Monday, July 27, 2015

Yoga day -Sri Sri Ravishankar Art of Living

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“Yoga is universal as breathing is universal, exercises are universal and the consciousness is universal. If you observe a child from the age of 3 months to 3 years, he does all the yogasanas.  But nobody can deny that yoga has been the part of the ancient Sanatana Dharma, has been developed in this country, and is ancient knowledge, wisdom. Bhagavat Geeta and Patanjali Yoga Sutras are taken as the main authority. All the Yogic scriptures are from Hindu traditions, Sanatana Dharma, but it does not restrict. For example, musical instruments belong to our traditions, as does Ayurveda. You can’t say that because it is from Hindu traditions it won’t work for others. No. Though its roots are in Hinduism, still its nature is universal. Yoga does not demand change of faith. World Yoga Day is announced by the United Nations and it was long due because when you can have a World Toilet Day and World Diabetic Day, why not World Yoga Day? India should take pride in yoga which is accepted and acknowledged universally.”

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bhagavad Gita Discourse (Chapter 8) by Sri Sri at Bangalore Ashram

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Q: If we use valor to handle a situation, elders feel we have forgotten our manners. How to handle the situation?

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Don’t justify your anger as valor. If you’re arrogant, and behave rudely, your behavior cannot be justified. Valor is an inner phenomenon. It gives immense patience, perseverance and inner strength. It does not mean screaming, and shouting. Screaming, and shouting means you are weak. If you’re really strong, you will just smile. You move with confidence. You will be unfazed. That is valor. 

This is one side of the story. The other side is that whatever you do, someone will criticize you. You will be blamed if you act, and even if you don’t act. If you speak, or don’t speak. You can’t keep pleasing everyone.
If your focus is on finding shortcomings, either in yourself or in others, you cannot raise higher. Recognize that if someone gives a comment, reflect on it. If there is some truth, accept it. If not, then thank them and move on. Don’t ask them why. Just say: ‘I appreciate your perception’ and move on.

Q: Across the world, Yoga is a billion dollar industry, India now has a Minister for yoga too. Could you list out what India should do to become the crest jewel of yoga once again?

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We need to have a quality control in yoga; anyone cannot say anything and call it yoga. All yoga teachers should do certain hours of the practice of yoga each day. Today someone attends a yoga class for a week and then they become yoga teachers. They can’t move their body but they instruct others to move their bodies. They can’t sit still for 10 minutes, and they talk about meditation to others.
If you cannot sit still for a few minutes, how can you teach meditation? Walk the talk and talk the walk should be the slogan for a yoga teacher, and they should have a thorough training on yoga.
It is good that the Government of India has come up with quality control measures in yoga. They are designing methods and setting up standards to certify yoga teachers, and this is necessary. It was the same with Ayurveda. There is a joke between the Ayurvedic doctors. They say, “Yasya kasya taroh mulam yena kena api gharshitam | yasmai kasmai pradatavyam yat va tat va bhavishyati”. (The root of this or that tree - mixed with something or the other, given to someone or the other will cause anything!)
This is what was happening in Ayurveda. But, in the past few years the Government has standardized the practice, the medicine, and the doctors. I wouldn’t say that the education on Ayurveda is the best, it has to improve a lot. There are doctors who have finished their education in Ayurveda and don’t know how to take nadi diagnosis (pulse reading). It needs improvement, but at least some standard has come.
In the same way, if someone wants to teach yoga they should know about the nature of the mind, about the patterns of breath, about the seven layers of existence, then they can become good yoga teachers.

Q: How will you guide the modern youth who want to join politics for the betterment of our country?

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First, you do your sadhana and broaden you vision. Second, you need to have enormous patience. You go with a big vision and there are all chances that your vision is squashed and smashed and it may reach a point that you will want to throw it away. But, don’t lose heart. You may have to face disappointments one hundred times, but the 101th time you will succeed, but for this you need to have patience and perseverance. You should hold onto your vision and your ethics. Third, never forget your spiritual side. Whatever work you have and however busy you are, take that much needed 4-5 days for a silence program once in a year. Take 20 minutes every day to sit and listen to knowledge and meditate. This will keep your energy up. 

