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.
I try to forget the mistakes I made in the past and move ahead. But the people around me keep reminding me of those past mistakes. What should I do? Sri
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Smile and move forward. If they are not able to forget the mistakes of the past, then that is their problem. You should forget the mistakes of the past, just drop it and move ahead. You are not the same person as you were in the past when you committed those mistakes, you have changed. When you came to the spiritual path, when you gained this wonderful knowledge, then your entire life has changed. So have complete and unshakeable faith in this fact.
In the ancient times, when people used to approach a Guru, then they would even change their birth names. Why was this done? It was to signify that you have taken a new birth altogether when you have come to the Guru. You have become a new person when you gained access to this knowledge. The mistakes you committed in the past out of ignorance do not exist anymore in light of the knowledge you have now received.
Ignorant people around you may sometimes do such things, but you should have compassion for them instead of feeling hurt or angry. Think that, “Oh, they are still stuck and do not know that I am a totally different person now. I have changed”. This faith you must develop in yourself. There is no need to fall into self-pity.
Gurudev, I have heard that meditation helps to unravel or unlock the granthi (knots representing energy centres or nodes) in the navel region. And when the energy centre of the navel region opens up, only then can the individual soul (Atma) rise to unite with the Paramatma (Divinity or Super soul). I wish to understand more about this. Please explain.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It is correct. As we meditate, the knot or the energy centre in the navel region opens up. When the heart centre blossoms and opens up, we feel joy. We experience different sensations and emotions only when the different energy centres of the body open up. But it is not correct to say that only then does the soul unite with God. You are never outside God. There is nothing beyond the Divine. Even if you wish to, you cannot ever be outside or separate from God. That from which you are born, That in which you exist and sustain yourself, and That in which you ultimately dissolve back into is God. This is what is told in the Srimad Bhagvatam also:
The verse means: God is omnipresent. You know, we often say, “I AM”. God is not separate from the individual soul; God resides within us. The soul is not separate from the Divine. Knowing this eternal truth, simply relax and just be.
See, there are some things that you should seek and know about, and there are some things that you should simply take for granted as the truth, and relax. You cannot possible understand everything, and you cannot simply assume or take everything for granted. Your mind and intellect is limited; it cannot comprehend the infinite Divinity. You cannot know the Divine; you simply have to take it for granted that the Divine is present in you, all around you and at all times.
If someone tells you. “My dear, this is poison”, then you do not say “No, first I will drink it and check for myself”. You would not survive to tell what happens afterwards. So, in some cases you simply need to believe and take it for granted. If you are told that a certain galaxy is so many light years away from our galaxy, or if the Earth is revolving around the Sun – then you will have to agree and accept that fact for certain. People have proved many facts scientifically. Now then if you argue and say, “No, I will check it for myself and only then agree”, then that is foolishness. But if someone says, “Oh! This is very sweet”, then you need not necessarily agree to it. You can taste it if you like to check for yourself. So you should try to know some things, and you should simply take somethings to be true, without a doubt.
I am a Roman Catholic from Europe and recently did the Vedic Wisdom Course at the Ashram. It is a really beautiful course. However, we do not have the concept of Gotras (unbroken line of paternal descent) in Christianity. During the initiation of the Gayatri Mantra they gave us a Gotra. Through some people I came to understand that only the Hindus have Gotras and Nakshatras (Birth star or constellation). What should I follow now? Please guide.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Nakshatra refers to the star in which the Moon was present on the day and time you were born. There are 27 stars and the Moon moves through each of these stars. Each star has four divisions. You must have studied this in the Vedic Wisdom series. According to your birth date and time, your star can be determined. It is not difficult at all.
