Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia - Challenges and Opportunities, Oslo | The Art Of Living Global
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Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia - Challenges and Opportunities, Oslo

April 10, 2008

Excerpt of the inaugural address by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - Solutions to Conflicts

We have all come together to find a common solution to a very crucial problem. Often in meetings, we discuss the problems, which then appear so big. When the problems appear insurmountable, conflicts remain as conflicts and continue for centuries. Then one loses heart. However, here, we have people from various fields and from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, social and economic strata, all coming together, sincerely looking for a solution – because we want peace. Enough is enough – we have had so much violence.

Today, we have two types of extremism. One kind comprises religious extremists while the other consists of communist extremists. And then there are ethnic conflicts. These are the three major types of conflicts we need to look into – this is what is clogging South Asia. We also face the problem of poverty – there are certain forces which, for political reasons, personal gains or other reasons, are using poverty of people for their own ends by not giving them the right picture, the right direction to move ahead. Here, we all have to bring sense and come up with solutions to the conflicts. The world, life itself, is full of contradictions and conflicts, and it is wisdom that helps us to sail through these.

We need to look at life with the ‘Three Cs’:

  • A Cosmic (or broader) vision of a problem.
  • Commitment - without commitment, you will not be able to move a step forward – we need to have commitment for peace.
  • Compassion – without compassion, you cannot understand another person’s point of view.

Often, when you listen to conflicting points of view, you will find that everyone is correct from their own view point. If you listen to the Tamils, you would side by them. If you listen to the Sinhalese, you would side by them. If you listen to the Maoists, you would side by them. If you listen to the government, you would side by them. Everybody has their own logic, their own view point. We have to find a way where we can meet and come together in peace.

India has been the country of non-violence for centuries. In thousands of years of history, India has never waged a war against any country, nor has it conquered any country. Of course, it has been fighting wars in self-defense. India is the land where Buddha and Mahavir gave their teachings and where Mahatma Gandhi preached nonviolence. Today, the country is affected by different types of violence. And it pains us to see the suffering of people, of men, women and children.

A couple of years ago, when I was in Chhattisgarh, India, the Inspector General of Police came to me with tears in his eyes. He said, “This year, 281 of my men were killed. I do not know how to face the families of men who were working under me. How can I recruit young men for the police? I feel I am recruiting them for a job and putting them to death. I am so traumatised.” It was so moving to hear this – it would shake anybody.

One gets the same sense of suffering when you look into the eyes of women and children, millions of whom are bereaved of their families. These are man-made calamities, which can be avoided, unlike a natural one like the tsunami. This is what we need to do – all of us here, sincerely pray and take responsibility to bring peace, to turn every tear into a smile and dream for a stress-free, violence-free world.

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.