Sri Sri Ravishankar: Founder

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.

The Beginning

Born in 1956 in Southern India, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was a gifted child. By the age of four, he was able to recite parts of the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Sanskrit scripture, and was often found in meditation. He holds degrees in, both, Vedic literature and physics.

In 1982, Sri Sri entered a ten-day period of silence in Shimoga located in the Indian state of Karnataka and in that silence, Sudarshan Kriya – a powerful breathing technique – was born. Later Sudarshan Kriya became the centerpiece of the Art of Living courses.

Founding The Art of Living and The IAHV

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar founded The Art of Living as an international, non-profit, educational, and humanitarian organization. The educational and self-development programs of the Art of Living provide powerful tools to eliminate stress and improve well-being. These programs include breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, and practical wisdom for daily living which have helped millions around the world to transform their lives.

In 1997, he also founded the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) to coordinate sustainable development projects, nurture human values and coordinate conflict resolution in association with The Art of Living. In India, Africa and South America, the two sister organizations’ volunteers are spearheading sustainable growth in rural communities, and have already reached out to 40,212 villages

One World Family

Sri Sri is engaged in bridging religious, social, ideological and economic divides in society by enlivening the ancient Indian ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One World Family). He reminds us that diverse traditions and cultures have their roots in the same basic human values of peace, compassion, truth, belongingness and non-violence. IAHV serves society with a non-denominational, secular and holistic approach.

Inspiring Service and Globalizing Wisdom

Sri Sri is a multi-faceted social activist and humanitarian leader whose initiatives include conflict resolution, disaster and trauma relief, poverty alleviation, empowerment of women, prisoner rehabilitation, education for all and campaigns against female feoticide and child labour. He is engaged in peace negotiations and counseling in conflict zones around the world. His expertise in bringing opposing parties to the negotiating table in areas such as Iraq, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Kashmir and Bihar is widely acknowledged.

He has brought to the masses ancient practices which were traditionally kept exclusive, and has designed many self-development techniques which can easily be integrated into daily life to calm the mind and instill confidence and enthusiasm. These techniques have helped thousands overcome depression, violent and suicidal tendencies.

Sri Sri leads a worldwide network of volunteers to bring immediate relief and long term rehabilitation to people affected by disasters. Under his inspiration, IAHV adopts a unique approach of holistic healing and recovery. The main thrust of its relief work is to not only to bring material aid to those in need, but also tend to the mental and emotional needs of disaster hit victims. Sri Sri developed unique trauma relief workshop that help survivors to free themselves from the trauma experienced during and after a disaster, increasing their mental clarity and capacity of individuals. These workshops teach simple yet powerful breathing, sound and meditation techniques which provide deep healing and help survivors rekindle their inner strength, self-confidence and motivation. IAHV has brought physical & mental solace, emergency material relief and long term rehabilitation for affected people in the aftermath of almost every major disaster in the world.

Empowering communities through grassroots initiatives, IAHV has empowered rural communities to become partners in the process of sustainable development. Sri Sri started the 5H Programmes (Homes, Hygiene, Health, Harmony in Diversity and Human Values) in 1997 to engineer a socio-economic transformation that will eradicate poverty, misery and disease and ensure peace and harmony among communities. The 5H programme is implemented by rural youth trained under Youth Leadership Training Programme (YLTP). In India alone, 110,000 trained youth leaders are working in 40,212 villages. The 5H projects are operating in villages and slums across Africa, Asia and South America.

Under the inspiration and guidance of Sri Sri, 421 schools have been set up providing free education to 43572 children every year in the tribal, rural and semi-urban belts of India, where child-labour and poverty are widespread.

Sri Sri has inspired numerous initiatives to uplift and create opportunities for women, especially in rural areas. He has initiated mass campaigns against female foeticide. With female literacy rates abysmally low in some parts of the world, the Art of Living rural schools encourage parents to send girl children to school. At one such school on the outskirts of Bangalore city, 48% of the children are girls, with the numbers rising every year. Women are given vocational training to reduce economic dependencies, and are given free homes registered in their names. Health education for women covers nutrition, hygiene and disease prevention, while self-development courses help to instill inner confidence.

“A disease-free body, a stress-free mind and a violence-free society are the birth right of every individual,” says Sri Sri. He has designed a myriad of self-development programmes to release stress, create a sense of well-being, restore human values and encourage individuals from all walks of life to come together in a spirit of service and celebration.

Since 1990, over 350,000 prisoners in countries such as India, USA, South Africa, Denmark, Cameroon, UAE, Serbia, Argentina, UK, Argentina and Russia have been provided the opportunity to reform them, and break the cycles of violence, guilt and self blame, through the Prison Smart Program. In India, 100,000 inmates, including terrorists, in over 100 jails have been provided an opportunity for serious rehabilitation. To provide a more holistic rehabilitative intervention, Sri Sri has also initiated recreational opportunities such as theatre, music and dance workshops and vocational training for inmates. In cooperation with the jail authorities, production units have been started in select jails.

Sri Sri has initiated drug de-addiction programmes to help people come out of drugs, alcohol and substance dependencies which have been highly effective in USA, India, Mongolia and Bahrain. In India, de-addiction centers are operating in West Bengal, Punjab, Delhi, Kolkata, Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Thanks to the education imparted by the 5H programme, thousands of villagers have given up alcohol and other addictions, reducing the incidence of domestic violence.

A Figure of Peace

Sri Sri is an ambassador of peace. He plays a key role in conflict resolution, spreading his vision of non-violence at public forums and gatherings worldwide. He is regarded as a neutral figure with peace as his sole agenda, representing hope to people in conflict. He is credited with bringing hostile parties to the negotiating table in Iraq, the Ivory Coast, Kashmir, and Bihar.

Through his initiatives and addresses, Sri Sri has consistently emphasized the need to reinforce human values and recognize humanity as our highest identity. He has fostered interfaith harmony and called for multi-cultural education as the remedy for fanaticism and to achieve sustainable peace on our planet.

His work has touched the lives of millions of people around the world, going beyond the barriers of race, nationality, and religion with the message of a “one-world family.” He has shown that inner and outer peace are possible and that a stress-free, violence-free society can be created through service and by reawakening human values.

Key Addresses

Sri Sri addresses diverse forums, including: the World Economic Forum, World Health Organization, the United Nations, and the European Parliament. He has also hosted symposiums including: the Truth & Reconciliation Conference (2007), International Conference on Human Values (2006), and the annual Corporate Culture and Spirituality Symposiums.

In a 2007 address to the United Nations, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar proposed the Universal Declaration of Human Values (Read PDF), which presents a fresh approach to fostering understanding and harmonious coexistence among different peoples and cultures, necessary for the UN to meet it’s Millennium Development goals.

Sri Sri’s focus on human values represents a fresh vision for socioeconomic development as well as fosters harmonious co-existence among different peoples and cultures.

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