Excerpts from International Art of Living Ashram, Bangalore (India) Satsang (9th May 2011)

Posted on: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 | Posted by: Art of Living Universe

Q: Dear Guruji, in Hinduism why are there so many rituals? Is it just to keep people busy? 
Sri Sri: Man cant live with out rituals. Communists tried this, but didnt succeed. Even today, there is Lenin's Grave. At 12 O'clock there is a gun fire. Whether it is in Education or in Business or an Industry or Politics, rituals are followed. And people are used to following certain rituals even in secular countries. In fact the word RULE comes from Rituals. Man cant live with out it.
If the ritual is more meaningful, emotionally enriching and spiritually uplifting then it should be followed. If they keep you just busy, wasting your time then it has no meaning. Ancient Rishis made 16 rituals (Shodasha Sanskara). These are Important stages/impressions of life. They start right from child's conception. Naming ceremony, first time giving food to child other than mother's milk are all rituals. First grain is fed with lot of blessings So that child grows up well in life. Among the 16 rituals, shaving child's head for the first time, putting on shoulders three threads are to create awareness and sense of responsibility are also included. Then comes marriage so like this there are 16 meaningful sanskaras.
We should have meaningful rituals but we should not be bogged down by it. In those days, people did not have much to do. During peak agricultural acitivities time, they used to be busy, otherwise they had lot of free time to meditate and do rituals. Today when we follow them, we should do them by using our Viveka (power of discrimination). A middle path is necessary. We shouldn't completely discard rituals.

Q: In Hinduism, there are so many rituals and ways of knowledge, How do we need to see them?
Sri Sri: People are diverse, and their opinions too. There is a variety of knowledge that is kept in front of you and that is the beauty of Hinduism. But once you have chosen a path you follow that sincerely. Do not to say other's way is not correct. Do not blame others. Hinduism is simply a way of life which is liberal all encompassing and all inclusive. Hinduism is honouring life, one divinity with different forms, one human race with diverse belief system.

Q: Dear Gurudev, the most important element is water in Hinduism, can you please throw some light on this?
Sri Sri: All the five elements are considered sacred in Hinduism. Water, Earth, Fire, Air and Ether. Fire is almost always there and worshipped in most Hindu rituals. Earth is worshipped. All the five elements are worshipped and honored.
Sanyasis are not creamated they are buried. This is according to scriptures. Some do Jal (water) samadhi. But in most cases Sanyasis and Sadhus are buried.

Q: I took birth in a Hindu family and I was brought up and now settled in USA. Back in India, everyone wants me to be a Hindu. What should I do in such situations?
Sri Sri: Its good to keep your family traditions. Have a little bit of ritual. You should not do out of Fear of sin. The tradition that has come successfully from several generations has something to offer you. Rather it has lot of things to offer. Take those good things and follow them. As long as rituals are free from superstitions its fine to follow.

Q: In west, Hinduism is considered at times as bundle of superstitions, what to do when one is caught in such environment?
Sri Sri: It is all prejudice. Such misunderstanding comes out of ignorance.

Q: Two big black marks on Hinduism are Sathi and Som raas. How to tackle them.
Sri Sri: Sathi is not true. No where in the scripture, this tradition is mentioned. Som ras is not something that you consume externally. Its an internal phenomenon. There is agni (fire) at the base of the spine, when we go deep in meditations, cerebrospinal fluid from brain reach it and something rises up which gives bliss. So som ras is having this ecstasy inside, its not taking any drink externally.
Q: What can we do to unite Hindus?
Sri Sri: All humanity should unite together, why just Hindus? And Hindus should feel proud to be a Hindu. We should learn from Yehudi People, to feel proud of being Yehudi. There is kind of hesitation to say that one is Hindu. This was imbibed on minds since the times of Britishers. This low feeling should go away. We need to take it off.

Q: In Jainism they have tough rituals.
Sri Sri: Jain Religion has researched alot on food. But as things went to extremity, it failed to spread across the globe. For example, they say one should not drink water after the sunset. There are some places where days dont happen for months like in Norway or some places the sun sets very early. How can one stay without water for such long time?
There is one more ritual that only a given set of vegetables have to be consumed. It becomes difficult to practice such very strict rules in present day. Also there are some rituals which had meaning in those days but not necessarily needs to be followed during the present day. In one place, that I visited, they had dirty cloth tied to taps. When asked they said its a ritual to filter the water by cloth before having it. In fact the cloth itself was so dirty and was with flies and dust that pure water would become dirty after passing through it. In olden days the water used to taken from rivers and ponds.. etc. So filtering was essential, hence they had made it as ritual. But in the present day, its not needed. Thats why, whatever the rituals, use your intelligence, Viveka. Its very important. Even in Hinduism, some people take tradition too far. Be and stay as vegetarian, Thats good enough. Even big and powerful animals eat only vegetarian food like elephant. It never eats chicken or mutton even during scarcity :)
Jain religion has prime focus on meditation. Strict rules seen in Jainism are applicable for those who want to do only meditation.

Q: Why do people give less importance to national language?
Sri Sri: it's all politicians gift.

Excerpt source:
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