You should speak to the Vaidic Dharma Samsthana Desk (VDS Desk) and consult the Jyotish department there. They will tell you the star under which you were born. And wherever you are studying, that is your Gotra. Gotra means the college or the group in which you are studying. If your whole family has graduated from Stanford or Harvard or New York University, then you take the name of that institution wherever you go, right? In a similar manner, the Gotras were formed in the Vedic tradition. By mentioning a Gotra, one could convey that he studied under so-and-so Rishi in so-and-so Gurukul, and then the whole family gets connected to that school or tradition.
When you are doing your Sadhana, then you belong to this Gotra. Your DNA definitely reflects the things that you do here. It has nothing to do with the religion you follow, and does not interfere with it at all. Religion is a very different thing. The Gotra can depict the impact of your Sadhana on your DNA. So people who do the Sudarshan Kriya, Pranayama and meditation – when they visit an Ayurveda doctor for a Nadi Pariksha (check-up), the doctor can immediately tell and will ask you whether you are doing these practices. So your pulse will tell that you belong to this system of practices.It gets ingrained in our DNA and that is what is broadly called as Gotra from the ancient times.
Gurudev, how can I know whether what I am experiencing is because of my Karmas from my past lives, or is it because of my actions in the present life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Whether the action is from a past life, or something done 10 years back, or done just yesterday, or even 10 minutes back – it really does not matter. Ultimately, all Karma is Karma, that’s it. That is why it is said that the ways of Karma are mysterious and unfathomable. One cannot understand it totally. That is why we say that you should not worry much about Karma. Just keep moving ahead.
Gurudev, all the great saints and enlightened Masters consider Tyaag (sacrifice) and Vairagya (dispassion) as the means to attaining Moksha (final liberation). Is the desire for Moksha not a kind of greed or desire after all?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, it is true that intense desire or greed for Moksha is also a kind of desire ultimately, but that is the final and the last desire that one has to let go of. One needs to cultivate or have this desire for Moksha to overcome and drop all other kinds of desires and feverishness. When even this desire (for Moksha) drops off, one experiences totality and bliss.
I do my Sadhana very regularly. How can I know for sure that my bad Karmas or their ill-effects are getting cleansed and removed?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I tell you, drop everything and just become a Sharanagati. Being a Sharanagati means to have this firm faith and belief that all your Karmas have been cleansed. There is no balance that remains to be cleared anymore.
Why are you still stuck with analysing your Karmas? Just become hollow and empty. In fact, you actually have become hollow and empty – so take this truth for granted and have faith. Many times other people will advise you to do this or do that (to get rid of past Karmas) and you will get carried away into thinking “Oh! I still have to do this; I still have to do that to clear my Karma” and so on. You will get exhausted if you go on thinking like this, and even those who give you such advice will get tired after a while. Come to the present moment and know that life is new and fresh every moment.
Q: What are Chakras? How can we cleanse the Chakras?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Chakras are the nerve centres seen in our body. There are 1,72,000 Nadis (channels of metaphysical energy or life-force) in our body, and there are various nerve centres for these 1,72,000 Nadis. The human body actually has 109 nerve centres, but among those, nine centres are important, and even in those nine, seven centres (Chakras) are of primary importance. And when energy (kundalini) or consciousness flows through these nerve centres, there are different emotions, feelings or sensations that one experiences.
Muladhara Chakra: The base of spine or the sacrum is the location of the first centre called the Muladhara Chakra. When the Muladhara Chakra is activated, what happen? One experiences enthusiasm in life. When it is dormant, then one experiences dullness and inertia. One does not feel interested in anything. This is the first Chakra.
Swadishthana Chakra: The same energy moves upwards to the second Chakra which is located behind the genitals and it manifests as procreation or creation – meaning in the form of any creative activity or as sex drive.
When you are obsessed with sex, then you do not do anything creative. You forget about creativity entirely. When you are engaged in any creative activity, then lust does not trouble you. People who are obsessed with sex are not very creative. When the same energy manifests itself as creativity, then sex moves to the background. So here the energy could manifest as a creative or procreative tendency. You need not label the energy as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. That is just how it is.
