THE BrandLaureate is pleased to award Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the BrandLaureate Lifetime Achievement Award in conjunction with his 60th Birthday on May 13, 2016. President of The BrandLaureate DrKKJohan and CEO Chew Bee Peng, made a special trip to Bangalore, India just to meet the peaceful and environmentally-loving man with thousands of fans and followers from around the world to celebrate the special occassion.
Citation for Gurudev Sri Sri Shankar
The BrandLaureate Hall of Fame – Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 recognises and honors Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar international stature as a universally revered spiritual, humanitarian leader and ambassador of peace.
Highly respected and admired globally, his vision of a violence-free, stress-free society through the reawakening of human values has remarkably inspired millions to broaden their spheres of responsibility and work towards the betterment of the world.
We live in a world filled with conflicts and wars and Gurudev’s vision and initiatives for a peaceful world is like a beacon shining out from the dark. His initiatives that include conflict resolution, disaster and trauma relief, poverty alleviation, empowerment of women, prisoner rehabilitation, education for all, engagement in peace negotiations and counselling in conflict zones around the world has slowly but surely bring us to the hall of peace.
Establishing the Art of Living Foundation, Gurudev has been able to spread his message of peace further. Starting from its base in Bangalore, the Foundation under the leadership of Gurudev has global footprints. Through its educational and self-development programs, the Foundation offers powerful tools to eliminate stress and foster a sense of well-being and these practices have been proven effective globally and at all levels of society.
Gurudev’s zeal and passion in achieving a world filled with peace and harmony has inspired millions of people who live his dream and carry forth his mission to build a world devoid of war and conflict, filling it with tolerance, understanding and most important of all respect and love for all.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Asia Pacific Brands Foundation, is most pleased to confer The BrandLaureate Hall of Fame – Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 to HRH Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and now I would like to call upon Dr. KKJohan, the President of the Asia Pacific Brands Foundation, its CEO, Ms. Chew Bee Peng, Mr. Ganesh Bhatt, the Liaison Director of The BrandLaureate in India to present the Award to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
May we all rise to give Gurudev a standing ovation.
The Art of Living Foundation
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is also the founder of the Art of Living Foundation (AOLF) – a volunteer based, humanitarian, educational, and non-governmental organization. Last year, The Asia Pacific Brands Foundations conferred the Brand Premiere Award to Sri Sri in Kuala Lumpur, on behalf of AOLF, for its peaceful and humanitarian missions around the world.
Established since 1981, with its international headquarters at Bangalore Ashram, AOLF has set up regional centers in more than 150 countries to uplift human values, through its disaster relief efforts and humanitarian programs, conducted through partner organisations.
Ravi Shankar, commonly known as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, was born on 13 May 1956 in Tamil Nadu, India. He is also frequently referred to simply as “Sri Sri” (honorific) or as Guruji or Gurudev. He is a spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Foundation created in 1981, which aims to relieve individual stress, societal problems, and violence. In 1997, he established a Geneva-based charity, the International Association for Human Values, an NGO that engages in relief work and rural development and aims to foster shared global values. For his service, he has received some of the highest awards of several countries including India, Peru, Colombia, and Paraguay. In January 2016, he was awarded the “Padma Vibhushan” by the Government of India.
Ravi Shankar was born in Papanasam, Tamil Nadu to Visalakshi Ratnam and R. S. Venkat Ratnam. He was named “Ravi” (a common Indian name meaning “sun”) because his birth was on a Sunday, and “Shankar” after the eighth-century Hindu saint, Adi Shankara, because it was also Shankara’s birthday. Ravi Shankar’s first teacher was Sudhakar Chaturvedi, an Indian Vedic Scholar and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Bangalore University (St Joseph’s College a Christian college). After graduation, Shankar travelled with his second teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, giving talks and arranging conferences on Vedic science, and setting up Transcendental Meditation and Ayurveda centres.
In the 1980s, Shankar initiated a series of practical and experiential courses in spirituality around the globe. He says that his rhythmic breathing practice, Sudarshan Kriya, came to him in 1982, “like a poem, an inspiration,” after a 10-day period of silence on the banks of the Bhadra River in Shimoga, in the state of Karnataka, adding, “I learned it and started teaching it”.
Shankar says that every emotion has a corresponding rhythm in the breath and that regulating the breath can help elevate the individual and help relieve personal suffering.
In 1983, Shankar held the first Art of Living course in Switzerland. In 1986, he travelled to Apple Valley, California in the US to conduct the first course to be held in North America.
PHILOSOPHY & TEACHINGS
On his birthday, Sri Sri said all he wants to focus now is teaching meditation, so that people can handle stress.
Shankar teaches that spirituality is that which enhances human values such as love, compassion and enthusiasm. It is not limited to any one religion or culture. Hence it is open to all people. He feels the spiritual bond we share as part of the human family is more prominent than nationality, gender, religion, profession, or other identities that separate us.
According to him, science and spirituality are linked and compatible, both springing from the urge to know. Emphasizing that joy is only available in the present moment, his stated vision is to create a world free of stress and violence. His programs are said to offer practical tools to help accomplish this. He sees breath as the link between body and mind, and a tool to relax the mind, emphasising the importance of both meditation/spiritual practice and service to others. In his view, “Truth is spherical rather than linear; so it has to be contradictory.”
