||Aum Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||
|| Aum Namo Narayanaya||
It would be extremely inappropriate if I commenced this blog without offering my sastanga pranaams at the holy feet of my Gurudeva -Srimat Swami Atmastanandaji Maharaj- on the occasion of His birthday yesterday -the Thrice Blessed Day of Lord Buddha- also known as "Janmo thithi". I must also offer my respects, pranaams and gratitude to our Revered Swami Vimokshanandaji Maharaj for regularly facilitating dharsan with my Gurudev who is in Belur Math, India through pictures sent by His devotee friends.
I must be candid here that up until 4pm yesterday evening, I was clasping at various strands of thought to write about... much like how a dehydrated delusional who having been marooned in the dessert for many days dives expectantly into mirages with the aim of quenching his thirst.
Gurudeva didn’t let me suffer long on His birthday... He sent forth His blessings and grace through His General Secretary, Srimat Swami Suhitanandaji Maharaj. Maharaj is on a 10 day visit to South Africa. He very modestly and humbly conceded to the audience that He is a better administrator than an orator, but His remarks remained just that -modesty- as His words and presence were enough to flood and emancipate all negative and regressive tendencies -- all with a deluge of Master's grace... like how a single wave can wipe away the impressions on the shore.
|Swami Suhitanandaji Maharaj|
Whilst listening to the three papers that were delivered, I was pushed off balance by a very powerful idea of Swami Vivekananda that was discussed... where He said that if there is one word that can describe or define God, it is unselfishness. When our hearts can feel the pain of another’s suffering and immediately dispatch the mind and intellect to find ways and means to alleviate their suffering then you have experienced or understood God.
It is our infatuation with the 'apparent man' - the socialite, doctor, lawyer, politician, movie star and other circles of prestige that robs us of the experience of our divine nature. What is the 'divine man' then? Is it a title strictly set aside for the Yogi in the cave or the sadhu in the forest? Absolutely not! With all gratitude to Swami Vivekananda who dusted off the sophistication of the scriptures and transformed them into practical vedantic action, we understand that all man who has transformed his education into a mechanism to empathise and raise the levels of society to his own with the understanding that this is worship in itself, has manifest the divine man. Selfishness is living in the realms of ignorance.
Recently, a missionary of another faith visited our town with claims of being able to heal the sick. I was really surprised at the amount of people that flocked to this crusade over the month-long session. Many Hindus and followers of other religious dominations also attended and it was disheartening to see the many people who thought they were going to be cured, easily crush and discard their faith in an instant. I am however still left bewildered at how in the wave of this crusade that took place next to a huge hospital... it still continued to do thriving business and certify many deaths.
It is for this reason alone the Lord Himself has come and great saints and sages lived amongst mankind to practically teach us that the body must perish and that our focus must be on the manifestation of the divinity within. We have seen how they have all suffered various diseases which debilitated their bodies, yet they remained poised in their faith, devotion and love for God.
Once while in the state of divine ecstasy, Sri Ramakrishna slipped on a rail and hurt His shoulder and was in severe pain. Find here an excerpt from the 'Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna': a conversation between Himself and a devotee.
After His arm was bandaged, He said: "I haven't very much faith in your Calcutta physicians. When Sambhu became delirious, Dr. Sarvadhikari said: 'Oh, it is nothing.It is just grogginess from the medicine and a little while after, Sambhu breathed his last."
It was evening and the worship in the temples was over. A few minutes later Adhar arrived from Calcutta to see the Master. Mahimacharan, Rakhal and M. were in the room.
ADHAR: "How are you?"
MASTER (affectionately): "Look here. How my arm hurts! (Smiling) You don't have to ask how I am!"
Adhar sat on the floor with the devotees. The Master said to him, "Please stroke here gently." Adhar sat on the end of the couch and gently stroked Sri Ramakrishna's feet.
MASTER: "It will be very good if you can practise unselfish love for God. A man who has such love says: 'O Lord, I do not seek salvation, fame, wealth, or cure of disease. None of these do I seek. I want only Thee. Prahlada had this unselfish love, this pure love for God without any worldly end."
Mahimacharan sat silent. The Master turned to him.
MASTER: "Now let me tell you something that will agree with your mood. According to the Vedānta one has to know the real nature of one's own Self. But such knowledge is impossible without the renunciation of ego. The ego is like a stick that seems to divide the water in two. It makes you feel that you are one and I am another. When the ego disappears in samādhi, then one knows Brahman to be one's own inner consciousness.
One would immediately denounce the idea of anything pure growing in a stagnant, decaying pond playing host to bacteria, pests and other vermin. Yet to the utter astonishment of many, we see the divinely associated, extravagantly beautiful lotus thriving in such habitats without being stained.
Like that... Swamiji said: "We have to seize this unstable mind and drag it from its wanderings and fix it on one idea. Over and over again this must be done. By power of will we must get hold of the mind and make it stop and reflect upon the glory of God.”
Life is the gymnasium where we come to work out our karmas and like a good workout, there will be injuries and pain, but all for the long term good of us. Let us not focus on the body and the setbacks that come with it, but rather strive to enjoy the joy within.
May we all strive to drop off the 'apparent man' and project the 'real man' that we all are, is my sincere prayer.
With love and prayers always