Dance is my religion : My Life My Passion – Haleem Khan

The Kuchipudi dancer and actor Shri Haleem Khan enthralled the Bala audience with his fascinating life. The session started with a short and wonderful promo of his dance and his life.


Born into a conservative family, Haleem Khan demonstrated that art is beyond religion and creed“.

Introducing his journey of life, he said: “For me dance is everything”. Combining humour and bhava he took the audience through his journey. He spoke of how he used to watch and enjoy classical dance programmes on TV for hours when he was young, and this slowly turned into an obsession and he wanted to learn dance. He explained his family situation and how he silently and patiently waited for the right opportunity to learn dance. When he found the opportunity, he persisted in getting his first teacher in accepting him as a student, who was initially apprehensive of teaching him. He secretly continued his classes with this teacher, and later with her Guru. He explained how he used to practise in the bathroom and secretly continued his classes and practise for almost four years. His passion drove him to move to Hyderabad on the pretext of learning hardware engineering. There he got the opportunity to teach dance, and perform on stage. As he was balancing his passion for dance, his programmes and his work he decided to pursue dance as a career, risking failure and other challenges. He also spoke about how he started donning female roles as a Kuchipudi performer. He then gave a humorous recollection of how his family came to know about his dance, when a local TV came to interview them and how his strength, his dedication to his art helped him convince his family to accept this.



Convincing family and overcoming the differences was a challenge and he explained how he managed the situation of a man donning a female role. He wanted to preserve the tradition of Kuchipudi where traditionally men don female roles. He said even today we learn Bhagavad Gita since it is not just a book, but our culture. We have so much to learn from it, and it is our tradition. Similarly, he wanted to carry on the tradition of Kuchipudi and pass it on to the next generation. He slowly delved into the contradictions of his religion of birth and the religious aspects in the dance he was pursuing and how society looks at it. He told the audience that for him dance is his religion. This he says is how he sees his India, his religion and life. He explained how this was natural for him as a dancer. He said that while dancing he learned so much about the deities and this was not just physical but he experienced them mentally and spiritually and became one with them. He said unless you truly believe in the stories and that they are Gods, you cannot portray them genuinely. He says when he dances as Parvathi he becomes Parvathi. He eloquently explained that he becomes more than a devotee, and that is the strength that dance gives, and this helps transports the audience.



He says he believes it is his destiny to become a dancer, and that can be seen from the way he followed his passion and overcame so many difficulties to pursue it. He advised the students, that to do anything in life, it takes some struggle and constant fight to help achieve it. He said that one strong love and desire should be there and we should surrender and God will give strength to open doors in this journey. When you are happy & comfortable with your life, love every moment of what you do, and wake up looking forward to it every day, there is nothing more you need. You may have small struggles, but you should be ready to fight for it and achieve it. He concluded the inspiring session with a small demonstration and made the campers do a few steps along with him, leaving them inspired and motivated to pursue their passion in life.



He opened our eyes to towards our passion which we had never given a chance to grow. – Anjana, Mathipriya, Vidya & Anirudhan.

He is our role model. – Keerthana and Prathiksha.

He has inspired us. – Keerthana, Anjana, Aditya, Amrit Subramaniam, Aishwarya, Yashas Kumara Adi & Ramyadevi.

Helped increase our faith in God. – U Shriram, G Sripujitha, 

Amazed at the fact that he  “blew up the stereotyping and labelling of society”. – Aditya & Ramyadevi.

Great to see someone who grew to be so successful even after facing so many hardships.- Seaynawa

His life’s story taught us that failures are also good. – Aishwarya Ht, Anupama K Patil & Buvana Varthani 

Taught me the importance of passion, willpower, hard work and confidence. Unable to believe that he was in front of me. – Shakti

Taught me how to be simple. – Sandhiyae

Like the fact that he did not show any inequality between religions. -Samhitha

Liked his straightforwardness. – Rohan

Never seen someone who is so passionate towards dance. – Vaidoorya

Could especially connect to him as a dancer. – Devika

But most of all you have inspired many students to overcome their obstacles and pursue their passion.




गीतामृतेनैव मुक्ता भवन्तु

यजन्तु गीतां भजन्तु गीतां त्यजन्तु मोहान् भवन्तु सुखिनः
देहेऽस्थिबद्धे भवरोगग्रस्तो देहोऽस्ति मोहोऽस्ति भवरोगहेतुः |

वदन्तु गीतां वरदेवप्राप्तां लभन्तु सत्यं भवरोगहारम्
कर्मार्थं गीता धर्माय गीता ज्ञानाय गीता मोक्षाय गीता |

क्रीडन्तु गीतां गुरुदेवप्राप्तां सुकृतात् च प्राप्तां सुहृदा च प्राप्ताम्
पठन्तु गीतां व्रजन्तु मार्गान् अवाप्य तस्मात् परमार्थ ज्ञानम् |

सुखे च दुःखे च स्थिरं सुकृत्या गीतामृतेनैव मुक्ता भवन्तु
उपास्य गीतां वेदान्तसारां लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु ​||​

Gita Sanskrit sloka


Mananam 2016: Discover yourself

A 5-day exclusive camp called as Gita Mananam was conducted for the students of Gita who had participated in the previous Gitamritam camps. A total of 23 students participated in this camp which was held between 25th Dec and 30th Dec 2016 at Amritapuri. The theme of the camp was ‘Discover your Self”.

The camp was basically about contemplating on the ideas in the Gita and applying the principles in our daily life. The students were fortunate to learn Gita sitting at the feet of StitaPranja, our beloved Amma. The students got an amazing opportunity to ask questions to Amma connecting Gita and their life and got answers from Amma directly.

The activities of the camp were :
Gita Classes by Br. Dhyanamrita Chaitanya on 15th Chapter of Gita,
Amma’s Satsang, Meditation and Bhajan,
Guest speakers sharing their experiences on the importance of Gita and Guru.
Workshops by Prof. Shankar Kumaran, Mana & Moha Experiment,
Gita games, and Seva.

Gita Class:
The chapter of this year’s Mananam was Chapter 15, Purushottama Yoga.
The Gita class was very practical in its approach as it explained about the Purusha that each and every one of us are. The classes taught that the Creator and Creation are not two, the Jeeva and Iswara are not two, and spoke about the ways in which each person can overcome their false identities and discover their True Self.


Amma’s Satsang:
Amma in her Satsang at the beach and in the hall, gave an overall summary of the Purushottama Yoga with various examples in which a person could attain the enlightened state. Amma stressed upon the importance of spiritual practices to purify our minds to realize the inner Self which is dormant and covered with Vasanas.


Workshops: Awareness, Mana & Moha and Prarabha
Prof V Shankaran Kumaran led the workshop activities. The students were asked to create anything with the sand in the beach. They were given time to focus and think on what they wanted to make. The challenge here was that they had to create with awareness by being in the present moment and anything done without awareness in the present moment will only result in recreating from their past memories. Only awareness can help the students to be creative and Living each moment with awareness will make every experience new.
Workshops for overcoming Mana & Moha, removing false identity by replacing their name with “I” and games based upon the concept of Prarabdha were there.


Compost Seva:
The students were taken to the compost pit in the ashram where they worked across several areas like waste segregation, dumping, feeding the worms, packing etc. The students learnt about how to convert karma into karma yoga by offering the action being offered at the Lord’s feet. The students learnt about the need of awareness in each and every action that they perform. The students also learnt to overcome their likes and dislikes through this seva.


Five speakers who are residents of the ashram shared their experiences with Amma:

Dr. Hari Shankar, Paediatric-Oncologist
Dr. Hari said that the association a person keeps and entertains has a great impact in his life. We should be wise enough and must discriminate while we are associated with the surroundings.
Dr. Hari said “One should have a part of their mind that remains observing all the situations”. This practice helps a person to detach himself and come closer to the Self.

Br. Gurudas Chaitanya
Gurudas Ji shared the importance of adopting the basic principles in life for achieving the higher goals. He told a story in which he revealed that Amma knows everything even though it is untold to her. He also spoke on the importance of surrender of action at the feet of the Guru.

