Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Is there a different path for men and women?
Sri Sri: No! Spirituality is the same for men and women. At some time in history, men put certain bans so that women should not rise in power. But there are certain norms of society and one should adhere to that.
Q: What are the most important 8 traits that a human should have to achieve any kind of goal?
Sri Sri: Why to fix it to number 8? You want me to list the 8 or stretch up to 8? Let us think.
First is fixing the goal itself. The mind is so wavering – so getting the goal fixed is most important. Then you have to fix the time frame. Then weighing the consequences - adverse and favorable and then your ability to adapt to changes. Ability to adopt the means to achieve the goals is important.
How many done? (Four) Rest you can look into.
Q: Guruji, what is Nirvana? Or better, give it to us right now!
Sri Sri: Nirvana is bringing the balance and having no feverishness for any desire. Desire means a lack. When you say, I want nothing, I am content, that is nirvana. But that doesn't mean you shun your duties. You perform your duties well but you are with your center. Even craving for enlightenment is an hindrance to enlightenment.
All emotions are linked with people, objects and events. Catching on to objects, people or relationships hinders freedom, liberation. When the mind is free from all impressions and concepts, you are liberated. The state of nothingness is called Nirvana, enlightenment, Samadhi. Nirvana is getting back to me from mine. Who am I?
When you go deep inside you, layer after layer, that is nirvana. It is like peeling an onion! What do you find in the center of an onion? Nothing!
When you know that everything is changing - all relationships, people, body, feelings - suddenly the mind which clings on to misery comes back to you. The return from mine to me, gives you contentment and freedom from misery. Reposing in that state of contentment is nirvana.
Q: Do you get moksha by effort or without any effort?
Sri Sri: Both! It is like catching a train. Once you get into the train you have to rest. You cannot keep thinking that I have to get down at this station all the time. You need to rest. You don't have to do anything then. Just sit and relax!
Q: What can I do as a woman if even the elderly of the family have forgotten the tradition and traditional values?
Sri Sri: Whatever you want to learn, you can do it on the internet. Such a glorious age – one laptop and that is it. Google it and anything on earth is available! Knowledge at tips of the finger. I used to say that knowledge will be at the tips of your fingers. I didn’t understand why was I saying it and neither did those who heard me. All the information, not knowledge is there.
Q: When someone has done something wrong and don't even realize it how do you forgive them?
Sri Sri: When you forgive then your mind becomes calm. Tell them with compassion and love, not with anger. If you become happy by putting guilt in someone's mind that is not good either. Tell them with love and then you drop it.
Q: Is it very important for a woman to marry? Is it not ok to let God be her care taker? Can she still be complete even if she is not a mother?
Sri Sri: You can feel you are a mother to the whole world. Being a mother is in the very nature of a woman. That compassion, that love and caring will be there.
Whether she should marry or not, that is your decision. Most important is to be happy. That is my opinion. There are many who are single and happy, and there are many who are married and not happy, and vice versa! Choice is yours, blessings are mine.
Q: As a woman how can I fully liberate myself without being angry in the so called Man’s world?
Sri Sri: Lessen your dependency. What do you call independence? First you think you are bound, and then you try to come out of that. You find freedom when you have a say over your emotions and when you are in wisdom.
Nobody is completely independent. Even nations are not completely independent. The word is interdependent. Among nations and communities we are interdependent. We live in an interdependent world. Man depends on Woman and Women have to depend on man.
So it is paradox – independence and interdependence. Try to be independent as much as you can understanding the need for interdependency.
Q: Can you please talk on the concept of Ardhnareeshwar and the symbolism behind Goddess Durga and Saraswati?
Sri Sri: Everyone has both female and male genes. You are made up of both your father and mother – Half father and half mother. Divinity is both male and female. This was acknowledged long ago and represented as Ardhnareeshwar. God is not just man, or just woman. He is Ardhnareeshwar – Whole creation is both male and female.
Goddess Durga riding on Tiger: Durga is the mother, so sweet and compassionate, and She is riding on Tiger – most ferocious. Completely opposite! Opposite values are complementary and ancient people recognized this. Scientifically, the whole creation cannot sustain even if one animal goes missing. Each of these animals brings down to the earth a bio-energy corresponding to a particular wavelength. A tiger carries the vibration of Goddess Durga.
Goddess Saraswati is with so many hands! In one hand, she carriers a rosary – rosary represents meditation, in another she carries a book – intellectual knowledge and with the others she plays a musical instrument – veena. Only when intellectual knowledge, music and mediatation come together, then wisdom dawns.This complete knowledge was there even several million years ago. Saraswati sits on rock meaning once you have acquired wisdom, it is deeply grounded in you. Goddess Laxmi sits on lotus meaning money is flowing – anytime anything can happen. Wealth moves and it should move.
Sri Sri: (Smilingly) For that too, you would have to pray to the Devi(mother Divine). Even demons ask for boons from Her, and angels as well. Once somebody was telling this joke: Once a man was asked who the owner of the house is, and the man replied saying he would ask his wife!