Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Gurudev, Dasha Mahavidyas (ten cosmic personalities of Divine Mother) are worshipped in Navratri. What are these and what significance do they have in our daily lives?
Sri Sri: Yes, ten Mahavidyas are there. I also don’t know the complete thing about them.
Whatever Vidya (knowledge) we study and understand with our intellect is limited. What we get through silence and meditation is Mahavidya (greater knowledge).
The knowledge that we gain by effort is Apara Vidya. And the one which is gained through effortlessness, through silence and intuition is Mahavidya.
When Avidya (ignorance) is dispelled, you get Mahavidya. Also you dispel Avidya using Mahavidya. Both these things are there.
Q: Gurudev, sometimes I feel I am giving too much attention to the destination, i.e., Moksha (liberation), and so I forget the journey, i.e., life. What to do?
Sri Sri: Just Relax! This is part of life. Life is love, energy, enthusiasm and freedom. And freedom is Moksha. Moksha is not an end, at some place. Moksha is throughout life, at various stages.
Moksha means relief, and relief from work is essential. Relief from non-work is also essential. If you are simply sitting, lethargic and then you do something, you feel happy. You feel the energy. So everything is there. Just Relax!
Q: Gurudev, you consider everyone as the same, but when someone says that you are his/her Guru, I get very jealous. You belong to all of us, right? So how do I make this mind understand this? I can share everything with everyone, but how do I share you with others?
Sri Sri: If someone says ‘Guruji is mine’, you say that he is mine also! Who stopped you from doing that? If they say it once, you say it twice (Laughter). See, when you open the window of your house, the light of the sun enters your house through your window completely, doesn’t it? And if someone else opens the window of their house, the sunlight completely appears there also. Has it ever happened that the sun has shone less through your window and more in your neighbour’s window? The same is with air. Does air ever discriminate and go flow more in house and less in the other? When there is heat outside, has it happened that this house receives more heat than the other? No, Nature treats everyone the same way. Suppose you look at the full moon, the moon appears full to other people in other cities as well. It does not appear more or less in one place or the other. The full moon will appear as the full moon, no matter where you go. Suppose you are a mother of four children. Nowadays two children are more common. So, no matter what anyone may say, don’t you see all your children as the same? Will you feed only one and keep the other hungry? A mother can never do this.
So as we rise higher, an expanded sense of belongingness and a broad vision effortlessly and naturally becomes a part of our lives. Feelings of anger or jealousy do come sometimes. It is okay. So, even if these feelings of jealousy etc. come, they come and then they go away also. Only with knowledge you can deal with all these negativities and distortions.
Q: Gurudev, how do I know if I am deeply in love with a person or if it is just an attachment?
Sri Sri: Time will tell (Laughter). Always know that there is a sense of sacrifice in love, while attachment only brings misery. In the name of love, if you fall in an infatuation or attachment, then you will only get misery. But in true love, even sacrifice brings contentment. Love brings sacrifice and contentment, while attachment and feverishness can only bring misery.
Q: Gurudev, it is said that sadhana gives desired results. If a demonic person does sadhana, will he also get a boon?
Sri Sri: Yes, it has happened in the past. Ravana did so much penance. And there were so many demons that became powerful by doing penance. But because of their ego, they made some or the other mistake. That is why they were not completely successful.
Q: Gurudev, it has only been a few months since I got connected to you, and you have already made me crazily in love with you. Can I get all the love I lost over these past years? I wish to cover up the backlog.
Sri Sri: Our bond of love is ancient. The heart takes pride in the old. It runs towards the old, the ancient, while the mind on the other hand is attracted towards the new. For example our mind gets attracted towards the latest clothes, latest scientific discoveries etc. This is why science also runs towards making new discoveries and inventions. So our mind, our intellect always gets charmed by what is new. But it is not so with the heart. When we love someone, we don’t say we’ve loved them for two days or two weeks, we feel as if we have loved them for ages, even lifetimes! This is the quality of the heart, to long for that which is old and familiar. Our life is a combination of the ancient and the modern. We must take them together.
When you are in delusion, or when the heart and head are in conflict, then all kinds of quarrels are over old things. All our craving and aversions pertain to things and events from the past. One says things like – ‘When I attended your marriage 20 years ago, you didn’t wish me properly. You didn’t give me enough sweets and gifts. You did not treat me well. Your mother and father did this and that’. People keep nurturing that bitterness in their minds, even after 20 years. So people get entangled into all this because of Aviveka (lack of Viveka or right discrimination). So you should become aware of all this using your Viveka. Let go of the past. Why? When your mind or intellect keeps chewing and hankering about the past, it gets stuck in negativity and begins to rot. And when the heart runs towards (the attraction) of the new it becomes unstable. So keeping everything in its right place is Viveka. One needs both intellect and emotions to function well. Both intellect and feelings are important in a person’s life. Do business with the intellect and live life with feeling (heart). If you use your head at home and heart in the business then both will be in trouble.
