“When you are a child, you are a little bit of everything – a poet, a dancer, a student, a teacher, a leader, a scientist, a sportsman, an actor...” says Virat, while we catch him on a bright Sunday morning at the Bangalore Ashram, “I guess I just chose to remain all those roles even now, and added one more role, the most beautiful and meaningful role of my life – that of a seeker, a devotee and an Art of Living teacher.”
Meet Virat Chirania.
An engineer from Mumbai University, he went to the prestigious ‘Syracuse University’ for his Masters in Management, grabbed a full scholarship and a dream job in the United States of America. He then decided to come back to India - something not everyone he knew did. He had a short stint as an entrepreneur, and currently serves as the chief operational officer of an educational company in Mumbai.
Over the last 10 years that he has been with The Art of Living, Virat has taught courses in places like IIT Bombay, XLRI Jamshedpur, Symbiosis, IMT Ghaziabad, ICAI Hyderabad and in the USA. In addition, he's also conducted ‘Mind Management and Soft-Skills’ seminars at places like Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia, Bajaj Alliance, LIC, BARC and many others. Virat recently spoke at the prestigious TEDx platform, at the IIM-Shillong campus.
We bring you the story of a traveller on the path and his passion to serve the society, passionately.
The first baby step, the first course
So how did you come on the path?
“In a car,” chuckles Virat. He was doing his third year engineering in 2003. “My friend Mehul kept telling me for two years about the course, and I kept giving innovative excuses. Finally, I reluctantly joined the course. I did my Waves of Happiness (Part-1) course with Vishwas Mulki in Mumbai, and was completely blown by the Sudarshan Kriya and the knowledge!
Meeting Sri Sri
I read ‘Sri Sri as I know Him’ and was longing to meet Gurudev! I prayed that Gurudev would come to meet me, since I couldn’t go where he was. And guess what? Within a month I heard that Gurudev is coming to Syracuse (New York)! And when he came, I ended up going to the airport to receive him, and it was just two of us (my friend Cindy and I) at the airport!
I had no idea what it is like to meet and receive a Guru, what is it like to have a personal Guru. Gurudev arrived, in his usual way, wearing sunglasses, waving and winking and smiling!! I was taken by a complete surprise! How can a Guru be so cool, so chilled out – I wondered and gave him my first hug!
Suddenly everyone disappeared and I found myself standing alone with Gurudev! I was alone with Gurudev, and guess what was I doing!? I was looking down at my feet!! I didn’t know what to do, where to look! Gurudev being Gurudev, started a conversation by asking my name, what I did etc, just like how you would start a conversation with a friend! Over the next few days I spent time with Gurudev and observed him a lot. I realized what an amazing person he is! He totally walks the talk. I felt more connected, however I was still irregular in my sadhana,” Virat chuckles. “Today, when I look back I get this feeling that he came to Syracuse just to pick me up,” he beams.
The Turning Point(s)...
“There are three turning points in my life, the first is the day I did my Sudarshan Kriya, the second when I met Gurudev and the third is when I did my DSN. (This course empowers to break through personal inhibitions and barriers; heals any old emotional wounds, self-concepts, attitudes, and fears, giving an access to inner stability and power).
I had no intention of doing the DSN, but landed on the course anyway, primarily to check out this person called ‘Bawa’! DSN had a huge impact on me. That was the point when I understood the concept of Seva (service). I started seeing myself as a volunteer and the fact that Sadhana (spiritual practices) is a vital part of life dawned! I quit my vices. I felt clean and new. And DSN also gave me my mentors on this path – Bawa and Dinesh,” he smiles.
From a Volunteer to a Passionate Teacher!
Then unfolded the journey on the path that every volunteer goes though – organizing courses and events, listening to knowledge, sitting on advance courses. Virat adds, “Also, everyday falling in love with Sri Sri without even realizing it and experiencing many small and big miracles!
Becoming a teacher was the next obvious step. I taught a few courses in the US and then moved to India. In India, I started from scratch! My first course was in Mumbai in July 2008. We started with just five volunteers, and now we have a team of hundreds, and it’s all about team work! I always felt that the youth are more worried about success than peace of mind. So I created a new introductory session around ‘Soft-Skills and Success’ and we started getting a very good response with that talk.”
Balancing Work and Seva
“I get asked this question a lot! I really don’t see the problem at all! Just do both 100 percent. People feel I am over simplifying what is their biggest issue in life, but I have never had this issue. I remember in one of my corporate jobs, I told my manager in the interview, “I will come to work at 8am and leave at 5pm”. He was shocked! But that’s what I did and I still got promoted. Other people in my team came late and worked till late, but I didn’t let that affect my resolve.
I always say, ‘Our work is that of a volunteer, but we have to do it like a professional. We are professional volunteers’. And there will be challenges on the path. I remember I was organizing an advance course once, and it was so difficult. I thought I am just serving my Guru, then why are people so difficult. I remember taking a long walk alone, sitting under a tree and crying my eyes out, feeling like running away and not doing any more seva! And after I finished crying and cursing, I got up and promptly returned to the course venue and continued doing my job – Seva! You can cry, you can complaint, but don’t ever quit! The secret of this path, for me, is – MOVE ON! Whatever happens, just keep walking, keep moving,” he states.
The Unknown Force...
“There was always a very strong unknown driving force that was beyond my comprehension. A reality that I didn’t understand!! A lot of times I had no clue what I was doing in Art of Living, and what I really wanted with life! But as I said, I kept moving on, with the faith that Gurudev has a plan in store for me,” he exclaims.
Virat’s vision is to align his vision to Sri Sri’s vision! “Do what I can to spread his knowledge. Be happy and make others happy!
I never thought I would do something different in my life, but I am glad I took the road less travelled,” he signs off as the morning had now turned in to a bright day!
If you wish to get in touch with Virat Chirania, you can mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Writer: Monica Patel