J

une 2011
June June June June June 2011 2011 2011 2011 2011
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.chennaimath.org
Vedic Prayers 205
Editorial
‘Nishtha’ or Steadiness of Purpose 206
Articles
„ Seeing Through A Living Legend 223
Swami Umeshwarananda
„ Swami Vivekananda’s Special Relationship with Raja Ajit Singh 230
Swami Tathagatananda
„ Direct Disciples in Their Lighter Moments 233
H Mukherjee
Compilation
„ Kathopanishad: In the words of Swami Vivekananda 213
Reminiscences
„ Reminiscences of Master Mahashay 216
Shanti Kumar Mitra
New Find
„ Unpublished Letters of Swami Saradananda 221
The Order on the March 238
Book Reviews 240
Features
Simhâvalokanam (The Gospel of Hope)—210,
Sri Ramakrishna Tells Stories—229
VOL. 98, No. 6 ISSN 0042-2983
CONTENTS
Cover Story: Page 4

T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1
The Vedanta Kesari
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T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 3
T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 4
Ramakrishna Math, Muthiganj, Allahabad
Situated on the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mytho-
logical river Saraswati, Allahabad is held to be ‘the King among
places of pilgrimage’ (tirtharaj prayag). Ramakrishna Math at
Allahabad owes its origin to Ramakrishna Samiti and Brahmavadin
Club started by a few close devotees of Swami Vivekananda in
1897. In 1900 Swami Vijnanananda, a direct disciple of Sri Rama-
krishna, came to Allahabad to start a permanent centre of the
Ramakrishna Math. The formal starting of the Ramakrishna Math,
however, took place in 1910. Blessed by the visits of Swami
Brahmananda and other direct disciples (and 30-year long stay of
Swami Vijnanananda), the Allahabad Ramakrishna Math conducts
a number of religious, cultural and medical activities. The Math
also organizes a camp in the annual Magh Mela and Kumbha Mela held at Triveni Sangam.
The Math’s Temple (seen on the cover) was renovated in January 2010. †
SL.NO. NAMES OF SPONSORS AWARDEE INSTITUTIONS
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4561. -do- S. Veerasamy Chettiar College, Tirunelveli, T.N. - 627 855
4562. -do- Moderator Gnanadasan Polytechnic, Nagarcoil, T.N. - 629 001
4563. -do- Mookambika College of Nursing, Kanyakumari Dt., T.N. - 629 161
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The Vedanta Kesari Library Scheme
Cover Story Cover Story Cover Story Cover Story Cover Story
To be continued . . .
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THE VEDANTA KESARI PATRONS’ SCHEME
614. Mr. Asim Kumar Chakraborty
205 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. 98, No. 6, JUNE 2011 ISSN 0042-2983
Vedic Prayers
Tr. by Swami Sambuddhananda
lw îQ² ç¾o Zdñ` _o ñVmo _ñ` dra {dœnVo &&
{Z_m{`ZñVngm ajgmo Xh &&
—Sama Veda, Agneya Parva, Ch. 1. 106.
dra the Mighty {dœnVo O the Lord of the
universe A¾o Agni, the dispeller of gloom _o my
Zdñ` ñVmo _ñ` according to hymns and prayers
chanted just now lw {ï at once _m{`Z… illusive
ajg… demons Vngm by Thy own power {Z-Xh
destroy.
According to prayers said to Thee just
now, O Mighty One, the Lord of the universe,
the Dispeller of darkness, destroy the illusory
demons by Thy own power at once.
Tell it t o men who are weak and persist in t elling it . You are t he Pure
One; awake and arise, O might y one, t his sleep does not become you. Awake
and arise, it does not befit you. Think not t hat you are weak and miserable.
Almight y, arise and awake, and manifest your own nat ure. I t is not fit t ing
t hat you t hink yourself a sinner. I t is not fit t ing t hat you t hink yourself weak.
Say t hat t o t he world, say it t o yourselves, and see what a pract ical result
comes, see how wit h an elect ric flash everyt hing is manifest ed, how everyt hing
is changed. Tell t hat t o mankind, and show t hem t heir power. Then we shall
learn how t o apply it in our daily lives.
—Swami Vivekananda, CW, 2: 304

5
206 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
‘Nishtha’ or Steadiness of Purpose
‘Google It’
Everyone knows what it means to
‘Google it’. Internet has increasingly become a
part of life. We cannot help it—nay, we are
happy about it. If we are searching for the
information for something (the list of that
‘something’ could be as vast as human life
itself!), the best thing is to go to Internet, type
in the search box of Google (or any other
search engine) and there you have (or do not
have, for sometime) what you have been
searching for. No wonder someone aptly re-
classified human history from BCE (Before
Christian/Current Era) and AD (Anno Domini,
in Latin, ‘in the year of the Lord’) to BG and
AG—i.e., ‘Before Google’ and ‘After Google’!
While Internet is a great means for collec-
ting or exchanging information, it has also
many inherent problems. It opens up a whole
world of good or dreadful possibilities. This
is particularly pertinent in matters spiritual.
There is a whole lot of information, nay, infor-
mation explosion, about spiritual teachings.
Articles, books, videos, lecture recordings,
bhajans—you have to just ask for it and it is
there. If it is not there, soon it will be. This is a
wonderful situation where every information
is available to all. No distinctions, no restric-
tions and no issues! Anyone can access any-
thing on the Web. That is the world of spiri-
tuality on the Internet.
The problem comes when we try to
follow what we have got on the Net. Unless
we know how to assimilate the Net-infor-
mation, we will be jack of everything and
master of none. We read something here and
listen to something there. We are attracted by
some and repelled by others. We are elevated
by some and disheartened by others. We are
free—to get confused or to place something in
right perspective and benefit from it. It is
flowing with the river of our likes and dislikes.
This orientation-less spirituality is like a plant
without roots. It soon dries up, leaving behind
intellectual confusions and at times a faithless,
cynical outlook towards spiritual life.
Orientation Needed
What is needed is an orientation. In
Vedanta tradition, this orientation is called
nishtha. In other words, Nishtha means steadi-
ness of purpose. It means following one’s
purpose of life with zeal and steadiness, with-
out losing faith and interest. It means not
changing one’s tracks. Steadiness of purpose
means being devoted to one’s chosen spiritual
ideal. One should stick to the chosen ideal
under all circumstances. A seeker of spiri-
tuality, however, need not become fanatical
and one-sided. Says Swami Vivekananda,
He must know that all the various sects of the
various religions are the various manifestations
of the glory of the same Lord. ‘They call You by
so many names; they divide You, as it were, by
different names, yet in each one of these is to be
found Your omnipotence. . . . You reach the
worshipper through all of these; neither is there
any special time so long as the soul has intense
love for You. You are so easy of approach; it is
my misfortune that I cannot love You.’ . . . .
