Art of Living foundation

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The Art of Living Foundation
Aolf Logo.png
"Celebrating Life"[1]
Motto "One World Family"[2]
Founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Headquarters 21st Km, Udaypura, Kanakapura Road, Bengaluru
Website http://www.artofliving.org

The Art of Living Foundation is a volunteer-based, humanitarian and educational non-governmental organizations (NGO).[3] It was founded in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.[4]

The Foundation is working in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)[5] of the United Nations. The International Association for Human Values[6] is the sister NGO that Shankar founded, that focuses on the upliftment of human values at the grassroots level.

Organization[edit]

Art of Living International Center in Bengaluru

Art of Living Foundation (AOLF) has its international headquarters in Bangalore, India at Ved Vignan Mahavidyapeeth or VVM campus (usually referred to as the Art of Living's international facility in Bangalore, or as the Bangalore Ashram)and has regional centers in more than 150 countries. In Europe, the organization is known as the Association for Inner Growth. The Foundation was founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and offers a variety of personal-development and trauma-relief programs around the world.

AOLF has been an educational and humanitarian organization in the U.S. since 1989. Accredited as a United Nations non-governmental organization in 1996, it works in special consultative status with the UN's Economic and Social Council, participating in a variety of committees and activities relating to health, education, sustainable development, conflict resolution, and disaster relief.[7] The Art of Living is a DPI NGO (Department of Public Information), which means it plays an active role in communicating and contributing to various United Nations goals (such as the UN Millennium Goals and the Stand Up initiative).[citation needed]

The majority of the officers of the organization, along with most of its teachers and staff, are volunteers. Many humanitarian programs, disaster relief efforts, and training programs are conducted through, or in conjunction with partner organization, the International Association for Human Values (IAHV)[8][better source needed]. Some of the key worldwide chapters include the Art of Living Foundation (U.S.A.), Vyakti Vikas Kendra (India), Die Kunst des Lebens (Germany), Art of Living Center (Canada), Art of Living South Africa, Art of Living Israel, Art of Living Brazil, and Art of Living Argentina.

The Foundation operates as a charitable organization actively conducting "Art of Living" stress-relief courses, based on yoga, breathing, and meditation.[9]

Guided by Sri Sri’s philosophy of peace, "Unless we have a stress-free mind and a violence-free society, we cannot achieve world peace", the Art of Living offers several stress-elimination and self-development programmes based mainly on breathing techniques, meditation and yoga. These programmes have helped thousands around the world to overcome depression and violent and suicidal tendencies.[citation needed] Art of living hopeline, a telephonic hotline available 24/7, is a dedicated program to reduce suicidal tendencies.[10]

A number of medical studies on the organization's core life-enhancing/trauma-relief techniques (Sudarshan Kriya and its preparatory practices) have been published in international peer-reviewed journals. A range of mental and physical benefits are reported in these studies, including reduced levels of stress (reduced cortisol—the "stress" hormone), improved immune system, relief from anxiety & depression (mild, moderate & severe),[11] and increased antioxidant protection, enhanced brain function (increased mental focus, calmness and recovery from stressful stimuli), among other findings.[12][13]

The organization is involved in community service through its centers.[14]

In March 2014, the organization's yoga center in Islamabad, Pakistan was burned down[15][16] followed by reports of threats issued to the organization by Taliban.[17]

According to the tax return filed by the American chapter, AOL Foundation had total revenues of $5.5M (mainly 3.5M from course fees and 1.7M from public support ) and expenditure of $3.6M from July 2006 to June 2007. Net assets at the beginning of July 2007 amounted to $7.7M.[18] EIN for the American chapter of AOL Foundation is 77-0240101.[19]

Social Service[edit]

Art of Living is engaged in many social services globally. Its areas of work covers conflict resolution,[20] disaster and trauma relief,[21][22] poverty alleviation, empowerment of women, prisoner rehabilitation,[23] education for all, campaigns against female foeticide[24] and child labour and environment sustainability.[25][26]

