Indian spiritual guru's move for a violence-free America
An initiative to create a 'violence-free, stress-free' America marked the Silver Jubilee celebrations in the US of the Art of Living, an international NGO founded by Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
The initiative announced at a Washington event envisages several programmes to foster human values such as compassion, friendliness, a sense of brotherhood and an attitude of service to society. Many prominent members of US Congress, senators, educators, professionals, scientists and business leaders attended the event held at the John F Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts Wednesday.
In his address, Sri Sri said, "We all can work toward a dual goal. One is to protect our environment; the second is to protect human values of compassion, friendliness, cooperation and a sense of belonging to each other. This will protect our minds, our hearts - the soul of the planet. These human values need to be nurtured so we can have a stress-free, violence-free society."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in a message read out by his chief of staff Vijay K Nambiar stated, "It is reassuring to know that you - a diverse assembly of origins and cultures - have gathered to celebrate your commitment to global harmony and peaceful coexistence."
"The values you champion, including non-violence, compassion and the sanctity of all life, go to the heart of what the United Nations stands for."
Democratic senator Joseph R Biden said, "The Art of Living is one of India's stars. It has an incredible following that cuts through all religions, cultures and background - a very, very difficult thing to do in today's world."
He praised The Art of Living for its important work promoting peace, combating drug addiction, and empowering youth.
A proposed Universal Declaration of Human Values providing for a pragmatic vision for the world community, representing a roadmap to foster understanding and harmonious coexistence among different peoples and cultures was also unveiled.
Drafted as a proposed resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, the Declaration emphasizes the urgent need to rekindle human values in society in order to resolve the serious challenges facing the world today.
Other prominent members of Congress who addressed the gathering included Jan Schakowsky, Joe Wilson, Danny Davis, Luis Gutierrez and Senator Joseph Crowley.
Before the event, Shankar hosted a reception at the Kennedy Centre, which was attended by over 1,000 dignitaries and prominent citizens. The evening concluded with a meditation session led by the Indian guru.