Bengaluru: Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian, spiritual leader and an ambassador of peace and human values. Through his life and work, he has inspired millions around the world with a vision of stress-free and violence-free world.
He has designed programmes that provide techniques and tools to live a deeper, more joyous life and has established non-profit organisations that recognise the human identity beyond the boundaries of gender, race, nationality and religion.
Here he shares his one big idea for positive change transformation of India on the eve of the country’s 75th Independence Day in an interview with IANS.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: What are your thoughts on India@75?
A: India’s motto ‘Satyameva Jayate – Truth Alone Prevails’ still stands tall in spite of her many challenges.
The oldest living civilisation in the world, India has emerged as a young and vibrant nation with a lively mosaic of diverse cultures and peoples. A country where the eternal wisdom of the Vedas coexists with path-breaking science and technology.
India may have secured political freedom 75 years ago; however, freedom of thought, expression and worship has always been an integral part of her tradition for thousands of years.
Q: As India celebrates its 75th Independence Day, what is your one big idea for positive change/ transformation?
A: India is too complex a country to rely on just one single idea for transformation. Personal empowerment, peace, education, skill up-gradation and a check on the rising levels of stress in society will have to go hand in hand with the economic progress of our people.
This body of holistic interventions is what I would call a spiritual revolution; interventions that would set every Indian free from limitations that stop them from reaching their true potential.
In our endeavour to become a corruption-free society, we must learn not only from our achievements and drawbacks, but also from other societies and their successes and failures.
Q: Why do you think this particular transformation is important?
A: Without rekindling the core human values, it will be challenging to sustain progress, be it social, political or economic. Financial prosperity without a holistic vision could even be counterproductive.
The rising crime rate in domestic and social life has to be checked and this can happen only with spiritual wisdom.
We need the rich to be more compassionate, the poor to gain more confidence and move towards self-dependency; we need people to move from blame and a victim mentality to a heightened state of feeling empowered for them to take responsibility, not only for themselves, but also for the larger good. To achieve this, we need a spiritual revolution in the country.
Q: How should India go about achieving this transformation?
A: There is no one-size-fits-all approach here. It has to be a series of sustained interventions.
We need to instil confidence and encourage the innovative spirit in our youth and help them become entrepreneurs; sensitise people about the environment, Harmony in Diversity and Health and Hygiene. Human Values and spiritual practices that uplift the human spirit must become an integral part of the social discourse.
Q: How much time will it take to achieve this transformation?
A: This will have to be done jointly by the government, NGOs and the corporate sector.
Q: What are your own plans to turn this idea into reality?
A: You may have heard about one of our flagship programmes called Youth Leadership Training Program (YLTP), which creates young leaders in rural communities to take responsibility for educating their communities on harmony in diversity, health, hygiene, women’s empowerment and caring for the environment. We have successfully organised deradicalisation programmes in Kashmir and the northeast, helping in the integration of formerly armed youth into the mainstream.
The Art of Living has also been engaged in the planting of over eighty million trees so far, is rejuvenating 42 rivers and water bodies across India, works actively for women empowerment and trained counsellors to uplift the mental health of society which is a dire need of today.
We are working on setting up volunteer mediation cells to settle disputes at the local level.
Our youth empowerment programmes focus on imparting value-based education, encouraging deepening one’s roots and broadening one’s horizons. All of these above are aimed at creating talented leadership at the grass root to build a healthy, self-reliant and happy society.
By M.K. Ashoka