Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Everything in the universe is a Guru because one can learn something or the other from it. From bad things one learns what defects to reject and from good things what good qualities to acquire. For example I accumulated knowledge from the twenty-four Gurus enlisted below and converted it into an ocean. Then bathing in it, I cleansed all my sins.
1. The earth: One should acquire the virtues of endurance and tolerance of duality from the earth.
2. The wind: One should be detached like the wind. Just as the wind blows both in the hot and cold regions without being influenced by their qualities or defects so also those desirous of Liberation (mumukshus) should wholeheartedly tread along the path prescribed by the Vedas (Shrutis) in the hot and cold regions without paying attention to virtues or defects of others.
3. The sky: Just like the sky the soul pervades all animate and inanimate objects yet it remains unaltered, single and steady.
4. The water: Just like water one should behave with affection towards all. One should never be partial to anyone. Just as water retains its impurity at its bed and cleanses others of their impurities so also should man renounce the impurities arising from attachment to the physical body, acquire the treasure of spiritual knowledge and cleanse people with vices, of their sins. Just as water flows from a higher altitude uprooting impudent trees, nurturing humble vegetation on its way to the low lying land so also liberated souls should destroy the vain and wealthy, punish the hypocrite evildoers and redeem those who surrender to them, of their sins. Man is akin to water which becomes impure by stagnation and gets purified as it flows. Hence men with a spiritual attitude should visit various places of pilgrimages (tirthakshetras) instead of living in one place.
5. The fire: Like fire, man should undertake austerities and get illumined with knowledge. He should partake of whatever is available, refrain from bad deeds and utilise his virtues only at the opportune moment for a worthwhile cause.
When on a pilgrimage, etc. one should eat whatever is available without accumulating it.
Always remaining pure like the fire one should behave with equality towards all.
Fire delivers the oblations to the deities made in it amidst chanting of their respective Names.
In order to realise the transient nature of the body the flame of fire is considered as a Guru. Just as hardly any time is required to kindle and extinguish a flame so also creation and dissolution of a body from the five cosmic elements does not take long.
6. The moon: There are in all sixteen phases of the moon including the subtle phase of the new moon and the fifteen of the fortnight. Though there is waxing and waning of the moon, it remains unaffected by them. Similarly, the soul is not affected by changes in the body.
7. The sun: The sun stores water taking the future into account and benevolently showers it on the earth at the appropriate moment. In the same way man should store useful things and make them available to all living organisms impartially, considering the time, place and the prevalent conditions.
8. The pigeon: A man who lives with intense attachment for his wife and children feeling that worldly life is pleasurable is destroyed with time just like a pigeon along with its family is devoured by a falcon. Thus a seeker desirous of Liberation (mumukshu) should be mentally detached from all this.
9. The python: The python lies in one place fearlessly having faith in its destiny. It is content with whatever food it gets and has no preferences about the quantity, taste, etc. It does not feel threatened if no food is available for sometime and inspite of having the strength does not make use of it. Similarly those desirous of the Final Liberation should partake of whatever little is available reposing faith in destiny and at times if nothing is available then they should become introverted and remain engrossed in meditating on the soul.
10. The sea: During monsoons just as the sea is neither pleased if the rivers bring in plenty of water nor is displeased if they do not, and consequently does not swell or shrink, so also man should remain steadfast to his duties and should neither feel elated if he experiences worldly pleasures nor unhappy if he is faced with tragedy. He should always remain immersed in Bliss.
One should not let anyone perceive one's virtues just as the sea keeps its length, breadth, depth and the treasures in its bed hidden from everyone. However one should always utilise them favourably, for the sake of others.
11. The moth: The moth enchanted by the alluring radiance of the lit lamp, dives at it and is soon charred to death. A man who is similarly fascinated by a woman's beauty and youth for the sake of sexual pleasure finally perishes in it just like the moth.
12. The queen bee and the honey collector The queen bee: The queen bee builds a hive encountering several difficulties in a cumbersome location high up on a tree and collects honey in it. It neither eats it itself nor lets others feast upon it. Finally all of a sudden the honey collector kills it and takes away the hive along with the honey. In the same way the miser who accumulates wealth with relentless efforts finally either becomes unhappy when it is suddenly lost in the fire, stolen by thieves or taken away by the king or when unrighteous progeny is born to him which misuses it or if he dies issueless. Thus after his death the wealth either remains where it is or is acquired by someone unrelated to him. If at the time of death he still has attachment for that wealth then he harasses the one who enjoys it in the form of a spirit or a serpent. Thus learning that accumulation of wealth leads to sudden death like the honey bee, one should stop amassing wealth.
The honey collector: Just as the one who collects the honey acquires it effortlessly so also a male seeker should partake of food cooked in the home of a householder instead of spending time in making a fire, collecting utensils, firewood, etc. and should devote that time to realise God. Such seekers desirous of Liberation partake of food from householders and ultimately uplift them.
13. The elephant (Gajendra): Although the elephant is so powerful, man tries to capture it by digging a pit in the ground, covering it with grass and placing a wooden cow elephant covered with elephant skin on that pit. Infatuated by the cow elephant the elephant craves for sexual pleasure and runs towards that wooden cow elephant with speed and falls in the pit. Thus it is easily made a captive by man. Similarly man lured by sensuous pleasure is instantly entrapped in bondage.
