Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
See, there are thousands of saints and religious leaders in the country. Out of this, if two or three are found to commit wrong deeds, or if they get stuck in wrong thinking, then one should not let their own mind get troubled and become negative because of that. Whoever does something wrong will surely have to repent and pay for it. That is his Karma and he has no choice. But you should not let yourself get stuck in these things. Just take whatever good knowledge and guidance you get from anywhere or anyone.
If someone whom you regarded as a saint does something wrong and falls from such a revered position, then you should feel sympathy and compassion for them. You should not feel hatred for them, because what they did was out of ignorance and wrong knowledge. Just move on ahead.
See, Ravana (the demon king of Lanka in Ramayana) also disguised himself as an elderly sage to abduct Devi Sita, isn’t it so? So there must be some people having such a kind of thinking even today. What can one do? If Ravana had not disguised himself as saint then we would not have had the Ramayana today.
See, there are some miscreants in every sphere of society. These few wrongdoers bring dishonour to the entire field because of their wrong deeds.
There were a few doctors reported in the news who were stealing kidneys from the patients they operated on and were making a fortune by doing so. But does this mean that you keep thinking about this and become so fearful that you stop visiting doctors altogether? Will you be able to stay healthy?
In the same way, there are some shopkeepers who adulterate the food grains and sugar to make profits. They mix adulterants in milk and butter. But if you shut down all the shops because of this, then how will things work in society? If we keep doubting and mistrusting everything that happens in life, then that will not help. When we see some people who do such wrong deeds, we should feel compassion and sympathy for them. You should understand that they have strayed away from the right path.
Sometimes honest and innocent people also get falsely blamed and accused in criminal cases. For example, the Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Mathh was accused wrongly in a criminal case. The legal trials went on for nine years in the courts and after such a long period of 3500 hours, he was finally found to be innocent. But the media covered the news of his release and innocence for eight minutes only. So such unfortunate things do happen to good people, and you should consider it as their penance. You should take a lesson from these things that you should not indulge in wrong acts. Respect everyone, always take the good things about them and imbibe it in life.
All good qualities that you see in the world today come from the divine. And bad qualities or habits come from an ignorance of the divine. When one’s vision gets muddied and blurred due to wrong knowledge and ignorance, then one does such wrong things. So understand this and just relax.
I know there is one more question in the minds of you all here, i.e., whether it is one’s destiny or one’s Karma that plays a part in the lives of people. How many of you here have this question? (Many in the audience raise their hands).
Life is a combination of destiny and your self-efforts. I will explain this with a simple example. After a certain age, does your height increase? Whether it is five feet or six feet, once you have attained that height, it does not grow any more. So your height is like your destiny. And your weight is like your self-efforts. Whether you wish to increase your weight by 10 kilos or reduce it by 20 kilos, it is up to you. If you think that you cannot increase or decrease your weight, then that is not the right thinking. You can increase or decrease your weight, and that is the free will you have.
Destiny is knowing that you cannot increase your height beyond what it is after a certain age.
See, if it is raining outside, then that is destiny. But whether to get wet or not is your choice. It is your self-effort. If you take an umbrella and walk, then you will not get wet in the rain, otherwise you will get drenched. Being on the spiritual path means to enhance both your destiny and the quality of your self-effort.