Tuesday, February 23, 2016


In March 2016, the Art of Living Foundation will celebrate its 35 years in service. The world would witness a unique gathering of 3.5 million people from more than 150 countries in Delhi, India. At the World Culture Festival (#WCF2016), people would enjoy ethnic performances from different parts of the world, inspiring speeches by influential leaders and guided meditations by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Besides, the festival will also host the Global Leadership Forum- a conference for influential business leaders to share their experiences. Imagine the meditative silence by millions of people spread over 1000 acres of land! How much positivity should it generate? This has never occurred before.

However, many people still have a question- why are we doing it? Does the Art of Living wish to demonstrate its reach? But let me ask a reverse question once- Why shouldn't we do it? Isn't it something different and good? Otherwise, life becomes such a routine! We have our jobs on the weekdays and friends, movies or malls on the weekends. Is there something more that can make life further beautiful and uplifting? To grow as a human, we need to move our cheese. Add to that, service- an act for others' good.

Now, all of us must have done some selfless act in the past. Let's take our memory there. Was the experience fulfilling? For some instances during that act, did our worries and insecurities disappear? If the answer is yes, then what stops us from doing it more often? It's the pattern that we have been nurtured with since we were children which makes acts like service a rare occurrence in our lives. This is true for the masses throughout the world. And this is precisely the reason why the world faces so many troubles today.

A good man is normally a 'common' man. His interest in society is mostly limited to updating himself through the news, magazines or internet in leisure time. Are we useful enough for this earth? And look at a terrorist. Isn't his commitment, discipline and sacrifice for his cause very intense? It's very clear why only a handful of committed evil people are enough to create disturbance. We, the good people, are creating a world for our children where the trees would be scanty, the rivers polluted, the rhythm of seasons disturbed, the food with poison and the world with conflicts over differences. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says that a little bit of service by every individual is all that is needed to make the world better.

It's quite easy to doubt the intentions of the World Culture Festival. But doubts arise only about good things. To awaken billions of individuals across the globe from their routines, a huge bang is needed. Billions from every part of the world will think about accepting differences in beliefs when millions come together at one place. It's time to recognize that this world is one big family, that we can all co-exist with harmony, that it's time to make service a new routine, that it's time to protect our society and our environment.

And with you, there is a hope. That you will contribute to make this happen. That you will come to Delhi in March for the World Culture Festival and be a witness. Witness to something that promises a change. A change for more beautiful tomorrow. Your presence is needed. You are needed. To transform the dream of a more wonderful and violence free earth into reality. This time, let's come together!

The World Culture Festival #WCF2016

Expectedly, the world saw many dynamic changes in the last 100 years. The world moves by the strengths and aspirations of its children. Sometimes, these aspirations lead to peace and prosperity, and sometimes, blood-shed. Sometimes the aspirations of a few decide the course of direction that the world takes while sometimes it's the several lesser powerful ones who call the shots, amid years of conquest for a desirable change. Today, lets recall what major events have left their mark on this planet in this century.

Wars result due to leaders' quests to establish their geopolitical superiority. Collective wise actions by global leaders to contain tempers and prevent devastation have yielded significant results in some cases. Specifically, the establishment of the UN, the handling of the Cuban Missile crisis, the peace deal between the Columbian President Juan Santos and the FARC leader Ivan Marques after five decades of violence that took more than 200000 lives, brokered by Art of Living Foundation's Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the peace deal between the GAM and the Indonesian government after the loss of 15000 lives, brokered by Nobel laureate Martti Ahtisaari are key achievements.

Political leaders are, sometimes, compassionate too. The opening of doors by Germany, Austria and other European nations to millions of refugees from another continent, that can even potentially threaten the social and economic structure of Europe shows the willingness of leaders to embrace humanity and inclusive progress of the planet.

The fundamental need of people is to live in freedom and democracy. With freedom, comes peace and prosperity. And its only through peace, that liberation can happen. The people's desire to share and unite led to the fall of the Berlin wall. The quest to breathe fresh and free air led to collapse of the USSR. The 'tiredness of giving in' drove Rosa Parks to resist and instigate a voice for equality and respect. Nelson Mandela's speeches for liberty outlined the future course of South Africa. Mahatma Gandhi's message of Satyagraha as a way to revolt stirred the nation. The bold voice of the teen Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai echoed across the globe.

Many parts of the world treaded through dictatorship, monarchy and colonial rules before evolving to democracy and peace; or civil war. Some places had assertive, albeit majorly bloodless revolutions, while some others saw many a flesh cut. But fundamentally, what decides the direction a revolt takes? Undoubtedly, it's the social and personal ambitions of its leaders. It's the quest of a few powerful ones that made the directions go awry. The world has seen that any revolution where the decision makers were devoid of education in peace, acceptance and diversity has led to more injustice. Time and again, our sensitive mother earth has sent her messengers to guide the volatile minds of her children. They have led the world towards a safer haven without which, this planet would have become unliveable. Key amongst those who left a mark in this century are Swami Vivekananda and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar from India. May it be the 1893's Council of Religions in Chicago, or the 2014's mass meditation event in Argentina, where 1.5 lac Argentines meditated for peace. In his address, beginning with the unconventional 'Sisters and Brothers of America', Swami Vivekananda enlightened the world on futility to prove one's limited identity- his religion to be superior than others'.

And today, with the inconceivable acts of brutality in the Middle East and scare of terrorism in the rest of the world, the message of peace by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has become all the more essential. A mass movement to awaken the people from different religions to embrace diversity and acceptance, which can make the world peaceful, has been launched by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. This is set to leave a mark of unity on the planet. The World Culture Festival (WCF 2016) is a stepping stone in that direction. With leaders from political, business, religious, social & corporate sectors from almost all the countries in the world planning to participate, a loud message- louder than the one emanating from the Middle East is going to the world- the message that will inspire individuals to shun violence and accept people from diverse educational and religious backgrounds. The message of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam- that this world is made up of ONE BIG FAMILY. The threads of love and acceptance on this planet have just begun to weave!