Q: Guruji, sometimes you tell us, ‘Karmanye Vadhikaraste’ (action) and sometimes you tell us ‘Vishraam mein Ram hai’ (rest). Should I be resting or should I be performing action? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Opposite values are complimentary. If you work, you will be able to rest well; if you rest, you will be able to work well. Without doing any work, if you just lie around, you will not even be able to rest, and if you keep working without taking rest, you will not be able to do your work either. So rest and activity both go hand in hand.
Q: Guruji, does one attain knowledge according to his karma? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: For attaining knowledge the desire for knowledge should be awakened. Now if you ask me, is the desire for knowledge based on one’s karma? Yes! But knowledge eliminates karma.
Q: Guruji, what all should be done to maintain discipline in one’s life? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First thing is there should be a desire in the mind to be disciplined, once that is there then consider it already done.
Discipline is there because of three reasons:
First is love. Although in love there is no need for discipline, but through love, discipline can be achieved.
Second is fear. Suppose you say to someone, ‘If you don’t observe discipline, you will fall sick,’ then that person will become disciplined out of fear of sickness.
Third is greed. Suppose you tell someone, ‘If you don’t observe discipline, you will incur a loss,’ that person will become disciplined out of greed.
So it is better to have discipline out of unconditional love; that is the best.
Q: Guruji, it has often been seen that the very news of your arrival to a particular city starts a fight. Why does seva instigate so much controversy? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First a fight has to start, only then the Gita begins!
Yes, before my arrival in any city, a fight begins. I have also heard about this before.
‘Where will Guruji stay, in whose house will he stay?’ And each one will say, ‘my place’. I will do like that and I will do like this… that is how it all starts. What to do? I wonder!
There is no love without conflict and there is no conflict without love. Somewhere or the other, the two must come together.
Q: Guruji, to retain the state acquired in meditation, what should I do? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just keep doing what you are doing now. You have to continue doing it, again and again. ‘Baar baar Raghuveer samai’: Again and again meditate.
So do meditation, sadhana and satsang and talk about it as well. Anything that is in your speech, the mind and in action gets firmly established.
If you do your sadhana and the rest of the time you keep talking about petty things, whatever juice you got after your sadhana will start fading away. That is why in speech also, let that state find expression. Whenever you talk, talk about knowledge, talk about love. Then you will see it gets more firmly established in you. This is the importance of satsang.
In satsang we talk about the good things, we talk about knowledge, meditation and miracles.
You talk about miracles happening in someone’s life – isn’t this what you discuss? How many of you talk like this, only about miracles? What happens when you talk only about miracles? Every day something new happens in your life and so many new lessons are learnt.
So the mind becomes strong with these kinds of discussions.
Q: Guruji can I be in silence whenever I want? I feel it will benefit me a lot. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes! Ask others and see; ask your family members!
But do not keep silence that will cause inconvenience or suffering to others. Speak less and speak only as much as is needed.
You must speak ‘Meeta Bhaashi’ (friendly speech), ‘Geeta Bhaashi’ (melodious/pleasant speech), ‘Priya Bhaashi’ (loving speech)’ and ‘Satya Bhaashi (Truth)’ – speak less, speak beneficial, speak pleasant and speak the truth.
Q: Guruji, what should one ask for from a Satguru? Is there a need for prayer when a Satguru is there? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Whatever need arises, you ask, that is why it is called ‘need’.
You can’t sit and think what I should ask. Whatever is your requirement, whatever is your need that will come as a question, as a request, yes!
Q: Guruji, when consciousness is formless, should we have faith in the forms also or just have faith in the formless? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you have reached the formless, it is fine! Forms are just part of the formless.
You can’t relate to the formless, so you relate to the forms when your eyes are open. But when you close your eyes and go deep in meditation, then only you can relate to the formless.
That is how you begin, but later on you will find whether eyes are open or closed, you are with the formless.
