This will go down as an unique face to face between the ancient and modern. When renowned humanitarian and founder of the Art of Living Sri Sri Ravi Shankar took to Facebook with a live event on Sunday, the modern social network turned into a lively global platform for seeking solace, guidance and action from the ancient Indian spiritual wisdom. Lakhs of people also participated in a meditation led by Sri Sri.
The interaction focused on issues ranging from love, relationships, maintaining faith in times of calamities, addictions, depression, success and societal violence. Live stream reported that 148 countries were logged in to chat for Face 2 Face with Sri Sri.
In his pragmatic style, Sri Sri offered solutions that were universal and farsighted. To a question from a civil society group in Pakistan on how to eliminate terrorism from Pakistan, he emphasized the need for educating the masses about the oneness of the creation. “We are a one world family. Our first and foremost identity is that we are part of life. The rest of our identities are secondary,” he told.
On a question from a group of Art of Living volunteers engaged in relief missions in Uttarakhand on how to instill faith in people who have lost everything while on a pilgrimage, he advised them to see the calamities in a holistic way and keep faith. “God and Nature are always impartial. God is not only in Kedarnath; he is everywhere.” Sri Sri regretted that pilgrim centres in India have been neglected for long and emphasized on having a better infrastructure. He also voiced his concern on the negligence of environment at these places.
He shared how Art of Living volunteers have spontaneously responded to the situation, by rushing in all possible aids. “These are the times that test our humanness. We must extend our hand to those who need us.” He also lauded the effort of defence personnel and volunteers of other NGOs who are doing a tremendous work of providing relief and solace to stranded people.
Talking about social uprisings in different parts of the world, Sri Sri called for making non-violence as the guiding principle for any agitation and movement. “We need to see that the demonstrations are peaceful, because they are against a cause not a person.” he said responding to a question from Marcelo Freixo, Congressman from Brazil.
Questions poured in from various quarters of the globe from eminent people such as Monika Griefahn, Former Member of the German Parliament and co-founder of Greenpeace Germany; Ricardo E Harvey, Coordinator of the program of Security, Corraentes, Argentina; Mrs. Shirin Ibrihem Fattah Amedi, secretary-general ofIraq, Kurdish Women's Union and civil society members from countries like Korea, Turkey and Iran.
In several cities, people hosted local events to watch the programme in groups. “We have always seen Facebook as casual medium for fun and time pass. Today’s event made me realize it could well be a powerful tool for social transformation,” said Shweta Vyas, a viewer from Mumbai.