Rejoinders / Letters to the Editor

Sri Sri’s version of his Ayodhya initiative and Syria comment

Recently some sections in the media have twisted Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s interviews regarding the Ayodhya issue and are calling Sri Sri anti-Muslim while also accusing him of fear-mongering.

It is quite absurd to hear that Sri Sri is against Muslims. If that were indeed the case, why would the Art of Living and its sister organizations get involved in trauma relief work and provide aid in the form of food, water and shelter in the conflict zones in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, etc.

Above: Sri Sri visiting refugee camps near Erbil, Iraq in 2014


Above: Art of Living’s Trauma relief course at a refugee camp in Bersive, Kurdistan, Iraq

In fact, within India too Sri Sri is the only Hindu spiritual leader who has consistently visited and provided aid and trauma relief courses in Muslim riot-relief camps in Assam, Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar, etc after communal riots split those societies apart. Sri Sri personally supervised relief work in many of these places and worked day and night to mobilise and make available aid in the form of food, medicines and doctors. On Sri Sri's request, many doctors from Chennai, Mumbai and other places took leave from their thriving practices to give medical relief at these Muslim riot relief camps. 

Sri Sri visiting the Basugaon camp of Muslim inmates during the Bodo-Muslim riots in 2012

Sri Sri visiting the Shah Alam camp of Muslim inmates after the 2002 Gujarat riots.


Art of Living conducting trauma relief courses at the Shah Alam camp for Muslim children affected by the 2002 Gujarat riots

Sri Sri visiting a Madarsa in Basi Kalan, Shahpur which was converted into a make-shift camp for Muslims affected by the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013

In his interviews, Sri Sri discussed the possible outcomes of the Supreme Court decision and their impact on India. He stated that if India waits for the Supreme Court's decision then it will be a victory for one community and a loss for the other one and that whosoever loses will feel hurt. Sri Sri has been trying to avoid precisely this unpleasant situation and is trying to ensure that there is no hurt on either side but a win-win situation for both communities. 

His interviews have been distorted by certain sections of the society that are against peace and harmony and have a vested interest in creating and sustaining communal conflict! These are the people who themselves have been spewing venom. Their whole existence depends on such conflicts. These elements need to be tackled firmly by those that value human life and are in favour of protecting even a single precious human life that may be lost due to the escalation of this old communal conflict.

These very people are also accusing Sri Sri of trying to influence the Supreme Court’s judgement. They are forgetting that the Supreme Court itself has suggested an out-of-court settlement! It is Sri Sri who has taken this suggestion of the honorable court seriously in letter and spirit and that a person of his stature has staked all his goodwill for the sake of communal harmony, humanity and progress of our nation. Therefore, suggesting that Sri Sri is in contempt of the Supreme Court is absurd. It is appalling that these people lack common sense at best.

Distorting Sri Sri's observation of Syria also shows a lack of understanding of history. There are ample number of examples of ideological and religious disputes in present times that have been nursed and nurtured over decades and centuries by one religious or sectarian group against the other. Most have resulted in bloody wars with massive and deplorable impact on people, cultures and economies. The dispute of Ayodhya is old and still evokes a massive emotional response.

By making controversial remarks about Sri Sri's intentions such people are inciting the emotions of millions of people who are following the Art of Living. However, Art of Living people are smarter. They will not resort to violence on the streets. They will not take to violence. These provocateurs will find nothing but disappointment. 

The very purpose of filing an FIR against Sri Sri by Mr. Asaduddin Owaisiis to ignite passions so that millions of people who revere Sri Sri will get agitated, but its not going to happen. Sri Sri believes that people are wise today and that humans can rise above conflict if their higher, nobler self is appealed to.

The author is Director, Art of Living. Twitter handle: @gautamvig

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