The profile of the Founder of Art of Living – a truly inspiring man!
“My Vision is a Stress-Free, Violence-Free World”
The founder of Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a universally noted humanitarian leader, spiritual teacher and ambassador of peace. His vision of a violence-free, stress-free society through the reawakening of human values has inspired millions to broaden their spheres of responsibility and work towards the betterment of the world.
Sri Sri is a multi-faceted social activist whose initiatives include conflict resolution, disaster and trauma relief, poverty alleviation, empowerment of women, prisoner rehabilitation, education for all and campaigns against female foeticide and child labour. He is engaged in peace negotiations and counselling in conflict zones around the world. His expertise in bringing opposing parties to the negotiating table in areas such as Sri Lanka, Iraq, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Kashmir and Bihar is widely acknowledged.
In 1981, Sri Sri established the Art of Living, an educational and humanitarian Non-Governmental Organisation that works in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. Present in 152 countries, it formulates and implements lasting solutions to conflicts and issues faced by individuals, communities and nations. In 1997, Sri Sri founded the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) to foster human values and lead sustainable development projects.
Sri Sri has reached out to an estimated 370 million people worldwide through personal interactions, public events, teachings, Art of Living workshops and humanitarian initiatives. He has designed many self-development techniques which can easily be integrated into daily life to calm the mind, instill confidence and enthusiasm. and combat depression and violent tendencies. One of Sri Sri’s most unique offerings to the world is the Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing technique that facilitates physical, mental, emotional and social well-being.
Numerous honours have been bestowed upon Sri Sri, including the Order of the Pole Star (the highest state honour in Mongolia), the Peter the Great Award (Russian Federation), the Sant Shri Dnyaneshwara World Peace Prize (India) and the Global Humanitarian Award (USA). Sri Sri has addressed several international forums, including the United Nations Millennium World Peace Summit (2000), the World Economic Forum (2001, 2003) and several parliaments across the globe.
Sri Sri travels to nearly 40 countries every year, exemplifying his call to globalize wisdom. His universal and simple message is that love and wisdom can prevail over hatred and distress.
More details about his work can be found at www.srisri.org
“My dream for the world is a One World Family”
Sri Sri is engaged in bridging religious, social, ideological and economic divides in society by enlivening the ancient Indian ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One World Family). He reminds us that diverse traditions and cultures have their roots in the same basic human values of peace, compassion, truth, belongingness and non‑violence. The Art of Living serves society with a non-denominational, secular and holistic approach.
In February 2006, at the Art of Living Foundation’s 25th anniversary celebrations in Bangalore, India, an estimated 2.5 million people from 151 countries gathered to celebrate the spirit of service and togetherness. The historic gathering included 1,000 leaders from ten main religious traditions of the world and 750 key political figures from various countries.
“Pluralism and embracing people of all cultures should be part of our education”
Sri Sri was central to the opening ceremony for the largest and most diverse multi‑faith gathering of religious and spiritual communities in the world, The Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne in December 2009. He urged people and communities of faith, spirit and goodwill to “Make a World of Difference” in the midst of the challenges facing the global community.
Respected as a neutral party with unquestionable integrity, Sri Sri has inspired many groups to adopt peaceful means to resolve conflicts. He has engaged all the stake holders in the peace process in areas such as Sri Lanka, the Balkans, Iraq, Kashmir, Israel, Lebanon and the Ivory Coast. Trauma relief programmes have been conducted extensively in these areas to help individuals release negative emotions such as anger from the past, revenge and frustration, which can hamper the peaceful resolution of disputes. Sri Sri convened the South Asia Peace and Reconciliation Conference in Oslo in April 2008.
Through grassroots initiatives, the Art of Living has empowered rural communities to become partners in the process of sustainable development.
Sri Sri started the 5H Programme (Homes, Hygiene, Health, Harmony in Diversity and Human Values) in 1997 to engineer a socio-economic transformation that aims to eradicate poverty, misery and disease and ensure peace and harmony among communities. In India alone, 110,000 trained youth leaders are working in 40,212 villages. The 5H projects are operating in villages and slums across Africa, Asia and South America.
EDUCATION FOR THE MARGINALISED
407 schools have been set up providing free education to 39,222 children every year in the tribal, rural and semi-urban belts of India, where child-labour and poverty are widespread.
ADDRESSING FARMER SUICIDES
The Art of Living is pursuing a comprehensive programme in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, where farmers have become suicidal due to successive crop failures andmounting debts. Encouraged by the results, the Government of Maharashtra has requested Sri Sri to take up the work in all affected districts. The Vidarbha programme focuses on building community support systems, promoting alternative farming techniques such as organic farming and zero budget farming and rainwater harvesting.
Sri Sri has inspired numerous initiatives to empower women such as mass campaigns against female foeticide, vocational training to reduce economic dependencies, health education for women , which covers nutrition, hygiene and disease prevention, & self-development courses help to instill inner confidence.
VOLUNTEER FOR A BETTER INDIA
Inspired by its founder, the Art of Living along with UN Agencies, NGOs and civil society, launched Volunteer For a Better India (VFABI) on December 5, 2012.