Q: Guruji, when I focus on my work or sadhna, my relationships suffer. I want to focus on my sadhna, yet want people around me to be happy. How do I achieve this? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Skillfully! You have to do both. It will come spontaneously.
Q: Guruji, sometimes I don’t have time to do seva. Is donation also considered as seva? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes! That is also seva.
See, whatever is possible for you, that is what is seva.
Suppose, you cannot lift a stone, you don’t need to do it. You shouldn’t do what you cannot do. If someone else can do it, you can make them lift the stone that is also part of seva. In the same way, if you cannot go and teach a student yourself, you can help through another teacher. They can teach.
So seva is that what you can do, yes!
If you have time, you can give time. If you have money, you can give money. In whichever way you help, it is called seva.
Q: Gurudev, you have so many disciples. How do you keep track of each disciple’s spiritual progress? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is my trade secret! (Guruji says laughing!)
Q: Dearest Guruji, any valentine in the world pampers his partner, reciprocates the love, etc. How can we find the same satisfaction in the Divine Valentine? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The Divine has already pampered you enough. Know that you are already pampered so much. And it will continue.
Q: Guruji, how do we avoid ‘Karma Bandhan’ (bondage due to actions) in our daily life? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Karma Bandhan is when there is some craving or there is some aversion. Both craving and aversion we call as ‘Karma Bandhan’.
So when you do an action without aversion or craving, with a smile, with a free mind and a clean heart, then there is no bondage. Such kind of action brings that inner freedom too.
Q: Can you please say something for the people who are visually impaired? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes! Being visually impaired is not an impediment for growth. You all should remember this.
Surdas, a great saint of this country was visually impaired. Dhritarashtra was an emperor who ruled India and he too was visually impaired. So there are many examples.
Swami Shraddhananda, one of the greatest saints of this century was visually impaired. Just few decades ago, he attained his final abode.
Swami Shraddhanandaji used to go to Brindavan to see the temple every day. Someone asked him, ‘Swamiji, you can’t see, and there is a big rush in the temple, why do you go there? What do you see?’ He smiled and replied, ‘If I don’t see, at least the Lord is seeing me. He wants to see me, that is why I am going there. So it doesn’t matter if I cannot see. Do you think He is also unable to see me? Let Him see me. He feels happy by my going there.’
So, this is the depth of devotion, depth of love and the confidence – that the Divinity loves me. You should not ask proof of Divine’s love for you. You should never ask that. Always know that the Divine loves me, that is it! Full stop! No question mark in front of that.
Same with everybody in your day to day life also, don’t question others love for you.
Does Guruji love me? This question should not be there at all.
Similarly, my friend loves me or not, my husband loves me or not, or my wife loves me or not - don’t put question marks in front of love. Simply believe they love you and move on. Whatever their behavior is immaterial.
Q: Guruji, God is the operator of this creation and God is our Father. Then why does misery, poverty and ignorance exist? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Someone asked a saint this same question, ‘Why does sorrow exist in this world?’ The saint said, ‘God has kept it for me. Why? Because in spite of there being sorrow I am unable to renounce this world, how would I renounce it if there was no sorrow? And if I don’t renounce it, how will I be able to turn my attention towards God?’
The attention never turns to God.
So the saint said, ‘Sorrow exists so that I do not get caught up in the world. Even after there being so much sorrow, I am so caught up here, and I do not turn towards God. That is why God made this (world) sorrowful, so that one can enjoy it for a little while, and then renounce it and turn back towards God.’ That is why it is said, ‘Dukh mein sumiran sab karen, sukh mein kare na koye, sukh mein sumiran jo kare, dukh kaahe ko hoye.’
Q: Guruji, what is the difference between Guru, Dharma Guru and Satguru?
The other question is, it is believed that in this universe, in any given era, there is only one Satguru; so who is that Satguru, and if it is you, please answer?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is said, ‘Mere Guru hi jagat Guru hain – mere naath hi Jagat ke naath hain’ (My master is the master of this Universe) – this is what one should believe, and this is the truth.
