Being human beings, we all have some responsibilities and some needs. If we sit and make a note of our responsibilities and our needs, and if we find that our needs are more than our responsibilities, then life will lead to misery. If we take more responsibilities and have fewer needs, then we will be happy. This is the secret, and it is simple. Today itself, sit and make a note of all your responsibilities and all that you want for yourself.
Now, God has given us an intellect and we need to make use of it. An intelligent person will see and know that when everyone is happy, then he can also be happy. ‘When my family is happy then I can be happy.‘
So what do we need to do? We need to understand our responsibilities. First we need to understand our responsibilities towards our family. Then we need to understand our responsibilities towards society. We need to think how we can be useful to the society, and then what can we do for the entire nation.
We need to think on these three levels, i.e., responsibilities towards family, towards society and towards the nation.
The more responsibilities we take, the more we grow in our abilities and our strength to do work increases.
Now, having desires is very natural. But if we are unable to fulfill our desires or we don’t have the means to fulfill them, then we must pray! In life, effort and prayer both are essential. Some people just pray and don’t put any effort, this will not work. And there are some people who get tired of putting efforts and even then they don’t pray. They are also unable to achieve success.
This is why in our scriptures it has been said, Purusharth (effort) and Samarpan (surrender). These two should go together. We need to do as much as we can do and surrender the rest to God.
The purpose of my coming here is to remind you of this. To remind you that there is a Divine power sitting inside you and by any means you must connect with that power. Let that connection happen between you and Divine power within. Once that connection is made, then there will be no lack of anything in life. See, a wealthy person will give money and knowledgeable person will naturally give knowledge. But if one does not have knowledge, how can he give knowledge? Similarly, one who is liberated, only he can liberate others. If one is stuck in bondage, how can he liberate anyone? And if he can’t liberate anyone then where is the question of love, meditation, celebration, bliss. All these are far off things.
But once you gain that inner freedom in your heart and that inner freedom in your mind, you experience such blossoming that no one can take your smile away from you.
Everybody is looking for such a smile, and for joy that does not diminish or disappear.
What do we need to do to achieve this? We need to awaken that faith that is within us.
When we are happy, then we can spread happiness to others. Those who are contented in life can bring contentment to others as well.
In our country, we have a custom of taking blessings from the elderly whenever we are about to begin some good work or a new task. Do you know why?
There is a very scientific reason behind this. It is said that once a person becomes contented, any intention that arises in his mind becomes fruitful, and so their blessing is very powerful. If a person is miserable himself, then how can his blessings bear any fruit?
So the ability to bless others comes to us spontaneously when we become contented from within. We need to be contented, at least for some time. With contentment comes the power to bless.
Why do we go to Gurus or to saints? Because they are contented, and when they give blessings for something, the work gets done.
Doesn’t it work? How many of you are getting what you desire? See!
Now, how and when will we achieve such contentment?
Contentment can come by sitting with a contented person; or through satsang. If you sit with a frustrated person, you will become more frustrated. A restless person will spread restlessness. The happy and contented will spread happiness and contentment.
So the secret behind this is simplicity and naturalness. We must be simple and natural. Till now, we have been doing everything in a formal manner.
People came and we welcomed, greeted and garlanded them and gave them respect. These are formalities, and no doubt and they have their place in life. But, we should not get stuck in formalities.
For example, you buy garland from a shop and it comes in a plastic bag. Now, the bag is not the main content but what is inside the bag is the main thing. We need to reach inside the bag.
Similarly, in life this is what we do. We take the plastic bag and think the bag is the main content, like how we live life with formalities, without any belongingness.
It is when belongingness increases that corruption ends, and everyone feels to be our very own. No one is a stranger.
When there is belongingness, life is enriched. And when each person feel enriched, society is enriched. This is because society does not progress with philosophies, but it progresses with the progress of each individual, and it is the individual that directs society. That is why it is important to understand each individual with an attitude of belongingness. If there is belongingness, a big change can happen, and dullness or disinterestedness in people can be wiped out.
Dullness and disinterestedness is the cause of all desires and imperfections. But if joy and bliss arise within us, then you will see everything will come to you spontaneously.
