(On the occasion of Kannada Rajyotsava, Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gave a message encouraging all to take pride in the language and culture of Karnataka. He insisted that primary education should be in Kannada He also emphasized the need for parents to communicate with their children in Kannada (mother tongue) during their formative years. Below is the transcript of the same: )
I always used to feel that those who did not know Kannada have been deprived of reading great literary works, poems and knowledge. Kannada is a simple and sweet language. However, people are forgetting this language.
I remember, about 40 to 45 years ago, when I used to go to school in a bus, there was a bus conductor who never used any other language except Kannada. We invited and felicitated him. People used to like the way he spoke in pure Kannada, and this encouraged the children, youth and adults. No one sitting in the bus had a serious face, everyone had a smiling face, waiting to hear what the conductor would speak next.
My message to the 6 crore
Kannadigas (people from
Karnataka) is, talk to your
children only in your mother
tongue. A lot of psychologists
across the world say that if
children are given education
in their mother tongue for
the first few years their
talents will blossom in a
much better way.
Just as it is our duty to preserve our culture, it is our duty to preserve and spread our language. Do you know I still count using the numbers in Kannada? Although I have toured many countries in the world, I never count in English, my counts and thoughts originate in Kannada. I also keep track of the time in Kannada. This is because I have studied in my mother tongue from a very young age. I used to read and write in Kannada.
My first experience with English was in the seventh standard. We do not spell English the way it is pronounced and do not pronounce it the way it is spelt. For instance, we pronounce ‘know’ as ‘no’; this used to confuse us a lot. So we used to write English words in Kannada. In Kannada we pronounce words the way they are spelt, that is the beauty of Kannada. I have heard that Tamil does not have this. I speak Tamil, but I don’t have much experience in reading or writing in Tamil.
In Tamil they use the same alphabet for ‘Ka’ and ‘Ga’; Kanapati and Ganapati are the same in Tamil. However in Kannada, the alphabet is complete. One who has learnt Kannada is capable of speaking and understanding other languages also.
My message to the 6 crore Kannadigas (people from Karnataka) is, talk to your children only in your mother tongue. As much as possible till the fifth or sixth standard, ensure that children receive their education in the mother tongue. Nowadays we start with ‘Baa baa black sheep’ at a very young age. When children start counting in a different language, their talents don’t blossom as much. A lot of psychologists across the world say that if children are given education in their mother tongue for the first few years their talents will blossom in a much better way.
When I went to school, the medium of education was Kannada. My message to the people of Karnataka is to have pride in Kannada and teach it to children. Use only the mother tongue at home. There are a lot of moral teachings associated with the language.
There is a saying in Kannada, ‘The Vedas may go wrong, but proverbs will never go wrong’. This is a proverb about proverbs. Nowadays, people have forgotten about proverbs. Children don’t even know what proverbs are. If this is the case, how will children become aware of moral values?
Questions & Answers
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Gurudev, King Janaka and Buddha both got enlightened. While King Janaka continued to be surrounded by all the wealth and comforts, Buddha lived the life of a monk, so is there a difference? Are there different levels of self-realization?
Sri Sri: Not at all. If there is a difference then it is not enlightenment at all. The mind does not depend on what clothes you wear. Whatever you wear on the outside, you will still remain the same inside. So self-realization is the inner awakening, it has no relation to the outer appearance or make up. In this regard, a king, pauper or monk, all are the same.
Buddha became a monk, and made everyone a monk.
In those days, India had reached the helm of its prosperity, and there were no beggars. This is the reason why Buddha encouraged people to become monks. He encouraged people to become monks and beg for their food as there is no better way to tackle the ego of the egoistic.
When a beggar begs for food, it is natural. But just imagine if a wealthy person has to beg for his food, it is like doing the impossible, and it hurts the ego. So, to hurt the ego, Buddha made all the wealthy people become monks, to make them dispassionate.
King Janaka’s story was different. Janaka was already established in dispassion. Being in dispassion, being enlightened and then ruling the kingdom was also a kind of tapasya (austerity).
Arjuna also wanted to become a monk and go into the forest; he did not want to fight the war. Lord Krishna said, ‘No, sit, don’t become an escapist.’
Yogastha kuru karmani sangam thyakthva dhananjaya, make yourself centered on the Self and then do action, then work in the society.