As a politician be careful about two things:
  1. Money
  2. Sex
These are the two things with which people can create scandals about you. You have to be careful not to be maligned. It is very easy to be maligned and then you will waste all your time in proving these false allegations. Better be careful from the very beginning as these are the two areas that can create scandals against you.
In the field of politics, when you are moving ahead, there are a hundred people trying to pull you down. So as a young, enthusiastic aspirant, you have to be very clean on these areas.
Another point is, don’t make politics a profession, it should be your mission. If it is your mission, you get enormous strength, energy and enthusiasm. But if you make it a profession you will have to experience a lot of wear and tear. So, keep these points in mind.

Q: How does grey matter increase as a result of meditation?

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This was done by a scientist and I have no reason to doubt them. I have seen changes in people in just 1-2 weeks of meditation. When people learn meditation, the experiences they share and the transformation I have seen in millions of people around the world is proof for itself.
The brain is just an instrument where consciousness exhibits itself. It is the presence of consciousness that makes a womb grow into a baby. If there is no consciousness how will it grow? The womb grows into a baby because something is present in it, and that something which is the catalyst of growth can also change and heal anytime.

Q: How to be humble yet authoritative at work?

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That is a skill that you have to manage. You have to be humble and yet firm. It is easy to be strict and arrogant, and it is easy to be humble and weak. But humility with weakness is no good. Strength with humility is the most appreciable quality. Arrogance with authority is very easy, but authority and humility together is something which is worth having. And that if you can manage to master, you have succeeded in life.
Similarly it’s easy to give up things in anger, and in frustration, but letting go with a fullness of contentment and happiness is a skill.

Q: We have the Rudra Puja and Vishnu Puja in our tradition, but why is it that we do not have any practice of Brahma Puja (worship of Lord Brahma)?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, that is because Lord Brahma’s task of creating the Creation is over (laughter). Lord Brahma is present in Lord Shiva, and Lord Brahma is also present in Lord Vishnu. He (Lord Brahma) resides in everything. So when you worship Lord Vishnu, you are also worshipping Lord Brahma. The essence is to see that One Divinity in everyone and everything, and to also see everyone and everything as a part of the Divine. This is the point.
There is a term called as Brahmavadin. One is Lord Brahma, the other is the Brahman (the formless, eternal, all-pervading One Consciousness or Divinity). Do not confuse the two. There are no puja rituals to be done for the Brahman, that is the Paramatma or the One Divinity. You can only contemplate and meditate upon the Brahman. In order to prevent people from getting confused between Lord Brahma and the Brahman and treating formless Divinity as an object or deity of worship, our ancestors may have made a distinction between Lord Brahma and the Brahman.

