Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (Image: @srisri twitter)
Art of Living Founder and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been appointed by the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as a mediator to resolve the political crisis in the country. The spiritual guru will facilitate talks between the government and the Opposition. Addressing the media, President Maduro said that Sri Sri will not only help Venezuela but also Colombia in its peace dialogue with the FARC guerrilla group.
Visited Venezuela after a gap of eight years. President Nicolas Maduro received me warmly and listened to my ideas. We discussed the principles of non-violence and peace through dialogue. (1/4) pic.twitter.com/TCgUSNFLzS— Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (@SriSri) July 10, 2019
Earlier in the day, met with the Vice-president, Delcy Rodriguez, a dynamic leader. Discussed with her about conflict resolution, water management and agriculture. (2/4) pic.twitter.com/3ZFgF0qlZ9— Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (@SriSri) July 10, 2019
Could only meet teachers and few volunteers this time. I know there are a large number of people who practice the Art of Living in Venezuela. Next time we will have a public program. (4/4) pic.twitter.com/LOed9Y9tzF— Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (@SriSri) July 10, 2019
"We have agreed Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will help us in the peace processes as well as help Colombia in the dialogue for peace developed between the FARC guerrilla and the Colombian government. He has also been a mediator and has helped with his methods, in multiple conflicts at an international level. He is a man essentially of peace, he insisted a lot on the philosophy of Gandhi, on peace, on non-violence, on respect for diversity, on the meeting between people, and we are dedicated to this to work for peace of our country, for the happiness of our people for the national union," he said.
Here, we have listed the number of occasions, when Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was appointed as a mediator to bring in peace between two parties:
1. This is not the first time that Sri Sri has been given the task of bringing peace between two conflicted groups. He is also one of the three members who have been appointed by the Supreme Court of India to settle the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. Justice (Retd) FM Kalifulla and senior advocate Sriram Panchu are the two other members.
2. The Art of Living Foundation has also been working tirelessly in bringing peace in troubled hit North Eastern areas. On August 14, 2017, 68 cadres of different dreaded terrorist groups in Manipur surrendered in presence of Chief Minister N Biren Singh and Swami Bhavyatej and Deepa Dave of The Art of Living, along with top ministers and officials. The Art of Living volunteers, led by Deepa Dave and Shanti Meitei, worked to take the message of peace to the ultras through various sources and channels despite the risks involved. According to the foundation, the team even reached out to insurgent groups across the borders.
3. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also hosted reconciliation meet for Kashmir conflict, ‘Paigam-e-Mohabaat’, at Art of Living’s International Centre in Bengaluru. Through this initiative, he brought together families of slain terrorists, army personnel and local Kashmiris on a single platform. The program was attended by 200 affected families including women. Commenting on the initiative, Sri Sri Ravishankar said, “When the families affected by violence come together in a spirit of forgiveness, a new vision for a non-violent society will emerge. I am confident that this would inspire many youths to take that path.”
“Unless and until we put a balm to heal the hurt and give a new vision, the chain reaction of violence will continue,” he added. “Deep inside, there is compassion in every heart. Such events will enliven that aspect and make one realise that neither violence nor blame game lead anywhere,” he hoped.
4. In 2014, The Art of Living Foundation reached out to Yazidis, Shias and Christians in Iraq. During his visit, Sri Sri called on government officials in Europe, United States of America and India to address the situation of thousands of Yazidis trapped in the Sinjar Mountains In Iraq.
“This is the one of the worst genocides of the 21st century. Yazidis are an ancient community on the verge of extinction. Several members of this community visited me here in the United States and pleaded for help to rescue the people from the ISIS onslaught. Christians, Yazidis and Kurdish Shias are languishing in camps in Erbil, Duhok and Khazir. Yazidis who were a community of 23 million have now been reduced to 1 million over the years.” Sri Sri said.
Throwing light on the condition in the strife-torn land, he added, “Thousands are trapped in the mountains with no food or water. 7000 Yazidi girls, aged between 9-35 years, have been taken captive by the ISIS. We have rescued and rehabilitated a 15-year-old girl victim of gang-rape and we are rescuing many other women who are trapped and are being sold by ISIS for as little as USD10. Food, water and other basic needs are being distributed in the camps.”
5. On invitation by the Colombian president as well as the FARC leadership, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar attended the historic signing ceremony of the peace agreement between FARC and the Colombian government in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has also acknowledged Sri Sri’s efforts in the peace process, declaring: “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and The Art of Living are heroes of peace.” In June 2015, Sri Sri met President Juan Manuel Santos in Bogota and promised that he would do everything in his capacity to bring peace to all.
Sri Sri, on his three-day-meeting with FARC commanders in Havana, he urged them to pursue the Gandhian principle of non-violence to achieve their goals. The FARC members showed reluctance in the beginning. However, on the third date of the meetings, Ivan Marquez, chief of the negotiators, declared to the press, “We hope that Colombia embraces the Gandhian principle of non-violence.”
6. Not only as a mediator, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has always played a pivotal role in bringing peace in riot hit places. Be it Muzaffarpur or Assam, it is often seen that the only thing the victims of the communal riots long for is the healing touch and a message of peace. And that is exactly what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar delivers.