She has been a source of strength and motivation for many. From the inception of International Women’s Conference (to uplift and educate the underprivileged children) to empowering rural women through a collaborative project and now coming up with a book on a legendary spiritual master’s life….. meet Bhanumathi Narasimhan…an inspirational women of our times.
“Every woman has within her the right blend of strength with grace, courage with compassion, abundance with values and wisdom with vision. In her lies the seed for the most profound social transformation” – Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Bhanumathi Narasimhan, firmly believes this.
Bhanumathi (the sister of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, spiritual Master and founder of the Art of Living) is a meditation teacher and has brought deep inner peace to thousands worldwide through her workshops. She is also the director of Child and Women Welfare activities of the Art of Living.
She has played mentor to several simple and unassuming women, shaping them into leaders and agents of positive social change. She is married, has children, grandchildren and does everything a homemaker is expected to do. She is a gifted singer and an author.
Bhanu Didi, as she is fondly called, has a smile for everyone.
“Men can inspire to fight, but women can inspire to unite,” says Bhanumathi, recollecting the words of Gurudev.
Inception of IWC
Inspired by her idea to bring dynamic women together to come to the forefront and take responsibility, the International Women’s Conference (IWC) was born. As Chairperson of the IWC, Bhanumathi has brought together over 5000 women from over 80 nationalities.
Eminent and powerful speakers from all walks of life have shared and deliberated and found that they were coming up with solutions rather than simply presenting problems in the cordial atmosphere of the conference. A powerful network of women of impact, ready to support each other in their initiatives, was created.
The first conference was titled ‘Strength of a Woman’ with an intention to reinforce that strength and women are synonymous. “The moral values she imparts to her children, the support she provides to her family – all these really matter. They say women are emotional. I accept this as a compliment. This is the aspect that makes her soft, gentle and feminine. The delicate and sensitive nature of a woman allows her to create an environment of peace and harmony wherever she goes,” says Bhanumathi.
The consecutive conferences have explored themes such as ‘Celebrating Women’, ‘The Light of Leadership’ and ‘The Butterfly Effect: Everything Matters’ and have all resulted in a resolve for greater harmony, peace, and service. The proceeds of the conference support girl child education through the gift-a-smile programme of the Art of Living.
Education to Underprivileged
During the past three decades, Bhanumathi has been committed to bringing education to the rural and underprivileged children in India.
“I used to send my daughter to the farms. I never dreamt of an education for her,” says Ambica, the illiterate mother of Kusuma who loves to ride the big yellow school bus that comes to take her and 2500 other children to the school. She wears clean uniforms, is well nourished with the nutritious mid-day meals provided at school, can read and write, meditates every day and wants to become an architect.
These free schools, 435 in various remote locations across 20 states in India, provide holistic value-based education to over 58,000 children and have been successful in shaping the lives of these children into responsible pillars of society neither affected nor limited by their backgrounds of poverty, illiteracy or domestic violence.
However, there are the innate values of caring and sharing that are abundant in the villages of India. “These family values must be emulated and encouraged further. We have so much to learn from these women as well,” says Bhanumathi.
Empowerment is not just economic independence. Real empowerment enables a woman to deal with any circumstance or situation with confidence and an unshakeable smile.
The women empowerment activities led by Bhanumathi through VISTA India, a 20-year old institution, have brought self-esteem, confidence and inner strength in rural women along with providing them skills-training to earn money.
“These women who were very shy and used to cover their faces with a veil are seen giving talks and lectures today. They drive auto-rickshaws, run post-offices, design garments. They empowered themselves without rebelling, getting agitated or accusing someone else of robbing their power. Nobody told them to stand up. They just did it one day and knew that nobody would oppose them,” shares Bhanumathi.
“Whatever we have done so far is a drop in the ocean, and it has been achieved because of the team spirit and enthusiasm of so many inspired volunteers. Only a lit candle can light another,” she says.
Being the sister of one of the world’s most renowned humanitarian leaders, she shares his vision of putting a smile on every face on the planet.
On the Plateau of the Peak
Her most recent project- the biography of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar, recounts his life in vivid detail.
“I have made a humble attempt to fit an ocean into a teacup,” says Bhanumathi, describing her efforts to capture and unveil her Master’s life during their growing up years and beyond. “The book entitled ‘Gurudev: On the Plateau of the Peak’ takes a tender look at the simple joys of our innocent childhood, a front row view to the phenomenon that has turned into one of the world’s largest spiritual movement, a personal look at someone with a universal appeal. It tells the story of how my brother became Gurudev,” she adds.
The book is slated for release on January 11, 2018.
The whole World is Her Family:
Author, director, chairperson, meditation teacher, singer, mentor, wife, and mother – these are some of the many roles that Bhanumathi has chosen to play. She says, “The bigger the family, the greater the number of roles. My mother continues to be a great source of inspiration to me. She taught me by her example how to take responsibility for one’s own life. My grandmother taught me to see the smoother and happier side of life. My aunt taught me the value of independence. My husband taught me the value of freedom.
My children, the value of innocence, my father, friendliness and my brother, love and compassion towards the whole of humanity and my guru has taught me to combine all these values appropriately and move on joyfully in the journey called life. When you have the right guidance, your life is an ocean of contentment.”
The ability to be multi-faceted, dynamic and radiate positivity and peace is innate. However the blossoming of this potential happens through spirituality. She calls it blossoming – not development or progress. This naturalness is the essence of all that she does.
For more details on the conference, visit: iwc.artofliving.org
To order the book, visit: amazon.in