Why he matters: A humanitarian with a quest for peace, this spiritual guru has altered perspectives around finding enlightenment with his wisdom and simple philosophies for life. The Padma Vibhushan recipient shares his invaluable advice about embracing mantras for happiness and eschewing negativity.
HELLO!: Please share three mantras for happiness.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “First, happiness grows when you share it with others. Second, learn how to keep stress at bay and not allow communication to break down. Lastly, cultivate the habit of keeping your mind engaged in wisdom.”
H!: How can we overcome negative emotions like envy, anger and hatred?
SSRS: “Breathing techniques like Sudarshan Kriya, pranayama and meditation will all help you. Also, look at life in the bigger context, know that it is short, and one day, the curtain will fall and everything will end. When you see life as impermanent, negative emotions will simply fade away. And this wisdom will help you see life from a greater perspective.”
H!: Why is there so much discord in the world?
SSRS: “First and foremost, we need to recognise that true peace begins within each individual. When we are at peace within, we radiate that peace to those around us, and it starts to permeate into our families, communities and the world.
Secondly, we must foster a culture of compassion. We need to acknowledge the diversity of cultures, religions and traditions that exist in our world. Conflict rises in the minds of people, and one of the main causes of conflict is breakdown of communication. When this happens, there can be no understanding, which eventually leads to conflict and war.
Lastly, we must teach our youth to grow up without prejudice. Prejudice based on race, religion, gender, or any other factor hampers personal and collective development. It blinds us to the richness of diversity and perpetuates conflict.”
H!: Is it possible to lead a spiritual existence even as we manage our day-to-day responsibilities?
SSRS: “Spirituality and managing your day-to-day responsibilities are not at loggerheads with each other. Just a few minutes of regular meditation helps you get in touch with your inner space. It relieves you from stress and infuses you with even more energy that will help fulfil your responsibilities with enthusiasm and positivity.
Every home can be an ashram. What is an ashram? A place where you get wisdom and knowledge, and have a sense of belongingness. And a place where you have food for the soul and food for thought. Can’t every home be an ashram? Can it not be a place that welcomes everyone and spreads happiness and compassion?”
H!: What should we strive for, to lead a more fulfilling life?
SSRS: “There must be clarity in our minds, purity in our hearts and sincerity in our actions.”
H!: What is your advice to the youth of India?
SSRS: “Care for fellow human beings, honour your roots and share your talents and gifts with others.”
H!: There are some who constantly face hardship. Do you believe it is their karma?
SSRS: “Karma can definitely be overturned through commitment to a greater cause and skill.”
H!: What makes The Art of Living so popular?
SSRS: “It provides the most effective tools that reduce stress. The Art of Living offers 57 programmes that cater to the needs of society. This timeless wisdom is as relevant today as it was 42 years ago.”
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