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I am just blindly re­peat­ing a mantra. How do mantras help when I don’t un­der­stand a word I am say­ing?

The mean­ings of all mantras need not nec­es­sar­ily be un­der­stood. The sounds of cer­tain mantras cre­ate vi­bra­tions, which are help­ful to seek­ers on the path. What is needed is that the seeker must re­peat the mantra with faith, love and de­vo­tion.

My mother-in-law be­lieves in rit­u­al­is­tic puja and ex­pects me to fol­low her, bathing the Gods, dress­ing them, keep­ing prasad and do­ing aarti, while I be­lieve in med­i­ta­tion. Which is the right way?

The right way for your mother-in-law (mother-in-love) is rit­u­al­is­tic puja, while the right way for you is med­i­ta­tion. “On what­ever path men ap­proach Me,” says the Lord, “on that I go to meet them.”

What is the sig­nif­i­cance of feed­ing 12 brah­mins at the end of many cer­e­monies?

In olden days, the num­ber 12 was re­garded as a favourite num­ber - just be­cause you could di­vide it in two, three, four and six parts.

I feel be­trayed. My wife of 12 years has sud­denly changed her re­li­gion to Chris­tian­ity and is try­ing to change our chil­dren along with her. I am a Shiva pu­jari and be­lieve in the Hindu scrip­tures. We (be­fore she changed) brought up our chil­dren in the Hindu tra­di­tion. Now she is telling the chil­dren not to be­lieve in a re­li­gion that has hun­dreds of Gods. What can I do?

Ex­plain to your chil­dren that though their Daddy is one, he is called a boss in the of­fice, a friend in the club, a brother in his fam­ily, a hus­band by his wife, a fa­ther by his chil­dren; even so though God is one, He has many as­pects. There are not a hun­dred Gods, but one God with a hun­dred as­pects. The beauty of the Hindu re­li­gion lies in this that it has stud­ied hun­dred as­pects of God, while other re­li­gions are ac­quainted only with one as­pect.

What hap­pens to the soul when one com­mits sui­cide?

The soul keeps on wan­der­ing and suf­fers in many ways. We re­ceive mes­sages from those that have com­mit­ted sui­cide: “Tell the peo­ple not to think of com­mit­ting sui­cide be­cause sui­cide does not solve any prob­lem. Sui­cide is not a so­lu­tion: it is dis­so­lu­tion. It in­creases prob­lems.”

Dur­ing Navra­tri when I hear the chant­ing and mantras, my body gets hot and I feel un­com­fort­able, and just want to get away. Is some­thing wrong with me, or do these things hap­pen to some peo­ple? If so, why?

The song may be the same. Heard by dif­fer­ent peo­ple, it cre­ates dif­fer­ent ef­fects. Some like it, some dis­like it. Some feel re­freshed, re­vi­talised. Some feel de­pressed. This is so in the case of all ex­pe­ri­ences and Navra­tri is no ex­cep­tion. My em­ployer has been good to me, but be­cause of greed, I pil­fered some money from him. But now I can­not sleep at night and I am feel­ing mis­er­able all the time. If I tell him, I will be fired and I have wife and chil­dren to feed. This is killing me slowly in­side. What I can do? Im­me­di­ately stop pil­fer­ing and set apart the amount pil­fered so far in a sep­a­rate ac­count, let it gather interest. You will get an op­por­tu­nity in the fu­ture, near or re­mote, when you will be able to pass on the amount with interest to your em­ployer.

When life is full of dis­tur­bances, how do we in­crease pos­i­tive think­ing?

One way to make life bet­ter is to re­mind one­self that it could be worse. An­other way to be pos­i­tive is to say to your­self again and again that this too shall pass away. Noth­ing lasts for­ever. There is a third and most im­por­tant way and that is to pray to the Lord and seek strength and wis­dom to be able to face the sit­u­a­tion in the right way.

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