Q: Gurudev, the value of the rupee is falling; I am being alienated from my religion in the name of secularism. Will we improve only we also go through what has been happening in Egypt (referring to the recent events of civil war and public unrest)?
Sri Sri: By God’s grace, may that never happen here to our country. What is happening in Egypt and in Syria should not happen to any country. Here in India, if there is any injustice being done in the name of secularism, then you alone are responsible for it, no one else. It is because all of us do not stand united against these things. We do not respect our own religion, then how will someone else respect it? Do not blame others and point fingers. We must introspect upon ourselves. There is so much communalism and casteism happening today. We are so sharply divided in the name of caste. We need to rise above this and unite everyone together with love and compassion. We need to become active and responsible citizens. If nothing else, at least once in a month or so make the effort to have everyone gather together, say in a temple or any other place. We need to do this even in villages. When we celebrate festivals, we do not make efforts to organize and celebrate together in a united way. Everyone wants their own separate celebration. When we have festivals like the Ganesha Chaturthi or Janmashtami, we do not gather together at one place and celebrate. Instead we hold separate individual celebrations in our own colonies or streets. It is all a play of the ego – everybody only thinks ‘Me’, ‘Mine’, ‘Myself’. This is the great misfortune of India. It is our bad luck that we are so divided and do not stand together as one people. We are divided on the basis of language, race, caste, state, region; even on the basis of political party etc. When all of us unite and become one, Dharma (righteous conduct) will rise and be uplifted. Then who will hurt you or bring you down? That is why it is said – “Sangha Shakti Kaliyuge” (The company or Sangha of good and virtuous people is the only source of strength in dark and evil times).
Today many people are saying they are suffering from injustice. People in Jammu and Kashmir, in Kerala often complain that they feel as if they have become second-class citizens in their own country and state. People from North-East and even in Andhra say that there is so much apathy and injustice, no one cares for them. I have heard many such things and many people come and tell me this often. In West Bengal, there is such grave injustice and malpractice happening with the majority communities. People come and cry in the front of me about this. I tell them, ‘you all should unite against injustice and stand as one. Stand on your feet. As long as you are divided and scattered among yourselves, someone else will take advantage of it’. Instead of doing so, we put the blame on others. See, everyone has a right to form their own union and have the right to make progress. So if someone is making progress, then why should we pull them down? Let them also succeed and let us also make efforts to succeed. This thought should arise within us. When I went to Punjab, the people there said the same thing – that they are treated as second-class citizens there. It is a very unfortunate thing. The same is happening in the economic scenario of our country also.
Today even in a small town there are ten different temples constructed. Now having ten temples is not a bad thing at all. But what happens is that there is a sense of competition among them all. And then there are arguments between management committee members of the same temple over petty matters. All this is Aviveka. Then they keep complaining that “We are not being treated properly; what we want is not happening”. In every sphere of life, be it religious or political or economic, Viveka is needed. All this needs a transformation and I am confident that our youth with come out of all this narrow-mindedness and bring about this transformation. They should come together and do good work.
Q: Gurudev, you had mentioned that we can never be sure of a friend or an enemy. And that one should rely on oneself. Is that being selfish?
Sri Sri: No, it is not being selfish. It is being aware that there is a bigger force that guides you in your life. So when your time is good, and when your life is in the hands of that bigger force, or the Divinity, then that rules your life. This is what we need to see.
It is that one power only that comes to you as a friend, as an enemy; as everybody. When you recognize that one thing that is present in various forms in front of you, then you are at peace with yourself.
Q: Gurudev, our conscience knows what is right and wrong. In spite of knowing that, we often do not listen to our inner voice. What is it that prevents us from listening to our conscience and how can we overcome this?
Sri Sri: It could be old habits, or the illusion that doing something else will give you pleasure. These are the only two things.
Q: Gurudev, what is a ‘Blue Star’? I have heard a lot about it. Please explain.
Sri Sri: Why don’t you ask somebody else? You can see the stars in the sky and not on land. But when someone walks as if they’re walking on the sky without their feet on the ground (meaning: being foolish or impractical), then the person is called a ‘blue star’ (Laughter). That is its meaning. Okay? In the Ashram, when a person diverges from the practical point of view, then people say he has become a blue star. No one knows what he says or does. But there is a cure for that too!