Monday, February 25, 2013
Q: Please tell us about the importance of offering food (Prasad) to the Divine before eating. Also please tell us the authentic way of offering food. Is there any mantra needed?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
When a lady cooks food at home, the first thing she does is takes out a spoon of rice, or dal, or whatever she cooks, and puts it outside in the garden for the birds, for the ants, and for the creatures. The significance of this is to say that the environment should be honoured. Also, many people, before they eat, they keep a few grains outside their plate and then later on they give it to the birds and the animals. In India, there is a tradition that is called Vaishva Deva.
You know, the birds are such an integral part of the universe. So we need to care for the birds, we need to care for the ants; we need to care for every single creature. Any one creature missing from the universe, the universe will not be able to sustain itself.
Prasad means, you take the food that you receive as a gift; as a blessing. Prasad simply means a blessing from God. Food is a blessing, life is a blessing, time is a blessing, our breath is a blessing. These are all gifts.
Q: Why has Indian mythology given forms to all energies. Are all the mythological stories true?
How can Rishis lose control and curse if they are enlightened?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The universe is full of names and forms. The moment you give a name, form also comes with it. And many of these forms were cognized in the subtle. So they continue in the subtle realm.
Now, why did the Rishis (Seers) get angry and curse, I don't know. Usually not every Rishi does this. There were only a couple of them who did this. But every time they cursed, something great happened from their curse as well. That is why it is said, the anger of the enlightened also, does something good for the society, whereas even the love of an ignorant person does some harm.
A wise man's anger also is beneficial. He cannot do any harm, he only does good to the society.
So every time a Rishi cursed, it turned out to be a very big boon to the population.
Q: I think freedom is very relative. Sometimes my freedom is contradictory to someone else's freedom. Is there something as 'Absolute Freedom'? Or would that be chaos?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Bondage and freedom, both happens in the mind, and when your vision is restricted you find multiple bondages. As your vision expands, you start realizing that there is only freedom.
Q: What is the easiest way to stay away from attachment and entanglement?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Be centered. Know that this is all a dream and everything is going to finish. Everybody is going to finish, and one day everything will be over.
Turn back in the past and see, you have spent around 30 to 50 years on this planet, what happened to all those incidents? Everything has gone, right! Just wake up!
Q: Gurudev, how to move from choice to choicelessness?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no choice between good and bad. Choice is always between bad and worse; or good and better. If you understand this then you see that there is no choice.
Q: Sometimes my love for you brings me misery when I cannot be with you. My mind says you are everywhere, but my heart is not easily cajoled. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just relax and keep yourself busy. There is so much seva that is needed in the world, so get on to that.
Longing should be transformed into creativity. Longing can become an agent, a catalyst to bring out the creativity and dynamism in you. So use it for that.
Q: Dear Gurudev, I wonder whether you know me and everything that I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What do you think?
Why should I know everything you do? I don't need to.
Q: What is the right type of governance? Isn't it time for a spiritual kind of governance?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, capitalism, communism, secularism, all isms are good for nothing, in fact, they will all be a failure without humanism. And how can humanism be invoked? It is through spirituality.
Q: Gurudev, the heart is located on the left side of the body. Is there any spiritual reason for this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, there are many such questions. Why are there two holes in the nostrils. Why two eyes in the same place, one could have been in the front and one at the back.
What can one say to why the heart is on the left side. Something has got to be somewhere. I think you didn't find any better question to ask.
I think you should wonder about other things in life. There are so many things that we need to do. The world needs more attention and more service from you.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
January 24, 2013
Q: Gurudev, it is said that chanting the name of Narayana (Lord Vishnu) in the last moments of our life brings one liberation. Is it true that the last act of life is the strongest in determining our way forward?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it is true. It is at the time of death that the mind separates from the body. So at this time, whatever impression one bears in the mind become the reason for the next birth. This is a scientific truth.
You can see this for yourself. If you observe, the first thought on your mind when you wake up in the morning will be same thought that you had before you went to sleep.
Now, usually your mind is so consumed with thoughts of something or the other, that at the time of death, you may not even remember to chant Narayana. That is why the ancient people have said, keep remembering God all the time by chanting His name (Narayana). Remember him every night before sleeping; while you take a shower; even while eating your meals, remember him and thank him for the food you receive.
Before starting something new, remember Him to make it an auspicious beginning. The ancient people were very intelligent and they made it a custom.
So, whenever one opens a new shop, the first thing they must do is naam smaran(remember the name of God), and then they start the shop. If one buys something new, they must remember Narayana and then begin.
We all do this, is it not so? We do this even today.
If you are going to write an examination, you think of the Divine and pray that the questions in the examinations are easy, and that you are able to write the answers properly.
Everyone prays, whether kids, adults or old people; all of them pray. But they do it out of fear. I would say, don't do it out of fear, rather to do it out of love; out of a deep sense of gratitude.
