Mahasatsang at Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh
(Sri Sri share the sholka ‘Annadata Sukhi Bhavah’ and encourages all to chant this shloka before we eat food. He says, ‘Always eat food with this prayer in mind. It means, may the one who have given me this food be happy.’)
Today I have gotten the opportunity to come here to Azamgarh and be with all of you. I am very happy to be here!
It is our responsibility to ensure that our message is heard by everyone, and wherever it is not being heard, it is our duty to reach out to those people.
Society has deteriorated not because of bad people, but because the good people are keeping quiet. If we care for each other from our heart, then we will have to wake up now.
I keep talking about the four A’s – Agyan (ignorance), Anyaay (injustice), Abhav (shortage) and Asuchi (un-cleanliness). These are four areas that we need to focus on:
First, we need to eradicate ignorance. There should be 100% literacy in UP. Every child must go to school and receive good education, this is very important.
Then, we will have to stand against injustice. Wherever there is injustice done on the basis of caste and religion; we have to stand against it. If somebody is being oppressed, we will have to stand up for them. All of us have to stand up against injustice and corruption.
How many of you are fed up of corruption here?
When we feel that we are fed up of corruption, then we say, ‘Okay, let us also give in. What can we do? There is no other way out. If the work is not done without giving bribe, then we have to give bribe.’ This is how people think.
I know and I understand that nobody can fight against corruption alone. If only one person goes to fight against corruption, he will have to face many obstacles and it will be impossible for him. But if we go together as a group of thirty to fifty people, we can definitely bring it under control.
Corruption begins where belongingness ends. It is only when one feels that the other is a stranger that corruption, oppression, injustice, etc., happens.
Just by laws and legislations alone, this problem will not get solved. It can happen when there is spiritual transformation and people have a sense of belongingness. Consider everyone as your own, and then you will see corruption will be wiped out from the society.
This we can do only if the people of this country wake up and stand against corruption and say, ‘No, I will not give bribe or take bribe.’
A wave of spirituality throughout the country alone can end corruption. And what is spirituality? It is that which brings peace in the society, belongingness amongst the people, and contentment, strength and peace to every individual.
That which increases belongingness is called spirituality.
Now tell me, how long does it take to have belongingness with someone? It does not take much time at all. You get married, and someone you just met becomes a part of your family.
A boy from another family, who you don’t know much about, becomes your son-in-law in one day, with just a wedding card. And after that, we consider his relatives also as our own. We may have never even met them before. Some might be from Mumbai, some from America, and some others from different parts of the world but still we establish a relationship with them. We say, ‘He is my brother-in-law’s nephew.’
We meet them, we find out our relationship with them and we accept them.
Now tell me, why is it that we hesitate to accept the people of our own country and our neighbors? This is ignorance.
When an Indian meets another Indian in a foreign land, they exchange greetings. But it was not like this some thirty years back. In those days, if an Indian came across another Indian in a foreign land, they wouldn’t even look at each other face to face. Why? It is because they were afraid that the person might ask them for some help. Many people have shared this with me. It has been their experience.
But these days, the atmosphere has changed. They feel pride in being an Indian.
I often come across many youths from the IT (Information Technology) field at the airport and many of them tell me, ‘Guruji, you have done wonders!’
I asked them, ‘What I have done?’
They said, ‘Guruji, earlier when we used to wear kurtas to the airport, people would look at us in a peculiar manner. Now, whenever we wear dhoti-kurta or pyjama-kurta, people really respect us’.
India has gained respect because of its Ancient Knowledge, this is what people say and this is true. But today, India has gained respect not only because of its Ancient Knowledge but also because of its IT industry. If our country is being pulled down it is only because of black money and corruption, and it is our duty to rid our country of these two evils. What do you think?
People tell me, ‘Guruji, being in the line of spirituality, your job is only to teach meditation. Why are you talking about corruption? Why are you getting into these matters?’
I said, ‘What is the use of me being spiritual if the pain of others does not pain my heart and does not make me care for people and reach out to them. No, I am not such a person.’
