Strange Are the Ways of Karma

One of the path-breaking highlights of the recent World Culture Festival in Delhi was the unwavering commitment of the artistes. Usually, artistes would refuse to perform on a wet or unsuitable floor. In this case, they stood committed to their performance despite being fully drenched and having to perform on soaking carpets on the opening day of the festival. They did it as a tapasya. The artistes who came from across the globe spending their own money waited hours to perform for the few minutes allotted to each country. With overwhelming requests from celebrity artists and groups, the team in-charge of the cultural programs had a tough time juggling to accommodate each country’s rendition.


The Cosmic Rhythm dance drama got over 4,600 dancers to perform 30 dance types in perfect synchronization with just one physical rehearsal! The beautiful performance was pulled off only through virtual rehearsals for months over video conference.




Unique Challenges

Managing to accommodate all the performances, dignitaries and over 2500 religious leaders with unique requirements was not an easy task. A senior cleric of a religious sect insisted that he could not be on the stage while there was music playing. So, we had to set aside one hour for talks only with no music!


The people’s eagerness to be part of the festival was tremendous. We had to organize a Veena ensemble in Bangalore on 19th March 2016 to accommodate 2000-odd artists who were eager to join the Grand Symphony of over 50 instruments, but couldn’t do so owing to the logistical difficulties.


Since the conclusion of the festival, requests to organize the next edition have been pouring in from several governments around the world.


Reports of possible terror attacks kept everyone on their toes. Five unidentified people came to our office posing as intelligence officers and wanted 50 all-access passes for themselves. Intuitively our person in charge, called the Intelligence office only to be told they have not sent anybody. By then, these people had escaped!


There were also rumours of some politicians trying to create disturbance by bringing rowdy elements to the ground, which gained credence as the politicians had got a few tutored farmers who owned no land in the area to come on camera and sit on a so-called dharna.


Some people also made a lot of noise about the Indian Army constructing pontoon bridges to facilitate easy movement of the public. The Army steps in even when a child falls into a well. It’s the duty of the governments to ensure the safety of the public and the Delhi government did the right thing by approaching the Defence Ministry to construct the bridges. The Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments also constructed bridges.


Contrary to the perception created by few activists that the event was harmful to the area, it actually brought multiple benefits to the city. Many people from remote places in North East and South India saw Delhi for the first time and so did many of the 20,000 international visitors. The live webcast which was simultaneously translated in English and other languages was watched by 1.8 billion people in 7 lakh locations.


An Engineering Marvel

Amidst all this, we also pulled off an engineering marvel by building such a gigantic stage without a foundation. To meet the guidelines of not digging the ground, we came up with a design to hold up a 40-feet high stage on just long tubular structures that were fitted onto large metal plates on the ground!


The idea of a floating stage was initially met with skepticism from engineers and authorities who all thought it was simply a joke. Even the court didn’t believe that we had erected such a stage without digging the ground. We had to even create a separate stage for the Prime Minister in just eight hours as his office would not let him take the stage due to safety considerations. It’s understandable that innovative ideas usually attract initial resistance.


An event with many lessons

On the morning of the second day of the festival, the main organizers came to me urging to shift the venue to Yamuna Sports Complex as the forecast predicted further thunderstorm. They reasoned that rainwater would have seeped into the LED screens, there were chances of short-circuits and the place had become very wet and muddy as we had not done any compaction. I could see a shadow of worry on the faces of these people trying to convince me to shift the venue to a place which could hold only 15,000 people.


I just smiled and said the program will go on at the same venue. Usually we are very democratic and take the opinions of everyone but in this case I put my foot down.


In seconds, all the concerns disappeared and they said they were ready to take on the challenge. From then on, it was a great show and Nature fully cooperated. It was a historic mega event with many lessons! We hope people who were expecting the program to fail also got the lesson that truth will always prevail and anything done with a clean heart will always be successful.


Beyond Matter

The event was full of interesting anecdotes regarding the venue, housing, security, transportation, passes, parking, food and most of all, seating arrangements. A fortnight later, when Dr Rakesh Ranjan, an environmentalist and a scholar, met with me, he mentioned that the place where the WCF was held is where Adi Shankaracharya  wrote the Yamunastakam and that the char dham yatras used to begin from there. It’s no coincidence that the area is still called Ashram.


