Page 1

Issue No :71 ISSUE No . 69 Oct - Dec 2011

APR-JUNE 2011

RAMAKRISHNA MISSION SINGAPORE

MICA(P)014/09/2011 ISSN0218-7183


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

According to the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, the question most frequently posed at the Master’s meetings with devotees was the role of Guru in one’s spiritual life. In each case the Master had given suitable advice after considering the questioner’s family background, level of commitment and yearning for spiritual progress. During his historic lecture tour of the United States in the 1890’s, Swami Vivekananda dealt with this important topic in great detail. On the occasion of Guru Purnima, we bring you the summary of his talk. (p.3) Another great contribution of Swamiji was to correctly interpret the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna – no doubt an assignment the Master had bequeathed to him. In his continuing series on Swamiji, Dr Achuthan collates and articulates the essential teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. (p.9 ) Since Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi envisaged a world without strangers a hundred years ago, we may have made snail’s progress towards the idea of a global village. But we confine this to trade, economic exchanges and the like. It looks like it is a long way before we touch the borders of “a world of our own.” (p.14) We have a report from Fiji on how the Ramakrishna Mission helped the poorer section of the population by providing educational facilities , healthcare and social amenities to improve their living conditions (p.20) In contrast to our world of coups and power struggles, the kingdom of Ayodhya was begging for a ruler. With Sri Rama determined to live out the fourteen years of exile in the forest and Bharata refusing to be crowned, the wise sages pressure Bharata to rule as a Regent while the throne will be occupied by Sri Rama’s sandals. (p.22)

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: EAZI Printing Pte Ltd


Pearls of Wisdom Uddhava Gita

Translated by Swami Madhavananda Śrī bhagavān uvāca Vişayeşu gunāthyāsād pumsah sangastatho bhavet sangāttatra bhavetkāmah kāmadeva kalirnrinām Kalerdurvişah krodhastamastamanuvartate tamasā prasyate pumsaschetanā vyāpini drutam tayā virahitah sādho jantuh śunyāya kalpate tato’sya swārthavibhramśo murchitasya mrtasya ca The Lord said By ascribing worth to sense-objects a man comes to be attached to them; from attachment arises the desire for them; and desire leads to dispute among men. Dispute engenders vehement anger, which is followed by infatuation. Infatuation quickly overpowers his hitherto abiding consciousness of right and wrong. O noble soul, when a man is deprived of this consciousness, he becomes almost like a zero. Like a man in stupor or half-dead, he then misses the end of his life. (To be continued)

Uddhava Gita, XVI,19-21

1


Editorial

What is Truth?

I

n everyday life truth means fact and not falsehood. A truthful person always holds on to facts without distorting them. According to us telling what truly is is truth. That is objective truth which pertains to this perceptible world. It is not timeless or changeless because the world undergoes constant change so also the truth about it changes. What was true earlier may not be true later, it alters like shifting sand. Therefore the scientific findings about the objective universe vary, new theories come into existence disproving the old ones. This process of research continues till science discovers immutable truth, final Reality behind phenomena. Objective truth is limited, time bound and depends on the fleeting visible universe. Eternal truth is subjective, it is ever present Reality, in other words, it is not a thing to be acquired but a process of self-discovery. Spiritual seekers search for truth not outside but within their own hearts. Inanimate matter cannot reveal anything about itself, it is the animating consciousness of man that discovers everything about it. So man’s consciousness has to experience what ultimate Reality is by going within. A spiritual seeker at the beginning does not know what truth is. Because it is still an abstract concept in his mind. So he undergoes the inward process of ‘not this, not this’. Thus negating the lower truths to experience the higher ones and at last the highest. The simple thing is Truth is already in us, we don’t have to go anywhere to find it. We only have to uncover it as it is covered by layers of lower realities. We learn in life many lessons by experience. To children toys or playthings are real and everything. As they grow these dear playthings are pushed aside. In young age something appears as real so also in middle and old ages. These are all impermanent realities one cannot rely upon them. This slow trial and error method involves lot of suffering and hard knocks. Therefore the great teachers who are the living examples of truth exhort us to cultivate devotion, dispassion and introspection. These are the means to realize the highest truth within. Freedom is to know what we really are and give up what we think or imagine we are. Experience of this truth liberates one from all miseries and sorrows and opens the doors to bliss.

2


The Need of Guru Swami Vivekananda

We bring you a slightly edited talk by Swamiji. Guru Purnima was on 15 July 2011 – Editor

E

very soul is destined to be perfect, and every being, in the end, will attain the state of perfection. Whatever we are now is the result of our acts and thoughts in the past; and whatever we shall be in the future will be the result of what we think and do now. But this, the shaping of our own destinies, does not preclude our receiving help from outside; nay, in the vast majority of cases such help is absolutely necessary. When it comes, the higher powers and possibilities of the soul are quickened, spiritual life is awakened, growth is animated, and man becomes holy and perfect in the end.

of the study of books on ourselves, we shall find that at the utmost it is only our intellect that derives profit from such studies, and not our inner spirit. This inadequacy of books to quicken spiritual growth is the reason why, although almost every one of us can speak most wonderfully on spiritual matters, when it comes to action and the living of a truly spiritual life, we find ourselves so awfully deficient. To quicken the spirit, the impulse must come from another soul. The person from whose soul such impulse comes is called the Guru — the teacher; and the person to whose soul the impulse is conveyed is called the Shishya — the student. To convey such an impulse to any soul, in the first place, the soul from which it proceeds must possess the power of transmitting it, as it were, to another; and in the second place, the soul to which it is transmitted must be fit to receive it. The seed must be a living seed, and the field must be ready ploughed; and when both these conditions are fulfilled, a wonderful growth of genuine religion takes place. “The true preacher of religion has to be of wonderful capabilities, and clever shall his hearer be”;

