Sri Sri Ravi Shankar tells Lahore about his 'Art of Living'

Published: March 12, 2012
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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living is in Lahore while on a three day Pakistan tour. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living is in Lahore while on a three day Pakistan tour. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

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.

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Reader Comments (55)

  • Mar 12, 2012 - 11:13PM

    I attended the lecture at FC, it was impressive :)

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  • waqar
    Mar 12, 2012 - 11:24PM

    …..if we could follow the true teachings of ISLAM with the same spirit………

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  • Mar 13, 2012 - 12:22AM

    Wow.. who would have thought that Ravi Shankar would visit pakistan.
    looks like pakistan is tracing back its tolerant and secular roots.

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  • Mandeep Vaid
    Mar 13, 2012 - 12:38AM

    a unique ambassador of peace for the few peace-seekers of Pakistan!

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  • Pro Bono Publico
    Mar 13, 2012 - 12:39AM

    Why do we need to import a Hindu from India when we have the complete faith: Islam?

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  • TightChuddi
    Mar 13, 2012 - 12:44AM

    Has he come here to convert to Islam?

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  • ANON
    Mar 13, 2012 - 12:45AM

    Guru ji! Welcome to Pakistan. I hope you enjoy your stay.

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  • Ramanujam
    Mar 13, 2012 - 1:33AM

    @waqar:
    What Sri Sri said is the same thing which is found in Quran,Bible,Torah,Gita or any other religious book….

    Unfortunately,people tend to overlook them and concentrate on those verses (rather mistranslated verses) which justifies intolerance,bigotry,fascism

    When people start following religion in the true context,we dont need a third person to tell which is right or wrongRecommend

  • Ramanujam
    Mar 13, 2012 - 1:36AM

    and for God’s sake,I request all Muslims to stop promoting that Zakir Naik crap lectures …

    He’s twisting verses of scriptures to give a false sense of security to everyone that Islam is the only true religion in the world and justifies 7th century practices of intolerance,bigotry,mullah domination which is not conducive for the current global environmentRecommend

  • Mar 13, 2012 - 1:46AM

    @waqar:
    He is not a religious guru. He teaches meditation.

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  • Cynical
    Mar 13, 2012 - 1:50AM

    Islam in danger!
    Hindu infiltration of spiritual type, be carefull.

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  • Sultan Mehmood Ghaznavi
    Mar 13, 2012 - 1:55AM

    @Vishnu D Dutta:
    He can visit now, as Zakir Naik had made him less vulnerable! :P

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  • Mar 13, 2012 - 1:57AM

    Lucky Lahorians, here in the UK just to do the basic Art of living course they are charging 200 pounds and that too his lowest chela/cheli will conduct the course. And people of Lahore will get to see him in person! Sab uparwale ki leela hai! Aur hamaare karam!! Please take time to listen to him. You will not regret it!

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  • Bangladeshi
    Mar 13, 2012 - 2:05AM

    lol This guy lost a debate to Dr. Zakir Naik a few years ago. Mr. Shankar even lied to prove his point. BTW some aspects of Yoga and meditation are strictly forbidden in ISLAM. Muslims just need to go back to Quran & Sunnah to achieve true peace and prosperity.

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  • Mar 13, 2012 - 2:07AM

    @TightChuddi:
    Ask him! Ha! Ha! seriously I was preparing for my exam in UK and I was terrified and someone suggested his name and I looked at his lectures on youtube. This was in jan 2012 I like his philosophy ‘go back to your childhood’ and ‘don’t take anything seriously in life’. And I dont know much about Baba Ramdev but when somoene asked him about how should Osama be punished [when Osama was alive] Baba Ramdev said don’t kill him but kill the burayee in him if there is any burayee!

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  • Indian Agnostic
    Mar 13, 2012 - 2:16AM

    @waqar:
    No offence to you personally Sir, but I think your country is following the true teachings of Islam already.

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  • ayesha_khan
    Mar 13, 2012 - 3:51AM

    @Pro Bono Publico: “Why do we need to import a Hindu from India when we have the complete faith: Islam?

    He may personally be a Hindu but he is not teaching Hinduism. He is teaching meditation. Many Christians and Buddhists also practice these techniques around the world. I too have attended sessions. There is nothing against Islam.