For such joy to arise in life, there are three things that are important:
1. Gyan (knowledge)
2. Dhyan (meditation)
3. Gaan (music)
Infuse all these three into your life. Do kirtan and satsang for a little time every day. Listen to knowledge for some time, engage in some service activities and sit and meditate. Being silent for fifteen or twenty minutes and becoming calm from within gives us lots of benefits. The body becomes strong, our behavior improves, mind feels pleasant, intellect sharpens, memory power increases and soul becomes blissful.
What else you need?
You have heard of the saying, ‘Ek Saadhe Sab Sadhe,Sab Saadhe Sab Jaaye.’ (If you follow one thing you will achieve it, but if you want everything, you won't achieve anything). Following that one thing is this; the self! Sit and do meditation.
In the Gita it is said, ‘Yogastha Kuru Karmaani’, one who practices Yoga become more qualified. Skills increase and success is achieved effortlessly.
So today, we will do all these three. We will sing, we will meditate, we will discuss some knowledge and we will take some vows for the society and for the country.
We all want India to emerge as a strong country. I too wish to see that happening.
We have gone into a slumber, but now we have to wake-up. We need to wake up. When the youth of the country wake up, after that nobody can stop the country from progressing. If the youths are struggling with drug addictions, violence, casteism and narrow mindedness, and they lose sight of their roots, then nobody can save the country.
I have a dream of a Divine society.
In my childhood I used to think that I will take the knowledge that we have in India to the whole world. Foreign clubs came into India, and people used to go to rotary clubs in India. So there should be some organization from India too that should be all over the world.
Today, the Art of Living has completed 30 years and it is present in 152 countries around the world. This happened very naturally. I didn’t do anything. I just had the intention and it all happened.
The knowledge in India is so great! We need to present this knowledge in such a manner that it catches the interest of the youth. This is what is happening.
Thousand and thousands of youth have joined and are joining the Art of Living and their lives have blossomed. But it is not enough; we need to reach out to more of the youth.
Addictions and violence should be removed from society. I have a dream of such a Divine society where in there is no stress, no violence or corruption.
How many of you want to be a part of it? Raise your hands.
We all need to do something to achieve this. Together we all can bring about a big change in the society.
Q: Guruji, according to Bhagavad Gita, everything that has happened, is happening and will happen is for the good. Then why is there a distinction between the good and bad?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I will send two people to you and I will ask one to praise you a lot and I will ask the other to abuse you. You will come to know the difference between good and bad easily?
One gives you pain. No one likes pain. Even an insect doesn’t want pain. That which is painful, is bad. That which gives you short term joy but long term misery, is bad.
That which makes you undergo short term discomfort and gives you long term happiness is good.
This is the measuring scale.
Q: If I have to choose between the career of my choice and that of my parents, which one should I choose?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Negotiate with them to some extent.
Tell them that you don’t like the career they are choosing. Talk to them.
Also, if they are telling you something else, they could be telling you with some broader vision. If they have a family business to take care of, they would like you to do MBA and join the business. Now if you wish to go to some other profession, then no parent having a family business to take care will approve that, because they are worried, who will take care of the business after they are gone?
So, think and act.
Many times we get confused between our hobby and profession. We want to make our hobbies as our profession and we become careless about our profession. So, discuss with your parents or talk to your teacher or professor.
Q: Why does the mind feel sad when I can’t meet you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When the hearts are connected, where is the need for a hug? There is one spirit in all of us. We all are one.
I have been to so many countries in the world. Nowhere did I ever feel that I am meeting a stranger. Whomsoever I met, I felt them to be my very own and they too experienced the same for me. So, you too see everyone with same eyes and accept everyone.
This only is the knowledge of the self, where no one seems like a stranger.
Q: Guruji, why do we exist and who are we? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is a very good question! Don’t give the question to anybody. Keep asking this question within yourself time and again. Keep the question within you.
These are some precious questions. Don’t sell them for pennies and don’t get satisfied with some little answers from here and there.
Those who answer you are doing a big injustice to you. Those who know will never answer such a question because they know it is a sign of a spark that has arisen in your brain of Vitarka (special logic). From Vitarka the knowledge of the Self dawns.
Those who know will be very happy to see it arising in you. Those who don’t know will confuse you with long explanations.
Q: How does God keep us protected? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is a wonder!
Since the moment you were born, He has protected you in many ways.
