Love, Duty and Service

“At some level, I feel that the Guru’s grace was always there in my life in a subtle way,” says Kishore Prasad, secretary to His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

“So many students take deviant paths when they face pressure, but somehow I was away from such negative influences, something used to stop me.”

After completing his graduation in Mysore, Kishore was working as a process associate for a financial company when he became involved with The Art of Living Foundation. Kishore did the Part I course in 1998 at his parent’s insistence, after observing positive changes that the course had brought out in a relative.

“I had once attended a satsang with Gurudev in the ashram even before I did the course.  There was a crowd of about 100 people and I was sitting at the back. After the satsang, Gurudev got up and walked to the door and suddenly he turned and pointed at me. He was holding a rose, with which he gently tapped my head.”

That’s when his life took a new turn. He did the Part I course a few months later and before he knew it, he was a full-time volunteer, taking care of The Art of Living centre in Mysore.

“One day, we were taking a walk with Gurudev in Sumeru Mantap and my mother, who had accompanied us on a trip to visit Gurudev, started complaining to him saying that I was not serious about my life. Gurudev then looked at me, smiled and asked if I was willing to come to ashram. I said, ‘If you wish I will come’.”

Sri Sri again asked him to come to the ashram in 2001 on a visit to Chamundi Hills (near Mysore) and by 2002, Kishore had moved to the ashram, as a sevak with the finance department.

He became a teacher with The Art of Living in 2004 and started travelling all over Karnataka teaching the Part I course in districts like Belgaum, Bagalkot, Bijapur, Hassan, Hubli and Dharwad and Channarayapatna.

One of his first major projects was organizing a Pranayam Dhyan Shivir (PDS) for Sri Sri in Hassan in 2007. He recalls how Sri Sri surprised him while he was teaching a Part I course that took place after the PDS.

“On the last day of the course, we were talking about guru’s grace when, suddenly, my phone rang. I saw that Gurudev was calling me and I requested him to address the grateful participants.”

A month later, at a meeting, Sri Sri asked him to be his secretary and by January 2008, Kishore was back at the ashram.

“Being in this position gives me an opportunity to learn so much about how to deal with people, how to patiently listen to people’s problems and concerns and do whatever one can to help them from one’s side,” explains Kishore.

“I have also learnt the value of belongingness, that regardless of whoever it is, one has to be available to help them and to be honest on whatever one takes up.”

He also feels that being a teacher has its own set of learning to offer. “It is not very easy to handle so many people. It is even more challenging to guide them all along, together on one path. But doing sadhana and being in knowledge has helped me overcome these small challenges.”

For him, sadhana plays an important role in doing his duty. He notes that it would be very difficult to handle his duties, which largely involves handling people, without sadhana.

“If I don’t do my sadhana, it becomes difficult to handle challenging situations and remain unshaken. Sadhana helps me easily sail through the inevitable storms of life and helps me remain calm and serene,” he points out.

To him duty and service are the same, and he is grateful for the opportunity.

“I do whatever I can, though it is not much, to help Gurudev for all that he has given me in this lifetime. All I want is the realization of his vision of Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam (One World Family) where the whole world is smiling and content.”

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Writer: Harshini Vakkalanka, Graphics: Gurudatt Anveker