English Articles

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Contributions this  month by Mr Kees Boukema, Prof Paulo Bittencourt, Mr Corne van Nijhuis, Mrs Francis Schaik, Mrs Mary Saaleman and others.

The Playful Person

Kees Boukema

In his book Sri Sri Ramakrishna Lilaprasanga, Swami Saradananda (1865 – 1927) describes the life of his teacher, the Indian saint and mystic Sri Ramakrishna (1836 – 1886). ‘Lila’ is a Sanskrit word; it means ‘relative reality’, the correlative of ‘Nitya’, the ‘absolute reality’. But Sanskrit is a very rich language; the same word can have several meanings. The term ‘Lila’ for instance also means  ‘divine play’; a concept that refers to elements such as spontaneity and freedom in the universe (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 1039).
The English translation of this biography was published in 2003 under the title “Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play”. Ramakrishna saw himself and the world around him as the playing field of the ‘Divine Mother’.

Illustrative in this context is a meeting on October 27, 1882 between Ramakrishna and Keshab Chandra Sen. This religious leader of the Brahmo Samaj had invited Sri Ramakrishna for a boat trip on the Ganges River. At four o’clock in the afternoon the steamship had anchored at Dakshineswar and he was able to welcome Sri Ramakrishna and his guests on board. Among the guests was Vijay Goswami, a religious leader who had split from the Brahmo Samaj due to differences over certain principles. Both religious leaders felt somewhat uncomfortable in each other’s company and avoided each other. Ramakrishna saw that and tried to reconcile them.

Sri Ramakrishna to Keshab: “Look, there is Vijay. Your quarrel seems like the fight between Siva and Rama. Siva was Rama’s guru. Though they fought with each other, yet they soon came to terms. But the grimaces of the ghosts, the followers of Siva and the gibberish of the monkeys, the followers of Rama would not come to an end. Such quarrels take place even among one’s own kith and kin. (……). You have a religious society and Vijay thinks he must have one too. But I think all these are necessary. While Sri Krishna, Himself God Incarnate, played with the Gopis at Vrindavan, troublemakers Jatila and Kutila appeared on the scene. You may ask ‘why’. The answer is that the play does not develop without troublemakers.” (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 140 ff.).

Ramakrishna: “The Primordial Power is ever at play. She is creating, preserving and destroying, in play as it were. [….]. After the destruction of the universe, my Divine Mother, the Embodiment  of Brahman, gathers together the seeds for the next creation. After the creation the Primal Power dwells in the universe itself.  She brings forth this phenomenal world and then pervades it. In the Vedas creation is likened to the spider and its web. The spider brings the web out itself and then remains in it. God is the container ot the universe and also what is contained in it […..]. Bondage and liberation are both of Her making. By Her ‘maya’ wordly people become entangled in ‘woman and gold’, and again through Her ‘grace’ they attain their liberation. She is called the Saviour and the Remover of the bondage that binds one to the world. [….]. The Divine Mother is always playful and sportive. The universe is Her play. She is self-willed and must always have Her own way. She is full of bliss. She gives freedom to one out of a hundred thousand.”

A listener: “But Sir, if She likes, She can give freedom to all. Why then has She kept us bound to the world?”

Ramakrishna: “That is Her will. She wants to continue playing with Her created beings. In a game of hide-and-seek the running about soon stops if in the beginning all the players touch the ‘granny’. If all touch her, then how can the game go on? That displeases Her. Her pleasure is in continuing the game.” (Gospel p. 134 ff.; see also p. 768).

The Dutch cultural historian Johan Huizinga (1872-1945) called himself a ‘metaphysician’. By this he meant: someone who, next to the sensorially observable reality, also presumes another reality. He characterized ‘play’ as ‘a serious matter’; it is both the precursor and the core of all stages of culture. In his book “Homo Ludens” (1938) he wrote:
“One can deny almost everything abstract: right, beauty, truth, goodness, spirit, God.One can even deny the seriousness, but not the game. Through play one recognizes the spirit, whether one wants to or not. For the game, whatever its essence, is not ‘material’. It breaks through the boundaries of physical existence, even in the animal world. Compared to a determined thought world of pure forces, it is in the fullest sense of the word a redundancy. Only through the inflow of the spirit, which abolishes absolute determination, does the presence of the game become possible, conceivable and understandable. “The existence of the game continually and to the highest degree confirms the redundant character of our situation in the cosmos. The animals can play; so they are already more than mechanisms. We play, so we are more than just reasonable beings, because the game is unreasonable.”

In his speech “On the boundaries of play and seriousness in culture” that he delivered on February 8, 1933 as rector magnificus of the University of Leiden, (reprinted in “De hand van Huizinga”, 2009, p. 138-140) he said, that this subject had occupied him for thirty years and would not let him go. According to Huizinga, the game forms its own world within the ordinary world and represents something within that self-created world. The game is an action and in a sense a sacred action. Its relation to, or correlation with, the divine is fundamentally always present. As soon as the game serves to express that relationship, it becomes a cult act, ritual, liturgy and can even become a mystery. In certain passages in the Rigveda, sacrificial rituals are mixed with reflections on the deepest things. Exorbitant exaggerations in ancient Indian mythology differ little from child’s play. Music, even in its highest ‘seriousness’, is still a play. In addition to ‘bread’, ‘games’ also formed one of the raison d’etres of the Roman Empire and also one of the fundamental rights of the people.”The essential properties of the game,” says Huizinga, “can be determined, not explained: it is an endeavor of limited finality, an act that ends in itself. There is a surprising split in consciousness, through which the player becomes completely absorbed in that ‘something other’ than the given reality, which he expresses, represents, imitates or shows, without appearance and reality being confused, even by the playing child. ”

Precisely the spoilsports Jatula and Kutila (Krishna’s in-laws) kept the game of God the Mother going! A similar paradox is also found in the Christian “Passion Plays”. The plays that have been performed on squares and streets in various cities in Europe around Easter since the Middle Ages. It depicts the capture, trial and execution of Jesus Christ. In the Netherlands, the Passion Plays were performed in Tegelen once every five years. Since 2011, the musical event “The Passion” has been performed annually in various Dutch cities and broadcast live on television.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Judas Iscariot, a disciple of Jesus, received thirty pieces of silver to hand Jesus over to justice. During the meal preceding ‘Pesach’ (the Jewish Passover), Jesus had said to his disciples: “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” The disciples, very upset, asked one by one, “Aren’t I, Lord?” When Judas asked, “Isn’t it I, Rabbi?”, Jesus said, “You said so” [Matt. 26:14].

The evangelist John gives a more pregnant description of this event: “When Jesus had said that one of his disciples would betray him, Simon Peter beckoned to Jesus and asked, “Who is it, Lord?” Jesus answered, “The one to whom I am giving the piece of bread, which I am now dipping into the bowl.” He dipped a piece of bread into the bowl and gave it to Judas the son of Iscariot. At that moment Satan entered into Judas. Jesus said: “That thou doest, do it quickly.” […] Then Judas took the bread and immediately went out; and it was night. When Judas had left, Jesus said: ‘Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself and shall straightway glorify him.” (John 13: 21 ff.)

A few hours later, Jesus finds himself, together with his disciples, in the ‘Garden of Gethsemane’. There he says to them, “Behold, the hour has drawn near when the Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us go; behold he is near who betrays me. Even before he has finished speaking, Judas approaches them and with him a gang armed with swords and clubs. Judas had made an agreement with them: ‘Whoever I kiss, he is the one, grab him.’ He goes straight to Jesus and says: “Hail, Rabbi” and kisses him, whereupon Jesus asks: “Friend, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?” Then the gang approaches, they lay hands on Jesus and seize him. [Matt.26: 45 ff. Mark 14: 42 ff. Luke 22:47]. His disciples ask him, “Shall we smite with the sword?” One of them, Peter, does not wait for the answer smote the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. Jesus then says, “Peter, sheathe your sword, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. How would the scriptures be fulfilled that say it would be this way? Should I not drink the cup that the Father has given me? Then Jesus touches his ear and heals him, and says to the crowd, “I was with you daily in the temple, and you did not take me, but this is your hour, and the power of darkness, but the scriptures must be fulfilled.” to go.” The disciples then flee and leave him alone (Luke 22:47ff., John 18:3ff.).

Mr Kees Boukema is a scholar in Vedanta and Comparative philosophy. His brilliant and thorough-going articles on various philosophical and spiritual subjects are being published since the first issue of the magazine. His latest work is De Beoefening van Meditatie.


The Incarcerated Body

Paulo J. Bittencourt

Professor at UFFS, Erechim Campus

The notion that the body is the prison of the soul dates back to the Greek philosopher Plato (428/7-348/7 BC). This concept, in fact, constitutes the incisive key paraphrase of an extremely revealing passage from the work “Phaedon”, a seminal dialogue of Platonic thought: “(…) his soul, when taken under the care of philosophy, was completely chained to a body and as if glued to it; that the body constituted a kind of prison for the soul, through which it had to face realities, instead of doing so by its own means and through itself; that, in short, she was submerged in profound ignorance.”

We find ourselves facing one of the most philosophically refined versions of what has become the summation of pillars of the tradition of Western thought. However, in this field, it is important not to exaggerate Plato’s exclusive authorship, since we are faced with an erudite variation of the same melody performed by different orchestras in the order of time. I refer to “psychophysical dualism”, that is, the conception that the human battle par excellence, what would supposedly define it as such, is to submit the bodily sphere of passions to the absolute and merciless rule of rationality, the conscious, of the mind or, if one prefers, of the immaterial spirit.

I alluded to variations of the same melody, because, despite different interpretations and epistemological areas – religious, philosophical, artistic or scientific –, the tone remains constant. This is a premise that is umbilically embedded in the DNA of Western culture. Zoroastrians, Manichaeans and Gnostic Christians, for example, devotees of different religious traditions that were forged in the Middle East of antiquity and in the interaction with the Hellenistic world that overflowed there, emphasize in their ways a war of a cosmic nature between eternal stability and goodness of the divine world of spirit and the corrupting and corrupting chaos of matter and flesh. Echoes of this belief were so loud that they were heard in other areas of later times, such as in the religiosity that transgressed the Catholic orthodoxy of medieval Europe, that of the Cathars-Albingenses, a Christian movement of extreme asceticism, which flourished between 1100 and 1200, and whose roots go back to the Paulician movement in Armenia and Bogomilism in Bulgaria.
With regard to Christianity, even though Jesus emphasized that it is not what enters through the mouth that contaminates us, but precisely the evil that comes out of it from the heart, nothing compares to the consecration that Paul of Tarsus gave to the war of the spirit against the flesh and of the flesh against the spirit. In this sense, in the Gospels, Jesus’ prophetic role took center stage, not his sexual continence. The Irish historian Peter Brown, in his monumental work “Body and society: man, woman and sexual renunciation in early Christianity”, highlights that the celibacy of the rabbi of Nazareth was an unimportant complement to his prophetic vocation. Nevertheless, the war in question would take on the contours of “a desperate image of human resistance to the will of God”. “The flesh is weak”, cries the popular saying, but the Christian tradition would not only endorse its weakness itself, but would also conceive it “as being in the shadow of a powerful force, the power of the flesh”. “(…) as ‘flesh’, the weaknesses and temptations of the body echoed a state of helplessness and even rebellion against God, a state that was greater than the body itself.”

Obviously, “self-control” would become an attribute of male identity, in the terms conferred by the patriarchy’s “self-advocacy”, while its “legislators” would relegate the condition of women to the convulsive violence of bodily drives and lack of self-restraint. . But note that the virilely constructed abysses seem not to cause any discomfort to Plato, for whom abnormal sensual pleasures became an expression of love for the same as love for the sublime, a sexual version of the paradigmatic scene from Narcissus to “always find ugly what is not a mirror” (Caetano Veloso). The logic of “double standards” would also not be valid for men from the first centuries of Christianity, who, according to Peter Brown, “wanted to build a shell of moral rigor around themselves and their women”, even though they were “ perfectly willing to establish their position in the cities through great moments of debauchery in public games”, even though they were Christian plebs.

(to be continued…)

Professor Paulo Bittencourt is a brilliant teacher of Ancient and Medieval History at the Universidade Federal da Fronteira Sul UFFS [Erechim Campus], Brazil. He contributes articles regularly, and is a columnist of a periodical too. He has several books to his credit. He is an ardent student of Vedanta.

No Seed Ever Sees the Flower

Corné van Nijhuis

Every now and then you come across a statement that spontaneously makes you think. Such a statement that you often do not realize immediately, but with a few seconds’ delay, has several layers of meaning. That happened to me the past few days when I read the following quote in a book: “No seeds ever sees the flower”. I read the sentence and initially thought…. oh, yes…of course, how logical actually. But as soon as you read it again you realize that it also has a deeper meaning than the literal one. And if you then reflect on it a little further, you realize that it sometimes even encompasses a world of meanings.

In this contribution I would like to take you through the thoughts that occurred to me when I started considering the sentence “No seeds ever sees the flower” as a metaphor. A metaphor that, upon further reflection, concealed the following meanings for me.

The first type of interpretation focuses on understanding that growth and results take time and that the initiators of a process will often not know the final results.

Patience and trust in the process
It emphasizes that the beginning of a process (the seed) often does not foresee the final result (the flower). It can indicate the importance of patience and trust that efforts will eventually pay off, even though you may not see the results right away.

It can also mean that those who start something (the seeds) will not always experience the fruits of their labor. For example, a person may start a project or put an idea into motion, but it may not come to fruition until much later, perhaps even after their lifetime.

Cyclicity and continuous growth
In a broader sense, the metaphor can illustrate the continuity of life and growth. Seeds that produce flowers, in turn, produce new seeds. It emphasizes the cycle of life and its constant progress and change.

Another type of interpretation can relate to the spiritual journey of man and the many facets of growth, to transformation and the connection and trust in the bigger picture.

Self-sacrifice and transformation
Spiritually, it could mean that for something beautiful to blossom, some form of self-sacrifice is needed. The seed must give up its own form and existence to become a flower, which can represent the spiritual transformation of letting go of the ego or current state in order to achieve something higher.

Letting go of results-oriented thinking
The unfamiliarity of the flower to the seed symbolizes the need to break away from results-oriented thinking and focus on the process itself. This is the idea that the journey is more important than the destination. The seed does not grow by concentrating on becoming a flower, but by simply growing.

Both types of interpretations have their meaning. Everyone at their own level. The thought that ultimately remained with me was a variant of the more spiritual interpretation. An interpretation that I could interpret metaphorically with the following thought: “A caterpillar that wants to get to know itself will never become a butterfly.” In other words: personal growth and transformation require you to step out of your comfort zone and embrace change. caterpillar should not analyze itself, but instead undergo the natural processes of metamorphosis to become a butterfly. Projecting this onto human growth, one can argue that self-reflection is important, but ultimately action and experience are needed to achieve transformation. The karmic principle will ensure that you ultimately act according to the universal and everyone’s individual dharma.
In conclusion, life is about embracing the process of life and trusting the inherent nature of growth and change, without the need for immediate validation or recognition.

I hope we have inspired you in your journey of discovery that we call life.

Corné van Nijhuis is a scholar who has travelled widely, has wide interests and has studied Vedanta deeply for several years. His contributions to this magazine are well-known to all.




On Greed

Contribution by Francis van Schaik

Greed. A trait that we don’t like to attribute to ourselves, but which is nevertheless quite commonplace. Because actually a greedy desire is nothing more than a desire for peace. And don’t we all long for that nowadays?

Greedy desire
The latest iPhone, a brand new wardrobe or yet another meditation cushion. At the time of buying you think it will make you happy, but the feeling of happiness is often short-lived. If that iPhone is in your pocket for a week, it will feel no different from your old phone and you will secretly be looking forward to the next model.

Where does this endless greed for more come from?

We look for happiness outside of ourselves
In his book ‘On Greed and Covetousness’, the German monk Anselm Grün writes: “The desire for possessions is actually a desire for peace. But the paradox is that we do not find peace precisely because we are possessed by the desire for more.

According to Grün, our greed comes from the fact that we forget to live in the now. We forget to enjoy everything we already have and get satisfaction from it, instead of always looking for satisfaction in the future. Our thoughts are constantly looking forward to the next event in the hope that it will make us happy, just as we look forward to dessert during the main course, without actually tasting it.

We look for happiness outside ourselves, outside the moment, in the future. We expect the new iPhone to bring us happiness, or the new meditation cushion, or the weekend. But happiness is already within us, right now. If we do not realize this, we only experience dissatisfaction, because the moment never gives the satisfaction we are looking for.

Addiction to self-confidence
Research shows that greed also stems from low self-esteem. People try to gain more self-confidence by buying an expensive car or a new dress. An illusion, according to Grün, because we can only achieve a better self-image if we give ourselves love and value it.

Psychologist Seltzer also writes on Psychology Today. According to him, greed is an addiction to what we do not give ourselves: appreciation, a sense of success, love. Only when we realize that appreciation and love are already within us and we give it to ourselves, greed fades away.

What void are you trying to fill?

Are you an impulsive buyer or do you have an overcrowded wardrobe? Ask yourself where your greed comes from. What void are you trying to fill? A security that you did not receive as a child? A love that was not reciprocated? An appreciation for what you have already achieved? How can you give yourself this, now?

Be alert for excuses like: I shop a lot because I have to look good at work. Or: I always have to be online because I am an entrepreneur. What do you actually get from shopping or being online? A hunted feeling and dissatisfaction, or something essential that really makes you happy and satisfied?

[Happinez magazine]

Francis van Schaik is a coach of young people and also a student of human relationships with nature, the world and Truth. She regularly contributes to our online magazine. Francis is the regular contributor of articles in this page.





Swami Vijnananandaji

[from The Master as they Saw Him]

Contributed by Mary Saaleman

Swami Vijnanananda (1868-1938) met Sri Ramakrishna when he was a boy and was later initiated by the Master.
His pre-monastic name was Hari Prasanna Chattopadhyaya. After graduating from university, he became a district engineer for the government, but in 1896 he resigned to join the Ramakrishna Monastery in Allahabad to practice spiritual disciplines.
He was a Sanskrit teacher, and translated Devi Bhagavatam and Valmiki Ramayana into English. He was the fourth president of the Ramakrishna Order.

I first saw Sri Ramakrishna in 1875 at Belgharia (Near Dakshineswar) in Jaygopal Sen’s garden house. The Master visited Keshab Sen at the retreat house. I was a little boy then. I was playing with my friends and then just by chance I saw the Master. At that time, the paths of the garden house were covered with red stone dust. Many people came. The Master sat in a room. After seeing him, I returned to my house nearby.
I met the Master again in Belgharia when I was studying in class 9 or 10. One day at about four o’clock in the afternoon, I was playing at Sarada’s (Swami Trigunatitananda’s) house, when a friend of ours came and asked:
“Would you like to visit a paramahamsa (lit. ‘a great swan’ ——an enlightened soul?” “Where is he?” we asked. “In the nearby house of the Dewan,” he replied. I had I had no idea what a paramahamsa was. Besides, I was a bit afraid of monks wearing ocher clothes, but we all went to see him.
As we entered the house of the Dewan Govinda Mukhopadhyay, we came across a beautiful scene. A young man (Swami Vivekanenda) sang a devotional song, “Jai, Jai Dayamaya, Jai Dayamaya (Victory to the Compassionate Lord).” Sri Ramakrishna was standing in the middle of the group and another young man (Swami Premananda) was holding him so that he would not fall.
The Master was completely unaware of his surroundings. He wore a white cloth. His face shone with a heavenly glow and a smile played on his lips. His teeth were visible, and there was such a joyful expression on his face that it looked as if it would burst—-like a cracked melon!

His eyes seemed to be staring at something, and he seemed immersed in an ocean of bliss. I pointed out the Master’s blissful expression to my friend Rayen Sarkar, and he agreed and said, “Yes, you are right.”
After a while the Master sang a song in praise of the Divine Mother, composed by Ramprasad: “Is the Mother just a simple woman, born as others are born?……He was still in an ecstatic mood. It seemed me that he had a direct vision of the Mother and sang to her. On this occasion I saw another person in ecstasy. Later I learned that he was Nityagopal. He was sitting next to the Master, and his face, eyes and chest were red with the spiritual emotion. The Master sat down and began to speak to Nityagopal in a mysterious language. As the Master stood, his mood was like that of the Divine Mother.
Now, when he sat, his mood was like that of Krishna. During that time I saw another amazing thing that would remain in my memory for the rest of my life. I saw that the Master’s spine had swollen like a thick rope and that his Kundalini power had reached his head. It looked like the hood of a snake moving with joy.
In the evening, after Kirtan, Govinda Babu, Swamiji, Swami Premananda, and others accompanied the Master upstairs for refreshments. We then went back home.
A few years passed, I was then a 2nd year student at St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta. Sharat Maharaj (Swami Saradananda) and Barada Pal were my classmates. One day (November 26, 1883) the three of us decided to visit the Master. We hired a boat and reached Dakshineswar in the afternoon, but the Master was busy. A carriage was ready to take him to Mani Mallick’s house in Calcutta. He called for his cousin: “Ramlal, the carriage is ready. Let us go. The people are waiting for us there. Hello, coachman! Please start.” The Master also invited us and said, “You boys, come to Mani Mallick’s house. There will be a big festival. Tell the gatekeeper there that you have come to meet the paramahamsa.”
We bowed to the Master and returned to Calcutta by boat. I remember returning home to Mani Mallick’s house after visiting the festival and my mother scolding me. When she heard that I had gone to see Sri Ramakrishna, she said, ‘My goodness! You have gone to that crazy Brahman! He has disturbed the brains of three hundred and fifty young people.’ It was indeed the disturbance of the brain! Even now my brain is hot. I didn’t pay attention to my mother’s scolding.
So I visited the Master four or five times in Dakshineswar. I also spent the night with him a few times.

Mary Saaleman is a devotee of Mother Sarada and Sri Ramakrishna since decades. She is dedicated to reading Vedanta, prayer and a quiet life.




 Vedanta in a New Light

A small drop from the ocean of Sri Ramakrishna’s life

One day Sri Ramakrishna was told by a scholar that he could instantly cure himself of his illness by concentrating his mind on his throat. This Sri Ramakrishna refused to do because he could never turn his mind away from God. But upon Naren’s repeated request, the Master agreed to speak to Divine Mother about his illness. A little later he said to the disciple in a sad voice: ‘Yes, I told Her that I could not swallow food because of the pain in my throat and asked Her to do something about it. But the Mother said, pointing to all of you, ‘Why don’t you eat enough through all these mouths?’ I felt so humiliated that I couldn’t say a word anymore.’ Narendra realized how Sri Ramakrishna applied in life the Vedantic idea of ​​the oneness of existence and also came to realize that only through such realization could one rise above the pain and suffering of the individual.’ to live.

Living with Sri Ramakrishna during his illness was in itself a spiritual experience. It was beautiful to see how he endured his pain. In one mood he would see that only the Divine Mother spread pleasure and pain and that his own will was one with the will of the Mother, and in another mood he would clearly see the total absence of diversity, that only God becomes man . animals, gardens, houses, roads, ‘the executioner, the victim and the place of slaughter’, to use Sri Ramakrishna’s own words. Narendra saw in Sri Ramakrishna the living explanation of the scriptures regarding the divine nature of the soul and the illusory nature of the body. He further came to know that Sri Ramakrishna had attained that state through the total rejection of ‘woman’ and ‘gold’, which was indeed the core of his teaching. Another idea came into Naren’s mind. He began to see how the transcendental Reality, the Godhead, could embody itself as the Personal God, and how the Absolute could become a Divine Incarnation. He glimpsed the greatest of all divine mysteries: the incarnation of the Divine for the redemption of the world. He came to believe that God becomes man so that man can become God. Sri Ramakrishna thus appeared to him in a new light.


Face Ignorance! Face Illusion!

Legends from Swami Vivekananda’s life

The first definite journey on which Swami Vivekananda set out from the Baranagore Math [monastery] was when he suddenly left Calcutta for the ancient Kashi, also known as Benares. With only the barest necessities he went forth, leaving the monks to wonder whither he was going. Ah, how long he had anticipated the joy of visiting Benares, the most sacred stronghold of Hinduism for ages upon ages! Benares, the home of monks, the centre of learning, the Seat of Shiva Himself!  He had pondered oftentimes over its spiritual and intellectual glories .and its monastic grandeurs. The most sacred waters of the Ganges, the praying scores of votaries, the numerous temples, the immemorial atmosphere of holiness, the place where Lord Buddha and Sri Sankara preached—all these made a thrilling appeal to his fiery imagination. When from the bridge which spans the river he saw the splendid sweep of the citadel-like embankments with their palaces and temples, he was wrapt in wonder and in worship. He saw also the ruins of other temples, peering above the water’s edge, giving the whole place an air of that sombre magnificence which lingers about vast historic ruins. One sees him entering the city, visiting the temples, bathing in the Ganges, praying and meditating on the walled embankments, interviewing monks. One sees him musing in silence on the fame and greatness of the Sanatana Dharma and strengthened in the monastic consciousness.

In this great centre of Hinduism, in this seat of learning and meditation, all the Glory of Hinduism shone forth for Swami Vivekananda and he saw the whole civilisation of India in a new light. He realised that at the bottom of the sea of the Indian consciousness was the Over-Soul, and that the greatness of the land was in its power of reflecting the Reality, and making Its Surface and Depth as one. The coming and going of monks, the continuous intensity of prayer and spiritual recollectedness, the atmosphere of luminous vision and celestial benediction, the throbbing of the Indian Heart, spelled to him in most unmistakable language the glory of Bharatavarsha.

One day Swami Vivekananda journeyed to the site of Sarnath, several miles distant from Benares, to pay his worship to Lord Buddha, who preached here, in the Deer Park, Dharmachakra Pravartana Sutra, the first of His public gospels, and “beat the drum of immortality in the darkness of the world.” But at that time, the Stupa or Topa, sacred to the memory of the Buddha, and the ruins of the old Buddhist monastery, were still lying covered by a jungle. And here the Swami paused long and thought deeply, witnessing in his mind the crumbling power of Time and the ephemeral character of all earthly greatness. He was impressed with a certain sense of awe and spiritual joy for which he could not account, save being in the place made ineffably holy many centuries ago by the Presence of the Lord and of His monks. And he bowed down in spirit before the Lord. Surely, the thought of his grandfather and his grandmother came to the Swami in these days. And the thought of his grandmother, and her child—his own father—almost drowned here in very sight of the Holy City, brought various remembrances to his soul.

He visited the temples of Viswanath and Vireshwara Shiva and many others, and a strange feeling of overpowering awe seized him when he remembered the vision of his mother long ago. But he was not to lose himself in such a thought. He had come for prayer and meditation, and it was to these that he directed his whole attention. And he lived on begging, madhukari bhiksha, like other Sadhus, receiving his food with them from the chatras or establishments which pious devotees of Shiva had founded for the benefit of His Children. Often he dwelt on the Pauranic mythology which associates the ghats with the powerful deeds and great tapasya and devotion of the Gods. In the evening he would sit in silent meditation in the burning-grounds, or upon some projecting portion of the ghats with his eyes gazing in the distance across the river and his mind abstracted from the world of sense. Or he would sing in soft, melodious tones the religious songs which he was accustomed to sing at Dakshineswar or at Cossipore before his Master. Then, perchance, he would think of the Baranagore monastery and his heart would wonder how his Brothers were faring without him. And then he would banish all thoughts of anxiety on their score and crying out with the praying and the bathing thousands, “Hara ! Hara ! Shambhu ! Shiva ! Mahadeva !” enter into meditation upon Brahman. Or returning from the Ganges, his soul would be carried away with ecstasy by the solemn and awe-inspiring worship and aratrika in the Temple of Vishwanath.

One morning as he was walking on the road after having visited the temple of the Mother, Durga, he was pursued by a troop of monkeys and fled in haste, fearing that they might harm him, for they were often savage. On and on he ran in fear. Just when he was about to be overtaken, he heard a voice call out, “Stop 1 Always face the brute! ” The words suddenly brought him to his presence of mind. He turned. All his fear was gone, and he stood as if rooted to the spot, gazing full at the maddened troop of monkeys. When he dared defy them, they fled. Surprised at this sudden change of countenance on their part he laughed outright. In the close distance an old Sannyasin was trudging wearily along; the Swami looked at him and saw a fierce glory in his eyes. He greeted him with “Om Namo Narayana !’ Smiling, the venerable Sadhu responded with a similar greeting and walked on. It was his voice which had restored the Swami to his senses and drawn out the courage of his soul. And when giving a lecture in America much later in his life, the Swami referred to this incident and pointed to the moral of the story by saying, “So face nature! Face ignorance! Face illusion! Never fly! You remember the story of the king who saw the vision of an enchanted palace, and when he spat on the ground it vanished.”



The Hindus have received their religion through revelation, the Vedas.

They hold that the Vedas are without beginning and without end.

It may sound ludicrous to this audience, how a book can be without beginning or end.

But by the Vedas no books are meant. They mean the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons in different times.

Just as the law of gravitation existed before its discovery, and would exist if all humanity forgot it,

so is it with the laws that govern the spiritual world.

The moral, ethical, and spiritual relations between soul and soul and between individual spirits and the Father of all spirits,

were there before their discovery, and would remain even if we forgot them.

De Hindoes hebben hun religie ontvangen door openbaring, de Veda’s.

Zij zijn van mening dat de Veda’s zonder begin en zonder einde zijn.

Voor dit publiek klinkt het misschien belachelijk hoe een boek zonder begin of einde kan zijn.

Maar met de Veda’s worden geen boeken bedoeld. Ze duiden op de verzamelde schat aan spirituele wetten die door verschillende personen in  verschillende tijden zijn ontdekt.

Net zoals de wet van de zwaartekracht bestond vóór zijn ontdekking, en zou bestaan ​​als de hele mensheid deze zou vergeten,

zo is het ook met de wetten die de spirituele wereld regeren.

De morele, ethische en geestelijke relaties tussen ziel en ziel en tussen individuele geesten en de Vader van alle geesten,

waren er vóór hun ontdekking, en zouden blijven bestaan, zelfs als we ze zouden vergeten.

Katha Up. II.1.3

[Translated into Dutch by Maurits and Saskia Campert]