Ramakrishna Mission, Singapore - Nirvana Magazine Issue 109 (Apr 2021 to Jun 2021)

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In this Issue . . . A few words about us …………………………………………1 Pearls of Wisdom ................................................. 2 President's Page ................................................... 3 Karma and our Spiritual life - II Swami Samachittananda ............................ 4 Leaf of Harmony ………………………………….…………….9 The Stalwarts of our Order-IV Swami Kalyanananda .............................. 10 C Rajagopalachari on Sri Ramakrishna ............................... .... 11 Satyendra Nath Bose on Swami Vivekananda ............................ 12 Birthdays of the Direct Disciples of Sri Ramakrishna ..................................... 13 Practical Spirituality Swami Lokeswarananda ............................14 Vedanta Art ....................................................... 16 News and Notes ................................................. 17

A few words about us . . . "Order of Sri Ramakrishna" It was Swami Vivekananda who gave a name “The Mother of the Order” to the Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi. In 1897, on the 1st of May, Swami Vivekananda called a meeting of the monks and devotees to start an organisation in the name of Sri Ramakrishna and declared Holy Mother as the ‘Mother of the future Order”. The renunciation of Sri Sarada Devi can be compared only with that of Sri Ramakrishna. Before passing away Sri Ramakrishna distributed ochre cloths to eleven of his disciples who took monastic vows later. After receiving the cloths, Sri Ramakrishna told them to go out and beg their food. The disciples first went to Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi. She gave one rupee to them. This looks like Mother Lakshmi Herself giving spiritual and material wealth to Her future Sangha (order of monks). One rupee also is called sixteen Annas (another way of counting one hundred paisa which makes a rupee). Sixteen Annas also signifies perfect hundred percent colloquially. As if Mother gave her hundred percent blessings to her children. The Order had started with the blessings of the greatest Godman ever born and the blessings of the Mother of the Universe. Swami Vivekananda had declared that this Order will serve the humanity for the next 1500 years to come, just the way the great Buddha had declared about his Sangha(Order). 1

Pearls of wisdom ‘Who is a man?’ TÀvad eva hi puruÚo yÀvad antaḥkaraòaã tadīyaã kÀryÀkÀryaviÚayavivekayogyaã, tad ayogyatve naÚáa eva puruÚo bhavati (Ādi ŚankarÀcarya's commentary on Bhagavad GītÀ, Chapter II. Verse 63)

Translation Man is fit to be called man so long as his mindset is capable of discriminating between what should and what should not be done. In absence of this trait, he is unworthy of his manhood.

Note by the Editor Moral and spiritual values make real difference between the man and the animal. Human beings have all the traits of the animals. Eating, sleeping, to be afraid and the basic instincts which are common for all the living beings. Human being is blessed with the intellect which helps to control the instinct or the animal nature. To discriminate between good and bad, right and wrong is a typical human trait. In modern language we can say that all the animals including human being are born with the software which they cannot go beyond. But human being can update and edit the software. This capacity of discrimination has made the man capable even to realize God or his true nature.


President's Page Study of the Scriptures Whatever we do has a purpose. Nobody does anything without a purpose. People read books or watch TV for passing time or for entertainment or to learn something. Why do we read scriptures? Reading scriptures as a ritual without much interest in the meaning of the scriptures is a good activity which is not beneficial. Reading scriptures from the grammar point of view, is more like studying the language than studying scripture. Reading scripture and using it to show one’s scholarship; is self-aggrandisement. This attitude is not conducive for spiritual progress. Adi Shankaracharya writes in his book ‘Vivekachudamani’ (verse 58): “Loud speech consisting of a shower of words, the skill in expounding the Scriptures, and likewise erudition - these merely bring on a little personal enjoyment to the scholar, but are no good for Liberation.” Reading scriptures and using its knowledge for worldly purposes. People see management ideas or hints on economics and politics is good from utilitarian point of view but is not used for the highest purpose for which the scriptures are written. Reading scriptures and experiencing that the Lord is speaking to me. The words of the scriptures are directed towards Me, for my spiritual progress is the greatest way of studying scriptures. That which increases our love towards God and disinterestedness towards the world; breaking the bondage of ignorance and paving the path for liberation is the highest use of studying scriptures. 3


Karma and our Spiritual life - II Swami Samachittananda

(Continued from the previous issue…)

