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Parliament of World Religions

Creating a Stress-Free Mind and a Violence-Free World

“The world has witnessed so much chaos,now lets focus on one conductor - GOD”

(Excerpts from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s opening address at the Parliament of WorldReligions 2009 at Melbourne, Australia on December 3, 2009)

The purpose of religion is to bring enlightenment to the individual, and happiness in society,and to move from limited individual identity, to universality and communion with the Divine.When at a time these ideals are far from reality, congregations such as these where people of all faiths gather together, have great responsibility to ponder on the pressing issues. It is a necessity for survival of our planet. Faith and Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) are a powerful tool of transformation in society. Though we have moved away from the blemish of medieval conflicts to a more tolerant and co-operative society, FBOs have the responsibility to make a happy society.

Even if part of the planet thinks they are going to heaven, and the others are going to go to hell, they will create a hell for everyone. We need multicultural and multi-religious education to reach every nook and corner of the planet. Violence is appalling today, whether it is domestic violence or societal violence – we see it in every newspaper column, and a sort of pride is being attached to violence. In school classrooms, violent children are considered heroes.

When we were growing up, we grew up with stories about Mahatma Gandhi, about ahimsa, non-violence. If someone lost their temper, people thought they needed to see a psychologist, that there was something wrong. Today, even with our heroes in movies, there is a culture of glorifying violence, which we need to turn around - and that responsibility is on us, the faithbased community.

There are two types of violence in the world today – religious violence, which we are all aware of, but also leftist violence. In India, Naxals control 212 of the country’s 604 districts. Spirituality needs to reach these areas, but we all have to do this work. Even in Columbia, South America, they are also affected by violence. FBOs have to play a role. As I listened to the symphony this evening, I looked at  these beautiful singers and artists, all playing their own tune, but all looking at the conductor. All religious leaders have to take on this role. We cannot lose sight of that one Divinity, which has created this beautiful diversity. Otherwise we won’t have a symphony, we will have a chaos.

The world has witnessed so much chaos, now let’s focus on one conductor – GOD – Generator, Operator and Destroyer. Focus on one aspect, but play your instrument. There is no threat to any tradition, to any culture, if we are all uplifted in human values, in communion of One, which is in the heart of each and every one of us. I am reminded of the Kumbh Mela, which has been going on for thousands of years. When I was at the last Kumbh Mela, I saw something amazing. 30 million people congregate there, and yet there is no crime, no violence, no stealing. Imagine that people can have this faith.

Once at the Kumbh Mela, it was very cold in the night, it was January. We went out to distribute some blankets. We saw a young boy, who had just crossed his 20s – he was wearing some shorts, underclothes, and we offered him a blanket. He said, “I don’t need it, I can manage, but under the bridge there are many elderly women, they need it more than me. Please give it to them.”

That sense of belongingness with each other, helping each other - only FBOs can bring this feeling on this planet. Once again, I congratulate all of you for venturing on this noble work of reforming society and uniting with the ever-present being within all of us. We need to ponder on issues relating to the environment, children, agriculture. The word “Parliament” is really scary! Rather, I would call this a family reunion, because there is more conflict in parliament. A reunion of all faith-based organizations to deal with the problem of depression.

WHO has said that depression will soon be the second biggest killer in the world. Popping Prozac is not enough. It was so painful to hear from our sister from Afghanistan that a whole generation is suffering from depression. 92 percent of Palestine is depressed. 160 billion Euros is being spent on mental health care in the EU alone.

We need to get out of this vicious circle. Many have good cars, good jobs, but if depressed, it’s like dressing a corpse, putting make-up on a corpse. We need to attend to the human values, and how we can elevate the spirit to move out of this deep depression and anxiety, and violence. Let’s all brainstorm something concrete, to bring back to every nook and corner of this planet.