The human body actually has 109 nerve centres, but among those, nine centres are important, and even in those nine, seven centres (Chakras) are of primary importance.
See, it is the same energy (Kundalini) that is moving through the nerve centres. Kundameans ‘pot’ in Sanskrit. The body is like a pot, and the energy in this body is called the Kundalini. In the earlier days, this subtle energy was portrayed as a coiled serpent, and was also called as ‘Snake Power’. This does not mean you should go searching for a snake inside your body. Nor do you need to look for a lotus. No, these are actually subtle sensations in the body when the consciousness manifests at certain points.
Manipur Chakra: The same energy moves upwards to the navel region and manifests in four forms or feelings. What are they? They are jealousy, generosity, joy, and greed. When people feel jealous they feel some sensation in the stomach region. Isn’t it so? You must have seen Santa Claus, the Laughing Buddha, or a Seth Ji (a wealthy businessman) – they all have a big stomach. So - jealousy, generosity, joy, and greed are the four flavours of consciousness that manifest in the third Chakra.
The base of the spine is associated with the Earth element. The second Chakra is associated with the Water element. The third Chakra is associated with the Fire element. But it is the same Kundalini energy that is manifesting itself in these different nodes. Here the energy is represented by a four-petal flower.
Anahata Chakra: From the navel region, the energy moves upwards to the heart region. Here, from a four-petal flower, the energy is represented by a three-petal flower. What do the three petals signify? They represent fear, love and hatred.
When people feel hatred or fear or love, the sensation is felt in the heart region. When someone’s heart is broken, it means that the love has become sour and turned into hatred. Love, fear and hatred are all the same.
When there is love, there is no fear. When there is fear, there is no love. At any point of time, only one of the three emotions takes the front position while the other two go in the background. It is not that they disappear entirely. People who feel fear also have love. When love is predominant, then there is no fear or hatred. When hatred takes the front seat, then love and fear are gone to the back. This is what happens to people. When they are so full of hatred, they have no fear at all and they have no love at all.
Vishuddhi Chakra: When the same energy moves to the throat Chakra, what is the sensation you experience? You feelgratefulness, and you have a sensation in the throat region when you experience grief. When you are grieving, your throat chokes. And when you feel very grateful, then also your throat chokes.
Ajna Chakra: When the consciousness moves to the centre of the forehead, it manifests as anger, awareness or alertness. Knowledge and awareness are depicted by the sixth Chakra. The same point is also the seat of anger, and is also said to be the region of the mystical Third Eye. You must have read or heard the story of how Lord Shiva opened His ‘Third Eye’ and burnt Lord Kamadeva into ashes.
This Third Eye is the seat of anger as well as the seat of knowledge and awakened wisdom.
When the consciousness moves to the centre of the forehead, it manifests as anger,awareness or alertness. Knowledge and awareness are depicted by the sixth Chakra.
Sahasrara Chakra: When the Consciousness moves to the top of the head, then one experiences only bliss. There is nothing else. You no longer feel any duality, any sense of conflict or separation. You feel totally connected and one with everything. You feel so blissful.
See this flow the other way around. When there is no joy in our life, then we come a step below and experience anger. From anger springs hatred and aversion. This further leads to a sense of fear. Fear as it grows gives rise to jealousy and envy, which in turn gives rise to lust, feverishness and obsession. And lust and obsession bring us into the trap of inertia and negativity. This is the downward flow of the same consciousness or Kundalini energy. It is called Adhogati(retrogression or degeneration). The opposite of this is Urdhvagati (upward rise or progression). What is the pattern of Urdhvagati? You experience enthusiasm, then creativity blossoms, there is generosity and contentment, which in turn give rise to love. Love takes you to gratitude, which helps to bring awareness and wisdom (Prajna) and ultimately leading you to Bliss.
This upward or downward flow of energy keeps on happening very naturally and spontaneously in life all the time.