[One] must take care not to hate, nor even to
criticise those radiant sons of light who are the
207 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
7
founders of various sects; he must not even hear
them spoken ill of. Very few indeed are those
who are at once the possessors of an extensive
sympathy and power of appreciation, as well as
an intensity of love. We find, as a rule, that liberal
and sympathetic sects lose the intensity of
religious feeling, and in their hands, religion is
apt to degenerate into a kind of politico-social
club life. On the other hand, intensely narrow
sectaries, whilst displaying a very commendable
love of their own ideals, are seen to have
acquired every particle of that love by hating
every one who is not of exactly the same opin-
ions as themselves. Would to God that this world
was full of men who were as intense in their
love as worldwide in their sympathies! But such
are only few and far between. Yet we know that
it is practicable to educate large numbers of
human beings into the ideal of a wonderful
blending of both the width and the intensity of
love; and the way to do that is by this path of
the Ishta-Nishtha or ‘steadfast devotion to the
chosen ideal’. Every sect of every religion
presents only one ideal of its own to mankind,
but the eternal Vedantic religion opens to
mankind an infinite number of doors for ingress
into the inner shrine of divinity, and places
before humanity an almost inexhaustible array
of ideals, there being in each of them a mani-
festation of the Eternal One.
1
This, then, is what is needed—one should
be inclusive and exclusive simultaneously. One
should be devoted to a spiritual ideal and yet
not hate or criticize others who may be
following other ideals. It may be difficult to
practice but if one wants spiritual progress,
there is no other alternative.
Swamiji narrates a story to illustrate this
point:
There is a story of Hanuman, who was a great
worshipper of Rama. Just as the Christians
worship Christ as the incarnation of God, so the
Hindus worship many incarnations of God.
According to them, God came nine times in India
and will come once more. When he came as
Rama, this Hanuman was his great worshipper.
Hanuman lived very long and was a great Yogi.
During his lifetime, Rama came again as Krishna;
and Hanuman, being a great Yogi, knew that
the same God had come back again as Krishna.
He came and served Krishna, but he said to him,
‘I want to see that Rama form of yours.’
Krishna said, ‘Is not this form enough? I am this
Krishna; I am this Rama. All these forms are
mine.’
Hanuman said, ‘I know that, but the Rama form
is for me. The Lord of Jânaki [Rama] and the
Lord of Shri [Radha] are the same. They are both
the incarnations of the Supreme Self. Yet the
lotus eyed Rama is my all in all.’
*
This is Nishtha—knowing that all these different
forms of worship are right, yet sticking to one
and rejecting the others. We must not worship
the others at all; we must not hate or criticize
them, but respect them.
2
There is a Hindi verse of Tulasidas which
Sri Ramakrishna was fond of quoting. The
verse says:
e¤e ¤|e¤ e¤e ·|e¤ e¤=t |=|*¤ =t¤¡
rt *t rt *t =·a ·|r¤ ¤ |a¤ ¬¤= at¤¡¡
Swami Vivekananda’s translation of the
verse goes thus:
As was said by the sage Tulasidasa, he must
say, ‘Take the sweetness of all, sit with all, take
the name of all, say yea, yea, but keep your seat
firm.’
3
Hedging Around
One should have one-pointedness, for
then alone there is a possibility of inner pro-
* ¤t=t¤ *t==t=t¤ ¬« º… ¤·¤tt¤|=¡
a¤t|¤ ¤¤ e¤ -¤ ·t¤… =¤==t ¤=…¡¡
208 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
8
gress. It is a protection which is absolutely
essential for growth and development. Swamiji
further says,
The growing plant must be hedged round to
protect it until it has grown into a tree. The
tender plant of spirituality will die if exposed
too early to the action of a constant change of
ideas and ideals.
Many people, in the name of what may be called
religious liberalism, may be seen feeding their
idle curiosity with a continuous succession of
different ideals. With them, hearing new things
grows into a kind of disease, a sort of religious
drink-mania. They want to hear new things just
by way of getting a temporary nervous excite-
ment, and when one such exciting influence has
had its effect on them, they are ready for another.
Religion is with these people a sort of intellectual
opium-eating, and there it ends. ‘There is another
sort of man’, says Bhagavan Ramakrishna, ‘who
is like the pearl-oyster of the story. The pearl-
oyster leaves its bed at the bottom of the sea,
and comes up to the surface to catch the rain-
water when the star Svati is in the ascendant. It
floats about on the surface of the sea with its
shell wide open, until it has succeeded in catch-
ing a drop of the rain-water, and then it dives
deep down to its sea-bed, and there rests until it
has succeeded in fashioning a beautiful pearl
out of that rain-drop.’
4
The point is one will have to have right
orientation. Without this orientation or steady
devotion to a spiritual ideal or nishtha, gather-
ing a lot of information from books, lectures
or Internet can lead to much confusion which
makes all efforts futile. Nishtha means a
patient, steady following of a set spiritual path.
The ideal of nishtha, in another sense,
also means each one has his path, just as
everyone his own unique physical and mental
features. It is well-known that finger-prints of
one person are not identical with anyone else’s.
Just as one has his shirt-size, one’s mental and
spiritual needs also vary. There is no need to
force one’s idea of spirituality on others. Let
each one stand unique—for everyone is, uni-
que. Let us respect and adhere to the ideal of
‘an infinite number of doors for ingress into
the inner shrine of divinity.’
Nishtha also means being honest and free
from all hypocrisy. One who has nishtha does
not need a supervisor over his work, be it
mundane or spiritual. He is willing to ‘slog-
out’ for the sake of his ideal. He does not
change his mind. One should have nishtha not
only in spiritual matters but also in matters
related to other aspects of life. One can, thus,
do his duties with nishtha, cook a meal with
nishtha, look after a garden with nishtha, be
full of nishtha in one’s dealings with others,
and so on. Nishtha is a way of life.
Extolling the need for nishtha Sri Rama-
krishna gives the example of two types of
farmers—the hereditary famer and the other
who has taken to farming as an additional
work. He says,
New farmers give up cultivating if their fields
do not yield any crops. But hereditary farmers
will continue to cultivate their fields whether
they get a crop or not. Their fathers and grand-
fathers were farmers; they know that they too
must accept farming as their means of liveli-
hood.
5
In another place, Sri Ramakrishna gives
one more example illustrating how concerted
and focused efforts help one realize the highest
goal of life. He said,
Worldly people have no grit. If they succeed in
an undertaking, it is all right, but if they don’t
succeed, it scarcely bothers them at all. When
they need water they begin to dig a well. But as
soon as they strike a stone they give up digging
there and begin at another place. Perhaps they
come to a bed of sand. Finding nothing but sand,
they give that place up too. How can they
209 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
succeed in getting water unless they continue to
dig persistently where they started?
6
Everything Has a Place
There is an insightful incident from the
life of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi which will
add to our understanding the idea of nishtha:
A few women devotees were in the adjacent
room. Two of them wore ochre robes. They
prostrated themselves before the Mother. They
brought some sweets for offering. We came to
know they were the disciples of Siva-Narayan
Paramahamsa of Kalighat. Their teacher was just
then engaged in performing a grand sacrifice.
One of the nuns asked, ‘Is there any truth in
image worship? Our teacher does not approve
of it. He instructs people in the worship of the
fire and the sun.’
