When you go to a shop to buy something, it comes with a package. It is packaged. This packaging is essential, but it is not the substance. It is the substance which is packed.
Similarly, formalities are just a package. It is like a wrapping paper. The real thing is the belongingness. If there isn’t a feeling of oneness, then it cannot be called a satsang or utsav (celebration).
I have travelled around the world and I have noticed that none of the countries have spirituality and celebration connected so deeply as in India. On one hand, they are spiritual while on the other hand they go to parties and are involved in merrymaking. However, in spiritual gatherings, there is no fun or happiness; it is a very serious affair. We do this even in India as well – become very serious, but it should not be like that! Holi is a festival of fun and frolic, of happiness.
Did all of you play Holi? Which Holi did you play? I don’t mean only the Holi where you apply colour on each other. It is a festival where you are coloured in the colours of your soul. The soul has seven colours.
You have given this gathering a very good name- Atmotsav! The celebration of the soul is Atmotsav. Whenever there has been a major celebration in Bengaluru, Bhopal or elsewhere, a lot of people from Ratlam used to attend them and ask me,‘When will you come to Ratlam?’
See, I have come to Ratlam!
Belongingness is the essence of life. When there is belongingness, things don’t appear dull. When there is no dullness, there will not be greed. Your desires won’t trouble you. All the distortions will be removed. The root cause of any distortion is inertia, that is, when you don’t like anything. This feeling comes from dullness.
Where there is belongingness, dullness gets wiped out, and you are joyous. Then you are automatically rid of your addiction to alcohol.
Millions of people across the globe have experienced that as they do Meditation and Sudarshan Kriya, they are automatically freed of their bad habits.
I know that every person, when born is a good person and there is no doubt about that. There are good qualities in them. Over the years, these good qualities in them gets hidden and all the distortions start showing up. The reason behind it is ignorance and the absence of spiritual knowledge.
Neither at home nor in schools are we taught how to live life. We don’t know how to handle our mind. We learn everything else except how to handle ourselves. It is very essential to learn this.
(Somebody offers Sri Sri a garland and he says: ) I know your feelings behind this garland. We are not able to express our feelings. The flower then becomes a medium. But, I tell you, there is no need for this. A smile on your face is enough for me. You are blossomed, and a smile on your face is greater than a flower. That gives me a lot of satisfaction.
So, what were we talking about? Belongingness! There should be belongingness. Where belongingness ends there corruption begins. No one has ever been corrupt and wicked with the those who are their own. We do this only with those whom we don’t consider our own. So, if today, in the society, we want to re-establish peace, we must create a wave of spirituality. Right? All of us will have to work on this. We want a violence-free society. A society where there is no robbery, no ill-will against each other, and where a close connection exists amongst people. Once upon a time, our society had been like this. In India, when spirituality was at its peak, the economic condition of India was also very good. When there was a fall in spirituality, we fell financially as well. We can see it from both the ways: we fell financially, so a fall was noticed in spirituality as well. But I would say that if we engulf our society in a wave of spirituality once again, if we take yoga, udyog (work), and yagya together, we can again visualize an India where there is ‘Ram-Rajya’, as Mahatma Gandhiji put it. So, today in Atmotsav, we will do three things: singing, knowledge and meditation.
Have the trust in life that you are not alone, and there is someone with you. Whatever be your troubles, problems and pains, just surrender it to me. Just say, ‘Guruji, I can’t bear this, please take it’. Think this way or write it, send it whichever way you want to, but you march ahead in life, free of all tensions. This is what I want.
What use is that celebration that doesn’t involve silence, and what is that silence which doesn’t transform into a celebration? Silence gives depth to a celebration, while celebration brings forth the inner power of silence. That is why, for little while, we must practice meditation. It is very important. It sharpens your memory and keeps you healthy.
How many of you are have body ache? You know why?
