Gurudev, what actually is prayaschit? How can one become free of one’s sins? Can one ever become free of guilt, or is one doomed to live with that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
‘Prayas’ means getting back to the original state; ‘chitta’ means consciousness. We were all born innocent. How is the mind when you are a baby? Fresh, alive, innocent. Prayaschitta means, that act which takes you back to your innocence; makes your mind as pure as it was when you came into this planet. Rejuvenating the chitta, or making it younger and getting it back to its original state is Prayaschitta. It is not exactly repenting. There is no appropriate word in English for it. It means getting back into one's original state.
Krishna said this in the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. Look, you can’t get rid of your sins. I will take care of it for you. I will rid you of all your sins. You just come to me, that’s all. Jesus also said that, in more or less the same words. All prophets and Gurus say that, 'You don’t worry about sins. If you take refuge, if you are devoted, then devotion removes all the sins'.
If you have any problem in life, don’t blame others. Basically, all problems that we face in life have something to do with us only. So a good saadhak (seeker) or student understands this and does not complain. If your experience is bad, who is responsible? You are responsible. Why? Because it is your karma that brings these bad experiences to you. So a good sadhak (seeker) never complains. This was the ancient tradition, where you could not go to a teacher saying, 'This is not okay and that is not okay. That person said this to me. This person treated me badly'. If someone treated you badly, it is your karma. You must have treated someone badly sometime. You could not complain to the Guru and saints of the earlier generation because they would say that it is your karma. You could only go to them with good news of wonderful things that happened.
But I listen to everybody’s complaints just so that they find some relief. If they don’t download it with me, they will do it with somebody else. But these days, I am also following the olden tradition. If someone complains, I tell them to deal with it themselves.
Gurudev, I feel free in certain areas, and in certain aspects I feel bound. The more efforts I put to be free, the more bound I feel. How can I be free?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I think you have too much free time. Get busy and keep working for the betterment of the world and you will see that all your personal issues and emotional issues will get resolved by themselves.
Don’t waste time in thinking, what about me? What others think about me? How I feel, how I don’t feel? Who bothers about what you feel and what you don’t feel? You feel bad one day, good another day. Who cares about it? And when nobody cares for your feeling, why do you care for your feeling so much? At least learn from others. You are a great follower of others. Whatever they do, you follow. They don’t care for your feelings, why do you care for your own feelings? Throw your feelings out, listen to your intellect and see what you need to do. That is it. Know that whatever you have to get, you will get. Whatever is due to you, will come to you. And whatever you need to do, you must do it.
When you die, two questions will come in front of you. How much love you have given and how much knowledge have you gained? These two things are your life's lessons. What did you learn from life and what did you give out in your life? Instead, we act as if it is the other way around. We want to give knowledge to people. Everyone is good in advising others. What they should be doing and how things should be. They don’t even spare the Guru. Every day, lots of advice comes to the Guru also on how things should be done. They will teach the Guru how to give blessing also. 'Give me proper blessing Gurudev. Put your hand on my head to bless me'.
Yesterday, a lady came to wash my feet, she took a bucket and started pouring water all over. So happy and enthusiastically, having waited for ten years and having got this chance to wash the feet of the Guru with a bucket of water. Then she took a coconut, moved it around me and banged it on the floor. The others around me got frightened and worried that the coconut may hit my feet. But you can’t say anything, or scold them when they are so happy, and filled with so much emotion, love and devotion.
People throw flowers from all sides. I really have to protect my eyes by covering it. As satsangs are at night, I can’t even wear sunglasses. Daytime, I wear sunglasses mainly to stop flowers from getting into my eyes.
One swamiji, in a village in India, would go on a chariot on a particular day. This was a tradition from 2000 years ago. The chariot used to be decorated very well but would have a mosquito net around it. I wondered why they put the net around, as you can see the swami only through the net. They said that the devotees throw coconuts and bananas (laughter). They want to give gifts personally in his hand. Here also, people don’t see how many people are in front of them. They put their hands on top of several heads and compress people to make sure that their letter reaches me. What to do? These are problems, but we can't complain because love is blind.
