MORE EXCERPTS OF GURUJI'S INTERVIEW :
SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR (AOL) WITH ANURADHA SENGUPTA (CNN-IBN), FEB 2006
1. You have studied Christianity deeply. Today, if you pick up any newspaper, you can't miss the fact that there is all this factual information as well as analysis and this great debate about - If and is Islam on a collision course with the rest of the world i.e the Western world. What are your thoughts on this?
Sri Sri : India can stand as an example. In India, we have lived with many religious traditions for centuries in peace.
2. But not without moments of tumult?
Sri Sri : That is very minimal when you compare it to the conflicts that the world has faced. We have always lived together and this the world needs to understand. In the rest of the world there is this conflict - only I will go to heaven and the rest of us will go to hell. Only my way is the correct way and if you believe in this set of principles, only then will you go to heaven, otherwise you will go to hell. This sort of philosophy or indoctrinisation has caused intolerance in the world. And they always think that when I am good, then there must be somebody who is evil. In India we say - tat tu samanvayat - coordinate them all. Find the common thread in between different philosophy, different ways of thinking, practices. That is why we have so many sampradayas. Hinduism is also not one religion. It is an amalgamation of many philosophies, many schools of thoughts and yet it is moving. It is the same with Buddhism, Jainism. It is the tolerance, I would say, the harmony in diversity that India can teach the rest of the world. And that can happen only when we find a common thread, which I would say is spirituality. Spirituality gives you an experience first, there are mainly two streams of thought in the world. First you believe and then you will experience and come to know the truth, this is the 'oxidental' way of thinking. The 'orient' is the other way around - first you experience and then comes the belief system. The second, orient type is very akin to science. Science also says, let me first know it, experience it and then I will believe it. So, that is why science and spirituality were never in conflict in the East. Their modes and methodology have been the same all the time. The yoga , the meditation and breathing is a step further, beyond the rituals. There it can unite. Not only that, your understanding of the religion that you are following becomes deeper and better.
3. There is a science conference coming up later in a couple of months. You have always stressed on giving spirituality a rational basis, isn't it?
Sri Sri : That has been our path of the vedanta, of the ancient darshanas. They were always rational and they always went step by step. Whether your knowledge is erroneous or correct, there is a whole shashtra about it. You see the sun setting, but is it really setting or not? Is your eye deceiving you? Is it an optical illusion or is it a reality? What is real? What is unreal? This whole thing is dealt in our scriptures, in our vedanta. So, it is free from dogma, it is a scientific, logical understanding of what truth is. And that scientific temper or enquiry must be encouraged. Unfortunately, that is not done as much as it should in our country. When they make movies like Matrix, based on the same principle of yoga vashishtha, people are watching them. But they need to know that all this knowledge is present in the ancient books. One of the most amazing books is yoga vashistha and people read that book and understand it with a certain silence, withmeditation. That broad avenue of understanding will open rightaway.
4. You have said that we need not be afraid of death because sleep and death are very similar. Like sleep energises you, invigourates you and gives you another day that starts again, death does the same thing. So, do you believe and accept rebirth?
Sri Sri : It is not just me, today it is proved beyond doubt and almost all psychiatrists use regression as a therapy. Past life regression is used all over the world. I think that time has gone when people used to wonder whether it is true or not, whether it is there or not there? For West it is a new discovery, but in the East it has always been there.
5. While you do believe in this, you do not subscribe to the fact that you do poonya (good deeds) in this life, in the next life, you evolve to a higher caste. That is notconnected to the way you see the concept of rebirth?
Sri Sri : No. Rebirth simply depends on the strongest impression on the mind. Even here, in the aashram, there is a boy who is just eight years old and he speaks four languages. He has never gone to school. He is a boy of a farmer. He speaks Sanskrit, Hindi, Oriya and English. He just closes his eyes and he starts talking. He talks deep knowledge and philosophy. I myself had this experience. I know Gita from when I was very young.
6. And you graduated in Physics?
Sri Sri : Yeah. Physics is very fascinating. In our Vashishta Priyadarshana, it said, Padarthanand moksha. Even if you know one particle thoroughly in the creation, you are liberated. The wealth we have is amazing. But unfortunately, we have ignored it and nobody knows it, nobody studies that. They are more interested in following the ritual without even understanding the ritual properly. But understanding them makes your life so much richer.