Krishna Reddy: It is a pleasure for me to discuss your work and life journey so far and your ideas of Happiness and Happy World. Let’s start by introducing yourself. Tell me about yourself.
Prashanth V Kumar: I am Prashanth V Kumar, an Art of Living teacher from 1995. I am a Teacher’s Trainer and Director of the Center for Prevention of Diseases and Promotion of Health, The Art of Living.
Krishna: What makes You Happy?
Prashanth V Kumar: Happiness is my very nature. So I don’t need anything to be happy!
Krishna: What are your Service Activities so far?
Prashanth V Kumar: Being associated with Art of living foundation, I have got the opportunity to serve the society with confidence.
- I am the Chief Coordinator of Youth Leadership Training Program (YLTP) in South India. It is a program to train rural youth and transform them into leaders which enables them to take responsibility for the country. Currently, coordinating YLTP activities for South India, which includes the four states namely Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
- Chief Executive – Operations at SSRVM (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Vidya Mandir) Trust from Sep ’08 to Jan ‘10.
- I have been full time Art of Living teacher since 1995 (25 years). Responsible for conducting the following spiritual courses:
- a) The Art of Living Happiness Program (HP): an internationally acclaimed entry level spiritual course for stress-free and happy living.
- b) The Art of Living Advanced Meditation Program(AMP)
- c) L.T.P (Leadership Training Program): Very intensive 20 days interactive program built to nurture the leadership qualities in the youth to make them self motivated to take leadership and responsibility of the society.
- d) The Art of Living Yoga Level I : Entry level Yoga program
- e) The Art of Living Yoga Level II : Advanced Level Yoga Program
- f) Eternity Process: A process targeted to remove deep-rooted stress through relaxation. Which takes a person through the knowledge of the past lives in a deep meditative state.
- g) Volunteer Training and Pre Teachers Training Program (VT-PreTTP):
- e) Teacher’s Training Course: Fifteen to Twenty one day program of ‘Training the Trainers’ which is the program to create AOL Teachers.
Krishna: What are your Unique Skills Prashanth ji?
Prashanth V Kumar: I have created a program called Bharathiyatha where India’s Paramparas (Traditions), Samskaras (Sacraments), Shastras (Sciences) are organised into an informative and insightful workshop.
Bharathiyatha is a way of life practiced in this part of the world Bharathavarsha
– I conduct in-depth sessions on Paramparas, Samskaras and all the Shastras (scriptures) of Bharath. I have assimilated this knowledge by travelling across the length and breadth of India/Bharath, living, observing, working and learning with the people of India/Bharath.
I have created a program called Cooking Well, which brings the dimension of nutritious healthy cooking into day to day life.
I’m working towards publishing a book on Healthy Breakfast Recipes.
I have learnt and practiced palmistry, numerology, acupuncture, siddha system of medicine, magneto therapy, pranic healing, sujoc acupuncture and homeopathy.
I also have implemented large scale projects for Watershed management and rain water harvesting, low cost housing, organic farming.
Krishna: Your Idea of Heaven?
Prashanth V Kumar: Hell and Heaven don’t does not exist anywhere. It is our own making. When a person learns to wake up to the reality of the present moment and become responsive towards it, he or she is in heaven. The moment one starts associating with past or the future, hell seeps in.
I believe in this spiritual truth and at the same time we could make this planet a heaven if we all learn to live a life after practicing human values like peace, sharing and caring.
Krishna: Your Great Idea (that could potentially bring a “small” positive transformation in the world… in any particular field(s) of your choice)?
Prashanth V Kumar: Like the world today is waking up to organic farming in a big way, we also have to think about organic living. Like organic farming, trade, economy, living life, everything has to become organic.
Krishna: What is your success formula?
Prashanth V Kumar: Attending to the details with awareness.
Krishna: What are your health tips?
Prashanth V Kumar: I would suggest people couple of points to get rich health.
Food: Eat Natural, Eat Local: usually the local traditional cuisine is very healthy. Vegetarian food made from organically grown produce is very healthy for the body.
Exercise: Industrialisation and Mechanisation has led to unhealthy sedentary life style.
Exercising and attending to your body keeps you healthy. Walking, Yoga Asanas, Surya Namaskaras (Sun Salutations) are some of the very healthy exercises I would recommend people to do.
Pranayama: The mind (psyche) plays an important role in maintaining good health. Pranayama and attending to the breath with techniques like Sudarshan Kriya helps in getting control of the mind. these techniques are like the reigns of a horse (mind), which otherwise would run wildly.
