Q: Gurudev, in the Upanishads, we usually find references of Samit Pani (ritual of offering dry sticks to the Master). Gurudev, could you please tell us, what is the significance of this? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:Samit is the stick which is ready to catch fire.
Here, it is a symbol of being ready, so that when the knowledge is given, you just grab it.
Samit Pani has many meanings. One is, ‘Be Attentive’; second is, ‘Ready to Give Hundred Percent’.
You know when Samit (dry stick) is put in the fire it burns totally without any residue.
So, the meaning of Samit Pani is, ‘Be prepared to absorb the knowledge and live it. Give your hundred percent.’
In earlier days, they used to
say, ‘When you go to a Guru,
go with something.’ The
Guru is going to give you
knowledge, so what you can
do is, exchange it with a little
Give something in exchange,
because knowledge flows
with an exchange.
Samit also means, ‘Go (to the master) with Stability.’
A student needs some stability and endurance. If there is a little difficulty, and the student runs away, then that student cannot study anything.
Usually it happens, after the first year of Medical College or Engineering College children just want to wash their hands off and want to run away. Hasn’t this happened to you?
How many Engineering and Medical students have felt like that? This is because it appears to be very tough. But you have to go through that. You have to stand that tough time.
So Samit Pani is also keeping that equanimity and endurance.
In earlier days, they used to say, ‘Don’t go with an empty hand. When you go to a Guru, go with something.’
The Guru is going to give you knowledge, so what you can do, is exchange it with a little stick. Give something in exchange, because knowledge flows with an exchange. Something comes and something goes.
So like this, there are many meanings for Samit Pani.
Going to study with zeal, enthusiasm, and dedication, and being ready to receive knowledge; ready to undergo toughness.
There is also a proverb that says, ‘If you are a student then there is no pleasure for you. And if you are a seeker of pleasure, then there is no knowledge for you.’ So, a student will have to go through hardship.
This means, if you are just pleasure loving, you can’t be studious.
In English, the word studious means, being much focused and not running after pleasures or comfort, but going beyond the comfort zone.
Q: Gurudev, often we read in the Puranas of Indra committing some sin. We never read of Agni, or Varuna, or Vayu, or any of the other Gods committing sin.
There must be some significance or some learning from this as well, just like the story of Ganesha. Could you please explain the spiritual meaning of this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:Indra is the mob psychology. What we call mob mentality?
A group has a mind of its own. That group mind is called Indra.
Indra is supposed to have one thousand eyes. One thousand eyes do not mean that somebody has eyes all over. It refers to a group which has five hundred people; one mob.
So the group creates a consciousness, a mentality and that is what Indra is.
That is why, when an enlightened person is born, Indra gets so offended, because the mob psychology cannot exist then. A person of enlightenment and awareness does not allow mob psychology to grow. Do you see what I am saying?
He puts sense in to the minds of the people. He tells everyone, ‘Hey! Think with your mind! Wake up! Each one of you, think!’
That is why Indra gets scared whenever a Rishi or Sage is meditating.
The mob, the collective consciousness is what is called Indra. It is not some person sitting up there in the heaven. Indra is right here.
Just like we have all the five elements, Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether; Indra is the collective consciousness.
Samit is the stick which is
ready to catch fire. Here, it
is a symbol of being ready,
so that when the knowledge
is given, you just grab it.
So, the meaning of Samit Pani
is, ‘Be prepared to absorb the knowledge and live it. Give your hundred percent.’
With the mob psychology, what usually happens; someone will say, ’Oh, our leader has been maligned’, and everybody then starts. They put fire on the buses, they desecrate statues, etc., and the mob keeps moving on without knowing what they are doing.
A mob goes on a rampage, destroying people, life and property; isn’t it?
So that is the mob psychology.
That mob psychology cannot stand when there is knowledge, wisdom and alertness.
Q: Gurudev, why is that a lot of enlightened masters, who healed so many people, had to undergo a lot of suffering? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, there is no suffering for the soul, or for the mind. It is the body which has its limitations. If you stretch the body too much, then definitely the body will have to undergo its routine. So the body will have cold and cough, and all these illnesses do come.
A Saint’s body is made up of Shradha (faith) and love. So when the faith and love breaks down, the body is also impacted.
In the ancient times, the saints and the wise ones would often abuse those who were closest to them. This is because when anger or ill thoughts arise in a person who is dear to them, then that affects them as well.
For example, a person sitting inside your house and causing damage will affect you more than someone causing damage outside on the street. When the garbage is on the street it does not affect you as much as when it is inside your house. Isn’t that so? In the same way!
That is why, since the ancient times, it is said that Strength of Character (Sheel) is very essential.