Men allured by adulterous women are destroyed in the same way as elephants overcome with lust die fighting amongst themselves.
14. The bumble-bee: The sunflower which blooms with sunrise closes with the sunset. At that time if a bumble-bee is seated on it, then it gets trapped in the flower. Thus realising that attachment to object pleasure gives rise to bondage, one should refrain from such attachment.
Just as the bumble-bee savours the fragrance of several sunflowers instead of one so also seekers desirous of Liberation should realise that every science will not be easy to grasp and hence should try to understand their implied meaning.
15. The Musk deer: The musk deer which is as swift as the wind and can be captured by none, gets enchanted with melodious music and loses its life to others. Keeping this in mind one should not get entrapped in any kind of attachment.
16. The Fish: When a fish-hook fastened with bait is thrown into the water, the fish lured by the bait swallows the hook and gets caught. Thus it loses its life. Man too is trapped in satisfying his taste buds and thus continues to suffer in the whirlpool of births and deaths.
17. The prostitute - Pingala: One night despite a long wait not a single client approached her. As she restlessly waited pacing up and down, hoping for a client she was finally bored and suddenly developed detachment. As long as man has desire he cannot sleep peacefully. The one who sacrifices desire is unaffected by unhappiness.
18. The lapwing: Seeing the lapwing fly with a fish in its beak hundreds of crows and eagles began chasing it, pecking at it and tried to snatch the fish, thus harassing it. This flock began following it wherever it went. Finally exhausted it dropped the fish. Just then an eagle caught the fish. No sooner had the eagle caught the fish than all the crows and eagles began chasing it. The lapwing however calmly perched itself on the branch of a tree. In this world there is peace only if sense objects are rejected, otherwise it leads to great distress.
19. The child: Forsaking respect and disrespect, believing that the universe is governed by destiny one should live carefree like a child and enjoy the Bliss.
20. The bangles: When two bangles strike each other a jingling sound is generated. The more the bangles the greater is the sound. Similarly when two persons live together it leads to conversation and when many persons live together there is strife. In both circumstances there is no peace of mind. Hence those doing meditation, yoga, etc. should search for an isolated place and live there in seclusion.
21. The artisan: One day an artisan was chiselling the blade of an arrow with great concentration. A king's procession to the accompaniment of music passed by that way. A man arriving later approached the artisan and enquired, Have you seen the king's procession passing by this way, just now? The artisan replied, I was so engrossesd in my work that I was not aware of anything. Just like this artisan a seeker desirous of Liberation (mumukshu) should meditate surrendering all his sense organs to The Lord.
22. The snake: Two snakes never live or wander about together. They move around cautiously never making any sound. Instead of making a home for themselves they occupy someone else's habitat. They neither move around freely, criticise without reason nor get angry unless injured by someone. Thus two intellectuals should not move around together, should speak limitedly, should not quarrel with one another or ridicule anyone, should act thoughtfully, should not address a gathering and should spend their lives living anywhere instead of building a house for themselves. By building a house one develops vanity and consequently attachment develops.
23. The spider: The spider spins a web secreting a fluid from its belly and plays in it day and night. When it feels like it, it swallows the entire web and becomes free again. Similarly God creates the world when He wishes and indulges in various kinds of play in it. When He feels like it, with a resolve He destroys it and becomes single again. Just as a spider can weave a web with its fluid repeatedly so also can God create the universe by a mere resolve, dissolve it within Himself and recreate it at His will. Hence one should not attach importance to worldly events.
24. The wasp: The one who regularly meditates on an object finally merges into it. The wasp builds a house from mud and keeps a worm in it. It lightly blows air over the worm time and again. Consequently the worm meditates on the wasp and finally also becomes a wasp. A seeker desirous of Liberation should in the same manner meditate on God as advised by the Guru so that he merges into God.
Friday, October 23, 2009
[Our representative met the Swami Vivekananda in the train at the Chingleput Station and travelled with him to Madras. The following is the report of the interview]
Q.- "What made you go to America, Swamiji?"
Swami Vivekananda- "Rather a serious question to answer in brief. I can only answer it partly now. Because I travelled all over India, I wanted to go over to other countries. I went to America by the Far East."
Q.- "What did you see in Japan, and is there any chance of India following in the progressive steps of Japan?"
Swami Vivekananda- "None whatever, until all the three hundred millions of India combine together as a whole nation. The world has never seen such a patriotic and artistic race as the Japanese, and one special feature about them is this that while in Europe and elsewhere Art generally goes with dirt, Japanese Art is Art plus absolute cleanliness. I would wish that every one of our young men could visit Japan once at least in his lifetime. It is very easy to go there. The Japanese think that everything Hindu is great and believe that India is a holy land. Japanese Buddhism is entirely different from what you see in Ceylon. It is the same as Vedanta. It is positive and theistic Buddhism, not the negative atheistic Buddhism of Ceylon.
Q.- "What is the key to Japan's sudden greatness?"
