Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has founded courses that provide techniques and tools to live a deeper, more joyous life. He has established nonprofit organizations that recognize a common human identity above the boundaries of race, nationality and religion. His goal is to uplift people around the globe, to reduce stress, and to develop leaders so that human values can flourish in people and communities.


From de-addiction to parenting & dealing with anxiety

Leadership & Ethics


From de-addiction to parenting & dealing with anxiety

A conversation of Sanjay Dutt with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on May 9th, 2020

Excerpts of a conversation from the Heart-to-Heart series, dialogues of thought leaders with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. This series, among others, explored various aspects of society and life to offer hope and solace during the global pandemic. Popular film actor Sanjay Dutt seeks guidance from Gurudev on a host of topics.

Sanjay: Guruji, in all of us, there is a munna and a bhai. I mean that there is an innocent and a tough element. What is the role of both these attributes?
Gurudev: Both have a role to play. When people around you are bhais- tough – then you become a munna – innocent; and, when they are all munnas – innocent, then you become a bhai – tough. Both roles are important; depending upon the situation, you have to react with spontaneity. So, whatever role is required at the time, you should be able to play. However, you can do that only when you are centered in yourself, and blissful within. Then when required, you can be innocent or tough. Both are present within you.

They will present themselves…life will evoke the required emotions – as the situation demands.

Sanjay: Guruji, what would you like to say to the youth about the drug menace?
Gurudev: Find a bigger vision – like serving one’s society, one’s country. You have your entire life ahead of you, don’t ruin your life with drugs. You can become a good actor, politician, businessman, and even a good social worker. Drugs will make your body weak and you will not be able to enjoy family life, which gets badly affected. Everyone connected with you – relatives, friends – will be so sad and upset.

Take a sankalpa – a decision, a promise, that you will see all those around you happy, and move ahead with that sankalpa. For a short, altered state of mind and unreality, you will make people around you and yourself so unhappy. To get that experience of an altered state of mind, do the Sudarshan Kriya, pranayama, meditation. See, you will get better results from that, and your body too will stay healthy.

I understand that it is difficult for you to leave drugs but I am with you to help you through the process. You just have to be willing, and I will show you how easy it is to shun it. Without effort, without much difficulty, you will be able to leave this addiction. You will not even be aware that you are free of the addiction. This is all one wants – that you be willing to leave this addiction, and then I will help you.

You don’t need a torch in front of the sun, only at night. Just like this, there will appear such joy inside of you that these drugs will automatically leave your body and mind. I have seen in foreign countries that when people come on the path of meditation, with just a little bit of pranayama, the need for drugs becomes less and, eventually, they do not desire it at all. And in our states of Punjab and Haryana, the youth have such valor, and you can go far in the world of sports – there is so much you can do. I am with you to help you get rid of your addiction to drugs, and Sanjay is with you too.

Sanjay: Guruji, whilst in jail, I had a lot of hope that there would be a miracle, and I would be released quickly. But there was no miracle. And, only when I was to come out did I come out. So what would you say – how much power is there in prayer? Or, should one not ask for something in prayer? Or, how should one pray?
Gurudev
: When we have faith and we feel that all doors are closed to us and there is no way out, prayer happens by itself. There is this prayer that comes up from deep within. Praying that we want this, we have to and must get it – this is one opportunity for prayer. Prayers arise when we are completely constrained. When we feel there is no support anywhere. The other is when we are grateful and feel, ‘Oh lord we have so much’. We thank god. So there are these two situations: one of helplessness, and the other of gratefulness. Both move together. Some good comes from it.

Sanjay: Guruji it was my mother’s 39th death anniversary a few days ago. I miss my mother and father a lot. I feel, Guruji, that I did not spend enough time with them. There are so many things I want to tell them.
Gurudev: Our soul is just like energy. Let me give you an example: the television is not just in the boom box, it’s not just on the screen, right? The waves are all over the environment. The soul, too, is everywhere. That is why whenever you remember them and whatever you say – actually you don’t need to even say it – your heart itself understands. So, just ask them for their blessings. That is all. You must just believe that whatever is in my mind and heart, my mother and father know. If we believe this much, we feel tremendous peace in this awareness.