What do you think; should I not talk about it?
I told them, ‘Whatever my conscience says I will follow that, no matter what people say.’
We must stand up against corruption and we must take this sankalpa that we will neither give bribe nor accept bribe. We will take India to great heights; this is my dream!
Every citizen of this country must have a smile on their face and all their tears transformed to smiles. I will keep working towards this till my last breath, no matter what people say.
For this, we all need to work together. How? We all have to stand against injustice.
The third thing is, we have to remove scarcity.
Look at China, it was economically behind us for a long time, but now it has marched ahead of us. The reason behind this is that they work very hard and they give their 100% towards what they do.
Last year, two gentlemen from China came down to our Ashram in Bengaluru and they invited me saying, ‘Guruji, please grace our country with your presence’.
I said, ‘Okay, since you are requesting me so much, I will come.’ So, I gave them the dates I would visit. Three months later when I reached China, I was very surprised when I saw that within those three month they had built an Ashram!
On two hundred acres of land, they built a huge ashram. They had made four hundred rooms and had planted many trees. I was astonished to see that.
In our country, in three months, leave alone a building, a simple registration for a land does not get passed. You will not believe the work they had done in three months. The Ashram is between the Beijing city and the airport, so it is a forty-five minutes drive from the airport as well as from the city.
In the Ashram, they made a small stream and on either sides of the stream, they constructed a small bridge over the stream. They did this in three days and when I arrived, they told me, ‘Guruji, we built this for you.’ If we want to learn diligence, we must learn it from the Chinese. They are very efficient.
All the idols in our country are coming from China. All the idols of Radha-Krishna and Ganesha that you see made of plastic are all coming from there. Can’t we do the same thing here?
In China, every village has taken a specific responsibility. One entire village is involved in making buttons. If you enter any house, you will find a machine in every house and each person is involved in the job of making buttons. And if you go to another village, the people there make only needles. You will get needles of all sizes there.
The same thing used to be here as well – the petha (a sweet dish) of Agra, the peda (a sweet dish) of Mathura, thesarees of Banaras, carpets of Mirzapur and black pottery of Azamgarh, these were all popular earlier. Every place had some specialty of their own. This needs to be revived and spread across the country. The message that the earthen pots of Azamgarh are very famous should spread everywhere.
We have remained backward in this area, but now this must be promoted. In every field, if we take one commodity and increase its trade, scarcity will be wiped out from the country.
All the unemployed youths here, I request all of you not to leave this satsang without getting yourselves registered at the center here. Our HR department will train you, and I want all of you to be employed. This is my goal.
There is no shortage of jobs in our country. So many industrialists are establishing their factories in China. I ask them, ‘Why don’t you establish your factory here. There is so much poverty in our country and you are establishing the factory in China.’
They said, ‘Guruji, we can find people there’.
I said, ‘It is my job to get you people; you just establish your factory here.’
I have always been saying this. I need youth from this country that don’t have jobs and want to work. We can do a lot in India, and bring an economic revolution here.
When spirituality in our country was at its peak, its financial condition was also very strong. When spirituality fell, so did the economic condition of the country. Around two to three hundred years back, one third of the world’s wealth was in India. In those days, spirituality was at its peak. So, don’t think, what is the connection between spirituality and the economic health of the country? Where there is Narayana, Lakshmi (symbolism of wealth) also follows!
Then, we need to remove un-cleanliness, this is also our duty.
It is said that India is one of the dirtiest countries in the world. People say that India is one country where you will always find dirt, and people live in dirt and die also in that dirty environment.
We don’t keep our streets clean; we don’t keep our own house clean. In some houses, the washbasins are not cleaned for months together. This is what the statistics are saying. I want to prove that these statistics are wrong. So we will all give importance to both, inner cleanliness as well as outer cleanliness. We will keep our houses and streets clean.
Today, lakhs of people have gathered here. I want ask for Guru Dakshina (a gift to express gratitude) from all of you here.
When a guru or a saint comes to a city, he is given Guru Dakshina. This is our tradition.
