Bangalore’s 7 Gifts to the World: # 1 – The Art of Living!

An introduction first! The Metroblogging network, all 50 cities around the world, is taking part in a series called the “Seven Gifts to the World”. In this, each city will identify 7 gifts (can be people, places, styles, stuff, ideas) that originated in that particular city, and has been adopted the world over, or at least, extensively. You can have a peak at the other cities’ gifts here. The Bangalore Metroblogging Authors have come up with a few ideas and we’ll post them in the next few days. Please note that they are NOT in any particular order. Also, we would like you as readers to give us your thoughts too. So at the end of this, we’ll also ask you for what you feel Bangalore’s Gifts are… So here’s kicking off the series!

Gift # 1
A foundation that has reached out to over 20 million people from all walks of life, the Art of Living Foundation, is an international nonprofit educational, charitable, and humanitarian organization.

The Foundation’s headquarters, VVMVP is located here on Kanakpura Road in Bangalore and I’ve visited it once with a friend (who has done a few courses of the AOL). The centre’s main building is a multi-tier cake shaped structure and looks really impressive from the outside, especially when it is illuminated at night. Since we were actually just passing by, we didn’t get time to really wander around, but I did get some time to glimpse the really impressive structure, both inside and outside.


The founder of the AOL, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was born in 1956 in Papanasam, TN, and then studied with many spiritual masters and became a scholar of Vedic literature. By the age of seventeen, he obtained an advanced degree in modern Physics. In 1982, he founded the Art of Living Foundation and in 1997, the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) was formed.

SSRS travels to over 40 countries every year, to reinforce the message that all religions and the great spiritual traditions share common goals and values. AOL courses are held all over India and the world through the AOL Foundation and volunteers.

His main USP is the Sudarshan Kriya, a breathing process, based on ancient breathing techniques and a core offering of many of the programs taught by the foundation. The Art of Living’s Silver Jubilee was celebrated this year between 17-19 February, 2006 at the 243-acre Jakkur Airfield. I think many of you might remember that time as there was quite a huge influx of people into the city! There were attendees from more than 110 countries apparently and the cumulative attendance over three days was as high as 2.5 million or more, according estimates by several Indian newspapers. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of India was one of the high profile attendees besides many others.

Like all movements of this nature, the Foundation and SSRS has come in for criticism also. But since today we are talking about a gift, we won’t get into that aspect. Needless to say, there have been a lot of people (who I too know personally) who seem to have benefited personally by being associated with AOL. So whether you are a believer/follower or not, one thing is for certain – the reach and spread of the organization is worth admiring. Today it is present in more than 142 countries around the world! No mean feat, surely.

Art of Living

1 Comment so far

  1. Ravi (unregistered) on December 1st, 2006 @ 4:35 pm

    Informative post but there are always 2 sides to every story including about AOL, its funding, objectives and even SK itself!

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