He has protected you through the love of your mother and father. From whomsoever you are receiving love; it’s all from the Divine. God only is providing you everything.
Q: We should give quality time to the Divine. Please tell us what is that quality time?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It means don’t give third grade time to the Divine.
When you have nothing else to do, you don’t have any movies to watch, there is no work to complete, then if you plan to do Bhajan that is useless leftover time. Don’t give leftover time.
Daily sit for meditation for at least ten minutes twice a day, morning and evening.
You are not doing this for God. God doesn’t want anything from you. It is for your own sake that you meditate and serve the poor and miserable and that time is the best time.
Give your efforts in service.
Q: Everyone wants liberation. But in this 21st century, what should one do to attain liberation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, every one desires for freedom!
There is a limit to enjoying pleasures, after that limit is reached then the desire for freedom starts arising.
For example, if you ask someone to eat ten parathas (flat breads) he won’t be able to do so. After six or seven parathas he will say, ‘It is enough.’
The thirst for liberation is quite natural. Each person wants to feel free from inside. This is a very natural feeling!
Q: Guruji, you are going to Pakistan. There is lot of violence there. What do you feel about the future of Pakistan?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The news of my arrival has spread over there. After so many days, they have banned a terrorist organization which is responsible for killing many of the Shia muslims. Pakistan as well is a victim of terrorism today.
I am going there day after tomorrow for a three day visit. There are many devotees there as well and they all have invited me with so much love.
When I went there in 2004, they said, ‘Guruji we waited for you for five years, now don’t make us wait for another five years’. But now I am going there again after seven years.
We have to establish a ‘peace center’ there in Pakistan.
I invite the youths here to come forward and to learn yoga and meditation, and teach others. How many of you want to become teachers? We will plan for a teacher training program for you here.
There is a requirement of meditation teachers from India all over the world. In Pakistan, around one lakh people have been reached out to through service activities by Art of Living. When there were floods in Sindh, then too people from the Art of Living set up a trauma relief camp there and a lot of work was done.
I would say, from the amount of money that India and Pakistan are spending on defense, if they would spend even one percent of that on a movement towards a peaceful resolution between the countries, and if the common man from both the countries maintain good terms with one another, then there will be no room for terrorist forces to prosper.
When we need a good doctor or a lawyer, we don’t ask him which caste or religion he belongs to. But when it is a question of politics, we get stuck to casteism. We need to change this equation. If India has to move forward, if everyone has to get economic and financial justice, then we need to come out of this narrow minded thinking.
Q: Guruji, you travel so much. You change flights and cars. You don’t even have time to sleep or eat properly. How do you manage to do all these?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When there is willingness to do, strength automatically comes. When there is some celebration or festival at your home, you too don’t think about food. You get busy with the preparations. Likewise for me every day is a celebration.
Q: Guruji, in U.P a youth is going to become the Chief Minister today. He has proclaimed that he will eradicate autocratic power that uses money or muscle strength. Do you feel that a youth can bring changes in this country?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Definitely! Youth want such a change. I congratulate Akhileshji for bringing U.P. to such great heights. And taking him as an ideal, the youth in other states should move forward. Let the youth be a part of the ministry. This is very good news.
Autocratic power using money or muscle strength should be eradicated and I would say, take spirituality along with you as well, because it is spirituality that can eradicate autocracy. The law against autocracy should be very strict.
Q: Guruji, you feel belongingness to every country, every religion and all types of people. This is your greatness. But what is that secret that they too feel belongingness to you.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Whatever is inside us is reflected outside too. The world is like a mirror. If we feel bad inside then everything outside appears bad as well. If we are good from inside and we feel good from inside, then those who come in contact with us, even if they are bad, they start becoming good.
Q: Guruji, we came to know that you visited prison today. Was that a karma of yours that led you to prison?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes! Not only today I have been there many times. Prison was the birth place of Lord Krishna (laughs). He was born in a prison.
In the prison here at Udaipur, thousands of people have done the Art of Living Part 1 course and the silence program. They have been doing the practices for many years, so today I went there to meet them. They were very happy and seeing their happiness, I also felt happy.
Also two people have become teachers after coming out of prison.