I will ask for two things as Guru Dakshina from all of you present here today. The first Dakshina I want from you is that if you have any hatred or negative feelings towards anyone give it to me as Dakshina. Whosoever you have disliked, mend your relations with them by distributing sweets. This is the first Dakshina.
The second Dakshina I want from you is two hours of your time on the coming Sunday, from eight to ten. I want you to come out with a broom and make groups and clean Azamgarh. If each one of us goes out on the streets to clean Azamgarh, then this place will shine.
This is my second Dakshina, will you give me this?
If in a month, you spare two hours of time for cleaning, it will be enough for me. Every month for two hours, take out some time to clean the streets.
So, on Sunday, all the educated people, with the entire family, go out on the streets with broomsticks, and clean the place. Remove all the plastic bags and garbage. If any of the drains or pipelines are blocked somewhere, then all the engineers put on a mask and clean the blockage with some tools.
Leaving everything on the municipality and the government will not work. We need to participate in this, and then a lot of work can be done.
I will tell you a story about this. Around 1977 or 1978, I was visiting Switzerland. So one day I went out for a stroll. The surrounding was very peaceful, there were snow capped mountains, and the road was empty. Somebody had given me a small chocolate that I was holding in my hand. So I ate the chocolate and threw the wrapper there on the road. After a little while, I heard a voice from far away. A lady with a walking stick was waving at me asking me to stop. She must have been in her 70s or 80s. I thought she must be having some problem, so stopped and I turned back and looked towards her.
As she walked towards me, she picked up the wrapper I threw on the roadside and asked me to drop it in the dustbin nearby.
Nobody was there, not even the police. I had just gone out for a stroll. And the old lady, who didn’t even know my language, gestured me to drop the wrapper in the dustbin and not on the street.
Since that day, I have never thrown anything like that.
I feel that if such awareness comes into the people of our country; India will be a very clean place.
I have dream of a clean India and that is why I am raising the issue of cleanliness wherever I go. Awareness towards cleanliness should be imbibed in our culture.
I am asking you to do the same thing on a Sunday. I am just asking for two hours of your time, nothing else. Just go out with your broomsticks, and all those locked up in their rooms, call them too.
This way, to clean our society, people from all castes, parties, classes and religions can come together. This difference of higher and lower class in our society will end. Service to society is one thing that connects us to God.
Okay, now let us do a small meditation. When we meditate in a group, then any sankalpa or desire you have in your mind gets fulfilled. You will get a blessing, for sure.
(Guruji guides everyone into meditation)
See, for most of you, thirty, forty or fifty years of your life is already over. You will be here for another fifteen, twenty or twenty five years more. After that, what will happen, where will you go?
‘Who am I?’ ‘Where will I go?’ If such questions or anxiousness does not arise in your mind, then consider your life has been wasted. It is of no use.
You should have these questions in mind, ‘Who am I?’ ‘What do I want; what will happen to me after this?’ It does not matter if you don’t get the answer to the questions, but at least these questions should arise in you.
All of us sitting here, we have all been born many times and died many times. I remember and you can also remember; it is not difficult. If you meditate for a little while, you will also understand that you have come here many times. Then such an inner strength awakens in you that nobody can wipe the smile off your face; that inner connection is established with God. Once this happens, then there will be no short fall of anything in life.
God isn’t someone outside or away from you. He did not take birth and die, He is eternal. He is in the present and he is in every one of you, in every particle of this creation.
All that you have to do is sit silently for a short while, withdrawing yourself from everything else. Only those who are contented in life can bring contentment to others. If you feel that you have gotten everything you wanted from life and your mind is contented, then any intention that arises in your mind becomes fruitful, and your blessing become very powerful. All your sankalpas get accomplished. This is a scientific truth.
In our country, we have a custom of taking blessings from the elderly whenever we are about to begin some good work or a new task. Do you know why?
As per tradition, the elderly should be satisfied and contented, and so when such a person says, ‘Bless you!’ Then that positive energy enters our life and puts everything on track.