Every Chakra is connected with a specific element or principle in creation. For example, the Muladhara Chakra is connected with the Earth element. The Swadishthana Chakra is connected with the Water element. The maximum amount of water resides around the Swadishthana Chakra. The Manipur Chakra is connected with the Fire element. The digestive fire here helps in digestion.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna has said, “Aham Vaishvanaro bhutva praaninam deham ashritaah. Prana-Apana-samayuktah paachami annam chatur-vidham.” Lord Krishna says, “I am manifest as the hunger in the bellies of all living beings. I am the digestive fire that helps to digest all food which is consumed”.
The Heart Chakra is connected with the Air element. Where is the greatest proportion or presence of air in the body? It is present in the lungs, in the chest region. Next we move upwards to the Vishuddhi Chakra. This Chakra is connected with the Space element. Moving upwards into the Ajna Chakra, the consciousness manifests as wisdom and awareness. Ultimately the energy moves to the top of the head into the Sahasrara Chakra. Even scientists today accept and agree to this fact.
These seven Chakras or seven nerve centres are connected with different glands in the body. In scientific terms you can say thyroid gland, or the adrenalin glands, pituitary gland, pineal gland, etc. Science also agrees how these glands are responsible for experiencing various emotions. This is something our ancient Rishis knew since thousands of years ago. They mentioned all this in the scriptures.
When the Consciousness moves to the top of the head, then one experiences only bliss. There is nothing else. You feel totally connected and one with everything. You feel so blissful.
They depicted each of the seven Chakras in the forms of a lotus or different petal flowers. Why is this so? This is because when you go deeper in meditation, the consciousness becomes very subtle, and your mind becomes fresh like a flower. It becomes fresh, alive and soft. In such a delicate state of consciousness, you experience the rise of energy in the system.
Lightness is connected with subtlety. Grossness is connected with inertia and negative sensations; negative feelings. When you are negative, when you are rude or rough in your behavior, there is a certain inertia, a certain heaviness in the system. When you feel all the positive sensations, you feel a sense of lightness. When the energy moves upwards, then from inertia it transforms into enthusiasm, then creativity. From creativity wells up joy. When you are happy, you are naturally generous. Then the energy moves up further into the heart chakra where you only feel love for everybody around you. When you feel so much love, you feel so much gratitude and from gratitude comes alertness. It brings total awareness, and this awareness leads you to bliss.
But do not misunderstand this and try searching for some snake or some kind of flowers. People make so much effort to find something that they try to imagine something or the other to achieve this, and they go crazy in doing so. You should not do all that. For God’s sake, do not try awakening your Kundalini by force. It is a natural phenomenon.
You can meditate only when your Kundalini is awakened. Whenever you meditate, you find that scintillating energy flowing all over your being. That is what Kundalini is. When you do the Sudarshan Kriya, every cell becomes awake and alive. The awakening of energy happens very naturally. We should go through the natural manner only. Do not try all this by force, otherwise you lose sleep.
If someone approaches you and tells you, “I will help you awaken your Kundalini Shakti” , simply thank them with respect and move away. See, when a banana ripens on its own without any outward force, then it is naturally sweet. Isn’t it? If someone forcefully tries to ripen the banana, then it no longer remains fit for eating. Got it? So if someone tries to awaken the Kundalini Shakti by force, there are high chances that one may lose their mental balance. Only those who have years and years of practice of Yoga and deep knowledge about this are able to really practice these techniques properly without any side effects.
Unfortunately, today people do not follow this sanctity. Someone or the other learns a few techniques from here and there and they start teaching it to others. They try to awaken the energy by these techniques but it does not help; rather it creates more problems. Someone loses their mind, they become deranged; or they are unable to sleep. Such people are no longer able to function properly in society. We should not do such things at all. It is like how the fuse blows up inside a bulb (due to excess and unchecked surge of energy).
