Getting inspired by someone is rather easy. But being an inspiration to hundreds or thousands is tough. There are some personalities who inspire and guide people, but are never interested to be in the limelight. Shri. Vinod Kumar, Director of Sri Sri School of Media Studies , who is lovingly addressed as Vinodji is one such personality. I have been planning to pen down a few words on this amazing personality. I felt this the right occasion since he is celebrating his 50th year in this planet.
Shri Vinodji is one of the close associates or rather the closest associate of H.H Sri Sri Ravishankar, founder of The Art of Living Foundation. His association with the Art of Living dates back to more than 20 years. He is a trainer for the Art of Living Corporate Workshops and other self development programs conducted by the foundation. In addition social service projects like Youth Leadership Training Programme and Sri Sri Rural Development Program were his brainchild.
Being a volunteer of the Art of Living foundation, I have had the opportunity to interact with lots of amazing personalities and Vinodji is one such individual whose words and ways created deep impressions inside me. In fact he is one of the few who “walked the talk.“ In these times when the term spirituality is misjudged and spiritual teachings or ancient wisdom is misinterpreted and lines are drawn between spiritual life and material life, Shri Vinodji is one person who demonstrates living an ordinary life you can be very much spiritual.
Shri Vinodji possesses the traits of an inspiring leader. His ability to uplift and inspire an individual to perform at their best is amazing. Throughout the training sessions he asks questions, listens carefully, plans diligently and then builds consensus among the participants for achieving their goals.
His power-packed training sessions are motivating and he is amazingly in ease with queries raised by a rural youth, a B-School graduate or an urban elite attending his training programs. In his majestic presence during the tough training sessions you might feel dangerously vulnerable, but that is the way he operates. He exerts authority upon you and this authority gradually transforms to unconditional love and compassion. By the end of the training program you shed you inhibitions and your real potential is unveiled. You come out of the training firmly believing Yeah, I’d really like to do it and I will!!
Many a times at the end of the training sessions he vanishes, never leaving a chance for the participants to express their gratitude, because he firmly believes gratitude is to be expressed to the Master. Shri Vinodji is a person who practices “Servant Leadership.” He is a person who sees himself as a servant, and who does everything possible to help others to perform at their best, thus practicing the highest form of “Servant Leadership.”
His focus is always on the Master and his faith in the Master is unshakable. And I believe it is this unshakeable faith in the Master or Guru that make Shri Vinodji distinguishable. Occasionally he amuses the gathering at the Art of Living Ashram, by joining the long queue and waiting patiently to offer his pranams to Guruji, whereas he could have easily walked up to the podium without being stopped. Often he can be spotted in an animated discussion with young volunteers and bantering with visitors at the Art of Living Centre, Bangalore. You could also see him meditating during the evening satsangs at the ashram and in Yagnashala.
I feel very lucky for I could attend his 4 day DSN (Divya Samaj Nirman) workshop. Divya Samaj Nirmaan stands for creating a divine society. Here training is imparted to create volunteers who can take up the responsibility of creating a divine society. While attending this training my confidence level was at the low ebb owing to setbacks in my personal life. Four days with this amazing person instilled great confidence in me helping to overcome the obstacles in my life thus giving a new direction in life..
After graduating as a trainer for the Art of Living foundation I have had the opportunity to be with Shri Vinodji during teacher’s refresher meets and other short interactive sessions during courses organized in Wayanad. I have always watched from a distance his graceful gestures and spontaneous replies to queries, but never had enough courage to walk up to him and talk to him for a while. Whenever I meet him at the Art of Living international Centre at Bangalore, I just fold my arms and wish him and he reciprocates nodding his head with a smile.
Before bringing this post to an end I would like to jot down why I feel he was successful in inspiring people and his definiton of Guru principle.
- He had a deeply held vision
- Inner and self-directed he listened to his intuition and the world around him became secondary
- His actions benefitted the greater good
- Committed and dedicated he views his achievements as the purpose of his life
- He was never deterred by popular opinion and acted fearlessly
Vinodji on Guru Principle
A Guru is a challenge. A Guru is an inspiration. A guru is a challenge and inspiration because a Guru is little more than where you have arrived. If it is humility a Guru is little more humbler than you are. If it is contentment , Guru expresses little more contentment than where you have reached. And if you enhance your level of contentment, the Guru is yet unreachable. A Guru is always a benchmark for me to aspire. It is always impossible to emulate a Guru in all the dimensions.