Gurudev, Yudhisthira (the eldest of the five Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata) used to gamble. He gambled and lost his wife (Draupadi) in a game of dice. Then why is he given the title of ‘Dharmaraj’ (the supreme upholder of Dharma or moral virtues)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
In those days, gambling was not considered a bad thing. Just like how today there are licensed bars, and government sanctioned liquor shops which have the permission to serve alcohol.
In the same way, gambling was considered to be a sort of game or sport of the kings.
You need to understand that it is not that whatever Yudhisthira did was all correct. You cannot think like that. In fact I would say what he did was very wrong. But because his heart and mind were pure and there was no malice or sinful thought in his mind, he had the support of the Lord with him.
Also, if he had not played the game of dice, then how would all those problem arise? How would the Mahabharata take place? If, as Dharmaraj he had refused to play the game of dice, then there would have been no problem at all.
See, any person, even if he or she upholds very high human values, when they acquire some position of power, you will find some or the other flaws in them.
Moreover, Yudhisthira was not a sanyasi (a renunciate), he was a worldly man. And it is only natural for someone who is a worldly person to have some flaws. To become completely blameless and turn into a sanyasi is a different thing altogether.
So even as a king, he did have some flaws, like the habit of gambling. He simply could not refuse an invitation to gamble. And had he refused, the Mahabharata would not have happened, the Pandavas would not have gone into exile and Draupadi would not have had to undergo so much suffering (referring to the attempt of disrobing of Draupadi in the royal court). And had all this not happened, then the Mahabharata too would never have happened, and we would have never had the Bhagavad Gita.
Then Lord Krishna would not have had anything to do! He would have simply enjoyed his time eating butter in Vrindavan, and he would have never left the place (Laughter). There would have been no need for him to leave Vrindavan at all.
Wherever Lord Krishna went, there was surely some mischief or chaos which he would try to resolve.
This is why all this is called as His Leela (pastimes or divine play of the Lord).
So there is no use criticizing whatever happened, and neither is there much to be gained by over-analysing these events. It is not an intelligent thing to do. You must see all of this as the Leela of the Lord. Then you will find that there is a treasure chest of wisdom and knowledge to take away from it. Knowledge that is so useful and practical for life.
Gurudev, why is it that wherever Lord Krishna went, in those place only conflicts would arise. Or is it that Lord Krishna was like a doctor who would visit places of conflict and chaos?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
This depends on the way you see it.
The Jains say that wherever Lord Krishna went, He caused a lot of violence, and war took place because of His influence. The Jains actually believe Lord Krishna to be in hell for all that He did. They also believe that He is not going to be in hell forever. The Jains predict that in the next Satya Yuga (the of truth and righteousness), Lord Krishna will reincarnate as their next Tirthankara (holy prophet or apostle).
So the Jains see both good and bad qualities in Him.
The Jains, on one hand, say that Lord Krishna had extraordinary and supreme knowledge, because of which He is going to become their next Tirthankara. And On the other hand, they hold Him responsible for creating war and causing bloodshed in the Mahabharata.
They say that, if it were not for the counselling that Lord Krishna gave Arjuna, Arjuna would have refused fight the war and would have retired in the Himalayas to spend his time in penance as a sanyasi and the entire Mahabharata would not have happened at all. But Lord Krishna instead counselled Arjuna to fight the battle. He told Arjuna, ‘In one sense all these people are already dead, so you don't worry about killing them. You do your duty. Pick up your bow and arrow and fight.'
At that time , it did not occur to Arjuna to tell him that if they are already dead why do you want me to kill them again; anyways they are dead. Arjuna simple said, 'Okay, as you say, I will do that.'
So Lord Krishna did such clever acts. He was a living example of profound intelligence, along with extraordinary human strength.
That is why it is said that every act of Lord Krishna is so unique and extraordinary in itself. He stands in a twisted manner (referring to Lord Krishna shown standing with one foot firmly on the ground while the other bent, resting only on its toe), yet He offers straightforward solutions!
Lord Rama on the other hand stands erect with boot feet on the ground. But Lord Krishna would stand and act in such a twisted way yet He would give such deep and extraordinary knowledge.
In the Bhagavad Gita, He says ‘You cannot free yourself of your own sins. I will liberate you from your sins. I have come to take away all your sins. You simply have to take refuge in me, and leave everything to Me. I am there to support you at all times.'