    If the current way that people are leading their lives (whichever faith they belong to is not providing tools to relieve stress, then where is the harm in learning that. Do you say I want use a cellphone or a car because I have Islam? You don’t because cellphone/car are tools. What Sri Sri teaches are also tools. Why drag religion into everything?

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  • imam shamil.
    Mar 13, 2012 - 4:08AM

    Well come to the land of Ancesters Guru ji.

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  • Pro Bono Publico
    Mar 13, 2012 - 6:04AM

    @ayesha_khan:
    If you study Islam properly, you will know what Islam offers for all aspects of life, including relaxation, including meditation. Why follow these showbiz sorts? Remember the Maharishi and millions he made, living a life of utmost luxury, laughing all the way to the bank.

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  • vasan
    Mar 13, 2012 - 6:30AM

    Some of the commentators from Pakistan, as usual, mix up religion with everything else. This is the bane of pakistan. Why should they bring up this topic and talk of conversion etc. ARe they that insecure in Islam and being a muslim. They need to be reminded of the fact that yoga is supposed to have originated from Taxila in Pakistan.

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  • Pro Bono Publico
    Mar 13, 2012 - 6:34AM

    @ANON:
    Hasn’t Bolloywood spread enough filth, that Pakistan needs such showbiz money-raking “gurus”?

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  • Indian Agnostic
    Mar 13, 2012 - 6:59AM

    @Ramanujam:
    Politically correct nonsense!

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  • Adil
    Mar 13, 2012 - 7:09AM

    I wonder what if Yasir Qadhi,Abdur Raheem Green or Bilal Phillips comes to know about it? Pakistani society is doing Bidah, Shirk, Deviation and whatsoever….that’s what these gentlemen will say

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  • Mar 13, 2012 - 7:36AM

    We should always welcome teachers who teach and practice peace.

    Mohammed Abbasi

    Co-Director – Association of British Muslims

    (and also acting co- director of The Association of Pakistani Muslims)

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  • usmanx
    Mar 13, 2012 - 7:56AM

    A hearty Welcome to our guest. He brings a message of peace.

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  • Umar
    Mar 13, 2012 - 8:24AM

    Rubbish arguments “Islam ko khatra hai”.
    Why cant we bahave like a muslim and accept true feelings. Just know the first ayat of Surah Fateha, “tama tareefain Allah k liay hain”, where is the word of Islam, hindu aur any one else?

    If some hindu is eating meat, should we stop eating meat? just hyporcites.

    We must welcome Shankar, and I do as well.

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  • Ayesha
    Mar 13, 2012 - 8:29AM

    I cant comprehend that when we have already been told through the perfect role model our Beloved Prophet saw the ‘Art of Living’ (and much more) then why do we need Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to tell us ‘Art of Living’. Some people have seriously lost their minds. Guys pick up Seerat Nabvi. It has better tools to live a contended life. The calmness you get through praying namaz with all the concentration is much more than any Yoga would get you. Our Creater knows what is better for us hence He recommeded us to pray 5 times a day. But Yoga is “Fashionable” and praying namaz aint.

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  • Hindu Indian
    Mar 13, 2012 - 8:55AM

    Now India is sending “agents” legally to Pakistan through the Wagah borders, this is “real evidence” that you can showcase at UN, while fighting a case for Balochistan

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  • Haris Chaudhry
    Mar 13, 2012 - 9:47AM

    To All the critics:

    Following Quran and Sunnah by the lot of 180 million odd hasnt changed a thing – Has it ? We have gone backwards in trying to prove that our own sect and sub sect and language and caste and creed are better than other Muslims..

    How about you guys take a chill-pill and open your minds enough to even listen to a person from a different background..

    Height of bigotry.Recommend

  • luoras
    Mar 13, 2012 - 10:07AM

    @Pro Bono Publico:
    from mullah school of advanced extremism? lol

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Mar 13, 2012 - 10:39AM

    Practice of yoga never has any religious consequence even for Hindus.
    Find a good teacher, practice correctly as the teacher instructs you to and if you don’t find it to be beneficial, feel free to reject it (the practice and the principle too).
    It’s a science, not a dogma which you are forced to accept without proof.

