Spiritual guru’s advice heeded by CMs and ministers in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand
March 4: Warm and personal welcome by chief ministers and officials, high-powered interactions and inspiring words of guidance marked Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s visit to Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand from Feb 26th to March 3rd. During the tour, Gurudev addressed the legislative assemblies of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, met with thousands of farmers and reassured the people in Naxal-affected areas that peace is possible.
Stressing the need for peace in the region, which is plagued by armed insurgency, Gurudev offered to act as an interlocutor between the government and Maoists for peace talks. This assumes significance in the wake of successful interventions by him in Colombia contributing to the historic peace deal between the government and FARC rebels. During a large public gathering in Bastar in Chhattisgarh, Gurudev appealed to the Naxals to drop the bullet and get into the ballot. “I know that these youth carry fire in their hearts, they stand up for justice and to get rid of poverty, but they have to desist from using violence as a means of struggle," he said. Saying that he understands their pain, sacrifice and commitment to social justice, he called out to Naxal insurgents to adopt peaceful methods.
Gurudev also urged the government of the 3 states to push for prohibition and save the masses from the menace of alcoholism. Responding to the call, MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan assured that his government would ensure that there is no shop selling alcohol in a five-kilometer radius around the banks of River Narmada. It may be noted that Gurudev joined the Chief Minister in the ‘Narmada Sewa Yatra,’ an initiative to rejuvenate Narmada River, the lifeline of the state.
During his meeting with Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das on March 3rd, Gurudev emphasized the importance of prohibition and initiating talks with the Naxals. The CM has offered to provide support to Art of Living for starting a center for social activities in capital city Ranchi.
Gurudev’s interactive sessions at the legislative assemblies of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh saw huge participation by legislators and top leaders with a request for extending the sessions for yoga and meditation. During the interaction, Gurudev advised the legislators to build holistic relationships with their people. “A sense of belongingness can have much more impact than any amount of money could have,” he said. Thanking Gurudev, Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “With his visit, Gurudev has filled us with the inspiration to put all our might in implementing de-addiction and tree plantation projects.”
Echoing the sentiment, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said, "Today, all the members of the legislative assembly have received guidance and practical ways to transform the society.” He also lauded Gurudev for organizing the World Culture Festival and strengthening India’s image internationally.
Interacting with thousands of farmers in the three states, Gurudev urged them all to take up natural farming, stressing on the fact that poisoning the land with chemicals is ultimately going to poison our own bodies. While addressing a gathering of 40,000 farmers in Deogarh in Jharkhand, he reiterated examples of farmers from other states whose profits increased by a great margin when they turned to natural and traditional means of farming. He appealed to the Agriculture Minister of Jharkhand, Shri Randheer Singh to give to each farmer, 20 fruit saplings, stating that the farmers will be able to make more profits within 4-5 years when they start bearing fruit. Singh responded saying, “We will see to it that farmers follow organic farming and I promise to give 20 fruit saplings to each farmer. We will encourage them in the areas of horticulture, cattle-rearing, fisheries, mushroom and guava farming. We will also help people become free of addictions, and soon declare the state drug-free.”
The massive crowds that turned out for Satsangs with Gurudev, during the 6-day tour of three states, pledged to curb all kinds of addiction and spread yoga and meditation in their respective communities, villages, towns and cities. During the visit, Gurudev also opened the Art of Living’s sports academy for Adivasi youth in Bijapur, a district in the tribal region of Bastar in Chhattisgarh. The Art of Living has been actively working in rural and tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand to provide free education, community empowerment, natural farming and vocational training. In Madhya Pradesh alone 200,000 farmers have benefited from such programs.