We put poisonous things in the soil, like pesticides and chemicals that is why. We put chemical fertilizers in the soil and when we eat the crop that harvests, we feel the pain in our body.
You know, earlier, the rice and wheat we used to keep at home, would be eaten up by insects. Isn’t it? This doesn’t happen now.
What does that mean? Even the insects don’t like the things we eat. It is because they know it contains poisonous substances. We eat such things and then we have pain everywhere in the body. So many people are suffering from cancer. That is why we should engage in organic, chemical-free farming and eat only such food items.
If we know what to eat, then we can protect ourselves from diseases.
So, if you want to purify your body, use ayurveda. Take Triphala Churna at least once a week. This keeps your bowel clean.
For purifying your body, you must use Ayurveda. Do pranayama for a little while everyday. This will give strength to your body and make your mind pleasant. And everyone must listen to music. People listen to music but not attentively. The songs keep playing but your mind is wandering elsewhere or you are talking. No, this shouldn’t be the case. Listen to music for some time. Music brings purity to your emotions. Knowledge purifies the mind. Donation purifies wealth. And ghee (clarified butter) purifies our food.
You should never hesitate with bhajan (devotional music) and bhojan (food). Otherwise, you will remain hungry physically as well as spiritually.
Q: Guruji, what is the purpose of life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is a very good question that arose in your mind. Consider yourself very fortunate. It is your good fortune that this question arose in your mind, ‘What is the goal of life?’ We just keep living life and don’t even think what life really is. One who knows will never tell and the one who tells doesn’t know
Q: Guruji, if God resides in us then why do we experience misery in life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is because we are untoward God. The sun is there, but if you are standing with your back towards it, then you will see the shadow in front of you. Your grief is that shadow. It is not real but a shadow, the shadow of your untowardness to God. If we turn away from God, we experience sorrow in our life.
Q: Guruji, what is the difference between Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharat?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Bhagavad Gita is a part of Mahabharat, in a chapter.
Q: Guruji, what is the difference between a Guru and a Sadguru?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no difference, they are the same. One who doesn’t have the virtue of truth in him can’t be called a Guru. It is an adjective, nothing else.
Q: Guruji, there is just one curiosity in mind, what is success and how can we be completely successful?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The sign of success is a smile on your face. If you smile, no matter what happens, that is a sign of success.
Q: Karma, dharma, and adhyatama (spirituality), which should be given foremost importance in life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Will you first watch television, or first listen and then watch it later?
Will that work? No, it goes simultaneously. Dharma, karma, adhyatma, they all go hand-in-hand.
Q: Guruji, we represent Art of Living. So, what should be our behaviour when we face the world?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You should be a good person, with authenticity. Not somebody who is fake. You should be the same inside and the same outside. This does not mean, you get angry when speaking about truth. Often, people who want perfection and who are perfectionist get very angry. We should know how to deal with ignorance.
If you live a natural and simple life with sincerity, then you have learnt the Art of Living.
Q: Guruji, how will we come to know whether what we are doing is right or not?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ask yourself; ask the inner self. If you have done something wrong, it will pinch you. But if you did something right, you will be fearless. You don’t have any fears when you do something right. When you commit a wrong deed, you feel a pinch, an irritation inside. You start facing problems.
Q: When will corruption and terrorism end? Will Sanātana Dharma (the eternal law) end?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, Sanatana Dharma will never end. It has been practiced since time immemorial and will continue to exist. It has been thirty years since The Art of Living was founded. Today, we can say that yoga, pranayama and Sudarshan Kriya is being practiced in 152 countries around the world.
If you go to the last city of the South Pole, Tierra del Fuego, you will find thousands of people doing pranayama, meditating and turning vegetarian. If you go to the last city of the North Pole, Tromso, where, for two months there is no sunlight, neither sun nor moon rises there, even I was shocked to find people waiting to meet me at the airport. They said, ‘We are doing sadhana in the university here’. It is everywhere around the world.
