"We are committed to follow the path of non-violence and peace. Standing here at the border, I can feel the wave of love and peace from across. I urge the citizens of both the countries to recognize the voice of peace within and create a violence-free world," said spiritual leader and Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the Wagah border in Amritsar today, addressing 5000 people from Punjab. Hundreds of followers had also gathered at the Pakistan side waving and carrying The Art of Living and Youth Leadership Training Program placards to listen to Sri Sri. Many were disappointed as he was denied the visa to cross the border.
The spiritual leader, who was a state guest, visited the Indo-Pak border during his five-day tour to the state and also witnessed the official retreat ceremony held in the evening.
As part of his peace campaign, he inaugurated ‘Saanjh’, a musical concert in Amritsar. The concert, based on the Indo-Pak peace mission, saw artists from both countries showcase their talents on a shared platform.
On Thursday, November 11, the performance of Bhangra, organised by the Art of Living in Ludhiana, was considered for the Guinness World Book of Records for an unprecedented number of Bhangra dancers on one stage. This is in continuance of Art of Living's endeavor to promote Indian culture. Sri Sri witnessed 2,100 dancers performing the Bhangra at the event titled ‘Mehran De Rang’. Thousands took an oath to make Punjab an addiction-free state.
Also present at the event was Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu, Member of Parliament and former cricketer. Welcoming the spiritual leader, he said, "In our culture a Guru holds the highest place. Today, if the youth are shown the right direction then they cannot only change Punjab but the face of the whole country."
On Thurdsay morning, Sri Sri addressed more than 5000 young participants at the ‘Exam Special – Youth Empowerment Seminar’ (YES) organized by The Art of Living at Punjab Agricultural University grounds in Ludhiana. After answering questions ranging from peer pressure, parent-child issues, career conflicts and relationship woes, Sri Sri spoke on the rising drug and alcohol menace and urged the participants to shun drugs. "You cannot be enthusiastic or creative if you fall into the trap of drugs. You will lose your smile. Life is enthusiasm, love and joy. Make a friend everyday and ask yourself ‘What can I do for others?’ and see how life blossoms," he said.
Carrying forward his mission of making Punjab an addiction-free state, he led a Drug De-addiction ‘Maha Sammelan’ in Jhakkar village on November 10. "While Kashmir is the crown of India, Punjab is the face. If the face has blemishes, it does not reflect well. That is why de-addiction is very important. We should raise our voice against this in every temple and gurudwara," he said.
The event was attended by 25,000 beneficiaries of The Art of Living Drug De-Addiction Program. One such beneficiary Sukhvir Singh from Barnala shared, "I had been taking drugs for over 14 years and had even left my family. After practicing the Sudarshan Kriya regularly I was able to drop my addiction. The youth in Punjab have drowned themselves in this vice. I would now like to work to bring a positive difference in their lives."
The Art of Living constructed the biggest meditation hall in Ludhiana. The three–storeyed ‘Gyan Mandir’ with a seating of 3,000 people was inaugurated by Sri Sri. This hall is a replica of the tourist-wonder Vishalakshi Mantap (meditation hall) at The Art of Living’s Bangalore headquarters.
During his eventful Punjab tour, Sri Sri visited Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Amritsar. Over a series of satsangs and public interactions he urged the people to drop all addictions, stop female foeticide, practice organic farming and preserve and protect desi cow and desi seeds.
Sri Sri’s tour of Punjab will culminate with prayers at the Golden temple and the Durgiana temple in Amritsar on November 13, 2010.