The beam of wisdom in the darkness of ignorance could light up the life of mankind and Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar emerged to be that light. An extraordinary mind within the ordinary crowd went on the mission of Change. To spread peace and happiness, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar devoted his life for society. From region to city, city to state, state to country and country to world, Sri Sri spreaded his peace programs.
Birth of Gurudev
Ravi Shankar was born in 1956 in Papanasam, Tamil Nadu, to Visalakshi Ratnam and R. S. Venkat Ratnam. He was named “Ravi” because his birth was on a Sunday, and “Shankar” after the eighth-century Hindu saint, Adi Shankara, because it was also Shankara’s birthday. He is frequently referred to simply as “Sri Sri” (honorific) or as Guruji or Gurudev.
A child prodigy, he could recite verses from the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Sanskrit text and started practicing meditation with his parents by the age of four.
Ravi Shankar’s first teacher was Sudhakar Chaturvedi, an Indian Vedic Scholar and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. He began studying Vedic literature with him and simultaneously attended the school at MES in Bangalore. In 1973, at the age of 17, he graduated with degrees in both Physics and Vedic Literature.
After graduation, Shankar travelled with his second teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, giving talks and arranging conferences on Vedic science, and setting up Transcendental Meditation and Ayurveda centers.
In the 1980s, Shankar initiated a series of practical and experiential courses in spirituality around the globe.
Art of Living Foundation , founded in 1981 by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The Art of Living is an educational and humanitarian movement engaged in stress-management and service initiatives. The organization operates globally in 155 countries and has touched the lives of over 370 million people.
Ved Vignan Maha Vidya Peeth (VVMVP) , constituted on November 1981 under the aegis of The Art of Living is a registered Public Charitable Trust constituted to promote spiritual, educational, cultural and social developmental activities for the benefit of the public. VVMVP) is the umbrella organization under which various service projects of The Art of Living foundation in India operate. In addition to rural development programs, women’s empowerment projects and educational initiatives, VVMVP is also involved in Vedic research, medical research and social research.
Sudarshan Kriya – the realization
Sudarshan Kriya, came to him in 1982, “like a poem, an inspiration” after a ten-day period of silence on the banks of the Bhadra River in Shimoga, in the state of Karnataka. Guruji said, “I learned it and started teaching it“.
Shankar says that every emotion has a corresponding rhythm in the breath and that regulating the breath can help elevate the individual and help relieve personal suffering.
In 1983, Shankar held the first Art of Living course in Switzerland.
In 1986, he travelled to Apple Valley, California in the US to conduct the first course to be held in North America.
In 1997, he established a Geneva-based charity, International Association for Human Values (IAHV) an NGO that engages in relief work and rural development and aims to foster shared global values. For his service, he has received some of the highest awards of several countries including India, Peru, Colombia, and Paraguay.
In January 2016, he was awarded the “Padma Vibhushan” by the Government of India.
Peace Initiatives & Programs
Prison Program, In 1992, he started a prison program to rehabilitate prison inmates and help them reintegrate into society.
What it means to be a Hindu?
In a special TIMES NOW broadcast, when program host asked the question “What it means to be a Hindu?” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar answered “Hindu is the one who is not Muslim, not Jewish. For thousands of years, many saints have given scriptures. Hinduism is a way of life, Trinity of brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh is Hinduism. Vedas do say “let the knowledge flow from all directions“. There are various branches/sects of Hinduism, preachers of Hinduism have been fighting against caste system“.
Social Initiatives by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Volunteer for better India, VFABI is involved in many activities, including protest against the 2012 Delhi gang rape case free health camps.
World Forum for Ethics in Business, In 2003, he initiated the Ethics in Business – Corporate Culture & Spirituality dialogue with an aim of strengthening human values and ethics in business
After a string of implementations of rejuvenation projects for over 35 rivers and tributaries in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, The Art of Living in association with the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (RDPR), has launched the Cauvery Rejuvenation Project in Kodagu. Phase one of this project is expected to benefit 1.5 lakh people in 10 gram panchayats.
Awards & Recognition
- Padma Vibhushan, India’s Second Highest Civilian Award, January 2016
- Dr Nagendra Singh International Peace Award, India, November 2016
- Peru’s Highest Award, “Medalla de la Integracion en el Grado de Gran Oficial (Grand Officer)”
- Colombia’s highest civilian award, “Orden de la Democracia Simon Bolivar”
- Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builders Prize
- Highest civilian award ‘National Order of Merito de Comuneros, Paraguay, 13 September 2012
- Illustrious citizen by the Paraguayan Municipality, 12 September 2012
- Illustrious guest of the city of Asuncion, Paraguay, 12 September 2012
- Tiradentes Medal, the highest honour from Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil, 3 September 2012
- The Sivananda World Peace award, Sivananda Foundation, South Africa, 26 August 2012
- Crans Montana Forum Award, Brussels, 24 June 2011
- Culture in Balance Award, World Culture Forum, Dresden Germany, 10 October 2009
- Phoenix Award, Atlanta, USA, 2008
- Honorary Citizenship and Goodwill Ambassador, Houston, USA, 2008
- Proclamation of Commendation, New Jersey, USA 2008
- Sant Shri Dnyaneshwara World Peace Prize, Pune, India, 11 January 2007
- Order of the Pole Star, Mongolia, 2006
- Bharat Shiromani Award, New Delhi, India, 2005
The Mysterious Thiruchendur temple – narration by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
There is a temple in Tamilnadu coastal area named “Thiruchendur”. It is a special temple of Lord Kartikeya, Kartikeya’s idol was made up of alloy of 5 elements. Britishers attacked the temple to steal gold, ornaments, and the idol.
Soon after they started from the sea shore, cyclone erupted and it took devastating size in no time.
Sailor said you can’t take away this idol and suggested to leave the idol there only to save their lives.
The Britishers saw the cyclone taking severe shape and agreed what sailor suggested. So they left the idol in the waters few kms. away from the shore. As soon as they left, cyclone stopped and sea waves restored to it’s normal course. A few days after, a pandit had a dream and the voice said “I am here in
the ocean. Bring me back to the temple. Pandit asked, how would I know the location? Then God said, there will be a lemon floating above me”. Next day morning, Pandit took a boat and went along with a few people in search of idol.
After a few miles from shores they spotted a lemon floating, they dived and brought the idol back to the temple. Idol was deformed, Fishes & sea animal had nibbled at it.
The very same idol is still there in the temple. On the contrary, there is a foundation stone which states that sea will not cause any harm to this temple.
When Tsunami hit the coastal Tamilnadu, just in and around the temple, the water did not rise towards, in fact it went off the shore around the temple. Nothing at all happened to the temple and the city.
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Other sister organizations
Other sister organizations dedicated to stress-free and violence-free world.