IISc students protest Ravi Shankar’s visit

A visit by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to speak on the IISc campus on Thursday triggered a letter of protest by students.

The spiritual leader intended the visit to be a meditative session at the institute’s JN Tata auditorium on the occasion of World Mental Health Day. However, many students said they were outraged to see news of the event publicised on the institute’s official website.

A petition was mobilised last Sunday, garnering over 700 signatures before it was delivered to Professor Anurag Kumar, the Director of IISc, asking for clarity on the matter. IISc has a student strength of about 4,000.

A source clarified that students did not wish to impede Ravi Shankar’s right to free speech. “We were concerned by the fact that his meditation event was being openly published on the institute’s website. It was tantamount to an endorsement,” he said.

“Students felt that the institute should not be publicising people who in the past have made unscientific claims,” he added. According to sources, Professor Kumar did not know about the event, but once made aware of it, acted quickly to ensure that the news item was taken down from the website.

“The professor also assured students future announcements on the website would be properly vetted,” a source said.

Another person who had an opinion on the matter was Sri Sri himself, according to an individual, who attended the meditation session.

“The spiritual leader complained that those who had filed the petition were unscientific, accusing them of not having an open mind,” he said.

An aide to Sri Sri said Ravi Shankar had no statement to make about the event because he felt it was an internal issue.

“It was a wonderful event. Nearly 950 students and 50 faculty were in attendance,” an official from the Art of Living said. The IISc website says the auditorium’s capacity is 750.

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