Q: There are some people who say, 'A little bit of wine is okay, even Lord Shiva had wine'. How do we tackle such statements? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: People do whatever they want to do and they put it in the name of religion, or God to justify themselves.
Simply look at your life, forget about others. If Shiva had alcohol, he must have had problems as well.
See those five people who did that thing to Nirbhaya, in Delhi, they were all drunk, and when someone is drunk, you cannot even hold them responsible for what they do. Intoxicants are responsible for half of the crimes in the society.
So not only should you put those five people in jail, but you should also hold those people responsible who manufacture and sell intoxicants.
You have to take a definite
stand, 'I will not touch
alcohol.' If you say, ‘I will
only drink socially’, or,
‘I will just have one peg’,
all these statements are
nothing but excuses.
When you open the door
for alcohol, it can come in
anytime and flood you.
This happens in almost every village. Men drink at night, come home, beat their wives, and in the daytime they apologize because they know that they were not themselves at night.
The biggest reason for crime in the society is alcohol. If you stop alcohol, a lot of crime in the country will be stopped.
You have to take a definite stand, 'I will not touch alcohol.'
If you say, ‘I will only drink socially’, or, ‘I will just have one peg’, all these statements are nothing but excuses. When you open the door for alcohol, it can come in anytime and flood you. You should really just shut the door on alcohol. Not just the door, but close the main gate as well, so that it does not even reach your door.
You should put a barrier on yourself, 'I will not drink any of these intoxicants.' It gives you enormous strength you know. But the moment you become a little loose, ‘okay I will have it once’, then somehow you get caught up.
Life is such, that you get upset sometimes; restless sometimes. Restlessness can come even without any cause. How many of you here have experienced this?
Everything is going on well, but there is some restlessness without any reason. One cannot understand why the restlessness.
Restlessness starts in the body without any reason, and then one feels like having a drink, and that is how it starts. That is why I say, just keep it out of the gate.
War on alcoholism is essential for crime to be over.
Q: Whenever I am in the ashram I don't feel like going back to the materialistic world. Sometimes the responsibility of the family becomes an obstacle. How to overcome that? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You need to charge your mobile phone with the charger, but you don't leave the phone on the charger, otherwise how will you use it?!
Similarly, when your charge is down, you have to come here again and charge yourself.
For me the whole world is my ashram. I keep moving from one ashram to another ashram; from one place to another.
You have to take care of your responsibilities and the work you have at home. You have to do all of that; it is necessary to do all of that. Running away from responsibility is not spirituality. In fact, it is taking on more responsibility.
First the responsibility of your family, friends and surroundings, then the responsibility of the country, and then the responsibility of the whole world. That is how our responsibility should increase.
Q: How to accept people who do bad things to me? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If they do bad things against you, what can you do?
If you don't accept them what other option do you have?
If you don't accept them you will be upset, isn't it? Your mind will be disturbed, and when you are so upset, any decision you take, will you be happy about it? Certainly not!
So for your own sake, accept people and the situation as they are, so that your mind becomes calm. Then you do what you want to do.
Life is such, that you get
upset sometimes; restless
starts in the body without
any reason, and then one
feels like having a drink,
and that is how it starts.
That is why I say, you
should really just shut the
door on alcohol.
Q: I heard from one teacher that in order to live life 100%, you have to have clarity in your mind. How to eliminate confusion? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Are you still confused? Every confusion is a step towards growth.
What is confusion? Some old concept just broke apart. Old ideas simply vanished and new ideas started coming up. You couldn't grasp the new and the old is gone, that is confusion, and it is a good transition; be in it! It won't last for too long I tell you.
Q: What is the truth of relationships; after being bitten once I am now twice shy. How do I overcome this fear? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are asking this question that means you have already overcome the fear. If you had not, you wouldn't even ask this question. You would just say, ‘Relationships, I am not going to go into it’, and you would have run away.
Since you don't have that much fear and only a little bit, and the mind is tempted to go that way, you just want a confirmation seal of mine.
You know, in life, everything is a risk. Your own mind is uncertain. You cannot rely even on your own mind. Relying on somebody else is another thing.
Can you rely on your own mind?
I have seen so many people go for shopping and they say, ‘Can I come back and exchange it, or return it?’
People buy something, they come back home and they don't like it, and they go back and say that they want to exchange this. Especially ladies, the buy a saree and then they come back home and open the saree and they don’t like it and want to exchange it.
A lady used to come and ask me, ‘Gurudev, please bless me so that I shop for the right things. Every time I go shopping, I come back home and then I have to go back again.’
So the mind is always wavering. When your mind is wavering, others’ minds can also be wavering, isn't it?
So there are different people, different emotions, different way of behaviors, and we have to move with them all. We have no choice. Accept and move.
