A comment by Swami Sananda that appeared in today's Times of India.
Few spiritual teachers can match Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's worldwide appeal. His courses have benefited millions of people cutting across the fault-lines of race and religion, community, culture and nation. Even those whose temperament and upbringing do not allow them to take a lively interest in spiritual matters have to concede that the guru's teachings are free of cant and bigotry. He brings to his discourses a lightness of touch and a great deal of charm, which are in contrast to the self-righteous demeanour of so many of his peers. Against this backdrop the guru's statements after the recent shooting incident at his ashram seem to be quite out of character. He debunked the Karnataka police version that the shooting took place after he had left the venue and that he was not the assailant's target to begin with as a 'white lie'. In much the same vein he took exception to P Chidambaram's categorical assertion that a dispute between two of the guru's disciples may have triggered the shooting and that it was not an attempt on the guru's life. Ordinary mortals are entitled to engage with the authorities in a back-and-forth of this nature. But a spiritual teacher is expected to be more circumspect. He could have drawn inspiration from the Gita, which in shloka 17/15 advises austerity of speech, and said that Chidambaram may have been improperly briefed. The reason quite simply is that Sri Sri's discourses draw inspiration from some of the loftiest spiritual traditions of the country. It is enlightening to hear him speak about Vedantic insights that emphasise non-attachment to transient phenomena and to focus instead on what binds the individual to humankind at large. It is such a broad vision that enables him to encourage his followers to abide by the dictum that 'truth lies everywhere and partially even in error'. Why should it matter to him then when the shooting took place? It makes little sense to pit his word against the word of the authorities or even to bestow on the incident the cachet of a 'bad dream'. Moreover, since the assailant has yet to be apprehended, to forgive him is to jump the gun. The Sanskrit word for it is 'agyat-avidya', unknowable ignorance, which is best avoided when you have made it your life's mission to rise above the humdrum in the pursuit of a larger, deeper and more enduring truth.