Mr. Ashok Nair, General Manager, Exxon Oil Company
His experience revealed to the students that a strong conviction of the Guru’s words in any situation leads to correct path. He shared his life’s story on how Amma’s words guided him and helped solve critical situation in his wife’s life. The students learnt about attitude of conviction and surrender to the Guru and Guru’s words.

Brahmachari Amit
He told that he used to overeat but Amma’s one statement changed him completely: “If you eat like this, I’ll stop eating”. It shows how the Guru’s words can change the addictions in a person if he loves his Guru.

Poornima Andrea, Germany
A person who suffering from severe arthritis, became a source of inspiration to all the students. She has been with Amma for the past 10 years on a wheelchair. Even though she always need an attendant, she has been travelling with Amma around the world without any assigned person to help her. In these years, she has learnt to find the resources that she needs on her own with full effort. When the Guru says something, it is our effort with faith in the Guru’s words that will bring us what we want. She does at least 8 hours of seva every day. Poornima said “The first ray of sun in human form I saw in Amma”.




Sai Teja:  This camp has made me try to understand who God really is. I want to maintain a part of my mind to be an observer which will not get affected by any situation. And always mind controls us. But we should not let the mind to do so. We should always be conscious of what you are doing and keep the mind calm and know that Guru will never leave you. He is within you and in any situation he will be there to help you.

Aarathi Pradeep: Gitamritam Mananam was a mind opener.  Out of the many wonderful lessons taught, the thoughts that struck me hard was on discrimination, the realisation I am nothing; everything is Paramatma, the “so-what” attitude and most importantly developing the sword of dispassion. All these were thought provoking and I understand I need to contemplate day in and day out to understand Gita 🙂 To understand life 🙂

Pramarsha: Until I attended the camp, I had a preconception that each form of god was different in their nature and if I pray to one, the other would get angry with me. But now I understood that every form is the same and even all of us are the same being.

Anudeep: Surrender is the concept that attracted me the most in this camp because this one word could answer many of my questions. You are already surrendered whether you know it or not, whether you do it or not. Nothing is happeing according to your will. Just discover that is what surrender is. Thank you.

Amrutha Ramakrishna: The most important lesson I learnt from this Mananam is to discriminate between essential and unessential things in life. We have so many good things to do in all of our lives. Why should we waste our precious time in the unessential things? So just filter and extract the best you can get from life. Food plays an important role. If we don’t intake good food it affects our thinking. So we have to take good food and keep ourselves healthy.

Vasudevan: Experienced the most beautiful thing ever. Was able to disconnect from my physical pain by saying: “I’m not this body”. Not just in words, it became a living reality. The most peaceful and quietest place… It was fully dark, but it was bright. Only bliss. Both mind and body was separate from me. I’m the Aatman. All Amma’s grace and leela. One of the most important lessons for a lifetime: If you have faith and surrender toward the Guru, the grace will come. And being attached to the Guru is the best Satsang we can have in our life. Amma is always with me. It’s up to me to accept that.

Sai Sunder: Mananam helped Sunder to take that 180 degree turn to look at the self and ask “Who am I?”. Sunder understood that he is not the body. It’s very easy to get Mana and very difficult to remove the Moha we develop.

SreeHari: Gita Mananam was a wonderful self-discovery camp. I have also realized that Krishna is within us. SreeHari is so happy that he has realized the truth.

Neeraja Valsan: The main thing I learnt is to control the mind like the way it flows. It takes along with it fragrance and stink. Similarly we should never get stuck with any thought.

Shankar Kumaran: This camp is completely different from Gitamritam-BALA-YUVA-KALYAN. Could see student’s time conscious, they were not late in the class. Though it was not like a busy schedule, they were so responsible of their actions. Many things can never be replaced, Living Sri Krishna, Eating with Sri Krishna, Interviewing Sri Krishna, Eternal Ocean, Seva, Prasadam and many more. Fifteenth Chapter- A trailer of Gita. “Nirmaanamoha” shloka was superbly good.