Leading a Stress Free Life: Interacting with the society, family and work can lead to great stress. Ancient knowledge and wisdom teaches us how to deal with family, society and work. Understanding and applying this knowledge in life is another essential thing for healthy life.
Keeping a happy state of mind: Happiness is not external to our nature. It is an inner state which brings out the external expression. Keeping ourselves happy is a skill we need to develop to lead a healthy and wise lifestyle.
Krishna: What are your future plans / goals / dream projects ?
Prashanth V Kumar: The best gift one can give to anyone is seeing them blossom spiritually. It has been an honour and deep privilege to be an Art of Living Teacher, under Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji’s guidance, for more than 22 years. It is a profound profound experience to see millions of people living a happier and healthier life though the Art of Living Courses. Conducting Art of Living programs is a lifetime plan and project for me!
Revival of Indian Culture, Arts and Sciences is happening on its own accord. Even in the west, there is renewed awareness and interest in the Indian Traditions and Culture. Conducting more and more awareness programs in the Bharathiyatha workshops, and reaching out to like-minded people, is the goal and purpose of my life.
Krishna Reddy: You wearing multiple hats as an entrepreneur, Yoga & spiritual teacher, motivational writer/speaker what are your experiences so far? Why did you choose these as your passions?
Prashanth V Kumar: Life is creativity. Wearing multiple hats is not something out of your nature, its inbuilt inside you. Sadhana (Spiritual Practices) brings out your true potential and creativity.
On the lighter note, wearing a single hat is very boring, isn’t it! ? 🙂
Krishna Reddy: What do you think is the importance of Yoga? Is it just a tool for health and well-being? Or is there anything more of profound significance to Yoga than physical and mental well-being?
Prashanth V Kumar: Yoga is a way of living life in its depth. Yoga is living in harmony with whatever is around. There was a saint in Karnataka, who sang –
Bettada melondu maneya madi, mrugagalige anjidhodenthaya.
Samudrada thade yalli maneya madi, norethoregaliga anjdhodenthiya.
Santeyalondu maneya madi, shabdhake nachidhod enthiya.
Channamalikarjuna deva keliya.
Lokadholage hutida balika, stuti nindhe galu bandhare,
Manadhali kopava thaalade samaadani aagrrabeku.
After building a house on the
Mountain, how can you be afraid of wild animals around it?
After, building a house on the sea
Shore, how can you be afraid of Lofty waves
After building a house in the Shanty town (flea market), how Can you be concerned with the Noise?
Oh! Lord Chenna Mallikarjuna!
While born and living in this world,
If praise and blames (criticisms), come along, you have to face them without getting angry and Maintaining the equanimity of mind.
Maintaining harmony of mind and equanimity of the self in every situation of life is Yoga and Yoga is not just a tool for physical and mental well being, as it is being propagated. The real Yogis of India, lived in the 14th and 15th century, what is now called the time of Bhakti movement. These Yogis lived along with the people amidst them, giving them directions in simple but profound ways, to lead a life of harmony and prosperity. During this time, “India contributed to 36% of the world GDP and it was economically world number one till the 17th century from 0AD to 1700 and it lost to China only in the 1800, to regain its economic glory towards the end of 1800’s.”, quoted from Angus Madisson, The World Economy- Millenium Perspective.
The Yogis (saints) who lived in India not only brought about a spiritual revolution, they also nurtured the socio economic well being. Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodaha- going beyond the activities of mind is Yoga, Yoga Karmasu Koushalam- attaining skill in action is Yoga, Samatvam Yoga Uchatte- maintaining equipoise of the Self in life is Yoga; these three lines sum up everything.
Krishna Reddy: What do you think is the role of media (print, online, TV, Cinema, radio) in building a better India and better world one brick at a time?
Prashanth V Kumar: Media has to play the role of a critic for the society. Such a role is very productive to the growth of the society, and the society in turn has to take care of the media.
Like Kabir, says in his doha:
Nindak Niyare rakhiye, angan kuti chhawai;
Binu pani bin Sabuna,
Nirmal kare subhaw.
Keep your critic close to you,
Give him shelter in your courtyard
Without soap and water,
He cleanses your character.
But in today’s situation, most of the media is either sponsored by financers (who have an ideology or they have a leaning left, right or centre. Hardly we can find any media house which is unbiased. But to a large extent, due to public awareness, and availability of the internet as alternative media, these tendencies are exposed and corrected. There is a need for people driven media which will be unbiased and fearless. Youth of modern age have to join hands to make this possible.
