Q: What did your parents think when you took up spirituality at such a young age?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Oh! You want to hear about it? When I first came home, I had a beard. You should ask me why I grew a beard? I was in Delhi, at Beach Arbhatta, opposite to Kamal Theatre, teaching meditation there.
People would come, because they had heard that Gurudev was going to teach meditation.
They would see me; no beard, a young boy of 19 years old or 20 years old and they would ask me, ‘Where is Gurudev?’
I would say, ‘I am Gurudev!’
When they would see me and they would go away. So I lost half my students; many were professors, elders, some were from Delhi University.
I thought I looked too young, too much boyish and I should grow a little beard. So I grew a beard. And then they thought that I am in a Guru's uniform.
When I went back home with a beard, my mother was so upset! She told my sister, ‘Ask him to take off that beard!’
My sister said, ‘Don't tell him anything. He will go away; he has come for a few days.’
My mother was not very happy with me growing a beard. Somehow I cajoled her, counseled her. I told her that this is a uniform! Without this uniform, people think I am a small boy. They are not learning anything from me, not taking my words seriously. That is the story.
Of course, she also loved everything else I did; later, she got used to the beard.