In 2007, the foundation initiated the 'Project Vidarbha - 'Swavalamban programme'. The aim was to support, train and encourage farmers in severe drought hit regions to roll back their lives. Over 1000 volunteers provided training in organic farming, zero-budget farming, rainwater harvesting, hygiene, construction of toilets, etc. in addition to the Art of Living course. The program received official backing as a result of its success and was initiated in other areas as well.[27] The foundation received Rs 1.4 million funding from the state Government compared with its total expenditure of nearly Rs 7.5 million, some of which was self-financed, most of it was raised from its corporate donors.[28] A similar initiative was started to educate farmers in Andhra Pradesh to implement 'zero budget farming' to end suicides.[29]

In partnership with United Nations Millennium Campaign and United Nations Environment Programme the 'Mission Green Earth Stand Up Take Action' campaign was launched in 2008 with a goal to plant 100 million trees across the world to help reduce global warming and protect the environment. Art of Living had already started tree plantations across India as part of its Mission Green Earth campaign to support the Millennium Development Goals of the UN.[26][30][31] In 2010, in Bangladesh the foundation participated in the 'Billion Tree Campaign' started by United Nations Environment Programme.[32][33]

A 3-year program to rejuvenate the Kumudavathi river (in Bangalore) was initiated by the foundation under its 'Volunteer for Better India' campaign in collaboration with civic authorities and environmentalists in February 2013. "The project aims to address the water shortage problems through rainwater harvesting, increasing green cover and desilting existing step wells, among other methods." Volunteers join the villagers every Sunday to participate in these activities under guidance of a geological scientist.[34][35] To create awareness about this program, Art of Living founder, Ravi Shankar joined by other NGOs, prominent citizens, civic authorities along with many farmers and volunteers led a walkathon in Bangalore City.[36] Apart from reviving some water bodies used by birds and animals,[37] the project revived five water-recharge wells, constructed 74 boulder checks, cleaned up 18 step wells and planted 2,350 saplings in seven villages by June 2014.[38]

Volunteer For a Better India[edit]

The Art of Living along with UN Agencies, NGOs and civil society, launched Volunteer For a Better India (VFABI) on 5 December 2012. VFABI is involved in many activities, including protest against the 2012 Delhi gang rape case.[39]

In May 2013, through one hundred eight free health camps organized in collaboration with the Indian Medical Association, 1,634 volunteers distributed medicines worth Rs. 2.2 million under the guidance of 262 doctors to over 20,000 slum dwellers in Delhi.[40]

In September 2013, the 'I vote for better India' initiative was launched to bring about awareness about the importance of voting as a responsibility towards the nation.[41] In the city of Pune around 500 volunteers have covered more than 400 housing societies, 60 firms and 30 colleges enrolling over 35,000 people in the voters' list.[42] Students of the YCCE College in Nagpur initiated this campaign in their college and registered themselves along with their family and friends for voter identity cards.[43]

Programmes[edit]

Art of Living organizes courses based on breathing exercises and meditation. Sudarshan Kriya is the pivot of majority of Art of Living Courses[44] which are conducted by instructors some of who do voluntary work.[45] These courses have also been conducted for students and faculty,[45] government officials,[46] firemen,[44] ex-militants,[47] and prisoners.[23]

Musical concerts and dance events[edit]

The Art of Living has entered the Guinness Book of Records for a Mohiniyattam dance organised in Cochin[48][49] The performance has been awarded the world record for the most people performing a Mohiniyattam dance, the traditional Kerala dance form. [50]

The organization organized a sitar concert "Brahm Naad" which also entered Guinness Book of Records.[51][52] The proceeds of the event went towards rehabilitation of the victims of the Bihar floods.[52]

"Taal Ninaad" held on 17 January 2012 at Sholapur, which included 1230 tablas and 318 pakhavaj also entered the Guinness Book of Records.[50][53]

On 16 May 2012, The Art of Living Foundation, organized a cultural evening in Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture, NDK, in downtown Sofia, Bulgaria, where 333 Bulgarian bagpipers played a 9.13 minutes suite. The youngest player was 9 years old and the oldest player was 80 years old. [54]

