Indian spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has caused controversy after he lashed out at Malala Yousafzai, saying that she has won the Nobel Peace Prize "for nothing".
Shankar's comments came as he claimed he had himself rejected a Nobel Peace Prize because it "has no meaning". Although Shankar did not name Yousafzai directly, he hinted that a 18-year-old girl had won the prize for no reason.
The spritiual guru was speaking at an event in Latur, Maharashtra, when asked whether he was interested in winnng the famed accolade, the Hindustan Times reported. In response, Shankar reportedly answered: "Nowadays, there is no value to the Nobel Prize. When you award it to a girl who hasn't done anything, what value is left? It has become a political prize."
The spiritual guru went on to say that people had asked him to "do certain things to get the prize". Shankar claimed he had refused to do so based on the fact that he didn't want to get "drawn into politics" of the prize.
Thousands took to Twitter to criticise the leader's comments, accusing him of being jealous of the Pakistani youth activist. Shankar's comments were trending on Twitter for several hours after the news broke, with many also mocking him for claiming that he was offered the prize.
Shankar's Art of Living Foundation has since denied that the spiritual guru said he was offered a Nobel Peace Prize, insisting that the media had "misquoted" him. According to a spokesperson for the organisation, Shankar said: "What will I do with a prize? We have been doing social work for years now and it has not been for prizes. When good work is done, people think it is for a prize."
However the spokesperson for the Art of Living did not deny Shankar's comments about Yousafzai, confirming that the leader thought she was someone "without any body of work" and under-serving of the prize. They also confirmed that the spiritual guru believed there were "political factors at play" in regards to the award.