On 11th March, I am leaving for Pakistan as well. Last time when I went to Pakistan, it was seven and a half years back. I came to Indore and then went to Pakistan.
This time again, in Madhya Pradesh, I have come to Indore and Ratlam and will be going to Pakistan. Even there, thousands of people have been doing sadhana. They were making a lot of requests for me to come to their place. They really wanted me to come to Pakistan and so I will be leaving for Pakistan from here.
Every corner of this world requires our tradition of knowledge and meditation. We should present it in a meaningful way. When I went to Pakistan, people asked me this question, ‘In your country, people worship so many Gods, while in our country, we just worship one’.
I said, ‘No, we also worship just one God, but do you know how? Now, from the same wheat flour you make samosa, parantha, halwa and other dishes. It is all made from the same wheat flour. The Karachi halwa is made from wheat flour too.’
I asked them, ‘Why do you make so many things from the same wheat? Similarly, though there is just one God, we worship him in different ways. The same God has different qualities and for each quality we have given a form. In Islam, Allah is known by ninety nine other names.
In Sanatana Dharma, there are one hundred and eight names and we made as many forms as well. Not even one hundred and eight, I would say thousand names, ‘Sahasra Naam!’ But there is only one God, one ‘<i?noor< b=””>’, one ‘Parmatma’ and it is only Him whom we revere by different names and forms. They felt very good after I shared it with them.
They said, ‘We have never heard it this way, we could never gain this knowledge. We always understood you (people belonging to other religions) to be different from us’.
What is Sanatana Dharma? From ancient times, it has been said, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, i.e., this world is my own; this world is one family (one world family). If you possess such magnanimous sentiments, you can call yourself dharmic.
Q: People run behind money. In such circumstances, how can we stay connected with spirituality? Where should I start from?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First know the fact that spirituality and economic system aren’t enemies of each other. Accept this fact. Don’t think that spirituality means you cannot be prosperous in life. Be prosperous, gather wealth, there is no harm, but do it in a religious way.
Q: Guruji, today there are religious gatherings being organized everywhere but religion is lost somewhere. What could be the reason?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I don’t think so. If you are seeing it this way, then rub your eyes. The world has more of good people. Those who do wrong are only few in number. However, the good people keep quiet, this is wrong.
If the society has witnessed a fall, it is because of the silence of the good people, because they were inactive. The demonic people are only few in number. The day good people become active, that day the demonic people will be suppressed.
Q: Guruji, a lot has been said about 2012. In such a circumstance, how does India’s future look like to you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: India’s future is bright. People will wake up this year. And I am sure that the youths are waking up here. It is also showing up in the elections. People are waking up and raising their voice against corruption.
Q: Guruji, why is there so much discrimination between a man and a woman?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: One shouldn’t discriminate. India is one country where God has been seen as ‘Ardhanarishwar’, that is, half woman and half man. Infact, in India, women have been considered a step ahead of men. While addressing a couple, it is the woman’s name which is mentioned, as Srimati and Sri. Elsewhere, it is Mr. and Mrs. In English, you never say Mrs. and Mr., rather, Mr. And Mrs. But, in India, you say Srimati and Sri.
Q: Guruji, in life what should be given more importance, the happiness of the people close to us, or our own happiness?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Consider it as your two eyes. If you are happy, only then can you keep others happy. And if you find your happiness in making others happy, then you will progress a lot in life.
Q: Guruji, what should we do to maintain balance and be happy during the ups and downs of life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: ‘Gaan, Gyan aur Dhyan’; that is, music, knowledge and meditation.
Q: What is the way to liberation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are at the right place and listening to the right words. Only the one who is liberated can liberate you. Are you getting what I am saying?
Q: Guruji, at what age did the interest in spirituality come up in you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: My dear, I brought it along when I was born. I think this was my nature. I don’t know, but since the time I gained a sense of this world, it has been like this. The world looks both new and old to me. Everyone seems my own, and nobody is a stranger to me.
