Today is celebrated as Uthhana Dwadashi (a sacred festival commemorating the awakening of Gods from sleep, and also a day on which the marriage of Tulsi to Lord Vishnu is celebrated in South India), that is the day we celebrate Gods waking up.
It is also called Devothhana Dwadashi or the small Deepawali. It means to awaken the Godliness that lies within each one of you, because the Divinity is sleeping within each one of you and needs to be woken up. You awaken the Gods within you and then pray to them to fulfil your wishes and your work.
So how do you waken the Divinity within? By doing meditation, worship, chanting and creating that awareness within you.
Traditionally today, they worship the Tulsi plant, the Holy Basil plant. They put oil lamps around the Basil plant and then perform the marriage of the Basil plant with the Gooseberry plant.
They bring a few sticks of the Gooseberry plant and perform a wedding of the two and celebrate the same. That means, the Gooseberry and the Tulsi are two plants that strengthen the immune system. Now, winter is about to set in and the two most needed things now are Amla (Indian gooseberry) and Tulsi. Both make our system strong. They are rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins, and help in protecting us from many illnesses. That is why these two plants are considered to be very sacred.
Every house should have a Tulsi plant. Both Tulsi and Amla rejuvenate our system.
You know, there is a scientific angle to why it is recommended to keep both of these at home, and why one should have it.
The Chyavanprash (an Indian Ayurvedic preparation known to boost immunity and vitality) is made using these two. Having these two strengthens your immune system so that by the time Spring season comes, you are healthy and not affected by the problems such as the pollen in the air.
Many people have said that our Chyavanprash is the best in the world. Many companies make Chyavanprash by adding so many artificial ingredients, so there is no quality. But in our preparation, the gooseberry is added along with natural herbs and other ingredients that genuinely boost the system. All the substances that are necessary for making Chyavanprash are used strictly as prescribed by the scriptures.
Today is the day when the gooseberries actually arrive in the markets. You will often see them being sold with the sticks. Have you all seen it? So people today worship the herbs and ask blessings (for good health and prosperity) from the herbs.
Questions & Answers
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Gurudev, do you really know what is going on in everyone’s heart and mind? If that is the case, then what do you do when someone lies to you, or makes lame excuses despite you knowing it all?
Sri Sri: See, I give everyone a very long rope (a good amount of margin or freedom to act). So you do what you wish to do, we will see later what to do about it.
When someone lies to me, I do feel bad about it, but then such people soon improve and become better in life.
Once or twice they may lie to me, but then they soon realize their mistake and come running to me and fall at my feet saying, 'Oh Gurudev, I am so sorry that I lied to you'.
So you should realize by yourself whether what you are doing is right or wrong.
Once upon a time, there was a very old saint, he had a habit of always praising people, no matter what. People would be surprised on seeing this and would ask him, 'Why do you always praise people, even when they are no good? Why do you only speak about someone’s good qualities? Please tell them their flaws also'.
To this, the saint replied, 'Your miseries will speak out loud about your flaws and bad qualities by themselves. Why do I need to say that?'
Gurudev, you are the witness and so are we. Then what is the difference?
Sri Sri: I do not see any difference at all. You should tell me where it is that you see the difference. I am what you are, and you are what I am. I am in you and you are in me. So I do not see any difference at all.
May be you see a difference of qualities. That is, you think that Gurudev has different qualities, and I have different qualities. We are beyond qualities and virtues. Our true nature transcends qualities and attributes.
Gurudev, when is war justifiable?
Sri Sri: When all options of bringing peace and justice has failed, then war becomes the last option. When every negotiation fails and when (righteous) sense does not prevail; when disaster in unavoidable, then war becomes necessary to avoid a greater disaster from happening.
It also becomes necessary to keep in check those forces that can bring injustice and devastation.
Why is there poverty and suffering in this world?
Sri Sri: It is there so that your hearts can become open and you can do some good service to uplift others. Then you realize how truly fortunate you are.
It is there so that you can do something to express your love and care for others. Suppose there is no poverty and misery anywhere, then how can you even express your compassion and magnanimity? This is what you should think about.
Gurudev, why are we unable to forget the bad experiences that we have had in life? If someone has insulted us, we keep remembering the same incident again and again in life. How can we get rid of this problem?
Sri Sri: Come now, forget about it! Everyone is going to die one day. What is the use of remembering it for so long? Just know that the one who insulted you will die one day, and so will you. Where is the place for the anger or the insult?
You have forgotten that you are going to die one day, which is why you are feeling worse about it. That’s it. You know, that is why during the chanting of the Rudrabhishekam, it is said, 'Mrityor-mrityor namaamyaham'. It means, 'I repeatedly bow in reverence to Death; for it frees one from all suffering and misery'.
Then it also says, 'Kalah namaskarah'. It means, 'I bow in reverence to Time, the universal element of transformation which makes all things pass'.
So what are you so bothered about?
Gurudev, if the heart wants something but my responsibilities prevent me from striving to get that, then what should I do?
Sri Sri: You should fulfil the responsibilities in life first. You can always listen to the heart a little later and act on it. If you only listen to what your heart says, and do just that, then you will get into trouble.
Gurudev, did you ever get a scolding from your Amma (mother)?
Sri Sri: See now, you need a stick only for a mischievous child! (Laughter) You do not need to scold or shout at an obedient child. My mother used to get angry at times, but I never gave her too many chances to get angry with me.
Gurudev, why do we cry when we have to forgive someone or ask for forgiveness from someone?
Sri Sri: See, you become so peaceful when you forgive someone, or when you ask for forgiveness yourself. No matter which way you choose, just be at peace and be happy.
When we forgive someone, we feel happy, and when we ask forgiveness from someone, we instantly feel light from within, as if a heavy load is lifted off our heart. So why should you delay in doing such a good thing? Whether you have to forgive or ask for forgiveness, you should do it as soon as possible.
Gurudev, there is so much inflation happening today. Many people do not have food to eat or run their own homes. How can one live in such difficult times? What can we do for the poor and downtrodden today?
Sri Sri: Yes, it is true that inflation is very high nowadays. India is on fire. It is getting torn because of the widespread corruption, injustice and bad governance. India is struggling in all spheres.
We all need to rise against this together, and do something for the country. It is not necessary that you do a lot, or too many things. Every one of you should do a little bit for the country, in whatever way possible. Do not sit idle and think, 'Oh, what can I do in such a poor situation?'
Every person can do something to overcome this situation. If vegetable prices are rising, then make a small vegetable garden in your own homes. Plant some herbs, plant tomatoes, coriander, etc. At least do something. You can do so much with just a little piece of land. Everyone’s house will have a little space for a garden like this, isn’t it? But just see! We are not doing anything at all to change the situation or overcome it. Then we end up saying, 'We can’t do anything to stop the prices from rising'.
Five to ten people can come together and start a small garden and grow vegetables.
When I was on a tour of Sri Lanka, I had gone to a camp of the Tamil refugees. You would be surprised to see the condition in which they were living. They were all living in tents. And they started growing fruits and vegetables around and nearby their tents.
Someone had planted banana trees, someone else had planted pumpkins, and someone else had planted tomatoes and potato plants. And all this was in a refugee camp. I was really surprised to see all this. I thought to myself, 'They are very strong people'.
They were living like this in the times of battle and strife. In fact, where there was stagnant water or mud, these people had started using it as natural fertilizer for growing plants. This was very surprising. It shows that we all can definitely do something good in every situation. We are not helpless – this is the kind of firm determination we all should have.
I tell you, when refugees of a battle can do such a thing, why can’t normal people do the same also? We all can do it, and we all should do whatever we can without thinking too much.