Swami Vivekananda- "The faith of the Japanese in themselves, and their love for their country. When you have men who are ready to sacrifice their everything for their country, sincere to the backbone ” when such men arise, India will become great in every respect. It is the men that make the country! What is there in the country? If you catch the social morality and the political morality of the Japanese, you will be as great as they are. The Japanese are ready to sacrifice everything for their country, and they have become a great people. But you are not; you cannot be, you sacrifice everything only for your own families and possessions."
Q.- "Is it your wish that India should become like Japan?"
Swami Vivekananda- "Decidedly not. India should continue to be what she is. How could India ever become like Japan, or any nation for the matter of that? In each nation, as in music, there is a main note, a central theme, upon which all others turn. Each nation has a theme: everything else is secondary. India's theme is religion. Social reform and everything else are secondary. Therefore India cannot be like Japan. It is said that when 'the heart breaks', then the flow of thought comes. India's heart must break, and the flow of spirituality will come out. India is India. We are not like the Japanese, we are Hindus. India's very atmosphere is soothing. I have been working incessantly here, and amidst this work I am getting rest. It is only from spiritual work that we can get rest in India. If your work is material here, you die of ” diabetes!"
Q.- "So much for Japan. What was your first experience of America, Swamiji?"
Swami Vivekananda- "From first to last it was very good. With the exception of the missionaries and 'Church-women' the Americans are most hospitable, kind-hearted, generous, and good-natured."
Q.- "Who are these 'Church-women' that you speak of, Swamiji?"
Swami Vivekananda- "When a woman tries her best to find a husband, she goes to all the fashionable seaside resorts and tries all sorts of tricks to catch a man. When she fails in her attempts, she becomes, what they call in America, an 'old maid', and joins the Church. Some of them become very 'Churchy'. These 'Church-women' are awful fanatics. They are under the thumb of the priests there. Between them and the priests they make hell of earth and make a mess of religion. With the exception of these, the Americans are a very good people. They loved me, and I love them a great deal. I felt as if I was one of them."
Q.- "What is your idea about the results of the Parliament of Religions?"
Swami Vivekananda- "The Parliament of Religions, as it seems to me, was intended for a 'heathen show' before the world: but it turned out that the heathens had the upper hand and made it a Christian show all around. So the Parliament of Religions was a failure from the Christian standpoint, seeing that the Roman Catholics, who were the organisers of that Parliament, are, when there is a talk of another Parliament at Paris, now steadily opposing it. But the Chicago Parliament was a tremendous success for India and Indian thought. It helped on the tide of Vedanta, which is flooding the world. The American people ” of course, minus the fanatical priests and Church-women ” are very glad of the results of the Parliament."
Q.- "What prospects have you, Swamiji, for the spread of your mission in England?"
Swami Vivekananda- "There is every prospect. Before many years elapse a vast majority of the English people will be Vedantins. There is a greater prospect of this in England than there is in America. You see, Americans make a fanfaronade of everything, which is not the case with Englishmen. Even Christians cannot understand their New Testament, without understanding the Vedanta. The Vedanta is the rationale of all religions. Without the Vedanta every religion is superstition; with it everything becomes religion."
Q.-"What is the special trait you noticed in the English character?"
Swami Vivekananda- "The Englishman goes to practical work as soon as he believes in something. He has tremendous energy for practical work. There is in the whole world no human being superior to the English gentleman or lady. That is really the reason of my faith in them. John Bull is rather a thick-headed gentleman to deal with. You must push and push an idea till it reaches his brain, but once there, it does not get out. In England, there was not one missionary or anybody who said anything against me; not one who tried to make a scandal about me. To my astonishment, many of my friends belong to the Church of England. I learn, these missionaries do not come from the higher classes in England. Caste is as rigorous there as it is here, and the English churchmen belong to the class of gentlemen. They may differ in opinion from you, but that is no bar to their being friends with you; therefore, I would give a word of advice to my countrymen, which is, not to take notice of the vituperative missionaries, now that I have known that they are. We have 'sized' them, as the Americans say. Non-recognition is the only attitude to assume towards them."
Q.- "Will you kindly enlighten me, Swamiji, on the Social Reform movements in America and England?"
Swami Vivekananda- "Yes. All the social upheavalists, at least the leaders of them, are trying to find that all their communistic or equalising theories must have a spiritual basis, and that spiritual basis is in the Vedanta only. I have been told by several leaders, who used to attend my lectures, that they required the Vedanta as the basis of the new order of things."
Q.- "What are your views with regard to the Indian masses?"
Swami Vivekananda- "Oh, we are awfully poor, and our masses are very ignorant about secular things. Our masses are very good because poverty here is not a crime. Our masses are not violent. Many times I was near being mobbed in America and England, only on account of my dress. But I never heard of such a thing in India as a man being mobbed because of peculiar dress. In every other respect, our masses are much more civilised than the European masses."
Q.- "What will you propose for the improvement of our masses?"
Swami Vivekananda- "We have to give them secular education. We have to follow the plan laid down by our ancestors, that is, to bring all the ideals slowly down among the masses. Raise them slowly up, raise them to equality. Impart even secular knowledge through religion."
Q.- "But do you think, Swamiji, it is a task that can be easily accomplished?"
