Vedanta Vani has received the blessings of Most Revered President Maharaj, Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. Srimat Swami Smarananandaji Maharaj is the President of the twin institutions: Ramakrishna Math [Monastery] and Ramakrishna Mission. the Headquarters is Belur Math, India.
Vedanta Vani has also received the blessings of Most Revered Srimat Swami Suviranandaji Maharaj, General Secretary, Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. Most Revered General Secretary Maharaj resides in Belur Math, the Headquarters of the Sangha.
It was a bright, sunny day.
It was a small post office. There were just two assistants and a chief.
The post office was not so crowded.
People went about their business as usual.
Around midday, there came two little ones to the post office.
A little boy and a little girl.
The boy seemed to be the elder brother, around 5 years, and the little girl was not more than three years old.
It appeared from their movements that they were both anxious and in some hurry.
The boy seemed to be a little more anxious and was comforting his little sister repeatedly, in whispers.
“Next…” called the postal assistant.
The boy and the girl ran to the counter. However, they were both too small for the clerk to see them. Rather, the boy couldn’t reach the counter.
“Next…” again the clerk shouted.
The little boy managed to lift his sister, and she put an envelope into the mouth of the counter.
Yes. She had an envelope in her hand, and she managed to insert it into the counter.
The postal clerk saw the envelope, but couldn’t clearly see the children.
So he got up. He saw them. Their fear-filled, anxious, expectant eyes.
It was the moment. The moment when stones melt, when flowers bloom, when glaciers melt.
The postal clerk was a kind-hearted young man.
He took a minute to look at the envelope carefully, and took a minute to figure out how to deal with the situation.
His instinct told him to deal with the situation in a business-like manner.
So he addressed the little ones. “Your envelope…So, you want to send this to this address?”
The boy instantly understood that his efforts were successful. He almost shouted, “Yes”, and the girl nodded. They looked at each other and smiled, for the first time.
The postal clerk said, “That is easy. No problem…But..”
As if knowing what the clerk would ask for, the boy instantly took out some coins from his shirt pocket. “Yes, I have money.”
The clerk smiled and said: “A brilliant boy indeed. You have money for the stamps!”
The boy patted his sister and said, “Yes, sir.”
The clerk smiled and said, “Really? Let me see.” Even as the boy showed the coins on his palm, the clerk seemed to count them from inside the counter.
The boy was anxious: “How much? I have so many coins…”
The postal clerk said : “Let me check.”
He appeared to read the address once again.
The girl now said in her little-girl language: ” We are writing because we want…”
Instantly the brother put his hand on her mouth. “Shhh!”
The boy did not want his sister to reveal the contents of the letter.
Having read the address again, so to say, the postal clerk smiled and said,
“The coins you have are enough. In fact, more than enough. You are intelligent. Don’t worry, everything is perfect.”
He took a few coins from the boy’s hands. “Please wait.”
Meanwhile, the clerk went to the postmaster. The postmaster was an equally kindhearted person.
They both discussed the matter for a minute.
The long wait for the brother and sister seemed to end.
And the sound of his stamping the envelope made both children very happy.
The brother said, “Now you don’t worry anymore…”
The clerk now asked: “Only one point. There is no from address. Your address. Where do you live?”
The boy could not give his address. But he could name the road. So the postal clerk thought for a minute and said, “Everything is fine now.”
The boy asked: “Did you put the stamps?”
The clerk replied: “Yes, I did. You heard me put a seal on it. Didn’t you?”
The boy and the girl were happy. They smiled at each other and left.
The assistant postal clerk went behind them. To know where the children lived.
It was a small, old, broken house. Now, the postal department knew the address of the children. And something was about to happen.
So what was the letter all about?
When the postal clerk took the envelope from the girl’s hand, he saw that it was addressed to ” Krishna”. The address was “Swarga”, heaven.
The children had managed to get an envelope and managed to write also.
What was inside the envelope?
A letter to God. The boy had written in his faulty language that he wants a bicycle for his little sister.
“Krishna, i want cycle for mina”.