But don’t think that I am encouraging this behavior. I want you to be disciplined. Especially people who get to spend time with me should not come when there is a big rush. Some people push to come forward and sit in the front all the time. They don’t realize that other new people have come, and they should give them a chance also. Me, mine, I should go and sit. I should occupy my seat. Jumping over people’s heads, etc., to come and sit in the front. This is no good.
Those who bother and push and elbow others are not my favorite people. There are couple of people who don’t listen to me; even after my telling them one hundred times not to come, not to follow me. They are not my favorite at all. We must have some discipline. No doubt we have so much love, but we need discipline also. I rarely give instructions, but even when I do, some are such hard nuts that they don’t listen. They just do what they want to do. I give total freedom to everyone and I never impose anything on them. That is why when someone asks, I say, the choice is yours and blessing is mine. But you should be sensitive and not create problems for others.
99.9% people are alright. There are only one or two such elements who break the rules, fight with the guards, etc. In that sense we are lucky. We have very nice and sensitive satsang devotees. If everyone is disciplined, we don’t need any guards at all. When I go out, I don’t ask for guards but the Government gives me 100 policemen, gunmen, etc.
People who travel with me should remember that when there are such big crowds, sometimes thieves also come and they steal people’s purses, phones. They even pick-pocketed my cellphone once in a devotee’s house. It was a small group of about 30 people. This guy came uninvited into the house and while I was talking to people, he took my phone. I have heard of people losing their phones, but this time in Punjab, I lost my phone too, that too in a devotee’s house. And the devotee cannot stop people from coming to visit Gurudev. Everyone feels a sense of belongingness and everyone walks into everyone’s houses.
Many Yes+ students lose their phones, that’s why I tell them to be more watchful of their belongings. Here too, if you see anyone stealing, catch hold of them. The thieves find it a suitable place as everyone is in bliss and they are not worried about their material belongings, so they relieve them of their material possessions, like their phones, passports, etc. So all of you be a little alert.
Gurudev, in the Yogasutra, it is said, yoga is the restraint of the Chitta (consciousness). How can restraining the mind or memory bring freedom?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It’s the mind that causes bondage. It’s the mind which clings on to things, or clings on to the dreams. Even after you wake up, the palpitation is happening in the body, because you had a nightmare. But when the mind realizes that it’s a dream and it comes out of it, then there is relief. So mind is the cause for bondage and mind is the cause for liberation also.
I am very much confused about the caste system in our country. I belong to a Brahmin family from UP and I am in love with a person from a different caste. My father is opposing this. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You weigh the pros and cons. If your marrying is causing a huge turmoil and disturbance in the family and people are crying, wailing, yelling and creating a huge drama, then take a call on it and decide whether it is worth all that. Or make them understand and convince them that it is okay. You have only two ways to go. Usually for the Brahmins, the main worry is about food and culture. Brahmins are vegetarians and sometimes the other castes may not be vegetarian, so that may be a big block for them. They may think that I can’t go to my daughter’s house and eat anything as they are not vegetarians. These sorts of barriers may arise. So you talk to them and convince them that you will keep your values and principles and you will instill that in the other family also. If you can convince them happily, then go ahead. If not, you must weigh the pros and cons to see how adamant they are in their concepts or opinions and accordingly decide. Take the middle path and not just my way or their way. Compromise!
Gurudev, you ask people to vote for a better of India, but in the present scenario I am confused as I don’t find anyone fit for the job. It’s like selecting the least bad guy. What to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You are correct. Less corrupt is what you should choose, as of now. But in five years, all the youngsters prepare and think of another alternative. For now, change has to happen and we should choose the least corrupt. Give them a chance and if they are corrupt, we can discard them afterwards, but now is not the time to discard them.
Gurudev, they say marriages are made in heaven, but why after this heavenly arrangement, does hell start on Earth?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Contrast. Knowledge comes in opposition. Just like a baby cannot be created by one person, hell also cannot be created by one person. Whether heaven or hell, it needs two to create it.
In life you will have 101 reasons to get frustrated. However it is up to you keep the enthusiasm alive without allowing the frustration to seep in. Here are some pointers to help you keep frustration at bay.