Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: I feel that India’s socio-economic problems are a lot based on over population, do you agree?
Sri Sri: No, no. India’s problems are not based on over population, they are based on corruption. The problem is because of corruption. Population was thought to be a curse till a few years ago but today it’s the population that is the basis for improving the economy. Population means big market, why would other countries look at India? Because it’s a huge market.
Q: I am from Rajasthan, there are many ashrams in Rajasthan and I was thinking that if a small ashram of The Art of Living is built there, that would be a very nice thing. What are your thoughts?
Sri Sri: Alright, build an Ashram, all of you get together and make one. I make people, you make the Ashram. Just yesterday we were discussing that there are so many ashrams but there are no people. In the ashrams, there are no Yogis. So that is why I thought first, let’s make strong people and that is why I called this ‘Vyakti Vikas’ not ‘Ashram Vikas’. So now this work you do, the other work I have already started.
Q: Dearest Guruji, if Shiva is the potential of this universe, then what is Narayana Tatva?
Sri Sri: Narayana is the manifestation of Shiva tatva in the human system. Shiva tatva is the un-manifest absolute; Narayana is the manifestation of it. Like water vapor or humidity in the atmosphere, you don’t see it but when the clouds pour you see the rain. So water is Narayana and the water vapor is Shiva tatva. That is why when you see Swamis and Sanyasis or Yogis you say, ‘Om Namo Narayana’.
Q: I belong to a particular sect of Islam. I see a lot of violence associated with Islam. Why are there religious conflicts in the World today? Is there any Supreme power behind it, something supernatural? Why don’t we follow our paths, celebrating all religions? Why do there exist seemingly different words of the Masters of different ages and times and places?
Sri Sri: In those days, communication was not so good, there were no telephones. For people to go from here to there and there to here would take years, not just months. So at that time what was prevailing in that area, that is what Masters or Gurus or Saints spoke more about. Muhammad spoke about Judaism and Christianity, he didn’t speak about Hinduism or Buddhism because it had not reached that area then; but he said for every tribe a different wisdom has been given. He also said, ‘So many prophets have come before me, honor them all.’ That’s what he said, be at peace and honor everybody.
He said about one lakh prophets have come before me, if you count those hundred thousand it will include many Rishis and Maharishis, and all the Masters who have come to the planet. Unfortunately, after his demise, the religion became very much restrained and it started restricting people.
Mohammed gave so much freedom for women at that time but then later on it changed. You know it happens in every religion, as times goes, distortion happens. Whatever the original prophet said that doesn’t stay on, it doesn’t remain, things change.
See today, in Pakistan, everyday there is a bomb blast that too in mosques because one sect of Islam thinks only they are correct and everybody else is wrong. The Wahabi sect thinks everyone else, even Sufis are wrong. So it is mainly the religious leaders who create more of these problems and not the founder of the religion. The founder of all religions would have just said, go on the spiritual path, go within and connect yourself to the Divinity. They would have all recommended yoga, chanting and meditation. So, unfortunately, we leave the cream of the religion and get to the outer shell and people are fighting unnecessarily. That is why we should turn to spirituality.
The main message of the Prophets is: Have peace with yourself, peace in your environment and peace in the world. Second is love all and serve all, third is to believe in one God but in many names, that is it.
There is one Divinity in many names and in many forms. Love and compassion for everybody and peace in your heart, if these are there then you don’t have to listen to anybody who tells you that you should not do this because you are not this or that.
Q: Guruji, my wife and me separated two years back, we want to remarry now. You can say in our case our divorce did not work but we both are scared, are we committing the same mistake again? Please guide.
Sri Sri: It’s a good intention that you want to make it work. As time goes your consciousness changes, your mind changes, and you are understanding changes. In this changed scenario if you feel like giving another try to make things work, there is nothing wrong, try it anyway. If it doesn’t work, then don’t choose the same partner in the next lifetime.
Q: Dear Guruji, my business keeps me busy but I have this urge of doing some seva. Is there something that I can support financially without giving too much of my time? Will that be counted as seva?
Sri Sri: Yes, that is okay. Some can give time, some can provide resources. Seva happens with both time and resource. So if you can’t give time you can put your resources into that.
Q: Guruji, you asked us to be dispassionate and you also say that dispassion is a happening. I really want to be dispassionate but I am confused how can I create a happening in my life? Please guide
Sri Sri: Dispassion is not a happening; I would say dispassion is what you invoke in yourself. When you widen your awareness, when you see everything is going to disappear and death is imminent, we are all going to die and everything is changing; when this knowledge comes - then dispassion is spontaneous. You need to understand and see life from a broader perspective and then automatically dispassion comes within you; but there is some effort. A little effort from you and then it will happen.
Q: Is Lord Vishnu’s task easier or is your task here on Earth easier?
Sri Sri: Look I do not do any comparison. If my task is easy or difficult, I don’t go and discuss it and think about it. Whatever it is, if it is difficult we have to do it, if it is easy we have to do it and it is all happening through the Vishnu shakti only. Vishnu is not somewhere sitting in the Waters, Vishnu is the one which has His existence in each and every inch of this Creation.
Q: We always perform Tarpana on Amavas in reverence of the departed souls of the beloved ones, is it really something scientific or just a ritual?
Sri Sri: Well, Tarpana means ‘to satisfy.’ ‘Tarpa’ comes from ‘tripti’, which means fulfillment. Your ancestors had some wishes. Fulfilling them or taking them to be fulfilled, don’t crave for anything. That is exactly what Tarpana is: remembering the people who have departed once in a year.
In Christianity and in Islam also they do this for departed souls, particularly once in a year. So in India, in the ancient days, on amavas (moonless night) they kept remembering all the ancestors and they kept the full moon day to remember all the different manifestations of the Divinity. It is not only that every amavas you have to do something, but remembering them and doing some good work in their memory is good.
Q: Dear Guruji, generally one of these shaktis are predominant in us: either Brahma shakti, Vishnu shakti or Shiva shakti. How to use them and how to balance them?
Sri Sri: Simply do it! That’s it. Brahma shakti: you create but don’t just drop it. Vishnu shakti is to see that whatever you start, you continue.