M

ay 2010
May May May May May 2010 2010 2010 2010 2010
A CULTURAL AND SPIRITUAL MONTHLY OF THE RAMAKRISHNA ORDER
Started at the instance of Swami Vivekananda in 1895 as Brahmavâdin,
it assumed the name The Vedanta Kesari in 1914.
For free edition on the Web, please visit: www.sriramakrishnamath.org
Vedic Prayers 165
Editorial
The Struggle-Mantra 166
Articles
„ The Loving Aspect of Holy Mother 170
Swami Tathagatananda
„ Prayer of the Heart 178
Pravrajika Brahmaprana
„ Towards a Vedic Philosophy of Peace 186
Rudraprasad Matilal
New Find
„ Unpublished Letters of Swami Saradananda 184
Travelogue
„ A Pilgrimage to Kalady—
the Birthplace of Adi Shankara 190
‘Atmashraddha’
The Order on the March 199
Book Reviews 201
Features
Simhâvalokanam (Taittiriya Upanishad)—169,
Vivekananda Tells Stories—176
VOL. 97, No. 5 ISSN 0042-2983
CONTENTS
Cover Story: Page 4

The Vedanta Kesari
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Sun rise at Purna River, Kalady
The Purna or Periyar River is the longest river in the state of
Kerala, with a length of 244 km. Known as the lifeline of
Kerala, Periyar river is one of the few perennial rivers in the
region and provides drinking water for several major towns.
The source of the Periyar is in the Western Ghats range.
Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Shankara, is located on the banks
of Purna river. The cover page picture is taken from the
Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama, situated right on the banks of
Purna river. For a detailed article on Kalady, see page 190 of
this issue.
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165 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 9 ~ ~
EACH SOUL IS POTENTIALLY DIVINE. THE GOAL IS TO MANIFEST THE DIVINITY WITHIN.
VOL. 97, No. 5, MAY 2010 ISSN 0042-2983
Vedic Prayers
Tr. by Swami Sambuddhananda
ant˚¤rtmt ¤rn nr˚¤r a º¤atºt ¤rn ¤ º¤an≤ ¡
¤|a ¤atºt ¤rn ¤rtatº≤ |¤ºtn º¤ «¤ºuntº¤n≤ ¡¡
—Shwetashwatara Upanishad, VI, 7
a Him r¬rtmt of gods ¤rn the great nr ¬r the Supreme Lord a Him
º¤atºt of the deities ¤rn º¤a the highest deity ¤atºtß of rulers, administra-
tors ¤rn ¤|a the Supreme ruler rº¤n≤ worshipable, adorable ¤rtatº≤ tran-
scendent «¤ºun≤ the Lord of the universe |¤ºtn may we realise.
May we realise Him, the transcendent one, the adorable Lord of the
Universe who is the Supreme Lord of all lords,
1
the supreme God of all
the gods
2
and the supreme Ruler of all rulers.
3
1. Lords—Vaivaswat, Yama, etc.
2. Gods—Indra, Agni, etc.
3. Rulers—Prajapatis.
Love binds, love makes for that oneness. You become one, the
mother with the child, families with the city, the whole world becomes
one with the animals. For love is Existence, God Himself; and all this is
the manifestation of that One Love, more or less expressed. The difference
is only in degree, but it is the manifestation of that One Love throughout.
Therefore in all our actions we have to judge whether it is making for
diversity or for oneness. If for diversity we have to give it up, but if it
makes for oneness we are sure it is good. So with our thoughts; we have
to decide whether they make for disintegration, multiplicity, or for oneness,
binding soul to soul and bringing one influence to bear. If they do this, we
will take them up, and if not, we will throw them off as criminal.
—Swami Vivekananda, CW, 2:305