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  • from India
    Mar 13, 2012 - 11:08AM

    @ Bangladeshi – When Zakir Naik was clamouring that Quran is the best form of art of living, Shri Shri simply smiled and stopped uttering a single word. Interestingly, the house was packed with madrassa students and orthodox Muslims who clapped and cheered for Zakir Naik. They didn’t know that their beloved Prophet Mohammed was himself meditating in the cave where he first got Allah’s revelations :P

    A year later after that debate, Shri Shri was invited by King Abdullah of Jordan, PM of Iraq to help people recover from the aftermath of the war and two three more Islamic countries :-) If Islam had been the solution then why these countries invite him ? Why so many centres were opened across these Islamic nations ? Just google “Yoga centres in Tehran” :-)

    PLEASE TRY TO UNDERSTAND ISLAM SPIRITUALLY AND YOU SHALL FIND THE SIMILARITIES IN EVERY RELIGION.

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  • from India
    Mar 13, 2012 - 11:10AM

    And yes, it is sad that the birth place of Rig Veda (oldest religious book in the world), Ayurveda, Yoga has now turned out to be a zombie land. Entire region has been converted to a creepy cult !!

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  • ANON
    Mar 13, 2012 - 11:56AM

    @Pro Bono Publico:
    He is a guest so courtesy demands that we welcome him. What in your opinion we should do?
    As for Bollywood spreading filth, i must admit that i am not in touch with it but i believe people don’t need to see movies for “that purpose”. They watch porn.Recommend

  • aman chopra
    Mar 13, 2012 - 12:10PM

    @Hindu Indian:
    no india is not doin like this all, this was sri sri wish to visit and his people he was missing them all …………. keep smiling :)

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  • Mansoor Liaqat
    Mar 13, 2012 - 2:27PM

    @Ramanujam:

    Mr. Ramanujam – talk with facts please. In your statement you are saying that don’t make a reference to Zakir Naik as he is twisting things. Could you please explain what he has twisted? In fact the debate he had with Ravi Shanker was absolutely won by him. Ravi Shanker didn’t have any answers to his questions. The book that Ravi Shanker wrote was full of incorrect claims and facts. Please go and see that debate fully and then talk publicly about such things.

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  • faraz
    Mar 13, 2012 - 2:45PM

    The shortest route to enjoy the peace of heavens: suicide vest

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  • Ramanujam
    Mar 13, 2012 - 7:45PM

    I’m sorry Mansoor….I’m a bit of atheist and believe that religions are man made stories the unknown and to suppress people…
    I dont care if Zakir Naik won an argument over Ravi Shankar…
    But I’ve heard many speeches of Zakir Naik on Peace Tv…He’s a brilliant orator and has a good knowledge on Quran
    Most of his speeches are to signify tht Islam is the only true religion in the world…and the intolerance,subjugation,terrorism shown by the current generation of muslims are totally valid…

    In a program,when asked why conversions from islam to other religions are banned in Islamic countries,he said if 3 math teachers are interviewed and if one say 2+2=4,other 2+2=5 ,third 2+2 =3..We will hire the first one..So in short,he means that islam is the only 2 true religion..It will not allow others to propagate their religion,but they should be given free reins to convert in other countries where are in minortiy

    He’s clearly dividing the society in muslims and non muslims..by giving excuses for muslims not to be secular …
    I’d put him in the category who tries to promote intolerance among people….Recommend

  • Deepa
    Mar 13, 2012 - 9:38PM

    You people bring up RELIGION! It has nothing to do with religion, it only does if you make it that way…! That’s it! Understand the message before you make completely silly and uneducated comments about others and their beliefs! Just stop ! Seriously! You’re ruining the entire vibe and staining this wonderful message that is bring to not only the Pakistani people, but to the world !

    And most of you probably do things against your faith like all the rest of us (ie: perfect example is now: religion bashing is against ALL faiths, read the Quran, Vedas, Talmud, etc)….so stop your preaching, your judging and misconceptions, just be a good being…that’s it….meditate, do yoga, namaz, run a marathon…who cares…just be nice!