“Give one hour to the nation. The country has problems because good people are apathetic. Youth must take charge and Volunteer for a Better India”
VFABI is involved in many activities, including protest against the 2012 Delhi gang rape case, free health camps, and voter awareness and registrations in India.
“NONVIO” Movement (Non Violence- No Higher Calling)
NONVIO was launched as a nation-wide movement in the USA by the Art of Living Foundation in March 2013 with the aim of eliminating violence. It encourages individuals to pledge one act of non-violence through different social and online media and adopt nonviolent principles in government, public health, and media.
“A disease-free body, a stress-free mind and a violence-free society are the birth right of every individual”
He has designed a myriad of self-development programs to release stress, create a sense of well-being, restore human values and encourage people from all walks of life to come together in a spirit of service and celebration.
The Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing technique cognised by Sri Sri forms the cornerstone of a diverse range of self-development programmes catering to all sections of society. Customised courses are available for executives, youth, military, children and villagers. Independent medical research from reputed institutions such as NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences) and AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) have documented the benefits of the Sudarshan Kriya, including alleviation of depression, heightened awareness and enhanced brain activity, reduced cortisol levels (stress hormone), improvements in the blood cholesterol profile, and strengthened immune system.
Since 1990, over 350,000 prisoners in countries such as India, USA, South Africa, Denmark, Cameroon, UAE, Serbia, Argentina, UK, Argentina and Russia have been provided the opportunity to reform themselves, and break the cycles of violence, guilt and self blame, through the Art of Living programme. In Denmark, the nation’s judicial system recognises the effectiveness of the course and sends juvenile offenders to the Art of Living programme in lieu of jails. In India, 100,000 inmates, including terrorists, in over 100 jails have been provided an opportunity for serious rehabilitation. To provide a more holistic rehabilitative intervention, Sri Sri has also initiated recreational opportunities such as theatre, music and dance workshops and vocational training for inmates. In cooperation with the jail authorities, production units have been started in select jails.
Sri Sri has initiated programmes to help people come out of drug, alcohol and substance dependencies which have been highly effective in USA, India, Mongolia and Bahrain. In India, de-addiction centres are operating in West Bengal, Punjab, Delhi, Kolkata, Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s vision of a violence-free, stress-free society through the reawakening of human values has been recognized and appreciated the world over. Sri Sri has been honored for his contribution to humanity in the fields of conflict resolution, peace promotion and for promoting human values. When Sri Sri was awarded the Culture in Balance award in October 2009, he said:
“I share this award with all those people who stand for a violence-free and stress-free society. This award is not for a person or personality, but for a principle that stands for the ideal of a one world family and cultural plurality.”
Honors Bestowed By Governments Across The World (Partial Listing)
- Highest civilian award ‘National Order of Merito de Comuneros,Paraguay, September 13, 2012
- Tiradentes Medal in Rio, the highest honor fromRio de Janeiro State, September 3, 2012
- Mongolian Prime Minister’s Award,Mongolia, 2006
- Human of the World Award, (bestowed by the Academy of National Security of Russia), Russia, July 1, 2011
- Title of Yoga Shiromani (Supreme Jewel of Yoga) by the President ofIndia, 1986
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Days
While several cities in the US and Canada have also honored him by declaring a day during his visits to the cities as ‘Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Day’, some countries have bestowed him the honor of ‘illustrious visitor’. Washington DC honored his visit to the city in 2007 by marking that week as ‘Human Values Week’. He has also been accorded honorary citizenship by some US and Canadian cities. In 2006, during his visit to Jaipur, India, Sri Sri was handed the symbolic key to the city by the Mayor of Jaipur.
Other Awards (Partial Listing)
- Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builders Prize,USA, Apr 3, 2013
- Crans Montana Forum Award,Brussels, June 24, 2011
- Culture in Balance Award, Dresden,(Germany), October 10, 2009
- Dara Shikoh National Award for Harmony, New Delhi,India, 2005
- National Veterans Foundation Award,USA, 2007
Keynote addresses: Spreading the Message of a ‘One world Family’ (Partial listing)
- Paraguayan Senate, Sept. 14, 2012
- Crans Montana Forum, Brussels, June 24, 2012
- IV Congress of the Leaders of the World & Traditional Religions, Astana, Kazakhstan, May 29-31, 2012
- World Economic Forum, Jan. 2012
- Parliament of World Religions, Dec. 3, 2009
- 2ndIsraeli Presidential Conference ‘Facing Tomorrow’, Oct 22, 2009
- 10th Annual International Conference hosted by the Szent Istvan University, Budapest, Hungary, June 2009
- Point of Peace Summit, Oslo, Norway, Sept 2008
- Parliament of South Africa, May 2006
Honorary Doctorates (Partial Listing)
- Doctorate of Literature (Honoris Causa), Utkal University, Orissa, India, April 25, 2013
- Doctorate Honoris Causa, Universidad Autonoma de Asuncion of Paraguay, Sept 13, 2012
- Diploma of Honour from the Buenos Aires University, Argentina, September 6, 2012
- Honorary doctorate, Nyenrode University, Netherlands, June 15, 2012
- Professor Honoris Causa, Szent Istvan University, Budapest, (Hungary), June 24, 2009