Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
(Below is a continuation of the post The Spirituality Of Nature)
Spirituality alone has the power to stop suicides, and to stop crime.
Our country has become home to crime today. Political parties feel compelled to give election tickets to criminal elements only because they have a hold over public vote banks, and because there is no large vote bank of all the righteous and upright people in the country. We need a vote bank of all the righteous and good people today? Don't you all agree with me? (Yes).
India has such profound knowledge of spirituality that is capable of permanently transforming the lives of people. Yet we have not valued and honored our own spiritual legacy.
In the Dwapara Yuga (referring to the age in which Lord Krishna took birth), the Pandavas were only five, while their cousins - the Kauravas were 100 in number. But today, in the Kali Yuga, this arithmetic has been reversed. Today there are a 100 Pandavas (here meaning noble people) are only five Kauravas (here meaning wicked people). If our society is suffering today, I believe it is because of the silence of these 100 noble people, rather than the five wicked ones.
Today all you must take a Sankalpa (firm resolve) to work for the society. Go from door to door and make people aware of their rights, and what is happening. Do not let the good people just stay indoors and do nothing for the society. You must awaken the people. They should all step out of the comforts of their homes and become active volunteers for a better India. Will you all do this?
I have a dream for India, to bring about a wave of spirituality, a wave of happiness everywhere. Wherever possible, whether it be the villages or the cities, people’s faces should glow with happiness. This will not happen by acquiring wealth alone.
Countries across the world today have acknowledged this. That is why even in the Soviet Union have dedicated a day to celebrate World Happiness Day.
They have come up with an indicator called Gross Domestic Happiness to measure how happy and content the people of a country are. So having a lot of money alone is of no use. It is also important for the people to be happy and content.
More than 2000 youth commit suicide every year in Japan, and more than two lakh youth are diagnosed with some or the other mental disorder there.
In Europe, around 40% of the schoolteachers are affected with some mental illness, and 38% of the people there fall prey to suicide and other problems.
The Prime Minister of England asked me, 'Gurudev, why do the people here commit suicide when the government provides them all possible amenities, such as homes, cars, etc.?'
When the people there adopted Yoga, pranayama and meditation, they experienced a profound transformation in their lives. India has such profound knowledge of spirituality that is capable of transforming lives permanently. Yet we have not valued and honored our own heritage and the spiritual legacy that we have in our country.
We are sitting on top of a golden treasure, yet we have been ignorant about it. We look down upon in rather than upholding it with honor, and promoting it.
No one gives or takes bribe from their own brother, cousin, or family members. People behave in a corrupt way with those who they do not consider as their own.
So a corruption-free society cannot be achieved by laws alone. We need to expand our sense of belongingness with everyone around us.
India is home to many kinds of wealth.
In the west, we have our neighbors like the Middle East who have a lot of oil, and then we have countries like Indonesia and Malaysia who are rich in oil deposits too. We are in the centre and we also have a lot of oil wealth, but still we are importing oil from other countries at high prices.
We have huge coal deposits, yet we are importing coal from outside. We have huge deposits of bauxite in our country, but still we are importing Aluminum from outside.
We are exporting crude iron ore at small prices, and importing steel at high prices. By doing all this, we have done great damage to our economy. This misfortune has been our own doing.
Otherwise if you really look at it, India is still The Golden bird today. We want to see our country as The Golden Bird once again. How many people here have this same dream? Raise your hands. We all have to unite for this.
India is not a weak, or a poor country in any way. But we have brought ourselves to this pitiable state.
Do you know, around 1.4 trillion dollars worth of Indian money is deposited in foreign banks in the form of black money. Don't you think that we need to bring it back to our own country? Are you not tired and sad to see one horrifying scam after another in a land that is the home to the noblest of kings.
We need a corruption-free society today. And I do not think that we can eliminate corruption just by passing a few laws. It is not possible.