Sri Sri Tour Schedule  


Voices of World Leaders


"We need more than ever the contribution of men and women of faith who defend and promote the human values that bind us together.The values you (His Holiness) champion,including non-violence,compassion and the sanctity of all life,go to the heart of what the United Nations stands for."
United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon

"Through its manifold activities, The Art of Living Foundation has made important contributions to transmit Human Values across the globe."
Dr. Manmohan Singh, Hon. Prime Minister of India

"There are big powers who have big might, but they are not able unite the hearts and minds of people. This work can be done only by a spiritual leader."
Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al Maliki

"The Art of Living Foundation is one of India's stars. It has an incredible -- actually incredible -- following that cuts through all religions, cultures and backgrounds, a very, very difficult thing to do in today's world."
Vice-President, United States of America,Joe Biden

"The teachings of His Holiness provide the world with a road-map for love, justice and harmony. His spiritual and humanitarian actions are worthy of praise since it is rare to find people so dedicated to the human cause. His knowledge, service and unwavering commitment to peace, drive thousands of volunteers towards community service."
President, Mauritius,His Excellency Sir Anerood Jugnauth

"His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is seen as an international figure who has been spreading the message of peace and harmony throughout the world."
Former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Hon. Ranil Wickramasinghe

"We welcome the delegation with open arms and hearts. We welcome you as our brother and we are ready to work hand in hand with you."
Shia leader of Iraq, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Yaqubi

"Where ever The Art of Living Foundation builds- builds the world. With that simple message, if that’s something we can replicate in every community, in every country across the globe, this will be a peaceful and non-violent world to live in, for the benefit of all the future generations."
PA, United States, Congressman Jim Gerlac

"The Art of Living leads with an open mind to education, and that education leads to choice. It opened my eyes to how development could or would occur in the future."
Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences, Dr. Myron S. Scholes

"My NGO, Transparency International, is fighting corruption all over the world, and it has been energized, inspired, and strengthened by H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar."
Founder & Chairman of Advisory Board, Transparency International, Germany, Prof. Dr. Peter Eigen

"It is indeed imperative to initiate programs for re-establishing human values in society and enhancing ideas for global harmony. I extend my deep admiration and appreciation for your work."
Former Prime Minister of Norway, Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland

"I commend Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's emphasis on the inculcation of human values in all walks of life. Mere material progress, in the absence of concomitant development of the basic life-sustaining cultural and spiritual ideals, will not help our society in the long-run. The Art of Living Foundation is both an easy-to-understand philosophy and an easy-to-practice activity. "
Leader of Opposition & former Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee

" I have met many NGOs - representatives of indigenous people - and they have made it clear that economic development alone does not suffice. The common future of our one world family is rooted in the awareness that we have only borrowed mother earth from the generations to come. The Art of Living is not the end, but it is the beginning for everybody and everything. It is the way to harmony."
~ Hon. Ruud Lubbers, Former Prime Minister, The Netherlands

" I am proud to be a part of that group that is helping to create important bonds, and look forward to working with the man of peace, man of vision, man of compassion and a man of action. We certainly need that in the world today.  "
Congresswoman, United States, Jan Schowski (IL)

"His Holiness’ initiatives consider human beings in their entirety, and heal the body, mind and spirit. The Art of Living is one of the rare NGOs which works at the grass root level, close to the population and goes to the core of the problem"
Djedje Dano Sebastien, Minister of National Reconciliation, Ivory Coast.

" H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’ projects that are being implemented in prisons in a far away country – my country – Croatia, are making life a little easier for our people there. You have made a mark, made a difference, and that is the greatest thing a human being can contribute in his lifetime"
Her Excellency Dr. Vesna Pusic, Vice-President, Republic of Croatia


International Honors

"I share this award with all those people who stand for a violence-free and stress-free society. This award is not for a person or personality, but for a principle that stands for the ideal of a 'one world family' and cultural plurality." Sri Sri on receiving the 2009 Culture in Balance Award


"Sri Sri's mission of uniting the world into a violence-free global family has inspired millions the world over." Chancellor of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, (India), Dr Mrunalini Devi Puar when conferring Sri Sri with the Doctorate

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Days

October 29, 2008 was declared Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Day in Texas, United States of America.