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.
Diwali is the festival of lights, the festival of joy, prosperity, knowledge, wisdom and everything because light indicates many things. And it is not enough if one lamp is lit, we need lots of lamps to be lit for knowledge to blossom and for the darkness to go. So that is why on Diwali lots of lamps are lit.
A physical lamp is just a symbol. The real lamp is you and you have to be lit up, vibrant, smiling, joyful and full of energy because that is the real festival. And this can only happen with knowledge, not just with comforts, gadgets, money or friends. Real happiness comes with knowledge.
The divinity is everywhere but it is dormant, and pooja (prayer) is the process to awaken it.
Anyone who is in touch with the divinity has no dearth of any sort.
So today, we will do a Lakshmi pooja which is a thanksgiving to the mother divine, to the angels and to all the gods saying, 'Thank you so much. For the whole year you have protected me and given me what I wanted. Please continue doing the same for the next year too'.
So we pray and ask them to renew ourcontact with them; not contract but contact. We pray to renew the contact with the divinity.
Anyone who is in touch with the divinity has no dearth of any sort. So, being in touch with the divinity again and again (which is in every particle of us but simply needs to be woken up). The divinity is everywhere but it is dormant, and pooja (prayer) is the process to awaken it. Waking up the divinity!
So Panditji here will chant a very ancient prayer, which was one of the first prayers of mankind from the Rig Veda. He will be reciting the Sri Suktam for us.
So first we will do Ganapati pooja to remove all the obstacles from our lives, and then we will do kalasha pooja. With a pot of water we will invoke all the angels and pray for blessings for everyone on this planet, so that everyone is bestowed with a good mind, a good heart, a good intellect, and wisdom.
There are three types of energy in each person. They are:
1. Iccha-shakti (willingness of a person)
2. Kriya-shakti (the energy to function), and
3. Jnana-shakti (wisdom)
Similarly there is Mahakali (symbolizing power), Mahalaxmi (symbolizing material wealth) andMahasaraswati (symbolizing wisdom). These are the different aspects of life that are governed by the subtle energy, and pooja is a way of connecting to the subtle world.
The world that we see is just a tip of the iceberg because there is so much more, and pooja (prayers) and chanting is the ancient system to connect to the other side.
Now how do we do that? We just have to sit in deep meditation and listen to the mantras; bathe in the mantras. In India it is called 'Mantra Snanam', which is just sitting down and listening to the mantras and bathing in the sound. The vibrations of these ancient chants energizes our whole self or the soul.
Though we may not understand everything that is happening in the pooja, we just sit with eyes closed or eyes open and enjoy all that is happening. That is what is called shradha, which means falling in love with the unknown.
Though we may not understand everything that is happening in the pooja, we just sit with eyes closed or eyes open and enjoy all that is happening. That is what is calledshradha, which means falling in love with the unknown. We know that there is something, but we don't know what that is. Once we fall in love with it then we start knowing it. Then you feel, 'Wow, this is an energy'. Then you realize that mother divine is not just a concept that has come from somebody's mind, but it is a reality. It is a reality of the universe. The subtle energy is so real.
So until this becomes so real and obvious, we start loving this unknown.
There are two steps:
1. Love the unknown, and once you do that
2. You start knowing the unknown
When you know it, you realize it is a part of you and not different or away from you. This is the Veda and the Vedanta, i.e., knowing the divinity and merging into it.
Today is also the New Year for all Gujaratis. Happy New Year to all the Gujuratis and Happy Diwali to everyone else! It is so good to begin the New Year with prayers to mother divine and all the seen and unseen divine expressions.
All of us sitting here together in pooja, meditating together and singing together is calledyagna. Now what does yagna do? It brings swasti (health and centeredness), shradha(unshakable faith), meta (awakened intellect). Faith and intellect are often considered to be opposing to one another, but in a yagna both get sharpened. Faith gets deepened and reasoning becomes very sharp.
Like this there are many benefits of yagna: yasha (good name), pragya (heightened consciousness), vidya (education), buddhi (knowledge), balam (strength), veeryam (valor), ayush(long life), aishwaryam (wealth), and many many more.