Art of Mixing: Sri Sri's Malala remarks show a confusion of the spiritual with the political

Spiritual men seldom indulge in loose talk. They weigh their words and utter them with care so that the intended impact is not lost on the audience. Used to their mystical ways, we, the common folk, tend to discover profound meaning in whatever they speak, even if it’s rubbish. That's why it is difficult to be dismissive of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar when he claims that he turned down the Nobel Prize.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. File image. Reuters

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. File image. Reuters

When he says Malala Yousafzai didn’t deserve the prize, instead of saying, "Sir, please mind your own business and leave the girl alone," you start looking for a deeper meaning in the message. And that is our attitude towards spiritual men.

Sri Sri’s statement that was made in Latur yesterday left most of us in a dilemma. However, that was not the case with those active on the social media. Quick to reach a conclusion on anything, pathologically averse to analytical thinking and irreverent to the core, they called the Art of Living founder a ‘loser’, ‘stupid ass’ and a ‘jealous man’. Makes you wonder that sometimes the social media animals, obnoxious generally as they are, could be doing some good to the society.

Sri Sri may not appreciate the words hurled at him, but as someone known to have a good sense of humour, he would accept the brickbats with a smile. Does it ever leave his face? But it would leave millions of his followers, across the globe, a tad bit disappointed with the guru. After years of silence, dignified service to the mankind, he has suddenly stepped into a controversial territory. These days he has been veering from the spiritual to the political and making statements and doing things with no subtlety at all.

Only a few days ago, he said he wanted to initiate peace talks with the dreaded Islamic State, but it responded by sending him the picture of a beheaded man. Since no peace was possible with the group, they should be dealt militarily, he added. In India, much to the discomfort of his thousands of apolitical followers, he has been taking a clear Pro-Right position. His stand on the NGT’s ruling on the World Culture Festival organised on the Yamuna floodplains earlier this year was perceived as an act of defiance by many.

Now, nowhere it is said that spiritual leaders cannot speak on political developments around them. It’s a matter of choice. However, the faithful tend to place spiritual gurus on a pedestal, removed from everyday mundane developments. In fact, they seek a respite from that through the spiritual route. They feel manipulated when their allegiance is leveraged to achieve inferior, at times personal, ends. This is when the latter leave the followers confused and finally come down in their esteem.

Take the case of his statement on Malala. Sri Sri is believed to have told that he was offered the Nobel Prize at least once earlier but he refused it. He also indicated that Malala didn’t deserve the prize since she had not done anything for the society. He added that it was a political decision.

Fine, it is a personal view. But did he need to express it?

The Twitter responded quickly by commenting that ‘it is a case of sour grapes’. ‘Stupid ass. But he is in right company. Even terrorists in Pakistan hate her,’ said another comment on the social networking site. In general, he was a butt of all jokes.

‘When truth is bitter & hard to digest, people often mock it. I sincerely welcome all my critics. May sound strange-you're having fun & so am I!’ said a response purportedly from Sri Sri’s Twitter account.

It’s nice that the guru is having fun. But in the long term, too much of it can be injurious to his public image. He should get back to speaking in coded, loaded language.

Updated Date: May 04, 2016 13:55 PM

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