– Excerpt from The Complete works of Swami Vivekananda

swamiji blog“Inactivity should be avoided by all means. Activity always means resistance.

Resist all evils, mental and physical; and when you have succeeded in resisting, then will calmness come. It is very easy to say, “Hate nobody, resist not evil,” but we know what that kind of thing generally means in practice. When the eyes of society are turned towards us, we may make a show of non-resistance, but in our hearts it is canker all the time. We feel the utter want of the calm of non-resistance; we feel that it would be better for us to resist.

If you desire wealth, and know at the same time that the whole world regards him who aims at wealth as a very wicked man, you, perhaps, will not dare to plunge into the struggle for wealth, yet your mind will be running day and night after money. This is hypocrisy and will serve no purpose.

Plunge into the world, and then, after a time, when you have suffered and enjoyed all that is in it, will renunciation come; then will calmness come. So fulfil your desire for power and everything else, and after you have fulfilled the desire, will come the time when you will know that they are all very little things; but until you have fulfilled this desire, until you have passed through that activity, it is impossible for you to come to the state of calmness, serenity, and self-surrender.

These ideas of serenity and renunciation have been preached for thousands of years; everybody has heard of them from childhood, and yet we see very few in the world who have really reached that stage. I do not know if I have seen twenty persons in my life who are really calm and non-resisting, and I have travelled over half the world. (CW Vol1, Ch2)”

– Excerpt from The Call to the Nation

“This misery that I am suffering is of my own doing, and that very thing proves that it will have to be undone by me alone.” That which I created, I can demolish; that which is created by some one else I shall never be able to destroy.

Therefore, stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny. All the strength and succour you want is within yourselves. (II.225)

– Excerpt from The Call to the Nation

Let us calmly and in a manly fashion go to work, instead of dissipating our energy in unnecessary frettings and fumings.

I, for one, thoroughly believe that no power in the universe can withhold from anyone anything he really deserves. The past was great no doubt, but I sincerely believe that the future will be more glorious still.. (IV.366)”

Swamiji speaks..

– Serve Man as God (Call to the Nation)

Our duty to others means helping others; doing good to the world. Why should we do good to the world? Apparently to help the world, but really to help ourselves. …Do not stand on a high pedestal and take five cents in your hand and say, “Here, my poor man,” but be grateful that the poor man is there, so that by making a gift to him you are able to help yourself. It is not the receiver that is blessed, but it is the giver. Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world, and thus become pure and perfect. (1.75.76)

Great work requires great and persistent effort for a long time. Neither need we trouble ourselves if a few fail. It is in the nature of things that many should fall, that troubles should come, that tremendous difficulties should arise, that selfishness and all the other devils in the human heart should struggle hard when they are about to be driven out by the fire of spirituality. (I.82)

The watchword of all well-being, of all moral good is not “I” but “thou”. Who cares whether there is a heaven or a hell, who cares if there is a soul or not, who cares if there is an unchangeable or not? Here is the world, and it is full of misery. Go out into it as Buddha did, and struggle to lessen it or die in the attempt. Forget yourselves; this is the first lesson to be learnt, whether you are a theist or an atheist, whether you are an agnostic or a Vedantist, a Christian or a Mohammedan. The one lesson obvious to all is the destruction of the little self and the building up of the Real Self. (II.53)

This is the gist of all worship — to be pure and to do good to others. He who sees Shiva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Shiva; and if he sees Shiva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary. (III.141.42)

– Ch 6, The Master with the Brahmo Devotees (I)

“A devotee thinks of God as he sees Him.  In reality there is no confusion about God.  God explains all this to the devotee if the devotee only realizes Him somehow.  You haven’t set your foot in that direction.  How can you expect to know all about God?

