Friday, September 17, 2010

Bhavesh Tolani - Art of Living Experience

Computer Engineer, International Art of Living Teacher

I was born in Surat, India in 1975. I started my education from Vallabh Ashram School in Valsad. I further went on to New Mumbai to study Computer Engineering after which I worked for the Bank of America and then Standard Chartered Bank in Mumbai. In 1998, I returned to Surat and joined my father in his business of Construction. Being the only child of my parents, I was thoroughly pampered. There was no dearth of anything. I seemed to be living a life full of fun with good friends and amazing and supportive parents.

Art of Living Course - Couldn't believe I had not done it earlier

I remember my friend trying his hardest to convince me to attend the Art of Living Course with him. That was in 1998, I was 23 years old then. At first, I laughed and didn’t think ‘Living’ was something I needed to learn to do. However, just to keep up our friendship and to make him happy, I went to the course. Once there, absolutely nothing felt strange. I seemed to be enjoying the course from the moment it started. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done it earlier on in life. It seemed to have filled an empty void in my life that I didn’t even know existed. My teacher was excellent. She made me wonder who might have trained her to deliver the course so beautifully. Sure enough by the end of the course I found out it was the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Teaching Art of Living Course in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America

The next few years flew by. I was so inspired by the week long course that I had attended in, that within a short span of time, I had participated all the various courses that are offered by the Art of Living and had started doing service with them. Within the first six months of my involvement with the foundation, I was fortunate enough to meet with Sri Sri (now Guruji to me), on one of his trips to Rishikesh. This is a trip that has been etched into my memory. On meeting Guruji for the first time, he said - I should become an Art of Living teacher. Overwhelmed, I began to doubt if I could really teach the course. But the love and sweetness in his voice washed away all this doubt. This was in 1999. Today its been over 10 years that I have been a full time teacher with the Art of Living Foundation and have travelled to various places in India, Africa, Europe and North America teaching the Art of Living courses.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a global humanitarian 

My first project as a teacher was in Arunachal Pradesh, India. I had to first check the map of the country to find out where this place was before I went. I had no idea where I was being sent. Once there, it was a total contrast to the environment I had been brought up in. From organizing courses, to teaching them, to cooking, to cleaning, I had to do everything by myself! At first I thought I was being punished, but now I realize that it is only because of all that experience, that today I am confident to go to any corner of the world and feel at home and happy. 

It was during my stay in Arunachal Pradesh that I understood how much Guruji loved and cared for me. At first, I thought I was just one of his hundreds of teachers and he wouldn’t even remember that he had sent me there. But I was mistaken. It was uncanny how almost whenever I would doubt my capability or have thoughts of leaving from there to go home, he would call me and pacify me, ask me if I needed anything, make sure that I was comfortable and was eating well and then patiently also make me see how much I could contribute to the place by being there. Soon I began to feel like he was with me facing every challenge I encountered. Sri Sri is a global humanitarian who had taken the responsibility of bringing a smile on every face on this planet, speaking to me on the phone he was doing just that – making me smile from every cell of my being!

Since my early days with the foundation, I would listen to some of the other senior teachers sharing their experiences of how at some point Guruji had known their thoughts or how Guruji had known what they were up to without even physically being present there. I would find these stories incomprehensible. How could he do that? Was it even possible? I had no idea that one day I would have my own miraculous story to share. After teaching courses, week after week in Arunachal Pradesh, there was one week where I had no courses. I actually had free time – to watch the movies I was waiting to catch up on. I began watching the first movie for that day. Moved on to the second and just as I was on my third movie, my phone rang and on the other side was Guruji! I was ecstatic! I expected to be praised for the number of courses I had taught. But instead, the very first thing he asked me was “How many movies are you watching”? Absolutely flabbergasted I said “Two movies”. I had just finished uttering those words and immediately he said “Two or three movies”?. That was the day I knew I was never going to be alone. I was going to have someone watch over me no matter what. I was upset and afraid that I had let Guruji down but I also felt loved, cared for and protected. And this feeling has never changed since then.

Spreading the message of love and belongingness across the globe

From the challenges of teaching in the North East of India, to the slums and prisons of Africa where I taught these programs, to the comforts and luxury of working in Europe and now North America, Guruji has held my finger and taken me through a plethora of experiences. I have often heard people talking and marveling at their faith in their master. Here I have a master who has such immense faith in me that he sent me to represent him and touch peoples’ lives with his message of love and belongingness across the globe. The last ten years have given me everything I had ever dreamed of and more. From wishing to one day seeing the pyramids in Egypt, to being busy contributing to the world, to even marrying the one I wanted to - he has made sure I got everything I have ever wanted. I am glad that with each new project he has given me, he has given me new challenges but ones that are very easily met because of his personal guidance and care. Everywhere I went, he gave me the opportunity to meet and stay with people who would eventually become almost family to me. Everywhere I went, I was showered with so much love and respect for just delivering Guruji’s message to them. Guruji let me bask in the glory of it all even though I knew that I had very little to do with the reason that they felt so grateful.

Love, enthusiasm and an undying smile

In my years of being with Guruji, I have had the opportunity of spending time with him and seeing him working every awake moment of his day. From his first appointment – be it a meeting with rural villagers, or a meeting with government dignitaries, or initiating conflict resolution in Iraq, Sri Lanka or Serbia, from  handling issues of the Ashram, to spending time with youth groups or even going through the thousands of emails that he receives everyday – until his last appointment for the day, he does everything with the same enthusiasm, smile and love. If I can even do a small percent of what he does, I would feel like I have contributed to his vision for the world.

Had it not been for Guruji, I would have been leading a mediocre life. He made me see that life was too beautiful to be just mediocre and made mine an extraordinary one. I will never be able to express the amount of gratitude I feel just for having Guruji in my life.


  1. Awesome sharing. Really helped me wake up. Thanks

  2. Your life story is truely great, and just being in your presence I feel nice & happy. Mahesh Mittal

  3. Dear Mr. Bhavesh,

    My Self Amit Mishra.
    I hope you remember me (I did basis course of AOL in gorakhpur). The days spent with you were the best days and the course I did is something I can't forget and that actually have changed my life and thinking. The approach to life have changed completely.

    Now I want to join the course again (in Ghaziabad), Please help to locate the course nearby so that I can join.

    Let me know if you really remember me.

    With Best Regards,
    Amit Mishra

    1. dear amit,bro u can also check the availiaility of courses in your city by visiting


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