GURUDEV SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR
Founder - Art of Living
You may wonder, what has spirituality got to do with gender?
Really, it has nothing to do with gender because spirituality transcends gender.
What is spirituality? Is it something that is not normal or natural? No!
We are made up of matter and spirit. Our body has amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates etc. Our spirit is made up of love, compassion and peace. All that which enhances the value of spirit is spirituality. And women need it all the more because women are the greatest influencers. A woman influences her children, she influences her spouse, she influences her parents and the society.
A woman is very gentle and soft. So she needs the strength. Spirituality is that inner peace. If you don’t have inner peace, you can’t have peace in the family. A woman is her best friend and worst enemy as well. A woman, because she is so emotional, has to find the inner strength and peace. If she is peaceful, she can manage all other conflicts at home. But if she is disturbed, and has tears in her eyes, it keeps everyone on their toes.
Having said this, I would say to all the women here today -
Women don’t need to go and ask someone to empower them. They already have the power. In this country, from ancient times and in mythology, all powers have been kept with the goddesses. The Ministry of Wealth is with Devi Lakshmi, the Ministry of Education is with Devi Saraswati, and the Ministry of Defence is with Devi Durga. What is left? Nothing much is left with the man actually. Devi Shakti is the main power - woman is the main power. In India, we don’t say ‘Mr. and Mrs.’; we say ‘Shrimati and Shriman’; ‘Mrs. and Mr.’ Women empowerment is already there. Take it for granted.
Second, don’t take things too seriously. Have fun. If you have fun, you can create fun all around you. If you get uptight, then you create such an uptight atmosphere around you. Humor, fun, entertainment, wisdom, art, architecture, innovation – all these qualities are natural to you.
In this country, women have created 56,000 types of food. If you go to Tripura, which is a small province near Myanmar and Bangladesh border, this little state alone has some 180 varieties of food. People do not know about this.
Similarly, life is so dry without music and dance. Create an atmosphere where people talk about wisdom rather than complain about each other or create problems for each other. Creating an atmosphere of celebration is inbuilt in women. You have to make use of this tendency, these strengths that you have, to create multicultural celebrations.
If there were more women religious leaders, perhaps there wouldn’t be so many religious conflicts in the world today. Don’t listen to people who say that women cannot lead in religious or spiritual areas.
Gender equality is to be honored in every country. And if religious leaders take up gender equality, then we can move forward very fast and very smoothly. There are many areas where women can take a lead. Don’t wait for someone to invite you. Just jump in and take the lead, like all these wonderful women present here have already done.
Innovation and inspiration will come when we are calm and have inner peace. Only a peaceful individual can make peaceful families. And peaceful families can make peaceful localities, communities. And if the communities are peaceful, only then can the nation be peaceful. The root is to find the inner strength, inner peace and that you can do through meditation, through yoga, selfless service, by music and dance. There are so many ways to find inner peace.
Riniki Bhuyan Sharma ji from North East India is here from the entertainment industry. I was just there last month to launch the North-East channel which connects people. Media is there to connect people and so are all arts and sciences. Have a scientific temper and the heart of an artist.
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a universally revered spiritual and humanitarian
leader. His vision of a violence-free, stress-free society through the reawakening of
human values has inspired millions to broaden their spheres of responsibility and
work towards the betterment of the world.
He is a multi-faceted social activist whose initiatives include conflict resolution, disaster and trauma relief, poverty alleviation, empowerment of women, prisoner rehabilitation, education for all and campaigns against female foeticide and child labour. He is engaged in peace negotiations and counselling in conflict zones around the world. His expertise in bringing opposing parties to the negotiating table in areas such as Sri Lanka, Iraq, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Kashmir and Bihar is widely acknowledged.
In 1981, Gurudev established The Art of Living, an educational and humanitarian Non-Governmental Organisation that works in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. Present in 156 countries, it formulates and implements lasting solutions to conflicts and issues faced by individuals, communities and nations. In 1997, Gurudev founded the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) to foster human values and lead sustainable development projects. He is also a co-founder of India Against Corruption (IAC).
He has reached out to an estimated 450 million people worldwide through personal interactions, public events, teachings, Art of Living workshops and humanitarian initiatives. Not since Mahatma Gandhi has one person united people of different
traditions and faiths into a spiritual communion across the length and breadth of India.
Read more about Him here: www.srisriravishankar.org