Pujya Shri Rameshbhai Oza: comming to Florida
On behalf of the entire Hindu community, Desh-Videsh welcomes Pujya Shri Ramesh Bhai Oza – passionately called Bhai ji, to Orlando for his Srimad Bhagavat Katha Yagna from June 30 to July 7, 2013.
Inspired from childhood to sing praises of God, Pujya Shri Ramesh Bhai Oza has become one of India’s finest kathakars, head of an exemplary priest training institute and spiritual mentor to thousands. In 2006, Hinduism Today proclaimed Pujya Oza “Hindu of the Year.”
Below, Pujya Oza gives simple answers to very complex questions.
How can I conquer the ego?
A person with a strong ego is always focused upon himself. He can conquer this state by becoming God-conscious. He can become God-conscious through surrender in worship. He will then be able to ask questions that will lead to answers that will guide him forward on the spiritual path. Through surrender, the ego subsides as a consciousness of God arises.
If I have bad thoughts, can I still do good deeds?
You are not bad, even if you have bad thoughts. You are a part of God. Your goodness is just hidden. The very fact that you have asked such a question means that you want to do good. This is of the utmost importance. Bad thoughts arise in all minds. Concentrate on the good you want to do and bad thoughts will automatically subside as the good thoughts become stronger.
Why should I remain so committed to vegetarianism, when so many of my friends are not?
It is not logical that vegetarianism is wrong because most people eat meat. It is also not logical that non-vegetarians are bad and vegetarians are good. Look at Mother Nature and all of her animals. You will find that animals that drink water with their lips are vegetarian while those that drink with their tongues are not. Which category do we fall into? Animals follow and act according to their intrinsic nature. Why shouldn’t we? Non-vegetarian animals have short intestines and long, sharp teeth so that they can ingest and digest meat. Vegetarian animals are not built like this. They are not designed to eat meat. As a human being, you must ask yourself the question: “What is meat? ” It’s digested food, is it not? It is the muscle and organs of animals, made by the food they eat. When you eat meat, you are actually eating and digesting already digested food. Does this make sense? This is the cause of a number of illnesses. A disease experienced by an animal may well enter your body when you eat its flesh. Look at Mad Cow Disease. Mother Nature made man’s body for vegetarian food. Do you put petrol in a diesel car. No. This body is a temple. Temples built by man with sand and cement are considered sacred without question. What about the temple of the body, built by God? Should we not care for it at least as much as we care for the stone temples we have built?
I lack self-confidence. What can I do about this?
Man is a bundle of thoughts. What we think, we become. If you think you do not have confidence, you will not have it. Think that you are a confident person and you will become so. Stay in the company of good, confident people. Stop thinking you can’t. Think that you can and you will. Talk to yourself in affirmations. Say: “Yes, with the grace of God, I can do this.”
How can we overcome the negative aspects of Western influence?
The quality of our life is dependent on the decisions that we make. The cultures of both the East and the West have their strengths and weaknesses. Through the use of discretion, we can combine the best aspects of both. Whether a person is born in India or in the West, he or she can choose to live life following the best points of both cultures.
How can we maintain a religious lifestyle in a society so immersed in selfish worldliness?
Life is not all bad or good. The world is full of all types of people. Live tactfully and skillfully with others as demanded by the conditions of the moment. It is not wise to expect that all experiences will be favorable, that all people will be helpful or that all of our wishes always will come true.
Is it wrong to strive for wealth and success in the world?
If you have the intelligence and the willingness to work hard, there is nothing wrong with being rich or enjoying what wealth brings. Wealth is artha, one of the four legitimate aims of life. However, wealth should be earned and used ethically. And it should be handled with a certain amount of detachment. Always bear in mind that money exists for you. You don’t exist for money. Money may be a necessary means in life, but it is not an end in itself. It has been said that, if one tenth of one’s wealth is donated, wealth becomes auspicious. It is also generally understood that, if one spends one tenth of one’s time in service, one will discover unparalleled bliss.
What is the spiritual duty of a worldly person?
If our senses externalize our energies and drive us toward worldly activity, we may as well perform these actions in the spirit of service to others. If such actions are carried out for the well-being of other people, they will not create negative karmas. One of the meanings of dharma is “duty.” So the dharma of a worldly person is to help others.
I am doing poorly in school. How can I improve my grades?
Understand the importance of your studies, and you will develop a love and respect for them. Where there is love and respect, there is interest. Where there is interest, concentration is effortless. From concentration comes success. This success brings enjoyment. We are born from ananda, bliss. We live for this bliss. Bliss is to be found where there is enjoyment. Enjoyment follows love. Love comes from understanding the importance of what you are doing. Therefore, understand the importance of your studies.
What can parents do to stimulate their children’s interest in religion?
Start early. Set examples by doing what you want your children to do. Children copy well. When you worship, ask your children to join in. Don’t force the teachings and practices upon them. They are so innocent and open they will automatically follow you in all that you do. Make the environment of your home rich in culture and knowledge. Leave good books lying around. Do not live with the expectation that your children are going to spend as much time as you do in worship and prayer. Their priorities will be different. During their school years, their studies will be their puja (worship). At that time, it is sufficient that they simply bow before God and respect their parents. Be friends with your children and love them. The mother’s lap is the world’s best university. The mother is the child’s first and best teacher.