Relation between Spirituality and Religion – Talk by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Spirituality is like a banana and religion is like the banana skin. People today have thrown away the fruit and are left holding tightly to the skin. – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

 Ambassador of Peace Sri Sri Ravi Shankar goes on to clarify:

“Religion has it’s place, I am not a communist or an atheist who says religion should be done away with. Let it be there but what is the point of having the skin without a banana inside?! If there is no substance, no human values, no compassion, no love, no sense of belongingness, holding on to the rituals and just the outer identity of religion, which has becomes the cause of more and more conflicts in the world today, is what I was talking about.”

“Religion has it’s place, let it be there. It does have a place. Your weddings are done according to religion, your naming ceremonies, even your cremation. From birth to cremation, your name is all indicated by religion. Let it be there. But let it not swallow or eat up, the basics of spirituality that is love, compassion, sense of belongingness, humility. These values are what you call spirituality.”

Symbolic Love

Commenting on Religious Fundamentalism Sri Sri Ravi Shankar states:

“It is the distress and mistrust in people which causes them to take religion as an excuse to express their frustration and display aggressive, violent behaviour.”

Art of Living Founder and world spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar adds:

“Every child should study a little bit about different religions and cultures. If people knew just a little bit about what Jesus said, what the Upanishads say, what the Vedas say, what Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam say, there would not be a single terrorist in the world.”

“Today’s terrorism is a result of Puritanism: i.e. when people say, “Only my religion is pure. I should keep away from other religious books or I should not be educated in those things. Only this is the way.” That type of religious indoctrination in children has given rise to Taliban sort of movements in the world. We have lost so many people to terrorism.”

Emphasizing that Spirituality is a way of life, a personalized attitude of relating with the world, one based on unity rather than diversity, on love and a sense of belongingness to everyone rather than anger and alienation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar advises:

“Bang on your inner door. See that there is no lack of love in you, there is no lack of anything whatsoever inside you.”

“You can experience God in the depth of your heart. Do not delay a moment. Bang on the door. All the wealth is within you.”


What can one human being do? Can he change the world, help millions who are clueless about life, be a friend and guide, and also teach them to see life in a new perspective? Impossible isn’t it?  Who will ever have such patience ? leave alone the love and compassion for people of the world.Sri Sri has been doing it relentlessly for the past four decades. He has brought together people of varied backgrounds into one fold. There are many who are doing a commendable work in the field of social service, so what makes Sri Sri Ravi Shankar different? On first sight you may not find anything extraordinary in this frail short man but what is it that moves millions to follow him with such love and devotion? The first thing that strikes us about him is his super cool and calm demeanor. I have not seen him show any sort of disapproval even when followers swarm all around him he meets each and every one listening to each one of them with rapt attention and having a reassuring word for all. There are many saints, yogis’,  gurus, healers but Sri Sri is one who has taken upon the task of teaching people on how to live life, he empowers every individual to raise themselves spiritually and  and ever so patiently lead them towards a better understanding of themselves, their purpose of life and how to be a human being. It does not do justice to describe Sri Sri Ravi Shankar merely as a spiritual head. In today’s world we see religion being distorted to suit individual thinking and perspective.  So moving beyond this restricted definition I see Sri Sri as a world leader who can rise above regionalism, politics and religion and think from a higher plane for humankind. At a time when world leaders are perturbed with challenges of ISIS, Sri Sri spearheaded a peace process in Iraq to support and protect the Yezidi and Kurdish population from persecution by ISIS against ethnic groups in the region. He met various heads of state in Iraq to facilitate a peace process and to bring about a dialog and create awareness of compassion, accepting mutual differences and living in peace and harmony.  How many spiritual leaders from anywhere in the world have done that? This is clearly living by what he preaches compassion and love for all and that we are all one and the same of a cosmic whole.