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  • rahul
    Mar 13, 2012 - 10:55PM

    Friends..lets all believe in universal religion-religion of humanity,for if you only believe that there is only one way to God then you are questioning God himself.How come God, who is all merciful(according to you too) then had mercy on only chosen few who supposedly follow only one path and not like rest of the world?God promotes unity in diversity, and this example can be seen anywhere-infinite planets and species etc each unique..living side by side and yet contributing to the greater game.deep down we all are the same-children of almighty God if thats what you wanna call-sakar,nirakar,sagun,nirgun-atheist, believers,non believers all belong to same human religion.the faster we understand the better,,since there cannot be any homogeneous human race,for lack of diversity means stopping of all activity and that can happen only if everything was absent.zillion of years this has happened and it will contitnue to happen.there is nothing you can do about it,india is oldest civilization and hence called santan dharma..and you all are omnipresent ,unborn beings too

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  • Mandeep Vaid
    Mar 13, 2012 - 11:12PM

    @Dr Priyanka:
    I happened to get acquainted with one interesting human soul who was accompanying Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at “The World Culture Festival” of Berlin 2011. The name of this amiable human soul is Swami Yogananda, 103 years of age, the oldest Yoga teacher of the world…..so natural, so genuine, full of vim and vigor, poised in here and now and above all an elegant style of walking as a true classical Yogi. I am sure not many youngsters can hold pace with him when he walks swiftly! He told me that it is his intention to live another 147 years and prove the world that it is possible to live that age with Yoga consciousness. I asked him smilingly, swami ji hame koi geyan dijiye. He pointed towards his stomach and said, just take care of this part and live a pure vegetarian life.

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  • Qahraman kakar
    Mar 14, 2012 - 4:16AM

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/multimedia/2012/03/120312sriravishankarpics_zz.shtml

    it was amazing when he split few drops of herbal liquid on ma hands i felt strength ;)

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  • aman chopra
    Mar 14, 2012 - 4:52PM

    @from India:
    yes you are right that we should see sprituality in every religion, but even u don’t have a right to blame sri sri , he is seeing beyond religions that is humans, we all are one world family and i also belong to you … love is my world my universe

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  • Vivekananda
    Mar 14, 2012 - 6:40PM

    Friends Guruji’s message is very clear
    “NO MATTER you follow ISLAM OR HINDU
    you WIN A DEBATE or LOSE a DEBATE
    your views may be RIGHT or WRONG”
    but remember you all belong to same Family”
    “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”(Entire world is one family)
    don’t forget to LOVE your family member.
    Guruji’s visit is purely to spread peace and meet all those people who were eager to meet him.

    I hope you accept me as your family member on this earth atleast for whatever period Iam living here.
    With Lots Of LOVE,
    Vivekananda

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  • Vivekananda
    Mar 14, 2012 - 6:47PM

    @Cynical:
    Friends Guruji’s message is very clear
    “NO MATTER you follow ISLAM OR HINDU
    you WIN A DEBATE or LOSE a DEBATE
    your views may be RIGHT or WRONG”
    but remember you all belong to same Family”
    “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”(Entire world is one family)
    don’t forget to LOVE your family member.
    Guruji’s visit is purely to spread peace and meet all those people who were eager to meet him.
    I hope you accept me as your family member on this earth atleast for whatever period Iam living here.
    With Lots Of LOVE,
    Vivekananda

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  • Mansoor Liaqat
    Mar 14, 2012 - 6:55PM

    @Ramanujam:

    This is good. I like people talking with substance. Thank you.

    I would say before you discard something at least study it. Zakir Naik always tries to bring similarities between Islam and other religions, and there are in fact many similarities. And then from the books of other religions he finds references to Quran and Mohammed (PBUH). Basically, the Creater has the same of code of conduct for everyone. We as human beings should endeavour to select the best path for ourselves. And we cannot do it until we give it a go (without any prejudices) and compare things rationally (as much as we can), and then select the best course of action. This will actually bring peace in our lives. When you select the Truth (whatever it maybe Islam or anything else) but it should be based on our sincere analysis (without any preconceived prejudices) then you are bound to get peace, and you don’t need any therapies (believe me). BTW, do you know how the lie detector test is set-up. Basically, when a human being lies, its body doesn’t accept it and in fact it repels it. This is how they measure if someone is lying or not. And if you endeavor for the ultimate truth sincerely, and you manage to get it, then after that would you need anything else???? But my friend you have to give it a go! However, the problem generally with human beings is that we tend to remain within our comfort zones and argue with each other based upon our preconceived notions or beliefs.

