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.
The Youth Leadership Program (YLTP) is very essential for our country today. The world is astonished at the great achievements of our youth leaders from the YLTP program.
One of the Yuvacharyas after completing his YLTP, went back to his village in Orissa and brought an end to the practice of defecating in the open. He made arrangements for constructing proper toilets in every home there. All this was done by just one Yuvacharya in a matter of just one and a half month. It was such a great success that officials from the World Bank came to see the village. And then they called him to Delhi and asked him, 'How did you manage to achieve this in such a short time?' Our Yuvacharya explained ;We achieved this by motivating each and every person in the village to join the cause, and inspired everyone'. When you become a source of inspiration, then you can do great things and bring about a lot of good change in the society and the world. You all should keep moving forward with this sense of enthusiasm and confidence.
We all want that the people around us should be more responsible and sincere, but then we ourselves also should work in that very same way.
Wherever you find that great work has happened in India, whether it is in Maharashtra, Gujarat or the North-east, it has all been done by our Yuvacharyas. They have worked towards reviving many dried up rivers and streams, they have worked towards creating awareness towards personal hygiene and sanitation of the environment. People in the villages have all agreed that these Yuvacharya should be elected as the leaders of the village. In around 196 villages in India, our Yuvacharyas have been elected to the post of the Village President because of the good work they have done. Some of our Yuvacharyas have been elected into the Village Panchayats at many places. Why is this so? It is because they have won the hearts of the people. All of you here can do that. But when is that possible? You can win over the hearts of people when you win over your own mind. What do you need to do for that?You need to do your sadhana (spiritual practices) regularly.
There is a proverb in Hindi which says that you can win over the whole world when you win over your own mind. This is the eternal truth.
We all have to become Karma Yogis (here meaning to become steadfast and sincere in action without being attached to results and outcomes).
We had arranged a meeting of some government officers here a while ago, as one of the Central Ministers had approached me to come and address them. I told him, 'Please ask your officers – ‘What kind of a driver would you like to keep? Would you like them to be Karma Yogisor not?''
They all said in one voice, 'Yes Gurudev, we would want them to be Karma Yogis'. They said, 'We would not want an irresponsible driver. We want someone who takes responsibility'.
Then I asked them, 'What kind of teachers do you want for your own children? A responsible or an irresponsible one?'
You can win over the hearts of people when you win over your own mind.
Again they said, 'Yes we would want responsible teachers for our children'.
Next I asked them, 'What kind of doctors would you prefer? Would you want sincere responsible doctors or those who are irresponsible and careless, and who simply charge money and discharge patients without proper treatment?'
They said, 'Gurudev, we obviously want responsible doctors'.
Then I said, 'Now I have nothing further to ask. See, when you want all the people around you to be so responsible and capable like Karma Yogis, then you should reflect deeply on whether you also display the same behaviour?'
People who were asleep or not paying attention, immediately sat up and became alert when they heard this, as if they got a sudden electric shock. They all felt a surge of enthusiasm.
I told them, 'Do you know that when you delay the processing of many important files, that hurts the progress of our country?' They agreed to this.
Then I asked them, 'Will you all now take responsibility for this?'
See, we all want that the people around us should be more responsible and sincere, but then we ourselves also should work in that very same way. We play many roles in our life, but do we play each role intelligently and with a sense of responsibility? This is what we need to really ask ourselves.
Gurudev, what is the media’s role in spreading happiness?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The Media today has two main responsibilities:
1. To present facts and the truth to the people. The Media should honestly convey whatever is happening in the world to the people
2. Since information is not always inspiring or uplifting, their second responsibility is to motivate and inspire people so that they move in a direction that is beneficial to them and to the world at large
So on one hand the Media should uncover the truth and convey it to the people, and on the other hand it should inspire people so that they understand what needs to be done next.
The Media must give hope and courage to people, otherwise people will become so dejected after watching TV. People should feel happy and entertained after watching a channel. The need of the hour is to enhance that sense of joy and contentment in one’s life. The media through its content should make people aware that life is a grand celebration.
People get upset or disturbed through the day due to something or another. When they return home to find more disturbing or upsetting news on TV, then they become more dejected and they lose hope. This is not how it should be. The content should be such that people feel relaxed and calm after watching it. They should feel a new sense of hope and enthusiasm from within when they watch news. So this is another role the media needs to play.
What role can the media play in creating a better world today?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The Media has a great role to play in creating a better world. The media connects people together everywhere. Through the media, one comes to know what all is happening in different places across the world. So the media is also responsible to show the good that people are doing and how the society is getting impacted because of that. When we understand this, then our field of experience expands.
Through the media, one person’s life becomes more universal, and no longer stays limited to him alone. All this becomes possible only through the media. The actions a person the results he gets becomes a message that reaches the lives of millions everywhere, and this is possible only through the media. When you get to know that someone is suffering or repenting for their actions, then you will learn from that; you will learn not to indulge in the same wrong actions. So when we watch other people’s actions and their experiences, then we also learn from that.
Through the Media, a person gets to know about the developments in the field of science and research. He gets to know about different cultures in the world, and different social problems in the world, and this broadens his vision and expands his experience. Our life gains a new depth, and at the same time we expand our vision and sight towards newer heights in life.
Gurudev, is the entertainment industry today corrupting the minds of the people? What is your opinion about this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Well, I do not watch TV so I do not know. You might know better about this. My job is to heal and uplift the mind and spirit of people, and I continue to do that. I would urge you also to join me in this mission of uplifting people, bringing more joy and enthusiasm to people everywhere. It would be really great for everyone.
Gurudev, do hell and heaven really exist? Do we really go to heaven or hell after death?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
We create heaven and hell in our own mind. We should see how we can create a harmonious atmosphere here. What is heaven? It is a place where there is peace, happiness and harmony. That is heaven. Hell is a place that lacks all of this.
Gurudev, how should we realize that joy is not in the object? I understand this intellectually, but how can I bring this into my experience?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Well, first you heard the knowledge and understood it intellectually. With time and maturity, you will realize, 'Oh, there is nothing much in this (object) or that'. What you thought was giving you lot of pleasure or joy, later on you feel, 'It does not matter'.
What is important is to go with your experience.