Q: Guruji, if we fail to bring a wrong person on the right track after making considerable efforts, then what should we do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Make an effort to bring a wrong person on the right track. If effort doesn’t yield results, then pray for him, he definitely will come on the right path.
Prayer doesn’t mean a superficial prayer. You should feel the pain of seeing him walking on the wrong path. And don’t keep that pain to yourself. Surrender that pain to God.
A prayer should rise from the depth of your heart, ‘May this person recover soon’, and it will definitely be fulfilled. Even if that doesn’t work, then it is his karma, forget it!
Q: Guruji, does God really exist? If yes, then how can we experience Him?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I have come to tell you that God exists and He is in you. I have come to tell you this. Don’t try to see Him.
If someone tells you that he will help you see God, then think that he is a fool. God is neither a material substance nor a sight, he is in the seer. That is why only through meditation can you attain God.
A person whose mind is turned outward can never attain God. If one feels that he can see Lord Hanuman, then there has been some illusion. There is something wrong with his brain. Why? Because you can never look at the seer as a sight. He is neither a sight, a material substance nor is He different from us. The Parmatma (Divine) is hidden in the Atma (soul). When you meditate, you will feel, ‘Wow, the one I have been searching for everywhere is in me’. You will have this experience. After that, nobody will be able to shake you. Nobody will be able to wipe away the smile from your face.
So, God is here, right this moment, in us. Know this and relax. Accept this and relax.
Vishram main Ram hai!
Q: Guruji, what is life’s truth? Sometimes, I feel that I am living in the trap of an illusion!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, getting out of illusion is the truth about life.
Q: Guruji, how can I contribute to the society?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is a very good question. You think what you can do. I want all the youth to join hands with us for just six months and we will bring a wave of revolution everywhere in this country. Then see, how the country will change. I have a dream to see India as the most forward country in this world. I want India to become powerful and regain the pride and honor it once enjoyed in ancient times. How many of you are with me? India has to emerge as a strong nation and I don’t want a single youth to be unemployed. How many youths here are unemployed? I want you to get yourself registered in the center here. There is a lot to be done in this country today. It is difficult to find plumbers, drivers, cooks and electricians in this country. There is a lot of demand for such people. We will give you training.
Our education system is so old-fashioned and wrong, that people remain unemployed after completing their studies. In our country, the ones who are uneducated find employment while 59% of the post graduates are unemployed. Though they studied so hard all these years and did their post graduation, they cannot find employment. The education should be job-oriented. Our education should be such that proper attention is given to honing the employment skills. If the teaching is job-friendly, then as soon as the students complete their education, they will get a job. We need to bring this change.
I request all the doctors to offer three free medical camps in a year. If you are a lawyer, I want you to handle three cases free of cost. Do this once in four months for people who are very poor and cannot afford to pay your fee.
Can you do this?
And all the school teachers should give free tuition to students who are weak in studies. Consider three students for a year. And if you are a student, create awareness about voting amongst people. Ask everyone to go and vote and to vote against corruption.
Q: Guruji, what difference do you feel in Ram avtar, Krishna avtar and your current incarnation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: My dear, I have left it on you to find the difference. Why should I tell you? I just look at the one who is in me, in you and in everybody.
Q: Guruji, do we really need a Guru in life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do you need an answer to this question? One who answers a question becomes the Guru and the one who listens becomes a shishya (disciple). Having asked this question, you are caught. Since you have asked this question, you have said, ‘I need a Guru’!
It is as good as asking a person who is sleeping, ‘Are you asleep’? Whether he says yes or no is one and the same thing, that means, he is awake.
Similarly, you are asking, ‘do we need a Guru?’ Because you are asking this question, it means you need one.
Q: Guruji, what should we listen to first, our heart or our mind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you do business, listen to your mind. And when you live life or do some social work, then listen to your heart. When you are with your family, listen to your heart.