The postal department immediately began to take action. They collected money and bought a new, beautiful bicycle.
And three days later, a postman went and delivered the cycle to the very eagerly waiting children. The boy and the girl were on the street, waiting for Krishna’s reply to their letter.
The postman rang the bell. The boy and his sister ran to him. The postman said, “There is a parcel for Mina. Are you Mina?” He asked. The little girl shouted in great excitement, “Yes, I am Mina.”
“Here is your post.”
It was a beautiful bicycle.
And the joy of the children in receiving the bicycle!!
This month’s Question
“Why should we Pray to God?”
Everyone has their own God. God can be among the stars, God can be among the people we love, God can be the work we do. As long as we believe in something and trust something, it can be our God. God is someone who is here with us all throughout our lives. God sticks with us through thick or thin. He smiles at our happiest moments, and makes us learn from our mistakes. But most importantly, God gives us hope. He is someone whom we can trust without fear or doubt, knowing that everything He does is for our own good. During our darkest of days, we can rely on God and trust Him to make things better. During those moments, we pray to Him. We call Him from above and tell Him about our problems, we wish for them to get better. We wish good health for our loved ones. We also acknowledge him, and thank him for all those joyous experiences He has given us. This not only is our service to Him, but is also mentally healing. It makes us feel good to have someone to trust, and it makes us less stressed. Praying to God is a way of showing our gratitude towards Him, and we should do it regularly.
Praying takes us to the right path, it helps us during our hardest times.
“It gives us a moral compass in our life.”
God is what is behind all the fundamental forces which govern this giant universe and outside the purview of the narrow logical framework of the human mind. The form of God we pray to does not matter, it is only a means to make a mental picture in our mind to address to. In crucial situations, when everything is going against us, and we begin to self-doubt, belief in God can be the difference between making and breaking our resolve. It can give us a sense of purpose in life. Attaining peace of mind is one of the reasons people pray but the most important thing is to pray without seeking anything in return. Praying does also has health benefits. Mental stress in day to day life has reached epidemic proportions and praying can help in reducing it. We should also pray to thank God for what all has been bestowed to us right from not only the necessary ingredients to live but also the means like the human consciousness to discover our true divine nature.
We pray to god because we need or want something for ourselves or for others. We do this by worshiping him or praying to him. For example, in Indian culture,we pray to different gods for different things. Praying to god offers us the support that we can’t get from anyone else and helps us fulfill our needs. God gives us the strength to believe in ourselves. Prayer also strengthens our connection to God, praying helps us overcome obstacles in life and helps us reach our goals.
Ahona Saha Charu
We pray to God because God is the creator of the whole universe who is lovely, merciful, caring and the almighty. God gives us everything that we need to have a mentally and physically healthy life. We are so dependent on him, for our basic survival we need water to drink, air to breath and food to eat, God has given them to us in abundance. If we understand all these things naturally we start loving him. In our critical time when we feel distressed, helpless we pray to God which gives us strength to face challenges.
God is so vast as his creation. It’s not possible for us to understand him fully, that’s why God has made himself so flexible to us, whatever way we want we can pray to him. We can pray in front of Idle of God in whatever form and we can also pray to him mentally at any time, any place. God is lovely, love is his true nature, so we should pray him with full of love and gratitude.
A Remarkable Incident
Mary Louise Burke
During the months Swamiji remained in Chicago after the Parliament of Religions he must have been the house guest of various friends. As we have seen, one home that was always open to him and where he stayed both during and after the Parliament was that of Mr. and Mrs. John B. Lyon at 262 Michigan Avenue, and George W. Hale, 541 Dearborn Avenue, Chicago.
