The Art of Living turns 40: Reminiscing the beginnings and envisioning the future


On March 20, a few days before The Art of Living turns 40, Gurudev revisited Shivamogga, the place where it all began. On the occasion, he inaugurated the Temple of Knowledge (Gyankshetra) in the quaint town where The Art of Living’s meditation programs and events will be conducted. He shared about how it all began and his vision for the future of The Art of Living. An excerpt from his speech:


How it all started

Before 1981, I used to teach yoga and meditation but I felt something was missing. What I wanted to give was not reaching them. That is when I went into 10 days of silence. People requested me to come out of silence and speak on the 11th day. When I spoke, I was myself listening to what I was saying for the first time and simultaneously teaching. This was a strange phenomenon. I had not planned anything. Dignitaries from Shivamogga including doctors joined to listen. They listened from 8 a.m to 4 p.m in the evening without taking any breaks. They were totally stunned and had tears of happiness. At 4 p.m, they took a break to have Prasadam. Again, we sat from 6 p.m. to 12 midnight. The next day was also the same. People gained so much control over the body- they did not have to take breaks for food or to use the washroom. A week after that, I took a course in Bhadravati. So the first few courses happened in places like Bhadravati and Chikkamangalur.

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Uniting the world with peace and meditation

Shiva means shubh (auspicious) and mogga means blooming from the bud. So, Shivamogga is a place where the auspicious begins and spreads. What started in Shivamogga: the Sudarshan Kriya is being practiced all over the world. Today we have issues in the world that are burning. The reason for this is stress, and lack of trust. To rebuild trust and bring back peace in the world, we need wisdom. It is wisdom that can put an end to war. Insecurities and fears only cause conflict, but wisdom and meditation can unite people and bring peace to the world. 

Inner awakening can happen when there is peace. A disturbed person cannot even think about inner awakening. So the first step is peace. The second step is to attain the bliss that is our very nature. Our volunteers, trustees, and the teachers of The Art of Living have put their heart and soul from around the globe to make this dream a reality of the world as one family and life as a celebration. This is the day we rejoice in the ability that we received from the divine to serve and celebrate life in the most unique and authentic way.  Just know that you are blessed and God is blessing you.