Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living

An Encounter with a Guru
In his white robes and long black hair, he looks like a guru of yore and, indeed, he teaches a programme based on ancient yogic principles. But, though the basic principles are old, the routine he has put together is his own creation and is well suited to modern living.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, the world’s largest non-government organization, devoted to helping individuals live well and promoting global peace.
The Foundation is best known for its basic Art of Living course, which is taught in 140 countries and teaches a daily routine of breathing exercises intended to keep the student healthy for life. It also aims to promote spiritual development and teach love and compassion.
Guruji, as he called by his followers, personally teaches some of the Art of Living courses, but many others are conducted by teachers trained by the Foundation, headquartered in Bangalore, India. Sri Sri teaches at the ashram when he is there; but he is often away, attempting to mediate peace in Sri Lanka, Iraq or whatever may be the latest troublespot.
Guruji himself exudes an aura of peace and gentleness. He smiles often, a slightly enigmatic smile, and speaks softly. Yet he has a commanding presence. At a seminar on happiness – a topic most people might consider rather difficult to address – he held the attention of hundreds of adults as he taught them to find the joy they had known as children.
In private, he was accessible, yet I felt there was an indefinable distance. Perhaps his serene expression and gentle, slightly other-wordly smile created an impression that he was in another realm, which was not accessible to me. At the same time, he was also very much in the room, with the rest of the small group, answering questions from a journalist.
He answered sincerely, explaining the goals of his foundation, yet retaining his sense of fun. Asked why he focuses so much on breathing techniques, he retorted: “Because no-one can tell me they are too busy to breathe.”
A light-hearted answer, but it showed how well he understands one of the greatest challenge most of us face today: managing time.
At the same time perhaps it was a hint that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. In public and in private, answering seriously or in jest, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar seemed to be a guru for our times, with a link to an ancient heritage. -- Philippine chapter


  1. why is SSRS called Holy?

  2. In, Manila Philippines, we are forced to do KRIYA everyday.... AOL must not force people to join their foundation... we have different views in life and AOL must know that... people have no choices but to join the group because they will be deducted in their salaries. Is this what the AOL so called SEVA? Is this how AOL helped people?

  3. Dear Anonymous,
    I am so sad to read your comment. Of course, people should not feel forced to do things against their will. I find the kriya extremely useful and would certainly reccommend it, but it's not certainly something to be forced on anyone. I hope you might have the opportunity to discuss your concerns with those who run AOL in the Philippines. Love and best wishes.

  4. buddha the manifestation of silence, when enlightened, kept silence and refused to speak up. when cajoled by some to say something he said, those who know need not be told and those who do not understand, no point in saying anything to them, hence no need to say anything. angels then came forward and said, buddha pls consider those on the border line, a few words from u can make a big difference to them, so speak up for their sake... sometimes in life a little push can make all the difference, if u have not benefitted from the sudarshan kriya that is taught in art of living course, and find it difficult to practice it on a daily basis and ur organisation has decided to make it compulsory for u to practise by deducting it against ur salary, i would think they are indeed a very caring organisation, which is treating u with kid gloves and caring so much to penelise u, for not doing something that is so important for ur own sake?????