166 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
The Struggle-Mantra
The Universal Mantra
‘Struggle-mantra’ is the one mantra that
every student, without exception, receives
from his teacher. ‘Struggle on!’ is a universal
mantra and irrespective of the field of action—
whether improving oneself physically, intellec-
tually, morally or spiritually—it is imparted
to every student by his teacher. The teacher
places an ideal or a task before his student
and tells him, ’Keep trying. Keep struggling;
you will succeed.’
A cricket coach, for instance, while
teaching a new technique to the newcomer,
says, ‘Practice it a few days, and you will
master it. Keep trying.’ A music teacher tells
the same when he teaches a new song to the
student. So too a drama teacher, a chemistry
teacher, a driving-teacher, and even, an expert
pickpocket tells to the new pickpocket while
teaching the tricks of his trade—‘Struggle!’
Yes, struggle is basic to life. And dwelling
on the meaning of the term ‘life’, Swami
Vivekananda says,
Life itself is a state of continuous struggle
between ourselves and everything outside. Every
moment we are fighting actually with external
nature, and if we are defeated, our life has to
go. It is, for instance, a continuous struggle for
food and air. If food or air fails, we die. Life is
not a simple and smoothly flowing thing, but it
is a compound effect. This complex struggle
between something inside and the external world
is what we call life. . .
1
This inner-outer nexus is at the root of
every form of struggle that we face. All our
individual and collective struggles in econo-
mic, political and social and other fields too
follow the same nexus—inner-outer. This
includes our struggles of daily life such as
arranging for food, clothing, medical care,
transportation, communication, earning or
multiplying money, learning new things, and
so on, as also the higher struggle to grow
morally and spiritually.
Struggle—Outer and Inner
The ancient Indian thinkers, however,
classified all struggles into three; they looked
at all struggles as attempts to get rid of dukha
or pain.
These three types of struggles are:
1. The struggle caused by the elements
and forces of nature,
2. The struggle caused by other living
beings, and
3. The struggle caused by one’s wrong
attitude and response.
The last type of struggle is what we will
focus on here. For it is the struggle with
oneself, or self-struggle, which determines how
well we can struggle with the other two types
of struggles.
Only two types of men do not struggle:
the absolute dullards and the perfect ones. The
dullards or brutes have little power to think,
and are lost in sense-enjoyments. They do not
care for any other thing. Their moral sense is
so gross and elementary that nothing disturbs
their mind. The perfect ones have understood
the highest truth, are established in it and are
freed from all desires, ever-content and ever-
peaceful. They too do not struggle.
167 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
7
Now, what is the struggle that we cause
to ourselves? It is the struggle that is born of
our desire to seek the perfect or become per-
fect. Whether we know it or not, we are all
seeking perfection. The very fact that we
become unhappy scores the point that we are
seeking a perfect, uninterrupted state of happi-
ness. In the language of spiritual seekers, it is
wanting to attain a state of being or a state of
consciousness where there is perfect joy. One
might call that state as atman-consciousness,
or Brahman-consciousness. Those following
the path of devotion may visualize that state
as the state of being eternally with their chosen
deity—which represents to them the highest
state of being, same as the atman or Brahman-
consciousness. In whatever way one might
express the highest state, all human beings are
trying to reach that state, consciously or
unconsciously. Says Sri Krishna in the Gita:
In whatever way man worships Me, in the same
way do I fulfil their desire; it is My Path, O son
of Pritha, that men tread in all ways.
2
From Lower to the Higher ‘Struggle’
‘Who conquers the world?’ asks a
Sanskrit proverb. ‘One who conquers the self.’
But what is self?
According to spiritual texts and Masters,
every human being consists of two selves: the
lower self and the higher self. The lower self
consists of our body, mind and ego. This ‘self’
is the instrument of our ordinary living consist-
ing of all mundane experiences—laughing and
crying, celebrating and mourning, undergoing
all the ups and downs of life. The lower self is
also the seat of all our lower impulses such as
anger, greed, jealousy, lust and so on. But a
time come when the self has had enough of
these and wakes up, as it were. It then starts
the upward journey, and we start manifesting
our higher Self, and the virtues or values such
as truthfulness, self-control, contentment,
kindness and so on.
Awakening of the lower self towards its
higher possibility heralds the beginning of a
long inner journey from ‘lower truth to higher
truth’. This inner journey passes through many
peaks and descends, and valleys and heady
precipices, until one arrives at the highest. It
is a journey from the vishayananda (the joy of
vishaya, sense-objects) to bhajanananda (the joy
of bhajana, spiritual practices) and finally to
brahmananda (the joy of Brahman, the ultimate
Truth). It is a progressive journey from lower
to higher forms of joy.
To one who is struggling to rise from
the vishayananda to bhajanananda, the journey
is that of going and returning, to and from,
the world of sensory enjoyment and the world
of the Spirit. At first it is being pulled and
torn asunder between the two. There are
moments of joy of success and there are
moments of despair and defeat. At times, the
struggling soul decides to surrender before the
sensory enjoyments and it appears to him that
all his spiritual aspirations are dead and gone.
At other times, the glimpses from the world
of Spirit overwhelm him. Sometimes he enjoys
doing his spiritual practices such as medi-
tation, prayer and Japa, and sometimes, it is a
terrible drudgery. If he has intense faith and
is strong in his resolve, he carries on and
reaches the other shore, the shore of bhajana-
nanda. After reaching the other shore, how-
ever, a new, higher form of struggle emerges—
that of going beyond even the rasa or joy of
spiritual practices and reach the ever-lasting
Source of whole Existence. Reaching that state
alone marks the end of all struggles.
Understanding ‘Struggle’
What does the word ‘struggle’ mean?
Whatever the context it may be used, ‘struggle’
168 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
8
means overcoming an obstacle, combating all
the challenges that come in one’s way; it con-
sists of contending with an adversary or oppo-
sing force. But before one struggles, one should
know what one is struggling for. This clarity is
as important, or even more important, than
the struggle itself. An interesting story is told
of a man who was passing by parking place
where two trucks were parked back-to-back.
He found his friend trying to push a container
from one truck to another. He greeted his
friend and offered to help to shift the container.
‘Welcome’, said his friend, and both began to
push. After half an hour of struggle, when the
container did not move an inch, the man
remarked to his friend, ‘I do not think we can
push the container that side.’ ‘What that side?
I am pushing it this side, and not that side!’
The first thing necessary, therefore, for
any the struggle to become effective is to know
what is at stake. One should be clear-eyed and
be sternly honest about it.
At the root of all struggles lies the intense
yearning to reach the desired end. This in-
tensity of seeking fuels all our efforts, sustains
us under all trails and trying conditions, and
makes us hopeful and enthusiastic. ‘Where
there is a will, there is a way.’ Only when this
‘will’ is tied to a goal or purpose that it makes
everything else possible. ‘Will’ means a whole-
hearted determination to reach the goal.
Another aspect of struggle-mantra is that
it is not always on expected lines. We may be
aware of some part of what lies ahead—our
strengths and weakness, opportunities and
obstacles—but a good deal of our struggle will
be in an unknown territory. Never can one
get to know all the hurdles that lay in our
path. There are unseen landmines which
explode only when we step on them. A
struggling soul should have courage and
strength to face them. One needs a cooperative
mind to do so. And only a pure mind can be
cooperative. One should therefore try to be
pure in one’s thoughts, words and actions.
Beneath all struggles is present the
twofold principle of abhyasa-vairagya or practice
and detachment. In order to practice some-
thing, one will have to give up something.
Abhyasa therefore is invariably tied to vairagya.
And as much intense is one’s vairgaya, so
much intense will be one’s desire to practice.
And such is the power of practice that the
story is told of a man who would lift a calf
while crossing a river. And this he continued
to do for days after days and even for months
and years till someone pointed out to him that
his calf was no longer a calf but a full grown
cow! Lifting the cow daily! Practice has
amazing powers.
Struggle includes facing despair, defeat
and backslidings. They are a part of the term
‘struggle’. We should not scorn at them, or
feel surprised as if they are unwelcome guests.
One has to face them and not fly away from
them. Struggle means facing them with the
help of inner and outer resources. Prayer,
intense and genuine, and repeated practice is
the best way to proceed in any struggle. Says
Swami Brahmananda,
Why do you think that you cannot do it because
you failed once or twice? One has to try again
and again. Sri Ramakrishna used to say, ‘The
newborn calf tries to stand up but falls down
many times. It does not stop. It tries again and
again. And then at last it not only stands up,
but also learns to run.’
3
Repeating the struggle-mantra one does
wonders. If a calf can learn to stand, should
not a man too learn to stand firmly on higher
values, on higher Self? It may be difficult but
let us move on, struggle on, on and on. †
References 1. CW, 1: 84 2. Gita, 4.11 3. The Eternal Companion, Sri R.K. Math, Chennai. Pp. 237-38
169 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
From the Archives of THE VEDANTA KESARI
S i mh â v a l o k a n a m
Taittiriya Upanishad
(Introduction)
(February, 1918-19, pp. 317-318)
The Upanishad has been so named because it forms a part of
the Taittiriya Aranyaka of the Krishna Yajur Veda. Taittiriya Aranyaka itself forms the latter part
of the Taittiriya Brahmana and this Upanishad constitutes the seventh, eithth and ninth
prapathakas of the said Aranyaka. The Taittiriya recension of the Krishna Yajur Veda got its
nomenclature from the tradition that when the great sage Yajavalkya was asked by his offended
Guru to return back the Veda which the former had studied under him, Yajnavalkya threw it
out, and other Rishis taking the forms of Tittiris (partridges) swallowed the Veda thus thrown
out.
The Upanishad is the most popular of all other smaller Upanishads, chiefly owing to the
fact that it is still chanted with proper swarams and intonations by Brahmins in all parts of
India. . . Moreover it speaks of the rules of conduct beginning from the student life up to the
fourth Ashrama i.e., Sannyasa life, in well ordered graduated manner, revealing the depth of
significance of each stage and its final culmination into the next, till man reaches the sumum
bonum of life, the Brahmanandam.
It is divided into three parts, named according to Sankara, as (1) Shiksha-Valli, (2) Ananda-
Valli, and (3) Bhrigu-Valli. But Sayana in his commentary on the Taittiriya Aranyaka styles
them as (1) Samhiti, (2) Varuni and (3) Yagniki, according to the subject matters dealt therein.
The special feature of the Shiksha-Valli is that it gives a most beautiful pithy address to
young novitiates of the Brahmacharya Ashrama, analogous to the convocation addresses of
modern universities, where the teacher tells the students about the virtues they should try to
posses and cultivate, the ideals of life they should foster and such other rules of conduct for
the up-building of a noble character. The special feature of the next chapter, the Brahmananda-
Valli is in the grand proclamation that Brahman in Anandamaya or Supreme Bliss. Wherever is
the expression of bliss or joy, know there, it asserts, is the light of Brahman. But its fullest
expression is in the unfettered joy of the consciousness of the Universal Life. . .
The special feature of the third chapter, i.e., Bhrigu-Valli is the mention of the five
sheaths, Koshas of the Atman. . . It is the most beautiful idea of leading the mind from the
gross to subtler and subtler till to the subtlest of all, the Atman which is encased within these
Upadhis or super-imposed adjuncts of life. †
170 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
The Loving Aspect of Holy Mother
SWAMI TATHAGATANANDA
God As Mother
Throughout the world, God is regarded
as Father, Mother, Counsellor, Friend,—as
everything. But the Indian tradition
wants to look upon God as Divine
Mother in view of the fact that all
living beings emerge from mother.
Swami Vivekananda says:
1
Mother-worship is a dis-
tinct philosophy in itself.
Power is the first of our
ideas. It impinges upon
man at every step; power
felt within is the soul;
without, nature. And
the battle between
the two makes hu-
man life. All that
we know or feel is but the resultant of these
two forces. Man saw that the sun shines on the
good and evil alike. Here was a new idea of
God, as the Universal Power behind all—the
Mother-idea was born.
Mother is the first manifestation of power and
is considered a higher idea than father. With the
name of Mother comes the idea of Shakti, Divine
Energy and omnipotence, just as the baby
believes its mother to be all-powerful, able to do
anything. The Divine Mother is the latent power
sleeping in us; without worshipping Her we can
never know ourselves. Every manifestation of
power in the universe is Mother. She is life, She
is intelligence, She is Love. . . . A bit of Mother,
a drop, was Krishna, another was Buddha,
another was Christ . . . worship Her if you want
love and wisdom.
The human mind, however, normally gravi-
tates to the material plane and ordinary
people nurtured in secular, sensate
cultures find it impossible to fathom the
Divine Mother. Though we cannot
understand the inscrutable grace of
the Divine Mother, we can under-
stand an infinitesimal part of her
glory if She is worshipped with
devotion.
Down the ages,
India has been worship-
ping God as Mother,
as Devi. This wor-
ship is particularly
popular in Bengal during the different
religious festivals, when thousands of images
of the Divine Mother are worshipped.
Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi was born
as an incarnation of the Divine Mother. To
meet the need of this age, the Divine Mother
manifested her gentle aspect of the redeeming
power and universal love of divine mother-
hood to the highest degree in Holy Mother,
who demonstrated her divinity during her
exemplary life of sixty-seven years. She
belongs to all nations, to all races. Her divine
love is extraordinarily expressed through her
profound, intimate motherly compassion free
The author is a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Order, and the Head of Vedanta Society, New York. His books
include The Journey of Upanishads to the West, and Light from the Orient, among others. …
171 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
11
from bondage and attachment. The Divine and
human, the infinite and finite, are fused in her.
She was sweetness incarnate and grace aboun-
ding. Her simple words went right to the heart
of listeners, giving them complete solace and
satisfaction. Her pure, immaculate nature
radiated purity and utter tranquillity.
Holy Mother’s Boundless Love
Holy Mother’s all-pervading love may
be described as a vertical love for God and a
horizontal love for the suffering humanity.
Born to a poor family in rustic surroundings
and with no chance of schooling, Sri Sarada
Devi raised herself to the highest stature of
spiritual sublimity, which commanded respect
and adoration from Sri Ramakrishna himself,
who worshipped Holy Mother as the Mother
of the Universe, Shodashi, at Dakshineswar in
1872. Moreover, Sri Ramakrishna prostrated
before the Deity and offered the fruits of all
his spiritual practices as well as his rosary at
the feet of Holy Mother.
Sri Ramakrishna left Holy Mother behind
to exhibit the Motherhood of God. God as
Saviour is full of love. As a mother loves her
children, the great Mother-Heart of God loves
all. The expression, ‘Motherhood of God’,
conveys to us that God, as Mother, loves His
children infinitely more than a human mother.
The foremost disciple of Sri Ramakrishna,
Swami Vivekananda was the first to under-
stand Holy Mother and articulated this in a
letter from the USA in 1894:
To me, Mother’s grace is a hundred thousand
times more valuable than Father’s. Mother’s
grace, Mother’s blessings are all paramount to
me.
2
The monastic and lay disciples of Sri
Ramakrishna as well as common persons also
revered her and worshipped her as Divine
Mother. She was in reality the Divinity, the
Guru, a nun and a wife, all in one. Her words,
‘I am the Mother of all. I am the Mother of the
good. I am the Mother of the bad, too,’ gives
us the reassurance that every one of us is near
to her, not far. She is an enigma. The world
has never seen anyone like her. To think of
her lovingly and reverently will make our
mind purer.
Some Inspiring Anecdotes
Let us look at a few of the innumerable
anecdotes describing Holy Mother’s all-
encompassing love for the suffering devotees.
God feels our pain, anxiety, and so on. When
genuine devotees wholeheartedly, sincerely
and consistently seek God’s grace to tide over
the situation, He comes to their aid.
Holy Mother used to bring Sri Rama-
krishna’s food to his room at the Dakshineswar
Temple. One day, a woman suddenly appear-
ed and requested Mother to give her the plate,
which she carried to Sri Ramakrishna and then
left immediately. On many occasions during
the Master’s life, it had been observed that Sri
Ramakrishna was unable to touch any food
defiled by the touch of a human being of
immoral character. This time also, he did not
touch the food. After a little while Holy Mother
came to his room. She was gently reprimanded
by Sri Ramakrishna for handing his lunch over
to that woman and spoiling it. He tried to
extract a promise from Mother that she would
always bring his food to him herself. Although
Holy Mother was ever obedient, vigilant, and
dedicated in the service of Sri Ramakrishna,
she had to tell Sri Ramakrishna that it was im-
possible for her to refuse anybody who
addressed her as ‘Mother.’ Sri Ramakrishna
felt immense inner joy as he observed the
flowering of her universal motherly affection.
But this is not the only such occurrence.
Readers of her enigmatic life will invariably
172 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
12
find out that she was the living embodiment
of Vedanta and rooted in Divinity—she moved
and had her being in the Divine and the Divine
alone. Being the Universal Mother, she did not
refuse anyone who approached and addressed
her as ‘Mother.’ Actresses and other women
of immoral character also received her
abundant love and sympathy. When some
intimate devotees of Sri Ramakrishna did not
approve of Mother extending her love to
undesirable types of people, she ignored their
advice and remarked,
Everybody can be the mother of the good, but
who will accept these dregs of society and
console them? I am the mother of the wicked as
well as the mother of the good.
Once, an elderly maidservant carrying a
bundle came to Holy Mother at Jayrambati,
on behalf of Akshay Kumar Sen, the author of
Ramakrishna-Punthi. As usual, Holy Mother
received her with the full affection of a
compassionate mother and made her sleep at
Jayrambati that night. Holy Mother’s regular
habit since her days at Dakshineswar was to
arise at early dawn. At dawn the following
day she entered the maidservant’s room and
found the poor woman burning with a fever
and in the pathetic condition of having soiled
the bed. Holy Mother was very affectionate
with the maidservant. She encouraged her to
avoid the scorching heat of the sun by starting
early on her return journey. Then Mother
immediately cleaned everything herself so that
no one would find any trace of the soiled bed.
Another time, a woman belonging to the
Bannerjee family at Jayrambati was in a
precarious condition. She had no one to look
after her and had developed a disease in her
ears. Her condition was so pathetic that pus
was exuding from both ears and she had a
fever. Learning about it, Holy Mother nursed
her and gave her hot milk. She also approach-
ed Brahmachari Varada (Swami Ishanananda)
in an effort to find shelter for her at Koalpara
Ashrama, where they used to take care of some
patients. Varada went to Koalpara, consulted
with the Head of Koalpara Ashrama and
returned to take the patient to Koalpara.
Revealing her immense concern for this
unfortunate woman, Holy Mother sent her to
Koalpara in a bullock cart. The attending
doctor at Koalpara gave the woman some
medicine but in spite of the best efforts of the
inmates, she passed away. When Holy Mother
heard of it, she told them, ‘You acted as her
own children in serving her and I am happy
that she received this humane treatment at the
end of her life.’
Holy Mother’s divine love was always
conspicuous. Due to the fact that she was born
and raised in a rural society, Holy Mother
often encountered issues generated by caste-
consciousness. When the collapse of their trade
deprived Amzad and other Muslim weavers
of their basic needs, they were forced to resort
to theft and highway robbery. But this did not
provide them with enough means to take care
of their families. In their desperate condition,
they went to Holy Mother for help. Though
she was fully aware of their unlawful beha-
viour, Holy Mother’s heart was deeply
touched by their pitiable condition. Despite
the local prejudice against Muslims, Holy
Mother treated them as her own children. Like
the most affectionate mother, she provided
them with some opportunities to work. Every
one of these Muslim weavers regarded Holy
Mother as their Guardian Angel.
In another example, Holy Mother’s niece
Nalini harboured a strong sense of the superior
purity and social status of Brahmins accorded
by the Hindu caste system. On one occasion
Nalini found Holy Mother removing the left-
over scraps of a meal. This sight naturally
173 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
13
horrified her and she cried out, ‘Ah me! She’s
removing the leavings of a multitude of castes!’
But the universality of Holy Mother’s love
which knows no division immediately reveal-
ed itself. She responded, ‘What if they are from
various castes? They are all my children.’
Removing leftovers was actually a part
of Holy Mother’s daily routine. Although she
was steeped in the Orthodox tradition of
Hinduism, Holy Mother never allowed devo-
tees or the Swamis to remove their leftovers
themselves. By her own example, she relieved
them of their stigma of division that was
associated with their caste-consciousness.
When Swami Vishweshwarananda resisted
and offered to remove his own plate after the
meal, Holy Mother persuaded him to allow
her take it instead and said to him, ‘What
indeed have I done for you? A child even soils
its mother’s lap and does so many other things.
You are rare jewels to be sought for by gods.’
With these sweet words she expressed the
grace of her divine Motherhood. Some other
women who had the good fortune to live near
Holy Mother nevertheless criticized her for
this. Her natural response was, ‘Well, I am
their mother. If a mother shouldn’t do it for
her children’s sake, who else should?’
These are not the only cases demonstra-
ting Holy Mother’s lack of prejudice. We have
seen that throughout her life of infinite uni-
versal love, she consistently transcended the
limitations of social convention, even with
foreigners. Her motherly affection removed all
timidity and doubt from any devotee inclined
to approach Holy Mother with hesitation or
reservation.
Holy Mother gave shelter to giant souls
like Swamiji and others. Her simple word was
final to them. Whereas these great disciples
had the innocent habit of arguing with Sri
Ramakrishna, they never dared to think of
arguing with Holy Mother. Every word of
Holy Mother’s was a command to them.
Swami Vivekananda ceremonially purified
himself before going to Holy Mother and
shook with pious emotion in her presence. We
would like to cite one instance of Holy
Mother’s guidance of the Mission in times of
crisis.
Some political revolutionaries dedicated
to winning India’s freedom later joined the
Ramakrishna Order. They did so with great
sincerity and completely eschewed the path
of politics. On December 11, 1916 the Governor
of Bengal, Lord Carmichael, made a statement
that cast aspersions on the Ramakrishna
Mission. During that crucial period of India’s
history, the Mission’s devotees and well-
wishers were alarmed that sinister conse-
quences might follow the governor’s unfri-
endly opinion of the Mission. They suggested
to the Mission authorities that they call for the
revolutionaries to leave the Order. At that
juncture, Swami Saradananda, the Secretary
of the Ramakrishna Mission, discussed the
matter with Holy Mother, who firmly rejected
this suggestion. Notwithstanding the adverse
official remarks of the government, Holy
Mother deemed that those who joined the
Order in the name of Sri Ramakrishna should
be allowed to remain. She suggested that
Swami Saradananda meet personally with the
governor to explain the Mission’s viewpoint.
Accordingly, Swami Saradananda met with the
governor’s private secretary with the result
that the governor issued a statement in March
26, 1917, and exonerated the Mission and its
members.
3
Not only did the Holy Mother bless all
of the Mission’s philanthropic activities, she
was keenly interested in all the details of this
work. Whenever relief workers came to her,
she always inquired in depth about these
174 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
14
activities. She always wanted to know if the
Mission had been informed and if it had
alleviated the people’s woes. Recognizing that
the ordinary monk cannot remain absorbed in
meditation round-the-clock, she advised such
monks to earnestly accept philanthropic
activity for their own benefit. She once said,
‘That is why my Naren started all these centres
for work. Our organization will function this
way. Those who cannot adjust will leave.’
Mother loved Girishchandra Ghosh,
although he was a bohemian in every respect.
Due to his unwavering staunch faith, he regar-
ded Holy Mother as Divine Mother. Once, he
went to Jayrambati and stayed there a whole
month. Every day, he saw with his own eyes
the divine love of Holy Mother. Even in her
old age, her body frail and rheumatic, she
would go door-to-door to get some milk and
vegetables in her effort to bring a little comfort
to Girishchandra in that village surrounding.
Nearly every day, Girishchandra would notice
that Mother herself washed his bed sheets.
Girish had become so embittered with life that
during that time he broached the idea to
Mother of renouncing the world and becoming
a monk. When she did not approve of the idea,
Girish ‘resorted to the logical and vehement
reasoning of which his keen intellect and poetic
tongue were capable, and which was cal-
culated to sweep anyone off his feet.’ She
withstood this barrage of words without
changing her mind and he had to give up the
thought of becoming a monk.
Despite his faults, Girish was a great
devotee of fiery radiant faith in the divinity of
the Master and the Mother. Her tender actions
and loving concern for him when he was at
Jayrambati left deep impressions in Girish-
chandra’s mind; he requested Holy Mother to
grace his house with her presence on the
occasion of Durga Puja in 1907. To his great
disappointment, due to her continuous illness
which left her physically debilitated, Holy
Mother initially did not want to make the long,
arduous journey to Calcutta. However, be-
cause of his deep, abiding and steadfast
devotion, she accepted this importunity and
came to Calcutta. This made Girishchandra
and the other devotees extremely happy.
On the first day of Durga Puja, she endu-
red much. An endless stream of devotees came
to place flowers at her feet. Holy Mother sat
quietly for many hours together at Balaram’s
residence before going to Girishchandra’s
house where she had to remain for the rest of
the worship. On the second day, she was not
at all well and covered herself with a cotton
sheet.
Again, she sat for many hours, gratifying
all the devotees with her serene presence. Not
a single devotee was disappointed. Holy
Mother’s patience was unflagging, but the
strain of it all weakened her further. Her
exhaustion became more apparent and it was
decided that she would be unable to satisfy
the devotees’ greatest wish: her presence
during the evening juncture of the eight and
ninth days of the moon [sandhi]. But without
Mother’s presence, the Puja worship would
be useless. Of all the disappointed devotees,
Girishchandra was the most distressed, for he
was convinced of the absolute necessity of her
presence. He withdrew to his drawing room
upstairs and refused to participate; no amount
of cajoling could convince him to come back
down. Then, to everyone’s amazement, at the
exact moment of the blessed juncture Holy
Mother appeared at the doorway and stated
simply, ‘Here I am.’
Swami Premananda was there and tells
the story:
4
Girish Babu, the great devotee, celebrated Durga
puja in his house. Holy Mother attended the
175 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
worship. So I went there. What I witnessed
struck me with great wonder. Girish Babu is
comparable only to Girish Babu. He is indeed
unique.
At about half past two in the morning, the
palanquin that was sent to Balaram Babu’s house
for the Holy Mother to attend the sandhi puja
[the most important hour of the worship] came
back empty. Five minutes later, at just the
moment of the sandhi puja, the Holy Mother
arrived by herself. [She walked just one block
from Balaram Babu’s house to the house of
Girish.] We all were struck dumb. Girish Babu
was overwhelmed with joy at seeing her. Now
again, imagine the presence of an array of girls
in the worship hall, girls who are despised by
society [prostitutes who were dancers and
actresses in the theatre of Girish], and the Holy
Mother, who is worshipped as an embodiment
of purity, seated in their midst. This was indeed
a unique sight. Girish is the only one who can
make the impossible possible.
Indeed, Girish was beside himself with sheer
joy and could barely speak as he ran downstairs
to greet her. Catching his breath he exclaimed,
‘I thought that my worship had come to naught,
and just now the Mother knocks at the door and
announces, “Here I am.” Everyone, including
his theatrical troupe of performers, rushed to
offer the flowers of their devotion at her feet.
Mother stood still the whole time, her pure gaze
concentrated on the image of the Goddess Durga.
The Goddess Durga was worshipped the
entire three days. During those three days,
Holy Mother also received the worship of all
without exception while sitting calmly and
serenely in a chair, in spite of her illness. And
although her condition required her to return
home as soon as possible, she fulfilled the
devotees’ wish to prolong her stay for the
worship of Kali. Having thus satisfied them
all, Mother returned to Jayrambati, partially
on foot, and arrived there in the darkness of
night. Her failed health and the general lack
of conveniences made it a very stressful
journey for her.
Conclusion
As only the tip of a massive iceberg is
visible above the ocean’s surface, this essay
also, gives only a glimpse of the unobservable
immensity of her Mother-soul. No greater
being was ever born in such obscurity and
quietude as Holy Mother. Peace always dwel-
led in her pure heart. She was a sweet and
lovely rose quietly radiating the fragrance of
her graceful life. Grace, like radium, penetrated
her entire personality, giving a halo of
unknown beauty. She was the living embodi-
ment of love, non-attachment, kindness,
gentleness, sympathy and loving service to all.
When great spiritual souls take rest and
are no longer actively involved in human
welfare with their whole-souled, sincere will-
ingness, we are forced to acknowledge the
deep impact of their treasured presence and
loving concern on our behalf. Their exemplary
lives are our greatest tangible treasure which
gives us hope and increases our faith in God.
The power of their pure and loving memory
is the eternal legacy of their gift to humanity. †
1. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita
Ashrama, Calcutta, 1964, 8: 252. [Hereafter C. W.]
2. CW, 7: 26-7.
3. Swami Gambhirananda, History of the Ramakrishna
Math and Mission, Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta,
1957, p. 218.
4. Swami Premananda, Teachings and Reminiscences,
Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, 1970, pp. 210-11.
References
15
176 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
Swami Vivekananda was a great storyteller. His talks and
writings are interspersed with numerous anecdotes, examples, similes,
and illustrations mirroring his vast knowledge of human nature—its potential and its
relative limitations. Some of these stories are well known, many others are little known. We present
here some more of these insightful stories, selected from his Complete Works.
XXXXXV
At a Svayamvara there was always a
great feat of arms or something of the kind.
On this occasion, a mark in the form of a fish
was set up high in the sky; under that fish
was a wheel with a hole in the centre, conti-
nually turning round, and beneath was a tub
of water. A man looking at the reflection of
the fish in the tub of water was asked to send
an arrow and hit the eye of the fish through
the Chakra or wheel, and he who succeeded
would be married to the princess. Now, there
came kings and princes from different parts
of India, all anxious to win the hand of the
princess, and one after another they tried their
skill, and every one of them failed to hit the
mark.
You know, there are four castes in India:
the highest caste is that of the hereditary priest,
the Brahmana; next is the caste of the Ksha-
triya, composed of kings and fighters; next,
the Vaishyas, the traders or businessmen, and
then Shudras, the servants. Now, this princess
was, of course, a Kshatriya, one of the second
caste.
When all those princes failed in hitting
the mark, then the son of King Drupada rose
up in the midst of the court and said: ‘The
Kshatriya, the king caste has failed; now the
contest is open to the other castes. Let a
Brahmana, even a Shudra, take part in it;
whosoever hits the mark, marries Draupadi.’
Among the Brahmanas were seated the
five Pandava brothers. Arjuna, the third
brother, was the hero of the bow. He arose
and stepped forward. Now, Brahmanas as a
caste are very quiet and rather timid people.
According to the law, they must not touch a
warlike weapon, they must not wield a sword,
they must not go into any enterprise that is
dangerous. Their life is one of contemplation,
study, and control of the inner nature. Judge,
therefore, how quiet and peaceable a people
they are. When the Brahmanas saw this man
get up, they thought this man was going to
bring the wrath of the Kshatriyas upon them,
and that they would all be killed. So they tried
to dissuade him, but Arjuna did not listen to
them, because he was a soldier. He lifted the
bow in his hand, strung it without any effort,
and drawing it, sent the arrow right through
the wheel and hit the eye of the fish.
Then there was great jubilation. Drau-
padi, the princess, approached Arjuna and
threw the beautiful garland of flowers over
his head. But there arose a great cry among
the princes, who could not bear the idea that
The Story of Mahabharata
(Continuation of previous issue. . .)
177 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
this beautiful princess who was a Kshatriya
should be won by a poor Brahmana, from
among this huge assembly of kings and
princes. So, they wanted to fight Arjuna and
snatch her from him by force. The brothers
had a tremendous fight with the warriors, but
held their own, and carried off the bride in
triumph.
The five brothers now returned home to
Kunti with the princess. Brahmanas have to
live by begging. So they, who lived as Brah-
manas, used to go out, and what they got by
begging they brought home and the mother
divided it among them. Thus the five brothers,
with the princess, came to the cottage where
the mother lived. They shouted out to her
jocosely, ‘Mother, we have brought home a
most wonderful alms today.’ The mother
replied, ‘Enjoy it in common, all of you, my
children.’ Then the mother seeing the princess,
exclaimed, ‘Oh! what have I said! It is a girl!’
But what could be done! The mother’s word
was spoken once for all. It must not be disre-
garded. The mother’s words must be fulfilled.
She could not be made to utter an untruth, as
she never had done so. So Draupadi became
the common wife of all the five brothers.
Now, you know, in every society there
are stages of development. Behind this epic
there is a wonderful glimpse of the ancient
historic times. The author of the poem men-
tions the fact of the five brothers marrying the
same woman, but he tries to gloss it over, to
find an excuse and a cause for such an act; it
was the mother’s command, the mother
sanctioned this strange betrothal, and so on.
You know, in every nation there has been a
certain stage in society that allowed polyandry
—all the brothers of a family would marry
one wife in common. Now, this was evidently
a glimpse of the past polyandrous stage.
In the meantime, the brother of the
princess was perplexed in his mind and
thought: ‘Who are these people? Who is this
man whom my sister is going to marry? They
have not any chariots, horses, or anything.
Why, they go on foot!’ So he had followed
them at a distance, and at night overheard their
conversation and became fully convinced that
they were really Kshatriyas. Then King Dru-
pada came to know who they were and was
greatly delighted.
Though at first much objection was
raised, it was declared by Vyasa that such a
marriage was allowable for these princes, and
it was permitted. So the king Drupada had to
yield to this polyandrous marriage, and the
princess was married to the five sons of Pandu.
Then the Pandavas lived in peace and
prosperity and became more powerful every
day. Though Duryodhana and his party
conceived of fresh plots to destroy them, King
Dhritarashtra was prevailed upon by the wise
counsels of the elders to make peace with the
Pandavas; and so he invited them home amidst
the rejoicings of the people and gave them
half of the kingdom.
Then, the five brothers built for them-
selves a beautiful city, called Indraprastha, and
extended their dominions, laying all the people
under tribute to them. Then the eldest, Yudhi-
shthira, in order to declare himself emperor
over all the kings of ancient India, decided to
perform a Rajasuya Yajna, or Imperial Sacrifice,
in which the conquered kings would have to
come with tribute and swear allegiance, and
help the performance of the sacrifice by per-
sonal services. Sri Krishna, who had become
their friend and a relative, came to them and
approved of the idea. But there was one
obstacle to its performance. (4: 80-83)
(To be continued . . .)
D D
17
178 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
Prayer of the Heart
PRAVRAJIKA BRAHMAPRANA
Pravrajika Brahmaprana is a nun at the Vedanta Society of Southern California, Hollywood. In addition to writing
articles for various publications in America and abroad, she has also edited With the Swamis in America and
India, by Swami Atulananda, the Vivekacudamani of Sri Sankaracarya, translated by Swami Turiyananda, and
volume 9 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. …
The Interior Prayer
‘Pray without ceasing,’ St. Paul said in
his letter to the Thessalonians.
1
One day,
hundreds of years later, in 19th century Russia,
prior to the liberation of the serfs, a Christian
peasant went to church and heard his preacher
quote this aphorism. But unbeknownst to the
preacher, the peasant was wonderstruck.
‘What ought I to do?’ he thought. ‘Where shall
I find someone to explain this to me?’ With
Bible in hand, he left home in search of the
answer.
Sleepless nights passed, till the Pilgrim
came to a monastery, reputed to have within
its walls a starets—a realized soul who had
the gift of guiding others along the path to
God-realization. The starets kindly received
the pilgrim and asked him into his cell,
whereupon he gave the aspirant spiritual
instruction. The starets said: ‘Thank God you
have this insatiable desire for prayer. Recog-
nize it as the call of God.’
2
He continued:
Understanding of what prayer is cannot be
attained by the knowledge of this world nor by
the outward desire for knowledge. It can be
found only in poverty of spirit and active
experience.
3
The starets then disclosed the secret of
prayer. He said:
The continuous interior prayer of Jesus is a
constant uninterrupted calling upon the divine
Name of Jesus with the lips, in the spirit, in the
heart; while forming a mental picture of His
constant presence, and imploring His grace,
during every occupation, at all times, in all
places, even during sleep. The appeal is couched
in these terms: ‘Lord Jesus Christ have mercy
on me.’ One who accustoms himself to this
appeal experiences as a result so deep a conso-
lation and so great a need to offer the prayer
always, that he can no longer live without it,
and it will continue to voice itself within him of
its own accord.
4
With these words, the guru accepted his
disciple, and the disciple was blessed with
initiation into spiritual life.
This marks The Way of a Pilgrim, a
spiritual initiation into the hesychast method
of prayer, which has a strong spiritual alliance
with other paths, including the system of
Tantric sadhana known as japam and medi-
tation. Just as the Pilgrim met his starets, we
may be reminded of a passage in the Upani-
shads which reads:
To many it is not given to hear of That (meaning
God) which dwells in eternity. Many, though
they hear of it, do not understand it. Wonderful
is he who speaks of it. Intelligent is he who learns
of it. Blessed is he who, taught by a good teacher,
is able to comprehend it.
5
Religion is transmitted from guru to
disciple; it cannot be borrowed from books.
179 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
19
But it does not only mean a guru-disciple
relationship. Religion means realization. By
keeping the company of the holy—our Pilgrim
and his starets—let us probe into the meta-
physical science of the Philokalia as well as the
system of the Tantric mantra shastras; the
practice of prayer—its obstacles and stages;
and finally the results of prayer—the higher
levels of consciousness which come as the
supernatural outgrowth of prayer.
The Idea of Word-Brahman
The metaphysics of prayer, or mantra, is
the hidden science behind the major religions
of the world. In Tantra, it is known as Shabda,
or Sound Brahman.
Through unceasing prayer and repetition
of the Holy Name, Sound is the ladder by
which man ascends Godward. Through the
Word—known in Hinduism as Sphota-vada
and the Logos in Christianity, Sound is the
channel by which God descends as man. In
the Tantric tradition, Shabda, or Sound, is also
the power of Brahman and the metaphysical
law which governs this universe.
Although it is possible that the mystical
doctrine of Sound originated independently
in Hinduism and the Judeo-Christian religion,
it is a well-known fact that Tantric scholars
influenced early Christianity and later Western
philosophy. In the Vedas we read:
In the beginning was Brahman with Whom was
the Word; and the Word was verily the Supreme
Brahman.
6
This verse, echoed thousands of years
later in the Gospel of St. John, became the scrip-
tural basis of the avatarhood of Jesus Christ:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God, and the Word was God . . . . And
the Word was made flesh.
7
The ancient rishis, or seers, of India
discovered that Shabda, or Pure Sound, is the
seed of creation and the essence of both matter
and energy. From the silence of Brahman, the
reservoir of all sounds, issued forth Om. The
meaning of this sound is the origin of
creation—the Name of His own reflection. To
quote Swami Vivekananda:
All this expressed, sensible universe is the form,
and behind it stands the eternal, inexpressible
Sphota, the manifester, or Logos, or Word. This
eternal Sphota, the essential and eternal material
of all ideas and names, is the power through
which the Lord creates this universe.
8
In other words, energy is a fleeting
thought and matter a more concrete thought.
Above all, this creation is an extension of His
Thought. From the cosmic seed of Shabda, or
Sound, the power of Brahman was released as
primal energy and seized its expression in a
world of space and time. This phenomenon is
beautifully expressed in the Psalms: ‘By the
Word of the Lord were the heavens made and
all the host of them by the breath of His
mouth.’
9
This sound is audible to the rishi in deep
meditation. In the Jewish mystical tradition,
the tetragrammaton, or Name of the Most
High, is considered too sacred to be spoken
aloud in the worship of the synagogue. It is
the Jewish belief that:
He who can rightly pronounce it causeth heaven
and earth to tremble. For it is the Name that
rusheth through the universe.
10
The quality of this original Sound is
unimaginable. Its power and magnitude are
immeasurable. We know for a fact that jet
noise can shatter glass and high frequency
sound can crack metals. As the sound wave
shortens, its frequency heightens and, so also,
its force intensifies.
There is first a general movement. Then
there are diverse, particular movements that
produce time, space, and causation. With the
180 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
20
descent of the mystic Sound, gunas act
and react. Combinations of ‘sounds’ then
issue forth and recombine into compounded
‘sounds’ that send forth the laws of this
universe.
Not only is the cosmic creation fathered
by the Supreme Sound, but each form within
creation has its own successive ‘sound’
equivalent, or Natural Name—the Bija, or seed
word, of the form it calls into existence. The
Natural Name is what the Cosmic Ear hears
as the intrinsic nature of a particular form,
whether animate or inanimate, approximating
the sound of activity within the object it names.
For example, the Natural Name of a tree would
be inextricably connected to the sound of its
sap running.
Furthermore, each of us has a Bija, or
primary Natural Name, corresponding to our
respective causal bodies. This is the ‘sound’ of
our inner being and the power that has
fashioned our body, mind, and senses. Mantra
sadhana is not an effort to capture something
foreign to us; it is the effort to slough off our
fictitious self and to reunite us with our true
nature—the Sound-Body of the Ishta, or
Chosen Ideal, which is one with Brahman.
Religion means ‘unfolding this divinity already
within us.’ As Christ said, ‘Is it not written in
your scripture, I said, “ye are gods, and all of
ye are children of the most high?”’
11
The ancient Hindus said that through
Shabda any object can be made, remade, or
unmade. Shabda is power; and by the power
of the Name, a form is materialized. This
principle is the axis on which spiritual life
turns. Religious songs can materialise the
object of their devotion, and the Bija mantra
is believed to shape the mind into the form
of the Chosen Ideal it represents. The
mind becomes purified by the purity of its
contents, invoked by the thought vibration of
the sacred seed word, which is the Sound-
Body of God.
Mantras were first revealed to the rishis
in a superconscious state—a state in which
they saw them in a flash of light or heard them.
Though some mantras are without seed-word,
the Name of God and its seed-word are said
to be equally powerful. In this connection, the
following was told by Swami Gangeshananda
who heard it directly from Swami Shivananda,
a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and the
second President of the Ramakrishna Order:
One day Mahapurush Maharaj wanted to know
the Christ mantra. He had a vision and it was
given to him in English: ‘Lord have mercy on
me.’
12
The Four Yogas
From the practices the starets gave his
Pilgrim, we can easily recognize a Christian
version of the four yogas. Bhakti yoga, or the
path of devotion, is most commonly the
method of union through the Chosen Ideal—
in the Pilgrim’s case, Lord Jesus—a subject
which we will discuss in greater detail later. It
can also mean, devotion to the guru—at first
to the human guru, then the purified mind,
and finally to the Supreme Guru—whether He
be called ‘Satchidananda Brahman’ in the
sahasrara, the thousand-petalled lotus of the
brain, or ‘our Father who art in heaven.’
Especially to the great jnanis of the Vedantic
tradition, the guru takes the place of the Ishta.
This path can be illustrated in The Way of a
Pilgrim.
What is the function of the guru? The
starets explained to his disciple, that one must
tell the starets everything, making a frank
confession and report; for the inward process
cannot go on properly and successfully
without the starets’ guidance. Sri Sarada Devi,
the Holy Mother, further explained this:
181 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
21
Power flows through the mantra from the guru
to the disciple and from the disciple to the guru.
That is why when one gives the mantra and
takes the sins of the initiated upon oneself, one’s
health fails. It is hard to be a Guru, one has to
take the responsibility for the disciple’s sins.
If the disciple commits a sin, the Guru must
atone for it. If the disciple is good, the Guru also
stands to gain. Some progress rapidly, some
slowly, according to each one’s accumulated ten-
dencies.
13
To serve the guru means to follow his
spiritual instruction. Scriptural study usually
falls under the guidance of the guru, as it is
an important aspect of jnana yoga, or the path
of knowledge. In Hinduism, scripture is
considered living, as it is based on the reve-
lation of God. Sri Ramakrishna actually
experienced this when one day while listening
to the Bhagavatam, he had the vision of the
Lord Krishna, from whose feet came forth a
beam of light like a cord, simultaneously
touching the scripture and his own heart for
some time. Sri Ramakrishna became convinced
that the three were the one Reality.
The starets’ preliminary instruction to his
disciple was:
Read this book—the Philokalia. It contains the
full and detailed science of constant interior
prayer set forth by twenty-five holy Fathers. It
contains clear explanations of what the Bible
holds in secret.
14
The Philokalia, or Dobrotolyubie in Russian,
means ‘love of spiritual beauty.’ It is a
collection, over a period of eleven centuries,
of mystical and ascetic writings by the Fathers
of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which deals
with the science of spiritual phenomena. It
reads like a spiritual travel diary, however,
the Pilgrim could not even begin to grasp the
writings of the Philokalia until his starets
guided his reading program.
The starets explained:
It is a secret treasury. . . It is not everywhere
and to everyone that it is accessible, but it does
give to each such guidance as he needs, to the
wise, wise guidance, to the simple-minded,
simple guidance. That is why you simple folk
should not read the chapters one after the other
as they are arranged in the book. That order is
for those who are instructed in theology.
15
The reading order which the starets then
gave his disciple was the books of Nicephorus
the Monk, Gregory of Sinai, Simeon the New
Theologian, Callistus and Ignatius, and finally
a summary of prayer by Callistus.
Although there are four yogas—Bhakti,
Jnana, Karma, and Dhyana—the paths of
devotion, knowledge, work, and meditation—
they are all interchangeable and lead to the
same goal. Thus various disciplines which
bring us devotion to the guru, discrimination
between the real and the unreal, or deep
meditation are also karma yoga.
Furthermore, though people generally
interpret karma yoga as physical acts which
unite us to God, the finer form of karma yoga
is the selfless thought behind action. In order
to purify the motive that precedes and accom-
panies our actions, the spiritual tradition in
the Ramakrishna Order stresses meditation as
the priority, because without it, we forget for
Whom we are working.
At one time, Swami Brahmananda, the
first President of the Ramakrishna Order, said:
We judge men by their actions, but God looks
into their innermost minds…. Under no circum-
stances give up your spiritual practices. If you
give up the practices of japam and meditation
and engage yourself solely in work, egoism is
bound to arise in you, and you will become the
source of quarrels and disharmony.
16
In this connection, the starets also told
his Pilgrim:
182 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
22
Most people are under the misunderstanding
that good actions make us capable of prayer.
No, it is prayer that bears fruit in good works
and all the virtues…. Constant prayer is
essential…. But perfection in prayer does not lie
within our power. Unceasing prayer is the means
of attaining purity of prayer, which is the mother
of all spiritual blessings. ‘Capture the Mother,
and she will bring you the children.’
17
Finally, we come to dhyana yoga, or the
path of meditation, the predominant method
of union in The Way of a Pilgrim. What is the
relationship between prayer and meditation?
Swami Brahmananda said,
With unwavering faith in the words of the guru,
the disciple must practice repetition of the
mantram and meditation on its meaning. Thus
will he find peace of heart.
18
In the Philokalia, St. Simeon the New
Theologian, instructed the Pilgrim:
Sit down alone and in silence. Lower your head,
shut your eyes, breathe out gently and imagine
yourself looking into your own heart. Carry your
mind, ie., your thoughts, from your head to your
heart. As you breathe out, say, ‘Lord Jesus Christ
have mercy on me.’ Say it moving your lips
gently or simply say it in your mind. Try to put
all other thoughts aside. Be calm, be patient, and
repeat the process very frequently.
19
In this connection, Sri Ramakrishna
explained in even greater detail:
Japa means repeating the Name of the Lord
silently, sitting in a quiet place. If one continues
the repetition with concentration and devotion,
one is sure to be blessed with divine visions
ultimately—one is sure to have God-realization.
Suppose a big log of wood is immersed in the
Ganges with one end attached to a chain, which
is fixed on the bank. Following the chain, link
by link, you can gradually dive into the water
and trace your way to it. In the same manner, if
you become absorbed in the repetition of His
holy Name, you will eventually realize Him.
20
Two Types of Prayer
There are two types of prayer, known in
Eastern Orthodoxy as ‘sounding’ and ‘sound-
less’ prayer, or in the Yoga tradition as oral
and mental japa. Furthermore, in the Yoga
tradition, there is what is known as akhanda
japa, continuous japa done without break;
likhita japa, written repetition; and ajapa japa,
with every flow of the breath. These sadhanas,
have a corresponding practice in the Eastern
Orthodox tradition. The Pilgrim was drawn
to the method of ajapa japa, as taught by
Simeon the New Theologian, in the Philokalia.
To quote the Pilgrim:
With my eyes shut I gazed, in thought, ie.,
imagination, upon my heart. I tried to picture it
there in the left side of my breast and to listen
carefully to its beating. I started doing this
several times a day, for half an hour at a time,
and at first I felt nothing but a sense of darkness.
But little by little after a fairly short time I was
able to picture my heart and to note its
movement, and further with the help of my
breathing I could put into it and draw from it
the Prayer of Jesus in the manner taught by the
saints. . . When drawing the air in I looked in
spirit into my heart and said, ‘Lord Jesus Christ,’
and when breathing out again, I said, ‘have
mercy an me.’
21
Swami Shraddhananda, an eminent
monk of the Ramakrishna Order, explained in
his Prabuddha Bharata article ‘Rosary for Japa,’
that when the meaning of the mantra unfolds,
our entire psycho-physical being is bathed
with its nectar—and our system becomes
illumined by the radiant light of its con-
sciousness. The aspirant experiences total
harmony with all. At that time such functions
as inhalation and exhalation (breath) or the
rise and fall of mental thought waves (mind)
form circular movements—a mental rosary as
it were—to the aspirant.
183 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
With sadhana spiritual regeneration is
bound to come—what St. Paul must have
referred to when he said: ‘Be ye transformed
by the renewing of your mind.’
22
In trans-
forming one’s breath, or prana, into a rosary,
Swami Shraddhananda explained:
The mantra consciousness united with the prana
movement transforms the biological prana into
divine prana. The biological prana maintains,
protects and strengthens the organs, blood
vessels, millions of cells, and so on. The role of
the divine prana is to communicate into the
blood stream and cellular systems a spiritual
power. Prana as a rosary does not keep count of
the number of japa but, being animated by the
consciousness of the mantra, brings under
control the biological passions of the body like
lust, anger, etc., and gives them a spiritual turn.
23
As the Pilgrim progressed in his mantra
sadhana, he discovered that there were diffe-
rent ways of saying the Jesus Prayer, and that
when the aspirant placed special emphasis on
a particular word in the Prayer, a correspond-
ing spiritual gift resulted. With the word ‘Lord’
came a reverence for the power of God; with
‘Jesus Christ,’ a secret outpouring of love in
the heart; ‘Son of God’ brought unshakable
belief in the Godhead of Jesus Christ, as being
of one substance with the Father; and with
‘have mercy on me’ came the gift of humility.
(To be Continued. . .)
1. Thessalonians 5:17.
2. R. M. French, trans., The Way of a Pilgrim and the
Pilgrim Continues His Way (San Francisco: Harper
& Row, 1952), p. 6.
3. Ibid., p. 6.
4. Ibid., pp. 8-9.
5. Katha Upanishad: I.2.7.
6. cf. Swami Prabhavananda, The Spiritual Heritage
of India (New York: Doubleday and Company,
Inc., 1963), p. 231.
7. John 1:1.
8. Swami Vivekananda, ‘The Mantra: Om: Word
and Wisdom,’ The Complete Works of Swami
Vivekananda (Advaita Ashrama, 1973), 3: 57
9. Psalm 33:6.
10. Charles Francis Horne, Medieval Hebrew; The
Midrash; The Kabbalah (Sacred Books and Early
Literature of the East), vol. 4 (Sept. 1, 1997), p.
157
11. Psalm 82: 6.
12. Pravrajika Anandaprana, Unpublished Reminis-
cences of Swami Prabhavananda, VSSC Archives.
13. Swami Tapasyananda and Swami Nikhilananda,
Sri Sarada Devi, the Holy Mother: Her Life and
Conversations ( Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math,
1958), p. 165.
14. The Way of a Pilgrim, p. 9.
15. Ibid., p. 38.
16. Swami Prabhavananda, The Eternal Companion
(Hollywood: Vedanta Press, 1970), pp. 194, 231.
17. The Way of a Pilgrim, pp. 7, 8.
18. The Eternal Companion, p. 196.
19. The Way of a Pilgrim, p.10.
20. M., Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri
Ramakrishna (New York: Ramakrishna-
Vivekananda Center, 1973), p. 588.
21. The Way of a Pilgrim, p. 40.
22. Romans 12:2.
23. Cf. Swami Shraddhananda, Seeing God Everywhere
(Hollywood: Vedanta Press, 1996), p. 189.
References
Lust, anger, and avarice—these are but different forms of the same thing. They are
the eternal enemies of the jnani, and destroyers of knowledge and wisdom. Join the
senses to the Lord. That is the way to teach the senses a lesson.
—Swami Turiyananda

