The Guru of Joy Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and The Art of Living

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Item Code: IHL448
Author: Francois Gautier
Publisher: Hay House
Language: English
Edition: 2009
ISBN: 9788190565592
Pages: 236 (15 Color Illus., 1 B/W Illus.)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
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Book Description
From the Flap

A vibrant and exhilarating narrative that portrays the life and times (and achievements) of one of the most unconventional gurus today

This is the definitive biography of one of the most magnetic men in the world today-a man who has an ever-growing following (which runs into millions) across the globe. From Bangalore to Bosnia and from Tamil Nadu to Trinidad, his very presence, his grace, and his technique have touched and transformed numerous lives. a tireless traveler and a constant seeker of knowledge, he has addressed the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, and bright young minds at Harvard University. In a world torn apart by strife and hostility, he has carried the eternal message of love and compassion and has sought to revive basic human values.

Wherever he goes, people from all walks of life - housewives, students, working people, and celebrities-seek his blessings and advice. Amazingly, he makes each one of them feel special and cherished. Each gesture of his exudes love, innocence, and joy. At the same time, he comes up with practical solutions for all the problems plaguing us today; terrorism, war, political dysfunction, personal conflicts, and psychological complications.

Who is this playfully profound, child-like, ever-smiling guru whose avowed mission is to ‘put a smile on the face of every person he meets”? He is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, with centres in over 130 countries.

This timely and insightful volume presents a fascinating look into Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s childhood, adolescence, formative years, and his subsequent growth that catapulted him onto the international stage. The author describes in graphic detail how he set up his foundation how he developed, after meditating deeply, the Sudarshan Kriya (a transformative process that has miraculous healing powers), and how he strives ceaselessly to spread his simple but remarkable philosophy: celebrate life!

Francois Gautier, born in Paris in 1950, is a French journalist and writer, who, initially, for fifteen years, was the political correspondent in India and South Asia for Le Journal de Geneve and, subsequently, for Le Figaro (France’s largest circulated newspaper) for eight years. He is the author of several books: Un autre Regard sur L’Inde, Arise O India, A Western Journalist on India, and India’s Self-Denial.

He is married to Namrita and has lived in India for more than three decades.


At a time when many people feel that modern knowledge and ancient traditions tend to contradict each other, it is refreshing to come across someone like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who has been able to reconcile his scientific education with his Vedic training to find a path relevant to contemporary needs. As a result, he has established the Art of Living Foundation, whose avowed aim of encouraging people from all backgrounds, religions, and cultural traditions to join together in celebration and service is highly admirable. I have had the pleasure of meeting him several times as well as visiting his ashram.

Francois Gautier’s long-standing personal and professional interest in India has found expression in this book about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. I am sure readers who are concerned to find ways to reawaken human values in their own lives today will find much here to inspire them.


Peace has many more meanings than we may think, and its absence in our lives produces more problems than we know No one in the twenty-first century has probably worked more towards the promotion of peace than His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. In recognition of his extraordinary achievements in this field, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.

Who doesn’t want a little peace of mind? In today’s scenario, this entity appears to be something of a rarity. The daily stresses of modern living are taking a heavy toll physically and mentally, leading to conflict and friction at the workplace, nervous disorders, disease, and even suicide. The Art of Living course, created by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, provides tools that help in bringing back peace to our lives. Techniques in breathing, sound relaxation, and meditation, among many others, are used to eliminate stress from the system, so that the mind gains the clarity to look within and the body is able to calm and strengthen itself.

Today, even our children are subjected to a host of stresses, from broken homes and pressures at school to increasing exposure to violence and sex. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar thus came up with ART Excel (All Round Training in Excellence), a programme specifically designed for young people. This unique course promotes the understanding of human values and encourages the overall well-being of children and young adults through a variety of empowering techniques that foster mental clarity and focus, physical relaxation and health, and emotional stability.

We need peace in our society. Many of those who disturb that peace end up in jail, where they are meant to be reformed. But we know that, in reality, what happens is quite different: jails more often breed bitterness and anger towards society rather than bring about change. In view of this serious drawback, the Art of Living Foundation developed a programme called Prison SMART — Prison Stress Management and Rehabilitation Training. Aside from helping prisoners rehabilitate themselves, the programme teaches them life skills that enable inmates to accept responsibility for their past actions and to handle future conflicts successfully. In India, more than 120,000 prisoners from across the country have undergone Prison SMART with spectacular results. Now, it is being used in many jails around the world.

Terrorism is possibly the biggest threat to world peace today. Many political leaders believe they can counter terrorism only through war or other violent measures. But Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has understood that spirituality alone can vanquish terrorism. His special programmes have won over an Al-Qaeda terrorist from Bombay, Naxalites (leftist militants) from southern India, and over 50 terrorists from Kashmir prisons.

What about those who have been terrorized in different countries of the world? Eighty per cent of Kosovo’s (a part of the former Yugoslavia that witnessed a great deal of violence from the 1980s onwards) population, for instance, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Harvard Medical Group. Art of Living volunteers have spent ten years working in Kosovo; later, they have been active in Israel, other Balkan regions, Sudan, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Pakistan and, most recently, in war-ravaged Iraq, where people are beginning to successfully use yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques to overcome emotional and physical trauma.

Next, we come across those who have been affected by natural calamities, such as the 26 December 2004 tsunami that devastated many regions of Asia, apart from taking a heavy toll. About 5000 Art of Living volunteers were involved in tsunami relief efforts worldwide. Over 3500 people were treated for post-traumatic stress disorders by using a range of Art of Living methods. Hurricane Katrina, in August 2005, left a trail of destruction through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in the US. Victims immediately needed not only medical treatment, food, and water, but also the most urgent trauma care, which the Art of Living trauma relief programmes provided post-haste.

Finally, how will we ever attain peace if the poor and the downtrodden around the world are not looked after (and their agonies alleviated) and the divide between the haves and the have-nots isr1’t addressed? The 5H prograrnme — home, health, hygiene, harmony in diversity, and human values — is helping to make a difference to the world through service and spirituality. The aim of this programme is to uplift individuals and communities so that they become self-reliant, socially and economically. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s ‘soldiers of peace’ have adopted 25,300 Indian villages in 25 states, trained 25,710 village youngsters in youth leadership training programmes, and conducted over 75,000 village—oriented courses that have benefited more than 2.3 million people. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has touched the lives of numerous people across the globe. In February 2006, 3.5 million people from 145 countries, including heads of state, religious leaders, and dignitaries, graced the silver jubilee celebrations of the Art of Living Foundation held in Bangalore. People from every race, religion, and creed came together to celebrate Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s message of peace, unity, and human understanding.

The Gum of Joy recounts the story of the true Apostle of Peace of the twenty-first century.

Foreword 9
Preface 11
Prologue: A Boot Ride in Banaras 15
1 A Sceptic’s Tryst with Serenity 17
2 Glimpses of Childhood 33
3 The Celebration That Is Silence 45
4 The Days with Maharishi 55
5 The Way It All Began 61
6 From Student to Teacher 73
7 The Frame That Holds the Picture 95
8 The Steps That Speak 123
9 The Disciples 143
10 The Miracles 157
11 The Search for Scientific Proof 173
12 Sri Sri’s Answers for the World Today 187
13 The Knowledge Sheets 209
14 A Glimpse into Eternity 221
Appendix 1225
Appendix 2232
Appendix 3235
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