Book Review of
The Guru of Joy: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living by Francois Gautier
Let me begin with the profile of the author. Francois Gautier is a prominent writer of Indology and has written several books on Indian history, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (Sri Sri) & his Art of Living Foundation (AOL). Frankly, after reading about Francois & this authorized biography written by him, I found the author’s life story more fascinating than the story of the Sri Sri.
Opening Lines: One morning, I was sitting in the garden of my home in Auroville-a city founded upon seer/poet Sri Aurobindo’s vision, lying within Pondicherry (now called Puducherry) on South India’s eastern coast.
Page Count: 256 pages
Publisher: Hay House
Publication Date: April 1st, 2008
This is author’s second biography of Sri Sri (1st biography being “The Guru of Joy: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living”) & it aims to uncover a little more about his personality, outlook, & his life, which remains largely unknown to the general public. He claims that his biography is different from the other biographies written for him as it covers many important aspects of Sri Sri’s life.
Though I am inclined towards spirituality and have practiced & read a lot of texts on Yoga & Meditation, I don’t follow any specific Guru to find out my purpose in life. I believe in my heart & follow it, for all the answers. But when I read the forward by his Holiness the Dalai Lama, I felt like reading this book. Francois’s writing is really smooth and easy.
I disagree on many things (for e.g. definition of “Brahmacharya”, Guru being the initiator of Pranayama, Yoga asana’s being Guru’s technique, yoga being originated from “Hinduism”, it’s a true Indian tradition to forget things, etc.) he mentioned in the book but I respect his knowledge, interest in our culture and I am sure he has enough reasons to support his thoughts here. We, however, agree on one thing that excess flattery happens around the gurus all the time.
I particularly liked the way he has mentioned different terminologies & concepts at the footers. It really helps the readers with the true context, with which it used without referring to the internet.
This book is an interesting mix of story’s, testimonies, experiences & miracles congregated from many disciples. Sometimes you feel like reading the biography of the disciples itself. As he mentioned in the book, the purpose of the book is to encourage the readers to do “The Happiness Course” apart from knowing the work of Sri Sri. Author has truly done justice while describing the courses available in the Art of Living Foundation & making it intriguing for the readers.
This book should not be considered as a spiritual work and should be enjoyed like any other biography. Overall a 4 star out of 5 to the book & the author for an easy read with interesting insides of Sri Sri’s life and work over the years.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
About the Author
Born: Paris, France
François Gautier was born in Paris. In the early eighties, he began freelancing in India for different publications and finally ended up being the correspondent in South Asia, for the Geneva-based « Journal de Geneve ». In 1993, he switched to Le Figaro, one of France’s leading newspapers for which he worked exclusively for eight years. He was also a regular columnist for Indian newspapers, initially for Blitz Bombay, and later for Hindustan Times, the ‘Ferengi’s column” in the Indian Express, the “French Connection” column in the Pioneer, Rediff, New Indian Express, Dainik Jagran, etc.
Gautier is now the editor-in-chief of the Paris-based La Revue de l’Inde and a director of a book collection on India with the same publisher.
Along with his wife Namrita, he is also the trustee founder of FACT-India, which does exhibitions and commissions films documenting Human Rights abuse in South Asia. Amongst them: an exhibition on the persecuted minorities of Bangladesh, another one on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits (which was shown to the US Congress in 2005), a film on the trauma of 1947 and another one on the testimonies of the Mumbai train bombings of 2006.
So, that was our review of ‘The Guru of Joy: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living by Francois Gautier’.
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This book is Reviewed by:
Shubhra is a Chartered Accountant who has worked in the corporate world for 7 yrs. before she chose to become a certified yoga teacher. She is an avid reader & currently enjoying her sabbatical GAP year. Last but not least, she is a solo traveler & loves to ride, especially her Royal Enfield.