(Below is talk given by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar 12 March 2016 at the WCF )
Param Pujya Sri Sri Shankaracharya Ji Maharaj, all the great revered saints, spiritual leaders assembled here today, and the esteemed religious leaders.
There are people here from all religions, all nationalities to give this message, we are one world family. From regional consciousness to national and then to universal consciousness, this is the growth that the human race is looking for. So we are here from so many nations, so many different languages, following different faiths, with one intention to bring love and harmony in the world. Isn’t it so?
When there is tension between different communities, conflict between different religions, then man becomes disturbed and lost. In such an environment, a person tries this and that, wanders here and there but is not able to get any comfort, any relief or sense of peace. When millions of people across the world are stressed and disturbed by such situations, then a single cry arises from the hearts of everyone – Sarve Jena Sukhino Bhavantu (May everyone be happy and at peace). Let everyone be happy — this pure intention is already in every heart, it only needs to unfold a little bit more.
Bearing the weather and all the inconveniences, see how we have all gathered here. This itself is a message that we are all determined to bring the positivity in the society, where people from all the different ideology come onto one platform to agree on the common shared principles that the world today really needs.
There are many international people who are listening to this today from all over the world. Yesterday I was told that we had people from 161 countries watching us over the webcast. So we are not alone, we are not just a few people here. As I said, my family is of seven billion people. So remember, if you want to invite me for anything, you are inviting seven billion people. So an estimated 1.8 billion people from around the world have been with us.
For a saint it is said, "Hridaya Navaneeta Samana"(A saint’s heart is like the butter-which melts easily).
It is so heartening to see people from Pakistan here, and our neighbors from Nepal and Bhutan. Here today, we also have a chief guest from Syria, Grand Mufti of Syria is here. When he met with me yesterday he said, "Gurudev, India has the oldest philosophy of the planet and I very much would love to see this, and be a part of this beautiful festival that you are having. We need this peace in Syria today"
I said, "Of course yes, we are with you".
We have people from Iraq here, we have people from Lebanon and Jordan. We all need to wake up to the Human Values that all religions have been talking about all through the ages. Since time immemorial through the ages, all religions have always said one thing – and that is to uplift humanity. The meaning of Dharma is exactly this: Dharma is that which upholds us, uplifts us, and prevents us from going astray or falling into negativity. But we have somehow forgotten these deeper truths. As I said yesterday, there are five things that unite us all: 1. Sports:
2. Art & Culture:
3. Business and Economy
5. Intellectual Debate or Science
Spirituality is the essence of all religions, and today is a confluence of spirituality we are witnessing here.
Many Sufi saints from Deobandh have graced us today to bless us all and bless this festival. We are also honoured to have many Imams from Pakistan; many Jain Munis (Saints) such as Tarun Sagar Ji. From the Southern Baptist Church in America we have with us Revered Durley and Dr. Carter. They have come all the way from America to participate in The World Cultural Festival. We also have a 100-year old Marthoma Saint from Kerala who has come all the way to attend this festival and bless us all. This is such a great thing. He just addressed us all and spoke so beautifully. The thoughts of all the saints are the same and so aligned with each other.The path of spirituality is what we all must walk on, and we should help inspire others also to come to the path.
The path of spirituality is what we all must walk on, and we should help inspire others also to come to the path.
In such a huge event, there may be small slips in honouring and observing the formalities of reception of guests when there are so many things and people to attend to. You all have a big heart and I sincerely believe you will forgive us and overlook the same. For a saint it is said, "Hridaya Navaneeta Samana"(A saints heart is like the butter-which melts easily). So I know that you will bless everyone. I am sure about it!
In the same way we also received a fond message from Dadi Janki Ji from the Brahmakumaris. So many religious leaders from different states and provinces in India have come here today. The number of saints here is truly beyond count. We also have dignitaries and senior politicians from the political field from different countries of the world attending here today.
This is truly a unique confluence of people through the medium of Art, culture, music: we have politicians, businessmen, farmers and people from all walks of life.
Back then, when we were still discussing how to organize this huge event, a small farmer boy approached us one day. He must have been less than 30 years old and he came with one of our volunteers. The volunteers told me, “Gurudev, this boy wants to give you something”. I asked him what it was. The boy handed over an envelope to me. Usually the envelopes that come to me contain letters from people writing about their problems and difficulties. But when I opened this boy’s envelope, I found there was a cheque in it for 20 Lakh rupees. The boy said to me, “Gurudev, you have undertaken such a grand event for the good of everyone. You must accept this small token from my side”.
I asked him what he did for a living. He said, “I have a farmland of 4 acres a little ahead of Gurgaon”.
I asked him how much money he had earned so far, and he said “Gurudev, I have one crore rupees till now, and me and my mother live together on the farm”.
I told him, “My dear, this pure feeling of contribution that you have is enough for me. I will not take this hard-earned money of yours”.
He felt surprised and asked, “Gurudev, is it less? Shall I contribute more?”
