The New Era……
Does grace have a face, divinity a soul, love a voice, compassion a form? Yes, but very rarely. I welcome you to take a glimpse into the life of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who is playfully profound, childlike and an ever smiling master avowed to bring a smile on the face of every person he meets.
The Intelligent child…
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was born on 13th May 1956, in Papanasam, a village in south India. Even as a small child, he gave a glimpse of his future eminence. He amazed his parents in many occasion with his innocent intelligence. At the age of four, he would go and attend spiritual discourses as a listener and often he would come out with revelation, unknown to the masters also. When his Sanskrit teacher started the first verse and waited for him to repeat it, he completed the verse!!! People realised that the young one had already mastered the scriptures, and looked up to him with reverence.
Sri Sri as a child spent lots of his time in deep meditations, prayers or observing rituals at churches, Mosques and temples. Whatever he learnt or noticed, he would go and share it with his sister. At around this time, he told his classmates “I have people waiting for me all over the world. I am going to visit them”. Little did they know that their class mate would travel many times around the world and re kindle the timeless values, such as love, compassion, peace and selfless service in the hearts of people across the globe.
Frequently, he would skip the sports class and would come home. When his mother would ask him to go back and play. He refused to go and would wonder with his compassion “These feet cannot kick anybody, let alone the ball”.
Whenever Sri Sri sat for Meditations or prayers, his mother would hurry him up. “Your cousins take ten minutes; you take one and half hours.” Sri Sri would recite one mantra and look at the sky for response. When anyone asked what he prayed for, he amazed everyone with his reply, “for everyone to be happy”
He showed devotional powers from a very young age and it was soon apparent that he would become a rare and unusual figure.
The Transculent Youth…
To please his mother, who believed an astrologer’s words that “Your son will leave you one day and go away”, Sri Sri completed his education in Modern Science and Vedic Knowledge by the age of seventeen. During this time he dedicated himself to a life of service.
Through out his teens, he spent his time with many renowned spiritual masters. And when asked he used to say “Something is coming up”. He used to give lectures on Veda’s & Science in various parts of India and Europe. He worked tirelessly to set up Veda, Science and Ayurveda centres around the world. This was the time he started growing his beard. He explains “because the people I had to teach meditation did not take me seriously”.
At the age of twenty five, he started the Ved Vigyan Mahavidyapeeth, a school in Bangalore, India and took responsibility to house, feed and educate 200 children. By now he had witnessed a wide range of life from flying in aeroplanes to riding on Bullock carts, from being in glamorous cities to muddy villages and nothing could sway him.
Though he was giving talks and lectures and conducting meditation, he felt there was something more needed to make a difference in people’s life. In early 1982, he went into 10 days of silence, which led to the emergence of Sudarshan Kriya (a powerful breathing technique that eliminates stress and brings one completely to the present moment, giving people a physical and emotional healing) and the Art of Living Course.
For the first 5 years, he taught the courses himself. He moved from country to country and continent to continent, enveloping the universe in his wisdom. The first Art of Living course was held in Shimoga, India. It is said that he remained silent throughout the course. At first the participants where baffled, but slowly they felt, he was actually teaching them, communicating knowledge through the sacredness of silence. And when he began to speak, many felt they had already heard what he had to say.
Since the activities of Sri Sri had expanded significantly, he realised the need of an Ashram and he got a rocky land in the outskirts of Bangalore, India, sanctioned by the government, which now is the Garden of Eden and abode of love. In 1982, he founded the Art of Living Foundation as an Educational, Charitable and Humanitarian organisation to assist all level of society in achieving their full human potential.
In 1998 and 1999 his Sudarshan Kriya technique gained even greater recognition when additional medical studies confirming its benefits, which were published. In August 2000 he addressed the gathering at the United Nations Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations in New York
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a world-renowned spiritual master, as well as a founding member, along with several world leaders, of the International Association of Human Values (IAHV), a Geneva-based organisation that aims to re-awaken a sense of Human Values. He has been a featured guest speaker at many forums across the globe including the European Parliament, the United Nations, and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In more recent times he served on the advisory board of Yale University’s School of Divinity and chaired the International Conference of Religions at Kyoto, Japan. In 1995 His Holiness Sri Sri spoke at the United Nations’ 50th Anniversary celebration.
Today, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar teaches internationally, reminding us that the great spiritual traditions have common goals and values. His simple message of love, practical wisdom, and compassion continues to inspire people from all walks of life, and he encourages everyone to follow their chosen religious or spiritual path while honouring the path of others. “The only true security that can be found in this world,” says His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar “is in the very process of giving love.” To date, his programs have been enjoyed by millions of people in more than 143 countries.