- Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
- Shri Narendra Modi
- Cmde. Sarvotham Rao
- Justice R. C. Lahoti
- Hon. Hakubun Shimomura
- H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi
- H. E. Michael A. S. Adhin
- Juan Manuel Santos
- Shri Karu Jayasuriya
- Hon. Evgeny Kuyvashev
- H.E. Dominique De Villepin
- Hon. P. J. Kurien
- H.E. Ryszard Czarnecki
- Hon. Dace Melbrade
- Hon. Kamal Thapa
- Padma Bhushan Vaidya Devendra Triguna
- Hon. Sarunas Birutis
- H. E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan
Spiritual leader and founder of The Art of Living, India
My dear ones on the stage and on the dais; Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi Ji; Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal, Kamal Thapa; and other esteemed dignitaries, I welcome you all.
You know, there are five primary things that unite us all:
- Sports – A child begins to start playing even when it is born. Sports find universal appeal with everyone at all time and bring everyone together.
- Artand Culture
- Business andEconomy
These five areas unite humanity everywhere in one thread. Today is such a wonderful occasion – people from so many countries have all gathered here to send out a message to the world that we all are one! We are all a One World Family. The Art of Living is more of a principle, a philosophy of living life to its fullest.
It is a movement and not really much of an organization. Its core valuesare to find peace within oneself and to unite people in our society – of different cultures, traditions, religions, and nationalities, thus reminding us all that we have one goal – to uplift human life everywhere. It is a collective effort to bring together Bhakti (devotion), Shakti (inner strength and resolve), Yukti (awakened intelligence), and Mukti (freedom) in one’s life. It is the art of uniting minds and hearts in a unique harmony.
In India, we have always dreamed of the world as one family. Today, that dream seems to be taking shape – Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – we are all one. There should be no difference between our speech and our actions, no difference between what we are on the inside and outside, and our actions should be such that they bring peace and comfort to us and to everyone around us. This is why there is spirituality – it is to help one reflect within oneself and to realize that what lies within oneself is what is present everywhere else too. This wave of spirituality—this wave of happiness—is what we need to spread across to every nook and corner of the world. This is the one aim with which we all have gathered here today.
I would say one thing to you all – whatever love and belongingness you give to the society, and to the world, you get 100 times that love back in return. It is indeed difficult to express this in words, but if there is a name to the art of experiencing and recognizing the infinity within oneself, then that is spirituality. We have to take this wave of spirituality everywhere in the world.
Some people said that the World Culture Festival 2016 is Gurudev’s private party(laughter). I said, well, yes, it is indeed, because the whole world is my family and belongs to me! This is what Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam means, so then it is really a private party for the entire family.
We always welcome the truth. And when we do not desire anything for ourselves, then in that very moment, everything and everyone belongs to us totally. Then the entire world belongs to us. Usually, we feel that there is something or the other that is lacking in our personal life, or that our personal life and public life are two different things entirely. But when there is no gap, no distance, no difference between our personal and public life – when there is total oneness and belongingness with everyone and everything in this world, then at once you see a light, the light of the Divine, which is the basis of this entire creation and on which this entire universe rests and is upheld.
Silence and celebration go hand in hand. We have always thought of life as a continual struggle. But it is an art to be able to transform that (struggle) into a grand celebration. And you all have given this festival so many unique colors of celebration today by gathering here. So many youths have gathered here today.
Some visually challenged children have also come to attend this festival from Bijapur, which is so far away. Despite being visually impaired, they have travelled so far to be a part of this musical celebration. It is such a beautiful occasion.
There is a saying in Sanskrit, shreyansi bahu vighnani (many obstacles appear for a great and noble deed). It means that when you want to do something great, something wonderful, then you will find that many obstacles come in front of you. If you wish to do some wrong or wicked deed, then you do not encounter any obstacles. But that only indicates that we have truly undertaken a very significant and beneficial work. And the fruit that one gets after overcoming those obstacles is really very sweet.
I will not speak much now. Anyway, I usually do not speak much. All I would say is just have this deep and unshakeable faith that that which is universal and timeless, that which belongs to everyone is also yours and belongs to you. This divine knowledge—this truth which is so universal, unbound by space and time, which belongs to everyone and that which we have imbibed in our lives—we have to spread the sweet fragrance of this truth and knowledge to everyone. People have come from far and wide – right from Argentina, Mongolia, Pakistan, Nepal, and so on, and I welcome you all here, and I would say that you have all come to your home. This is a spiritual home for you all.
Today, we are giving out a very strong message of oneness to the whole world when it is so badly needed, when there is so much gap between communities, nations, between ideologies, and so on. We are giving this message today that we can all co-exist with our differences, we can love each other with our differences. Diversity is the nature of this planet, so let us love this diversity.
Let’s all care for the environment and let’s care for each other. This is the message we need to spread far and wide. We need to convey to everyone that we love nature – it is in our very DNA. And today, we are also going to honor all the farmers who are preserving this country, this land, and this very Earth.
We need to promote techniques of organic farming, and we must all put aside the myth that you can only grow good vegetables with pesticides and chemicals. Our farmers have put an end to this myth with organic farming and they have grown food organically and become wealthy. One farmer said that he was making only Rs 40,000 a year earlier. Now the same farmer is making Rs 4 Lakhs a year.Our farmers have put an end to an old myth with organic farming and they have grown food using organic farming techniques.They are able to cultivate so much more food now. So let’s all grow more food; let’s all care for our environment; for the people around us; and let’s spread the message of peace and harmony through knowledge, culture, art, music, and social service.
Hon’ble Prime Minster of India
India is so full of myriad diversities. India has so much to offer to the world, it is beyond description! It is not just economic interests that unite or connect the world. The world can also unite and come together through human values, and we should in fact make efforts to do so. India has the wealth of cultural heritage and traditions that the whole world looks for even today. We, in India, can surely meet and fulfil those needs of the world in some form or another. But this can only happen when we truly take pride and honor in the great cultural heritage of our country. If we ourselves criticize our own culture and only look into finding flaws and shortcomings, then why would the world ever look up to us?
I congratulate Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji today owing to the fact that in a short duration of just 35 years, he has taken the Art of Living to more than 150 countries around the world. This mission today has successfully spread across so many countries, and it is on the basis of this mission’s strength that so many countries around the world today have been united and have come together.