I told him, “No”.
Then the boy started crying. I hesitatingly told him, “Alight my dear, I shall take only 1% of this amount since you want to contribute so sincerely. This feeling you have itself is good enough”.
Similarly, a school teacher also came to me one day to contribute. I asked her what she did. She said, “Gurudev, I teach in a school”. Just see the feeling, the purity of her intention. I told her the same thing, “Relax my dear, your intention to contribute itself is good enough. I will only accept Rs. 500 from you and not more”.
When we have a large and generous heart, then we can achieve anything in this world.
When we have a large and generous heart, then we can achieve anything in this world. God himself descends on Earth. God is not someone sitting far away in the skies, he resides within us all. This is the essence of all religions – be it Vedanta, Sufism, Islam, Christianity, etc. It is said in Christianity, “The Kingdom of God is within you”. So do not go looking for God here and there. Just relax and repose within yourself in silence, and you will experience waves of deep bliss arising within you that very moment.
Many many years ago, Lord Krishna danced upon the many hoods of the Kalia the demon snake. The snake Kalia had polluted and destroyed the River Yamuna so much because of his venom. Lord Krishna then destroyed the demon and brought relief and moksha (liberation) to the River Yamuna. Today, that same Krishna is present within you all, He is present in the form of all the saints present here today. And that Krishna today will say to the River Yamuna through you all, “O dear Mother Yamuna, now we will rescue you. We will bathe you and make you clean and pure once again”.
Usually it is the mother who bathes and cleanses the children. Unfortunately the situation today is that we have to clean our very mother (River Yamuna). It is everyone’s wish here that the cleaning of the River Yamuna should happen immediately and at the earliest. Is it not so? Do you all not want this?
The environment is our Prana. When we think of ourselves as composed of five layers or Panchakosha, then the very first sheath or layer – Annarasamaya Kosha - is the environment. This entire environment is the Annarasamaya Kosha (literally referring to the layer nourished and sustained by food). The entire world is full of Anna (nourishing food) and Rasa. Then the next layer is the physical body which I would compare to the Pranamaya Kosha (the layer sustained or inhabited by Prana). We can progress in life only when we keep the environment, the Annarasamaya Kosha pure and clean. We must always strive to leave this world in a much better state than the one we came into, for our own children and coming generations. Do you all agree to this or not?
A violence-free society, disease-free body, conflict-free mind, prejudice-free intellect are the rights and need of every individual today.
A violence-free society, disease-free body, conflict-free mind, prejudice-free intellect are the rights and need of every individual today. People sit with prejudice in their minds and this is a big problem in the world today. People who don't even know you start talking about you. Hasn't this happened to you? When you don't even know someone and you talk about them, it has no value. We are wasting our energy doing this. Like this, we hold so many prejudices in our minds against different religions, casts, communities, genders, etc.
Gender equality should be respected. When it comes to Art & Culture, you see that there is gender equality.
There is one more thing I would want to say. This stage is the stage for the World’s Cultures. People from so many different countries and different provinces have come here today. We honour and revere not just Indian Culture, but the Culture of every country in the World today. The culture and heritage of every country is just as great and glorified as is ours today. So for a few moments, we must all remind ourselves that though we may belong to different countries, we are all Vishwa-Maanav: we are World Citizens first. This idea should reside in our hearts and we should remember that for all the Cultures of the World. The World Culture Festival is the Olympics of culture, so let us bear in mind that what we are talking here is about universal brotherhood; not just one's nationality but universality.
I request and appeal to everyone today to use more and more Solar Power. You can see that the people residing in nearby villages do not get electricity. The day before yesterday evening, all of the villagers got Solar-powered lights in their homes. Our intention was that there should be no darkness any more for anyone – neither darkness within nor in the world outside.
When we dispel the darkness of ignorance from within, we realize we are pure, unblemished and untouched by anything. I have been honest and untainted all my entire life. Not once did I ever go late to school, and I have never paid a fine of even ten rupees in my life. So this time also I said that we will not pay any fine. Then I was told that the amount requested by the Tribunal is not a fine or a penalty of any kind. The money asked from The Art of Living Foundation was for the purpose of restoration, rejuvenation and development of the River Yamuna and this area (referring to the flood-plain area which is also the venue of the World Culture Festival 2016). We will put in every possible effort for this noble purpose, but we will not pay any penalty when we have not committed anything wrong.
When one person wins it does not necessarily mean that the other person has to lose. It has to be a win-win situation for both. This is true Dharma.
We should all know this, that as much as people around the world are troubled with terrorism and violence, Pakistan too is equally in turmoil and disturbed due to terrorism. Pakistan and India and all other countries of the world need to remember that we are all One world citizens, we all belong to one another, and we are a part of the world. We are all children of God. We need to spread this message of love and peace everywhere, regardless of the political and geographical boundaries that exist. India and Pakistan should coexist in peace and walk ahead together for progress.