|| Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||
|| Aum Namo Narayanaya||
Picking up a little from the previous blog on ‘Freedom’, I believe that when we are shackled to a life of conformity and traverse the habitual highways, we tend to miss the opportunities of insight and illumination that can alter and shift our consciousness and the world around us. It is when we allow our minds to dig deep into the depths of our beings and make contact with that primordial energy of this universe, that we stumble upon an ‘epiphany moment’ that has the ability to shudder and rock the very foundations of our static consciousness... and the rooted comfort zones that fort our ability to expand beyond the entrenched ideas through our secular learning.
The history of the world is paved intently by such defining moments which have altered the cause of “business as usual”. These events have altered the consciousness of humanity and shaped a new horizon expanding the scope and vision of civilisation to new and interesting dimensions of existence.
The discovery of fire, oil, radio frequencies, gases and precious metals; the invention of the wheel, television, guns; democracy; the inauguration of Nelson Mandela and Barrack Obama as Presidents; the birth of Great Saints like Sri Ramakrishna, Adi Sankaracharya, Buddha and world icons like Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa -but not limited to the above- can be proclaimed as moments that re-altered the course of the world.
One such defining moment took place on 1 May 1897, when Swami Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission - a twin organisation of the Ramakrishna Math. Whilst many commemorate this day as the victory of unionised labour in attaining an eight hour working day in many parts of the world, Swamiji effected an organisation that would take up the work of raising the masses, feeding the poor and nursing the sick beyond the restrictions of hours, geographic limitations, gender and racial or caste orientation. The work is carried out in areas ravaged by natural disasters, famine and illiteracy as a complete selfless service to the divine.
Yesterday, I had the divine blessing of being part of an audience that witnessed stellar performances by not just the youth but the entire membership of the Sri Sarada Devi Ashram as they enacted various parts of Swamiji’s life as part of His 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations. One very significant episode remains fresh in my mind... At one meeting between Master and Naren, Sri Ramakrishna asks him to read from a nearby book Howrah’s weather forecast for the impending weeks. After explaining that the next couple of weeks shall be rain, Master asked Naren to squeeze the book. Alas He exclaimed... of what use is speaking of rain alone if it does not appear from the book. It was Swami Vivekananda who was the great applicator of Vedanta philosophy. He presented to mankind in a tangible and palpable way the rich, noble and lofty teachings of Hindu Dharma. He removed the inertia from these ideals and ensured they don’t remain dormant within the bound covers of the scriptures, but exist as an active living tenet of society. He said that civilisation should be an expression of the divinity within.
It was by no means a co-incidence that Swami Vimokshananda spent an hour and a half last Sunday in the Tirukurral class explaining the characteristics of ascetics and monks. These are the souls that formed the back-bone of Swamiji’s army that was to start a wave that would fundamentally alter the way we view religion and worship in the future. These monks of the Ramakrishna order are the conduits of Master’s grace and undergo vigorous training and discipline.
Thiruvallar said in the Tirukurral: Thurandhaar Perumai Thunaikkoorin Vaiyaththu Irandhaarai Ennikkon Tatru... which means: to describe the measure of the greatness of those who have forsaken the two-fold desires, is like counting the dead (which is an impossible task).
Maharaj gave the beautiful idea of Hanumanji’s strength... when Tulsidas says that He is atulita bala - that His strength is incomparable to anything in this world. This can be accredited to His strict disciplined observance of brahmacharya. It is said nature is under the command of such a being. Our most Revered Swamiji (Vivekananda) was one such being. Therefore, these renunciates of the order are able to perpetuate the mission and vision of Swamiji in taking forth Master’s teachings to the world.
The Kurral further goes on to say: Niraimozhi Maandhar Perumai Nilaththu Maraimozhi Kaatti Vitum... which means: the hidden words of the men whose words are full of effect, will show their greatness to the world.
Maharaj through His poetic language gave accounts from the Puranas of how the sages who have control over their five senses, have the ability to be very prophetic. We find resonance of this in Swami Vivekananda’s life. He stood at Belur Math and proclaimed: “The blazing light of universal harmony that will emanate from here will flood the whole world.” On another occasion He said: “The power that will rise from here will flood the whole world and turn the course of men's lives into different channels; from this place will spring forth ideals which will be the harmony of knowledge, devotion, yoga, and work and all true seekers of spirituality will in course of time assemble here.”
True to these prophetic words by most Revered Swamiji, Belur Math -encompassing the Ramakrishna Mission- is recognised by the Government of India and Her people for the sterling, selfless work in providing relief during disasters and calamities as well as eradicating poverty, illiteracy and illness through its various programmes. Inspired by Sri Ramakrishna and put into action by His dynamo disciple Swami Vivekananda, this defining moment in world history speaks to the practical approach to religion.. giving life to His words: 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.
Let us also not lead a habitual conformist life. Let us take the approach of Swamiji to create defining moments in our lives that will hasten our paths to liberation and happiness... not just for ourselves, but for every jiva that walks this earth with us, is my sincere prayer.
May this 150th Birth Anniversary year give us all some inspiration to serve selflessly... as a gift to our beloved Swami Vivekananda.
With love and prayers always