When His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the spiritual guru and founder of Art of Living, consented to be part of the Rediff@10 Chat on February 13, 2004 - the yearlong online event that was kicked off by the hugely successful online chat with President APJ Abdul Kalam - it was a special moment for us.
For Sri Sri Ravi Shankar transcends boundaries and narrow limitations imposed by manmade thoughts and concepts - much like the Internet medium we work in. "I belong to the whole of humanity," he told us in a separate conversation.
With AoL, said to be the largest volunteer based NGO in the world, marking 25 years of its founding, lakhs of followers are expected to converge on Jakkar airfield outside Bangalore, venue of the celebrations. For the throngs of his devotees nothing less than quality time - it could be just a glance, a smile, a wave of the hand - with Guruji will do.
Naturally, being confined in a room for an hour for the Chat at such a time would be depriving them of time, and His Holiness kindly suggested that while he was amenable for an interview in private, could the Chat please be done at the ashram's Visalakshmi Mandir, in the presence of his followers.
Over 6000 questions had poured in from our readers, and Francois Gautier, rediff.com columnist and a Sri Sri devotee suggested we forward a shortlist to His Holiness from which he would choose the questions to be answered. The questions ranged from job tensions to matrimony, and the future of religion and spirituality.
Kamatchi : Dear Guruji,Nameste, Should we follow certain religion or God is only one? Is it ok if we follow more than one religion?
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : Adopt spirituality, be faithful to your religion, and honour all religions
Basanth Lalchand : Guruji, Even people who have progressed on the spiritual path ocasionally tend to be drawn back into materialism and small-mindedness. Why does this phenomenon happen? Can't the progress be like a flight?
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : It totally depends on you. For some it may be a flight, for some it may be a crawl, or a walk. It depends on you entirely. The learning ability, adapting ability depends on the individual, and even that changes from time to time
Nilesh Parihar : Dear Sir, I have some very simple question. In India we see so many Gurus,Gods, faith etc. I am very much confused. Hence I want to know (1) Who is God (2) Who am I ? and (3)What is my relationship with God ? This will make things very clear to me. I will be very thankful if you can clear my confusion. Thank in advance. Nilesh
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : Why don't you start with the second question first? This will take you to deep meditation, do pranayam, meditation, you will find the answers
Images: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar conducting the Rediff@10 Chat among his devotees
Photographs: Jewella C Miranda. Design: Uday Kuckian