But you don’t get to see that with the elderly people these days. The more aged they are, the more misery, anger and pain you see in them.
You know, the elderly people abroad are not given any importance. After the age of sixty, it is like they have been thrown out of their homes. The children go and visit them on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day and give them a card, or they post it to them. But this is not the tradition in India. We respect our elders and we have always respected the elderly. The reason behind this is what we cannot do through our body; we can do through our thoughts. Nature has kept such a power within us.
As long as there is strength in your body, do work. But when you cannot do work, then pray and bless everyone. But what do we do, we hold on to the keys of the safe in our hands tight and we are not willing to let go. We keep crying and consider everyone else to be wrong. Such an elderly person can’t do anything. How to age and grow old is also an art.
After a certain age, hand over all the responsibilities to your children, show them the way and you be free. Meditate and focus your attention on God. If you live life this way, then your life will be very fulfilling. So, power to bless another comes to those who are contented.
Now that does not mean that you become contented only after a certain age. Even at a younger age you can be contented and happy.
I tell you, I’ve never abused anybody all these 55 years of my life. I’ve never said any bad words to anybody. Not that I achieved it or made any special effort, it is my nature.
The more refined your speech is, the more will be your power to bless others.
If every morning we abuse someone or use abusive language, then our speech will have no power. With a clean heart and a happy mind, if we speak sweet words, then a unique power arises in us and with that power not only will our work be done, but we will also be able to help others with their tasks.
The basis for this is meditation. When we meditate, our mind becomes pleasant, our intellect becomes sharp, concentration improves and everything starts happening effortlessly.
I am not saying that if you meditate today, tomorrow all your work will be done. No, I am not saying this. It isn’t magic. But meditation definitely helps and your work will definitely get done. This I have noticed. So, I am asking all of you to be contented. If you are not, then go to the one who is contented and seek their blessings. Ask them to bless you.
Today, you people have come here. I would say you must leave all your problems, pain and restlessness with me. I am ready to take it. Just leave all that here and go back home with a smile. This is what I want. We can’t get rid of our sins ourselves. Somebody will have to remove them for us.
This is what Lord Sri Krishna has said to his disciples, ‘Aham Tvam Sarva-papebhyo Mokshayishyami Ma Sucah’; do not be unhappy, I will rid you of all your sins. Stand strong and have patience.
This is what Lord Krishna has said, and this has been our ancient tradition.
Why do we need a Guru? We need a Guru so that whatever problems that we have in our mind which we cannot handle, can be surrendered at the feet of the Guru.
In our country there was this custom – Mata, Pita, Guru and Dev.
When we were children what did we do? When we were sad we called out ‘Amma’ and went to our mother. Yes or no? Whenever a small child has any trouble, it runs to its mother. If the child had some quarrel with the mother, the child will go to the father.
When we were in school for any problem we used to go to the class teacher.
In every family there was a saint, a Guru. We used to go to them and whatever botheration or trouble was there, we would surrender those at their feet and become empty.
If someone did not have a Guru, then there was the family deity. Every family had their own Kuldevta (family deity). So we would go to the family deity, and any problem we had we would surrender it there and become free. We have left all these practices today. That is why all this suicide, infanticide, etc., started. The reason behind this is that we have left all four: mother, father, guru and God.
This is what is happening in the society. We need to change this. And this is what I want. I want you to leave all your problems here and know that my blessings are with you.
Try this once and see you will experience such peace in your life.
One more thing I want to tell you. If the farmers are unhappy, then the people of the country consuming the food grains will also be unhappy. That is why we must say ‘Annadata Sukhi Bhavah’ before eating our food.
Always eat food with this prayer in mind. It means, may the one who has given me this food be happy. When we say this shloka, we are including three people, one is the farmer, the other is the middleman and the third is the lady of the house who prepared the food and served it to you. If there are tears in her eyes, you will not be able to digest that food. People are bound to fall ill.
So we should say this prayer daily, ‘Annadata Sukhi Bhavah’.