Gitamritam students presents papers at the International Gita Seminar, Kurukshetra

The Government of Haryana invited graduates of MAM’s Gitamritam Bhagavad Gita Camp to participate in the International Gita Seminar conducted at Kurukshetra University. Kurukshetra is in Haryana, where the Bhagavad Gita was told to Arjuna by Sri Krishna about 5,000 years ago. It is just a 3-hour drive from New Delhi.

The program was held at Kurukshetra University from 6-10 December at Kurukshetra, Haryana. It was part of the Gita Jayanthi celebrations conducted by the Government from 1st to 11th of Dec.


Nine of the students from Gitamritam were presented papers on various topics related to the Bhagavad Gita at the seminar.

The topics of papers submitted at the International Seminar on Bhagavad-Gita were:

1. “Conflict of Choices” by Pro. V Shankar Kumaran, Amrita University, Bengaluru
2. “Gita in Modern Day Management” by Dhanush BN, Bengaluru
3. “Ultimate Leadership and Global Village” by Kavin Prasad, Amrita University, Amritapuri
4. “Gita in Family Dynamics” by Maya Menon, Amrita University, Amritapuri
5. “Sri Bhagavan Uvaca – ‘Smile Please’” by Dhyanamrita Chaitanya, MAM, Amritapuri
6. “Misconception of Being a Devotee” by Revant Talekar, Karwar
7. “Dharma Consciousness for Peace & Harmony of the World” by Rishika Rajkumar, Bengaluru
8. “Fortification of Young Minds” by Namitha PL, Davangere
9. “Gita for Teens” by Gayathri Devi, Coimbatore

The last four students are from Gitamritam Camp for Bala – three are in their +1 class.

The panels consisted of Scholars, PhDs, PhD students and even Padmasree awardees. There were more than 250 delegates in the hall, both national and international.


The delegates expressed great enthusiasm for the presentations given by the young Gitamritam graduates. Several commented, “These kids should have been given more time.” One of the panel chairs invited one of the Gitamritam students to be a part of the panel for next year’s conference.

Some of the feedback received from the students’ presentations included: “These students have taught in a very special way. Its clear that they have understood the subject,” and “Rather than just repeating what you have heard, you shared original insights.”


All the Gitamritam graduates thoroughly enjoyed the experience, gaining at least as much they gave. On the first day of the conference, all the paper presentations were in Sanskrit. After listening to the Sanskrit presentations at the seminar, Rishika (who presented a paper on Dharma consciousness for universal peace and harmony), even though she didn’t understand a single word, was inspired to learn Sanskrit. It was the first time she heard a Sanskrit conversation, and she was overwhelmed by the beauty of it.


After a round of speeches by dignitaries gracing the event, Br. Dhyanamrita Chaitanya was invited to share a few words. He spoke about Amma as a Sthitaprajna, and shared his experience of the way Amma lives the Bhagavad Gita in every moment of her life. Suddenly a silence fell over the crowd, many had goosebumps when they learned that that there is a saint who is living the Gita here and now.  “Amma’s disciple’s words had a special power – though each of the scholars who spoke before him was well versed in Sri Krishna’s message as conveyed through the Gita, Dhyanamrita has lived with Sri Krishna himself, embodied in the form of Amma. His experience brought a sweetness and magic to his words that mere theoretical knowledge could never match” said Kavin Prasad, one of the participant of the Seminar.

Following the event, Dr. Misra of Kurukshetra University invited MAM to come and conduct a Gitamritam camp there on campus


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Excerpt of the abstracts of the papers presented:


Gita for Teens – (by Gayatri Devi, 16)
Thanks to Gita. I have changed from being selfish to being selfless. But at instants, situations ask me to act angry, even though I am not. Gita has taught me, how to overcome anger and how to be detached from this materialistic world, in order to attain God. It has taught me to accept people as they are and that I shouldn’t expect things from others. I even judged people many times, which is a wrong act. The values that I have tried sharing with you through this story, makes not even 10% of what Gita wants to convey. There are loads of things that the instruction manual of being happy coveys to this world. In fact, it is almost as if I am Arjuna, and Gita is Krishna who transforms me.