“Listen to a story.  Once a man entered a wood and saw a small animal on a tree.  He came back and told another man that he had seen a creature of a beautiful red colour on a certain tree.  The second man replied: ‘When I went into the wood, I also saw that animal.  But why do you call it red? It is green.’ Another man who was present contradicted them both and insisted that it was yellow.  Presently others arrived and contended that it was grey, violet, blue, and so forth and so on.  At last they started quarrelling among themselves.  To settle the dispute they all went to the tree.  They saw a man sitting under it.  On being asked, he replied: ‘Yes, I live under this tree and I know the animal very well.  All your descriptions are true.  Sometimes it appears red, sometimes yellow, and at other times blue, violet, grey, and so forth.  It is a chameleon.  And sometimes it has no colour at all.  Now it has a colour, and now it has none.’

“In like manner, one who constantly thinks of God can know His real nature; he alone knows that God reveals Himself to seekers in various forms and aspects.  God has attributes; then again He has none.  Only the man who lives under the tree knows that the chameleon can appear in various colours, and he knows, further, that the animal at times has no colour at all.  It is the others who suffer from the agony of futile argument.”

– Ch 26, Festival at Aadhar’s House

Once Rāma was pleased with the prayer of  Nārada and told him to ask for a boon.  Nārada prayed for pure love and said further, ‘O Rāma, please grant that I may not be deluded by Thy world-bewitching māyā.’ Rāma said: ‘That is all right.  But ask for something else.’ Nārada replied: ‘I don’t want  anything else.  I pray only for pure love.’

How can a devotee attain such love? First, the company of holy men.  That awakens śraddhā, faith in God.  Then comes nishtha, single-minded devotion to the Ideal.  In that stage the devotee does not like to hear anything but talk about God.  He performs only those acts that please God.  After nishtha comes bhakti, devotion to God; then comes bhava.  Next mahabhava, then prema, and last of all the attainment of God Himself.  Only for Isvarakotis, such as the Incarnations, is it possible to have mahabhava or prema.

The knowledge of a worldly person, the knowledge of a devotee, and the Knowledge of an Incarnation are by no means of the same degree.  The knowledge of a worldly person is like the light of an oil lamp, which shows only the inside of a room.  Through such knowledge he eats and drinks, attends to household duties, protects his body, brings up his children, and so on.

The knowledge of a devotee is like the light of the moon, which illumines objects both inside and outside a room.  But such light does not enable him to see a distant or a very minute object.

The Knowledge of an Incarnation of God is like the light of the sun.  Through that light the Incarnation sees everything, inside and outside, big and small.

The mind of a worldly person is, no doubt, like muddy water; but it can be made clear by a purifying agent.  Discrimination and renunciation are the purifying agent.

– CW 8: Buddha’s message to the world

The life of Buddha has an especial appeal. All my life I have been very fond of Buddha… I have more veneration for that character than for any other — that boldness, that fearlessness, and that tremendous love!

He was born for the good of men. Others may seek God, others may seek truth for themselves; he did not even care to know truth for himself. He sought truth because people were in misery. How to help them, that was his only concern. Throughout his life he never had a thought for himself. How can we ignorant, selfish, narrow-minded human beings ever understand the greatness of this man?

How we must work..

– Swami Saradananda in “Glimpses of a Great Soul”

sw-saradanandaIf you carry on your spiritual practices with implicit faith in the Lord – who is your own – you will understand everything  in due time. It will gradually be revealed to you how you can cultivate absolute reliance on God while performing your duties. If you are sincere and have the attitude that it is His work that you are doing, He will show you the way.

Remember two things: (1) An impure person can never be a good worker. (2) A true worker works with skill and efficiency but will at the same time maintian inner peace and tranquility. However arduous his task may be, he will not grumble. He will avoid all misunderstanding and quarrels and be tolerant of other people’s viewpoints. (3) In the midst of all kinds of work you must allot some time for japa and meditation for they are the means to self-knowledge. Jesus Christ said to his disciples: ‘Ye are the salt of the earth.’ It seems to me japa and medittion are, as it were, the salt of work.

Extract from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (Chapter 6: The Master with the Brahmo Devotees)

chantingGod is realized by following the path of truth.  One should always chant His name.  Even while one is performing one’s duties, the mind should be left with God.  Suppose I have a carbuncle on my back.  I perform my duties, but the mind is drawn to the carbuncle.

