QA with Sri Sri
Q: Guruji, in the earlier days it was a big thing to initiate someone into Gayatri Mantra. Today, you’ll find it playing everywhere.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you take the mantra in a ceremony as an initiation, like you take Sahaj mantra then you keep it a secret.
‘Om Namah Shivaya’ when it is sung in the satsang like music then it has different value. But when it is initiated as a mantra for you which is sacred, then you keep it a secret.
So that is the attitude with it today.
Secret and sacred went together in India from time immemorial. Anything that is kept secret is considered a sacred thing, contrary to the occident. In the West, anything that you need to be ashamed of was always kept secret.
In India, you will always keep your weaknesses out in the open. Anything you feel sorry for, you will keep it open infront of your parents, or Guru or your friend. Untruth was never kept a secret but was kept open.
So secret is always something that is sacred and respecting the secretness is considered a very big virtue.
In the west sacred was never kept a secret. Anything you need to be ashamed of in your life was always kept secret. If you are keeping a secret, that means you are hiding something, you are away from truth. But here in India, you are close to the truth when you keep something secret. These are two very different attitude towards secrecy.
In the west, secrecy is deceitful, trecherous, untruth, cunning and dishonest. These are the attributes that are conjoined with secrecy.
In India, anything that is secret is reverent, is holy, is personal, is intimate, is uplifting, is love and is connecting to the infinity, to the divinity. These are the attributes joined to secrecy here. That is why mantras are given as a secret.
When Gayatri Mantra is given, they take a blanket and cover the parent’s, the child’s and the teacher’s head and then the child will be given the mantra secretly in his right ear.
And the mantra is: Let the infinity, let the divinity dawn in my mind and my intellect.
This is how the mantras are given in a very secret manner.
In those days especially Gayatri Mantra was not given to people for one reason: because it is very powerful. People would think, it is a very powerful thing and if everybody becomes powerful then the ruling kings would become weak.
Also, they tried to avoid giving it to women. It was a male dominated society and men were scared that if women practiced the Gayatri mantra they would attain enlightenment. Women tend to attain perfection sooner.
They thought, 'as it is there is trouble at home; if she curses me, I shall lose everything.'
This is wrong. That was not there originally.
Out of fear men took away the technique of mantra chanting from women. But nowadays, women are awakened and aware.
Mantras can be chanted by everyone. Some thousands of years back this ‘males only’ tradition started in India, previous to that it was not there. Men and women had equal rights. Sometime along the way, the priests, kings and ministers, in collusion, decided that only men should chant mantras. That is now a thing of the past.
So when you are given the Sahaj mantra, keep it a secret, but you can chant the other mantras aloud. There is no harm in chanting mantras aloud.