The Candid Eye

March 14, 2012

Ravi Shankar in city: ‘A happy mind is never attracted to terrorism’

Filed under: India,Islam,Jihad,Message,Pakistan,Sri Sri Ravishankar,Terrorism,Yoga — Abhay @ 10:17 PM

 

In a file photograph taken on March 13, 2012, Indian spiritual guru and Art of Living Foundation leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (C) arrives to inaugurate the Foundation Center in Bani Gala, the outskirts of Islamabad. — AFP

LAHORE: Indian spiritual leader and Art of Living founder Sri Ravi Shankar on Monday delivered a lecture and held talks with students and academicians at the Sinclair Hall of the Forman Christian College (FCC) University.

Talking about his foundation, the peace and goodwill ambassador elaborated how his organization worked to preach happiness through stress elimination to the people, adding that only disgruntled people became tools of terrorists while a happy mind was never attracted to terrorism.

He stressed the need of bringing people of Pakistan and India closer, saying that it was easy to bridge differences since people spoke the same language in the neighbouring countries.

“If France and Germany, once arch-rivals, can put aside their differences in the larger interest of people of both the countries, why can’t India and Pakistan work together for the cause of the people,” he said.

Shankar has been invited by Art of Living (Pakistan Chapter) on a three-day peace mission during which he will hold talks with business leaders, academicians, spiritual leaders, student organizations and opinion leaders as part of his efforts to strengthen collaborative efforts between the two countries.

Earlier, on his three-day peace mission to Pakistan Shankar entered Lahore via Wagha border. He later visited Badshahi Mosque and a Gurdwara. He will also visit Islamabad and Karachi. – APP

 

From Dawn

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October 28, 2010

Parents learn to know their kids at Art of Living session

KOLKATA(Jul 19, 2009): More than a hundred parents came with the intention to get some ideas about transforming their errant kids. But at the end of the Art of Living workshop called Know your child’, they returned with the conviction that they had never looked at the world as a child looks at it and have been wrong in handling their child.

“The most important thing is allowing a child to be comfortable with himself or herself in a child-friendly environment so that he or she can develop into a happy adulthood with a sense of belonging,” said Muralidhar Koteshwar, one of the trustees of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Vidyamandir (SSRSV) Trust.

The workshop helps worried parents see things from a child’s perspective and it makes all the difference. For instance, fighting between two siblings is actually good for training the child to be a warrior in life. “A child lives in the present, never in the past or the future. So give the child attention when he or she needs it, not when your time permits. It creates magic,” said Murali (as he is better known in the circle). His simple tips enthralled parents who hitherto thought parenting means a lot of disciplining and whipping. “Punishment robs a child of confidence,” he said.

The workshop actually gives a glimpse into how the Trust sensitizes the teachers of the Trust-run schools across the country on child-friendliness. “In fact, the training of teachers enables them to get a deep insight into the mind of a child. The focus is always on encouraging children to excel without compromising on human values. Children will excel when they are in a stress-free environment. Our curriculum includes daily yoga, asana and breathing exercises, which enable a calm and focused mind. This helps discover the inner potential of every child,” said Murali.

The Trust’s first school in Kolkata is coming up in Alipore. “The academy aims to provide value education in a friendly and stress-free environment. Innovative teaching-learning facilities have been provided to bring out the best in each child and give him or her wings to fly high while remaining rooted in Indian values. The admission will start from September,” said Suvina Shunglu, educational coordinator and junior school headmistress of the academy.

The philosophy of the school is to bring about development of every child in all the three aspects body, mind and spirit. It lays great emphasis on sports, performing and visual arts. Varied interests of the child will be nurtured through activities like creative writing, quizzing, debating, computer programming, out-of-the box arts, martial arts, said Shunglu.

Provision has been made in infrastructure facilities for indoor and outdoor games with a mini gym for toddlers, table tennis, a unique outdoor play station, fields for soccer, cricket and hockey, basketball and badminton courts with experienced coaches. The U-shaped building has been designed to avoid excess heat. Airy corridors and moderate temperature-controlled classrooms are being provided .The latest digital touch screen with overhead projector is being provided in each classroom, said Manish Poddar, the man behind the project.