23
184 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
January 19
th
1899
Deoghar, Baidyanath
E.I.R.
C/o P.N.Mukherji Esq.
My dear Jane—
I had to run down here two days ago for the swami has been suffering from the
same kind of difficulty of breathing & sent a telegram. I will return to Calcutta with
him as soon as he feels equal to it. He is much better now & we hope he will be
himself again in a few more days.
We are having a very very hard time with disease & sickness amongst us, after
the guardian angels withdrew from the country. Alas! for the poor swamis!
Jogananda is still tumbling between life & death. The swami had a very hard
time with Disphnoza[?] & a few others though cured of their complaints, are still in
poor health. One fortunate thing is none in the Math have been ill since our removal.
‘God is kind!’ Is it not?
I spent a few nights at Calcutta to watch Jogananda’s case—so had good
opportunities to see Nivedita [a] number of times. She is well and happy with her
good work. I have arranged two lectures a week for her in the Math, for our men. I
think it will do them good. The subjects treated are Botany & Drawing, Physiology &
Sewing!
Write me your opinion about Max Muller’s book as soon as you finish [it].
I saw Mohini twice after you left. He is well & so friendly to me.
Poor Miss Muller has sailed for her house Tuesday last—perhaps to try her
fortune there—as none will appear here to ask for her precious hand and as I with all
my efforts could not be quick enough in demanding! Well, I thought of seeing her &
say goodbye, but the report of her last visit with Nivedita made me withdraw. Then I
thought of writing a letter on behalf of the Math & I wrote it too—but Nivedita
thought it too sentimental. Then we concluded by letting Nivedita write a few lines for
us & send Kali Krishna with it & a few roots and fruits & nuts. I do not know if it had
been carried out or not for I hastened here for the Swami. A few opinions of Miss M.
will interest & enlighten even yourself if you deign to lend your ear!
First—The Swami tried for some occult power or organization or something
humbug & he failed miserably & all other occult teachers in India predicted it. Hence
her love for the Swami has withered & dropped like a dried flower as in the case of
Akshaya!
Unpublished Letters of Swami Saradananda
1
184 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
185 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
25
Note: 1. A direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna
Courtesy: Ramakrishna Museum, Belur Math
185 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
2nd—We are a nation of black magicians; we mesmerize food tc and we have
practised that on our dear Granny & Jane—hence your devotion & love!!!
3rd—It is her sacred duty to go around in England & elsewhere & enlighten
people of these bright experiences.
4th—No salvation for Swami or us unless we become Christians as herself who. . .
[continued on the side margin] the Swami says has never been baptised! Now ponder
over these & be miserable for even then awfully deceived lady! Our everything as
before to the dear two [?]
Yours
S
April 7th 1899
Morvi
My dear Akhandananda,
I have mailed today a prospectus for your work at Calcutta, to get it corrected
from Swamiji. I hope you will receive it soon.
You have heard by this time of the sad death of our brother Jogananda, on the
28th of March last.
We are glad to hear of the celebration of the Utsab in the orphanage. We start
tomorrow for Bhavnagar, care of Gopaldas Viharidas Desai Esq.
With love & best wishes always
Yours Saradananda & Turiyananda
On the postcard:
The Swami Akhandananda
The Orphanage
Bhavda P.O.
Dist.Murshidabad
Bengal
186 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
Towards a Vedic Philosophy of Peace
RUDRAPRASAD MATILAL
A practicing lawyer of Calcutta High Court since 2003, the author is keenly interested in the study of Hindu
scriptures and Vedantic approach to peace and harmony. …
The Need for Peace
Peace or shanti is the single most urgent
issue confronting the humanity today. We find
reports of violence, big or small, strewn across
all dailies and monthlies. These reports could
be about a terrorist attack or a bomb explosion
or an ambush or mob violence or domestic
and school violence—anywhere in the world.
Everyday, without fail, a large section of daily
news is filled with reports of violence. It seems
humanity, for all its marvellous scientific
advances, has been a total failure in the area
where it matters most—to have peace in the
world.
The great Vedic Rishis, our illustrious
forefathers, had well understood the need for
peace in the world. Therefore, in the ancient
Vedic books one finds a constant reference to
peace. It is the most sublime message of the
Vedas—the need for peace; and it is a message
that is more relevant now than ever before. In
articulating this philosophy of peace, the Vedic
Rishis took into account all aspects of peace.
The Yajur Veda boldly declares:
Let there be peace in heaven,
Let there be peace in the atmosphere,
Let there be Peace on Earth,
May the waters and medical herbs bring peace,
May the trees give peace to all beings,
May all the Gods be peaceful,
May the Vedas spread peace everywhere,
May all other objects everywhere give us peace,
And may that peace come to us and remain
with us for ever.
1
The Vedic idea of peace, as it is seen, is
not restricted to the human realm. It includes
peace in all areas of life—psychological, social,
environmental and so on.
Peace as a Positive Concept
The Vedic idea of peace is not mere
absence of violence; it is rather presence of
something positive. The Rigveda daringly
asserts:
The winds waft sweets,
The rivers pour sweets for the man, who keeps
the Law,
So may the plants be sweet for us.
Sweet be the night and sweet the dawns,
Sweet the terrestrial atmosphere;
Sweet be our Father in Heaven to us.
May the tall tree be full of sweets for us,
And full of sweets the Sun:
May our milch-cow be sweet for us.
2
In other words, the Vedic idea of peace
is that of something that brings sweetness and
joy in every aspect of life. This includes a
healthy environment—trees, jungles, winds
and all of Nature. Indeed, the Vedas urge man
to adopt such way of life that is conducive to
the protection of our natural environment and
habitat.
Now let us look what are the concrete
counsels for peace that the Vedas outline.
187 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
27
The 1st Formula for Peace: Harmony and
Fraternity
What is the single most effective way to
secure peace in society, peace in the world?
To develop a sense of oneness with one
another. We are all essentially divine. When
we remember this inherent divinity present in
everyone, we begin to see others with respect
and love and that is the end of all quarrels
and dissentions. Elucidating that state of
harmony, the hymn of the Rig Veda says:
Assemble, speak together: let your minds be all
of one accord,
As ancient Gods unanimous sit down to their
appointed share.
The place is common, common the assembly,
common the mind, so be their thought united.
A common purpose do I lay before you, and
worship with your general oblation.
One and the same be your resolve, and be your
minds of one accord.
United be the thoughts of all that all may happily
agree.
3
The idea is, we should live in harmony
and a spirit of cooperation. Social harmony
comes when we discover our underlying unity.
There are various ways to unity but the best
is to realize our divinity which is equally
present in everyone. Feeling one with one
another at the level of atman is what provides
a solid foundation for lasting sense of
solidarity and the resultant happiness.
The Atharva Veda further elucidates:
Unity of heart, and unity of mind, freedom from
hatred, do I procure for you. Do ye take delight
in one another, as a cow in her (new-) born calf!
The son shall be devoted to his father, be of the
same mind with his mother; the wife shall speak
honeyed, sweet, words to her husband!
The brother shall not hate the brother, and the
sister not the sister! Harmonious, devoted to the
same purpose, speak ye words in kindly spirit!
That charm which causes the gods not to
disagree, and not to hate one another, that do
we prepare in your house, as a means of
agreement for your folk.
Following your leader, of (the same) mind, do
ye not hold yourselves apart! Do ye come here,
co-operating, going along the same wagon-pole,
speaking agreeably to one another! I render you
of the same aim, of the same mind.
Identical shall be your drink, in common shall
be your share of food! I yoke you together in the
same traces: do ye worship God Agni, joining
together, as spokes around about the hub!
I render you of the same aim, of the same
mind, all paying deference to One (God) through
my harmonising charm. Like the gods that
are guarding the ambrosia, may he (the leader)
be well disposed towards you, night and
day!
4

The 2nd Formula for Peace: Cultivate the
Power of Right Understanding
Our Rishis valued wisdom or deep
understanding of life. They rightly recognized
that unless good sense prevails upon the
people, peace and harmony will remain a
distant dream. Hence they fervently prayed
for proper intelligence, so that men may not
resort to violence. True intelligence is that
which leads to understanding the fact that
coexistence and interdependence is the way
of life.
The Atharva Veda prays for wisdom thus:
Intelligence, come first to us with store of
horses and of cows!
Thou with the rays of Surya art our worshipful
and holy one.
The first, devout Intelligence, lauded by sages,
sped by prayer,
Drunk by Brahmacharis, for the favour of the
Gods I call.
That excellent Intelligence which Ribhus know,
and Asuras,
188 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
28
Intelligence which sages know, we cause to
enter into me.
Do thou, O Agni, make me wise this day with
that Intelligence.
Which the creative rishis, which the men
endowed with wisdom knew.
Intelligence at eve, at morn, Intelligence at noon
of day,
With the Sun’s beams, and by our speech we
plant in us Intelligence.
5
The 3rd Formula for Peace: Be a Seeker of
Truth
Upanishads, the essence of the Vedas,
counsel all seekers of peace to be seekers of
Truth. Untruth cannot bring peace. It can only
add to our miseries and woes. Truth always
makes man peaceful and strong. Truth, again,
is of two types: the lower and the higher. Man
travels from lower truth to higher truth. A
seeker of truth is a traveller from lower truth
to higher truth. Hence the Vedic Rishis tell us
to pray for the higher truth thus:
Lead Us from the Unreal to Real,
Lead Us from Darkness to Light,
Lead Us from Death to Immortality.
6
The Upanishads say further:
Righteousness is the controller of the Kings.
Therefore there is nothing higher than that. So
even a weak man hopes to defeat a stronger
man through righteousness, as one contending
with the king. That righteousness is verily truth.
Therefore they say about a person speaking of
truth, ‘He speaks of righteousness’, or about a
person speaking of righteousness, ‘He speaks of
truth’, for both these are but righteousness.
7
The 4th Formula for Peace: Practice Non-
violence
Why should one practice non-violence?
The simple reason which the Upanishads give
is essentially we are all one. The Isha Upanishad
explains,
8
He who sees all beings in the Self itself, and the
Self in all beings, feels no hatred by virtue of
that realisation.
Indeed when one sees the same self
everywhere, in all beings, how can he hurt
others? Hurting others is to hurt oneself.
The Chhandogya Upanishad discusses
ahimsa or non-violence as one of the most
profound principles essential for civil society.
It says:
Austerity, almsgiving, uprightness, non-
violence and truthfulness—these are the gifts for
the priests.
9
The Upanishad also speaks of non-
violence against ‘all creatures’ (sarva bhuta) and
the practitioner of ahimsa is said to escape
from the cycle of reincarnation.
10

The 5th Formula for Peace: Perform Five
Yajnas or Sacrifices
The Upanishads teach us to seek total
peace. It is not just seeking peace of mind but
peace with the rest of the creation. Only then
can total peace be achieved. The Brihada-
ranyaka Upanishad says:
11
‘By giving shelter
to men as well as food, he becomes an object
of enjoyment to men.’
The Vedic way of life speaks of per-
formance of five sacrifices (panch maha yajnas).
One should perform these sacrifices
1. To the gods;
2. To all beings;
3. To departed ancestors;
4. To the saints; and
5. To men
An eminent authority on Hinduism
describes these yajnas thus,
Our Shastras prescribe five acts of sacrifice
(yajnas) for all. These are Deva-yajna, Pitri-yajna,
Rishi-yajna, Nri-yajna and Bhuta-yajna. We have
to please the dwellers of the Devaloka and
Pitriloka, the seers and makers of Shastras,
189 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
29
mankind and all other creatures on earth by our
acts of sacrifice. We have to give all others
something out of what we have. This is the price
of our happiness.
Prayer and worship please the deities (devas).
These deities are also creatures like ourselves.
Only they are more well-placed. Once they were
men. As a reward for their good deeds on earth
they have been born as gods in the Devaloka.
They have considerably more power than we
have. They control the elemental forces of nature
like light, heat, electricity, rain, wind, etc. When
pleased by our offerings, they make these forces
favourable to us and bless us with what we
desire most.
Among the dwellers of the Pitriloka there may
be many of our forefathers. They love us. If we
remember them and offer them oblations
(tarpana) they become pleased (tripta). They also
wield much more power than we do. That is
why when they are pleased they can bless us
with the things of our desire.
The seers (rishis) do not want any material
offering from us. They are pleased if we study
the Scriptures regularly. Nitya-karma, like
Sandhya-Vandana, also may go under this head.
For these we have to set apart a portion of our
time. This is why this study (swadhyaya) is also
an act of sacrifice. When pleased, the seers, like
devas, see to our well-being.
Nri-yajna is the fourth in order. We have to serve
our ailing brothers. We should try to remove
the distress of our fellow-beings. One who does
this really serves God. For God is here in so
many forms. Pleased by such service, God grants
one’s wishes.
The same thing may be said of Bhuta-yajna,
which comes next. We should spare a portion of
our food for the beasts, birds, insects, etc. This
act of sacrifice also earns for us happiness.
12
Conclusion
We live surrounded by thousands of
gadgets and scientific inventions. But they are
of little help, if humans cannot stop fighting
among themselves; for those very same gad-
gets, which are supposed to make life comfort-
able, are going to be used for fighting. For ins-
tance nuclear energy can be used to generate
electricity in times of peace, but is used to
make nuclear weapons. Bio-chemicals can be
used to make medicines, but can also be used
to make biological weapons during war.
Scientific and technological progress
alone cannot bring peace in life. We need to
have nobility of heart if we want peace of
mind. It means cultivating a right approach
towards life and a healthy attitude towards
everyone. Peace, shanti, is the highest and
greatest need of all times. †
1. Shukla Yajur Veda, 36/17
2. Rigveda, 1- 90, Mantras 6-8
3. Ibid, 10-191
4. Atharva Veda: III, 30
5. Ibid, Book 6 Hymn 108
6. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, I.3.27
7. Ibid, I.4.14
8. Isha Upanishad, verse 6
9. Chhandogya Upanishad, III.17.4
10. Ibid, VIII.15.1
11. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, I.4.16
12. Hinduism at a Glance, p.49-50
References
If you can, love others, and then you will be blessed with peace and happiness.
—Swami Premananda
190 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
A Pilgrimage to Kalady—
the Birthplace of Adi Shankara
‘ATMASHRADDHA’
… The author is a monk of the Ramakrishna Order.
Adi Shankaracharya
Anyone acquainted with Hinduism
would have heard of or read about Adi Shan-
kara. Adi Shankara’s name is synonymous
with Hinduism. His towering intellect and
deep spiritual insights are an integral part of
Santana Dharma, the Eternal Religion.
Adi Shankara
1
is also known as Shankara
Bhagavadpadacharya or Adi Shankaracharya.
He is particularly recognized for his luminous
expositions of Advaita Vedanta. His writings,
based on the unity of the soul and Brahman,
are a timeless treasure for mankind and a
guide for all spiritual seekers. As a tribute to
his masterly commentaries on the principal
Upanishads, he is also called Bhagavan Bhash-
yakar (‘God who took the form of a Com-
mentator’).
Traditional accounts of Adi Shankara’s
life can be found in the Shankara Vijayams,
which are poetic Sanskrit works that contain a
mix of biographical and legendary material,
written in the epic style. The most important
among these biographies are the Maadhaviya
Shankara Vijaya (written by the sage Madhava,
c.14th century), the Chidvilasiya Shankara Vijaya
(of Chidvilasa, between 15th century and 17th
century), and the Keraliya Shankara Vijaya (of
the Kerala region, extant from c. 17th century).
Maadhaviya Shankara Digvijaya describes
Kalady thus:
God Siva, the self-created and merciful Being,
the destroyer of Cupid, manifested himself
as His holy emblem, usually called Sivalingam,
on a hill known as Vrishachala situated near
the course of the river Purna in the Kerala
country. Coming to know of the divinity and
greatness of that Sivalingam through a dream, a
king called Rajasekhara built a fine temple to
house the Lingam and made arrangements
for its worship. In that region there was a
prosperous village settlement of Brahmanas
known as Kaladi. In that village lived a learned
and pious Brahmana by name Vidyadhiraja, as
whose grandson the divine manifestation of the
great God Siva, the resident of the temple of
Vrishachala, was to take place in due time. As a
fruition of the piety and good fortune of
Vidyadhiraja, a son named Sivaguru was born
to him. He did very well to justify his name, as
he grew to be like Siva in knowledge and like
Guru or Brihaspathi, the teacher of the Gods, in
his power of speech.
2
Adi Shankara was born in Kalady, a
village located east of the Periyar [or Purna]
river, in the Ernakulam district of central
Kerala, in South India. He was born to
Kaippilly Sivaguru Namboothiri and Aryamba
Antharjanam. According to lore, it was after
his parents, who had been childless for many
years, prayed at the Vadakkunnathan temple
[also called Vrishabhachalam, dedicated to
Shiva] in Thrissur that Shankara was born. As
191 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
31
he was born through the grace of Lord Shiva,
the young child was named Shankara.
While Shankara was a young boy, his
father passed away. Shankara’s upanayana, the
initiation into studenthood, was performed at
the age of five. As a child, Shankara showed
remarkable scholarship, mastering the four
Vedas by the age of eight.
From a young age, Shankara was inclined
towards sannyasa, but it was only after much
persuasion that his mother finally gave her
consent. The story goes that once when he
went to bathe in the river, his leg was
caught by a crocodile. When Aryamba
(or Arya Devi), Shankara’s mother,
came to know of this, she came running
to the river bank. Shankara told his
mother that at least now she should
allow him to take attur sannyasa (mona-
stic vows taken in crises). Reluctantly
but hapless, Arayamba agreed and
miraculously, as soon as she told it, the
crocodile released the young Shankara.
Shankara then left Kerala and
travelled towards North India in search
of a guru. On the banks of the Narmada
river, he met Govinda Bhagavatpada,
the disciple of Gaudapada. When
Govinda Bhagavatpada asked Shan-
kara’s identity, he replied with an
extempore verse that brought out the
Advaita Vedanta philosophy. Govinda
Bhagavatpada was impressed and took
Shankara as his disciple.
The guru instructed Shankara to
write a commentary on the Brahma
Sutras and propagate the Advaita philo-
sophy. Shankara travelled to Kashi,
where a young man named Sanandana,
hailing from Chola territory in South
India, became his first disciple. At
Badari he wrote his famous bhashyas
(commentaries) on Upanishads and prakarana
granthas (‘philosophical treatises’). One of the
most famous debates of Adi Shankara was
with the ritualist Mandana Mishra. After
debating for over fifteen days, with Mandana
Mishra‘s wife Ubhaya Bharati acting as referee,
Mandana Mishra accepted defeat. As per the
condition laid down earlier, Mandana Mishra
accepted the sannyasa with the monastic name
Sureshvaracharya.
Adi Shankara then travelled across India
to propagate his philosophy through dis-
Vadakkunnathan temple, Thrissur (70 km from Kalady)
A traditional portrait of Adi Shankara
with his four disciples
192 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
32
courses and debates with other thinkers. He
founded four Mathas (monastries) in four
cardinal points of India to guide the Hindu
religion. These are at Sringeri in Karnataka in
the south, Dwaraka in Gujarat in the west,
Puri in Orissa in the east, and Jyotirmath
(Joshimath) in Uttarakhand in the north.
Hindu tradition states that he put in charge of
these mathas his four main disciples: Suresh-
waracharya, Hastamalakacharya, Padmapada-
charya, and Totakacharya respectively. The
heads of the Mathas trace their authority back
to these figures. Each of the heads of these
four Mathas takes the title of Jagadguru
[‘teacher of the world’] Shankaracharya [‘the
learned Shankara’] after the first Shankara-
charya.
Adi Shankara is believed to be the
organizer of the dashanami [‘ten-named’]
monastic order and the founder of the shanmata
[‘six main deities’] tradition of worship. He
also visited various temples and holy places
in India, establishing the unity of India based
on a strong spiritual and cultural foundation.
Towards the end of his life, Adi Shankara
travelled to the Himalayan area of Kedarnath-
Badrinath and attained videha mukti (‘freedom
from embodiment’). There is a samadhi mandir
dedicated to Adi Shankara behind the Kedar-
nath temple. However, there are variant
traditions on the location of his last days.
Speaking of Adi Shankara, Swami
Ranganathananda, the 13
th
President of the
Ramakrishna Order, says,
The life of Shankaracharya, in its merely outward
bodily incidents, may be told in a paragraph.
But the quantity and quality of thought and
achievement that he packed into the short span
of his life of thirty-two years have earned for
him a place among the world’s immortals. . .
Conscious of a great message that he was to
deliver and the mission that he was to fulfil in
this country, we find Shankara, while yet a boy,
leaving his home with a firm resolve to bend all
his energies and resources towards that end. If
we are to appreciate his work, we have to capture
an understanding of the climate of thought in
which he lived and functioned. He is a remark-
able specimen of Indian humanity of those times.
. . . Possessed of extraordinary powers, this
young boy, highly intelligent and deeply cons-
cious of his mission, has worked wonders in the
cultural, philosophical, and religious fields of
Indian life. Within a short period of 32 years he
changed the mind of India. India is not a banana
republic with a population of just two-hundred
thousand. It is a huge continent, and to change
the mind of a nation like this is not easy. But he
had the power—intellectual power, spiritual
strength and intense dynamism. . . . Today we
are able to see and appreciate the immensity of
his service for the cause of India and Hinduism.
That Hinduism could survive the onslaughts of
the Mohammedan invasion was due in great part
to the success of his mission as well as to that of
many other reformers who came after him.
Indian culture bears the ineffaceable marks of
his genius.
3
Kalady—a Place of Pilgrimage
Having heard of this great spiritual
luminary, we, a group of young seekers, made
a pilgrimage to Kalady earlier this year. We
began our journey from Chennai by train.
Kalady, a village (now a semi-town), has a
small railway station but considering the fewer
number of passengers who alight or board
from here, there are hardly any train stopping
here. Hence one has to travel to Angamali, a
small town, some 7 km from Kalady. Angamali
is close to Ernakulam and takes some 11 hours’
from Chennai. [The Nedumbassery Cochin
International Airport, the nearest airport, is 15
minutes’ drive from Kalady.] We reached
Angamali by overnight train from Chennai.
193 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
33
Kalady, we learnt, remained obscure till
the beginning of 20th century. Jagadguru Sri
Sachidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bha-
rathi Swamigal, the 33rd Pithadhipati [abbot]
of Sringeri Math, with the help of Sri Moolam
Thirunal Ramavarma, the Maharaja of Thiru-
vitamcore, located Kalady.
4
The Adi Shankara
Janmabhumi Kshethram, as the Shankara’s
birthplace is called now, has two temples—
Goddess Sharadamba and one for Sri Shan-
kara. The temples were consecrated in 1910.
We visited the following places:
1. Sri Krishna Temple (Thri-kalady-
appan): Before visiting the Adi Shankara
Janmabhumi Kshethram, we first visited the
Krishna temple, located just a few metres from
there. The story goes that once Aryamba,
Shankara’s mother, swooned and fell on
ground while going to the Purna river for her
daily bath. Young Shankara was pained to see
his mother’s condition and hence prayed to
Sri Krishna, their family deity (kula-devata).
Sri Krishna is supposed to have blessed
Shankara with the words, ‘the river will flow
where you mark with your feet.’ Instantly, the
innocent child marked with his feet on the
ground and the river Purna (or Periyar)
changed its course through the marking, thus
saving Aryamba a kilometre of walking. This
incident also led to the changing of the name
of the village from Sasalam to Kalady (‘emer-
ged from kal, feet’). Sri Krishna was here called
as the ‘Lord of Kalady’ (Thri-kalady-appan).
We visited the temple, built in traditional
architecture of Kerala, and paid our respect to
the Lord at the sanctum sanctorum. Temple
architecture in Kerala, we may mention here,
is different from that of other regions in India.
Largely dictated by the geography of the
region that abounds in forests, blessed with
the bounties of the monsoons, the structure of
the temples in Kerala is distinctive. The roofs
are steep and pointed, and covered with
copper sheets.
2. Purna River: Close to the Krishna
temple is the river Purna, flowing silently.
Thanks to several small hydro-electricity
projects upstream, the river does not seem to
have the force of the earlier times. The serenity
of the place, with a vast riverfront, however,
remains as charming as it must have been
earlier. The river front has a few bathing ghats
for the pilgrims and general public.
3. The Crocodile Ghat (Muthala Kadavu):
As narrated above, while young Shankara was
bathing here, his leg was caught by a crocodile
and when his mother permitted him to take
to sannyasa, the crocodile left him. This
Entrance to Sri Krishna (Thri-kalady-appan ) Temple (left) and its front porch
194 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
incident is believed to have happened in this
ghat. It is located close to Sri Krishna Temple
and now has a flight of concrete steps.
Contrary to what some may conjure,
there are no crocodiles in the 'Crocodile Ghat'!
We went down to the river, sprinkled
some water on our head as a mark of respect
and sat there for sometime, admiring the
calmness and natural beauty of the place.
4. Adi Shankara Janmabhumi Kshe-
thram: After visiting all these places, we came
to the aesthetically designed Janmabhumi
Kshethram of Adi Shankara. The whole place
was neat and well-kept, with an atmos-
phere of holiness radiating around it.
Unlike other temples in Kerala, we did not
have to remove our upper garments while
entering the temple complex which consists
of temples of Goddess Sharadamba and
Adi Shankara.
What attracted us most was Aryamba
Samadhi Mandapam, dedicated to Aryamba,
the mother of Adi Shankara. As promised
to his mother, Adi Shankara was present
in the last moments of his mother. After
she passed away, he had to make arrange-
ments for the cremation of her mortal
remains. Only two of the ten Namboothiri
families of Kalady, came forward to help
him. Afterwards, one family, Kappilly
Mana, honoured the location of the crema-
tion with daily lamps for centuries. Recog-
nizing this as an authentic mark to identify
the place, the Sringeri Math accepted Kal-
ady as birth place of Adi Shankara Acharya.
Aryamba Samadhi Mandapam is five
feet-plus stone-mantapa, with a Tulsi plant
above. A marble plaque at the side of the
mantapa reads that it is the samadhi of
Aryadevi, and is to be held in great reve-
rence. A short stone pillar in front of the
pillar has been fixed. We were told that
this pillar is the place where or under which a
lamp was kept burning for centuries by a
Namboothiri family and it helped in spotting
Adi Shankara’s place.
We felt elevated by the sacredness of the
place. Paved with a shining and clean stone
floor, the temple-samadhi complex has small
lily pond in the centre. The purple-coloured
lilies, moved as the gentle air blew in the early
forenoon. Although it was hot, the atmosphere
exuded a coolness of its own.
Adjacent to the temple-samadhi complex
is a Veda Pathashala, established in 1927. We
Purna river—a view from the 'crocodile ghat'
A recent photo of the ‘crocodile ghat’
34
195 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
saw the chanting of Rigveda Samhita being
taught to a small number of students clad in
white dhotis.
5. Adi Shankara Keerthi Sthambha
Mandapam: It is an eight-storey memorial
built by Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. Located
around 2 km from the Janmabhumi Kshe-
thram, the memorial has two beautifully
carved elephant statues, leading to the Paduka
Mandapam [‘the enclosure enshrining sacred
sandals’]. Two silver knobs represent the
padukas, or wooden sandals of the Teacher.
The walls of the memorial feature framed relief
paintings that tell the story of Adi Shankara-
charya. Several large statues of Ganapati, Adi
Shankara, and others, illustrating the shan-
matas, are also housed in this memorial. We
reviewed the life of Shankaracharya as we
climbed to the top of the Sthambha and were
delighted to recall the life of Shankara depicted
in relief-style at different storeys.
We also saw the high school attached to
the Sthambha Mandapam run by the Kanchi
Mutt.
6. Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama,
Kalady: Adjacent to Adi Shankara Janma-
bhumi Kshethram, right on the banks of Purna
river is our Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama.
Started in 1936, the Ashrama is situated on
sprawling premises of several acres, with an
impressive temple of Sri Ramakrishna occupy-
ing the central place. Regular puja and bhajans
Entrance to Adi Shankara Janmabhumi Kshethram Stone-Mantapa in memory of Aryamba
Adi Shankara Keerthi Sthambha Mandapam
35
196 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
are held in the temple. The serene atmosphere
of the temple and the green ambience of the
Ashrama are indeed elevating.
We also visited Ashrama’s Brahma-
nandodyam School, located right in front of
the premises, with more than 1800 students
on its rolls. A hostel (called Sri Ramakrishna
Gurukul) for tribal students with 115-plus
students and a computer centre nearby are the
other activities of the Ashrama.
A Visit to Adi Shankara Nilayam, Veliyanad
After visiting these sacred places, we
proceeded to Veliyanad, a remote village,
some 60 km from Kalady. We drove through
the green country-side of Kerala, through
winding roads, neatly kept houses surrounded
by coconut and betelnut trees. It was a
wonderful journey.
Veliyanad is a remote village, near
Ernakulam, surrounded by lush green trees
and shrubs. It is the birthplace of Arya Devi,
Shankara’s mother. The local tradition has it
that, since as per practice, Arya Devi would
have come to her parental house for the birth
of Shankara, most probably, Shankara would
have been born here. But Kalady being
Shankara’s father’s place, keeping in tune with
the custom, Kalady continues to be called as
Shankara’s birthplace. The well-known Devi
temple of Chottanikara Bhagavathy is some
30 minutes drive from Veliyanad.
Melpazhur Mana [Aryamba’s maternal
house] is a traditional Namboothiri Illam or
Mana (home of a Kerala Brahmin). Located in
lush green countryside, amidst temple shrines
and lotus and lily ponds, this house is the
ancestral and maternal home of Adi Shankara.
Local tradition also has it that Adi Shankara’s
vidyarambha and upanayana