The Hale house (on Dearborn between Burton Place and Schiller) was a block and a half from Lincoln Park, and there Swamiji sometimes went to sit in the sun and open air. A touching and revealing incident took place during these outings. It seems that each day when Swamiji sat in the park, a young woman and a little girl six years old would pass by on their way to the market. One day the woman, no doubt convinced that the young Hindu was kind and trustworthy, asked him if she might leave her child in his charge while she went about her marketing. Swamiji assured her that she might, and thenceforth every morning that they met in the park,
Swamiji took the little girl into his care. But the story does not end here. When the child had grown to fifteen or sixteen, her mother came upon a picture of Swamiji, of whose fame she had by that time learned, and showing it to her daughter, asked, “Do you remember your friend?” She remembered; for who knowing Swamiji, even at the age of six, could forget? Later, after she had married and moved to Philadelphia, the memory of Swamiji again became vivid in her mind, drawing her to spiritual life. She became a student of Swami Akhilananda, who used to visit that city now and then to meet with a group of devotees.
This girl was to become Mrs Agnes C. Ewing. She passed away in 1945.
How many small happenings such as that of a mother leaving her child in his charge took place throughout Swamiji’s visit to America, how many chance contacts he had with people whose lives were translated by his touch or glance, we can only guess.
You are not what you think you are!
न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचित्
नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतो,यम् पुराणो
न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācit
nāyam bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato’yam purāņo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarîre [2.20]
You are never born. You shall never die. It has never happened that you were not here, or that you shall not be here, or that you shall be destroyed. You are unborn, eternal, permanent, and ancient. Even though you may live in a transcient and changing body, you can never ever be harmed in any way.
You are the Atman and you can never be destroyed. The six changes of the body don’t affect you in any way. Birth, being, growth, modification, decay and death are the rulers of the material level, the physical level. If you identify with this state, you shall be wrong because you are not at all that. Sri Krishna teaches you here the fundamental fact of your life. You are the Eternal Atman. You have no modifications.
Why do you worry when some superficial covering, which is not you at all, undergoes change? Be bold and strong. Know the truth and be free. This is Sri Krishna’s advice to the world.
Mother Sri Sarada Devi’s words about Image Worship
Mother Sri Sarada Devi was then in Kolkata. She was staying at the Udbodhan house.
One day, Mother was receiving devotees. A few women devotees were in the adjacent room. Two of them wore ochre robes. They prostrated themselves before Mother. They brought some sweets for the offering. Their teacher was just then engaged in a huge sacrifice. One of the nuns asked Mother, “Is there any truth in image worship? Our teacher does not approve of it. He instructs people in the worship of the fire and the sun.”
Mother : You should not doubt the words of your own teacher. Why do you ask me about it when you have heard the opinion of your Guru in the matter ?
The nun : We want to know your opinion.
Mother refused to give any opinion. But the nun was stubborn and began to press for a reply.
Mother said at last: ‘If your teacher be omniscient, pardon me for the remark, then he would not have made such a statement. From time immemorial innumerable people have worshipped images and thereby attained spiritual knowledge. Do you want to deny this fact? Sri Ramakrishna never cherished any such parochial and one-sided view. Brahman exists everywhere. The prophets and incarnations are born to show the way to benighted humanity. They give different instructions according to different temperaments. There are many ways to realise truth. Therefore all these instructions have their relative value. Take, for instance, a tree. There are many birds perched on its branches. They have different colours, white, black, yellow, red, etc. Their sounds are also different. But we say that these are the sounds of the birds. We never designate a particular sound as that of birds and refuse to acknowledge other sounds as such.”
The nuns desisted from argument after some time. They then inquired about the Calcutta address of Holy Mother and said that they would like to see her again. After they had left, the Mother said, “It does not become a woman to argue like that. Even the wise could hardly realise the nature of Brahman by argument. Is Brahman an object of discussion? ’’
Amazing Ancient Architecture
The history of India [the ancient, unified, vast India], is at least 25000 years old.
During all those years, numerous empires have come and gone, numerous cities have come and gone and countless structures have come and gone.
Mahabharata, which was written five thousand years ago, speaks of the amazing palace of the Pandavas, which was a marvel of science and technology.
Later on, the construction of amazing architectural wonders continued all over the land.
Thus, architecture of ancient India brings amazing stories of the glorious past.
They had no machines which we have today. They had no mail, no post, no banks, no trains or planes, nothing.
