Q: Gurudev, it is said that chanting the name of Narayana (Lord Vishnu) in the last moments of our life brings one liberation. Is it true that the last act of life is the strongest in determining our way forward? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it is true. It is at the time of death that the mind separates from the body. So at this time, whatever impression one bears in the mind become the reason for the next birth. This is a scientific truth.
You can see this for yourself. If you observe, the first thought on your mind when you wake up in the morning will be same thought that you had before you went to sleep.
It is at the time of death
that the mind separates
from the body. So at this
impression one bears in
the mind become the
reason for the next birth.
This is a scientific truth.
Now, usually your mind is so consumed with thoughts of something or the other, that at the time of death, you may not even remember to chant Narayana. That is why the ancient people have said, keep remembering God all the time by chanting His name (Narayana). Remember him every night before sleeping; while you take a shower; even while eating your meals, remember him and thank him for the food you receive.
Before starting something new, remember Him to make it an auspicious beginning.
The ancient people were very intelligent and they made it a custom.
So, whenever one opens a new shop, the first thing they must do is naam smaran (remember the name of God), and then they start the shop. If one buys something new, they must remember Narayana and then begin.
We all do this, is it not so? We do this even today.
If you are going to write an examination, you think of the Divine and pray that the questions in the examinations are easy, and that you are able to write the answers properly.
Everyone prays, whether kids, adults or old people; all of them pray. But they do it out of fear. I would say, don't do it out of fear, rather to do it out of love; out of a deep sense of gratitude.
When you pray with love and faith that is when you blossom.
What is the difficulty in remembering the Divine before starting any new work? You can chant and remember the Divine by saying anything that you like. You can say Narayana, or Jai Gurudev, or even Om Namah Shivaya. Whatever name you like, say that.
Otherwise you keep singing all sorts of songs in your mind while having bath, or while eating food, like ‘Dafliwaale Dafli Bajao ‘ (O drummer boy, play me the drums!) What else would a drummer boy play for you if not drums? Is this a song?
Now I have not heard any of the recent songs, as I have not gotten the time. But there must be some songs that have come up recently that have no meaning at all.
There is a song called, 'Kolaveri di’ which seems to have become very popular. Many people do not even know the meaning of the song. Do you know what the meaning is? In Tamil, the expression 'Kolaveri di’ means 'I feel like killing someone.'
Is this is a good song, something which means that you feel like killing someone? That is why I say, just do naam smaran. Chant Om Namah Shivaya, or Omkar (Om) mantra. Chant whichever one that you like with a feeling of devotion.
See, I am not putting down any song, if you want to sing, it is okay to sing Kolaveri Di also; no problem. But sometimes a catchy tune like this will keep going on and on in your mind and it will affect you.
It is good that most of the people do not understand the meaning of the song. If they knew the meaning, and sang it along with the meaning then there would have been problems. It is in another language; it is in Tamil.
When you know the meaning of a bhajan and you sing it with a feeling of gratitude and devotion, it has a profound effect on your life.
Every word has a vibration of its own, and when we speak good words, the vibrations from those words have the power to purify the mind, and purify life.
By chanting and speaking positive, both the mind and the body get energized. That is why it is said to do naam smaran.
Do it at least two times in the day. Like I said, in the morning before having the first meal of the day, remember the Divine by chanting his name.
Usually your mind is so
consumed with thoughts
of something or the
other, that at the time
of death, you may not
even remember to chant Narayana. That is why
the ancient people have
said, keep remembering
God all the time by
chanting His name
I keep telling everyone that before eating food, chant this mantra, ‘Annadaata Sukhi Bhavah’ (May the provider of my food be blessed with peace and prosperity).
This mean that may the ones who have gives me this food be blessed with peace and happiness. So give this blessing with all your heart.
By chanting this mantra, you pray that the lady of the house who cooked and served you food is blessed with peace and happiness. Also, the merchant who purchased and brought the food grains to your home, may he be blessed, and lastly you bless the farmer who cultivated and grew the crops from which you got your food. So by saying this chant, you bless him as well. This is such a good thing!
Similarly, first thing in the morning, when you wake up say ‘Om Namo Narayana’ or ‘Om Namah Shivaya’.