This quickening impulse cannot be derived from books. The soul can only receive impulses from another soul, and from nothing else. We may study books all our lives, we may become very intellectual, but in the end we find that we have not developed at all spiritually. It is not true that a high order of intellectual development always goes hand in hand with a proportionate development of the spiritual side in Man. In studying books we are sometimes deluded into thinking that thereby we are being spiritually helped; but if we analyse the effect

3


and when both of these are really wonderful and extraordinary, then will a splendid spiritual awakening result, and not otherwise. Such alone are the real teachers, and such alone are also the real students, the real aspirants. All others are only playing with spirituality. They have just a little curiosity awakened, just a little intellectual aspiration kindled in them, but are merely standing on the outward fringe of the horizon of religion. There is no doubt some value even in that, as it may in course of time result in the awakening of a real thirst for religion; and it is a mysterious law of nature that as soon as the field is ready, the seed must and does come; as soon as the soul earnestly desires to have religion, the transmitter of the religious force must and does appear to help that soul. When the power that attracts the light of religion in the receiving soul is full and strong, the power which answers to that attraction and sends in light does come as a matter of course. There are, however, certain great dangers in the way. There is, for instance, the danger to the receiving soul of its mistaking momentary emotions for real religious yearning. We may study that in ourselves. Many a time in our lives, somebody dies whom we loved; we receive a blow; we feel that the world is slipping between our fingers, that we want something surer and higher, and that we must become religious. In a few days that wave of feeling has passed away, and we are left stranded just where we were before. All of us are often mistaking such impulses for real thirst after religion; but as long as these momentary emotions are thus mistaken, that continuous, real

craving of the soul for religion will not come, and we shall not find the true transmitter of spirituality into our nature. So whenever we are tempted to complain of our search after the truth that we desire so much, proving vain, instead of so complaining, our first duty ought to be to look into our own souls and find whether the craving in the heart is real. Then in the vast majority of cases it would be discovered that we were not fit for receiving the truth, that there was no real thirst for spirituality. There are still greater dangers in regard to the transmitter, the Guru. There are many who, though immersed in ignorance, yet, in the pride of their hearts, fancy they know everything, and not only do not stop there, but offer to take others on their shoulders; and thus the blind leading the blind, both fall into the ditch. “Fools dwelling in darkness, wise in their own conceit, and puffed up with vain knowledge, go round and round staggering to and fro, like blind men led by the blind.� — (Katha Up., I. ii. 5). The world is full of these. Every one wants to be a teacher, every beggar wants to make a gift of a million dollars! Just as these beggars are ridiculous, so are these teachers. QUALIFICATIONS How are we to know a teacher, then? The sun requires no torch to make him visible, we need not light a candle in order to see him. When the sun rises, we instinctively become aware of the fact, and when a teacher of men comes to help us, the soul will instinctively know that truth has already begun to shine upon it.

4


Truth stands on its own evidence, it does not require any other testimony to prove it true, it is self effulgent. It penetrates into the innermost corners of our nature, and in its presence the whole universe stands up and says, “This is truth.” The teachers whose wisdom and truth shine like the light of the sun are the very greatest the world has known, and they are worshipped as God by the major portion of mankind. But we may get help from comparatively lesser ones also; only we ourselves do not possess intuition enough to judge properly of the man from whom we receive teaching and guidance; so there ought to be certain tests, certain conditions, for the teacher to satisfy, as there are also for the taught. The conditions necessary for the taught are purity, a real thirst after knowledge, and perseverance. No impure soul can be really religious. Purity in thought, speech, and act is absolutely necessary for any one to be religious. As to the thirst after knowledge, it is an old law that we all get whatever we want. None of us can get anything other than what we fix our hearts upon. To pant for religion truly is a very difficult thing, not at all so easy as we generally imagine. Hearing religious talks or reading religious books is no proof yet of a real want felt in the heart; there must be a continuous struggle, a constant fight, an unremitting grappling with our lower nature, till the higher want is actually felt and the victory is achieved. It is not a question of one or two days, of years, or of lives; the struggle may have to go on for hundreds of lifetimes. The success sometimes may come immediately, but we must be ready

to wait patiently even for what may look like an infinite length of time. The student who sets out with such a spirit of perseverance will surely find success and realisation at last. In regard to the teacher, we must see that he knows the spirit of the scriptures. The whole world reads Bibles, Vedas, and Korans; but they are all only words, syntax, etymology, philology, the dry bones of religion. The teacher who deals too much in words and allows the mind to be carried away by the force of words loses the spirit. It is the knowledge of the spirit of the scriptures alone that constitutes the true religious teacher. The network of the words of the scriptures is like a huge forest in which the human mind often loses itself and finds no way out. “The network of words is a big forest; it is the cause of a curious wandering of the mind.” “The various methods of joining words, the various methods of speaking in beautiful language, the various methods of explaining the diction of the scriptures are only for the disputations and enjoyment of the learned, they do not conduce to the development of spiritual perception” Those who employ such methods to impart religion to others are only desirous to show off their learning, so that the world may praise them as great scholars. You will find that no one of the great teachers of the world ever went into these various explanations of the text; there is with them no attempt at “text-torturing”, no eternal playing upon the meaning of words and their roots. Yet they nobly taught, while others who have nothing to teach have taken up a word sometimes and written a threevolume book on its origin, on the