Swami Vivekananda- "It will, of course, have gradually to be worked out. But if there are enough self-sacrificing young fellows, who, I hope, will work with me, it can be done tomorrow. It all depends upon the zeal and the self-sacrifice brought to the task."
Q.- "But if the present degraded condition is due to their past Karma, Swamiji, how do you think they could get out of it easily, and how do you propose to help them?"
The Swamiji readily answered "Karma is the eternal assertion of human freedom. If we can bring ourselves down by our Karma, surely it is in our power to raise ourselves by it. The masses, besides, have not brought themselves down altogether by their own Karma. So we should give them better environments to work in. I do not propose any levelling of castes. Caste is a very good thing. Caste is the plan we want to follow. What caste really is, not one in a million understands. There is no country in the world without caste. In India, from caste we reach to the point where there is no caste. Caste is based throughout on that principle. The plan in India is to make everybody a Brahmin, the Brahmin being the ideal of humanity.
If you read the history of India you will find that attempts have always been made to raise the lower classes. Many are the classes that have been raised. Many more will follow till the whole will become Brahmin. That is the plan. We have only to raise them without bringing down anybody. And this has mostly to be done by the Brahmins themselves, because it is the duty of every aristocracy to dig its own grave; and the sooner it does so, the better for all. No time should be lost. Indian caste is better than the caste which prevails in Europe or America. I do not say it is absolutely good. Where would you be if there were no caste? Where would be your learning and other things, if there were no caste? There would be nothing left for the Europeans to study if caste had never existed! The Mohammedans would have smashed everything to pieces. Where do you find the Indian society standing still? It is always on the move. Sometimes, as in the times of foreign invasions, the movement has been slow, at other times quicker. This is what I say to my countrymen. I do not condemn them. I look into their past. I find that under the circumstances no nation could do more glorious work. I tell them that they have done well. I only ask them to do better."
Q.- "What are your views, Swamiji, in regard to the relation of caste to rituals?"
Swami Vivekananda- "Caste is continually changing, rituals are continually changing, so are forms. It is the substance, the principle, that does not change. It is in the Vedas that we have to study our religion. With the exception of the Vedas every book must change. The authority of the Vedas is for all time to come; the authority of every one of our other books is for the time being. For instance; one Smriti is powerful for one age, another for another age. Great prophets are always coming and pointing the way to work. Some prophets worked for the lower classes, others like Madhva gave to women the right to study the Vedas. Caste should not go; but should only be readjusted occasionally. Within the old structure is to be found life enough for the building of two hundred thousand new ones. It is sheer nonsense to desire the abolition of caste. The new method is ” evolution of the old."
Q.- "Do not Hindus stand in need of social reform?"
Swami Vivekananda- "We do stand in need of social reform. At times great men would evolve new ideas of progress, and kings would give them the sanction of law. Thus social improvements had been in the past made in India, and in modern times to effect such progressive reforms, we will have first to build up such an authoritative power. Kings having gone, the power is the people's. We have, therefore, to wait till the people are educated, till they understand their needs and are ready and able to solve their problems. The tyranny of the minority is the worst tyranny in the world. Therefore, instead of frittering away our energies on ideal reforms, which will never become practical, we had better go to the root of the evil and make a legislative body, that is to say, educate our people, so that they may be able to solve their own problems. Until that is done all these ideal reforms will remain ideals only. The new order of things is the salvation of the people by the people, and it takes time to make it workable, especially in India, which has always in the past been governed by kings."
Q.- "Do you think Hindu society can successfully adopt European social laws?"
Swami Vivekananda- "No, not wholly. I would say, the combination of the Greek mind represented by the external European energy added to the Hindu spirituality would be an ideal society for India. For instance, it is absolutely necessary for you, instead of frittering away your energy and often talking of idle nonsense, to learn from the Englishman the idea of prompt obedience to leaders, the absence of jealousy, the indomitable perseverance and the undying faith in himself. As soon as he selects a leader for a work, the Englishman sticks to him through thick and thin and obeys him. Here in India, everybody wants to become a leader, and there is nobody to obey. Everyone should learn to obey before he can command. There is no end to our jealousies; and the more important the Hindu, the more jealous he is. Until this absence of jealousy and obedience to leaders are learnt by the Hindu, there will be no power of organization. We shall have to remain the hopelessly confused mob that we are now, hoping and doing nothing. India has to learn from Europe the conquest of external nature, and Europe has to learn from India the conquest of internal nature. Then there will be neither Hindus nor Europeans — there will be the ideal humanity which has conquered both the natures, the external and the internal. We have developed one phase of humanity, and they another. It is the union of the two that is wanted. The word freedom which is the watchword of our religion really means freedom physically, mentally, and spiritually."
Q.- "What relation, Swamiji, does ritual bear to religion?"
Swami Vivekananda- "Rituals are the kindergarten of religion. They are absolutely necessary for the world as it is now; only we shall have to give people newer and fresher rituals. A party of thinkers must undertake to do this. Old rituals must be rejected and new ones substituted."
Q.- "Then you advocate the abolition of rituals, don't you?"
