The city of Sangam (a name for the city of Allahabad in India, being the meeting point of the three holy rivers– Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) is witnessing a sangam (meaning a confluence or coming together) of devotion, knowledge and karma (one’s duty or righteous conduct).
It is so wonderful when we all sing together, isn’t it? In Sanskrit there is a saying: ‘Shabda Brahmane-nishnata parambrahmadi gachhati’ (taken from the sacred scripture Shatapatha Brahmana, ‘Shabda-Brahman’ means the primordial, transcendental sound of Creation, literally meaning the origin or source of everything).
It means that one who becomes so totally immersed in Shabda-Brahman (Om) attains the Parabrahman (the Supreme all-pervading One Consciousness) effortlessly.
So whenever bhajans are being sung and when there is kirtana (Satsang), we must join in and sing whole heartedly. By being so totally immersed, all our worries and miseries disappear, any disharmony in life vanishes and life becomes full of joy and harmony again.
There is disharmony in life because of stress, restlessness, and feverishness from cravings and aversions in the mind. To be rid of these negativities, we all should listen to wonderful music for a few minutes every day. We should all sing, whether we know to sing properly or not; it does not matter.
We should all applaud the youth sitting here who gave such a wonderful performance today. They will make this country proud of their talent when they grow up. They will bring great glory to Classical music of our country. I am really happy to see this.
India is home to seven great and unparalleled traditions. What are they? The very first is the Spirituality of India. Nowhere else in the world will you find such profound and deep spirituality that can win over the hearts of people and make them blossom from within.
This unique quality of being able to transform life so totally belongs only to Indian spirituality. India should be very proud of this. Indian spirituality includes everything, like Yoga, Vedanta philosophy, etc.
The second is Indian Ayurveda. The medicine systems of the 21st century have begun to fade. Indian Ayurveda on the other hand is such a unique tradition in which the medicines have no side effects, and only work to protect and enhance one’s health and overall wellbeing.
Yoga and spirituality are given tremendous respect all over the world today. Regardless of the country, people all over are rapidly adopting and integrating Yoga in their lives.
If you go to the city of Tromsø in Norway, which is the last point of the country closest to the Arctic Circle, there the sun shines for just two months in a year. But even there, people are practicing Pranayama, and meditating. The chants of Om Namaha Shivaya are resonating even in such a faraway place.
In the same way, the last city in the Southern Hemisphere of Earth – Tiera del Fuego, after which begins the Antarctic Circle; there also you will find thousands of people gathering together to chant Om Namaha Shivaya, and practicing the Sudarshan Kriya. This is India’s gift to the world.
India has made a place for itself in every home in the world (by virtue of Indian Spirituality). Our Rishis (wise sages) have said, ‘Krunavanto vishwam aryam’. It means, ‘We will grow and spread in glory through the world’.
I see their dream turning into a reality today.
The third brilliant tradition is our Indian music. India is home to so many different types and schools of music. Nowhere else in the world will you find such a rich diversity in music and dance.
If you travel in India, you will find that after every 200-300 kilometres, the language or the dialect changes; the music and dance changes; the local culture and beliefs change. You will not find such diversity anywhere else in the world.
We have always considered music and dance as an indivisible part of our culture and heritage since time immemorial. Lord Shiva Himself performed the Tandava (a dance form attributed to Lord Shiva depicted by his Nataraja form as the Lord of Dance), while Goddess Saraswati played divine notes from Her Veena (a classical string instrument). Seeing the Lord in ecstatic dance, even His devotees such as Nandi, Bhringi too began dancing. So music has always been given a very important place in our culture.
The fourth great tradition of India is our Indian Food and Cooking styles. We cook such a variety of dishes across the country.
A few years ago in Ahmedabad, we had an event called Annambrahmam, which was a celebration of the diversity of Indian food. There were nearly 5700 different dishes that had been prepared for the event. Seven tonnes of food grains and cereals were used to create those dishes in 265 kitchens by our volunteers. No one would have even heard of such a great number of food dishes anywhere in the world. This is a speciality of India.
Do you know what do we do nowadays? Nowadays we prefer going to Pizza Hut. We have forgotten our rich heritage in food.
Do you know the story of Pizza? Do you know how the Pizza was born? In Italy, they made the pizza by using all the left over dough and vegetables. People in Italy, after finishing their meals used to give pizza as food to the labourers.
We have forgotten the rich varieties of food that belong to our own country. We give more importance to food items such as Pizza which are made of Maida (refined white flour), which harms our stomach and intestines.
If you go to Tripura (a north-eastern state of India), you will be amazed at the variety of food items cooked there. Today I have come here after touring three states. In the morning I visited the city of Bodh Gaya in the state of Bihar. In the afternoon I was in West Bengal, and now in the evening I have come to U.P. (Uttar Pradesh). Every province has different varieties of food dishes. This diversity in food is a unique part of our cultural identity and we must promote it.
The fifth great tradition of India is the diversity of Indian Fabrics and attire.
If you go abroad, you will see that the clothes people wear are usually of the same or nearly similar colors, with little variety. But in India, you will see such a variety of clothes and dressing styles, and even the ornaments and accessories worn along with them. This has been in practice since ages.
Even the idols in the Indian temples are decorated – they are so beautifully dressed and adorned every day. This quality and tradition has been another important part of our culture since many ages.
The next one is Indian IT (Information Technology) . There was a recent study conducted by researchers in London to understand why the IT profession developed so well in India especially as compared to the other countries of the world. They found that Indian languages have their roots in Sanskrit. They then examined and studied the Sanskrit language in depth. They found that Sanskrit as a language is extremely conducive for the Neuro-linguistic function of our brain. Sanskrit allows the Neuro-linguistic faculties of the brain to develop well and also assimilate information quickly and accurately.
So after 20 years of this research, they have made Sanskrit as a compulsory subject in three schools in the England. You must have heard about this; or read about it in the papers. Sanskrit is found to be the most suitable language for programming computers, and all our Indian languages are based on Sanskrit. When we speak Sanskrit or any of our Indian languages, the Neuro-linguistic functions of the brain also respond and develop harmoniously. This is what scientists today have said.
Indian Tourism is the seventh great aspect of India’s traditions. The huge number of tourist spots that one can find to visit in India, cannot be matched by any other country in the world. Once, after the end of an Art of Living event, I went on a tour of Greece. Some people from India also accompanied me there. They told me, ‘Gurudev, there is little to see here; only these grand stone pillars. Yet the entire world flocks to see them. There is so much more to see in our own country’. But unfortunately we have not presented and promoted our country’s tourist spots and heritage to the world in a proper way.
Greece is a small country, and yet around 12 million people travel to Greece to see its heritage sites and tourist spots; while India receives only four million people annually as tourists. We have not taken the efforts to present our rich and diverse cultural heritage before the world. We are still lagging behind in proper infrastructure and many other amenities in our country.
These seven aspects are truly which India can be proud of. If we honour and develop these seven aspects well, you will see that India’s economy will really improve and start growing once again. This is what I believe.
Will you all remember these seven things that I spoke about?
The first is Indian Spirituality, which brings such an unshakeable smile and joy in the hearts of everyone. Our spirituality is not bookish and confined to scriptures alone, it is very practical and scientific, and can be integrated in our daily lives. It has the ability to transform one’s life so totally. It can make you blossom in all spheres of life.
I was in Bihar a few days ago. Around 100 youth from different villages and rural areas had come to visit me there.
Three weeks back, before they all attended the Art of Living Happiness workshop, they had made up their mind to take up guns and arms to claim their rights by force. They had decided to adopt the Maoist way of life.
In the Happiness Program, they practiced Pranayama, they meditated, and they experienced such a big change in their lives and their perspective. After finishing the workshop, they all came to meet me. Their eyes were moist and they said, ‘Gurudev, we will never again take up arms and violence. We surrender all our arms at your feet’.
Seeing the change that had come in them could have made anyone’s eyes well up in tears. They were all such good hearted people, but they had strayed onto the wrong path. Do you know why? This is because no one advised them to not do so, and because they had never experienced such peace and joy in their lives. They had not tasted the sweet nectar of knowledge, meditation and singing (here meaning Satsang).
These are the three vital parts of our Spirituality: Gyaan (Knowledge), Gaan (Singing devotional songs) and Dhyaan (meditation) .
Modern science calls these as left brain activity (knowledge), right brain activity (singing) and coherent activity (meditation). Indian Spirituality includes all three and that is why it has the potential to bring about such a great transformation in society. Unfortunately, we have neglected spirituality in our country; or we have misunderstood it.
Courtesy – Sri Sri Ravishankar Guruji (Art of Living).