Sri Lanka: Strengthening the foundations of dialogue and peace

Since 2004, Gurudev has constructively engaged with the Government of Sri Lanka, Parliamentarians and the erstwhile Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to resolve the Sri Lankan conflict. The conclusion of the war in May 2009 saw the continuation of his creative peace-building initiatives for healing and reconciliation.

While he always proffered that a solution should emerge through meaningful dialogue and an attitude of candidness, Gurudev also proposed key initiatives to build mutual trust and strengthen the foundations of dialogue for peace.

Several policy-makers, leaders engaged in civil administration and members of the civil society island-wide have experienced Gurudev`s Art of Living programs that create individual peace and confidence for human development.

Gurudev has had constructive dialogues with His Excellency the President, honorable priests of the Buddhist Clergy, opposition leaders, Tamil leaders and the civil society during his several visits to the island-nation since 2005. During his visits, he was often inundated with requests from the public and dignitaries seeking his help to bring about peace in Sri Lanka. In September 2006, Gurudev ventured into the erstwhile LTTE stronghold Killinochchi for peace talks.

The Art of Living and the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) co-organized a conference in Norway in April 2008 titled “Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia – Challenges and Opportunities”. The conference instilled a great degree of confidence and hope for a peaceful resolution in the conflict-affected regions of South Asia, especially Sri Lanka.

Prominent Buddhist leaders of Sri Lanka also often met with Gurudev, strengthening the ancient friendships between the Hindu and Buddhist communities. In association with the Mahabodhi Society, he convened the Vedanta and Buddhism International Conference for Global Peace in 2008, to bring together the faith-based values and principles offered by the two ancient religions of Buddhism and Hinduism.

In April 2009 when the war was at its peak, Gurudev became the first spiritual leader to visit the several thousands displaced by war and housed in temporary centers in Vavuniya District. He provided them with relief-materials and solace.

As of April 2011, several hundreds of hardcore ex-LTTE combatants placed in rehabilitation centers have learnt Gurudev`s Art of Living knowledge to meaningfully reintegrate with the mainstream society.