When you pray with love and faith that is when you blossom.
What is the difficulty in remembering the Divine before starting any new work? You can chant and remember the Divine by saying anything that you like. You can say Narayana, or Jai Gurudev, or even Om Namah Shivaya. Whatever name you like, say that.
Otherwise you keep singing all sorts of songs in your mind while having bath, or while eating food, like ‘Dafliwaale Dafli Bajao ‘ (O drummer boy, play me the drums!) What else would a drummer boy play for you if not drums? Is this a song?
Now I have not heard any of the recent songs, as I have not gotten the time. But there must be some songs that have come up recently that have no meaning at all.
There is a song called, 'Kolaveri di’ which seems to have become very popular. Many people do not even know the meaning of the song. Do you know what the meaning is? In Tamil, the expression 'Kolaveri di’ means 'I feel like killing someone.'
Is this is a good song, something which means that you feel like killing someone? That is why I say, just do naam smaran. Chant Om Namah Shivaya, or Omkar (Om) mantra. Chant whichever one that you like with a feeling of devotion.
See, I am not putting down any song, if you want to sing, it is okay to sing Kolaveri Di also; no problem. But sometimes a catchy tune like this will keep going on and on in your mind and it will affect you.
It is good that most of the people do not understand the meaning of the song. If they knew the meaning, and sang it along with the meaning then there would have been problems. It is in another language; it is in Tamil.
When you know the meaning of a bhajan and you sing it with a feeling of gratitude and devotion, it has a profound effect on your life.
Every word has a vibration of its own, and when we speak good words, the vibrations from those words have the power to purify the mind, and purify life.
By chanting and speaking positive, both the mind and the body get energized. That is why it is said to do naam smaran.
Do it at least two times in the day. Like I said, in the morning before having the first meal of the day, remember the Divine by chanting his name.
I keep telling everyone that before eating food, chant this mantra, ‘Annadaata Sukhi Bhavah’ (May the provider of my food be blessed with peace and prosperity).
This mean that may the ones who have gives me this food be blessed with peace and happiness. So give this blessing with all your heart.
By chanting this mantra, you pray that the lady of the house who cooked and served you food is blessed with peace and happiness. Also, the merchant who purchased and brought the food grains to your home, may he be blessed, and lastly you bless the farmer who cultivated and grew the crops from which you got your food. So by saying this chant, you bless him as well. This is such a good thing!
Similarly, first thing in the morning, when you wake up say ‘Om Namo Narayana’ or ‘Om Namah Shivaya’.
When something goes wrong, say, 'Hey Ram!'
If someone dies, chant 'Ram Naam Satya Hai' (The name of Lord Rama alone is the ultimate truth).
What is the difficulty in just remembering the name of God? There is no difficulty at all.
When you enter the car, say ‘Om Namo Narayana’, and then sit in the car. Before you get out of the car also, do naam smaran (remember the name of God) and then get out.
In this way, you will make it a habit to do naam smaran, is it not so? So during your last moments, at the time of death, when the Prana (life force) is about to leave your body, then also you will do naam smaran because it will come to you naturally at that time, and this will uplift you in a great way.
Q: Gurudev, I want to know how far I have progressed in my spiritual development. These days I have even stopped running behind your car. Does this mean that I have grown spiritually, or does this mean that my devotion towards you has decreased?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This only you can know.
Once you have come on this path, you will progress. You will only move forward.
See, do not measure your growth by whether or not you run behind my car. Never do that. How centered have you become? This is what you need to see. The more centered you become, the more you have progressed on the path.
Wherever you are, be there and become still. Bring your mind to the self.
What you need to remember is that there is no lack of devotion in you. Do not even think that you do not have enough devotion. Yes, sometimes devotion may get hidden, but that is only for some time, soon it will come up again.
Feelings cannot always be constant. Our passion also will not be the same all the time. There will be ups and downs.
Feelings are not like stones, they are like water. Just like how ripples arise in water, the same goes for feelings as well. Feelings arise and then they settle down, and then again they rise. This is only natural. That is why love and longing always go together. You sometimes feel intense longing, and sometimes you feel an abundance of love, and then again you experience longing and then intense love. This will keep on happening in life.
Q: Dear Gurudev, you have spoken about the three kinds of devotees. Are there different flavors of masters as well?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, definitely!
History has seen many different types of masters. In fact they are all very unique and everybody is different. There are people with a little more rajasic gun and a little tamasic gun, while some are more satvic.
The other day, I was mentioning, long ago in the early 80s when I was just around 23 or 24, I visited a saint on the outskirts of Delhi. This saint said to me, 'If it is 24 carat gold, you cannot make any ornaments out of it. You have to add some copper or something to it, only then does it become an ornament.'
He said, 'You too have to add something. You cannot be 24 carat gold, otherwise you cannot be useful to everybody.'
I said, 'No Baba, let me be only 24 carat. Whatever happens let it happen.'