We must have a combined approach. The mixture of Jnana and Bhakti, knowledge, and devotion. That is what Sri Ramakrishna used to say as ‘Jnana-mishra bhakti’, devotion coupled with knowledge. Why are we devoted to Sri Ramakrishna? Are we devoted to someone who was born in 1836 and passed away in 1886? The devotees of Sri Krishna and Sri Rama may not even know when they were born. It is not the historical personality who is the object of our devotion. Why do we worship and keep repeating his name? The spiritually evolved generation admires and worships the principle in a form of a saint or a prophet or an Incarnation. We do not have a single song, single hymn, where the physical appearance of Sri Ramakrishna is described. Sometimes out of devotion a devotee may say, “Oh! you have a beautiful smile on Lotus (bhakti yoga) your face” etc. But there is no gross expression about his physical body. When we say Sri Ramakrishna is our ideal, what is it about him that you like and how can He be your ideal? It is not his physical form, but it is the qualities He possessed and principles he represented for realizing God. Why do we worship him? Because he realized those Principles. 4

While measuring the speed of light, how do you explain what is light? Is it a flow of particles or flow of waves or energy? It is somewhat similar to a hi-speed train passed through the platform. You heard the sound but could not see the details. If you want to see the details of a running train, you either ride the train, or you travel along with the train on a parallel track in another train with the same speed. That means, until you become light or travel at the same speed, you cannot understand what light is. That is what our scriptures also say about Atman or Brahman. Brahmavid Brahmaiva Bhavati. To know Brahman is to become Brahman. Once you know the truth, the Atman or the Brahman, you become that. That is why it is said, when you get information, you may alter it, or you may even lose it. But once you know something, it becomes part of your psyche. That is why, we need to strive for knowledge. Knowledge is eternal, information is temporary or for survival. It is this reason when Sri Ramakrishna wanted to do Sadhana of Christianity, he became Christian. When he wanted to do Rising Sun (jnana yoga) sadhana of Islam, he became a Muslim. Until you become that, you cannot know that. You cannot understand God by mere study. We must have love and identification, then only we can know God. These love and identification are like that of mother and her child or the lover and his/her beloved. This is Bhakti or devotion. In the very first few pages of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Master Mahashaya writes that “is this ‘knowledge of God’ like Maths or Science, which can be taught by one person 5

to another?”. For example, how music is taught? A teacher can sing a tone which the student has to bring out from his/her voice. No teacher can go inside and make that sound. No knowledge can come from outside. From outside only stimulus can be given. Only the help or assistance can be given from outside. The knowledge must come from within. Take any subject. For example, take dance. The teacher can dance and show the moves, but the student must learn how to do it, from within. There is no way that a teacher can go inside the student and make the student dance. Music is abstract, all kinds of arts are abstract. As Sri Ramakrishna says, one who can sing well, can play an instrument well, or can dance well, can realize God much faster if he/she tries. Because if one can understand music which is so abstract, then one can also understand the most abstract which is God Himself. If you cannot conceive any abstract idea, then you cannot conceive the concept of God. Once, one Swami was explaining Vedanta to his student. The student asked for a concrete example for his understanding, telling “Can you please give me a concrete example?”. The Swami asked the student to get out of the class. When asked the reason the Swami told, “Why do you always need a concrete example? Why can’t you understand the abstract? One who cannot understand abstract, the spiritual path is not for him or her”. There are many emotions and experiences in the world which we can experience but we cannot express. Say gravitational force, for example. It cannot be seen, but only felt. You can see an apple falling on the ground, but you cannot see the gravitational force which is the real cause of falling. We are dealing with abstract things always in our lives on day-to-day 6

basis. Emotions are abstract. Some tastes are abstract. One can feel them, but vocabulary falls short to express them. So, the quality of our Karma will improve if we can improve the cause of the karma. Desire is the real cause behind our doing karma. Now if we want to get rid of Karma, you get rid of desires. To get rid of desires, you must get rid of ignorance. You cannot start with desire or you cannot forcefully reduce the Karma. The teaching is, to do Nishkama Karma or the selfless work. Which eventually will help us to reduce the ignorance and thereby reduce desires and finally reduce our karma. This is the way of Karma-Yoga or the Yoga of actions. There is another way, the path of knowledge to reduce karma. What the philosophy says is this, say there is a mobile phone and you like it so much that you are desirous of having this mobile phone. But when you come to know that it is a dummy phone, immediately your desire to get that phone vanishes. Until and unless we understand the meaninglessness of that object, till then the desire for that object will not go. This is the difference between Vairagya(dispassion) and Ghrina(hatred). So, the hatred for an object is not dispassion. Desire gets killed by the knowledge of the object of desire as unread. This is the understanding. You do not need to understand and meditate on every object to realise its meaninglessness. In one stroke you can remove everything that is a part of this objective world. 7

