Every day, millions from across the Corona-scared, lockdown world, connect with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, flooding the genial guru with questions ranging from unemployment to fear of death. And then, they meditate with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who silently initiates the process through a high-power network facility linked with some of the world’s top search engines from his sprawling ashram on the outskirts of Bengaluru. His devotees, who sit in a distance, also join the programme.
“Calm down, calm down, calm down, everything’s not lost. We all must live in peace and hope,” exhorts the wellness guru, who heads the globally acclaimed Art of Living chain of meditation, social work and health programmes, across the world.
And there are some special shows for special people. During one such show with Sanjay Dutt, Sri Sri told the maverick actor how he should spend time with his family, do daily yoga exercises and eat sugar-free meals to boost his immunity. “Remember one teaspoon full of sugar would cut back your immunity by half and you will need two more hours to regain your strength.”
Dutt, whose answers fly faster than light, replied: “I am enjoying my lockup. I remember I was in jail for five years, I know what a lockdown means. I remember you coming to meet the inmates and you met me too.”
Watched by millions, Sri Sri replied: “You were very calm then, very positive.”
The shows of India’s biggest peace ambassador have garnered interest from across the world, millions are logging into the shows from Japan to Nicaragua, Africa to the United States. Everyone is seeking information. Some school children asked Sri Sri Ravi Shankar that they were missing what they claimed was routine, annoying power drill up the streets, rustle of the newspapers, fruit sellers, the taxis and the rickshaws. The wellness guru told them it was a “temporary phase” and everything will be normal in sometime. No country, he told his devotees, can remain frozen forever.
Those close to the spiritual leader say Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is handling a very, very tough and crucial phase of his life. He knows nothing is moving on the roads, people are indoors, airlines are grounded, schools and colleges are closed. Red circles have been spray-painted for people to stand in, six feet apart, like little islands. There are people keeping strangers out of their neighbourhoods, they are the virus vigilantes.
The wellness guru has asked the government to open up Ayurvedic facilities across the country to treat COVID-19 patients.
“Ayurveda can be of really good help. Indigenous medicines help people get better. The government should open up Ayurvedic facilities. We have lakhs of Ayurvedic physicians and we must allow them to practise,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said during one of his interactions with Anant Goenka, a media tycoon. He pointed out that the move would “lessen the burden on the allopathy doctors”.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who initiated and found success in strife-torn South America and ran wellness camps in Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, is asking his devotees to value nature, telling him how the sky above is different these days, air cleaner. He knows everyone’s scared. People ask if they get sick, where will they go? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is offering peace, offering answers. Across India, his Art of Living volunteers are offering food and ration to nearly 10 crore Indians. Similar initiatives are underway abroad. The wellness guru knows no one can meditate, do yoga or think of peace on an empty stomach.
In India, more than 59.6 million meals have been distributed till date with the help of the local administration and police. Relief material was provided to sex workers in Kolkata’s Sonagachi, Asia’s oldest and largest home for women involved in prostitution. Protesting migrant workers were provided food on war-footing, specially in Delhi, Mumbai and Surat before an already volatile situation could get out of control.Volunteers in the US procured and distributed PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) kits to many doctors, health care workers and essential staff in a badly hit New York City. In the UK, relief materials were delivered to NHS (National Health Service) Staff at Princess Alexandra Hospital among other services.
The wellness guru has asked Bollywood stars and corporate captains to spread the message of peace. For the records, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Sanjay Dutt are planning a big social initiative which will have a pan-India impact. “You will be a great ambassador, don’t you remember the (drug de-addiction) programmes we did in Punjab and Haryana?” Dutt smiled, saying he is ready to travel once the lockdown is lifted.
To his global audience, the wellness guru has said how many great works of the world have emerged out of solitude. “Meditate more and use this forced solitude to improve your mental strength, creativity, empathy, and productivity. Now that you are getting to spend more time with your family members, listen to them. Talk less and avoid arguments.” Many have liked the guru’s gentle yet realistic approach to life.
He has told his followers how the world is wrecked by the silent havoc of a mysterious and virulent virus, a calamity that may set back decades of progress that mankind had enjoyed since the end of World War II. The global humanitarian had compared the Covid-19 pandemic to World War III.
The spiritual leader wants the world to understand the dangers of a World War, especially those who have not seen such a monumental crisis sweeping across the world.