Q: Guruji, if all my work is being done by your grace, then why should I put any effort?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Then get yourself involved in service. Sukh mein seva dukh mein tyaag; this should be our motto of life. When you are happy, do some service, and when you are sad or miserable then surrender.
If you can’t let go of misery, then how will you let go of pleasure? So, serve when you are happy and let go when you are miserable.
Q: Guruji, what is it about you that just by looking at your photograph, taking your name and getting the news of your arrival, all work gets done. How can I have the same effect?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I too don’t know. I am a simple child who refuses to grow up. A child is there inside you too. Awaken that child and get rid of the stiffness that has set inside you.
Q: Guruji, today’s youth either want to sit before a computer, or want to watch TV, or want to go for parties. Where else can we encourage them to divert their energy?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is okay if they want to do these things, there is no problem, but they should also get involved in working for the society. The youth need to participate in the task of awakening the people of this country. The youth should wake up and come forward; the youth should be part of politics.
Many people don’t even go and vote because they think that all the political parties are alike and there is corruption everywhere. They sit back with such a disinterested attitude. Don’t do this!
In this society, the good people are more, but they are sitting quiet. Society has gone down not because of bad people but because the good people are keeping quiet. To inspire and motivate these people who are quiet, the youth should come forward. Then you will see our country progress in leaps and bounds.
When spirituality in our country was high, we were very prosperous. There was no shortage of any kind. One third of the world’s GDP came from India. There was so much wealth in this country. Now if you see, we are facing all sorts of losses and that is why I am asking the youth to wake up and to come forward. Come forward and eradicate ignorance and superstition. Even today, animal sacrifice is practiced in many temples. This should be stopped. Discrimination based on caste should be stopped. Many of our ancient seers and sages were born in the lower castes.
Worshiping the feet is a tradition in this country. Feet have never been considered as low or derogatory. Here in India, we do Paad Pooja (worshipping the feet), in fact the head is not worshipped, but the feet have been given importance.
In foreign countries, saying ‘my foot’ is considered as an abuse. But in India, feet are considered sacred and more significant than the head.
So if the Shudra (considered to be a lower caste in India) is compared with the feet, it does not mean they are low but it means they are more honorable. All castes and sections should be looked at equally and everyone should do their duties.
Q: Lord Rama’s war was against Ravana in Treta Yuga. Lord Krishna’s war was against the Kauravas in Dwapar Yuga. Who is your war against in this Kalyuga?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: My war is against ignorance, injustice, lack and impurity.
I have heard some people say that soul was very pure in Satyuga and eventually it became less pure, and in Kalyuga it became impure. This is complete non-sense. It is not like that.
In Satyuga also there were Rakshasas (demons) like Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, they would intervene every time someone prayed or took the name of God, and the Avtaras had to come four times to get rid of them from the Earth.
In every age, the soul is beyond time and is eternally pure. It is wrong to think that the soul has become impure.
Kaliyuga is also good. Don’t blame the time.
You have heard the saying, Kalyug Kewal Naam Adhara. Just by chanting the name of the Divine it is easy to attain God in Kalyuga. So don’t say Satyuga was better than Kalyuga.
Irrespective of the time, seekers have been doing sadhana and have attained the ultimate goal. So, you too can attain such perfection even today.
Q: In a world filled with attractions, how to preserve our customs and traditions?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Our consciousness is full of joy.
We think spirituality is boring and makes people dull and unenthusiastic, no! Spirituality is the means to living a life full of joy. A life of peace, happiness and inner contentment. Getting such an experience is what is called meditation. Once you experience meditation, then everything else starts to feel dry. Once you have established that connection with your inner self, everything on the outside starts to feel dry and unexciting.
Q: Guruji, God wants for me to become a good human being. You too want the same for me and my parents also want the same. Please tell me why did God create evil in the first place?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Who said you are bad? I never said that you have to ‘become’ good. You are already good.
Just wake up and see, you have the ability to drop all the small little habits that you are stuck with this moment.
Okay? So just drop them.
Q: Guruji, with an increase in the number of spiritual teachers and devotees, why is crime and corruption increasing as well?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, spiritual teachers are not the cause for the increase in crime and corruption.
I will ask you one question. Ten years ago, there were not as many hospitals in India as there are today. The number of hospitals has increased; so are hospitals responsible for people getting sick?