He said, 'You can spread very fast. Why don't you learn about Tantra. Learn about some spirits and then you can control some spirits and do some magic.'
I said, 'I do not need to do any of these', I know they do not lead you to the highest.
So there are people who do a little bit of these miracles, but it lasts only for a short period of time. Later on what happens, the spirits from who you take work, they will take toll on you.
All this lasts for a very short span of time, it is not something that stays with you.
That is why, pure satvic knowledge, harmonious knowledge is the best, and it is long lasting. There is no tamo gun orrajo gun in that. The impact is permanent, long lasting, and it takes you to the highest; nothing short of the highest.
This saint was a very nice saint, not that he was bad. He was very nice person. He was in his 70s or so in those days, and he just made a suggestion. When I said no, he really appreciated it, he said, 'Yes, this is good.'
Perhaps he wanted to test me to see if I could be tempted to do something.
Q: When we meet someone for the first time, opinions and judgments are formed naturally. We like someone in the first meeting and we dislike some people for no reason at all. Why is it so Gurudev?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is how it is. The world functions on vibrations and we all work on vibration. Some people’s vibrations are more pleasant and you respond to it easily. Some others’ vibrations are a little repulsive.
When you very centered, you will not find anybody with whom you feel a repulsive vibration with, and there will be nobody that can shake you off your center. That is the most desirable state - where there are no cravings and no aversion; no repulsion or no compulsion, or attraction. Then everything looks charming. Everybody is in harmony with you and everything is in harmony with you. That is the inner bliss that is expanded all around you.
Q: Gurudev, you said that the knowledge of sleep brings freedom. What does this mean?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Knowledge of sleep and dreams can take you into a different state of samadhi. It is one of the techniques mentioned in the Yoga Sutras by Rishi Patanjali. Maharishi Patanjali has said the sutra, 'Swapnanidrajnanalambanam va'
This is one of the samadhis that he mentions while describing the different types of samadhis.
If you are aware of how sleep is dawning on the mind, in between the sleep and waking state, there is a spark of total stillness. I am saying only spark of stillness because stillness is so dynamic, so alive. That is what he is talking about.
So if you notice, just before falling asleep, or as soon as you wake up, you are neither fully asleep nor fully awake, in that gap, there is certain peace, a certain quality of consciousness which is so beautiful, so soothing and so healing. That is what is mentioned there.
Q: Gurudev, when longing becomes intense sometimes, it ends up with the feeling of anger or frustration. How to deal with it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Longing needs to be internalized, you need to go deep into meditation. Or give a creative form to it, write some poems or articles. Writing will help. You know, a lot of great works have come out of longing, whether it is painting, music, drama, literature, all these have come out of deep yearning.
So give your longing a creative direction; or internalize it, go deep in meditation.
Q: Gurudev, it is said that power corrupts. Would you speak about the way one can handle power?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Power corrupts when your intentions are not correct. When your intentions are not right, you try to gain power in a corrupt manner.
Some say, power is poison. I agree with it if you are using it for your selfish reasons. But if you are using power for service, then it is a tool. If your intention is to serve people, power is just a tool.
Q: Gurudev, it is very easy to be grateful when things are going well. How to feel grateful and be aware of your grace when things are not going well?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Remember how in the past tough times have become easier. You sailed through the tough times. That will give you the confidence and instill stronger faith in you.
Q: Gurudev, technology brings comfort, but it also increases pollution. Comfort versus environment, what should be the criteria for development?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Technology need not be always against environment.
Today technology is advancing towards being more and more environment friendly. So we can have technology and still care for the environment, but environment is very important. It is more important.
Q: Gurudev, how to ensure that a person does not take you for granted in a relationship?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don't worry about it, it is quite natural.
People take you for granted because they think you belong to them already, and so they only attend to people who are guests.
You are a part of the family, why should anybody tell you, 'Have you had coffee? Are you going to eat now?' It is not normal!
If someone asks a little too many questions, then also you will doubt, 'Why are they giving me so much attention. Something must be wrong.' You start doubting.
The other day, one gentleman told me, 'Gurudev, when I attend to my wife, and be a little nicer to her, she starts doubting, she says that there is something wrong and asks me, 'What is the matter? You must have done something wrong. You are not being honest.' If I am normal, then she says that I ignore her. What to do Gurudev?'
So when someone wants to doubt you, in any case, they will start doubting you.
He said, 'It is very hard. If I come half an hour late, she sits on an enquiry commission, 'Where did you go? What time did you leave office? What happened? She will ask me all these questions.'
That is why I say, we need to learn to how to handle our own mind.
It is the mind which plays so many tricks on you. Your mind could be your best friend if it is under your reins, and it is your worst enemy, if you are under the influence of your own mind.
