Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Given that most citizens don’t know their local candidates, should we vote for the individuals or for the party?
Sri Sri: It should be a mix and match. When it comes to local governance, Municipal Corporation or even state, I would say, you should consider the local thing. But when it comes to national issues, you should broaden your vision and see what is good for the nation.
Q: Why are people into conversion? Do they have an identity crisis?
Sri Sri: You know, people leave one religion and go to another religion because they have not studied their own religion properly. This is a problem. They have not understood their faith, or the essence of it fully. This happens especially in the Hindu faith because we are simply going on with the rituals and we don’t understand it or study it. There are not many opportunities to study the Vedantic scriptures, or Yoga scriptures, or Yoga Vasistha, or books like this. So we know very little about our Vedas or Vedic heritage, especially in India. So people tend to convert.
I feel that they should first study their own faith in depth; whatever faith they are born in.
Do not denigrate the faith you are born in when you convert. Conversion is your free choice. But do not insult the faith or denigrate the faith.
Q: What do you think about the Aam Admi Party?
Sri Sri: You know, the party started with a good intention, but I feel they have to learn a lot. They need to move carefully and not just in a hurry and take all the rifrafs and people who are not worthy of being in politics.
They should not become the same party like all criminal elements who have joined them. So I feel, they are still young with good intentions. They should take their time and not just jump into capturing power. They should gain more experience before they come to center, before the nation can trust them fully.
They need to have more experience. So I feel they should go step by step. They should first get experience in any one of the states, or several states, do some solid work and manage all the challenges and not run away from challenges, and then come to the center. Otherwise it will be a khichdi in the center with everybody trying to pull things in different directions. We want a very strong government in the center.
Q: Majority of the youth in India idealize Bollywood stars and cricketers. How do we help the serious damage that their alcohol promotions are creating?
Sri Sri: I think you also should think about ways in which we can arrest this. There are some good cricketers and some very aware Bollywood stars who are talking against such addictions too, while some others are promoting it for the sake of money.
I think our youths are becoming more intelligent and more mature. They won’t just fall prey. I at least hope they don’t fall prey.
Q: With political parties having affairs and break up every other month, as a voter, how do I decide who to vote for so that I am not betrayed?
Sri Sri: You should be watchful. See the intention of the people who are asking for vote and look at their track records. Sometimes, you may have to choose a lesser corrupt person or party if you have two parties and both are corrupt. You should see who are less corrupt, when you have no choice.
Q: What role can I play in the transformation of Ukraine. I want to stand up for peace and happiness, and remove corruption?
Sri Sri: All that we can do that is in our capacity to do, we must do. In fact we should do a little bit more than what we think we can do to bring peace.
Corruption is a very serious issue all over the world. Create more awareness among people, and together you all unite, (not with violence, not by burning buses and trucks and cars on the streets, not by throwing stones at people), with a peaceful, resolute revolution.
If we are engaging ourselves into it, we are sure to get success. It may take some time. We need patience and perseverance to fight against corruption.
Q: We have received hundreds of questions from Syria, Egypt, and Middle East? Do you have any message for them?
Sri Sri: The problem in Middle East is a huge problem and my heart pains when I see the amount of injustice, the amount of violence that is happening there. Again I would say, that let’s hold our breath and let’s pray, and let’s also continue to see if there is any way a peaceful revolution can happen in this place. We should keep thinking about it.
It is a humongous issue but we should not lose hope. We should still keep hoping that one day we will be able to bring some peace there. However insignificant it is, we should keep putting our effort in that direction.
Q: Hearing so many incidences about Godmen, my faith is shaken. How do I know if a saint is authentic?
Sri Sri: It is a very genuine question that you have. There are people who bring disgrace to their field, and this happens in almost every field. Whether it is a medical doctor, a politician, a spiritual leader or a businessman. There are people who are not genuine. They are not doing what they are supposed to do. But we should not take this to heart and put everyone in the same basket.
There are so many good people who are working for the betterment of the society today. So we should not create a prejudice within us. There are people who do not follow the code of conduct of the field they are in, we simply have to pity them, that’s all.
Q: Can corruption ever be eliminated?
Sri Sri: We should think that we can do it and move in that direction. We should dream for it. We should dream for a corruption free society. It may not be possible 100% but we should aim at 100%, at least we can reach somewhere between 80-90%.
There are some pockets on our planet, in some countries where corruption is almost negligible. So, there are examples.
We can definitely make this country free from corruption, not just by some law, not just by passing a Jan Lokpal Bill, but it should come with the character of an individual, right from college and school days. We must infuse our kids, our youths with this idea of a corruption free, crime free society. It can only happen by social transformation.
Q: Did God create man or man created God?
Sri Sri: Both. God created man and man created God. Isn’t it funny? Man created different concepts of God, but again, what is God? Is He somebody sitting up there who just created something and went away? No, he is the summum bonum of creation. It is the one thing by which everything has happened, and in which everything is. You may call it God.
So according to the Vedanta, it is: Asti (existence), Bhati (consciousness), Preeti (love). It is, it shines and it is love, and that’s what the whole world is.
This also could become one of the concepts that you have in your mind, unless and until you start feeling it as an authentic reality in your life; as true as a pain you feel in your feet, when you have one.