Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Living Lotusly!

“Swami Vivekananda is an enduring source of inspiration” said the Honourable Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi, as he together with millions across the world paid respects and remembered this great son of India and inspirer of the world on 4th July, which was Swamiji’s Maha Samadhi Day. How should we view this day? I believe it must be celebrated as a day of victory. It was Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna who said that Naren will leave his body when he had finished his work. Although we all lament His early departure from the earthly planes, Swamiji had “set in motion the machinery” that would develop a new order of beings - more confident, brave, highly progressive, strong and ready to face the world.

The morning broke with much excitement in the Kingdom of the Zulu with the Durban July horse race grasping the attention of many as they pondered upon their attire and obviously on their choice for the winner, in preparation to attend the event. My thoughts however managed to weave past these entirely frivolous distractions and centre on the aim of attending Ashram to offer my respectful obeisance and gratitude to a Saint whose heart cried out to the folly of man in leading an uninspired and aimless life through ignorance of his true nature.

An empyrean vibe accosted the Satsangh Hall which imbued with the essence of sandal incense. The regally adorned altar simply invoked adoration and did not stall in transporting devotees into a realm of supreme tranquillity.  No soon as Kandana Bhava Bandhana (arathi) was sung… my mind was unbounded from the precincts of Durban Ashram and ported to the banks of Belur Math. I could hear the gongs and bells echo in the flamboyant arched halls of the Temple. Tears streamed down the face of devotees as the flames of the arathi flickered and danced for the enjoyment of the seated image of  Master. The concerted and the collective rendition soaked in such sincere devotion drowned out the blaring horn of the nearby jute mill, the foraging crows and the rickety ferries bobbing on the tempestuous Ganga. I pictured Swamiji pacing His veranda with a smoke in His hand, deep in thought, heart bleeding with pain about the condition of humanity. I took solace and comfort knowing that Swamiji will continue to pace His veranda until the work He set in motion -that is to deliver every soul from the abyss of ignorance to the point of understanding it is one with the divine- is realised.

Here in South Africa, the Ramakrishna Mission, through the inspired work of Swami Nischalananda has catalysed and augmented the vision of Swami Vivekananda by channelising youth energy into developing value-based character.

Youth performing at the Childrens' Cultural Festival
Pic Courtesy: SA Devotees
The Childrens' Cultural Festival initiated by Swami Nischalananda show cases the results of immense sacrifice and intense dedication in nurturing and grooming the new order of beings as envisaged by Swamiji. You cannot imagine the delight on the faces of those who watch the cultural feast for the first time, which is completely produced by the youth with the assistance of their Sunday School teachers. For those of us who have attended previously, we are simply stunned by the standards that continuously improve year after year.

It was also heart-warming to see that Swamiji’s instruments - the Monks of the order starting to multiply in South Africa… a definite and clear sign that the spiritual renaissance is going to be given new impetus and vigour over the next few months.  The grace extended through the first President from Belur Math, Swami Vimokshananda, expanded on Saturday when our current President Swami Vishwathmananda returned to South Africa with two new monks who will compliment and intensify the work of Swamiji in South Africa. South Africa is blessed and elated to welcome Swami Sumanasananda and Swami Tadbhasananda to her shores.

Monks of the Ramakrishna Order in attendance at the Childrens' Cultural Festival
Pic Courtesy: SA Devotees

Swami Vivekananda’s life speaks to the search and rescue of the indomitable strength, power and resolve that lies within each one of us.  Swamiji’s life punctuated with its fair share of trials and tribulations resonates amicably with many people who are struggling to keep their head above water in the vast ocean of existence. Struggle has become synonymous with life. Victory comes to those who adopt the correct attitude and temerity to face and resolve the impasses before them.

The burly and authoritative words of Swamiji at once reduces to ashes any smouldering signs of weakness, lethargy, fear and uncertainty flourishing from the root of ignorance. “Face the brutes” - probably one of his most audacious and potent utterances commands immediate fearlessness against challenges that confront us.

The most brilliant and priceless gems emerge out of the confrontation with the cutting-brush. Our inadequacies and inferiority complex has thwarted us from emerging as shining gems against the challenges of life. Our great concern is our youth who have sought the escapist routes of suicide, substance abuse and the life of crime in order to pass the days oblivious of the world.

Youth performing at the Childrens' Cultural Festival
Pic Courtesy: SA  Devotees
Based on the foundations and teachings of Swami Vivekananda, we witness the youth of our Sunday Schools blossoming like the splendid and beautiful lotus in the murky waters of this world. They radiate such confidence and panache and adorn a little smirk of their faces, challenging life to test them.

Positive role models, good literature that develops your intellectual and mental capacity and aligning yourself to values and teachings that help you expose your divine nature is essential for success in this time. I can assure our youth and adults alike that Swami Vivekananda is definitely an enduring source of inspiration and light to you.

May Swamiji, who assured us that he will continue to work 1500 years after He had left His body, guide and help us reach our full potential and lead prosperous lives, is my sincere prayer.

With love and prayers


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