An Introduction to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar The Art of Living was founded in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. His work spans many roles - as a humanitarian ambassador, meditation instructor, spiritual teacher and a peace advocate. Sri Sri is committed to his vision of stress-free minds and a violence-free society and so works continuously on building peace among nations and individuals.
Born in 1956 in Tamil Nadu, Southern India, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was a gifted child. By the age of four, he was able to recite parts of the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Sanskrit text and was often found in meditation. He studied Vedic literature with his first teacher, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, who had had a long cooperation with Mahatma Gandhi and simultaneously went to school at MES in Bangalore. By the age of seventeen, in 1973, he had graduated with degrees in both Physics and Vedic Literature.
Founding The Art of Living
Sri Sri entered a ten-day period of silence in Shimoga, in the Indian state of Karnataka. During this reflective period, he developed the ‘Sudarshan Kriya‘, a powerful breathing technique which has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve general health. With time, the Sudarshan Kriya went on to become the centrepiece of the Art of Living courses.
Sri Sri then founded ‘The Art of Living Foundation’ - a non-profit, educational and humanitarian organisation, offering educational and self-development programmes. These programmes include the Sudarshan Kriya and provide the individual with tools to eliminate stress and foster a sense of well-being. Appealing not only to a specific population, these practices have proven effective globally and at all levels of society.
Founding the International Association for Human Values
In 1997, Sri Sri co-founded the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) to run sustainable development projects, nurture human values and to coordinate conflict resolution in association with The Art of Living Foundation. The Association partners with governments, educational institutions, other NGOs, corporations, businesses and individuals. It also works in special consultative status with the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations, participating in a variety of committees and activities, related to health and conflict resolution. It has so far reached over 20 million people in over 150 countries from all walks of life.
Sri Sri continues to lead the Art of Living Foundation and the IAHV and tours the globe working in many different capacities, every single day of the year. The self-development programmes he developed are now delivered by tens of thousands of specially trained Art of Living teachers in 151 countries, although whenever he can, Sri Sri often attends large courses to give talks and gives his time to participants.
Sri Sri has initiated many programmes to provide assistance to people from a wide range of backgrounds – victims of natural disasters, survivors of terror attacks and war, children from marginalised populations and communities in conflict, amongst others. The strength of his philosophy has inspired a huge body of volunteers to get involved and drive these service projects forward, or initiate their own, around the globe. The majority of these volunteers are graduates of the Art of Living’s self-development programmes themselves.
A Figure of Peace
Sri Sri has been globally recognised as an ambassador of peace, receiving numerous awards for his work. He plays a key role in conflict resolution and spreads his vision of non-violence at public forums and gatherings worldwide. Regarded as a neutral figure with a sole agenda of peace, he represents hope to people in conflict. He has received particular credit for bringing opposing parties to the negotiating table in Iraq, the Ivory Coast, Kashmir and Bihar. Fostering interfaith harmony and calling for multi-cultural education as the remedy for fanaticism are significant parts of his efforts to achieve sustainable peace.