It is good to repeat the name of Rama.  ‘The same Rama who was the son of King Dasaratha has created this world.  Again, as Spirit, He pervades all beings.  He is very near us; He is both within and without.”

– Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Chapter 23

Thakur(2)“The aim of life is the attainment of God. Work is only a preliminary step; it can never be the end. Even unselfish work is only a means; it is not the end.

“Sambhu Mallick once said to me, ‘Please bless me, sir, that I may spend all my money for good purposes, such as building hospitals and dispensaries; making roads, and digging wells.’ I said to him: ‘It will be good if you can do these things in a spirit of detachment. But that is very difficult. Whatever you may do, you must always remember that the aim of this life of yours is the attainment of God and not the building of hospitals and dispensaries. Suppose God appeared before you and said to you, “Accept a boon from Me.” Would you then ask Him, “O God, build me some hospitals and dispensaries”? Or would you not rather pray to Him: “O God, may I have pure love at Your Lotus Feet! May I have Your uninterrupted vision!”? Hospitals, dispensaries, and all such things are unreal. God alone is real and all else unreal. Furthermore, after realizing God one feels that He alone is the Doer and we are but His instruments. Then why should we forget Him and destroy ourselves by being involved in too many activities? After realizing Him, one may, through His grace, become His instrument in building many hospitals and dispensaries.’

“Therefore I say again that work is only the first step. It can never be the goal of life. Devote yourself to spiritual practice and go forward. Through practice you will advance more and more in the path of God. At last you will come to know that God alone is real and all else is illusory, and that the goal of life is the attainment of God.

– Complete Works; Vol2; 294-295

“Thou art That”. This is the essence of Vedanta; after all its ramifications and intellectual gymnastics, you know the human soul to be pure and omniscient, you see that such superstitions as birth and death would be entire nonsense when spoken of in connection with the soul.

The soul was never born and will never die, and all these ideas that we are going to die and are afraid to die are mere superstitions. And all such ideas as that we can do this or cannot do that are superstitions. We can do everything. The Vedanta teaches men to have faith in themselves first.

As certain religions of the world say that a man who does not believe in a Personal God outside of himself is an atheist, so the Vedanta says, a man who does not believe in himself is an atheist. Not believing in the glory of our own soul is what the Vedanta calls atheism. To many this is, no doubt, a terrible idea; and most of us think that this ideal can never be reached; but the Vedanta insists that it can be realised by every one.

There is neither man nor woman or child, nor difference of race or sex, nor anything that stands as a bar to the realisation of the ideal, because Vedanta shows that it is realised already, it is already there.

 

The Mantra purifies the body. Man becomes pure by repeating the Mantra of God. … It is said, ‘The human teacher utters the Mantra into the ear; but God breathes the spirit into the soul.

A devotee took a tiny banyan seed and said to Mother, “Look, Mother, it is tinier even than the tiniest seed we know. From this will spring a giant tree! How strange!” “Indeed, it will,” Mother replied. “See what a tiny seed is the Name of God. From it in time come divine moods, devotion, love, and spiritual consummation.

Pray to the Lord to make your heart as pure as the star. As a result of sincere and regular japa and meditation you will find that the Lord will speak to you. All your desires will be fulfilled and you will experience pure bliss.

No doubt, you must do your duties. It keeps one’s mind in good condition. But it is also very necessary to practice japa, meditation and prayer. One must practice these disciplines at least in the morning and the evening. Such practice is like the rudder of a boat.

- by Swami Ranganathananda

Eternal Values for a Changing Society, Vol III– Guru Nanank & Spiritual Values; pg.265I

n teachers like Guru Nanak, we find the rare blending of two character-traits which generally exclude each other, namely, strength and gentleness, courage and meekness. Sri Krishna describes this unqiue blending as one of the characteristics of a true devotee of God (GitaXII.15).

Yasmat no dvijat loko, lokat no’dvijate ca yah

By whom the world is not frightened, and whom the world also does not frighten.

