Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has spoken exclusively and at length to Republic TV about his mediation and views in the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, which has run for almost seven decades but is nearing a critical phase.
With the Ayodhya case set for its next hearing in the Supreme Court on March 14, and a massive 'Ayodhya meet' planned to work towards a consensus in the matter, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has outlined the various possibilities and potential outcomes, as well as the ramifications, some of which, he describes as "grave", and others, positive
"This is a golden opportunity for both communities to cement their relationship, come together and create a wave of harmony in the country. If we don't make use of this, we'll be fools. We'll be at loss. Instead, we make this a point of contention forever... keep this country divided and burning all the time. And some people want this, that's why they're opposing."
"They would like this conflict to be kept burning, to be kept alive, because their existence is on conflict. I wouldn't like to say the names of people, but some people want to keep this problem alive because conflict is their basis, their existence... and we cannot afford this to go on in this country. We don't want one more conflict. We're seeing in Kashmir what's happening every day. We're seeing in Naxal-hit areas what's happening every day. We don't want this Ram Mandir issue to be another problematic thing in the whole of the country. So the best thing is that both communities come together with the sense of goodwill. You know, all intelligent people, sensible people agree on this. We're saying, 'This is a win-win situation', see not one community is celebrating their victory, we're giving both communities a chance to celebrate victory.
I go to the extent to state that we put a plank there that says "this Mandir was built with the cooperation and goodwill of both Hindus and Muslims"... and this conflict is put to rest forever!
There are always some people who would like to create disturbance in the society. In both communities, there could be. I would like the youth of this country to wake up. The leaders, responsible people of this country to wake up, and come along and create a harmonious environment and to protect this country from being pushed to extremism, or into chaos, or violence. We don't want civil war in this country. I've seen too many of them in Iraq, Syria. You know, the state of affairs is very scary. It is dangerous and of great concern. It is such a burning issue and it touches the hearts and minds of the people, so it needs to be resolved out of court."
On why the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is not willing to come on board:
"I am also wondering why they are saying... why they want to tread the path of defeat instead of coming on to the path of 'win-win' situation. I don't understand. There's no sense in rejecting out-of-court settlement. There is no sense in asking for a defeat for either community in a court."