Sri Sri on how to be successful and free of stress

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As times are getting tougher in the corporate world, many are feeling the pinch. Stress impacts the way we think, feel and behave, thus affecting all aspects of our life. The consequences of letting stress rule are nothing short of disastrous and tragic.
So how to be successful without paying the heavy price of a stressful life is what everyone is asking these days. I would say it's rather easy and simple.
It's like riding a bicycle
What is the secret to riding a bicycle? Balance! It's about staying at the centre: not letting it fall to the right or left. When it's falling on one side, you bring it to balance.
When you go out of balance, you feel the pinch. Listen to that. Don't just ignore it, acknowledge it and come to the centre. Whenever you go out of balance in any aspect of life, listen to your inner voice, and come to the centre.
Balance work and rejuvenation
First, balance your time between work and rejuvenation. Take care of your food, exercises and take time out for some meditation and relaxation.
Take interest in art
Second, take interest in some art form. In the corporate world, you are loaded with left-brain activities like logical thinking, planning, analysis, etc. So you need to balance the left-brain activity with the right-brain activity. Painting, music, poetry or any other kind of creative and recreational activities activate the right brain. When the two hemispheres of the brains are balanced, you can experience higher clarity, higher creativity, higher productivity, higher efficiency and higher relaxation
Strike a work-life balance
Third, strike a work-life balance. Listen to your inner voice. If you have ignored your family, it pinches you. If you have ignored your social commitment, it pinches you. If you are ignoring your business, it pinches you. If you are ignoring your spiritual practices, it pinches you. So wherever anything pinches you, come back to the centre.
Do acts of service
Fourth, do some seva (acts of service). Be useful to people around you. It's the best antidote to stress. You must contribute to society. When you do some act of service and kindness, it brings immediate feeling of inner rejuvenation.
The secret of true success is in balancing all aspects of life without being attached or averse to any of them.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Gurudev, there are many divorces happening in India nowadays. Please give some tips to men and women to stop this.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
To the men I would say, do not attack the emotions of women. Women are emotionally inclined, respect their emotions. Don’t sit like in olden times and dictate or lord over them; respect women.
To the women I would say, don’t attack a man’s ego. It’s possible that he may be stupid, but with your own mouth you should not call him stupid! If you call him useless he will actually become useless. Keep pumping his ego. Tell him, 'There is no one as intelligent like you in this world'.
He may not have used his brains as much as others have, but even though he may not have used his brain, doesn’t mean he does not have intelligence.
Many times in school, parents visit the principal and say that their child is very brilliant but is unable to write in the exam, something happens in the exam. The mother always feels her child is the most brilliant. You should feel the same, that your husband is the greatest. Never attack his ego. He should never have to prove his manhood, or talent, or competency to you. Don’t ever create such a situation. Don’t make him feel guilty, don’t blame him for everything.
If you blame a person all the time, that person will try to run away from you. Instead, with a sense of belongingness give him comfort. He works tirelessly for your sake, but when he comes home and you point a finger and start blaming and complaining about what he has or has not done then where will he go? Give him some comfort and relief.
These are two tips, and for both of them the common tip would be – don’t doubt each other’s love. Don’t compel the other to prove their love to you. Don’t ask, 'Do you really love me?' Is he supposed to bring a flower for you every day? If he brings flowers, then too it is a problem because then you will say, 'What’s the matter, there is something definitely wrong today'.
Sometimes women call their husband's office and find out what time he left work. Don’t do this, don’t be suspicious about him. If someone doubts your sincerity and love, and you have to prove your love again and again to them, isn’t that a big burden for you? It is so difficult to express love! In this world, nobody has been able to do it fully. But we ask the other if they truly love us, and then to prove it to us. Don’t ask for proof, take it for granted that the other person loves you.
If you feel that your partner or spouse does not love you as much as before or their attention has reduced, you should ask them, ‘Why do you love me so much?’ Demand destroys love. Even if the love has dried up inside them, it will be rekindled. They will see your magnanimity, your understanding and will start loving you more. Demand destroys love.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Gurudev, why do I have to take on so many responsibilities. I have the responsibility of my happiness, my husband’s happiness, family’s happiness, etc. Why all this when ultimately I have to die?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Well, that is because you are born! When you are born you have to take care of all this.
There are two ways of looking at life:
1. Either you take it as a burden and a drag and make your whole life a long drawn misery, or 2. You take it with enthusiasm, thinking, 'I have all these responsibilities and challenges, and I can do it'. And you move on with celebration.
When you are tired that is when you feel that all this is too much for you to handle. When this happens, I would say, sit back and relax. Think that you have no responsibility whatsoever. Find the deepest of the rest within you, and then you will get the strength you need to move on.
Just say one thing to yourself, 'I want nothing!' This wanting nothing gives you the deepest of the rests.
Rest is not just physically lying in bed, it is the mode of the mind which says, 'I am satisfied, I am content'. Its only contentment which can give you rest and this contentment is not going to come to you by doing something or by engaging in any activity. It will come to you only through knowledge. And the knowledge is:
1. Everything is impermanent
2. I am satisfied
3. I want nothing
This is the essence of the knowledge.
Often when you ask children what do they want, they will say, 'Nothing'.
