Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Gurudev, I don’t understand Sanskrit since I am from outside India. Could we have some session to understand Sanskrit better?
Sri Sri: You don’t need to understand much. In fact English language has got a lot of Sanskrit in it. Even the names of months are in Sanskrit only. November, December, January, all these months, the names are in Sanskrit (November – Nav Ambar (ninth sky), December – Dash Ambar (tenth sky))
So there is no need to understand much! All that we need to do here is just enjoy the vibes of the sound (mantras) and relax, and then meditation happens.
Of course, if you want to learn, then there are many opportunities to learn. There are so many ways to learn. But basically even people who speak different Indian languages, they don’t understand these Vedic hymns. Nobody understands them. What is important is just its vibrations, the intonations, and how it is chanted. That is what is most important.
But if you want to go scholarly into it, you are most welcome. You can go into Google and get the meanings. But the meaning that you may find on Google are very incomplete. That much you should bear in mind and then read it. It is not totally correct but not totally wrong also.
Q: Gurudev, is getting a certain experience the goal of Sadhana? I haven’t got any experience in my Sadhana till now. This keeps bothering me.
Sri Sri: No, never mind! It is the experience of going from the scenery to the seer that is important. If experiences come, they come. If not, never mind! Still it is okay. Experiences change all the time.
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, what is the secret behind Lord Krishna having succeeded the test of time (meaning to have become eternal)? Despite the passage of time, Lord Krishna is still alive in the hearts of people.
Sri Sri: Yes, this is a secret that you must unravel in your heart. You must discover this for yourself. Truth always wins in the end, and truth is eternal. It is never destroyed. This is why Lord Krishna is alive even after 5100 years. Why is this so? It is because He was never limited to one particular place, or to one particular time. Lord Krishna is Sanatan (meaning that which is eternal and never-ending). One who is Anadi (without beginning) and Ananta (without end) is called Sanatan. It means that which has always existed and is ever present. No one knows where it began. Such is the knowledge that Lord Krishna gave.
Lord Krishna tells Arjuna – ‘I and you have taken birth several times, but I remember all those lifetimes and you do not. We are both Anadi – no one knows how many times we have incarnated and taken birth here. We come in this world, we depart from it, and we will come again’.
Q: Gurudev, I want to be honest with my parents about my sexuality. Yet my fear of losing their love and support has been stopping me from being honest with them. Do I need to be compassionate and not burden my parents? Please guide me to a solution.
Sri Sri: You don’t have to label yourself as gay or a lesbian. You don’t need to put on a label. These are tendencies which come and go.
You should label yourself as Divine light. This label is much better than putting a label about your sexuality because it may change.
Many people get married and after that they discover that they have different tendencies. And for many gay people, sometime later, even their preferences change. I have seen many gay people and lesbians getting married, settling in life and having kids. I have seen the other way also. So all possibilities are open. What is the need for you to right away label yourself? There are some who are bisexual.
What are you going to achieve by telling your parents? Is it going to make them any happier? When they are not going to be happy, what is the point in telling them about it? You think about it.
Honesty is one thing. First you should be honest to yourself. What is your state right now? Be honest with yourself. You don’t have to pretend and be what you are not, at the same time you don’t have to put a bomb where people cannot accept it. Tell them gradually. Prepare them.
You have to study the situation. How fragile are your parents? How unhappy are they already and how much more unhappy they will become by your saying that? Is it worth being that honest to them and making them miserable? You need to judge all these pros and cons.
Suppose your parents are forcing you to get married then you tell them, 'No, I have no interest in this, I have a different interest'. Otherwise why do you have tell them?
Be honest at such times, otherwise you will make another person's life (who you marry) miserable. If your mother is already very aged and is burdened with a lot of other things and you be honest just for your pride and tell her something, and she loses her night’s sleep and it affects her health, what is the point. What does it serve?
In the ancient system it has been beautifully said, 'Satyam bruyat priyam bruyat na bruyat satyam apriyam', speak the truth but speak the pleasant truth. Don’t speak unpleasant truth and don’t speak pleasant lies.
