File under: Back Room Gurudom and The Siddhi of PR
After about a half-year's worth of blowing, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is about to find out if the Nobel Peace Prize committee heard him tooting his own horn. Speculation is running high in the Asian news media, but a recent Associated Press report makes no mention of the self-pimping prophet of the Art of Living Foundation.
Two prominent names that do get mentioned are rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono of the Boomtown Rats and U2, respectively. Bob Geldof was the brains and brawn behind the very successful Live Aid and Live 8 benefit concerts, and Bono has been hard at work as a freelance statesman, negotiating the reduction and/or elimination of third-world debt.
Up against the likes of these guys, Sri Sri's chances are looking about as slim as a triple-threat (cocaine, laxatives and bulimia) starlet after a month at a pro mia retreat, and it will be a big bummer for his org if he loses. Handing the Nobel Peace Prize to Sri Sri would be like Oprah going Kaballah for Madonna. It would blast him way past Amma, Sai Baba and the various Kalkis and put him at the absolute top of the heap of Indian godfolk.
But we're not giving odds on him. The fact is that Sri Sri hasn't done much except provide a bit of tsunami and hurricane relief and grandstand around some rebels for a few days. And his occasional out and out hypocrisy probably hasn't helped, either. If any Indian guru deserves it, it's Ammachi and her $22 million tsunami relief effort.
We're sure Sri Sri's got all his devotees praying for him, but we don't think a Nobel is on the karmic schedule this time. He's going to have to kick it up a few notches if he's to get any traction next year. And with the Maharishi's peace palace program starting to kick in, Sri Sri's going to have to do a lot more than grandstand and horn toot—like grandstand, horn toot, and spend a whole lot more money.