Q: Gurudev, few days back you were discussing about Maya (Illusion) and I thought about my mother-in-law. God has given her everything. She has a nice house, servants, car and a daughter-in- law like me. But despite of all this her face is always serious grim. And surprisingly her name is also Maya. Now I know what is Maya. Please let me know how to get liberated from Maya. (Laughter)
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I will first ask ‘Maya’ (referring here to the mother-in-law) and then let you know! (Laughter) Maybe she also wants freedom from someone. Liberation is not one sided. See, even your mother has scolded you at many times, is it not so? There isn’t a single girl who has not received a scolding from her own mother. Everyone here has been scolded by their mother, right? But when your mother-in-law scolds you, it is not even ten percent of what your mother has done. When your own mother criticized you, you accepted it so easily! You did not feel the pinch so much then. Your love towards your mother did not diminish because of her scolding you. Did it? No, it never reduces. So the Mother-in-law is also a mother. She is the mother of your husband. She considers you like a daughter and may speak a few harsh words sometimes. You just take it in your stride and accept that. Why do you get so bothered and upset about it? Why do you take it to your heart and become sad? Go and sit with your mother-in-law, talk to her lovingly and be with her. Don’t let the family bonds break.
We get stuck with such small problems in our minds and become unhappy. We should not do this. Your mother and mother-in-law would roughly be of the same age. Then their nature must also be similar. Now, your mother scolds you so that you are prepared for the scolding at your husband’s place. Sometimes this injection does not work, and then In between there is a need to get advice. Swallow your mother-in-law’s scolding, embrace her with love and your family will not break. Your husband will be happy and gradually your mother-in-law will also be happy. I think that I will have to write a book on how to handle mother-in-law and daughter-in-law (Laughter). Let’s design a course in which we shall make both of them sit together and tell them to criticize and abuse each other how much they want. Once they are done, then hug each other.
There is a beautiful saying in Sanskrit: ‘Dadatu dadatu gaali, gaali panto bhavatu’. There are three meanings of gaali. The first meaning of Gaali is an abusive word or some profanity. The second meaning of gaali is wealth or property. The third meaning is a chakkar (a wheel), means one, which moves forward. So to the one who gives abuses, you should say that “You keep on giving me gaali, but I am going to bless you that you become rich and progressive. This is my blessing to you. You can throw abuses at me but I am still going to wish you only good because every time you give me some abusive word, my bad Karma is reduced”. Every time someone abuses us, he takes away our bad Karma. That is why we should not be ashamed or angry at someone abusing us.
There was a discussion between all the five fingers about who is the biggest. How many of you have heard this story? Raise your hand (Many raise their hands in the audience). I spoke about this on Guru Purnima too. Okay, I will tell the story once more. So once all the five fingers of the hand got into an argument as to which is the best or more important. The thumb said to the others, “I am separate from you all. I am very strong, and whenever someone wins, they show the thumb as a sign of victory. So I am the greatest because I represent victory”. On hearing this, the first finger laughed and said, (the finger one uses to point), “I am the one who shows the road. When I show the road, only then do you follow the path and reach the destination. Because I show the way, I am bigger than you. I am the greatest.” Then the middle finger said. “Don’t argue among yourselves. Look who is at the center and who is the tallest! It is me. I stand in the middle and I am the tallest. The whole world knows about it. It is foolishness to argue about this. So surely I am the greatest”. Then the ring finger said, “The one who is the greatest is made to wear the crown. Only the kings get to wear the crown. The Emperors and the Kings all wear precious jewels and ornaments. But who gets to wear the ring? It is only I. That is why I am the greatest”. Now every finger argued this way and said something or the other. The smallest finger did not say anything. She was smiling. They asked her if she wanted to say anything. She started laughing more. They asked her, “Why are you laughing?” She said, “When someone great person comes to meet us, or when we stand before God, then which finger is at the front? (i.e. when one folds their hands in a prayer or to wish Namaskaar to a guest). Whoever is nearest to God, is the greatest – that is what I believe. Whoever stands before God to pray with folded hands, keeps me in the front right before Him, which is why I am the greatest”.
It is said that the one who is the most humble and modest is closest to God. When you become the smallest (meaning when one discards the false ego), you become closest to God. So what do you have to become to be closest? You have to become the small finger. Be small (meaning humble and modest) and you will always be close to God.