HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ventures into Naxal Heartland, visits prisoners

Alabama, United States
19th February 2009

Signs a MoU with Jharkhand govt to conduct Art of Living courses in all 26 jails in the state

RANCHI: Spiritual leader and Art of Living founder His Holiness Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was on a three-day visit to Jharkhand as a state guest from February 17 to 19. He ventured into the heartland of Naxalism in Jharkhand meeting top rebels in Patamda, visited one of the largest prisons in Ranchi and met a delegation of Muslim leaders which included the Ulemas of one of the most sacred mosque, the Ekra mosque.

During their meeting in Patamda, the Naxalite leaders assured Gurudev that they would prevail upon their leadership to come around and hold further deliberations with him. That the Naxalites of the area were receptive to Gurudev's endeavour for peace was apparent when they lifted their 72-hour bandh in Patamda to ensure smooth passage of his convoy and allow people of the area to attend a satsang with Gurudev. Thanks to this gesture, more than 35,000 people from Patamda and neighbouring villages could seek solace from the visiting spiritual guru.

"Look at me," tells a converted ex-Naxalite, Mohan Kumar Banerjee who is now an Art of Living coordinator in Jharkhand, to the Naxalites he is trying to bring on the path of non-violence. "I am protesting against the system in a positive manner, without weapons. And it is more effective and you can also come here." "Thanks to Guruji's teachings, I now know that we can set the system right through non-violent ways. All this killing does not help anyone. That is what I tell my friends. Guruji nale se Gangaji mein le aaye (Guruji has got me from the gutter to the Ganges)," says Banerjee.

Addressing a gathering at the Art of Living ashram in Patamda -- which was built by the local people, including many Naxals – Gurudev appealed to the Maoist rebels to shun bullets in favour of the ballot.

"Maoist youths are good at heart. They (Maoists) are fighting against corruption and disparity. There is a need to bring them into the mainstream of society. The country needs their service," he said. "If these committed youth take to politics, they can use their energy to bring a change in society," he added.

Saying that spiritualism will end violence in the world, he urged the people of the area to offer their hatred and conflicts to him as a guru dakshina. "Once we let go of our quarrels, our village will prosper," he said. He also urged the Naxalites not to kill police personnel as they are just public servants.