Mother: ‘You should not doubt the words of
your own teacher. Why do you ask me about it,
when you have heard the opinion of your Guru
in the matter?’
The nun: ‘We want to know your opinion.’
The Mother refused to give any opinion. But the
nun was stubborn and began to press for a reply.
The Mother said at last, ‘If your teacher were an
illumined soul—you have forced me to say—
then he would not have made such a statement.
From time immemorial innumerable people have
worshipped images and thereby attained spiri-
tual knowledge. Do you want to deny this fact?
Sri Ramakrishna never cherished any such
parochial and one-sided view. Brahman exists
everywhere. The prophets and incarnations are
born to show the way to a benighted humanity.
They give different instructions suited to differ-
ent temperaments. There are many ways to rea-
lize the Truth. Therefore all these instructions
have their relative value. Take, for instance, a
tree. There are birds perched on its branches.
They have different colours, white, black, yellow,
red, etc. Their sounds are also different. But we
say that these are the sounds of the birds. We
never designate a particular sound as that of
birds and refuse to acknowledge other sounds
as such.’
7
Conclusion
Swami Turiyananda, a direct disciple of
Sri Ramakrishna, gave a remarkably practical
advice which harmonises openness to learn
and the need to be steady and unchanging in
one’s efforts. He said,
In matters of opinion swim with the current; in
matters of principle stand firm as a rock.
8
In other words, one should be steady and
persistent in one’s efforts. Learning without a
perspective is like undigested food that leads
to all kinds of troubles. One needs to be steady,
broad and devoted, and at the same time, keep
the doors of his mind open and welcome to
anything that would be condusive to his inner
growth. This is true Nishtha. †
1. CW, 3: 62-63 2. CW, 9: 224 3. CW, 3: 62-64 4. CW, 3: 62-64 5. Gospel of Sri
Ramakrishna, p.659 6. Gospel p.208 7. Gospel of Holy Mother, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, p.20
8. Swami Turiyananda Life and Teachings by Swami Ritajananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, p.82
References
9
D D
Be st eadfast in your ideal even when t he mind is rest less. Keep up t he regularit y of
your pract ices under all condit ions. —Swami Brahmananda
210 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
From the Archives of THE VEDANTA KESARI
S i mh â v a l o k a n a m
The Gospel of Hope
By Swami Shuddhananda
(June, 1921-22, Pp. 53-57)
From time to time God-men make their advent to give out
their message of love and hope:
‘Hear! Oh children of Immortal Bliss—Ye, that live in heavenly spheres!—all hear! I have
known that Effulgent Supreme Being, beyond all darkness, all ignorance. Knowing Him the
Jiva overcomes death. There is no other way for liberation.’
Bhagavan Buddha, attaining Nirvana, proclaimed the message of Abhaya to a world
writhing in sin and suffering, sickness and death. ‘If you can cross over this ocean of samsara
and attain Nirvana in this very life, then no more fright, no more restlessness for you.’
Addressing the Jiva thus, Bhagavan Shankara said: ‘You are not Jiva, you are Shiva.
Because of Avidya, of Maya, you have forgotten your real nature, and are in trouble. Gain the
knowledge of your Self. Hear from the blessed lips of your Guru, the Mahavakya of the
Vedanta “Tattwam Asi;” meditate on it; realise it. Then will you gain the vision universal; then
will you attain shanti.’
A little over four hundred years back, Sri Krishna Chaitanya of Nadia proclaimed again to
the Jiva the same message of transcending the sorrows and sufferings of life. Even now His
Bhaktas and disciples overwhelmed with emotion in singing His Sankeertanas (the holy names
of the Lord) in the exultation of joy,—forget the travails of samsara at least for a moment.
Setting aside the story of a by-gone age, let us at present look at the present era. Only the
other day we witnessed at Dakshineswar, on the banks of the Ganges, the extraordinary
manifestation of a Divine leela. Let us examine the blessed lives of Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna,
the very synthesis of Jnana and Prema, and that of his spiritual son and sannyasin disciple
Swami Vivekananda. They have soothed many a weary soul and again they have proclaimed
that immortality and bliss eternal are our birthright:
‘You are the children of Mother.—Whom do you fear? Lion that thou art, why bemean
yourself and behave like a jackal?’ This is their message of fearlessness, this is their gospel of
life. Sri Swamiji [Vivekananda] says,
‘Sinners? It is a sin to call a man so. It is a standing libel on human nature. Come up, O
Lions, and shake off the delusion that you are sheep;—you are spirits free, blessed and
immortal. Matter is your servant, not you the servant of matter.’
Let us at present leave out of consideration the life of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna. Any
attempt to correctly estimate him always falls short of the mark; we can almost say, it transcends
all ordinary understanding. Swami Vivekananda we have seen, his holy contact we were
211 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
privileged to share. We had the blessings of his advice, his chastisement and above all, his
love. Only a short while back he gave up his body, after mixing freely with the joys and
sufferings of life. Even amidst the stress and strain of difficulties, amidst duties and responsibilities
of a myriad order, we have seen him as the very personification of Love and Hope. He taught
us our Gita for only one day. I remember how his face glowed with inspiration and enthusiasm
as he went on expounding the meaning of the verse, ‘Yield not to unmanliness, O Son of
Pritha! Ill doth it become thee. Cast off this mean faint-heartedness, O Scorcher of thine
enemies!’ . . .
O Man! will you not recognise yet your own men? Whether you are rich or poor, learned
or illiterate, exalted or fallen remember that each of you has a problem to solve, each of you
harbours a restless soul. How long will you be camouflaged with the false pretences of social
conventions? Give up all theft in the chamber of your thought. Let your words tally with your
convictions; then, no more of sadhanas, no more penances. Then will you hear the inspired
sayings of the Great Ones. That gospel was once uttered on the banks of the Saraswati; has
overflowed the four corners of the world surging out from Magadha; was delivered at a crucial
moment to Arjuna in the field of Kurukshetra; has merged the whole of Bharata Varsha arising
from Kerala; has intoxicated India from its centre at Nadia; was trumpeted again from Nazareth.
The self-same Gospel has again been uttered. Again the door has been opened. Whoever
wishes, come! enter into the Kingdom of Light!
‘Arise, awake—stop not, till the goal is reached.’ Social problems have only a two days’
existence. The din and turmoil of politics are fleeting. Bundle up your likes and dislikes, short-
sightedness and lowliness and throw them overboard. This is the kingdom of heaven, the
region of Love. Here only Anandam! Anandam!. . .
Spoken in different tongues and different tones and expressed in different ways, the
Gospel of the Mahapurushas breathe the same spirit. It is the scholars who find delight in the
forms of expression and hair-splitting distinctions, but the Great Ones do not mind outward
forms or symbols. Their words go direct and their communion is from heart to heart. They
might have throughout their life time remained only in the solitude of mountain recesses, yet
the hidden note of their golden teachings strike the gamut of our hearts and produce a silent
symphony far more euphonious than the studied words of skilful orators or the facility and
grace of elegant stylists. All our passions and attachments vanish for ever. Every body thinks
them as his own. Man, immersed in worldly attachments cannot understand the truth they
embody in their teachings. So we cannot grasp the full significance of their message which
comes to us at times with the unexpected dart and pierciveness of a javelin, at other times
with the sweet and tender touch of soft flower petals. But there is not the least shadow of
doubt that under all circumstances and moods their hearts throb only with idea of the welfare
of humanity.
