Q: What is the significance of Arghya (offering water to the sun)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Water is symbol of love. In fact, in Sanskrit, it is synonymous to love.
‘Apa’ means water and it also means love. That is why, someone very close to you, what do you call them? Apta – means very dear. Apa and Apta are very close.
So, giving water is not important, feeling the connection with the sun is important.
What people used to do was they used to hold water in their hands and let the water leak out of the hand slowly, and for that much time they used to do sun gazing. You look at the sun, gaze and allow the water to seep down. So you need to know timings – It will take a couple of minutes, maybe two or three minutes for the water to leak out. Till that time, you gaze at the sun and let the water leak out and you will see that your body gets energized.
That was the technique behind it. Not just giving water to the sun like that, it will not work.
Q: Guruji, you had said that this universe was created by the union of Prakriti (nature) and Paramatma (Supreme Being/God). So going back to the Paramatma, who is Poorna Anand (supreme and absolute bliss) how did this sankalpa (thought/intention) arise in Him?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it is there in the Upanishads that earlier there was only Paramatma and He felt that He was alone, and He wanted to become many, so He became many. The intention happened on its own ‘ekoham bahusyama’.
Sankalpa is not a deviation. It is not considered as a deviation. When a seeker (sadhak) transcends from the small mind to the Big Mind, then he considers sankalpa as a hindrance. But from the point of view of the Big Mind, it is a step to go further. So if you think why did sankalpa arise in the Paramatma, He should remain unwavering (nirvikalpa) – this is not so. Sankalpa is also Paramatma, nirvikalpa is also Him and vikalpa is also Him. Like in an ocean, waves arise on their own, in Paramatma, a thought arose to become many, so He became many. Different types of nature, different types of people and different types of intelligence were created.
Day before yesterday, I was watching a National Geographic documentary on the creation of Earth. It said that about 400 billion years ago, there was only gas. Gas started spinning and fire erupted. Then from fire, water arose and then the Earth was formed.
I suddenly realized, ‘Oh this has been said in the Vedas! What new have they said?
In our Vedic knowledge, it is said in the form of shloka – In the space, first there was air, from the air fire arose, from fire water, and from water earth was created. The idea behind giving water to fire is that we go back to ourselves. From water to fire, fire to air and then, we do pranayama after giving arghya to the sun – we go to the air element. From the air we go to the space and then sit in meditation.
All these are different types of stories; examining them more deeply reveals something new.
Q: It is said that we should not keep the photographs of our deceased parents along with the pictures of the gods and goddesses whom we worship. Some people also say that we should not even hang the photographs of deceased parents on the walls of our home. Is it true?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, there is no problem with it. You can keep the photographs of your departed parents along with the pictures of god, it is fine. If it is a sanyasi, even his picture can be placed with that of God, even when he is alive. If he is leading a grihastha (married) life, then we do not keep his photograph, such is the practice.
Q: Guruji, please explain the reason for suffering?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Okay, suppose I tell you, you should eat five masala dosa tonight, what will happen to you? Suppose you are force fed five masala dosa or 20 pooris, what will happen to you?
First of all, you will suffer. Tonight you cannot sleep, right? It will create headache, stomach ache and then all types of aches.
Firstly, when we violate the laws of nature, then we suffer. Second, ignorance – if you don’t know what you are eating and you eat some wrong things, then also you will suffer, right? Third is, if you have violated some laws at some time in the past, in the previous life, that also can bring some karma. So karmaja, agyanaja, and pragyaparadh; three things bring suffering. How to remove the ignorance? Through knowledge and understanding; Asking questions like you are doing.
Q: How to forgive truly?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Truly? Is there any false forgiveness?
I don’t know false forgiveness. I know only true forgiveness. Forgive means forgive, that’s it. Gone is gone, people did mistakes, finished. Move on.
You know why something comes back is because of your attachment to some pleasure. That is not the other’s mistake. Suppose you had some pleasure, someone had given you some pleasure, and then they have cheated you or they did a mistake, you can forgive that mistake, but what comes back is your craving for pleasure. When you see that it is just an illusion, you become more centered.
Q: What is special in 2012?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know for us every day is special, every year is special. According to the Hindu calendar, the next year is called ‘nanda’. ‘Nanda’ means happiness. The year of ‘Ananda’.
The past year which ends on March 23rd, is called ‘khara’. ‘Khara’ means for sure, certainty. Before that, it was the year of uncertainty and this year is of certainty, surety. Next year is happiness.
Q: Does the soul experience happiness and sorrow, or the mind experiences it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Only the mind experiences. All the experiences are of the mind. The experience of the soul is also at the level of the mind. When the mind is calm, then the soul is experienced. The soul is an embodiment of joy.
Mind experiences sorrow. When the mind dissolves, then joy is experienced.
Q: Where is the boundary for the mind and soul? Until where is the mind, from where does the soul start?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Like there are waves and the ocean. Just as there are waves in the ocean, mind is in the soul. So the mind is not a different entity. It is the wave of the ocean. It comes up a little bit and then calms down, again comes up and then calms down.
Q: Guruji, why do some people have to suffer throughout their life? Some people are born in slum areas and keep suffering, whereas some are born in good homes and lead a comfortable, happy life? I want to know. I see others, as well as myself, suffering.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Are you suffering? Tell me if it is your suffering or others’ suffering.
Ans – I am suffering too.
You too? But you are smiling! Looking at your face, it doesn’t seem that you are in great suffering!
Only this is needed! When you are doing sadhana, don’t you see a smile on your face? You smile in difficult times also, that is life.
Every difficulty comes to go away. It goes as soon as it comes. No problem stays forever. It comes and goes.
Q: Guruji, is there rebirth?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Absolutely!
Q: Guruji, what should I do to become your favorite disciple?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just keep doing whatever you are doing, you are already my favorite! Do seva, sadhana, keep coming to satsang, become a teacher. Do good to others.
My disciple itself means my favorite. There is nothing like favorite disciple and non-favorite disciple, okay?