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ISSUE No. 68 JAN-MAR 2011

RAMAKRISHNA MISSION SINGAPORE MICA (P) 014/09/2010 ISSN0218-7183


State of Spiritual enlightenment or illumination. Nirvana releases humans from the cycle of birth, suffering, death and all forms of worldly bondage.

this issue...

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ndia’s Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has hailed him as “one of our greatest spiritual leaders.” Dr Achuthan dives deep into the activities, speeches and writings of Swami Vivekananda to discover that he was a peerless patriot who inspired the first generation of India’s leaders as well as the entire nation from Kashmir to Kerala (p.3) When young children celebrate, one expects to see ice-cream and lollipops. But not so with the children of our Sarada Kindergarten. The six year-olds were more at home with the glories of Nature and the problem of Environment, a topic on which heads of governments tear each other apart at international conferences. Other problems highlighted at their Graduation Ceremony and Concert were Tsunami and the disappearing Rainforests. (p.8) We also reproduce here the text of one of the items the children presented, The Fire of Inamura, highlighting the sacrifice of one man which saved the lives of many from an approaching Tsunami. (p.13) A feather in the cap for the Singapore government and the International Olympic Committee. What better way to describe the spectacular performance of some 3600 young athletes from all over the world at the first ever Youth Olympic Games. (p 22) In the continuing series Ramayana, Bharata returns to Ayodhya and is absolutely shattered at the conspiracy of his mother Kaikeyi to put him on the throne instead of his elder brother Rama. (p 20). Sri Krishnan Temple, one of the oldest in Singapore, marked its 140th anniversary in a novel way. It organized a four-day exhibition on Beliefs and Religious Practices to bring Hinduism nearer to the majority non-Hindus.(p 24) Edited and Published by Swami Muktirupananda, President, Ramakrishna Mission, 179 Bartley Road, Singapore 539784 Tel: 6288 9077 Fax: 6288 5798. email: office@ramakrishna.org.sg, Website: www.ramakrishna.org.sg Print Production: VED Print Singapore Pte Ltd


Pearls of Wisdom Uddhava Gita

Translated by Swami Madhavananda

Śrī bhagavān uvāca: Yatkarmabhiryattapasā jnānavairagyatasca yat Yogena dānadharmena śreyobhiritatairapi Sarvam madbhaktiyogena madbhakto labhate’jjasā Swargāpavargam maddhāma kathamcidyati vāncati Na kimcitsādhavo dhira bhaktā hyekāntino mama Vāncantyapi mayā dattam kaivalyamapunarbhavam The Lord said: Whatever is acquired through works, austerities, knowledge, dispassion, Yoga, or charity, or through any other means of well-being, My devotee easily attains to it all through devotion to me – aye, even heaven, or liberation, or My abode, should he care to have it. (32-33) Those saintly persons who are of a steady mind and are devoted exclusively to Me, never desire absolute independence, even if I offer it to them. (34) (To be continued) Uddhava Gita, XV, 32-34

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Editorial

ARDHANARISHVARA Hindus have a wonderful concept of worshipping God as half-man and halfwoman, called Ardhanarishvara. Is it just a poetic fancy of people or does it have any rational basis? In this form Shiva’s left half is occupied by Devi. It tries to show Shiva and Devi are of equal importance. Devi represents creative power of God, power and its possessor are not different, it is like fire and its power of burning. It is also called Purusha (male) and Prakriti (female) by the Indian philosophers. The import behind this form is that God can be worshipped either as Father or Mother and both produce desired results. It is nothing but dogmatism to assert that God is only Father and not Mother or vice versa. To set aside such dogmatism the sages have put before devotees this unique form of God. Even in living beings we find the aspects of both male and female. An embryo contains half of the genes from mother and other half from father. A child reflects characteristics of both father and mother and not of a single parent. It inherits the strength as well weakness from both the parents. This bipolar nature of the world is depicted in the Chinese Tai-ji-tu diagram. Yin, the half dark side of the circle represents female negative energy. Yang, the other half of the circle shows male positive energy. Thus the whole circle is half male and half female. These two forces positive and negative issuing forth from One source, regulate this world. Particle physics also tells, electrons in an atom carry negative electric energy and protons positive electric energy. Our physical world is the playground of these bipolar energies. When we probe deeper the Hindu idea of Ardhanarishvara we find that it is neither strange nor bizarre. In our everyday life we face this polarity, duality. When we transcend this duality we see the whole, the non-dual Absolute. God is eternal consciousness, formless and beyond gender. As long as one is shackled by the idea of man or woman, God is also thought of either Father or Mother, depending on the matriarchal or patriarchal cultural upbringing.

