Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (henceforth named as Mr. Shankar) is not new to controversy. Not even with topics like homosexuality.
What the event was
At an event in the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Ravi Shankar gave a talk on the occasion of the Nehru Memorial lecture on 13th November, 2017. One among the audience lamented that he was ill-treated since he was known to be a homosexual. Then Mr. Shankar stated that he needed to accept himself as he was and love knew no boundaries.
Let’s see and hear what he said…
Let’s quote Mr. Shankar verbatim as reported by some of the newspapers.
‘You treat yourself better, doesn’t matter how others treat you. You don’t think you are sick or something’s wrong with you. If you stand up, nobody can insult you… But if you feel weak and meek, and if you feel bad about yourself, nobody can make you feel better.’
Indian Express reported this in addition as well. Let me quote it directly here as well.
‘This is your tendency now. Just acknowledge it and accept it, and know that this tendency is not a permanent thing. It may change. I’ve seen many men who were gay, later on turn into heterosexuals, and there are those who are normal — what are called straight people — end up being gay later in life.’
Here’s the conversation from the horse’s mouth. The video is also enclosed in this link.
Student: I’m a gay and I realised this when I’m 22 years old now. How do I deal with this? And my friends mistreat me.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “You treat yourself better. Doesn’t matter how others treat you. You don’t think you are sick or you…something wrong with you. If you stand up, I tell you nobody can insult you. If you don’t let others insult you, you will not be insulted. Do you see what I am saying? But if you feel meek and weak and if you feel bad about yourself nobody can make you feel better. Well this is your tendency now. Just acknowledge it, accept it. And know that this tendency is not a permanent thing. It may change. I have seen many men who were gay, later on turn into heterosexuals. And those…there are many…those..who are normal or called straight people end up being gays at a later part of their life. I would like you to focus beyond the body identity to see you are a scintillating spirit. You are …ab tum aatmaa ho, ek aisi chetna ho. Tum shareer hi nahi ho, shareer ki identity se zara utke dekho. Aap jeete jagte insaan ho. Vyakti ho, chetna ho. Apne aatmbal ko badao. Doosre hamarein saath kaise vyavhaar karte hain is par dhyaan mat dena.”
Where does Mr. Shankar’s stand on this matter?
Before you get to judge what happened, let’s first check if he is being consistent or not. There are many who swing from one position to another. What were his views on homosexuality in the past?
He tweeted in the past supporting removal of Article 377. He stated on record that ‘Nobody should face discrimination because of their sexual preferences. To be branded a criminal for this is absurd.’ In the past as well. This actually put him in direct opposition to Baba Ramdev, who considered (considers?) it to be a disease (though not a crime). I will not go into condemning either but here is one page that examines the difference between the two on this matter.
|The Quint found a very pensive Mr. Shankar pic to go with their article. They picked it up from WikiCommons.|
So what does he seem like? The Good Guy? You may be inclined to believe that the statement of compassion and support for the homosexual community on Mr. Shankar’s behalf may ease their acceptance into society.
But wait a minute. Let’s see how it was reported in the Indian media houses. Let’s look at the headlines for instance.
Sonam Kapoor tears apart Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's theory on homosexuality, Alia Bhatt comes out in support
I don’t usually give space to Bollywood heroines and their opinions. But then they become news. This is true even for those who may be considered as intelligent as Rahul Gandhi. A media hit-job was born.
The only supporting statement comes from news18 (which is not all that popular anyway)
Surprisingly, Scroll had painted the ‘Homosexuality is a Tendency…’ as the headline first, but changed it soon enough (with a corrigendum) stating that they wish to report correctly.
‘Don’t think something is wrong with you’: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to man who faced abuse for being gay
India today apparently did not notice the question and answer session and reported instead on the general speech he made.
What we will see next
I expect some of the other out of work celebrities to give in their responses. Long-time supporter Dia Mirza to veteran Mahesh Bhatt – all may pitch in. Not to be left in the lurch, the political parties will also join in the chorus.
Let me foretell what he will be called (if he is not being called on already). I will list the names down.
3. Hindutva fanatic
4. Hindu fundamentalist
6. Dhongi/fake baba
There are many more but some of them are not exactly printable. Besides, you get the point.
The Position of the Art of Living
The printed and legal standing of the Art of Living (Mr. Shankar’s organization) is there for all to check on a simple Google search. Here is a small excerpt below.
You can check out another longer version of a similar question and answer session that exists on this page.
Amidst all this chaos, I hope the guy asking the question to find peace in himself and live a happier and contented life. J