Sunday, 7 July 2013

Ahalya's Redemption

||Aum Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||

 ||Aum Namo Narayanaya||

Swami Vimokshananda addressing the audience

Normally when people are about to retire , they start their speeches by saying, I stand before you with mixed emotions but today as I sit to write this blog I am also entwined with mixed feelings. One of immense joy as I together with a few thousand people appreciated the wonderful and stellar performances of the youth at the Ramakrishna children’s festival at the UKZN University in Westville Durban. As the stage opened to a super life size canvas of Swamiji my heart was gripped by an intense emotion which welled my eyes instantaneously as I recalled the 4th of July 1902 when Swamiji left his body.


At seven o'clock in the evening, the bell rang for worship in the Chapel. The Swami went to His room and told the disciple who attended to Him that none was to come to Him until called for. He spent an hour in meditation, then called the disciple and asked him to open all the windows and fan His head. He lay down quietly on His bed and the attendant thought that He was either sleeping or meditating.


At the end of an hour, His hands trembled a little and He breathed once very deeply.There was silence for a minute or two, and again He breathed in the same manner. His eyes became fixed in the centre of His eyebrows, His face assumed a divine expression, and eternal silence fell.. Swami Vivekananda passed away at the age of thirty-nine years, five months, and twenty-four days... thus fulfilling His own prophecy: 'I shall not live to be forty years old'.


On Thursday, 111 years on, the heavens’ still shed tears in honour of Her great son Vivekananda. The sun lay hidden behind the dense clouds of sorrow and as the rain washed away the helpless soil, it reminded me of how they all stood around the pyre throttled by intense grief and watched helplessly as Swamiji's mortal remains were consigned to the flames.


There is a story of Ahalya (one without any deformation) created by Brahma as the most beautiful woman on the earth. She was desired as a wife and lover by all men, creatures and Gods. Even Indra could not suppress his lust for her. She was however, given in marriage to Sage Gautama. One day while the Sage was gone to undertake His penance, Indra disguised himself as the Sage and entered the hermitage. Ahalya being fooled and bewildered by 'maya' was dishonoured by Indra.


Sage Gautama returned unexpectedly from His penance and caught Indra in His home. The Sage was overflowing with rage and cursed His wife such that for her indiscretion, she will be turned into a stone and during the Treta Yuga shall be redeemed from the curse by the touch of Sri Rama’s feet. Whilst in the forest, Sri Rama did place His feet upon the stone and she was freed back to her former glory.


Nivedita began to weep like a child, rolling on the ground. Suddenly the wind blew into her lap a piece of the ochre robe from the pyre, and she received it as a blessing. It was dusk when the flames subsided. The sacred relics were gathered and the pyre was washed with the water of the Ganga. The place is now marked by a Temple, the table of the altar standing on the very spot where the Swami's body rested in the flames.

Gloom and desolation fell upon the monastery. The monks prayed in the depths of their hearts: 'O Lord! Thy will be done!' But deep beneath their grief, all felt that this was not the end. The words of their leader, uttered long before His death, rang in their ears: 'It may be that I shall find it good to get outside my body — to cast it off like a wornout garment. But, I shall not cease to work. I shall inspire men everywhere, until the world shall know that it is one with God.'


And: '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.'For centuries to come people everywhere will be inspired by Swami Vivekananda's message: 'O man! first realise that you are one with Brahman —aham Brahmasmi— and then realise that the whole universe is verily the same Brahman —sarvam khalvidam Brahma-.


History will always show to the world one of the most perfect Guru-Disciple-relationships of modern times, as that of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. Swamiji lived and died by the instructions of His Guru. Once, Swami Vivekananda spoke to Master in this strain: "I want to remain immersed in samadhi for three or four days, continuously, breaking it only for a little food." But Master reprimanded him: "Shame on you! You are seeking such an insignificant thing. There is a state higher than that even. Is it not you who sing, 'Thou art all that exists?' I thought you would be like a banyan, sheltering thousands from the scorching misery of the world. But now I see you seek your own liberation." It was during His wandering years when Swamiji came across the appalling condition of the masses, that He found resonance with His mission and His Master's words. His heart began to churn with empathy and His life no longer became about Himself, but for the millions of suffering 'jivas' of the world.


Swamiji's mission is to save us. Like Ahalya, we are all perfect souls, being tricked by the 'maya' of the world; lured by lust and greed, our hearts have been turned to stone. We enjoy this world for self and sense pleasure alone. Like how Sri Rama redeemed Ahalya, Swamiji left His mortal coil to permeate this universe through His spiritual form. Through His great and grand ideas that permeate the world and as people come into contact with them and start to digest it, His grace shall flow and our hearts will turn from stone to the beautiful lotus abode of the Lord. It shall feel love again, it shall empathise again and we will understand that we are one with God... and that we will only be freed when all are freed.


Until that day when every 'jiva' understands that... Swamiji will be true to His word and shall never rest until it is achieved. Last Sunday when Swami Vimokshananda was expounding the glorious gems of the Tirukurral, He spoke of how envy, jealousy, anger, etc. were terrible obstacles in the spiritual path. I was foolish to have been jealous and envious of all those who lived and served Swamij; to those who had the opportunity to sit at His feet and those who took the dust off His feet... because now in this time, after He gave up His body, He is our eternal companion. Like how Hanumanji was at the side of Sri Ram, Swamiji is with you.

Take up His ideas of strength and fearlessness and go about your journey of life with firm faith in Him... and victory will surely surrender to you.

My salutations and eternal surrender at the feet of Swamiji always.
 Some children who participated

With love and prayers always


descriptions of swamijis last hours from various writings on swamiji from the net.

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