A talk given by H H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during the Curtain raiser event of Volunteer for a Better India.
As I was lighting the lamp, it took a little time. I said,'It takes a little time for the oil lamp to catch fire, but once it catches fire, it burns.'
The same goes with the people of this country. They are a little slow in the beginning, but once they begin, they don’t stop.
The sense of the entire
humanity being one family,
of belonging to each other,
is essential for us to
have an ethical and just
You know corruption begins where the sense of belongingness ends.
Nobody is corrupt within the purview of their friends and families, or with people whom they feel belong to them.
When the sense of belongingness ends, from that boundary, corruption begins.
In The Art of Living, that is what all of the volunteers, teachers and others are trying to do, i.e., expand the sense of belongingness -The whole world belongs to us.
Every community, every faith, people of all age groups, rural or urban - they are all part of us and they all belong to us.
The sense of the entire humanity being one family, of belonging to each other, is essential for us to have an ethical and just society.
Though it may sound like utopia, but we should never leave this dream. We should dream about it and move in that direction.
Even a tiny step in this right direction will take us a long way, and we have seen this happening.
Society, when it is ridden with crime and corruption, does not become safe for anyone to live in. And we don’t want India to turn into such a field of fear and unjust practices, where people don’t feel safe. This is not India. Here people would always be fearless. Every religion, every culture, every language enjoyed patronage in this land. But today we see a different picture where people have to move with different types of fear. Crime against women and crime against children are on the rise.
So we need to take this step now, to bring people together and make them feel safe and secure.
Yesterday I was addressing about 756 offenders. They are called goondas, dacoits or rowdy-sheeters.
We gave them a different name yesterday - Karnadhars, which means torch-bearer for a new light, a new hope in society.
When we heard from them how their lives changed in just a week’s time (after attending The Art of Living YLTP Program), our hopes have really touched the sky.
These people who do petty to big crimes in slums, if their minds and hearts can be changed, then we have a lot of hope. And not only hope, but this puts a lot of responsibility on us.
When we know that we can do something, we have to do it. We can’t just keep quiet.
Volunteer For A Better India is a beautiful initiative. I am sure each one of you here will multiply yourself into groups of thousands of volunteers, to bring the message of a crime-free, corruption-free and just India.
What do you say?! (All in the audience say, 'Yes').
On 1 March 2009, I remember it was you volunteers and Yes+ students who first started India Against Terrorism, because in the year 2008 India saw 13 terror attacks in 12 months, and hundreds of people had lost their lives in these attacks.
This is something that was so sad. It was so sad that we had such incidents. And it is you, the youth here in Delhi, who stood up and started this movement and invited Kiran Bedi, Kejriwal and the others. It is this movement that sowed the seed of the India Against Corruption movement in 2010.
So volunteers can do a lot and you are the real inspiring force.
Meditation provides you
that inner strength,
brings integrity in
your personality and
allows the intuition
that you already have
to manifest in life.
If the youth of India comes forward to take up these issues, of female foeticide, narcotics de-addiction programs, alcohol de-addiction programs, and action against corruption, you can turn things around.
Don’t underestimate your strength. I tell you, you can make miracles. You can turn things around 180 degrees. The youth and the younger generation of this country, it is you who have the power.
When I say youth, that is inclusive of many elderly youth here as well (laughter).
One such youth just celebrated his 56thwedding anniversary yesterday. This couple, I tell you, they are in their eighties, and the enthusiasm and the energy they have is unbelievable. This is inner strength.
Integrity and intuition can only come when there is an inner strength.
Inner strength is seeing life from a broader perspective, with love and care. Seeing life,as a short-span of time that we are going to be here, on this planet, and fixing priorities accordingly.
I want to give you an example. One of the Art of Living teachers is an IAS officer in Gujarat.
Now this gentleman was offered 51 crores just to put his signature on a paper. 51 crores!
An officer cannot dream of making 51 crores in one lifetime. Forget one lifetime,even in three lifetimes,he cannot make 51 crores.