The seed of wanting nothing is there in every child. They only don’t know that everything is impermanent because they have not fully caught on to anything around them.
Even for a few moments every day, if you say, 'Everything is impermanent, I want nothing', and you sit and take that deep rest, then you come up with the energy and enthusiasm with which you can take up a million jobs in the world, and you can make a million people happy. Then no work appears to be significant or insignificant.
This is the language of the Upanishad: it is neither significant nor insignificant.
You can’t call even small things as insignificant, nor do you have to give so much importance to something very significant. Instead, you can keep doing any work, any action, anywhere, and each and every one of them will be beneficial to the world.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Gurudev, I am Christian and I don’t believe in reincarnation but is it possible that we were Indians in another life?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Now you are negating your own statement! You say you don’t believe in reincarnation and then ask if you had a birth in this country!
Possible! I know for sure I have been here many times. And even you have been, but whether you were an Indian or not, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.
The interpretation, religion and belief system all varies with time.
Once upon a time, the church did not believe the earth is round. They believed the earth is flat. So many scientists were persecuted because they were saying things which were against the religion, but then the church started adopting it.
They said they don’t believe in the Darwin theory, but now the Pope is saying it is acceptable. When science says something, you agree.
Similarly, the psychologist, psychiatrist, parapsychologist, scientist say there have been many lives, many mansions (bodies) that you have been in. When the scientists say you have been here, that your consciousness is imperishable, then you will have to agree.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Gurudev, I have done courses and do my sadhana (spiritual practices) almost every day but I still don’t feel love for myself. What should I do?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Who said you don’t feel love for yourself. Don’t be hard, don’t pity yourself. You ARE love, my dear! You are made up of this stuff called love. Like our body is made up of amino acid, carbohydrate, protein, your spirit is made up of love, light and joy. This is in your nature. So just wake up.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Gurudev, when you see all this crowd that worships you, don’t you have the temptation to become a living God? How do you manage to keep a balance?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The way people greet each other in India is different from the way people greet each other in the West, and in the Far East. In India and the Far East we bow down, we touch the feet. This is the normal way of greeting.
When we were kids we were supposed to bow down and touch our mother’s feet every day. We were all tuned to do it. If our grandmother came home or any elderly person came, all the children were asked to prostrate in front of them. This is a cultural thing. Don’t think that everyone has to do it. In fact, many times it’s a botheration! People come and fall at your feet, and while one is bending down the other bends over him and falls. It becomes difficult to manage a crowd.
Many times when I’m walking I get into different postures. I keep one foot behind because somebody is pulling it, wanting to touch my leg. It’s a tradition in the country and a way of showing reverence, what to do!
People praise, give adulation, but it is all going to that One source. Do you see what I’m saying? If someone says this painting is so beautiful, to whom does the credit go to? To the one who painted it, isn't it?
This is what we train our teachers for. It is not just me, all our teachers, wherever they are teaching, they get so much adulation and praise, yet they are all centered, it doesn’t disturb them.
In fact I say, if you have to praise someone, praise a fool. Then it is more useful. An intelligent person does his job, whether you praise them or not. But if you praise a fool it is of more value, as he may do something! Got it?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Gurudev, your Prime Minister has a reputation of being a Hindu ultra nationalist in France. What does it mean?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Newspapers say many things. One thing I know is, there is a right wing, left wing and the centre in politics. But what is important is that – once a person occupies a seat of responsibility, he has to care for everybody.
As far as I know the Prime Minister is a nice person. From being a tea seller he rose to the top most post of this country and he is for the development of the country. Let’s see and hope he does a good job; he seems to be taking things in the right direction.
As far as I know, he is not one of those right wing extremist type of person. He is very sensible and a dynamic person which he has proved by his administrative abilities for 15 years. He has shown to the world how he can take people away from poverty. So we hope he does a good job for the whole country and he contributes to the international community in a very positive way.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Gurudev, there are many inequalities in this world, one of them is between women and men. Women are suffering from different types of discrimination. Why is it so and what do you suggest for the countries both in the East and West? What do we do?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Three things: women empowerment, women empowerment and women empowerment! Women should feel empowered, they should never feel like a victim.
When you feel like a victim, you lose energy, you lose enthusiasm and you lose power. The spiritual path is where you get rid of both, victim consciousness and culprit consciousness.
As a victim you remain in the small mind and you can never reach the self. As a culprit also the same thing happens, you come into doership and you can’t reach the self. So stop blaming yourself and start praising because praising is a divine quality. So stop being a victim. Don’t think that you being a lady are being discriminated against. Nobody can do anything if you stand up! You have all the power to stand up and ascertain your rights. Of course we need to bring a lot of change in the society. But you can do that without having to feel that you are a victim.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's 'Art of Living' gets ISIS threat letters