5


man who used it first, and on what that man was accustomed to eat, and how long he slept, and so on. Bhagavân Ramakrishna used to tell a story of some men who went into a mango orchard and busied themselves in counting the leaves, the twigs, and the branches, examining their colour, comparing their size, and noting down everything most carefully, and then got up a learned discussion on each of these topics, which were undoubtedly highly interesting to them. But one of them, more sensible than the others, did not care for all these things. and instead thereof, began to eat the mango fruit. And was he not wise? So leave this counting of leaves and twigs and note-taking to others. This kind of work has its proper place, but not here in the spiritual domain. You never see a strong spiritual man among these “leaf counters”. Religion, the highest aim, the highest glory of man, does not require so much labour. If you want to be a Bhakta, it is not at all necessary for you to know whether Krishna was born in Mathurâ or in Vraja, what he was doing, or just the exact date on which he pronounced the teachings of the Gitâ. You only require to feel the craving for the beautiful lessons of duty and love in the Gita. All the other particulars about it and its author are for the enjoyment of the learned. Let them have what they desire. Say “Shântih, Shântih” to their learned controversies, and let us “eat the mangoes”. The second condition necessary in the teacher is — sinlessness. The question is often asked, “Why should we look into the character and personality of a teacher? We

have only to judge of what he says, and take that up.” This is not right. If a man wants to teach me something of dynamics, or chemistry, or any other physical science, he may be anything he likes, because what the physical sciences require is merely an intellectual equipment; but in the spiritual sciences it is impossible from first to last that there can be any spiritual light in the soul that is impure. What religion can an impure man teach? The sine qua non of acquiring spiritual truth for one’s self or for imparting it to others is the purity of heart and soul. A vision of God or a glimpse of the beyond never comes until the soul is pure. Hence with the teacher of religion we must see first what he is, and then what he says. He must be perfectly pure, and then alone comes the value of his words, because he is only then the true “transmitter”. What can he transmit if he has not spiritual power in himself? There must be the worthy vibration of spirituality in the mind of the teacher, so that it may be sympathetically conveyed to the mind of the taught. The function of the teacher is indeed an affair of the transference of something, and not one of mere stimulation of the existing intellectual or other faculties in the taught. Something real and appreciable as an influence comes from the teacher and goes to the taught. Therefore the teacher must be pure. The third condition is in regard to the motive. The teacher must not teach with any ulterior selfish motive — for money, name, or fame; his work must be simply out of love, out of pure love for mankind at large. The only medium through which spiritual force can be transmitted is love. Any

6


selfish motive, such as the desire for gain or for name, will immediately destroy this conveying median. God is love, and only he who has known God as love can be a teacher of godliness and God to man. When you see that in your teacher these conditions are all fulfilled, you are safe; if they are not, it is unsafe to allow yourself to be taught by him, for there is the great danger that, if he cannot convey goodness to your heart, he may convey wickedness. This danger must by all means be guarded against. From what has been said, it naturally follows that we cannot be taught to love, appreciate, and assimilate religion everywhere and by everybody. The “books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything� is all very true as a poetical figure: but nothing can impart to a man a single grain of truth unless he has the undeveloped germs of it in himself. To whom do the stones and brooks preach sermons? To the human soul, the lotus of whose inner holy shrine is already quick with life. And the light which causes the beautiful opening out of this lotus comes always from the good and wise teacher. When the heart has thus been opened, it becomes fit to receive teaching from the stones or the brooks, the stars, or the sun, or the moon, or from any thing which has its existence in our divine universe; but the unopened heart will see in them nothing but mere stones or mere brooks. A blind man may go to a museum, but he will not profit by it in any way; his eyes must be opened first, and then alone he will be able to learn what the things in the museum can teach.

This eye-opener of the aspirant after religion is the teacher. With the teacher, therefore, our relationship is the same as that between an ancestor and his descendant. Without faith, humility, submission, and veneration in our hearts towards our religious teacher, there cannot be any growth of religion in us; and it is a significant fact that, where this kind of relation between the teacher and the taught prevails, there alone gigantic spiritual men are growing; while in those countries which have neglected to keep up this kind of relation the religious teacher has become a mere lecturer, the teacher expecting his five dollars and the person taught expecting his brain to be filled with the teacher’s words, and each going his own way after this much has been done. Under such circumstances spirituality becomes almost an unknown quantity. There is none to transmit it and none to have it transmitted to. Religion with such people becomes business; they think they can obtain it with their dollars. Would to God that religion could be obtained so easily! But unfortunately it cannot be. Religion, which is the highest knowledge and the highest wisdom, cannot be bought, nor can it be acquired from books. You may thrust your head into all the corners of the world, you may explore the Himalayas, the Alps, and the Caucasus, you may sound the bottom of the sea and pry into every nook of Tibet and the desert of Gobi, you will not find it anywhere until your heart is ready for receiving it and your teacher has come. And when that divinely appointed teacher comes, serve him with childlike

7


confidence and open your heart and see in him Those who come

such a spirit of love and veneration, to them the Lord of Truth reveals the most wonderful things regarding truth, goodness, and beauty.

simplicity, freely to his influence, God manifested. to seek truth with

(The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Vol 3 Page 45)

In Singapore, Guru Purnima was celebrated with Special Puja, chanting of stortas and hymns, bhajans, reading from Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play and Pushpanjali. Though it was a working day, a large number of devotees attended the three hour session and partook of the Prasad.

