Saturday, April 13, 2024

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar honoured in US for his mission peace

At the birthplace of rock and roll and also at the home of world civil rights, an Indian spiritual and wellness guru was honoured for his exemplary work to ensure peace across the globe with two prestigious awards.

Reports reaching the Indian Capital said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who many consider India’s peace ambassador, received the Gandhi Peace Pilgrim award on November 11, 2022, at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Center, Atlanta, Georgia. And then, he received the Emissary of Peace award from the National Civil Rights Museum.

This is for the first time an Indian has won these two prestigious, global awards in one go.

At the Martin Luther King Jr centre, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was welcomed by Dr. King’s nephew Dr. Isaac Newton Farris, Jr. Also present on the occasion was India’s consul general, Swati Kulkarni. 

The Gandhi Peace Pilgrim award assumes significance because of the spiritual and wellness guru’s philanthropic work in some of the world’s strife-torn nations like Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. 

It would be worth a mention here that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s portrait was added next to that of South African leader Nelson Mandela in the Dr Martin Luther King Jr. chapel’s Hall of Fame Morehouse College, where the wellness and spiritual guru sat down for a detailed conversation on peace, social justice and environment across the world with Ambassador Andrew Young.

For the record, the Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia is America’s only historically Black university. 

And then, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also received on November 31, 2022, the Emissary of Peace award from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. 

The Indian spiritual and wellness leader also visited the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, Tennessee, the assassination site of Martin Luther King Jr and also the birthplace of Rock ’n’ Roll.

Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis. His death was followed by national mourning, as well as anger leading to riots in many US cities. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2003. 

Speaking to reporters about his experience at the museum, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said the museum is one of the world’s most important sites. “It’s all about the experience, it takes you through the times. And reminds you of all the struggles that took place for civil rights. And it takes you to other parts of the world where civil rights are still not equal,” the spiritual and wellness leader said. 

“In many places in the world today there is a great sense of insecurity and uncertainty, that is where spiritual knowledge, spiritual wisdom, comes in handy,” said Gurudev.

A humanitarian who strongly believes in breathwork, meditation, and non-violence, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said: “It is easy to talk about peace but giving them tools and techniques to find peace, was something important.”

At the Morehouse college, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke about non-violence and peace along with US civil rights advocate and former Atlanta Mayor, Andrew Young as well as Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley and Dr. Lawrence Carter.

“So many shootings in the most developed country in the world! Is something very appalling,” said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during his conversation with peace leaders Friday, “The significance of light is because there is darkness.”

Gurudev is travelling across the US on an international campaign called, “I Stand for Peace”.

“All the time we hear all this negative news from around the world, with inflation and all of this. There is a sense of despondency and hopelessness. That is quite natural, that is quite human, but at these times you need to evoke your inner strength,” said the spiritual and wellness guru, adding: “Peace is not complacency. Violence is not activism.”

Earlier in October, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke to an estimated 6000 prisoners, some of them hardened gang members, in Denmark. 

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the head of Bengaluru-based Art of Living (AOL) that was founded in 1982 to help spread the use of meditation to alleviate stress and societal problems and violence.

AOL has worked and transformed millions of hardcore criminals across the world, including in the United States where AOL volunteers have conducted camps in high-security jails.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar took a spiritual path early on, and by age 4 was able to recite from the Bhagavad Gita. Interestingly, he was born on the same day of the year as the Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara and followed the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, developing a rhythmic breathing exercise to help relieve personal suffering. The technique came to him in 1982 “like an intuition” after a 10-day period of silence on the banks of a river in India. The technique, Sudarshan Kriya, has made it the core of his Art of Living courses.

(Shantanu Guha Ray is a Wharton-trained journalist and award-winning author. He lives in Delhi with his wife and two pets.  He won the 2018 Crossword award for his book, Target, which probed the NSEL payment crisis.)

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