Q: Gurudev, wherever Lord Krishna used to go, there quarrels and fights would begin. But wherever you go, differences comes to an end.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, when people get the news that I am coming to their city or town, that itself creates so many fights between people. One will say, 'Gurudev will travel in my car.' Another will say, 'He will stay at my house.' The third will say, 'He will have food in my place,' And because of all of this, fights start happening.
But after my visit, people do get happy. I ensure I make them happy.
Q: Gurudev, how can I take my marital relationship to the next level, rather than it just being an ordinary relationship of a husband and wife?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Both should move ahead together and support each other.
Sometimes, it may happen that one partner may lose interest in a marital relationship, while the other may still be interested. Then it may seem like things are not working out. This could happen. But even then, you need to support each other. Both should move ahead together.
Monday, February 18, 2013
January 23, 2013
Q: Gurudev, what is the relevance of tapasya (penance or austerities) in Kali Yuga and how should we understand it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Tapa helps to purify all the organs of the body and rid them of impurities. The entire body gets cleansed and all the sense organs become stronger with tapa.
Tapasya is not done to please God, or to attain self realization, but it is done to make the body and mind stronger.
You must have seen that so many saints do very austere penances (tapasya), especially among the Jains. The Jain saints are able to walk bare foot for long distances. They do not feel very cold in the winters, or too hot during the summers. They develop a resistance towards extreme climatic conditions because of their tapasya. So this is one of the benefits of doing tapasya.
But you should not stretch or overdo this at all. Doing too much tapasya and troubling your own body is not advisable at all. It is wrong to do that.
There are some people who sit with four fires burning all around them, and one on top of their head and do meditation. It is called Panchagni tapasya. All this is not necessary. Torturing the body like this is wrong and should not be done. But a little bit of tapasya is necessary.
It is said, ‘Tapovai dwandva sahanam’, which means forbearing the opposites is tapasya.
Suppose you are travelling somewhere in a bus, and it is a 12 hour long journey for which you have to sit. Then that also is a sort of tapasya.
Being in a state of equanimity, and enduring whatever come, whether it is hot or cold, good or bad, praise or criticism, is tapasya.
Can you listen to an insult with the same equanimity as when you listen to compliments? That is tapasya. When someone praises you, you listen to it with a smile. When someone criticizes you, can you listen to it with the same smile and equanimity, and watch what is happening inside you? That is tapasya.
When you do not like something but are able to undergo that, then that is tapasya.
If you can like something, can you be a witness to it and not be feverish about it, then that is tapasya.
Forbearing the opposites is called tapasya, and it is essential in life.
The extent to which we follow tapasya in life, to that extent we become stronger and stable.
Q: Gurudev, you have often said that knowledge should be used like soap. But if it needs to be washed off then how can it be symbolic of our true nature. So does it mean that knowledge is not our true nature?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are two types of knowledge.
One is the knowledge of the Self which is our true nature. And the other kind of knowledge is that which is used like soap.
Do you know why it is said to use knowledge as a soap? So that you do not become arrogant about having knowledge. You should not think, ‘I know so much; I know everything.' You should not become egoistic about knowledge. So to get rid of such an ego, it is said that knowledge should be used like a soap.
This is the actual meaning.
Q: Dear Gurudev, what is the power of the subconscious mind and how do I utilize it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The conscious mind is in fact only one-tenth of your subconscious mind. So the subconscious mind has a lot of power.
Suppose you are having a pyjama party and eight of you are sleeping and someone calls out your name, only you will respond. Others will continue to remain in deep sleep. Is it not so? Have you noticed this?
This indicates that even your name is ingrained in your subconscious mind. Meditation is the way to make the subconscious mind become more and more conscious.
Q: Dear Gurudev, how to leave the intellect and go back to innocence? By doing so, does it not become acting?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When the intellect matures, you become innocent. Also even when emotions take over, then also you will move into innocence.
Innocence is one aspect of your life and everybody has it. What comes in the way is the concepts in the intellect, such as judgements, or thinking that ‘I know it all’, or ‘I know it better’, etc. That is what blocks the intellect from maturing fully.
Meditation and pranayama help you to reverse the journey back from the intellect to your innocence.
Also, when there are people who know much more than you and you feel, ‘Oh, I know very little’, then also innocence will simply come up in you.
When you make an assessment about yourself that is wrong, then that may cause you to feel out of touch with your innocence.
Q: Gurudev, please talk about passion and the lack of passion.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Passion is essential in life but it cannot be constant.
There are always ups and downs in passion. The intensity of passion will go up sometimes and then come down, and then again go up, and that is healthy.
Usually what happens is that when your passion for something goes down, you feel so bad, as if you have lost something. You start feeling as if you lack something, and wonder what to do. I would say, just relax.
See, passion should also have a little bit of contentment. Sometimes, when contentment comes, passion does go down.
Contentment should also have a strain of passion, otherwise contentment can slip into lethargy and a sense of complacency. So to prevent contentment from slipping into inertia, you need a little passion. And for passion to not become too feverish and make you restless all the time, you need contentment. This will give you the right balance.
