During one of the kids retreats held in Houston, the children had a beautiful opportunity of connecting with Sri Ramanujamji from India on the phone. They asked a number of interesting questions to him and Sri Ramanujamji gave interesting answers… Here they are…
Nithya, 8 yrs, favorite deity is Krishna, speaks Malayalam and English and her hobby is cleaning dishes
- Did God make the Sun?
- Yes, in fact He did. Everything you see is made by Him.
Q. Is God everywhere in the world?
A. In the daytime do you see light everywhere? Where does the light come from? The Sun, right? The Sun is in the sky but its light permeates everywhere, right? Just like the light coming from the Sun is everywhere, likewise God is everywhere, He is also in the little deity of Krishna that you have in Namadwaar.
Vishnu, 8 yrs, favorite God is Rama, Hobbies Golf and Mridangam, Speaks Tamil and English
Q. How long do you have to pray to God to reach Him?
A. Just like you have to eat until you are full and you no longer feel hungry, likewise we got to pray to God, till God appears before us. If we can pray with all our heart and pray with full faith it may take only a second for God to appear before us. But if you do not have much faith then it may take a year, or several years for God to appear before us.
Q. Why does God have seven doors to His palace?
A. The seven doors symbolize the seven steps you have to cross before you can actually experience God. The doors are not real doors. They are a pictorial representation of the seven stages you have to cross, to reach God.
For example, when you have to go to 8 th grade you have to complete seven grades, and clear examinations each year. In the same way when you keep chanting mahamantra you progress just like you progress in school and finally you really start loving God and you are ready to meet HIM. The school prepares you for college; likewise God prepares us and makes us go through the seven doors so we can completely be enjoying His Grace.
Q. Why there is so many sloka’s for each God?
A. There are so many slokas for all the Gods because we want to celebrate them. When you have a birthday party and if you’re Mom just gives you a little piece of chocolate and says “Happy Birthday” won’t you be sad? You will ask where are the dishes, my friends, the hats, the cake, the lights, the magic show, the songs and the Mahamantra Namasankirtan!
In the same way, those saints who wrote these slokas absolutely loved God, so they were not satisfied with one or two slokas. They wanted to praise the Lord with many words. When your Mom or Dad is pleased with you and praise you they say good boy, nice boy and so on. Would you say, good and nice are the same and why are you using so many words? Likewise these saints that are writing these slokas are pouring their love and gratitude to the Lord, and it is to celebrate them. When we keep repeating the slokas it also evokes love and gratitude in our hearts, it has the power to evoke that.
If you want to eat food, rice is enough for food, but why do you want sambar, rasam or in case of a pizza why do you want different toppings on the pizza? It is, so that you enjoy what you eat. Likewise when you are praying to the Lord they want to enjoy that prayer and celebrate it that is why there are so many slokas. When you start enjoying God this way the slokas will be so many.
Mayank, 9 yrs, favorite God is all gods, hobbies are basketball and programming, speaks Marathi, Gujarathi, Spanish and English.
Q. Do you have to pray in front of a picture or sculpture to achieve Grace?
A. You can pray anywhere you want to. But our wise Rishis and various other realized people have found out that you can pray better when you are in front of a deity. Just like you can comb you hair anywhere you want to but you can comb better when you are in front of a mirror.
Likewise you can start practicing in front of a shrine/ picture of God so that the mind completely focuses and concentrates on the prayers. As you become very close to God and you can get the image of the deity or thoughts of God in your mind you can pray whenever or where ever you want to.
Mukund, 10 yrs, speaks Malayalam, English understands Tamil and Hindi and his favorite deities are Premika Varadhan, Madhuri Sakhi and Anjaneyan. Hobbies Basketball and M and M
Q. Which God punishes people?
A. Suppose somebody does a crime, steals money or drives the car on the wrong side of the road, he goes to the court right? So, once he goes to court and it is proven that he has actually done the crime, he sits before a judge and he will be given a sentence like he will be locked up in the prison for a month or so?
In this case would you say that the judge punished him or that his own crime punished him? His own crime that punished him, right?
Just like the judge hands over the punishment, in Sanatana Dharma the role of the judge is played by a deity called Yama. He hands over punishment in a very fair and just manner without any likes or dislikes to people who commit crimes. He is supposed to be the God of resolution or punishment. A fair judge will give the right punishment; and the reason for punishment is to reform the person.
People who chant the divine name like Rama Naam, Siva Naam or Mahamantra; Yama says he does not really have to take care of them because the names which they are chanting acts as a rectifier and makes sure that we become righteous. Actually nobody punishes.
Our own act comes back as a punishment as a reaction. Just like the ball that you throw to a wall bounces back to you. Did the wall punish you when the ball punches on your nose? The wall does not punish you. It is you who were not careful to catch the ball before it punched you, wall just reflected the ball.
