Q: Gurudev, we are starting the Vedic Wisdom Sessions from tomorrow with the Upanayana (holy ceremony of wearing the sacred thread). We have about a hundred people from Europe. Could you give us some directions about how this Vedic Wisdom can be used in our day to day life? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See Vedic Wisdom has been here since time immemorial. There is no fixed time as to when the knowledge began or started. It was not started by any one person alone. It was something that people got when they went deep into meditation.
Many Rishis meditated and when they meditated they heard something in the deep silence. Whatever they heard, they started saying it and asked somebody to note it down. This was then passed down from person to person by word of mouth - The Oral Tradition.
And similarly, all the other different disciplines; the Materia Medica, i.e., Ayurveda (ancient science of Medicine) was also downloaded.
Vedic Wisdom has been here
since time immemorial. There
is no fixed time as to when the
knowledge began or started.
It was not started by any one
person alone. It was something
that people got when they
went deep into meditation.
Do you know how Ayurveda was born?
Once in Central India, there was a forest called Naimisharanya. In that forest, 84,000 meditators and saints gathered. They discussed, ‘We need to do something for the welfare of the society for all times to come.' This was their intention.
So they said, 'Let us go into meditation and download the knowledge of Ayurveda; the science of life.'
But then if everyone goes into deep meditation, who will be there to scribe it. So they assigned that task to one Rishi. That one Rishi said, ‘I will be awake and write it all down. You all meditate and say whatever comes to you after going into deep meditation.'
So, 84,000 Rishis meditated, and one Rishi Bharadwaja noted it all down on palm leaves.
So, that is how the entire Ayurveda was downloaded from the consciousness and that is why even today it has stood the test of time.
Nobody can refute whatever herb they have prescribed for whatever organ. It stands as the testimony of truth even today.
Similarly the science of music was also downloaded.
In music, there are seven sounds, ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni’, and these seven sounds are connected to seven animals. Like the elephant which is so big, it says ‘Ni’.
Whenever an elephant makes a sound, there is ‘Ni’ or Nishada (a sound or a harmonic note in music).
Similarly the nightingale makes the sound ‘Pa’. The nightingale sings in the fifth harmonic ‘Pa’. Similarly the harmonic sound ‘Re’ is attributed to the Rishabha (buffalo).
So when different animals make sounds, then ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa’ is produced. But only humans can sing in all those tunes.
I tell you, Gandharva Veda has fantastic knowledge about music. Musicians should learn this. It is very interesting.
They say there are mainly 72 tunes or Ragas and these 72 Ragas have many offspring (referring to the different child ragas or tunes derived from the 72 principal ragas). And there is this one Raga called the Kharhar Priya which has two thousand offspring.
So, how the music and the tune and the tone are born is mentioned in the Gandharva Veda. It is very interesting.
Similarly Sthapatya Veda (the science of architecture and direction) talks about how to make a house and in what direction it should be in and what are the effects of these things. But many of these scriptures and this knowledge is lost today in the world. Sometime in the medieval age, all these scriptures and relics were burnt down. All this knowledge was not encouraged. Many of them are lost.
Q: Gurudev, can we also download all this as well? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, even we can download it. But it is said that so much cannot be downloaded in Kali Yuga (the last of the four stages the world goes through as part of the cycle of Yugas described in the Indian scriptures ). Tamo Guna (one of the three principal elements associated with inertia and negativity) is more prevalent in Kali Yuga, that is why more and more people should meditate, so that new things can be discovered.
When there is too much Tamas in the atmosphere, it needs to be cleared. That is why you see all these Yajnas (sacred rituals and fire offerings) happening here.
Do you know, you hardly get to see anybody else doing these Yagnas anywhere else in India with such perfection and precision.
Many Rishis meditated and
when they meditated they
heard something in the deep
silence. Whatever they heard,
they started saying it and asked
somebody to note it down. This
was then passed down from
person to person by word of
mouth - The Oral Tradition.
Q: Gurudev, why are the words, ‘Ram Naam Satya Hai’ (the name of ‘Rama’ alone is the eternal truth) chanted only after a person dies?? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: So that at least people remember it when someone dies.
People usually chant this when someone not related to them dies. When someone who is our own or related to us dies, then we do not remember this.
It is good, that at the time of someone else’s death everybody remembers that the name of God is the only truth and everything else is ephemeral and not permanent.
This custom was started to make people realize this. It happens only in North India, not in South India. In the South, they observe silence when someone dies.
Q: Gurudev, many times the mind suppresses the voice of intuition. What do we do to enhance our intuition? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are three types of knowledge that we acquire.
The first type of knowledge is called Indriya Janya Gyan. This is the knowledge that comes from the five senses, which is seeing from the eyes, hearing from the ears, smelling by the nose, tasting by the tongue and touch.
This is the most basic or fundamental knowledge.
Higher that this is the knowledge that is acquired through the intellect - this is called Buddhi Janya Gyan - the intellectual knowledge.
