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'Our politicians need Art of Living lessons'

Last updated on: June 17, 2011 14:48 IST

'I will not support anybody adopting any form of violence'

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Vicky Nanjappa

First Gandhian Anna Hazare and then yoga guru Baba Ramdev -- a fast appears to be an effective way of getting the government to do things.

Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been vocal about these movements and even managed to convince Baba Ramdev to call off his fast.

In an interview with rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa, the Art of Living (external link) founder says that even though he supports the cause, he would never support anybody who resorts to violence. Here's the transcript.

Baba Ramdev had spoken of starting an army of his own. Do you subscribe to that view?

Absolutely not. I will not support anybody adopting any form of violence or taking the law into their own hands.

There is talk of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh being behind the Ramdev movement. Your views on this.

I do not know. I have never gone to their fast or their programme. I am not in touch with them on that issue. So I cannot comment.

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'You cannot categorise a country of 1.2 billion with one sort of emotion'

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Could you suggest methods through which citizens can raise their voice in protest or is hunger strike the only way?

There are many ways to protest. People can protest and hold dharnas. Hunger strike is one aspect that will work when people at the helm of affairs are sensitive. Ballot is another way to protest. I feel all protests should be non-violent and non-instigative. They should be done without hatred or vengeance.

Do you think the country is going through a change? Are people becoming impatient?

Change is the constant thing that keeps happening. You cannot categorise a country of 1.2 billion with one sort of emotion. There are people of various emotions, attitudes and tendencies.

Do you think that both Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev have political ambitions?

I am not here to comment on their ambitions. You have to ask them about that. As far as I am concerned, everyone should join hands together and see that the country is out of the rut it is facing.



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'Art of Living will support anyone fighting for a just cause'

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What plans does Art of Living have in future to fight issues such as corruption?

The Art of Living has been supporting Anna Hazare from day one and it will continue support to any movement, which is progressive and non-violent. Art of Living will support any organisation, which fights for a just cause. We are engaged in educating and reforming the people.

Art of Living works at three levels:
* While creating awareness among the civil society in satsangs, which millions of people attend, we also take a vow not to support or indulge in corruption.

* Our youth volunteers approach the government officials and put a sticker on their tables saying, 'I will not take bribe'. This is on the bureaucratic level.

* Through its programmes, the Art of Living creates a sense of belongingness and basically works on changing mindsets of people, reforming them in the prisons, at workplace, schools and colleges. It is stress, narrow mindedness and lack of vision about life that makes one go into criminal activity.



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'Politicians should do satsangs like Mahatma Gandhi did every day'

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The Art of Living is engaged in creating a sense of security and transforming the way people look at life. In all these ways, we contribute for bringing the much needed change in society.

At the same time, we are also actively engaged in educating people against corruption and its prevention. The Art of Living also does not hesitate to join other movements who stand up against or fight corruption. We believe more in reform and education rather than in fighting.

Do you think that all our leaders should undergo a course in the Art of Living. Will such an exercise change their perspective towards our country?

Certainly! It has moved millions to change their mindsets and their lifestyles. Definitely, our politicians and bureaucrats also need this.

What is the spiritual road our politicians should take in order to be better leaders and also be non-corrupt?

They should do satsangs like Mahatma Gandhi did every day. They should feel themselves as servants of people rather than as somebody big trying to rule and control the people.

They should lead a simple lifestyle with one vision -- giving a better future and a better nation to the coming generations.



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