Q: If God is omnipresent and one feels strong connection to the Guru, is it still needed to go to temples. What is the significance of rituals?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, you do not need to go to any temple, mosques, or churches or anything. Wherever you are, sit and meditate, there you find the presence of the Divine.But rituals are good to have in life; a little bit of them. Not too much.
Without rituals, life becomes a little dry and monotonous. It is the rituals that brings a certain flavor, a certain celebration, a certain color to life. So I would say, we must have some rituals from time to time; it is good.
In this country you will also
find this in buses. Every
bus driver, taxi drivers, car
drivers, rickshaw drivers,
the first thing in the
morning they put a small
flower or light an incense
stick and bow down. And
this little thing they do
makes a qualitative
difference in their lives.
See, walk into a house where they have no rituals at all, and then walk into a house where everyday they light a lamp, or light an incense stick, and where there is a sanctity; there is a difference in the atmosphere.How many of you have noticed this?
There is a certain difference.It creates a sort of atmosphere.The subtle becomes more alive there, isn’t it?
So a little bit of ritual is good in everyday life. In the morning when you wake up, sit and meditate.Of course you should do pranayama along with meditation.
Even if one person in a house lights a lamp somewhere; everybody does not need to do it, just one person in a home lights a lamp, it enlivens the whole atmosphere.This is what I have seen practically.
I have visited so many homes; small, big, huts, bungalows, and everywhere I have seen one thing for sure, even in a small hut, they have a little altar and they have a candle or something there, and the whole atmosphere has some subtleness to it, something nice about it.
In a home where there is nothing, no symbol of sacredness or no lamps are being lit, you get in and there is a certain dullness.
I have noticed this.That is why I would say, a little altar in a home and some ritual is good.Any one person can do it;the lady of the house can do, or the man of the home can do it. And it also good for children to see that there is something that they should do to get that flavor of religiosity, or spiritualness.
In this country you will also find this in buses.Every bus driver, taxi drivers, car drivers, rickshaw drivers, the first thing in the morning they put a small flower or light an incense stick and bow down. And this little thing they do makes a qualitative difference in their lives.
Even in shops and hotels in India they have an altar.
You can ask them, ‘Why do you do this?’ Maybe someone can do some research on it.
It gives them some sort of psychological strength. In some subtle way it enlivens the atmosphere. This is what I feel.
In India, in the government offices they do.Every officer in their office, they have an altar.
In Karnataka it is a little too much.If the chief minister has to take an oath, or get into a new office, they do a thorough puja ceremony there and everything.
World over this is there. Even in the US senate and in parliament of Canada, every day they have a moment for prayer.There is a pastor for every parliament who comes and reads from the Holy Bible.
Only in India we talk about secularism and secularism. It is a sort of disease that we try to keep away from all the wisdom, knowledge and ancient traditions. People try to do this but it does not really happen. It is so deeply embedded in everyone.