We more often see strength and fearlessness co-existing with violence and ferocity, aggressiveness and exploitation, while we see gentleness and meekness co-existing with fear and weakness, helplessness and dependence. Guru Nanak represents the highest level of psycho-social evolution and spiritual growth, revealing a personality at once strong and gentle, fearless and compassionate, and yielding the character-fruits of universal love and service. When a personality blends in itself strength and gentleness, it becomes a source of fearlessness to others as well.

- by Swami Vivekananda

bro_discpOur sole concern is to know the highest truth. Our goal is the loftiest. We have said big words to ourselves – absolute realization and all that. Let us measure up to the words. Let us worship the spirit in spirit, standing on the spirit. Let the foundation be spirit, the middle spirit, the culmination spirit. There will be no world anywhere. Let it go and whirl into space – who cares? Stand thou in the spirit! That is the goal.

We know we cannot reach it yet. Never mind. Do not despair, and do not drag the ideal down. The important thing is: how much less you think of the body, of yourself as matter – as dead, dull, insentient matter; how much more you think of yourself as shining immortal being. The more you think of yourself as shining immortal spirit, the more eager you will be to be absolutely free of matter, body and senses. This is the intense desire to be free. (CW 8:120)

 

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, vol.5, pp. 245-56

sw.v-work is worship

The highest man cannot work, for there is no binding element, no attachment, no ignorance in him. A ship is said to have passed over a mountain of magnet ore, and all the bolts and bars were drawn out, and it went to pieces. It is in ignorance that struggle remains, because we are all really atheists.

Real theists cannot work. We are atheists more or less. We do not see God or believe in Him. He is G-O-D to us, and nothing more. There are moments when we think He is near, but then we fall down again. When you see Him, who struggles for whom? Help the Lord! There is a proverb in our language, ‘Shall we teach the Architect of the universe how to build?’ So those are the highest of mankind who do no work.

The next time you see these silly phrases about the world and how we must all help God and do this or that for Him, remember this. Do not think such thoughts; they are too selfish. All the work you do subjective, is done for your own benefit. God has not fallen into a ditch for you and me to help Him out by building a hospital or some-thing of that sort. He allows you to work. He allows you to exercise your muscles in this great gymnasium, not in order to help yourself. Do you think even an ant will die for want of your help? Most arrant blasphemy! The world does not need you at all. The world goes on, you are like a drop in the ocean. A leaf does not move, the wind does not blow without Him. Blessed are we that we are given the privilege of working for Him, not of helping Him. Cut out this word ‘help’ from your mind. You cannot help; it is blaspheming. You are here yourself at His pleasure. Do you mean to say, you help Him? You worship.

When you give a morsel of food to the dog, you worship the dog as God. God is in that dog. He is the dog. He is all and in all. We are allowed to worship Him.

Stand in that reverent attitude to the whole universe, and then will come perfect non-attachment. This should be your duty. This is the proper attitude of work. This is the secret taught by Karma-Yoga.

 

Extract from “Living at the Source” (a compilation of Swami Vivekananda’s talks)

swamijiWe attend lectures and read books, argue and reason about God and soul, religion and salvation. These are not spirituality, because spirituality does not exist in books or in theories or in philosophies. It is not in learning or reasoning, but in actual inner growth.

Even parrots can learn things by heart and repeat them. Asses can carry whole libraries. So when real light will come, there will be no more of this learning from books – no book learning.

The man who cannot write even his own name can be perfectly religious, and the man with all the libraries of the world in his head may fail to be. Learning is not a condition of spiritual growth; scholarship is not a condition. The touch of the guru, the transmittal of spiritual energy, will quicken your heart. Then will begin the growth. That is the real baptism by fire. (CW 8:114)

How to love God …

 

Swami Prabhavananada* in an extract from “Realizing God – Lectures on Vedanta”

swami prabhavananda The question is. “How to love God?” Narada says: “Supreme love is attained by uninterrupted and constant worship of God, by hearing and singing the glory of the Lord even while engaged in the ordinary activities of life.” Of course this is a stage to be attained. You may think you can begin today and do that, but it is not possible. It is a stage of development.