Everything that we desire for, exists only in our waking state. This world does not exist if we are not in our waking state. This world does not exist in our dream or deep sleep state. That means, the objective world does not have an uninterrupted continuous existence. So, the scriptures says that why don’t you desire for a state of existence which is undivided? Even the birth and the death cannot divide that existence. We do not need to know since when we exist. Let us just know that ‘I exist’. It is our identification with the body, gives us the sense of time or our fear of getting extinct. When I am in deep sleep, my identity, the place, the time etc., everything becomes annihilated. None of them remain, but ‘I’ remain, I exist even in deep sleep. This is the goal of Religion. This is called Jnana Yoga. Our true existence is what God is. When a raindrop falls in the ocean, it loses its individuality, but it gets back its real identity. It does not remain a single drop anymore after it falls in the ocean. We are individual droplets journeying towards our real existence, the Brahman. Once we meet the ocean, we will lose our individuality, but we will get back our real identity. This is whole of religion and philosophy. All our actions should be done to reach this goal which is called Moksha or Mukti, Salvation or liberation. 8

Leaf of Harmony

Through high philosophy or low, through the most exalted mythology or the grossest, through the most refined ritualism or arrant fetishism, every sect, every soul, every nation, every religion, consciously or unconsciously, is struggling upward, towards God; every vision of truth that man has, is a vison of Him and of none else. Suppose we all go with vessels in our hands to fetch water from a lake. One has a cup, another a jar, another a bucket and so forth, and we all fill our vessels. The water in each case naturally takes a form of the vessel carried by each of us. He who brought the cup has the water in form of a cup; he who brought the jar – his water is in the shape of a jar, and so forth; but in every case, water, and nothing but water, is in the vessel. So it is in the case of Religion; our minds are like these vessels, and each one of us is trying to arrive at the realisation of God. God is like that water filling these different vessels, and in each vessel the vison of God comes in the form of the vessel. Yet, He is One. He is God in every case. This is the only recognition of universality that we can get. -

Swami Vivekananda

(Ref. The complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol.2, P.375)


The Stalwarts of our Order - IV Swami Kalyanananda This beloved disciple of Swami Vivekananda belonged to that band of noble souls of the Ramakrishna Order who had made the great ideal ‘Service to man is service to God’ their very life breath, and who laid down their lives for its practice and success. His name will ever shine brightly in the annals of dedicated service. (1874-1937)

Swami Kalyanananda joined the monastery founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1898. One day Swami Vivekananda asked him, ‘Well, suppose I need some money, and for that I sell you off as a tea-garden coolie. Will you be ready for that?’ Young Dakshinaranjan (pre-monastic name of Swami Kalyanananda), gladly and without any hesitation, expressed his consent. Swami Vivekananda dedicated Dakshinaranjan not as a coolie of any tea garden, but for the service of humanity. Today’s Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama at Kankhal, Haridwar in India is a model institution which bears the testimony of the dedicated life of continuous service of Swami Kalyanananda. (Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama, Kankhal, Haridwar as in 1901 when it was founded.)


C Rajagopalachari on Sri Ramakrishna (C Rajagopalachari is the former Governor General soon after India became a Republic in 1950)

It is no exaggeration to call Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings as Upanishad. A sage like the Rishis of old was born in our age. This was Ramakrishna Paramahamsa… Learned men with a command of language can do and write excellent essays and discourses. But these writings lack true life. Sri Ramakrishna was a mahatma who saw God in his heart and in all things in the world outside.

He saw Him in all things with the same certainty and strength of feeling with which we see each other,,, There is a peculiar power in the words of those who lead a godly life. They have a force which the exhortations of merely learned and intellectual men do not have. When a maharsi talks, it is his whole life that speaks through him, not mere intellect. From: Sri Ramakrishna Upanishad by Rajagopalachari, Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, p.II 11

Satyendra Nath Bose on Swami Vivekananda (Satyendra Nath Bose FRS was an Indian mathematician and physicist specialising in theoretical physics. He is best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, collaborating with Albert Einstein in developing the foundation for Bose–Einstein statistics and the theory of the Bose–Einstein condensate)

The immeasurable force having its source within him had ceaselessly strived to have emanation. Throughout his life this irrepressible force had moved him around the world. And wherever he went, people who had his contact could experience this life-force and were, cons eque ntly, rejuv enat ed. There hardly was anyone more capable than him to arouse the people of our country from their deep illusory slumber…it was our misfortune that like the great Vedantist Sankaracharya, he had an early demise. But as the Sankaracharya had moved around India, so also was the Swami during the nineteenth century. From: Vivekananda O Samakalin Bharatavarsa, Vol.7, pp.379-80. 12

Birthdays of the Direct Disciples of Sri Ramakrishna (During this quarter we observed birthday of the following direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. These small note is our humble and devotional tribute to him)

Swami Yogananda A real teacher practices what he preaches. People do not trust him if his speech and actions do not coincide. Sri Ramakrishna used to tell his disciples to test him as money changers test their coins. Once Jogin (pre-monastic name of Swami Yogananda) decided to stay overnight at Dakshineswar with intention of serving Sri Ramakrishna if necessity arises. After dinner Sri Ramakrishna went to bed on his couch whereas Jogin slept on the mattress on the floor. Jogin was a light sleeper. At midnight he woke up and found that Sri Ramakrishna was not in his bed. A terrible suspicion gripped in his mind: “Has Sri Ramakrishna gone to be with his wife? Can it be possible that his actions are contrary to his teachings?” Determined to find the truth Jogin hide himself and kept on looking at the door of the quarter where holy Mother used to stay. Suddenly the heard clattering of slippers coming from the other side. Sri Ramakrishna came closer and found Jogin waiting for something at the dead of night. Jogin hung his face in shame for doubting his Guru. Sri Ramakrishna understood the state of mind of his disciple. Instead of taking offence, Sri Ramakrishna assured Jogin: “well, you are quite right – you must examine a holy man by day and by night before believing in him.” 13

Practical Spirituality Swami Lokeswarananda (We

are grateful to Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata, India for allowing us to publish this article by Swami Lokeswaranandaji Maharaj, the former Secretary of the institute from his celebrated book ‘Practical spirituality’)

BEING AND DOING A good man is good because he has to be good, because he feels he cannot be otherwise. If a man is good because of some fear of some superior power, visible or invisible, then goodness is something not natural to him but something which circumstances over which he has no control have imposed on him. Or it may be, he is good because he expects by being good, he will get some reward which he cannot otherwise get. This too is an artificial goodness, a goodness assumed with a view to gaining some end which is otherwise beyond his reach. A truly good man is good not because of any fear of punishment or any hope of reward, but it is his nature to be good and he just cannot help being good. If this is the test of a good man, how many among those who pass as good men and women in society answer to that description? A man is often judged by the deeds he does. It is doubtful if this is a correct criterion always. He may do good deeds from an ulterior motive which other cannot detect and perhaps he himself is not yet conscious of. Or it is even possible that in the beginning he is moved entirely by an altruistic motive, but as he goes on, his self-interest asserts itself and ultimately it may turn out that in whatever he does the motive is selfish. The thin coating of goodness with which he began soon gives way to the pressure of self-interest which, so long dormant, has now become irresistible. This is true of most people engaged in social 14

work. Some are blatantly selfish; whatever good work they do is only a cloak to hide their real motive of gaining power, political or otherwise. It is only a means to an end which, notwithstanding appearances, is by no means good. Take for instance the case of an individual or an organization spending money in charity with the object of popularizing a particular religious creed or dogma. Worse still is the case in which there is an attempt to impose a particular philosophy on a people under a pretext of giving them aid when they are in difficulty. Can this be justified? But this is very likely to happen and this in fact is happening in many places. The criterion is the motive, but the motive cannot be good if the donor, whether an individual or an organization, is bad. A wicked man trying to do good to others is likely to do more harm than good by the very manner in which he will function. Such a man may give some material help, but in doing so, he may cause much moral damage. Perhaps he will hurt the self-respect of the people he is helping; he may be discriminatory in his dealings with them; he may even exploit them for selfish ends. A bad man may have flickering of goodness now and then, but there is every possibility that his evil propensities will prevail in the end. It is, therefore, risky to judge a man by what he does. The criterion should be what sort of man he is. Being is always more important than doing. A good man may not do much social work, yet his very presence has an elevating influence upon others. The good he does is silent and unobtrusive; it is also lasting. The person who bustles about giving the impression that he is doing much may not be doing much that is good. A good man need not do much, but whatever he does becomes the source of much good because he is goodness itself. 15

Vedanta Art

A sketch by Mr. Prasenjit Sengupta of Kolkata, India


News & Notes Gita Jayanti Singapore (HEB) online On 18th April 2021, Swami Samachittananda participated in the inaugural programme of Gita Jayanti Singapore (HEB) online. He spoke on ‘Glory and Significance of Bhagavad Gita’.