When you go deep in meditation, the consciousness in you becomes very subtle, and your mind becomes fresh like a flower.
Today morning itself, a lady approached me and told her story. She had visited some sage or some mystic who told her to do certain things. When she did all that, she experienced a lot of difficulty and it became very horrible for her. She experienced great discomfort. She told me, “Gurudev, I am not able to go to the temple and my body is not in my control”. It should be the opposite way around. Even the involuntary system comes into our control when you do Sadhana. When you do wrong Sadhana without proper authenticity, or by just reading books and other materials, then even the voluntary and involuntary system get messed up. So, you should be careful about this. The key word is proper guidance and effortlessness.
The energy should be awakened very naturally and effortlessly. When energy rises naturally and through the proper technique, one experiences so much enthusiasm, joy, total belongingness. All these are signs of a true awakening of the Shakti (energy). It anyway happens spontaneously when you do the Sudarshan Kriya. Do you not feel as if every particle of your body has become so infused and full of energy? This is what the awakening of Kundalini is. There is no serpent or lotus flower as such within our system, so do not go looking or imagining such things foolishly.
The lotus flower is only depicted as an example, as a means of symbolism. In the olden times, one of the names of the Lord used to be Kamala-Nayana : means having eyes like a blossomed lotus. Now just imagine what it would be like if someone really grew two lotuses in the place where the eyes are. Everyone else would get scared and run away from them. See, this is just a symbolic example. In the same way, the energy has been symbolically compared to a serpent.
In the mythological stories, it is said that the Mother Earth rests upon the hoods of the serpent Shesha Naag. What does this actually mean? What does the Shesha Naag mean? It symbolizes the centripetal force and the centrifugal force. Our Earth is supported by two kinds of forces. These forces do not act in a linear direction. These forces act in a circular fashion. A snake also never travels in a straight line. A snake also coils in a near-about circular manner as it moves forward. The movement of the serpent is propelled by centripetal and centrifugal forces.
The Shesha Naag symbolizes the two forces that the Earth is supported by. It does not literally mean that the Earth is resting upon the hood of some giant serpent. No, it is not so at all.
India has recently completed the trip to Mars using the Mangalyaan space vehicle. There are so many artificial satellites around the Earth today. So there is no scientific evidence in favour of the Earth resting upon the hood of a giant serpent. This is a symbolic story. The Shesha Naag here is not some actual living being, it is actually a giant supportive force or power. No one today can refute the fact about these two kind of forces: the Centripetal and Centrifugal forces exist. It is these two forces that sustain the Earth in its revolution around the Sun. This same truth was expressed in the ancient days by our wise ancestors using such symbolism, and through the example of the Shesha Naag. This is a really important and unique aspect of our scriptures, and our heritage.
In the same way, when we say that there is a lotus flower within us, it means that when the mind blossoms and becomes soft and supple, when the mind becomes refined, only then can we experience the subtle consciousness in us. When the mind is stuck in inertia, then we cannot experience any energy or power in us. That is why our scriptures advocate the practice of Mittaahara – meaning exercising balance and restraint in eating food. They advocate proper rest for the body. Then the body becomes tuned and conducive to experiencing this subtle phenomenon.
Today, we have with us Maharaj Ji from the Nimbaarka Sampradaya from Vrindavana. He is the Mahanta (spiritual leader or pontiff) of the Nimbaarka Sampradaya and they have their own Ashram at the Vishraama Ghaat.
This thought came to me in the morning about the Vishraama Ghaat. The Vishraama Ghaat is the place where Lord Krishna took rest after slaying the evil king Kamsa. Just see how much deep knowledge is there in the way this place has been named. Kamsa represents ego, arrogance. One can find Vishraama (deep rest) only when the Ego is overcome. Otherwise ego does not let you rest in peace. Lord Krishna took rest after slaying the Ego (Kamsa).
One can find deep rest only when the Ego is overcome.