Swami Vivekananda- "No, my watchword is construction, not destruction. Out of the existing rituals, new ones will have to be evolved. There is infinite power of development in everything; that is my belief. One atom has the power of the whole universe at its back. All along, in the history of the Hindu race, there never was any attempt at destruction, only construction. One sect wanted to destroy, and they were thrown out of India: They were the Buddhists. We have had a host of reformers — Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, and Chaitanya. These were great reformers, who always were constructive and built according to the circumstances of their time. This is our peculiar method of work. All the modern reformers take to European destructive reformation, which will never do good to anyone and never did. Only once was a modern reformer mostly constructive, and that one was Raja Ram Mohan Ray. The progress of the Hindu race has been towards the realisation of the Vedantic ideals. All history of Indian life is the struggle for the realisation of the ideal of the Vedanta through good or bad fortune. Whenever there was any reforming sect or religion which rejected the Vedantic ideal, it was smashed into nothing."
Q.- "What is your programme of work here?"
Swami Vivekananda- "I want to start two institutions, one in Madras and one in Calcutta, to carry out my plan; and that plan briefly is to bring the Vedantic ideals into the everyday practical life of the saint or the sinner, of the sage or the ignoramus, of the Brahmin or the Pariah."
[The Hindu, Madras, February, 1897- Our representative here put to him a few questions relative to Indian politics; but before the Swami could attempt anything like an answer, the train steamed up to the Egmore platform, and the only hurried remark that fell from the Swami was that he was dead against all political entanglements of Indian and European problems. The interview then terminated.]
Monday, October 19, 2009
One song can spark a moment,
One flower can wake the dream.
One tree can start a forest,
One bird can herald spring.
One smile begins a friendship,
One handclasp lifts a soul.
One star can guide a ship at sea,
One word can frame the goal.
One vote can change a nation,
One sunbeam lights a room.
One candle wipes out darkness,
One laugh will conquer gloom.
One step must start each journey,
One word must start each prayer.
One hope will raise our spirits,
One touch can show you care.
One voice can speak with wisdom.
One heart can know what's true.
One life can make the difference,
you see it's up to You!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Do you know what one feels in meditation? The mind becomes like a continuous flow of oil - it thinks of one object only, and that is God. It is not aware of anything else.
- from "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna" (Abridged Edition): Sri Ramakrishna at Syampukur
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Soon, Swamiji entered into a meditative state and passed into the realm of savikalpa samadhi- the body still, limbs motionless, spine erect, eyes fixed and bright; with feeling, power, love, and bliss welling up in his face; and gravity intensifying all the other moods. ...
After remaining immersed in samadhi for quite some time, he controlled his mind and taking my right hand in his own remained quiet for a while. Next he started telling me about my past. ... When Swamiji was holding my hand, all my desires and thoughts subsided. There was neither inclination nor disinclination-no desire, no wish; even bhakti and mukti were gone. All was peace; the world was peaceful, steady and calm. Creation was, Creation was not; [all was] filled with bliss. And there was something beyond bliss that I cannot describe in words-I began to enjoy that. Peace, peace, supreme peace-- all-pervading peace. ...
I do not know how long I was in that state. Slowly I found my mind descending from that high state and entering my body, and I started faintly apprehending the room and other objects, like one just awakened from sleep. ... But one new thing became evident- a sweetness and peace pervaded all objects. Every object appeared holy and dear to me, something to be reverenced. I saw that the wind was holy, space was holy, the waters were holy, the directions were holy, every created being was holy!
Monday, July 20, 2009
Swami Shivananda ( Mahapursuhji maharaj) sat quiet for some time after the devotee's talk and then in a grave tone said: "The questions you have been asking are all right. But there is a divine incarnation like Sri Ramakrishna, whose method of work, is beyound understanding of common person like us. How can we understand his action on the spiritual level? The work of incarnation is not restricted to a country or a society, it is for the whole mankind. Sri Ramakrishna was, after all an image of perfect purity. The best manifestation of purity is spiritual faith. In order to place this thought before the world, he brought with him a very powerful follower. Could not have Vivekananda understood that our aspiration could be fulfilled only by following the path of a political movement? And if he had thought in his mind, wouldn't he have shaken this entire country from top to bottom? Was not his feeling of patriotism very intense? The loud cry, which erupted from his heart for the crores of the poor and the oppressed in this country, in the hearts of how many more persons could we erupt the same intensity? Even then he did not choose the path of politicial movement. Had he felt that it was desirable in the end, then he would have certainly adopted it. We too, to the best of our ability, could do something like this, but our Master (Sri Ramakrishna) has not granted such permission to us. His incarnation was for the walefare of the whole world. Please keep your trust in this. In what words can i tell you what we feel for the people of our country? But Swamiji has put a restriction on our method of work. We can not cross it".
Saturday, July 18, 2009
There are five kinds of samadhi. In these samadhis, one feels the movement of the spiritual current to be like that of an ant, a fish, a monkey, a bird, or a serpent.
- from "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna" (Abridged Edition): Some Intimate Disciples
Sunday, July 12, 2009
We have received the body of a human being after good action of many lives. It is a sign of foolishness to waste such a valuable life only in worldly pleasures. God has made our body. Mind, wisdom, actions, ear, eye, tongue, hand, leg, etc. are his gifts. The true yagna is to do good work by coordinating harmoniously all these gifts. The true yagna or devotion is done when man lives with the intention of welfare of not only human beings but also of animals, birds, insects, trees, minerals, i.e., the welfare of all. Such man prospers by receiving God's love and blessings.
