He has this knack of bringing people together. After all we are human – cut away name, family title, social title, educational qualification, religious & cultural background – and what have we? Love.
“Love is your very existence,” quips Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, everytime this topic is touched upon at interviews and satsangs. “It’s not just an emotion, it’s your very Being!” he emphasizes.
He has this way of connecting completely ‘unrelated’ people in simple yet effective ways. Internationals from the Vedic Wisdom Program visit the slum areas of the city and nearby villages to bless the locals.
“The purpose of the Padayatra,” explains Gurudev, “is that your hearts open and you see that how deeply you are connected with people you don’t even know! You don’t know their language, they don’t know your language, but you still feel that ‘Wow! You are so connected’.”
Gurudev is an expert at doing this sort of thing. From early Art of Living days he would post his teachers to far flung countries where the language, culture and people were absoutely alien. The teachers would go with great trepidation but would return from these trips with stories laced with Grace and Love. What really counts is really the presence of a person, and a loving presence will convey love far more than any words can.
Where would an ordinary bloke get to meet a hard core criminal? Gurudev sends his teachers (the brave and willing) to Prisons all over the world to rehabilitate convicts. Through the Prison SMART Program Gurudev has empowered individuals to teach the Happiness Program to prison inmates.
What unfolds is a two-way transformation. Touched by the humaneness of the inmates the tag ‘criminal’ simply drops from the minds of the teachers. And the inmates high on the happy energy of the Sudarshan Kriya feel a sudden awakening to a life with new possiblities. Many want to become teachers after their term is over.
Says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, “If you heal the victim, you will eliminate crime from the planet. Expand your vision, and see that inside every culprit is a victim crying for help.”
Gurudev is keenly tuned to the cry of help from all quarters. Art of Living volunteers are immediatey despatched to trauma hit zones – be they war torn countries or nations hit by natural calamities.
I live in the ashram and I see how people are getting connected all the time. The other day I was waiting to see off Gurudev at the Ganga chain along with so many others. I looked across to find my roommate – a youngster from a small village in Orissa bonding with a group of Bulgarians. What did they have in common? Kitchen seva to begin with and then they must have discovered that they had much more in common and so much else to share! It was deeply touching.
And now we have the World Culture Festival and as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar puts it – it is nothing but bringing celebration under one umbrella. A reminder that we all belong to each other as One World Family and we are here on this planet to be useful and celebrate humanity – our ‘humane’ qualities of love, sharing, compassion and serving. Here is the best venue to get connected and exchange love.
Art of Living is the core to bringing so many people together – people from diverse cultures, languages, religions – feeling a sense of oneness thanks to one being – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar – the connecting cord for millions of people on this planet.
I find this thought simply astounding. And leave you with it.