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.
Gurudev, if there are hundreds of ways to devotion, which is the right way?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The path that you are on is the way, it is the highway and it is very good! Later on you will realise that this is the only real way. Don't look here and there. You are on the right path, and at the right time!
What is the significance of pujas, homas, yagnas, and chanting in today's life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
All of these have their significance.
There are two types of knowledge - Para Vidya and Apara Vidya. Apara Vidya includes homas, yagnas, and mantras (chants) and Para Vidya includes meditation and grace. Death can be postponed through Apara Vidya, while immortality can be attained through Para Vidya.
That is why both are required in life.
Para Vidya can be attained only through grace.
This does not mean that we have to perform the yagnas ourselves. It is alright if we just sit in the yagnas with some devotion in our heart. E.g., when we want to fight a case in the court, we don't fight it ourselves. What do we do? We sign the papers, and give the case to a lawyer who knows the rules, and fights on our behalf. Don't we do this?
Similarly, we only take the sankalpa in yagnas; the rest of the work is done by the knowledgeable pundits, who do the chanting and the rituals. But the benefits of yagnas is only when there is a meditative atmosphere!
Have you noticed, there is such a big difference in the pujas that happen here and at other places? How many people feel there is a difference? Pujas happen in so many temples, but people don't go into meditation, they don't meditate. When you don't meditate, then the puja has no impact. That is why it is written in the Vedas, "Yo jagara tam richa kamayante, yo jagara tam u samani yanti", which means -- the Samaveda mantras run towards those who are awake in their consciousness, who do sadhana, who meditate, and do kriya; mantras work for these people.
All of you must have attended pujas and satsangs earlier. Did you start enjoying them after you started doing Sudarshan Kriya or not? How many of you started enjoying bhajans (devotional songs) after doing kriya and meditation? (Many in the audience raise their hands) Do you know why? This is because, when your consciousness opens up and you experience the inner space, then you immensely enjoy the mantras and bhajans.
Similarly, when you heard the Samaveda, how many of you started feeling meditative? (Many in the audience raise their hands) So many! This is because wherever meditation happens and where a Guru is present, there is a significance to the yagnas and homas happening there.
We should follow a bit of rituals but we don't need to get involved in it deeply. Did you understand this? If you don't do certain rituals correctly it can also have the opposite impact. That is why it is important that only the people who are well trained conduct the ritual.
Dear Gurudev, what if a child fails to fulfil the parent's dream? What should the teenager do if he faces failure in his career and professional life at such a time?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
No, don't worry, teenagers can never fail their parents because there is a lot of time to fail them! If after the age of 40 or 50, you feel you have failed, then it is fine. Actually, you can still do something at that time also. Never get disappointed or think that you have failed in life. Even those who think that after the age of 50 or 60, your life is a failure, I tell you, it is not! Even if you have fallen ten times, it is not a failure! Do you know why? It is because you have taught so many people by your failure!
You can only learn and teach in life, whether good or bad! If you walk on the right path, you will show the path and move. If you walk on the wrong path, even then you are useful. Why? You have taught people, "Don't do what I have done. I have fallen in the ditch, you don't fall".
If you at least look at your life on this basis, you have cautioned someone and your life is not a waste. That is why you should never think about committing suicide. Don't you ever think about it!
Die; get wiped out, but after living your life! Not by putting a noose around your neck! Kill your mind, not your life!
How unhappy can you be? Cry as much as you want, go under the ground, but come back alive! Think that you are already dead, then you will experience good yoga-nidra. Rest well!
It is your hopes, desires and ambitions that are killing you, your cravings that are killing you. Kill your desires and cravings and not yourself. Why do you get jealous? Because you think what you were supposed to get, someone else got. Think that they are also going to die. See everyone as dead, other than you! Only you are there! Think as if you have come into a new world in which you are alone, this is called Kaivalya. Kaivalyameans I am alone, there is no one else. Everyone else is just bubbles, like waves in the water. Think like this for all those towards whom you have anger and jealousy; know that they have all turned to ashes.
Many people remove other's clothes in their mind, and get disturbed. No, you remove the skin also, don't stop at the clothes, go beyond the clothes, remove the skin and you will see only muscles and bones. This is what everything is made up of! Then see how your mind becomes so peaceful.
This is what Shri Krishna says to Arjuna in the Gita, "I have killed all of them, they are already dead. What are you feeling sad about? This whole world is only dead bodies". When you see things in this manner, then knowledge arises within you. This is what you have to see. Whenever you are sad, stand up and see that everyone is dead, no one is alive. Then notice you will be at such peace!
Can you recall how were you before a craving arose in you? How you were when you were a child? After dying, what will you be? All this filth? Will you take all this filth within your mind and die? Then in your next birth also, you will be like that. Beware! Now, before this birth ends, make your mind peaceful, happy and contented. You can be contented only when you realise there is nothing else of value.
Wake up! It is time. Tell yourself this. Call yourself by your name; wake up, wake up quickly! It is way past the time! You have spent a lot a lot of time in the muck, now go and bathe in clean waters, in pure knowledge, and then sit like a lion or lioness. Know that no one can make us unhappy, if our mind doesn't want to be unhappy. If we don't want to be unhappy, no one can upset us! The cause for our peaceful state and restless state is our own mind.