One puts water and prashad on tulsipatra at the time of making offerings to God and then he says: "This is not mine, I am offering you what is yours" After that we take this offering as Prashad. On the same basis this body is not mine but it is given by God. Tulsipatra should be put on the body to show the intention of submission to God. Since this is not easy and practical everyday, our religious teachers made a mala of tulsi beads and recommended that we wear them on our necks. On waking up in the morning we see this mala and it reminds us: "This body is not yours, it has been offered to God, and so you should only do that which pleases God" i.e., do good deeds. So religious teachers inspire people to do good deeds by making them wear the mala. This is the importance of tulsi mala.
People have forgotten the true reason for having a mala these days. Today the mala has become just a symbol of some sects. It will be a great service to humanity if people, by understanding its wider meaning of the welfare of whole mankind, can revive the bhakti offered to God through the mala.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Behold, the dark clouds melt away,
That gathered thick at night, and hung
So like a gloomy pall above the earth!
Before thy magic touch, the world
Awakes. The birds in chorus sing.
The flowers raise their star-like crowns —
Dew-set, and wave thee welcome fair.
The lakes are opening wide in love
Their hundred thousand lotus-eyes
To welcome thee, with all their depth.
All hail to thee, thou Lord of Light!
A welcome new to thee, today,
O Sun! Today thou sheddest Liberty!
Bethink thee how the world did wait,
And search for thee, through time and clime.
Some gave up home and love of friends,
And went in quest of thee, self-banished,
Through dreary oceans, through primeval forests,
Each step a struggle for their life or death;
Then came the day when work bore fruit,
And worship, love, and sacrifice.
Fulfilled, accepted, and complete.
Then thou, propitious, rose to shed
The light of Freedom on mankind.
Move on, O Lord, in thy resistless path!
Till thy high noon o'erspreads the world.
Till every land reflects thy light,
Till men and women, with uplifted head,
Behold their shackles broken, and
Know, in springing joy, their life renewed!
— Swami Vivekananda
On the 4th of July, 1898, the anniversary of American Independence, Swami Vivekananda prepared this poem to be read aloud at the early breakfast. Swami Vivekananda passed away on the 4th of July, 1902.
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 5, pg 439-440.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
he cannot appease them. Have only one desire: to
know God. Satisfying the sensory desires cannot
satisfy you, because you are not the senses. They are
only your servants, not your Self.
(Paramahansa Yogananda, 'Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda')
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The toys available at some of the gift shops based on Historical Swedish army units are actually "Made in China" as seen from the labels.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Be fair with God. Perhaps He has something better for you than what you are praying for. It is a fact that sometimes your most fervent prayers and desires are your greatest enemies. Talk sincerely and justly with God, and let Him decide what is right for you. If you are receptive, He will lead you, He will work with you. Even if you make mistakes, don't be afraid. Have faith. Know that God is with you. Be guided in everything by that Power. It is unfailing. This truth is applicable to every one of you.
(Paramahansa Yogananda, `Journey to Self-Realization')
In one form or another, we are all in it. It is a most difficult and intricate state of things to understand. It has been preached in every country, taught everywhere, but only believed in by a few, because until we get the experiences ourselves we cannot believe in it. What does it show? Something very terrible. For it is all futile. Time, the avenger of everything, comes, and nothing is left. He swallows up the saint and the sinner, the king and the peasant, the beautiful and the ugly; he leaves nothing. Everything is rushing towards that one goal destruction. Our knowledge, our arts, our sciences, everything is rushing towards it. None can stem the tide, none can hold it back for a minute. We may try to forget it, in the same way that persons in a plague-striker city try to create oblivion by drinking, dancing, and other vain attempts, and so becoming paralysed. So we are trying to forget, trying to create oblivion by all sorts of sense-pleasures. And this is Maya.
Two ways have been proposed. One method, which everyone knows, is very common, and that is: "It may be very true, but do not think of it. 'Make hay while the sun shines,' as the proverb says. It is all true, it is a fact, but do not mind it. Seize the few pleasures you can, do what little you can, do not look at tile dark side of the picture, but always towards the hopeful, the positive side." There is some truth in this, but there is also a danger. The truth is that it is a good motive power. Hope and a positive ideal are very good motive powers for our lives, but there is a certain danger in them. The danger lies in our giving up the struggle in despair. Such is the case with those who preach, "Take the world as it is, sit down as calmly and comfortably as you can and be contented with all these miseries. When you receive blows, say they are not blows but flowers; and when you are driven about like slaves, say that you are free. Day and night tell lies to others and to your own souls, because that is the only way to live happily." This is what is called practical wisdom, and never was it more prevalent in the world than in this nineteenth century; because never were harder blows hit than at the present time, never was competition keener, never were men so cruel to their fellow-men as now; and, therefore, must this consolation be offered. It is put forward in the strongest way at the present time; but it fails, as it always must fail. We cannot hide a carrion with roses; it is impossible. It would not avail long; for soon the roses would fade, and the carrion would be worse than ever before. So with our lives. We may try to cover our old and festering sores with cloth of gold, but there comes a day when the cloth of gold is removed, and the sore in all its ugliness is revealed.
