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.
"Ya, let it happen. On other side, we're also talking to many organisations, individuals, people on both sides. Both are agreeing for it. I'm very hopeful, because any project I've taken up so far, we've succeeded. So I don't see why I would not succeed here when it makes all the sense. It makes all the sense in the world! It creates a bonding, it's a golden opportunity for both communities to cement their relationship, their bonding, otherwise there'll be a gap between the communities, there'll be a heartache, and burn and hurt, that will be caused to both communities."
"I would say that... Islam doesn't permit Namaz to be held where there is conflict. So since that place is of conflict, even as per Islam, that place is not suitable for a Mosque. So holding on to it just out of grudge, want to build a Mosque, is nonsensical. And that place is considered as Sri Ram's birthplace. For centuries, for 500 years, people have been fighting. As a goodwill gesture, gift that land to the Hindus and build the Mosque anywhere other than that property, outside where there is land, 5 acres, 6 acres, 10 acres available, you build the Mosque there."
"Everybody's willing to do. All the saints are willing to raise money to build the Mosque for them. Hindu saints are ready to do. And I am telling those people who feel... it is not an acceptance of defeat, you're not defeating yourself. It's a win-win situation."
"It is not any place. Because it is Sri Ram's birthplace and it has such an emotional and spiritual significance for Hindu community. It's not the case (on whether it is significant for the Muslim community)."
"Suppose it was a sacred place for Muslims as well, such as Haji Ali, or Ajmer Sharif, or Nizamuddin Dargah , or something like that, it would have been a very difficult thing. Since that is not the case since for 70 years no Namaz has been offered there, what is the difficulty in giving up? When you are ready to give up for a hospital, why don't you respect the sentiment of the majority community and give it for a Temple?"
"I don't see any sense in this logic. Again I assure them, 'you aren't giving the place for an organisation. You're giving to the country, to the people like this land.'"