Through the medium of The Art of Living Foundation, the world has come to know of a very unique and special identity of India. The Art of Living has played a very significant contribution in this direction. Sometime back, when I had visited Mongolia, I was really surprised to see that in a stadium in Mongolia, the many members of The Art of Living family had held a grand reception to welcome me. There were, surprisingly, very few Indians in the gathering and almost all of the audience in the stadium was overflowingly Mongolian. And it was truly amazing to see the way they waved the National tricolor of India and honored India and Indian culture and heritage. This in itself was highly inspiring to see – that such soft power can play such a vital role even in places and points that are beyond political power and governments, especially at the level of international relations.
The World Culture Festival is a very unique Kumbh Mela – a grand celebration of art and culture. India was so prosperous in those earlier times, which is why India’s art and traditions also developed so well. This land is so special and vibrant that every hour of the day has a different kind of music associated with it. The musical notes of the morning are different and the symphonies of the evening are different. This is why if you go to the market today to explore the diversity of music, you will find that there is no dearth of music which can make you sway your body. But if you seek music that really touches and unites the heart and mind from deep within, then that music is only present in India. Today, the world seeks music that can sway and uplift the mind, and it is only this confluence of Indian music that we see here today that is truly capable of touching and energizing the minds and hearts of people everywhere.
Only when we look at any country through the lens of art and culture can we truly fathom and appreciate the inner strength and prosperity of that country. Today, India has given a very unique gift to the entire world in the form of this musical confluence. On such an occasion, this festival has also been honored and recognized by Mother Nature (referring to the rains that graced the event at the start). But then this is what Art of Living really is! There is no real art in living in comforts and convenience. But when you need to march forward in life to achieve your goals, then that is when you need to know the Art of Living. When you wish to fulfil your dreams in life, then you need the Art of Living. When you need the strength to overcome difficulties and troubles in life, then that is when you need the Art of Living. When you wish to live not for yourself but for others, then you need the Art of Living! When you need to make the journey from your limited self to the unlimited vast infinity of existence, then you truly need the Art of Living! When you break away from the small “I” to the vast “We”, then you need the Art of Living! We in India are the people who begin our journey by saying Aham Brahmasmi and culminate at the milestone of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. This is the Art of Living.
We are those people who have made the journey from the Upanishads to the Upagrahas. It is this unique Art of Living that our wise rishis and ancestors have bestowed upon us as our rich heritage in inheritance. People trapped in the everyday struggles and difficulties of personal life find strength and relief here. The Indian traditions and ideals of family and her social fabric are so rich and vibrant that the world forever looks up to us in awe and amazement. We have learned and promoted this Art of Living for ages. But if this rich ancient tradition of ours is in danger and at risk of falling apart, then it is the need of the hour and our utmost duty and responsibility to attend to it, to preserve it. And I personally commend and congratulate the many beneficial social welfare projects and activities that are happening everywhere through the inspiration and guidance of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji.
To all the artistes, spiritual seekers, and the members and organizers of The Art of Living gathered here today, I heartily congratulate you all for presenting the most unique and vibrant image of India before the whole world today.
Chairman of The Art of Living, India
Sri Sri has always said that he is not here to build organizations and ashrams, rather, he is here to build people. His focus has been on building character – developing stronger individuals who can serve society. True to this ideal, Sri Sri has created a beautiful structure for the organization.
The volunteer plays a central role in the Art of Living's social service outreach. The basis of all these activities is inner transformation as well as a strong commitment to service, integrity, equality, and good communication skills. Sri Sri often says, 'Knowledge and organizing power go together'.
All of these aspects have been part of our training efforts for our volunteers. Nearly 600,000 volunteers receive training through around 15,000 teachers each year in India alone, and many of them are engaged in transforming their localities.
Former Chief Justice of India
The World Culture Festival is a confluence of world cultures and is needed the most at this juncture of human history. Today, the world is surrounded by turbulence and hounded by threats to peace.
This Festival intends to create awareness about the environment, ecology,andthe River Yamuna. For many years, the Art of Living foundation and its countless volunteers have been actively involved in cleaning the River Yamuna and reviving its past glory.It is truly a miracle that Lord Indra has blessed this auspicious occasion with rain to uplift and revive the River Yamuna once again.
Former minister of Education, Culture,Sports, Science, and Technology, Ministry of Japan
It is a great honor to participate in the World Culture Festival organized by The Art of Living. Three and a half million people have travelled all the way to New Delhi from around the world to be here, including the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, paying the highest respect to His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. This is astonishing and impressive.
Our Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has asked me to give a message. Prime Minister Abe says, “I sincerely hope we can spread world peace through The Art of Living and through His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The most essential ideology driving our Japanese culture is a spirit of harmony and co-existence. Japan, along with all our friends here today, contributes to world peace.
I too promise to work with everyone here to honor the spirit of co-existence and mutual prosperity. Today, March 11, 2016, marks the 5th year since the great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. By your generous support for the rehabilitation of the disaster-stricken area, rehabilitation is progressing steadily. I would like to express appreciation. Once again, thank you very much!
Crown Prince of Al Fujairah, United Arab Emirates
This huge artistic and spiritual gathering is not strange to India, a land rich in culture and creative diversity. It is wonderful and inspiring to witness such an enormous number of people gathered to meditate and appreciate music, singing,and folk arts.
The Art of Living has worked for the last 35 years through its diverse projects to reform individuals and communities around the world through yoga, breathing techniques, deaddiction drives, and being in harmony with a healthy and spiritual life. This has contributed in spreading peace and infusing positive energy in a lot of individuals and communities and we are thankful to its founder, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
All religions preach tolerance; to meditate through prayers, yoga, or fasting; to care for nature and animals; and to stay away from all elements of negative energy. Any acts of isolation and exclusion of others are not acceptable to us, both in the UAE and in the Arab countries. The culture of love, positive energy, and equality is what we are trying to focus on and pass on to the next generation.
Vice President, Suriname
Suriname is the most plural and culturally diverse nation in the western hemisphere. Suriname, I always feel, has a unique opportunity and a duty to fulfill, together with many more nations, who each day have to deal with ever-growing plurality and cultural diversity. We have the opportunity and duty to carry out the message and inspiration given to us in the Upanishads.
The Upanishads suggest us to adopt society, although plural and diverse in many ways (be it cultures and traditions or languages and ideals), and evolve as one nation, on a co-operative basis with mutual understanding, and follow the principle of interdependence.
This global event, the World Culture Festival, with the blessings from Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji is an exemplary one. My hope is that this may serve as a stepping stone towards helping us to rise above our lower nature and above our individual consciousness, as individuals and as nations, which will make one indeed proclaim the Sanskrit verse, Udara charitanam tu vasudhaiva kutumbhakam – “he has become so broad that this world has become his family”.
President of Colombia
“Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and The Art of Living foundation are heralds of peace in a planet tormented by conflicts and violence. He teaches us that happiness and peace dwell inside us and that we only need to connect with them in order to live our true essence.
