An event featuring spiritual leader and founder of Art of Living Sri Sri Ravishankar at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru has stirred controversy. Sri Sri is slated to speak at an event titled ‘Excellence Through Inner Peace’ on Thursday 4:45 pm at the JN Tata Auditorium. In the days leading up to the event, a section of students and professors had met the director of the institute and petitioned him against the event, following which he allegedly issued an unofficial gag order.
The opposing students and professors had claimed that hosting such an event under the IISc banner puts the reputation of the prestigious institute at stake. They also said that if such an event is organised by a group of students and/or faculty members - it should be clearly mentioned that the event has not organised been by IISc, and the names of the organisers should be clearly mentioned (as opposed to the ambiguous ‘a group of IISc faculty across all disciplines’).
The event page in the official website of the IISc seems to have been taken off. An archived version of the page suggests that the event is being organised by a mix of faculty and student members.
In the petition, the opposing students and faculty had urged the director to intervene as they felt that “unscientific therapeutic” solutions suggested by Sri Sri will be a threat to the state of mental health on campus.
When TNM tried to reach IISc Director Anurag Kumar for a comment, his office said that he will not be available for a comment as he will be busy with dignitaries including the Education Minister visiting the campus in the day.
In their petition, the student and faculty members had asked the administration to organise lectures by practitioners and researchers from NIMHANS to discuss ways to achieve a relatively stress-free academic life. ( You can read the full petition here). The petition reads, “We, the undersigned, hereby express our objections to the upcoming lecture by Sri Sri Ravishankar on the grounds of the threat we perceive it poses to the state of mental health on our campus and because of the unscientific claims we found on Sri Sri Ravishankar’s webpage."
They added, “Our campus is currently struggling with widespread and varied issues of mental health. His organisation offers a blanket therapeutic solution to multiple mental health ailments. Such a blanket solution is medically baseless, and can be dangerous.”
This incident comes close to the heels of noted rationalist Narendra Nayak questioning the IIM-Bangalore administration for hosting a pseudo science workshop.
However, this is not the first such controversy surrounding the IISc. Back in 2017, there was a similar row over an event titled 'Astrology as a Scientific Tool for Individual Progress'.