Mass recital of Jnanappana, a devotional poem written by the 16th century Malayalam poet Poonthanam, organized by the foundation on 2 February 2014, has also found place in the Guinness Book of World Records.[55][56]

Legal issues and Controversies[edit]

Settlement with anonymous bloggers[edit]

In 2010, Art of Living sued two anonymous bloggers, "Skywalker" and "Klim", accusing them of defamation, trade libel, copyright infringement and disclosing trade secrets. Claiming to be former teachers/followers in the organisation they created blogs critical of Art of Living. Art of Living's request to unmask Skywalker and Klim's identities was denied. Further, the judge allowed only the trade secrets claim to go to trial.[57]

In 2012, Art of Living and the bloggers reached a settlement under which the foundation dropped the lawsuit with prejudice, compensated the bloggers' attorneys fees, and agreed to never again prosecute Skywalker, Klim, or any of their contributors[better source needed]. Skywalker and Klim agreed to freeze their existing blogs with no restriction on starting up new blogs critical of Art of Living.[58][59]

Alleged land encroachment[edit]

In 2011 a public interest litigation petition was filed in the high court alleging that Art of Living had constructed huge structures, encroaching upon the water spread area of Udipalya tank. The irrigation department of the state government of Karnataka inspected the area & found that the foundation had indeed encroached upon 6.53 hectares of the tank area.