Why was Sri Ramanuja seized with restlessness and mounted the heights of a Gopuram
to proclaim to the masses at large the holy mantram ‘Om Namo Narayanaya’? Why Jesus, the
Christ, welcomed all: ‘Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give
you rest’?
11
212 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
What again prompted Bhagavan Sri Krishna to declare: ‘Relinquishing all Dharmas take
refuge in Me alone; I will liberate thee from all sins; grieve not’? Why Lord Buddha willingly
invoked on him all the sins and sufferings of humanity and in joyous rhapsody prayed out,
‘May the world be healthy, cured of all ailments, free from all sins!’
The Mahapurushas have one particular note in the music of their lives. If we cannot
understand this, their lives appear as full of contradictions. Whoever that attempts to understand
them, let him make an earnest endeavour to catch that particular burden of their song. Then
the whole secret of their blessed lives would dawn upon him as clearly as pure day light. And
what difficulty is there to recognise or understand them? What is the problem of your life? You
are lost in confusion, you are a victim of unfortunate circumstances. In the words of the poet
Wordsworth, you have forgotten your divine nature, you are enshrouded in sleep.
Life is a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar.
The Mahapurushas come to cure you of your mad fit and you are awakened to life from
deep sleep. Wherever you may go, the mist of confusion melts away. You are freed from the
bondage of duality. You become a Mukta, transcend all obstacles and roam about in joy and
peace. O Man! make an attempt, blessed as you are, being endowed with a human body.
Shake off the grasp of desires, control your outgoing senses, and strive sincerely with all
earnestness of heart to tread unswervingly along the path of Truth. . . we hear the voice of the
Great Ones. What are you after? Why do you roam about as a beggar for the hidden treasure?
Leaving aside your own kingdom, why do you think yourself an exile and create infinite
miseries? You have nothing more to do—only to understand yourself, recognise your own self.
The moralist remains content with mending a fault or acquiring a virtue. But in his
attempt at deliverance from one failing, hundred others crop up around him. If you go to react,
if you war with them, you only become all the more helpless. If desires are surpassed, anger
claims a part of your heart. If anger is done away with, avarice takes its place and if you are
fortunate to evade its clutch then the vanity and the conceit ‘I am a Sadhu,’ ‘I am a pious man’
take possession of you. How far can you succeed in keeping these enemies within bounds?
Therefore I say, recognising the sacred utterances of the Great Ones, elevate your heart to a
higher plane. Then will you see your mean tendencies and passions are flying away from you
once for all.
Realise that we have become blessed by getting this body, this instrument wherewith to
realise Him. This is no poet’s vision. It is a fact of experience.
Faith, Faith, burning faith! Never stray from this path although beset with many difficulties.
It is truth that triumphs. This maxim is too true. If at any moment doubt arises over all the
Sadhus, all Bhaktas, all Mahatmas, never lose confidence in the greatness of your own Self
from whence proceeds all devotion, all greatness, all purity. . . †

12
213 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
Death praises Nachiketas:
n r— l≈ ¤r+˘ l≈ ¤=“≈r n =“r¤r+˘
‚l¤·¤r¤+˘ +l¤=“ºr:r¤nra≥: i
+ºr nƒ¬“r l—‘¤¤≥¤—rar
¤˚¤r ¤¬–-º ¤r—r ¤+ ·¤r: ii - ii
‘I praise you, Nachiketas; you have not
asked for desire. In various ways I tempted
you towards the path of enjoyment; you
resisted them all, you have known that
knowledge is much higher than a life of enjoy-
ment.’ (2.408) ‘O Nachiketas, having thought
upon the things which are only apparently
desirable, thou hast wisely abandoned them.’
(2.161)
‘Neither through wealth, nor through
progeny, but by giving up alone that immor-
tality is to be reached.’ That is the dictate of
the Indian books. (3.343)
Death then proceeded to teach Nachi-
ketas. (2.161)
Knowledge and Ignorance:
The following compilation from the nine-volume Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda
attempts to present Swamiji’s thoughts in relation with the verses from the Kathopanishad. Of all the
Upanishads, Swami Vivekananda loved the Kathopanishad most. He once told [CW, 6: 456] his
disciple, Sharat Chandra Chakravarty, to memorize the Kathopanishad. In many of his lectures,
Swamiji quoted from the Kathopanishad.
This compilation juxtaposes what Swamiji said in different contexts (references to the CW, are
given in brackets) with the original verses. The Kathopanishad consists of two chapters, sub-
divided into 2 and 3 sections, and in all having 120 verses. Swamiji has referred to some 86 verses
from different sections of the Upanishad. In this compilation only those verses which could be related
to Swamiji’s words have been given; uncommented verses have been omitted. This compilation has
been done by V. Radhakrishnan, a retired teacher of mathematics from Pune, Maharashtra.
∆r¤º l—≈r≥º l—∏¤≥
‚l—cr ¤r ¤ l—c lº arºr i
l—cr¤≥–ˆn+ +l¤=“ºn ¤-¤
+ r—r =“r¤r ¤r—r :◊r ◊ ≈-º ii : ii
. . .there is a sect who advises us to follow
God and the world together. They are not
sincere, they do not express what they feel in
their hearts. What is the teaching of the Great
Ones?—‘Where there is Rama, there is no
Kama; where there is Kama, there Rama is
not. Night and day can never exist together.’
The voice of the ancient sages proclaims to us,
‘If you desire to attain God, you will have to
renounce Kama-Kanchana (lust and posse-
ssion). The Samsara is unreal, hollow, void of
substance. Unless you give it up, you can never
reach God, try however you may. If you
cannot do that, own that you are weak, but by
no means lower the Ideal. Do not cover the
corrupting corpse with leaves of gold!’ So
according to them, if you want to gain spiri-
COMPILATION
(Continued from the April 2011 issue . . .)
214 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
14
tuality, to attain God, the first thing that you
have to do is to give up this playing ‘hide-
and-seek with your ideas’, this dishonesty, this
‘theft within the chamber of thought’ (3.451)
Course of the Ignorant:
‚l—cr¤r¤-ºr —º¤r+r:
˚—¤ π≥rr: ≈–º∂º ¤-¤¤r+r: i
∆-rr¤¤r¬r: ≈|r¤–-º ¤fir:
‚-π + — +≥¤¤r+r ¤¤r-πr: ii - ii
You have understood that the man who
lives in ignorance and enjoys, is not different
from the brute beast. Yet there are many who,
though steeped in ignorance, in the pride of
their hearts, think that they are great sages
and go round and round in many crooked
ways, like the blind led by the blind.(2.408)
Shrotriya, he who knows the secret of
the Shrutis, Avrijina, the sinless, and Aka-
mahata, unpierced by desire—he who does not
want to make money by teaching you—he is
the Shanta, the Sadhu, who comes as the
spring which brings the leaves and blossoms
to various plants but does not ask anything
from the plant, for its very nature is to do
good. It does good and there it is.