ceremonies
5
were
performed at Melpazhur Mana.
Within the Melpazhur Mana stands the
quiet grandeur of the nalukettu (a building
which has a four-winged architectural design)
on an extensive compound of 8.3 acres. The
Mana was originally an eight-winged structure
(ettukettu). The outer four wings were
dismantled, and the material was used to build
a covered walkway in the famous Perum
Trikkovil Temple in the nearby Pazhur village,
over which the Mana had ownership rights.
The structural strength and design of this age-
old house exquisitely blend utility and art,
wood and granite, work and worship. The
central courtyard is adorned with the holy
chetti (ixora) and mulla (jasmine) plants.
Temple at Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama, Kalady (left) and a view of the evening arati
36
197 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
The northern wing of the house hosts
the rooms wherein the daily agnihotra (fire
rituals) and other forms of ritualistic worships
were conducted. The western wing has an
underground cellar as well as specially
designed rooms where the household could
store grains, temple ornaments and utensils.
The southern extension features the thekkini,
where large family gatherings feasted on
special occasions. And finally, in the eastern
section is the sacred room where Adi Shankara
is believed to have been born. Here a tradi-
tional lamp stays lit before the beautiful picture
of Adi Shankara all the year round, without a
break (nityajyoti), diffusing an aura of divinity.
Drawn by the quietness and meditative
atmosphere of the place, we all sat there for
meditation some time.
The Mana-complex has a number of
family temples with a long history. These
include temples dedicated to Sri Rama Temple,
Vettakkoruvan [‘Kirata Siva’], Devi Nagayaksi
and Devi Bhagavati. Lord Ayyappa Temple is
the largest of all the temples and the worship
at the temple is even now carried out by the
Namboothiri family (headed by Sri Shankar
Namboothiri).
Melpazhur Mana was acquired by
Chinmaya Mission in late 1980s and is now
named ‘Adi Shankara Nilayam’, and it is the
home of the Chinmaya International Foun-
dation (CIF), the Chinmaya Mission’s institute
for Sanskrit and Indology research.
6
Conclusion
There are many other small temples and
places connected with Adi Shankara and his
parents in and around Kalady and Veliyanad
which we could not visit. It would have
required almost a week of stay to leisurely
visit them. There is, for instance, the house
named Svarnata-mana where Adi Shankara,
as a young boy, chanted the kankadhara-stotram,
bringing a shower of golden gooseberry
(amlaka). The place is not far from Veliyanad
and the descendents of the original family are
Melpazhur Mana (Adi Shankara Nilayam)
37
198 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
still living there but we had no time to visit all
the places.
We were thrilled to visit the birthplace
of the Great Acharya by taking whose name
millions across India and even beyond feel
blessed. Several centuries have passed but the
Great Acharya lives in the collective con-
sciousness of Indians.
Our Tirthayatra to the birthplace of Adi
Shankara was a spiritually and culturally
enriching experience. It was inspiring to visit
the birthplace of one of our greatest Acharyas
and derive inspiration from his life and
teachings. Imbued with a sense of reverence
and devotion, we recalled the well-known
verse from sri shankara-deshikashtakam of Sri
Totakacharya:
|¤|ºat|unut=nnt¬nn n|rat¤|º¤t=|¤at¤t|ºn¡
ˆº¤ =n¤ |¤nn ¤rm «¤ u¬r º|u= n urmn≤¡¡
O teacher Shankara! Kindly be my refuge! You
are the knower of all the scriptures which are
indeed the ocean of nectar! You are the abode of
1. There are at least two different dates proposed for
Shankara’s life span: 788–820 CE: This is the
mainstream scholarly opinion, based on records
at the Sringeri Sharada Pitham, and 509–477 BCE:
This dating, more than a millennium ahead of all
others, is based on records of the heads of the
Shankara Mathas at Dwaraka and Puri and the
fifth Peetham at Kanchi
2. Shankara Digvijayam by Madhava-Vidyaranya,
translated by Swami Tapasyananda, Sri Rama-
krishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai. p. 10. Also see,
Sri Shankaracharya—Life and Philosophy, An
Elucidative and Reconciliatroy Interpretation, by
Swami Mukhyananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata
3. The Message of Vivekachudamani, Swami Ranga-
nathananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, p.1-4
4. Kalady, Birthplace of Adi Shankara, brochure
published by Sri Sringeri Jagadguru Shankara-
charya Mahasamsthanam, Kalady
Notes and References
5. Vidyarambha is a traditional Hindu ceremony for
initiating a child into education and knowledge.
On this day, the child gets introduced to writing
by making him write the sacred symbole ‘Om’ on
a plate of rice grains. Upanayana or the sacred
thread ceremony marks the beginning of brahma-
charya-ashrama or student life in the gurukula.
This is done by initiating the young boy into the
gayatri-mantra. Both the ceremonies are part of
the shodasha-samskaras, the sixteen rites, which an
orthodox Hindu has to undergo.
6. cf. Adi Sankara Nilayam, the abode of Chinmaya
International Foundation, Adi Sankara Nilayam
Veliyanad, Ernakulam District, Kerala - 682319.
First edition, February 2009. c.f. pp.9-18. Also see
Kalady, edited KR Venkataraman, published by
PS Narayanan on behalf of the Kerala Branches of
Sri Sankara Seva Samiti, Sri Vani Vilas Press,
Srirangam, 1966. p. 18
A view of the side-varandah in the Melpazhur Mana
38
the supreme Truth revealed in the Upanishads.
I bear your pure feet in my heart. †
199 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
Golden Jubilee Celebration of Vedanta Society of Japan
A Namaste India Festival was held in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park Event Square on September 26 and 27, 2009.
The Festival was organized by the Executive Committee for Namaste India Festival 2009, with support from
Embassy of India in Japan, India Government Tourist Office in Tokyo, the Society to Promote India-Japan
Cultural Relations (NPO-IJCR), Mithila Museum and many other organizations and businesses in India and
Japan. The Vedanta Society of Japan, as part of its Golden Jubilee celebrations, took advantage of this year’s
Namaste India Festival to organize an exhibit on the theme of ‘The Indo-Japanese Relationship’ sponsored by
the Embassy of India and inaugurated by H.E. Sri H.K. Singh, Ambassador of India.
Billed as the first Indo-Japan Relation exhibition to be held in Japan to focus on the ‘bond of love,
friendship and cooperation’ between these ‘two great Asiatic nations’, the exhibition featured the pioneers of
this relationship, Okakura Tenshin and Swami Vivekananda. Statistical data on various aspects Indo-Japanese

Glimpses of Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Vedanta Society of Japan
200 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
40
relations were presented along with publications in Japanese on India and Indians and highlighted with
paintings, photos and copies of original documents all captioned in English and Japanese. Well-over the
estimated 2, 00, 000 visitors crowded the Festival grounds.
Y As part of its third phase, the Vedanta Society of Japan held a Golden Jubilee event on Sunday, January
24, 2010 at the Tenshin Hall of Osaka’s Chuo-ward. The chief guest speaker of the event was the Honorable
Sri Vikas Swarup, Consul General of India, Osaka and author of the Oscar winning film, Slumdog
Millionaire.
Additional speakers included Mr. Mukesh Punjabi, Chairman, Indian Chamber of Commerce, Japan, Mr.
Keishin Kimura, President, Japan Yoga Therapy Association and PhD. Tomio Mizokami, Professor Emeritus,
Osaka University of Foreign Studies and President, Kansai Japan-India Cultural Society.
The event was attended by nearly 500 guests. Copies of Swami Medhasananda’s book, Swami Vivekananda
and Japan, both Japanese and English versions, along with the booklet, Inspirational Messages, were all sold
out. The cultural event of the second half featured Bharatanatyam dance with Ms. Subha Kokubo Chakraborty
and her troupe and a sitar performance by veteran Amit Roy with Takashi Komura on tabla. The event also
featured a comprehensive historical exhibit on the pioneers of the modern Indo-Japan relationship, Swami
Vivekananda and Tenshin Okakura. †
Youth Retreat at Vishakapatnam
Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Visakha-
patnam, organized a Youth Retreat on March
7, 2010. About 200 students participated in
this inspiring and invigorating session. With
Prof. A. Prasanna Kumar, former Rector,
Andhra University as the chief guest, the Retreat
consisted of many short talks by senior monks
and other invited speakers. †
General News
Y Viveknagar centre organized an All Tripura Devotees’ Conference at the Ashrama on 14 March, which
was attended by 587 devotees.
Y Swami Gitanandaji inaugurated the renovated building for library and computer centre at the newly
acquired premises of Kankurgachhi Math on 24 March, Ramanavami Day.
Y The dining-hall-cum-kitchen block at Ootacamund centre was inaugurated on 26 March.
Y In the All India Essay Writing Competition 2009 conducted by United Nations Information Center for
India & Bhutan, a student of Class XII of our Aalo school won the first prize in the northeast region.
Y Vidyamandira College (Saradapitha, Belur) has been identified as one of the 149 “colleges with
potential for excellence (CPE)” from among the nearly 7000 colleges all over India under section 12(b) of
University Grants Commission (UGC) Act. †
Winter Relief
More than 20,000 blankets, shown in brackets, were distributed through the following centres to poor
people affected by the severity of winter: Aalo – 1700, Almora – 300, Asansol – 980, Bankura – 865,
Baranagar Mission – 1500, Belgharia – 475, Cherrapunji – 2800, Contai – 100, Deoghar – 2000, Ghatshila –
197, Jamshedpur – 154, Jayrambati – 1058, Kamarpukur – 1700, Kanpur – 523, Khetri – 61, Malda – 13,
Narendrapur – 600, Purulia – 300, Ramharipur – 1603, Ranchi Morabadi – 416, Sargachhi – 800, Sikra
Kulingram – 300, Taki – 71, Vrindaban – 1500. Besides, the following centres distributed various winter
garments, shown in brackets, to the needy: Almora (100 used woollen sweaters), Kanpur (464 sweaters and
33 woollen chadars), Purulia (815 sweaters). †



201 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
For review in THE VEDANTA KESARI,
publishers need to send us
two copies of their latest publication.
SRI SARADA DEVI
By Dushyant Pandya
Published by Readworthy Publi-
cations (P) Ltd. A-18 Mohan
Garden, Near Nawada Metro
Station, New Delhi - 110 059.
2008, paperback, pp.230, Rs.250.
Written by a devotee of
many years’ standing, the book is
a simple biography of the Holy Mother
in an attractive and lucid style. It is a broad
overview Mother’s life.
The book begins with Sri Sarada Devi’s
concern at being left behind in Jayrambati and the
societal criticism she had to face as a married girl
who was seemingly abandoned by her husband.
Worse, there were reports trickling back that her
husband was mad!
The journey of this young girl from rural
Bengal to the hustle and bustle of the great city of
Calcutta to meet and find out for herself who her
husband really was, and the part he had determined
she must play in establishing Vedanta, becoming
Mother and spiritual preceptor after his passing,
forms the content of this book.
The author has done well in evoking the
confusion and sadness of the young Sarada,
becoming transformed into a mature and sure Holy
Mother who understood what her mission in life
was. His description of Holy Mother’s patience and
forbearance, her tolerance and universality has been
very well brought out.
The language is at once clear and simple.
Writing about the Holy Mother can never be an
easy task; her apparent simplicity was a complex
combination of nobility and great divinity—that she
could completely comprehend Sri Ramakrishna’s
teachings clearly shows this. The book is sure to be
popular and the only suggestion is: it has to be
edited and proofed in order to make for a trouble-
free reading experience.
___________________________ PREMA RAGHUNATH, CHENNAI
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA—THE
KNOWN PHILOSOPHER THE UN-
KNOWN POET
By Radhika Nagarath
Published by Meteor Books,
Kolkata. Distributor: Advaita
Ashrama, 5 Dehi Entally Road,
Kolkata - 700 014. 2007, Hard-
back, pp.244, Rs.100.
‘The stars are blotted out,
The clouds are covering clouds,
It is darkness vibrant, sonant
In the roaring wind’ [Kali the Mother]
‘The cloud puts forth its deluge strength
When light cleaves its breast’ [The Song of the Free]
‘I look before and after
And find that all is right,
In my deepest sorrows
There is a soul of light’ [Light]
‘The lakes are opening up wide in love,
Their hundred thousand lotus eyes
To welcome thee. . . Thou Lord of Light’ [To the
Fourth of July]
All the above lines from Swami Viveka-
nanda’s poems are packed with lyrical intensity in
the same measure as the spiritual urge and echo
some of the well-known lines in English poetry.
All great mystics have been great poets.
Swamiji says in his ‘Memoirs of European Travels’
that every good poet is a Vedantin e.g. Goethe,
Schiller and Lamartine. The beauty in nature is only
the partial expression of the real all-embracing
divine beauty. His poetry is the symbolic and lyrical
expression of the innate beauty of the individual
and the Divine Self.
202 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
42
Swamiji’s poems have been analysed by
Radhika Nagarath more from the philosophic
standpoint than from the poetic angle. Writing on
the poem The Song of the Free, the author says that
Swamiji explains the concept of immortality through
mathematical reasoning that the sum total of energy
that is displayed in the universe is the same
throughout. She sees in the poem The Cup, the
philosophy of suffering. In the chapter on ‘Advait-
ism and Classical Poetry’, the author draws a
parallel among Byron, Shelley and Vivekananda as
monists. In the same breath, the author compares
Addison, a representative of the Age of Reason,
with Vivekananda from the point of view of
monism, which is rather intriguing. In some places,
the arguments are rambling and digressive. The
author’s dedication and scholarship, however, is
evident throughout the book and cannot be
questioned.
The claim that this approach towards analys-
ing Swamiji’s poems is the first-ever one in the
world is incorrect. The reviewer had read an article
in the Prabuddha Bharata years ago by Carebanu
Cooper on Swamiji’s poetry. In the Vedanta Kesari
also, there were enlightening articles on the subject.
An M.Phil. degree was awarded by the University
of Madras for a dissertation on the above subject.
The author has taken pains to consult
numerous books. The wrapper design is attractive
with Swamiji within a halo with the Himalayas
above and the ocean below. Was not Swamiji as
broad as the sky and as deep as the ocean?
Of course there are mistakes in printing which
must be carefully looked into in the next edition.
__________________________ K PANCHAPAGESAN, CHENNAI
SRIMAD BHAGAVATA
By Pandit A.M. Srinivasa-
chariar Translated by
Dr.V. Raghavan
Published by The Kuppuswami
Sastri Research Institute, No.84,
Thiru.Vi.Ka. Road, Mylapore,
Chennai – 600 004. 2008, paper-
back, pp.444+xxx, Rs.200.
Hinduism or Sanatana Dhar-
ma abounds in many rich scriptural texts. Even
one lifetime is not adequate to study all of them.
What one could do at best is to choose those that
are more popular and well known and concentrate
on them.
The scriptural texts known as the prasthana-
traya, Hinduism’s three foundational scriptures
comprising of the Upanishads, the Brahmasutras and
the Bhagavadgita, are meant for scholars and
intellectuals. They need a deep understanding of
the schools of philosophy for a proper appreciation.
However, there are other books meant basically for
the common men or women, who can devote only
a limited time of their busy life to the study of
scriptures. Sanatana Dharma caters to their needs
also through the epics, such as Ramayana and
Mahabharata, and several Puranas, of whom the
most popular is the Srimad Bhagavatam. These three
texts have become the warp and the woof of the
way of life of an Indian. Of late, they have become
even more popular because of the TV serials.
The Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute of
Chennai has published condensed versions of these
three voluminous texts for the use of the modern
reader. They serve as a pleasant entry into the full
text for those interested in a deeper study. The book
under review is the condensed version of the
Bhagavatam presented in the form of a small book
of about 450 pages.
This kind of condensation of a large text into
a small book faces several difficulties. The biggest
problem is: what can be left out and what should
not be left out. The judgement is mostly subjective
and can attract criticism. Therefore, it is with a sense
of satisfaction that one can say that Dr. Raghavan
has done a commendable job in keeping the spirit
of the text during the abridgement.
The Bhagavatam is basically the story of Sri
Krishna, and has been the source of inspiration for
fine arts like dance, drama, music and painting.
There is hardly a Hindu heart anywhere in the
world that does not resonate to the name of Sri
Krishna. Even though all the other incarnations of
the Divine are covered in the text, it is the story of
Sri Krishna that stands out. The translator has
maintained a sense of proportion in the abridging
it, so that nothing is omitted, at the same time pre-
serving the lion’s share for the story of Sri Krishna.
The book was first published in 1937 and has
seen three reprints. It is sure to see many more
reprints, if only the publishers were to consider
subsidising the price of the book. But the book is
worth preserving, because it can be used to
203 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
43
refurbish one’s memory occasionally. The book has
been published in an attractive format and is sure
to become popular and useful.
______________________________ NVC SWAMY, BANGALORE
SWALLOW IRRITATION BEFORE
IRRITATION SWALLOWS YOU
By J.P. Vaswani
Published by Sterling Publishers
Private Limited, A- 59, Okhla
Industrial Area, Phase II, New
Delhi - 110 020, 2006, paperback,
pp.176. Rs.125.
‘You are not fully dressed
until your face wears a smile’; J.P.Vaswani
quotes Mahatma Gandhi to highlight a fundamental
nature a person should possess. Vaswani continues,
‘If you wish to be happy, make others happy’ and
service to the poor is service to God. These words
were earlier stressed by Swami Vivekananda.
A few years ago Sri Ramakrishna Math
published an excellent book Overcoming Anger that
served to counter the spreading disease in the
present generation. Vaswani’s book Swallow
Irritability Before Irritability Swallows You looks like
a companion-volume and projects how and why
people get irritated and their remedies.
Vaswani, discusses these issues in practical
terms through anecdotes/stories and appropriately
quotes Swami Vivekananda and Saint Thyagaraja.
‘The nature of the soul is bliss, peace, unchanging.
We have not to get it, we have it’, said Swamiji
while, in one of his famous kritis Saint Thyagaraja
asks, ‘Does happiness lie in wealth or in the
repetition of the divine name of Sri Rama.’
Vaswani’s recipe include, developing a
healthy self-image devoid of ego or dejection,
keeping an open mind while making your own
decisions, paying attention to apparently trivial
matters in life (great people lead a simple life
without flaunting their wealth, knowledge or
power). Remember God is in you. Leave the rest to
Him. When Thomas Edison lost his researched
papers in a fire, he reacted saying there was value
in disasters too; many mistakes had been burnt! A
Buddhist technique of relaxation known as Tonglen
has also been explained in depth.
In short, the book under review is valuable
to members of a society in which many suffer from
and overload of absolute luxury and the fire of
impatience. A book worth ‘swallowing’!
______________________________ P. S. SUNDARAM, CHENNAI
SADGURU OMKAR—CONFESSIONS,
UPADESH AND TALKS
Published by Harish Chandra for
Akshaya Prakashan, 208,M.G.
House, 2 Community Centre,
Wazirpur Industrial Area, Delhi
110 052. 2008, paperback, pp.
305 + xiv
The author, Sadguru Om-
kar, known as Nilkantha Brahmachari in
his pre-monastic life, was born on 4th December
1889 in Tanjore, South India. In his youth, he joined
the revolutionary group which had contacts with
Yugantar group of Sri Aurobindo. He was arrested
in Kolkata in 1911 being the first accused in Ash
Murder Case. He was released in August 1919 only
to be rearrested in August 1922 to be sent to jail for
10 years of rigorous imprisonment.
It was during these years in jail that he jotted
down most of Confessions on the way towards Peace.
These confessions which record psychological
journey of an aspirant towards perfection reveal
the periods of light and darkness, faith and doubt
that an aspirant necessarily must travel through.
Sri Aurobindo, having gone through these, had
written few lines by way of a foreword.
On his release from jail, Sadguru Omkar left
politics and established an Ashrama at the Nandi
Hills. This is where he spent most of his life serving
the villagers in his own personal capacity as also
teaching individuals who came to him through his
talks with them. The second and third sections of
the book comprise these teachings and talks.
Sadguru Omkar’s teachings are teachings on
life. Essentially these teachings are the teachings of
the Sanatana Dharma as understood and realized
by a sincere and enquiring mind free of dogmatic
affiliations without the aid of any commentaries.
The ‘Atma-Vidya’ that he speaks of consists in
discovering, affirming and realizing through sadhana
the infinite potential of oneself thereby making life
more joyous and meaningful. In author’s own
words: ‘Atma-Vidya is not running away from life
or relinquishing it; not at all. It is the art of getting
better control on life and living it more positively
204 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 ~ ~
44
and more powerfully with more success and cheer.’
(p. 266). These teachings are meant for individual’s
progress, free of every trace of any ‘ism’ and
independent of any dogma and creed making them
universal in their appeal. Being teachings on Life,
they also cover a range of subjects and hence all
teachings may not appeal to everyone.
The book is not meant to be read cover to
cover in one sitting. Few teachings a day should be
read, thought over, understood and applied in life.
____________________________ SWAMI ATMAPRANANANDA,
RKM ASHRAMA, BELGAUM
VOICE OF THE RISHIS
By Dr. Hazari
Published by New Age Books, A-
44, Nariana Industrial Area
Phase–I, New Delhi - 110 028.
2009, paperback, pp.257+xxv,
Rs.325
Sa evam Veda—‘Thus speaks
the Veda.’ And the Vedic stream
which began with (the Vedic) Sanskrit has been a
constant flow throughout India in different
languages, enriching the nation in a million ways.
The latest language to join the assembly is English.
Two hundred years old or less, Indian writing in
English that is associated with the Vedas as
translation, creative writing and critical commentary
has already become a significant guide to aspirants
all over the world. It is through English that India’s
spiritual treasures beginning with the Vedas have
been revealed to the world outside starting with
Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo.
Dr. Hazari became a disciple of Sri Aurobindo
while in his teens and was a Homeopathic doctor
in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry. He
was also a thinker and writer. His mystic expe-
riences were put down in an epic form by him.
Since the poem Devayana was bulky, he published
Glimpses of Devayana and we learn that his epic was
‘a spiritual history from the Golden Age to the Iron
Age and again to the Golden Age inaugurated by
the descent of the higher consciousness, the
supramental, to the earth to unfold the Vedic Truth.’
Living under the aegis of Sri Aurobindo, it
was natural for Dr. Hazari to think and write in the
Aurobindonian terminology. Also to study the
Vedas and search for answers to ultimate questions
like ‘Who am I’ and ‘Where do I go from here’.
The result was Devayana composed in anushtubh
metre. Dr. Hazari passed away in 1978. Amita
Nathwani has done well to go to the Vedic verses
which were provided as references to Dr. Hazari
by Rishis who, it is believed, appeared to him in
his vision and assured him that the Golden Age on
Earth was very near. What follows in the book is
one long monologue of an inspired ecstatic, dotted
with significant Vedic quotes. Vedic godheads jostle
with one another in the chapters raising us to a
higher consciousness, as it were. The rishis have
continued their work for the earth by manifesting
again, says Dr. Hazari, and Bengal is their chosen
place for the manifestation of Truth. Sri Rama-
krishna Paramahansa and Sri Aurobindo are such
seers who have lighted ‘the Vitihotra, the psychic
aspirant fire.’
The author has also given a chain of prayers
from the Vedas for invoking safety, freedom from
disease and fear. These outpourings in a state of
trance will be read with interest by those who have
a turn to the spiritual way of life.
___________________________ PREMA NANDAKUMAR, TRICHY
TO MY RABI’A
By Nileen Putatunda
Published by Writers Workshop,
162/92 Lake Gardens, Kolkata -
700 045. 2008, hardback, pp.63,
(Rs.80 for paperback) Rs 100 for
hard-back.
‘All that You have given me
is Yours. . .’, so says the devotee
in one of the poems in this elegantly
published small book that has a spiritual flavour.
Thoughts such as these bring to the erring humanity
the omniscient and omnipresent Divinity that is
Reality, and the limitations of human endeavour.
The poems in the book remind us to get rid of
egotism, cultivate a pure mind and ‘. . .meekly offer
to the Divine all your talents.’
The ideas conveyed by the poems are simple
that help in cultivating bhakti.
______________________________ P. S. SUNDARAM, CHENNAI

