former prosecutor of the International Court, in Le Hague
Fifth Visit of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to Thriving Argentina
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar landed in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, on September 4, 2012. He was coming from a five-day tour of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Montevideo in Uruguay. As never seen before, or only with rock stars, Sri Sri was received by a throng of journalists, photographers, and reporters from the national and international press.
They had been waiting in chilly weather for more than 2 hours, together with 2,000 devotees, at the Aeroparque airport, the military section where the presidential plane lands. "I am very honored to be in this country, with so many happy and vibrant people. We are here to generate waves of peace and harmony in the society”, said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He was also welcomed by a magnificent choir of 300 voices singing the Ode to Joy in his honor.
For four-and-a-half years, devotees had been waiting for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - some to see him for the first time, some to have another encounter. It was Sri Sri’s fifth visit to Argentina. The country offers courses to approximately 4,000 people every week.
On the following day of his visit, Sri Sri traveled to the City of the Cordoba. He was invited by the Siglo XXI University to receive yet another Honoris Causa (HC) doctorate in recognition for the work that The Art of Living Foundation has been carrying out in the university campus. The massive event organized by the university in honor of Sri Sri was impressive.
Despite heavy rain, about 12,000 people sat for over 2 hours and even meditated! Sri Sri said, "We are making history. This is the first time that we are meditating in heavy rain". After the meditation, Sri Sri asked the audience, "Was it nice, did you relax?" After a general affirmative response, he said, "It the first time that people meditated in the rain with a smile. Continue smiling, continue serving the humanity".
He also mentioned that he had hope in the country’s youth, adding, "I hope to take to the East the good from the West, take the good from the East to the West, and make a better world together."
At the event, Cristina Schwander, the dean and president of Siglo XXI University, signed an agreement of cooperation with Sri Sri University in Orissa to exchange professors, students, and knowledge. Prior to the event, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had been awarded the Honorary Citizen of Cordoba by Jose Manuel de la Sota, the governor of the province of Cordoba. Also in the City of Cordoba, the Consul General of India, Dr Sergio Lais Suarez, on behalf of the Indian Community, handed Sri Sri the recognition of Custodian of World Peace for all generations to come.
On the third day of his visit to Buenos Aires, some 1,000 people gathered at the Aula Magna auditorium of the public UBA University, faculty of medicine. Here, Sri Sri was awarded another recognition (Diploma of Honor) by the university. The conference was attended by authorities from the university and The Art of Living Foundation, along with professors, educators, and students from all over the country. Addressing the audience, Sri Sri said, “We need to include wisdom and human values in our programs; it is the way to fight against violence and depression”. He also underlined the importance of meditating as a way to enhance consciousness.
Continuing with his agenda of conferences, Sri Sri inaugurated a spiritual encounter organized by a group of companies, with the support of the municipality of Buenos Aires. During the conference, he said, "The voice of good people should be heard; corruption arises from a few bad people and the silence of good people. When there is lack of spirituality and sense of belonging, corruption arises and this begins to revert when common people take responsibility”.
Meanwhile, at the largest trade show grounds of Buenos Aires, La Rural, the Art of Living courses kicked off with an extravaganza of 12,000 participants, a true fiesta of devotion and depth. There was satsang with 12,000 people, 5,000 attended the Art of Silence Course, over 3,000 enrolled for the Art of Living Part-I program, and 800 for the Art of Meditation Course. Besides, there were Yes! courses, Art Excel, and Sri Sri Tango happening as well. “I am so thankful to have him here but also to have taken the Art of Living course. The course has changed my life,” said Melina Tirado, one of the course participants. At the same Venue, Dr. Fahri Saatcioglu from Oslo, inaugurated a conference for MD and heath care professionals on the Science of Breath.
As part of his Argentina tour, Sri Sri also visited the prison in San Martín, Province of Buenos Aires, where about 5,200 prisoners have taken the Prison Smart Program, an Art of Living initiative for rehabilitation of prisoners.
Sri Sri was also welcomed by nearly 2,000 business leaders, CEOs, directors and presidents of the most renowned corporations in Argentina at the Ethics in Business Conference. There, he shared a talk with Luis Moreno Ocampo, former prosecutor of the International Court, in Le Hague. They spoke on ethics and business, and Sri Sri answered a series of questions to permanent applauses.
To end the day, Sri Sri was cheered at by 12,000 admirers in a private satsang. People jumped, clapped, cried and laughed, just to see the face of the Master for whom they had been waiting for so long. When asked about how he would like to see the world in 10 years from now, Sri Sri replied, "Why wait such a long time to see a better world if that can happen today?"
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar walked the streets of Buenos Aires, stopping at the slum, Villa 31, in the neighborhood of Retiro, to talk to school teachers, ex-addicts, alcoholics and compulsive players, and children who had taken the Art of Living programs. He promised them collaboration between The Art of Living Foundation and the slum schools. The foundation has been carrying out work in the slums for the last 15 years, recovering several youth from the streets and crime. The endangered area of Bajo Flores is also believed to have its first Art of Living center soon.
Finally, the day came for which all of the Latin world had been waiting for. 9th September 2012 had been reserved by thousands of people for The Planet Meditates event. About 300 cities the world over had also affirmed that they would join hands and meditate at the same time.
Nearly 1,50,000 people jammed the beautiful lawns of Palermo Park in Buenos Aires, for The Planet Meditates event. It was the most sunny winter day of September; people meditated with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the event.
It was the largest meditation in occident. Hundreds of thousands of people watched the event on TV and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was the main person searched for in Twitter. All the main TV channels carried the event live and it was transmitted all over Latin America.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar addressed the crowd in Spanish to the applause and cheers of his devotees. He said, "My dream was to have one word family, my hope has now come true". Argentina's most renowned voice, Patricia Sosa, also sang at the event.
On the last day of his Argentina trip, Sri Sri, along with some 1,200 people visited the Iguazu waterfalls in the bush area of Misiones, bordering Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina, and the eighth wonder of the world.