“Sri Sri met in Havana and Cuba with the negotiators of the FARC (terrorist outfit) leaders to encourage them to follow the Gandhian principle of non-violence, and to cultivate the art of meditation and breathing. His efforts were successful and FARC has laid down their arms and are making efforts to join the mainstream."
Speaker of the Parliament
Speaking on behalf of the President of Sri Lanka, Shri Maithripala Sirisena
"Guruji, I thank you for inviting me to attend the World Culture Festival. True to its motto—One World Family—The Art of living has changed the attitudes and lives of thousands of people. Guruji, please accept my wishes for this great festival, which has showcased the rich cultural tradition of dance, music, and art from around the world to an expected audience of around 3.5 million people. With that, may I also add the greeting and best wishes of honorable Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the delegates that came on my behalf. I wish to extend my best wishes to Guruji for his unshakeable will toserve to mankind and would also like to take this opportunity to convey my wishes to Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the lovely people of India. Thank you very much. Namaste.”
Governor of Sverdlovsk Region, Russia
“I am convinced that the language ofculture does not need translation, since it appeals to the very soul of a person. It is understandable to everyone, because real art is based on kindness and love. This is a solid ground for peace and mutual understanding. That is why I view the WorldCulture Festival as a global dialogue between people, between countries, and betweennationalities.”
Former Prime Minister of France
“We stand here in our awareness of a world filled with unfairness, hate, and fear – with wounded memories, but we stand ready for action, committed to freedom, tolerance, and justice. Together, here with you, I feel the power of hope – yes, we can heal our broken world, we can give more colors to a world of beauty and mysteries. India, with its culture of diversity and dialogue and with its legacy of non-violence, is a good place to unite in such a belief.
“The truth deep down is that we are all looking for new horizons – something to give and something to receive; something to share and something to transmit. The truth is that every single one of us is the key to change. Indeed, we haven't come to this unique gathering with empty hands or empty hearts. It is our task to open up to other cultures and other religions, to abandon the comfort and security of our daily lives to build bridges for a better world. It is our task to invent the weapons of peace to overcome the spirit of war.
“We have to make each and every one of us a peace builder, setting an example by our own life. This challenge will require nations to unite, shared development, fresh dialogue between people, and renewed concerns for our planet. It is our shared task and our sacred duty to put education and culture at the center of our lives if we want to cultivate the seeds of peace rather than the seeds of war.”
Deputy Speaker, Rajya Sabha, India
"India has always been a cultural beacon. The basic instinct and the culture of India has been to let free and noble thoughts come from all parts of the world. We have always kept the window of our mind open to accept ideas and thoughts from everywhere. We have always received ideas from the world and given ideas to the world.
“A mega event like this is a celebration of the great legacy and culture of India. The world is one family. This grand festival is a great effort in achievingthis noble principle, and in fact an exposition of our great culture.
“I salute Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for giving India’s boundless culture this exposure and for improving the quality of life for millions worldwide.”
Vice President of the European Parliament
“This is my fourth visit to India in the last 15 years, but it is a special one. I would like to thank His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for organizing such an important Festival, where we are celebrating harmony and cultural diversity. I wholly stand by the mission of the World Culture Festival – to celebrate peaceful co-existence and unity in diversity. My great compatriot, Pope John Paul II, almost 14 years ago, said, 'Nations express themselves by their culture'. In my country, I was the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture. I know that culture connects people and nations.
“In conclusion, I would like to congratulate you and leave you with the firm hope that culture will connect nations and people once again.”
Minister of Culture, Latvia
“I believe that there are no borders for culture unless we build them ourselves. Culture has its unique role to widen the horizons for personal joy, to celebrate life. Culture opens the doors to personal creativity for everyone. I believe there is a dialogue among cultures.
“Culture unites the world and, thanks to culture, we find different viewpoints for many of the challenges of the world. I duly remember the life story of Mahatma Gandhi and his principle of non-violence, which I strongly stand for. My country, Latvia, along with other bordering countries, also gained its independence through the non-violence movement – with the power of culture, with the power of music.
“I thank you all.”
Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal
“It is a great honor and privilege for me to have an opportunity to be a part of this massive World Cultural Festival. I cannot express in words my feelings about what I am witnessing at the bank of the Yamuna, in the beautiful city of New Delhi. It is not only massive, it is amazing.
“This gathering, once again from the land of the ancient civilization of India, has sent a message to the world that the world is one family –Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Thirty-five-years ago, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar established the foundation and through it, he has taught people all over the world the art of living. He has spread the message of love and harmony. So, this massive gathering, the manifestation of unity in diversity, is a fitting tribute to his contribution to world peace.
“Nepal, as the land of Rajarishi Janak, has sent a delegation of thousands who have joined this Festival to pay their respects to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Chairman, Akhila Bharatiya Maha Sammelan
“It gives me tremendous happiness to witness a gathering like the Maha Kumbh and a small glimpse of the vast world gathered here today. I have personally known Gurudev for more than 40 years now. The way he has worked towards promoting an environment of peace, love, and brotherhood in the country and the world at large is really unparalleled and exemplary.
“People from all over the world are attending the event and I firmly believe that India, which was once regarded as a Vishvaguru, can once again regain that high pedestal by spreading the values and message of love and peace through the Art of Living. Whether in Iraq or Pakistan, or any country that we can name, he has personally travelled to so many crisis-affected areas where many others would fear to visit, and there he has ventured to spread his message of peace and harmony.
“This is worth emulating for us all. I am indebted to him from the bottom of my heart. On behalf of the Akhila Bharatiya Maha Sammelan and the entire Ayurveda community of India, I express gratitude to him for always giving guidance and direction for good health at all times.”
Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania
“Culture is not like a shining ornament, culture binds societies and helps people overcome divisions. It is a country’s life blood, no less important than a nation's health or wealth. I therefore urge world leaders to establish individual rights over culture as a fundamental right. I also urge world leaders to establish diversity as the main principle of harmonious existence. The World Culture Festival is the greatest example of how culture and diversity can serve the needs of mankind. A one-world family has become the real spirit of this congregation.”
Cabinet Minister and Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, United Arab Emirates
“The one-world family will be truly complete when everyone, everywhere finally understands the moral necessity of a culture of knowledge, understanding, kindness, and respect. That is the culture inherent in the vision of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his conviction that love and wisdom can prevail over hatred and violence. That is the culture enabled and supported by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We all know today that a culture of peace does not flourish easily. We all know that we may never wholly overcome every opponent of this important goal in our lifetime. But we have not gathered today at the World Culture Festival to surrender. Rather, we have come to celebrate our commitment to The Art of Living and an ever-growing one-world family. We have come to be inspired in our struggle towards that noble goal. This culture of peace and harmony was described by Mahatma Gandhi when he wrote that no culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive.