I have not seen any officer make 51 crores, i.e., 10 million dollars.
So this gentleman was offered 51 crores and he said,'No, I won’t put my signature.'
Even if he did put his signature, nobody would have noticed it. He could have had many justification for taking that money.
He could have said, 'Oh,I will take this money and give it to the poor people, or I will do some good work in the society.'
10 million dollars is a big thing, but see the integrity of this man. He said no to that. I am so proud of this gentleman.
Now what can give you such inner strength?
You don’t have to be a recluse; of course a recluse can do it. But for a householder to refuse a huge offer like this is not easy, unless he has that inner strength and contentment.
Contentment, compassion, integrity, intuition, all these values spring out from inside of you. And that which makes these values blossom in your life, I call it as, Spirituality.
Not just repeating some prayers, and not just visiting some holy places, but living the values is what is Spirituality.
This is what real faith means, and faith is essential; faith in oneself and faith in the goodness of people around you.
Half the time we think, everybody is bad, how can I alone be correct in this society?
When you see everybody as bad, then in your subconscious mind, you justify yourself accepting corruption. You think, 'Well, this is the way of life, we have to go with the flow.'
These sort of things come to you for survival.
Now if you need to stand up, you need the inner strength, and that is what meditation is all about. Meditation provides you that inner strength, brings integrity in your personality and allows the intuition that you already have to manifest in life. I feel this is essential.
Confidence in the
goodness of society
needs to be re-established.
Unless this is done,
ethics will not survive
As I was saying, when I was interacting with these criminal elements; I should not even call them criminal elements actually; these misguided youth, I saw there is beauty in each of them. It is just that they were not given the opportunity to relieve themselves of the stress and misconceptions that they have.
They were not given the opportunity to get rid of their anxiety and tension, and realise that there is enough love in the society, and there are good people on the planet, and good people in the neighbourhood who will come and stand by them when they are in trouble.
There are people who stand with you, shoulder-to-shoulder and help you out.
This confidence in the goodness of society needs to be re-established. Unless this is done, ethics will not survive in society.
No ethics can blossom in a society or survive in society when there is no trust in human values, or no trust between the people and between the communities.
So trust in oneself, trust in the people around you, and trust in the unseen, unheard, and unknown hand that is helping us.
You can call this trust in god, trust in nature or trust in the super power.This is all essential for a just, free and a happy society.
So Volunteer For A Better India is not only going to cleanse the ills and evils of society, it has a more important role to play and that is to create waves of happiness.
Today, United Nations has started speaking in terms of GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness). No more GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
Today, United Nations
has started speaking in
terms of GDH (Gross
Domestic Happiness ).
No more GDP (Gross
Do you know, our neighbouring country Bhutan has the highest GDH.Though it was a very controlled society till recently, it has retained its happiness.
Even today in rural India, people appear to be much more happier. Even if they have just one glass of lassi (butter-milk), they will share it with you. There is so much compassion and such a sense of belongingness in them. They don’t ask you your back ground or who you are, where are you from, what is your qualification, or what is your name. They will first say,'Come in and have a cup of tea or glass of lassi.' And then they will ask you where are you from, what do you do.
So, first they stretch their hand and share what they have with you and all those questions come later on.
In metropolis like Delhi, Mumbai and all, we don’t even know who our neighbours are. Volunteer For A Better India will break these barriers, this ice, and bring neighbours together, and communities together.
Communities working together is a great joy. Not only working for female foeticide and a corruption-free society, but it also helps in bringing a wave of happiness which is a vaccination for the fast growing disease called depression.
With these words, I pray the Almighty blesses you all with a lot of strength and vigour to carry on this work, Volunteer For A Better India.
The Art of Living is just one NGO. I feel I am not trapped by The Art of Living. It is only one of the many organisations and I belong to many organisations and not only to The Art of Living.
So I hope you also feel the same way. And to all other NGO’s who are present here, we all belong to one human family with one cause, i.e., to bring more happiness and more smiles on the planet.