Ravi Shankar, usually known as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, born Ravi Shankar Ratnam, on May 13, 1956, in Tamil Nadu, India, is a spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Foundation (founded 1982), which aims at relieving both individual stress and societal problems and violence, and which is an NGO (non-governmental organization) with UNESCO consultative status. Frequently referred to simply as "Sri Sri" (honorific) or as Guruji or Gurudev, he also established in 1997 a Geneva-based charity, the International Association for Human Values, an NGO that engages in relief work and rural development and aims to foster shared global values.
Born in 1956, Ravi Shankar's father was Venkat Rama Rao, in the automobile business and director of a rural women’s empowerment NGO as well as a scholar of Indian languages. His mother's name was Vishalakshi Ratnam. He was named Ravi (a common Indian name meaning "sun") because his birth was on a Sunday, and Shankar after the 8th century Hindu saint Adi Shankara, with whom he shares the birthday. He received a bachelor of science degree at the age of 21 from St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore University.
After graduation, Shankar traveled with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, being invited by Maharishi to give talks on Vedic science, arrange conferences on the Vedas and science, and set up Ayurveda centers. He was earlier addressed as "Pandit Ravi Shankar" (or "Punditji") but in the early 1990s changed his name to "Sri Sri Ravi Shankar" after the renowned sitarist Ravi Shankar objected that the guru was using the name he had made famous.