Town: Udayapura (near Udipalya village)
Religious importance: Technique of Sudarshankriya based on ancient Vedas
The Art of Living Ashram is situated on Kanakapura road, 36 km from the city of Bengaluru. Founded by the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the ashram teaches the Sudarshankriya. This technique trains the mind to let go of stress and help humans to lead a joyous life forging an identity that strive beyond religion, race and nationality.
The Art of Living Ashram – an overview
The ashram is spread over 65 acres. It was started in 1986, and is set amidst peaceful and verdant grounds. The highlights of the grounds is a lake and a central meditation centre, the Vishalakshi Mantap.
Other than these, the ashram hosts:
- Wellness centre – The centre offers pulse-based diagnosis. Ayurvedic doctors are present for consultation.
- Ayurveda Pharmacy – The pharmacy stocks medicines and personal care products from the Sri Sri Ayurveda.
- Sri Sri Ayurveda – An Ayurvedic spa with a holistic approach to health. Ayurvedic Panchkarma is done here.
- Divine shop – The shop offers books, CDs , DVDs and other publications related to the Art of Living ashram and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
- Divine services – This is a shop that stocks up on clothes, furnishings, toiletries etc. required for a stay at the ashram.
- Annapurna – This is the ashram dining hall and kitchen.
- Café Vishala and Swadishta– This is the ashram canteen/food stall that serves vegetarian Indian snacks, fast food, pasta, ice-cream, canned juice, bottled drinks, etc. There is a fourth food stall near the ashram reception area.
- Library – The ashram library has a collection of periodicals and spiritual books.
- Internet café, ATM, Locker room, Laundry services
The ashram has a number of other areas/places that are worth a visit:
- Radha Kunj – This is the well-maintained garden set in the ashram.
- Goshala – The cowshed in the ashram is a hub of activities with homas and poojas offered there. The visitors are given a guided tour on the production of biogas, the different breeds of cow, the feeding and milking procedures, etc.
- Gurukul – A place where residential educational programmes with different kinds of curricula – ancient and modern – are offered to students between 11 to 14 years of age.
- Sumeru Mantap – A Lotus-shaped mantap located at the highest point of the ashram.
- Mahalakshmi Mantap – This is a wedding hall, where weddings are conducted following Vedic rituals.
- Srikriti – This is a handicrafts shop stocked with goods made by women from the neighbouring villages.
- Madhurya – This store has antique crafts, jewellery, sculptures, brocades, etc. meant for the discerning shopper.
- Shakti Kutir – The first residence of Sri Sri in the ashram.
- Amphitheatre – This can seat up to 20,000 people and some of the satsungs are held here when Sri Sri is in residence.
- Yagyashala – This is an auditorium that can seat up to 7000 people. The poojas, satsungs and other events are usually conducted in this building. The most prominent pooja, the Navrathri pooja is held in the Yagyashala.
A day at the Art of Living ashram
The ashram inmates follow a particular schedule daily. The day starts at 6 am, with yoga, meditation, and Sudarshankriya.
Sudarshankriya – It is a rhythmic breathing technique that harmonises the mind and emotions with the natural rhythms of the body. Sri Sri is supposed to have come up with this singular breathing technique during a ten-day period of silence spend at Shimoga, Karnataka. The technique is said to oust tension and negative emotions, invigorating the body and focusing the mind. Sudarshankriya is intrinsic to the various Art of Living programmes.
After breakfast at 7.30, the inmates go on to do Seva.
Seva – This is a form of voluntary service done by the inmates like cooking, cleaning the premises, administrative job, maintenance work, etc.
Lunch is served between 1 – 2 pm. After, this there is more Seva. At 6.30 the Satsung starts.
Satsung – Satsung is the mainstay of ashram life. People from different parts of the world come together to sing, to enjoy music, to dance, to listen to the guru, to meditate and to celebrate the joy of living. Devotees pledge to the calming effect and blissful experience of attending these gatherings. The satsungs are so popular with the devotees of Sri Sri that they are available for download from the official site of Sri Sri and from the Art of Living site.
Other than the daily activities, every month there is some or the other activity planned around a theme/subject/issue. For instance, in the last week of November, 2013 a “Living Well Residential Programme for Diabetes and Hypertension” is being conducted at the ashram.
The Art of Living ashram – courses
The ashram conducts a set of courses for people from different age groups and different education levels. These are:
- ART Excel
- Art of Living Course
- Sri Sri Yoga
- Sahaj Samadhi Meditation
- Art of Silence
- Do Something New (DSN)
- Youth Leadership Training Programme (YLTP)
Initiatives at the Art of Living Ashram
There are a number of programmes/trusts/institutions that are run by the ashram towards various goals. They are:
- Art of Living Human Resources
- Art of Living Matrimony
- Bharath Gyan
- Dharma Stambha Yojana
- Disaster Relief
- Environmental Projects
- Organic farming
- Peace initiatives
- Prison Program
- Sri Sri Publications
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Vidya Mandir
- Sri Sri Rural Development Programme
- Vaidic Dharma Sansthan
- Ved Vignan Maha Vidyapeeth Research Centre (VVMRC)
- VVMVP Schools
- Women Empowerment
Getting to the Art of Living Ashram in Bangalore
A visitor can take a bus to Banshankari Depot and then take a bus from the Depot that goes towards Kanakapura. The bus will stop right before the gates of the Ashram, if requested in advance.
- Alternatively, one could take an autorickshaw to the ashram which would cost around Rs. 200.
- Hiring a taxi could cost anywhere around Rs.450-850.
The ashram also offers the option of carpooling. One can register one’s details at the website and the ashram personnel will make the necessary arrangements for transport.
Ved Vignan Maha Vidya Peeth
21st Km, Kanakapura Road, Udayapura
Bangalore- 560 082