Such is the Guru, ‘Who has himself
crossed this terrible ocean of life, and without
any idea of gain to himself, helps others also
to cross the ocean.’
2
This is the Guru, and mark that none
else can be a Guru, for themselves steeped in
darkness, but in the pride of their hearts,
thinking they know everything, the fools want
to help others, and they go round and round
in many crooked ways, staggering to and fro,
and thus like the blind leading the blind, both
fall into the ditch. (3.346)
+ nrr≈rr¤: ≈ lº¤rlº ¤r◊
≈ ¤rc-º l—‘¤r r + ¤ fi¤˘ i
‚¤ ◊r =“r +r–˚º ≈r slº ¤r+≥
≈ +: ≈ +— n¤r≈cº ¤ ii ª ii
Yama said, ‘That which is beyond never
rises before the mind of a thoughtless child
deluded by the folly of riches. “This world
exists, the other does not”, thinking thus they
come again and again under my power.’
(2.162)
Very few men ask for the truth, fewer
dare to learn the truth, and fewest of all dare
to follow it in all its practical bearings. (2.248)
Self-Knowledge: Very Difficult to Attain:
√—¬r¤rl≈ ¤r l¤¤r + ◊-¤:
·rƒ º—-ºr :l≈ ¤r—r ¤ + l—c : i
‚rn¤r —=“r = “n◊r :˚¤ ◊ºπr
‚rn¤r arºr = “n◊r+ ln˝: ii ÷ ii
Many have not even the opportunity to
hear about it; and many, though hearing,
cannot know it, because the teacher must be
wonderful; so must he be wonderful too unto
whom the knowledge is carried.(2.408) The
teacher must be wonderful, so must be the
taught. (2.162)
To understand this truth is very difficult.
(2.162) Learn not the truth of the Self save
from one who has realised it; in all others it is
mere talk. Realisation is beyond virtue and
vice, beyond future and past; beyond all the
pairs of opposites. ‘The stainless one sees the
Self, and an eternal calm comes in the Soul.’
3
Talking, arguing, and reading books, the
highest flights of the intellect, the Vedas them-
selves, all these cannot give knowledge of the
Self. (7.70)
The Guru is the conveyance in which the
spiritual influence is brought to you. Anyone
can teach, but the spirit must be passed on by
the Guru to the Shishya (disciple), and that
will fructify. The relation between Shishyas is
215 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
References
15
that of brotherhood, and this is actually
accepted by law in India. The Guru passes the
thought power, the Mantra, that he has
received from those before him; and nothing
can be done without a Guru. (7.63)
Need of a Spiritual Teacher:
+ +r ¬r—r ¬ ≈ r =“ r∏ n l—a ¤r ¤r πr l¤-r¤¤r+: i
‚+-¤≈r=“ ›lºrx +r–˚º ‚¬≥¤r+˘ nº=¤¤¬≈¤r¬rº˘ ii
If the speaker is a man who is not highly
advanced, then even a hundred times heard,
and a hundred times taught, the truth never
illumines the soul. (2.408)
Now in intellectual development we can
get much help from books, but in spiritual
development, almost nothing. In studying
books, sometimes we are deluded into think-
ing that we are being spiritually helped; but if
we analyse ourselves, we shall find that only
our intellect has been helped, and not the
spirit. That is the reason why almost everyone
of us can speak most wonderfully on spiritual
subjects, but when the time of action comes,
we find ourselves so woefully deficient. It is
because books cannot give us that impulse
from outside. To quicken the spirit, that
impulse must come from another soul. (4.22)
. . .That is the coming in direct contact
with the Mahapurushas, and thus moulding
our lives in accordance with those of the great-
souled ones who have reached the Goal. Even
disgust for the world and a burning desire for
God are not sufficient. Initiation by the Guru
is necessary. Why? Because it is the bringing
of yourself into connection with that great
source of power which has been handed down
through generations from one Guru to another,
in uninterrupted succession. The devotee must
seek and accept the Guru or spiritual preceptor
as his counsellor, philosopher, friend, and
guide. In short, the Guru is the sine qua non of
progress in the path of spirituality. Whom then
shall I accept as my Guru? ‘He who is versed
in the Vedas, without taint, unhurt by desire,
he who is the best of the knowers of Brahman.’
Shrotriya—he who is not only learned in the
Shastras, but who knows their subtle secrets,
who has realised their true import in his life.
(3.452)
That soul from which this impulse comes
is called the Guru, the teacher; and the soul to
which the impulse is conveyed is called the
disciple, the student. In order to convey this
impulse, in the first place, the soul from which
it comes must possess the power of transmi-
tting it, as it were, to another; and in the second
place, the object to which it is transmitted must
be fit to receive it. The seed must be a living
seed, and the field must be ready ploughed;
and when both these conditions are fulfilled,
a wonderful growth of religion takes place.
The speaker of religion must be wonderful, so
must the hearer be; and when both of these
are really wonderful, extraordinary, then alone
will splendid spiritual growth come, and not
otherwise. These are real teachers, and these
are the real students. Besides these, the others
are playing with spirituality—just having a
little intellectual struggle, just satisfying a little
curiosity—but are standing only on the
outward fringes of the horizon of religion.
(4.22)
(To be continued. . .)
2. ¤t |¤¤t s¤ |*=t s=t¤rat ¤t ¤ x|¤-t¤…¡ ¤ xª¤ ¤·a… ut-at |=|·-¤= t¤t==…¡
¬ra=º¤t|e-¤¤-¤·t=¤at eat¤¡¡ Vivekachudamani by Acharya Sri Shankara, Verse 33
3. Kathopanishad, 1.2.20
216 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
Reminiscences of Master Mahashay
SHANTI KUMAR MITRA
Master Mahashay, Mahendranath Gupta, or ‘M’, was an eminent householder disciple of Sri
Ramakrishna. He recorded the conversations of Sri Ramakrishna in Bengali and published them later
as Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita (translated into English: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna). The
following is the translation of reminiscences of ‘M’ from Srima Samipe, edited by Swami Chetanananda
(Udbodhan Office: Calcutta, 1996), Pp. 148-64. Swami Chetanananda (the translator of the present
article) is the Head of Vedanta Society of St. Louis, USA. He has to his credit several notable books in
Bengali and English, translations as well as original.
Morton Institution, fourth floor, March-
April 1925, 7:00 p.m.
M. said: ‘Today is an auspicious day, the
Holy Mother’s temple in Jayrambati was
dedicated on this day [two years earlier]. Thus,
many memories of the Mother are coming to
my mind. I had the Master’s company for only
5 years, but Holy Mother protected me from
all dangers over a period of 35 years. She was
the Mother of the Universe. Once just before I
returned home from Jayrambati, she served
me my meal. She pressed a large quantity of
rice onto my plate so that it looked like a small
amount. I said, “Mother, shall I be able to eat
so much rice?” She replied: “My son, it is not
much. Please eat. You don’t know when you
will get your next meal.” He who has received
the Mother’s affection even once will never
forget her. I observed that the Master could
not control his bhava samadhi, although he
tried. But Holy Mother was the embodiment
of great power. She served food to the
devotees, cooked in the kitchen, and looked
after her niece Radhu; and yet she went into
samadhi seated on the veranda. She was like
the Phalgu River: there is sand above, and no
one knows that water flows beneath it. Who
can understand Holy Mother?’