Yet, ancient Indian Hindus constructed such marvels. It is amazing how they could manage to do what they did.
It is true that most of the ancient temples were eliminated. Yet, what remains stands as testmony to ancient glory, ancient knowledge and ancient science.
The technology was amazing.
Here is a Praveen Mohan Video…
Some Thoughts on Character and Youth
Due to tremendous technological advancements, we at present are enjoying the most comfortable life ever in human history. We have almost managed to produce an abundance of whatever we need to survive externally. We should be the happiest living beings is this world, with all the comfort we have. However, unfortunately we are not. We are experiencing enormous issues caused by our selfish and inhumane actions, including the snatching away of the rights of others, harming others physically and mentally, and what not. Recently the UN published a report, where it has been mentioned that within the next few years about one million species are at risk of extinction because of deforestation, overfishing, development and other human activities.
We should now ask ourselves what has driven us to this awful situation. Without hesitation I would say it’s our selfish actions. We became so self centered, individualistic and shortsighted. We seek own interest in every work we do. And at it’s gross level, it’s a symptom of the weakness of our character.
What do we mean by character? Swami Vivekananda defines character as the “stream of tendencies”. So good tendencies form a good character and selfish tendencies form a selfish character. But how to grow good tendencies? Again the answer is by performing selfless actions. Our actions have direct relationship with our character because each of our actions leaves a mark as an impression in our mind. Swami Vivekananda writes: “Karma in its effect on character is the most tremendous power that man has to deal with. Man is, as it were, a centre, and is attracting all the powers of the universe towards himself, and in this centre is fusing them all and again sending them off in a big current. Such a centre is the real man — the almighty, the omniscient — and he draws the whole universe towards him. Good and bad,
misery and happiness, all are running towards him and clinging round him; and out of them he fashions the mighty stream of tendency called character and throws it outwards. As he has the power of drawing in anything, so has he the power of throwing it out. All the actions that we see in the world, all the movements in human society, all the works that we have around us, are simply the display of thought, the manifestation of the will of man. Machines or instruments, cities, ships, or men-of-war, all these are simply the manifestation of the will of man; and this will is caused by character, and character is manufactured by Karma. As is Karma, so is the manifestation of the will. The men of mighty will the world has produced have all been tremendous workers — gigantic souls, with wills powerful enough to overturn worlds, wills they got by persistent work, through ages, and ages.”
So Swamiji emphasised on actions/karma for building character and that actions/karma should be persistent. But why it should be persistent? Swamiji writes: “If you really want to judge of the character of a man, look not at his great performances. Every fool may become a hero at one time or another. Watch a man do his most common actions; those are indeed the things which will tell you the real character of a great man. Great occasions rouse even the lowest of human beings to some kind of greatness, but he alone is the really great man whose character is great always, the same wherever he be.”
Music this Month
Swami Vivekananda, apart from being an ideal traditional Hindu monk, was also a poet, a social reformer and many many more in one. He was also an accomplished singer, a musicologist and a composer. Music was in his blood. His father Vishwanath Dutta, an attorney, his and grandfather, Durgaprasad, were both good vocalists.
Even as a student, Swami Vivekananda, then Narendranath Dutta, compiled an anthology of music called Sangeeta Kalpataru. For his deep, powerful and sonorous voice he himself was quite an accomplished Dhrupad singer. Because of the then Calcutta musical ambience, he was well acquainted also with kheyal, thumri, bhajan and kirtan. Moreover, he could play pakhawaj, tabla, sitar and esraj with effortless ease. Swami Vivekananda was the foremost disciple of Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1836). And Ramakrishna himself, as is well known from the Kathamrita volumes by Mahendranath Gupta, was a fountain head of bhajan-kirtan and devotional dancing. The first encounter of the swami with his guru Sri Ramakrishna was a momentous event when Vivekananda sang the song “Mano chalo nija-niketane”. Wherever and whenever the two met, Ramakrishna would ask and Vivekananda would respond with the relevant song in his sonorous voice. Once on such an occasion, Swamiji’s singing “Nibida andhare ma tor chamoke o ruporashi” caused the guru to enter into instant Samadhi. This month, you have this song as the song of the month.