Something may be pleasant, but if it is a lie, don’t speak that. Don’t speak unpleasant truth or pleasant lies. This is the ancient path. The perfect balance.
So use your sense of discrimination and gently prepare them if you want to tell them, and if it’s going to serve some purpose.
Rise above the body consciousness. Know that you are light. You’re scintillating consciousness. Every cell of your body is awakened with consciousness, light, love and life. Focus on that.
Q: Gurudev, in Chapter-14, verse 27 of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says that He is also the primal cause of the Para-Brahman (Supreme all-pervading Consciousness) and He is also its very existence. This became a point of confusion among many learned scholars. Sri Adi Shankaracharya also got confused when he read this. Please throw some light on this.
Sri Sri: Lord Krishna gave knowledge in three different ways: the pratham purush (meaning to narrate as first person), madhyam purush (meaning to narrate as second person) and uttam-purush (meaning to narrate as the detached Seer or the Self). So at times Lord Krishna spoke about God using “Him”, or “That” or “He”. At other times He spoke about God using words as “You” or “Yours”; and then He also spoke about God by referring to the Self, saying “Me” or “I”.
So we say “Tat tvam asi” (Meaning: You are That), and we also say “Sarvam khalvidam Brahmasi” (Meaning: Everything is Brahman). “Tat tvam asi” means you are That, and That (the Self or consciousness) is within you. Then it is also said “Aham Brahmasmi”; meaning “I am Brahman”. So, sometimes you find that Lord Krishna says ‘Come take refuge under Me’, while sometimes He says ‘Take the refuge of God’. Both are correct in how they are said. The duty of a Guru is to take a person forward from where he is on the Path. Before Lord Krishna revealed His Vishwa-Rupa (supreme universal form) to Arjuna, He said:
Ishvarah sarva-bhutanam hrida-deshe Arjuna tisthati |
Bhramayan sarva-bhutani yantrarudhani mayaya || (18.61)
He says that God resides in everyone’s hearts. And then by revealing His Vishwa-Rupa form to Arjuna, He showed him that everything resides within Him, after which He says, ‘Surrender everything and take refuge in Me alone’.
The Gita has been interpreted in thousands of ways, called Tikas. But the essential thing is that the Truth is one, but it is explained in different ways from time to time (depending upon the need and conditions of mankind at the time). And there is contradiction right from the beginning to the very end in Gita. Arjuna himself asks Lord Krishna, ‘O Lord! Tell me one sure way to be free from misery. I am confused listening to so many ways. One moment you suggest one path, the next moment another path. I am already confused and dejected, why are you confusing me further?’ See, the Bhagavad Gita shows a unique way of helping a person go step by step towards Divinity, towards the Self. There is no other scripture equal to the Gita. There is no other scripture other than the Gita that leads one to the Truth through contradiction after contradiction.
Q: Gurudev, you have tweeted that ‘too many Dushasanas and Shakunis are around today and should be shown their rightful place in society’. Who are the Dushasanas and Shakunis (referring to immoral and corrupt characters in the Mahabharata as metaphors) today and what is their rightful place?
Sri Sri: I leave that to you to guess. Their rightful place is Lord Krishna’s birthplace (referring to the prisons, where Lord Krishna was born). Did you get it? The jail is where all the Dushasanas and Shakunis should go. Do you not think so?
Q: Gurudev, in the Ramayana, Ravana abducted Devi Sita and in the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna abducted Devi Rukmani when she was being forced to marry Shishupal (an immoral King in the Mahabharata). In the Lord’s incarnation as Lord Krishna, Ravana incarnated as Shishupal and Sita incarnated as Devi Rukmani. So is there some connection of karma here as well?
Sri Sri: It is said ‘Gahano karmano-gatih’ (unfathomable are the ways of Karma). So the ways and the pace of Karma are mysterious and unfathomable. No one can understand it.
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 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.