Saturday, September 28, 2013

Seva is your Nature

August 22, 2013

Bangalore, India


Gurudev, the desire for Moksha (liberation) is itself a desire itself and is a necessity too. But as long as there are desires, one cannot realize God. Please guide.
Sri Sri: It is very natural to have a desire for liberation. After all your desires are fulfilled, it is only this one that remains. In a state of total surrender; in a state of Samadhi (a state of bliss and equanimity, with awareness), the desire for liberation blossoms by itself (effortlessly).
Saint Kabir would often ask people to renounce or give up everything and devote themselves to the Divine. Some disciples went to Saint Kabir one day. These disciples tried to be very clever. They told him, ‘If we have to renounce everything, then why should we keep doing Naam-Japa (or Japa, meaning to chant God’s name) also? We should renounce that as well’. So they gave up everything - their home, their parents, their Guru and even chanting God’s name (Japa). Then Saint Kabir said, ‘You gave up chanting the Lord’s holy names, but you could not give up your anger, your lust. What have you done, my dear?’ See, when you let go of Japa effortlessly by yourself, then it is alright (meaning to reach an intense state of devotion and feeling one with the Divine at all times).
The disciples told Saint Kabir that they felt lazy in chanting God’s names. I spoke about this just yesterday. People often say, ‘Oh! I got so bored doing this’. You do not feel lazy or bored while eating food. But you feel lazy in doing something good. Why do you not give up eating? You bathe every day but you do not get bored by it. You do not get bored by brushing your teeth. Just observe yourself! What are you saying, what are you doing and where it is are you going.
That is why Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita,
Na hi kascit ksanam api jatu tisthaty akarma-akrt |
Karyate hy-avasah karma sarvah prakrti-jair gunaih || (3.5)

It means that nobody in the world can remain without doing anything. We have to do at least something. And whatever we do, we should do using our Viveka (discretion) or discrimination, and we should not be guided by the impulses of the mind. When you have come to this world, do something good that benefits everybody. Do not stay entangled in thinking only what you will get. There is nothing for you to take away from this world. There is nothing to take away from here. You have come to give. You have come here to do something beneficial for everybody. And you should all get together in doing service. Do not complain that ‘I do not get any fun or pleasure in doing Seva’. Doing Seva for the sake of deriving pleasure or some sort of satisfaction too is a very poor approach in life. If you are doing Seva because you get some sort of pleasure or enjoyment from it, then you will not sustain it for long. You serve because you have to. There is no other choice. There are so many teachers sitting here. If you teach because you get pleasure from doing that, then it will not sustain for long because after a time you will not enjoy it. But if you do it because people need it and can be benefitted by it, then you will surely sustain it. If you serve only to enjoy, then you are being selfish.
Many people come to serve. They say ‘we feel happy, that is why we serve’. Then after a while, they start demanding or complaining about everything. If somebody is doing better Seva than them, then they criticize and start pulling the other person down. Such people say, ‘I do such good Seva but nobody appreciates me or recognizes me’. See, the mind traps you in so many ways in the web of its logic that you do not even know about it.
That is why it is said that when the Guru is present, the mind is not there. And when mind is present then Guru is not there (here meaning that one loses sight of the broader vision and the Infinite when one gets entangled with the limited desires and cravings of the mind and the intellect). So either listen to your mind or to you Guru. The Gurus in earlier times used to destroy the mind. The student’s will was not accepted at all. If you wanted to go to Mysore, the Gurus in earlier times would instead ask you to go to Hyderabad. They used to destroy any desire that you expressed, even the small ones. If you are hungry then they would sit and start talking for at least an hour. Just to destroy desires. Because the guiding belief was that when desires are overcome then you have conquered this material world.
The mind makes you so restless, it makes you go aimlessly from one places to another (seeking contentment). Some people switch their jobs. In America and other foreign countries people even keep on changing their girlfriends. At the end of their sixties, they say that they did not find a soul mate even after searching around the whole world. They ask me that when they will ever find a soul mate. I tell them to wait for another 20 years when you go to heaven. You will get married there only (Laughter). If you always go by what your mind says then you will continue to feel restless.

Dear Gurudev, the Vedas are said to be eternal yet the mantras are attributed to some Rishis (wise sages or seers). How can the Vedas be eternal if they have been discovered by the Rishis?
Sri Sri: See, Newton’s law is eternal. It has been in existence all the time. But it was Newton who brought it forth. He discovered it (the existence of the law). Similarly the mantras (chants) were always there in the records in Aakash(Space). The Rishis were just the ones who downloaded it from Space. So they brought it (to Earth and to mankind) and recognized the Mantras. That is why it is never said that the Rishis wrote these mantras. It happened through cognition, which means they only saw and heard the mantras. Then they brought them out. The Rishis do not take any more credit that for bringing it and manifesting them. They do not say that ‘We created the mantras’. Nobody created the mantras.
That is why it is said Apaureshya (that which is achieved without human effort or intervention). Paureshya means that which is done by human beings. So the Mantras were always present in existence. Newton’s laws are not made or created by Newton. They have always been there. These were only discovered by Newton. So mantras were always there. It is the Rishis brought it to light.

Over the years, the Santana Dharma has been defined by so many Rishis. How can one maintain the purity of Dharma?
Sri Sri: By keeping away the superstitions and by being progressive. Dharma is always scientific in nature. Dharma never contradicts Science. Science is a growing subject though. And purity of dharma is maintained by pure intentions.

Gurudev, how can I intensify and speed up my spiritual quest? Is it possible to bring it on the fast track?
Sri Sri: Just wanting to be on fast track is itself is good enough. It means you are already there. The fact that there is passion and desire to grow spiritually is what makes a big difference.