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The Malaysian chapter of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living has received threatening letters from the Islamic State terror group, a close aide of the spiritual leader claimed on Saturday. 

"Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is touring some countries in the far east and he landed in Malaysia yesterday and few days ago while he was in Cambodia, we received threat letters from ISIS, one was received by the hotel manager, one was received by the director of Art of Living and one by senior faculty and the content of the letter is very threatening saying if you go ahead with the programme there will be consequences," said Nakul, an aide of Ravi Shankar. 

"The authorities have immediately notified the local authorities. We also contacted the Indian Embassy and we also conducted an investigation to find the source of the letter. We are going ahead," he said. 

The Art of Living had a yoga programme in the morning which was attended by 10,000 people and there is a programme underway in Penang attended by 70,000 people which Sri Sri will be attending, he added.

Q: Gurudev, How to come out of this cycle of birth and death?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
By continuing to do what you are doing now. You are in the right place.
When you become content then you are liberated. If you want something (including contentment) then you cannot be contented. Have the faith that you will get what you want. And if you don’t have the faith that you will get what you want, then why are you holding onto that desire? Be willing to let go of your desires.
If you want something and have the faith that you will get it, then you will surrender it and your mind becomes calm. If you don’t have the faith but still have the desire to get something, then you will need to drop it. When will you drop it?
If you have a doubt whether you will be able to drop it or not, then know it will drop by itself. Then again you will be at peace and contented.
Observe what is happening within you.
Take a deep breath in. Now you suddenly see there is nothing to hold onto, and immediately you find contentment and become peaceful (laughter in audience).
Listen, this is important. Firstly, we don’t know what we want. If we come to know what we want, then we don’t have faith that we will get what we want. This self-confidence is not there. If there is faith in the self, in the Guru, in the Divine, then just with the faith that we will get what we want, the mind becomes calm this moment. Not after getting, but before getting, the mind becomes calm. Isn’t it true?
If even this doesn’t work then think of dropping it, letting go.
And if you feelit is not getting dropped, then pray that all these desires drop off. At the time of prayer itself the mind becomes happy.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gurudev, I asked my friend, 'Why do bad people get good things?' He said, 'They are enjoying stale food from previous lifetimes'. Are we supposed to have everything without knowing why?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Suffering comes on two counts:
1. Ignorance – we are miserable due to our ignorance
2. Old karmas - we are experiencing something to pay off some old karmas.
These are the only two reasons.
It is okay if some challenges have come. You should have that much confidence within you that you can overcome the challenge. Earlier also challenges have come in your life and you have overcome them; you have gone beyond them. Learn from that.
Look back at your own life and see how many challenges you have had and how you have sailed through them and come out of them. This will give you confidence. The other option is to realize that you have to pay some debt so you are undergoing what you are undergoing.
Further, don’t compare yourself with others. You think other people who don’t do anything in spirituality are rising up? What do you know about them? They may have a lot of money but may not have good sleep. You don’t know their suffering. People by hook or by crook make wealth, they reach to the top, and then they fall from there. Hasn’t it happened? So many people who have climbed to the top using wrong methods, haven’t they fallen?
What should you do by looking at all that? You should go with your determination (of righteousness).
You should properly feed into your brain what it is that you want. The brain is like a computer; the consciousness works like a computer. First make sure of what you want.
If you confused and you don’t know what you want, then pray, 'Agne naya supathā rāye asmāna viśvāni deva vayunāni vidvān'.
This prayer was in Ishavasya Upanishad today, which means: May the Divine lead me and give me the best. And having the faith that only the best will happen to me. Got it?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Gurudev, please speak on the issue of female foeticide.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I would say that it should not be practiced and should be done away with. I have heard that it is quite prevalent here in Haryana on quite a large scale. It is said that the ratio of female foeticide is 7 out of 10.
How many doctors are here? I appeal to all the doctors here to stop and refuse from doing the Gender based testing of foetuses. Female foeticide should be banned and there should be strict laws to stop this.

