Art of Living Foundation

(est. 1982)
   The Art of Living Foundation promotes the spiri-tual endeavors of Sri Sri Ravi SHANKAR (b. 1956) (not to be confused with the prominent musician of the same name). It focuses on the use of ancient Hindu methods for reaching serenity.
   Shankar is a native of Bangalore, India. As a child he demonstrated great intellectual skills. He could read and discuss BHAGAVAD GITA by the age of four. In childhood he read Indian literature and was able to grasp complex text material and philosophy.
   As an adult, Shankar traveled the world from his home in India, teaching the methods revealed in classical texts for developing a serene life, which he called the Art of Living. Shankar’s teachings emphasize ancient science, especially Sudharsha Kriya, a meditative breathing technique that bal-ances natural rhythms in mental, emotional, and physical life. Sudharsha Kriya gained celebrity in 1998 and 1999 when scientific studies confirmed its benefits. The meditative practice is used for stress reduction, conflict resolution, and personal development.
   The Art of Living Foundation was officially established in Bangalore, India, in 1982 as a non-profit educational and humanitarian organiza-tion. It now has more than 4,000 chapters around the world. Although the foundation claims no religious affiliation, it upholds basic spiritual tenets through its offering of compassionate service around the world, including charitable and educational programs in 142 countries. It is a consulting nongovernmental organiza-tion (NGO) registered with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. Services include the 5-H program, a holistic endeavor that focuses on homes, health, hygiene, harmony in diversity, and human values. All programs follow the general philosophy of the foundation, emphasizing the practical and intel-lectual development of human values and the potential of individuals to strengthen society. The Art of Living Foundation has provided many workshops over the years at United Nations summits and conferences.
   According to the foundation an estimated 2 million people around the world have benefited from Sudharsha Kriya through Art of Living courses. The foundation has also established the Research and Health Promotion Center, which provides scholarships for research into the health benefits of Sudharsha Kriya. The foundation publishes an online journal, Prana. A sister orga-nization, the International Association for Human Values, coordinates volunteer efforts for aid and relief.
   In 1995, the president of India recognized Shankar’s spiritual accomplishments by giving him the title of Yogi Shiromani (Supreme Flow-ering of Enlightenment) during a major World Conference of Yoga.
   The center in Bangalore, India, administers the various programs to spread the spiritual pre-cepts of the movement, heighten knowledge of Vedic texts, and engage in community service. In En gland, the United States, and Canada, the work is pursued under the name Art of Living; in Europe it is called the Association for Inner Growth. In Jan-uary 2005 the Art of Living Foundation donated over $34 million for tsunami relief. The founda-tion has also established orphanages for children and homes for women in the affected areas of India and Sri Lanka. Many of the services offered by the foundation are provided almost entirely by volunteers.
   Further reading: François Gautier, The Guru of Joy: Shri Shri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living (New Delhi: Books Today/The India Today Group, 2002); Ravi Shan-kar, Bang on the Door: A Collection of Talks (Santa Bar-bara, Calif.: Art of Living Foundation, 1990); ———, Celebrating Silence (Santa Barbara, Calif.: Art of Living Foundation, 2001); Ravi Shankar and Judith S. Clark, Waves of Beauty (Santa Barbara, Calif.: Art of Living Foundation, 1998).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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