For nearly 50 years, A.T. Ariyaratne has been a champion of social and economic justice for deeply impoverished people in Sri Lanka. He has inspired hundreds of thousands of people to gather in peaceful protests and massive meditations through messages of self-governance, unity and non-violence.
Ariyaratne brought the same messages to Cal Poly Pomona for a free, public lecture on Oct. 27. The Ahimsa Center presented his lecture titled “The Power of Love” from 3 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Music Recital Hall. A reception followed.
Ariyaratne is founder and president of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka, the world's largest spiritually-based people's development movement. Starting his professional life as a school teacher, he has become internationally renowned for his exemplary contributions to promoting social and political change through nonviolence.
Founded on Buddhist and Gandhian principles, the Sarvodaya Movement works in 15,000 villages for social and economic justice impoverished Sri Lankans. For nearly half a century, Sarvodaya has mobilized tens of thousands of people to create housing, water projects, solar energy, food production, pre-school programs, legal services, women's projects, orphanages, child welfare agencies, village banks and more.
In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Ariyaratne has led some of world's largest peace marches with millions of people. In the mold of Mahatma Gandhi, he has quieted angry masses through his personal example. Like the Dalai Lama and the world's greatest preachers, he has an impressive ability to rally ordinary citizens to see the spiritual wisdom of looking beyond their own salvation to help ensure the salvation of others.
Ariyaratne has also led some of the world's largest mass meditations to address conflicts in his country, with 650,000 people gathering, for example, in peace meditation in Sri Lanka in 2004.
The “The Power of Love” is a Daga Family Public Lecture, recognizing Harish & Sunila Daga and Sunil & Asha Jain, who are Ahimsa Center founding sponsors.
The Ahimsa Center was established in 2004 in the College of Letters Arts & Social Sciences. The center is dedicated to interdisciplinary teaching and learning about nonviolence and its practical applications, and has just launched a degree program for a minor in Nonviolence Studies. In October 2008 the center will hold a conference titled Rediscovering Gandhian Wisdom: Building a Peaceful Future.
Contact the Ahimsa Center at (909) 869-3868/3808 or http://www.cpp.edu/~ahimsacenter/ahimsa_home.shtml.