A young devotee was staying with some
relatives while he was going to school, but he
was ill-treated because of his association with
the monastery. He said to M.: ‘Please tell me
how I can get peace. Perhaps it is because I
committed great sins in my past life that I am
undergoing this humiliation.’
M. said: ‘Whomever you stay with, give
some service to them and try to satisfy them.
But if they obstruct your spiritual practices or
keep you from visiting the monastery, do not
listen to them. Just keep quiet and forbear.
The Master said: “He who forbears, survives;
and he who does not forbear, perishes.” The
nature of worldly people is strange: if their
sons are immoral, they joyfully accept that;
but if their sons want to be monks, that is
unpardonable. You see, human character is
formed through sufferings and obstacles. The
more you face those obstacles, the more your
mind will long for God. The great devotee
Prahlada went through so much suffering for
217 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
17
God. Look at how the gopis suffered. They
knew no one but Krishna. There is an English
proverb: “Good comes from evil.”
‘It is true that your suffering is due to
either bad karma from a past life or some other
reason, but yet you have the holy company of
the Master’s disciples. The Lord is showing
you the true nature of worldly life and then
leading you to his disciples. Just see how suf-
fering is pushing you towards God, the source
of infinite bliss. Let pain and suffering come.
Focus your mind on the Master and depend
on him. Be content with whatever condition
he keeps you in. The mother spanks the child
and it cries, but it still holds onto its mother.
You talk about peace: the more you go towards
God, the more you will get peace. Complete
peace comes when you attain God. Monks in
the western part of India ask other monks,
“Have you attained peace?” In other words,
have you attained God? Pain and suffering
are all in the mind. There is a blissful state
where worldly suffering cannot reach.’
M. told Jiten Babu: ‘You see, the body
needs food to function. One needs air to
breathe. God keeps us dependant in such a
way that a man still feels that he is the doer.’
Dr. Kartik Bakshi said: ‘Breathing and
the heartbeat do not stop until death.’
M. responded: ‘Yes, they can stop when
one is alive. When the Master was in deep
samadhi, doctors examined his lungs and heart
and found that their functions had halted. That
is why, the day the Master passed away in
samadhi, we did not recognize it at first. He
quite often went into deep samadhi, so we
did not realize that he had left his body.’
As M. said this, tears trickled from his
eyes and his voice became hoarse. He could
no longer speak. His attendant Ramlal brought
his supper. It was 9:30 p.m. when the devotees
left.
Morton Institution, 1925, 5:00 p.m.
A devotee said: ‘There is no escape from
the results of bad karma. Shall we have to
experience the results of all karma?’
M. replied: ‘You are studying to pass an
examination, and when you pass, you get the
result. A thief steals, and then he goes to jail.
There are also some actions that were done in
a previous life but did not produce any result
then, so they remain in the storehouse. Some
of those actions bear results in this life and
give you misery. But if you follow your guru’s
instructions, and practise japa and meditation,
your suffering will be reduced. For example,
you are walking through the scorching sun.
You have no umbrella and your head is burn-
ing; you are perspiring profusely; your chest
feels as if it is splitting with thirst; and your
feet are covered with blisters. At that time a
man comes forward and gives you an um-
brella, a pair of shoes, a glass of cold water,
and a hand fan. You cool yourself with the
fan, drink the water, put on the shoes, and
hold the umbrella over your head. When you
begin to walk, the heat of the sun remains the
same, but you do not feel so much pain. Holy
Mother used to say, “Japa and meditation
destroy the results of bad karma. Providence
changes His writing with His own pen.” She
further said, “Suppose you are destined to lose
a leg; you will get a scratch instead.” Don’t
worry about all these things. Just take refuge
in Him. Krishna said in the Gita (18:66): “I
will deliver you from all sins; do not grieve.”’
Another devotee asked: ‘What can I do
if my mind does not like to repeat the mantra?’
‘In the beginning japa seems to be dry,’
M. said. ‘But one should continue to repeat
the mantra even if the mind does not like it.
Japât siddhi—perfection comes through japa.
The mind does not become concentrated in
one day. One should pray to the Master
218 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
wholeheartedly. Then by his grace the mind
becomes calm automatically. Once this
happens it is hard to stop japa and leave your
seat.
‘A dog bites a bone and its mouth bleeds,
yet it does not give up biting it. If it can break
the bone and get to the marrow, it forgets all
pain. Anyone who gets the taste of japa does
not like anything else. He or she becomes
irritated if someone disturbs the chanting. God
and His name are not separate—they are one.
The wheel of the mantra destroys all worldly
bondages, all bad impressions of past lives,
and all kinds of sins. The mantra purifies the
body and the mind. The Lord’s name removes
the fear of death and one experiences only
bliss.’
A devotee said: ‘We get peace when we
come to you. At least for the time being we
are free of our pain and suffering. But you are
now old and your health is not good. I
sometimes wonder how this vast Ramakrishna
Order will continue. What will happen to us,
who are burning in this world, when you
people depart?’
‘Why? The Master is the goal.’ M. said.
‘As long as a genuine monk exists in this
Order, the Master will remain in the Order
and guide it. Some of his disciples are still
living. Have their company as much as you
can. This will change the samskaras of your
past lives. The Master lived in Dakshineswar
for 30 years, and Swamiji gave up his body in
Belur Math. So many monks have practised
sadhana in those places, so they are truly holy.
One’s mind moves easily towards God in those
places. The bodies of the avatar and his asso-
ciates are not everything: their gross bodies
may disappear, yet they help humanity
through their subtle bodies.’
Three monks arrived from Belur Math,
two of whom were from Kerala. One of them
asked: ‘The Master said that Bhakti Yoga was
the zeitgeist of this age, whereas Swamiji
emphasized Karma Yoga. Which one should
we follow?’
M. replied: ‘You have read Swamiji’s
Karma Yoga. He also wrote Bhakti Yoga. If you
read Bhakti Yoga, you will understand what
he meant. When he talked about Karma Yoga,
he emphasized that. In other words, he taught
according to his audience. The activities of the
Ramakrishna Mission are pursued to purify
the mind. If one performs action in the spirit
of service to God, one will develop devotion.
If one works unselfishly in the hospital and
dispensary, these altruistic actions help one to
attain liberation.’
Another devotee said: ‘Sir, we find all
the teachings of the avatars in the Gita and
other scriptures. Then why do they come again
and again and undergo all these troubles?’