From: Parents learn to know their kids at Art of Living session – The Times of India

October 23, 2010

Kanakapura to China

Forget the kung fu hustle, it’s now time for China to learn some disciplines in yoga. Yes, the Art Of Living is going to China and founder Sri Sri Ravishankar will open its first ashram in the country this Sunday during his maiden visit.

The Beijing ashram, constructed on a 165–acre land, will have rooms and dormitories that can accommodate up to 150 people. It also houses a three-storey meditation centre.

HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

China will be the fifth country in the world to have an ashram set up by the AOL International Centre (AOLIC). Germany, Canada, Russia, Poland and USA have ashrams, the biggest one being in Canada.

Why an ashram in China? AOLIC spokesperson Karthik Krishna gives the answer: Hundreds of foreigners visit the AOL ashram on Kanakapura Road in Bangalore every year— many of them are Chinese who felt a need for a similar ashram in their country.

There are also plans to open a therapy centre in the Beijing ashram in due course.

Sunday’s inauguration will be followed by a satsang which will be co-organised by the state-run Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

AoL teachers from Bangalore provided yoga training to over two dozen Chinese teachers from Shanghai and Beijing for the Beijing ashram.

Source : DNA

October 15, 2010

His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar invited by China!!

Godless China has invited Art of Living (AOL) founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, for a religious leaders’ meeting and a satsang near Beijing later this month. This would be the spiritual leader’s first China visit.

Sources said state-run China Overseas Friendship Association (COFA) is organising the event on October 24 and 25 and around 400 people from across the country are expected to attend the satsang. They said Beijing gave its go ahead for the event to promote bilateral ties with India and that the invitation is the first of its kind to any Indian religious figure.

HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

“We expect senior businessmen, show business celebrities, medical, educational experts and even psychiatrists to attend the event,” said Tang Qiyu, who would host the event at his ashram-like resort for yoga and meditation on the outskirts of the capital. Sources said Tang’s efforts made the invitation for the spiritual leader possible.

Tang, a businessman, has invested over $15 million in the resort that offers yoga training facilities. The businessman developed the resort and dedicated it to Sri Sri after meeting him in Bangalore last year.

“There is some change in the Chinese government’s attitude towards spirituality. Swami Amolji, a teacher from AOL’s Bangalore ashram, recently attended a government-sponsored yoga conference in Beijing,” Tang said.

During his Beijing visit, Amolji said he found a strong inclination among the Chinese towards spiritualism. Apart from Amolji, several AOL teachers from Bangalore have visited and trained over two dozen Chinese spiritual teachers in Shanghai and Beijing in the last two years.

From TOI

July 13, 2010

Kathewadi – A village from another time !

From Rediff.com
Sangeeta Anand visits Kathewadi village in Maharashtra’s Nanded district to see an amazing transformation.

Image: Radha Bai and Anjan Bai, residents of the village


We are finally in view of Kathewadi, a tiny village in the back of the beyond in Nanded district in Maharashtra. It’s been a six-hour journey from Hyderabad across two states to satisfy our curiosity about this village and its people having turned their lives around. I wonder if things can change. Is it possible in today’s times to run a shop unmanned by a shop keeper? To believe that goods bought would be paid for, without supervision ?

When we reach Kathewadi, I pass a woman sitting in the tiny portico of her gaily painted hut and as I make eye contact she smiles and motions me to come in. Smiling, she offers me water and shows me around her home. With gestures I convey that we are here to visit their village and take pictures. She offers to accompany us and we head off through the main street. We walk through a surprisingly clean village with clusters of homes neatly painted in a uniform shade of soft pink, soothing our eyes under the hot glare of the sun.

The Art of Living Foundation has adtoped this village and converted it into a model of village life. It founder, Sri Sri Ravishankar’s teachings arer painted on the walls of every home in the village. Says writer Babu Patil Biradar, who has now joined us. “We live by Guruji’s teachings.”

Radha Bai my guide tells me in Marathi, “All our homes have a toilet. We have all collected money and built one outside each house.” The pride is evident in her face.

