It’s all well known how the world is embracing his call for globalising wisdom. Yet it is mesmerizing to see how Sri Sri gets thousands of people from different cultures and religions seamlessly soak in themselves in spiritual practices without any fear of sacrilege.
M Rajaque Rahman
Seeing is believing! Nobody who has had an experience of being in the presence of Sri Sri will ever question his aura. The halo around him has always been captured, with or without the camera! The magic that his mere presence casts on people around is beyond any doubt. Yet it was mesmerizing to see the pictures of his aura and its all-compassing divinity as captured by an independent aura reader! Sometimes, the gross does seem to be more real than the subtle.
As the mind-blowing images of his aura flip, there was no doubt left about how harmony spreads like a wave in his presence! How healing takes place! How negatives turns to positives! How aggression and ager vanish. The story of a raging fanatic who stormed the stage to attack Sri Sri melting in his presence is almost legendary in the Art of Living circuit. For those who haven’t heard it before, it happened during a lecture abroad. When Sri Sri noticed the aggressor, he calmly waved back the volunteers to let him come. Approaching the dais, as the man looked into Sri Sri’s eyes; he suddenly broke down and wept, and instantly became a devotee.
For someone who understands the spiritual realm, this phenomenon may sound quite natural and routine. Yet one thing that is really unusual and intriguing about Sri Sri’s presence is his ability to communicate wisdom. Just hold your breath and give a look at the crowd that gathered for the recent Navratri celebrations at the Art of Living International Centre in Bengaluru. You could see people from over 70 countries, and from different cultures and religions, seamlessly soaking in themselves in those Vedic rituals. What does he do to make them understand the essence behind the yagyas and drop all their fears of religious sacrilege? Or how does he manage to draw over 100,000 people to meditate with him in predominantly Catholic Argentina? Or how does he make orthodox clerics in Iraq endorse yoga and meditation as a way to attain taqwa (Islamic term for God-consciousness)?
It’s in his aura! Sri Sri has always had the unique gift of presenting the deepest truths in the simplest of words. Once in a satsang a youth asks what liberation is. Pat came the reply that it’s the same feeling that a student goes through after the last examination! Even unfathomable concepts like karma are explained with analogies that will make even a child understands them. Take this mind-blowing but self-explaining analogy to demystify the balance between spiritual pursuit and pleasure-seeking with that of applying brake or accelerator to a speeding car. The mind is the speeding car, braking its outward drive is yoga! How often we end up stepping on both!
His natural approach of articulating ancient Indian wisdom in simple and pragmatic style has played a big role in making Indian spirituality more acceptable and appealing globally. With his teachings which are universal and focused on something as ubiquitous as breath, he has freed spirituality from dogmatic beliefs. His ability to convey the essence sans the orthodoxy is what makes people from all faiths and beliefs feel comfortable in his presence. Without doubt, he makes people come out of their limited understanding of their faith and see the unity of God. In my 13-year long association with Sri Sri, I have never felt any of his teachings conflicted with my religious beliefs. Interestingly, he has this unique ability to make everybody understands his teachings in the context of their own faiths. Often devotees talk how they see in Sri Sri a Jesus, Nanak or Krishna for that matter, depending on what faith they come from. Contrast this with the teachings of evangelists who make conversion to one particular faith or the other mandatory to get the wisdom. Sri Sri has shown the world that truth is universal.
And the world is responding to his call for globalising wisdom with vivacity. Just follow Sri Sri in one of his tours abroad. From Iraq to Pakistan to Kosovo to Argentina, he has proved that Indian spirituality transcends all barriers. He has been welcomed into mosques, has addressed churches and touched hearts. I recall a media report that quoted a Pakistani as saying he got a real experience of India after meeting Sri Sri during his maiden visit to the country in 2002. It will be no exaggeration to say Sri Sri has done to Indian spirituality what Swami Vivekananda did to sensitise the world to the Vedanta philosophy and Mahatma Gandhi to the ideal of ahimsa.
A Master’s life is his message. And in this age, none have embodied his message as eloquently as has Sri Sri. No wonder, his words have inspired millions to give up self-centeredness and live a life of service and philanthropy. True to the Sanskrit saying ‘rishinaam yath chittanaam vaacham arthaanu dhaavate’ which means when a Rishi whose mind is vast and uncluttered speaks, his words carry the experience itself with them, Sri Sri has given deep spiritual and miraculous experiences to his devotes through his teachings. No wonder, Sri Sri is equally appealing to the common man as well as the highest spiritual seekers.
He gave a symbolic display of his all-compassing aura in his early days. It’s said that there were several instances when the young Master did not speak at all yet all those present in his courses were able to experience the teaching through his silence alone. Even today, the majority of the multitudes that turn to him are drawn by a glance, luminous gaze, a smile or just a Hmmm... And they always get what they need.
What is it that makes Sri Sri so special, so unique and so popular? He fulfills the five criteria of a true Master mentioned in the sastras. In his presence, knowledge blossoms; sorrow diminishes; joy wells up without any reason; lack diminishes, abundance dawns and all talents manifest. Only one who is free can bring freedom. And this is so obvious in his presence.
The biggest magic of his aura is the way he brings comfort and solace to the world, cutting across all barriers of race, religion, nationality, language and culture. More I try to comprehend how his magic works, more confounded it becomes. And every time I give up convincing myself that some things are beyond the obvious. How can I logically explain or dismiss an incident that I witnessed way back in 2008 when I was travelling in Assam. One day when I was walking by in a village, an old lady, in her late 80s, walked up to me, hardly managing to balance her frail body. As I approached her she said, “Ask your guru to heal me. My head keeps spinning all the time and I can’t sleep in the night. I have no money and strength to see a doctor and buy medicines. If he is a true guru, he can heal me.” I was told she had been suffering from hypertension for the last many years. It was very touching and I was feeling lost as she was too weak for me to make her do anything. Suddenly an idea came to my mind. I made her sit with her eyes closed and I meditated on her behalf sitting next to her. When I asked her to open the eyes after the meditation, she got up and broke into a dance-like movement. I was amused, but soon I figured out she was just trying to confirm that her head was not spinning anymore! I continued to go to her house and meditated with her for the next five days. By then, her dizziness was totally gone and she was looking much more energetic. And when I again met her two months later and I was delighted to see her much healthier and happier.