Everyone has the right to be ignorant by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

(H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar offers a counterpoint to Javed Akhtar ‘s finite views on Spirituality)

It is funny that in a country like India spirituality is talked about as a hoax. How can something which is so obvious, which is part of millions of people, be taken as a hoax? Spirituality is not a halo of the few, it is the breath of every human being. Have people forgotten that freedom was achieved through spirituality as the prime means by Mahatma Gandhi?

It has become a fashion with journalists to blindly continue the colonial tradition of calling Hindu spiritual leaders a hoax. They called Mahatma Gandhi, Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo godmen and hoaxes, and their contemporaries continue to do so. Would they say this to Mother Teresa or the Dalai Lama? No! Only Indian spiritual leaders are singled out.

The India Today Conclave offered a basis for a discussion on spirituality, “Halo or Hoax?” Javed Akhtar joked, “In movies we create an illusion and then after three hours we put up a sign, The End, and make people step back into reality, whereas spiritual people also create an illusion but they do not put an end to it.” The audience applauded. I smiled within and thought, yes, what this man says is correct, all that is created comes to an end. If something does not end then it is not created! Perhaps he didn’t even realise the profound truth of what he was saying.

So in some way he tacitly accepted that the love and drama he creates in the movies does end, but the love and transformation created by spiritual people never end. Yes, this whole world is an illusion that never ends. I drew Adi Shankara from his sarcasm. What an enigma: the perception and the reality. So Mr Akhtar is actually saying that his reel love songs are false. If only he knew the reality: that his lyrics express the genuine feelings of thousands of youth when they come and sing his marvelous songs before me, with that spark of love in their eyes. Real-life love never ends; it moves from life to lifetimes.

Spirituality is intoxicating. Only those who step into it will know. Before criticising we need to do our homework. Has one visited ashrams, like the Ramakrishna Ashram, Ananda Mayi Ma Mutt, Brahma Kumaris’, Gayatri Parivar, Pandurang Shastri, Sri Aurobindo Ashram or Art of Living? Has one spent time with saints? Only then does one’s views carry weight, else they remain simple accusations only, a distorted perception, not reality.

Mr Akhtar thundered again: “All modern-day spiritualists are hypocrites”. Many people froze as he dismissed the present-day gurus. Today there are millions of people who follow spirituality: are they all hypocrites? I appreciated that he could express his feelings boldly, without pretension. But the contempt that was exhibited for gurus was alarming. The hatred and frustration were obvious from his body language. It’s not just Mr Akhtar. Many journalists, communists, atheists and naxalites live in that state of mind, of being anti-religious, anti-rich, anti-famous, anti-business.

Should I argue and put him down? No! I have never put anyone down. I can’t deviate from my nature. So I simply said, everyone has the right to be ignorant.

A flash of Aurangzeb, who butchered thousands of gurus and would not listen to any reason or logic, came to mind. An intelligent man would look into all the avenues before he makes a comment or accusation. It is necessary to stand up for justice and expose the misdeeds of the world. Instead the so-called activists only engage in accusations. Blaming the entire modern-day spiritual guru and sadhu community is as foolish as branding the entire Muslim community as terrorists.

It is the medieval brahmanical mindset to always put down business and politics and the colonial mindset to denounce gurus. As a result we never expanded our political influence nor globalised our business until very recently.

Then came his next statement that Buddha went from the palace to the forest and today the gurus come from the forest to the palace. I said to myself, ‘Come on! Buddha went to the forest when he was unhappy and miserable, and he came right back when he became a guru’. Any high school student knows this. Besides, every palace had a rajguru. Last year hundreds of sadhus were evicted from the caves and hermitages of the Himalayan region, near Haridwar, by the forest department. People generally think sadhus should live in forests with torn clothes but the forest department wanted to send them to the city!

The atheists have always fought with spiritual people. In those situations we should know how to act. It is pointless to argue with them. What do you say to a man who has never stepped into the realm of spirituality yet calls it a hoax? One cannot make a blind man see the light through his nose.

Unfortunately atheists are just fearful and good dramatists. A man who equates arms, drugs and spirituality is not going to change his opinion immediately and anyway his opinion is not going to matter for what is and what will be. Come on, I thought, sing a new song. My compassion grew.

Often activists seem to create rage and revenge in the victims; they cannot bring solace and creative action. In the name of justice they fume with hatred. This can lead to acts of violence like the recent killings of 19 sadhus in Uttar Pradesh. It has been an old tradition to glorify the dead, and call the living a hoax. Kabir had to put up with this as did Meera, Buddha, Jesus, Adi Shankara and many more… the wise do not mind the outburst of a few.

