Meeting to Smile

The July 18th 2007 issue of Femina carries an article by its editor Amy Fernandes. I searched the website of Femina to see if I could find it out there in order to link it from my blog. And neither did I have access to a copier to make an image of the article to post it here. So I did the next best thing that I could think of. I am reproducing the article out here. I recommend that you go and buy yourself this issue of Femina magazine. All hyperlinks have been added by me:

Meeting to Smile by Amy Fernandes

I have just returned from a weekend of an international women’s conference conducted by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s The Art of Living Society.

I wasn’t very sure what to expect. I’m afraid I’m not one of those who take to various forms of spirituality. In fact, when a new strain of faith takes shape, my innate sense of belief sends out alarm signals, cloaks me in yards of skepticism, which I guess is not exactly what the theologians ordered, but that’s me. So while I was looking forward to participating in a women’s conference, I wasn’t quite sure how a spiritualist would pull it off.

Nonetheless, here we were around 600 women from 54 countries. Somewhat like the United Colors of Benetton. Black, White, Brown and yellow. But beyond that superficial veneer, we had one thing in common: We were women.

There are a few lessons I came away with from this conference:

  • That wherever you’re based, whether it is in Africa or Japan, India or the US, women all across the world have similar problems. An Australian woman’s heart beats in much the same way as her friend’s in Asia does. She too caries this inherent feeling of guilt that women carry like so much baggage. So that every time her baby cries when she is at work, those pangs get activated.
  • That justice for survivors of rape and domestic violence is slow, whichever part of the world you live in.
  • That it’s left to women to help other women recover from the scars of tortures inflicted by men. Most times, it’s women who have gone through the trauma themselves who are best able to reach out to others and help them to their feet. Though I wish women didn’t have to learn about this the hard way.
  • What stuck me as remarkable in this conference was the buzz that the place has and yet, it wasn’t the kind of buzz in a supermarket. It was the buzz that resounds with the happy activity of a hive producing honey. You get the feeling that there’s much more happening here than meets the eye. Somewhere in some part of the country, volunteers are teaching children, others are helping people to breathe easy, some are engaged in organic farming. As a voluntary Organization, The Art of Living abounds with happy volunteers who’re giving their time, their talent and their energy to the cause.
  • That there is serenity in meditation. You only had to look at the women who practiced the popular Sudarshan Kriya to know that there is something there. They all had this smile and complexion that completely disarmed you. You know that can never come out of a bottle or an aestheticienne’s clinic. For that alone(and here vanity speaks), it’s worth giving the course a shot.
  • That when women get together, they don’t need men in order to have a blast. They are capable of generating power to rock about 12 acres with the sheer energy of womanhood.
  • That Usha Uthup is a one-woman powerhouse. She only has to take the mike in her hand and you know that you’re in for an exhilarating time. Here she was singing in Kannada, in English, in Bengali and there wasn’t one person on the floor who wasn’t moved by her music. Her music connects the young and the old… It connects Germans and Italians and Indians and Koreans, whether you know the song or not. Her music uplifts. And singers can come and go, but Usha sings on forever.
  • That Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is quite unlike other spiritualists I’ve met. Even though he lives on the top of the hills of Bangalore, he is down to earth. He smiles more than he is sombre. He has a sense of humour that at once puts wary people like me at ease.

  • That his smile is reflected in each of his volunteers. If that’s not magic, what is?

One thought on “Meeting to Smile

  1. A very nice article, Raj. To be honest with you, I have learnt vedanta from traditional teachers and had my own misgivings about people who approached the subject differently. Now I really feel I should attend one of his programs and find out what his magic is all about.

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