Monday, August 20, 2012

Honoring Our Ancestors

August 03, 2012
Bangalore, India
(Many devotees offer Gurudev peacock feathers to which he says)

I want to know if these are these plucked from peacocks or does it fall down naturally and people pick it?
If they pluck it then don't bring these at all. We shouldn't encourage people to pluck from peacocks. I don't know if this naturally falls or people pluck it.
(Audience: they pluck it Gurudev) Then you shouldn't bring this at all. Do not buy it at all because if you keep buying it they may kill even more of the peacocks. No one should buy this.
We will put instructions everywhere that no one should buy peacock feathers because that can create greed in some people to pluck them forcefully from the peacocks.
What do you say? Agreed!
This is a new trend that has started. You should stop buying these.
Very good decision we made today!

Connecting to the people on the other side is what Shradha is – With faith honoring people who have crossed over to the other side. Shradha, it is to be done with a sense of gratitude, and sense of celebration.

Q: Gurudev, I want to dance with you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: My spirit is always dancing.
Q: Gurudev, can the Guru change the karma of a person, and when does that happen?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If a Guru alone could change the karma of a person then he would have changed the karma of everybody in one stroke.
No, you have to do some effort as well.
Guru can definitely relieve you of your sins. When you commit a sin and you realize that you made a mistake, you cannot relieve yourself of sin, but the Guru can definitely do it for you. So in that sense, yes!
At the same time, you have to do Purusharth (self-effort). You need to do some good work. And the sense of love and devotion is equally proportionate to the amount of karma that gets released.
Q: Because of my cowardly behavior I run away from all the challenges in life. How can I come out of this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First of all, know that whatever challenge is in front of you, you have the power to face it. You should recognize that. You have the power and the energy to face it. With this conviction you move forward, I am with you.
Q: Gurudev, we do certain rituals for the departed. Is there any basis for these rituals?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: These rituals are there only to show your gratitude to the departed souls. But what has happened is that the Pundits and the Purohits have made it so complicated that sometimes you don't understand what they are saying. If they translate what they are saying in Sanskrit it gives you an idea.
Do you know why you take sesame seeds and say, ‘Tarpayami, Tarpayami, Taraiyami?’ It is called Tarpanam.
You take the name of the departed one and you take some sesame seeds and water and pour it onto a plate. Why do you do this? You do this to tell the departed souls, ‘Whatever desires you might be harboring in your mind, they are like sesame seeds, insignificant. They are for small things, so you just drop them. There is infinite joy and bliss in the abode of the Divine, just enjoy that. We will take care of your unfulfilled desires. You be contented, be happy.’
This is what we tell the departed souls in Tarpanam.
They do have desires; they want to see the wedding of their grandchildren, their great grandchildren, or see the great grand children getting one more daughter. These sorts of desires remain in their mind before they die so we tell them, ‘Look these desires are small, drop them. Love is the essence of life and the Divine is all love. You move on to the light which is all love.’ So, giving instruction to the departed soul is what Shraddham is.
Then you ask them for blessings, ‘I will do my part, what you can do from there is give me blessings so that my mind is on the right track and so that I do the right things in the right time. Bless me with good luck, prosperity.’
This type of Shraddham is all over the world. Even in South America they do this. On one particular day the entire city comes on the road and for their ancestors they burn effigies and many other things on the street.
They do this in China, and in Singapore as well.

In memory of them (ancestors) cook some food which they liked, and you eat, and feed a few people and enjoy. This much you can do! Thank them and wish them progress in the world where they are in, and ask for their blessings.

Do you know what they do in Singapore? There is a particular day for ancestors. So whatever the ancestors were passionate about, they make those things in paper and burn them. If their father loved cars, they will make a nice Benz car, keep it on the street of Singapore and burn it.
Singapore is such a clean and neat city, but on that one day in the year it is so dirty because everywhere you find loads and loads of paper being burnt.
The belief in China is that when you burn some fake currency it reaches the ancestors, and they give you good luck. Sometimes I feel that this is cheating. But at the same time it is just the faith.
So, they build homes right in the middle of the street and burn it. They believe the blessing will come from the other side.
That sort of connecting to the people on the other side is what Shradha is. This is what faith is; with faith honoring people who have crossed over to the other side.
In Europe also there is an All Saints Day when people go and offer flowers in the burial grounds.
Shradha is there in almost all religions and all cultures. Here it is very meaningful in Sanskrit, but people don't understand.
Like Pind Danam – See our body has come out of a ball of food, isn’t it? So the ritual is that they keep a ball of food, it could be whatever the departed liked. So you cook some good food in the memory of the departed and feed it to the poor people.
This is Shradha, it is to be done with a sense of gratitude, and sense of celebration while remembering the ancestors.
This much you can do, in memory of them cook some food which they liked and eat and feed a few people and enjoy.
Thank them and wish them progress in the world where they are in, and ask for their blessings so that you progress well on your journey here. That is it.
Q: Gurudev, please tell me about Moksha.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Whatever desires you have in life, finish them before you die. There should be one moment when you feel, ‘I don't want anything’ – This is Moksha.
There is no need to die to attain Moksha. Before you die you should feel contended. When contentment comes in life then there is Mukti (freedom) and more Mukti.
Q: Why do people decide to end their lives?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: They do it because of lack of Buddhi (intellect).
Why do people do it is because they are so attached to comfort. So when they feel discomfort, to get rid of this discomfort they kill themselves. It is a foolish act. It is like removing your jacket and your shirt when you are shivering in the cold. Doing this is not going to lessen the cold. But this understanding is not there and so they do it.
That is why we need this spiritual education right from the beginning.

Attachment to comfort must be removed right from the very beginning. If people know how to toil hardship and can with- stand criticism then they will never commit suicide.

Those people who have endurance (tapasya) to withstand criticism and sorrow, those who can withstand problems, they get Aatmabal, i.e., strength of the soul, and they will not commit suicide.
When the soul is weak and does not have strength, and when one is too attached to comforts only they commit suicide.
So attachment to comfort must be removed right from the very beginning. If people know how to toil hardship and can withstand criticism then they will never commit suicide in their life.
Q: I felt very bad to see you cry on Guru Purnima Day.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, tears do not come only because one is troubled; tears also come out of love.
I was just reflecting everybody there. Everybody there was crying, so tears came out of this body also.
On Guru Purnima, everybody was filled with so much gratitude, so much gratefulness! There was not one dry eye there. So when everybody’s eyes got wet, my eyes also got wet.

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