Yesterday was a very exciting day, and it will probably go down as one of the most memorable days of my life.
Many thanks to a friend and coworker, I got the tickets to see Guruji (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) in Mumbai. I have “seen”, heard, and known about Guruji for over 5 years, but this is the first time I got to see him.
I got there by about 7:30 AM, There were already a good number of people gathered. Some were getting the stalls ready, a lot of volunteers were getting the podium ready. I walked in and took a seat in the third row of the section, strategically picking a place from where I thought I would have the best view of Guruji. Slowly, people started coming in and before I knew it, the place was full. Since this was my first gathering of AOL, I was observing the people, some were meditating, other were chatting, etc., From where I could see, it seemed like most people were in the 30-40 age bracket, dressed rather unassumingly, nothing ostentatious.
The volunteers arranged several bowls and filled them with rose petals along the “catwalk”. The layout of the podium was exactly like a fashion cat walk. By now, the expectation in the crowd was growing since it was already past 8 AM (the time by which program was supposed to start). After sometime, one of the other masters took to the podium and got every one to stand up and started making us do some light exercises. All good, actually glad he did that because it seemed like I might have dozed off sitting in that chair. Everybody in the crowd, (people around me) seemed to be very familiar with all the exercises. I thought perhaps most of these people have taken the Basic course.
Around 9:00 AM Guruji arrived on the podium. The moment I saw him my eyes welled up and tears ran down my cheeks. I am still not sure why, but it happened. It was not crying, it was not tears of joy, it was just tears. I just kept looking at him as he walked on the catwalk accepting flowers, greetings, letters, and perhaps more importantly soaking up the love and adulation in the air. I personally have not see such love in a rather public gathering. He picked up the mic and started speaking, it kind of started as a monologue, he talked about his trip to Karachi, a bit of fun about Sindhi food, also made a passing reference to the book “Proof of Heaven” mentioning that the primordial sound heard by the good doctor in coma was “AUM”. Made references to debt in US, depression in Germany, Yoga rave parties in Argentina, corruption in India and several other topics
What was interesting to watch was how the people were lapping up every word he said. Imagine taking a handful of pearls and throwing them into the crowd.
In my mind I said thank you to Guruji for all that he had done for our family. I mentioned to him (in my thoughts of course) that my sister needed help with one thing, and the answer that I heard back was “I know”
People asked many questions, “Ullasnagar is very dirty, how can we clean it? , “how can India make progress?”, “which is better karma or dharma”, “I always want to be with you, how can I do that” etc.,
A couple of answers stuck with me. A lady asked, “can I change my guru”, Guruji replied, “you do not change the guru, the guru changes you” that was really nicely said. Another person asked “what is your message for senior citizens?” Guruji replied, “you (senior citizens) have lived your lives, do not worry about what your son or daughter or wife or husband did or did not do, let go of it and enjoy the current moment” Another person asked, “what is your message for teenagers?” He replied “teenagers should be more mature and their parents should be more like the teenagers”
As the event progressed, I started wondering is AOL a cult? I do not know the answer. I do not believe that Guruji would somehow control people’s thinking and use mind games to influence their choices. However, if the people chose to let go of their rational senses, then not not sure if Guruji is to be blamed for it. Either way, I am a novice, and I enjoyed the moment. As the event came to a close, I thanked Guruji again (in my heart) and left the arena. As I was leaving, it emerged in my head that this closes the Mumbai chapter in my life.