One must have the Shat Sampattis (Six wealths, or six-fold virtues):
• Sama (calmness or quietude of mind)
• Dama (self-control or restraint of the senses)
• Uparati (satiety)
• Titiksha (power of endurance)
• Shradha (faith), and
• Samadhana (equanimity or one-pointedness of the mind)
Until a person has all these six virtues, he does not become a Mumukshu (one desirous of moksha or liberation). And until one does not become a Mumukshu, he is not given the Knowledge.
Therefore, one must have Viveka (sense of discrimination between good and bad), Vairagya (dispassion) and the Shat Sampatti, to become a Mumukshu. Only then would they be given the title of a disciple, student or a devotee.
Otherwise it is like having a mad person on a boat. If he starts to go wild or starts dancing, then he will sink, and the boat and the other passengers will also sink.
That is why Lord Buddha also said that Sheel, Samadhi (here, equanimity) and Pragya (Divine wisdom) should be present in a disciple.
A disciple should have qualities of Ahimsa (non-violence), Sheel, etc. He must have an experience of the state of Samadhi. Only then can he become Pragyavaan (one endowed with wisdom and knowledge).
There is also a proverb that
says, ‘If you are a student
then there is no pleasure for
you. And if you are a seeker
of pleasure, then there is no
knowledge for you.’ So, a
student will have to go
through hardship. So Samit Pani is also keeping that
equanimity and endurance.
Q: Gurudev, you ask us to be dispassionate. How can I be dispassionate about you? I love you and the attachment keeps growing every day. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If this attachment helps you to move away from other unwanted things, then it is okay. If it gives you a focus, it is fine. But if it is causing jealousy, anger, greed and all those negative emotions, you better work on yourself.
Go deep into yourself, meditate and understand it.
Any attachment, if it leads you to the higher self, or a higher goal, it is okay. But, if it is pulling you down, you have to come back to wisdom.
For every action of ours, we should look within our self. If we are blaming something, it means that we cannot be without it.
Generally, you will see, if someone is very bad, you will just move away from them. But when you hate them, that means, there is a deep connection that you are unable to get away from.
You want to be with them, that is why you start disliking them.
The mind is so complex, I tell you. That is why I keep saying, you don’t need any other entertainment channel. The mind is good enough entertainment. You have all the channels going on right here in the mind.
One, who is caught in the whirlpool of mind, only deserves compassion, not anger.
Usually what do you do? If somebody is negative, or they are against you, you become angry at them. You think that they have the freedom.
I feel the other way around. I feel so much compassion, for they have gotten caught up in the whirlpool of their own mind. They don’t know what they are doing and it is very evident from their action.
Also, these people feel very happy when something is going wrong somewhere.
There is a nice program, and rain comes and dampens it, they say, ‘Good! See rain has come, even nature doesn’t support it.’
They feel so happy about it. This is a wrong thing.
You should see it the other around. In spite of rain, people are still sitting and meditating, or doing service or continuing with the program.
But a person who is negative deep inside will only feel happy about anything that is not working.
This is very funny and very strange.
This indicates a sick mind. They cannot tolerate a good thing happening to anybody anywhere in the world. So you can only be compassionate towards such people in the world.
Q: Gurudev, if we lose our footwear or if someone takes it away, is it true that they take away our bad karma? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If it was an expensive shoe, then yes, it is better to think that way . At least you will get peaceful sleep at night. But if it was a cheap slipper… (Sri Sri nods his head).
See the main idea was to tell the people to be in the present moment.
Don’t hang on to the past and crib over it and spoil this moment. What happened has happened! Finished!
You are stuck in the traffic jam, finished! Now when you have reached home, don’t waste your next two hours talking about how you should have taken a different route. It is a useless waste of time.
Our ancient people had such great ideas and so they told you, ’Oh! It is because of the stars that this thing happened to you.’ Now you can’t get angry at the stars.
So instead of getting angry at the people around you, you say, ’Oh, It is because of my karma, my stars, that this has happened.’
So you get a certain amount of acceptability and calmness, and that helps you move forward in life without being bitter.
Since the ancient times, it
is said that Strength of Character is very essential.
One must have Viveka (sense
of discrimination), Vairagya
(dispassion) and the Shat Sampatti (six virtues), to
become a Mumukshu (one
desirous of liberation). Only
then would they be given the
title of a disciple.
This is one beautiful thing about India. In Indian society, bad things may happen, but we don’t get bitter about it and crib about it.
I wish the whole world learns this lesson.
It is something that comes in our culture; in our blood. If anything bad happens in the society, we are resilient, we move on without cribbing about it.
It is very interesting.
Generally, people say, ‘You did this to me 50 years ago and still you are my enemy.’
People keep that animosity and enmity in their mind and heart.
But here, this is a very unique thing. We do not nurture the enmity and animosity.
Q: You say that corruption in society is linked to the spiritual quotient in society. But how it is that in the west, even through spirituality there is lesser than India, their corruption is also much lesser compared to Indian.
Even in China, the spiritual quotient is lesser, even then they are doing better than India when it comes to development.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: India is still surviving on its past spiritual flavor.