Gurudev, those who are happy, positive and without problems in life normally do not seek God fervently and join courses like Art of Living. On the other hand, those who are bad tempered and negative in thinking cannot deal with problems in life and get addicted. Such people seek God and turn to yoga and meditation. Why is this so?
Sri Sri: Listen, there are all types of people in this world. Do not think that only sick, the weak and the meek will seek the Truth. There are people who are happy, very healthy and very comfortable too have great passion (to become spiritual). Maybe it is a little less or little more. But you can never brand that this is how people are in general.

Gurudev, when we do Puja, who is praying? Are the one who is praying and the one who to whom the Puja is being offered to, the same? Then what is the difference and what is the need to pray?
Sri Sri: A river is also water and a lake is also water. Both are water. But one receives the water (the lake) and another is water flowing into it (the river). Similarly the small mind in you prays and the big mind in you accepts it. So both are there together - the big mind or the Atma (Soul) and the small mind (the limited mind). So you see the small mind which is the little self, and the big mind that is the Higher Self. Everything is water. Do you understand what I am saying? The river (little self) is water, and the ocean (Higher Self) is also water. The river flows into the ocean. In the same way, the small mind which is troubled and which is experiencing the world, which has desires and fears, prays to the bigger mind, which is present like an ocean, constant, joyful, and full of energy and the smaller mind comes closer to that.

Gurudev, so many blessed souls came from India like Lord Mahavira, Lord Buddha and Lord Krishna. And still India suffers so much. There is so much crime and corruption. Why?
Sri Sri: Do you mean that these people were ineffective? No, it is not so at all. Just imagine what would have happened if India was devoid of spirituality. What would have been the fate of this country? You just can’t imagine. Have you noticed that wherever there is a lack of spirituality, there is so much violence? For example, wherever there are Naxalites present, they do not believe in religion; they do not believe in God and spirituality. The communists are so averse to the word spirituality. Till recently they were even discarding Swami Vivekananda. But now they have somehow started putting pictures of Swami Vivekananda in their homes since the last 5-6 years, this has happened not more than a decade ago. Communists have started adoring spirituality, accepting it out of inevitability Do you see what what they have created in all this time? Only a culture of violence, nothing else. Isn’t it?
So spirituality is essential for the growth of the country. Without this India would have been like the Balkan states long ago. Just see what is happening in Andhra Pradesh. Everything was alright until one lady for own benefits or vote bank politics or whatever took a decision to divide Andhra Pradesh. Now there is fire everywhere. There was public unrest for a whole month and Andhra Pradesh has come to a standstill condition. It is spirituality that is still keeping India sane. It is the spiritual nature of India because of which we embraced everyone. We embraced all the religions of the world. We gave place to everyone, from every community. India is the only country where Jews were never ever prosecuted. In every other country of the world they had problems. The Parsis came from Iran and they blended into the people of this country. Every religion is here and there is harmony. There is a sincere welcome for all people to come and be here. This is only because of spirituality.
Spirituality unites people of all religions. If it was only a religious country without spirituality, then it would not have been so. Just see what happened in Rome, in Constantinople. The Church was there but then it was destroyed and mosques were built. Or the mosque was destroyed and church was built. This sort of thing kept happening and millions of people were killed in this process. It is Spirituality that is needed to bind everybody’s heart and mind. It does not matter what religion or what religious sect people follow. What is most important is to be a good human being, and be connected with the Divinity. This is the most important thing. Do you know what is happening in Egypt, and what happened in Syria last night? It is unbelievable (referring to public unrest and civil violence in these countries). So many people are being killed and prosecuted every day.

Gurudev, on the spiritual path I hear this term ‘presence’ very often. What is presence? Is it just a state of mind?
Sri Sri: See, presence is presence. If you ask me, what is the ear and how does it compare with the eyes, what can I say? Suppose someone is talking and your mind is elsewhere then you are not present. I can explain your absence. When you are present that means you listen and hear every word - that is presence. When you are afraid, you are fully present (referring to being fully aware and in the present moment). When you are deeply in love with someone or something, then your focus is there so totally. Similarly this is the nearest you can go to. So ‘presence’ is the feel that there is something around you. Suppose you close your eyes and you know someone has come close to you. You have not seen them but you still feel they are there. So ‘presence’ means that feeling which is beyond sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste

Gurudev, for my marriage should I listen to my heart or to astrology?
Sri Sri: You should use a little bit of both.

Gurudev, your answer turns an apparently ridiculous question into a great one. Can I ever answer like you? What do I need do to answer like you?
Sri Sri: Just relax. Don’t bother about the questions. When you don’t bother spontaneity comes.

How to overcome lust?
Sri Sri: I think you have not read the book - ‘Celebrating Silence’ or ‘Intimate note to the sincere seeker’. I have given many ideas in the book. You should apply all of them. If any of them works then that is good. If nothing works, then wait for the time when you get a little older and it will disappear. It should, but if it does not then there is some serious problem. Then we have to look for an Endocrinologist (a doctor who treats hormonal disorders). For Hormonal imbalances in the body do cause that sometimes. If you follow the language of moderation, then you are saved. If it is in excess, then I have given you a number of things that you can follow. You can watch your food. You can watch your company. You can keep yourself busy. See, there is no end to its satisfaction (of lust).
When all the available sources and ways to satisfy lust are exhausted, then the mind latches on to non-available source. It wants to have that which is not available, and that is when you find so many distortions of lust in the world. It is really frightening for people to see all sorts of distortions. People try to have sex with animals and what not! You can’t imagine. There are different distortions like paedophiles (people who derive sexual satisfaction from young children) etc., and all these distortions cause mental sickness in a person. That is why you need to go deep in wisdom. Read those things in the ‘Intimate note to the Sincere seeker’.

