Monday, April 14, 2014

How to address Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in writing

I really do not have any overriding compulsion to address Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. And, I will definitely not address him Guruji as his followers do. I also would like to follow the style of the London based newspaper The Economist, which names a person in its article by his or her full name at the first instance and gives an appropriate title like Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr. etc. subsequently.
Now I come to an article in The Hindu of April 14, 2014 titled ‘Development is intrinsic to a secular project’ by Garimella Subramaniam which purports to put down what Rajeev Bhargava has to say on secularism, development and democracy.
In the article, the senior fellow of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies is introduced by his full name and subsequently he is cited as Dr. Bhargava. So, I figured that the writer was following the convention as mentioned above. And, it turns out I figured wrong.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is introduced as, “…the founder of the Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.” So far so good. But at the second instance of his name appearing it is still, “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also averred …” This sent me for a loop.
The article was violating a perceived (by me) convention/style. In the second instance it must have been either, “Mr. Sri Ravi Shankar”, taking the first “Sri” as the first name, or as, “Mr. Ravi Shankar”, taking both the “Sri”s together as the first name. Please note that neither of the “Sri”s could be an honorific!
Now you understand my problem. I am in the dark as to what the money-minting Art of Living founder’s first name is! Is it “Sri Sri”, in which case at second and subsequent mentions he becomes, “Mr. Ravi Shankar”? Or, is it “Sri”, in which he should be referred to as “Mr. Sri Ravi Shankar” subsequently? The newspaper style editor goofed up, in both cases. He is falling between stools and so am I. I am led to wonder whether Mr. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (that is another twist for you!) has also joined us. Do we know his name? Oh, his devotees ask, “What’s in a name? A new-age guru is a new-age guru!”
Raghuram Ekambaram

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