The Madras High Court has granted an interim stay on the meditation event of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at a heritage site of a Tamil Nadu temple, delivering a setback to the Art of Living founder. This was after Tamil outfit Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi demanded immediate halt on the planned event of the Art of Living inside the premises of Brihadeeswara shrine, dubbed as one of ‘Great Living Chola Temples.’
The division bench of the Madras High Court comprising comprising Justices KK Sasidharan and Audikesavalu granted the interim stay after hearing the plea on Friday. The organisers have now reportedly shifted the venue of their planned meditation camp after the court’s order.
The matter had first come to light after an independent journalist tweeted highlighting ‘a tent-like structure’ near the temple vimana (tower). The journalist had asked how the heritage temple could be disturbed, evoking angry protests from pro-Tamil groups and parties. Leading the protests were the supporters of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, which expressed shock over the permission given by Archaeological Survey of India for conducting spiritual classes for two days by Art of Living.
“There is no scope under the law to hold such events in the Thanjavur temple, which is protected by the ASI and it is a UNESCO Heritage site, if permission was given it is against the law,” VCK general secretary D Ravikumar had told news agency PTI.
The VCK leader said his party had no objection to the event per se but only the location. “It is a 1000 plus year monument which is a treasure of Tamil Nadu, any structure even if it is temporary cannot be put up there,” he said.
The complainant also told the court that Art of Living was criticised by the National Green Tribunal for damaging the floodplains of river Yamuna when it organised the World Peace Conference in Delhi in 2016. A spokesperson for Art of Living, for her part, said that they had got approval from the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department and the ASI well in advance. A statement from Art of Living added that its volunteers were engaged in cyclone relief work at Vedaranyam and Pudukottai.
The event, christened “Vigyan Bhairav Master class meditations,” that encompasses deep meditation techniques to tap super consciousness, has been shifted to a hall near the temple, organisers said.