Dharma Guru, Jagat Guru or Sat Guru, these are just different names - what is it that you need – take it and move ahead.
One who speaks about the truth is Satguru. Satguru cannot be someone’s name. Who is a Satguru? One who shows you the truth.
Just as there is a Sangeet Guru (music teacher), there is a Satguru (Guru of truth). Satguru is one who makes you aware of what is truth, what is untruth, what is this world, what is the soul. The one who teaches you to understand these distinctions is called Satguru.
Q: If everything is pre-destined then why does a human being need to do anything? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Though everything is destined, man has to make efforts to get what he likes and what he wants. For example, if you want sunlight in your house, you need to open the windows and doors to see it. You cannot shut the windows and expect the sunlight to come into the house. At the same time you cannot open the windows and doors at midnight and expect the sunlight.
So you need to make efforts towards your goal and what has to happen will happen. Your efforts and destiny, both go together.
Q: Dear Guruji, no matter how much I meditate, I cannot control my temper. What do I do? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do not try to control your temper, do pranayama regularly. Try to accept people as they are in this world, never try to change them but accept them.
Keep meditating, if you cannot control your temper even after meditating, imagine the kind of temper you will have without meditating. So meditate and do pranayama and it will gradually decrease.
Q: Guruji, I am following you with all my heart for the last 4 years and I have started growing a beard and wearing white clothes. My parents and wife are very unhappy with me. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You don’t need to do all that. Shave off your beard and wear normal colored clothes and be normal.
Role model does not mean you have to wear the same type of clothes and everything. No! Be compassionate, be loving and do all the good work you need to do.
Q: Guruji, could you talk on Shivratri and its importance? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Mahashivratri is the day when the Shiva tattva touches the ground, touches the earth. The consciousness which is always ten inches above the material ground; the aura, the ethereal world which is ten inches above the surface, touches the earth element on Mahashivrathri day.
So, it is very useful for people to keep awake and meditate on that day.
Do not eat too much, eat very light and do more meditation, then it helps in fulfillment of desires. This is the ancient belief.
It helps you to grow stronger in your being. It is like a new year for a saadhak (seeker), for spiritual growth, spiritual attainment and worldly attainment, so it is considered auspicious.
The night on this day, when the constellations are in some particular position, is very auspicious for meditation. That is the ancient belief.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen on any other day. Any time your heart is open, your mind is calm and steady, prayers do get answered. But Shivratri day is celebrated with the singing of the ancient vedic chants and a ceremony is done, and it is considered a very auspicious time for a spiritual aspirant.
It is the wedding of the material with the spiritual.
The material which is eight fold came close to the ethereal which is also eight fold.
So what the eight fold prakriti (nature)? Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intellect and ego; all these come in contact with the subtle eight, i.e., the Shiva Tattva.
People usually eat very light, some fruits or something and fast. I don’t recommend you fasting without anything. Take some fruits or some light easily digestible food and spend the day awake and at night meditate. You don’t need to do meditation all night. Meditate for some time.
We will have satsang and some celebrations. That’s it!
In fact every day is a very auspicious day because we do satsang every day.
In ancient times, people used to say okay, if you cannot do every day, at least one day in a year, on Shivratri day, do meditation and keep awake.
Wake the Divinity that is deep within you. That is the message. The Divinity is within you, let it wake up!
Q: Is there any significance of not sleeping the whole night? How long should we stay awake? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, don’t strain yourself. Be natural.
Q: Why is Mahashivratri called as Mahashivratri (night of Shiva) and not Mahashivadiwas (day of Shiva)? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, I have spoken about it. Read the book. Raatri means that which gives you comfort, gives you rest; from what? That which gives us rest from the three Taapa (miseries) is Raatri: Aadi bhautika (Physical), Aadhyaatmika (Spiritual) and Aadi Daivika (Ethereal).
Taapayitra refers to problem/suffering; that time which takes us from misery towards relief is known as Raatri.