Do not think that there is a low or high level of enlightenment. Maharishi Sukhdev, who was a renunciate went to King Janaka, and he waited for three days at the door of King Janaka to obtain knowledge from him. So, being in an Ashram does not mean that one has more knowledge.
One cannot assume that brahmachari (celibate) is less knowledgeable when compared to a saint. The greatest of saints can learn even from a child or a brahmachari (celibate). In fact sometimes you have to learn. Once a person is established on the Self, the outer circumstances or situations do not make any difference.
Gurudev, what makes Consciousness acquire a tendency to become outwardly though the inner world is so beautiful?
Sri Sri: Nature has made our senses go outward. The world outside is there for the senses. Beautiful sceneries are there for the eyes, fragrances are for the nose and similar for taste and touch.
But there is also this mechanism, where the mind can withdraw from the five senses and go to its own source from where thoughts and emotions come. So the mind has this ability, and the intellect is a big aide for the mind to go to its own source. Without the help of intellect it is not possible. It is the intellect which discriminates, judges and says, ‘Yes I have seen this, enough is enough. Now let me go deep in.’
One of the very revered mantras, the Gayatri Mantra says, ‘Dhiyoh yona prachodayat’, which means let my intellect be inspired by the Divinity, let my intellect get soaked in the Divinity, let the inspiration, intuition flow in my intellect. This has been the main prayer in India for thousands of years. It is said, ‘Everything else is later, first let my intellect shine and let it bring forth the Divine, the transcendental Divine knowledge.’
Gurudev, I have changed companies and places, still I find so much boredom in my life. Please advise how to come out of boredom.
Sri Sri: When you have a passion or a commitment in life for a bigger cause, boredom will vanish. Boredom comes because you are only focused on your own pleasure.
If you are only thinking about yourself, about how much more joy or pleasure you can get for yourself, you will get bored, because you will not get it anywhere. However, when your heart beats for others, for something higher, something finer and something more meaningful, then there is no boredom.
The commitment level in our life indicates our enthusiasm or our boredom. If our commitment is low, boredom is bound to set in. If our commitment is higher, then boredom will never be anywhere around the corner. Boredom will never be anywhere near you.
Gurudev, what are the Panch Prana?
Sri Sri: The five types of prana in the body are Prana, Apana, Udana, Samana and Vyana. Prana is the energy in the upper part of the body, in the region above the heart. If prana is too high or is imbalanced you cannot sleep. Apana Vayu is the energy in the lower part of the body. If Apana is too high, then you feel lethargic, sleepy, and dull. Samana Vayu is in the stomach region, it aids digestion. Udana Vayu is in the upper chest and throat region, it is responsible for emotions. If Udana Vayu is imbalanced, you have no emotions, you become like a stone or you become so mushy-mushy and weak. Vyana is all over the body, it is responsible for movements in the joints, the circulation in the body. If Vyana Prana is disturbed, then the circulatory system is disturbed, your joints are not flexible, there are aches and pains.
Panch Prana, the five different types of prana are present in everybody, and different pranas dominates at different times. The imbalances in the pranas are corrected during Pranayama and Sudarshan Kriya, which is why sometimes you laugh or cry as all the five pranas get activated.
Knowledge is an unfathomable ocean, there is so much knowledge, but this much is enough to know, that the five pranas are present in our body and when we do pranayama and meditate regularly all the pranas get into balance.
When a person dies, it is said after 12 days the soul takes rebirth in some other place. If the soul takes rebirth, then why do we hang the picture as ancestor and worship them?
Sri Sri: If a person is reborn then why should one do shraadh? What you are saying is correct. In the ancient days, people were self-realized, so they used to know that so-and-so person has taken rebirth, and then they would stop doing shraadh.
Now you do not know, you are not a yogi, nor do you have the understanding to know whether the person is reborn or not. So, to take blessings, people continue doing this ritual.
It is said in Treta Yug and Dwapar Yug, people used to know that a certain person was reborn, and they would stop doing shraadh. The meaning of shraadh is to remember the person with complete faith.
Gurudev, Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the maintainer and Shiva is the destroyer. Why do we pray so much to the destroyer only?
Sri Sri: The creator has finished his job, so, nobody cares for him. The maintainer is necessary, and everybody is afraid of the destroyer!
No, it is not like that. The God of all Gods is Shiva, Mahadev, therefore, everyone worships Mahadev. Brahma was born out of Vishnu. In this way, there are different beliefs in all different cultures, you believe whatever you like.