Develop zero tolerance to intolerance: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Alabama, United States
6th December 2008

ITANAGAR: Renowned spiritual, humanitarian leader and founder of the Art of Living His Holiness Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar today concluded his weeklong state visit to Arunachal Pradesh with a call for developing zero tolerance to intolerance and nurturing indigenous cultures. “India has had a long history of accommodating and loving everybody and this needs to be preserved at any cost,” he told a press conference before leaving Itana- gar on Saturday.

Expressing concerns over the rising level of religious and cultural intolerance, Gurudev attributed this to a lack of spirituality. Citing the recent Mumbai terror attacks where Jews were specifically targeted, he said this is a big blot on India’s history of tolerance, as Jews had never been prosecuted in India. He regretted that politicians of the day were more concerned with creating vote banks than taking action to curb terrorism and fanaticism. Ap- pealing to misguided terrorists to appreciate the diversity, he said, “India is a bouquet of flowers of different hues and nobody has the right to destroy it.” He also urged clerics to educate misguided elements.

Appreciating the rich culture of Arunachal Pradesh, Gurudev said, “Indigenous faiths and cultures are a world heritage that need to be preserved,” he said. He said the Art of Living will work with local communities to popularise them, not only in Arunachal Pradesh, but also in other parts of India and abroad. During his stay in the state, Gurudev attended several public events in Itanagar, Pasighat and Tawang, interacting with people from all sections of society.

In Pasighat, Gurudev addressed a three-day Indigenous Youth Festival and interacted with indigenous leaders of various faiths. Gurudev was warmly welcomed by people from all walks of life. In his interactions, Sri Sri stressed on the need for preserving the indigenous faith and honouring diversity.

On December 2, Gurudev travelled to Tawang and addressed a huge public function organised by the people of Tawang. Gurudev asserted that no force could snatch Arunachal Pradesh from India as the ‘land of the rising sun’ belonged to India. “Let China endear to whole of India and shake hands with us, instead of asking us to sacrifice a piece (Tawang).”

Gurudev received a rousing welcome in Tawang with business establishments and offices downing their shutters to attend his public programmes. He visited Tawang Monastery and interacted with monks and bikshus. He also paid homage to soldiers who laid down their lives defending the country in the 1962 war with China. While in Tawang, Gurudev had a very fruitful one hour-long meeting with Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu at his residence. Sri Sri flew back to Itanagar with the chief minister .

In Itanagar, Gurudev conducted a unique holistic workshop designed to help masses learn the secrets of healthy, happy and meaningful living in Itanagar . Over 4,000 people from all backgrounds attended the ‘Health & Happi- ness’ workshop, where Gurudev introduced the serene world of pranayama, yoga and meditation to the participants. He also led a special event christened ‘Wisdom & Music for One World Family’ .

Another focus of the visit was the training programme called the Youth Leadership Training Programme (YLTP) for over 1,000 youth from Arunachal Pradesh and other states of the North East. The youth interacted with Gurudev and drew up plans for implemening his vision for a stress-free and violence-free world, and spearheading sustainable development iniiaives in villages across the region. Gurudev said that the Art of Living was drawing up plans to provide training and employment to youth of the region. He said select youth from each tribe of Arunachal Pradesh would be trained to become youth leaders or yuvacharyas.

During his stay, Gurudev also had a meeing with His Excellency Gen. (Retd.) J. J. Singh, Governor of Arunachal Pradesh at the Raj Bhavan. The Bishop of Itanagar, Bishop John Thomas Katrukudiyil also called on Gurudev at the Art of Living ashram at Juli Basi, near Itanagar and spent over an hour at the ashram.