Q: Gurudev, success to this world means money, power and fame. How does one know if we are successful? Is there any measure? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: To me, the sign of success is a smile. The number of smiles that one has in their day-to-day life indicates how successful one is.
To me, the sign of
success is a smile. The
number of smiles that
one has in their
day-to-day life indicates
how successful one is.
You may have a big bank balance, a lot of money. But, if you can’t smile, if you are tensed, upset and angry, would you call such a person successful?
Someone who is unfriendly, tensed, worried, can’t sleep, can’t even eat because of cholesterol, diabetes; would you call him a successful person?
Often, people spend half of their health to gain their wealth. Then they spend half their wealth, to gain back their health (which does not come). This is not a sign of success. To me, a sign of success is confidence. Even if you lose everything, if you have confidence, then you can recreate everything again, and that is success.
There are ample of examples. There are businessmen, who rose to the top, and with one uncalculated movement, they lost it all. They came way down, and still, they built their businesses again.
You can see this in the Sindhi community; they were living in Karachi with such comforts. Similarly, the Kashmiri pundits in the valley had huge bungalows, apple gardens, saffron gardens; suddenly, they had to leave everything.
The same with the Asian migrants from Uganda, they had nothing when they left the country. Generations together lived in Uganda, and owned big factories. One fine morning, they had to leave the country with one suitcase.
I met a Gujarati gentleman in London. This man had a huge television factory, about 15 to 20 years ago, in Uganda. He had many Rolls Royce cars, and lived a very comfortable life. One morning, the Asians were asked to leave the country. With just one suitcase, they arrived in London, as refugees. This man and his wife, in their fifties, were selling hot dogs on the streets. He said, ‘Gurudev, we have never worked so hard.’ Look at this!
Now this successful businessman rose again to be an industrialist there. Once you have the zeal, you can gain back the wealth.
The same situation occurred for the Sindhi community. They were rendered as homeless refugees in India after the partition. Today, the Sindhi’s are governing and managing all the wealth, wherever they are. The same with the Kashmiri pundits; they were rendered homeless. Many of them who had the zeal to do business came to Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, and started something.
Success is an attitude, it is not a phenomenon.
When you agree to be bogged down, that is the sign of failure. Resist getting bogged down. Just like a candle. You light a candle and turn it upside down, the flame always goes up, and it never goes down. In the same way, if we can have the enthusiasm to say, ‘I can make it, I can rebuild my business’; that is what I would consider a sign of success.
Often, people spend half
of their health to gain their
wealth. Then they spend
half their wealth, to gain
back their health. This is
not a sign of success. To
me, a sign of success is
confidence. Even if you
lose everything, if you
have confidence, then
you can recreate
everything again, and
that is success.
Q: Though India has all this spiritual knowledge, why are there so many problems here? Why are we lagging behind? Why are crimes increasing? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you turn back and see, 20 years ago, we didn’t have so many hospitals. Today, we have so many more hospitals, super specialty hospitals; still people are sick. Are the hospitals responsible for sick people? Certainly not. In spite of hospitals, people are still getting sick; that means we have to upgrade, give more medical aid, and lifestyles need to change.
We have to give our people good values and culture; like offering namaskars (greetings) to seniors, lighting lamps in the house, sitting and chanting a few shlokas. It would be good if families do this. You should sit with the whole family and have at least one meal together at home. Then the bonding in the family increases.
Family values should be held high. In the old times, business families had a lot of values. Any charitable activity in India was done by the business community or kings. Business people were called shresthas, meaning, great, or elite. The whole community was called great.
If you go anywhere in India, any pilgrimage center in India, all the shelters were built by them. The lakes, wells, schools, they were all built by the business community. So, the community itself got the name, ‘the most benevolent; the great community’.
Somewhere these values are eroding, family values are eroding. At home, people should cherish these values. We have to bring them back.
Q: Gurudev, a lot has been said of Chanakya Neeti and his ways of administration. Is it still applicable in these times? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, definitely. Chanakya Neeti means skillfully bringing everybody together; that is what Chanakya did. India was fragmented into many small kingdoms, it was Chanakya who united it and made India one huge empire.
In the Arthashastra (an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy), in the rules on economy, he has given many little formulas that hold good even today.
Indian economists have always praised Chanakya, and the skill with which he dealt with every situation. Anyone who is very skillful and very clever, they call him Chanakya here; so, it is a title. It is a state of mind where you want to make progress fast, still be skillful, and take on challenges as an opportunity. Then, you can give the title to yourself.
You could be a Chanakya if you have all the skills to face all the challenges, and get what you want.
Q: Gurudev, you were talking about Chanakya, he is known for his skill and intelligence. Was he born like that or did he build it over time? Are skillful people born like that or they build it over time? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I can’t tell you about Chanakya, whether he was born skillful or he developed skills; but, I can tell about you. If you want to be skilled, you can always develop on your skills. Otherwise, there is nothing called skills training. You have potential in you. Recognize the potential in you, and then develop on it. The basic ingredient is already present.
You light a candle and
turn it upside down, the
flame always goes up,
and it never goes down.
In the same way, if we
can have the enthusiasm
to say, ‘I can make it, I
can rebuild my business’;
that is what I would
consider a sign of success.
Q: Gurudev, what use is my humility if I am not successful? Humility without success doesn’t really mean anything. What do you think? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Arrogance is not going to bring you success, either. Humility does not mean being wiggly, wiggly. Humility does not need to be that way. Humility is friendliness, simplicity, and being natural. If it is that much, it is always good.
You cannot be successful in business by being arrogant. If you are arrogant, you will make more losses than gains. This is my understanding; you all should have better experience with it.
Q: Gurudev, tapasya is doing something that you don’t enjoy doing. My work these days has become tapas for me. Should I endure it thinking of it as tapsya, because I don’t want to run away from it? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Very good attitude; it is the right attitude. Often, one takes up a project, then they don’t like it, and they don’t want to continue with it. It is wise to think of it as tapasya (a penance), and continue doing it.
Q: : Gurudev, on 3 February, you inaugurated the ‘Volunteer for a Better India' program in Ram Lila Maidan, New Delhi. There were lakhs of people who came together, and pledged for a better India. So many NGOs came together. However, there was hardly any media coverage. Would you want the media to be more involved? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sensational news is what the media is interested in. Unfortunately, that is what the state of affairs is; good news is no news. If there is a problematic thing, or anything that is controversial, then it draws more attention.
I often tell the media that they have a responsibility to keep the facts as they are; at the same time, not lead the society towards depression.
You have seen, just one event in Delhi was played for 24 hours, for a whole month, and it still continues.
I have heard hundreds of calls from people who said, ‘I can’t sleep, I feel so much anxiety’, or, ‘I feel like I can’t even walk in the streets of Delhi’. People became sick listening to it.
I told them, ‘Stop watching news before going to bed’, because it is the negative news you hear that creates fear in you.
So, media has this responsibility to project something positive also; that is essential.
Q: Gurudev, do you have any plans to start an Art of Living channel? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, starting one positive channel will not work. We need to have all the channels becoming positive.
Are you doing media studies? I would like many of you to go in to media, and change the media.