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Vivekananda-2

The Patriot Saint of India

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Dr P. Achuthan

e have already seen that it was the warrior spirit in Swami Vivekananda, his manliness and majestic selfassurance which won for him such honorific titles as the Lion of Vedanta, the Prince among Monks, the Hindu Napoleon and so on. That, however, was only one aspect of his manysided personality. Another equally glorious and transparent one was his love for his motherland. His pure and peerless patriotism was a source of inspiration to the national leaders of the first generation like Tilak, Gandhiji, Nehru, Netaji Bose, Rajaji and others. No wonder, then that Swamiji is spoken of as the PatriotSaint of India, the Morning Star of Indian independence, the Prophet of Indian Independence etc. It is only natural for any Indian to feel that his motherland is his highest heaven. No doubt, that was how Swamiji also felt about her. However, it looked as if it was not just that kind of instinctive love; nor the poet’s or politician’s fitful patriotism. It was far deeper and more fundamental than even the humanistic love and sympathy and indignant resentment that Swamiji felt when he saw his poor, enslaved countrymen in deep distress, sorrow and misery. Sister

Nivedita recaptures that attitude of Swamiji in her inimitable, picturesque style, thus: “There was one thing, however, deep in the Master’s nature…. This was his love of his country…. The thought of India was to him like the air he breathed…. The queen of his adoration was his motherland. Like some delicately-poised bell, thrilled and vibrated by every sound that falls upon it, was his heart to all that concerned her. Not a sob was heard within her shores that did not find in him a responsive echo. There was no cry of fear, no tremor of weakness, no shrinking from mortification that he had not known and understood. He was hard on her sins, unsparing on her want of worldly wisdom….” (1) This burning concern for the poor, suffering millions of Indians finds its echoes, loud and clear, in his Letters and Lectures. However the basic inspiration for Swamiji’s patriotism came from his vision of an Immortal India, an India sustained by her age-old religio-spiritual culture which was, as it were, her heart-beat and lifebreath. He looked upon India as the punya-bhoomi of the whole world, the blessed land that had given birth

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to god-men and world-teachers of religion and philosophy. It continued to be the holy land of men who readily renounced their all in their quest for God and so, it was the gateway to liberation for all the souls in bondage. This was the burden of Swamiji’s thoughts on India and the soul of his love for her.

anymore; for the infinite giant is rising to her feet”. (2) This prophetic utterance rings in our ears a bell whose sound is deeper and more far-reaching than that of the conventional patriotism we are familiar with. In fact, it has the true ring of goodwill and love reaching out to the whole of humanity spelt out again in his letter to the Hindus of Madras: “But one vision I see clear as life before me, that the ancient Mother has awakened once more, sitting on her throne – rejuvenated more glorious than even before. Proclaim Her to all the world with the voice of peace and benediction” (3)

What Swamiji succeeded in doing by means of his Letters and Lectures was to inspire the people by awakening in them the strong feeling that they were the proud inheritors of the priceless legacy of a civilisation and culture unique in the world. Political freedom and socio-economic progress for India in this context were not only useful but indispensable in so far as they would give the people the muchneeded opportunity to preserve and strengthen their spiritual heritage so that India would be ready more than ever before to fulfill her God-given mission of showing the Light Celestial to the world groping in darkness. It is in this light that Swamiji’s patriotic utterances and exhortations have to be understood and their significance appreciated.

From this, Swamiji’s thought becomes more than clear, that freedom for India is to be an event of jubilation for the whole world for the reason that free India will be a boon and a blessing to humanity as her only ambition will be to ensure and enhance peace and happiness everywhere. It is a fact that India is the only country in the world that has shown a passionate clinging to a religiospiritual way of life all through her long history in total disregard of both the allurements and privations in life. And among the great teachers of religion, it was given to Swamiji to explain with sweet reasonableness the reason for this partiality for religion and God which is our distinctive national characteristic. In a number of lectures, he reiterates in different words and phrases, the same idea that we have no choice in the matter

For example, let us take his Ramanad lecture where he was at his eloquent best: “ The longest night seems to be passing away, the sorest trouble seems to be coming to an end at last, the seeming corpse appears to be awaking…. She is awakening, this motherland of ours, from her deep long sleep. None can resist her anymore; never is she going to sleep

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as it is an inviolable law of life which we can violate only at our own peril. In his Ramnad lecture, swamiji almost gives a warning to the people in these words, “ But mark you, if you give up that spirituality, leaving it aside to go after the materializing civilisation of the West, the result will be that in three generations you will be an extinct race; because the backbone of the nation will be broken, the foundation upon which the national edifice has been built will be undermined, and the result will be annihilation all round”(4).

comes to form the harmony…. In India, religious life forms the centre, the keynote of the whole music of national life…. If you succeed in the attempt to throw off your religion and take up either politics, or society or any other things as your centre, as the vitality of your national life the result will be that you will become extinct. To prevent this you must make all and everything work through that vitality of religion. Let all your nerves vibrate through the backbone of your religion…. So every improvement in India requires first of all an upheaval in religion (5).

