From marketing time on national television to being responsible for the distribution of spiritual knowledge to the nook and corner of this planet, Prasanna Prabhu’s life has taken on a paradigm shift of epic proportions.
Fifteen years ago, Prasanna was working hard with a TV serial production and marketing company, selling time for programs like Dekh bhai Dekh, Miss World and Miss Universe.
“Dekh Bhai Dekh was being produced by Jaya Bachchan and we also started working with her on setting up the Amitabh Bachchan Corporation, whose TV initiative I was taking care of. Then at one point I lost interest,” recalls Prasanna, now a trustee of the Sri Sri Publications trust.
It was also around that time that he met the secretary of the Doordarshan’s Director General, with whom he had to co-ordinate his regular meetings with the director.
“The secretary was involved with The Art of Living Foundation and he used to see me smoke 60 cigarettes every day. He asked me to do the Part-1 course. I only agreed because he said he will not get me any appointments with the director unless I did the course.”
After the Sudarshan Kriya, he found that for the first time in many years, his blood pressure was normal.
“One day when I was 17, I got into a bus and blanked out. The doctor found that my blood pressure was 240/160. He was shocked that I was even conscious. After taking many tests, it was found that my high blood pressure was hereditary. And when I measured my blood pressure after the kriya, it was actually normal! I felt so light after the kriya.”
Two weeks later Prasanna found himself on the Part-2 course in Rishikesh, where he met His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar for the first time.
“He hugged me and suddenly I found myself crying, wondering what’s happening. But I couldn’t stop. Then he asked me come to Bangalore and become a teacher. At that time I felt like I belong here, and that I had come back home. I was clear that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Later that year, Prasanna went to the Art of Living’s international center in Bangalore, for his second advanced course.
“Gurudev was going to Tamil Nadu for a 15 day temple tour and he asked me to accompany him. I told him that I had to go to Delhi on business. So he asked me to come with him to Chennai and then fly to Delhi.”
But somehow no arrangements were made even until the day of departure. “Finally, I packed my bags and kept them ready just in case something happens. Gurudev was due to leave after satsang and once it was over, Gurudev got into his car and left. But the car suddenly stopped at the gate and a group of people came running up asking for me.”
Having reached Tamil Nadu Sri Sri asked Prasanna to call his office.
“He asked me to check if there is any urgent work and if there’s nothing I could accompany him on the rest of the trip. When I called and they said I didn’t need to come because there was nothing to do for the next 15-20 days. This had never happened before, I was shocked.”
One thing led to another and Prasanna has been living in the ashram for over a decade now.
“I used to keep coming whenever Gurudev was there and at some point I stopped going back. One day Gurudev just told me to start taking care of publications, saying I would enjoy it.”
Along the way, Prasanna also became a teacher, teaching the Part-I course and the DSN (Divya Samaj ka Nirman) all over the country in places like Maharashtra and Bihar, Delhi and Punjab and abroad in over 24 European countries.
“Gurudev first asked me to teach in the Tihar jail. And since then I have taken a lot of courses in prisons. I have also worked with extremists in parts of Bihar. But no matter where I teach I see that knowledge is so universal, everyone simply laps it up.”
This makes his work with the publications division even more relevant.
“People don’t really digest more than 10 percent of the knowledge taught in the course because they are blown away by the Sudarshan Kriya. So it’s only when they go back and read the books or do the guided meditations, the knowledge sets in.”
And Prasanna finds that the knowledge is of utmost relevance to anything that one takes up, especially in the field of service.
“No seva is small or big. What’s important is to be available and useful. At the end of the day whatever work one does, one is always working with people, who don’t necessarily have to agree with each other. It is when there is conflict that knowledge inevitably comes into picture.”
Knowledge becomes even more relevant in a voluntary organization where there is no fixed line of command.
“It is important to remain calm and patient in the midst of all the conflict. In an organization like The Art of Living, there is always this question about why one should follow anyone. Besides, Gurudev is not making followers, he is making leaders.”
He also observes that the knowledge and techniques have also brought about a gradual sea change in his own life.
“People say that I’m really aggressive, but those who have known me for a long time say I am no longer aggressive. So I understood that these are all just perceptions. Like Gurudev says, whether you are good to someone or not, they might like you and whether you are bad to someone or not, they might still dislike you. So it doesn’t matter what people think, one just has to continue one’s work.”
Prasanna also finds that he has become more accommodating, open and willing.
“For me, that’s a miracle because I used to be so rigid. I still have fights, but I don’t get stuck with them. I don’t even remember what the fight was about. I consider it one of my biggest achievements that I can put the past behind, stop worrying about the future and be happy now.”
Prasanna hopes this knowledge will benefit people around the world. “I have only got another 30-40 years left to live. I want to do something for the country and the world before that. At the end of the day one must be remembered for something magnanimous.”
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Writer: Harshini Vakkalanka, Graphics: Gurudatt Anveker