We come to the main temple of the village alongside which is the famous shop. Men and women have come out of their homes to gather for the satsang that they all participate in every evening.

I am introduced to the village elders and after a series of greetings, I ask them about the inspiration behind the shop, unmanned by a shopkeeper, where all the goods are labelled and left for the people to pick up and pay for, unsupervised. I am invited to see for myself.

The linoleum lined floor and the neatly stacked shelves impress me with their quiet dignity. Each product is labelled and marked with the prices. There is a large box in which the villagers put in the money for the items they pick up and another little one marked Daan Peti (donation box) in which they collect money for development work in the village.

Sangeeta Suryavanshi is another surprise. She is the 25-year-old is the sarpanch of this village. She says, “One member of every family in this village has done an Art of Living course: The Nav Chetna shivirs, youth leadership training programme and the basic course.”

“It has brought such a change in our society that we have become totally addiction free. There is amity and harmony amongst all of us, which did not exist before. We have learnt about hygiene and cleanliness and all the money that was spent on vices like alcohol and tobacco is now used constructively. This has happened due to Guruji’s inspiration,” she says proudly.


Image: A villager makes a payment at the shop in Kathewadi

Now we have self help groups of ten people each and these groups solve any issues and implement solutions.” An old man is being helped across the street to our side and I rise to wish him. Allauddin Sheikh heads the only Muslim family in this village of 700 people.

“My family has lived here for generations. My son has done the Art of Living Course and he is very happy with all that he has learnt. In all my 80 years I have never seen such a transformation in our village. We live in complete harmony and help each other in times of need.”

The music has risen to a crescendo and men and women are dancing in devotion, each face alight with joy, as I take my leave, children reach out to wish me as I wave to them from the bus. Babu Patil’s shared confidence echoes through my head all through the journey back to Hyderabad.

I had dreamt of a village like this, after reading about it in a book. It has actually happened. Cleanliness, harmony, trust, human values, bonding, this village with a vision surely belongs to another time.



Image: food packets labelled and on display at the shop in Kathewadi

June 19, 2010

The art of healing

The art of healing

SUHEL SETH, Jun 8, 2010, 03.43pm IST

I was in Chandigarh watching television on May 30 when the news of an assassination attempt on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar flashed across all screens and then began, in typical Indian fashion, the analysis of this near-fatal event without an iota of accuracy or on the basis of an informed decision. I have to confess, while I am neither a member of the Art of Living Foundation nor have I ever done a course, I have, for many years admired the manner in which Sri Sri has galvanized millions of people across the world to believe in a simple set of values: all of which revolve around human character and happiness. I wanted to call him and check how he was but in the interim, I was disappointed at the positions that everyone began taking. It was no rocket science to understand the silence of the state Government of Karnataka: no one in their right minds would have wanted to say anything on the subject when they were preparing to host their first Global Investor’s meet barely four days later. But it was P Chidambaram who surprised me the most and this was a very different Chidambaram. Not the one I had seen address the press admirably early in the morning of February 14, 2010 when the German Bakery in Pune had been the target of a vicious bomb attack the night before. At that time, Chidambaram was measured and was clear that he would offer a view only after thorough investigations were done.

But this time round, when the attack on Sri Sri took place, Chidambaram alluded to some dangerous theories; one that Sri Sri was not the real target and second that this could have been an inner-ashram feud. Yes, comments made without even a whiff of an investigation: made perhaps in passing but ones that, in hindsight have proven to be more damning than Chidambaram can imagine. This then triggered off a wave of theories: something that only we in India are brilliant at: commenting on things that are in circulation but have no roots.

I finally called up Sri Sri to enquire about his well-being and he was more amused than angered. He was more concerned about his assailant and anguished at the allegations that were circulating. But not once did I hint even a dash of anger or for that matter frustration. He talked about the calmness at the ashram and the happiness quotient therein. He talked about forgiveness and moving on and then said, he couldn’t understand why things were being said when there was no truth in them. This article will hopefully help him understand an India that is not so calm and not so happy. This is an attempt to awaken Sri Sri from the oasis of peace he resides in and fosters. And something that reflects on the general malaise that has come about in our society.