Again, in his Madras lecture, My Plan of Campaign, Swamiji continues to deal with the theme in the same manner, “I see that each nation, like each individual, has one theme in this life which is its centre, the principal note round which every other note

So then, for Swamiji, patriotism meant his deep love and sympathy for the destitute millions of India, the poor, the lowly and the lost and their redemption. But it meant also a great deal more and in a larger measure.

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It was his whole-hearted acceptance of her religion and spirituality as the only source of her national vitality and the sure foundation of her reconstruction. Therefore Swamiji’s lectures and letters were exhortations to the people of India to preserve their priceless spiritual culture at all costs and thus preserve their national identity and their uniqueness as a spiritual race. For example, Swamiji writes to his disciples in Madras, “Keep the motto before you – Elevation of the masses without injuring their religion..Can you raise them? Can you give them back their lost individuality without making them lose their innate spiritual nature?” (6).

way, in his Colombo address: “What is true of the individual is equally true of the race. Each race, similarly, has a peculiar bent… a peculiar mission to fulfill in the life of the world… Political greatness or military power is never the mission of our race; it never was and, mark my words, it never will be. But there has been the other mission given to us… The Hindu’s calm brain must pour out its own quota to give to the sum total of human progress. India’s gift to the world is the light spiritual…. Slow and silent, as the gentle dew that falls in the morning, unseen and unheard yet producing a most tremendous result, has been the work of this calm, patient, all suffering, spiritual race upon the world of thought.” (9)

He puts the same idea in a different way, as in this letter, “Until all the Hindu race becomes extinct… India can never be Europe until she dies”; “India will be raised, not with the power of the flesh, but with the power of the spirit…. with the flag of peace and love, the garb of the Sannyasin;….. say not that you are weak. The spirit is omnipotent”.(7)

In words that wing their way into the hearts of men, Swamiji draws the picture of contrast between how the other races and India have given lifegiving ideas and thoughts to the world. The others have done it “with the blast of war trumpets and with the march of embattled cohorts,” “soaked in a deluge of blood; the blood of millions of our fellow-beings”, “followed by the groans of millions by the wails of orphans, by the tears of widows”…. but India has for thousands of years peacefully existed… even from her but every word has been spoken with a blessing behind it peace before it.”(9)

Again with a note of warning, “ India is immortal as long as she continues her search for God. But if she takes to politics and social conflict she will die”. Now shifting the focus a little, Swamiji is equally emphatic in pointing out that adherence to a religio-spiritual way of life is not merely for India’s survival as a nation and a race but for the fulfillment of our mission to the world as well. He puts the case a forceful yet winsome

In this context, therefore, Swamiji’s call to the nation is to fulfill her

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mission to the world by distributing her cultural wealth to the spiritually poor and needy people of the world:

priest, fraud, force and competition its ceremonies and the human soul its sacrifice. Such a thing can never be.” (12).

“The whole world requires Light. It is expectant ! India alone has that Light, not in magic mummeries and charlatanism but in the teaching of the glories of the spirit of real religion - of the highest spiritual truth. That is why the Lord has preserved the race through all the vicissitudes unto the present day. Now the time has come”.(10)

No doubt, it is the terrifying picture of a cannibal island or of a forest of wild animals that Swamiji has painted here. But when one sees the picture of free India where the people behave like a rootless race, one wonders whether Swamiji’s vision of an Immortal India will ever be realised. Only time can tell, one way or the other. Jai Ramakrishna!

Swamiji speaks out his idea again in explicit terms, “ It is not only that we must revive our own country -- that is a small matter, I am an imaginative man --- and my idea is the conquest of the whole world by the Hindu race… we also have been great conquerors… the conquest of religion and of spiritualits. Once more the world must be conquered by India… Up, India, and conquer the world with your spirituality,” (11)

References 1. The Master as I saw Him: Udbodhan Office Calcutta, 1987; Pg 40-41 2 Lectures from Colombo to Almora: Advaita Ashrama Kolkata, 2006 P 50 3 Letters of Swami Vivekananda: Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, 2007,P 169 4 Lectures from Colombo to Almora:Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, 2007, P58 – 59 (5)Ibid, Pp 136–137

Swamiji describes the plight of the world in the event of India failing to fulfill her God-ordained mission by going the Western way and thereby inviting her own death.

