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News Summaries from ICSA Periodicals

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living, has been accused of destroying New Delhi’s river. Celebrating 35 years of his work, Shankar hosted a 3-day event March 11–13 that was expected to include more than 3.5 million people and about 37,000 artists. For the event, Shankar built a large tent city the size of six football fields on the flood plain of the Yamuna River. River activists were not happy about this, saying it would cost $1.8 million to restore the floodplains after the event. For the most part, the Yamuna River is trashed, and no one visits unless there is a religious festival going on. Shankar says, “People just want to gain fame by making these allegations. In the heart of heart, everyone knows it is a dead river. It is so polluted, so toxic. There is nothing left to pollute. To say we are damaging the river is the biggest joke of the century.” (Press Herald, 03/8/16) [IT 7.2 2016]

Amazon.com employee Brian Carver’s run for a seat on the Seattle City Council is funded in large part by the India-based but worldwide Art of Living, a self-described “educational and humanitarian movement engaged in stress management and service initiatives” founded in 1981 by the spiritual leader Sri Sri [sic] Ravi Shankar. Art of Living recently settled a lawsuit it brought against two bloggers who claimed to be former members and accused the group of being a cult. Carver said Art of Living inspired him to serve, and that its breathing techniques fill him with energy and enthusiasm and leave him stress free. He is now an Art of Living instructor and the organization’s college-program national director. (Seattle Times, 7/27/13) [IT 5.1 2014] 

At the invitation of the Chinese government, the Indian guru Sri Sri Ravishankar has opened his Art of Living ashram in Beijing on a 168-acre landscaped site that includes hundreds of natural hot springs and wooden buildings in the traditional Chinese architectural style. The ashram, calculated to help Chinese deal with the stress, tension, breakdown of family values, and other societal problems spawned by the country’s rapid growth, will teach a combination of spirituality, yoga, and ayurveda. Ravishankar, whose meetings are restricted by the government to a maximum of 500 attendees, and strictly monitored on the spot by Communist Party officials, says his type of spirituality transcends religion. (Indian Express, 11/29/10) [IT 2.1 2011]

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