‘Sugar and sand are mixed in the scrip-
tures,’ M. replied. ‘Commentators put their
own ideas into the words of God. When the
avatar departs, his messages get jumbled and
lead to confusion within a short time. If the
avatar does not come, who will explain the
scriptures? Krishna said in the Gita (4:7):
“Whenever there is a decline of dharma, and
a rise of adharma, I incarnate Myself.” Who is
the avatar? He is the highest manifestation of
Divinity among human beings. Philip said to
Jesus, “Rabbi, show me the Father.” Jesus
immediately replied: “Philip, hast thou seen
me and not seen the Father? I and my Father
are one.” The Master also said: “Now I am
not finding myself within me. Sometimes I
think ‘I am He, and He is I.’” The Master told
us: “If anyone cries with a longing heart, God
cannot stay still. He hurriedly reveals Himself
to that person.” Jesus also said: “Seek, and ye
shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto
you.”’
18
219 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
A devotee asked: ‘Sir, is there any hope
for a married man?’
M. said: ‘Why not? If a householder
moves one step towards God, He comes for-
ward walking ten steps. He knows that he has
put 20 maunds
1
weight on their heads [mean-
ing heavy responsibility]. Suppose a dandy is
walking with a stick in hand and on his way
he bows down to Mother Kali at Thanthania.
And a porter, carrying a two-maund weight
on his head, puts it down with great effort
with both hands and then bows down to the
Mother with devotion. The Mother accepts the
porter’s salutation before the dandy’s. Can
everyone renounce? Jesus also had monastic
disciples and householder devotees. He did
not ask everybody to renounce. He said to
some people: “Some are eunuchs for the sake
of God.” And again he said to others: “Thou
art in the world but not of the world.”
‘If one does not renounce externally, one
should practise nonattachment mentally. This
is the worldly disease: We think that some-
thing that is impermanent, is permanent. That
is the problem. It is extremely important for a
householder to associate with holy people and
the guru. They help us to understand our
real condition. They show us our duties and
point the way to the goal. It is like using a
correct watch to adjust a watch with the wrong
time.
‘You see, although the highest ideal is
renunciation, the guru knows our path. Does
the doctor give the same medicine to every-
one? The prescription differs from disease to
disease. “The same coat does not fit Henry,
Jim, and John alike.” The guru guides some to
the path of renunciation and some to the path
of family life according to their tendencies.
Finally, he accepts all and removes their
impurities. The guru is the helmsman in this
ocean of maya.’
Morton Institution
A monk and a brahmachari arrived from
Gadadhar Ashrama.
‘Welcome, welcome, please come in,’ M.
said. ‘When monks come here it indicates that
the Master has not forgotten us.’
The monk said: ‘Today on the bank of
the Ganges I saw a holy man who looked like
the Master, but he was observing the vow of
silence. Then a desire came to see you and
listen to the words of the Master.’
M. said: ‘That happened to me once also.
It was a long time ago, but after the Master’s
passing away. I was near the Howrah Bridge
when I met a monk who looked like the
Master. I unfolded my umbrella to protect his
face from the scorching sun. He smiled a little.
Then I asked, “Can I do anything for you?”
That monk replied, “I will be happy if I can
get a ticket to Varanasi.” I took him to the
railway station, bought him a ticket to Vara-
nasi, and escorted him to the train. Pleased,
the monk gave me a special rudraksha bead
and said, “Please keep this; it will do you
good.”
I humbly accepted his loving gift. But
afterwards, while crossing the Howrah Bridge,
I thought about how the Master had taken on
all of my responsibilities, my good and bad
[actions], my fortune and misfortune, my life
and death, and this life and the next life. Why
then did I accept that rudraksha bead? What
kind of faith do I have in the Master? I threw
that rudraksha bead into the Ganges. When
the Master is looking after me and protecting
me day and night, why would I depend on
those things?
‘When I first met the Master, it seemed
to me that he was an ordinary man. As time
passed, I realized that he was the indivisible
Satchidananda covered with a veil of maya,
beyond our comprehension.
19
220 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
‘The Master is beyond the injunctions of
the Vedas. In his mercy, he gave me shelter at
his feet. He left so many years ago, but
amazingly it seems those incidents happened
yesterday. The Master is our all in all. When
the trolley pole of the tram car is connected
with the overhead electric wire, the tram runs,
gives light, and the fan moves; but everything
stops if the trolley pole is down. Now I see
the Master is walking with me and holding
my hand. I believe he will be with me till the
end.’
In the evening M. waved the lamp in
front of the pictures of gods and goddesses.
Coming to the picture of the mother bird
hatching her egg, M. said: ‘Let the work
continue, but the mind should be on God. Look
at this bird: her whole mind is on hatching
her egg; her eyes are open but she sees nothing
external. One finds fulfilment in life if, by His
grace, one can keep one’s mind on God. The
goal of japa and meditation, austerity and
sadhana, discrimination and renunciation is
to attain God. But He does not reveal Himself
if one does not have intense longing for,
concentration on, and absorption in Him.’
Everyone present began to practise japa
and meditation. After a while, the brahmachari
sang a song: ‘Sing the name of Ramakrishna.
Victory to Ramakrishna.‘ M. listened to the
song with folded hands. Then the brahmachari
sang another song: ‘O my mind, see no
difference in Ramakrishna, Krishna, Kali, and
Shiva.’ As M. listened to this song, tears
trickled from his eyes. He wiped them, and
then calmly said: ‘The Master is the embodi-
ment of all gods and goddesses. By thinking
of him one thinks of all of them.’ †
20
Note: 1. One maund is equal to 82 pounds.

Inspiring Anecdote. . .
No One Can Hurt Us Without Our Consent
On his first day in office as President Abraham Lincoln ent ered t o give his inaugural
address, one man st ood up; he was a rich arist ocrat . He said,
‘Mr. Lincoln, you should not forget t hat your fat her used t o make shoes for my
family’. And t he whole senat e laughed; t hey t hought t hey had made a fool of Lincoln.
But cert ain people are made of a t ot ally different met t le. Lincoln looked at t he man
direct ly in t he eyes and said,
‘Sir, I know t hat my fat her used t o make shoes for your family, and t here will be
many ot hers here, because he made shoes t he way nobody else can. He was a creat or.
His shoes were not j ust shoes; he poured his whole soul int o t hem. I want t o ask you,
have you any complaint ?? Because I know how t o make shoes myself. I f you have any
complaint I can make you anot her pair of shoes. But as far as I know, nobody has ever
complained about my fat her’s shoes. He was a genius, a great creat or and I am proud
of my fat her.’
The whole senat e was st ruck dumb. They could not underst and what kind of man
Abraham Lincoln was. He was proud because his fat her did his j ob so well t hat not even
a single complaint had ever been heard. . . —Cyberspace
221 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A R C H 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
January 18
th
1900
Math. Belur. Howrah. India.