Is there no hope then? True it is that we are all slaves of Maya, born in Maya, and live in Maya. Is there then no way out, no hope? That we are all miserable, that this world is really a prison, that even our so-called trailing beauty is but a prison-house, and that even our intellects and minds are prison-houses, have been known for ages upon ages. There has never been a man, there has never been a human soul, who has not felt this sometime or other, however he may talk. And the old people feel it most, because in them is the accumulated experience of a whole life, because they cannot be easily cheated by the lies of nature. Is there no way out? We find that with all this, with this terrible fact before us, in the midst of sorrow and suffering, even in this world where life and death are synonymous, even here, there is a still small voice that is ringing through all ages, through every country, and in every heart: "This My Maya is divine, made up of qualities, and very difficult to cross. Yet those that come unto Me, cross the river of life." "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." This is the voice that is leading us forward. Man has heard it, and is hearing it all through the ages. This voice comes to men when everything seems to be lost and hope has fled, when man's dependence on his own strength has been crushed down and everything seems to melt away between his fingers, and life is a hopeless ruin. Then he hears it. This is called religion.
(From Jnana-Yoga Complete Works Vol.2)
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Disciple: How is it, Swamiji, that you do not lecture in this country? You have stirred Europe and America with your lectures, but coming back here you have kept silence.
Swami Vivekananda: In this country, the ground should be prepared first; then if the seed is sown, the plant will come out best. The ground in the West, in Europe and America is very fertile and fit for sowing seeds. There they have reached the climax of Bhoga (enjoyment). Being satiated with Bhoga to the full, their minds are not getting peace now even in those enjoyments, and they feel as if they wanted something else. In this country you have neither Bhoga nor Yoga (renunciation). When one is satiated with Bhoga, then it is that one will listen to and understand the teachings on Yoga. What good will lectures do in a country like India which has become the birthplace of disease, sorrow, and affliction, and where men are emaciated through starvation, and weak in mind?
Disciple: How is that? Do you not say that ours is the land of religion and that here the people understand religion as they do nowhere else? Why then will not this country be animated by your inspiring eloquence and reap to the full the fruits thereof?
Swami Vivekananda: Now understand what religion means. The first thing required is the worship of the Kurma (tortoise) Incarnation, and the belly-god is this Kurma, as it were. Until you pacify this, no one will welcome your words about religion. India is restless with the thought of how to face this spectre of hunger. The draining of the best resources of the country by the foreigners, the unrestricted exports of merchandise, and, above all, the abominable jealousy natural to slaves are eating into the vitals of India. First of all, you must remove this evil of hunger and starvation, this constant anxiety for bare existence, from those to whom you want to preach religion; otherwise, lectures and such things will be of no benefit.
Disciple: What should we do then to remove that evil?
Swami Vivekananda: First, some young men full of the spirit of renunciation are needed — those who will be ready to sacrifice their lives for others, instead of devoting themselves to their own happiness. With this object in view I shall establish a Math to train young Sannyasins, who will go from door to door and make the people realise their pitiable condition by means of facts and reasoning, and instruct them in the ways and means for their welfare, and at the same time will explain to them as clearly as possible, in very simple and easy language, the higher truths of religion. The masses in our country are like the sleeping Leviathan. The education imparted by the present university system reaches one or two per cent of the masses only. And even those who get that do not succeed in their endeavours of doing any good to their country. But it is not their fault, poor fellows! As soon as they come out of their college, they find themselves fathers of several children! Somehow or other they manage to secure the position of a clerk, or at the most, a deputy magistrate. This is the finale of education! With the burden of a family on their backs, they find no time to do anything great or think anything high. They do not find means enough to fulfil their personal wants and interests; so what can be expected of them in the way of doing anything for others?
Disciple: Is there then no way out for us?
Swami Vivekananda: Certainly there is. This is the land of Religion Eternal. The country has fallen, no doubt, but will as surely rise again, and that upheaval will astound the world. The lower the hollows the billows make, the higher and with greater force will they rise again.
Disciple: How will India rise again?
Swami Vivekananda: Do you not see? The dawn has already appeared in the eastern sky, and there is little delay in the sun's rising. You all set your shoulders to the wheel! What is there in making the world all in all, and thinking of "My Samsara (family and property), my Samsara"? Your duty at present is to go from one part of the country to another, from village to village, and make the people understand that mere sitting idly won't do any more. Make them understand their real condition and say, "O ye brothers, arise! Awake! How much longer would you remain asleep!" Go and advise them how to improve their own condition, and make them comprehend the sublime truths of the Shastras (scriptures), by presenting them in a lucid and popular way. So long the Brahmins have monopolised religion; but since they cannot hold their ground against the strong tide of time, go and take steps so that one and all in the land may get that religion. Impress upon their minds that they have the same right to religion as the Brahmins. Initiate all, even down to the Chandalas (people of the lowest castes), in these fiery Mantras. Also instruct them, in simple words, about the necessities of life, and in trade, commerce, agriculture, etc. If you cannot do this then fie upon your education and culture, and fie upon your studying the Vedas and Vedanta!