Sri Rama Navami On Wednesday, 21st April 2021, Sri Rama Navami, (the birthday of Sri Rama) was celebrated from 6.15pm to 8.30pm with special puja, bhajans and Sri Ramanam Sankirtanam. Keeping COVID-19 regulations in mind only 50 people were allowed to attend the programme in the temple and about 72 people attended via Facebook live streaming. Prasad was distributed in hand. 17

Sri Shankaracharya Jayanti Sri Shankaracharya Jayanti was celebrated on Monday, 17 May 2021, following the restrictions of the present COVID 19 crisis. The programme included special worship of Sri Shanakaracharya, singing of hymns and devotional songs. A 20 minutes talk also was played on this occasion about the life and teachings of Adi Shanakara and his four principal disciples. All the audios were played. No live singing was done as it is not allowed. Devotees were encouraged to watch and hear the programme via Facebook live streaming. We are thankful to the devotees that all of them cooperated. Programme was conducted smoothly. About 45 devotees participated online. th

Sri Buddha Purnima Buddha Purnima was celebrated on Monday, 26th May 2021, following the restrictions of the present COVID 19 crisis. The programme included special worship of Lord Buddha, singing of hymns and devotional songs. A 20 minutes reading audio also was played on this occasion about the life and teachings of Lord Buddha. All the audios were played. No live singing was 18

done as it is not allowed. Devotees were encouraged to watch and hear the programme via Facebook live streaming. We are thankful to the devotees that all of them cooperated. Programme was conducted smoothly. About 40 devotees participated online.

Swami Shivamayanandaji Maharaj Swami Shivamayanandaji Maharaj, one of the Vice-Presidents of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission passed away on 11th of June 2021 due to COVID19 Pneumonia. In connection with his Mahasamadhi, on 23rd of this month we had special puja of Sri Ramakrishna in the morning along with devotional songs and reading from his inspiring life.

Because of COVID - 19 situation we could only invite devotees who had taken initiation from him during his last and only visit to Singapore in December 2017. Around 35 devotees participated in the programme and 50 watched the programme on Facebook live streaming. Many devotees came for the evening prayer also. After prayer we played bhajans and read from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Those who were present were given prasad in hand. 19

International Day of Yoga 2021 On 20th June 2021, we celebrated International Day of Yoga from 9.30 am to 11.30 am. Virtually and physically total around 50 Yoga enthusiasts attended the event. Those present were given a t-shirt, some hygiene products and a mask to mark the event. The programme included a speech by Swami Samachittananda and demonstration and explanations of Yoga Asanas by the team of Nikam Guruji Yoga Kutir. The programme was to support the initiative by Indian High Commission in Singapore. This year it marked 75th Independence Day of India.

Welfare Services (April-June 2021) During this period, total 27 families were given Groceries required for a month; and cooked food, snack items & drinks were distributed to Migrant Workers at different work sites.


Schedule of Religious Classes 5.00 pm

6.00 pm

Every Sunday Discourse on “Yoga Sutras" in English by Swami Satyalokananda Venue: via Zoom Discourse on "Bhagavad Gita and our Spiritual Life" in English by Swami Samachittananda Venue: via Zoom

For both the above online classes, please login using the below link and passcode Link : https://tinyurl.com/RKMZoom

Passcode : 179179

(Requesting everyone to login at least 5 mins before the class starts)

Programmes for Jul-Sep' 2021 Ekadashi (Sri Ramnam Sankirtan) ............................................. Monday, 05th July Ekadashi (Sri Ramnam Sankirtan) ............................................. Tuesday, 20th July Guru Purnima ......................................................................... Saturday, 24th July


Ekadashi (Sri Ramnam Sankirtan) .................................. Wednesday, 04th August Swami Ramakrishnananda Jayanti ....................................... Friday, 06th August Ekadashi (Sri Ramnam Sankirtan) .................................. Wednesday, 18th August Swami Niranjanananda Jayanti .......................................... Sunday, 22nd August Sri Krishna Janmashtami ................................................... Monday, 30th August


Ekadashi (Sri Ramnam Sankirtan) ............................... Thursday, 02nd September Swami Advaitananda Jayanti ...................................... Monday, 06th September Ekadashi (Sri Ramnam Sankirtan) ............................... Thursday, 16th September Swami Abhedananda Jayanti .................................... Thursday, 30th September

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