In His Footsteps

Girin Govind, engineer, working for a private company, was waiting for the day he could fill his minutes with a job that is his true calling. He wanted to follow the footsteps of his guru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. After months of asking if he could move to the ashram in Bangalore, when his guru finally agreed, Girin gladly put in his papers in 2006.

“I asked them if I could leave the next day.  Still, they relieved me within seven days,” he recalls. “As soon as I reached the ashram, on the very next day, Guruji announced that I would be his new secretary. I used to tell his previous secretary that one day I’d be sitting in that chair. But I never thought it would actually happen.”

Girin was introduced to the Art of Living six years earlier, by his roommate.“I had just finished my mechanical engineering degree from Kannur University in Kerela. Right after that I did my part-1 course. My roommate had been insisting consistently but I never relented because I did not believe in gurus.”

That summer Girin had no excuses left, because he had just finished college and had some time off. So he forced himself to attend the course.“ I liked the course and the knowledge of the present moment. I liked the satsang that happened on the last day because I was a musician. Having grown up with a secular mind-set, I liked the all-inclusiveness which Guruji’s knowledge had.”

Within a month, he was off to do the advanced meditation course or the Part-II course.“It posed a lot of questions about what I was doing all these years, the kind of a life I’d been leading. After the course, when the teacher asked me to share my experience, I said that the course was boring and given a chance, I would have run away. But I knew that something had been shaken up inside me and that I would continue to feel its after-effects.”

Soon he left a Pvt construction company job to join a Tata group company. But he continued visiting the ashram every month.“The first time I saw Guruji was during satsang. Whenever he used to go around the ashram I used to look at him. But I never felt the need to talk to him. I wanted to see how he deals with people, how he talks and handles situations. I admired him from a distance and I felt a connection.”

He first met Guruji a few months after his Part-1 course.“Whenever he met me after an advanced course, he used to ask me what my name is and what I was doing. After a few times, I started feeling that this man doesn’t even know my name. But I still felt connected and I never had anything to ask him.”

Girin Govind became a teacher after a year or so, and continued to teach part-time until 2006, when he became Sri Sri’s secretary. Now he also teaches the Sahaj Samadhi Course and the Teachers Training Course.“The last five and a half years have been a busy journey. Every moment with Guruji is a learning experience. I still love observing him deal with people and situations and learning from it. There’s something to learn from him every moment.”

Girin’s first trip abroad was with Sri Sri, on a tour of Europe and Iraq. “It was a memorable trip. We always talk about how Guruji holds our hands and walks us through life. I experienced that physically,” he explains.“ The first time we landed at Frankfurt, he literally held my hand and walked so I don’t get lost in that huge airport. He took care of every small thing.”

He also accompanied Sri Sri on his first trip to Iraq. “As we drove around, we could see fighter planes and tankers all around. There was no guarantee for our lives in that kind of a situation. But we did not feel a drop of fear because we were with Guruji.”On the fourth day of the trip, the group was supposed to leave for Jordan. But they missed their flight. Sri Sri had a programme planned that evening at Jordan. So somehow a ticket was procured for him in the next flight.“We told Guruji that we would stay back and leave the next day. He took the pass and left for boarding and we walked out of the airport. The people who had come to drop us had left. So we were wondering what to do. Suddenly we saw Guruji walking out. He came and said ‘I know if I go nobody will take care of you three’.”Later the group went to stay with an Indian family.“They were very happy. They called their parents in India and said ‘You told us that we cannot even see or touch Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, he’s staying in our house tonight’. Guruji later found an old gurudwara established by Guru Nanak. It looked like a master’s plan after all.”

Girin Govind is always deeply moved by the way Sri Sri deals with people.“Whenever people share their problems, I can see the concern and care in his eyes. He takes that pain into him for a moment and then he gives them the solution. He feels their pain as his own. It’s amazing how he balances his time and life between official meetings and taking care of each devotee in the smallest of aspects. ”

Girin’s only mission in life is to live the knowledge that Sri Sri lives.“I want to keep growing in his knowledge and devotion. My only prayer is to be connected to my master and stay on the path. The path itself is complete, one need not reach the goal to feel complete. That’s the best part about being with Guruji.”

He believes that the spiritual path is all about recognizing that there are no differences between oneself and the other,“If one goes a little deeper, it becomes easier to understand what the other person is thinking and how it can be dealt with. And one goes deeper into oneself, one starts knowing the other person that much better. On the spiritual path one can never be unhappy or hate anybody, if one is truly spiritual.”

Sri Sri’s visit to Pakistan, which Girin Govind was a part of, only reinforced this piece of wisdom, “Except for crossing the border we never felt a difference with the people there. The way they received Guruji, we just felt it was just another country with more devotees,” he points out.

“Whenever we connect with people from other countries, we feel like they are family. Once they are touched by the Guru’s grace, they are transformed. It gives us hope that Guruji’s vision of a one world family can happen.”

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Writer: Harshini Vakkalanka, Graphics: Niladri Dutta