When something goes wrong, say, 'Hey Ram!'
If someone dies, chant 'Ram Naam Satya Hai' (The name of Lord Rama alone is the ultimate truth).
What is the difficulty in just remembering the name of God? There is no difficulty at all.
When you enter the car, say ‘Om Namo Narayana’, and then sit in the car. Before you get out of the car also, do naam smaran (remember the name of God) and then get out.
In this way, you will make it a habit to do naam smaran, is it not so? So during your last moments, at the time of death, when the Prana (life force) is about to leave your body, then also you will do naam smaran because it will come to you naturally at that time, and this will uplift you in a great way.
Q: Gurudev, I want to know how far I have progressed in my spiritual development. These days I have even stopped running behind your car. Does this mean that I have grown spiritually, or does this mean that my devotion towards you has decreased? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This only you can know.
Once you have come on this path, you will progress. You will only move forward.
See, do not measure your growth by whether or not you run behind my car. Never do that. How centered have you become? This is what you need to see. The more centered you become, the more you have progressed on the path.
Wherever you are, be there and become still. Bring your mind to the self.
What you need to remember is that there is no lack of devotion in you. Do not even think that you do not have enough devotion. Yes, sometimes devotion may get hidden, but that is only for some time, soon it will come up again.
Feelings cannot always be constant. Our passion also will not be the same all the time. There will be ups and downs.
Feelings are not like stones, they are like water. Just like how ripples arise in water, the same goes for feelings as well. Feelings arise and then they settle down, and then again they rise. This is only natural. That is why love and longing always go together. You sometimes feel intense longing, and sometimes you feel an abundance of love, and then again you experience longing and then intense love. This will keep on happening in life.
Q: Dear Gurudev, you have spoken about the three kinds of devotees. Are there different flavors of masters as well? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, definitely!
History has seen many different types of masters. In fact they are all very unique and everybody is different. There are people with a little more rajasic gun and a little tamasic gun, while some are more satvic.
The other day, I was mentioning, long ago in the early 80s when I was just around 23 or 24, I visited a saint on the outskirts of Delhi. This saint said to me, 'If it is 24 carat gold, you cannot make any ornaments out of it. You have to add some copper or something to it, only then does it become an ornament.'
He said, 'You too have to add something. You cannot be 24 carat gold, otherwise you cannot be useful to everybody.'
I said, 'No Baba, let me be only 24 carat. Whatever happens let it happen.'
He said, 'You can spread very fast. Why don't you learn about Tantra. Learn about some spirits and then you can control some spirits and do some magic.'
I said, 'I do not need to do any of these', I know they do not lead you to the highest.
So there are people who do a little bit of these miracles, but it lasts only for a short period of time. Later on what happens, the spirits from who you take work, they will take toll on you.
All this lasts for a very short span of time, it is not something that stays with you.
That is why, pure satvic knowledge, harmonious knowledge is the best, and it is long lasting. There is no tamo gun or rajo gun in that. The impact is permanent, long lasting, and it takes you to the highest; nothing short of the highest.
This saint was a very nice saint, not that he was bad. He was very nice person. He was in his 70s or so in those days, and he just made a suggestion. When I said no, he really appreciated it, he said, 'Yes, this is good.'
Perhaps he wanted to test me to see if I could be tempted to do something.
Everyone prays. But they
do it out of fear. I would
say, don't do it out of
fear, rather to do it out
of love; out of a deep
sense of gratitude. When
you pray with love and
faith that is when you
Q: When we meet someone for the first time, opinions and judgments are formed naturally. We like someone in the first meeting and we dislike some people for no reason at all. Why is it so Gurudev? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is how it is. The world functions on vibrations and we all work on vibration. Some people’s vibrations are more pleasant and you respond to it easily. Some others’ vibrations are a little repulsive.
When you very centered, you will not find anybody with whom you feel a repulsive vibration with, and there will be nobody that can shake you off your center. That is the most desirable state - where there are no cravings and no aversion; no repulsion or no compulsion, or attraction. Then everything looks charming. Everybody is in harmony with you and everything is in harmony with you. That is the inner bliss that is expanded all around you.
