Welcome to the official blog of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

The Mystery of two Sris

As I had shared in one of my earlier posts, the hype preceding the year 2000 brought a widespread scare that the world was coming to an end on 31st December, 1999. A priest in Korea had predicted doomsday. Astrologers in India feared ‘pralaya’ – even chapters from the Puranas were cited to point at visible signs of the end of the world. There was panic all over America. People in California were selling their homes fearing a catastrophe. Many were storing milk powder and groceries in their basement. This mass hysteria meant that I had to travel a lot both in the USA and Canada to eliminate this unfounded fear.

There was no such fear in the volunteers of Art of Living though, who were preparing to celebrate the dawn of the new millennium in Milano, Italy. Thousands had arrived for a midnight meditation. The Italian organisers were all enthusiastic and matched the Indians in chaos!

Finally, midnight dawned. The celebrations which began with chaos became blissful and silent. The new millennium had arrived and the world was still safe.

A few months later, I was in New York to attend the UN Millennium Peace Summit. Religious and spiritual leaders from all over the world in different attires had descended at the United Nations. I was just about to get into a lift when I heard somebody call out my name. I turned back and saw that it was Satyanarayan Goenkaji, who was propagating the Vipassana system of meditation. The elderly gentleman called me to the side and said, “I don’t want people to think that you have stolen. Maharshi Patanjali and Adi Sankaracharya stole from Buddha. I don’t want you to be labelled like that. Stop using the name ‘Art of Living’. Call it whatever else you want.“ I nodded saying, “Pandit Ravi Shankar also says I have stolen his name.” He empathised with me, “No, no. Apna nam kyon change karega?” (Why will you change your name?) I had met Goenkaji once in Mumbai in 1988 and was meeting him after a long gap of 12 years. By now, Art of Living had become much more popular.

If at all the name “Art of Living” has any lineage, it can only be attributed to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who wrote a book, “The Science of Being and the Art of Living”, though I have not read it. When I shared this with Goenkaji, he said that it was he who promoted Maharishi all over the world, “Now he has become too big and forgotten me.”

I assured him that I would definitely talk to my organizers about his concern. That evening, I called our key organizers at the Waldorf Astoria to discuss changing my name and that of the organization. This was a grave matter and everybody had something to say. I easily dropped the Pandit from my name. A colleague who had been with me at Maharishi’s came up with the idea of Sri Sri. Everybody agreed that one Sri is very common, generic and confusing. My opinion on the matter was irrelevant in this animated discussion. I was just a silent witness. And so, I was rechristened at Waldorf. However, despite this exercise, MTV and Fox News still showed my photo when the legendary sitar maestro passed away.

In the meeting, I mentioned that there was an objection to the name of the organization as well by a very senior spiritual teacher from India. The organizers said the name ‘Art of Living’ had already been registered in many countries including the US. Many complications would ensue if we were to change it. They all said in one voice that the name could not be changed. I kept quiet.

Since then, the Art of Living has changed a lot, though it retained its name, while my name was changed but I remained the same.



More Comments

  1. Susan Granger

    I have a Facebook friend from India whoI was taking to about meditation which I am just starting. He told me about SS Ravi Shanker and I will be forever grateful. As mentioned above all one had to do is look into his eyes and listen to the humility and love that he exudes to know the light of God shines in him and through him. I don’t care what he calls himself or his foundation. The bible, which I don’t follow by the way days”by their works shall ye know them” He embodies this statement.

  2. Kawaljit

    Funny guy calling himself sri sri damaging fragile ecological balance in the name of art of living. Sick mentality

  3. Nitin Sharma

    Guruji ….they didnt he didnt ask you to change your name but you changed it, he asked you to change the name of organisation since it belonged to Vipassna teacher’s organisation, but you could nt change it, whatever reasons you give…it’s clear that this is plagiarism on your part…
    i find your organisation completely commercial, your people market their products on stage where you talk to people, they market MBA courses they market other courses…m sure till you make somebody realise you would mak him do atleast 100 courses.

  4. Vivek Kant Singh

    Thanx for answering, many websites criticising “Sri Sri” as title u bestowed upon self. Now one knows its for distinction .

  5. Ekta

    Wonderful! and great knowledge with humor “Since then, the Art of Living has changed a lot, though it retained its name, while my name was changed but I remained the same.”

  6. Phaniraj

    Not sure if Guruji has written this article!……looks like someone near to guruji has penned this article. The flow of matter lacks the typical class & style of guruji……….the article exudes egoistic tone.

    Jai Gurudev

  7. gudda

    When you started talking about DOOMSDAY and PRALAYA, i though there woyld be some mystery in the two shri.

    But as it turns out it was just presumptous of me :p lol

    Thankyou gurugi for sharing

  8. vijaya lakshmi goswami

    Sweta ne ek hafta pehle jab kaha ma vipassana karne ja rahi hun. G ne 9 times kia,tab haske fb me likh to dia guruji…jao jake karo vipassana sab,
    hame to upasana se fursat nahi,vipassana kidharse karun baap !!
    Per chup chupke gayi maine woh site per,artofliving sabdh sahi me mentioned hai wahan. Dekha or wapas aa gayi.kyunke aapke rehte hame kahinse vipassana ki dristi nahi chahie tha gurudev!! Or maze ki baat do din baad woh whattsapp per batayi ”are ma!! Badahi boring hai,wapas aa gayi main ghar” 🙂

  9. Devavrata

    Swami Vivekananda was right over a century ago when he said that the only thing that holds down Indians are other Indians.

    What’s in a name? I never gave much thought about the ‘Sri Sri’ name – however, have always had deep respect, gratitude & above all, Love, for the man, the Guru & his movement known as ‘The Art of Living’

    After this article, I still don’t see the big deal about the name.

    Most people around the world have zero concern over ‘Sri Sri’. Leave it to some select busy body Indians to nit, pick & nit & pick.

  10. Gorakshanath Thube

    In last week I was curious about two sri sri’s and was trying to find what caused to get such a name. It seems guruji has ability to listen to every devotee and answer their queries hence this blog entry.
    We are blessed with your presence on earth.

  11. Abhijit Kumar Singh

    When are you going to write about Maharishi Mahesh Yogiji in your blog?

  12. gauri

    finally it is out….although Gurudev i love your simple answer in satsangs- because 4 Sri’s will be too long 😉

  13. revathi

    It is still a wonder for me that how come anybody who have met him once/saw his photograph or read his book or heard his voice… not feel the magnitude of guruji”s personality . This shows they enjoy the power of maya. rather than the divinity….

  14. Namita Bohara

    Dearest Guruji,
    I look forward to reading your blog. This post of yours is so refreshing, It instantly brought a smile on my face. Loved reading this. 🙂 Hoping to read many more anecdotes from you.


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