VOL. 97, No. 5

ISSN 0042-2983

A CULTURAL AND SPIRITUAL M O N T H L Y O F T H E R A M A K R I S H N A O R D E R

Started at the instance of Swami Vivekananda in 1895 as Brahmavâdin, it assumed the name The Vedanta Kesari in 1914. For free edition on the Web, please visit: www.sriramakrishnamath.org

CONTENTS
Vedic Prayers Editorial
May 2010 165 166 170 178 186

The Struggle-Mantra
Articles
„

The Loving Aspect of Holy Mother Swami Tathagatananda „ Prayer of the Heart Pravrajika Brahmaprana „ Towards a Vedic Philosophy of Peace Rudraprasad Matilal
New Find
„ „

Unpublished Letters of Swami Saradananda A Pilgrimage to Kalady— the Birthplace of Adi Shankara ‘Atmashraddha’

184

Travelogue
190 199 201

The Order on the March Book Reviews Features Simhâvalokanam (Taittiriya Upanishad)—169, Vivekananda Tells Stories—176

Cover Story: Page 4

2

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If they do this. 7 Vß Him B©úamUmß of gods na_ß the great _hoúaß the Supreme Lord Vß Him XodVmZmß of the deities na_ß X°dVß the highest deity nVrZmß of rulers. CW. MAY 2010 ISSN 0042-2983 E ACH SOUL IS POTENTIALLY DIVINE. we will take them up. Lords—Vaivaswat. by Swami Sambuddhananda V_r˚damUmß na_ß _ho˚daß Vß XodVmZmß na_ß M X°dV_≤ & nqV nVrZmß na_ß naÒVmX≤ {dXm_ Xodß ^wdZoe_rS>Á_≤ && —Shwetashwatara Upanishad. we have to decide whether they make for disintegration. VI. but it is the manifestation of that One Love throughout. the adorable Lord of the Universe who is the Supreme Lord of all lords.VOL. but if it makes for oneness we are sure it is good. No. Agni. love makes for that oneness. The difference is only in degree. the mother with the child. etc. 3. Therefore in all our actions we have to judge whether it is making for diversity or for oneness. 2. May we realise Him. Gods—Indra. adorable naÒVmX≤ transcendent ^wdZoe_≤ the Lord of the universe {dXm_ may we realise. or for oneness. —Swami Vivekananda. Love binds.1 the supreme God of all the gods2 and the supreme Ruler of all rulers. the whole world becomes one with the animals. God Himself. multiplicity. So with our thoughts.3 1. T HE GOAL IS TO MANIFEST THE DIVINITY WITHIN. etc. For love is Existence. Rulers—Prajapatis. and if not. we will throw them off as criminal. more or less expressed. and all this is the manifestation of that One Love. binding soul to soul and bringing one influence to bear. 2:305 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 165 ~ D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 9 . If for diversity we have to give it up. the transcendent one. 5. You become one. families with the city. Yama. Vedic Prayers Tr. administrators na_ß nqV the Supreme ruler B©S>Á_≤ worshipable. 97.

transportation. ‘Practice it a few days. It is. The struggle caused by the elements and forces of nature. Their moral sense is so gross and elementary that nothing disturbs their mind. ever-content and everpeaceful. medical care. for instance. M A Y 2 0 1 0 This inner-outer nexus is at the root of every form of struggle that we face. or self-struggle. says. and you will master it. For it is the struggle with oneself. our life has to go. Swami Vivekananda says. and 3. Keep trying. If food or air fails. learning new things. communication. intellectually. They do not care for any other thing. morally or spiritually—it is imparted to every student by his teacher. but it is a compound effect. classified all struggles into three. earning or multiplying money. The struggle caused by one’s wrong attitude and response. however. And dwelling on the meaning of the term ‘life’.The Struggle-Mantra The Universal Mantra ‘Struggle-mantra’ is the one mantra that every student. All our individual and collective struggles in econoT h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 166 ~ . 2. The last type of struggle is what we will focus on here. Struggle—Outer and Inner The ancient Indian thinkers. clothing. The teacher places an ideal or a task before his student and tells him. The dullards or brutes have little power to think. and if we are defeated. a chemistry teacher.’ A music teacher tells the same when he teaches a new song to the student. and even. This complex struggle between something inside and the external world is what we call life. you will succeed. This includes our struggles of daily life such as arranging for food. and are lost in sense-enjoyments. for instance. These three types of struggles are: 1. a driving-teacher. they looked at all struggles as attempts to get rid of dukha or pain.1 mic. Every moment we are fighting actually with external nature. Life is not a simple and smoothly flowing thing. are established in it and are freed from all desires. a continuous struggle for food and air. . So too a drama teacher. while teaching a new technique to the newcomer. struggle is basic to life. an expert pickpocket tells to the new pickpocket while teaching the tricks of his trade—‘Struggle!’ Yes. They too do not struggle. ‘Struggle on!’ is a universal mantra and irrespective of the field of action— whether improving oneself physically. without exception. receives from his teacher. . which determines how well we can struggle with the other two types of struggles. The perfect ones have understood the highest truth. Life itself is a state of continuous struggle between ourselves and everything outside. as also the higher struggle to grow morally and spiritually. political and social and other fields too follow the same nexus—inner-outer. we die.’ A cricket coach. The struggle caused by other living beings. Keep struggling. and so on. ’Keep trying. Only two types of men do not struggle: the absolute dullards and the perfect ones.

greed. To one who is struggling to rise from the vishayananda to bhajanananda. until one arrives at the highest. Sometimes he enjoys doing his spiritual practices such as meditation.7 Now. sense-objects) to bhajanananda (the joy of bhajana. jealousy. the journey is that of going and returning. consciously or unconsciously. It is a journey from the vishayananda (the joy of vishaya. This inner journey passes through many peaks and descends. After reaching the other shore. same as the atman or Brahmanconsciousness. ‘struggle’ M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 167 ~ . higher form of struggle emerges— that of going beyond even the rasa or joy of spiritual practices and reach the ever-lasting Source of whole Existence. O son of Pritha. Reaching that state alone marks the end of all struggles. spiritual practices) and finally to brahmananda (the joy of Brahman. self-control. But a time come when the self has had enough of these and wakes up. In whatever way one might express the highest state. and the virtues or values such T h e as truthfulness. however.’ But what is self? According to spiritual texts and Masters. mind and ego. This ‘self’ is the instrument of our ordinary living consisting of all mundane experiences—laughing and crying. we are all seeking perfection. and valleys and heady precipices. At other times. The very fact that we become unhappy scores the point that we are seeking a perfect. At first it is being pulled and torn asunder between the two. it is My Path. the glimpses from the world of Spirit overwhelm him. It is a progressive journey from lower to higher forms of joy. it is wanting to attain a state of being or a state of consciousness where there is perfect joy. undergoing all the ups and downs of life. and we start manifesting our higher Self. contentment. At times. prayer and Japa. Whether we know it or not. he carries on and reaches the other shore. or Brahman-consciousness. One might call that state as atman-consciousness. in the same way do I fulfil their desire. It then starts the upward journey. The lower self is also the seat of all our lower impulses such as anger. In the language of spiritual seekers. The lower self consists of our body. a new. ‘One who conquers the self. uninterrupted state of happiness. Understanding ‘Struggle’ What does the word ‘struggle’ mean? Whatever the context it may be used. every human being consists of two selves: the lower self and the higher self. the ultimate Truth). Says Sri Krishna in the Gita: In whatever way man worships Me. Awakening of the lower self towards its higher possibility heralds the beginning of a long inner journey from ‘lower truth to higher truth’. the struggling soul decides to surrender before the sensory enjoyments and it appears to him that all his spiritual aspirations are dead and gone. it is a terrible drudgery. all human beings are trying to reach that state. what is the struggle that we cause to ourselves? It is the struggle that is born of our desire to seek the perfect or become perfect. There are moments of joy of success and there are moments of despair and defeat. lust and so on. If he has intense faith and is strong in his resolve.2 From Lower to the Higher ‘Struggle’ ‘Who conquers the world?’ asks a Sanskrit proverb. that men tread in all ways. and sometimes. Those following the path of devotion may visualize that state as the state of being eternally with their chosen deity—which represents to them the highest state of being. the world of sensory enjoyment and the world of the Spirit. the shore of bhajanananda. as it were. kindness and so on. celebrating and mourning. to and from.

there is a way. One should therefore try to be pure in one’s thoughts. And this he continued to do for days after days and even for months and years till someone pointed out to him that his calf was no longer a calf but a full grown cow! Lifting the cow daily! Practice has amazing powers. Struggle means facing them with the help of inner and outer resources. Chennai. And such is the power of practice that the story is told of a man who would lift a calf while crossing a river. Abhyasa therefore is invariably tied to vairagya. Struggle includes facing despair. It does not stop. ‘Will’ means a wholehearted determination to reach the goal. on higher Self? It may be difficult but let us move on. for any the struggle to become effective is to know what is at stake. This intensity of seeking fuels all our efforts. But before one struggles. Sri Ramakrishna used to say.’ ‘What that side? I am pushing it this side. They are a part of the term ‘struggle’. Never can one get to know all the hurdles that lay in our path. Beneath all struggles is present the twofold principle of abhyasa-vairagya or practice and detachment. CW. 237-38 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 168 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . the man remarked to his friend. Says Swami Brahmananda. opportunities and obstacles—but a good deal of our struggle will be in an unknown territory. One needs a cooperative mind to do so. There are unseen landmines which explode only when we step on them. He found his friend trying to push a container from one truck to another. He greeted his friend and offered to help to shift the container. when the container did not move an inch.K. said his friend. but also learns to run. therefore. At the root of all struggles lies the intense yearning to reach the desired end.’ Only when this ‘will’ is tied to a goal or purpose that it makes everything else possible. and both began to push. Math. so much intense will be one’s desire to practice. struggle on. In order to practice something. one should know what one is struggling for. An interesting story is told of a man who was passing by parking place where two trucks were parked back-to-back. ‘I do not think we can push the container that side. After half an hour of struggle. it consists of contending with an adversary or opposing force. It tries again and again. 4. combating all the challenges that come in one’s way. One should be clear-eyed and be sternly honest about it. one will have to give up something. or even more important. Why do you think that you cannot do it because you failed once or twice? One has to try again and again. or feel surprised as if they are unwelcome guests. and makes us hopeful and enthusiastic. words and actions. We should not scorn at them. and not that side!’ The first thing necessary. Another aspect of struggle-mantra is that it is not always on expected lines. † 2. We may be aware of some part of what lies ahead—our strengths and weakness. One has to face them and not fly away from them. And as much intense is one’s vairgaya.’3 Repeating the struggle-mantra one does wonders. And only a pure mind can be cooperative. The Eternal Companion. Sri R.11 3. and repeated practice is the best way to proceed in any struggle. ‘The newborn calf tries to stand up but falls down many times. 1: 84 T h e strength to face them. sustains us under all trails and trying conditions. intense and genuine. Gita. should not a man too learn to stand firmly on higher values. defeat and backslidings.8 means overcoming an obstacle. And then at last it not only stands up. Prayer. ‘Where there is a will. If a calf can learn to stand. A struggling soul should have courage and References 1. on and on. Pp. than the struggle itself. This clarity is as important. ‘Welcome’.

Taittiriya Aranyaka itself forms the latter part of the Taittiriya Brahmana and this Upanishad constitutes the seventh. revealing the depth of significance of each stage and its final culmination into the next. The special feature of the Shiksha-Valli is that it gives a most beautiful pithy address to young novitiates of the Brahmacharya Ashrama. .Simhâvalokanam From the Archives of THE VEDANTA KESARI (February. the Atman which is encased within these Upadhis or super-imposed adjuncts of life. according to the subject matters dealt therein. eithth and ninth prapathakas of the said Aranyaka. in well ordered graduated manner. named according to Sankara. 317-318) Taittiriya Upanishad (Introduction) The Upanishad has been so named because it forms a part of the Taittiriya Aranyaka of the Krishna Yajur Veda.. till man reaches the sumum bonum of life. .. Moreover it speaks of the rules of conduct beginning from the student life up to the fourth Ashrama i.e. (2) AnandaValli. . and (3) Bhrigu-Valli. 1918-19. Sannyasa life. where the teacher tells the students about the virtues they should try to posses and cultivate. it asserts. as (1) Shiksha-Valli. Yajnavalkya threw it out. Bhrigu-Valli is the mention of the five sheaths. Wherever is the expression of bliss or joy. The Taittiriya recension of the Krishna Yajur Veda got its nomenclature from the tradition that when the great sage Yajavalkya was asked by his offended Guru to return back the Veda which the former had studied under him. the Brahmanandam. the ideals of life they should foster and such other rules of conduct for the up-building of a noble character. It is the most beautiful idea of leading the mind from the gross to subtler and subtler till to the subtlest of all. But its fullest expression is in the unfettered joy of the consciousness of the Universal Life. The special feature of the next chapter. is the light of Brahman. It is divided into three parts. The Upanishad is the most popular of all other smaller Upanishads. Koshas of the Atman. the BrahmanandaValli is in the grand proclamation that Brahman in Anandamaya or Supreme Bliss. analogous to the convocation addresses of modern universities. know there. (2) Varuni and (3) Yagniki. But Sayana in his commentary on the Taittiriya Aranyaka styles them as (1) Samhiti. . † T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 169 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . i. pp. chiefly owing to the fact that it is still chanted with proper swarams and intonations by Brahmins in all parts of India. and other Rishis taking the forms of Tittiris (partridges) swallowed the Veda thus thrown out. .e. The special feature of the third chapter. .

God is regarded as Father. Counsellor. India has been worshipping God as Mother. . New York. Divine Energy and omnipotence. . . just as the baby believes its mother to be all-powerful. Here was a new idea of God. Swami Vivekananda says:1 Mother-worship is a distinct philosophy in itself. as the Universal Power behind all—the Mother-idea was born. But the Indian tradition wants to look upon God as Divine Mother in view of the fact that all living beings emerge from mother. A bit of Mother. Man saw that the sun shines on the good and evil alike. intimate motherly compassion free The author is a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Order. when thousands of images of the Divine Mother are worshipped. With the name of Mother comes the idea of Shakti. And the battle between the two makes human life. Every manifestation of power in the universe is Mother. and the Head of Vedanta Society. She is Love. . as Devi. without. … T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 170 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . All that we know or feel is but the resultant of these two forces. She is intelligence. The Divine Mother is the latent power sleeping in us.The Loving Aspect of Holy Mother SWAMI TATHAGATANANDA God As Mother Throughout the world. . Friend. Though we cannot understand the inscrutable grace of the Divine Mother. we can understand an infinitesimal part of her glory if She is worshipped with devotion. however. and Light from the Orient. She is life. She belongs to all nations. It impinges upon man at every step. His books include The Journey of Upanishads to the West. sensate cultures find it impossible to fathom the Divine Mother. worship Her if you want love and wisdom. among others. a drop. without worshipping Her we can never know ourselves. the Divine Mother manifested her gentle aspect of the redeeming power and universal love of divine motherhood to the highest degree in Holy Mother. Power is the first of our ideas. To meet the need of this age. normally gravitates to the material plane and ordinary people nurtured in secular. was Krishna. Mother. Down the ages. another was Buddha. This worship is particularly popular in Bengal during the different religious festivals. power felt within is the soul. Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi was born as an incarnation of the Divine Mother. who demonstrated her divinity during her exemplary life of sixty-seven years. nature. Mother is the first manifestation of power and is considered a higher idea than father. The human mind. to all races. able to do anything. another was Christ . Her divine love is extraordinarily expressed through her profound.—as everything.

which commanded respect and adoration from Sri Ramakrishna himself. Some Inspiring Anecdotes Let us look at a few of the innumerable anecdotes describing Holy Mother’s allencompassing love for the suffering devotees. ‘I am the Mother of all. The world has never seen anyone like her. the infinite and finite. This time also. God as Saviour is full of love. Mother’s blessings are all paramount to me. conveys to us that God. anxiety. giving them complete solace and satisfaction. He tried to extract a promise from Mother that she would always bring his food to him herself. Her pure. She was gently reprimanded by Sri Ramakrishna for handing his lunch over to that woman and spoiling it. She was sweetness incarnate and grace abounding. Her simple words went right to the heart of listeners. God feels our pain. To think of her lovingly and reverently will make our mind purer. the great Mother-Heart of God loves all. On many occasions during the Master’s life. ‘Motherhood of God’. The foremost disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna left Holy Mother behind to exhibit the Motherhood of God. are fused in her. which she carried to Sri Ramakrishna and then left immediately. too. the T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 171 ~ . a woman suddenly appeared and requested Mother to give her the plate. Sri Ramakrishna prostrated before the Deity and offered the fruits of all his spiritual practices as well as his rosary at the feet of Holy Mother. He comes to their aid. a nun and a wife. Swami Vivekananda was the first to understand Holy Mother and articulated this in a letter from the USA in 1894: To me. Mother’s grace. Her words. Sri Sarada Devi raised herself to the highest stature of spiritual sublimity. Although Holy Mother was ever obedient. Holy Mother’s Boundless Love Holy Mother’s all-pervading love may be described as a vertical love for God and a horizontal love for the suffering humanity. Readers of her enigmatic life will invariably M A Y 2 0 1 0 The monastic and lay disciples of Sri Ramakrishna as well as common persons also revered her and worshipped her as Divine Mother. But this is not the only such occurrence.’ Sri Ramakrishna felt immense inner joy as he observed the flowering of her universal motherly affection. and so on. at Dakshineswar in 1872. as Mother. he did not touch the food. Born to a poor family in rustic surroundings and with no chance of schooling. As a mother loves her children. I am the Mother of the good. After a little while Holy Mother came to his room. Moreover. When genuine devotees wholeheartedly. all in one. who worshipped Holy Mother as the Mother of the Universe. loves His children infinitely more than a human mother.11 from bondage and attachment. she had to tell Sri Ramakrishna that it was impossible for her to refuse anybody who addressed her as ‘Mother. She was in reality the Divinity. immaculate nature radiated purity and utter tranquillity. Mother’s grace is a hundred thousand times more valuable than Father’s. The expression.2 Guru.’ gives us the reassurance that every one of us is near to her. One day. sincerely and consistently seek God’s grace to tide over the situation. Shodashi. She is an enigma. I am the Mother of the bad. and dedicated in the service of Sri Ramakrishna. Holy Mother used to bring Sri Ramakrishna’s food to his room at the Dakshineswar Temple. not far. The Divine and human. vigilant. it had been observed that Sri Ramakrishna was unable to touch any food defiled by the touch of a human being of immoral character.

but who will accept these dregs of society and console them? I am the mother of the wicked as well as the mother of the good. on behalf of Akshay Kumar Sen.’ Actresses and other women of immoral character also received her abundant love and sympathy. Holy Mother was very affectionate with the maidservant. Her condition was so pathetic that pus was exuding from both ears and she had a fever.’ Holy Mother’s divine love was always conspicuous. they were forced to resort to theft and highway robbery. Everybody can be the mother of the good. When the collapse of their trade deprived Amzad and other Muslim weavers of their basic needs. Holy Mother’s heart was deeply touched by their pitiable condition. She also approachT h e ed Brahmachari Varada (Swami Ishanananda) in an effort to find shelter for her at Koalpara Ashrama. Holy Mother sent her to Koalpara in a bullock cart. In their desperate condition. When some intimate devotees of Sri Ramakrishna did not approve of Mother extending her love to undesirable types of people. a woman belonging to the Bannerjee family at Jayrambati was in a precarious condition. she told them. Holy Mother’s niece Nalini harboured a strong sense of the superior purity and social status of Brahmins accorded by the Hindu caste system. As usual. Like the most affectionate mother. Due to the fact that she was born and raised in a rural society. At dawn the following day she entered the maidservant’s room and found the poor woman burning with a fever and in the pathetic condition of having soiled the bed. On one occasion Nalini found Holy Mother removing the leftover scraps of a meal. she passed away. In another example. When Holy Mother heard of it. She encouraged her to avoid the scorching heat of the sun by starting early on her return journey. Holy Mother received her with the full affection of a compassionate mother and made her sleep at Jayrambati that night. Revealing her immense concern for this unfortunate woman. Once. Another time. ‘You acted as her own children in serving her and I am happy that she received this humane treatment at the end of her life. But this did not provide them with enough means to take care of their families. Varada went to Koalpara. Holy Mother nursed her and gave her hot milk. Holy Mother often encountered issues generated by casteconsciousness. she ignored their advice and remarked. Holy Mother treated them as her own children.12 find out that she was the living embodiment of Vedanta and rooted in Divinity—she moved and had her being in the Divine and the Divine alone. The attending doctor at Koalpara gave the woman some medicine but in spite of the best efforts of the inmates. they went to Holy Mother for help. an elderly maidservant carrying a bundle came to Holy Mother at Jayrambati. She had no one to look after her and had developed a disease in her ears. Holy Mother’s regular habit since her days at Dakshineswar was to arise at early dawn. Then Mother immediately cleaned everything herself so that no one would find any trace of the soiled bed. Being the Universal Mother. the author of Ramakrishna-Punthi. where they used to take care of some patients. Though she was fully aware of their unlawful behaviour. Despite the local prejudice against Muslims. Every one of these Muslim weavers regarded Holy Mother as their Guardian Angel. This sight naturally M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 172 ~ . Learning about it. she did not refuse anyone who approached and addressed her as ‘Mother. consulted with the Head of Koalpara Ashrama and returned to take the patient to Koalpara. she provided them with some opportunities to work.

Some other women who had the good fortune to live near Holy Mother nevertheless criticized her for this. Although she was steeped in the Orthodox tradition of Hinduism. Whereas these great disciples had the innocent habit of arguing with Sri Ramakrishna.3 Not only did the Holy Mother bless all of the Mission’s philanthropic activities. Some political revolutionaries dedicated to winning India’s freedom later joined the Ramakrishna Order. We have seen that throughout her life of infinite universal love. Whenever relief workers came to her. Lord Carmichael. On December 11. At that juncture.’ With these sweet words she expressed the grace of her divine Motherhood. Holy Mother never allowed devotees or the Swamis to remove their leftovers themselves. Holy Mother deemed that those who joined the Order in the name of Sri Ramakrishna should be allowed to remain. and exonerated the Mission and its members. By her own example. During that crucial period of India’s history. who else should?’ These are not the only cases demonstrating Holy Mother’s lack of prejudice. the Mission’s devotees and wellwishers were alarmed that sinister consequences might follow the governor’s unfriendly opinion of the Mission. Swami Vivekananda ceremonially purified himself before going to Holy Mother and shook with pious emotion in her presence. she relieved them of their stigma of division that was associated with their caste-consciousness. the Secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission. 1917. discussed the matter with Holy Mother. They suggested to the Mission authorities that they call for the revolutionaries to leave the Order. Accordingly. made a statement that cast aspersions on the Ramakrishna Mission. Holy Mother persuaded him to allow her take it instead and said to him. Her simple word was final to them. If a mother shouldn’t do it for her children’s sake. Her motherly affection removed all timidity and doubt from any devotee inclined to approach Holy Mother with hesitation or reservation. You are rare jewels to be sought for by gods. even with foreigners. She responded. When Swami Vishweshwarananda resisted and offered to remove his own plate after the meal. Holy Mother gave shelter to giant souls like Swamiji and others. they never dared to think of T h e arguing with Holy Mother.13 horrified her and she cried out. she always inquired in depth about these M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 173 ~ . ‘Ah me! She’s removing the leavings of a multitude of castes!’ But the universality of Holy Mother’s love which knows no division immediately revealed itself. she was keenly interested in all the details of this work. Swami Saradananda. ‘Well. Every word of Holy Mother’s was a command to them. 1916 the Governor of Bengal. I am their mother. ‘What indeed have I done for you? A child even soils its mother’s lap and does so many other things. ‘What if they are from various castes? They are all my children. she consistently transcended the limitations of social convention. Swami Saradananda met with the governor’s private secretary with the result that the governor issued a statement in March 26. Notwithstanding the adverse official remarks of the government. She suggested that Swami Saradananda meet personally with the governor to explain the Mission’s viewpoint. who firmly rejected this suggestion. Her natural response was. They did so with great sincerity and completely eschewed the path of politics.’ Removing leftovers was actually a part of Holy Mother’s daily routine. We would like to cite one instance of Holy Mother’s guidance of the Mission in times of crisis.