Gurudev, We are from the city of Nasik where the Trayambakeshwar temple (one of the twelve Jyotirlingas or holy sites of pilgrimage dedicated to Lord Shiva) is located. When ‘Triyamba’ is one of the names of the Mother Divine, then how come Lord Shiva got this name?
Sri Sri: See, I have not read the Sthala Puranas (a branch of the Puranas which narrate the stories and the origins of various Shiva temples or shrines, written in different vernacular languages). So I am not aware of it. There are so many people from Maharashtra. Ask them. There are so many stories. Yes, Lord Shiva does have three eyes which is why he is called as ‘Trinetra’ (Tri = Three, & Netra = Eyes or vision). And what are those three eyes? There are three main Nadis (subtle energy channels) within the human body – the Ida, Pingala and the Sushumna Nadi.

Gurudev, in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras very little is explained about Asanas (yoga postures). Then why do people connect Asanas to Yoga?
Sri Sri: Because that is what is visible on the outside. So people go on speaking and relating about what is visible to them. Hatha yoga (a branch or limb of Yoga dealing mostly with postures) is only a very small part of the Ashtanga Yoga (Eight fold path of Yoga). People misunderstand that alone to be what Yoga is all about. It is alright. That is also good for keeping the body healthy and free from diseases.

Gurudev, when a person loves somebody then it is called Moha (attachment). But when God or a liberated person loves somebody then it is not called attachment. What is the difference between two? How can we change our worldly love to be as acceptable as Divine love?
Sri Sri: You have already answered your question. It seems like you are asking a question, but you are just giving your opinion. I can differentiate between a genuine question and a statement.

Gurudev, I have a lot of knowledge but very little devotion. How do I go from knowledge towards devotion?
Sri Sri: First stop thinking that you have little devotion. Who says that you do not have devotion? It is there and in abundance. It can never be less. If you want it grow more, read the Narada Bhakti Sutra (A scripture on aphorisms of Divine Love by Sage Narada), sing bhajans, dance and celebrate. If you are reading too much then you should reduce that. Instead, do more Seva and Serve people.

Gurudev, Will India ever get good leadership? Is it that difficult to get good leader in India?
Sri Sri: No, it is not so. India will definitely have good leaders. There are very talented and good people in India. But you all have to work for that. You stand up and rise to the occasion, the need of the hour. The reason why our country is in such a bad state today is not because of the bad people, but due to the silence of the good and noble ones. Today we have this situation in the country because good people remain silent, laid-back, dejected and lazy. First, good people must become political candidates and a vote bank of good citizens must be created, then you will see that no party will give ticket to a criminal. The Supreme Court says that convicted criminals should not be allowed to sit in Parliament. But all the politicians in Parliament today say that convicted criminals should be allowed to sit there.
All the parties are united against the decision of Supreme Court’s denial to deny convicted criminals entry into Parliament. Does this not surprise you all? The parties want the convicted criminals to stay. This is very strange. It is hard to understand what goes on in the minds (of politicians). There needs to be some major research in this area. We see that the people of same party go against their own people and party members. They do not care about their party, let alone the country. They do not care about the future of country. We should ask psychologist to research upon these politicians. Why do their minds work in this fashion? Why do they do such acts which do not benefit anybody? They cut the roots and branches of the very tree on which they sit. Why?

Gurudev, the corporate world is all about making profits. And spiritual world is about distributing wealth. How to strike a balance?
Sri Sri: It is just like how you ride a motorbike. You have to make your institution profitable. If you go into loss, how can you be any charitable? You can’t do charity then, right? So you need to take care of both.

Gurudev, can spirituality make me wealthy? I am very wealthy financially.
Sri Sri: Do not think that spirituality will make you wealthy. Spirituality will make you stronger. Then use this strength in a good way with hard work. There is a saying in Sanskrit that only those who do hard work can be wealthy and full of strength and energy. For hard work you need strength and self-confidence which spirituality gives you. Only spirituality can give you the self-confidence and fearlessness like that of a lion. There is no other way.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Honouring the Divinity within

August 21, 2013

Bangalore, India

Today is Rakshabandhan so I will speak something about that. It is often believed that on this day, the sister ties the sacred thread or band on the brother’s wrist and asks him to protect her at all times. This is what is commonly heard and told, isn’t it? But this is not the essence and spirit of Rakshabandhan at all! The true secret of Rakshabandhan is that when a sister ties the thread on her brother’s wrist, it is a gesture of saying that “I will protect you at all times”. So it is the sisters who pray and wish for the protection and well-being of their brothers. This is what Rakshabandhan truly means.
Similarly, the Shravani Upakarma (a ceremony during the holy month of Shravan of changing one’s sacred thread calledJaneu that one wears originally at the time of Upanayanam ceremony) is the act of regularly changing the sacred thread that one wears, by removing the old one and wearing a new one, by observing all the prescribed rituals. At the time of changing the thread, one chants the Gayatri Mantra. Gayatri is not a goddess having five faces and seated on a lotus. This was made a traditional belief much later by people. The Gayatri Mantra is a Samuhik Mantra (i.e a Mantra as a prayer for the benefit of everyone and not oneself alone). In the last part of the Mantra it is said – “Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayat”. So it means to pray to the Divine by saying – ‘May everyone’s intellect be illumined with the light of the Divine’. It is not praying for one person’s intellect alone to be illumined. No, it is to pray for the collective intellect, the intellect of every person to be freed from negativity and be illumined with the light of Divine. The Mantra spells this out in plural and not in singular form. That is why it is said – “Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi” . It means – “May your Divine Light destroy all the sins of my limited mind into ashes; and May all our intellects be illumined with Your Divine Light”. This is the prayer that is made through the Gayatri Mantra. It is regarded as the most supreme prayer offered to God, and it truly is. It encompasses all the worlds of the subtle creation also. Within our own body there are so many worlds. There are seven Lokas (referring to the Seven heavenly realms of Creation: Bhuu, Bhuvas, Svar, Mahas, Janas, Tapas and Satya Loka) and there are seven energy Chakras within our own body, each Chakra being associated with a particular Loka. There are also seven levels of our existence. There are seven levels of (maturity or ripening) of knowledge. So through the Gayatri Mantra, we pray that we progress and rise through the seven levels of existence to the Light of the Divine, and that we experience fulfilment and contentment in each of these seven levels of our existence. It is a prayer to be able to accept and become one with the Eternal.
See, for example, air is always present. When you take a deep breath in, you accept the air so totally. In the same way, the Chaitanya Shakti (the powerful Consciousness) is present around you everywhere and at all times. Through the Gayatri Mantra, you accept and become one with this wonderful Consciousness around you with a deep sense of honour and total awareness. What happens as a result of this? All your sins are burnt to ashes, and you are cleansed. The word‘Bhargo’ in the mantra means to cleanse all sins. So through the Gayatri Mantra, we pray that “May I uphold and contain the Light of the Divine in my intellect, and May it illumine all our minds and intellects and inspire us towards noble thoughts and actions’. This is the essence of the Gayatri Mantra, and this is the Gayatri Upasana also. Do not sit with the picture of Gayatri as a goddess in mind. When you sit, remember and become aware of your Self as the Divine light of the Consciousness that glows forever within you. The Sun is usually regarded as a deity but it is not really so. In the mantra we say ‘Tat Savitur-varenyam’. The word Savitur here refers to the Savitra Devta (a solar deity mentioned in the Rig-Veda and one of the twelve Adityas) considered to responsible for the light of the Sun. But here it means: One who illumines everything, who purifies everyone and washes away all sins, the Paramatma (Supreme Soul or Consciousness), and that is what is meant by Savitra. So when we say ‘Savitur-’ we are offering this prayer to God Himself, the Para-Brahman who is here referred to as Savitra. This is the deeper meaning here.