A show cause notice was issued to the foundation by the state government.[60][61]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Art of Living Foundation". Artofliving.org. Archived from the original on 20 July 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  2. ^ FAQ
  3. ^ "Art of Living Foundation". GuideStar USA, Inc. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "No business, like God business: India's godmen find spirituality to be profitable". DNA. 15 Sep 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "Art of Living Facts". Esango.un.org. Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  6. ^ "The International Association of Human Values". Iahv.org. Archived from the original on 14 July 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  7. ^ "United Nations - Department of Economic and Social Affairs - NGO Section". Un.org. Archived from the original on 1 May 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  8. ^ "School for tsunami affected children inaugurated in Tamil Nadu". THE TIMES OF INDIA. 21 Jul 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Gautier, Francois. The Guru of Joy. New York: Hay House, 2008.
  10. ^ "Project Hope - World Alliance for Youth Empowerment". Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  11. ^ Antidepressant efficacy of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) in melancholia: a randomized comparison with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and imipramine Janakiramaiah N; Gangadhar B.N; Naga Venkatesha Murthy P.J; Harish M.G; Subbakrishna D.K; Vedamurthachar A Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 57, Number 1, January 2000 , pp. 255-259(5) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10708840
  12. ^ Gautier, Francois. The Guru of Joy. New York: Hay House, 2008. p. 155-164.
  13. ^ Scientific Research on Art of Living Practices http://www.aolresearch.org/published_research.html
  14. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2003), and, though not a religious organization, and programs are taken by people of many traditions and religious backgrounds, underlying principles are compatible with Vedic philosophy. Encyclopedia of American Religions (Seventh edition). Farmington Hills, Michigan: The Gale Group, Inc., p. 1004. ISBN 0-7876-6384-0
  15. ^ "Police Investigating If Yoga Center Was Targeted Due To Links To India And Founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.". Newsweek (AG Publications). Newsweek. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  16. ^ "Did Pakistan TV Debate Prompt Burning of Yoga Center?". NBC News. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  17. ^ "Taliban Threatens Art of Living Volunteers in Pakistan: AOL". Outlook. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  18. ^ "Art of Living Foundation, Fairfield, IA – Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, IRS 2006" (PDF). Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  19. ^ http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/77-0240101/art-living-foundation.aspx
  20. ^ "Unesco – Conflict Resolution And "The Art Of Living In Peace"". Portal.unesco.org. Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  21. ^ "Art of Living providing trauma relief in China". Thaindian.com. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  22. ^ "Art of Living trauma relief through broadcast in China". Thaindian.com. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  23. ^ a b Walker, Andrew (24 December 2008). "South African prisoners embrace yoga". BBC News. 
  24. ^ "Voices against female foeticide filed by: Nirmala". The Times of India. 13 Sep 2009. 
  25. ^ "SAIL's CSR drive a boon for farmers". The Times of India. 21 August 2009. 
  26. ^ a b "AoL project to tackle global warming". The Times of India. 14 Mar 2009. 
  27. ^ "Art of Living rescues Vidarbha farmers". DNA. 2 Apr 2007. 
  28. ^ "After loan waiver, no Art of Living course for Vidarbha farmers". The Indian Express. 27 June 2008. 
  29. ^ "Sri Sri to help AP farmers". TImes of India. 7 January 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  30. ^ "Art of Living launches 'Mission Green Earth Stand Up Take Action' Read more at: http://news.oneindia.in/2008/10/04/art-of-living-launches-mission-green-earth-stand-up-take-action-1223114635.html". news.oneindia.in. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  31. ^ "Students take up ‘Mission Green Earth’". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 4 October 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  32. ^ "Planting a billion trees". The Daily Star. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  33. ^ "News from the Campaign". United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  34. ^ "Art of Living initiates Kumudvathi River rejuvenation program". Times of India. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  35. ^ "Hoping for more water". The New Indian Express. 22 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  36. ^ "Kumudvathi revival plan draws citizens' interest". DNA. 9 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  37. ^ "Ravi Shankar leads walkathon for water". Business Standard. 8 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  38. ^ "He tames criminal instincts in jailbirds". Times of India (Times of India). TNN. Jun 9, 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  39. ^ "Mumbaikars hold public vigils to condemn Delhi horror; seek security for citizens, not VIPs - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 21 December 2012. 
  40. ^ "Free health camps for slum dwellers by Art of Living". Business Standard. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  41. ^ "Foundation urges citizens to vote". The Times of India. 15 Oct 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  42. ^ "NGO volunteers enrol 35,000 people in voters’ list". Sakal Times. 1 November 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  43. ^ "YCCE Supports "I Vote For Better India" Campaign". Nagpur Today. 11 Oct 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  44. ^ a b "Pranayam lessons for Mumbai firemen". The Times of India. 4 Feb 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  45. ^ a b http://www.usforacle.com/usf-community-learns-the-art-of-living-1.2814809#.UTR8oaDtGTY
  46. ^ "30 state officials try to master Art of Living without stress". The Times of India. 14 Jun 2003. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  47. ^ "Ex-rebels head for meditation courses". The Times of India. 12 Mar 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  48. ^ "Mohiniyattam dance enters Guinness Book". Hindustan Times. 10 December 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  49. ^ "A Guinness record 1200 dancers and Art of Living - Trends News - IBNLive". Ibnlive.in.com. 3 February 2010. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  50. ^ a b [1]
  51. ^ "Largest Sitar Ensemble". Guinness World Records. 21 November 2008. 
  52. ^ a b "A musical treat: 1000 sitar orchestra". The Times of India. 22 November 2008. 
  53. ^ Largest hand drum ensemble
  54. ^ http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=139456
  55. ^ "MOST PEOPLE READING ALOUD SIMULTANEOUSLY - SINGLE LOCATION". Guinness World Records Limited. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  56. ^ "Guinness records mass recital of devotional poem". IBNLive. Jun 21, 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  57. ^ "Unmasking The Art of Living". East Bay Express. 6 June 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  58. ^ "Blogger vs. Alleged Cult Case Ends in Favorable Settlement". East Bay Express. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  59. ^ "Art of Living Foundation v. Does 1-10". Citizen Media Law Project. 
  60. ^ "AoL has encroached tank". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 16 December 2011. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  61. ^ "Sri Sri Ravishankar grabs Rs 50 cr land illegally in K'taka? Read more at: http://news.oneindia.in/2011/09/06/sri-sri-ravishankar-grabs-poors-land-illegally-for-aol.html". OneIndia News. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 

External links[edit]