One might think that life is made as soon as one becomes a student, let alone an ideal student, in the Indian Institute of Technology. But then for Dinesh Kashikar, something was always missing.
“I joined IIT in 1991. I was the general secretary of the hostel, I took part in theatre and I was generally a very successful student. Yet I was always looking for something though I did not know what I was looking for,” he recalls.
It wasn’t until 1995 that he got his answer. “It was my 21st birthday and one my friends told me about the Part-1 course of the Art of Living.” Initially he was not interested. “But then I went to a friend’s room, where I saw a photo of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He seemed to be looking into my eyes through that photo.”
He soon found himself doing the course in another fellow IIT-an Khurshed Batliwala’s house. “The Sudarshan Kriya was overwhelming, it blew me away. I knew that I had come home, this was it.”
He went on to do the Part-II or the Advanced Meditation course in Art of Living’s International Ashram in Bangalore. “I came back more relaxed. I found my relationships and my sports had improved. More than anything else, I began to feel that I had arrived. I found my calling. So I did not look back and began moving deeper into the knowledge.”
At the same time, he was pursuing his master’s degree in Chemical Engineering at IIT. “I began to feel that IIT was not for me. So I kept coming back to the ashram. But Guruji told me to finish my degree first. As soon as I finished, I moved to the ashram. I had only joined IIT because it was the ‘in’ thing to do then. I was going through life not knowing where I was headed.”
Dinesh decided that he wanted to be with his guru and do what he was doing. He moved to the ashram in 1998 and began looking after the administration, sometimes taking care of their publications and website.
“I never really focused on teaching though I loved yoga. I would lead the yoga sessions in the courses that happened at the ashram. So when the Art of Living Yoga started, Guruji told me to start teaching yoga after the Teachers Training Course.”
He became a yoga teacher in 2004 and since then he has been travelling around the world teaching yoga in countries like Russia, Poland, France, Germany, Mauritius, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, Sri Lanka and Mongolia. He also teaches extensively in India.
But he does not feel that teaching is restricted to courses. “Life is a teaching and in whatever manner one is able to help and make a difference, it’s worth doing. It’s a wonderful opportunity to carry the master’s message to as many people as possible,” he points out.
“It’s amazing how Guruji can bring out knowledge in every small incident. It’s equally amazing to see his vision and grace transform the lives of so many. There are thousands of teachers in every corner making a difference.” Dinesh marvels at the way Sri Sri operated through so many different mediums. “I feel grateful and proud to be part of something like this, in this planet, at this time.”
Spirituality for Dinesh means something quite simple. “Spirituality is all about naturalness, being yourself. All our lives we try to be someone else. So it brings great relaxation knowing that you don’t have to change or be anything.” Dinesh tries to carry Sri Sri’s message through various talks and sessions, drawing attention to whatever Sri Sri focuses on. His love for his Guru is quite obvious and profoundly impacting.
“In those days, Guruji used to take walks through the ashram in the evening. One day I was in such a hurry that I forgot to wear my slippers to the walk. Someone at the back pointed this out and told Guruji that I couldn’t come for the walk if did not have my slippers on,” he recollects. “Then Guruji turned and said ‘From today, no thorns will come in your path’. Since then, it has been easier for me to live in the knowledge and the grace.”
Dinesh is so lost in the learning that the present moment offers that he does not even have a vision for himself. “I find that being in the present moment is the best vision. This moment is ever changing and the knowledge of these techniques makes it so easy not to keep looking into the future,” he explains.
“It is more practical and inspiring to be in the present moment and recognize its miracle. It allows me to be more creative.”
He believes that knowledge leaves no aspect of life untouched, that leading a life of knowledge is as natural as breathing. “I have been with the Art of Living for 17 years now. It has been a great journey. I doubt if anything else, given the kind of life I have led, could have been as amazing. My practices are the backbone of the joyous life I lead,” he muses.
He cites Sri Sri’s quote “Love is not an emotion, it is your very existence,” as his favourite. “His knowledge has enabled me to experience this love and just be myself,” he finishes.
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Writer: Harshini Vakkalanka, Graphics: Niladri Dutta