Besides singing such the songs of the Brahmo Samaj, called Brahma Sangeet, Swamiji often sang his own compositions as well. For instance, “Nāhi surja nāhi Jyoti” is one of his compositions which, in Bengali, may remind us of the Katha Upanishad passage, “Na tatra suryo bhāti, na Chandra tārakam …” . Of all the Upanishads the Katha Upanishad was Swamiji’s favourite.
[Text: Pran Gopal Paul]
Music This Month
Nibida āndhāre Mā …
Science and Sanatana Dharma
Ancient India, long before the Christian Era, was enormous. It was called Aryavarta. It was rich in every sense. Especially in the field of science. Thousands of years ago, Hindus thought and taught ideas which are marvellous discoveries of modern science.
Even though invaders burnt countless books, and fear of life made numerous scholars to hide themselves and their knowledge for ever, what remains is still amazing.
People ask, “Why should we study ancient books, scriptures, etc?” First of all, spiritual benefit. Then there are numerous other benefits. Hindus have long neglected their own treasures. Now the awakening is coming gradually.
Here is an example from Kanada’s Sutras
The Ideal of All Yogas
[Swami Turiyanandaji Maharaj was a Disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. A Brahmajnani, the knower of Brahman, Swami Turiyananda is considered to be the personification of the teachings of the Bhagavadgita. He worked in the USA also, spreading the message of Vedanta.]
No worshipper worships matter. The infinite Consciousness, which is Being-knowledge-Bliss [Sat-chit-ananda], is the one object of worship of all devotees. The enjoyment of heaven and such other objectives are low. Only those who arc full of desires pray for the enjoyment of heavenly pleasures, heaven and such other objectives.
However, they have to come back to the miserable world soon.
te tam bhuktvā svarga-lokam vishālam
kshîne punye martya-lokam vishanti
evam trayî-dharmam anuprapannāḥ
‘‘Having enjoyed the vast Swarga [heaven]-world they enter the mortal world again, on the exhaustion of their merits. Thus, abiding by the work-portions of the Vedas [which are for those who wish to enjoy pleasures], and desiring enjoyments, such people constantly come and go.” (Gita 9.21). This is for those who arc devoted to practices with a motive to attain heaven.
But there are the others.
The attainment of heaven, etc., is not the goal of the true worshippers (Upasakas).
To them the question is about the Atman, which is Being-Knowlcdge-Bliss — which is of the nature of wisdom. The worshippers according to their inherent tendencies (samskaras) look upon this one Atman or Brahman Itself as different objects of worship. Some see Him as the whole and themselves as parts of Him. Some again see Him as non-different from themselves. Some others again see Him as the Great Lord different from themselves. But even they do not think of themselves as inert matter, but as Consciousness. Therefore we find the question of inertness with respect to the worshipper never arises at all.
The worshipper and worshipped both are Consciousness, but only according to differences in the inherent tendencies of the worshipper, their mutual relationship also differs. What does this mean?
देहबुद्ध्या तु दासो`स्मि जीवबुद्ध्या त्वदंशकः
आत्मबुद्ध्या त्वमेवाहम् इति मे निश्चिता मतिः
deha-buddhyā tu dāso’smi jîva-buddhyā tvadamshakaḥ |
ātma-buddhyā tvamevāham iti me nishcitā matiḥ ||
Once Sri Rama seeing Hanumān amongst the sages that had assembled before him, in order to satisfy all his devotees, asked him, “Well, how do you look upon me?” Hanuman, the best of the illumined ones [jnānis], seeing some great purpose behind this question, replied, “When I think of myself as the body, then I am Thy servant, when I think of myself as the Jivātman (the individual soul), I am Thy part. And when I think of myself as the Atman, I am Thyself — this is my conclusive opinion.” Thus Hanuman happened to express the attitude of all the devotees. This is the essence of Vedanta.