With millions of followers in India as well as across the globe, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has redefined the paradigm of spiritualism. In an exclusive interview with Zeenews.com’s Swati Chaturvedi on her show Kahiye Janab, the founder of Art of Living shares his views on corruption, spiritual awakening and lots more.
Swati: You have been involved in so many conflict resolutions. You were part of conflict resolution in Sri Lanka. Why have you not been able to do the same in India? Corruption is rampant in the country. The political divide is glaring.
Sri Sri: We constantly try to attempt conflict resolution in India as well. We went to Rajasthan during the Gujjar movement; we are also trying to resolve differences in the Maoist areas. We will definitely go and try to resolve conflicts wherever possible.
Swati: What do you have to say about the conflicts across the political spectrum?
Sri Sri: Real conflicts can always be resolved. But dramatised conflicts are something that cannot be done away with. How do you resolve a (dramatic) conflict which does not exist at all?
Swati: Are we forgetting the real issues and diverting our attention to just allegations and mud-slinging?
Sri Sri: Be it a social cause or a political cause, I feel everything is becoming more or less like a business. We are increasingly becoming a self-centred society. We are least bothered about working for the benefit of the society. Personal gain is the priority today. It is like - first me - then the party - and at last the country. That is why I keep saying, unless there is spiritual renaissance, reform is not possible.
Swati: Recently Digvijay Singh said Plan A - Baba Ramdev, Plan B - Anna, Plan C - Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Don’t you feel hurt when political leaders pass such comments?
Sri Sri: You can’t help it you know. Everyone in this country has his/her right to express, display or exhibit ignorance. But the bottom-line is that the public knows everything.
Swati: There is so much chaos everywhere. Lokpal Bill is yet to be passed by Parliament. People are so restless. A youth even went to the extent of slapping Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. What do you feel when you see all this?
Sri Sri: The entire society is restless today. This is like a phase which comes and goes. This too shall pass and a renewed vigour and enthusiasm will replace everything.
Swati: You recently embarked on a series of Satsangs in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. What did you discover?
Sri Sri: It was more of a people’s yatra. People from tribal regions such as Sonbhadra and Chamauli walked almost 35 kilometres to be a part of the yatra. They also took pledge against paying bribes and corruption. It was overwhelming to see such a huge mass support. I think it is the spiritual awakening that enables people to follow rules and orders, maintain discipline and become upright.
Swati: So many allegations have been levelled against Team Anna. What do you have to say on the whole issue?
Sri Sri: This was expected. Those who speak about corruption or those who try to expose wrongdoings are bound to face such things. I agree that you should practice what you preach. If you are in the wrong, you can’t point fingers at others. It is very important to introspect. But it is also true that you cannot make a mountain out of a molehill. There are bigger scams and scandals that ought to be focussed upon. Petty things such as savings on airfares and such issues are not the real issue. The real issue is something else and that needs to be addressed. But yes, keeping a spotless image is a must.
Swati: Has aam-aadmi become a mere slogan?
Sri Sri: If you are empathetic towards the aam-aadmi, you should not think about the slogan. Working for the common man is what is required.
Swati: There is so much price rise. Inflation is taking a huge toll on the common people.
Sri Sri: Definitely there are problems and over the years they have aggravated. But I feel, at times, we should learn to take responsibility, stop this blame game and find solutions ourselves. It is always wise to find a solution to a problem rather than crib about it.
Swati: Is the alternative (if any) going to be better than this?
Sri Sri: People have become quite cynical. They have lost trust. They at times don’t even want to vote. But we always tell the people to cast their vote. I also feel that the youth can be a big medium of change. The future of our country lies in the hands of the youth. They have the power to change this country.
Swati: What according to you is the biggest problem that the country is facing today?
Sri Sri: Corruption, inflation and alcoholism.
Swati: People are beginning to have to a lot of faith in the civil society. How long will this last?
Sri Sri: There are tens of thousands of people in this civil society with thousands and thousands of ideas. It is not possible to have a homogenous group within groups. But the aim should be one. Right now the aim is to have a strong Lokpal Bill.
Swati: Is Lokpal Bill a magic wand?
Sri Sri: The Lokpal Bill alone cannot solve the ubiquitous corruption that seems to govern both politics and everyday life in India. It can only be removed by instilling the feeling of national kinship.
Swati: Can you name one leader who can bring a ray of hope?
Sri Sri: That is for the people to decide. I would only appeal to the people to weigh all the pros and cons before choosing their leader. They should not vote on the basis of caste or religion. They should also not exercise their franchise in lieu of money.
Swati: What is your message to the country and the leaders?
Sri Sri: Put your country first. Put it above everything else. Only the principles of humanism can lead the country towards prosperity.
Adapted by Reema Sharma