A Hindu guru who is considered a celebrity and statesman in India arrived in Birmingham to lecture Tuesday night at the BJCC Theatre with his message of love, non-violence and peace.
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who created the Art of Living programs to teach meditation and breathing techniques in workshops worldwide, said in an interview before his lecture that people who act violently need to get in touch with their inner selves and find peace.
“No child has come onto this planet being a bad child,” Shankar said. “We all come to this planet as a bubbling bundle of joy and enthusiasm. Some way, the stress, tension and lack of opportunity to know more about oneself has all led to the place where they will end up. I feel this peace education about our own self, our mind, is essential.”
Shankar is on a tour of the United States that will feature stops in Nashville and St. Louis after Birmingham.
Those who try to solve problems with guns have a problem that can only be healed by finding an inner peace, he said before his program Tuesday night.
“I understand their predicament,” Shankar said. “They must be so upset, so sad, so wounded in themselves. They’re unhappy, you know? We need to get them to find their happiness, give them solace. You are not isolated. You are part of us. Let’s all join hands and see what is the problem. There is no problem that cannot be resolved through dialogue, through talking and becoming closer.”
Shankar is known for teaching breathing techniques that help achieve inner peace.
“Breath has many secrets to offer,” he said. “It’s connected to our emotion. It’s connected to how we feel. There are patterns in your breath. When you are happy, the way you breath is different than when you are disgusted, when you are upset, when you are angry. Your breathing rhythm changes.”
He trains teachers to help people overcome stress through breathing patterns and meditation.
“You need to get the stress out of your system,” he said. “That’s why these techniques are important.”
Many Americans take yoga classes, and that’s a step in the right direction, Shankar said.
“Yoga, that’s good,” he said. “It helps people. Physical and mental health are very closely linked. Yoga attends to both physical and mental.”
Shankar has intervened in political disputes and always spends time with both sides in a conflict, looking for common ground, he said.
“They meditate and find the tranquility within them, and see things from another perspective,” he said.