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  • Indian
    Mar 14, 2012 - 7:00PM

    @Pro Bono Publico:
    Because believing to have faith in islam and actually having faith in islam are two different things. People often ‘believe’.. But they usually don’t have ‘faith’… That is the reason why people venture out to prove the existence of the almighty. How can a drop in the ocean know how big the ocean is??? It can only accept that it is the part of the ocean or it can challenge the existence of the ocean (impliedly thinking that other drops don’t exist which is what the fanatics are doing!!)

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  • Amused
    Mar 14, 2012 - 7:34PM

    @Mansoor Liaqat:
    To respond to your reply to Ramanujam, As you rightly pointed out that we need to be rational about our belief without any prejudice, do you think Zakir Naik’s arguments are without prejudice? Zakir Naik’s sole aim is to promote islam and prove that islam is better then any other religion in the world, he is a well read preacher, just like million of other christian and muslim missionaries you see around the world, he is preaching islam, promoting, spreading islalm that’s his prejudice, motive, aim… so you can’t argue that his views are not prejudice and he compares every religions without prejudice, he isn’t, he can’t it goes against his goal of spreading, preaching islam to the world!

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  • Mar 14, 2012 - 7:37PM

    @Bangladeshi:
    That’s where the problem lies in an intolerant belief system, winning an argument does not equate to peace and wellbeing of human being. when they become more stressfull.. I guess “art of living” is open to welcome each and every stressed soul without claiming that they are superior or arguing with you about how you are lower than them.. just inviting you to release your stress and spread the message of love, peace and happiness with the help of meditation.Recommend

  • Mar 14, 2012 - 8:08PM

    @All: Putting all the religious arguments aside.

    Maditation specially breathing exercise helps people strengthen their lungs (your cardio vescular strength), energises your body and mind by pumping more oxygen in your body. closing your eyes, concentrating your breathing calms you down, inaffect help you feel calm, peaceful and positively energised.. and calmed, peaceful, positively energised person can only spread calm, peace and positive energy… simples!! Spread the love :-)

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  • Indian troll
    Mar 14, 2012 - 10:45PM

    Having some , experience with the art of living ‘basic’ courses and some of their other activities I came to the opinion that ‘art of living ‘ is not truly secular in its outlook. Though their basic philosophy espoused by them is SECULAR. The philosophy is nothing new and had been around for some time. Their packaging of this philosophy has been very helpful to me and gave me a better understanding of my own being . For that I am always grateful.

    I say that it is not secular because , they have never made an honest attempt to incorporate Islam or its culture in any of its activities. All the activities have been Hindu oriented , pujas bhajans etc. There are some many fantastic Sufi songs about love but they never tried to put them in their bhajan sessions . They say they are secular , universal but you always get a feeling that they don’t mean it.

    If there was a qawwali praising the Islamic prophets , I(and a lot of others) would not feel entirely comfortable singing it. So how do they expect everyone to sing AOL bhajans with Hindu Gods in them ? .
    What ever be their outward view the fact is that they are not completely comfortable with Islam. The bottom line is that though there is a lot of truth in what he says , so we must pick and choose . Take the good stuff and forget the bad stuff…….and then forget him.

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  • currygamer
    Mar 15, 2012 - 5:34AM

    @Pro Bono Publico:
    It doesnt matter if the guy is a hindu,christian,muslim,buddhist or whatever religion he is.He simply came to talk about having peace in the region and and encouraged positive things such as the tourism industry.

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  • currygamer
    Mar 15, 2012 - 5:37AM

    @vasan:
    It originated from the Aryans who came and settled in India,first along the Indus River.

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  • Indian
    Mar 15, 2012 - 9:13AM

    @Indian troll:
    Being not ‘Secular’ and having the influence of a certain discipline of life are two different things.

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  • Peer Sain
    Mar 20, 2012 - 5:05AM

    Why does he not preach some nonviolence to the army that is killing people in Kashmir. And tell Indian leaders why are they holding a whole nation against their will in Kashmir.Recommend

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