And even more superior that this is the knowledge that comes from within, through effortless Intuition, i.e., without the help of our five senses. This knowledge blossoms from deep within ourselves.
So these are the three levels of knowledge.
Knowledge gained through the intellect is superior to that received through the senses. And even more superior to that is the knowledge gained by intuition.
As we grow and mature, knowledge becomes more subtle and refined, because the mind also matures and becomes more subtle. The mind becomes more and more free from cravings and aversions, and then the subtle knowledge becomes available to us.
Q: Dear Gurudev, on what basis do you reward your devotees? Because I think I do not deserve even ten percent of what I have got. Is there a calculation mistake on your side? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I do not calculate. Why bother to calculate? I am relaxed. You also better relax.
It is good when we feel that we have gotten more than what we are worthy of. This makes us more humble. It takes away demand from our head because demand destroys love.
So, when we know that we have gotten more than what we are worthy of, we reel in love.
We will be grateful in our life and more will come.
The more we are grateful, more will come our way. But if we say, ‘Oh I did so much, but got little bit only, I deserve more’, when we think in that line, then complaining, grumbling, anger and frustration comes.
In life, generally, whatever we get, we should have this feeling, ‘I have gotten more than what I deserved’. This is the first point.
That does not mean you should not work. You should keep working. When you are working, you should say, ‘I have more capacity than what I think I can do.’
But when it comes to receiving, we should know that we have gotten more than what we really deserved. That will take us into a higher platform, especially in spirituality. This should be the rule.
I wouldn’t say that same thing is the rule when it comes to human rights. There if your rights are not being honored then you must demand your human rights. But when it comes to your spiritual evolution, you should know, ‘God has given me more than what I ever deserved’.
That simply says that you believe in the judgment and fairness of the Divinity.
As we grow and mature,
knowledge becomes more
subtle and refined, because
the mind also matures and
becomes more subtle. The
mind becomes more and
more free from cravings
and aversions, and then
the subtle knowledge
becomes available to us.
Q: Gurudev, The Art of Living is so popular now, yet we face a lot of difficulty at times in convincing our parents. In your time, how did you win your parents’ approval? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes. I had to work hard for it.
Do you know why have I kept a beard? No?
In Delhi, when I started teaching, many of these professors would come, because they heard of my name and that I was teaching meditation. But when they came to the venue, they would ask, ‘Where is Gurudev?’
I would say, ‘I am Gurudev.'
I looked like a small 19 years old boy and so they would not take me seriously. When I would talk they would look here and there and they would think, ‘Oh, this is a small boy talking something.'
They would not take me seriously and would not be attentive towards me at all.
Some people would say, ‘Oh, you are Gurudev’, and they would just run away and escape from there.
So then I started growing the beard to look a little older and mature.
When I came to Bengaluru, my mother was not happy seeing me having a beard. She would tell Bhanu, ‘You tell him to shave the beard’, and Bhanu would reply saying, ‘No! I will not tell, you tell him.'
So they both would have this conversation and I would hear it from the next room (Laughter).
She would say, ‘Do not tell him anything, he has come back home after a long time. Do not make him upset. Let him do what he wants to do.'
So, they both did not like me having a beard at that time. But I had to keep it otherwise people would not consider me old enough to be a teacher. They would say, ‘Oh he is a young boy.' I was anyway like a child since the beginning (Laughter). So I had to keep a beard. And once I kept it, I kept it forever.
This is the story.
Q: Gurudev, how to gain victory over our ten senses (here referring to the five Karmendriyas or sense organs of action and expression viz. the mouth, the hands, the feet, the excretory and genital organs; and the five Jnanendriyas or the five sense organs of cognition viz. the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin)? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Firstly, keep yourself busy. If you keep yourself idle then your senses will overpower you. Keep yourself busy, that is important.
Have a big goal in life, then you will not have this problem.
Secondly, you must have patience and be careful about what you eat and drink.
It is good when we feel
that we have gotten more
than what we are worthy
of. This makes us more
humble. It takes away
demand from our head
because demand destroys
Q: Gurudev, if the impression of a Karma is once formed in our mind, then to get rid of it, is it enough to have this experience of knowing that - I am not this mind and what I am, cannot be touched or affected by Karma, or is it necessary to repent and correct myself after knowing this? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, knowing this itself is enough. You must apologize and correct yourself but knowing this is very important as well.
Q: In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that ‘Of the Adityas I am Vishnu, of the Vedas I am the Samveda, of the Gods I am Indra, and among the Rudras I am Shankara. Why does he prefer one over the other? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: He always said, ‘I am the best’. So he goes for the best. So among the Vedas, Samveda is considered to be the best because it is musical. It is the mother of all music, harmony, love and devotion. So Krishna prefers one over another.
These are His preferences. He does not say other things are of lesser importance or are no good, no, not at all! He just says, ‘I am this’.
It is like sometimes you got to a restaurant and pick up certain things and say, ‘I like it’. That doesn’t mean you do not like the other things.