Sri Sri Ravishankar and SIMI's talk at KERALA
This happened in Kerela.
Sri Sri gave an audience to the SIMI (Student Islamic Movement of
India) leaders. Four leaders from SIMI came to meet Sri Sri at the residence
of one of the organizers. Following their entry, an air of tension enveloped
the hall where hundreds were waiting to meet with Sri Sri. Naseeb, one of
the devotees, guided them to the room where Sri Sri was sitting with a few
of us. They (the SIMI leaders), were dashing youths in their mid 20's. One
of them was carrying the holy Koran. They were little stern and stiff. Their
eyes were fixed and seemed to reflect an inner fire. They looked prepared to
repulse anything that Sri Sri would tell them and most unlikely to listen to
Sri Sri was His usual smiling self.
The stage was set. It had all the signs of a classic confrontation. On one
side were the brash youth – intemperate, impatient, driven by ideology and
out to prove their superiority. On the other was a youthful, realized sage,
unperturbed, offering sane explanations that echoed an uncommon depth and
breadth of understanding. Those of us in the room, were eager to see how Sri
Sri would deal with these firebrands. Sri Sri embraced them and offered them
chairs to sit. There was not an iota of difference in His attitude. Any
casual onlooker could be forgiven for thinking that Sri Sri considered these
gentlemen as amongst His most ardent devotees. Perhaps the only difference
that we could see was that they were seated on chairs while the rest of us
were on the floor! For us, it was yet another opportunity to witness the
unconditional love that Sri Sri exemplifies.
The leader of the group spoke first. He asked
SIMI: You had wanted to meet with us.
SRI SRI: Yes. I wanted to understand why your organization was opposed to
SIMI: We thought that holding an Anandotsavam (celebration) on December 6th
was a deliberate move to insult our religious sentiments. Do you know about
our religion?. Do you believe in the Koran at all?
SRI SRI: Yes of course.
SIMI: (Not expecting this answer, pointing to the Koran, they shot the next
question) We believe that Koran is the only knowledge. What about you?
SRI SRI: This is one amongst the various knowledge revealed to man from time
SIMI: But God has said this is the only knowledge. The way of the Koran is
the only way. There is no other way.
SRI SRI: This message can be found in scriptures of all religions. In the
Vedas it is said “Naanyah Panthaah Ayanaaya Vidyate” meaning “There is no
other way but the way of Truth!” The same is said in the Bible, Jesus says,
“To go to my father, you have to go through me. I am the only way”.
SIMI: But our scripture says worshipping any form or idol is evil, it is
SRI SRI: What is Good and Evil after all? It is relative. Relative existence
is not the complete picture For example: Milk is good, but too much milk can
kill you. Poison is harmful, but a drop of poison can save your life. Most
lifesaving medicines have poison written on them! These are neither
absolutely good nor bad they are just there. Truth transcends duality, and
God is the Absolute and only Truth. So, where is the place for evil?
SIMI: Yet you Hindus worship many Gods, whereas our ideal is there is only
one God and His message is what is required to go to heaven.
SRI SRI: There is only one god in many forms.
SIMI: (Restless and unwilling to listen to any explanation, they interrupted
Sri Sri.) But the Koran says you should only worship Allah who is formless
whereas the Hindus worship idols which are only stones.
SRI SRI: At this, Sri Sri suddenly asked them: Do you honour the Koran?
SIMI: (They seemed a little taken aback at this question from Sri Sri and
with a righteous air answered). Yes, it is God's word!
SRI SRI: Do you honor the Mecca?
SIMI: Yes, of course! That is our sacred place.
SRI SRI: So also, Hindu's honour God's creation as God. Just like sound
(Koran), the crescent moon, Kaaba and the month of Ramadan are sacred for
you, Hindus consider the River Ganges, the Himalayas, Saints as sacred. See,
a picture of your daughter is not your daughter, but you still adore the
daughter's picture. When you see the picture aren't you reminded of your
(They nodded a yes)
SRI SRI: So also, a symbol is not God but is honoured as God. This sense of
honouring and sacredness makes you awake and alive. That is why the ancient
Rishis said to feel the entire creation and your whole life as sacred. They
considered God as omnipresent, as inseparable from His creation; like the
dance and the dancer.
