Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Can yagyas and mantras burn karma?
Sri Sri: Meditation and pranayam will burn karma. Yagyas also do it. However without being in a meditative space, yagyas do not give the same benefits.
Q: What is your advice for our youth?
Sri Sri: Take both, the modern and the ancient, and move ahead. The roots are spirituality, our tradition and culture. The leaves and branches are science. When you take science and spirituality together, then you will progress in life.
Sometimes in the name of spirituality, we follow superstitions or thinking we are scientific, we ignore our traditions. That is not the way. You must take the middle path. Honor and respect our traditions, have a scientific outlook and whatever good we can do for others, keep doing.
Q: Why do disasters and natural calamities happen?
Sri Sri: We are exploiting the planet, using atom bombs, bursting them under water - so many nuclear weapons are being tested secretly under the water like this. The earth cannot bear it. Trees are being cut, so many toxins are being pumped into the ground, the earth is being mined and all the minerals are being removed – all this has to change. We must promote chemical-free farming methods. Our country’s corn is small. Imported corn is bigger. Our rice grains are small, imported grains are larger. But our grains are much more healthy. We must protect our indigenous seeds. Our cow’s dung and urine has medicinal properties. Protect desi cows and seeds. Imported hybrid seeds give good yield for the first two or three years but deplete the soil completely. Thousands of farmers in Maharashtra committed suicide because of this. We must encourage natural methods of farming.
Q: Why is communism opposed to spirituality?
Sri Sri: Whichever direction you take, you will meet at some point as the earth is spherical. Communism and spirituality may seem to be opposing to each other but they will meet eventually.
Did you know that the Chinese government has added the need for spirituality in the Chinese Constitution? Prosperity, development and spirituality must be made available to every person in China.
You know, very few people hate spirituality. Look into the depth of your heart. Either there is faith or fear in the Divine. What is the most important principle of communism? That everybody should get everything. Spirituality also says the same thing. See others as yourself. See the same good in all.
Q: If all are God’s children, why is there a difference between people?
Sri Sri: We make the difference. Some get ‘A’ grades or ‘B’ grades in school. We may have different talents and qualities. Some can lift 100 kilograms, some ten and some cannot even lift two.
Each person is unique in what they can do but at another level, everyone is the same. The blood in every person is red. Whatever breed a cow may be, the milk will be the same color.
No two people will have the same fingerprints. If you look at our qualities and talents, we are all unique. At the level of love, we are all the same. There is no difference.
A small child will not eat ten idlis. If you give an adult, a small cup and spoon, will it do? Capacities are different, yet everyone is the same.
Q: What is man’s highest duty?
Sri Sri: If you think something is your duty, there is no love in it. Sometimes you even get headaches because you feel burdened by the duty. When you do something with love, that is the best. When you take responsibility with love, then it is not a burden to you. It becomes like a puja and that is the best. If you think that doing puja itself is a duty, then there is no benefit in doing it at all.
If a father thinks, ‘I have to get my daughter married somehow and get rid of my responsibilities’ then it becomes a burden. But if he thinks of her marriage with love, then the whole event is a celebration and there is joy for everybody. So, take responsibility with love and take responsibility for the whole world. Start with small steps. First your family, then neighbors, society, village - nobody should be sad in your village! This attitude will make your heart blossom. When the heart blossoms, there is happiness. Divinity resides in a blossomed heart. You don’t have to go anywhere and search for the Divine. His home will be in your heart.
Q: When everything is God’s will, why is there a need for spirituality?
Sri Sri: We are made up of both, matter and spirit. The spirit needs spirituality, the body (matter) has some material needs and our spirit is nourished by spirituality. You cannot live life without spirituality. Do you want peace? Do you want joy? Do you want happiness? We think spirituality means going to a temple, church or a mosque. Spirituality is human values. Without human values, life is meaningless. If someone asks, why do you need human values, you would say, it is a silly question. There is no point in living like an animal, when you are a human being. Living with human values is being human.
Man has some needs and takes responsibilities. When needs are less and responsibilities are more, life is good. When needs are more and responsibilities are few, life is not so good. Some needs could be there but if you take very few responsibilities, then you are unhappy. It is not a spiritual life. Bharathiyaar, Kamraj and Gandhi took responsibility for the whole country and see the way they lived - their needs were minimum.
Take more responsibility. If the father does not take responsibility for the children and their needs, will they listen to him? Only those who take responsibility, gain authority. People in politics ought to take responsibility for the whole nation. But if they rise in power by corrupt means, the fall is certain.
When we take more responsibility, how do we manage them? The ability to take responsibility beyond our capacity and manage it comes from spirituality.
Q: What do I do so that everything I wish for comes true?
Sri Sri: Think carefully! If everything you wish for comes true, you will be asking ‘why!’ very soon! A king prayed to God to grant him a boon – that everything he touched should turn to gold. God granted his wish and he was very happy - but only for a few minutes. He was thirsty and wanted water. It turned to gold as he touched it. His food turned into gold and even his little daughter, when he touched her. The king became very disturbed and prayed that the boon be taken away.
Just look back and see – as a child, what did you want to become? An engine driver? Nowadays children have many toys. Around 3—40 years ago, the only thing a child wanted to be was an engine-driver or a pilot. Many things that you desired, you have stopped liking them now. The Divine will give what is best for you. Move ahead with that faith. If you have a desire, don’t think that you should not pray for it. Just think – Let me get this, or something better.
Q: How does one come to embrace nature? Especially the terrible rain, snow in this country?
Sri Sri: I enjoy this weather. Maybe you should go to the Sahara desert and see how nice it is to be in such a cool country. It is in your mind. Accept it, or move to Florida!
Q: Why is it that even when I follow good things, bad things follow me?
Sri Sri: If you sow a neem tree, will mangoes grow in it? You have to be intelligent. You may be a good person, yet are you intelligent? If you’re good and you put your hand in fire, you will still get burnt. You have to be good and intelligent. Use your buddhi (intelligence) and use it well. We use our intelligence only for corruption and not to be a good person. We think we are good, others are bad. It’s not like that. There is some goodness in everybody. Spirituality increases it. Even when problems are there, they teach us something – we get a depth. Happiness brings expansion, Difficulties bring depth.