Q: Gurudev, after the Asaram Bapu incident (referring to a recent scandal wherein a spiritual leader was accused of inappropriate conduct with a female devotee), my friends have started questioning my faith in the Art of Living. What can I say to them to convince them that the Art of Living is different?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What can one say? Just tell them not to be paranoid. Tell them that sometimes accidents do take place on the street. But just because accidents happen, you do not stop walking on the street, isn’t it? If you do that, then that is called mental imbalance or paranoia. The same is the case here also.
For example, in the medical profession, there are doctors who steal kidneys. There was a big scandal in which it was found that the doctors were stealing kidneys. But just because some doctors were found stealing kidneys, that does not mean you stop going to doctors, right? There are companies and businessmen who have cheated people of their money, but that does not mean you stop investing in companies.
So first of all, a gentleman has been accused of doing something wrong. And it is not even proven. Suppose he is proven innocent in this case? Like what happened in the case of the Kanchi Mutt’s head Shankaracharya (referring to the recent case of acquittal of the Head of the Kanchi school of thought and a spiritual institution in India). Nine years ago he was accused of a murder. Today, he has been acquitted of all charges. For nine long years he had to carry the burden of false accusation. What would you say about it?
I want to tell you about an incident that happened in India some 17 or 19 years ago. In 1998, a top scientist of the country was accused of spying (espionage). He went through so much torture. There were auto rickshaw drivers who would point fingers at him. He is one of the top scientists who has done research on Cryogenic technology and had prepared this spacecraft that would cost only one-third of what America had made. It was much more efficient and yet it was one-third the cost of what it usually takes to make the spacecraft. Russia wanted to partner with him in this project. Even the US wanted to partner with him. He was invited by NASA and the President of US had told him, ‘I want to offer you US citizenship. Please stay here and continue your work’.
He was in NASA for 10 months. Then he called the Head of Space Research here in ISRO, Vikram Sarabhai. Mr. Sarabhai told him to return to India to continue his work. So he came back and was working with Mr. Abdul Kalam, who became the President of India. Both of them were working together as colleagues.
Then there was one gentleman in the IB (Indian Bureau) who put a false case on this scientist, stating that he is spying. He accused him of spying and accused him of selling all our secrets to some lady in Mauritius or Maldives.
There were in fact two ladies from the Maldives, who were only eighth-standard pass. They happened to stay as guests in the house next to where he stayed. So the case went on and on for ten years. After ten years he was finally proved innocent. By this time, all the research work that he had done was finished.
He suspected that the CIA had given money to these people to put a false case against him, so that the whole technology programme would collapse. After that, things came to a standstill and the country did not discover anything new in its Space research. He was telling me this whole story. You must have seen this story. It was also aired on Times Now news channel.
What I am saying here is that many times the case could be false. And sometimes it might be true also. It is possible that the man in question may have committed some mistake. In such cases we can only have compassion towards him, for we do not know what made him do something like that, what made him commit such heinous crimes. It is unthinkable that a 75 year old man would do such a thing.
Secondly, we start hating the person who has committed the crime instead of having compassion or pity towards him. You know even for the worst criminal, or for a person who is proved to be a criminal, our attitude towards that person should not be that of hatred. Rather we should have pity. And thank God that such things did not happen through you. Feel fortunate that you did not commit such mistakes or blunders.
What can one do? There are such people in every field. You know, Ravana came disguised as a sanyasi (here meaning a holy sage or ascetic) and cheated Devi Sita. This is nothing new.
Do you know how the Vijaynagar empire collapsed? It was because of five crooked people who acted as sanyasis.
The Vijaynagar empire was so strong and powerful that no one could shake it. How many of you do not know this story? (Many in the audience raise their hands).
The Vijaynagar empire spanned and ruled almost half of India, and in fact its reach was in Sri Lanka also. It was the most prosperous province on the planet at that time. The Chinese travellers have described it as something unbelievable. On its streets, the merchants would measure diamonds in ‘litres’. Pearls were measured not by weight but by volumes.