Q: Gurudev, Would you pressurize the religious leaders of the world, especially the Arab and Middle East countries to rescue the abduct, especially women and children? When we requested for the American government to send food, the answer they gave us was that they had to write to the government of Iraq and other neighboring countries to rescue the abduct.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
This is between government to government. They have many policies. As an NGO, we can do what we can do. I think it is not possible for us to interfere into the foreign policies of the government. We cannot make one government stand against the other; that will be perceived as not being friendly. I would suggest you write to various governments and bring to their notice the communities that need urgent help, and that we would like to receive direct help from those governments.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Gurudev, please speak about the dowry laws in the country.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
No one should take or give dowry in any form. I would ask all the youths here today to take a promise that they will not support dowry in any way. You should tell your parents that you will only bring a bride home to them as their daughter-in-law, and nothing else.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Gurudev, are you in favor of divorce?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
No, not at all. But if your relationship comes to such a stage that it becomes difficult for both partners to continue ahead, if your lives become a living hell because of it, and if no amount of attempts can save your relationship, then I would ask both the partners to peacefully part ways and move ahead with their individual lives.
But first both partners must give their 100% to make amends and improve the relationship before taking the decision to go for a divorce.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Q: Gurudev, There is a widespread consumption of alcohol in society today. What can we do to curb this menace?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Just bring them all to this intoxicating satsang. I promise you I will introduce them to such a high intoxicant (spirituality) that they will forget all these vices. So many people have left smoking, drinking and other vices after coming to the spiritual path. So you should not shun such people. Instead, convince them to come to the satsang and then you will see that they will surely change.
Once you are intoxicated with devotion and deep love for the divine, you can never let go.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Gurudev, what should I do when someone insults me in a group or in public? Is it correct to complain about that?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
See, when someone insults you, what can you do? You cannot control everyone’s mouth. In such a situation, you have only two choices:
1. You also behave in the same way and insult them. But that will not improve the situation in any way
2. You simply smile at their ignorance. Just tell them that every person has the right to their ignorance and to display it as well, and then be quiet
See, even if someone insults you, it does not stay forever. For a few moments someone says something unpleasant to you, and it reaches your ears. But it is all temporary, just like bubbles in water. These unpleasant things come and go.
Who in the world has the time to stop and brood over these petty situations, or to keep thinking about someone else? So when such things happen, do not worry and get disturbed by them.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Gurudev, I feel that people around me deceive me very quickly and easily. What pleasure do they get in doing such things?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Whether they deceive you sooner or later, how does it matter? I tell you, it is better they deceive and cheat you sooner than later. Being cheated later will bring more difficulties for you.
Listen, know that you are wise. Cheating someone is a two-way thing and takes two people to make it happen, just like clapping needs both your hands. If someone cheats and takes advantage of you, then it is also because you were not fully aware.
If you are alert of what is happening around you, then how will they be able to deceive you? So you should stay alert.
If you do not get carried away by emotions then who can cheat you? This applies even for your brother, sister, your own family and personal relationships. Do not let your emotions get the better of you. Emotions have their own place in relationships. Butwhere you have to be intelligent and act wisely, there you should not get carried away by emotions. Be alert and take intelligent action. Then you will not get deceived, and you will see that even your relationships will become sweeter and more harmonious.
When people do not use their wisdom and act purely on the basis of emotions, then you will see that they quarrel over very trivial matters. We should not give anyone a chance to take advantage of us, or deceive us. How many of you here agree with me? (Many in the audience raise hands)
If you have a lot of gold and money at home, keep it away in a safe rather than outside. If you carelessly keep it lying outside and your maidservant secretly steals something, then how can you blame her for it? It is your mistake in the first place. You should be wise and not keep it outside so that they do not get the tempted.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Q: Gurudev, Nowadays, a lot of incidents are happening on women. We say we are the country with the best culture, especially when it comes to respecting women, them why?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You are correct. We are not following the tradition at all. In the name of secularism, we are not following ethics at all. We have sterilized our education of all moral and ethical values, so our younger generation is becoming so self-centered and selfish, and not caring for others. This is one reason.
The second is female feticide. In many states, for every 100 males there are only 65 females. This is going to be dangerous. You can’t live in a society where the ratio of men to women is so high. We should ban sex determination in the womb. Whether boy or girl, what difference does it make? We must honor a boy baby and a girl baby as one and the same. So people should realize this and not abort a female fetus in the womb. If people realize this, then women will be safer because the ratio is what is alarming.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Q: Gurudev, Why don’t we introduce organic food instead of polished food for all of us here since we have got the knowledge of Ayurveda?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Do you know that all the food grown here at the ashram is organic? All the vegetables and the milk is organic; ghee is organic. Sometimes when we don’t get enough organic supplies, then we have to go for the regular one.
We need to educate the farmer to go all out into organic. There is a big disconnect between the growers and consumers.
I have heard many farmers say that they grow organic food but there are no takers, and I have heard many people say that they are not getting organic food.
We have already begun making the connect here between the farmers and the consumers.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Q: Gurudev, What is Yoga? How can it help bring peace?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yoga is a technique which unites the body, mind and spirit. Yoga relieves you from stress and tension. It is stress that causes weakness, anger, jealousy and all the negative emotions. When you get rid of stress using breathing techniques, meditation and some simple exercises, it helps your body and mind and creates a sense of well-being and happiness from inside. If you’re well and happy you will not be violent.When someone engages in violent activity, know that behind the violence there is anger and frustration.