Always there is compromise in life, in any interaction with anyone, young or old.
Q: Why do all the problems in the world start and end because of love? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Otherwise life would be so boring. Just imagine, if there are no problems and no issues, life would be so bland, isn't it?
You can keep wondering about it. It's a matter to wonder, not a question.
Q: Why doesn't The Art of Living family take a political stand for the better political and social future of India? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The Art of Living will encourage anybody who wants to take that stand. Politics is too small a field for The Art of Living. Since we are across borders, I don't want The Art of Living to be stuck with national politics.
The Art of Living is in so many countries; it will remain as an inspirer for people to be on the right path.
For sure, those who want to get into politics, youngsters especially, I would encourage you. Go all out; go and do it.
Q: Gurudev, could you please talk about Mithyachar and how to come out of it? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:Mithyachar is when one keeps thinking of doing something in the mind but does not act upon it.
For example, you keep thinking about food but you do not eat food.
Mithyachar is also, when you think something else and do something else.
For example, you tell somebody, 'I will be there at six in the evening', even though you have already made up your mind that you won't go, this is Mithyachar.
Lying or fooling oneself is Mithyachar.
Those five people who did
that thing to Nirbhaya, in
Delhi, they were all drunk,
and when someone is drunk,
you cannot even hold them
responsible for what they do.
Intoxicants are responsible
for half of the crimes in the
Q: Being cynical makes me more pragmatic and helps me deal with the worst situations. Is this wrong? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Cynicism was once considered fashionable, but today, cynicism has taken over intellectuals to such an extent that it is no longer palatable and it is no longer creative. It does not do any good to oneself or to society.
Cynicism is okay if it is like the pickle in the corner of the plate. But if your whole plate is filled with pickle, and you have only a tiny piece of roti (flat bread) in some corner, then just imagine how that would be. You would remain hungry, and this is what has happened today.
Cynicism is essential, but to a very small extent. Cynicism should bring pragmatism in you, no doubt, but it should not take away your imaginative ability, your transformational zeal, and it should not eat away your enthusiasm. It should not overshadow your positive state of mind or kill your aspirations and hopes. If that is there then okay, have a little bit of cynicism.
You find that even the Vedas are a little cynical. It is said, 'Who knows the beginning of creation. God knows; or maybe he also does not know.'
This is what is said in the Vedas.
Sarcasm and cynicism is all okay, just remember the example of pickle. It cannot take the place of rice, dal (lentil soup) or roti , but a little bit can be there somewhere in the corner.
Q: Gurudev, when I know my presence in the world is insignificant it makes me lazy. How can I be excited and at the same time expanded. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Dream big. Keep your intentions intact, don't worry about any setbacks and keep moving ahead. That is it.
Q: You said that the year 2012 was the year of transformation, but nothing has transformed. The same corruption and same crimes are happening. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Wait! What do you mean? People have stood up against corruption.
See what has happened in the last month of 2012, the entire country woke up. People are waking up. Earlier, violence against women was tolerated.
Although we have been doing women empowerment, we have been having women conferences where we have been discussing women issues, and female feticide, but today suddenly the entire country has woken up over one incident.
It is not an isolated incident. There are 20,000 such incidents. In Delhi alone there were 800 such incidents at that point. This is waking up.
Transformation is people are waking up, isn't it?
Moreover, Indian year starts in March; remember!
Do you know the meaning of the names of all the months?
The English months are not in English, they are in Sanskrit. How many of you here didn't know this? (Many raise their hands)
Do you know what December means; Das means ten and Ambar means sky, so December means the tenth sky.
November means the ninth sky.
October means the eighth month. Sapt means seven, amber means sky, so Saptamber became September.
August is Shasht, which means sixth; so August is the sixth month.
January is the 11th month, February is the 12th month and March which means going ahead – that is when the new year begins. That is when the Sun arrives in the first point of Aries, at the end of March.
Even today, in Afghanistan, Iran and all these countries, they celebrate March 21st as the new year day because this was the ancient vedic concept.
March means new. Feb means fag end. Don’t we say, ‘Fag end’, that is February.
People are waking up.
Earlier, violence against
women was tolerated but
today, suddenly the entire
country has woken up over
Transformation is people
So all these months are Sanskrit months. If you ask any English professor what is the meaning of September, or November, they will have no idea.
I thought of this, and realized that there is such a close connection with Sanskrit and it matches to well.
Today you learned something very important - the meaning of the names of the months.
This is something beautiful about Sanskrit, no name is without a function.
Do you know that leaves are called Parna? Do you know what Parna means? That which absorbs sunlight and moisture is called parna.
