Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Biography: The Life and Teachings of Gurudev

Last updated on June 18th, 2024 at 03:25 pm

A yoga guru and spiritual master of world renown, Sri Sri Ravishankar has about 370 million followers worldwide. He founded the very famous Art of Living and the International Association for Human Values, two organizations working towards reducing violence, alleviating social problems and guiding people towards leading a stress-free and peaceful life.

Sri Sri Ravishankar is referred to as Guru Ji, Gurudev or Sri Sri out of respect. He has authored several books and his written works serve as guides towards spiritual awakening for the readers. He has been honoured by many countries apart from India and he travels the world to preach and render his knowledge to the seekers. He is found to be a friendly and approachable guru who, through his eloquent words and soothing voice, inspires his followers. Millions of people around the world attend his online and offline sessions and lectures, he frequently appears on various media platforms, and his teachings have reached many parts of the world, turning him into a global phenomenon. Here is an insight into his life and work.

Biography of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Early Life of Sri Sri

Ravi Shankar was born on May 13, 1956 in Papanasam, Thanjavur district, Madras (present-day Tamil Nadu). Since he was born on a Sunday, he was named Ravi (which means the sun) and he was given the name Shankar in honour of the 8th century sage Adi Shankara, whose birthdate coincides with that of Ravi Shankar. At an early age of 4, he had started reciting some verses of the Bhagavad Gita, and was inclined to spirituality even as a child.

He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Science from St. Joseph’s College of Bengaluru University. The Indian Vedic scholar Sudhakar Chaturvedi was his first teacher and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was his next teacher, with whom he worked as an apprentice, giving speeches and organizing conferences on Vedic science. He helped Mahesh Yogi in founding Transcendental Meditation and setting up Ayurveda Centres. Under the guidance of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, he gained experience in the field and later went on to establish the Art of Living Foundation.

Teachings of Gurudev

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

  • Sri Sri started taking courses in spirituality in various parts of the world in the 1980s. In a span of silence that he spent at the banks of Bhadra river in Shivamogga, he came up with Sudarshan Kriya, which he started teaching, and till today is one of the most popular practices among his followers.
  • The first course of Art of Living was organized in Switzerland in 1983. The first course in North America was conducted at the Apple Valley in California in the year 1986.
  • According to Guruji, spirituality enhances human values like compassion, love and enthusiasm, and the entire humanity is linked with a bond of spirituality which is more important than an individual’s nationality, religion or anything else which divides the human race into sections.
  • Gurudev says that science and spirituality are linked. While the question ‘Who am I?’ leads to spirituality, the question ‘What is this?’ leads to science.
  • He says that his goal is to rid the world of violence and stress, and his programs provide practical tools to achieve this.
  • According to him, truth is spherical and not linear, so it has to be contradictory.
  • He says that breath is a link between the mind and the body and can be effectively used to relax the mind using spiritual or meditative practices.
  • His courses help people alleviate anxiety, overcome stress, get better sleep, and find joy and peace. His teachings help people find the purpose of their life.
  • Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has authored several books, many of which have been best-sellers. Celebrating Silence, An Intimate Note to the Sincere Seeker, and Notes for the Journey Within are some of his very popular books and his writings span many languages like English, Hindi and Tamil. (You may click on the provided links to order books from Amazon.)

Art of Living

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar

  • It is a global movement founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the organization he is best-known for, and it works towards fostering well-being through meditation and yoga and has 10,000 centres spread across 180 countries.
  • This movement has a legacy of 43 long years and claims to have impacted 500+ million lives.
  • Its underlying philosophy is to strengthen one’s roots, broaden the vision and serve humanity.
  • Programs conducted by Art of Living emphasize on breathing techniques, meditation and practical wisdom to help people gain clarity of thought and be able to lead a more fulfilling life. There are online as well as offline courses and programs, and there are different courses for different age groups. Thus, Art of Living programs are helpful to everyone irrespective of gender, age, place of residence or religion.
  • Sudarshan Kriya, a key component of Art of Living courses, has helped millions across the globe to improve their quality of life.
  • Art of Living includes meditation programs and yoga programs conducted for various ages and stages (beginner to advanced), and there are courses and programs designed as a solution to various problems like stress, anger, depression, mental health, immunity, as well as relationships and parenting.
  • Through its well-curated programs, Art of Living aims to help people at different levels and manage various aspects of their physical and emotional well-being.
  • There are courses specifically designed for schools, corporates, individuals and groups.
  • Taking up one or more of Art of Living courses or attending their programs has been a life-changing experience for many.
  • In their 42 years of service to society, Art of Living has worked for the rejuvenation of 70 rivers/streams in India, helped in giving education to more than 1,00,000 students, provided training about how to earn a living, to over 4,20,000 people and trained over 22,00,000 farmers in natural farming.
  • According to Gurudev, if service to humanity (or seva) is the primary commitment and only purpose of your life, you get freed from fear, gain focus, get more purposeful in action and you can achieve long-lasting happiness.

Gurudev’s Noble Work

  • Gurudev pioneered a movement in volunteerism and social service, which led to the formation of one of the biggest volunteer-based organizations in the world that has over 30,000 teachers and more than 1 million volunteers working in human service in 180 countries.
  • To support people in difficulties, Gurudev has established global initiatives. His message is ‘one world family’ and it gets people from diverse backgrounds together.
  • In 1992, he started a prison program that works towards the rehabilitation of prison inmates and their inclusion in society.
  • In 2004, Guru ji visited Pakistan on a goodwill mission and in 2012, he started Art of Living Centres in Karachi and Islamabad.
  • He went to Iraq in 2007 and 2008 to promote global peace.
  • During the interfaith summits in 2008 and 2010, Guru ji brought together faith-based leaders to work towards eradication and prevention of HIV, and raising awareness about the same.
  • In 2015, he advocated the practice of Gandhian principles of non-violence to FARC leaders.
  • In 2016, the South Asian Forum for Peace was established under his leadership, which aims at getting together 8 South Asian countries to work in fields like skill development, education, cultural exchange, and women empowerment.
  • In 2019, he met leaders in Venezuela to mediate political conflict and help restore peace in the country.
  • His and his team’s efforts helped in getting peace in Manipur, after which 68 militants surrendered to the government.
  • Thus, we can see that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s work spans various fields like education, poverty, social justice and international peace.

Awards Given to Gurudev

  • Sr Sri Ravi Shankar is the receiver of Padma Vibhushan, which he was honoured with, in 2016.
  • In November of that year, he was given the Dr Nagendra Singh International Peace Award.
  • He has been honoured with Peru’s Highest Award as well as the highest civilian awards of Colombia and Paraguay.
  • He has been given the Tiradentes Medal, which is Rio De Janeiro’s highest award.
  • He has been conferred with honorary doctorates by many universities in different parts of the world.
  • He has received the Bharat Shiromani Award and the Sant Sri Dnyaneshwara World Peace Prize.
  • Guru ji’s life and work has been recognized globally through several accolades like these, and in 2009, Forbes enlisted him as the 5th most powerful leader in India.

Here are some of the popular quotes by Gurudev:
On Love, Happiness and Life
On Yoga, Meditation & Spirituality
Quotes for a Positive Mind

His saintly personality and words of wisdom, create a magical vibe that attracts millions to him. He is a highly revered spiritual leader, a humanitarian of world renown and an ambassador or peace. His presence is purifying, his work is inspiring and his life is that of a real yogi.

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