8


Vivekananda-5

Interpreter of the Life and Teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Dr P.Achuthan

W

e have already seen that Swami Vivekananda held the several aspects of his towering personality in a splendid harmony. With admiring eyes, the world looked upon him as a hero-soul and a superman; as ‘an orator by divine right’, the Lion of Vedanta, the Patriot Monk of India, an awakener of human souls, an educational visionary, a Humanist and a champion of lowly and the lost, a religious reformer and so on and on. Truly, he was all these – and more. No doubt towards the close of his life, when he had almost fulfilled his life’s mission, the feeling began to come upon him that he was a simple child of Sri Ramakrishna. “After all, Joe”, Swamiji wrote to Miss Josephine Macleod in 1900, “I am only the boy who used to listen with rapt wonderment to the wonderful words of Sri Ramakrishna under the banyan at Dakshineswar. That is my true nature; Work and activities, doing good and so forth are all superimpositions.”1 During the years of his active life however his attitude was that he was the chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and the interpreter of his life and teachings. That was

the essential Swami Vivekananda and the most significant and fruitful aspect of his personality. To Sri Ramakrishna, religion meant the path leading to God as well as God-realisation. It was seeking God and seeing him, touching and feeling Him and conversing with Him as with one’s companion with the concreteness and clarity of a sense perception. Again, He knew that the path leading to God as well as the nature of God-realisation could be many and varied, depending upon the method of seeking as also the ability and temperament of the seeker. He declared this grand truth in this simple phrase, “As many faiths, so many paths”. However, it had the strength of a scriptural sanction and a divine injunction as it was tested on the touchstone of his experience and found true. Sri Ramakrishna’s life was a vast spiritual laboratory in which he conducted experiments on all forms of religion, Indian and foreign alike, and found out that every one of them, if followed faithfully, would lead to God-realisation. There was no form of spiritual discipline that he did not successfully practise, nor any

9


godhead whose vision he did not have during the period of his sadhana life. Therefore, is innocentlooking declaration “As many faiths, so many paths” should be taken as the quintessence of the universal religion he lived. He sought to point out the inevitability of religious tolerance and the harmony of all religions for the good of mankind. To act upon the belief that ‘My religion and my God alone are true’ was to go against the spirit of religion, besides denying God his infinitude and the inexhaustibility of his ways to man. Sri Ramakrishna’s coming into the midst of men was like a king in disguise moving about among his subjects. There was nothing spectacular that one could notice in the uneventful life of a temple priest. Very few among his devotees and disciples could get anything more than fleeting glimpses of his grandeur. Only Swamiji could look with unblinking eyes at the spiritual sun that shone at Dakshineswar and come to know that its effulgence was soon to envelop the whole world. Had it not been for Swamiji; his coming and going would have gone practically unnoticed. Swamiji alone was able to understand the incomparable excellence of the Master’s life and teachings as well as their pervasive and penetrative impact on the world to last for centuries. It was given to him to mould the disciples of Sri Ramakrishna belonging to the inner circle into an altogether novel monastic order capable of fulfill-

ing its universal mission based on the all-embracing life and message of Sri Ramakrishna. The most important lesson that Swamiji would have learnt from Sri Ramakrishna could well have been that God-realisation was the primary concern of religion and that if that condition were to be fulfilled, religious tolerance and harmony, love for fellow-beings and all other virtues necessary for human welfare would naturally follow. Conversely, religion without God-realisation would merely be a religious skeleton and its inevitable concomitants would be sects and schisms, the exclusiveness of orthodoxy, the intolerance and tyranny of priest craft and such other evils alien to true religion. Or, it could well degenerate into meaningless ritualism or interminable scholastic disputations and such other absurd futilities. Such indeed was the sorry state of affairs in which Swamiji found religion everywhere. The remedy lay in reforming religion patterned on the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. “This World”, Swamiji cautioned Sister Nivedita, “is in chains of superstition…… Religions of the world have become lifeless mockeries. What the world wants is Character.”2 It was Swamiji’s conviction that the future of religion depended on men of character, of purity and holiness of life marked by intense longing for God and by steadfast and singleminded devotion in seeking him for which Sri Ramakrishna would

10


be the ideal suited for this age. In a letter addressed to his gurubhais Swamiji wrote: in point of character, Paramahamsa Deva beats all previous records; and as regards teaching, he was more liberal, more original… this is the new religion of this age --- the synthesis of Yoga, knowledge, devotion and work ---…. They have all been synthesised in the person of Sri Ramakrishna .”3 Swamiji found out that the Hinduism in vogue suffered from several defects and drawbacks such as a severe one-sidedness, excessive individualism, the ‘kadapi na’ orthodoxy and conservatism, the frog-in-the well narrowness in outlook, dogmatism and bigotry, too much of the head and too little of the heart, idealism at the expense of practicality and many more such hidden dangers. He knew that the key to the solution of all these problems was the acceptance of the ideal life of Sri Ramakrishna and the application of his life-giving teachings in our day-to-day life. In his letter to Kidi, his Madras devotee, Swamiji pointed out why the Neo-Vedanta lived by the Master should serve as the proper corrective to the inadequacies and weakness of Hinduism, “… I agree with you

so far that faith is a wonderful insight and that it alone can save; but there is in it the danger of breeding fanaticism barring further progress. Jnana is all right, but there is the danger of its becoming dry intellectualism. Love is great and noble, but it may die away in meaningless sentimentalism. A harmony of all these is the thing required. Ramakrishna was such a harmony. Such beings are few and far between; but keeping him and his teachings as the ideal we can move on… God though everywhere, can be known to us in and through human character. No character was ever so perfect as Ramakrishna and that should be the centre round which we ought to rally.”4 This it would appear was Swamiji’s manifesto of his religious reforms. “Whether we call it Vedantism or any ism”, Swamiji wrote to Mohammed Hussain of Naini Tal, “the truth is that Advaitism is the last word of religion and thought and the only position from where one can look upon all religions and sects with love. I believe it is the religion of future enlightened humanity… Mankind ought to be taught that religions are but the varied expressions of THE RELIGION, which is Oneness, so that each may choose the path that