Hospitals have increased and ailments have also increased in this decade. Will you hold the hospitals responsible for the prevailing ailments? No.
In spite of hospitals, ailments are increasing.
Similarly, in spite of Saints, if crime is increasing then just imagine what the condition of India or the world would be if there was no spirituality at all. Do you see what I am saying?
Each and every village needs a saint. A Purohit (priest) is needed; a person who can uplift the people and bind them together. One who is concerned about the well being of everyone, and whenever there is some conflict, he should be there to counsel them and calm the situation down.
A person who can remove the lack, such a person is needed.
In India, we have seven lakh villages. In each village, if there are two people like this who can work for the well being of the people; teach them yoga and meditation, then the our country will transform tremendously. We need 14 lakh service oriented yoga and meditation teachers.
So you also become one among such teachers. Learn yoga yourself and teach others as well so that others too can find peace in their lives.
Q: Guruji, what are the effects of the planets and time on our lives?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Whatever be the effects, you can remove them by chanting ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, and through devotion and meditation also their effects are reduced. Nothing else is required.
In this world, every object has an impact on the other. It is said that if a butterfly flutters its wings in South America, it impacts the clouds in China. This is what scientists say.
So it is possible that the Moon, Sun and Planets have some effect on our lives, but not to such an extent that you get confused and upset. Many times, we get so caught up with astrologers and we do so many things and when we don’t get the desired result we get depressed.
We don’t need to do such things. Good and bad times come in everyone’s life. They affect the body, mind and intellect to a certain extent.
On Full Moon and New Moon days, the Moon does have an effect on the body and mind. The remedy for this is pranayama, yoga and meditation.
Q: Guruji, in the land of Rajasthan, valor and values hold a very high place. However the youth today are forgetting this and are getting influenced by western thinking. How can we preserve the Indian values in them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Definitely, these values should be preserved!
If you go for anything western, you will have to come back to the roots in India eventually. Today, even foreigners are turning towards India. They want to know about Indian culture, they want to marry according to Indian tradition, etc. The world is round; you will ultimately have to come back here even if you go west. Coming back sooner, this is intelligence.
Q: Guruji, many people have sent their problems and botherations here on the stage.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, leave all your botherations and problems here.
I have heard that nowadays there is an increase in the number of suicides and that too from affluent and educated families. I would say, if you have any such botheration or pain in the mind, know that you are not alone. I am with you! Give all your problems to me. I am with you!
Do sadhana, seva and meditation. Come forward and do something for this country.
So go back with a smile and before going to bed, meditate for ten minutes and surrender whatever you desire and sleep happily. This is the way to take a sankalpa or an intention. Take the intention and then drop it.
Q: Guruji, you have said that success in yoga is achieved by dispassion and practice. I am doing my practices, but I am married and I don’t have dispassion. How can I progress in yoga?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No! Fulfilling your responsibilities is also dispassion. Attend to your responsibilities. Do what you need to do, complete it and rest. That which you need to drop, drop it and rest, this is dispassion.
There is no need for you to leave your home and run away somewhere. You can walk on the path of yoga while fulfilling your responsibilities. Being at home also you can achieve the ultimate truth. There is no problem at all.
Q: Please give us three messages for the people of Udaipur.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Thousands of you have come here today. All of you should become volunteers and do some service. At least give two hours in two weeks for serving the society.
Every Sunday morning from 9am to 11am, all of you come together and clean the city, plant trees, and motivate people to drop addictions and stop female foeticide.
Groups of fifteen to twenty people assemble together and go to a nearby village and conduct satsangs there. Tell them some good things and make them feel that we are all one family. If all of us get together in this manner and work for the society, then we can bring a big transformation. A wave of devotion, knowledge and spirituality will arise in the country.
Q: Guruji, when are you coming into politics? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: By coming into politics, I don’t want to corner all the good people. There is a need for good people, both in the ruling party as well as in the opposing party.
It is good for a journalist, a saint and a social reformer to be impartial, and to choose and send good and authentic people forward at the time of elections. Not on the basis of caste, money or muscle power.
So I take the position of a reformer and a guide, and if youths want to come forward and get into politics, I will support them completely and encourage them to enter politics with a spiritual and service oriented mindset and not to make politics as a business.
The nation comes first, then the political party and at last comes ’me’. This should be the mindset