If we do not like the result of our act, we call it punishment. If you are a strong and balanced person you will not blame anybody else for the punishment, rather you would understand that you are the person responsible for whatever happens to you and you will realize that it is our own action that punishes you. We should understand that Naama has the power to transform us into a person who wouldn’t do anything wrong in the long run.
Q. Which God was created last?
A. When we say Gods were created, it is actually one God who has taken various forms during the course of creation. It is not exactly creation. For example, just like water vapor is all around the earth, and if we cool it a little bit in a refrigerator it becomes water and then it becomes ice. We know that ice is nothing but water vapor which already existed. Ice cube is formed in the end, ice cube was not created water vapor just condensed and solidified into ice. God or Bhagavan or Brahman is never created or destroyed but He takes various forms and names depending on the order of creation. If we really want to know who was created at the end, 23 million Devas were created at the end, they were the last of the divine forces. Before that were the Trinity and before that was Lord Sri Krishna. Devas like Indra, Varuna etc came last in the evolution of the divine forces.
All of us are potentially divine and the more we chant the more divine we become. We can go beyond our human nature by chanting, prayer, love and grace. Always remember that in a cycle there is no beginning or end, it just depends on where we start.
Adith, 10 yrs, favorite God is Siva, speaks Tamil and English and plays baseball
Q. Were the mothers of Vishnu’s avatars special and extraordinary too?
A. It need not be, with the exception of Rama and Krishna. Lord Rama was born out of the sacrifice that King Dasaratha performed and Lord Krishna was born out of Devaki’s penance in her previous birth. It is not necessary that the mothers of avatar’s or great saints and sages are as special as the avatar. But certainly the mothers of avatars would be very virtuous and very good human beings.
Q. How do we know that there won’t be anymore avatars of Vishnu after Kalki?
A. We know that there would be continued Avatars of Vishnu after Kalki also, it is just one cycle. Just like when you are in school you have different classes and you have eight hours of class for example first hour is physics class, second hour is chemistry class. How do you know we have no classes after 8 hrs? We know because the day has ended. The next 8 hours will begin the next day and it will be a new cycle.
In the same way for the various Avatars of Vishnu, a cycle is completed with Kalki then again a new cycle starts. Kalki is not the last Avatar till eternity, but it is the last Avatar of Vishnu for the current cycle. Then the cycle of Avatars will start again .There are many Avatars of Vishnu, of that ten Avatars are the most important, we take a sample of ten.
Like, when we travel in train from Chennai to Delhi, we pass through several stations, but we remember the big stations and we say that our train passed through ten stations. In the same way there are many many Avatars of Vishnu but ten avatars are what we remember. This cycle of Avatars will stop after Kalki, then a new cycle will start and Vishnu will start coming in various forms.
Vishnuvardhan, 11 yrs, favorite God is Vishnu and Krishna and likes to play soccer. Speaks Telegu and English
Q. Did God make the Galaxy?
A. Be assured that it is God who made the Galaxy, the same God made this wonderful earth. All the creations we see are due to the creative powers of GOD.
Q. When God goes to sleep does he still have control over the universe?
A. God never sleeps thankfully, if he really decides to go to sleep Creation cannot exist.
When we put God to sleep, during Dolotsav it is not the sleep which we go through, it is a very different sleep where He is still awake and yet He acts as He is sleeping. Since He is playing the game, we have to play along with Him. He is in Yoganidhra, He does not sleep He just closes His eyes. No one in his family like Nanda Baba, Yashodha Ma or Balaram would go to sleep until our Little Krishna at least acts as if He is sleeping. He does it because He wants us to take a little rest. When we wake up, He is waiting for us to wake Him up because He is completely bound by our love. He accepts all our prasadams that we offer to Him even though He does not really need it. He is sanctifying the food that we are supposed to eat. He accepts all the little nice things we do to HIM out of love.
Vyas, 12, all Gods are his favorite, and his hobby is playing violin and basketball speaks Malayalam and English
Q. What is the main role for Krishna?
A. The main role of Krishna is to completely immerse Himself in the hearts of people and fill all our hearts with love apart from the various other roles. When you go to school you have to wear your uniform, pack your bags and shine your shoes but the main role is to study, the same way the main role of Krishna is the story of love at its best.
Q. What does He do everyday?
A. What Krishna does is He wakes up in the morning; He waits for His mother to feed him with a big ball of butter, for Krishna it is ok but for us we have to brush our teeth first. He brushes his teeth with a neem stick and then he is ready to go to cow shed to his favorite calf. When He comes back He is ready to be bathed. He accepts the bathing by His mother; He wears his bright yellow costume and a peacock feather.
