Published: 10th October 2019
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at IISc: If you oppose me it means you don't know me
The Art of Living founder lashed out at people who tried to get his talk cancelled by calling them prejudiced and thus, unscientific
Art of Living founder and spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar responded strongly to detractors who opposed his lecture at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and signed a petition to that effect by calling their approach 'unscientific' - a charge that they had initially laid on Ravi Shankar by quoting some of his previous lectures.
Ravi Shankar said, "I heard some people opposed my talk at IISc today. People who opposed me don't know me. Even to oppose something or someone, one needs to study and know it in detail. You study something properly and then you discard it." Understandably, the crowd burst into rapturous applause.
Tearing into the students and faculty who opposed his talk, he said, "In this mode of scientific temperament and learning, a factor called prejudice is detrimental to science. If you have prejudice towards anything then you can't call yourself a scientist. Because it won't allow you to perceive things properly. One's mind should be full of spirit, enthusiasm, energy and interest to learn from anyone in any part of the world. But prejudice only indicates that a mind is fearful of encountering the truth. If you are strong then you not label anything without studying. It is unscientific. "
Prejudice seemed to be a popular theme with him, as he continued to talk about how his brand of healing had just as much to offer as researchers from NIMHANS, which was another thing that the protestors had contended - as an alternative to Ravi Shankar, as they are deemed to be authorities on mental health, scientifically. He said, "We have a habit of accepting things when they come from the west. Someone said that experts from NIMHANS must come and give a talk on mental health. If NIMHANS experts give a talk then they will talk about their research and techniques. But many diseases and mental health issues have been cured by my breathing techniques also. We have known pranayama keeps our brain active. Yet, when we stress on the importance of meditation people don't agree with us. When it comes from western countries, then they tend to agree to it. I consider this as prejudice. There is a small fraction of such people in this country who are prejudiced. And I am sure they will get over it soon."
The Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru organised a talk session by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to mark World Mental Health Day on the subject Excellence Through Inner Peace. The crowd in the J N Tata auditorium was a mix of students and academics. A day earlier, almost 700 academics and students had signed a petition opposing the talk, but several others have stood firm in wanting to listen to the guru - because they swear by his brand of philosophy.
Soon after lighting the lamp, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke about the characteristic of questioning which is natural among Indians. He said, "As intellectuals, everyone has questions. A professor asked me today what is the connection between science and spirituality? The systematic analysis of a particular thing is science and understanding who I am is spirituality. Here in the east, we always said that one should first experience and then postulate it into various beliefs. Therefore science and spirituality never contradicted in the eastern world. Hence, no scientists were persecuted in this country. We emphasise on asking questions. Even Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita emphasised on the same. I feel intellectual characteristics are in the DNA of this country."
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar suggested that everyone must develop scientific temperament in all aspects of life whether it is psychology. Economy, understanding people around you, relationships and so on.
The event went off sans protests of any sort.