Spirituality is not a matter of the head, it is a matter of the heart. I had two choices: to argue and turn the conclave into a conflict or to keep silence. I chose the latter.

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15 thoughts on “Everyone has the right to be ignorant by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar”

  1. Sri Sri should know that a poet would be ‘spiritual’ by some standards. Sri Sri’s arguments are highly juvenile.

    1. Dear Neena,
      SSR said,
      ” If only he knew the reality: that his lyrics express the genuine feelings of thousands of youth when they come and sing his marvelous songs before me, with that spark of love in their eyes. Real-life love never ends; it moves from life to lifetimes.”

      Don’t you think the above lines have undertones which imply that SSR knows that “a poet would be ‘spiritual’ by some standards.”?

      When SSR says JA has not stepped in spiritual realm, may be , I mean” May be” he means JA has not made a conscious effort into spiritual realm.

  2. it is not very correct to attack JA on his ability of a poet or his opinion about spirituality (spirituality today, as it is presented, presented not only in India but all over the world) It may not be realm of JA but it is reality of today. If “spirituality” is matter of heart and not of head then why should we discuss the matter ( it needs head) and why not leave it to everybody’s own choice of heart, instead of discussing, talking, speaking about, spread the communication about, making posters and mictures, hammering and repeating the same texts etc etc. but…. Our old tradiotions, Puranas, religions and ancestors have taught us to use brain also. Let us discuss and leave the choice to the individual

    1. @muttaquee,

      You are 100% right. Spirituality is a subject of discussion . It is subject of experience. Experience requires both brains & heart.

  3. i accept everything tat ssr says. but cant digest 1 thing, ”Spirituality is not a matter of the head, it is a matter of the heart”
    Heart is a vital organ tat pumps blood to our body. i am sure tat it has nothing to do with feelings and our thinking..

  4. Watch Sri Sri ( what that 2nd shi for?) defeated by Dr Zakir Naik long back..

    ……….”Spirituality is not a matter of the head, it is a matter of the heart. I had two choices: to argue and turn the conclave into a conflict or to keep silence. I chose the latter. ”

    I.R.O. his above statement SSR did not quite chose the latter. He reacted in 2009, if the date on his rebuttal is tobe believed.

    Javed Bhai, Hats off. Do not get at odds ( or even for that matter!) with these people.

  5. what he mean “matter of the heart” is taken in the metaphoric way. it is just like saying “dil se”. here javed akthar can understand that one. because he is poet he might used it several times.

    this is the reason i dont want become over skeptic. people lose rational thought with over skepticism.

  6. Spirituality is not about believing and not believing. It is not a matter of head or heart, nor is it something that one can achieve through a set of graded learnings and religious practices. It cannot be preached. It happens, and if it happens to you, then you go into a state of being beyond cause and effect, beyond physical, mental and intellectual, into that realm of realisation where you are one with everything (every being!) that your senses can and cannot percieve, your intellect can and cannot cognize. You begin to see hallo even around the hoax. Such enlightened ones are born once in millennium. For the rest of us it is spirituality, without that enlightenment ever happening to us.

  7. Sri3 Ravi Shankar’s stuff doesn’t even qualify as a ‘response’, let alone a matching argument in a debate.
    He just sits on his high horse [see the title of his response] and insultingly refuses to engage,
    —like a dog running away with its tail between its legs!
    [Similar to Krishna calling non-believers in Him as ‘ignorant fools’ in Geeta 4:40, 18:67]

    JA’s is a structured argument exposing the modern day ‘supermarket of spirituality’.
    From the same atheist-premise it is not difficult to see that the ‘supermarket of spirituality’ is but an “organic department” (containing expensive stuff with dubious claims) of the larger ‘supermarket of all organised religion’, which is the oldest business, is a mega-Hoax & the oldest, longest running Ponzi scheme.

  8. “Everyone has the right to be ignorant” response by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar doesn’t even qualify as a ‘response’, let alone a matching argument in a debate.
    What an arrogance! Sri2 Ravi Shankar just sits on his imaginary-spirituality ‘high horse’ and insultingly refuses to engage, —like a dog running away with its tail between its legs!

    The 2 approaches to ‘spirituality’ reveal the difference between the believer-sucking-gurus and a rational atheist. While the Guru will run away from the ‘ignorant’, leaving the so-called ignorance unaffected (then why call him Guru?!), the atheist would take action: will warn the gullible, point out that the ‘King robed in spirituality’ is in fact naked!

  9. Pingback: Spirit | trikarri

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