6 Letters of Swami Vivekananda: Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, 2007, P64 (7) Ibid, Pp164; P 168 8 Lectures from Colombo to Almora: Advaita Ashrama Pp 7-9 (9) Ibid , Pp 4-5

“Shall India die? Then from the world all spirituality will be extinct, all moral perfection will be extinct, all sweet souled sympathy for religion will be extinct, all ideality will be extinct and in its place will reign the duality of lust and luxury as the male and female deities, with money as its

10 Letters of Swami Vivekananda, P136 11 Lectures from Colombo to Almora Pp 202 -203 12 Letters of Swami Vivekananda, P 165

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FOCUS ON NATURE

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Listen to the sound of Nature’s symphony Making pretty music for you and me Thus goes the Nature’s Symphony

other Nature, her bounty and blessings, as well as her mindless desolation, were very much in focus during the eighteenth graduation ceremony and Annual Concert of Sarada Kindergarten held on 9 October 2010. There were also sharp reminders of how mankind has tended to abuse these blessings of Nature without a thought for the dire consequences for future generations.

the curse of deforestation in many parts of the world. This is a scourge affecting the lives of millions of people in many countries, particularly in Asia, Africa and South America. The item depicted how a beautiful village, lush with trees and plants, was cut down by greedy men looking for quick profits. The resulting floods and disasters opened the eyes of the people who quickly restored the flora and fauna and brought back sunshine and happiness to the people. On the ground the scenario may not be that simple, but children, naturally, tend to be more optimistic.

The Last Rainforest, one of the items pithily scripted and presented with considerable realism, highlighted

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Another environmental disaster the children and their hard-working teachers highlighted was the Tsunami, now a dreaded word in Asia reviving memories of the 2004 monster Indian Ocean Tsunami which took a toll of 230,000 lives and destroyed vast swathes of property.. The children enacted a true story of a Japanese village of 90 houses and 400 people who had just brought in a bumper crop and was waiting for the night to pass to begin celebrations. But Nature willed otherwise and instead of a restful night, they had to cope with a huge Tsunami. The village chief and his friends tried to warn the villagers with the help of traditional lanterns and other means about the oncoming disaster urging them to assemble near his house which was on high ground. But all communications failed. As a last

resort, much to the surprise of his friends, Mr Gohei collects all the rice sheaves harvested earlier and sets fire to them. The stratagem worked, the villagers fearing that their chief’s house was on fire, rushed there to help, only to find they have been saved from a disaster. There was much appreciation for the chief‘s spirit of sacrifice and love for fellow human beings, indeed a lesson for all.All the items of the day were not so heavy. There were light moments when the children presented a medley of songs and also a Tamil skit. Perhaps with the advantage of dress rehearsals, the six-year olds betrayed no nervousness as they appeared on the huge stage with its ultra-modern acoustics and a record

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audience at the Bartley Christian Church, adjacent to the Mission, where this year’s function was held. The Sarada Hall, the venue of all functions till 2009, with its very limited facilities, has become inadequate for the growing number of children, their parents and well-wishers. This year’s function was attended by 680 parents and well-wishers of the 167 children who graduated –350 more than the number Sarada Hall can accommodate. identifying and solving problems – Action Research by Children. The other is that our teachers modify our pedagogical approach from direct teaching to facilitation. Swami Muktirupananda also noted that three of Sarada teachers who have been awarded the MOE Teaching Award have commenced their Degree course in Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (with Management at SIM).

Addressing the audience, Swami Muktirupananda, President of the Ramakrishna Mission, referred to the steady progress Sarada has been making, not just in the number of students, but on the qualitative side. In 2009, he pointed out, the Kindergarten was the finalist in the MOE-AECES (Ministry of EducationAssociation of Early Childhood Educators, Singapore) Awards for:Outstanding Teacher Award

On the administrative side, the KG streamlined its procedures. Thus in 2010 On-Line Public Registration System was introduced which enabled future parents to apply for admission without having to queue overnight. For a total of 144 nursery seats, there were 383 applications reflecting a continuous demand for nursery places.

a) Outstanding teacher Award b) Best Practice Award for Learning Centre c) Kindergarten Innovation Award In 2010, he said, “We have been shortlisted for the above MOEAECES Awards, the final results of which will be announced in November.”