Gurudev, how can we go from the Saguna (Form) to the Nirguna (Formless)?
Sri Sri: Every form is a manifestation of the formless Divinity. The body is characterized by the Guna (meaning has form or attributes; also meaning the is influenced by the three Gunas: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas); but the Atma (soul) is Nirguna or formless. Meditation is the answer for this. The Saguna has form, shape, name etc. but it comes from the formless.

Gurudev, Lord Shiva never took a body (physical form), and possibly even goddesses such as Goddess Durga, Goddess Saraswati, Goddess Gayatri etc. also did not. So are all these different forms of the same energy? What is the difference among them?
Sri Sri: Yes, they are essentially one. All of them are different powers, and are different by virtue of their names, their forms and appearance; yet they are all one in essence.

Gurudev, in the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that ‘everyone is equally dear to Me’. But then a little later He tells Arjuna, ‘you are most dear to Me’. How is this contradiction possible?
Sri Sri: There is a lot of contradiction throughout the Bhagavad Gita at every step, in every chapter. That is why Arjuna at one point tells Lord Krishna, ‘O Lord! Tell me one way only (towards freedom from misery). Sometimes you suggest that Bhakti Yoga (the path of Devotional service) is the best; sometimes you say that Karma Yoga (the path of doing one’s action or duty) is supreme, and at other times you say that Jnana Yoga (the path of knowledge of the Absolute) is the only way. I am very confused with all this, so please suggest one out of all these’.
So Arjuna too says the same thing in the Gita. But that is how the Truth is. Truth is multi-dimensional, and not just one-dimensional or one-faceted. This is why different ways and expressions are needed to say or express that multi-dimensional Truth. So, Lord Krishna asks Arjuna to step on one ladder, and then asks him to set foot on a different ladder and so on. He never tells Arjuna to stay fixed or rooted onto one ladder alone. The Bhagavad Gita reveals the unique art (of the Lord) of leading a person step by step from one ladder through another to the Divine. Now you might be tempted to ask, ‘If you wanted me to step onto some other ladder, why did you ask me to set foot on this one in the first place?’ This is exactly what Arjuna also tells Lord Krishna. But that is not the way. So Lord Krishna makes him step on one ladder, then move to another one.
This is the speciality of the Bhagavad Gita. This is how a mature and profound scripture should ideally be. It is only through one contradiction after another that the final Truth gets unveiled. Though wherever there is no contradiction or conflicting thought to be found, that is also fine; it is knowledge at a primary (basic) level only. In primary education one does not find any complexity or contradictions. For example, you will not find anything confusing or contradicting when you learn the alphabets A B C D etc. But you are sure to find confusion and contradictions in a profound scripture. Why is it so? It is because this world is multi-dimensional. The world is round, like a sphere.
Many years ago, a gentleman from Iran had come here. This must have been some 10-15 years ago. He was an Imam, and a close confidante of the Ayatollah Khomeini (a religious head of Iran), and was second-in-command to him. He was quite old, some 75-80 years in age. In those days I used to stay in the Shakti Kutir in the old Ashram. So, one has to climb the stairs to come up to the Kutir. When the gentleman climbed the stairs and came to me, he said, ‘Gurudev, you are known to be most merciful. You know that there is a question that has been troubling me since many years now. I want to ask you – ‘If there is but One Truth, then there should also be one and only one way to know it, isn’t it? There is only one right answer to a question. There cannot be four or five different correct answers to the same question. So if there is One Truth, then there should also be only one true religion for it. Why are there so many religions in the world? All the other religions should be false. There can be only one true way to the Truth’. I immediately understood what he was trying to convey. He was basically trying to say that Islam is the only true religion and the way to God, while all other religions are fake or false. So basically this is the question that he had in mind, but he was asking me in a different way. He said, ‘Gurudev, people often say that all religions are good and worth honouring, but that is just not possible. It is a common saying that there is One God, but there are different ways to reach Him. But that is not possible. There is only one genuine religion, the rest are all devised by man and are false’. I smiled to him and said, ‘Please have a seat first. Then I told him that to come to the Ashram, there can be different routes or directions. One direction can be to come straight from the Ashram gate and turn right at the end. Then, another way can be to go straight and then turn left and reach the Ashram. Yet another way can be to not turn anywhere but follow a straight road and come straight to the Ashram. Now what do you think? Are all these routes not correct in their own way? They are all correct. When someone is coming from the Bangalore city area towards the Ashram, they would be told to come straight and turn right for the Ashram. But if someone is coming from Kanakpura area, then they would be told to go straight and take a final left turn for the Ashram. So that route is also correct. And if someone is coming from the Bannerghatta area, they would be told to keep coming straight without taking turns anywhere. And that route is also true. So all routes are true. One has to see the way from where one stands in life. In the world, man has been at different stages in life, and different regions or cultures at different points in time. So, according to the position or place one was in, different ways have been shown to reach the Divine. That is what it is’.
Our ancestors, ancient seers and sages knew this very well and so they told all the possible ways (religions) one could take to reach the Divine. The Sanatan Dharma (another term for Hinduism) is so vast and elaborate that it confuses you a lot, but it also shows the way to the Truth. According to the Sanatan Dharma, this is right and that is also right. If there is a religion in which all ways of realizing the Divine are accommodated, it is this ancient tradition (ofSanatan Dharma). That is because it was not created or given by any one particular Rishi (wise sage or seer) or any person in particular. Thousands of wise sages and seers have contributed to this tradition and enriched it with their knowledge and experiences. So all their wisdom and knowledge has come together in this ancient tradition of the Sanatan Dharma. The Imam was very happy upon hearing this and liked it very much. He said, ‘Gurudev, today I have found my answer and I am very content’. Saying this, he took leave and left.
The point I want to say here is that wherever one finds contradiction or apparently conflicting thoughts and approaches, one also surely finds the light of Truth there as well.

