Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: What is the significance of Kumbh mela?
Sri Sri: The Kumbh Mela is one of the most sacred pilgrimages in Hinduism. The word Kumbh has been derived from the Sanskrit word Kumbh meaning 'pot' or 'pitcher' and Mela means 'festival' that is why it is known as "the pitcher festival". It is a fair that energizes your mind and soul) Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ganga is a symbol of knowledge and Yamuna symbolizes love. Prayag (where Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet) is the unity of love and wisdom. When love and wisdom meets, celebration happens. Kumbh means coming together of saints, scholars and katha vachaks (story tellers). They participate in discussion and meditation with the sankalpa (positive intention) of universal benefit. People needn’t go to all the different places. They can all come to one place. The concept of mela started in India. Nowadays we call it expo. There are expos for motors, books, clothes to present all the products in one place. On similar concept all the saints used to congregate in one place once in 12 years. In those days transport facilities were not so extensive and traveling would take so much time. Kumbh mela provided an opportunity for people to converse and exchange knowledge with each other. If you see it from planetary perspective, Kumbh happens when Jupiter enters Aquarius. By bathing in the Ganges, the chitta (consciousness) becomes joyful. Your consciousness is purified. The sins are washed away. It's so beautiful. The sins are so superficial that just by a dip in the Ganges they can be washed away. The ever-pure consciousness can never be dirtied.
Q: How to be one pointed on path? There are so many distractions pulling us back.
Sri Sri: With wisdom you come back. This very question indicates you are coming back, in fact you have already come back, and you are not distracted. Through wisdom or misery you are brought back to the center. When you go away from the center, you are beaten; you start crying and then come back to your center. Wise come back to the center through wisdom. The not- so- wise face problems here and there and then come back to the center. This is the law of nature. This is how things are.
Sri Sri: That which is born from Fullness is worship. When gratitude is overwhelming, the throat chokes in gratitude, and then whatever action you perform in such a state is worship. We surrender everything – that feeling is worship.
Q: Guruji this question has bothered me for a long time. Billions of people have been born and billions have died. I am born and I will die. Then what is the purpose of life? Why are we here if all are going to die?
Sri Sri: Why not? So many people were born and died, so many are living and they will die and so many will be born in future and they will also die. You are thinking from a business mind – what am I going to get? - What is the aim? What is the purpose? There should be something coming out of everything. So when you think from a business mind, this whole exercise appears totally uneconomical and futile. Biggest disadvantage is that it seems God hasn’t studied economics (Laughter); else Einstein would be given another 100 years so that he could perform some more experiments, discoveries. So many leaves are coming up every spring and then they fall. Such an economical disaster! People are dying and new babies are born, go to school, college – job – get married – have children – and then die again. It appears to be completely bizarre. But that’s how it is.
Q: Why does the divine answer and reward some while prayers of others go unanswered?
Sri Sri: Well, I don’t know why some prayers get answered and some are not. I have no idea. Perhaps it is good for you. Perhaps you may change your mind about what you want. People go to shopping, this often happens at least in India, and ask shopkeeper, “Can I come later and exchange it if I don’t like it”. They go home and don’t like it and get it exchanged next day. Most unreliable thing you have is your own mind because you don’t know what it likes and when it doesn’t like that. That is why bringing mind to its source is so important. Its centeredness is the most important thing in spiritual evolution. Understanding what is transient and what is permanent, what brings you permanent joy and what causes temporary convenience and long term misery, what causes temporary discomfort and permanent joy, and what causes long term discomfort. That is what is called viveka, sense of discretion, wisdom – knowing this from that.
Q: While Ayurveda is considered to be indigenous system of medicine then why do English medicine has a government take over Ayurvedic medicines. Also English medicine claims to have faster recovery rate?
Sri Sri: You know statistics show contrary to this. Even in modern medicine, the probability factor of medicine not affecting is very high. Research says Placebo effect with modern medicines is nearly 40%. Modern medicines are being discovered every day and those which were used 10 – 12 years ago are being discarded. Problem is that these pharmaceutical companies have lot of economical interest. It is economy which is ruling modern medicine rather than effectiveness. I feel we should have a combined, holistic approach. Ayurveda has some very good qualities, allopathic medicines also have some very good aspects and also homeopathic. Holistic medicine is the best. It is wrong to completely discard modern medicine and it is equally wrong to discard natural cures, ayurveda. Allopathy does well in case of emergency, and ayurveda has a unique way of attending to the root cause of disease and not only symptoms, and healing without side effects. Today many such researches have been done on this and many have experienced this. E.g. Probability of remission of piles by allopathic treatment is very high but in case of ayurveda it is less than one percent. These are the things one should adopt about ayurveda. Ayurveda is anyway adopting modern methods of investigation. So best is to adopt a holistic approach. Our aim is not to benefit pharmaceutical companies but people.
Q: How do we keep God and the world together?
Sri Sri: How can you keep them together? They are already one. Where is the question of combining them? In the nature of form, it is world, and same is God in its formless nature. You don’t have to do anything to bring them together.
Q: In my country most people are of the opinion that you can’t raise a child without a non - vegetarian diet, as the body will lack in amino acids and the brain won’t function properly. What should I do?
Sri Sri: Ample research has been done to the contrary of this theory. Look into that. There are millions of people who are vegetarian in the west, and they are very brilliant. In fact all the genius people in west including Einstein were vegetarian. Many of the top scientists like Novel Lorex have been vegetarian. This theory that brain doesn’t work needs to be questioned big time.
Q: What to do with negative thoughts?
Sri Sri: It is ok to have negative thoughts at times. When you think a negative thought should never arise, then you encourage it. Accept even the most negative thoughts that come to you. Then you find it is not even there. It is just dim energy.
Q: You have talked about hidden meanings behind symbols in Hinduism which seem to be very illogical. Could you please talk about many crores of devtas.
Sri Sri: Crore, Koti means types. 33 crores means 33 types of divine impulses. In our body also there are 33 types of divine impulses. In our genes also there are 33 types. A particular type makes the eye, a particular type makes the nose, and like that a particular type makes eardrums, hair, nails. Like this there are 33 rays of divinity. One light, one God, one Parmatma but there are 33 aspects. Devas are the 33 different aspects of divinity. Here crore is not referred to as a number. Divine has no form but ancient saints have said you can adore him in any form or names. All the thousand names belong to God only. This is very deep science or deep knowledge. It’s amazing. When you go more and more deep into this, then you feel wow. People who have discovered this and written this have simply stupendous knowledge. The universe is not so simple. It’s very complex. Modern physics also says that deeper and deeper there are so many different type of particles. So the diverse universe and the divinity which manages, rules and has made this diverse universe is devta. The English name David is a Sanskrit word. Dev + vid, dev means divinity, vid means to know. David means one who knows the divinity. Divinity is not somewhere up in the heaven. It is present in the world, universe, everywhere. And it has to be realized that when the mind is calm, serene and settled in our heart and when emotion and intellect merge into a serene blend in silence, then you are able to perceive the subtle reality of Universe and that is devta.