Art of Living Foundation

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The Art of Living Foundation
Art of Living official logo.png
FounderRavi Shankar
Headquarters21st Km, Udaypura, Kanakapura Road, Bengaluru
Websiteartofliving.org

The Art of Living Foundation is a volunteer-based, humanitarian and educational non-governmental organization (NGO).[1] It was founded in 1981 by Ravi Shankar.[2] The Art of Living Foundation has centers in more than 156 countries.[3] Art of Living offers several stress-elimination and self-development programs based on breathing techniques, meditation and yoga.

Organization[edit]

Art of Living International Centre in Bengaluru

Art of Living Foundation has been an educational and humanitarian organization in the U.S. since 1989.[4] 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.[5]

The majority of the officers of the organization, along with most of its teachers and staff, are volunteers.[citation needed] 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).[6][7] The organization is involved in community service through its centers, and programs are taken by people of many traditions and religious backgrounds. Its underlying principles are compatible with Vedic philosophy.[8]

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 or a non-profit organization actively conducting "Art of Living" stress-relief courses, based on yoga, breathing, and meditation.[9]

According to the tax return filed by the American chapter, AOL Foundation had total revenues of $US5.5 million, an income of $US3.5 million from course fees and expenditure of $US3.4 million from July 2006 to June 2007. Net assets at the beginning of July 2007 amounted to $US7.7 million.[10][11]

Programmes and courses[edit]

Its stress-elimination and self-development programs are based on the breathing technique Sudarshan Kriya, meditation and yoga. This technique is a major part of Art of Living courses,[12] which are conducted by instructors, most of whom do voluntary work.[13] These courses have also been conducted for students and faculty,[13] government officials,[14] firemen,[12] ex-militants,[15] and prisoners.[16]

Social service[edit]

Its areas of work cover conflict resolution,[17] disaster and trauma relief,[18][19] poverty alleviation, empowerment of women, prisoner rehabilitation,[16] education for all, and campaigns against female foeticide,[20] child labour and for environmental sustainability.[21][22]

Project Vidarbha[edit]

In 2007, the foundation initiated the 'Project Vidarbha - 'Swavalamban programme', with the aim of instructing and supporting farmers in severely drought hit regions to improve their living conditions. Over 1000 volunteers provided training in organic and zero-budget farming, rainwater harvesting, hygiene, and the construction of toilets in addition to the Art of Living course.[23] The foundation received Rs 1.4 million funding from the state Government against its total expenditure of nearly Rs 7.5 million, some of which was self-financed, most of which was raised from corporate donors.[24] A similar initiative was started to educate farmers in Andhra Pradesh to implement 'zero budget farming' to end suicides to due to financial stress.[25]

Sri Sri University[edit]

Sri Sri University in Odisha was established in 2009 on the initiative of Ravi Shankar.[26] The school won a Best Innovative University Award at the 2017 National Education Excellence Awards.[27]

Mission Green Earth[edit]

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.[22][28][29] In 2010, in Bangladesh the foundation participated in the 'Billion Tree Campaign' started by United Nations Environment Programme.[30][31]

River Rejuvenation Projects[edit]

A three-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 de-silting existing step wells, among other methods." Volunteers join the villagers every Sunday to participate in these activities under guidance of a geological scientist.[32][33] To create awareness about this program, Art of Living founder Ravi Shankar, joined by other NGOs, prominent citizens, civic authorities, farmers and volunteers led a walkathon in Bangalore City.[34] Apart from reviving some water bodies used by birds and animals,[35] the project had 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.[36]

Similar efforts were held to revive Pallar River in Andhra Pradesh, Manjra river in Maharashtra,[37] and Vedavathi River in Karnataka[38].