In his address, the Guest of Honour, Mr Seah Kian Peng, Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC, emphasized the importance of preschool education which prepared

He pointed out that Sarada’s 2010 Innovation Project is entitled: Children in Action. This project focuses on two areas of study. One involves children

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young children for the formal schooling ahead. In particular he noted the qualities of care and compassion the children developed during their two years at Kindergarten. For example, in 2009 the children of Sarada raised $1000 through the auction of their paintings and artwork, while the K2 children raised $5375 through “T-shirt” auction. Thus a sum of $7500 was donated to the Society of Physically Disabled (SPD). Apart from the children, TAPAS (Teachers and Parents Association of Sarada) also contributed to this effort. Mr Seah said the Sarada Kindergarten had “come a long way “Since it started in 1993 in the multi-purpose Sarada Hall with an enrolment of 126. “Today there are some 505 students of whom 167 are graduating,” he added.

However, he was glad to note Sarada’s philosophy of small groups and holistic learning. “More importantly, I admire the Kindergarten’s efforts to cater to the talents and gifts of each child, giving him or her the confidence and peace of mind to learn in his own way.” Mr Seah concluded by saying, “A big thank you also go to all the teachers for imbuing these values and lessons to the children. I hope these values will stay with the children as they continue to grow.” He then presented Certificates to all the 167 graduates.

He cautioned parents against competition in schools often leading to cramming, hectoring and hothousing . These lead to children who are miserable, who hate school and who regard tests and exams as things to be feared.

Sarada Kindergarten has bagged the following awards for this year (2010) DISTINCTION for Innovation MERIT for outstanding Kindergarten Teacher(Mrs V. Archana) MERIT for Good Practices These awards are jointly presented by MOE(Ministry of Education) and AECES(Association of Early Childhood Educators Singapore)

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Nature’s Symphony Listen to the sound of Nature’s symphony, Making pretty music for you and me Bees are buzzing, the wind gives a howl, birds are singing, there’s hoot from the owl. Listen to the sounds of Nature’s symphony, Making pretty music for you and me. Crickets chirp a quiet tune, cicada in the trees, Together Nature’s song is a simple melody. Listen to the sound of Nature’s symphony, Making pretty music for you and me. Snakes hiss and rattle, thunder is a timpani, Humming words hum a tune. Nature’s symphony. Listen to the sound of Nature’s symphony, Making pretty music for you and me.

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ne of the most thought=provoking items presented at the KG concert was the Fire of Inamura, a Musical and Dance Skit. Here we bring you the full text of

the drama. Adapted from the puppet play – The Fire of Inamura (Rice Sheaves) Cast: Gohei – village Chief Taro – Gohei’s son Jiro – Taro’s Friend Ume – Taro’s Friend

Direction: Ms Kavetha Keishnan

(Jiro and Ume on stage holding their basket of lanterns looking around) (The two walks to the front of stage, while narration is going on) Narration: This is our village. It has about 400 people in 90 houses and we live on farming and fishing. Along the shoreline there are dozens of houses. Fields spreads all around the houses. From the centre of the village, a small path leads to a hill, where our village chief, Gohei’s house and the rice fields are located. Village men: Hi Jiro. Hi Ume. You are working very hard for the harvest festival. Jiro & Ume: Yes, we are very busy. We’re sure everyone is going to have a great time tomorrow. (Taro starts walking in from right, holding lanterns, ) Village men: We are looking forward to it, too. Now we better get going. We have lots to do! (Villagers walk of the stage from the back curtain and Taro walks closer to Jiro and Ume, puts the lanterns down and wipes his forehead) Jiro & Ume: Hey, Taro, there you are! Come let’s finish hanging up these

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lanterns. (All three will be hanging up the lanterns) Narration: This is a true story that took place in our village many years ago. On that year, we had a big harvest and we were very happy. We were looking forward to the harvest festival. One day before the festival, the weather was hot and humid. When we were preparing for the festival, our village chief Gohei didn’t feel well and was taking a rest in his house on the hill. There, he could imagine that the village people were working happily for the festival. Taro: I think I will go check on my father. The hot weather has made him a little unwell. Would you like to come with me? Take a break. Come on. Narration: Suddenly, a rumbling of the earth hit our village. It was not a big shake, but it lasted for a long time. (At this time the villagers and the three friends will be caught in the earthquake. During the earthquake Gohei will come running from the left curtain. Looking shaken too ) Taro : Father! Father! Was that an earthquake? Jiro: It lasted a long time. Ume: Are we safe? Gohei: A big earthquake must have happened somewhere far away. This is strange; I have never experienced a strange quake like this. Narration: We, down by the sea, noticed the earthquake at that time, But we didn’t take it seriously and carried on working for the festival. Ume: It is getting dark. (pause) Hey look at the sea. . Jiro: (Stammering) Wow! We can see the sand and the rocks on the seabed. Look! Look at all the boats stranded. Gohei: Oh, my goodness! A tsunami!! All three friends: TSUNAMI!!??