11


suits him best.” 5 This should be looked upon as Swamiji’s summing-up of the central message of Sri Ramakrishna – His universalism. Krishna, Buddha, Christ or Allah are but the many names of the one God just as Brahminism, Buddhism, Christianity or Islam are the different names of the One religion. The sun and its rays are one even as the sea and its waves are one. But if the world were to live in harmony and peace without religious dissension and strife it would have to come to recognise and accept a universal religion. It was this message of Sri Ramakrishna, the embodiment of the harmony of all religions, that Swamiji put forward eloquently towards the close of his Paper on Hinduism read at the Parliament of Religions: “…. If there is ever to be a universal religion, it must be one which will have no location in place or time; which will be infinite like the God it will preach, and whose sun will shine upon the followers of Krishna and of Christ on saints and sinners alike; which will not be Brahminic or Buddhistic, Christian or Mohammedan but the sum total of all those and still have infinite space for development….. It will be a religion which will have no place for persecution or intolerance in its polity, which will recognise divinity in every man and woman, and whose whole scope, whose whole force will be centred in aiding humanity to realise its own true, divine nature”.6 In his lecture on The Ideal of a Universal Religion, Swamiji made

it clear as to what would make a religion universal : “What I want to propagate is a religion that will be acceptable to all minds; it must be equally philosophic equally emotional equally mystic and equally conducive to action… And this combination will be the ideal of the nearest approach to a universal religion… To become harmoniously balanced in all these four directions is my ideal of religion.”7. From this paraphrase one could clearly infer that what Swamiji had in mind was India’s Vedanta with its four-fold path of Karma-Bhakti-Jnana-Yoga to suit the four types of men’s minds. As if in further endorsement of this idea, Swamiji wrote to Alasinga : To put the Hindu ideas into English and then make out of dry philosophy and intricate mythology and queer startling psychology, a religion which shall be easy… The dry Advaita must become living – poetic – in everyday life; out of hopelessly intricate mythology must come concrete moral forms; and out of bewildering yogism must come the most scientific and practical psychology – and all this must be put in a form so that a child may grasp it. That is my life’s work. 8 Swamiji put the whole idea beyond a shadow of doubt with his famous dictum or definition of religion which should form the four mahavakyas of the universal religion lived and revalidated by Sri Ramakrishna :

12


1. Each soul is potentially divine. 2. The goal is to manifest this divine within , by controlling nature, external and internal. 3.

Do

this either by work, or worship, or psychic

trol, or philosophy and be free.

---

con-

by one or more or all of these,

---

4. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books or temples, or forms, are but secondary details. 9 Swamiji’s Vedanta might be at variance with Sri Sankara’s in several respects, because Swamiji did not set much store by scholasticism. He was more con-

cerned with pragmatism and the practicality of religion. And that again, was another hallmark of the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna.

References : 1. Letters of Swami Vivekananda; Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, 2007 Page : 422 2 Ibid, Pages ,294-295 3 Ibid, Pages, 291-292 4 Ibid, Page ,68 5 Ibid Pages,379-380 6 Chicago Addresses; Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, 1968 Pages 3637

7 Quoted from Swami Vivekananda : His Life and Mission by Swami Ranganathananda, The Ramakrishna Mission, Institute of Culture, Calcutta, 1966 Page,10 8 Letters Page 284 9 Opening Page of Swamiji’s Raja Yoga

Next Issue: Practical Vedanta

13


No one is a stranger Swami Muktirupananda

T

here is a famous saying of the Mother which we have often heard. It was her last message given five days before her passing away to a devotee known as Annapurna’s mother. She said, “Learn to make the whole world your own. No one is a stranger, my child. The world is your own.” It is a tremendous statement, even a small measure of its application can remove a lot of strife and suffering from personal and social life. Let us see what this teaching tries to tell us. It says – 1) no one is a stranger and 2) make the world your own – in other words make everyone your own.

is to drop the idea of ‘these are my people and those are not my people’. Why? Because this narrow idea fosters divisive, disunity. This disunity is the cause of human suffering. The divisive fragmentation is not natural but manmade, created by man out of his narrowness. This gap is widening, exclusiveness is spreading. People now talk about this world as a global village. It has become a global village. In a village there are no strangers, people know each other and think of common good of all. To some extent this global idea is true. Our economy, goods, health, education, food and other needs are now interdependent. No country can think of living in isolation, separating itself from the whole. Without the whole a part has no existence. Ironically this mutual dependence extends only to physical needs, physical survival. Man is not a mere physical entity. Animals are but not man. Man is a higher being his evolution is psycho-social and spiritual.

The question is who is a stranger? A stranger is a person whom we do not know or an unknown person. In fact there are more people whom we do not know. More than that we have been advised to be beware of strangers. In turn we also warn our children not to speak to strangers and keep away from them. Is not Mother’s saying contrary to social convention? Mother does not mean that we should go and shake hands with strangers and talk to them. If we do people will suspect our sanity. Her meaning goes much deeper than this superficial thing. What she means

This concept of global village has touched only our physical requirements but has no effect on our mind and heart. They remain aloof holding on to the old beliefs and old ideas. Our evolution to

14


transcend our biological limitations or survival instinct and rise to higher states seems either slow or stagnant. This is evident from the turmoil, fear, stress and divisions that are present in personal and collective life of mankind. There is a wall, a barricade that keeps individuals separate, nations separate from one another. It is the clash between different identities. When a person identifies himself with a tradition, race, religion and with so many other things and claims that is the best is in conflict with others whose identities differ from him. That which is not familiar always appears strange. Human beings are unable to look beyond this narrow view. It is a strong habit difficult to overcome. Human mind always harps on differences and not on similarities.