Disciple: But where is that strength in us? I should have felt myself blessed if I had a hundredth part of your powers, Swamiji.
Swami Vivekananda: How foolish! Power and things like that will come by themselves. Put yourself to work, and you will final such tremendous power coming to you that you will feel it hard to bear. Even the least work done for others awakens the power within; even thinking the least good of others gradually instils into the heart the strength of a lion. I love you all ever so much, but I wish you all to die working for others — I should rather be glad to see you do that!
Disciple: What will become of those, then, who depend on me?
Swami Vivekananda: If you are ready to sacrifice your life for others, God will certainly provide some means for them. Have you not read in the Gita (VI. 40) the words of Shri Krishna, " — Never does a doer of good, O my beloved, come to grief"?
Disciple: I see, sir.
Swami Vivekananda: The essential thing is renunciation. With out renunciation none can pour out his whole heart in working for others. The man of renunciation sees all with an equal eye and devotes himself to the service of all. Does not our Vedanta also teach us to see all with an equal eye? Why then do you cherish the idea that the wife and children are your own, more than others? At your very threshold, Nârâyana Himself in the form of a poor beggar is dying of starvation! Instead of giving him anything, would you only satisfy the appetites of your wife and children with delicacies? Why, that is beastly!
Disciple: To work for others requires a good deal of money at times, and where shall I get that?
Swami Vivekananda: Why not do as much as lies within your power? Even if you cannot give to others for want of money, surely you can at least breathe into their ears some good words or impart some good instruction, can't you? Or does that also require money?
Disciple: Yes, sir, that I can do.
Swami Vivekananda: But saying, "I can", won't do. Show me through action what you can do, and then only I shall know that your coming to me is turned to some good account. Get up, and put your shoulders to the wheel — how long is this life for? As you have come into this world, leave some mark behind. Otherwise, where is the difference between you and the trees and stones? They, too, come into existence, decay and die. If you like to be born and to die like them, you are at liberty to do so. Show me by your actions that your reading the Vedanta has been fruitful of the highest good. Go and tell all, "In every one of you lies that Eternal Power", and try to wake It up. What will you do with individual salvation? That is sheer selfishness. Throw aside your meditation, throw away your salvation and such things! Put your whole heart and soul in the work to which I have consecrated myself.
With bated breath the disciple heard these inspiring words, and Swamiji went on with his usual fire and eloquence.
Swami Vivekananda: First of all, make the soil ready, and thousands of Vivekanandas will in time be born into this world to deliver lectures on religion. You needn't worry yourself about that! Don't you see why I am starting orphanages, famine-relief works, etc.? Don't you see how Sister Nivedita, a British lady, has learnt to serve Indians so well, by doing even menial work for them? And can't you, being Indians, similarly serve your own fellow-countrymen? Go, all of you, wherever there is an outbreak of plague or famine, or wherever the people are in distress, and mitigate their sufferings. At the most you may die in the attempt — what of that? How many like you are being born and dying like worms every day? What difference does that make to the world at large? Die you must, but have a great ideal to die for, and it is better to die with a great ideal in life. Preach this ideal from door to door, and you will yourselves be benefited by it at the same time that you are doing good to your country. On you lie the future hopes of our country. I feel extreme pain to see you leading a life of inaction. Set yourselves to work — to work! Do not tarry — the time of death is approaching day by day! Do not sit idle, thinking that everything will be done in time, later on! Mind — nothing will be done that way!
-(From complete works of swami vivekananda volume 5)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
protection, His justice, His wisdom, His mercy, His Love,
and His omnipresence....To be fit for Self-realization,
man must be fearless.
(Paramahansa Yogananda, `God Talks With Arjuna--The Bhagavad Gita')
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and everyday he scanned
the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.
Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of
driftwood to protect himself from the elements and to store his few
One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little
hut in flames with smoke rolling up to the sky.
The worst had happened! Everything was lost!
He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger: "God, how could you
do this to me?" he cried.
Early the next day he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was
approaching the island. It had come to rescue him.
"How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers.
"We saw your smoke signal!" they replied.
Moral of the story:
It's easy to get discouraged when things are going bad, but we
shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the
midst of pain and suffering.
Remember that the next time your little hut seems to be burning to the
ground: it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.
You may want to consider passing this on … because you never know who
feels like their hut is on fire today!
"Unselfishness is more paying, only people have not the patience to
practice it. It is more paying from the point of view of health also."
CW I p.33.Complete works of Swami Vivekananda.Volume I.
"Can anyone get
liberation, my child, unless He Himself removes shackles? Have deep faith
in God. Look upon the Master as your refuge, even as children regard their
TN348.Swami Tapasyananda and
Swami Nikhilananda. Sri Sarada Devi, the Holy Mother;
Life and Conversations. Madras:
Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1977.
Monday, January 12, 2009
After the birth of one or two children, husband and wife should live as brother and sister and talk only of God. Then the minds of both will be drawn to God, and the wife will be a help to the husband on the path of spirituality. None can taste divine bliss without giving up his animal feeling.
- from "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna"