Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Gurudev, why one should not have the desire for the fruits or results after doing one’s karma? Is it not but natural to feel so?
Sri Sri: Ok, the go ahead and keep the desire (Laughter). It is not said that you should not have the desire or expectation for the result. But you do not have any control over the result. If you get a thing even before the need/desire for it arises, it is a sign of Atibhagya (great fortune). What is the meaning of Bhagya (Good fortune)? It is when you get a thing becomes available to you even before the need for it arises. The slightly less fortunate ones are those who get a thing when they desire it. When everything becomes available even without asking, it is Siddhi (an extraordinary ability). One whose desires get fulfilled after asking is a little less fortunate than the one whose desires are fulfilled without having to even ask. And if there is someone in whose mind so many desires arise but who gets very little after so much effort, such a person is even less fortunate. One who only toils the whole life and doesn’t get the results he desires is the least fortunate of all.
Now how can one cross from one step of the ladder to the other? It is possible by Satkarma (good actions or merits). Doing Sadhana, Seva and Satsang all helps in this. How many of you feel that you get whatever you think here in your mind? (Many in the audience raise hands) For how many of you does it happen even before thinking? (Many in the audience raise hands) This is Siddhi. You all have become Siddhas (perfected beings, with extraordinary abilities). (Laughter)
Q: Gurudev, so many blessed souls came from India like Lord Mahavira, Lord Buddha and Lord Krishna. And still India suffers so much. There is so much crime and corruption. Why?
Sri Sri: Do you mean that these people were ineffective? No, it is not so at all. Just imagine what would have happened if India was devoid of spirituality. What would have been the fate of this country? You just can’t imagine. Have you noticed that wherever there is a lack of spirituality, there is so much violence? For example, wherever there are Naxalites present, they do not believe in religion; they do not believe in God and spirituality. The communists are so averse to the word spirituality. Till recently they were even discarding Swami Vivekananda. But now they have somehow started putting pictures of Swami Vivekananda in their homes since the last 5-6 years, this has happened not more than a decade ago. Communists have started adoring spirituality, accepting it out of inevitability Do you see what what they have created in all this time? Only a culture of violence, nothing else. Isn’t it?
So spirituality is essential for the growth of the country. Without this India would have been like the Balkan states long ago. Just see what is happening in Andhra Pradesh. Everything was alright until one lady for own benefits or vote bank politics or whatever took a decision to divide Andhra Pradesh. Now there is fire everywhere. There was public unrest for a whole month and Andhra Pradesh has come to a standstill condition. It is spirituality that is still keeping India sane. It is the spiritual nature of India because of which we embraced everyone. We embraced all the religions of the world. We gave place to everyone, from every community. India is the only country where Jews were never ever prosecuted. In every other country of the world they had problems. The Parsis came from Iran and they blended into the people of this country. Every religion is here and there is harmony. There is a sincere welcome for all people to come and be here. This is only because of spirituality.
Spirituality unites people of all religions. If it was only a religious country without spirituality, then it would not have been so. Just see what happened in Rome, in Constantinople. The Church was there but then it was destroyed and mosques were built. Or the mosque was destroyed and church was built. This sort of thing kept happening and millions of people were killed in this process. It is Spirituality that is needed to bind everybody’s heart and mind. It does not matter what religion or what religious sect people follow. What is most important is to be a good human being, and be connected with the Divinity. This is the most important thing. Do you know what is happening in Egypt, and what happened in Syria last night? It is unbelievable (referring to public unrest and civil violence in these countries). So many people are being killed and prosecuted every day.
Q: Gurudev, what is the significance of applying tilak on the forehead (referring to the portion of the forehead between the eyebrows)? What does it represent? Married women in our country also apply the tilak. What is the reason behind it?
Sri Sri: The third eye is present there (referring to the center associated with alertness or awareness). So there is a custom of applying sandal paste or other things at the location of pineal and pituitary glands which have a great effect on our body and mind. One reason for applying the paste is to give respect to that portion of the forehead. It stimulates our attention.
Whenever you think, what do you do? Your hand automatically goes at this place. When you make a mistake, your hand goes at the head. When you think or deeply ponder over something or some problem comes then too you keep your hand like this. If you go to any country or any corner of the world, you find that everywhere people think like this. This is the seat of wisdom. It is the peetha (seat) of knowledge. That is why chandan (sandal paste), kumkum or sindoor (vermillion powder) is applied there. It is symbolic.
Q: Gurudev, the corporate world is all about making profits. And spiritual world is about distributing wealth. How to strike a balance?
Sri Sri: It is just like how you ride a motorbike. You have to make your institution profitable. If you go into loss, how can you be any charitable? You can’t do charity then, right? So you need to take care of both.
Q: Gurudev, We are from the city of Nasik where the Trayambakeshwar temple (one of the twelve Jyotirlingas or holy sites of pilgrimage dedicated to Lord Shiva) is located. When ‘Triyamba’ is one of the names of the Mother Divine, then how come Lord Shiva got this name?
Sri Sri: See, I have not read the Sthala Puranas (a branch of the Puranas which narrate the stories and the origins of various Shiva temples or shrines, written in different vernacular languages). So I am not aware of it. There are so many people from Maharashtra. Ask them. There are so many stories. Yes, Lord Shiva does have three eyes which is why he is called as ‘Trinetra’ (Tri = Three, & Netra = Eyes or vision). And what are those three eyes? There are three main Nadis (subtle energy channels) within the human body – the Ida, Pingala and the Sushumna Nadi.