Q: Gurudev, there are too many changes happening in my life. Some of them are good and some are bad. How do I deal with change?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Changes are inevitable in life, and in the universe. The universe means changes. But there is something deep within you that is not changing, and you should anchor on to that. That is devotion.
Q: Gurudev, you have spoken much about food and the breath. Would you like to say something about clothes as well? Should we only wear traditional clothes?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Wear comfortable clothes, but I do not prefer wearing those torn clothes and jeans for which you pay so much money. It looks so shabby.
I have heard that if there are holes in the jeans, you have to pay more money for that! This you should not do.
Cotton is the best fabric. If it is mixed with a little bit of polyester, it is also okay, But only polyester should be avoided.
I would prefer that people avoid leather. Do you know just for leather, so many animals are slaughtered. All this should be done away with.
It is said, ‘Ahimsa paramo-dharma’, (Non-violence in all action is the supreme duty or Dharma). Everyone should walk the path of non-violence and be a vegetarian. This is very necessary. Only then will you be able to meditate well.
Q: Gurudev, in addition to the earlier question, I have two other questions. First is: should we wear silk sarees, since silk worms die in the making of the sarees? Is it a sin?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you see it in that sense, then when you cut a banana plant or part of it to make the fabric out of it, then also you may think it is a sin, because it is also a jeeva (living being).
What you really must strive for is to cause minimum amount of pain to other living beings. You cannot totally avoid it. So wearing silk is okay.
There are different types of silk. There is a certain type of silk that is made without causing harm to the silk worm.Ahimsa silk is also available (silk obtained without harming or killing insects or animals) in which they do not boil the silk cocoons, but rather extract the silk without disturbing the worms.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
January 23, 2013
Q: Gurudev, Yudhisthira (the eldest of the five Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata) used to gamble. He gambled and lost his wife (Draupadi) in a game of dice. Then why is he given the title of ‘Dharmaraj’ (the supreme upholder of Dharma or moral virtues)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In those days, gambling was not considered a bad thing. Just like how today there are licensed bars, and government sanctioned liquor shops which have the permission to serve alcohol.
In the same way, gambling was considered to be a sort of game or sport of the kings.
You need to understand that it is not that whatever Yudhisthira did was all correct. You cannot think like that. In fact I would say what he did was very wrong. But because his heart and mind were pure and there was no malice or sinful thought in his mind, he had the support of the Lord with him.
Also, if he had not played the game of dice, then how would all those problem arise? How would the Mahabharata take place? If, as Dharmaraj he had refused to play the game of dice, then there would have been no problem at all.
See, any person, even if he or she upholds very high human values, when they acquire some position of power, you will find some or the other flaws in them.
Moreover, Yudhisthira was not a sanyasi (a renunciate), he was a worldly man. And it is only natural for someone who is a worldly person to have some flaws. To become completely blameless and turn into a sanyasi is a different thing altogether.
So even as a king, he did have some flaws, like the habit of gambling. He simply could not refuse an invitation to gamble. And had he refused, the Mahabharata would not have happened, the Pandavas would not have gone into exile and Draupadi would not have had to undergo so much suffering (referring to the attempt of disrobing of Draupadi in the royal court). And had all this not happened, then the Mahabharata too would never have happened, and we would have never had the Bhagavad Gita.
Then Lord Krishna would not have had anything to do! He would have simply enjoyed his time eating butter in Vrindavan, and he would have never left the place (Laughter). There would have been no need for him to leave Vrindavan at all.
Wherever Lord Krishna went, there was surely some mischief or chaos which he would try to resolve.
This is why all this is called as His Leela (pastimes or divine play of the Lord).
So there is no use criticizing whatever happened, and neither is there much to be gained by over-analysing these events. It is not an intelligent thing to do. You must see all of this as the Leela of the Lord. Then you will find that there is a treasure chest of wisdom and knowledge to take away from it. Knowledge that is so useful and practical for life.
Q: Gurudev, why is it that wherever Lord Krishna went, in those place only conflicts would arise. Or is it that Lord Krishna was like a doctor who would visit places of conflict and chaos?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This depends on the way you see it.
The Jains say that wherever Lord Krishna went, He caused a lot of violence, and war took place because of His influence. The Jains actually believe Lord Krishna to be in hell for all that He did. They also believe that He is not going to be in hell forever. The Jains predict that in the next Satya Yuga (the of truth and righteousness), Lord Krishna will reincarnate as their next Tirthankara (holy prophet or apostle).
So the Jains see both good and bad qualities in Him.
The Jains, on one hand, say that Lord Krishna had extraordinary and supreme knowledge, because of which He is going to become their next Tirthankara. And On the other hand, they hold Him responsible for creating war and causing bloodshed in the Mahabharata.