Q: Gurudev, you often tell us ‘Antar Mukhi Sada Sukhi’. Is it possible to be like this in today’s world?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, you are living in the world, and still you sleep everyday for some time. Similarly, if for a little while every day you meditate and go inward then you will see such peace arising from within you. This will help you in your day to day life. So it is definitely possible.
Q: Gurudev, I want to become like you. Is it possible?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Definitely! Do seva, sadhana and satsang.
There is no difference between you and me. You are what I am. When we came here we were all the same. When children are born they are all the same. Just that I didn’t lose my childlike nature, but you probably got lost somewhere. But you can come back, there is no problem.
I consider myself as a boy who hasn’t grown up yet.
Q: Guruji, these days, the universities and the colleges have lowered their standards so much. Why don’t you open up a college or university where we can give our children good education?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes! The Government of Orissa said the same thing to me. I said, ‘I am ready.’ So they passed the legislation and allotted us a land for the university.
We have been working on it; it should start from this year onwards, in Bhubaneswar, Orissa.
I did this because there are so many students who go abroad for higher education to Australia, London and America. There, many of them suffer because of racial discrimination and prefer to come back home. So I thought why not give them the best quality education here? So keeping this in mind we have started a university taking the very best from the West and the best from the East, and combining it to make an effective educational system. So a combination of science and wisdom; just one will not do.
All those who are interested in taking admissions at our University are most welcome.
The building is being constructed right now, but it should open in July or August this year.
Q: Guruji, what is the difference between Upanishad and Purana? Which should I read?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Upanishad is pure knowledge, and the Purana is coupled with stories. Do you know what the meaning of Purana is? It means ultra modern, or the newest thing is called Purana. The meaning of Purana in Sanskrit is different from its meaning in Hindi, they are opposite. What we call purana (old) in Hindi is absolutely new and fresh (purana) in Sanskrit.
So, the new way of presenting knowledge is called Purana.
Q: Gurudev, the entire country is very proud of Sachin Tendulkar today as he completed his 100th century today. Would you like to say something about him?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I would like to congratulate him. And at the same time would like to request him to become a member of the cricket board, BCCI (Board for Control of Cricket in India).
At the moment, many elderly people are the members of this board, who are beyond sixty or seventy years of age, and have been members for more than twenty years, and there is so much corruption taking place in this sphere. This needs to be corrected.
Also, it is very important to encourage the youth to participate in sports. When the youth put their minds into sports, they will not get into addictions and violence.
Q: Guruji, I am a Muslim, can I also learn Sudarshan Kriya? Will I have to leave anything for that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, there is no need to leave anything at all.
I just returned from Pakistan and thousands of people have done the course in Pakistan and are practicing Sudarshan Kriya. They have even established a center there. Around one lakh people have received training there and they are all very happy.
When I went there, I didn’t feel that I am in Pakistan. They welcomed me with so much warmth and feelings. I am telling you, Sudarshan Kriya does not take you away from your religion but in fact it brings more depth to your prayers. It brings forth that inner happiness.
Yoga and Sudarshan Kriya keeps you strong and healthy. That is why drop all doubts.
In Iraq, Iran and in many other countries, people are doing Sudarshan Kriya and are enjoying the benefit of it. In many mosques in Africa also they are teaching the Art of Living courses.
Q: Guruji, is it true that we must give more attention to our problems because every problem takes us more towards spirituality.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sukh Mein Seva Aur Dukh Mein Tyaag. When you are happy, do some service activities and when you are miserable, you must have the courage to let go.
Problems give depth to your life, while happiness motivates you to serve others. So happiness and sorrow come and go but when we connect to that Divine power that is within us and when we have this faith that God is my own, he is right here with me, then sorrow does not come at all.
Q: Gurudev, people are talking about bringing Yoga to Olympics. What do you feel? Should Yoga be made into a competition?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, definitely. For whatever reason, if people do yoga, I am satisfied with that. Even if it is a competition at the Olympics, or in school or through the Yogathon event, at least do it. When you do Yoga you will get a lot of benefit. It is good regardless of the reason for which it is done.