Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: I belong to a particular sect of Islam. I see a lot of violence associated with Islam. Why are there religious conflicts in the World today? Is there any Supreme power behind it, something supernatural? Why don’t we follow our paths, celebrating all religions? Why do there exist seemingly different words of the Masters of different ages and times and places?
Sri Sri: In those days, communication was not so good, there were no telephones. For people to go from here to there and there to here would take years, not just months. So at that time what was prevailing in that area, that is what Masters or Gurus or Saints spoke more about. Muhammad spoke about Judaism and Christianity, he didn’t speak about Hinduism or Buddhism because it had not reached that area then; but he said for every tribe a different wisdom has been given. He also said, ‘So many prophets have come before me, honor them all.’ That’s what he said, be at peace and honor everybody.
He said about one lakh prophets have come before me, if you count those hundred thousand it will include many Rishis and Maharishis, and all the Masters who have come to the planet. Unfortunately, after his demise, the religion became very much restrained and it started restricting people.
Mohammed gave so much freedom for women at that time but then later on it changed. You know it happens in every religion, as times goes, distortion happens. Whatever the original prophet said that doesn’t stay on, it doesn’t remain, things change.
See today, in Pakistan, everyday there is a bomb blast that too in mosques because one sect of Islam thinks only they are correct and everybody else is wrong. The Wahabi sect thinks everyone else, even Sufis are wrong. So it is mainly the religious leaders who create more of these problems and not the founder of the religion. The founder of all religions would have just said, go on the spiritual path, go within and connect yourself to the Divinity. They would have all recommended yoga, chanting and meditation. So, unfortunately, we leave the cream of the religion and get to the outer shell and people are fighting unnecessarily. That is why we should turn to spirituality.
The main message of the Prophets is: Have peace with yourself, peace in your environment and peace in the world. Second is love all and serve all, third is to believe in one God but in many names, that is it.
There is one Divinity in many names and in many forms. Love and compassion for everybody and peace in your heart, if these are there then you don’t have to listen to anybody who tells you that you should not do this because you are not this or that.
Q: Compared to the universe, if our existence is nothing then what impact does it create if we are born or not? How does our karma effect?
Sri Sri: See, in the universe nothing matters, yet everything matters. This universe will collapse even if one species disappears. Suppose all the house flies disappear from the universe, the universe will collapse, it cannot exist. This is what scientists say today, even if a particular type of butterfly is missing or one type of flower becomes extinct, the universe cannot stay.
A house fly has no significance; how many planets are there! How many solar systems are there! Milky ways are there! Yet, if house flies are missing the universe collapses. So, though house flies are very insignificant they are very significant. Similarly, everyone is significant yet insignificant.
Q: In the Part 1 course they have explained the three sounds and when they are put together they sound ‘Om’, ‘Amen’ and ‘Ameen’. I don’t understand how the three sounds form ‘Amen’ and ‘Ameen’.
Sri Sri: No it’s similar, ‘Aa’ and ‘Ma’, two sounds are definitely there, it’s very similar.
If you see, English is a distortion of Sanskrit. Lots of words in English are derived from Sanskrit; I would say nearly 50 percent; brother: bhratru, sister: svasa, mother: mata, etc.
When the language changes usually distortion happens.
In Bengali, there are a lot of changes that have happened, ‘Vishnu’ become ‘Bishnu’; ‘Vishwas’ becomes ‘Bishwas’. The Bengalis say ‘eat water’, ‘jal khabe’; ‘khabe’ means eating but they say ‘jal khabe’. ‘Jal’ becomes ‘jol’; ‘jol khabe’. Every language has got its own characteristics, isn’t it?
In English also they change the pronunciation; instead of ‘West Bengal’ they say ‘Best Bengal’. Don’t ‘baste’ food; for ‘waste’ they say ‘baste’. That is how it is. You have to accept it.
‘You like bhite, you always bear bhites’; they are actually saying you always wear whites. ‘Guruji always bears bhites’ - that is the typical pronunciation. In Gujarat ‘lawn’ becomes ‘loan’ and ‘hall’ becomes ‘hole’; ‘the loan is in front of the hole.’
Q: Dear Guruji, my business keeps me busy but I have this urge of doing some seva. Is there something that I can support financially without giving too much of my time? Will that be counted as seva?
Sri Sri: Yes, that is okay. Some can give time, some can provide resources. Seva happens with both time and resource. So if you can’t give time you can put your resources into that.
Q: Is Lord Vishnu’s task easier or is your task here on Earth easier?
Sri Sri: Look I do not do any comparison. If my task is easy or difficult, I don’t go and discuss it and think about it. Whatever it is, if it is difficult we have to do it, if it is easy we have to do it and it is all happening through the Vishnu shakti only. Vishnu is not somewhere sitting in the Waters, Vishnu is the one which has His existence in each and every inch of this Creation.
Q: Dearest Guruji, is it true that every chapter of the Bhagavad Gita has influence on a particular plane? Kindly explain.
Sri Sri: Planets are far away, they have an influence on your mind, on your Self. Every chapter has an influence on you.
Q: In a world that is changing so fast you still seem to be the same, unchanged and so beautiful and so adorable. How is that Guruji?
Sri Sri: Some questions are to be wondered about, so this too is not a question but something you need to wonder about. Questions are always bent, crooked, but wonder is always straight. So transforming life from question to wonder is knowledge. Knowledge does not give answers to questions but changes the questions to wonder. So this is something that you should wonder about.
The Ashramities have started chanting a few shlokas of the Bhagavad Gita every day. I would like to say that everyone, wherever you are, start reading a few shlokas of the Bhagavad Gita every day. Read three to four shlokas everyday, if you don’t understand Sanskrit never mind, even the translation is good enough.
Q: Is there something like a good or bad being? If someone is bound by an outer problem, does the negative path follow him? How to get rid of that?
Sri Sri: There is no good or bad soul. There are strong and weak souls. Strong souls are happy, and weak ones are sad. Now, how does a soul become strong? Devotion strengthens the soul. Love strengthens the soul, hatred and sorrow weakens the soul.
Q: How do I enjoy life if it is going to get finished one day? This thought doesn’t let me enjoy Guruji.
Sri Sri: It should make you appreciate life more. See, a flower is going to wither away but don’t you enjoy looking at the flower? You have a gulab jamun (an Indian sweet), ice creams, once you eat it’s going to finish but don’t you enjoy it? Now see, there is the beautiful full moon there and it is going to disappear one day but still we enjoy it today. Good!
Q: Dearest Guruji, if Shiva is the potential of this universe, then what is Narayana Tatva?
Sri Sri: Narayana is the manifestation of Shiva tatva in the human system. Shiva tatva is the un-manifest absolute; Narayana is the manifestation of it. Like water vapor or humidity in the atmosphere, you don’t see it but when the clouds pour you see the rain. So water is Narayana and the water vapor is Shiva tatva. That is why when you see Swamis and Sanyasis or Yogis you say, ‘Om Namo Narayana’.