Sri Sri Ravishankar: Discovering the Art of living

Dr VK Bahuguna

(The writer is a former civil servant)
India has been the spiritual leader of the world and famous for propounding the practical way to move people closer to their inner self and, from the time immemorial India had produced saints and philosophers who enlightened the life of the people. In today's world of materialistic life, artificial intelligence, data based technologies and murderous hectic life style people have forgotten what lies for them in their core existential stage and suffer from tension and negativity which leads to divided families and a violent society. In the modern times Swami Vivekananda re-established the Vedanta espousing the core values of Indian culture; later on saints like Maharishi Yogi and Satya Sai Baba captured the imaginations of millions of people in India and elsewhere. 

In his quest to delve into spiritual activities in the country, in this article the writer writes about the 'Art of living" foundation established by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar by participating in their 4 days happiness course and 5 days advanced course. The basic philosophy of the foundation is to be in harmony in our life by bringing physical, mental and spiritual happiness. Its basic teaching is that our real nature is divine and God the underlying reality exists in every human being. According to Sri Sri the religion, science and spirituality, is therefore, a search for self-knowledge, a search for the God within through its Sudershan Kriya. The Sudershan Kriya a rhythmic breathing exercise was discovered by Sri Sri making him a world spiritual leader who is uplifting the humanity all over the world. It is a simple way to tune the body with mind with an added  benefit to take yourself into 'Samadhi' and finally into spiritual bliss. His sublime voice while doing kriya takes you to a mesmerizing deep Meditation in which many  people start weeping and laughing incessantly. It is a real gift for the mankind for enhancing the human values of love, compassion, rationality and enthusiasm invented for the general public. The Sudershan Kriya biologically thus is a pure scientific process of energizing the body and leads to peace and spirituality.

Sir Sri was born on Sunday, the 13th May 1956 in Papanasan village located 25 km away from Thanjavur city in Tamilnadu to Visalakshi Ratnam and R. S. Venkat Ratnam in an Orthodox family. According to his sister Ms Bhanumati Narasimhan who in her book 'Gurudev- on the Plateau of Peak' writes "Amma used to say that one day she felt a beam of light entering her and she conceived soon after". He was therefore, treated as a special child and named as 'Ravi' means Sun which will bring light to the world. As he shared his birth day with Adi Shankarachrya, Shankar was added to Ravi and he became Ravi Shankar. There were a few unusual happening in their home. After some time Shivaganga Shankarachrya was invited to bless the child at their home and after seeing a special mark on his back said to his mother that she is blessed to be his mother and paid respect to the child with folded hands. Later on Shankarachrya of Sringeri and Kanchi recognized the divine spark in him and said that he is a prodigy which was proved when he started chanting Gita in a flawless voice at the age of 4. He obtained a BSc degree in Science from the St Josephs's college and joined Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and helped him in his work.  

The fact is he is not an ordinary soul was later on proved after he discovered the Sudershan Kriya after deep Meditation in 1982 soon after establishing  the Art of living organization in 1981. The organization has an amazing growth as an instrument of  evolving the soul mind body combination for attaining the goals of a good human being and leading to spiritual bliss. His mesmerizing voice in his long kriya and meditation is an eloquence not seen before in any present generation saints and he does that without proclaiming any of his super natural powers but as a simple Guru to talk them to a practical way of leading a healthy life to be part of a healthy society. He had also taken up many projects in rural areas to help poor people specially women and children. Due to his work over the years he has became an apostle of peace all over the world. He brokered the peace between the Colombian Government and the guerrilla movement Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia when he visited  Cuba in June 2015. He has been actively engaged in peace process in many parts of the world. He was few months ago appointed by the Supreme Court as a Member of mediation panel on Ayodhya dispute. He helped the Iraq and Iran and also runs courses in Pakistan. In 2017 he brokered peace in Manipur when 68 militants surrendered. He is actively involved in interfaith dialogue between various religions.

The author has observed that in this particular course there were a large number of people who were business men and had been under tremendous stress due to various issues relating to the governance and facing harassments from bureaucracy. Others were having problems in family over property matters and cheating by their own families. Some government officers were there who were under stress due to being honest and facing harassment from corrupt bosses and colleagues. It relieves them from their tension and changes the way they take things in their stride. Many come regularly just to reinvent their energies and to be blissful. 

Leaving apart the divine contents, in an era of conflicts and tension a great job is being done by this foundation and this Indians need more today than money, to bring social harmony in the society. A decade ago government of India started this course for their officers which need to be replicated regularly so that the officers and staff can be groomed to serve the people better and to be healthy and think in a positive way to deal with the matters they handle. 

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