Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who lives on the outskirts of Bengaluru in a sprawling campus full of lotus ponds and ayurvedic care centres, is India’s most well-known peace ambassador, stretching from Colombia to Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq to Kashmir and Manipur.
New Delhi: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who has painstakingly pushed the peace envelope in some of the world’s most troubled conflict zones, has turned 63 years. His devotees across the world are celebrating, and those who do not know him are trying to understand the selfless and silent works of the spiritual and wellness guru across the world.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who lives on the outskirts of Bengaluru in a sprawling campus full of lotus ponds and ayurvedic care centres, is India’s most well-known peace ambassador, stretching from Colombia to Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq to Kashmir and Manipur. An estimated 450 million devotees across 156 countries participated in the celebrations through service, chanting and satellite hook ups to his ashram in Southern India.
In 2016, the eight nation tour by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who has had considerable success in bringing the warring factions in Columbia to a globally-hailed truce, was the first ever initiative by an Indian to stem violence in Central America, considered one of the most dangerous regions in the world engulfed with bloodshed. The 10 day tour took Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Venezuela and Brazil.
When the tour was in motion, Western diplomats in New Delhi were unanimous that the Indian spiritual leader’s attempt was one of the toughest undertaken in recent time in Central America’s Northern Triangle – encompassing El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – which is one of the most violent regions in the world outside of a war zone. For the last two decades, transnational gangs have proliferated in the wake of decades of civil war, per capita death rate rivalling Syria. After all, no one expected an Indian spiritual leader to take the tough walk in what many consider as death land.
On his birthday, many remembered his selfless work.
Interestingly, the devotees did voluntary service for the helpless and homeless. There were some organising post-traumatic stress relief workshops in affected parts of Odisha, others ran community meals in Christchurch, hundreds did online meditation for global peace, some conducted menstrual hygiene workshops for over 1000 girls in India, and others organised food in over 618 schools and blood donation drives under a common theme that read: “Commit To Something Higher.”
Millions of Art of Living volunteers are involved in tree plantation drives in Bhutan, stress relief workshops in 15 Latin American countries, blood donation drives in Nepal and India, rehab for Indian prisons and 63000 cubic metre silt removal in Maharashtra
“Love in action is service,” remarked Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who founded The Art of Living, one of the largest volunteer driven organizations in the world, in 1981. Fondly called Gurudev by his followers, he said: “Your first and foremost commitment in the world is to do seva, or service. If there is fear in your life, it is because of a lack of commitment. The very thought - I am here in this world to do seva - dissolves all your worries. The ultimate purpose of life is to be of service.”