“The United Arab Emirates is one with Prime Minister Modi’s commitment and we are one with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the concept of a one-world family. When the founder of our nation, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, united the Emirates in 1971, he explicitly expressed his attitude towards the conduct of foreign relations. We have a duty as Heads of State and are responsible for our people and the way they deal with one another through the values of tolerance, compassion, and dialogue rather than confrontation, wars, and destruction.
- Swami Swatantranand Maharaj Ji
- H. H. Sri Sri Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji
- H. H. Jagadguru Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji
- Ms. Sherry Rehman
- Hon. Raja Varuthian Sampathan
- Ram Jethmalani
- The Dalai Lama
- Giani Gurbachan Singh Ji
- Rev. Dr. Gerald L. Durley
- H.H. Ven. Dhamma Master Hsin Tao
- His Eminence Dr. Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun
- Mufti Mohammed Saeed Khan
- Rajnath Singh
- H. H. Ramesh Bhai Ozha
- Sushma Swaraj
- H.E. Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo
- H.H. Jagadguru Shri Shankaracharya Vasudevanand
- Manish Sisodia
- Swami Rambhadracharya
“My humble pranaams to Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji and all the revered saints and sages seated on the dais. We also welcome all the holy saints and spiritual leaders at this momentous occasion who have graced this occasion from India and from many countries across the world. On behalf of The Art of Living family, we also welcome all the esteemed dignitaries and respected members seated on the stage of the World Culture Festival.
“Yesterday, Pujya Gurudev had said that sports is a medium to unite the world.Education is another medium that connects the world. Business is yet another medium that has brought together the entire world as one global market. In the same way, the world should also be united by the threads of spirituality, culture, and music.
“Today, advancements in science and technology have blurred the physical and geographical distances of the world. In the same way, we also need to strive to reduce the gap between people’s hearts. Religious and spiritual leaders can play a very big role to bridge the gap between the hearts and minds of people across the world.
“I was once traveling in Punjab for a Sadbhavana Yatra – an initiative for bringing about communal harmony. I happened to go to a tailor’s shop and asked for a pair of scissors. The tailor handed over the pair of scissors lying near his feet. The tailor was a Sardarji (Sardarjis are Indians from the Punjab region who wear turbans). When I asked him for a needle, he pulled one out from his turban and gave it to me. I asked him, ‘You have kept the needle on the turban and the pair of scissors at your feet. Why so?’ The tailor replied, ‘Sir, the pair of scissors cuts, divides,and breaks (cloth) away; whereas the needle stitches, connects, and brings everything together.’
“In the same way, those who strive to bring everyone together in peace and love are given the greatest respect and honor. This is why we have always respected and revered spiritual leaders, religious leaders, and saints from all communities. It is because they have always worked to bring the world together; they have strived to unite the hearts of people everywhere. They have never tried to divide or create differences among people.
“There are different kinds of flowers in a garden, and each flower has its own unique beauty. But when all these different flowers are strung together in a garland, then the garland looks so much more beautiful. In my childhood days, I had heard a song once that meant, ‘even though a lamp was lit only to create light, how can one blame just the lamp if everything around it catches fire?’ A lamp only burns to spread light. In the same way, the lamp of spirituality also was lit once upon a time to spread the light of love and peace. The apostles, sages, and wise spiritual heads who had lit this lamp too had lit it for the same purpose. But it is our duty and responsibility as followers of religion and spiritual traditions to see to it that the lamp of spirituality is never misused to set things on fire, but is rather used to spread light everywhere and to everyone.
“All the religious and spiritual scriptures in the world and all spiritual leaders that have been in the world have preached one thing only– love, compassion, service, tolerance, and cooperation. No scripture or spiritual leader has ever advocated violence, hatred, cruelty, or troubling others. They have never advocated exploiting anyone else. In today’s world, it is the duty of all the spiritual leaders in the world to ensure that this lamp of spirituality that is lit is not misused to set anything on fire.
“It is also everyone’s duty to speak and support the truth, and to oppose falsehood and ignorance. Unfortunately, today, we get carried away and support injustice or wrong doings, or we remain silent in the face of wrong deeds. And then the same silence becomes our acceptance toward this wrongdoing. We should not shy away from calling out a wrong act as wrong, and we must check the misuse of religion and spirituality wherever we see it. A lamp has no attachment or enmity with anyone – it burns to spread light equally to all everywhere. But the people who hold that lamp in their hands sometimes tend to misuse the lamp for wrong intentions and purposes. This is what I wish to express here today.
“Through this forum of the World Culture Festival, I once again welcome and congratulate Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji, all the revered saints, and spiritual leaders seated on the stage and wish them every success.
“My pranaams to one and all.”
Head of Sri Adichunchanagiri Mahasamsthana Matha, India
“Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is rightly called the reconciler of all religions. Sri Sri has been promoting the essence of our philosophy and he has been striving to bring together the truth and essence of all the religions to our country too.
“Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji has been promulgating the essence of our spiritual traditions and he has been promoting the legacy of our culture. We have accepted globalization, privatization, and liberalization. Centuries ago, our philosophy has accepted and advocated the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the whole globe is one family. Now it has come true and it has been realized through the efforts of Pujya Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji.”
Jagadguru Sri Veerasimhasana Math, India
“This is a unique global event, the first of its kind, where 1000s from 100s of countries have gathered to celebrate the rich and diverse lives and cultures of the world.
“I wish the Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, in advance on the occasion of his 60th birthday. With his efforts in organizing the World Culture Festival, the misgivings among communities can be effectively dispelled and inter-community harmony established.
“The WCFhas a deeper undercurrent of bringing together diverse cultures and employing them for cultivating peace rather than using it as a tool for conflict.”
Senator from Pakistan and Vice President of Pakistan’s Peoples Party
“Good Afternoon, Namaste, Asalaam-alaikum, and greetings from Pakistan! At the beginning, I wish to thank Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji and his wonderful family of the Art of Living movement that brings so many of us together in difficult times on our planet.
“I also wish to thank all those who have come here today in the spirit of unity, peace, and universal brotherhood. This is so important now because outside this wonderful theatre and stadium of cultural performances and cultural excellence, we see a world that is increasingly divided. Today’s conference and gathering, and this immense outpouring of love and unity, fostersfor us from Pakistana very important sense of regional community in this family of nations, especially with those of us from South Asia.