Gurudev, Kshama (mercy or forgiveness) has also been called as Daan (charity). Why is this so? It is called asKshama-Daan (meaning to see forgiveness as an act of charity or altruism).
Sri Sri: Do not get entangled in this web of words. It is just a play of words. Different people use different words or different languages to convey the same thing. Forgiveness is simply forgiveness, that’s it.

Gurudev, do Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva switch their roles from time to time? Do they not get bored doing the same role again and again over time?
Sri Sri: Well, this is why at one point in time they all came together as one and became Lord Dattatreya (a form or incarnation of the Divine shown as having all three aspects of Divinity together). All three of them are Gurus.

Gurudev, many people’s religions do not believe in reincarnation. Do such people attain liberation?
Sri Sri: Whether one believes or does not believe, does that ever change the Truth? The Truth is always as it is. If someone does not believe, then that is it! They just don’t believe it. That does not diminish the Truth in any way.
The scientists today have proved that reincarnation exists. What else remains to be said then? In some religions, it used to be believed that the Earth is not round but a square. Some religions believed that the Earth is stationary and it is the Sun that revolves around the Earth. When scientists stood up against this (religious) belief, they were hunted down and burnt alive. Some were hanged to death. This happened in what is called as the Spanish Inquisition. In Spain, at the time of the Middle Ages, each and every scientist was hunted down and was considered to be a form or messenger of the Devil, and they were murdered. It is not too long ago, it happened some 100-200 years ago. Today those same religions have become more scientific in outlook.
India always maintained a scientific and practical outlook from the very beginning. No scientist or researcher was ever killed here. In fact, even an atheist school of thought like Charvaka was honoured in our country. Its followers were allowed to follow and propagate their principles and philosophy here. The ancient Indians would think that if the limited intellect of the Charvaka school of thought is only this much, then that too was alright and accepted by them. They would often say, ‘if this is what your limited intellect can grasp and understand about God and the Creation, then that is fine as well. As your intellect matures, you will gain more knowledge and understanding in time’. India is the only country in the world that has never attacked another country. It has never plundered or conquered any other country in history. Yet India was looted and plundered so many times in history by foreign invaders. It was attacked many times in history, and we remained slaves (to foreign rule) for 1000 years. Despite all this, we have continued to rise higher and progress.
However, our country is currently in a very dangerous situation. Product prices are rising, and the Dollar is rising against the Indian Rupee, which is falling every day. There is such rampant corruption everywhere. People today are shamelessly indulging in corruption. It is so shocking. In the earlier days, if some place was found to be corrupt, people would resign and leave that organization or post. But today so many malpractices are happening in our country. During the organization of the Commonwealth Games in India, a few ministers were charged with bribe and corruption and were put behind bars. But after some time, they were released on bail and allowed to sit in Parliament. In the 2G scam that happened recently, a few government officers were jailed on charges of corruption. But they were let go after a few days and they went back to the Parliament. Though they were put in jail, they became healthier during their stay before leaving. Probably they went there to digest whatever (money) they had consumed earlier (Laughter). After that they were freed to go out once again. Files of these accused people get ‘mysteriously’ burnt in natural disasters in Maharashtra (meaning that actual evidence is destroyed on false accounts of natural disasters). A government office where such files and evidence is stored catches fire and is burnt completely. The people’s hearts are burning on seeing such incidents. You know, some files are kept in an area where there is actually no chance of fire at all. Yet files go missing or get burnt in such places. Close to 175 files related to the Coal-gate scam suddenly went missing one fine day. This is shocking indeed. Such incidents never used to happen at all in our country. Nowadays people freely steal and then destroy all evidence that can prove them guilty of crime. It is finished. This is truly a downfall in our country and is a serious cause of concern. Whenever such downfall happens, people of the country unite and rise together against corruption. The time for that has come. Is it not so? What do you all say?