This empire had a huge armed force. It had 10,000 elephants and one lakh soldiers. But the whole empire was finished in just 10 minutes, without fighting any war. Do you know what happened? Five of the Bahmani Sultans came dressed as Sadhus or Swamis (holy sages) and they stayed on the other side of the river in a tent. They sent a message to the king saying, ‘Please come and visit the Swamis. They will not cross the river and will not come to the palace. So you must come and visit them’.
So the king came with all reverence to meet them. As the tradition goes, the king goes to the holy sages or saints and bows down to receive blessings.
They said, ‘We want you to come visit us alone and not with all your armed forces’.
So the king went simply dressed, carrying flowers and fruits to meet the saints. But they were not really saints. They were the Sultan’s generals and soldiers in disguise. They beheaded the king right there and his head was hung from a pole in the centre of the city of Hampi. In ten minutes, the entire kingdom was conquered without war.
When the king was taken (killed), what could the people of the kingdom do? So they had to surrender to the invaders. The Bahmanis vandalized the kingdom after that. Their armies too were waiting in disguise to plunder the kingdom. It is said that it took them six months to loot that city.
After independence, Jawaharlal Nehru had this great idea of hiding Indian history, because he did not want the bad incidents to be highlighted or known. He did not understand that this would have taught a lesson for people to not repeat such acts in the future. Instead he covered them all up and pretended that everything had been nice. So he pushed the true stories under the carpet and very conveniently forgot all the glorious days also.
Thus our country’s history became bland, having no taste, neither sweet (referring to the glories of Indian history) nor salty (referring to the dark and troublesome periods or incidents in the Indian history).
The people who aided these efforts were the communist historians who wanted to portray that the past was all rubbish and was not so glorious. If you read their philosophy, you will find that they project communism as the only way ahead. So they conveniently brushed aside all the historical figures of Indian history as mythological figures – like Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, etc. They even said that the great Mahabharata war never really happened and was simply a figment of someone’s imagination, as fiction.
Just imagine, just because Jesus walked on water or multiplied bread and wine, they say that these are all stories and it never really happened. This is very similar to picking on some miracle and saying that it never really happened because it does not appear ‘logical’, it does not seem to make sense.
So the communist historians started introducing such kinds of distortions of Indian history. Their philosophy was that India was a land of uncivilized and uneducated lot of people who were divided, who believed in lots of superstitions and had no culture at all. This was their contention and they want to prove this. This has been most unfortunate.
They do not know the A-B-C-D of Sanskrit. The basis of this country is the Sanskrit language and it was what united the whole country as one, at one point in time. Every other language in this country has sprung out of Sanskrit. If you do not know Sanskrit, or if you do not know the Pali script, you cannot know the history of this country at all.
The same goes for the south Indian languages also. Tamil is a very important language. None of these (communist) people knew Tamil, or Malayalam, or Telugu, or Kannada, or even Sanskrit. They only know little English and a little bit of Hindi, that’s all. Yet they have written volumes of books on Indian history which have been proven today to be totally obsolete. It is a complete waste of time studying those books. Yet they are still occupying the shelves of many libraries.
The entire Vijaynagar empire was conquered in ten minutes without war, by a few men who were in the disguise of Sadhus and Swamis. Such things have happened in the past. But because of this, you cannot say that there are no good people in this country anymore; or that there are no saints in this country.
Saint Kabir Das was blamed by people who had vested interests. Even Jesus was tortured and blamed. Lord Buddha was tortured by his own cousin, who turned against him. How many of you did not know this fact? (Many raise hands in the audience)
Lord Buddha was teaching meditation and his own cousin who was also his close disciple, grew very jealous of Buddha. I do not know what happened in his brain. May be some damage in his (brain) circuits!
So he went to the top of the hill behind where Lord Buddha was sitting and teaching meditation. There was a huge boulder at the top of the hill (And you know in incidents like this, there are always some people who follow and support such things), and with a few of his followers he pushed the big boulder in Buddha’s direction. The boulder just missed Buddha’s head where He sat. Despite this, Lord Buddha sat, unshaken by all this. All the other devotees and disciples who sat there were shaken and shocked to see this. Lord Buddha just smiled in deep compassion. He said, ‘The poor fellow (who did this) has so much pain and anguish inside him’.