Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, has said that it was tough being a neutral in India.
Known for his leaning towards the BJP, Sri Sri said that he had been able to maintain his neutrality but it was a challenge.
Speaking to The Statesman, the Art of Living founder said, “You know it is very tough to be neutral in this country. The moment someone approaches you, someone participates in your programme, you are tagged as belonging to that political party. So to keep the neutrality you need to have all the parties interested or nobody takes interest in it.
That is a challenge. So far we have been able to maintain ourselves, our dignity, our neutrality. As a spiritual and social organisation it is our job to care for people, specially when there is so much poverty, corruption and natural calamities.”
Sri Sri, who campaigned for the BJP and had endorsed Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate during 2014 Lok Sabha elections has often come under flak for his political affiliation with the saffron party.
He, however, advised spiritual babas to be neutral.
He added, “All spiritual leaders have to be neutral. They have to be like journalists. If someone asked you as a newspaper if you are with communists or Congress or others, you will say you are here for people. Similarly, spiritual leaders, I think, have to be for people.”
Sri Sri had also earned plenty of criticism for his perceived disdain to the rule of law after he publicly refused to pay the fine imposed on his organisation by the National Green Tribunal in February this year.
The NGT had admonished the AOL for destroying the environment while organising the World Culture Festival on the banks of Yamuna.
The NGT had imposed a fine of Rs 5 crore, but the AOL has not paid any penalty yet prompting many to conclude that his proximity to the central government virtually made Sri Sri and his organisation above law.