of evolution is to reach ultimate reality beyond all differences. Somehow our progress seems to be blocked, our growth appears to be stunted. Externally we cannot go beyond a limit but the internal world has no boundaries. We are fortunate few amongst us have reached perfection, the ultimate goal. And from that summit, out of love and compassion, they have shared their precious wisdom and experience with us. That wisdom of the great souls tells us though we are grown up our behaviour is childish, lacks maturity. Therefore Mother urges us not to stop where we are at present but climb a little higher and let go the lower reality. The problem is why we are not able to relate ourselves to others and consider them as our own? Why we face many mental inhibitions, hesitancy and coldness? To us this vast world is not our own and our own mind is very small, rather a mud-puddle. In the confined area of mini pool our life is spent with our own little pleasures and pain. We are content and satisfied with it. Is it because of limitations of family life? Family life generally draws a boundary beyond which members cannot step out. Love, kindness, generosity and sympathy of members are confined to that limited area. Because it is thought that people beyond that family orbit are strangers not one’s own people. Strangers should

This strong tendency or habit to notice only the differences stems from what we see around. We see around diversity and multiplicity in nature and in the world. Everything is different from one another and everything is a distinct entity. No doubt diversity is real. But that reality exists only on the surface, at the peripheral level and deeper down there is unity. Multiplicity represents a lower reality. There are higher planes or altitudes of reality and we are travelling from lower plane to higher and always little higher than the previous one. That is the purpose of the evolution. In millions of years of evolution life has evolved to reach higher and higher stages. The goal

15


be kept at a distance and should not be allowed to come near. These are my relatives or my people this very idea is biological and rooted in our genetic bond. Our relationships are conditioned by our genetic inheritance. Richard Dawkins rightly points out in his book ‘Selfish genes’ that our genes are selfish, they seek out the same genetic connections and get attached to them. This strong trait we can notice in all families. Though within the family the relatives dislike one another and fight, still the attachment persists. Do human beings have to remain always under the spell of genetic system; can they not come out of its repressive power? Science says we can because nurture or environment also plays a very important role in shaping our genes and spirituality has gone further and shown the way. A recent study from Massachusetts Hospital shows deep medtiation can change gene activity that affects how the body responds to stress. Mother asks us to break this conditioning, this slavery and come out of this prison and embrace the whole world. In early stages our evolution was biological but that phase we have left behind long back. In the word of biologist Julian Huxley, “the future human evolution would not be physical but psycho-social.” ‘Learn to make the world your own’ this advice has come from the depths of her own direct ex-

16

perience and her pure life reflects it fully. We can see from her life how easily, naturally she related herself to everyone and how affectionately she embraced all people as her own. To many she was their loving mother, to some she was their dear daughter, to some their sister and to others their real well-wisher. Mother played all these roles impeccably without any flaw. She was totally free from all conditioning and universal in her outlook and dealings. Let us take a few examples from her life and learn how she established unique loving relationship with virtuous and wicked, good and fallen, wealthy and poor, young and old. The remarkable incident that took place at the wilderness of Telobhelo is well-known. She had to travel in those days a distance of 60 miles (100km) on foot to reach Dakshineswar. There was an expanse of wilderness stretching to many miles and infested with dacoits. Travellers were often robbed. As we know the story that other members of the party hurried on as night was approaching. Tired and footsore Mother could not keep pace with them. As darkness fell she was alone. She saw a tall and dark figure with a staff on his shoulder coming towards her. In a threatening voice he demanded why she was standing there at that time of the night. This was dangerous situation for anyone to face. In such a situation only two options are open to a person


– fight or flight. Either you use your force or run away. In everyday life we do the same thing.

When Mother’s house at Jayarambati was being built, many Muslims from neighbouring village were employed as labourers. These Muslim workers when they didn’t have any employment turned to robbery and stealing. Naturally the villagers were frightened of them and did not like these people to be employed in Jayarambati. But Mother’s unconditional love brought a change in their hearts. One of them one day brought bananas to be offered to Sri Ramakrishna. Mother was happy to accept this devoted offering. Amongst these labourers Mother once asked a labourer to take his meal in her house. She knew because of caste and religious restrictions others would hesitate to serve him, so she herself served this poor man and later washed the place. Love does not calculate whether the other person is worthy to receive it or not. The moonlight does not select places, it shines on palaces, huts, thorny bushes and rubbish dump alike. Divinity or Godliness resides in everyone and no race or religion has any patent over it. The absence of this insight

But there is also another way to control and change the situation winning by love. Mother said, “Dear father, I am your daughter, Sarada. I am left behind by my party. I am going to Dakshineswar where your son-in-law stays.” In the meanwhile, the dacoit’s wife came and she was also addressed as dear mother. They were much moved by the words of overwhelming love. They never thought that being low in social strata they would be accepted as father and mother by someone belonging to superior caste. What Mother did was to demolish at one stroke the age-old crippling idea that they were low and worthless and rouse in them the higher feelings of father and mother. The instinct of parents is to protect their offspring. This couple did the same. Love transcends our genetic conditioning. Even animals and plants understand the force of love. Mother, without any reservation, without least hesitation embraced these people shunned by society as her own. These strangers found a place in her global family.