We have all done yoga as kids. If you watch a child from the time it is born to the age of three, it would have done all the yoga exercises. The way a child breathes is different from the way an adult breathes. Breath is the link between the body and emotions and by attending to the breath you are able to soften the emotions and get rid of negative emotions.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Q: Gurudev, In India, there is a very well known river that is contaminated with germs, and the masters there say that if you’re interested in Hinduism or Buddhism then as a part of the rituals you have to go and have a bath in that dirty river. Can you tell us what really lies behind this?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Once upon a time the river Ganga had very pure water, and today our Prime Minister has taken up the job of cleaning the whole river which is considered very sacred. In India we honor the rivers, the trees, and the animals. Honoring the whole creation is a part of nature.
Nowhere in any scripture it is said that one needs to take a dip in the water; or that it is a prerequisite for someone to do yoga and meditation. These are all rituals. As I said, rituals and practices are different. People cultivate rituals over a period of time but the main thing is to appreciate the values. Values is the knowledge.
In poems it has always been said, ‘Knowledge is like a river. If you assimilate knowledge, you will be happy, you will be liberated’, this is the real message. The river Ganga, which you mentioned to be polluted also means knowledge.
In a simile it is said, 'If you are bathed in knowledge then you are free (here meaning liberated)'. But people literally take it as only if they bathe in the river will they be free. This is incidental or accidental, but the essence is living the values.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Q: Gurudev, We know that each religion has two aspects, one aspect is the beliefs and the other is rituals. Which one is the unifying and which is the dividing factor?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I would say religion has three aspects:
1. Values
2. Symbols and
3. Rituals and practices
The values seem to be the same amongst all religions, like brotherhood, oneness of God, love and compassion, serving the poor and needy. This is the spiritual aspect of religion.
Second, is symbol. Every religion has symbols, holy places and books. Third is rituals and practices. There can be many different rituals.
What people usually do is, they leave the values and hold on to the rituals and symbols. This is where conflict arises. That is why I say, ‘Spirituality unites people, but religions can divide people'.
If you see the major religions of the world, you will see that the Abrahamic religions come from the same source. It is like three brothers from the same family. But, there has been a lot of conflict.
Other religions like Shintoism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, there has never been any conflict. The six religions of the Far East have always coexisted, and their rituals are completely different. Within Hinduism there are hundreds of sects, but there have never been any clashes. The basic rule is to respect and honor each other. It was the same with Islam. In Islam there are five different sects, or even more. There have been periods in history where they all coexisted peacefully. Even in Iraq, Shias and Sunnis coexisted.
When conflicts arise, it latches on to religion much more than any other identity and then the whole problem starts. We should focus more on the spiritual values which can unite people of all religions.
I would like to tell you a happening in Japan. Once, President Nixon went to Japan and he wanted to meet all the religious leaders. On one side of him was seated a Buddhist monk and on the other side was a Shinto priest.
President Nixon asked the Shinto priest, ‘What is the percentage of Shinto followers in Japan?’
He said, ’80%.’
He then turned to the Buddhist monk and asked him, ‘What is the percentage of Buddhist followers in Japan?’
He said, ’80%.’
The President couldn't understand how that was possible, but it is possible.
Similarly, if you come to India, the Jain and Hindus have completely different sets of beliefs and rituals, but they live together with such harmony. Similarly, the Sikhs and the Hindus participate in each other's festivals and honor each other but never has there been any conflict. They never said, ‘Only I will go to heaven.’
This is what the Middle East can learn from the Far East. Whether they are Yazidis, Christians, Muslims, Shias or Sunnis, Ahmedia or Sufi, they can all coexist. What is important is to honor the diversity.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Diversity is in the DNA of Hinduism: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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Why should the Bhagwad Gita or any other sacred book get designated as national scripture? Why does one have to learn Sanskrit? With self-proclaimed Hindu nationalists assuming the right to decide who is a Hindu, the question arises: what does it really mean to be Hindu? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder, Art of Living Foundation, tells Narayani Ganesh that any political party that seeks to represent the Hindu way needs to celebrate its diversity rather than limit it.
Why do we need to establish a certain Hindu identity?
Hinduism should be seen as a transcultural way of life. If you tie it up with a certain culture, its scope becomes very limited. This is what happened to Judaism and to some extent, to Islam. Christianity, on the other hand, has seeped into every culture — you may wear a skirt and be Christian, or wear a sari and blouse and still be Christian. Similarly you may wear a suit and tie and still be Hindu. Your dress does not matter, unlike what was promoted by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness that brought in cultural Hinduism. They insisted that people wear the dhoti-kurta and sport a shaven head with a tuft, even in cold places. They took the Bengali culture with Hinduism — there is nothing wrong with that, but it limits the purview of that philosophy. The uniqueness of Hinduism is that it transcends the cultural and generational time barrier. Fashion is a time-bound thing but if you attach religion to fashion, then there is a problem. In Chanakya’s time, the tuft (at the back of the head) was the fashion, and a particular way of wearing a dhoti was the fashion. But sporting a tuft or shaving your head does not make you a Hindu.
The way one chooses to dress or eat is all part of culture, and culture is dynamic. If we embroil Hinduism in all of this — clothing, food, language and so on — we are not doing justice to its universality, to the vastness that Hinduism stands for. If we limit its scope, then its universal nature of thought gets lost.
What does vedanta say about Hindu identity?
Even among south Indian states, the culture is so different. And the culture of a Tamil, Bengali and Punjabi Hindu are also so very dif ferent. The same Krishna Yajurveda mantra is chanted differently in Kerala, in Andhra Pradesh, in Tamil Nadu and so on. So Hinduism is full of diversity and no one can make it into a uniform something. For instance, in Karnataka, the Hindu bride wears white and the widow or a sanyasi wears red whereas in TN, the Hindu bride wears red and widows wear white! It’s totally the opposite, just across the border!
Wearing this colour or that, sporting a tuft or earrings is not part of religion. That is fashion. What do the Vedas say? “Krinvanto Vishwam Aryam” (Let us make this world a noble place to live in, let us give highest knowledge to the whole world). The upanishads say, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the whole world is one family).
So you are saying there is no uniformity in Hinduism?
It is impossible to bring uniformity in Hinduism. The shakhas and branches are all different.
Can there be one single sacred book of the Hindus?
In Hinduism, there is no one central book, and no one specific culture. Therefore, those who are trying to bring unification are doing injustice to the very structure of Hinduism. Celebrating diversity is in the very DNA of Hinduism; that is the reason why it is most needed today in the whole world. The world is diverse — but all conflicts are about trying to make the world monolithic. Celebration of diversity is the only way to counter extremism.
What should a party that calls itself a Hindu political party be doing?
It has to honour diversity; it is the only way because otherwise, we will be narrowing the scope and reach of Hinduism. Celebrate diversity, and don’t try to limit the universality of being Hindu.

