(I have attempted transcription of the talk as delivered verbatim, in order not to lose the purport in the process of scripting)
Question: Dear Guruji, Adi Shankaracharya was a Sanyasi. Yet He established various methods of Puja and Worship. What is the significance of Idol Worship in Spirituality? A recent Bollywood Cinema has shown it in bad light
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : Just imagine that there was no Idols at all in this country, no temples, no photographs, no paintings-Mankind would have been in a big loss. Just imagine there were no Sculptors, you would have never known how the people in the past would have looked like. Just imagine there was no Michelangelo, his paintings ; no Ravi Varma, and there is no painting of any sorts, the world would be such a dull place.
Similarly just imagine a world without any music, without any dance, without any festivity – you know these people systematically attack the values of this society or the culture of the country, they are into some mischief, I tell you. They say all Ashrams are bad, you cannot put all Ashrams in one basket and say they are all hopeless. You cannot say all temples are simply looting money.
What do these people do? What do the Bollywood do? Each of those actors sometimes come and sneeze in front of the camera and takes crores of Rupees. For Vicks advertisement they had to come and just sneeze 2 times. That’s it! 2-3 crores they take home. What do they do? Drink, go for drugs go to parties drink and waste the money. Whose money are they wasting? Public’s! And that too poor people who go for entertainment, pay so much of their hard earned money and these money in crores go to the pockets of these Bollywood actors and actresses. And their lives, I tell you is miserable. It is misery in bundle. And immoral, unethical behaviour – they may talk about ethics but if you see their personal life, you cannot find ethics – most of them, many of them. And they say there should be no idols, there should be no puja, don’t go to Satsangs, Dahi Handi (Curd Pot) mat karo. Arre! Dahi Handi is a beautiful festival remembering Lord Krishna‘s life story and people enjoy. Holi is a festival, Ganesh is a festival. These festivals bring color to the Society. That is what India is. Just imagine, no temples at all, no Murthis (Idol) at all, no figures at all – It won’t be India. It will be like Afghanistan, where 2000 year old Bahmiyan Buddhas were destroyed. What is there? Just Desert.
No! these people have ulterior motives and they want to take our country towards Naxalism. Because they don’t want Ethics and Religion to blossom. What do they do? They take religion to beat up religion. This is the new trend that has come up in this society.
How these these politician do? They create their own enemy and make them stand against them. And they go on abusing the politician. So all those who are against this politician will go that guy who is his enemy. And then he wins the elections, and then he takes them within himself. This is what happened with NCP. What is NCP? They all went away from Congress. People voted for them because they are not with Congress and they joined Congress back. First they deceived Congress, then they deceived people. What happened to Prajarajyam in Andhra Pradesh, this famous actor (Chiranjeevi) was made to stand against Congress party and people had a big hope. This guy would give us a change and would make a difference. All the opposition vote he cornered which would have otherwise gone to another party. Six months later he went and merged with Congress. These are deceptions.
Similarly you would see in Bollywood, anyone wearing a tilak will be a villain. Someone with a choti (a hair tuft) has to be a bad guy.
And they bring dignity of people who are practicing ancient wisdom or religion into a very bad light so that young people can go away from that. More young people move away from traditional values, they can make them susceptible for drugs, alchohol and cigarettes. All these lobbies work towards this. Because what stops youth from using drugs is, I tell you – it is their Religiosity.
When youth is away from religiosity the drug market flourish very well. This is the whole lobby that is working. The drug lobby, alcohol and cigarette lobby and the Bollywood. Do you now see how the market works?
People who go to temple or Gurudwaras or church –people with religious bent of mind or spiritual bent of mind don’t go to drugs. For that you have to first cut the youth from going to these places and then they can influence them, “Hey, C’mon take the drugs” That is how they have done it.
A large percent of Punjab has been addicted this way. It is unfortunate. So painful to see a community like Punjab who were so robust & vibrant is going in this direction which is self destructive. And Children!!
The Art of Living took a very bold step in filing a case against the Eraser (Correction fluid), typewriter eraser ink, banning that. Went to Supreme Court and got the order in our favor. Its all done by Art of Living volunteers. Because this eraser ink, you could get it in any shop and the children, kids used to take it, sniff it and use it to get high! So we made an effort to fight that. Now the government has banned that eraser ink, whitener. The whitener has been now banned! Similarly drug de-addiction program is happening in Punjab. But you know this lobby is so big! That’s why I want everyone of you to volunteer in bringing about spirituality to people.
In last month, we had 150 internationals from all over the world… from Russia, from other places went on padayatra in Andhra Pradesh, some parts of Karnataka, to bring the awareness in people. Spirituality is important! You all sing and dance meditate, participate in the cultural programs. This message was very well received from the people in the villages and unfortunately, Bollywood is destroying these fibre by projecting it all in a very negative light.
And who is funding this? Its coming from Dawood type of people, not all though… I wouldn’t say all of them are bad; generalization in any field is not wise but I see that this lobby of druggist and terrorist and unethical people are playing havoc through Bollywood!
You can view the Original video of the talk uploaded on The Art of Living ‘s official Channel here
The stories in the Puranas contain many incredible and hard-to-believe occurences. But they should not be interpreted as a nursery rhyme. Their language is Shakespearean and laden with great depth and meaning. We need to interpret these stories with a very refined state of mind.
The story goes that Parvati created a boy out of dirt from her body and appointed him to guard the doorstep. The first question that comes is how could Parvati, the Goddess Herself, have so much dirt? Parvati symbolizes the triguna – sattva, rajas and tamas. The entire creation is made up of trigunas. The dosha or imperfections that originate out of the triguna is an obstruction for the functioning of Prakriti. That was the boy that Parvati created to stand guard at the door.
Shiva is Shuddha Chaitanya, pure consciousness. Like the sun does not recognize darkness and cuts through it, Shiva does not recognize dosha and slays the impurity. But Prakriti cannot stay without impurity. So Shiva replaces the dosha with the head of an elephant, which symbolizes knowledge. Through knowledge, all the doshas or obstructions of Prakriti can be taken care of. This is the spiritual and metaphysical meaning of Ganpati being slain. So worshipping Ganpati as the remover of obstacles and the giver of gyana, knowledge is the most amazing depiction of the nature of consciousness.
Going a step further, even this difference between Prakriti and Purusha is done away with. That is why, the Ganpati Upanishad says,
ajam nirvikalpam niraakaaram-ekam
niraanandam aanandam advaita poornam
param nirgunam nirvishesham nireeham
para brahma roopam ganesham bhajema
Ganesha is the only One unborn unmanifest Reality. He is nirvikalpa and advaita – the formless, undivided One. This is the play and display of consciousness within itself.
While Ganpati is certainly the nirakara Parabrahman, he is invoked and worshipped in the mud idol for a period of time for the joy of the devotees. Then the Ganpati is asked to merge back into our heart and the idol is immersed in water. This ritual is observed for the sake of devotees, not for the sake of Ganpati. He who is without form is invoked in a form and then his spirit is invoked back into one’s heart as the idol is immersed.