LAHORE: With the two sub-continent neighbours, Pakistan and India, suffering from varying degrees of the War on Terror, and close to 65 years of enmity for the other, “yoga and meditation” were proposed by renowned Indian yoga master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as a path to peace, during his talk in Lahore on Monday.
Head of the famous Art of Living Foundation, Shankar crossed over from Wagah border into Pakistan on Monday to start a three day tour. During his time in Pakistan, he is expected to inaugurate Art of Living Centres on March 13 and 14.
“With greater linkages between the people, India and Pakistan can both come closer and work towards a peaceful co-existence,” Shankar said as he stepped into Pakistan.
Speaking on the stress-concentrated societies of the modern world, Shankar opined that people would not resort to violent activities had they been facilitated in relieving stress, adding that “everyone wants to live in peace and that is exactly what we are working towards.” Last having visited Pakistan in 2004, this is Shankar’s second “peace mission”.
Following the peace narrative of his visit, which suffered time delays throughout the Lahore leg, Shankar delivered a lecture at the Forman Christian College University (FCCU) where he interacted with students and faculty on how meditation could help resolve issues both in personal and global contexts.
A packed FCCU Sinclair Hall gave Shankar a warm welcome. Commending the youth for their ‘positive energy’ and ‘vibrance’ Shankar, also known as Guru Ji by the avowed practitioners of meditation, explained that his concept of ‘Art of Living’ revolves around the idea of keeping enthusiasm alive in one’s self. “I am glad to see your enthusiasm. You can do wonders in life with this energy. Do not lose this enthusiasm,” Shankar said as he took the stage.
“We repair broken hearts and souls,” he said while introducing his meditative approach to the audience.
“When people are in harmony with themselves, they are in harmony with the world,” said Shankar while explaining the phenomenon of terrorism prevailing all over the world. Shankar revealed that much of today’s problems across the world relates to people’s tendency of not accepting diversity, I dislike the word tolerance”, he said adding “it sounds like we have to accept one another forcefully.”
Inviting students to practice meditation, Shankar said that usually stress causes young people to indulge in drug abuse and or addiction to free themselves of “negative emotions” which, he said, eventually ruined lives. “It is the state of being ‘high’ which they crave,” adding that mediation could help such students be rid of the ‘drug menace’.
Tracing the roots of the traditional herbal medication, Ayurved, and yoga to Taxila in Pakistan, Shankar lamented that these practices had been abandoned in the land of their origin.
Chairman of the Art of Living Foundation Pakistan, Naeem Zamindar said that with the organisation had centres in more than a hundred countries, and millions of people across the globe were benefiting from meditation. “He is a person who has blossomed lives,” shared Zamindar while speaking about his experience with Shankar.
“We have already spent a lot on destructing one another, it is time we spent some energies in trying to heal people on both sides of the border,” said Shahid Naseem while speaking with The Express Tribune at the Forman Christian College University. Naseem, executive committee member at the Yoga Pakistan, dismissed questions pertaining to religious rationality being challenged through such platforms, “all religions promote spiritual healing especially one which is scientifically proven,” he added.
Shankar will be visiting Islamabad and Karachi in the coming days where he is expected to inaugurate the Art of Living centres on March 13 and March 14.
Earlier, as he left India for Pakistan, Shankar told reporters that he firmly believed that meditation and yoga will help eradicate terrorism and people-to-people contact between estranged neighbours India and Pakistan.
According to The Times of India, he said that terrorism is like an illness. “Yoga and meditation will help lessen the violence. We have spent a lot on conflicts, on escalating conflicts and on destruction of life and environment. Now we have to work towards making peace,” he said.
This is Shankar’s second visit to Pakistan, which he first visited in July 2004.