Gurudev, in the last five years the ashram has become like a fortress. It was easier in the older times to get peace in the ashram than now.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Be in the present moment and listen to the knowledge. In earlier days, there may have been a few people. Today there are more people. When more people are there, there is more possibility for you to share your knowledge and wisdom and gain patience.
You should also grow. You cannot get stuck to what you were 30 years back. 30 years back you could interact with 10 people. Today, you may have to interact with 1000 people. So we should expand as time passes and not shrink into shells.
We have said, 'Vasudaiva Kutumbakam' (one world family). We have accepted the whole world as our family. Then you should rise up to that idea. Feel at home with anybody and everybody. Don’t just focus on what is comfortable for you and what is not comfortable. You should get out of your comfort zone and bring comfort to others. This is most important.
See as to how many people are comfortable with you. You can do a survey about yourself and see how many people you make happy and comfortable? If you dislike people, you will find you are not friendly.
As we expand, we become friendly with people of different natures and different parts of the world. Sometimes, we feeling comfortable with people of our own state or country or religion. Here you have to mix with everybody. We have people of different faiths all here, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs. We have people from every state of India, right from the Northeast to Kerala, and right from Jammu to Tamil Nadu. We also have people from all over the world and everyone has their own mannerisms and food habits. So you need to learn and bring comfort to others. You have had enough peace, now it's better you give peace to others.

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