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Bhanumathi was born on Jan 11, 1958 in Papanasam, a village town in South India to Sri. R. S V. Ratnam and Smt. Vishalakshi.
Sri. Ratnam was a scholar and especially knowledgeable in the field of ayurveda and astrology. He nurtured a sense of belongingness with all and was dedicated to serving the poor and needy. He inculcated values and ideals in his children through stories that he would tell them steeped in the traditions of India.
Smt. Vishalakshi was a woman with phenomenal inner strength. She attended to every task with perfection and epitomized caring and sharing. Honoring traditions, she Nurtured the same attitude in her children.
Growing up in a joint family with a simple lifestyle yet high values, the urge to care for others and spread happiness developed naturally.
Even as a teenager she learnt to meditate from her brother and continued the practice ever since.
At a young age, she witnessed the disparity in society where schooling for the girl child was not considered important and the seeds for her passion towards education for the underprivileged were sown.
Bhanumathi learnt singing and dance as a young girl. Painting, ikebana, cooking, gardening were other areas of keen interest. Completing her schooling from Bangalore, she went on to obtain a Masters degree in Sanskrit literature.
A SPIRITUAL CALLING
Bhanumathi is a meditator. Under the guidance of Sri Sri ( her brother and Spiritual Master) she started teaching meditation as well. She firmly believes that the complete blossoming of the individual potential can be attained through spirituality, through meditation. Her workshops have brought an experience of deep inner peace to hundreds of participants worldwide. Meditation is the journey from the head to the heart. Through meditation she has helped thousands of hearts to heal and experience the connection with the inner -Self resulting in an un-shakable confidence in themselves and a sense of belongingness with society.
FOR HOLISTIC EDUCATION
Bhanumathi instituted the “Gift a smile - Care-for-Children” program, which provides value-based holistic education for underprivileged children from rural, tribal, and slum areas free of cost. There are 435 schools in 20 states of India educating over 58000 children with a special focus on the girl child.
FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
Through VISTA India (Value Integrated Services To All), an initiative that aims to provide economic and social self-sufficiency for disadvantaged women in India; vocational training, entrepreneurship, and self-development workshops have been provided to over 8,000 women. These women are also educated in hygiene and health issues in rural areas.
Vishalakshi Women Empowerment Program is similar initiative catering to underprivileged women in semi-urban areas. There are two centers currently operating in Tamil Nadu and Bangalore where they are trained in vocational skills including tailoring, candle making, incense stick production, packaging and marketing, and related skills to make them economically self-reliant.
Bhanumathi started the HARA (HIV/AIDS Awareness in Rural Areas) project through which youth volunteers are trained under a qualified medical doctor receive and disseminate this knowledge further in the rural areas. Over 160,000 individuals across India have benefitted from this initiative till date.
FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
The Hara Desh Hari Prithvi project initiated by Bhanumathi is being implemented in villages through the schools run by the “Gift A Smile” program. It includes tree plantation, No plastic drives and cleaning camps to spread awareness about health and hygiene. Till date around 4900 saplings have been planted, over 810 cleaning camps conducted and 117 schools and 2,450 homes have been made plastic free across 300 villages in India.
FOR ART & CULTURE
In support of traditional art and culture, Bhanumathi has initiated the Weaver-to-Wearer project. The project identifies skilled craftsmen in the traditional arts from rural areas and connects them with consumers around the world. Madhurya, a women entrepreneurship initiative inspired by Bhanumathi, provides a platform for marketing these unique hand-crafted products.
In 2007, Bhanumathi was awarded the prestigious Sadguru Gnanananda National Award (India) for her unwavering dedication to social development and to women’s issues.
CHAIRPERSON OF THE IWC
As the chairperson of the International Women’s Conference (IWC), her vision is to make a global connection of responsible women to catalyze positive transformation in society. The Conference celebrates the dynamism of women and provides a platform to deliberate and share ideas and experiences encouraging the pivotal role of women in creating a harmonious and prosperous society. Over 5000 women from 80 nationalities have participated in these conferences so far with eminent speakers from diverse spheres, political to business to social, cultural and spiritual, addressing and inspiring the delegation. The conference proceeds support global initiatives for education of women, prisoner rehabilitation, poverty eradication, female health awareness, eradication of female feticide, environmental conservation, and domestic violence.
MUSIC FOR TRANSCENDENCE
Bhanumathi’s interests in promoting cultural values and joy through music led her to create multiple albums in Sanskrit, Hindi, and Kannada. Her music transcends borders of language and beliefs and has a relaxing and calming effect on the mind as experienced by thousands worldwide.
Bhanumathi is the author of the bestselling biography ‘Gurudev - On the Plateau of the Peak’ which offers a glimpse into the life of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar from his childhood to growing-up years, when he was an unassuming boy to a teenager in the company of saints, from a young meditation teacher to a revered spiritual Master.
She has also authored two books, Tejasvini and Lalitha that expound the spiritual significance and mystical meaning behind popular Hindu traditional scriptures and practices. The purpose of the books is to highlight the essence of the practices instead of just focusing on the outer expression or rituals.
About Bhanumathi X Close
Bhanumathi Narasimhan is the sister of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, humanitarian leader and ambassador of peace, and shares his vision for a stress-free violence-free world. Bhanumathi is the Director of Women welfare and child care programs of the The Art of Living, a not-for-profit, educational and humanitarian NGO engaged in bringing stress relief and service initiatives in 155 countries.