“South Asia cannot realize its potential as a trading, energy-connected block of people who can mobilize resources for those who are most vulnerable, for those who need shelter from the storm. You can see the storm gathering, the storm clouds at our doors today. Friends, the world today is a world where one out of seven human beings is a refugee from conflict, and conflict divides. Culture is the heart of a civilizational impulse.
“Religion and faith are also part of a civilizational impulse. They do not divide, they do not terrorize, they do not cut, and they do not create poles where people drift apart. They must not put people in boxes. Today’s event is a gathering that unites us in harmony. Cultural interventions are about the stories that we tell about each other. We bring the colors of our humanity to this kind of gathering and I hope that Pakistan, India, and all the nations represented here today can take the world into a future of peace, prosperity, and brotherhood. We come here with a message of peace and we hope that we can bring to you all the joys and prosperity that peace alone can bring.
“Thank you very much!”
Leader of the Opposition, Sri Lanka
“I am delighted to be attending the World Cultural Festival 2016 and the Global Leadership Forum. Today, we are gathered here to focus on the key issues that affect the contemporary world. Our world is diversified with many ethnic groups, religions, and castes; nevertheless, all of us belong to the human family that inhabits this planet. Thus, irrespective of various divisions, we must cohabit faithfully in order to achieve progress, peace, harmony, and prosperity.
“Kindness, understanding, generosity, and compassion are essential components in building a peaceful society. Our goal is to create a world wherein all its inhabitants live peacefully. Peaceful co-existence leads to prosperity. As responsible leaders and opinion makers, we must work hard to achieve this noble goal of peace.
“We congratulate the event organizers for organizing this marvelous event that can reach every living being in their own language. I express my sincere gratitude to His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for extending me an invitation to attend this worthy cause. I wish all the very best for the future endeavors of The Art of Living.”
Senior Attorney and Rajya Sabha member, India
“We should learn to reduce human suffering as much as we can. That should be the principle object of our existence, and that is the highest religion that I can talk about. Please take care of those who are suffering from pain and who are not as happy as you.”
“I urge Indians to pay more attention to their heritage and combine its values with science and technology to ensure greater benefit. Ancient Indian psychology is advanced and profound. Tibetans, as students of the Nalanda tradition, have derived great benefit from it.
“In ahimsa and inter-religious harmony, India sets an example for the rest of the world, and I believe the World Culture Festival is taking place in that spirit.”
Akal Takht Jathedar, India
“The Art of Living has reached a great milestone and achievement and Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has achieved something great and remarkable in a very short span of 35 years – joined all of humanity as one.
“I urge everyone to connect to all of mankind in order to connect to God.”
Pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church, United States of America
“I would firstly like to thank God for our mutual love, our friendship, and our diversity.We come tonight as one family from all over the world. We come as one strong bond of brothers and sisters who have made the world a better place – as one people, praying and working together to remove fear, ignorance, and hate and replace them with love, hope, and trust. We are a good people."
Founder, Museum of World Religions, Taiwan
“I am very happy to be here and appreciate the work the Art of Living is doing to spread wisdom for the last 35 years. I think many human beings have benefited from the Art of Living programs. One of my cousins, who was the former Ambassador of Bhutan, is here with me today. He did the Art of Living course 20 years ago and is now teaching this to others.
“The Art of Living has benefitted many people, and many people have recovered from physical sickness and also from mental illnesses after undergoing Art of Living courses. So, I think big cities have an urgent need of this Art of Living programs, pranayama, and yoga treatment. This is very necessary forthe modern 21st century society.
“Love and compassion combined with wisdom are the key features of all religions. So today, I am very happy to see all religions together. I think if we use this love and compassion along with wisdom, we can treat all the sorrows of the world and solve all the problems as well. So I pray for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji’s continued good health and hope he will continue this campaign all around the world. May all countries with different cultures benefit from this.”
Grand Mufti and Chairman of the Supreme Iftaa Council, Syrian Arab Republic
“If we do a DNA test, we will see that we are all descendants of a common mother and father. Our mother is the Earth and our soul goes back to Almighty. That's why we are all one, we will always be one, and no one can separate us.
“So, may the pigeon of peace fly from India all over the world, because in India is present the messages of God. We will make peace because God himself is peace. In our country, we have dreamed and spoken about the beauty of India and Indian civilization for centuries. That's why I beg God to keep us under His peace and let peace spread among us. From Mecca and Medina, the homeland of all holy prophets, and from Damascus, I salute India and its people.And to all the people over here, I salute you now.
“World peace will be spread all over.”
Islamic Scholar and Founder of Madani Trust, Pakistan
“We should all know this for a fact that all the problems and conflicts in this world can be resolved. Ignorance is the greatest problem the world faces today. All the knowledgeable and wise people have said this and today, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji has also said the same thing – that the light of a lamp is only to spread brightness and not to set fire to the surroundings. So once this lamp of love and knowledge is lit, the false veil of negativity and ignorance burns and disappears. And when the veil lifts, then one realizes that everything is made up of the same divinity and there is no other.
“This is not the first time this is being said. All noble and wise souls have been saying this for ages past and have been striving to inspire many others to this path of spirituality. Each one of us ought to reflect and go deep within to realize that God dwells within each one of us. We need to promote the message of love and peace more and more.
“God always says that peace and compassion are the greatest of virtues. God never advocates or praises violence. For we are all essentially one and belong to God.”
Honorable Home Minster, India
“There has never been any cultural festival of this scale or magnitude in the world till today. With regards to Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the World Culture Festival, I would like to add that he has definitely worked to enhance and promote the cultural glory and pride of India in the whole world.
“He has worked tirelessly to spread the message of India’s culture to every corner of the world. One does not need to elaborate much on India’s glorious and rich cultural heritage. The greatest specialty of India’s culture is its broad vision and mindset. The sages and Rishis in India never limited their idea of a ‘family’ to only their own country’s citizens, rather they considered all the people of the world as their own family and have given the message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the whole world is one family.
“The clear sign and proof of India’s broad vision and understanding is that all major religions and their diverse sects and traditions of the world are found in India alone. No other country in the world can make this claim.It is the message of peace and non-violence of this great country that Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji is working to spreadeverywhere in the world. I believe there can be no greater worship and service of Mother India than this. There can be no greater service to humanity today than what Pujya Gurudev is engaged in.
“I can say with utmost conviction that if at all there is anyone who has upheld and promoted the honored tradition of the Rishis, then that personality is none other than Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji.”