Sanjay: I have two small children. I want to ask you, what does it mean to be a good father? And, what spirituality can I teach to my kids? They are just 9 years old. I want to be a good father, Guruji, so what should I do?
Gurudev: You can never be a bad parent, unless and until you are mistaken, and not in your normal senses. You are a good parent by heart. Teach children to blossom, give them the freedom to choose their interests, expose them to various others like arts, and science. Maybe one of your children wants to be a sportsman, another child wants to be an artist or wants to be a scientist. Your duty is to present them with the avenues. Encourage them to choose what they want.

Also, help them to grow their talents: sports, swimming, painting, and music. Children should be taught music because this is the age they can learn many things. When they are exposed to many things, it will help them to choose whatever is best for them in the future.

Sanjay: What advice do you give to those people with anxiety during this pandemic?
Gurudev: To allay anxiety, there are three things:

  • Understand that you are going to die one day. Everyone is going to die – so if that is inevitable then why be anxious?
  • Being anxious is not of any use during a war. There is valor inside you, a soldier. Awaken that soldier, and with all your mind, heart, and life, make a commitment that there is no need to be anxious about the pandemic.
    We will make a new beginning. When a wave destroys a sandcastle, children make a new one again. They don’t let go of it. Like this, let’s understand that we have an opportunity for a new beginning, and one should awaken the valor within.
  • Do your pranayama whenever you are anxious. This anxiousness is nothing but stress in the channels from the heart to the throat. The adrenalin activity increases. Pranayama will slow down this adrenalin rush. Do pranayama, ujjayi breathing, and the Sudarshan Kriya.

Sanjay: Why can’t we all become one? Why should there be borders? What is the need for borders? We should all live together as one big family. Why can’t we do that?
Gurudev
: Life is for a few short days, and in this life, why do we create borders? We are all one. The entire world is one, our elders, our rishis, munis have said this – Vasudeva kutumbhakham – the whole world is one family. So, my belief is that we should stay as one, but not everyone can understand this, and to create this understanding is essential, although very difficult.

When one person extends a hand, the other person responds with a sword. What can one do? He, too, should extend his hand in friendship; only then can anything be accomplished. He, too, needs to extend a hand of friendship, then you can do something. That is why the second person has to replace the sword with a hand of friendship. Why does he have a sword? This, too, is very interesting. The reason for him holding a sword is that he is scared of you, he sees you as the enemy. You must understand this – he is not the enemy, instead, he is a friend.

When that understanding happens, then he will put away the sword, and extend his hand in friendship. Until such fears are not ended, one will create boundaries for one’s safety. Now, what is happening? Just look at this, it is very interesting – all these boundaries have increased.

Sanjay: Gurudev, when I was in jail, there was a man – a havaldar – who said something to me that will always stay in my mind. He said, “Why does man lie and why do animals, insects, and birds not lie?
Gurudev: We have moved very far away from nature, so far away from nature that we have started being untruthful. The closer we get to nature, the more lies disappear. Like this, if we believe that we are all one, and everyone belongs to us, then we will not be able to lie. We tell lies only when we create walls between others and us. Having created these walls for our own safety and protection, we tell lies. When everyone is ours and no one is alien, then lies disappear from our life.

Sanjay: What do you think is the most important factor for keeping love and relationships solid, and maintaining peace?
Gurudev: Why do you want to maintain peace? Let there be some fun. (laughs) If everything is peaceful, it will be so dull, and boring. There should be some spice but when you recognize that there is an underlying love. The bonding is so strong, then you know everything will go well.

Have you seen the golgappas* in Mumbai? It is alright to have everything together. In the same way, in relationships, the important thing is that you must not police each other. Secondly, do not question the love your partner has for you. Don’t say, “Do you really love me?” or “You don’t love me like you used to before.” Leave this kind of talk.

* A street food, a puffed biscuit-like snack with a hole on one side from where tamarind water and sweet sauces are put in.