Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: You have talked about hidden meanings behind symbols in Hinduism which seem to be very illogical. Could you please talk about many crores of devtas.
Sri Sri: Crore, Koti means types. 33 crores means 33 types of divine impulses. In our body also there are 33 types of divine impulses. In our genes also there are 33 types. A particular type makes the eye, a particular type makes the nose, and like that a particular type makes eardrums, hair, nails. Like this there are 33 rays of divinity. One light, one God, one Parmatma but there are 33 aspects. Devas are the 33 different aspects of divinity. Here crore is not referred to as a number. Divine has no form but ancient saints have said you can adore him in any form or names. All the thousand names belong to God only. This is very deep science or deep knowledge. It’s amazing. When you go more and more deep into this, then you feel wow. People who have discovered this and written this have simply stupendous knowledge. The universe is not so simple. It’s very complex. Modern physics also says that deeper and deeper there are so many different type of particles. So the diverse universe and the divinity which manages, rules and has made this diverse universe is devta. The English name David is a Sanskrit word. Dev + vid, dev means divinity, vid means to know. David means one who knows the divinity. Divinity is not somewhere up in the heaven. It is present in the world, universe, everywhere. And it has to be realized that when the mind is calm, serene and settled in our heart and when emotion and intellect merge into a serene blend in silence, then you are able to perceive the subtle reality of Universe and that is devta.
Q: I am an ‘Art of Living’ teacher. How do I feel I have done enough service? I always feel I could do more for society?
Sri Sri: Parents never feel that they have given enough to their child, especially to the girl child. The nature of love is like that. Whatever you do in love, you feel you have not done enough. Know that there is something lacking if you feel you have done enough. It is manifestation of love which makes you feel that you can do more. Love is continuous and it never ends.
Q: In my country most people are of the opinion that you can’t raise a child without a non - vegetarian diet, as the body will lack in amino acids and the brain won’t function properly. What should I do?
Sri Sri: Ample research has been done to the contrary of this theory. Look into that. There are millions of people who are vegetarian in the west, and they are very brilliant. In fact all the genius people in west including Einstein were vegetarian. Many of the top scientists like Novel Lorex have been vegetarian. This theory that brain doesn’t work needs to be questioned big time.
Q: What is surrender? Does that mean doing nothing and letting nature do whatever it wants to?
Sri Sri: This word surrender has been used, misused and confused so many times. I think we should use some other word (laughter). Just relax, be in your element, feel the connection, have a sense of belongingness. In fact, the connection is already there, you simply have to feel it. This is a better word. What is it you have that you can surrender? Worries, anxiety, tension, and depression! And that too you don’t know how to surrender. I want to be done away with this word surrender. I want none of you to use this word hereafter. It’s like a straw out of which juice has already been taken out, like sugarcane straw that you keep chewing and nothing comes out of it. Some better word is to be used now. Let go, relax, feel connection and that’s it.
Q: Why does the divine answer and reward some while prayers of others go unanswered?
Sri Sri: Well, I don’t know why some prayers get answered and some are not. I have no idea. Perhaps it is good for you. Perhaps you may change your mind about what you want. People go to shopping, this often happens at least in India, and ask shopkeeper, “Can I come later and exchange it if I don’t like it”. They go home and don’t like it and get it exchanged next day. Most unreliable thing you have is your own mind because you don’t know what it likes and when it doesn’t like that. That is why bringing mind to its source is so important. Its centeredness is the most important thing in spiritual evolution. Understanding what is transient and what is permanent, what brings you permanent joy and what causes temporary convenience and long term misery, what causes temporary discomfort and permanent joy, and what causes long term discomfort. That is what is called viveka, sense of discretion, wisdom – knowing this from that.
Q: Guruji it is hard to see people you love harm and victimize themselves. So do we take their responsibility? Where do we draw that fine line?
Sri Sri: Love is not that mushy mushy stuff. Often we confuse our emotional entanglement or mess and give it a name ‘love’. No. Hurt is a part of love. Whenever you love somebody even if they don’t do anything against you, you may still feel hurt. This is because you want to express love fully but love can’t be fully expressed. You can’t and when you can’t you feel something is lacking. And when you feel there is something lacking to commune, you feel hurt. It needs just a little trigger from other person and then you say ‘you don’t care’, ‘you are insensitive’ and ‘let’s sort it out’, and when you talk it out, you make whole mess of it.
In the beginning days of Ashram here, there was a German student who was divorced three times. He came here and fell in love with Italian girl. She didn’t know German and he didn’t know Italian, and both didn’t know English. They came to me to seek blessings, and I said surely but with one condition that the boy shouldn’t learn Italian and the girl shouldn’t learn German. Now they are already happily married for 20 years. It is talking too much that makes a mess of everything. Love is not to be expressed but felt. Dimension of love is different from intellectual talking or expression.
In west love is over expressed. While sitting, standing you keep on telling each other how much do you love, and no love remains in the end. In the beginning you say, “I can’t live without you”, and you end up saying, “I can’t live with you” (laughter). It is entirely opposite in the east. They don’t express it at all. They keep everything inside to boil, but never express love. Both are at loss. I often give example of a seed. Love is like a seed. If you sow it too deeply, it won’t get sprouted. Also, if you put it on the top of ground then also nothing is sprouted. When a little soil is dug and seed is sown, it sprouts up. Same is with love. Don’t express it too much and end up with ‘let’s sort it out’. That middle path is the way.
Sri Sri: That which is born from Fullness is worship. When gratitude is overwhelming, the throat chokes in gratitude, and then whatever action you perform in such a state is worship. We surrender everything – that feeling is worship.
Q: What to do with negative thoughts?
Sri Sri: It is ok to have negative thoughts at times. When you think a negative thought should never arise, then you encourage it. Accept even the most negative thoughts that come to you. Then you find it is not even there. It is just dim energy.
Q: What to do with choices when both choices seem to be difficult? In the short run and in the long run you don’t know?
Sri Sri: Choice is always between bad and worse. So worse is just a little step more than bad. So never mind (Laughter). Why to struggle so much!!
Q: What is the significance of Kumbh mela?
Sri Sri: The Kumbh Mela is one of the most sacred pilgrimages in Hinduism. The word Kumbh has been derived from the Sanskrit word Kumbh meaning 'pot' or 'pitcher' and Mela means 'festival' that is why it is known as "the pitcher festival". It is a fair that energizes your mind and soul) Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ganga is a symbol of knowledge and Yamuna symbolizes love. Prayag (where Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet) is the unity of love and wisdom. When love and wisdom meets, celebration happens. Kumbh means coming together of saints, scholars and katha vachaks (story tellers). They participate in discussion and meditation with the sankalpa (positive intention) of universal benefit. People needn’t go to all the different places. They can all come to one place. The concept of mela started in India. Nowadays we call it expo. There are expos for motors, books, clothes to present all the products in one place. On similar concept all the saints used to congregate in one place once in 12 years. In those days transport facilities were not so extensive and traveling would take so much time. Kumbh mela provided an opportunity for people to converse and exchange knowledge with each other. If you see it from planetary perspective, Kumbh happens when Jupiter enters Aquarius. By bathing in the Ganges, the chitta (consciousness) becomes joyful. Your consciousness is purified. The sins are washed away. It's so beautiful. The sins are so superficial that just by a dip in the Ganges they can be washed away. The ever-pure consciousness can never be dirtied.