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Gohei: (shouting) Everyone, a tsunami is coming. It’s dangerous. Get out of there. Ume: Oh no. They can’t hear you. There is no time to lose. Shinsuki: Here let’s use these torches. Everyone: (waving the torch) Everyone, a tsunami is coming! A tsunami is coming! Gohei: No! It’s not working. (Gohei comes to the front of the stage and “talks”. Everyone else is muted. The three friends will be waving their torches in slow motion towards the right of the stage)) (The fire children will be walking out from the left curtain and crouching real close to where Gohei is standing in a straight line) Gohei: Oh dear! What can I do? I need a plan now! I need to think quickly. What can I do? (Looks at the rice sheaves) No! I can’t do that. Tomorrow is the harvest festival. But a tsunami is coming real soon! The rice or my people! I must save my people! (Determined Gohei tries to set fire to the rice sheaves) (Taro holds on to Gohei’s hand and....) Taro: Father! Stop! Father! Stop! What are you doing? Gohei: Don’t stop me! Let me do this. Taro: Stop it Father! Have you lost your mind? This harvest is very important to the village. Jiro & Ume: Yes sir. We cannot let you do this. This is our food. Gohei: I know that! The villagers will come up to this hill, if they see the fire on my farm. All three: Ahh.... We will be able to save their lives. Quick... We will help you.

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Narration: Gohei and the others ran from one sheaf to another and set fire to them. After that, they stood on the hilltop and looked at the sea and the houses on the shore. (All four will move towards the left of the stage, watching the fire burning) (FIRE DANCE) (At the third stanza of the music, the villagers will come in from the back, with their props and walk as close to the fire and watch in horror) (After the dance, the fire dancers will slowly move from the middle to the left of the stage while the villagers walk towards the front.) Villagers: Look!! Up there! Look!!! Fire!! Fire!! Villagers: The chief’s house is on fire!!! Villagers: Oh no! We should go and save him!!! Quick! Hurry! (Villagers will turn to the left and run in slow motion on the spot while the other four will walk towards the middle. The fire dancers will exit from the left curtain.)

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Narration: All of us ran up to the hill, holding pails, poles, mats and other things so that we could help put out the fire. Young men, who could run fast, rushed to the hill first. Then the rest of us followed them. Gohei: Listen, everyone! We set the fire to gather all of you on the hill. Please check if all of your neighbours are here. (At this moment the Tsunami music will start, All the villagers and the four will look in horror, turning their heads towards the right and slowing move backwards to the left. The Tsunami dancers will walk in from the right curtain and move in position towards the middle of the stage in a V shape.) (TSUNAMI DANCE) (The tsunami dancers will move slowly to the right while the villagers and the four will start to walk the same way they walked to the left. They will start doing so when the Tsunami music starts to quieten down) Villagers: Our village!! It’s gone... All our work is gone!!! Villagers: Gohei sir...you sacrificed your harvests to save us. Villagers: We have lost our houses, farms and ships. But it is not the worst. Everyone: Yes! Yes! All of us are safe. Gohei: Tonight we will celebrate. The celebration of our lives. And tomorrow we shall start a new day at rebuilding our village. Come everyone, celebrate being alive!!!

All cheers. Celebration song and dance.

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We Wish You a Very Happy, Peaceful & Contented New Year 2011 President Ramakrishna Mission Singapore

KALPATARU BLESSING FROM SRI RAMAKRISHNA:“...What more need I tell you, I bless you all ! May you all be illumined !...” Sri Ramakrishna on 1st January 1886

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The Ramayana - 18

Bharata Shocked on Return N.Narandran

(Continued from last issue)

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ix days after Rama had left Ayodhya, the heart-broken King Dasaratha died in his sleep. The news of his death spread rapidly throughout the kingdom and the ministers, officers and elders led by Vasishta conferred and decided that immediate action was necessary, as a kingdom without a king was vulnerable and would quickly descend into anarchy and chaos. They decided to immediately summon Bharata who had gone with Shatrughna to Kekaya to visit their grandfather. The messengers were instructed to inform Bharata that he was needed back in Ayodhya for some urgent matters. They were not to show any grief nor to reveal to Bharata that the king had died. They were also not to divulge that Rama and Sita had been banished. After a long journey, the messengers reached Rajagriha, the capital of Kekaya where Bharata and Shatrughna were staying. In the early morning when the messengers arrived, Bharata had nightmares, a premonition of some imminent calamity. He was deeply troubled. The messengers were welcomed by the old king and his son. They then turned to Bharata and conveyed

