Never mind if he has been misquoted and his foundation is calling for an apology which the newspaper never gave; never mind if there is even a point in his contentions.
When it comes to Art of Living founder Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar, the immediate response appears to be to latch onto any negative statements made by media, however flawed it may be and join the band of critics.
It all started because Gurudev decided to visit the drought hit Latur in Maharashtra where his volunteers were reviving the Manjra River which incidentally is the seventeenth river to be revived by his organisation across the country, 13 of which are in Maharashtra state. His organisation is also spending 105 crores on river rejuvenation in Maharashtra; facts that were left unreported by a newspaper.
The bone of contention was the peace prize awarded to Malala and Gurudev's views on this issue. It is well known that many have questioned the Nobel Prize to Malala on the same grounds that Sri Sri cited - the body of work done by her did not merit the prize. While everyone, including Sri Sri acknowledged her bravery as well as her commitment- Sri Sri’s congratulatory tweet on her receiving the prize does just that- the popular opinion points to political factors at play for giving her the award.
Targeting Gurudev for having the courage to openly state his views, ignoring the gargantuan volume of social work his organisation has done over the last 35 years smacks of immaturity as well as a deliberate move to defame.
Just for the record, AOL, over the last 35 years has been involved in a variety of activities that include women and children welfare. The organisation currently has 425 free schools functioning across 20 states, providing education to over 51000 children from the poorer sections of the society, of which nearly 60 per cent are girls.
Interestingly, 85 percent of the students in these schools are first generation learners. In the tribal school in the Udaipur village in Udaipur, Rajasthan, the tribal girls attending the school, for the first time in their society, stepped out of their conventional roles.
In a recent attack on the Yazidi community, AOL volunteers saved over 200 girls from trafficking in the Sinjar Mountains. AOL has also been running the Udaan project for several years that rehabilitates sex workers. These are just tip of the iceberg of the tremendous work the organisation has quietly done over the last three decades in the field of women and children.
Apart from this, the organisation has contributed to disaster management, reforming prisoners, rural development, conflict resolution to of course, the popular stress management programs.
Perhaps these are small achievements, not worthy of being addressed by his vociferous critics. It is not surprising that Gurudev stated, “We have been doing social work for years and it has not been for prizes”.
Instead of commenting on his statements or rather, misquoted statements, from air-conditioned cabins, it would befit his critics to try doing one-hundredth of the quantum of social work his organisation has done. May be they should get on to the field, get their hands dirty, sweat it out like thousands of Sri Sri’s volunteers and then talk about the ‘Art of Earning’