They say that, if it were not for the counselling that Lord Krishna gave Arjuna, Arjuna would have refused fight the war and would have retired in the Himalayas to spend his time in penance as a sanyasi and the entire Mahabharata would not have happened at all. But Lord Krishna instead counselled Arjuna to fight the battle. He told Arjuna, ‘In one sense all these people are already dead, so you don't worry about killing them. You do your duty. Pick up your bow and arrow and fight.'
At that time , it did not occur to Arjuna to tell him that if they are already dead why do you want me to kill them again; anyways they are dead. Arjuna simple said, 'Okay, as you say, I will do that.'
So Lord Krishna did such clever acts. He was a living example of profound intelligence, along with extraordinary human strength.
That is why it is said that every act of Lord Krishna is so unique and extraordinary in itself. He stands in a twisted manner (referring to Lord Krishna shown standing with one foot firmly on the ground while the other bent, resting only on its toe), yet He offers straightforward solutions!
Lord Rama on the other hand stands erect with boot feet on the ground. But Lord Krishna would stand and act in such a twisted way yet He would give such deep and extraordinary knowledge.
In the Bhagavad Gita, He says ‘You cannot free yourself of your own sins. I will liberate you from your sins. I have come to take away all your sins. You simply have to take refuge in me, and leave everything to Me. I am there to support you at all times.'
It is so rare to find anyone who can give you such strong faith.
Lord Krishna was the complete manifestation of Divinity, having all the 16 qualities (kalaa) or dimensions of Divine perfection. This is why He is also called Purna Avatar (the complete or supreme incarnation of Divinity).
No matter from what angle you see Lord Krishna, you will not find any shortcoming or flaw in His personality.
Q: Gurudev, it is said that meditation is a practice of Satya Yuga, while remembering and chanting the name of the Lord is emphasized more in the Kali Yuga. Could you please shed more light on this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is said, ‘Kaliyuga keval naam-adhara’, (Chanting the name of the Lord is the sole means of liberation in Kali Yuga).
As one goes on chanting the name of the Lord, gradually a stage comes when the chanting stops and one naturally slip into meditation. So one goes from Japa (chanting) to the state of Ajapa-Japa (chanting without the mental effort normally needed to repeat the mantra), and then into silence.
The very purpose of chanting is to lead you into meditation.
It is said, ‘Naam laet bhava sindhu sukhai’, (simply by repeated chanting of the Lord’s names, one can immerse oneself into the ocean of bliss). So simply by chanting the name of the Lord also, one can be at peace, and can go deep into meditation.
This is very effortless, and that is what is in the Sahaj Samadhi meditation as well.
Q: Gurudev, do Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva really exist, or do we just awaken the qualities attributed to these Gods by doing Pooja?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva are present inside our own body as Shakti (the life force). Do not think that they are seated somewhere in the skies. So the qualities (attributed these Gods) will blossom by themselves as we continue to do meditation and satsang.
Q: Gurudev, currently the Kumbh Mela (a mass Hindu pilgrimage fair) is going on. Is it necessary to attend the Kumbh Mela once every 12 years? What is the significance of the Kumbh Mela?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, many people do attend the Kumbh Mela.
Recently, you may have seen, there are many of these cultural fairs or expos; in the same way the Kumbh Mela was the spiritual expo of those days.
In those days, organizing this every year turned out to be very expensive and also tiring, as people had to walk many miles to attend it, so they changed it to once every 12 years.
This was also done in accordance with the revolution of Brihaspati (the planet Jupiter) around the Sun, which takes 12 years. So on the basis of this, the Kumbh Mela was held once every 12 years, and all people would to come for this. Saints, wise sages, house-holders and even children come together and they all sit and discuss about God, the holy scriptures, and do Satsang.
Wherever there is Satsang, or discussion of knowledge, that is no less than a Kumbh Mela.
Kumbh (meaning pot or pitcher) and it represents completeness. So all those who felt complete and content would gather together at the Kumbh Mela. When you experience that fullness and contentment within yourself, you too would become like a kumbh – a pot full with contentment and joy.
Q: Gurudev, is there any significance or purpose of giving birth to a child, or life to a soul for a woman except for my personal feelings of becoming a mother or that of giving my parents the joy of becoming grandparents?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I think your question has no relevance. If you want to be a mother, then that is your choice.
Now instead of being a mother, if you want to be a godmother for many children, then that too is your choice. Motherliness is inevitable, and everybody has it. The same holds for fatherhood as well. Whether you become a father to a child or not, you have that element, that fatherliness already present inside you. It is present in your DNA, and that is how it is for everyone.
Whether you are single or married, you have the DNAs of both mother and father present in you. So it is natural that you will unconditionally help and support someone. This is something which you cannot avoid, and there is no need to avoid it also.
Here in Karnataka, the saints used to be called 'Appa' which means 'Father’.
Even in the church, the priests are all celibate; they are unmarried bachelors, yet they are referred to as ‘Father’, is it not so? The nuns are called ‘Mother’, though they have never given birth to a child.