17


has led people to fight, friction and ill-will. Disunity has always brought to mankind misery and suffering. It is a destructive force. Mother could hide everything: her divinity, powers & knowledge except her motiveless love which always burst in torrents. What is the meaning of unconditional love, love without any motives? Is giving possible without expecting any return? Mother answers this question. She once advised a young girl to love all equally, and not some more and some less. Mother explained, “Let me tell you how to love all equally. Do not demand anything of those you love. If you make demands, some will give you more and some less. In that case you love more those who give you more and less those who give you less. Thus your Love will not be the same for all. You will not be able to love all impartially.:” A mind which is free from ‘me’ and ‘mine’, a mind which is free from narrow ideas of race, religion and other divisions can alone open the flood gates of pure love. To that rare soul the whole world is its home and all people are its own. Every human being has this possibility within his reach to come out of this man-made, minderected prison. Living in prison is dreadful and miserable. Mother in her inimitable and gentle way showed us how to come out of this. She never liked nor tolerated whenever she noticed selfish

18

and egoistic behaviour of people. Here is the instance. The head of Koalpara Ashrama, a village in West Bengal, at one time, was not kind to the inmates and demanded hard labour from them. Gradually his unsympathetic attitude forced some of the inmates to seek shelter under other centres. The head complained to Mother that his workers no longer obeyed him because they had become smart. They knew they could find shelter with her or in other centres. So he requested her to persuade them to go back and to tell the other centres not to encourage them to stay in those centres. Hearing this Mother became very angry and said, “How foolish you are to mention to me these things. Do you mean to say that they should not get shelter at any other place! They are my children and have taken refuge at the feet of Sri Ramakrishna. I can never do a such thing. Love alone is the essential thing. How can you run the ashrama without kindness and sympathy? If you scold your own children too hard they will part with you.” The head felt ashamed of himself and fell at her feet. We have to remember it was Mother who laid the foundation of administration of Ramakrishna Mission. Even Sister Nivedita, Sister Christina, Sara ole Bull, Josephine Macleod, Sister Devamata and other foreigners were her own, own daughters. They also felt


she belonged to them and they belonged to her. Love transcends genetic conditioning.

munity with tradition, culture and language. With genetic inheritance we also inherit these things. There is nothing wrong in following all these things. But the trouble when we say ‘mine’ is the best and superior. It creates division. It is due to strong attachment. If we lessen attachment to these inessential things, we are able to unburden ourselves from these fragments. Buddha followed Hindu tradition but was not attached to it. Jesus Christ observed Jewish tradition but was not attached. So also Sri Ramakrishna and the holy Mother followed the tradition and culture in which they were born. But they were totally detached from these superficial observances. That is why we call these great ones universal, they belong to all and all belong to them.

It is a fact that our relationship with others is superficial and fragile. Because it is based on the head and not on the heart, on calculation and not on love. The head is split into so many divisive fragments. These crippling thoughts have been implanted by one’s old tradition, social conventions, rules and beliefs and so on. A person carries a useless burden on his head which inhibits him to reach out to others. Unless one throws away this burden and becomes uncluttered like a child, the fountain of love cannot well up. It is true that we are born in a certain country, in a certain com-

It is not a fact that you will never face danger. Difficulties always come, but they do not last forever. You will see that they pass away like water under a bridge.

19


Fiji

Boost for Education

R

amakrishna Mission in Fiji is expanding the scope of its educational facilities at its Swami Vivekananda College in Malolo, Nadi.

with a lone monk and meagre facilities in 1937, now runs a junior college with 935 students in Malolo and a primary school at Tailevu with 188 students. It also runs a Vocational training centre with 63 boys at Nawaicoba along with a hostel, a library and a mobile medical unit. Other activities of the Centre include relief work, a welfare project to assist poor families and students, talks on religious and cultural topics at various institutions in Fiji and New Zealand, moral and education classes and Yoga classes for children.

The foundation stone for the proposed “Universal Meditation Centre” was consecrated by Swami Prabhananda, General Secretary of the Ramakrishna Order, on 21 July 2011. Initial plans are to construct, in sylvan surroundings, a 250-capacity meditation centre with supporting facilities such as a library, bookstall, monks’ quarters, etc. The long-term plan is to conduct all Ashrama activities in Fiji from the new and spacious premises.

The lone monk stayed only one year during which he laid a foundation on which the second Swami, who stayed 50 years, built up the edifice with all-round expansion.

The Mission’s Fiji centre, started

20


2. A Primary school in Tailevu started with 50 sudents in 1994, mainly for children of sugar cane farmers, now has 188 students. 3. A vocational training centre that trains dropout students and others in agriculture and motor mechanism has 63 boys. 4. A modest hostel, a Library and a mobile medical unit.

He paid particular attention to the needs of the hapless sugar cane farmers who were exploited by the employers, the business community and the powerful landlords. He passed away in Fiji with satisfaction that his hard work had paid dividends and the economic and educational conditions for them had improved considerably. Successive monks have worked on the achievements to improve their condition so that the younger generation can enjoy a better life.

Traditional activities of the Mission outside the physical needs, are also taken care of. It provides spiritual and moral nourishment to help them develop their innate divinity and promote inter-religious harmony and understanding.

Some of the present highlights: 1. The Swami Vivekananda High School started in 1949 with 34 students and two teachers in a small shed, against the hostile attitude of the Fiji government, is now the Vivekananda College with an enrolment of 935.

21


The Ramayana - 21

Bharata to rule as Rama’s Regent N.Narandran Continued from last issue)

A

fter the brief reunion with their mothers, Rama and Lakshmana prostrated at the feet of their guru Vasishta. At Vasishta's bidding, Rama sat down next to his brothers Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna in the presence of the ministers and priests.

mother nor speak ill of her. Their father, the king, had every right to instruct them what to do. Rama had been commanded to live in the forest for fourteen years and Bharata had been instructed to rule the land. It was their duty to act according to the wishes of the king. Rama reiterated that he intended to carry out his father's wishes and advised Bharata to return to Ayodhya and rule the kingdom. With these words they retired for the night to the ashrama but none of them slept that night.

The long silence that pervaded the atmosphere was broken by Rama who inquired,”Bharata, why have you left your kingly duties and come here in deer skin and matted locks?”

