Okay, so now spiritual leader and Art of Living Foundation founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has finally got the green nod from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for his World Culture Festival to be held on the banks of the Yamuna river in Delhi on March 11-13 against a fine of Rs 5 crore.
Though Sri Sri claims that he is taking an effort to clean the Yamuna and the event is contributing towards an eco-friendly environment, the media is literally tearing him up for making a temporary bridge over the river and violation of green norms, besides deploying the Army for “event management”.
While the debate goes on, let us present to you 10 interesting facts about this godman, lovingly called Guruji by his followers:
1. Born on May 13, 1956, he was named “Ravi” after his birth “day”, ie, Sunday (Ravi in Hindi); and, since he shared his birthday with eighth-century Hindu saint Sri Adi Shankara, he was called “Shankar”.
2. It was said at the age of 4 years, Sri Sri could recite verses from the Bhagavad Gita, a 700-verse Sanskrit scripture on Sri Krishna’s conversation with Arjuna just before the battle of Mahabharata started.
3. Ravi Shankar’s first teacher was Vedic scholar Sudhakar Chaturvedi, who was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi.
4. At the age of 25 years, Ravi Shankar went into ‘silence’ (maun) for 10 days and conceived Sudarshan Kriya, a simple relaxation technique using rhythmic breathing pattern. This is now taught in 152 countries by the Art of Living Foundation.
5. Sri Sri is a Bachelor of Science (BSc) graduate from St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore.
6. He entered the world of meditation and Ayurveda after meeting Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whom he assisted, post his graduation, to arrange conferences on Vedic science and setup meditation and Ayurveda centres.
7. He held the first Art of Living course in Switzerland in 1983.
8. Ravi Shankar says initially he grew a beard to look mature since people used to get disappointed seeing a “young boy” on stage giving lectures on life and living.
9. Sri Sri calls himself the ambassador of LSD, ie, Laugh, Sing and Dance. His message is: Make your smile cheap and your anger very expensive.
10. In 2009, Ravi Shankar ranked fifth in the Most Powerful People in India list by Forbes Magazine.However, he has often been accused of hobnobbing with rich and mighty. Even his devotees proudly claim Sri Sri had a big role in making Narendra Modi the Prime Minister of India.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.