Do you know, Mahatma Gandhi was addressed as ‘Bapu’ by everyone in our country, which also means ‘Father’.
So this is something that is inherent in our DNA. You do not need to necessarily be a biological parent to be a parent to someone.
And even if you are a biological parent, you cannot restrict your parenthood to just those two, three or four children. Your parenthood should expand beyond that.
Even God is also called 'Parampita' (Supreme Father). The Mother Divine is called as Jagat Janani (meaning one who has given birth to the entire creation), or Jaganmata (mother of the entire creation).
So God is both our father and our mother. It is because divinity is present in every one of us, that the the qualities of motherliness and fatherliness is also present within us.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
January 15, 2013
(Whether it’s spirituality or secularism, issues concerning our society or our everyday lives, we seek solutions.
Combining a keen understanding of social issues with the depth of spirituality, Sri Sri offers a refreshingly practical perspective.)
Q: Gurudev today is army day, can you please talk about our army or defence forces?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Indian army has been one of the best armies of the world; very well managed.
Their discipline, their commitment, their equality and justice is an example to follow. The army men have cultivated discipline so well! I wish that the youths of this country also imbibe the discipline of the men in the army.
In their personalities, you can see there is integrity, commitment and dynamism. Fortunately the army training has instilled such qualities of endurance, dignity and commitment. They have strong commitment to work and discipline.
Many nations in the world have a compulsory military training for a year or two years for the youths and the male members of the society. India should also have some sort of such training for the youth. More numbers of youth should participate in such initiatives.
The Jawans (In India common name given to the youth in the army) and their families really deserve to be congratulated. On this occasion, we also give our condolences to the two Jawans who were recently beheaded by Pakistan. These brave soldiers have been decapitated in such a lousy and cowardly manner by the Pakistani army, and it is a shame upon them for having done such a thing.
The families of these two warriors are still on hunger strike. They want the head back. Our sympathies and our prayers are with those families.
Q: Dear Gurudev, how should we answer those who say, ‘What is the problem if people convert when they get better education and healthcare?'
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Mahatma Gandhi has said that it is a crime to convert people by giving them education and some money. This is a big crime and we should never do that.
Every individual has got the right to make his own decision, and you cannot lure someone to change their religion.
Why do you want to convert others and change their religion? It is because you want your numbers to increase. And why do you want your number to increase? This is because you want to have political power.
You are converting people for politics, and to gain power; this is a nasty thing to do. God will not pardon you.
By converting, you are destroying a culture, you are destroying the demography of society. This should not happen, and we must put an end to this.
Saying, ‘My God is better than your God’, is actually another form of terrorism. In fact, it is the seed of terrorism. So, people who are trying to convert others, I would say that they are also doing the same job as a terrorist, but in disguise.
Q: If the religions institutions and Masters give us practical knowledge which can be implemented in our day to day lives, just like how you have given us, then people would cultivate better understanding, and experience change in their lives. I think, if this could be made possible, then most of the problems that society is facing today will disappear.
I do Sudarshan Kriya and I follow you, but I have respect for all other Masters and religious traditions. I go to temples and I go to mosques as well.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Very good! That is indeed how it should be.
Misleading people by coaxing them to go to temples, or forcing them to offer Namaz is no good. What people need is to experience spirituality; to experience that there is only one God. We are all children of One God and we must spread the love that we have and not hatred.
This is what I have repeatedly been telling the people of Pakistan also. The people there are so nice. Just today I had a talk with them. We have three of our centres running there. People have experienced such happiness after doing the Sudarshan Kriya. All their sorrow and misery has been washed away. Also, there are so many people who share that they met me in their dreams!
Now Pakistan is our neighbouring country, but even if you go Iran, there also people have similar experiences.
Do you know, we have around 60 to 65 of our Art of Living teachers working there, in Iran. The environment there is very rigid and strict, they do not allow the practice of Yoga there. But when the religious police saw my pictures in the homes of our teachers there who also happen to be Muslims, then they said, ‘Oh, Gurudev looks like our grandsire, from whom we have learnt everything! He resembles our own spiritual leader who has educated and initiated us.' So they too did not object to our work there and simply allowed it to happen without any hassles.
So many youths are attending The Art of Living workshops there, and they have come back saying, ‘Oh, we have really been missing something big in life! If we had had such experiences much earlier in our lives, today we would have been far happier and prosperous. Conflicts and fights between neighbours would have come to an end, for good. All hatred would have ended.'
There are some religious leaders, pontiffs and heads, not only Muslims, but Hindus as well, who do not want to let this transformation happen. These leaders fear that they would have to shut their business if people go for such experiences. Yes, it is true!
Among the Hindus too there are some spiritual leaders who actually criticize the Sudarshan Kriya and mislead people by comparing the effects of it to drugs like Opium. They forbid others to go for Art of Living altogether.
