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.
Please explain the meaning of the shloka, “Aapyaya swasametute shwatasoma vishnayam bhavavaajas syasangate”.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Aapyaya means a lovely atmosphere. Appa means very close or very near. Aapyaya means that which brings a very lovely atmosphere. ‘Shwatasoma vishnayam’ - to create a lovely atmosphere upon us, the moonlight is being showered. The moon is pouring the light and this will bring us strength. ‘Bhavavaajas’ means strength. When you realize this, you realize the power behind the moon.
The intention behind all the happening in the creation is Satchidananda, i.e., truth, bliss and consciousness. The higher self has made this arrangement. When you realize this, you become very strong. When the milk is poured on the Shiva Linga during Rudrabhishekam, this is the mantra that is chanted. It is connected with milk. It’s a beautiful mantra. For yoghurt there is a mantra, for honey there is a mantra. This is all done with so much precision. The ancient people were tremendously insightful!
Did the word 'nerve' come from the word Narayana? If so, is Narayana in our body as the nervous system?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The nervous system hosts the consciousness. That consciousness which is expressed in the nervous system is Narayana.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna, "Know the whole world is just a play of consciousness and don't be upset about it". If the creation is just a play of Gunas, how can I not get affected by it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Read the whole Bhagavad Gita! The whole knowledge is that you are not that which is affected. You are much bigger than that. See, have you not experienced, sometimes your leg is paining but your mind is not affected by it, your mind is happy? How many of you had this experience? (Many in the audience raise their hands)
If you just sit for meditation, you will feel the whole leg is paining. But if you sit in a movie theatre for three hours, you are not even aware that you are there, and your leg doesn't even pain at that time. You don't even change your position many times.? You sit still, so immersed, so engrossed in the screen, isn't it? In the same way, all that is happening in the body is not you.
Something is happening in the body, your leg is paining, your hand is paining or something is happening, but still you know you are not that. You are much bigger and you behave differently than a child. If a child has pain, that is it! It starts yelling, screaming, nothing else can be communicated. But with you, you talk and you do things despite of the pain.
Do one thing, sometimes when you have intense pain, say, “Today I'm going to enjoy the pain! It’s paining, okay, I'm going to grab the pain now and enjoy it. You will see how the pain runs away.
If pain is in the body only, then it should pain all the time, then you cannot even sleep. If it is in the mind and body, that combination, then it pains only when you are free. If your mind is occupied, at that time you don't feel the pain. If you are sleeping, you don't feel the pain. When you are dreaming, you don't feel the pain. Got it?
When mind is free enough, there is leisure time for the mind, when it is not much occupied, then the pain comes. That’s why when you sit for meditation, it comes all the more! It only visits you when you are free.
At the same time, if you have misused your body too much, and you have not attended to some particular part of the body, that also. And the third thing is the pain is due to some karma. And when the karma period is over, the pain also disappears.
What is dark matter? Is this mentioned in the Upanishads?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
No, it is mentioned in the Rig Veda. In the Rig Veda, there is a chapter on creation in which this is one of the verse – In the beginning, there was a darkness that was covered by darkness.
This the pundits could never interpret - the darkness enveloped by darkness. That’s how it starts. So that Nasadiya Sukta is called the sukta (chapter) of creation, and it has many parallels to the modern day dark matter and dark energy.
It’s astonishing when a particle scientist reads this. His eyes are spellbound to know that this sort of thing existed so many years ago!
When I went to the CERN in Zurich; the scientist invited me there, I presented them with some of the Suktas and they were really startled. They said, "Wow, people knew about this. Other than the four elements, there is the space as an element!"
The scientists were of the opinion that since the Egyptians knew only four elements - Earth, Water, Fire and Air, and they didn’t know that Space is an element, so rest of the world did not know and mankind didn't know about the fifth element.
I said, "Hey, wait a minute! We have always known about the Panchabhoota (the five elements),, the fifth element being space from centuries ago".
They were really surprised to know this. See the challenge is people who knew Vedas knew nothing about science, and people who knew science have zero knowledge about the Vedic wisdom. So we need to bring these people together so that they both benefit from each other. Our Vedic pundits also do things that they do not understand scientifically.
The Indian system seems to worship personalities, whereas the Muslims worship the presence. Which is correct?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Well, Indian system has two types of worship, one type is un-manifest, the other is the manifest. The un-manifest consciousness is known as Brahman. Vedanta says that Brahman is everywhere - that is the truth, that is the reality, and that is called Nirakars (the formless aspect of the Divinity).
Then there is Saguna Brahman. Saguna Brahman is that same Brahman but with attributes or qualities.
Lord Krishna says, "Look, what does worship mean? Just loving. It is easy to love an object or a person, or a manifest thing, than loving a space which you cannot relate to".
So for people, it is easy to first start connecting with a person, an object or a thing, and then move on to the consciousness which is un-manifest. This is the path, this is the instruction. From that to how? They say not the whole thing, just one part of it.
In many of the Eastern paths - Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, there is a symbol and you start with that symbol. So anything, it can be a river as a river is manifest, a river is sacred and is a form of the Divinity. A tree is a form of Divinity; you will see people bowing down to a tree, honouring the tree. Animals, elephants, cows, dogs and even crows, all these are manifestations of Divinity. And then babies. So to invoke love or connectivity from within you, form is essential.
See, at home you keep a picture of your grandfather. You can just think of your grandfather, but when you look at the picture, then that reminds you of the grandfather. You look at a picture and you say, "Oh, my mother is there", isn't it? So these icons were developed for that. Krishna very clearly says in Gita, and it's very true. He says,"Klesho dhikataras tesham, avyaktasakta-chetasam, avyakta hi gatir duhkham, dehavadbhir avapyate"
People who are not elevated to the level of higher consciousness, who are bound by the physical body and its pleasures and pains, for them worshipping the un-manifest is a path full of sorrow.
'Klesha' means - troubles are many. Krishna says to Arjuna, "You can worship the un-manifest but the path is full of misery".
If I say, from the quantum physics perspective, this is all just wave function, highly intellectual physicist finds it very easy to relate to wave function, but an artist cannot relate to it. An artist wants some sort of thing - he wants to see that wave function manifest as a tree or a statue or something. So this is just a step towards the ultimate, but a very necessary step.
See, if you want to go out of the house, there is a door and from the door there are steps. You can walk on the steps and go out. Suppose your house is at a height, if you want to jump out of the window, you are welcome to do it. Even then you can reach there, but you only have to see if your legs are alright, if they are intact. And that’s what is in the Bhagavad Gita.
Lord Krishna says, and that is what Jesus also said, "I am the way, I am the door, come unto Me". Krishna also said, "I am here, I am the manifest of the un-manifest".