We always say that all distortion and negativity drop off when we take deep rest. Deep rest can bring an end to the ego. Maharaj Ji resides and rests in the Vishraama Ghaat where his Ashram is also located. We can receive so much depth and knowledge even from the very trivial things in life. This is what happens when we are in awareness. When there is awareness, then we receive knowledge and wisdom from everywhere. The entire Earth gives us knowledge.
There is a story I have heard about Swami Ramteerth Ji. One day, he was walking along somewhere. A mother who had named her son as ‘Ram’ was trying to wake him up by saying, “O Ram, wake up! wake up! It is late in the day to sleep. wake up!” These words fell upon the ears of Swami Ramteerth Ji as he was walking by the house. He felt that the Mother Divine Herself was calling out to him and conveying this message to him. He was immersed in his own thoughts as he was walking along. In that moment when he heard these words, all those thoughts came to a sudden stop. He became so deeply alert that he went into meditation that very moment.
This is happening in your life too. It is not that it was something special that happened to Swami Ramteerth Ji only. When we become Sukshma-grahi (able to grasp the subtle or intricate details), then we effortlessly are able to grasp and receive messages and knowledge from everywhere. Our mind is able to receive all this very effortlessly and intuitively.
When you meditate regularly, this experience happens very spontaneously. You do not need to struggle and make too much efforts for this to happen.
At the same time, do not sit for meditation and think, “Gurudev had said that such knowledge would come into my experience effortlessly. What is it that I am grasping now? What is it that I am grasping now?”
Do not get stuck like that, or you may start having some illusions or hallucinations which may not be true – this is called Bhrantidarshana. You may get deluded and misled.
One should be very aware and alert in life; become Sukshma-grahi - be able to grasp the intricate and subtler aspects of life.
Once, when I was visiting France, an old couple decided to accompany me to a function. The husband may have been 80 years old then and the wife was 81 years old. But she did not appear to be as old as 81 years. On the day of my departure, they were waving me goodbye as I was just about to enter the departure gate at the airport. Suddenly, the wife held out her ring finger to me and asked, “Is this necessary?” I instantly replied back saying, “It is not necessary”.
What I meant was that when you have received so much love and joy in life, what is the use of a stone (referring to the gemstone of the ring). I left Paris and flew to New York. The next day, I got a call from the husband and he told me, “O Gurudev! I am troubled. Did you allow my wife to divorce me?”
I said, “No, not at all. I would never give such advice”. Then I asked him to call his wife to the phone. She said “Gurudev, just before you left, had I not asked you showing my wedding ring that whether this is necessary or not?”
I was so surprised. See, you think something but sometimes end up conveying or understanding something completely different altogether. I was in a great hurry that moment when she suddenly asked the question.
What I had meant was that, when the couple had lived a full and happy life together, and their marriage was anyway going well, then wearing a ring after so many years was not as important as having a happy married life well into the old age. I never meant that she should divorce her husband. But she misunderstood what I said and decided to divorce her husband! (Laughter) And on top of it, she said that Gurudev has advised her to do so. I tell you, the games our mind plays on us is very strange and mysterious.
Please do not misunderstand or take away a wrong message when I say you should become Sukshma-grahi. Do not start building up wrong notions like, “Oh, once the coconuts start falling from the trees, I will change schools or join a new college” etc. Come on! Coconuts will keep falling every day. Do not misunderstand or get into wrong meanings. The essence here is that you should be very aware and alert in life; become Sukshma-grahi -- be able to grasp the intricate and subtler aspects of life. And remember that it happens very naturally. You do not have to put in too much effort for this. Now I have said not to put in too much effort, but a little effort and sincerity is definitely required, not too much.
I recently had an interaction with one gentleman from the Muslim brotherhood, in America. He is a 27-year-old young man. Would you like to hear the interaction, and see what he says?