It is like, the kitchen still smells of food but there is no food in the pots. That is what has happened.
You are entering into the kitchen and it smells of Bajjis and Bondas (Indian savories), but don’t think that the Bondas are still in the vessel.
So this is what India has from the past. They made lots of Bondas and everybody ate.
India was in a high spiritual state. But today and since the past, 20 years, the society has stooped to a level of irresponsibility, lack of belongingness and lack of integrity, especially in the political front and so it is affecting the country.
Though the common man may be very honest, but when the leadership is not honest, then the corruption starts infiltrating.
There is a saying, ‘Yatha Raja Tatha Praja! ’
It is not, ‘Yatha Praja, Tatha Raja! ’
It moves from top to bottom. So when there is corruption at the top, then it starts infiltrating.
At least India is still intact. This is because there is some sense of spirituality that has kept things in a sane manner, and kept people together. Otherwise, India would have gone into pieces long ago.
Q: Gurudev, in order to progress on the spiritual path, do we have to make efforts to cultivate positive qualities, such as simplicity and naturalness, or do they develop by themselves? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, one does not have to make any effort to develop good qualities at all. Good qualities blossom in you by themselves.
Just like how a bud blossoms into a flower on its own, in the same way good qualities blossom in you naturally. All that you have to do is take the lid off.
See, if you place a lid over a bud, how will it blossom? You need to take the lid off and then it will blossom. It is the same with good qualities.
Only through efforts good qualities will not blossom within us. It is through deep rest, i.e., meditation that it happens.
When you are stress-free, relaxed and are reposing in your Self then good qualities simply blossom from within you.
If attachment (to the master)
helps you to move away from
other unwanted things, then
it is okay. If it gives you a focus,
it is fine. But if it is causing
jealousy, anger, greed and all
those negative emotions, you
better work on yourself.
Go deep into yourself, meditate
and understand it.
Q: Gurudev, often at the work place when there are a lot of pending things to do, the mind becomes restless and we feel lost and do not know what is happening. At such times what to do? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Make a list of all that you have to do and then prioritize. And in between those priorities, keep meditation as one item.
You must have the faith that all your wishes will be fulfilled, and with that feeling sit for meditation for a little while.
Lord Krishna has promised that 'One who directs his mind and intellect towards Me, I am always close to him and he is always close to me.' So just remember this.
We must take a resolve to meditate every day for a little while. Then God will surely fulfill our prayers. In fact then we have the right to demand as well.
It is like, when you collect enough points, you can then claim those points.
So when you do seva, then you get points which you can claim.
Many times when I go to some Satsang outside, people blackmail me in this way! (Laughter) When I go to my room to rest after the event gets over then also people come at 11 or 12 in the night for Darshan. They will tell me, ‘These people have done so much seva and have come to seek your blessings. Please meet them Gurudev.’
Then I say, ‘Okay, I will come.’
Because they have done so much seva, I have no choice but to give Darshan! (Laughter)
So in this way we must keep increasing our points.
That is how a devotee can make God fulfill his prayers. God has no choice but to fulfill the work of his devotees. The same way we can win in the world as well.
When we do good deeds then why would anyone dislike us? Does anyone dislike someone who is doing something good? It can never happen.
What we usually do is, we stay in our own comfort zone, and give more importance to our own comforts and do only what we like to do. Then why will anyone like us?
Q: Gurudev, you have talked about the 10 characteristics of Dharma. Could you talk about how we can enhance these qualities and bring Dharma on this planet? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: By doing exactly what we are doing! Adharma is because of lack of clarity in the mind, and because of stress. When the mind is not focused and the heart is hurt then Adharma happens.
So, knowledge and wisdom is what will put you on the path to Dharma.
Any attachment, if it leads
you to the higher self or goal,
it is okay. But, if it is pulling
you down, you have to come
back to wisdom.
Q: Gurudev, what makes the Prana leave the body, and what decides when it comes in? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Okay, I want to ask you a question! Why do you change your dress? What makes you change your dress?
Why don’t you wear the same shirt all your life?
You change your clothes, because of wear and tear, or whatever, isn’t it?
Got the answer!
Q: Dear Gurudev, where is Mount Meru and what is the significance of Mount Meru? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:Mount Meru is the mystical mountain of energy. There is no physical location of Mount Meru.
Q: Gurudev, I am 21 years old and a lot of girls are attracted to me. My teacher tells me that they are attracted to the Guru energy in me. How do I handle this? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: 21 is too young for you to make any decision.
You have many choices, but you have to wait for a couple of years to make a choice, okay!
See, if nobody gets attracted to you, then it is a problem. If people are getting attracted to you, you find that as a problem. Life is all challenge at every angle.
Just take it and enjoy it anyway, however it is!
So, enjoy all the attention, but keep your distance for now. Tell them you are still in incubation. Another two to three years more to go.