Do you know, Jesus was not born on Christmas Day? How many of you didn't know this? (Many raise their hands)
You should watch the documentary about Jesus and Christmas. Only 200 years back they connected Christmas with Jesus. Otherwise it was just Winter Solstice. The festival that was being practiced around the world to honor the Sun God from the Vedic times, that was being done.
If you hear of how Jesus was born, all the description is of spring time. He was not born in the cold winter.
Also, if he was conceived in May, December would not be the month in which he would be delivered. Immaculate conception happened in the month of May and December would be only seven months. Jesus was not a premature baby, he was born after full nine months and nine days, but people did not know what date he was born on.
So, even though the people were converted into Christians, the church could not stop them from celebrating the Xmas festival. So they added, 'Okay you can think this as the birthday of Jesus Christ and let us celebrate it that way.'
So they replaced the Sun God with Jesus.
Q: Gurudev, Goddess Parvati in her anger had given a curse to Mother Earth, Agni Deva and other gods when they tried to save her and Lord Shiva’s son Kartikeya from Tarakasura (a demon). How is it possible for a Goddess to not be in control of her anger? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, this is a wrong depiction of the stories from the Puranas. The TV serials always want to make it a little more dramatic.
Even when I watch Goddess Parvati (an incarnation or form of the Mother Divine), I see that there is so much display of emotions; crying, or asking for forgiveness, etc. Just to make the viewers more engaged, they brought them to the level of common man and common emotions.
The director and producers also want to elongate the episode, that is why they make it a little more dramatic than the actual story. It is not originally so in the Puranas. In the Purana, Goddess Parvati does not go through such varied emotions. It is only in the script that these people have written for the TV serial that you find her and even Lord Ganesha asking repeatedly for forgiveness. What is the need for Him, who is Divinity Himself, to ask for any sort of forgiveness?
See, when you read any Purana, then the Adidaata (the sacred deity on whose life and heroic stories a particular Purana is based) of that Purana is the central character, and the most revered.
For example, if you take the Shiva Purana then Lord Shiva is the greatest, while all other deities and everyone else is subordinate to him.
Similarly, if you take the Ganesha Purana, then Lord Ganesha is the greatest in that Purana.
Again, if you take the Devi Purana then all the other deities, such as Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Mahesh (a name of Lord Shiva) are at the Devi’s feet, signifying her central importance in the Purana. Since all stories in the Devi Purana revolve around her as the central deity, the other deities play secondary roles.
In the Vishnu Purana you will find that there is no deity greater than Lord Vishnu, and every other deity is subordinate to him, since he is the central deity of that Purana.
That is why a deity is called as Isht, meaning the greatest deity, around whom everything else revolves. So, those deities or Gods whom we consider as our Ishtdevta or Isht are the greatest and most revered for us.
Dream big. Keep your
intentions intact, don't
worry about any setbacks
and keep moving ahead.
That is it!
There is a very beautiful shloka (verse) by Adi Shankaracharya where he says, 'Mananaatha Shri Jagannatha, Madguru Shri Jagadguru, Madatma Sarvabhutatma, Tasmai Shri Gurave Namaha.'
It means, my Lord (Isht) is the Lord of the entire creation; my Guru is the Guru of the entire creation; and my soul is the soul seated in all living beings.
When a devotee has this feeling, that there is no other like my Lord, then it is called Vishishta bhakti.
When there is this feeling that there is none other like my Lord, then the mind become one-pointed. This is because the nature of the mind is to go towards that which is the most superior.
Now, if you do not find what you have to be the highest, then the mind will start to wander toward that which it finds to be more superior.
So to collect the mind and make it centered deep in devotion, these different stories have been written in the Puranas. That is why in the Shiva Purana, it is said that Lord Shiva is supreme and everyone prays and bows to Lord Shiva. This is the real meaning.
But those who make these TV serials, they have to make it a little more dramatic, otherwise it will be a little boring, and that is why they add some spice to it.
It has never happened that Goddess Durga has inflicted her anger on anyone on Earth. The anger of Goddess Durga is only towards the demon Mahishasura. Even that is not totally in anger, but it is with a certain equanimity and pleasantness. The Goddess simply destroys Mahishasura (symbolic of negativity and inertia) into ashes, by a simple exhalation of her breath, with the sound ‘hummm’.
So these are just different depictions of the mythological stories on TV. There is no need to accept them as the truth.
Q: Dear Gurudev, if one thinks that one’s Ishta(most revered deity) is the most superior, then does that not bring about fundamentalism? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, if you ask any mother in the world, she will say her child is the best. There may be so many other children in the world, but for her, her child is the best of all.
Fundamentalism is considering or showing that others are wrong or lesser than you. However, having a feeling that my deity is the highest for me and your deity may be the highest for you, cannot be fundamentalism.