Television has made many of us instant commentators: silence is no longer a virtue nor is smiling away your troubles: you are either seen as guilty or as one who has something to hide. So Sri Sri should have never been silent or for that matter happy that his followers, one of whom was shot, were alive and more importantly happy. He should have given a dozen television interviews and made it to the front pages and prime time headlines: that would have kept him in currency not for peace but for violence: exactly what the terrorists and now the Maoists feed off.

But before we march into the next crisis, let’s pause and think what all of this has really done: it has created an impression of an inner feud which doesn’t exist; it has made Sri Sri come across as publicity-hungry which he clearly isn’t: he was as well-known before May 30; but the damage it has done is considerable: we have almost, without unsettling Sri Sri, created a level of cynicism and anguish amongst his followers in this country’s rule of law; in our ability to forget and forgive and most importantly to move on. With all the utterances around, we have confused and confounded some very happy people living in that ashram and who are helping the poor and the distraught. So while we may serve the cause of TRPs and individual one upmanship, have we really addressed the larger malaise of unhappiness and anger? Of desolateness and isolation? Of social stigmatization and separatism?

I genuinelybelieve we have many lessons to learn. Our media today is playing into the hands of vulgar sensationalism and our politicians are falling into this trap. We as a nation think it to be hip and cool if we knock the good that our fellow country-men are engaged in. We love to pull the ones that are doing good down with a ferocity that is seeped in negativism. Rather than praise the good work, we invest emotions mired in cynicism and disbelief. Are we increasingly becoming a nation that is suspicious and bitter? Or will we allow ourselves to be happy and optimistic. Many a time, each one of us that has the option to speak in public or write in newspapers want the easy way out. Criticism and not critique are the birthmarks of this India. But then this is a downward spiral. It will make us even more miserable than we need to be. It will make us despondent when we don’t need to be and more than anything else, our very attitude will deter people from pursuing the path of good and nobleness. Sri Sri runs the Art of Living program. But given what one sees around, there is a crying need for us to invest in an Art of Healing program. We need to placate and please; we need to progress and prosper and not be bitter and banal about every thing good around us. Perhaps May 30 was a lesson which we need to learn from; a signal to every Indian to be proud and not picky about everything good about our own people; our own values and our own culture. It is easy to cast stones at everything but very difficult to pick up the pieces of shattered souls. The time to stop this is now. The time to move on is now.Sri Sri has the ability to move on and he will; the happiness quotient will not see any dip or turbulence except that we will make every human being question his own integrity and his own belief system, the next time he wants to say what he really feels. Sri Sri was happy when I spoke to him. No words of rancour or remorse. But then, he is evolved. What if he wasn’t? Do we want soap operas in this country every time a tragedy occurs or do we actually have it in ourselves to let our silence heal us: from within and comprehensively?

June 17, 2010

If you are a Swami and a victim, remain silent!

If you are a Swami and a victim, remain silent!

– by Swami Sadyojathah, Jun 10, 2010, 01.50pm
I think 30 years of selfless service has not attracted the eye of our media as much as a bullet. Ironically, the victim had to justify why the bullet was found close to him!

A Swami is expected to remain silent irrespective of the seriousness of offence against him whereas strong voices of support are heard for terrorists and anti-social elements. Corrupt officials are not condemned and the society’s silence implies it is fine with them.

‘Swami’, a title much revered in India in the past only raises eyebrows in suspicion now. Swamis and Sadhus were respected for dedicating and sacrificing their lives for society and now they are being condemned. This shows the unfortunate deterioration of the Indian culture. Is it not a systematic psychological warfare against Swamis?

We also see a section of the media in our country jumping to hasty conclusions especially in matters concerning swamis and spirituality.

‘You have the right to remain silent…’ is usually a warning given to a suspected criminal under arrest. However, paradoxically if you are a Swami or a Guru, you are advised to remain silent even if you are a victim. In spite of being a victim, you are perceived to have done something wrong. The overwhelming undercurrent of prejudice against Hindu swamis and Gurus cannot be underlined enough.

How strange that a culprit can walk away, but the victim is doubted, questioned, harassed and expected to prove his innocence! The Indian Constitution holds that you are innocent until proven guilty, but a swami is necessarily guilty until proven innocent.

