Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
There is a beautiful story about Guru Nanak Dev, the first Guru. When his parents would ask him to go and sell things, he would do so. However, as he would start counting from one, he would get stuck at 13, as tera (in Hindi) means yours. So, even while doing work, his mind was always immersed in the Divine. Guru Nanak said, ‘I am yours, I am yours, I am yours .’Guru Nanak Dev’s life was filled with pure love, wisdom, and valor.
Today is also celebrated as a New Year in Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and among the Sikh community. Baisakhi is celebrated as the day of the Khalsa in Punjab. Today is the day when Guru Gobind Singh ji established the Khalsa Pant to protect dharma, destroy evil, and uplift human values. Guru Gobind Singh’s message is so relevant today. He said, ‘You should be dynamic, and still be soft in the heart and spiritual inwards. He said, ‘Be a Sant Sepahi, a saint and a soldier, together.’ He meant, you have to stand up against injustice. You cannot just be a saint and say, ‘Okay, whatever has happened, let it happen!’ You should stand against injustice, and simultaneously, be compassionate within you, like a saint.
Sikhism celebrates life in the form of three pillars of wisdom- Naam Japo (Focus on the name of god), Kirat Karo(live honestly and work with dedication) and Vand Chako (share with others.)Every excuse to celebrate is good. There are two types of celebrations: one, as thanksgiving, an expression of gratitude to the Divine. The second comes from dropping the past and moving forward, knowing that life is eternal.
The nature of spirit is celebration. Celebration is the best medicine to move out of the gloom after a crisis. In celebration, you are not just having a party. When sacredness is attached to it, celebration becomes complete. The body, mind and the spirit rejoice.One feels guilty of celebrating only if it is for one’s own pleasure. If celebration is aimed at uplifting and uniting the hearts and minds of the people around you, if it is to help them let go of the traumatic past and kindle a light of hope for the future, if your celebration is aimed at uplifting society, then guilt will not come anywhere near you. That type of celebration is service. It is sacred. Turn your celebration into a sacred offering for society rather than a self-centred pleasure-seeking one.
When celebration has a tinge of sacredness and prayer, it gains depth and dignity. It is not just entertainment for the mind or excitement for body, but nourishment for the soul. Most celebrations in India, whether Baisakhi or Vishu, have a sacredness attached to them. Instead of beginning the new year with an intoxicant, here in India we begin it with an act of kindness, a moment of reflection.
Celebration is an attitude, it does not need any resource. You can celebrate even in a time of economic slowdown. Just visit any slum, and you will find them celebrating irrespective of their condition. To celebrate life you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Celebration comes from enthusiasm and joy. When situations around you are depressing, that is when celebration is needed most. Reconcile with the past and move on to the future with enthusiasm. Share what you have with others.
Remember, life will always move in the direction of the best. On the way you may find some rough roads, but they will lead you to a better life. All the difficulties you have faced in life have given you depth. Difficulties give you depth and joy gives you the width. The wise see their past as destiny, the future as free will and are happy in the present. The unwise regret the past, think the future is destined and are miserable in present.
Welcome the new year with a genuine smile from within. That smile comes when you know for sure that you are loved unconditionally by the divine. If you don’t know you are loved by the Divine, you will not be able to celebrate life. You will live in insecurity. With insecurity comes greed. With greed comes selfishness. And with that comes anger. With anger comes lust. And with that comes sadness and misery one behind the other, like a chain.
Look back and try to remember how many days in the past year you were entangled in such maya. When you do this, do not reject anything. Let your attention be on the self. This is a delicate balance. That balance is yoga. That balance is spirituality. Some people think being silent is spirituality. Some think only celebration is spirituality. Spirituality is a harmonious blend of outer silence and inner celebration; and also inner silence and outer celebration! Celebration that comes out of silence is real celebration.
In the new year, let there be sunshine – both in our lives and in society. Let us all have a determination to create a violence-free, stress-free society. May your life be filled with peace, joy and happiness!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar