New Delhi: Spiritual leader and founder of the Art Of Living Foundation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, said Saturday that asking people to do yoga, try ayurveda or to read the Upanishads and the Mahabharata were not propagating Hindutva.
“Two billion people in the world are doing yoga and reaping its benefits. [Albert] Einstein said that reading the Bhagwat Gita changed his life. These things are not Hindutva, this is a wrong notion and shows a closed mindset. Such beliefs show personal prejudice. Don’t label things before you experience it, know things well,” said Ravi Shankar.
The spiritual guru was in conversation with ThePrint Editor-in-Chief, Shekhar Gupta, as part of the Off The Cuff talk shows.
“Don’t narrow the scope of the wisdom of knowledge within a political ideology. You don’t need to be Hindu to do yoga, you need to be a healthy and good human being,” he added.
Referring to Baba Ramdev’s recent comments against allopathy and his questioning of the Covid treatment, Ravi Shankar said, “If some people think that they are gifted, then it is their opinion. Everything has to undergo scientific scrutiny. Even ayurveda doctors have to undergo 12 years of study and training before they can treat people on those principles.”
The spiritual leader said that people should have the right to choose and religious and spiritual leaders shouldn’t enter the arena of politics.
“Just as people brush their teeth everyday, they must spend a few minutes each day on meditation. There are several apps that can help with that,” said Ravi Shankar.
Meditation gives enormous inner faith and people of all religions can practice it, he added.
Emphasising on the need for positivity and good mental health during the ongoing pandemic, he said, “Mental health has taken a beating during the pandemic. Meditation brings relaxation to the brain. Research indicates that it improves the immune system by five times and it changes our expression and perception for the better.”
The spiritual leader also spoke about the government’s poor handling of the Covid situation. “It is true that the government declared victory too soon. We were not prepared, nobody thought that the situation would get so bad,” said Ravi Shankar, about the second Covid wave in the country.
People should get themselves vaccinated and not be afraid of vaccines since it has been proved scientifically to be of help, he added.
On the Kumbh Mela
The spiritual leader said that he did not visit the Kumbh Mela this year and did not believe in the event anymore, because it was no longer what it used to be. Staying home and finding the “river of knowledge” is more important, he said.
“The Kumbh used to be a spiritual expo where sadhus and yogis of different schools of thought would come together once in 12 years and discuss different subjects. People used to go there for meditation and spiritual discourses. It was not just about taking a dip in the Ganga,” he said.
Ravi Shankar said that he has been asking people to stay home and not attend such events at present. He said, “Through my televised addresses I have been giving people the advice of not stepping out. Instead, I say – Ghar baithiye aur gyan ki Ganga me nahaiye [Stay home and take a dip in the Ganga of knowledge]. We need to immerse ourselves in knowledge and good thoughts.”
Talking about the difference between a religious leader and a sanyasi, he said, “Don’t go by outer appearances. Look at their ‘chetna’ [consciousness]. A sanyasi is one who is thoroughly centered and not shaken by anything.”
Explaining the idea further, Ravi Shankar said, “A sanyasi can be a sanyasi without being a religious leader. Sanyas is an inner experience and inner strength and religion is years of tradition that people follow. And both are important in their own ways. A person can be a sanyasi and be free from religion,” he said.