Sri Ramakrishna gave the example of keeping your mind in God by the story of a village maiden carrying a jar of water on her head. Her mind is on that jar; otherwise it will fall. Her hands are free; she is balancing the jar and at the same time gossiping. He also gave the illustration of a chaste wife waiting for her husband to come home. Her mind is on the husband, even while she is busy cooking and nursing the baby.

Swamiji said: “Day and night think of God, and as far as possible think of nothing else. The daily necessary thoughts can all be thought through God. Eat to him, drink to him, sleep to him, see him in all. Try to see that same Lord in every being. Talk of God to others, this is most beneficial. When the whole soul pours in a continuous current to God, when there is no time to seek money and name or fame, no time to think of anything but God, then will come into your heart that infinite wonderful bliss of love. All desires are but beads of glass. True love of God increases ever moment and is ever new. It is to be known by feeling it. Love is the easiest of disciplines. It waits for no logic. It is natural. We need no demonstrations, no proof. Reasoning is limiting something by our own minds. We throw a net and catch something, and then say that we have demonstrated it. But never, never can we catch God in a net.”

*Swami Prabhavananda was initiated by Swami Brahmananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. He he founded the Vedanta Society of Southern California, and has contributed a great deal to the understanding of Vedanta in the West.

 

64ddf236-4e26-4e68-8a95-132b89d1f04aSwami Shivananda in an extract from “For Seekers of God – spiritual talks by Swami Shivananda”

Shankaracharya has said: “Three things, namely a human birth, a longing for liberation, and the blessings of a great soul, are rare indeed, and can be had by the grace of God alone.” They are, indeed, difficult to obtain, and can be had by divine dispensation alone. By your good luck, you have got all the three treasures; now get merged in the ocean of God’s love, and you will become immortal.

In the Viaishnava scriptures, they have a beautiful saying: “One has the grace of all the three – the guru, Krishna, and the Viashnavas; and yet, in the absence of the mercy of one alone (one’s own self), one goes to rack and ruin.” One may have the grace of God, the mercy of a guru, and the benign help of a great devotee who has known Vishnu; yet everything comes to nought without the favour of one, that is, one’s own sincere effort; and so the poor creature cannot get liberation.

In your life also, you are lucky to have all these factors. Now, with the help of what you have received, be absorbed in your spiritual practices, attain immortality–become immortal yourself. You will then be free for ever from this endless circle of birth and death.

 

BrahmananadaMetal48733fExtract from “Eternal Companion”, a book by Swami Prabhavananda, with many great stories of his guru.
Varanasi, 27 February 1913: Conversation with Swami Brahmananda

“Do you perform prayer and meditation nowadays?
- No, Maharaj, not at all.

It is better to do at least a little every day. That will give you peace of mind and steadiness. I am sure you have a family guru. Why have you not taken initiation from him? You had better receive it from him soon. Every day you should perform a little Japa and meditation. Purchase a rosary of Rudraksha beads. Dip it in the holy waters of the Ganga and touch the sacred Feed of Lord Viswanath with it. Then perform Japa with that a hundred and eight or a thousand times daily. If you are inclined to do more, you can do so, and you should.

- What shall I repeat?

The blessed name of God! The name of that form of His which inspires the greatest faith and devotion in you – that is the name you should choose for your Japa.

- Without a form, meditation is not possible. What form shall I meditate upon, and where?

You must meditate upon that form of His you like best. You can place Him in the heart or outside. A wise guru, however, will understand the particular form of God that calls forth the greatest faith and regard from the disciple, and will instruct him to mediate on that.

Then there is mental worship. As you do external worship with offerings of flowers, sandal paste, burning of camphor etc. exactly so is the worship in the mind. In the mind you have to picture the form of the Deity you choose, in the mind you are to offer all the holy things used in worship and in the mind, again, you have to adore Him with all the reverence and devotion of your heart in humble supplication.

You have heard enough, Now do something and show your worthiness. No more waste of time. Begin from this day, this very evening. For the present, do these two things – Japa and meditation, every morning and evening without fail. Continue this habit for a couple of years at least. Then you will find great joy, and will know more and more of spiritual mysteries.