(An audio clip is played of an interaction between Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and this gentleman)
Gentleman: I have been incarcerated, going back and forth from jail for doing many things. Crime was my best outlet. I just wanted to live, and regardless of whatever I had to do to live, I was willing to do so.
Gurudev Sri Sri: That is natural and understandable. Since you were going through a lot of fear and insecurity, naturally you will take to defending yourself. And that is what you were doing, right!
Gentleman: Yes, but at that time, I didn’t understand that one can meditate and deal with any situation. I never knew that. And as part of the Muslim Brotherhood of America, you are taught to be radical.
Gurudev Sri Sri: So, you were taught that those who do not believe in the same belief system as your own, were not good people. That is what you were taught?
Gentleman: Yes. In actuality, we are taught to harm individuals. We are taught that people who believe differently than what we believe are the enemy. We are taught to do drugs and bring harm to individuals and to bring destruction to those who are not like us and who do not believe in what we believe.
Now that I have actually come here and learnt different breathing exercises, and learnt how to meditate and eat the right food, I am seeking for the right knowledge and wisdom. Being here, learning these techniques has made me a believer. I am now a believer!
We have met many such youth, who with a little bit of meditation and breathing exercises, could change their way of thinking -- from violence and seeing the other as the enemy, to thinking we are all part of a one world family. We are different but we are part of one human race. That sense of belongingness gets created. And all that it requires is a little bit of education.
I have an appeal to all the governments of the world -- You spend money on defense, and it is necessary for you to do so. With a fraction of what you spend on Defense, why not invest in Peace Education as well? Educating people in going deep within and discovering who they are, keeping aside their religious beliefs. You can be a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, you can follow whatever is your religion, that’s okay, but apart from that, there is something that can help you to become peaceful, graceful and happy from deep within. Why not we educate them on these techniques; on the common shared values of all cultures of the world, i.e., peace and happiness?
Why don’t we teach them to accept and acknowledge diversity? You can’t just make the whole world homogeneous. It has to be heterogeneous. We need to celebrate diversity. We need to honor all the cultures and every language of the world.
Even within a country like Germany, Bavaria has its own culture and if you go to Schwäbisch Gmünd, it has its own culture. If you go to North Kiel, in that area, it has its own typical culture.
Same with France. North is not the same as South. You go to Bordeaux; it is very different from the South of France. While the differences should exist, harmony needs to be brought upon and India can help in this regard because it has lived for centuries with harmony in diversity. So these are some things I felt we can exchange.
Another thing I would like to tell you about is the ancient system of Ayurveda (Ancient Hindu System of Medicine). This is another aspect that India has to offer to the world. France can think of connecting with India for its Ayurveda traditions and medicine. Economically also, it would be very useful because it will bring down medical bills drastically, while also help the health of the society.
Ayurveda treats many ailments with the use of natural herbs, time tested for 5000 years in India. The Prime Minister of India has created a separate Department for the Ayurvedic System of Medicine. It is being documented today for many illnesses including cancer treatments. So I would welcome the French medical experts to come and do a study on this. France can have a hospital in India, and we can do lots of experiments. The Ayurveda System of Medicine can be tried and tested in the modern way of documenting it, proving it, and then making it available to the general population. This would be of immense benefit to the people of France.
Ayurveda and Yoga, these are the two soft powers! When we see the world as a one world family, we need to share what we have amongst each other. Of course, croissants (a buttery, flaky bread in the shape of a crescent. A staple of French Bakeries) are becoming more and more popular in India.
Q: Who are your main sources of inspiration?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Inspiration is always from within. When you have the commitment to do something in life, something in the world, give something to the world back, you can draw inspiration from everything and from everybody around you. You cannot decide, I want to be inspired by so and so. Inspiration is almost a spontaneous thing that happens to you. You see a child playing and something happens within you. You feel inspired. You see someone doing some good work and you want to do that.
I feel that when you are free from stress, everything can inspire you. But if you are clogged with stress, even the best of wisdom does not really enter into you.