Gurudev, how can I overcome laziness? It took me one month to even come up and ask this question!
Sri Sri: I will answer this question next year! (Laughter) Why should I hurry in giving you the answer? Anyway there is no use of giving you the answer immediately. Stay lazy as long as you like to be. One day or the other you will get fed up of it. Man gets bored very easily; and a lazy person gets bored even faster. The moment you are fed up of it, new paths will open to you. Why should I say anything and strain my throat? I will also keep forwarding the time ahead for your answer.
Maharishi Ashtavakra says, ‘There is no one happier than a lazy person’. He makes such lofty praises about laziness. He says, ‘Become so lazy that you stop desiring for anything in your mind’. You will run towards the kitchen or a restaurant only when you feel hungry. I would say stop doing even that! (Laughter) Even if you feel hungry today, you (postpone) and eat food tomorrow, or may be even next month. If you feel thirsty now, what is the hurry to drink and quench it? You can drink water later. Relax and keep lying down. Water will come to your mouth by itself! (Laughter) Similarly, be lazy even in getting angry or cursing someone. If you feel like doing some wrong deed or a scandal out of greed, then be lazy about that. But you do not act lazily in such things. In fact you do such things so quickly. If you have to curse someone, you do not think even for a moment. You do it immediately. You do not feel lazy at all in such moments. Is it not so? So if you become 100% lazy (in all aspects of life), then you have truly become wise. Then you have become a Nishkaam-Karma Yogi (one who acts without getting attached to the action or its results). But I tell you, this is the most difficult thing to do. It is very difficult to become totally and 100% lazy. Just as you cannot become an atheist 100%, in the same way you cannot become 100% lazy. It is next to impossible.

Gurudev, I am a journalist. Please explain what should the qualities of a good journalist be?
Sri Sri: The first thing is to present the truth before the people. Sometimes the truth can be so bitter and terrifying that it can shatter the people’s hearts, and put an end to their enthusiasm. They may get totally gripped by fear and insecurity. So along with presenting the truth to the people, also ensure that you help keep up their faith and enthusiasm, and that you can keep their hopes alive for something better. So on one hand you have to present the truth as it is without distorting it, and on the other hand you also have to ensure that there is always a ray of hope that is kindled in the people at all times. Otherwise, people will fall prey to mental diseases and depression. You know, there was no such thing such as depression in India. This is why there is no corresponding word for it in Hindi or in Sanskrit. Neither is there any disease by that name in the Indian system. This goes to show how highly evolved and rich our culture and heritage has been.

Gurudev, today the problem of Insomnia has become quite prevalent, especially in the developed countries. Is there some solution to this problem to be found through Yoga and meditation? I have started to experience this nowadays.
Sri Sri: Yes, of course there is a remedy to this through Yoga and meditation. You should practice Yoga Nidra and the Yogasanas (Yoga postures) regularly. It will definitely help. You also have Ayurvedic medicines such as Shankhapushpiand Medhya Rasayana that will help. Even Khus-Khus (Cous Cous) can help. It is called Adirasam in Tamil Nadu. So you can crush one or one-and-a-half table spoon of that and take it with milk or with water. You will get a sound sleep. If there is anything else you are suffering from, you can refer the medicine kit that is available in Ghar Ka Doctor (a medicinal kit containing Ayurvedic medicines for common ailments and disorders at home).

Gurudev, can too much knowledge make a person sad? I think that is what is happening to my father.
Sri Sri: No, that is not possible. First of all, there is no such thing as too much knowledge. For example, if it is raining, then that is knowledge. What is more knowledge or less knowledge about that? If it stops raining, does any person know more or any less about the rain having stopped? There is no such thing as excess knowledge. Yes, if you use your intellect too much (in over-analyzing everything that happens), then life becomes very dry and you become devoid of any emotions. Then you only work through your intellect and nothing else. This makes a person restless and insecure from within.

Gurudev, a few days back I saw you wearing glares. Then I thought that to shield us from the harsh sunlight of life, you have given us the goggle of Sudarshan Kriya. I want to know when I can wear the hat of enlightenment.
Sri Sri: Enlightenment is not like some hat, that you can wear when you like and take off when you like. Neither is it like the hair on your head that you can trim and cut off when it grows too long. It is the glow of the light within you which can never diminish or disappear. It neither grows nor diminishes. It simply ‘is’. You just have to become aware and recognize it. The moment you become still and repose within your Self, you will recognize it instantly.
That is why there is a saying in Sanskrit – ‘Pratya-bhigya Hridaya’. It means to recognize that inner light, to become aware of the light from within.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Strength of Women

August 20, 2013

Bangalore, India

Today is the auspicious day of Shravana Purnima (the full Moon day in the auspicious month of Shravana as per the Hindu calendar). Usually it is said that it is the brother who protects and looks after his sister. Today we are celebrating a very special and unique tradition through the festival of Rakshabandhan, in which it is the sister who (takes the vow and) protects her brother! Women of our country are often called weak and powerless. So it is worth wondering how a woman who is considered as weak and fragile can protect a man and give him moral strength and support.
There is a growing misconception since the ages that women are weak and powerless. It is not so at all. Women possess a very unique power within themselves – the Sankalpa-Shakti (the power of will and determination). So a woman too can protect and give support to a man using her strong will power and inner strength. In India, we have never regarded women as weak or inferior in any way at all. How can a woman be weak? A woman has so much (inner) strength and power that she can stop the mighty Sun also! You all must have heard the story of Satyavan and his wife Savitri. She was so devoted to her husband that she fought the very Lord of Death from taking her husband away and brought him back to life. Similarly, you must have also heard the inspiring story of Devi Anusuya.
So, women possess the power of feelings and emotions, and have great inner strength within them. This is the greatest strength that one can have. If one loses one’s inner strength then outward physical strength is of no use. To be physically strong, one has to be strong from within first (referring to strong will power and courage). Inner strength here means both – the power of the intellect and also the strength of inner will and emotions. A woman possesses the unique and beautiful combination of both of these. So on the day of Rakshabandhan, it is the ladies who take a vow to protect the men (by tying a sacred thread on the wrist of the brother).

