Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: We always perform Tarpana on Amavas in reverence of the departed souls of the beloved ones, is it really something scientific or just a ritual?
Sri Sri: Well, Tarpana means ‘to satisfy.’ ‘Tarpa’ comes from ‘tripti’, which means fulfillment. Your ancestors had some wishes. Fulfilling them or taking them to be fulfilled, don’t crave for anything. That is exactly what Tarpana is: remembering the people who have departed once in a year.
In Christianity and in Islam also they do this for departed souls, particularly once in a year. So in India, in the ancient days, on amavas (moonless night) they kept remembering all the ancestors and they kept the full moon day to remember all the different manifestations of the Divinity. It is not only that every amavas you have to do something, but remembering them and doing some good work in their memory is good.
Q: I am from Rajasthan, there are many ashrams in Rajasthan and I was thinking that if a small ashram of The Art of Living is built there, that would be a very nice thing. What are your thoughts?
Sri Sri: Alright, build an Ashram, all of you get together and make one. I make people, you make the Ashram. Just yesterday we were discussing that there are so many ashrams but there are no people. In the ashrams, there are no Yogis. So that is why I thought first, let’s make strong people and that is why I called this ‘Vyakti Vikas’ not ‘Ashram Vikas’. So now this work you do, the other work I have already started.
Q: When someone of our own suddenly passes away and we are not prepared when he leaves. There is so much to talk and to say and when he leaves you want to feel him. You said they are always there so how to do that?
Sri Sri: Those who have left will understand that this world is just a play, there is nothing really; it’s just a wave so there is no need to tell them or explain anything to them, without saying anything they will understand. When in the body, we understand using words but once we are out of the body, then communication happens through feeling. So don’t worry, you be happy, those who have gone have gone and we are here now.
Q: Guruji, you asked us to be dispassionate and you also say that dispassion is a happening. I really want to be dispassionate but I am confused how can I create a happening in my life? Please guide
Sri Sri: Dispassion is not a happening; I would say dispassion is what you invoke in yourself. When you widen your awareness, when you see everything is going to disappear and death is imminent, we are all going to die and everything is changing; when this knowledge comes - then dispassion is spontaneous. You need to understand and see life from a broader perspective and then automatically dispassion comes within you; but there is some effort. A little effort from you and then it will happen.
Q: In the Part 1 course they have explained the three sounds and when they are put together they sound ‘Om’, ‘Amen’ and ‘Ameen’. I don’t understand how the three sounds form ‘Amen’ and ‘Ameen’.
Sri Sri: No it’s similar, ‘Aa’ and ‘Ma’, two sounds are definitely there, it’s very similar.
If you see, English is a distortion of Sanskrit. Lots of words in English are derived from Sanskrit; I would say nearly 50 percent; brother: bhratru, sister: svasa, mother: mata, etc.
When the language changes usually distortion happens.
In Bengali, there are a lot of changes that have happened, ‘Vishnu’ become ‘Bishnu’; ‘Vishwas’ becomes ‘Bishwas’. The Bengalis say ‘eat water’, ‘jal khabe’; ‘khabe’ means eating but they say ‘jal khabe’. ‘Jal’ becomes ‘jol’; ‘jol khabe’. Every language has got its own characteristics, isn’t it?
In English also they change the pronunciation; instead of ‘West Bengal’ they say ‘Best Bengal’. Don’t ‘baste’ food; for ‘waste’ they say ‘baste’. That is how it is. You have to accept it.
‘You like bhite, you always bear bhites’; they are actually saying you always wear whites. ‘Guruji always bears bhites’ - that is the typical pronunciation. In Gujarat ‘lawn’ becomes ‘loan’ and ‘hall’ becomes ‘hole’; ‘the loan is in front of the hole.’
Q: I feel that India’s socio-economic problems are a lot based on over population, do you agree?
Sri Sri: No, no. India’s problems are not based on over population, they are based on corruption. The problem is because of corruption. Population was thought to be a curse till a few years ago but today it’s the population that is the basis for improving the economy. Population means big market, why would other countries look at India? Because it’s a huge market.
Q: Guruji, if our nearest and dearest ones don’t understand the feelings that we have towards you and they logically try to analyze and this hurts us. How do we handle this situation, this often comes in our life.
Sri Sri: Why do you want to explain everything to everybody? Feelings are such that people don’t understand. You don’t have to express all your feelings like that. They could be insecure and think that you will leave home and go to the Ashram and be there. So see that people don’t get into that fear. Your love and devotion should be expressed only as much as they can understand. Same with joy, sometimes you don’t know how to express your happiness; if you express too much people don’t understand.
One devotee went to a funeral of somebody, a mourning meeting and there were bhajans and he started dancing and the people didn’t understand. There is satsang and bhajans, of course you dance when you are in joy and he said that anyways everything should be a celebration. But if you dance there people can get annoyed. So you should see what a person can understand; how much they can understand and how to convey what you want to convey. Be skillful in conveying so that your expression doesn’t bring fear and anger in others as much as possible. And then ignore. Beyond a level you should simply ignore.
Q: Guruji, if we do that people will think we are so insensitive.
Sri Sri: Let them say what they want. That is what you are trying to do, please them. ‘No I am not insensitive, I am sensitive.’
As I said, you do your job, whatever you should do you do, but don’t sit and listen to their problems, and don’t get carried away by it, got it!
Q: How do I enjoy life if it is going to get finished one day? This thought doesn’t let me enjoy Guruji.
Sri Sri: It should make you appreciate life more. See, a flower is going to wither away but don’t you enjoy looking at the flower? You have a gulab jamun (an Indian sweet), ice creams, once you eat it’s going to finish but don’t you enjoy it? Now see, there is the beautiful full moon there and it is going to disappear one day but still we enjoy it today. Good!
Q: Dear Guruji, generally one of these shaktis are predominant in us: either Brahma shakti, Vishnu shakti or Shiva shakti. How to use them and how to balance them?
Sri Sri: Simply do it! That’s it. Brahma shakti: you create but don’t just drop it. Vishnu shakti is to see that whatever you start, you continue.