Founder, DevkaVidyapeeth and SandipaniVidyaniketan, India
“Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam! Because of the World Culture Festival, the 35th anniversary celebrations of The Art of Living Foundation, people from all over the world have gathered here today to showcase the art, culture, and musical traditions of their countries. The whole world appears to have come together here as a one-world family. I would take this opportunity to offer my salutations to Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji, and congratulate him for this grand occasion.”
Honorable Minister for External Affairs, India
“At the outset, I would like to express sincere gratitude to Pujya Gurudev for transforming our city New Delhi into a global city! Yesterday, we saw people from many Indian states and also from so many countries of the world perform on one stage, and their amazing cultural, music, and art performances electrified the whole city of Delhi. At this festival, we are witnessing the discourses and speeches of different spiritual leaders who are showering their deep knowledge upon us. Present at the inter-faith meet were the Grand Mufti from Syria and the venerable Bishop Gunnar Stalsett, along with Sufi saints and the Shankaracharyas. Someone addresses in Arabic, someone in English, someone conveys their message in Chinese, and someone else in Hindi.
“Yet their message is one and the same, regardless of the language. This is why, today, I am reminded of a saying from our scriptures, Ekam sat viprabahudavadanti. It means that there is one truth only, yet the wise and knowledgeable ones express it differently in different words. People have come even from the crisis-torn and violence-affected countries of the world to attend this festival, such as the Grand Mufti from Syria and esteemed leaders from Iraq, Lebanon, and so on. People have come on this stage to deliver and support the message of peace, non-violence, and love even from those parts of the world that are still struggling with violence and bitter conflict.
“Dear Gurudev, the glory you have bestowed upon us all by organizing this grand World Culture Festival is without a second. You have centered the festival upon the most relevant and contextual subject today, which is truly the need of the hour for everyone, and by doing so, have brought greater pride to us all. Through this tremendous platform, you have elevated the glory and grandeur of yoga and Indian music, culture, and art.This is India’s soft power that we often refer to and use in political discussions. You have managed to bring together an unparalleled confluence of art and music in this momentous event. I once again express my deepest thanks to you Gurudev.”
“Greetings from Rome, greetings from the Pope!
“I note with great satisfaction that The Art of Living is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. I would like to wish you all, and of course Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, many more years of growth in working towards promoting peace and human dignity.
“One of the great ways to foster peace and harmony in the world today is through the work done at a person-to-person level. The Art of Living, over three and a half decades, has earned its place as a leader in this important work and I congratulate you for this work. The people gathered here today have such visible joy and serenity, that it is a testament of this fact.
“Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and of course people from the religion I share, Christianity, give an incredible testimony that the Art of Living helps people to get more in whatever faith or tradition they follow. Your work in promoting and fostering international peace within the religions and between the nations of the world based on the interior peace of human beings is to be commended most highly."
“As I witness the World Culture Festival unfold before my eyes, I cannot help but go back and remember the glory of Indian culture and our rich heritage. The credo for Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam once raised by India today seems to have become a visible reality in this grand confluence. Artists have come from different states and numerous provinces of India, and we also have so many artistes and performers from different countries of the world who have gathered here today to showcase their art and cultural excellence.
“There are so many communities and spiritual or religious traditions in the world today, and each of them has their unique significance, beauty, and relevance as per the place, time, and end purpose. When revered and holy spiritual traditions abandon their original purpose and get corrupted by limited political motives or other causes, then it begins to create cracks and divisions in the society as well. This phenomenon has been observed many times in the past as well as through the ages.
“I am extremely happy and moved to see the grand panorama of the World Culture Festival. Till date, I have never seen such a large gathering of mankind in one place. The founder of this festival, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji, is a seeker and a Siddha belonging to this very Vedic tradition and he has done a lot to promote and preserve Indian culture everywhere. People from so many countries have gathered here today to participate in this grand event.
“I would also wish to confer my blessings and best wishes upon Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji, who has, through his tireless efforts, spread the message of Indian culture, which is that of love and peace in more than 150 countries. I pray that in the future too he continues to have an even greater success in organizing such grand events.”
Deputy Chief Minister, New Delhi, India
“It is a matter of great joy and my good fortune to witness so many noble souls and wonderful people from all across the world assembled here today for a grand and great cause. I strongly believe that you have blessed us all by arranging this divine congregation of saints and holy spiritual leaders from different parts of India and the many countries of the world.
“The whole world today is looking up to India, and this glimpse of the universality of Indian culture, the founding principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, has become a reality today before us in this august occasion of the World Culture Festival.”
Founder and Head of Tulsi Peeth, Mathura, India
“Every religion or spiritual tradition has had brilliant speakers and apostles to propagate and spread its message. However, there isn’t a particular designated apostle of the Vedic Sanatana Dharma, because even God is regarded as the follower of the same.
“The Indian culture is the most ancient of all civilizations and cultures and it is this culture that has given the legacy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam to the entire world. This cultural festival has clearly shown that the day is not far when India shall once again ascend to the exalted seat of being a Vishvaguru (Guru to the whole world) and shall give the message of peace and harmony to everyone everywhere. I would urge you all to protect, preserve, and take pride in our cultural wealth and legacy, and also to strive to realize that there is but one divinity within all beings everywhere.”
- Mr. Nikhil Sen
- Mr. Jeff Houk
- Mr .Hillary Chongwony
- Shri Venkaiah Naidu
- Mr. Kjell Magne Bondevik
- Mr. Mathew Offord
- Hon. Hernon Penagos
- Mr. Jo Leinen
- Mr. Nirj Deva
- Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad
- Mr. Arun Jaitley
- Mr. Amit Shah
- Hon. Armin Laschet
- Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo
- Mr. Piyush Goel
- Mr. Geoffrey Van Orden
- Mr. Suresh Prabhu
- Sumitra Mahajan
- Mr. Arvind Kejriwal
- Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
- Mr. Khil Raj Regmi
Chairman, SSRVM Trust, India
"Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's love and compassion is famous all over the world. "There’s no one except Gurudev who could have pulled off grand cultural extravaganza"
“Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has inspired volunteers in over 160 countries throughout the world. Conflict resolution, trauma relief, and transforming the educational system are paramount visions of Gurudev and the Art of Living.
“Gurudev's vision of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam (one-world family) is just beginning here at the WCF and this is the time to renew our commitment, our inspiration, and to move from here throughout the world, transforming one person, one family, one community at a time."
Deputy Governor of the Bungoma Region of Kenya
“I am very grateful to be a part of the Global Leadership Forum (GLF) and the WorldCultural Festival. We need to be one family and we need to spread this to each and every part of the world. What a great feeling to have people come from various parts and various continents of his world. It is a great testimony that we can be one family on this planet Earth."
