Why do we do rituals?

In topic

Indian Culture

from Youth & Truth Talk

Sadhguru @ University of Toronto


Ok, My question is why do we do pooja? Or, any kind of ritual in our Hindu religion?  


Duration: 8 min


6 min read

Why do we do rituals?

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Questioner: Okay. My question is that why we do pooja or any kind of ritual into our Hindu religion or those kind of thing?

Sadhguru: Why does somebody do pooja?

Questioner: Yeah.

Sadhguru: Okay. Okay. Do you brush your teeth every day in the morning? No, I’m just asking. You do? Why?

Questioner: Obviously, for the cleanliness and the breathing.

Sadhguru: Oh. So, you understand that. There are many people for a long time in the history of humanity, they never brushed their teeth. Yes or no? In previous generations of people, by the time you’re forty, forty-five, most people lost their teeth, and it was perfectly normal. You’re fifty and you still have all your teeth – was a big surprise. Yes, it was, two generations ago. So, today everybody has their teeth intact because everybody’s taking care of those things – we are glad, because it’s not only for their well-being for our well-being also.

Similarly, I don’t know what kind of pooja you’re talking about. I am not the pooja kind, so I wouldn’t make a very sweeping comment on that. But generally, people evolved processes to fix themselves in so many different ways. For teeth they had this [brushing], for their mind they had one kind of thing, for their emotions they had another kind of thing. Like this they evolved processes. If for generation somebody is doing it, it must have worked to some extent at least. Is it absolutely working? May be not. But is it worked in some way? Yes.

Just because you brush your teeth does it mean to say you will never go to the dentist? You still go. So, just because you do pooja does it mean to say you will never get a problem? You still get, but a lot of things managed by simple processes. Questioning it from outside thinking this is ignorance, this is this, this is that – is not right. Because – I’m not the pooja kind, I can’t defend that because I don’t do it myself. I must admit now, in my entire life, never once in my life have I ever prayed, never prayed. I never did that because such a need never arose within me, that I need to pray for something. So, I’m not the right person.

But I have seen certain rituals which are powerful, which is making a huge difference for people. They should not be destroyed. They’re very important because people brought much well-being within themselves, around themselves by doing certain things. Right now, when I sit here, you might have noticed that I’m doing a simple process with myself. Why is this? See to do different types of activity in our lives, our energies need to be focused differently.

Let’s say – because you took the microphone, let’s say you want to sing. You will see singers, good ones, I’m talking about those who have invested their life into music. You will see before they sing, they’re [making sounds with throat] preparing. They have their own little ritual, something of their own, each person might have developed their own. Or if you’re in India, they may have a traditional ritual which they do before they sing. And this keeps his voice, his well-being – more than anything, to sing the maximum amount of your energy should be in your throat. If it’s in your hand at the time, it’s not going to help.

To perform different types of activities beyond certain level of competence, you need your energies focused. Why do you think one human being is able to do a certain activity so well, another person just can’t do it, simply because their energies are focused that way, either naturally or by training? An athlete before he runs, he’s doing his own little ritual, so that he doesn’t get his cramps and this and that – that’s his own ritual. If he doesn’t do that ritual, can he not run? Maybe he will run. Maybe he will still run. But he knows, to perform beyond a certain limit, certain amount of preparation definitely helps. So, like this people evolved different kinds of rituals. There are very powerful ritualistic processes.

The problem with the ritual is just this – the problem with the ritual is not the ritual itself. The problem with the ritual is the integrity of the people who conduct these rituals, which is a serious issue. Because integrity is the certain low in the world generally, rituals can become very problematic because they have a certain power about them.

There are two ways to bring well-being. See, we are on the yogic path, for us well-being is all internally organized. We don’t depend on any ritual, whatever. But is everybody capable of doing this – investing their life for their internal growth, managing it well from within themselves? No. People need a ritual. Hundred people are sitting here, they are not able to do things by themselves. So, you do some common process for all of them. Something that they cannot do by themselves, you try to impact them in a certain way so that they benefit. If they could do everything internally, no need for any ritual. I have no need for any ritual in my life. But is everybody like that? No.

Initially, when I was young, I refused to make any kind of, even smallest ritual available to anybody, because I was young and little cruel. I said, “You better work for your well-being. Why should I do anything for you?” But slowly, I see there are many, many people who will never take that level of commitment, to work for their own well-being. You have to do something to them. So now we do certain things, minimizing it, keeping it at the minimum. But if people need something, we do something.

But the basic focus is, the best thing is your well-being comes from within you, because that way you’re free. If your well-being comes from me, in some way, you unnecessarily become leaning on me. We don’t want this, but those who need a crutch, shall we tell them, pull off the crutch and say, “Walk right now?” Shall we do that? That would be very cruel, isn’t it? So, rituals are there. Ritual is not the problem, the integrity of the people who conduct the ritual is a serious problem. That is what we need to attend to. Don’t throw the baby with the bathwater. Bathwater has become dirty, but the baby needs to be rescued.

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