Q: Gurudev, what should one do when one feels helpless in a situation and that helplessness turns into frustration, anger and sadness?
Sri Sri: See, you are forgetting that there is a bigger power with you and which is in control. When you feel helpless then that is the best time to pray. Your prayer will be authentic and really rewarding.
Q: Gurudev, can spirituality make me wealthy? I am very wealthy financially.
Sri Sri: Do not think that spirituality will make you wealthy. Spirituality will make you stronger. Then use this strength in a good way with hard work. There is a saying in Sanskrit that only those who do hard work can be wealthy and full of strength and energy. For hard work you need strength and self-confidence which spirituality gives you. Only spirituality can give you the self-confidence and fearlessness like that of a lion. There is no other way.
Q: Gurudev, my profession is such that I cannot get by without speaking lies. Is there any way by which I can do well in my profession without having to resort to telling lies?
Sri Sri: What profession is that? (Laughter) It sounds like the profession of a lawyer. See, there are many eminent and capable lawyers even today who do not take up cases which are not good (meaning cases of corrupt and false people); or cases which may harm others. Reputed lawyers first always study the case; and then evaluate if there is any probability of winning it. Only then do they take it up. So you also judge and use your discretion.
Truth when expressed through words becomes false (Meaning: Truth is that which is beyond words and is inexpressible). There is a saying from olden times – “Vachyarambhaha vikaaro naamadheya”. It means the truth, when spoken through words becomes distorted into a lie. Whatever comes into expression becomes a lie, it becomes distorted. So don’t worry. Truth is not spoken. The Truth is not that which is spoken. Truth is said to be trikaala-baadhit (relevant at all times; or meaning that the truth is beyond the past, present and the future).So that which remains the same in all the three times is the truth. So you continue your profession without any worries. Do it honestly. Surrender the rest to God.
Q: Gurudev, what is the meaning of Pratikraman?
Sri Sri: There is a custom in Jainism called Pratikraman (Self-introspection). Every evening before going to sleep, they sit by themselves and remember everything they have done since morning. So, they recollect and ponder upon what they did an hour or two before retiring for the night. This is called Pratikraman. This is an art of deleting any impressions that could have come in the mind or the impressions of karma. That is called Pratikraman.
Q: Gurudev, many people’s religions do not believe in reincarnation. Do such people attain liberation?
Sri Sri: Whether one believes or does not believe, does that ever change the Truth? The Truth is always as it is. If someone does not believe, then that is it! They just don’t believe it. That does not diminish the Truth in any way.
The scientists today have proved that reincarnation exists. What else remains to be said then? In some religions, it used to be believed that the Earth is not round but a square. Some religions believed that the Earth is stationary and it is the Sun that revolves around the Earth. When scientists stood up against this (religious) belief, they were hunted down and burnt alive. Some were hanged to death. This happened in what is called as the Spanish Inquisition. In Spain, at the time of the Middle Ages, each and every scientist was hunted down and was considered to be a form or messenger of the Devil, and they were murdered. It is not too long ago, it happened some 100-200 years ago. Today those same religions have become more scientific in outlook.
India always maintained a scientific and practical outlook from the very beginning. No scientist or researcher was ever killed here. In fact, even an atheist school of thought like Charvaka was honoured in our country. Its followers were allowed to follow and propagate their principles and philosophy here. The ancient Indians would think that if the limited intellect of the Charvaka school of thought is only this much, then that too was alright and accepted by them. They would often say, ‘if this is what your limited intellect can grasp and understand about God and the Creation, then that is fine as well. As your intellect matures, you will gain more knowledge and understanding in time’. India is the only country in the world that has never attacked another country. It has never plundered or conquered any other country in history. Yet India was looted and plundered so many times in history by foreign invaders. It was attacked many times in history, and we remained slaves (to foreign rule) for 1000 years. Despite all this, we have continued to rise higher and progress.
However, our country is currently in a very dangerous situation. Product prices are rising, and the Dollar is rising against the Indian Rupee, which is falling every day. There is such rampant corruption everywhere. People today are shamelessly indulging in corruption. It is so shocking. In the earlier days, if some place was found to be corrupt, people would resign and leave that organization or post. But today so many malpractices are happening in our country. During the organization of the Commonwealth Games in India, a few ministers were charged with bribe and corruption and were put behind bars. But after some time, they were released on bail and allowed to sit in Parliament. In the 2G scam that happened recently, a few government officers were jailed on charges of corruption. But they were let go after a few days and they went back to the Parliament. Though they were put in jail, they became healthier during their stay before leaving. Probably they went there to digest whatever (money) they had consumed earlier (Laughter). After that they were freed to go out once again. Files of these accused people get ‘mysteriously’ burnt in natural disasters in Maharashtra (meaning that actual evidence is destroyed on false accounts of natural disasters). A government office where such files and evidence is stored catches fire and is burnt completely. The people’s hearts are burning on seeing such incidents. You know, some files are kept in an area where there is actually no chance of fire at all. Yet files go missing or get burnt in such places. Close to 175 files related to the Coal-gate scam suddenly went missing one fine day. This is shocking indeed. Such incidents never used to happen at all in our country. Nowadays people freely steal and then destroy all evidence that can prove them guilty of crime. It is finished. This is truly a downfall in our country and is a serious cause of concern. Whenever such downfall happens, people of the country unite and rise together against corruption. The time for that has come. Is it not so? What do you all say?