Union Minister for Urban Development, Government of India
"Gurudev has been working tirelessly for universal peace and he has the capacity to mesmerize people and bring them together to work with dedication, devotion, and discipline.
“If we go and see the river Yamuna now, it is very clean and green. I hope that by spreading Gurudev’s message of love, harmony, and wisdom, many more minds will be transformed and the society and eventually the whole world will be cleansed and will become a better place. We should all join hands and move forward with this message.
“The dedication with which so many artistes and musicians have assembled here in their own traditional native attires to showcase their art and cultural heritage in such a dignified manner is commendable. I am also amazed at the volunteers of the Art of Living for the amount of work they have done silently and diligently despite the difficult times and violent reactions from some other people."
Former Prime Minister of Norway
“All of us present here today want to live in peace. We must all live in peace – peace with our neighbors, between nations, and across ethnic and religious borders.
“We all have several common values even with our diversities. We all believe in human dignity and consequently, human rights. We all believe in the idea of justice. We all believe in the idea of peace. So, let’s use dialogue, let’s listen to each other, understand and respect each other, and create an inclusive multicultural society all over the world, as you are doing here.
“India is a great nation and I bring greetings from Norway, a small but peace-loving country. Both India and Norway have adopted democracy. We both fight for human rights and this is the foundation for lasting peace. We all want to live in peace and harmony.”
Conservative Member of the Parliament, United Kingdom
“People say that no man can change the world, but we know that Sri Sri has made a good start. With representatives from 160 countries, the Art of Living has extended its reach around the world to introduce stability, comfort, and support for people who need it. We often hear of the dangers of the world, but I am pleased today that we are seeing a beacon of hope.
“The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. David Cameron, has asked me to give you a short message and he says:
- ‘Let me start by congratulating the Art of Living Foundation on its 35th anniversary. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s vision of a one-world family is an example to us all. As is the foundation's works of promoting peace, harmony, and understanding between people of all different faiths, nationalities, and backgrounds.
- ‘I would like to also extend an invitation to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to visit the United Kingdom, that he please visit us in the House of Parliament and in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. I can assure him of a great welcome. London has a population of seven million. So we may not be able to achieve the number like here tonight, but we will certainly receive him with a very warm welcome.’”
Member of Parliament, Columbia
“Dear Gurudev, you have really showed us that we can live in harmony amid diversity. You gave all of us in Latin America a big lesson. You are bringing us closer to the idea of a one-world family.
“Gurudev's teachings have brought a lot of hope for the Columbian people. You have contributed to change the mindset of those who were creating war in Columbia. That is why, Gurudev, on behalf of the Columbian Parliament, and personally, I want to express my great admiration, gratitude, and love for you. I hope all your teachings manage to reach the rest of the world, so that we can all live in harmony and love.”
Member of the European Parliament
“This is one of the most impressive and most outstanding gatherings to take place in this whole world. I urge everyone to live the message of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The world needs inspiration from India. I think yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda should be a world heritage that must be practiced everywhere, and then I think we would have a better world.
“I would like to extend my congratulations to Gurudev for signing The Global Coalition for Renewable Energies.
"Let’s all go away from this event much stronger, with new ideas and new friends. Let’s walk together to make the world a better place."
Member of European Parliament, representing UK
“The one-world family has developed amazing new tools to come together. The world has become smaller. Social media(through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on) constantly drive an underlying sense of togetherness. A cycle of hopes and aspirations is in motion.
“Though we have terrorism, refugees, and so on, all these problems are solvable. So we have more work to do. We have one billion people more to remove from extreme poverty. We have to protect our environment we have to protect our water resources.
“I urge the gathering to take a pledge towards achieving this end.”
Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Government of India
“This is a vast, endless ocean of culture. There is no pollution here, instead a beautiful flow and display of culture before us. The environment here is not under any threat or disturbance. Here there are only smiles, happiness, and an exchange of world cultures. It really depends on what one wants to see!
“Lord Krishna began this once upon a time at the banks of the River Yamuna, but the tradition and values has continued to be so alive and intact even today. I have never seen such a vast sea of people in my life. The efforts made by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji has made it possible for people to come together from Argentina to Russia, from Kenya to Germany, from Nepal to Bangladesh, from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, from USA to Europe, and then of course India herself! This is true diversity.
“From the principles, the experiences, and the sheer environment you have helped rekindle and promote through this Maha Kumbh of the World Culture Festival, may the message of peace, compassion, and universal brotherhood spread far and wide. May we all walk together and always work towards bringing everyone together and bring greater peace and happiness to one and all.”
Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, [Government of India]
“I am amazed at the short duration of 35 years in which people from so many countries around the world have been attracted to the Art of Living. This admirable and unparalleled effort that Gurudev has made is without a second and truly amazing.
“The strength and uniqueness of this is that many attempts were made to stop the World Culture Festival, but after seeing this scene here today, it seems clear that the environment too is very clean and beautiful and rejoicing too!"
“I feel that a country like India, that has the power and capacity to bring together and honor different cultures and civilizations of the world, is in itself the cradle of civilizations.
"It is a matter of pride that you have thought India worthy of hosting such a grand festival and this message of peace and harmony goes out from New Delhi to the entire world."
President, Bharatiya Janta Party, India
“After watching this program, not only India, but the entire world has been mesmerized. The whole world tries to come together through the medium of business and trade. But you, Gurudev, through the medium of culture, have made an extremely successful initiative to unite and bring the whole world together. This is so clearly proven and visible here today.
“I am convinced that in the times to come, this commendable initiative of the Art of Living will go down in the cultural history of the world in golden letters and will find a very unique place of its own in the annals of the history of the world. The World Culture Festival will forever be remembered as an event that hoisted the flag of Indian culture at the grandest pinnacle.
“For this grand initiative of the World Culture Festival, I personally congratulate and wish all the volunteers and members of the Art of Living family who have been engaged for many months. You have created a very successful event. I once again extend a special thanks to Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar from the bottom of my heart on behalf of the Bharatiya Janta Party and all its members across the country.”
Deputy Chairman of the Ruling Christian Democratic Party, Germany
“The previous World Cultural Festival was held in 2011 in Berlin and our Chancellor Angela Merkel then sent a message of peace and freedom to all participants. Now, coming from Berlin to the World Culture Festival, I would like to give my best wishes to India and to New Delhi.
“I wish that the spirit of Sri Sri, the spirit of this act of understanding, the spirit of this Festival will change the world in the days, months, and years to come. Let’s work together on this project of peace.”