He then goes with his friends and the little calves to the forest, He raises a lot of dust when he walks. He takes care of the calves and the cows in the forest. When He blows a special horn the cows know they have to graze the grass and when He plays the flute it is a signal for them to return. Lunch time, they all sit around in a circle and each of them out of love to Krishna, feed Krishna the food that their mothers have packed in little tiffin boxes. In the evening, they have games and fun. He comes back and He understands what the gopas and gopis want and He throws them flowers and fruits and all the little nice things. It is then time for family dinner when Nanda Baba comes back home from work. Finally at bed time Yashodha Ma sings Him to sleep. This is the daily routine of Krishna that the devotees meditate.
Early in the morning mentally when we close our eyes, we are there, we see, feel and play with Krishna and in the evenings mentally, we put Him to sleep. After some time, it is no longer mental, it becomes real and we can feel His presence all the time. Over a point of time like the Alzhwars, Thiagaraj Swamigal and other Bhakthas, Krishna comes, sleeps and talks with us and He will become as real as our parents and friends and we can feel His presence all the time.
Shravya, 12 yrs, hobbies are swimming and speaks Tamil
Q. If we commit a bad deed how do we get God to forgive us?
A. If you do some thing bad, if we really repent for it and if we can chant the names of the Lord and we promise to oneself never to repeat it, God has already forgiven you. In fact God never condemns you. God is like a very patient Father and Mother. He will give us chance after chance to straighten ourselves. He waits for us to find the right place in life. God does not punish or condemn His devotees.
We should pray that we should get the strength not to repeat the mistake again; we may be forced to do it because of temptation, habit or a bad conclusion. God out of His infinite Grace gives us the strength not to repeat the mistake and He wipes off the sense of guilt. Sense of guilt is a big weakness and it is not what our religion is encouraging. When we repent and we repeat the names of the Lord it also gives us the strength not to repeat the mistake.
Muktha, 12 yrs favorite God is Krishna, hobby is to read and speaks Malayalam
Q. How is a Dog a Guru?
A. Lot of saints like Ramana Maharshi refer to Dog when He is talking about His experiences with God.
Dog has the power to smell his way to food. Likewise if we have the power to sense what is good for us and quickly get there, then we are as good as the dog which has a keen sense of smell to find its food.
Dog is very faithful to the master, the same way we got to be very faithful to the universal God. We show our faith by praying to him and following dharma or the right path. In fact, I would encourage all of you to actually write down all the things that you want to thank God for, specifically in the last week. Write a small diary where you enlist all the nice things that happened to you.
A dog is very faithful and thankful to its master, if the master is not there, he feels the pangs of separation and sorrow, if the master is not well the dog would not relish the food. When the master comes back from a long vacation he jumps with joy in beholding the master. Likewise if we are faithful to God and grateful to Him getting the love of God is so easy. The path of life becomes far more enjoyable and meaningful and it becomes easy for us to immerse in God’s love. A dog is a very enlightened Guru, because he ensures the wonderful righteous principle of faithfulness to its Master.
Vishnu priya, 12 yrs, favorite god is Krishna, likes to read book and speaks Telegu and English
Q. Where does the soul go after your body dies?
A. When the body dies, (it is only the body that does) the soul can go to various places depending on what we did in this world with the body. For example, what does a person do after he is done with college? If a person studied well, he will get a very good job otherwise he may have to take a break and write the exams again. Likewise when we are loving, compassionate and when we lead a life of sharing and right values, after we leave our body we go to a very nice place. But, if we have wasted our lives by being overly angry, cribbing, then we actually go to a nasty place according to our scriptures,
If we are nice and kind our soul goes to heaven and after some time we take birth again and this goes on an on until we get tired and we say “Krishna I want to be with you”. When the love for our Lord becomes strong then we don’t have to come back.
If the body does a lot of bad things, soul has to go through a cleansing process. If a person leads a very nice balanced life, prays to God, loves God, chants Mahamantra then he can go to the Kingdom of God and he does not come back if he does not want to. God does not interfere with our choice; he allows us to lead our life the way we want to. But He says if you lead it properly the results will be nice and if not the result will not be nice but finally, your life is in your hands.
Karun, 13 yrs, hobbies mridangam speaks tamil, favorite deities are Krishna and Vishnu
Q. If a person is fully devoted to life and once he dies, he does not get mukthi then was it all a waste?
A. It is not a waste. In fact, he would continue from where he left. For example, this is like sleep. You read some lessons before you go to sleep. When you wake up, you may be in a different room, in a different dress but the knowledge you gained from studying the night before for the most part will stay in your mind and you will start from where you left.
Likewise, if a person is devoted to the Lord but he is not liberated, it will actually be conducive for him to continue where he left. Every little act whether anybody notices or not has its value, every name we chant every Mahamantra or Rama Nama we chant will give its results earlier or later. The devotion we do in this life is not going to go waste. We would continue until we attain the state of perfection or the feet of the Lord. It is just a temporary pause to our journey toward the Lord. All your efforts and prayers would certainly be counted.