Gita on Family Dynamics – (by Maya Menon)
Marriage and family are indispensable ingredients of a thriving society. Yet today, many are questioning its relevance and necessity. With the increasing rates of unhappy marriages and dysfunctional families, this paper proposes that the Bhagavad Gita be used as an aid to address and resolve some of the issues our culture today faces. The Gita is the eternal message of spiritual wisdom and has received global recognition on its timeless relevance. With references to various verses from the Gita, the paper explains a few of the many applications of Gita and how it can ameliorate the family dynamics. Simple concepts presented under the light of Gita, such as the art of give and take, seeing divinity in everything, the practice of spiritual values in family life and attachment with detachment are discussed. This paper suggests that marrying the teachings of the Gita into a family life will ensure a life of love, peace and joy.


Gita the ultimate leadership manual for Global Village (Kavin Prasad & Dipayan Banerjee)
The real centre is the Universal Centre which is the key to our happiness. A real leader is a person who face the situation and does not run away from the situation. The facing situation will happen only when the person is centred in the Universal Centre. People like Arjuna are intelligent and talented but are not capable to manage the situation when crisis come because such people are deciding based on the Anithya or the Changing. Krishna on the other hand is balanced and still because he decides based on the unchanging or Nithya by seeing the situation for a larger good or good of the universe (Universal Centre). If a person is sheltered in their real nature only then they can be balanced in any situation and only such person can handle any situation may be time management, crisis management, conflict management. The idea of how to remain in the centre, the behaviour of the people who are not in their centre and people in the universal centre is depicted in this article.



Fortification of the young minds (by Namitha PL, 16)
Fortification constructed of self-control and universal love makes the mind impregnable to the foe. A fortified city is free from the danger of being attacked by the enemy. Man’s mind has to be similarly fortified against the invisible enemies. Lust, greed, anger and hatred are the enemies wrecking the career of man. They are capable of invasion at any time. When the mind falls into their hands, man is ruined. It has to be therefore properly fortified. When the defenses are strong the enemy beats a retreat.
It is by the performance of dharma that the fulfilment of life takes place. The dharma of man is to exert his best for common good. Values of Gita is like a flowing river. It reveals: truth over untruth, justice over injustice, dharma over adharma.


Misconceptions of being a devotee – Revant Talekar
What makes this conversation that took place ages ago, so relevant to us – people living in 21st century? We often get stuck in similar kind of anguish, in our daily lives. The answer to those predicaments lie in understanding the nature of a devotee which is of paramount significance, rather than just being one. Majority of people would take pride in pledging their devotion and exhibiting it by fulfilling rituals with heart, whole or half.

It is interesting to see how when asked what should be done, Lord explains what should be strived for, in the twelfth chapter, what he is fond of particularly. It could baffle you since Lord continued to emphasise on importance of attitude than action throughout. My paper shall explore this domain, of nature and misconceptions of devotee – trying to understand what it means to be one.


Gita in modern day management – (by Dhanush BN, Bengaluru )

One of the most critical aspect of management is the self management with respect to one’s schedule, plan and more importantly control of one’s mind. How does Bhagavad Gita offer solutions to such aspects of the modern day management.



Dharma Consciousness for World Peace and Harmony –  (by Rishika Rajkumar, 16)
The need for peace and harmony appears to be more of a necessity now than ever before as these problems can only be solved if the world stands together as one and the countries work in cooperation with each other for the benefit of all.
Why has this not happened yet? The reason for this is that in today’s world, there seem to be many Duryodhanas and Krishnaless Arjunas who are lost and aren’t aware of their dharma. The Duryodhanas include the corrupt politician, the terrorist killing innocent ones, the fraud businessman, the womaniser and down the lane, they also include the seemingly harmless student littering the streets. The Krishnaless Arjunas are the people who sit back in their chairs and comment/critic the actions of the people around them and share their dissatisfaction on social media (with Facebook being the one most commonly used) instead of taking action themselves. All these wrong actions originate from expectations, the feeling of incompletion and the absence of peace in the minds of the people. With Krishna not being there to bring an end to the corruption and guide them down the right path, the Bhagavad Gita is what will help them grow conscious of their duties (dharma) and responsibilities.