To eradicate corruption, we need to bring about a wave of belongingness in the society. One will never behave in a corrupt or dishonest way with those who belong to them. No one gives or takes bribe from their own brother, cousin, or family members. People behave in a corrupt way with those who they do not consider as their own. So a corruption-free society cannot be achieved by making laws alone. We need to expand our sense of belongingness with everyone around us.
I have travelled the world over, but wherever I have gone, the people there felt as if they were my own, and I too felt that I belonged to them. I never felt like anyone is a stranger to me. This has been my nature since the beginning.
Everyone here are the flowers tended to by one gardener (God). Now if these flowers start wilting, then can we simply stay quiet and watch? No, that would be hypocrisy. This is why whatever I think is right and appropriate for the time, I voice that out.
We cannot afford to give the reins of the country’s governance to a new and inexperienced person. Our country is in a time of crisis. We need a strong and experienced person, who speaks and acts honestly to govern the country.
You know, a journalist, a President of a country, and spiritual leaders do not belong to any one particular party or section of the people. They belong to everybody. They are not allied to any one particular party. But if a politician or a political party engages in wrong doing, then they must definitely tell them that they have done wrong. So it is both the duty and the right of a spiritual leader to do that, which is why I will continue to do so.
The land of Maharashtra has given birth to great saints like Swami Ramdas. It is the land of great saints. Every village here is so deeply soaked in devotion and love for the country. We have to simply rekindle that feeling everywhere, and you will see that a great revolution will begin from here, and its fragrance will spread everywhere in the country.
I feel that day is not too far, it is just around the corner now.
Today, we cannot afford to give the reins of the country’s governance to a new and inexperienced person. Our country is in a time of crisis, it is literally on ventilator support. We cannot make a one year old child sit in the driver seat of the country. Neither will the child be able to hold the steering wheel, nor will his feet reach the brake and accelerator pedals.
We cannot hand over the reins of the country in the hands of an inexperienced person. We need a strong and experienced person, who speaks and acts honestly, to govern the country.
We all have to wake up. The youth have to come forward and work towards saving this country, her religion and spirituality, her culture and heritage.
Gurudev, we must all vote 100%. But if 100% of the candidates in the elections are not good, then what do we do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I understand your question. I am also in the same dilemma. There are many wrong candidates contesting the elections at different places in the country. But when it comes to electing people into the parliament at the center, then you should focus on the greater interests of the country. So if you see a candidate who has a few flaws, then also it is alright, as long as he is strong and morally upright. This is because a strong leader will be able to manage the issues of the country in a proper manner. When it comes to the elections in your own state, then your focus should be on the character and track record of the candidate. If he is very corrupt, then you should show him his rightful place. When it comes to electing your city’s Municipal Corporation, then you should only vote for a person of good character and a clean record, regardless of which party they may belong to. This is because the municipal corporation of the city has to work for the city day in and day out, for issues like your roads, water supply, electricity supply, etc. members of the parliament or state legislative assembly cannot look into issues of the city. It is the officials of the Municipal Corporation who will look into such matters. So you should use a different yardsticks to select and elect candidates of different platforms of governance.
Gurudev, why are people today becoming spiritual and political also?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
If people are becoming more spiritual, then that is a good thing.
When there are so many problems happening in the society today, then the good and spiritual people have to step in and take up political roles also. Both are needed.
Does acquiring power and authority - professionally and spiritually, give one the power to misbehave with one’s parents at home? Do you approve of such people?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
No, not at all. Both the parents and the children need to understand and be careful in this situation.
For parents, I would advise them not to be overly strict with children. Remember what has been said in our scriptures. In the Nitishastra and Dharmashastra, it is said, ‘Aprapti shodashe varshe putram mitram-vad archaret’.
When you child becomes 16 years old, you should be like a friend to them. So give some freedom to your children, and do not try to overly control them in everything that they do.
But do not give too much freedom also. If you give them too much freedom, then in the future they will only blame you for their own conditions.
It is like this, if you hold the reins of a horse too tight, the horse will not be able to run. And if you keep it totally loose, then the horse will run wherever it wants to. So adopt the middle path here.