Volunteer For a Better India[edit]

The Art of Living, combined 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 protesting against the 2012 Delhi gang rape case.[39]

In May 2013, 1,634 volunteers distributed medicines worth Rs. 2.2 million under the guidance of 262 doctors to over 20,000 slum dwellers in Delhi through 108 free health camps organized in collaboration with the Indian Medical Association.[40]

In September 2013, the 'I vote for better India' initiative was launched to increase awareness of the importance of voting as a responsibility towards the nation.[41] In 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]

Care for Children[edit]

Care for Children project manages schools in 20 Indian states and provides free education to over 67,000 underprivileged children. It focuses on education for girls.[44][45]

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, after they claimed to be former teachers/followers of the organisation and created blogs critical of Art of Living. The Foundation's request to unmask the bloggers' identities was denied, and the judge allowed only the trade secrets claim to go to trial.[46]

In 2012, a settlement was reached under which the foundation dropped the lawsuit without prejudice, compensated the bloggers' attorney fees, and agreed not to prosecute them, 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.[47][48]

Alleged land encroachment[edit]

In 2011 a public-interest litigation petition was filed in the high court alleging that Art of Living had constructed structures encroaching upon the water spread area of Udipalya tank. The irrigation department of the state government of Karnataka inspected the area and found that the foundation had encroached[49] upon 6.53 hectares (16.1 acres) of the tank area and a show cause notice was issued to the foundation.[50][51]

World Culture Festival on Yamuna flood plains[edit]

Art of Living Foundation organised the World Culture Festival held on the Yamuna Flood plains in March 2016. A committee appointed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recommended a fine of Rs 1,200 million on Art of Living Foundation for damaging the ecology of the flood plains.[52] The fine was reduced to Rs 50 million, with no further events to be allowed at that location.[53] After initially disputing the fine, Ravi Shankar declaring that he would rather go to prison,[54] the foundation paid on 3 June 2016.[55]

Burning of the Islamabad center in Pakistan[edit]