Recognizing that the ordinary monk cannot remain absorbed in meditation round-the-clock. Even in her old age. Not a single devotee was disappointed. her body frail and rheumatic. Girishchandra was the most distressed.’ She withstood this barrage of words without changing her mind and he had to give up the thought of becoming a monk. he saw with his own eyes the divine love of Holy Mother. Her exhaustion became more apparent and it was decided that she would be unable to satisfy the devotees’ greatest wish: her presence during the evening juncture of the eight and ninth days of the moon [sandhi]. due to her continuous illness which left her physically debilitated. She always wanted to know if the Mission had been informed and if it had alleviated the people’s woes. To his great T h e disappointment. arduous journey to Calcutta. the Puja worship would be useless. he requested Holy Mother to grace his house with her presence on the occasion of Durga Puja in 1907. he regarded Holy Mother as Divine Mother. She once said. Despite his faults. An endless stream of devotees came to place flowers at her feet. Those who cannot adjust will leave. for he was convinced of the absolute necessity of her presence. Her tender actions and loving concern for him when he was at Jayrambati left deep impressions in Girishchandra’s mind. abiding and steadfast devotion. But without Mother’s presence. Girishchandra would notice that Mother herself washed his bed sheets.14 activities. Then. she would go door-to-door to get some milk and vegetables in her effort to bring a little comfort to Girishchandra in that village surrounding.’ Mother loved Girishchandra Ghosh. and which was calculated to sweep anyone off his feet. at the exact moment of the blessed juncture Holy Mother appeared at the doorway and stated simply. although he was a bohemian in every respect. Nearly every day. to everyone’s amazement. she sat for many hours. Holy Mother initially did not want to make the long. However. Holy Mother sat quietly for many hours together at Balaram’s residence before going to Girishchandra’s house where she had to remain for the rest of the worship. celebrated Durga puja in his house. Once. This made Girishchandra and the other devotees extremely happy. no amount of cajoling could convince him to come back down. Of all the disappointed devotees. When she did not approve of the idea. ‘Here I am. On the second day. Girish ‘resorted to the logical and vehement reasoning of which his keen intellect and poetic tongue were capable. Holy Mother attended the M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 174 ~ . On the first day of Durga Puja.’ Swami Premananda was there and tells the story:4 Girish Babu. Due to his unwavering staunch faith. he went to Jayrambati and stayed there a whole month. because of his deep. Girish was a great devotee of fiery radiant faith in the divinity of the Master and the Mother. she endured much. Our organization will function this way. she was not at all well and covered herself with a cotton sheet. the great devotee. Holy Mother’s patience was unflagging. Every day. ‘That is why my Naren started all these centres for work. He withdrew to his drawing room upstairs and refused to participate. gratifying all the devotees with her serene presence. she advised such monks to earnestly accept philanthropic activity for their own benefit. Again. Girish had become so embittered with life that during that time he broached the idea to Mother of renouncing the world and becoming a monk. she accepted this importunity and came to Calcutta. but the strain of it all weakened her further.

Conclusion As only the tip of a massive iceberg is visible above the ocean’s surface. She was the living embodiment of love. W. we are forced to acknowledge the deep impact of their treasured presence and loving concern on our behalf.15 worship. [Hereafter C. Girish was beside himself with sheer joy and could barely speak as he ran downstairs to greet her. Mother returned to Jayrambati. non-attachment. at just the moment of the sandhi puja. Their exemplary lives are our greatest tangible treasure which gives us hope and increases our faith in God. in spite of her illness. “Here I am. ‘I thought that my worship had come to naught. 8: 252. Math and Mission. M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 175 ~ . Girish Babu is comparable only to Girish Babu. Having thus satisfied them all. Mother stood still the whole time. Teachings and Reminiscences. 1957. 1970. Swami Gambhirananda. Now again. giving a halo of unknown beauty. the Holy Mother arrived by herself. Girish is the only one who can make the impossible possible. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. kindness. † The Goddess Durga was worshipped the entire three days. serenely in a chair. So I went there. Advaita Ashrama. who is worshipped as an embodiment of purity. 218. Advaita Ashrama. and the Holy Mother. When great spiritual souls take rest and are no longer actively involved in human welfare with their whole-souled. and arrived there in the darkness of night. He is indeed unique. At about half past two in the morning. her pure gaze concentrated on the image of the Goddess Durga. rushed to offer the flowers of their devotion at her feet. girls who are despised by society [prostitutes who were dancers and actresses in the theatre of Girish]. the palanquin that was sent to Balaram Babu’s house for the Holy Mother to attend the sandhi puja [the most important hour of the worship] came back empty. Advaita Ashrama. penetrated her entire personality. 2. Holy Mother also received the worship of all without exception while sitting calmly and References 1.] We all were struck dumb. Indeed. including his theatrical troupe of performers. Calcutta. 7: 26-7. What I witnessed struck me with great wonder.” Everyone. 1964. this essay also. pp. History of the Ramakrishna T h e 4. she fulfilled the devotees’ wish to prolong her stay for the worship of Kali. seated in their midst. Girish Babu was overwhelmed with joy at seeing her. 3. And although her condition required her to return home as soon as possible. No greater being was ever born in such obscurity and quietude as Holy Mother. and just now the Mother knocks at the door and announces. 210-11. Peace always dwelled in her pure heart. Grace. imagine the presence of an array of girls in the worship hall. The power of their pure and loving memory is the eternal legacy of their gift to humanity. partially on foot. sincere willingness.] CW. Her failed health and the general lack of conveniences made it a very stressful journey for her. gives only a glimpse of the unobservable immensity of her Mother-soul. Catching his breath he exclaimed. gentleness. Calcutta. This was indeed a unique sight. [She walked just one block from Balaram Babu’s house to the house of Girish. She was a sweet and lovely rose quietly radiating the fragrance of her graceful life. like radium. Five minutes later. sympathy and loving service to all. Calcutta. p. During those three days. Swami Premananda.

continually turning round. A man looking at the reflection of the fish in the tub of water was asked to send an arrow and hit the eye of the fish through the Chakra or wheel. Now. We present here some more of these insightful stories. So they tried to dissuade him. the third brother.’ Among the Brahmanas were seated the five Pandava brothers. there came kings and princes from different parts of India. He lifted the bow in his hand. of course. similes. His talks and writings are interspersed with numerous anecdotes. You know. one of the second caste. and beneath was a tub of water. the Brahmana. a mark in the form of a fish was set up high in the sky. Their life is one of contemplation. even a Shudra. who could not bear the idea that M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 176 ~ . When the Brahmanas saw this man get up. take part in it. and that they would all be killed. Judge. and control of the inner nature. On this occasion. under that fish was a wheel with a hole in the centre. But there arose a great cry among the princes. Now. the Vaishyas. and then Shudras. and one after another they tried their skill.Swami Vivekananda was a great storyteller.) At a Svayamvara there was always a great feat of arms or something of the kind. then the son of King Drupada rose up in the midst of the court and said: ‘The Kshatriya. and he who succeeded would be married to the princess. they must not touch a warlike weapon. this princess was. composed of kings and fighters. and every one of them failed to hit the mark. the traders or businessmen. Draupadi. therefore. now the T h e contest is open to the other castes. but Arjuna did not listen to them. a Kshatriya. study. marries Draupadi. all anxious to win the hand of the princess. He arose and stepped forward. examples. . Some of these stories are well known. the princess. because he was a soldier. whosoever hits the mark. how quiet and peaceable a people they are. they must not go into any enterprise that is dangerous. selected from his Complete Works. they thought this man was going to bring the wrath of the Kshatriyas upon them. there are four castes in India: the highest caste is that of the hereditary priest. they must not wield a sword. next. Now. When all those princes failed in hitting the mark. XXXXXV The Story of Mahabharata (Continuation of previous issue. strung it without any effort. . next is the caste of the Kshatriya. Let a Brahmana. many others are little known. the king caste has failed. Arjuna. According to the law. Then there was great jubilation. approached Arjuna and threw the beautiful garland of flowers over his head. and illustrations mirroring his vast knowledge of human nature—its potential and its relative limitations. Brahmanas as a caste are very quiet and rather timid people. and drawing it. was the hero of the bow. the servants. sent the arrow right through the wheel and hit the eye of the fish.

came to them and approved of the idea. or anything. Yudhishthira. who had become their friend and a relative. they go on foot!’ So he had followed them at a distance. . and what they got by begging they brought home and the mother divided it among them. They shouted out to her jocosely. ‘Mother. you know. Then the Pandavas lived in peace and prosperity and became more powerful every day. DD ~ 177 ~ In the meantime. Now. The author of the poem mentions the fact of the five brothers marrying the same woman. Why. and the princess was married to the five sons of Pandu. the brother of the princess was perplexed in his mind and thought: ‘Who are these people? Who is this man whom my sister is going to marry? They have not any chariots. it was the mother’s command. King Dhritarashtra was prevailed upon by the wise counsels of the elders to make peace with the Pandavas. exclaimed. So the king Drupada had to yield to this polyandrous marriage. this was evidently a glimpse of the past polyandrous stage. laying all the people under tribute to them. Then the eldest. So Draupadi became the common wife of all the five brothers. decided to perform a Rajasuya Yajna. all of you. Then. who lived as Brahmanas. Behind this epic there is a wonderful glimpse of the ancient historic times.’ Then the mother seeing the princess. from among this huge assembly of kings and princes. Now. in which the conquered kings would have to come with tribute and swear allegiance. but held their own. with the princess. we have brought home a most wonderful alms today. it was declared by Vyasa that such a marriage was allowable for these princes. and extended their dominions.’ The mother replied. ‘Enjoy it in common. So they. and help the performance of the sacrifice by personal services. came to the cottage where the mother lived. and it was permitted. Sri Krishna. You know. Thus the five brothers. and carried off the bride in triumph. and at night overheard their conversation and became fully convinced that they were really Kshatriyas. my children. She could not be made to utter an untruth. used to go out. or Imperial Sacrifice. to find an excuse and a cause for such an act.17 this beautiful princess who was a Kshatriya should be won by a poor Brahmana. Though Duryodhana and his party conceived of fresh plots to destroy them. in every nation there has been a certain stage in society that allowed polyandry —all the brothers of a family would marry one wife in common. The mother’s words must be fulfilled. Then King Drupada came to know who they were and was greatly delighted. So. ‘Oh! what have I said! It is a girl!’ But what could be done! The mother’s word was spoken once for all. It must not be disregarded. they wanted to fight Arjuna and snatch her from him by force. (4: 80-83) (To be continued . but he tries to gloss it over. and so on. and so he invited them home amidst the rejoicings of the people and gave them half of the kingdom. called Indraprastha. The brothers had a tremendous fight with the warriors. in every society there are stages of development. The five brothers now returned home to Kunti with the princess. the five brothers built for themselves a beautiful city. horses. as she never had done so. Brahmanas have to live by begging. Though at first much objection was raised. the mother sanctioned this strange betrothal. But there was one obstacle to its performance.) T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A Y 2 0 1 0 . in order to declare himself emperor over all the kings of ancient India. .

But unbeknownst to the preacher. Recognize it as the call of God. it cannot be borrowed from books. translated by Swami Turiyananda. while forming a mental picture of His constant presence.Prayer of the Heart PRAVRAJIKA BRAHMAPRANA The Interior Prayer ‘Pray without ceasing. Many.3 Name of Jesus with the lips. taught by a good teacher. The appeal is couched in these terms: ‘Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me. during every occupation. we may be reminded of a passage in the Upanishads which reads: To many it is not given to hear of That (meaning God) which dwells in eternity. Pravrajika Brahmaprana is a nun at the Vedanta Society of Southern California. and imploring His grace. ‘Where shall I find someone to explain this to me?’ With Bible in hand. in 19th century Russia. ‘What ought I to do?’ he thought. Wonderful is he who speaks of it.’2 He continued: Understanding of what prayer is cannot be attained by the knowledge of this world nor by the outward desire for knowledge. by Swami Atulananda.5 The starets then disclosed the secret of prayer. including the system of Tantric sadhana known as japam and meditation. Paul said in his letter to the Thessalonians.’ One who accustoms himself to this appeal experiences as a result so deep a consolation and so great a need to offer the prayer always. in the heart. which has a strong spiritual alliance with other paths. reputed to have within its walls a starets—a realized soul who had the gift of guiding others along the path to God-realization. … T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 178 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . till the Pilgrim came to a monastery. he left home in search of the answer. Just as the Pilgrim met his starets. 1 One day. do not understand it.4 With these words. and the disciple was blessed with initiation into spiritual life. in all places. even during sleep. and it will continue to voice itself within him of its own accord. In addition to writing articles for various publications in America and abroad. the peasant was wonderstruck. Hollywood. It can be found only in poverty of spirit and active experience. a Christian peasant went to church and heard his preacher quote this aphorism. is able to comprehend it. though they hear of it. Intelligent is he who learns of it. He said: The continuous interior prayer of Jesus is a constant uninterrupted calling upon the divine Religion is transmitted from guru to disciple. the guru accepted his disciple. prior to the liberation of the serfs. a spiritual initiation into the hesychast method of prayer. Sleepless nights passed. hundreds of years later. The starets kindly received the pilgrim and asked him into his cell. The starets said: ‘Thank God you have this insatiable desire for prayer. This marks The Way of a Pilgrim. that he can no longer live without it.’ St. the Vivekacudamani of Sri Sankaracarya. at all times. Blessed is he who. whereupon he gave the aspirant spiritual instruction. she has also edited With the Swamis in America and India. in the spirit. and volume 9 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda.

This eternal Sphota. We know for a fact that jet noise can shatter glass and high frequency sound can crack metals. . and causation. Above all. energy is a fleeting thought and matter a more concrete thought. With the M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 179 ~ .19 But it does not only mean a guru-disciple relationship. From the silence of Brahman. is the T h e The quality of this original Sound is unimaginable. the manifester.6 seed of creation and the essence of both matter and energy. and the Word was verily the Supreme Brahman. became the scriptural basis of the avatarhood of Jesus Christ: In the beginning was the Word. Shabda. In the Vedas we read: In the beginning was Brahman with Whom was the Word. or Sound. Although it is possible that the mystical doctrine of Sound originated independently in Hinduism and the Judeo-Christian religion. the power of Brahman was released as primal energy and seized its expression in a world of space and time. its force intensifies. it is known as Shabda. In the Jewish mystical tradition. of India discovered that Shabda. and the Word was God . There is first a general movement. In the Tantric tradition. so also. Sound is the channel by which God descends as man. And the Word was made flesh. or Pure Sound. and the Word was with God. issued forth Om. . and finally the results of prayer—the higher levels of consciousness which come as the supernatural outgrowth of prayer. this creation is an extension of His Thought. or mantra. Religion means realization. and behind it stands the eternal.’9 This sound is audible to the rishi in deep meditation. is the power through which the Lord creates this universe. Through the Word—known in Hinduism as Sphota-vada and the Logos in Christianity. or seers. its frequency heightens and. is considered too sacred to be spoken aloud in the worship of the synagogue. the practice of prayer—its obstacles and stages. space. To quote Swami Vivekananda: All this expressed. is also the power of Brahman and the metaphysical law which governs this universe. or Name of the Most High. the essential and eternal material of all ideas and names. John. or Sound Brahman.7 The ancient rishis. or Logos. The meaning of this sound is the origin of creation—the Name of His own reflection. sensible universe is the form. This phenomenon is beautifully expressed in the Psalms: ‘By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. For it is the Name that rusheth through the universe. Its power and magnitude are immeasurable. is the hidden science behind the major religions of the world. or Sound. As the sound wave shortens. echoed thousands of years later in the Gospel of St. Through unceasing prayer and repetition of the Holy Name. From the cosmic seed of Shabda. particular movements that produce time. In Tantra.10 This verse. or Word.8 In other words. It is the Jewish belief that: He who can rightly pronounce it causeth heaven and earth to tremble. Then there are diverse. The Idea of Word-Brahman The metaphysics of prayer. By keeping the company of the holy—our Pilgrim and his starets—let us probe into the metaphysical science of the Philokalia as well as the system of the Tantric mantra shastras. the tetragrammaton. inexpressible Sphota. it is a well-known fact that Tantric scholars influenced early Christianity and later Western philosophy. . the reservoir of all sounds. Sound is the ladder by which man ascends Godward.

then the purified mind. remade. it is the effort to slough off our fictitious self and to reunite us with our true nature—the Sound-Body of the Ishta. Bhakti yoga. Mantra sadhana is not an effort to capture something foreign to us. Lord Jesus—a subject which we will discuss in greater detail later. the thousand-petalled lotus of the brain. or seed word. a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and the second President of the Ramakrishna Order: One day Mahapurush Maharaj wanted to know the Christ mantra. the Natural Name of a tree would be inextricably connected to the sound of its sap running. the guru takes the place of the Ishta. which is one with Brahman. Shabda is power. For example. ‘Is it not written in your scripture. we can easily recognize a Christian version of the four yogas. or Natural Name—the Bija. but each form within creation has its own successive ‘sound’ equivalent. devotion to the guru—at first to the human guru. corresponding to our respective causal bodies. or ‘our Father who art in heaven. This path can be illustrated in The Way of a Pilgrim. and finally to the Supreme Guru—whether He be called ‘Satchidananda Brahman’ in the sahasrara. and senses. Combinations of ‘sounds’ then issue forth and recombine into compounded ‘sounds’ that send forth the laws of this universe.’ Especially to the great jnanis of the Vedantic tradition. Sri Sarada Devi. is most commonly the method of union through the Chosen Ideal— in the Pilgrim’s case. and the Bija mantra is believed to shape the mind into the form of the Chosen Ideal it represents. mind. The Natural Name is what the Cosmic Ear hears as the intrinsic nature of a particular form. or unmade. for the inward process cannot go on properly and successfully without the starets’ guidance. or Chosen Ideal. “ye are gods. It can also mean. Religion means ‘unfolding this divinity already within us. which is the SoundBody of God. The mind becomes purified by the purity of its contents.20 descent of the mystic Sound. making a frank confession and report. approximating the sound of activity within the object it names. further explained this: M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 180 ~ . and by the power of the Name. the following was told by Swami Gangeshananda who heard it directly from Swami Shivananda.’ As Christ said. Religious songs can materialise the object of their devotion. the Holy Mother. Furthermore. I said. In this connection.’12 The Four Yogas From the practices the starets gave his Pilgrim. or primary Natural Name. of the form it calls into existence. a form is materialized. that one must tell the starets everything. Mantras were first revealed to the rishis in a superconscious state—a state in which they saw them in a flash of light or heard them. What is the function of the guru? The starets explained to his disciple. invoked by the thought vibration of T h e the sacred seed word. the Name of God and its seed-word are said to be equally powerful. whether animate or inanimate. gunas act and react. or the path of devotion. This principle is the axis on which spiritual life turns. each of us has a Bija. He had a vision and it was given to him in English: ‘Lord have mercy on me. This is the ‘sound’ of our inner being and the power that has fashioned our body. Though some mantras are without seed-word. and all of ye are children of the most high?”’11 The ancient Hindus said that through Shabda any object can be made. Not only is the cosmic creation fathered by the Supreme Sound.

13 The starets explained: It is a secret treasury. though people generally interpret karma yoga as physical acts which unite us to God.15 To serve the guru means to follow his spiritual instruction. In order to purify the motive that precedes and accompanies our actions. wise guidance. That is why you simple folk should not read the chapters one after the other as they are arranged in the book. which deals with the science of spiritual phenomena. Jnana. simple guidance. the Pilgrim could not even begin to grasp the writings of the Philokalia until his starets guided his reading program. It contains clear explanations of what the Bible holds in secret. It contains the full and detailed science of constant interior prayer set forth by twenty-five holy Fathers. as it is an important aspect of jnana yoga. T h e The reading order which the starets then gave his disciple was the books of Nicephorus the Monk.21 Power flows through the mantra from the guru to the disciple and from the disciple to the guru. . and you will become the source of quarrels and disharmony. Karma. work. Some progress rapidly. to the simple-minded. egoism is bound to arise in you. It is not everywhere and to everyone that it is accessible. the first President of the Ramakrishna Order. That is why when one gives the mantra and takes the sins of the initiated upon oneself. because without it.16 In this connection. over a period of eleven centuries. If the disciple is good. It reads like a spiritual travel diary. Scriptural study usually falls under the guidance of the guru.’ It is a collection. however. Thus various disciplines which bring us devotion to the guru. the starets also told his Pilgrim: M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 181 ~ .14 The Philokalia. If the disciple commits a sin. but it does give to each such guidance as he needs. as it is based on the revelation of God. knowledge. Furthermore. Swami Brahmananda. he had the vision of the Lord Krishna. scripture is considered living. the spiritual tradition in the Ramakrishna Order stresses meditation as the priority. Gregory of Sinai. . It is hard to be a Guru. one’s health fails. and Dhyana—the paths of devotion. one has to take the responsibility for the disciple’s sins. we forget for Whom we are working. At one time. to the wise. If you give up the practices of japam and meditation and engage yourself solely in work. means ‘love of spiritual beauty. Although there are four yogas—Bhakti. The starets’ preliminary instruction to his disciple was: Read this book—the Philokalia. and meditation— they are all interchangeable and lead to the same goal. according to each one’s accumulated tendencies. Under no circumstances give up your spiritual practices. Simeon the New Theologian. or Dobrotolyubie in Russian. from whose feet came forth a beam of light like a cord. and finally a summary of prayer by Callistus. the Guru also stands to gain. said: We judge men by their actions. Sri Ramakrishna actually experienced this when one day while listening to the Bhagavatam. That order is for those who are instructed in theology. Callistus and Ignatius. or the path of knowledge. or deep meditation are also karma yoga. simultaneously touching the scripture and his own heart for some time. the finer form of karma yoga is the selfless thought behind action. discrimination between the real and the unreal. some slowly. of mystical and ascetic writings by the Fathers of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Sri Ramakrishna became convinced that the three were the one Reality. the Guru must atone for it. but God looks into their innermost minds…. In Hinduism.

or the path of meditation. Carry your mind. one is sure to be blessed with divine visions ultimately—one is sure to have God-realization. Lower your head. which is fixed on the bank.’ Say it moving your lips gently or simply say it in your mind. written repetition. and repeat the process very frequently. With unwavering faith in the words of the guru. I started doing this several times a day. The aspirant experiences total harmony with all. likhita japa. ie. In the same manner. it is prayer that bears fruit in good works and all the virtues…. and at first I felt nothing but a sense of darkness. As you breathe out. Simeon the New Theologian. in the Philokalia. our entire psycho-physical being is bathed with its nectar—and our system becomes illumined by the radiant light of its consciousness.22 Most people are under the misunderstanding that good actions make us capable of prayer. No. imagination. the disciple must practice repetition of the mantram and meditation on its meaning. say.20 T h e Swami Shraddhananda. continuous japa done without break. and further with the help of my breathing I could put into it and draw from it the Prayer of Jesus in the manner taught by the saints. At that time such functions as inhalation and exhalation (breath) or the rise and fall of mental thought waves (mind) form circular movements—a mental rosary as it were—to the aspirant.18 Two Types of Prayer There are two types of prayer. from your head to your heart. St. The Pilgrim was drawn to the method of ajapa japa.. in thought. have a corresponding practice in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. sitting in a quiet place. for half an hour at a time. M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 182 ~ . . Suppose a big log of wood is immersed in the Ganges with one end attached to a chain. instructed the Pilgrim: Sit down alone and in silence. you can gradually dive into the water and trace your way to it. Constant prayer is essential…. an eminent monk of the Ramakrishna Order. we come to dhyana yoga. Try to put all other thoughts aside. ‘Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.. if you become absorbed in the repetition of His holy Name.’ and when breathing out again. I tried to picture it there in the left side of my breast and to listen carefully to its beating. with every flow of the breath. ‘Lord Jesus Christ.19 In this connection. What is the relationship between prayer and meditation? Swami Brahmananda said.’17 Finally. Following the chain. or in the Yoga tradition as oral and mental japa. . Furthermore. Thus will he find peace of heart. as taught by Simeon the New Theologian. ‘Capture the Mother. But perfection in prayer does not lie within our power. known in Eastern Orthodoxy as ‘sounding’ and ‘soundless’ prayer.’21 In the Philokalia.’ that when the meaning of the mantra unfolds. But little by little after a fairly short time I was able to picture my heart and to note its movement. If one continues the repetition with concentration and devotion. breathe out gently and imagine yourself looking into your own heart. When drawing the air in I looked in spirit into my heart and said. and she will bring you the children. Sri Ramakrishna explained in even greater detail: Japa means repeating the Name of the Lord silently. the predominant method of union in The Way of a Pilgrim. ie. Be calm. Unceasing prayer is the means of attaining purity of prayer. shut your eyes. upon my heart. link by link. be patient. and ajapa japa. there is what is known as akhanda japa. These sadhanas. your thoughts. explained in his Prabuddha Bharata article ‘Rosary for Japa. To quote the Pilgrim: With my eyes shut I gazed. ‘have mercy an me. in the Yoga tradition. I said. which is the mother of all spiritual blessings. you will eventually realize Him.