Krishna Reddy: According to you, what is the role of Social service and philanthropy in making world a better place to live in?
Prashanth V Kumar: In India, we believe ghee purifies food. Silence purifies speech. Social Service(seva) purifies Karma. Philanthropy (Dhan) purifies wealth, Ayurveda purifies body, Satsang purifies emotions, Knowledge purifies intellect. All this should become integral part of our life.
Krishna Reddy: How do you think companies, business houses, NGO’s, Spiritual organizations and governments can collaborate with each other for mutual growth and societal growth?
Prashanth V Kumar: The government has to make policies for spirituality in consultation with NGO’s and spiritual leaders. In today’s world, there are no policies of spirituality, and since this is a little delicate subject, there is a very thin line between spirituality and religion,(or that is what society at large feels today), and any step towards making a policy can be easily coloured as religious. But, somewhere the governments have to make a policy for spirituality. Business Houses have to base their business, their HR and PR on a balance of spiritual principles and economic principles, rather than just only on economic considerations. And CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility should become something that is natural rather than being imposed.
Here, I would like to bring to the readers notice that in ancient India, the traders, businessman, agriculture community and the artisans, were the ones who liberally contributed for the social upbringing of the society. They were also instrumental in bringing up economic equality. But in today’s world, in some cases, the corporate exploit their employees or the employees employ malpractices to hoodwink the corporate. In the process, it’s the society which suffers.
Businessmen and business community of ancient india worked on two words:
Which actually means Auspicious Profits. The businesses were based for profits but the profits had a foundation of auspiciousness. This is something to be noted because it was not based on fraudulence. The business houses should reengineer their policies to base them on auspiciousness.
The NGO’s and spiritual organisations are the ones which are in contact with the common man.
They have to refrain from manipulations and exploitations of the society and instead work towards bringing about a divine society.
In this way, we could bring about a divine society and a one world family, Vasudaiva Kutumbakam.
Krishna Reddy: What do you think is the role of youth in building a developed India and World one brick at a time?
Prashanth V Kumar: From time immemorial, youth has played a very definitive role in building civilisastions and developing societies. Todays youth, are well informed but a tad misguided. In The information age, everybody,”knows” everything. There are very few people who can do and few youth fall into this category. Youth is a period of life which exuberates leadership. This potential of leadership needs to be harnessed, by hand holding the youth, in building the society. The experienced elders have to share their immense wisdom and the enthusiastic youth must be open to new or time tested ideas.
By far, most of the youth, are more interested in building a career and settling down in life. Instead, the youth must be trained in building a society which has no boundaries where people live a secured life. This can be achieved by harnessing the SQ, Spiritual Quotient of the youth. Spirituality is to be developed in the youth as spirituality is not something for the “old people.”
Spiritual organisations like the Art of Living, have been doing this through the Youth Leadership Training Programs,YLTP.
Krishna Reddy: What do you think is the role of politics in creating a developed India and better world? What should be the proactive role of political leaders in contributing to a Happy and Prosperous world?
Prashanth V Kumar:Sukra neeti, Vidura Neeti and Chanakya Neeti which are classical text books of political science say that people in powerful positions should be role models for the society. In today’s society, either the politicians should become the role models or people should elect their role models. Corruption, Nepotism and Despotism have become the basis of politics in general. This has to be replaced with patriotism, integrity, humanitarianism, valour and public spirit. Politics is a stage where a little bit of play is required. But when the play becomes excessive it leads to corruption, nepotism and despotism. The politician needs to be trained to find a fine balance between play and reality where reality is the practice of patriotism, integrity, humanitarianism, valour and public spirit. Politicians must remember they are firstly human beings, and secondly politicians who are elected public servants.
The politicians must break out of party lines and stand together condemning any anti national, anti social, criminal and illegal activities. Political ideologies and bloated egos should never impede the country’s progress. Politicians should learn to appreciate each other in good sense and give and take criticism constructively.
Every politician must have the country as first priority, followed by the parties ideology.
With his huge number of programmes Prashanth Kumar ji is trying to make the change he wants to see in this world. Not only just spiritual talk but real world works making change is his quality. World peace is just a world if there is no work done towards it . . We thank Prashant Kumar Ji for his valuable time and his contribution to the world believing.
by Krishna Reddy