Published On: Fri, Nov 10th, 2017

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Principles of Non-Violence Ends 53-year Old War in Colombia

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Finally, the guns are down on a half-century bloody war.

In continuation of his commitment to work for a violence-free and stress-free world, Global humanitarian and Art of Living founder, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar facilitated the historic ending of a 53-year old war between the FARC and the Colombian government. The peace treaty between the two was signed on September 26, 2016 in the presence of Gurudev. Describing it as a moving moment for the people of Colombia & FARC, Sri Sri said that the historic accord gave peace a chance.

FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is a left-wing guerrilla movement. They have been involved in the Colombian armed conflict since 1964 and has been designated a terrorist organization by the UN and USA. Over 200,000 people have died in the conflict and more than 6 million displaced. Though efforts were on for several years to resolve the deadlock between FARC and the government of Colombia, little was achieved. What was needed was the healing touch of a spiritual leader that addressed the core values of the peace process.

The peace efforts started in 2015, when Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was bestowed the country’s highest civilian award in recognition of his peace work around the world, with special reference to his work in the Latin American nation.

I promise I will do all that is in my capacity to bring peace to all in the conflict in Colombia,” Sri Sri said as Dr.Fabio Raúl Amín Saleme, president of the house, Colombia conferred the ‘Orden de la Democracia Simón Bolívar’ award and apprised him of the situation between FARC and the government.

Soon after, the spiritual leader visited Cuba, Havana and Colombia, talking to both the parties, building trust between them. Sri Sri travelled to Cuba to meet the representatives of FARC, including the leader of the FARC-EP delegation, Iván Márquez and held several rounds of deliberations with them to resolve the deadlock.

Gurudev said, “I explained to them the futility of continuing the way they have been for the last 53 years. When I said that I understand they were also victims of the situation, one of them remarked that for the first time someone has understood their position.

The next day they all came back and we again had a talk for over two hours. On the third day, they followed me to the Indian Embassy in Havana where I led a meditation. And the next day, to our surprise, they came with me to the press conference and announced that they would follow the Gandhian principle of non-violence and declared a unilateral ceasefire.” It was a major breakthrough in the peace efforts and paved the way for further dialogue between the conflicting parties.

The Art of Living next facilitated forgiveness meetings between FARC leaders and the families of 12 deputies who were kidnapped, held captive and finally killed by the FARC (only one survived). “Our effort to fly victims to Havana for a forgiveness program was important in turning the tide for a yes to the referendum in Colombia,” tweeted Gurudev

During these meetings, the families of the deputies expressed their suffering to the perpetrators who said, “Today with sincere humbleness, we would like to publicly recognize our responsibility and ask for forgiveness.” The meeting ended with the families and FARC leaders holding hands in a circle and together, praying for the souls of the deceased deputies.

It was a big step for FARC leaders to acknowledge and ask for forgiveness. This is the power of meditation,” tweeted Gurudev.

Márquez acknowledged that Gurudev’s teachings about the Gandhian principle of non-violence inspired them. The FARC members learned The Art of Living tools and found immediate benefits. They felt calmer and relaxed. “With the help of Sri Sri, we have placed our spirit to achieve reconciliation and coexistence of a big and benevolent country, whose destiny can’t be that of the war. The teachings of The Art of Living are essential to achieve a stable and long-lasting peace.” Colombian members of the government also attended The Art of Living seminars offered in Havana and Bogota. There was a common understanding that this was needed for every member of the society.

As the transition to politics and peace in Colombia by the FARC, for which the President Santos was awarded Nobel Peace Prize, became formal, the former guerrilla leaders couldn’t hide their gratitude. “Meeting Sri Sri and the Art of Living was truly a miracle. We will show that we will fulfill the promise we made to him to follow the Gandhian principle of non-violence,” a former commander, now political leader, declared. “We are very grateful for the support given by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living to achieve peace and reconciliation. It was very important to us,” he added.

FARC has now completely given up arms and has become a political party in Colombia. Gurudev was invited as guest of honor at the launch of FARC-EP as a political party on 26th August, 2017. He was represented by Swami Paramtej and Art of Living teacher Fransisco Ocampo at the program. Conveying Gurudev’s message, Swami Paramtej said, “Transition is not an easy thing for anybody; it brings a lot of changes and we have to be mentally ready for it. With peace of mind any objective can be achieved. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar sends his blessings to all of you.”  Former FARC commanders Ivan Marquez, Rodrigo Londono and Pablo Catatumbo were among the leaders who interacted with Swami Paramtej at the launch.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has acknowledged Sri Sri’s efforts in the peace process, declaring: “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and The Art of Living are heroes of peace.” The Art of Living in Colombia is now developing peace-building programs that will be adopted in the post-conflict period.

Video Links

Watch “The Guru and the FARC” on YouTube – https://youtu.be/2nPcI-vK3rc

Watch “Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Helps End Half Century Old Civil War | Art Of Living” on YouTube – https://youtu.be/74gWGKa5YHY

FARC leader Iván Márquez thanks Sri Sri Ravi Shankar & Art of Living for Colombian peace initiative. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bRAsRnj4iI

Sri Sri’s role in Columbia Peace Agreement – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqKuD8JQvzQ

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