Former President of Nigeria
“I come from Africa, the cradle of humanity. Over two hundred thousand years ago, humanity began in Africa. Most religions in the world believe in one God and one humanity. This is the commonality among all of us. But since the existence of humans in Africa, dispersion has taken place to Asia, to Europe, and later to America, and because of this dispersion, cultural differences have come about.
“When you look at what I have seen in the last three days over here—the dances, the music, the singing—you can see this similarity of culture in spite of the dispersion over thousands and thousands of years from Africa. We have so much that brings us together and so much that unites us as compared to the things that divide us in terms of the culture of the world.
“When there are differences, let’s continue to appreciate our culture, which this World Culture Festival has brought us to appreciate. Let’s dance, let’s sing, let’s make merry, let’s have fun, and let’s join hands and move forward together because that is the purpose of our existence in this world.”
Minister for Coal, New, and Renewable Energy, Government of India
“I felicitate and congratulate Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji and thank him for giving India’s message of peace and harmony to the entire world through the platform of this colossal event – the World Culture Festival 2016.
“We have advocated the principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakamfor countless ages. We have always believed that the world is one family. All of us gathered here today, who have had the good fortune to participate and attend the World Culture Festival, should take this message of peace and a one-world family—treating all human beings as brothers and sisters—to all parts of the world. This message transcends religion, nations, and all other boundaries and binds humanity today.
“I would like to acknowledge and thank Pujya Gurudev for taking the message of clean energy and sustainable development and the mission to eliminate world poverty to a completely new level through the World Culture Festival. His message has reached the entire world loud and clear.”
Member of the Conservative Party, United Kingdom
“I would firstly like to congratulate all the performers and all the organizers and volunteers behind this amazing festival! We can all learn from one another. Duty, faith, and tolerance should be our guide. A world community of peaceful, free nations and a one-world family should be our aim."
Union Minister for Railways, Government of India
“In some part of India or other, every day or at least every month, we have some festival. The World Culture Festival is a very unique festival in which over 155 countries have come to participate. It is like looking at a mini United Nations. In the UN, you have the Security Council to look into and provide a secure future to the world. I think this festival is the best way to bring about security in the world by uniting different cultures and people from different backgrounds together.
“I am sure that when we go back home, we shall go back as a single entity, thinking of a common goal – peace for the whole world. I thank Gurudev for making this event possible. He has really become a global ambassador for peace, prosperity, and cultural unity. I look forward to many more such events taking place in India.”
Speaker of the Lok Sabha, India
“I marvel at the fact that though so many artistes in each ensemble have come from different parts of the country and the world, and were playing on instruments made in different places, the notes that came out were the exact same!
"I am very sure that a message of love will spread to the entire world. The message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and Krunvanto Vishwam Aryam – let us build an ideal, cultured and peaceful society – shall definitely go out into the whole world."
Chief Minister, New Delhi, India
“We have members of state, members of parliament, politicians, artists, and many other people gathered here today from over 155 countries to witness this huge gathering of humanity at one place. This is truly astonishing. More than 4,500 artists performed together on a stage spanning 7 acres – this is divine, this is amazing! This is only possible because of Gurudev and his efforts of spreading the message of peace and harmony through the medium of culture and spirituality to every part of the world. That is the reason so many people from different countries of the world have come here.
“In the world today, on one side you have people trying to create an environment of hatred and violence. But I strongly believe that violence cannot be cured by violence in turn. Violence and hatred can only be won over by love and peace.
“This is the very message that Gurudev is giving us all today through spirituality, and through his love and compassion. I wish to dearly congratulate Pujya Gurudev for having organized such a grand festival here and also thank him for inviting me to this event, because of which I got a chance to witness such a spectacular event.”
Spiritual leader and founder of The Art of Living, India
“A year back, when the thought came to me to organize the World Culture Festival, we visited this area and we felt that there was such bad odor in the area. People told me that when no one can stand in this area for more than five minutes, then how can we hold a three-day event?
“I told them, ‘It is our job to remove bad odor and spread fragrance everywhere.’ You all heard that voice and took up the challenge and the job to organize this event. All the volunteers in Delhi worked so hard, and despite many challenges never stopped working for the event.
“There is one more thing I want to share with you all. This stage on which we are all seated is unique in itself. There has never been a stage of this kind anywhere in the world.The foundation for this stage has not been dug deep into the ground. This stage of the World Culture Festival is a floating stage; there is no ground foundation laid for this stage. Many people fail to understand this, and they cannot conceive of such a stage. They often reason that if you have built a 40-feet-high stage, then the foundation for such a stage would have had to be deep into the ground. I tell them that Mother Earth has blessed and supported us as ifShe is supporting and upholding the stage in Her own hands!
“Then people said ‘Gurudev, it is very unsafe.’ I replied, ‘Do not worry, my dear. There is a power that is looking after everyone’s safety’.
“When we are strong and established from within, then we can provide safety and security to the whole world. When we are shaky inside, then we cannot do so. Our job is to unite the hearts and minds of everyone, and this we will continue doing with a smile. When nature posed some challenges in this process, then also it could not deter anyone from their enthusiasm.
“Yesterday, I told the organizers that we will close the event at 9 pm, but people continued to dance even in the drizzling rain post 9pm. This shows our hearts are in the right place and nothing can shake us. Our job is to move the world through love, compassion, dedication, and service. We had formed a reception committee that was honored by Hon’ble Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali when he accepted to be its chairman.
“Our Former Chief Justice, Mr. R.C. Lahoti, also became co-chair in the committee. Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali was the sixth Secretary General of the United Nations. On 16th February, he passed away from this world. Today, he is not with us in physical form, but his spirit is with us. Looking upon this grand event, I am sure he must be feeling so happy and pleased. We thank his family – we appreciate them and extend our warm greetings to them. It is unfortunate that some in the media commented on Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, because a man of his stature should be honored. I request our journalists and media to be more sensitive to such issues.
“You may choose to throw a 100 stones my way, and I am ready to receive them all, for every stone will become a stepping stone to success. But when it comes to such eminent personalities, who are respected all over the world, we should extend great respect to them instead of addressing them with unfortunate titles and names such as ‘dead man’. This was pinching my heart for quite some time now, so I thought I should give this message through this platform, so that his family members get a sense of relief and peace. Some people may commit such mistakes, but India and so many countries in the world have very high respect for great personalities like Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali. We should all move forward with enthusiasm and take everyone together. We must thank all the committee members and all the volunteers who have worked so hard for the success of this event.”
Former Prime Minister of Nepal
“Seeing the participation and presence of people from around the globe at the World Cultural Festival, I feel that the Festival has been able to give life to a one-world family, which has been the objective of the Art of Living.
“I extend my gratitude to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and to all members of the Art of Living.”