When the newspapers reported a public satsang held by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - Guruji - in Mumbai in 1999, attended by about one lakh people, I said to my wife Kavita that she must not miss the Guru this time. I had been a spiritual seeker from the time I read Autobiography of a Yogi when I was about 18 years old. I also did Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation. But my spiritual journey started in earnest with my first Guru, when I received sanyas from Bhagwan, (as we then addressed Osho), in 1975. I had such deep and mind-blowing experiences in the meditations that Bhagwan asked me to do, that there was a profound shift in my life and priorities. At the zenith of my film career, I retired to meditate at the feet of my Master, and lived with Bhagwan in his ashrams in Pune and at the commune in Oregon. Kavita too became a disciple of Osho's in 1993, after he had left his body, and she longed for a Guru who was in the body. Though I had never met Guruji, when I read about him in 1999, I knew he was the Guru my wife was yearning for.
Divine providence, and the call of our Master, brought Kavita and me to Guruji a few months later, early in 2000. As soon as I was in his company, I had that indescribable experience of being in the presence of an enlightened Master. We travelled to Rishikesh with Guruji in 2001, where I learned the Sudarshan Kriya and yoga. A few months later we were back with Guruji in Rishikesh, to play Holi with him, and we brought in the new year with him at the German Art of Living Ashram in Bad Antogast.
Our family has since, on countless occasions, had the joy and privilege of spending time with Guruji. I love seeing the respect, recognition and love Gurus, Siddhas, Sadhus and leaders of all religions shower on Guruji. I am overjoyed to see so many young people flocking around Guruji, meditating, inspired by him to serve... And I am delighted when I see my wife meditate. I remember how she could not even sit still and silent for five minutes, but now spends hours meditating.
The celebration, activity, meditation and energy circles I see around Guruji remind me of my time with Osho. I once again see seekers who travel thousands of miles, from every corner of the world, to be with the Guru, because such a phenomenon - a satguru - is so rare.
Many people ask me whether I am still with Osho. When your Guru accepts you as a disciple, that relationship does not change. At a satsang I attended at our Bangalore Ashram, someone in the audience asked Guruji whether it was OK for him to be there as he already had a Guru. And Guruji replied that he was where he was meant to be, and that you could only continue your spiritual journey with another Guru with the blessings of your first Guru. And so it is with me.
I remember discussing with Guruji whether a seekers journey could be complete. He said that when existence is infinite, until one is enlightened, there is always more to know and learn. I feel I am blessed to have Guruji's support and guidance. I have no words to express how fortunate I consider myself that he has welcomed me into his fold with love and respect. I am in wonder at all that he does - tangible and intangible. I am amazed at how Guruji works tirelessly and continuously to put a smile on each face, so solve each person's inner conflicts, to solve regional and religious conflicts. I admire his attention to national and international affairs in almost every country of the world and his remarkable achievements as an ambassador of peace. I admire his work to save and rejuvenate the environment, to channelise the energy of the youth. I love all that Guruji has done and does to celebrate diverse cultures and traditions all over the world, and the way in which he inspires the incredible. The several world records that have been set by Art of Living, whether the 444 musicians who played the Kombu horn in Kerala, or the 333 Bulgarian bagpipers in Sofia, are all mind boggling. What is magnificent is how he does all this with infinite lightness, love and compassion and always a smile.
At a satsang at a friend's home I was requested to ask Guruji a question. As the mic was brought to me, Guruji said, "Vinod has no questions, but let him anyway ask for the others." It at this stage of my journey, that Guruji has come into my life, and I share a connection with him that is beyond the physicality of words and actions, and beyond the chatter of the mind. I am so very grateful to existence that it has given another Guru like Osho to me and to the present generation. Osho's methods were totally different from Guruji's. But then, those who came to Osho in the '70s were of a different mindset. They were restless, discontented with the material world and willing to sacrifice anything - to give it all up - to be at peace with themselves...
Today the material and spiritual have come together, and both are necessary. Today is the age of Zorba the Buddha.You do not have to give up the world. You can do both together - you can be a meditator in the marketplace, provided you get proper guidance. Without the guidance of your Guru there is no way you can progress in meditation or evolve spiritually. As Kabir said, "Guru bin gyaan na upje, guru bin mile na moksha, guru bin lakhe na satya ko, guru bin mite na dosh". For those who are on a spiritual quest, I would say what I said to my wife Kavita - don't miss existence's gift of Guruji.
Happy Guru Purnima to all!
Join Sri Sri on Guru Purnima this July 31st through live webcast here.