Q: Gurudev, you said that the knowledge of sleep brings freedom. What does this mean? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Knowledge of sleep and dreams can take you into a different state of samadhi. It is one of the techniques mentioned in the Yoga Sutras by Rishi Patanjali.
Maharishi Patanjali has said the sutra, 'Swapnanidrajnanalambanam va'
This is one of the samadhis that he mentions while describing the different types of samadhis.
If you are aware of how sleep is dawning on the mind, in between the sleep and waking state, there is a spark of total stillness. I am saying only spark of stillness because stillness is so dynamic, so alive. That is what he is talking about.
So if you notice, just before falling asleep, or as soon as you wake up, you are neither fully asleep nor fully awake, in that gap, there is certain peace, a certain quality of consciousness which is so beautiful, so soothing and so healing. That is what is mentioned there.
Q: Gurudev, when longing becomes intense sometimes, it ends up with the feeling of anger or frustration. How to deal with it? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Longing needs to be internalized, you need to go deep into meditation. Or give a creative form to it, write some poems or articles. Writing will help.
You know, a lot of great works have come out of longing, whether it is painting, music, drama, literature, all these have come out of deep yearning.
So give your longing a creative direction; or internalize it, go deep in meditation.
Q: Gurudev, it is said that power corrupts. Would you speak about the way one can handle power? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Power corrupts when your intentions are not correct. When your intentions are not right, you try to gain power in a corrupt manner.
Some say, power is poison. I agree with it if you are using it for your selfish reasons. But if you are using power for service, then it is a tool. If your intention is to serve people, power is just a tool.
Q: Gurudev, it is very easy to be grateful when things are going well. How to feel grateful and be aware of your grace when things are not going well? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Remember how in the past tough times have become easier. You sailed through the tough times. That will give you the confidence and instill stronger faith in you.
Q: Gurudev, technology brings comfort, but it also increases pollution. Comfort versus environment, what should be the criteria for development? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Technology need not be always against environment.
Today technology is advancing towards being more and more environment friendly. So we can have technology and still care for the environment, but environment is very important. It is more important.
We need to learn to how
to handle our own mind.
It is the mind which
plays so many tricks on
you. Your mind could be
your best friend if it is
under your reins, and
it is your worst enemy,
if you are under the
influence of your own
Q: Gurudev, how to ensure that a person does not take you for granted in a relationship? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don't worry about it, it is quite natural.
People take you for granted because they think you belong to them already, and so they only attend to people who are guests.
You are a part of the family, why should anybody tell you, 'Have you had coffee? Are you going to eat now?' It is not normal!
If someone asks a little too many questions, then also you will doubt, 'Why are they giving me so much attention. Something must be wrong.' You start doubting.
The other day, one gentleman told me, 'Gurudev, when I attend to my wife, and be a little nicer to her, she starts doubting, she says that there is something wrong and asks me, 'What is the matter? You must have done something wrong. You are not being honest.' If I am normal, then she says that I ignore her. What to do Gurudev?'
So when someone wants to doubt you, in any case, they will start doubting you.
He said, 'It is very hard. If I come half an hour late, she sits on an enquiry commission, 'Where did you go? What time did you leave office? What happened? She will ask me all these questions.'
That is why I say, we need to learn to how to handle our own mind.
It is the mind which plays so many tricks on you. Your mind could be your best friend if it is under your reins, and it is your worst enemy, if you are under the influence of your own mind.
Q: Gurudev, wherever Lord Krishna used to go, there quarrels and fights would begin. But wherever you go, differences comes to an end. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, when people get the news that I am coming to their city or town, that itself creates so many fights between people. One will say, 'Gurudev will travel in my car.' Another will say, 'He will stay at my house.' The third will say, 'He will have food in my place,' And because of all of this, fights start happening.
But after my visit, people do get happy. I ensure I make them happy.
Q: Gurudev, how can I take my marital relationship to the next level, rather than it just being an ordinary relationship of a husband and wife? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Both should move ahead together and support each other.
Sometimes, it may happen that one partner may lose interest in a marital relationship, while the other may still be interested. Then it may seem like things are not working out. This could happen. But even then, you need to support each other. Both should move ahead together.