Sri Sri elaborated further – Spirit loves diversity. Is there only one type
of vegetable or fruit? God created many type of fruits and vegetables. There
is not just one type of tree, not just one type of snake, cloud,
mosquito..Even you change your dress for different occasions. So how could
this consciousness that manifested this whole creation be monotonous? There
is only one God in many forms. Only one God is advocated. When you accept
the variety of Divinity, you cease to be a fanatic and fundamentalist. A
pregnant silence filled the room as they looked at each other expecting the
other to speak. Then as a face saving measure, the SIMI leader replied, “I
will need to go and consult my higher scholars.” With a compassionate
ex-pression on His face, Sri Sri said: Never mind, (with a wave of His hand)
forget about religion. We are all human beings. Let us have a peaceful
society. Let us focus on development.
SIMI: No No No! What are you saying? You are talking about this world. What
we do here is immaterial. The Koran tells us that what matters is what you
get in eternal life and not to worry about material life. By doing service
to the society you will simply remain here. You have to obey Allah. Allah is
the only God and Mohammed is the last prophet.
SRI SRI: At this Sri Sri stopped them and after a pause asked them: Do you
think the Sikh Gurus are not prophets. Isn't Mirabai a prophet? What about
Once again, there was silence. Their ex-pressions had changed. The rigidity
had weakened and in its place was some confusion/uncertainty. Sri Sri seemed
totally at ease unmindful of the challenges posed at Him.
SIMI: No! You can go to heaven only if you believe in Allah and the Koran.
SRI SRI: No my dear – there was Buddha, Mahavira, Nanak, Jesus, Shankara. Do
you think they are not in heaven? If not, then I would rather be with them!
SIMI: You are such a nice person, but we pity you because you cannot get the
truth. You can't go to Allah. You can't be rewarded by Allah. God will never
show mercy on you.
SRI SRI: Never mind. (with a mischievous smile ) I will be with these people
(Shankara, Jesus, etc.)
(Even as we were admiring Sri Sri's patience and objectivity, we were
concerned at the wrong indoctrination that these youths had been subjected
to. We also observed a few others who were in the room were getting a little
restive, possibly wondering why Sri Sri was spending so much time with these
people who were obviously not at all receptive and that too when hundreds
were waiting outside just for a glimpse of Sri Sri.)
SIMI: Do you know, that over 1400 years ago, in the middle of the desert,
God revealed the secrets of creation. Even when there was no science, God
said that the Atom is the smallest particle!
SRI SRI smiled and said: Yes, the same is there in the shaastras too which
were known more than 10,000 years ago. In the shaastras it is said that the
Earth is over 19 billion years old! Truth is beyond time and space. It is
not confined to one time or one place One needs to have a scientific
As if to conclude the conversation Sri Sri gave them Ladoo as prasad. By now
there were traces of a smile on their faces. When they were about to leave
He gave them a hug. They definitely seemed to be less stern than earlier.
Could their attitude have changed? We wondered whether this (‘changed
attitude') would persist or would they go back to their old fanatic ways.
But one thing was for sure, Sri Sri had made an impression that they would
Later, while Sri Sri was having His lunch, someone asked Him, “Why is that
Islam is producing so many terrorists all over the world? No other religion
has given rise to so many terrorists in the world. What is the reason?”
SRI SRI: Look at the commitment and the fire in them. Take the good from
them and learn what you should not be doing. Don't label them as bad people.
They have not been imparted the knowledge of Vedanta. (Then as He was adding
ghee to the chili powder) He smiled and said “In this creation, there is a
place for everything.”
Excerpted from an article written by Swami Sadhyojata and Harish Ramachandran