Gurudev, a lot of our international family members are asking, why have they tied you up with threads?
Sri Sri: Yes, that is what I was saying. Most of these Rakhis (a sacred thread or band tied by the sister on the right wrist of her brother as a mark of love and assurance that he will protect her at all times) are made in China. These days, all our festivals are so much connected to China. All Ganesh idols are made in China. Lord Krishna has immigrated to China, He is coming from there. So does the Rakhi.
Rakhi is a festival where the women tie a sacred band to their brothers. You know, just like how you have friendship day, and you tie a friendship band to your friend? In the same way this is a protection band that ladies, especially the sisters tie to the brothers and wishing protection and safety for him at all times. 
So they do this with an intention to protect. The intention is very strong. You know, the power of intention, the power of wish has a very unique place. And that is what signifies this festival of Rakshabandhan. So it’s a festival for brothers and sisters. And they exchange sweets and tie band and wish protection. So there are many well-wishers here, which is why there are so many knots and bands on my wrist also.

Gurudev, though customs and symbols are different among religions, the core values are the same. Then why is there feverishness to convert people to another religion? And also if they do convert, why should we be feverish about it, if the core values are same?
Sri Sri: Yes; the core values are the same, but customs and traditions are different. A change of demography and beliefs happens from place to place, country to country. If the conversion is only religious, it is a different issue. Unfortunately, it is political also. Religious conversions are happening not just for the cause of religion, or saving somebody, but there is a sinister design behind it of wanting some sort political dominance or power. This is not good at all for survival of different civilizations or cultures on the planet. All the wars are fought today in the name of religion or religious sects, resulting in extremism. The extremists say – ‘Everyone should be like me! Everyone should follow the same religion as I’. Their whole idea is to see that nothing else exists other than their school of thought. This is dangerous for the world. For the world is diverse. And it is our responsibility to protect the diversity.
It is like what the multinational companies do nowadays. Sometimes they come and they burn all other seeds (meaning the existing local or indigenous craft and trade unique to a country and culture). They only want their own seeds (referring to products or traditions) to flourish and go on. For example the Monsanto type of companies. So if this happens, then only one seed will exist. They cannot tolerate the diversity. And this is because of their own ulterior motives.
This beautiful earth has so many diverse schools of thought, so many beautiful philosophies, ways of life, various ways of worship and wonderful cultures. These need to be protected. Whenever a person converts, he disregards one religion and goes to another. He cannot convert to another religion without denigrating or degrading his own religion. And this is what is not good. We should not denigrate. If you are denigrating your own religion, then you have not learnt about it in deep, it shows you have not known about it. That is why we say we must resist this sort of proselytization (conversion). Such people or parties convert people by giving them different sorts of allurement, such as offering them seats in the good schools, or giving them food, money, job, or motorbikes etc. and then trying to convert them. Do you know how much suffering and problems it creates within a family? We really have no idea. So, suddenly the children of the family don’t want to participate in the traditional festivals the parents have been following and doing for a long time. They don’t mix with their own relatives. They want everything to be different. These issues come up and they create such disharmony within a family as well in the societies and communities.
That’s why I say that we should honour and respect all religions. But we must also become more spiritual rather than fanatically religious.

Gurudev, can you please talk about Sanyasa (referring to the act or intention of renouncing everything)? What does it mean to be a Sanyasi (a renunciate)?
Sri Sri: Sanyasa means being totally centered. It means to feel that ‘Everyone belongs to me, and I belong to everybody. I want nothing for myself and I’m ready to give everything’.

Gurudev, I read somewhere that if a person commits the biggest of the biggest crimes, but does not feel guilty about it or regret it, his karma is not marked (meaning that the negative karma does not bind him). But if someone makes a small mistake, and instantly regrets it, his karma gets marked. Is that true?
Sri Sri: It is not just about regretting. There is something more to this. It is being aware of the non-doer spirit within you. There are 2 things within everyone. One is the doer, one is the non-doer. When your identity is completely with the non-doing aspect within you, then it doesn’t stick. For that you need to be hollow and empty.

Does the Guru choose the devotee or does the devotee choose the Guru?
Sri Sri: It doesn’t matter! As long as they choose each other! (Laughter) In Sanskrit, it is said that there are 2 ways for this: Whether the Divine chooses you or you choose the Divine. They say it is like the monkey and the kittens. The mother monkey just roams around and it is the young ones who are watchful and follow the mother. But on the other hand the kittens don’t worry about the mother, and they don’t even look at the mother. They simply play around and it is the mother cat that takes care of the kitten, and holds the kitten by its own jaw and takes them around.
Here the cat is concerned about its kittens. There, it is the baby monkey which is concerned about the mother. The mother monkey does not watch, the baby monkey goes and clings on to the mother. So there are 2 things: One is the way of the devotee. The devotee is like the kitten, allowing God to guide. And a philosopher or a yogi is like the baby monkey which holds on to the mother, which just latches on to the Divine. So one is a Karma Yogi (here meaning to know that every action is anyway being guided by the Divine), the other is a Bhakt-yogi (here meaning to be totally immersed in the devotion to the Divine for everything). You can choose to be either one or both also at times.

Gurudev, it is said that the one who knows (the Truth) never says it and the one who speaks about it does not really know. Now that I know this, if somebody asks me whether I’m enlightened or not, what should I say? Or not say?
Sri Sri: It is easy to say ‘No’ rather than say ‘Yes’. So choose according to your time availability. Because, if a person cannot feel it without your saying yes or no, they are not going to feel it even after you say yes or no. If someone says, ‘Are the lights switched on here?’ that means they have not opened their eyes. So whether you say yes or no, it doesn’t make any difference to them. Right? If they are blind then even if you say, ‘Yes, the lights are on’, how does it matter to them? How does it make any impact on them? And if you say ‘No’ even then it doesn’t make any sense. So, in all these circumstances the golden principle is - Smile with Silence. Got it? If they can feel it, then even if you say no, they are going to feel it.
Once I was in Sweden and there was a meeting. There was a journalist in the audience who asked me ‘Are you enlightened? Don’t beat around the bush. Tell me. I want to ask you, are you enlightened?’ I just looked and smiled. I said to him, ‘I know you are very clever’. Then he said, ‘But, are you enlightened?’ It is better to say ‘No’. Then the whole conversation finishes. Why take the trouble to prove anything by saying ‘yes’? It is even more headache. And everyone who tried to prove this was in even more trouble. What is the point in saying ‘Yes’? So I said ‘No’. But then to this, the journalist said – ‘No, you are not telling me the truth. I don’t believe you’. Then you believe in yourself and believe what your heart is saying.

Gurudev, today, while changing the sacred threads (during the Upanayanam ceremony) the pundits chanted the Rishi Vandana. Could you please explain the significance of this mantra?
Sri Sri: Today we remember the Rishis - the ancient sages and seers who have kept this knowledge alive and have brought this knowledge to you. They have given the great mantras of the Vedas. So, today when people change sacred thread they recite this Mantra. What does the sacred thread represent? It means to take responsibility by thought, word and deed. To remind you that you are shouldering the responsibility, they put a thread on. It is like saying, ‘I am shouldering this responsibility’. And feeling grateful is a part of the process.

If ever a devotee has to ask something from the Divine or from the Master, what is the best thing he can ask for?
Sri Sri: Come on! Now do I also need to tell you also what you should ask? I don’t think there is any need of that. Your need is spontaneous. It just comes from within. You can’t but ask. You cannot force yourself to ask for something. Then, it will not be genuine.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Protection of the Divine

August 14, 2013

Bangalore, India.

You know, the Divine protects us in many ways. Just like a roof protects us from the coconut falling on our head, the Divine protects us in many ways. They say that the planet Jupiter (called as Brihaspati or the Guru Brihaspati in Hindi) protects the earth. There are lots of meteors which travel towards the earth to collide, but the planet Jupiter protects us from these meteors (owing to its immense gravitational pull). Otherwise, the earth would have been finished long ago. Like this, the Divine also protects us in many forms. When you were a child, it protects you as mother and a father. When you grow up, the Divine protects you in the form of Guru. Just like the eye lid protects our pupil, the Divine protects its pupil. It comes in all forms and ways and protects us. There is no reason to be afraid.

Gurudev, yesterday you spoke about Sankalpa Shakti (the power of intention to manifest one’s wishes or desires). You also said that some Sankalpas (intentions) manifest and some do not. Why is that so?
Sri Sri: Whenever you take a Sankalpa, you should always pray that – ‘I want this or anything better than this’. Nature is far more intelligent and would like to give you the best. When your vision is narrow and limited (to one’s own personal motives only), then you think this is the best for me. But the Universe knows better. If you deserve something better than that, it will surely give you that.

Dear Gurudev, in the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna shows his Vishwaroopa (Supreme transcendental form of the Lord) to Arjuna, and thus he gets to experience the Divine. Yet, even after seeing the Lord’s supreme form, Arjuna is not get convinced and Lord Krishna has to prod much more before finally giving up and telling Arjuna to drop everything. How come even after having the experience, Arjuna could not understand?
Sri Sri: Well, I have no idea. Perhaps Arjuna wanted to play the role of the dumbest student so that even the dumbest person can understand this sacred and divine knowledge. Otherwise, the Bhagavad Gita would not have taken so long. It would have finished in just a couple of verses. It is because Lord Krishna knows that people need this knowledge that he had to speak in so many ways and so many languages for people to understand.

Gurudev, on the path of Yoga as we continue our practices, ‘HE’ (referring to the Lord) may simply manifest. Yet it also causes Yoga Maya (referring to being deluded when one acquires extraordinary abilities). How can people do their Sadhana (spiritual practice) and yet not be affected by Yoga Maya?
Sri Sri: This very knowledge (of Yoga Maya) is good enough.

Gurudev, I am always in the state of “I don’t know” in life. How should we define our purpose in life?
Sri Sri: By moving to the more beautiful stage of wonderment of ‘I don’t know’! You know, there are two types of ‘I don’t know’. One is when you are so frustrated that we say, ‘Don’t ask me, I don’t know. Get out!’ But there is another ‘I don’t know’. This comes from a state of beautiful wonderment - ‘I don’t know’! Life is a journey of moving from an angry ‘I don’t know’ to a beautiful ‘I don’t know’! out of wonder. In between these two states, there is also a confused “I don’t know”. If you are in the confused “I don’t know” state, just move away from the angry “I don’t know” and move towards the beautiful wondrous “I don’t know!”

Gurudev, many movements on corruption start but they soon fizzle out. How do we keep the movement going on?
Sri Sri: This is something very serious. We are in the same position where we were before independence. We were in utter helplessness then as we are now. The country was being looted. You know, 900 ships of gold were transferred from India. People were taxed unwillingly and we were all helpless. Everyone united through Satsang. Huge Satsangs were conducted in those days to unite and bring the people together. The mikes in those days were not of a very high quality. But despite all this, people would put in their heart and soul in the Satsang, because they were so strongly committed to the common goal of India’s independence. Many people sacrificed their lives for the nation. Today the movement is not complete. We are in the same helpless situation. We have to again unite and stand up against corruption and change the situation, change the system, change the attitudes. Are you all for willing for change? We all have to work for it.

Gurudev, in your discourse on the Kena Upanishad, you said - “Withdraw all your senses”. Are you saying that we should be in a state of abstinence all our life? Or is it just to control our emotions through a particular day, that you are saying the same?
Sri Sri: Emotions have their own place in life. But they should not control you. They should be under your control. But if you get into the grip of the emotions, then there is only misery in life.

Gurudev, I would like to appeal to the audience to donate organs after their death.
Sri Sri: Yes. This is very good. There are some wrong notions that if we donate organs after our death, we will not have those organs in our next birth. This is not true. One can freely donate your organs after death.