The question, “Who am I?” leads to spirituality; the question, “What is this?” leads to science.
Sudarshan Kriya (Sanskrit: सुदर्शन क्रिया sudarśana-kriyā) is a breathing-based technique that is a core component of the Art of Living courses and “the cornerstone of . . . Art of Living Foundation’s trauma relief programs”. It involves Ujjayi breathing and Bhastrika in Vajrasana followed by rhythmic breathing in sukhasana.
A number of medical studies on its preparatory practices have been published in international peer-reviewed journals. A range of mental and physical benefits are reported in these studies, including reduced levels of stress (reduced cortisol—the “stress” hormone), improved immune system, relief from anxiety and depression (mild, moderate, and severe), increased antioxidant protection, and enhanced brain function (increased mental focus, calmness and recovery from stressful stimuli), among other findings.
Peace and Humanitarian Work
He visited Pakistan in 2004 on a “goodwill mission” and again in 2012 when he inaugurated Art of Living centers in Islamabad and Karachi. The Islamabad centre was burned down by armed men in March 2014.
During his visits to Iraq, at the invitation of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, in 2007 and again in 2008, he met with political and religious leaders to promote global peace. In November 2014, Ravi Shankar visited the relief camps in Erbil, Iraq. He also hosted a conference to address the dire condition of Yazidis and other non-Muslims in the region.
Ravi Shankar is involved in interfaith dialogue and currently sits on the Board of World Religious Leaders for the Elijah Interfaith Institute. Through interfaith summits in 2008 and 2010, he has been engaging faith-based leaders for collective action against HIV. In July 2013 at a meeting in UNAIDS headquarters in Geneva, issues including HIV prevention, gender based violence, stigma and discrimination were discussed.
In 2003, he initiated the Ethics in Business – Corporate Culture & Spirituality dialogue with an aim of strengthening human values and ethics in business. This evolved later on in the formation of the World Forum for Ethics in Business which convenes international conferences on ethics. World Summit on Ethics in Sports, a one-day event held in September 2014 at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, focused on “morality and openness” in sports.
In 1992, he started a prison programme to rehabilitate prison inmates and help them reintegrate into society. His volunteers assisted the 2004 tsunami victims, Hurricane Katrina victims, in Haiti, and many other regions of conflict and natural disaster.
Ravi Shankar “brokered” the peace deal between the Colombian government and the guerrilla movement FARC during his visit to Cuba in June 2015. The FARC agreed to follow the Gandhian principle of non-violence to attain its political objectives & social justice.
Volunteer For a Better India
VFABI is involved in many activities, including protest against the 2012 Delhi gang rape case, free health camps, and voter awareness and registrations in India.
NONVIO was launched as a nationwide movement by Shankar’s foundation in March 2013 with the aim of eliminating violence. It encourages individuals to pledge one act of non-violence through different social and online media and adopt nonviolent principles in government, public health, and media.
He was involved in the movement demanding a strong lokpal bill and was also one of the founders of the “India Against Corruption” movement. A three day World Cultural Festival held on 11–13 March on 35th anniversary of Art of Living.
In Shankar’s view, “Violence-free society, disease-free body, quiver-free breath, confusion-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, trauma-free memory, and sorrow-free soul is the birthright of every human being.”
AWARDS & RECOGNITION
- Padma Vibhushan, India’s Second Highest Civilian Award, January 2016
- Peru’s Highest Award, “Medalla de la Integracion en el Grado de Gran Oficial (Grand Officer)”
- Colombia’s highest civilian award, “Orden de la Democracia Simon Bolivar”
- Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builders Prize
- Highest civilian award ‘National Order of Merito de Comuneros, Paraguay, 13 September 2012
- Illustrious citizen by the Paraguayan Municipality, 12 September 2012
- Illustrious guest of the city of Asuncion, Paraguay, 12 September 2012
- Tiradentes Medal, the highest honour from Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil, 3 September 2012
- The Sivananda World Peace award, Sivananda Foundation, South Africa, 26 August 2012
- Crans Montana Forum Award, Brussels, 24 June 2011
- Culture in Balance Award, World Culture Forum, Dresden Germany, 10 October 2009
- Phoenix Award, Atlanta, USA, 2008
- Honorary Citizenship and Goodwill Ambassador, Houston, USA, 2008
- Proclamation of Commendation, New Jersey, USA 2008
- Sant Shri Dnyaneshwara World Peace Prize, Pune, India, 11 January 2007
- Order of the Pole Star, Mongolia, 2006
- Bharat Shiromani Award, New Delhi, India, 2005
- Doctorate – Universidad Autónoma de Asunción of Paraguay, Buenos Aires University, Argentina; Siglo XXI University Campus, Cordoba, Argentina; Nyenrode University, Netherlands; Gyan Vihar University, Jaipur; Kuvempu University, India.
In 2009, Shankar was named by Forbes Magazine as the 5th most powerful leader in India.