Conflict of Choices (CoC) – (by V. Shankar Kumaran & Ms. Shambhavi)

Our each day begins with a conflict, the conflict of choices. Throughout the day we face this conflict. Every moment demands us to choose out of the many options available. And it is that dilemma of doing it or not and doing what which keeps us in whirlpool of confusions. The availability of options ranges from getting up at the first call of alarm or not, choosing coffee or tea to declaring surgical strike against any nation or not as a defence minister, or even the latest decision on demonetization by the Centre. The conflict of choices goes on and on and then there comes a moment to act. And it is that defining moment demanding immediate action which forces us to decide. It is henceforth that particular act of decision making which is actually responsible to give new dimensions to life and to pave new ways for us. The development as we see around us today is nothing but the result of decisions taken long back. The civilized societies and technological advancements are all results of better choices. Similarly, pollution and corruption too are results of the wrong decisions taken by us. These decisions can be changed. If love, compassion, sacrifice, selflessness still exist in this world that too is because of some people’s decision to retain them in this ever changing world.


Sri Bhagavan Uvaca “Smile Please” (by Dhyanamrita Chaitanya)

All of us were able to smile at everyone out of joy, all around the globe, at the animate and in-animate, with out any differences…when we were all babies. And we loose that blessing as we grow. What have we lost, where have we lost, how we have lost that smile? Bhagavad Gita gives you the key to answer this as learning Gita is to become Krishna himself. Sri Krishna is smiling under any circumstances as he is always aware living in the present. If you want to be happy, be happy right now as happiness is always in the present. Let all your actions not be for happiness and let it come out of happiness. Instead of becoming happy, be happy. Now or never.

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Download the PDF report of the visit to Kurushetra





Some feedbacks by the delegates of the International Gita Seminar about Gitamritam

M Chaudhari: It was a new insight, I found the an answer to the question I was searching for.

S Shulka: Every one was copy pasting from ten books make another one to present here. Yours were original.

Dinesh: Your style of teaching is very good. Children at this age can speak liked this!!

P Sharma: These students have taught in a very special way. Its clear that they have understood it.

Isn’t learning Gita from book or Internet is enough?

Isn’t learning Gita from book or Internet is more than enough, given that there are elaborate commentaries and various versions of Gita available?

If we go by the google search or the dictionary meaning, we would get into trouble. For eg; in Gita, the word “buddhi” is used as intelligence, knowledge and a means of knowledge. Atma is used with reference to body, some other places mind, some other places jiva and in other places as Atma (Self) itself. So we need an Acharya. He can explain what it actually means. An Acharya is important in connecting various parts of Gita and putting it in right perspective. Guru is a must.


Arjuna was very cultured and intelligent. He had studied all Dharma Sastras. Sri Krishna was just removing the clouds of his mind so that the sun shine will be visible. Arjuna raises so many questions, Sri Krishna answers all of them. While reading, many of us don’t even understand the question itself; forget about the answer of Sri Krishna. In fact at the end of the chapter Arjuna declares that he is doubt free and will execute his duty efficiently. After studying Gita usually we don’t even come to that level.

When there are questions about Gita, the Acharya can help us in properly understanding the question. Actually, the Acharya is trying to explain that which can’t be understood by the body, mind or intellect – which is beyond our recognition. There are hundreds of Mahatmas who have experienced this truth – in every century there have been many Mahatmas who have declared this truth to the world.

A Guru who has seen more than what we could, will be able to correct our vision. A Guru who has seen the truth will be able to do that. With faith in the Acharya, we could try to follow the path shown by him/her. For example, in order to show the moon, the Acharya will point his finger towards the white light at night. The child may not understand what he is pointing to, but the Acharya  will remove all his doubts and take his gaze towards the goal. Similarly, Gita and Sastras are pointers to this truth and we have to go beyond the words by tuning to the Guru. Every Acharya explains in his own style, which is his own freedom, but Gita remains the same. Gita supplies the message to everyone – child, parents, sanyasins or anyone for that matter.

In the study of Gita, the enquiry should be ignited. When enquiry comes, Guru will be there to guide.