The next morning, they all assembled at the same spot again. This time Bharata tried to put forth his case in another way. He conceded that his mother had been granted the kingdom she desired for his sake and he now rightfully owned it. However, Bharata now wished to offer his kingdom to Rama. Rama was adamant and had no intention of deviating from the code of Dharma. Bharata persisted, appealing to Rama to have pity on him and the people of Ayodhya. He argued that he was incompetent to rule and that it was Rama's duty to abandon this life of sanyasis and rule the country. They had brought all the necessary instruments for the coronation and Vasishta was ready to

With great effort, Bharata explained that their beloved father, grieving over the departure of Rama, had expired. His mother Kaikeyi had not only not gained the kingdom she so badly wanted, she was now a sinful widow whose life on earth was hell. He had come with his huge retinue to persuade Rama to return to Ayodhya and be crowned king for only Rama could erase the grief of the people. “Without a rightful king, the land is like a widow, desolate and helpless,” appealed Bharata. Rama embraced his brother warmly and consoled him saying that he had not done anything wrong. He should not blame his

22


out sleep until Rama changed his mind. Again Rama advised Bharata to return to Ayodhya. Bharata now appealed to the people of Ayodhya present to make Rama change his mind but the people of Ayodhya realised by now that Rama would only return after completing his fourteen years of exile in the forest. The rishis present finally persuaded Bharata that Rama was right.

crown him in front of his people. Bharata begged Rama not to refuse the request. If he did, Bharata would remain in the forest like Lakshmana to serve him. Rama still refused. The sage Vasishta now intervened and tried to use his position to change Rama's mind. Vasishta told Rama that a man has to obey three gurus-his mother, father and his teacher. The third guru is superior to the other two life-givers for it is this guru who teaches the path to spirituality. Rama was therefore obliged to obey his guru Vasishta. Vasishta now appealed to Rama to return to Ayodhya to be crowned king.

The wise Vasishta then suggested a compromise solution. He said, “Bharata, rule the kingdom under Rama's authority and as his deputy. No blame would attach to you then and the pledge would be kept.� Bharata then brought out a pair of sandals inlaid with gold from the numerous articles brought for the coronation. He requested Rama to wear them for a moment, saying, “Blessed by the touch of your sacred feet, these sandals will become sanctified

Rama still could not be persuaded to disobey his father. Bharata became desperate and requested that darbha grass be spread on the ground so that he could sit there and fast with-

23


and they will bear the burden of ruling the world.� Rama obliged and handed them to Bharata.

On the way they called at the hermitage of the sage Bharadvaja who blessed him after listening to the events that had taken place. Soon they entered Ayodhya and proceeded to the palace. After sending his mothers to their apartments, he called a meeting of the elders of the court. Here he announced, “This kingdom is Rama's. In my brother's place I have installed his sandals. Deriving my authority from them I shall do my work as king.� He told them that henceforth he would be residing at Nandigrama.

Bharata promised to rule the kingdom as his representative. Until Rama's return from banishment, Bharata would live wearing coarse tree-bark and deerskin and maintain his matted locks. Taking the blessed sandals in his hands, he placed them on his head and went round Rama three times. Rama then bid farewell to Bharata, Shatrughna, his mothers and Sumanthra. Bharata and his retinue began their journey back to Ayodhya.

Bharata stayed in Nandigrama and ruled Ayodhya for fourteen years while Rama served his penance. (To be continued)

Reference : 1. Ramayana by C. Rajagopalachari 2. Ramayana by Kamala Subramaniam

24


December 2011 03 Saturday Birthday of Swami Premananda 06 Tuesday Ekadashi 17 Saturday Birthday of Sri Sarada Devi 21 Wednesday Birthday of Swami Shivananda 21 Wednesday Ekadashi 24 Saturday Christmas Eve 30 Friday Birthday of Swami Saradananda

November 2011 06 Sunday Ekadashi 07 Monday Birthday of Swami Subodhananda 09 Wednesday Birthday of Swami Vijnanananda 21 Monday Ekadashi

October 2011 03 Monday Sri Sri Durga Puja Saptami 04 Tuesday Sri Sri Durga Puja Ashtami 05 Wednesday Sri Sri Durga Puja Navami 06 Thursday Vijaya Dashami 07 Friday Ekadashi 23 Sunday Ekadashi 26 Wednesday Sri Sri Kali Puja (Deepavali)

FESTIVAL CALENDER (Oct - Dec 2011)

Discourses and classes are open to all Registration required for Yoga class

DISCOURSES and CLASSES

Vishnu Sahasranamam Arati followed by Rama-Nama Sankirtanam

Mangalarati Puja Evening Arati & Bhajan

TEMPLE PROGRAMME

Saturdays 5.00pm Religious-Bhajan & Cultural Classes For Children (Temple hall – I level) 6.00pm Discourse on “Talks on Vedanta” by Swami Satyalokananda (Library) 7.30pm Vedic Chanting & Bhajan Class (Temple) Sundays 9.30am Yoga Class (Sarada Hall) 4.00pm Sanskrit Language Classes (Library) 5.00pm Discourse on “Svetasvatara Upanishad” by Swami Samachittananda (Temple hall – I level) 6.00pm Discourse on “Vishnu Sahasranama” by Swami Muktirupananda (Sarada Hall)

6.00am 9.00am 7.00pm Ekadashi 6.15pm 7.00pm

Daily

Nirvana (2011 October)  

http://ramakrishna.org.sg/Nirvana/A5-Nirvana-Oct-2011.pdf

Nirvana (2011 October)  

http://ramakrishna.org.sg/Nirvana/A5-Nirvana-Oct-2011.pdf

Advertisement