’ a secret outpouring of love in the heart. That is the way to teach the senses a lesson. 7.’ The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (Advaita Ashrama.. The biological prana maintains. millions of cells.10. or prana. 13. 189. Charles Francis Horne. The Way of a Pilgrim. into a rosary. The Way of a Pilgrim. 20. and destroyers of knowledge and wisdom. 196. 1973). Swami Shraddhananda. Romans 12:2. p. Sri Sarada Devi. 3. (To be Continued. 231. 4. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (New York: RamakrishnaVivekananda Center. Cf. Pravrajika Anandaprana. Unpublished Reminiscences of Swami Prabhavananda. 2. The Kabbalah (Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East). p. 7. The Eternal Companion. trans. The Way of a Pilgrim. Swami Tapasyananda and Swami Nikhilananda. 22. pp. The role of the divine prana is to communicate into the blood stream and cellular systems a spiritual power. Psalm 33:6. 14. ‘The Mantra: Om: Word and Wisdom. Prana as a rosary does not keep count of the number of japa but. 8-9. M. pp. Ibid. p. with ‘Jesus Christ. 19.. ‘Son of God’ brought unshakable belief in the Godhead of Jesus Christ. The Midrash.7. 40. 231. 5. French. 1970). 17. R.. 157 11. 12. 6. 6.) References 1. blood vessels. Medieval Hebrew. The Way of a Pilgrim. Swami Shraddhananda explained: The mantra consciousness united with the prana movement transforms the biological prana into divine prana. The Eternal Companion (Hollywood: Vedanta Press. 194.23 With sadhana spiritual regeneration is bound to come—what St. he discovered that there were different ways of saying the Jesus Prayer. John 1:1. and with ‘have mercy on me’ came the gift of humility.2. 4 (Sept. 1997). Swami Nikhilananda.. p. p. 588. p. The Spiritual Heritage of India (New York: Doubleday and Company. etc. With the word ‘Lord’ came a reverence for the power of God.’22 In transforming one’s breath. as being of one substance with the Father. Ibid.. 165. vol. anger. 1. p. 9. p. 6. 3: 57 9. Psalm 82: 6. p. p. 1996). 38. Swami Vivekananda. Join the senses to the Lord. VSSC Archives.. cf.. M. 1973). 10.. and avarice—these are but different forms of the same thing. Katha Upanishad: I. They are the eternal enemies of the jnani. 8. Inc. p. the Holy Mother: Her Life and Conversations ( Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math. 18. being animated by the consciousness of the mantra. . Swami Prabhavananda. 8. 23. and gives them a spiritual turn.23 As the Pilgrim progressed in his mantra sadhana. 15. pp. p. and so on. The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way (San Francisco: Harper & Row. 16. Paul must have referred to when he said: ‘Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. Swami Prabhavananda. 1963). 21. 1952). anger. 1958). Ibid. . —Swami Turiyananda T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 183 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . Thessalonians 5:17. brings under control the biological passions of the body like lust. and that when the aspirant placed special emphasis on a particular word in the Prayer. Seeing God Everywhere (Hollywood: Vedanta Press. a corresponding spiritual gift resulted. protects and strengthens the organs. trans. Lust.

I thought of seeing her & say goodbye. The subjects treated are Botany & Drawing. are still in poor health. A few opinions of Miss M. I will return to Calcutta with him as soon as he feels equal to it. ‘God is kind!’ Is it not? I spent a few nights at Calcutta to watch Jogananda’s case—so had good opportunities to see Nivedita [a] number of times. I saw Mohini twice after you left. Alas! for the poor swamis! Jogananda is still tumbling between life & death.N. Poor Miss Muller has sailed for her house Tuesday last—perhaps to try her fortune there—as none will appear here to ask for her precious hand and as I with all my efforts could not be quick enough in demanding! Well. The swami had a very hard time with Disphnoza[?] & a few others though cured of their complaints. One fortunate thing is none in the Math have been ill since our removal.R. but the report of her last visit with Nivedita made me withdraw. after the guardian angels withdrew from the country. Hence her love for the Swami has withered & dropped like a dried flower as in the case of Akshaya! T h e T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 184 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 184 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . We are having a very very hard time with disease & sickness amongst us. My dear Jane— I had to run down here two days ago for the swami has been suffering from the same kind of difficulty of breathing & sent a telegram.Unpublished Letters of Swami Saradananda1 January 19th 1899 Deoghar. I have arranged two lectures a week for her in the Math. C/o P. will interest & enlighten even yourself if you deign to lend your ear! First—The Swami tried for some occult power or organization or something humbug & he failed miserably & all other occult teachers in India predicted it. He is much better now & we hope he will be himself again in a few more days.I. Then I thought of writing a letter on behalf of the Math & I wrote it too—but Nivedita thought it too sentimental. for our men.Mukherji Esq. I think it will do them good. Physiology & Sewing! Write me your opinion about Max Muller’s book as soon as you finish [it]. I do not know if it had been carried out or not for I hastened here for the Swami. Baidyanath E. He is well & so friendly to me. Then we concluded by letting Nivedita write a few lines for us & send Kali Krishna with it & a few roots and fruits & nuts. She is well and happy with her good work.

We are glad to hear of the celebration of the Utsab in the orphanage. on the 28th of March last. we mesmerize food tc and we have practised that on our dear Granny & Jane—hence your devotion & love!!! 3rd—It is her sacred duty to go around in England & elsewhere & enlighten people of these bright experiences. 4th—No salvation for Swami or us unless we become Christians as herself who. I have mailed today a prospectus for your work at Calcutta. I hope you will receive it soon. [continued on the side margin] the Swami says has never been baptised! Now ponder over these & be miserable for even then awfully deceived lady! Our everything as before to the dear two [?] Yours S April 7th 1899 Morvi My dear Akhandananda. You have heard by this time of the sad death of our brother Jogananda.25 2nd—We are a nation of black magicians. A direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Courtesy: Ramakrishna Museum. . . Belur Math T h e T h e V V e d a n t a e d a n t a K K e s a r i ~ 185 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 e s a r i ~ 185 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . We start tomorrow for Bhavnagar.Murshidabad Bengal Note: 1. Dist.O. With love & best wishes always Yours Saradananda & Turiyananda On the postcard: The Swami Akhandananda The Orphanage Bhavda P. care of Gopaldas Viharidas Desai Esq. to get it corrected from Swamiji.

The Yajur Veda boldly declares: Let there be peace in heaven. it is rather presence of something positive. big or small. Therefore. is not restricted to the human realm. winds and all of Nature. strewn across all dailies and monthlies. as it is seen. And may that peace come to us and remain with us for ever. the Vedic Rishis took into account all aspects of peace. These reports could be about a terrorist attack or a bomb explosion or an ambush or mob violence or domestic and school violence—anywhere in the world. May all other objects everywhere give us peace. the Vedic idea of peace is that of something that brings sweetness and joy in every aspect of life. and it is a message that is more relevant now than ever before. So may the plants be sweet for us. Peace as a Positive Concept The Vedic idea of peace is not mere absence of violence. Indeed. Let there be Peace on Earth. Everyday. for all its marvellous scientific advances. May the tall tree be full of sweets for us. May the waters and medical herbs bring peace. the author is keenly interested in the study of Hindu scriptures and Vedantic approach to peace and harmony. And full of sweets the Sun: May our milch-cow be sweet for us. … T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 186 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . May the Vedas spread peace everywhere. The rivers pour sweets for the man. May all the Gods be peaceful. This includes a healthy environment—trees. without fail. in the ancient Vedic books one finds a constant reference to peace. The great Vedic Rishis.Towards a Vedic Philosophy of Peace RUDRAPRASAD MATILAL The Need for Peace Peace or shanti is the single most urgent issue confronting the humanity today. In articulating this philosophy of peace.1 The Vedic idea of peace. Sweet be the night and sweet the dawns. It is the most sublime message of the Vedas—the need for peace. environmental and so on. Now let us look what are the concrete counsels for peace that the Vedas outline. The Rigveda daringly asserts: The winds waft sweets. the Vedas urge man to adopt such way of life that is conducive to the protection of our natural environment and habitat. Let there be peace in the atmosphere. It includes peace in all areas of life—psychological. It seems humanity. a large section of daily news is filled with reports of violence. We find reports of violence. Sweet the terrestrial atmosphere. had well understood the need for peace in the world. who keeps the Law. jungles. has been a total failure in the area where it matters most—to have peace in the world. May the trees give peace to all beings. our illustrious forefathers.2 In other words. social. Sweet be our Father in Heaven to us. A practicing lawyer of Calcutta High Court since 2003.

and unity of mind. devout Intelligence. of (the same) mind. of the same mind. do I procure for you. joining together. One and the same be your resolve. all paying deference to One (God) through my harmonising charm. United be the thoughts of all that all may happily agree.27 The 1st Formula for Peace: Harmony and Fraternity What is the single most effective way to secure peace in society. They rightly recognized that unless good sense prevails upon the people. as a means of agreement for your folk. Social harmony comes when we discover our underlying unity. Hence they fervently prayed for proper intelligence. and be your minds of one accord. The first. Elucidating that state of harmony. Like the gods that are guarding the ambrosia. There are various ways to unity but the best is to realize our divinity which is equally present in everyone. so that men may not resort to violence. freedom from hatred. we begin to see others with respect and love and that is the end of all quarrels and dissentions. the hymn of the Rig Veda says: Assemble. sweet. speak ye words in kindly spirit! T h e The 2nd Formula for Peace: Cultivate the Power of Right Understanding Our Rishis valued wisdom or deep understanding of life. come first to us with store of horses and of cows! Thou with the rays of Surya art our worshipful and holy one. co-operating. the wife shall speak honeyed. as spokes around about the hub! I render you of the same aim.3 That charm which causes the gods not to disagree. That excellent Intelligence which Ribhus know. common the assembly. and worship with your general oblation. A common purpose do I lay before you. of the same mind. common the mind. we should live in harmony and a spirit of cooperation. Do ye take delight in one another. Drunk by Brahmacharis. Identical shall be your drink. True intelligence is that which leads to understanding the fact that coexistence and interdependence is the way of life. speak together: let your minds be all of one accord. in common shall be your share of food! I yoke you together in the same traces: do ye worship God Agni. and not to hate one another. Feeling one with one another at the level of atman is what provides a solid foundation for lasting sense of solidarity and the resultant happiness. speaking agreeably to one another! I render you of the same aim. may he (the leader) be well disposed towards you. for the favour of the Gods I call. The Atharva Veda further elucidates: Unity of heart. As ancient Gods unanimous sit down to their appointed share. and Asuras. and the sister not the sister! Harmonious. When we remember this inherent divinity present in everyone. The place is common. M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 187 ~ . lauded by sages. We are all essentially divine. Following your leader. devoted to the same purpose. night and day!4 The idea is. going along the same wagon-pole. The Atharva Veda prays for wisdom thus: Intelligence. that do we prepare in your house. peace and harmony will remain a distant dream. so be their thought united. peace in the world? To develop a sense of oneness with one another. words to her husband! The brother shall not hate the brother. as a cow in her (new-) born calf! The son shall be devoted to his father. do ye not hold yourselves apart! Do ye come here. sped by prayer. be of the same mind with his mother.

28 Intelligence which sages know. Lead Us from Death to Immortality. One should perform these sacrifices 1.8 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 188 ~ . Untruth cannot bring peace. Lead Us from Darkness to Light. Therefore there is nothing higher than that. and 5.7 The 4th Formula for Peace: Practice Nonviolence Why should one practice non-violence? The simple reason which the Upanishads give is essentially we are all one. at morn. To the gods. as one contending with the king. again. which the men endowed with wisdom knew. Intelligence at noon of day. make me wise this day with that Intelligence. the essence of the Vedas. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says:11 ‘By giving shelter to men as well as food. 2. To departed ancestors. It says: Austerity. ‘He speaks of righteousness’. Which the creative rishis. To the saints. With the Sun’s beams.10 The 5th Formula for Peace: Perform Five Yajnas or Sacrifices The Upanishads teach us to seek total peace. So even a weak man hopes to defeat a stronger man through righteousness. counsel all seekers of peace to be seekers of Truth. nonviolence and truthfulness—these are the gifts for the priests.’ The Vedic way of life speaks of performance of five sacrifices (panch maha yajnas). We have to please the dwellers of the Devaloka and Pitriloka. Truth always makes man peaceful and strong. ‘He speaks of truth’. Hence the Vedic Rishis tell us to pray for the higher truth thus: Lead Us from the Unreal to Real.9 The Upanishad also speaks of nonviolence against ‘all creatures’ (sarva bhuta) and the practitioner of ahimsa is said to escape from the cycle of reincarnation. A seeker of truth is a traveller from lower truth to higher truth. we cause to enter into me. 3. feels no hatred by virtue of that realisation. The Chhandogya Upanishad discusses ahimsa or non-violence as one of the most profound principles essential for civil society. Truth. The 3rd Formula for Peace: Be a Seeker of Truth Upanishads. To men An eminent authority on Hinduism describes these yajnas thus. uprightness. the seers and makers of Shastras. The Isha Upanishad explains. It is not just seeking peace of mind but peace with the rest of the creation. Do thou. To all beings. 4. and the Self in all beings. M A Y 2 0 1 0 The Upanishads say further: Righteousness is the controller of the Kings.6 Indeed when one sees the same self everywhere. is of two types: the lower and the higher.5 He who sees all beings in the Self itself. for both these are but righteousness. he becomes an object of enjoyment to men. or about a person speaking of righteousness. Pitri-yajna. how can he hurt others? Hurting others is to hurt oneself. Only then can total peace be achieved. and by our speech we plant in us Intelligence. Therefore they say about a person speaking of truth. in all beings. Intelligence at eve. O Agni. almsgiving. That righteousness is verily truth. Our Shastras prescribe five acts of sacrifice (yajnas) for all. Rishi-yajna. Man travels from lower truth to higher truth. Nri-yajna and Bhuta-yajna. These are Deva-yajna. It can only add to our miseries and woes.

6. and then you will be blessed with peace and happiness. 3.29 mankind and all other creatures on earth by our acts of sacrifice. 36/17 Rigveda. 5. 9. Nri-yajna is the fourth in order. Only they are more well-placed.15. are going to be used for fighting. I. These deities are also creatures like ourselves.1 Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. 10. Mantras 6-8 Ibid. etc. When pleased. 30 Ibid. electricity. They control the elemental forces of nature like light. 11. We have to give all others something out of what we have. I. Among the dwellers of the Pitriloka there may be many of our forefathers. For instance nuclear energy can be used to generate electricity in times of peace. They also wield much more power than we do. insects.12 Conclusion We live surrounded by thousands of gadgets and scientific inventions. 12.4.14 Isha Upanishad. We need to have nobility of heart if we want peace of mind. God grants one’s wishes. they make these forces favourable to us and bless us with what we desire most. They love us. birds.90. Peace. like devas. Bio-chemicals can be used to make medicines. also may go under this head.17. 8. We should try to remove the distress of our fellow-beings.49-50 If you can. If we remember them and offer them oblations (tarpana) they become pleased (tripta). wind. This is the price of our happiness. like Sandhya-Vandana. which are supposed to make life comfortable. VIII. 10-191 Atharva Veda: III. This act of sacrifice also earns for us happiness. Scientific and technological progress alone cannot bring peace in life.4 Ibid. see to our well-being. III. Prayer and worship please the deities (devas). They are pleased if we study the Scriptures regularly. We should spare a portion of our food for the beasts. 4. etc. love others. rain. We have to serve our ailing brothers. shanti. Book 6 Hymn 108 Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. for those very same gadgets. Pleased by such service. —Swami Premananda T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 189 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 .27 7. heat. Ibid. Nitya-karma. That is why when they are pleased they can bless us with the things of our desire. This is why this study (swadhyaya) is also an act of sacrifice. † References 1. which comes next. if humans cannot stop fighting among themselves.3. 1. verse 6 Chhandogya Upanishad. the seers. One who does this really serves God. is the highest and greatest need of all times. Shukla Yajur Veda. but can also be used to make biological weapons during war.16 Hinduism at a Glance. 2. For God is here in so many forms. The same thing may be said of Bhuta-yajna. When pleased by our offerings.4. It means cultivating a right approach towards life and a healthy attitude towards everyone. but is used to make nuclear weapons. As a reward for their good deeds on earth they have been born as gods in the Devaloka. I. They have considerably more power than we have. Once they were men. p. The seers (rishis) do not want any material offering from us. For these we have to set apart a portion of our time. But they are of little help.

manifested himself as His holy emblem.A Pilgrimage to Kalady— the Birthplace of Adi Shankara ‘ATMASHRADDHA’ Adi Shankaracharya Anyone acquainted with Hinduism would have heard of or read about Adi Shankara. extant from c. who had been childless for many years. as whose grandson the divine manifestation of the great God Siva. written in the epic style. the self-created and merciful Being. was to take place in due time. In that region there was a prosperous village settlement of Brahmanas known as Kaladi. He was born to Kaippilly Sivaguru Namboothiri and Aryamba Antharjanam. the Eternal Religion. His towering intellect and deep spiritual insights are an integral part of Santana Dharma. prayed at the Vadakkunnathan temple [also called Vrishabhachalam. As a fruition of the piety and good fortune of Vidyadhiraja. He is particularly recognized for his luminous expositions of Advaita Vedanta. and the Keraliya Shankara Vijaya (of the Kerala region. His writings. the teacher of the Gods. As a tribute to his masterly commentaries on the principal Upanishads. the destroyer of Cupid. based on the unity of the soul and Brahman. Maadhaviya Shankara Digvijaya describes Kalady thus: God Siva. As … The author is a monk of the Ramakrishna Order. in his power of speech. he is also called Bhagavan Bhashyakar (‘God who took the form of a Commentator’). usually called Sivalingam. c. He did very well to justify his name. in South India. the Chidvilasiya Shankara Vijaya (of Chidvilasa. it was after his parents. T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 190 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . a village located east of the Periyar [or Purna] river.2 Adi Shankara was born in Kalady. Adi Shankara1 is also known as Shankara Bhagavadpadacharya or Adi Shankaracharya. In that village lived a learned and pious Brahmana by name Vidyadhiraja. According to lore. The most important among these biographies are the Maadhaviya Shankara Vijaya (written by the sage Madhava. dedicated to Shiva] in Thrissur that Shankara was born. a son named Sivaguru was born to him. the resident of the temple of Vrishachala. between 15th century and 17th century).14th century). are a timeless treasure for mankind and a guide for all spiritual seekers. a king called Rajasekhara built a fine temple to house the Lingam and made arrangements for its worship. in the Ernakulam district of central Kerala. 17th century). Coming to know of the divinity and greatness of that Sivalingam through a dream. Traditional accounts of Adi Shankara’s life can be found in the Shankara Vijayams. which are poetic Sanskrit works that contain a mix of biographical and legendary material. Adi Shankara’s name is synonymous with Hinduism. on a hill known as Vrishachala situated near the course of the river Purna in the Kerala country. as he grew to be like Siva in knowledge and like Guru or Brihaspathi.

he met Govinda Bhagavatpada. but it was only after much Adi Shankara then travelled across India persuasion that his mother finally gave her to propagate his philosophy through disconsent. As a child. towards sannyasa.31 Govinda Bhagavatpada asked Shankara’s identity. she came running to the river bank. Shankara then left Kerala and travelled towards North India in search of a guru. became his first disciple. At Vadakkunnathan temple. Shankara’s upanayana. the crocodile released the young Shankara. Shankara showed Mandana Mishra accepted defeat. As per the remarkable scholarship. After father passed away. One of the the young child was named Shankara. with Mandana initiation into studenthood. was performed at Mishra‘s wife Ubhaya Bharati acting as referee. Govinda Bhagavatpada was impressed and took Shankara as his disciple. Shankara told his mother that at least now she should allow him to take attur sannyasa (monastic vows taken in crises). accepted the sannyasa with the monastic name From a young age. Shankara’s mother. When with his four disciples T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 191 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . granthas (‘philosophical treatises’). most famous debates of Adi Shankara was While Shankara was a young boy. hailing from Chola territory in South India. Shankara travelled to Kashi. the age of five. On the banks of the Narmada river. his with the ritualist Mandana Mishra. the debating for over fifteen days. Arayamba agreed and miraculously. his leg was caught by a crocodile. Shankara was inclined Sureshvaracharya. When Aryamba (or Arya Devi). Mandana Mishra Vedas by the age of eight. The guru instructed Shankara to write a commentary on the Brahma Sutras and propagate the Advaita philosophy. as soon as she told it. mastering the four condition laid down earlier. he replied with an extempore verse that brought out the Advaita Vedanta philosophy. where a young man named Sanandana. Thrissur (70 km from Kalady) Badari he wrote his famous bhashyas (commentaries) on Upanishads and prakarana he was born through the grace of Lord Shiva. The story goes that once when he went to bathe in the river. A traditional portrait of Adi Shankara the disciple of Gaudapada. came to know of this. Reluctantly but hapless.

Each of the heads of these four Mathas takes the title of Jagadguru [‘teacher of the world’] Shankaracharya [‘the learned Shankara’] after the first Shankaracharya. . . while yet a boy. . . The life of Shankaracharya. But the quantity and quality of thought and achievement that he packed into the short span of his life of thirty-two years have earned for him a place among the world’s immortals. and Totakacharya respectively. We began our journey from Chennai by train. and Jyotirmath (Joshimath) in Uttarakhand in the north. . a group of young seekers. has worked wonders in the cultural. India is not a banana republic with a population of just two-hundred thousand. is 15 minutes’ drive from Kalady. Towards the end of his life. Adi Shankara travelled to the Himalayan area of KedarnathBadrinath and attained videha mukti (‘freedom from embodiment’).32 courses and debates with other thinkers. Angamali is close to Ernakulam and takes some 11 hours’ from Chennai. He is a remarkable specimen of Indian humanity of those times. made a pilgrimage to Kalady earlier this year. and religious fields of Indian life. Hindu tradition states that he put in charge of these mathas his four main disciples: Sureshwaracharya. Today we are able to see and appreciate the immensity of his service for the cause of India and Hinduism. [The Nedumbassery Cochin International Airport. Conscious of a great message that he was to deliver and the mission that he was to fulfil in T h e this country. M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 192 ~ . we have to capture an understanding of the climate of thought in which he lived and functioned. Possessed of extraordinary powers. . spiritual strength and intense dynamism. says. there are hardly any train stopping here. the nearest airport. These are at Sringeri in Karnataka in the south. some 7 km from Kalady. However.3 Kalady—a Place of Pilgrimage Having heard of this great spiritual luminary. in its merely outward bodily incidents. There is a samadhi mandir dedicated to Adi Shankara behind the Kedarnath temple. It is a huge continent. this young boy. philosophical. But he had the power—intellectual power. That Hinduism could survive the onslaughts of the Mohammedan invasion was due in great part to the success of his mission as well as to that of many other reformers who came after him. Swami Ranganathananda. Puri in Orissa in the east. . Speaking of Adi Shankara.] We reached Angamali by overnight train from Chennai. Dwaraka in Gujarat in the west. Adi Shankara is believed to be the organizer of the dashanami [‘ten-named’] monastic order and the founder of the shanmata [‘six main deities’] tradition of worship. Hence one has to travel to Angamali. we. He founded four Mathas (monastries) in four cardinal points of India to guide the Hindu religion. He also visited various temples and holy places in India. a small town. . a village (now a semi-town). and to change the mind of a nation like this is not easy. If we are to appreciate his work. Indian culture bears the ineffaceable marks of his genius. Hastamalakacharya. the 13th President of the Ramakrishna Order. Kalady. we find Shankara. may be told in a paragraph. Padmapadacharya. The heads of the Mathas trace their authority back to these figures. establishing the unity of India based on a strong spiritual and cultural foundation. Within a short period of 32 years he changed the mind of India. leaving his home with a firm resolve to bend all his energies and resources towards that end. there are variant traditions on the location of his last days. has a small railway station but considering the fewer number of passengers who alight or board from here. highly intelligent and deeply conscious of his mission.

with a vast riverfront. The story goes that once Aryamba. the innocent child marked with his feet on the ground and the river Purna (or Periyar) changed its course through the marking.4 The Adi Shankara Janmabhumi Kshethram. is different from that of other regions in India. their family deity (kula-devata). Sri Krishna Temple (Thri-kaladyappan): Before visiting the Adi Shankara Janmabhumi Kshethram. feet’). we first visited the Krishna temple. has two temples— Goddess Sharadamba and one for Sri Shankara. and paid our respect to the Lord at the sanctum sanctorum. Purna River: Close to the Krishna temple is the river Purna. however. we may mention here. 2. and covered with copper sheets. The temples were consecrated in 1910. remained obscure till the beginning of 20th century. The serenity of the place. Shankara’s mother. the Maharaja of Thiruvitamcore. 3.’ Instantly. Jagadguru Sri Sachidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharathi Swamigal. This M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 193 ~ . Young Shankara was pained to see his mother’s condition and hence prayed to Sri Krishna. The river front has a few bathing ghats for the pilgrims and general public. while young Shankara was bathing here. the structure of the temples in Kerala is distinctive. remains as charming as it must have been earlier. Thanks to several small hydro-electricity projects upstream. This T h e incident also led to the changing of the name of the village from Sasalam to Kalady (‘emerged from kal. his leg was caught by a crocodile and when his mother permitted him to take to sannyasa. thus saving Aryamba a kilometre of walking. the crocodile left him. located just a few metres from there. ‘the river will flow where you mark with your feet. Temple architecture in Kerala. The Crocodile Ghat (Muthala Kadavu): As narrated above. The roofs are steep and pointed. We visited the following places: 1. We visited the temple. located Kalady. the 33rd Pithadhipati [abbot] of Sringeri Math. flowing silently. Sri Krishna is supposed to have blessed Shankara with the words. we learnt.33 Entrance to Sri Krishna (Thri-kalady-appan ) Temple (left) and its front porch Kalady. with the help of Sri Moolam Thirunal Ramavarma. Largely dictated by the geography of the region that abounds in forests. swooned and fell on ground while going to the Purna river for her daily bath. blessed with the bounties of the monsoons. Sri Krishna was here called as the ‘Lord of Kalady’ (Thri-kalady-appan). as the Shankara’s birthplace is called now. built in traditional architecture of Kerala. the river does not seem to have the force of the earlier times.

we came to the aesthetically designed Janmabhumi Kshethram of Adi Shankara. Adjacent to the temple-samadhi complex is a Veda Pathashala. honoured the location of the cremation with daily lamps for centuries. It is located close to Sri Krishna Temple and now has a flight of concrete steps. The whole place T h e was neat and well-kept. Unlike other temples in Kerala. Afterwards. 4. Although it was hot. moved as the gentle air blew in the early forenoon. there are no crocodiles in the 'Crocodile Ghat'! We went down to the river. Kappilly Mana. he had to make arrangements for the cremation of her mortal remains. The purple-coloured lilies.34 Purna river—a view from the 'crocodile ghat' A recent photo of the ‘crocodile ghat’ incident is believed to have happened in this ghat. dedicated to Aryamba. admiring the calmness and natural beauty of the place. the mother of Adi Shankara. Recognizing this as an authentic mark to identify the place. As promised to his mother. Contrary to what some may conjure. What attracted us most was Aryamba Samadhi Mandapam. Adi Shankara was present in the last moments of his mother. A marble plaque at the side of the mantapa reads that it is the samadhi of Aryadevi. We M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 194 ~ . We were told that this pillar is the place where or under which a lamp was kept burning for centuries by a Namboothiri family and it helped in spotting Adi Shankara’s place. We felt elevated by the sacredness of the place. Aryamba Samadhi Mandapam is five feet-plus stone-mantapa. came forward to help him. the atmosphere exuded a coolness of its own. Adi Shankara Janmabhumi Kshethram: After visiting all these places. the Sringeri Math accepted Kalady as birth place of Adi Shankara Acharya. with a Tulsi plant above. and is to be held in great reverence. Only two of the ten Namboothiri families of Kalady. A short stone pillar in front of the pillar has been fixed. After she passed away. established in 1927. Paved with a shining and clean stone floor. with an atmosphere of holiness radiating around it. sprinkled some water on our head as a mark of respect and sat there for sometime. one family. we did not have to remove our upper garments while entering the temple complex which consists of temples of Goddess Sharadamba and Adi Shankara. the temple-samadhi complex has small lily pond in the centre.

with an impressive temple of Sri Ramakrishna occupying the central place. Regular puja and bhajans Adi Shankara Keerthi Sthambha Mandapam M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 195 ~ . right on the banks of Purna river is our Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama. illustrating the shanmatas.35 Entrance to Adi Shankara Janmabhumi Kshethram Stone-Mantapa in memory of Aryamba saw the chanting of Rigveda Samhita being taught to a small number of students clad in white dhotis. the memorial has two beautifully carved elephant statues. Two silver knobs represent the padukas. leading to the Paduka Mandapam [‘the enclosure enshrining sacred sandals’]. We also saw the high school attached to the Sthambha Mandapam run by the Kanchi Mutt. 5. 6. and others. Kalady: Adjacent to Adi Shankara JanmaT h e bhumi Kshethram. Started in 1936. We reviewed the life of Shankaracharya as we climbed to the top of the Sthambha and were delighted to recall the life of Shankara depicted in relief-style at different storeys. Located around 2 km from the Janmabhumi Kshethram. The walls of the memorial feature framed relief paintings that tell the story of Adi Shankaracharya. the Ashrama is situated on sprawling premises of several acres. Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama. or wooden sandals of the Teacher. Adi Shankara. Several large statues of Ganapati. Adi Shankara Keerthi Sthambha Mandapam: It is an eight-storey memorial built by Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. are also housed in this memorial.

