Ravi Shankar arriving in State on Feb 17

GUWAHATI, Feb 13 – Spiritual leader and founder of Art of Living, Sri Ravi Shankar, will embark on a two-day visit to Assam from February 17.

Beginning his visit in Guwahati he will participate in a musical evening at the Nehru Stadium and on February 18 inaugurate a Kisan Mela at North Salmara which promotes organic farming, among others.

Preceding his visit, he spoke exclusively to The Assam Tribune in an email interview.

Asked about his message to the common person in a state that has witnessed violence for a long time, Sri Ravi Shankar said, “It is high time we realise that violence has not yielded any result. Assam, the state that was one of the foremost, has gone backwards. We have lost thousands of committed, dynamic Assamese youth in this violence. We should find alternative ways of peaceful demonstrations and democratic solutions.”

His message to the youth of North East India on how they could motivate themselves to overcome challenges was clear and unequivocal. He said, “I want them to know that the youth of the country are with them in the struggle for their identity,” and added, “While we have to honour regional and linguistic identities, we should never lose sight of our universality in the divine spirit.” Not too long ago, Mahatma Gandhi has shown the world that one can stand up against the most powerful empire of the world in a spiritual and non-violent manner and yet achieve goals.

On defining happiness and contentment at the individual and social levels, the spiritual leader is of the belief that happiness is not a concept to define and understand. “It is merely a state of mind and feeling. This is not only absence of misery, but a positive state of elevation”, he noted.

At the centre of an effort to popularise yoga and meditation across the country and abroad, he underlined their strengths in benefiting people from diverse backgrounds. “The many benefits of Yoga and meditation are not exclusively for a few people,” he said and pointed out that such knowledge was the property of humanity at large.

Art of Living is in the middle of a plantation drive in various parts of India, including Assam. When asked to comment on the importance the organization is giving to forest regeneration, he remarked, “It is said that the average person utilizes oxygen from 16 trees to survive his/her lifespan. As the population of the world grows, we need more trees for our very survival”.

Related to the environmental security of the region, his views on construction of mega dams in Arunachal Pradesh favoured a balanced approach. While there is a definite need for power and infrastructure to achieve progress, environmental concerns cannot be ignored. “We need to walk a middle path” he mentioned.