 

Sw_Gitananda77bdfbSrimat Swami Gitanandaji Maharaj, a Vice-president of Ramakrishna Math and Mission, passed away on 14th March 2014.

A brief life-sketch:

Srimat Swami Gitanandaji Maharaj, was the senior most Vice-president of Ramakrishna Math and Mission. He was born in Arial village of Dhaka district (now in Bangladesh) on 17th April 1924.

His pre-monastic name was Vasudev Mukhopadhaya. He was an initiated disciple of Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj, the 6th President of the Ramakrishna Order and a direct disciple of Sri Sri Maa.

He joined the Order at Chennai Math in 1946 under Swami Kailashanandaji Maharaj, a direct disciple of Swami Shivanandaji Maharaj. He had his Brahmacharya diksha from Swami Shankaranandaji on 19th January 1952 and had his name ‘Ameyachaitanya’. On 14th March 1956 He had his Sanyasa from Swami Shankaranandaji Maharaj, the 7th President of the Ramakrishna Order.

Besides his joining centre, He served at the Headquarters and Kanpur centre as an assistant and Ranchi Sanatorium, Varanasi Home of Service and Ramakrishna Math (Yogodyan) Kankurgachi centres as Head. He also served Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj as a personal attendant, and was a Secretary to Revered Shankaranandaji Maharaj for some time.

In April 1973, He was appointed a Trustee of Ramakrishna Math and Mission and a Member of the Governing Body of Ramakrishna Mission. In June 1974, He was elected Treasurer of the Math and Mission. In 1985, He was re-elected an Assistant Secretary in which capacity he served for a decade. He was elected a Vice-President of the Ramakrishna Order in April 2003, which He held till His last.

Revered Maharaj stayed at ‘Udbodhan – Mayer Bari’ from 22nd April 2003 till 29th May 2005. Revered Maharaj started gracing devotees by giving initiation on 5th May 2003 (Holy Akshaya Trithiya Day) at Jayrambati Matri Mandir. During His spiritual ministry, He blessed 45,488 devotees with holy mantra diksha or spiritual initiation in different parts if the country.

He has two Bengali books to his credit: Bhagavat Katha published from Udbodhan Kariyalaya in the year 1998 on 29th May, the day of Holy Mother’s first visit into the Mother’s House and Sri Ramer Anudhyan published from Udbodhan Kariyalaya in the year 2002 on 26th December, the day of Holy Mother’s tithi puja. Apart from these twin books, He wrote several other articles on Sri Sri Thakur, Maa and on other religious topics published in different books and magazines among which ‘Sri Ramakrishna: Ishwarkoti Sannyasi Sishya Bhaktoder Drishtite’ published in the Bengali book ‘Bishwachetonaya Sri Ramakrishna’ from Udbodhan Kariyalaya in the year 1987 to mark Sri Sri Thakur’s 150th Birth Centenary and ‘Sri Maa Sarada Devi: Ek Aloukik Bhektitto’ published in the Bengali book ‘Satorupe Sarada’ in the year 1985 from Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Golpark, deserves a special mention and had been much appraised.

Revered Maharaj moved to Kankurgachi Ramakrishna Math Yogodyan on 30th May 2005 and stayed there till his last. He held the office of ‘Adhyakshya’ at Yogodyan till 30th August 2009 and for this period played the dual role of the Centre head and the Vice-President of the order successfully.

Swami Gitanandaji blessed the devotees by initiating them for the last time on 20th February 2010 at Yogodyan Math. Revered Maharaj had been suffering from old-age-related ailments for the past few years. He was 90. On 8th February 2014 He was admitted to Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratisthan (Sishu Mangal Hospital) with fever and chest infection which was diagnosed as pneumonia. He was kept in ICU under expert medical care. On 16th February, his condition became critical and despite best available medical treatment, his life could not be saved.

Despite all possible measures, on 14th March, 2014, Friday at about 9.10 in the morning most Revered Maharaja’s divine soul merged into the lotus feet of Bhagwan Sri Ramakrishna.

Source: Swami Gitananda facebook page