Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Listen, how can you believe superstition? You cannot see the bright sun in the middle of the night! Impossible, when you think something is superstition, that is the end of it. That finishes it; that is it.
Don’t force yourself to believe somebody else’s belief. Once you know it is superstition, you should move on from there. Cat crossing the road, so many times cat crosses the road. In our country, we have so many such wrong notions! In some temple, I heard, they dangle the children upside down, so they will be healthy, or something like that. These are all to be done with, this is all absurd. We should put an end to such practices.
Many such wrong practices are happening, not just in this country but all over the world. Intelligent people should wake up and stop all this. We have to do this. In our country animal sacrifices are done, offering chicken to the goddess. In all religions there are such superstitions. It is necessary to remove this. In the name of religion many such things happen.
When you refer to the shaastras, it is not superstition. The word ‘shaastra’ means systematic understanding of reality. Now I will tell you one example. People in the south used to say, ‘You shouldn’t keep your head towards the north and sleep. For many years I also used to think this was a superstition. What difference does it make which direction you keep your head. The earth is round after all. But when the scientists said that it is better to cut the magnetic field, rather than sleeping in that field, because then the magnetic current flows through your whole body, then it made sense. If the magnetic current passes through your body, then it drains a lot of your energy and you wake up in the morning, you feel still a little bit low. If you sleep cutting the magnetic field, then what happens, the magnetic field is not passing through the nervous system from head to toe, it is passing horizontally. So you feel better.
These are the things you have to understand; where is the right thing, where is the wrong thing. Let me speak about another superstition: the janeyu (the holy thread worn by Hindu men across their torso) should be wrapped around the ear before going to the toilet. I thought that this was definitely a superstition. Can one not relieve oneself, or have a bowel movement if one did not follow this injunction? Will the janeyu lose its sanctity? But a physician in New York discovered in his research that applying pressure to the nerves around the ear facilitates bowel movement. Then I realized that what is considered a superstition had some substance in it. So what we should do is, unless there is a valid reason behind it, we should consider it a superstition. But once a reason has been found, we should not continue treating it as superstition but instead we should accept it. We should never step down from a scientific temper. You should have the scientific temper.
So now he is saying that applying pressure to the nerves of the ear lowers the blood pressure facilitating bowel movement. In the lobes of the ears are present all those nerve endings that create alertness in the mind.
What punishment was given in school? They told us to hold our ears when we made a mistake. Pull the ears. Now scientists say that pulling the ears activates those neurons which are responsible for bringing alertness. Then we should consider this good. Also piercing the ears is in our tradition, to lengthen the ear lobes. Lord Buddha is depicted with very long ear lobes it is not because he has such big ears, no. It means Buddha had such high awareness that he never made a mistake.
In Tamil Nadu, do you know what they do? People they gently knock their forehead with their knuckles when they go to Lord Ganesha’s temple. That does not mean they are asking for forgiveness from Lord Ganesh for mistakes? You know the nerves that are located in the forehead region get stimulated when we knock on that area gently with our knuckles, and that increases alertness.
In our culture there is a custom where they mix some sugar and mud. Then the way to separate sugar from mud is to put it in water. So, water signifies discrimination (viveka), which means what can be proven right using discrimination, should be accepted. The other thing is, whatever sankalpa (intention) is in our mind, it begins to get strengthened. So with our own sankalpa we strengthen an idea. We need to pay attention to this fact.