After the organization's yoga center in Islamabad, Pakistan was burned down by armed men in March 2014,[56][57] the Foundation reported receiving threats from the Taliban.[58]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Art of Living Foundation". GuideStar USA, Inc. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  2. ^ "Sri Sri Ravi Shankar". The Indian Express. 2018-11-22. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  3. ^ "Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's 59th Birthday: 10 Interesting facts you shouldn't miss about him". India Today. 13 May 2015. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
  4. ^ United Nations - Civil Society Participation. UN https://esango.un.org/civilsociety/showProfileDetail.do?method=showProfileDetails&tab=3&profileCode=1291. Retrieved 9 January 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ United Nations - Civil Society Participation. UN https://esango.un.org/civilsociety/consultativeStatusSummary.do?profileCode=1291. Retrieved 9 January 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "School for tsunami affected children inaugurated in Tamil Nadu". THE TIMES OF INDIA. 21 Jul 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  7. ^ 1945-, Chryssides, George D., (2012). Historical dictionary of new religious movements (Second ed.). Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. p. 75. ISBN 9780810879676. OCLC 828618014.
  8. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2003), Encyclopedia of American Religions (Seventh edition). Farmington Hills, Michigan: The Gale Group, Inc., p. 1004. ISBN 0-7876-6384-0
  9. ^ Gautier, Francois. The Guru of Joy. New York: Hay House, 2008.
  10. ^ "Art of Living Foundation, Fairfield, IA – Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, IRS 2006" (PDF). Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  11. ^ "Art of Living Foundation". GuideStar. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
  12. ^ a b "Pranayam lessons for Mumbai firemen". The Times of India. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  13. ^ a b Naseer, Briana (4 March 2013). "USF community learns 'The Art of Living'". www.usforacle.com. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  14. ^ "30 state officials try to master Art of Living without stress". The Times of India. 14 June 2003. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  15. ^ "Ex-rebels head for meditation courses". The Times of India. 12 Mar 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  16. ^ a b Walker, Andrew (24 December 2008). "South African prisoners embrace yoga". BBC News.
  17. ^ "Sri Sri Ravi Shankar played key role in Colombian peace process - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  18. ^ "Art of Living providing trauma relief in China". Thaindian.com. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  19. ^ "Art of Living trauma relief through broadcast in China". Thaindian.com. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  20. ^ "Voices against female foeticide filed by: Nirmala". The Times of India. 13 Sep 2009.
  21. ^ "SAIL's CSR drive a boon for farmers". The Times of India. 21 August 2009.
  22. ^ a b "AoL project to tackle global warming". The Times of India. 14 Mar 2009.
  23. ^ "Art of Living rescues Vidarbha farmers". DNA. 2 Apr 2007.
  24. ^ "After loan waiver, no Art of Living course for Vidarbha farmers". The Indian Express. 27 June 2008.
  25. ^ "Sri Sri to help AP farmers". Times of India. 7 January 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  26. ^ "Sri Sri University — Sri Sri Ravi Shankar". www.srisriuniversity.edu.in. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  27. ^ "Best Innovative University Award for Sri Sri University". United News of India. January 23, 2017. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  28. ^ "Art of Living launches 'Mission Green Earth Stand Up Take Action'". news.oneindia.in. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  29. ^ "Students take up 'Mission Green Earth'". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 4 October 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  30. ^ "Planting a billion trees". The Daily Star. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  31. ^ "News from the Campaign". United Nations Environment Programme. Archived from the original on 13 May 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  32. ^ "Art of Living initiates Kumudvathi River rejuvenation program". Times of India. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  33. ^ "Hoping for more water". The New Indian Express. 22 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  34. ^ "Kumudvathi revival plan draws citizens' interest". DNA. 9 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  35. ^ "Ravi Shankar leads walkathon for water". Business Standard. 8 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  36. ^ "He tames criminal instincts in jailbirds". Times of India. Times of India. TNN. 9 June 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  37. ^ Basu, Ipsita (2017-12-06). "Reviving water bodies is an Art of Living now". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  38. ^ "Copying nature is the only way to revive our rivers". www.downtoearth.org.in. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  39. ^ "Mumbaikars hold public vigils to condemn Delhi horror; seek security for citizens, not VIPs". The Times Of India. 21 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  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. ^ Admin, India Education Diary Bureau (2018-12-14). "Sri Sri University to conduct Mega Meditation Camp led by Mrs Bhanumati Narasimhan". India Education Diary. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  45. ^ Avdeeff, Alexis (2010-03-31). "The Art of Living. Un mouvement indien au-delà des clivages religieux?*". Archives de sciences sociales des religions (in French) (149): 169–187. doi:10.4000/assr.21902. ISSN 0335-5985.
  46. ^ "Unmasking The Art of Living". East Bay Express. 6 June 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  47. ^ "Blogger vs. Alleged Cult Case Ends in Favorable Settlement". East Bay Express. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  48. ^ "Art of Living Foundation v. Does 1-10". Citizen Media Law Project.
  49. ^ "Art of Living Foundation hints at moving SC against NGT order". The Hindu. 2016-06-06. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  50. ^ "AoL has encroached tank". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  51. ^ "Sri Sri Ravishankar grabs Rs 50 cr land illegally in K'taka?". OneIndia News. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  52. ^ Dasgupta, Piyasree (28 February 2016). "Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art Of Living Foundation Fined 120 Crore For Ecological Damage". www.huffingtonpost.in. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  53. ^ Express Web Desk (10 March 2016). "Sri Sri Ravi Shankar event gets NGT nod, Art of Living fined Rs 5 crore". indianexpress.com. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  54. ^ TNN (11 March 2016). "Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Will go to jail, but won't pay Rs 5 crore fine; NGT fixes deadline". timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  55. ^ "Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gives in, pays Yamuna fine". www.asianage.com. 7 June 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
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  57. ^ "Did Pakistan TV Debate Prompt Burning of Yoga Center?". NBC News. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  58. ^ "Taliban Threatens Art of Living Volunteers in Pakistan: AOL". Outlook. Retrieved 25 June 2014.