Everything that is material has an ethereal component. While the physical phenomena focus on the immediate cause and effect, the ethereal component which is ruled by subtle and sublime karma needs a deeper insight and understanding. Once you understand this, nothing can shake you.



What would have happened in the worst-case scenario? The NGT could have stopped our event and we would have probably marched down the Rajpath with the thousands of artists who had already arrived from all around the globe. Our message of a One World Family would have gone out anyway.


Though the Art of Living is a victim of conspiracy even now, it would have become very apparent then and probably the whole media would have been on our side.


All the way what shone through was the undying smile and the confidence on the faces of the thousands of volunteers.

On one hand it was stunning and on the other, it was expected.



More Comments

  1. Vibhor Jain

    The story of my visit to the event is quite similar, in the sense that it happened against all odds.
    Feb 2016, I tell my father about the event and he denies.
    10 march, I persist and he still denies.
    11 march I still persist, reluctantly he agrees, I get a ticket booked for 12 march from mp to delhi and leave the return ticket to be booked on the next day. By evening my relatives, being anti art of living, come to know about me going in the event, call my father and mother and force them to cancel my trip. By night they come home and rain down a firestorm of criticism on me explaining how poor my choices in life have been and i should be focusing on my ca final exams due in may (in which I had failed thrice before) and that I am a burden and a bunch of other stuff that would have led a few years younger me to do God knows what. Heartbroken, I go to sleep.
    March 12th morning, I’m low and a lot more criticism from my father awaits for me. I call my barber to cancel my appointment for haircut but rather tell him I would be coming right away. The barber, being a fellow AOL practioner, persuades me to attend the event. Whole day I’m not able to study. A friend of mine pursuades the same.After lunch I get into a big argument with my father leading me to lose all, shall we say, ‘good felings’ for him and I go straight to the relative for negotiation. In less than five minutes I convince him bye promising him to pass in the CA Final exam this time. Reluctantly, he agrees but demands I return by the train in the evening of the same day I reach.
    I reach Delhi on 13th March morning with return train @ 7pm that evening. Reach venue at 4 pm, reach sitting area by 5. Guruji didn’t show up. I pray and pray for him to come at stage as I have to leave in a few minutes now. 5:20pm i think to wait for 5 more minutes if he doesn’t show up i’ll leave (meanwhile thinking all the pains would be for nothing). 5:24 we see him on the bog screens. I get most over joyed. In 5 seconds he dissapears from the screen. I get teary eyed. Feel so blissful. All those hours and times of criticims and tantrums were definitely worth these 5 seconds. 5:30 I start running like hell and cover the distance to station in 20 minutes. I eat my dinner at station, board the train and it departs on right time. And I start reading the sovenier book of WCF in which I read guruji’s words, “Intention, Attention and Manifestation” as I wonder about how strange are the ways of karma. How strange is the fact that someone like me gets graced by someone like ‘HIM’.

    P.S.- ” I persisted so much because in Jaunuary I had a dream wherein a terrified and crying me was graced by guruji. he disappeared right after he spoke the following words, “be sure to come, I’ll be waiting for you.”

  2. Vijay Zala

    Jai Gurudev. This is the greatest show of millenium. Guruji, my faith on you become stronger. I strongly belive that nothing is impossible if there is Guru grace. It is unfortunate that some media played bad for personal gain and spoiled the reputation of media worldwide. I wish that they learn lessons from their failure.

  3. Prithivirajan

    Jai Gurudev . WCF is wonderful experience and lot of bliss. guru blessings it went well.this is historic event by Art Of living team.JaiGurudev ..

  4. Diwakar B S

    Gurudev, in my 61 yrs life experience so far, the thrill, feverishness, and the fun enjoyed during those 3days of WCF in Delhi were amazing. I lived in Delhi for more than 3 decades before leaving for Blr to resettle. But the the enjoyment I felt in the trip to Delhi for WCF cannot be expressed by words. WOW, the whole thing was divine and thank you so much for everything .JGD!

  5. Kishore K. Jha

    Jay Gurudev!! All through the episode, it never occured to us that any thing will go wrong with the planned event – this is the kind of astha that we have towards Gurudev. As always, the Divine was on our side, and His presence was made felt by: the Sun, the Cloud, the rain and thunderstorm as well as the Rainbow and galaxy of stars – they all were active participants in the event. Now it all seems to look like a sweet dream.


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