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.
There was a king in Arabia and he ordered some exotic vegetables from another country. Exotic is that which is not grown there. So he ordered the vegetables, and when they came the cook prepared them and served it to him. The king enjoyed it and told the minister sitting next to him about it, and the minister agreed that those were the best vegetables. So every day the same vegetables were being cooked.
On the 5th day, the King shouted that he didn’t want to see the same vegetables and that they were hopeless and they stink. The Minister agreed with the King that the vegetables were hopeless.
When someone agrees with your statement you cool down, and so the King cooled down. But then he asked the Minister, 'How come the other day you were praising the vegetables so much?'
The Minister said, 'My Lord, I am your servant, not that of the vegetables. My loyalty is towards you and not the vegetables. If you say they are no good, then they are no good'.
Similarly, in life, we have our loyalties. So we need to look into where our loyalty lies, where our preferences are and where our attention is, and set it right.
If you have a sharp intellect, then you will not repeat the mistake that someone else has done, otherwise everyone commits the same mistake and goes through the same ordeal.
In this country, we had a very nice Prime Minister, an honest man, but unfortunately his loyalty was not with the country but somewhere else. That was the cause of the big downfall of the country; scam after scam kept happening. In spite of having a very honest man at the top, we had these problems because the loyalty was not with the King, i.e., the people of the country, but with the vegetables (laughter).
Everyone learns from their mistakes, but the intelligent ones learn from the mistakes of others as well, and avoid making them in their life.
If you have a sharp intellect, then you will not repeat the mistake that someone else has done, otherwise everyone commits the same mistake and goes through the same ordeal. The sign of an intelligent person is alertness; an intelligent person watches and learns from everyone. In fact he learns more from the wicked than from the good.
In Sanskrit there is a beautiful couplet that says, 'First I salute the wicked because he is teaching me at his own cost, and then I salute the noble, as he is showing me the path'.
So first you should salute the wicked as he is falling into a pit and he is warning you not to do the same thing. So the whole of life is a learning process. And it is not that you learn and live in the future. You learn and live, together; you learn as you live. And when you are vibrant, alert and awake, then you learn every moment from someone or the other.
When you are vibrant, alert and awake, then you learn every moment from someone or the other.
There is another couplet in Sanskrit that says, 'It is because lions are lazy, snakes are scared, and intellectuals have difference of opinions, that there is happiness on the planet'.
Just imagine if lions were very active, they would have finished the forest in no time. That too, the male lion doesn’t hunt. The lioness hunts and provides food to the lion who lies down and for several weeks, doing nothing. So the laziness of the lion is a boon to the forest.
Similarly, serpents are so scared and because of their fear we are saved. And similarly, different opinions of the intellectuals makes the world a better place. Otherwise, we would have no diversity on the planet if everyone thought the same thing.
Imagine if everyone goes to a restaurant and eats only one thing, then there will be no variety in the restaurant. Diverse viewpoints make the world a better place to live in.
This are timeless wisdom, and it applies to any place and at any time.
Why don’t we introduce organic food instead of polished food for all of us here since we have got the knowledge of Ayurveda?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Do you know that all the food grown here at the ashram is organic? All the vegetables and the milk is organic; ghee is organic. Sometimes when we don’t get enough organic supplies, then we have to go for the regular one.
We need to educate the farmer to go all out into organic. There is a big disconnect between the growers and consumers.
I have heard many farmers say that they grow organic food but there are no takers, and I have heard many people say that they are not getting organic food.
We have already begun making the connect here between the farmers and the consumers.
Nowadays, a lot of incidents are happening on women. We say we are the country with the best culture, especially when it comes to respecting women, them why?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You are correct. We are not following the tradition at all. In the name of secularism, we are not following ethics at all. We have sterilized our education of all moral and ethical values, so our younger generation is becoming so self-centered and selfish, and not caring for others. This is one reason.
The second is female feticide. In many states, for every 100 males there are only 65 females. This is going to be dangerous. You can’t live in a society where the ratio of men to women is so high. We should ban sex determination in the womb. Whether boy or girl, what difference does it make? We must honor a boy baby and a girl baby as one and the same. So people should realize this and not abort a female fetus in the womb. If people realize this, then women will be safer because the ratio is what is alarming.