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Vasishta’s message for him to return immediately. After questioning the messengers briefly about the welfare of his loved ones in Ayodhya, he took leave of his grandfather and left for home with Shatrughna and a big retinue bearing gifts from the old king. After an eight-day journey, as Bharata approached the city, he could sense the tense atmosphere. From the inauspicious omens he saw everywhere he knew that some terrible tragedy had befallen the country. He hurried towards the king’s palace only to find that the king was not there. He then went to Kaikeyi’s apartment and was warmly greeted by his mother. Bharata then expressed his desire to see the king and pay his respects. Kaikeyi, in a voice devoid of any emotion, stated as a matter of fact, that the king had passed away. This tragic news struck him like a thunderbolt and he collapsed. After a short while he recovered and sobbed inconsolably. In between sobs, Bharata lamented how he had looked forward to seeing Rama crowned the Yuvaraja and participating in the celebrations. He inquired how the king had died and what his last words


for him were. To this, Kaikeyi simply stated that the king’s last wish was not to see Bharata but to see the return of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. Hearing this, Bharata was taken aback and asked what important matter had taken them away from the dying king’s side. Kaikeyi answered that Rama had dressed in an ascetics’s clothes and gone to the Dandaka forest, taking with him Sita and Lakshmana. Bharata was shocked by what he heard and a flurry of questions followed. He wanted to know what Rama’s crime was and who had imposed this punishment. Kaikeyi’s opportunity to set in motion the last act in her evil scheme was here. She told Bharata that Rama had committed no crime. King Dasaratha had in fact made the necessary preparations to crown Rama the Yuvaraja but she had protested and wanted the king to honour two boons he had promised her long ago. She had requested that Bharata be made the Yuvaraja and Rama be exiled to the forest. Unable to bear the separation from his son for fourteen years, the king had died of grief. The heartless Kaikeyi advised Bharata to accept the kingdom which she had contrived for him and not grieve over what had happened. She urged him to follow the instructions of Vasishta and perform the last rites for his father and prepare himself for the coronation. As Kaikeyi’s words sank in, Bharata realised the enormity of the harm

his mother had caused. In his anger and grief he castigated his mother severely for betraying the king and bringing misery to Rama, Kausalya and to himself. He accused her of murdering her husband and called her a Raakshasi (Demoness). After all that she had done, he refused to recognise Kaikeyi as his mother. He had no intention of accepting kingdom to him. In anger and anguish he dashed out of Kaikeyi’s apartment and went to Kausalya’s apartment, where having heard of his arrival, Kausalya was waiting to speak with him. Having concluded that Bharata had rushed back to Ayodhya to claim the throne, Kausalya assured him that she would not place obstacles in his path. He was lucky to have such a clever woman for his mother. As for herself, she had only one request and that was for him to assist her to get to her son’s hermitage in the forest. Kausalya’s words hurt him and he fell at her feet. He pleaded his innocence and denied any knowledge of all that had transpired during his absence. If he had committed any sin and had a hand in the events that had unfolded, then due punishments will befall him. He reiterated his devotion to Rama and pleaded with Kausalya not to think evil of him. Kausalya was deeply moved by the genuine sincerity of Bharata’s words. She held Bharata in her arms and asked forgiveness for her harsh words. She had feared that Bharata

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would yield to temptation and accept the throne. She was now convinced that Bharata was just as noble as her own son Rama. The next morning, Vasishta came to inform Bharata that in the absence of Rama the eldest son, he had

to perform the last rites for the king. Vasishta had collected all the articles necessary for the rites. The priests had assembled in the hall of the palace and the last rites were performed by Bharata with Shatrughna standing beside him.

References: (To 1. Ramayana by C. Rajagopalachari 2. Ramayana by Kamala Subramaniam

be continued)

YOUTH TO THE FORE

T

hat was the vision of Swami Vivekananda. He told a cheering crowd of students in Madras in 1897, “You will be nearer to heaven through football than through the study of the Gita. ..You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, muscles, a little stronger.” Developed muscles and biceps along with enthusiasm and exuberance were very much in evidence at the first Youth Olympic Games (YOG) held in Singapore in August 2010, an event that added another feather to Singapore’s acknowledged ability to host major international fixtures and the initiative of the International Olympic Committee. The spectacular performance by more than 3600 young athletes from all parts of the world, spread over 12 days from 15 to 27 August, was not only a landmark in the field of