It is so rare to find anyone who can give you such strong faith.
Lord Krishna was the complete manifestation of Divinity, having all the 16 qualities (kalaa) or dimensions of Divine perfection. This is why He is also called Purna Avatar (the complete or supreme incarnation of Divinity).
No matter from what angle you see Lord Krishna, you will not find any shortcoming or flaw in His personality.
Gurudev, it is said that meditation is a practice of Satya Yuga, while remembering and chanting the name of the Lord is emphasized more in the Kali Yuga. Could you please shed more light on this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It is said, ‘Kaliyuga keval naam-adhara’, (Chanting the name of the Lord is the sole means of liberation in Kali Yuga).
As one goes on chanting the name of the Lord, gradually a stage comes when the chanting stops and one naturally slip into meditation. So one goes from Japa (chanting) to the state of Ajapa-Japa (chanting without the mental effort normally needed to repeat the mantra), and then into silence.
The very purpose of chanting is to lead you into meditation.
It is said, ‘Naam laet bhava sindhu sukhai’, (simply by repeated chanting of the Lord’s names, one can immerse oneself into the ocean of bliss). So simply by chanting the name of the Lord also, one can be at peace, and can go deep into meditation.
This is very effortless, and that is what is in the Sahaj Samadhi meditation as well.
Gurudev, do Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva really exist, or do we just awaken the qualities attributed to these Gods by doing Pooja?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva are present inside our own body as Shakti (the life force). Do not think that they are seated somewhere in the skies. So the qualities (attributed these Gods) will blossom by themselves as we continue to do meditation and satsang.
Gurudev, currently the Kumbh Mela (a mass Hindu pilgrimage fair) is going on. Is it necessary to attend the Kumbh Mela once every 12 years? What is the significance of the Kumbh Mela?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Well, many people do attend the Kumbh Mela.
Recently, you may have seen, there are many of these cultural fairs or expos; in the same way the Kumbh Mela was the spiritual expo of those days.
In those days, organizing this every year turned out to be very expensive and also tiring, as people had to walk many miles to attend it, so they changed it to once every 12 years.
This was also done in accordance with the revolution of Brihaspati (the planet Jupiter) around the Sun, which takes 12 years. So on the basis of this, the Kumbh Mela was held once every 12 years, and all people would to come for this. Saints, wise sages, house-holders and even children come together and they all sit and discuss about God, the holy scriptures, and do Satsang.
Wherever there is Satsang, or discussion of knowledge, that is no less than a Kumbh Mela. Kumbh (meaning pot or pitcher) and it represents completeness. So all those who felt complete and content would gather together at the Kumbh Mela. When you experience that fullness and contentment within yourself, you too would become like a kumbh – a pot full with contentment and joy.
Gurudev, is there any significance or purpose of giving birth to a child, or life to a soul for a woman except for my personal feelings of becoming a mother or that of giving my parents the joy of becoming grandparents?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I think your question has no relevance. If you want to be a mother, then that is your choice.
Now instead of being a mother, if you want to be a godmother for many children, then that too is your choice. Motherliness is inevitable, and everybody has it. The same holds for fatherhood as well. Whether you become a father to a child or not, you have that element, that fatherliness already present inside you. It is present in your DNA, and that is how it is for everyone.
Whether you are single or married, you have the DNAs of both mother and father present in you. So it is natural that you will unconditionally help and support someone. This is something which you cannot avoid, and there is no need to avoid it also.
Here in Karnataka, the saints used to be called 'Appa' which means 'Father’.
Even in the church, the priests are all celibate; they are unmarried bachelors, yet they are referred to as ‘Father’, is it not so? The nuns are called ‘Mother’, though they have never given birth to a child.
Do you know, Mahatma Gandhi was addressed as ‘Bapu’ by everyone in our country, which also means ‘Father’.
So this is something that is inherent in our DNA. You do not need to necessarily be a biological parent to be a parent to someone.
And even if you are a biological parent, you cannot restrict your parenthood to just those two, three or four children. Your parenthood should expand beyond that.
Even God is also called 'Parampita' (Supreme Father). The Mother Divine is called as Jagat Janani (meaning one who has given birth to the entire creation), or Jaganmata (mother of the entire creation).
So God is both our father and our mother. It is because divinity is present in every one of us, that the the qualities of motherliness and fatherliness is also present within us.
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