Gurudev, in the Pune Ashram there is Ayush Homa performed during birthdays and anniversaries. What is its significance?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The chanting of mantras creates an environment of positivity and sacredness. Mantras have an impact at the subtle level also. Our physical body is the gross body, while our subtle body is 1.5 times larger than the gross body. And the Karana Sharira or Causal body is a 1000 times finer and subtler than even the subtle body itself. So we have three kinds of bodies. When the subtle body constricts and becomes smaller than the gross body, then a person becomes restless and miserable. When the subtle body diminishes even further, then a person loses his mental balance and feels like committing suicide. This is the root cause behind suicides.
Suppose the vest you are wearing shrinks too much and becomes smaller than the body, then how do you feel? You feel like tearing the vest and being free from it, right? When the inner garment you wear shrinks too much then it creates irritation, isn’t it? This is what happens in suicide too, because the subtle body shrinks too much and becomes even smaller than the gross body. By the practice of chanting mantras, pranayama and meditation the subtle body grows larger in size and also gets strengthened. When the subtle body becomes strong then one appears normal (physically). And when the subtle body expands much more than its normal limits then one feels that he is soaked in bliss. And as the subtle body expands further, it becomes finer and finer and merges or becomes one with the Causal body – that is when one gets Moksha (liberation or salvation).
Ayush Homa is a part of an ancient tradition and is performed to offer prayers for increasing one’s health and longevity. We pray for good health so that our eyes have proper sight until the last moments of our life; our ears should be able to hear properly till the time we leave this body. Along with the chantings, we also honour the Navagrahas (nine planets) and offer the sacred food grains associated with each planet into the sacrificial fire. This is what Ayush Homa is all about.
So during the Homa we chant mantras and pray to the Divine, saying, “May my lifespan increase; may I be healthy and free from diseases, and may only auspicious things happen through me. May I feel belongingness with everyone and everything around me”.
So one performs the Ayush Homa with all these prayers and wishes. This is an ancient Vedic way of celebrating one’s birthday.
Gurudev, it is said that for people and objects that come and go in our life – they were never ours to begin with. My question is that, why do these people or events come in our life when they were never ours, or never will be ours?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Well, everything comes and goes in this world. Nothing stays. We have come to this planet now and we will also leave one day, and those who have already left this world will return to it someday. This is how the cycle of worldly life is. So do not sit and trouble yourself with such questions. Did you understand? Just relax and have fun.
What is use of asking questions like, “Why is water flowing? Why does the sun shine? Why is the sun so hot? Why is it raining?” Your mind gets stuck in asking “Why this? Why that?” What will you gain from getting all your answers? What will you do by getting answers to all your questions? It is good to question things, up to a certain extent. There is a limit to which we can question everything, and restricting the extent of our questions to that limit actually helps awaken us from inside. That is the purpose – to awaken a sleeping person (here meaning one who is stuck in inertia or negativity). Once a person awakes to the reality, then there are no more questions. All questions come to an end, and life becomes a melodious harmony.
How should I handle the fears in my kid’s mind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
See, there isn’t much fear in the mind of a child. And even if there is, you should calmly explain to them and ask them to do some chanting, such as 'Om Namaha Shivaya', or just say 'Jai Gurudev', and all the fear drops off.
See, when you have some moral support then there is no fear. This is why chanting mantras, doing Pranayama can offer strong support to dispel away all fears one may have. Mantras are the greatest source of strength and support.
Gurudev, I am a Sikh girl and I wish to marry a Jain boy. But my father says that Sikhism is the best religion and that I should not marry outside my religion. He also says that I have betrayed my religion by joining the Art of Living. What do I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
No, there is nothing like that. Just ask him patiently, why he is in so much ignorance? Ask him why does he misunderstand so many things despite having come to the light of the Guru? It means he has not correctly understood the teachings of Guru Nanak Devji. Ask him to read the complete Guru Granth Sahib once again. It is so wonderful. There is such deep Self-knowledge, and it also speaks about self-determination.
Jainism also has these main principles in it and promotes non-violence, the quest for the highest truth, etc. If you observe keenly, Sikhism as a religion is the coming together of 15 truly great saints. The teachings of 15 great saints have been incorporated into the Guru Granth Sahib. The teachings of Kabir Das are also present in it, even though he was a Muslim saint. These great saints had evolved Sikhism in order to bring an end to the discrimination based on caste and race. The word “Sikh” means shishya (a student; here meaning one is who is always learning and evolving). So tell your father, “Dear father, you seem to have forgotten these great virtues. Please read the Japji Sahib and Guru Granth Sahib once again. The Gurbaani in the scripture that speaks about bringing an end to religious discrimination and casteism".
The entire essence of the Vedas and the Upanishads is present in the Guru Granth Sahib. In the Japji Sahib it is said, “Ek Omkar satnaam kartapurakh”, meaning that Omkar represents the One Divinity present everywhere.
Jainism and Hinduism too have the same belief and speak about Om. Where is the difference among them? It is just a matter of wrong perception or misunderstanding. There is no difference or separation at all. So tell your father, “We also believe so greatly in Om, just like the other religions as well”.