Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living Foundation and the International Association for Human Values, spoke at the annual convention of the Asian American Hotel Owners Convention on Thursday.
He provided the organisation with a show of support for its controversial decision to invite Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and took a dig both at the Bush administration for declaring Modi persona non grata in the US and the coalition of groups that successfully lobbied to bring about the US action to ban Modi's entry.
Sri Sri, during a long interactive session with nearly 4,000 delegates attending the convention, was asked a loaded question in the midst of a spiritual discourse.
Asked to give his comments on how he views Modi, he said, after what seemed like a pregnant pause, "I don't comment on individuals because individuals are just part of one wholeness."
Sri Sri, who recently spoke at the United Nations and the World Economic Forum in Davos, said the thoughts that come to every individual and the way an individual acts are not governed by collectiveness consciousness. "Everybody is what you call a nimitta -- an instrument of the divine," he said.
But before all this could sink in, he asserted, "So branding someone good or bad or right or wrong and boycotting them is meaningless is useless."
The audience exploded in applause.
"Every individual has done something good for society," he continued, "and knowingly or unknowingly something bad might happen from an individual. So when someone does something wrong, don't hold him a culprit all his life."
Sri Sri noted that he and his followers 'we go and teach our program in the prisons around the world and I look into the eyes of all those prisoners... they are beautiful people... they are nice people."
He argued "situations, circumstances, might have made them do something, but we should be beyond all these little happenings."
Sri Sri asserted that 'I haven't seen one bad human being on the planet. So, I don't find any reason to excommunicate any one person. It's really foolish.'
He acknowledged that 'actually, I also got a letter asking me not to come to this conference -- to boycott it. I said, in my world there is nobody I can boycott and I am not going to do it. I am just going to come."
The audience went wild.
Sri Sri then went on to talk about the unprecedented progress that was occurring in Gujarat under the Modi administration. He noted that more than 40,000 dams had been constructed in just one year. "The water level has come up in Gujarat so much. People are so happy," he said.
"In the villages for the first time in many years there is enough water for the people -- even in drought-hit areas. So see the positive things that are happening and tell the person all the nice things the person has done. You will uplift the goodness in people," he said.
Sri Sri reiterated, apparently referring to the sustained campaign against Modi, "If you always keep telling a person of all the negative things all the time, the person gets frustrated."