Arya Devi would have come to her parental house for the birth of Shankara. over which the Mana had ownership rights. located right in front of the premises. we proceeded to Veliyanad. work and worship. A Visit to Adi Shankara Nilayam. It is the birthplace of Arya Devi. through winding roads. M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 196 ~ . Located in lush green countryside. We also visited Ashrama’s Brahmanandodyam School. some 60 km from Kalady. since as per practice. It was a wonderful journey. A hostel (called Sri Ramakrishna Gurukul) for tribal students with 115-plus students and a computer centre nearby are the other activities of the Ashrama. Melpazhur Mana [Aryamba’s maternal house] is a traditional Namboothiri Illam or Mana (home of a Kerala Brahmin). The structural strength and design of this ageold house exquisitely blend utility and art. We drove through the green country-side of Kerala.3 acres. keeping in tune with T h e the custom. The serene atmosphere of the temple and the green ambience of the Ashrama are indeed elevating. Kalady continues to be called as Shankara’s birthplace. Kalady (left) and a view of the evening arati are held in the temple. Within the Melpazhur Mana stands the quiet grandeur of the nalukettu (a building which has a four-winged architectural design) on an extensive compound of 8. Veliyanad After visiting these sacred places. The Mana was originally an eight-winged structure (ettukettu). The outer four wings were dismantled. Shankara’s mother. The local tradition has it that. and the material was used to build a covered walkway in the famous Perum Trikkovil Temple in the nearby Pazhur village. most probably. surrounded by lush green trees and shrubs.36 Temple at Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama. this house is the ancestral and maternal home of Adi Shankara. Veliyanad is a remote village. Local tradition also has it that Adi Shankara’s vidyarambha and upanayana ceremonies5 were performed at Melpazhur Mana. amidst temple shrines and lotus and lily ponds. The central courtyard is adorned with the holy chetti (ixora) and mulla (jasmine) plants. wood and granite. The well-known Devi temple of Chottanikara Bhagavathy is some 30 minutes drive from Veliyanad. a remote village. neatly kept houses surrounded by coconut and betelnut trees. Shankara would have been born here. But Kalady being Shankara’s father’s place. near Ernakulam. with more than 1800 students on its rolls.

And finally. These include temples dedicated to Sri Rama Temple. the house named Svarnata-mana where Adi Shankara. we all sat there for meditation some time. Drawn by the quietness and meditative atmosphere of the place. temple ornaments and utensils. chanted the kankadhara-stotram.6 Conclusion There are many other small temples and places connected with Adi Shankara and his parents in and around Kalady and Veliyanad which we could not visit. The western wing has an underground cellar as well as specially designed rooms where the household could store grains.37 The northern wing of the house hosts the rooms wherein the daily agnihotra (fire rituals) and other forms of ritualistic worships were conducted. The place is not far from Veliyanad and the descendents of the original family are Melpazhur Mana (Adi Shankara Nilayam) T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 197 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . in the eastern section is the sacred room where Adi Shankara is believed to have been born. There is. without a break (nityajyoti). Melpazhur Mana was acquired by Chinmaya Mission in late 1980s and is now named ‘Adi Shankara Nilayam’. The Mana-complex has a number of family temples with a long history. bringing a shower of golden gooseberry (amlaka). The southern extension features the thekkini. and it is the home of the Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF). for instance. Here a traditional lamp stays lit before the beautiful picture of Adi Shankara all the year round. Vettakkoruvan [‘Kirata Siva’]. Lord Ayyappa Temple is the largest of all the temples and the worship at the temple is even now carried out by the Namboothiri family (headed by Sri Shankar Namboothiri). diffusing an aura of divinity. Devi Nagayaksi and Devi Bhagavati. It would have required almost a week of stay to leisurely visit them. where large family gatherings feasted on special occasions. the Chinmaya Mission’s institute for Sanskrit and Indology research. as a young boy.

translated by Swami Tapasyananda. February 2009. Sri Shankaracharya—Life and Philosophy. edited KR Venkataraman. Several centuries have passed but the Great Acharya lives in the collective consciousness of Indians. we recalled the well-known verse from sri shankara-deshikashtakam of Sri Totakacharya: {d{XVm[IbemÛgwYmObYo _{hVmon{ZfÀH${WVmWm©{ZYoü& ˆX`o H$b`o {d_bß MaUß ^d eë>a Xo{eH$ _o eaU_≤ü&& O teacher Shankara! Kindly be my refuge! You are the knower of all the scriptures which are indeed the ocean of nectar! You are the abode of A view of the side-varandah in the Melpazhur Mana the supreme Truth revealed in the Upanishads. which an orthodox Hindu has to undergo. Birthplace of Adi Shankara. Kolkata The Message of Vivekachudamani. Also see Kalady. more than a millennium ahead of all others. c. Both the ceremonies are part of the shodasha-samskaras. First edition.1-4 Kalady. An Elucidative and Reconciliatroy Interpretation. Sri Ramakrishna Math. 1966. There are at least two different dates proposed for Shankara’s life span: 788–820 CE: This is the mainstream scholarly opinion. On this day. 18 M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 198 ~ .38 still living there but we had no time to visit all the places. Adi Sankara Nilayam Veliyanad. Kalady T h e 5. Advaita Ashrama.f. is based on records of the heads of the Shankara Mathas at Dwaraka and Puri and the fifth Peetham at Kanchi Shankara Digvijayam by Madhava-Vidyaranya. p. by Swami Mukhyananda. Kolkata. Kerala . p. † Notes and References 1. I bear your pure feet in my heart. the abode of Chinmaya International Foundation. pp. p. the sixteen rites. brochure published by Sri Sringeri Jagadguru Shankaracharya Mahasamsthanam. 2.9-18. Ernakulam District. Advaita Ashrama. the child gets introduced to writing by making him write the sacred symbole ‘Om’ on a plate of rice grains. 3. This is done by initiating the young boy into the gayatri-mantra. 10. We were thrilled to visit the birthplace of the Great Acharya by taking whose name millions across India and even beyond feel blessed.682319. Chennai. based on records at the Sringeri Sharada Pitham. Swami Ranganathananda. Vidyarambha is a traditional Hindu ceremony for initiating a child into education and knowledge. cf. published by PS Narayanan on behalf of the Kerala Branches of Sri Sankara Seva Samiti. Upanayana or the sacred thread ceremony marks the beginning of brahmacharya-ashrama or student life in the gurukula. Our Tirthayatra to the birthplace of Adi Shankara was a spiritually and culturally enriching experience. Mylapore. It was inspiring to visit the birthplace of one of our greatest Acharyas and derive inspiration from his life and teachings. and 509–477 BCE: This dating. Adi Sankara Nilayam. 6. Also see. Imbued with a sense of reverence and devotion. Srirangam. 4. Sri Vani Vilas Press.

India Government Tourist Office in Tokyo. as part of its Golden Jubilee celebrations. Statistical data on various aspects Indo-Japanese Glimpses of Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Vedanta Society of Japan T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 199 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . Ambassador of India.Golden Jubilee Celebration of Vedanta Society of Japan A Namaste India Festival was held in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park Event Square on September 26 and 27. The Vedanta Society of Japan. friendship and cooperation’ between these ‘two great Asiatic nations’. 2009. Sri H.K. Singh. The Festival was organized by the Executive Committee for Namaste India Festival 2009. Billed as the first Indo-Japan Relation exhibition to be held in Japan to focus on the ‘bond of love. with support from Embassy of India in Japan. Mithila Museum and many other organizations and businesses in India and Japan. the exhibition featured the pioneers of this relationship. Okakura Tenshin and Swami Vivekananda. took advantage of this year’s Namaste India Festival to organize an exhibit on the theme of ‘The Indo-Japanese Relationship’ sponsored by the Embassy of India and inaugurated by H. the Society to Promote India-Japan Cultural Relations (NPO-IJCR).E.

shown in brackets. Taki – 71. Kanpur (464 sweaters and 33 woollen chadars). Belur) has been identified as one of the 149 “colleges with potential for excellence (CPE)” from among the nearly 7000 colleges all over India under section 12(b) of University Grants Commission (UGC) Act. Mukesh Punjabi. † General News Y Viveknagar centre organized an All Tripura Devotees’ Conference at the Ashrama on 14 March. 2010. Jayrambati – 1058. Khetri – 61. Y In the All India Essay Writing Competition 2009 conducted by United Nations Information Center for India & Bhutan. were all sold out. Contai – 100. Cherrapunji – 2800. photos and copies of original documents all captioned in English and Japanese. Visakhapatnam. were distributed through the following centres to poor people affected by the severity of winter: Aalo – 1700. both Japanese and English versions. The event was attended by nearly 500 guests. shown in brackets. Malda – 13. A. Asansol – 980. Narendrapur – 600. the Retreat consisted of many short talks by senior monks and other invited speakers. Sargachhi – 800. Kanpur – 523. along with the booklet. 00. Slumdog Millionaire. About 200 students participated in this inspiring and invigorating session. which was attended by 587 devotees. 000 visitors crowded the Festival grounds. January 24. Tomio Mizokami. Andhra University as the chief guest. Consul General of India. President. Prasanna Kumar. Osaka and author of the Oscar winning film. Swami Vivekananda and Tenshin Okakura. the following centres distributed various winter garments. Osaka University of Foreign Studies and President. Bankura – 865. Purulia – 300. Professor Emeritus.000 blankets. Y As part of its third phase. Kamarpukur – 1700. With Prof. Y Vidyamandira College (Saradapitha.40 relations were presented along with publications in Japanese on India and Indians and highlighted with paintings. Deoghar – 2000. The event also featured a comprehensive historical exhibit on the pioneers of the modern Indo-Japan relationship. Inspirational Messages. Vrindaban – 1500. Baranagar Mission – 1500. Mr. Ranchi Morabadi – 416. The chief guest speaker of the event was the Honorable Sri Vikas Swarup. to the needy: Almora (100 used woollen sweaters). Copies of Swami Medhasananda’s book. Additional speakers included Mr. Kansai Japan-India Cultural Society. Keishin Kimura. Chairman. Jamshedpur – 154. Ghatshila – 197. † Youth Retreat at Vishakapatnam Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama. The cultural event of the second half featured Bharatanatyam dance with Ms. Y The dining-hall-cum-kitchen block at Ootacamund centre was inaugurated on 26 March. Almora – 300. Belgharia – 475. Y Swami Gitanandaji inaugurated the renovated building for library and computer centre at the newly acquired premises of Kankurgachhi Math on 24 March. Subha Kokubo Chakraborty and her troupe and a sitar performance by veteran Amit Roy with Takashi Komura on tabla. Swami Vivekananda and Japan. † Winter Relief More than 20. Sikra Kulingram – 300. Indian Chamber of Commerce. a student of Class XII of our Aalo school won the first prize in the northeast region. Well-over the estimated 2. former Rector. † T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 200 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . Japan Yoga Therapy Association and PhD. Besides. 2010 at the Tenshin Hall of Osaka’s Chuo-ward. organized a Youth Retreat on March 7. Ramanavami Day. Ramharipur – 1603. Japan. Purulia (815 sweaters). the Vedanta Society of Japan held a Golden Jubilee event on Sunday.

M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 201 ~ . the book is a simple biography of the Holy Mother in an attractive and lucid style. It is darkness vibrant. Distributor: Advaita Ashrama. The book is sure to be popular and the only suggestion is: it has to be T h e edited and proofed in order to make for a troublefree reading experience. paperback. . ‘The stars are blotted out. Writing about the Holy Mother can never be an easy task. SRI SARADA DEVI By Dushyant Pandya Published by Readworthy Publications (P) Ltd. Rs.244.110 059. publishers need to send us two copies of their latest publication. His description of Holy Mother’s patience and forbearance. 2008. . The author has done well in evoking the confusion and sadness of the young Sarada.g. The beauty in nature is only the partial expression of the real all-embracing divine beauty. It is a broad overview Mother’s life. there were reports trickling back that her husband was mad! The journey of this young girl from rural Bengal to the hustle and bustle of the great city of Calcutta to meet and find out for herself who her husband really was. ___________________________ PREMA RAGHUNATH. The book begins with Sri Sarada Devi’s concern at being left behind in Jayrambati and the societal criticism she had to face as a married girl who was seemingly abandoned by her husband. and the part he had determined she must play in establishing Vedanta. Worse. Schiller and Lamartine.100. Swamiji says in his ‘Memoirs of European Travels’ that every good poet is a Vedantin e. Thou Lord of Light’ [To the Fourth of July] All the above lines from Swami Vivekananda’s poems are packed with lyrical intensity in the same measure as the spiritual urge and echo some of the well-known lines in English poetry.For review in THE VEDANTA KESARI. A-18 Mohan Garden. forms the content of this book.250. New Delhi . 2007. All great mystics have been great poets. Goethe. Their hundred thousand lotus eyes To welcome thee. becoming transformed into a mature and sure Holy Mother who understood what her mission in life was. pp. The language is at once clear and simple. Written by a devotee of many years’ standing.700 014. Kolkata . pp.230. His poetry is the symbolic and lyrical expression of the innate beauty of the individual and the Divine Self. her apparent simplicity was a complex combination of nobility and great divinity—that she could completely comprehend Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings clearly shows this. Kolkata. Hardback. Rs. Near Nawada Metro Station. The clouds are covering clouds. her tolerance and universality has been very well brought out. In my deepest sorrows There is a soul of light’ [Light] ‘The lakes are opening up wide in love. becoming Mother and spiritual preceptor after his passing. CHENNAI SWAMI VIVEKANANDA—THE KNOWN PHILOSOPHER THE UNKNOWN POET By Radhika Nagarath Published by Meteor Books. sonant In the roaring wind’ [Kali the Mother] ‘The cloud puts forth its deluge strength When light cleaves its breast’ [The Song of the Free] ‘I look before and after And find that all is right. 5 Dehi Entally Road.

Mylapore. __________________________ K PANCHAPAGESAN.84. and several Puranas. In the Vedanta Kesari also. paperback. the author draws a parallel among Byron. Thiru. the arguments are rambling and digressive. Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma abounds in many rich scriptural texts. who can devote only a limited time of their busy life to the study of scriptures. are meant for scholars and intellectuals. The Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute of Chennai has published condensed versions of these three voluminous texts for the use of the modern reader. CHENNAI SRIMAD BHAGAVATA By Pandit A. But the book is worth preserving. Even though all the other incarnations of the Divine are covered in the text. is evident throughout the book and cannot be questioned. There is hardly a Hindu heart anywhere in the world that does not resonate to the name of Sri Krishna. there were enlightening articles on the subject. These three texts have become the warp and the woof of the way of life of an Indian. Was not Swamiji as broad as the sky and as deep as the ocean? Of course there are mistakes in printing which must be carefully looked into in the next edition.444+xxx. Even one lifetime is not adequate to study all of them. Writing on the poem The Song of the Free. The translator has maintained a sense of proportion in the abridging it. They need a deep understanding of the schools of philosophy for a proper appreciation. because it can be used to M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 202 ~ . they have become even more popular because of the TV serials. No. 2008. In the same breath. Chennai – 600 004. and has been the source of inspiration for fine arts like dance. if only the publishers were to consider subsidising the price of the book. An M. The author’s dedication and scholarship. Therefore. The Bhagavatam is basically the story of Sri Krishna. such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. The scriptural texts known as the prasthanatraya. Rs.Phil. Hinduism’s three foundational scriptures comprising of the Upanishads. so that nothing is omitted. The claim that this approach towards analysing Swamiji’s poems is the first-ever one in the world is incorrect. The judgement is mostly subjective and can attract criticism. The author has taken pains to consult numerous books. the Brahmasutras and the Bhagavadgita. it is the story of Sri Krishna that stands out. the author compares Addison. the philosophy of suffering. pp. However. Sanatana Dharma caters to their needs also through the epics. Shelley and Vivekananda as monists.M. The biggest problem is: what can be left out and what should not be left out. Road. This kind of condensation of a large text into a small book faces several difficulties. drama. however. of whom the most popular is the Srimad Bhagavatam.Vi. Raghavan Published by The Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute.200. They serve as a pleasant entry into the full text for those interested in a deeper study. Srinivasachariar Translated by Dr.V. Of late. It is sure to see many more reprints. She sees in the poem The Cup. In some places. with Vivekananda from the point of view of monism. there are other books meant basically for the common men or women.42 Swamiji’s poems have been analysed by Radhika Nagarath more from the philosophic standpoint than from the poetic angle. The reviewer had read an article in the Prabuddha Bharata years ago by Carebanu Cooper on Swamiji’s poetry. the author says that Swamiji explains the concept of immortality through mathematical reasoning that the sum total of energy that is displayed in the universe is the same throughout. In the chapter on ‘Advaitism and Classical Poetry’. which is rather intriguing. it is with a sense of satisfaction that one can say that Dr. degree was awarded by the University of Madras for a dissertation on the above subject. a representative of the Age of Reason. The wrapper design is attractive with Swamiji within a halo with the Himalayas above and the ocean below. What one could do at best is to choose those that T h e are more popular and well known and concentrate on them. Raghavan has done a commendable job in keeping the spirit of the text during the abridgement.Ka. at the same time preserving the lion’s share for the story of Sri Krishna. The book under review is the condensed version of the Bhagavatam presented in the form of a small book of about 450 pages. The book was first published in 1937 and has seen three reprints. music and painting.

paperback. not at all. Rs.P. CHENNAI S WALLOW I RRITATION B EFORE IRRITATION SWALLOWS YOU By J.125. ‘You are not fully dressed until your face wears a smile’.Vaswani quotes Mahatma Gandhi to highlight a fundamental nature a person should possess. It was during these years in jail that he jotted down most of Confessions on the way towards Peace. These confessions which record psychological journey of an aspirant towards perfection reveal the periods of light and darkness. Sadguru Omkar’s teachings are teachings on life. In his youth. Wazirpur Industrial Area.G. knowledge or power). affirming and realizing through sadhana the infinite potential of oneself thereby making life more joyous and meaningful. was born on 4th December 1889 in Tanjore. the book under review is valuable to members of a society in which many suffer from T h e SADGURU OMKAR—CONFESSIONS. The ‘Atma-Vidya’ that he speaks of consists in discovering. 2008. On his release from jail. Remember God is in you. 2006. When Thomas Edison lost his researched papers in a fire. 305 + xiv The author. SUNDARAM. It is the art of getting better control on life and living it more positively M A Y 2 0 1 0 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 203 ~ . We have not to get it. He was arrested in Kolkata in 1911 being the first accused in Ash Murder Case.43 refurbish one’s memory occasionally. A. pp. said Swamiji while. South India. unchanging. keeping an open mind while making your own decisions. ______________________________ NVC SWAMY. He was released in August 1919 only to be rearrested in August 1922 to be sent to jail for 10 years of rigorous imprisonment. BANGALORE and overload of absolute luxury and the fire of impatience.’ Vaswani’s recipe include. The book has been published in an attractive format and is sure to become popular and useful.P. S. Delhi 110 052. 2 Community Centre. many mistakes had been burnt! A Buddhist technique of relaxation known as Tonglen has also been explained in depth. Vaswani. ‘Does happiness lie in wealth or in the repetition of the divine name of Sri Rama.M. paperback. known as Nilkantha Brahmachari in his pre-monastic life. Vaswani continues. we have it’. Sadguru Omkar left politics and established an Ashrama at the Nandi Hills. Leave the rest to Him. Vaswani’s book Swallow Irritability Before Irritability Swallows You looks like a companion-volume and projects how and why people get irritated and their remedies. he joined the revolutionary group which had contacts with Yugantar group of Sri Aurobindo. In short. had written few lines by way of a foreword. developing a healthy self-image devoid of ego or dejection. in one of his famous kritis Saint Thyagaraja asks. faith and doubt that an aspirant necessarily must travel through.110 020.59. pp. Phase II. Sri Aurobindo. A book worth ‘swallowing’! ______________________________ P. Essentially these teachings are the teachings of the Sanatana Dharma as understood and realized by a sincere and enquiring mind free of dogmatic affiliations without the aid of any commentaries. paying attention to apparently trivial matters in life (great people lead a simple life without flaunting their wealth. ‘If you wish to be happy. J. ‘The nature of the soul is bliss. A few years ago Sri Ramakrishna Math published an excellent book Overcoming Anger that served to counter the spreading disease in the present generation. House. having gone through these. UPADESH AND TALKS Published by Harish Chandra for Akshaya Prakashan. Sadguru Omkar. 208.176. In author’s own words: ‘Atma-Vidya is not running away from life or relinquishing it. Okhla Industrial Area. These words were earlier stressed by Swami Vivekananda. he reacted saying there was value in disasters too. make others happy’ and service to the poor is service to God. The second and third sections of the book comprise these teachings and talks. New Delhi . This is where he spent most of his life serving the villagers in his own personal capacity as also teaching individuals who came to him through his talks with them. peace. discusses these issues in practical terms through anecdotes/stories and appropriately quotes Swami Vivekananda and Saint Thyagaraja. Vaswani Published by Sterling Publishers Private Limited.

’ (p. and the limitations of human endeavour. as it were. the supramental. Two hundred years old or less. It is through English that India’s spiritual treasures beginning with the Vedas have been revealed to the world outside starting with Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo. These outpourings in a state of trance will be read with interest by those who have a turn to the spiritual way of life. it is believed. Hazari. SUNDARAM. A44.meekly offer to the Divine all your talents. Few teachings a day should be read. paperback. Rs. New Delhi . Thoughts such as these bring to the erring humanity the omniscient and omnipresent Divinity that is Reality. CHENNAI T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 204 ~ M A Y 2 0 1 0 . The latest language to join the assembly is English. These teachings are meant for individual’s progress. Being teachings on Life. Dr.’ The ideas conveyed by the poems are simple that help in cultivating bhakti.80 for paperback) Rs 100 for hard-back. What follows in the book is one long monologue of an inspired ecstatic. free of every trace of any ‘ism’ and independent of any dogma and creed making them universal in their appeal. TRICHY TO MY RABI’A By Nileen Putatunda Published by Writers Workshop. His mystic experiences were put down in an epic form by him. pp. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Sri Aurobindo are such seers who have lighted ‘the Vitihotra. says Dr.’ And the Vedic stream which began with (the Vedic) Sanskrit has been a constant flow throughout India in different languages. . Hazari Published by New Age Books. so says the devotee in one of the poems in this elegantly published small book that has a spiritual flavour. 266). . Also to study the Vedas and search for answers to ultimate questions like ‘Who am I’ and ‘Where do I go from here’. The result was Devayana composed in anushtubh metre. Hazari to think and write in the Aurobindonian terminology. Kolkata 700 045.325 Sa evam Veda—‘Thus speaks the Veda. ‘All that You have given me is Yours.’ The author has also given a chain of prayers from the Vedas for invoking safety. BELGAUM VOICE OF THE RISHIS By Dr. Dr.63. they also cover a range of subjects and hence all teachings may not appeal to everyone.’ Living under the aegis of Sri Aurobindo. ______________________________ P. Hazari became a disciple of Sri Aurobindo while in his teens and was a Homeopathic doctor in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry. . RKM ASHRAMA. it was natural for Dr. (Rs. cultivate a pure mind and ‘. Vedic godheads jostle with one another in the chapters raising us to a higher consciousness. the psychic aspirant fire. enriching the nation in a million ways.110 028.44 and more powerfully with more success and cheer. 2008.257+xxv. ____________________________ SWAMI ATMAPRANANANDA. he published Glimpses of Devayana and we learn that his epic was ‘a spiritual history from the Golden Age to the Iron Age and again to the Golden Age inaugurated by the descent of the higher consciousness. The rishis have continued their work for the earth by manifesting again. pp. 162/92 Lake Gardens. Hazari passed away in 1978. The poems in the book remind us to get rid of egotism. thought over. Nariana Industrial Area Phase–I. creative writing and critical commentary has already become a significant guide to aspirants all over the world. The book is not meant to be read cover to cover in one sitting. to the earth to unfold the Vedic Truth. ___________________________ PREMA NANDAKUMAR. dotted with significant Vedic quotes. and Bengal is their chosen place for the manifestation of Truth. 2009.’. He was also a thinker and writer. Since the poem Devayana was bulky. Indian writing in English that is associated with the Vedas as translation. hardback. appeared to him in his vision and assured him that the Golden Age on Earth was very near. freedom from disease and fear. understood and applied in life. Amita Nathwani has done well to go to the Vedic verses which were provided as references to Dr. . Hazari by Rishis who. S.