Anandway: Blog

Roadmaps to joy!

The meaning of Ganesh Utsav

The lord of the diverse universe is called Ganesh. The whole universe is nothing but groups of atoms, groups of quality, of energy. Gana means group and a group cannot exist without a lord. Like the queen bee whose mere existence brings forth the honeycomb, this diverse universe in itself is enough evidence for Ganesha's presence.

This Ganesha, or the lord, was born from the unmanifest transcendental consciousness, the Self, called Shiva. Just as when atoms get bonded, matter... comes into existence; when all the fragmented aspects of the human consciousness get bonded, Divine happens effortlessly and that is the birth of Ganesha from Shiva.

- Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Join us as we celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi 2016 at the Art of Living International Center, Bangalore.

Landscape Ideas 2

garden landscape idea river boat

A traditional rowing boat in a garden could be a lovely garden seat with a cup of coffee, a book to read and a few cushions!

The boat in this picture makes for an intriguing garden landscape feature at Krishna Kuteer, The Ayurveda Panchakarma and Spa center at The Art of Living International Center at Bangalore, India. The boat is made of solid wood and was probably used as a boat itself some time ago.

What is the significance of the Varna (classification system of the society)?

Varna System in society Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Q: What is the significance of the Varna (classification system of the society)? When all the saints have asked us to go beyond the classifications then from where did it originate?


#SriSri: Varna is a classification system within the society. It is an order of classification for education and application of that education. There are different classes within a society. Now, you want to take a medical branch after passing school, you want to become an engineer, lawyer or doctor – the order of these occupations is Varna. It is not according to the birth, but according to the occupation. This happens irrespective of the fact whether you want it or not. In every country, there are groups according to the respective trades or occupations. And it will always be there. There is a different group for the businessmen, different for the intellectuals, different for the professors, different groups for the writers. Similarly there is a different group for the soldiers; there is a defense ministry, where only matters related to this are discussed. So, in this way there will be the division of society on the basis of the occupation. And it is rightly so; the classification of society on the basis of the occupation. Why? In this manner, there would be skill enhancement, specialization and progress. This is why lord Krishna has said – “catur-varnyam maya srstam, guna-karma-vibhagasah”. That is- the division is on the basis the Guna (Quality) and the Karma(Work). The lord has created this system. And it is present throughout the world; this is not just India;. So, just know that the Varna is not according to the birth, it is according to the occupation. This can change too. A soldier does not have to remain soldier through his life; he can anytime choose to become a professor too. A teacher can anytime choose to become a soldier or even a trader.

Q: What is the significance of a Jyotirlinga?

Jyotirlinga in India Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Art of Living

Q: What is the significance of a Jyotirlinga?


#SriSri: ‘Jyoti’ means flame. The consciousness of a saint is like a flame. In the older days, wherever the saints stayed, they established these Jyotirlingas. They asked people to come there and meditate. If you see, the form of god is like a light and like a stone. He is the light within us. To make people aware of this the Jyotirlingas were established. People would go there, sit, pray and meditate – then they would discover their being. These places were called ‘Jyotirlingas’ because it is where people realized that they are the form of 'Jyoti' within. To identify these places, they called it Linga. What is a Linga? It means to identify. It is a marker. When a child is born, how do you identify whether it is a boy or a girl? You identify it by looking at the genitals. They give the sign of the gender. That’s why the genitals are also called the ‘Lingas’. Linga means the sign. Like ‘Gau’ means cow, thought and movement. How has the name for the cow been given as ‘Gau’? That is because the cow moves. Knowledge, movement, thoughts & liberation - these four are the root of ‘Gau’.Similarly, Linga means the identification. The genitals are the identifiers of the Gender. Similarly, the Shivalinga is the identification that there is God in the world. It is the identification for the God. You place a stone there; by looking at the stone you would remember the god which is in the form a flame; that which is omnipresent. These places were called Jyotirlingas, because there were saints present at the places. In the presence of Saints in the satsang – people would meditate and would find their light within. The Flame doesn’t refer to the flame of a lamp - but that we are ourselves are light. This is how the song – ‘Shivoham, Shivoham’ originated.
Then, these were spread throughout India for the people who could not travel from the North to the South or from the East to the West. In every corner of the country these 12 Jyotirlingas were created. From the Himalayas to Rameshwaram; from Vadiyanathdham to Gujrat these were established. This means at all these places the saints were present and they would help people in identifying the ‘Jyoti’. This is the significance of Jyotirlinga.

7 Spiritual cities of India

7 Spiritual cities of India, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Q: Please tell us about the seven spiritual cities in India and their relationship with chakras in the body.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes. Seven cities in India correspond to seven centres or chakras in our body: ‘Ayodhya Mathura Maya Kashi Kanchi Avantika Puri Dwarakavati caiva saptaide moksha dayika’ Maya or Haridwar 1 corresponds to the mooladhar chakra situated at the base of the spine. When the jadata or lethargy goes and enthusiasm begins, you commence your journey. Haridwar, the starting point, is the door to the house of the Divine.
Kanchi 2 corresponds to the swadhisthana chakra situated behind the genitals, as the presiding deity here is Kamakshi, the goddess of kama or desire.
Ayodhya 3 corresponds to the third chakra, the manipura, situated in the navel region, where joy, generosity, greed and jealousy manifest. All these emotions are connected to Ayodhya. It was the jealousy and greed of Kaikeyi that made Rama take vanavas. Ayodhya is also known for the generosity of Rama. The joy of Rama's return to Ayodhya is celebrated as Diwali. Joy, generosity, greed and jealousy meet in the nabhi pradesh, Ayodhya. Ayodhya also means where there is no fight, where it cannot hurt.
Mathura 4 is anahata, the heart chakra. The heart is associated with three emotions: Love, fear and hatred. Mathura symbolises the love and devotion of the gopis for Krishna, as well as of the fear and hatred of Kansa, all matters of the heart.
Avantika, also called Ujjain 5, is related to the vishuddha or the throat chakra. Ujjain is the city of art and literature. Poet Kalidas hailed from Ujjain. It is also the city of Vikramaditya, of grief and glory. We feel gratitude in the throat region - we get choked. Kashi 6 represents the ajna chakra situated between the eyebrows. Kashi has always been the seat of knowledge. That's why the ajna chakra is also called gyana chakshu, the third eye. Kashi is the city of pundits and scholars.
Dwaraka 7 represents the sahasrara, the crown chakra on top of the head. Dwarka literally means: ÒWhere is the door?Ó The door is irrelevant if there are no walls. Infinity has no walls. Krishna left his body in Dwarka. Sahasrara also means thousand avenues. It means the pathless path. The path to liberation begins at Haridwar and culminates at Dwarka.
The soul is called Purusha. Pura means a town. Purusha means one who lives in the town. The Purusha is unbound and infinite. But the Purusha experiences bondage with all the negative emotions. Positive feelings with knowledge are liberating. Positive feelings without knowledge create negative emotions that are stifling, hence one experiences bondage. When you observe the prana moving through different centres associated with sensations, the negative feelings cease to exist and one is liberated from bondage.
The seven sacred rivers are the Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Godavari, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri. Together with the seven sacred cities, they are linked to the seven sacred spots within you.

Haridwar, Kanchi, Ayodhya, Mathura, Ujjain, Kashi and Dwarka

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