and untouched even in the face of adversities or challenging situations. The trees teach us to be useful to others in every aspect of our life. The flame of a candle rises upwards even when the candle is held upside down – setting an example for undying enthusiasm. The honey bees teach us the importance of team work. The caterpillar reminds us how the potential for a beautiful butterfly is hidden in each and every one. The flowing river teaches us humility. In Sanskrit the word for water and love are the same. Even rough stones become smooth as water flows over it. Similarly, in life, love makes you soft and supportive and not aggressive. A progressive attitude comes only when we have love and respect. True teachers nurture these values in the children ensuring that they can blossom into a beautiful and knowledgeable individual.
In Sanskrit, there is a saying, ‘Baladapi subhashitam grahyam’. Children are always in the present moment. They simply smile and move. If they fall, the get up and try again and yet again. There is no boredom in them while adults are often bored at the drop of a hat. There is so much to learn even from children.
There are so many teachers all around us and we bow down to all of them. Life itself is a continuous learning. In this, some teachers are obvious and the real one is your Guru – the one who takes you from darkness to light, from untruth to truth, from the ever-changing to the immortal, infinite Self that is truly you.