Similarly, the Imams (religious leaders among the Muslims) among the Muslims forbid their people to learn or attend the Art of Living courses by telling them that it is practiced by members of another religion. They tell them that you will be misled and deceived in The Art of Living.
We have to tackle and fight against such people who hinder and obstruct the progress and upliftment of an individual.
Those people who obstruct or prohibit learning of such practices or knowledge that can bring such happiness and fulfilment to people are the ones who need to be tackled. They are not doing the right thing, and need to be stopped.
Do not be misled into thinking that such things are happening only among the Muslims or the Christians alone. Even some religious Hindu leaders are also doing the very same thing. This is sheer ignorance. In the Art of Living, we offer our love generously to everybody and pray to God to grant such people a pure and righteous intellect.
Q: Gurudev, can the feeling of nationality and spirituality move together? Do you not think that the love for our country limits our expanse?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, not at all. Both can go together, and there is no need for any conflict between the two.
See, you are a part of a democracy. You are a stakeholder in a particular country and its democracy, so you do have a say in that country’s affairs, and you have to stand up and express that. Doing this in no way obstructs your sense of universal brotherhood, or your universal oneness.
Let us say, for example, you are a social worker. Now if there is garbage in your own home, your first duty is to clean your own home.
Now if you ask me, 'If I clean my home, will it not conflict with my cleaning the streets, or cleaning other public places?'
I would say, 'No! If you are going to clean the world, you need to clean your home as well.'
A little bigger extension of your home is your country, and then of course peace in the entire world.
If you do not belong to a particular country, you cannot go and talk about the corruption present in that particular country. The people there would tell you, ‘It is our internal affair. Who are you to come and ask us?’
You have the right and the authority to clean up your own home, but you cannot tell your neighbour, ‘I am going to come and clean your home. I feel a sense of belongingness with you too.’ They would tell you, ‘Thank you, but you are not welcome. Please do so in your own home, that will be good enough.'
In your own home you have the authority to do what you like. But you cannot use the same authority on the neighbour.
Now if your neighbour invites you by saying, ‘Please come, I need your help. Let us clean my home too’, then you should just jump and do that.
If you are a tourist in a country and not its resident, then you cannot meddle with the affairs of that country. It is not the right thing to do by law.
So this is where the abstract and the concrete levels come into conflict.
At an abstract level, you have a sense of belongingness with everyone. At the level of feelings, you feel, ‘Oh, what is the difference between India, or Pakistan, or America or Europe? Wherever I go, I feel like it is my own place. I feel totally at home.'
At the same time, you cannot behave the same in all the places. Every place has its own code of conduct which we have to follow.
If you need to fight against some injustice, you can do so only within your own country. So in this sense, it is not contrary.
Q: What is the feeling of nationality and is it contrary to the idea of universal brotherhood? How can the feeling of nationality be expanded to include universal brotherhood?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A sense of universal brotherhood comes first and foremost. Now, though you may not be a stakeholder in the entire universe, but you are definitely a voter in your own country. And when you are a voter in your own country, you have some responsibility towards the country. You can express your needs and opinions through the local press and you can take some action.
Globally, you can spread human awareness, You can do good and also wish good for everybody out of a spirit of friendliness and compassion.
Q: Gurudev, how do I recognize the line between spirituality and religion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, when you are on this path, spirituality is already there with you. You do not need to draw or erase any line. Just be natural. That should be the way of life.
You belong to a particular religion by birth, but spirituality is by choice.
Q: Gurudev, the youth in Himachal Pradesh are getting addicted to drugs which is a huge problem today. Please explain why does material prosperity also brings vices along with it. Is it worth having prosperity at the cost of human values?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, certainly not. Such prosperity is good for nothing. If human values are not there, then it is meaningless to say that you are prosperous. For example, if you have insomnia, then no matter how good a bed you may have, it is of no use.
Similarly, if you have stomach ulcers and you cannot eat, then having great food kept in front of you is also of no meaning. So in the absence of human values, life is worth nothing. That prosperity has no meaning.
Q: Gurudev, is obesity something that is given by God; or is it a fruit of one’s actions?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: God gives you some work or the other. So if he gives you obesity, then he also gives you work so as to make you reduce your weight.
You seem to ask very clever questions! When you seem to remain or maintain your obesity, you very conveniently say that it is God who gave it to you.
This is why I said that if you think that God has given you obesity, then he has also laid out ways to make you reduce your weight.
Q: Gurudev, what should one do when one experiences sorrow and suffering?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Have patience!
When you have come here to the Ashram, drop all your sorrow and miseries here, and just walk ahead. There is no misery or suffering that cannot be gotten rid of. Have you ever seen a cloud that never moves and stays in one place permanently? It is impossible. In the same way, your misery and suffering are like clouds. Some clouds disappear in an instant, while some take a little longer to go away. But they do pass away and that is inevitable.