Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar visits Atlanta
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living and the International Association for Human Values (IAHV), visited Atlanta on November 9-11.
On November 9, Atlanta hosted “I Stand for Peace” gathering as part of a global campaign launched by Gurudev earlier this year. Organized at Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia, it was a beautiful evening of music, wisdom, meditation, and inspiration, led by Gurudev.
(L to R) Reverend Gerald Durley, Ambassador Andrew Young, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Dean Lawrence Carter.
Newly-elected Congressman, Rich McCormick; the Consul General of India in Atlanta, Dr. Swati Kulkarni; Sandy Springs Mayor, Rusty Paul; founder of National Monuments Foundation, Rodney Cook; and former pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church, Reverend Dr. Gerald Durley assisted Gurudev in lighting the ceremonial lamp to kick off the evening’s events. The event was attended by over a thousand people.
A dialog at Georgia Tech on “Mental Wellness in Campus Life.”
On November 10, the Georgia Institute of Technology hosted a dialog with Gurudev titled “Mental Wellness in Campus Life.” The Exhibition Hall was packed with over six hundred students who posed questions to Gurudev on a variety of topics, ranging from managing the stress of academics, dealing with anger and anxiety, developing emotional resilience, to even style and fashion! The audience was enthralled by Gurudev’s inimitable combination of wit and wisdom. He led the assembly through a deep meditation that left everyone calm yet energized. Gurudev also met with Tech faculty members who shared their ideas and thoughts about developing sustainable and holistic solutions for the mental health crisis among young people, especially students. Art of Living’s Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) programs are regularly conducted at Georgia Tech, and discussions have begun about a collaboration with Sri Sri University to expand the reach of these workshops.
[Right] Gurudev garlands the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the King Center.
Gurudev pays homage to Gandhi at MLK Center
The Gandhi Foundation USA presented Gurudev with the Gandhi Peace Pilgrim award on November 10. This award was given to Gurudev to honor his outstanding service to humanity and tireless efforts to bring change to the world, as epitomized by the Gandhi- King teaching of peace and non-violence. Gurudev received the award from chairman Subhash Razdan in front of the majestic statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Isaac Farris, nephew of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and Dr. Kulkarni graced the occasion.
“Certain messages are timeless messages. In this category, Martin Luther King’s and Mahatma Gandhi’s messages are very relevant. They are fresh to every age in every generation. Sometimes it becomes even more relevant. In today’s world, where we are facing such polarization and tension, the message of peace must be heard loud and clear,” said Gurudev as he accepted the award.
After the award presentation ceremony, Gurudev led the gathering in a peace walk to the King crypts and laid wreaths at the crypts of Dr. King and his wife Coretta Scott King. He was accompanied by Dr. Kulkarni, Razdan, Farris, and Barbara Harrison, Director of International affairs at King Center.
[Top] Gurudev at the Emory University Town Hall.
A talk with Ambassador Andrew Young
On the morning of November 11, Gurudev joined Ambassador Andrew Young at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel for an illuminating conversation on creating a peaceful society. The talk was moderated by Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., Professor of Religion and Founding Dean of the Chapel; and Dr. Reverend Gerald Durley, Pastor Emeritus of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. Gurudev reminded the audience of the power present in each individual to create a world free from violence and racial discrimination.
A talk at Emory University on “Burnout in Academia and Healthcare”
In the afternoon, Gurudev addressed an audience of two hundred and fifty people at the Goodrich White Hall at Emory University. The topic was “Burnout in Academia and Healthcare.” Increased memory power, intuitive abilities, and creativity arise from a calm and collected mind, and meditation is the best way to calm the mind, he urged. Gurudev answered a number of questions from students ranging from creating worklife balance, improving focus and concentration, dealing with failures, and the impact of social media on mental health.
To everyone he met and spoke with, Gurudev extended an invitation to the World Culture Festival, a global event planned for September 2023 to be hosted by the Art of Living. Gurudev envisions the World Culture Festival as a global event that celebrates diversity in all forms and sends a powerful message of peace from the United States to the rest of the world.
—Art of Living Foundation, Atlanta and Ravi R. Ponangi
[Top] Gurudev in a discussion with Reverend Gerald Durley, Ambassador Andrew Young, and Dean Lawrence Carter.
Khabar Q & A with Gurudev
Deepa Agarwal from Khabar met with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Atlanta for a brief Q & A on his message to the world about peace, life, and love. Following are excerpts from the interview.
[Top] Gurudev’s inimitable mix of wisdom and wit left the audience mesmerized.
Human beings are supposedly the most intelligent animals on Earth. Yet, we don’t hesitate to hurt each other for the sake of our pride and ego. Dictatorial regimes commit atrocities daily in their quest and greed for power, and the impunity with which wars are waged and human lives obliterated makes one wonder if peace even has a fighting chance.
If you look back in history, such instances are nothing new for mankind. In known history, there have only been 270 years when there has been no war. Because of the media, everyone comes to know about it now. Otherwise, one would never have known about wars in say, Africa or New Zealand or other remote parts of Asia. Now, it appears to be too big because of the media. There have been massacres in North America where Native Americans have suffered here and in Canada. However, the voice of peace will always reign. Truth will always triumph. Though there may be momentary setbacks, finally peace will prevail.
Social media has become an inherent part of our lives; and while, in many instances, it has helped us connect with friends and family, for the most part, it has isolated people. People, nowadays, spend more time on their phones than with real people. It has also caused people, especially the younger generation, to associate their self-worth with the validation they receive on social media in the form of likes and comments they get on their posts and pictures. The “fear of missing out” has led to a rise in mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. How can parents help their children cope with these issues?
I see that intensity of social media is already waning from what it was a few years back. When anything comes new in society, it comes with a bang. But it fades with time. [Being] social is essential. It has positive sides just as also negative sides. Parents must engage kids in real-time. When children are busy with extra-curricular activities and spend time with their friends and family, they will be too busy to waste time on social media. Children have so much energy; and if you do not keep them engaged, then they are going to become couch potatoes and consequently overweight.
What is your advice for Indian parents raising their children in the United States or, for that matter, any foreign country? How do they balance their Indian values with local sensibilities?
That itself is a skill. I would advise parents to make their children’s roots stronger. Children should respect and take pride in their roots. It will help if you can take kids to India at least once a year. Moreover, children should be exposed to Indian cultural activities such as yoga, meditation, and Indian classical music and dance. These are all different ways to keep kids connected to our culture.
(L to R) Congressman Rich McCormick, Rodney Cook, Consul General Swati Kulkarni, Gurudev, Reverend Gerald Durley, and Mayor Rusty Paul.
What do you think is the meaning of life? Is life a blessing and a gift to be celebrated or a curse to attain moksha or mukti from?
No, life is definitely not a curse. In fact, you are given life to get mukti. There are four purusharthas: kama (desires), artha (economic values), dharma (righteousness), and moksha (liberation). All of the first three have to be fulfilled to attain moksha.
I believe that you had said in the past that “I only give what I have.” How do you have so much love and affection to share with people? Where do you go to fill your cup of life?
If you ask the sun: from where do you get this never- ending light to give to everybody, what do you think it will say? Or if you ask the river: you are flowing day and night, where do you get all this water from, what do you think it will say? It’s the inherent nature that guides us to do what we do.
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