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sports, but a boost to cultural and educational ties between the youth of different parts of the world. Political boundaries and rivalries were forgotten, at least temporarily, when a young girl from South Korea and another from the North jointly explored the Games Village. Haiti, which suffered a series of major natural disasters recently, saw a real “silver lining” when their young footballers managed to snatch the coveted second prize. And young Liberian swimmers who had swum only in rivers had their first dive in a magnificent swimming pool. The people of Singapore also rose to the occasion and offered full support forgetting some inconveniences such as road closures to facilitate YOG movements. Some 20,000 Volunteers helped to


Mr Jacques Rogge, President of International Olympic Committee, said the Singapore Games had fulfilled his expectations, but emphasized there was room for improvement in the future games. “It has been a big effort but we will not be complacent and will learn from these Games,” he added. Mr Ng Ser Miang, Chairman of YOG Singapore Organising Committee, summed up the efforts thus: “We have done it.!!”

make the Games a success. More than 370,000 spectators (population: 5.08 million) attended the events. Another 5 billion watched YOG Youtube clips while 4 million people visited its Facebook page.

Answering some on-line comments that the estimated expenditure of US#300 million was somewhat extravagant, Minister in charge Vivian Balakrishnan said it was worth it. “I have no doubt we will recoup our investment, both on the tangible side and intangible side of the ledger,” he said.

The international media was well served with some 1200 representatives covering the events. Predictably, China dominated the Games winning 30 golds, 16 silvers and five bronzes.

The Chinese city of Nanjing will host the 2014 Games.

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SRI KRISHNAN TEMPLE

S

ri Krishnan Temple, at Waterloo Street landmark in Singapore, marked its 140th anniversary recently with a four-day exhibition on Beliefs and Religious Practices. The intricate subject matter was presented through the medium of panels and miniature displays of ceremonial artifacts showcased in exhibition showcases. Some 15,000 visitors attended the four-day exhibition held in August 2010 at the Pedestrian Mall outside the Temple where a tentage was erected. The main thrust of the show was to present the basic tenets of Hinduism, particularly certain aspects which tend to confuse the uninitiated. Among those subjects presented were : 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

What does Om (Aum) mean? The origin of Hinduism Basic beliefs of the Hindus The Hindu samskaras The Hindu concept of God and Image worship 6. The cultural aspect of Temple worship 7. Hindu Scriptures

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One of the panels, prominently displayed, had the following inscription: “Hinduism recognizes that each soul is potentially divine. It is not a religion to be practised by rituals alone. It is a way of life to realize the Divinity within you.” The importance in Hinduism of Avatars (Divine Incarnations) was highlighted. The Hindu belief is that whenever there is a marked decline in dharma (morality, righteousness, truth etc), the Lord manifests Himself to restore the balance. The display showed the ten Avatars crafted in idols. The cosmic role of the Hindu Trinity – Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Protector and Shiva the Destroyer – was also explained. Rituals and their role in religious observances were explained in simple displays, as also the various types of utensils and appliances used in the Hindu temple sanctums. The role of the temples as a fountain of culture – music, dance and other art forms – was highlighted with simple panels and miniatures.


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Saturday Monday Monday Friday Monday

03 06 16 19 23 30

Thursday Sunday Wednesday Saturday Wednesday Wednesday

March 2011

05 07 14 18 28

Shiv-Ratri Birthday of Sri Ramakrishna Deva Ekadashi Birthday of Gouranga Mahaprabhu Birthday of Swami Yogananda Ekadashi

Birthday of Swami Brahmananda Birthday of Swami Trigunatitananda Ekadashi Birthday of Swami Adbhutananda Ekadashi

Monday Birthday of Swami Saradananda Sunday Ekadashi Tuesday Birthday of Swami Turiyananda Wednesday Birthday of Swami Vivekananda Saturday Ekadashi

February 2011

10 16 18 26 29

January 2011

January-March 2011

FESTIVAL CALENDAR

Registration required for Yoga class

Discourses and classes are open to all

TEMPLE PROGRAMMES & DISCOURSES 1 Daily 6 am: Mangalarati 9 am: Puja 7 pm: Evening Arati and Bhajan 2 Ekadashi 6.15pm: Vishnu sahasranamam chanting 7pm: Arati followed by Ram Nam Sankirtan 3 Saturdays 5pm: Bhajan, cultural and religious classes for children (Temple hall- Level 1) 6pm: Discourse on guided meditation and spiritual talk by Swami Satyalokananda (Library hall) 7.30pm: Vedic Chanting & Bhajan class (Temple) 4 Sundays 9.30am: Yoga class (Sarada Hall) 4pm: Sanskrit language classes (Library) 5pm: Discourse on Swetaswatara Upanishad By Swami Samachittananda (Temple level 1) 6pm: Discourse on Vishnu Sahasranama by Swami Muktirupananda (Sarada Hall)


Nirvana (2011 January)