This has been the way of the world, which has always demanded from the living legends to prove their innocence. Be it Kabir or Jesus or even Mahatma Gandhi who was called a fraud a number of times. The degradation of society is measured by its attitude towards its spiritual leaders. Is it not Kaliyuga where the onus is on the victim to prove that he is not guilty?

Usually a victim is encouraged to speak up. But if you are a swami, you are counseled to forever hold your peace, even if you are surrounded by white lies.

The other thing isthat it does not pay off in the worldly sense to keep calm and live in knowledge because the gap between the real world and a meditator’s world is far too much. A layman may not understand the world of yogis, where they remain poised, calm and there is not an iota of worry or concern in their expression, even in extenuating circumstances. This is baffling to the common man or in this case of gun shot the investigating cops.

Recently, I was at a function in Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi, where I observed the sheer reluctance of people in interacting with a Swami in saffron robes sitting in the front row of the audience. This was immediately after the scandals of some so-called swamis had hit the headlines in the media. Nobody wanted to look at him, let alone talk to him, as if he were an untouchable. It was appalling to see the prejudice against Hindu swamis. In a way it was beneficial to the swami because he need not care what the world thinks of him, but for an onlooker it looked odd how people were overtly prejudiced.

In Bollywood, in the last 15 to 20 years, since Dawood Ibrahim ostensibly started funding the film industry, a man with a tilak or in saffron robes has been systematically depicted as a villain or part of villain’s team. This portrayal has only added a mass prejudice and overwhelming bias against the swamis of India.

The two main allegations against swamis are sex and money. A true swami will never fall prey to fleeting attractions of sensual pleasures. Without adequate investigation, this kind of blanket generalization is unfortunate and highly deplorable. Every spiritual organization is supposed to do charity and one cannot do charity with an empty bowl. There is no point in taking charity and doing charity. Earning money is not a crime but doing so in a wrong way definitely is.

The idea that all spiritual education should be free, or the notion that spiritual training was free in ancient India is a fallacy. Spirituality is also an education and all education needs to be paid for. Those who know their history know that people in Vedic times had to “invest” far more to get a spiritual education than we do today!
The concept of ”Dakshina” is from the ancient Vedic times.

The vow of poverty is a concept alien to our land. Here, the primordial Guru, Lord Narayana is wedded to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Material progress goes hand in hand with spiritual growth. There are some pseudo intellectuals and historians who argue that only Ramana Maharishi and Mahatma Gandhi were genuine. They praise only the dead and abuse the living. One historian while condemning the appearance of spiritual masters in media went to the extent of saying that Sri Aurobindo never appeared on television, forgetting that there was no television at that time in the first place! Going by the fact that Sri Aurobindo had used the print media so well, I am sure he would have done the same with television had it existed then.

Another much-misplaced conception is that a true spiritual person should remain poor and that Gandhi never associated with the rich. They conveniently forget that Mahatma Gandhi has lived and died in Birla House, one of the most affluent people of that time.

Of course, every field will have people who are not genuine. However, that doesn’t warrant every one being painted with the same brush. It is as foolish as saying that because you unearthed a quack one day, we
should shun all doctors.

It was Pandit Nehru who said in the assembly debates, “If I was asked what is the greatest treasure which India possesses and what is her finest heritage, I would answer unhesitatingly—it is the Sanskrit language and literature, and all that it contains. This is a magnificent inheritance, and so long as this endures and influences
the life of our people, so long the basic genius of India will continue”.

It was Babasaheb Ambedkar who had proposed Sanskrit as the first language of India and who had great reverence for sadhus of this country, Kabir being his most favorite. It was Mahatma Gandhi who would read the Bhagawat Gita every day and meditate and do satsang with people from all religions.

The father of our nation is a saint. The architect of the Indian constitution, our first Prime Minister and countless others have sung praises of the spiritual knowledge of our saints. Then, I do believe, a sensitive and responsible Indian should take a proactive role in reinstating these values and arrest the prejudice drive against the swamis and saints of this holy land.

(The author is director, international affairs, The Art Of Living)

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