Sunday, 22 April 2012

Ramakrishna-Vivekananda: A seamless bridge between the ages

||Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||

Aum Namo Narayanaya

Master and Student
The weekend did not seem complete as I had to miss satsangh on Saturday, upon advice from the therapist to treat my sore neck, which resulted from poor posture. I must admit that the chill in the air does not in any way contribute to the healing process. It makes me want to be a teen again as I recalled my cousin who I visited on Friday evening laying in a very awkward position playing video games for hours on end without a problem. Although his total obsession in the game whilst me visiting annoyed me, it actually provided inspiration for today’s blog.

The game involved him going through various stages using different weapons and special kits to rescue and save a trapped crew of a plane crash. However, having been killed various times he had to restart from a specific stage. He also made reference to the internet at certain times, for tricks from other users to make his way through the stages easily.

A devotee once asked Master (Sri Ramakrishna) about why we have to be born and undergo these trials and tribulations to which He replied that it was all a “play of the Divine Mother”. Much like the game, we have to go through different stages; die and be born again until the game is over.  Like the internet, there is also advice from saints, sages and scriptures to ensure that we have an advantage and can seamlessly pass the various stages without any surprises.

Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion--at that time I descend myself, age after age.

This is said by Lord Krsna in the Bhagavat Gita with certainty and knowledge that He will have to come age after age with a reviewed message to mankind. It tells us that the relevance of the message changes age after age as man progresses. Living in the silicon age, is it possible for us to renounce the world and live in the caves to find God? Herein lies the brilliance of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda contribution to mankind, bringing about a synthesis of Vedanta throughout the ages and making it practical and relevant to our age.

With many schools of thought denouncing western culture and the material world as an impediment to ones salvation, declaring  that the only way is the renouncing off all material possessions and seeking the Lord in solitude. It was Swamiji, who having personally experienced the lifestyles of the oriental and occidental, understood that a careful blend of both worlds is needed for mans’ progress.

Born in the modern world, Swamiji  thoroughly understood that in the world which was mad with material advancements and intellectual pursuits,  the life of a recluse found no position in this activity-mad world. Hence Swamiji’s view that God can be attained through action (work) coupled with devotion to God finds strength in Shree Krishna’s words:

He who worships me constantly through the performance of his duties, knowing my presence in all beings, soon attains steadfast devotion to me, and through this devotion comes to me.

These words of the Lord were wonderfully unpacked by Master when he proclaimed: “No, not kindness to living beings; but service to the Lord dwelling in them”. If one can attend to one’s work or activity to humanity with the attitude of service to the Lord, then the path of Karma Yoga gains unusual momentum towards liberation.  Taking the words of His Master as His compass, Swamiji founded the Ramakrishna Math twinned with the Mission, highlighting to the world and humanity that  rendering service to the sick, ignorant, distressed and diseased is verily worship of God.

Swamiji said: “We have to cover everything with the Lord himself, not by a false sort of optimism, not by blinding our eyes to the evil, but by really seeing God in everything”. So in everything in life and death; in happiness and in misery; He is equally present. The whole world is full of the Lord - open your eyes and see Him.

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. He who has served the poor, and helped him seeing Shiva in him without thinking of caste, race, creed or anything; with him Shiva is more pleased than one who sees Him only in temples.

Swamiji took to this form of worship so intensely that He was willing to give up His own salvation for the upliftment of masses; understanding that there can be no true liberation until the sum total of all souls are freed from the bondage of this world.

May I be born again and again, and suffer thousands of miseries, so that I may worship the only God that exists, the only God I believe in, the sum total of all souls - and above all; my God the wicked, my God the miserable, my God the poor of all races, of all species, is the special object of my worship.

Satya Sai Baba himself performing Narayana Seva(serving the lord in humanity)
Our country South Africa, will celebrate Freedom Day on 27th April 2012. A day we look back at with jubilation, when as a nation, we were all able to cast our ballot in the new free South Africa. This freedom, is however, very superficial as true freedom goes beyond the ballot box. Let us take direction from Swamiji’s message to understand that South Africa can only be free when the poor, weak, and illiterate are removed from their plight.

Let us work to make our freedom a living reality and example to the world by serving our country and her people like Lord Narayana Himself.

May we celebrate our Freedom Day with the idea that our freedom only comes with the freedom of all aspects of life is my sincere prayer.

With love and prayers always


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