My dear Mrs.Brown,
Your very kind letter was waiting for me as I returned here
on Jan 12
th
after a month’s lecture tour in the East Bengal. I am so
glad to have it and thankful to learn that my words have been of
help to you. Yes that is the way for you & I felt it so strongly to tell
it [to] you. Our God visions begin from our closest relations, as
soon as we feel the sanctity of such relations & then spread out &
out till the whole universe becomes a symbol to manifest Him
alone, an image of Him all living & throbbing with unbounded Love & Knowledge. After
that comes the last step which no words can describe. ‘Whence speech falls back baffled
with the mind’ as the Vedas say. The little bits that you are seeing will become all united in
the end. I would have had such poor opinion of you, had you given up the source whence
began your first realisation. Steady, persevering love alone can reach the goal, no matter
where or how it begins. At the same time we must ever remember love does not mean any
kind of selfishness – Watch & find out if there is any grain of selfish dross mixed up with
the pure gold, cleanse it out & then as I told you before you will be able to help that source
really & permanently & the source of your first realisation & yourself will be connected
from birth to birth & advance hand in hand till the goal is reached.
I am so glad to hear of your dear son. There might come a time when we would know
each other. Let it come about naturally as you say. My love & blessings to him in the mean
time. Bring your boys & girls up in an unbounded confidence in the God within & they
cannot but be better men & women.
I thank you for the little bit of thought in verse. I liked it much. I am going to send it to
the paper.
My very kind regards to yourself as ever & if you ever think I can help you in any
way, please write & you will have my service.
Remember me kindly to all Montclair friends. I heard my dear friend Mrs.Wheeler’s
daughter Beatrice was ill. I hope she has become herself again. Write of her kindly when
next you write.
Faithfully yours
Saradananda
Unpublished Letters of Swami Saradananda
1
221 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
Swami Saradananda
222 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i M A R C H 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
22
222 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
Courtesy: Ramakrishna Museum, Belur Math
Feb. 22
nd
1900
Math. Belur. Howrah. India
My dear Mrs.Bull
2
Your kind letter of Jan. 23
rd
was more than welcome. My thanks to you for the same.
Your decision to ‘take a new step in personal freedom’, is wise. The secret of giving
liberty of thought and action to those we love and of reserving the same for us in all
circumstances, looking upon love as a perpetual harmonious cooperation for the growth of
the parties to infinite power & freedom, hold true in all human relations, even in the
relation of a mother to her daughter. I am glad you have always held this real love to Olea
& ever gave her freedom. I cannot tell how much I have learnt from you, while at America
to regulate my conduct towards my friends, seeing your example. Yes the best step now for
you and all of us is to hold quietly to our centre of realisation with a firm faith that every-
thing needed will come to us sure. It gives me such pleasure to think that faithful Santi is
with you in these moments.
I cannot feel that this [is] the moment for the Swamiji to come back here. He will be
dragged down again by all these family dissensions, unless he is perfectly self-adjusted. I
believe your idea of his ‘getting to a full adjustment to his Guru’, is perfectly true. He will
be a tower of strength than ever, as soon as he is that. We do not mind the sorrow or the
disgrace if in the end, we find him perfectly established in that.
So you are sailing for Paris by the 21
st
of March. I hope your voyage & stay there will
be perfect.
I thank you for your suggestion regarding the use of the Famine Fund & your
contribution. You are right & I will act accordingly. I have received the acknowledgement of
the Bank for £143-10S. I will draw $100 more from our joint accounts, if I think best, before
you send Mrs.Wheeler’s second contribution.
I have not been well for the last fortnight. I believe I caught a little cold. But do you not
be anxious Granny I am quite well again.
Everything is going on as usual here. I will think of you so much during the Birthday
(March 11
th
). I hope you are keeping well & not looking yet as my brother wrote me.
I had a nice little note from Santi last mail & enclose a few lines to her, in yours.
Remember me kindly to Dr. & Mrs.Janes. I am glad the conferences are successful.
With deep regards to you & heartfelt prayers,
Faithfully yours,
Saradananda
P.S. I thank you for sending the letters of Mrs.Wheeler. I am so glad she thinks so
highly of you.
References
1. A direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna 2. Mrs. Sara Bull, an American disciple of Swami Vivekananda
223 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
Kumbha Mela Down the Decades
Now let us look at how the activities and
facilities in the Sevashrama grew along with
various Kumbha Melas held in the last 100
years. It is a fascinating study in itself, leaving
many inspiring lessons for every person inte-
rested in service and spirituality.
The 1903 and 1915 Kumbha
The Kankhal Sevashrama prints its
annual report every year. But the printed
Annual Reports of the Sevashrama are avail-
able only from 1904 onward. Hence, we do
not have much information about early years,
and especially of how the Kumbha Mela of
1903 was celebrated.
The reports of later years are available
and they are a mine of information.
Annual Report of 1912 reveals that by
1912, additional six bigas [2.5 acres] of land
were added to build a Cholera Ward. But there
are other interesting facts too.
In those days, during the Mela, sudden
outbreak of Cholera or gastroenteritis was
common. It is recorded that this happened on
Mahavaruni day in April in 1905 (as also in
Purna Kumbha mela of 1998).
In the Haridwar region killer diseases
such as Cholera and T.B. have been rampant.
Hence new blocks for treatment of Tuber-
culosis and Cholera were constructed in 1911
and 1915 respectively. This was needed to keep
the patients in quarantine and provide them
better care. Again, for the comfort of the
patients, a large hall with high ceiling
had been constructed above T.B.
block (presently Ashrama’s
main office building). This
was done to give a cool and cosy ambience
for the terminally ill patients. The poor
patients—deserted by their families for the fear
of infection—were accommodated in these two
Seeing Through A Living Legend
An Overview of Ramakrishna Movement in
Haridwar vis-à-vis Kumbha Mela
SWAMI UMESHWARANANDA
(Continued from the previous issue. . .)
… The author is a monk of the Ramakrishna Order at Ramakrishna Math, Kankhal, Uttarakhand.
An archival photo of Hari-ki-pauri, Haridwar
224 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
24
buildings. The patients were given all the care
needed and when they would die, their bodies
were immersed in the Ganges, as was the
custom then, by the Sevashrama monks.
The drug for T.B. treatment had not been
invented then and hence the T.B. patients were
discarded by the society. The Sevashrama
monks would wholeheartedly serve these
patients until the last.
In those trying times, Swami Nischaya-
nanda would go to Rishikesh daily, early in
the morning, and return in the evening,
walking a distance of nearly 30 miles (48 km).
Braving inclement weather and difficult jungle
terrain, he will pass through the area called
Chila forest (now called Rajaji National Park),
carrying a medicine-box and a package of food
for the patients. At noon, he will go for madhu-
kari bhiksha [begging for food from houses like
a honey bee collects honey from different flow-
ers] in some alms-house in Rishikesh. In the
evening, he would at times bring the patients
from Rishikesh to Sevashrama—if the patient’s
condition was serious and needed constant
nursing. This he did year after year, without
any fanfare. A real lesson in dedication.
Though poorly equipped, the Sevashrama
could serve a large number of patients during
the 1915 Kumbha Mela—thanks to the inspi-
ring presence of Swamis Nischayananda and
Kalyanananda. Here are some figures: 825 pati-
ents in the Mela Camps, 53 indoor, 1835 in
OPD and 20 in Mobile unit. The Sevashrama
also treated 28 Cholera cases. Swami Nischa-
yananda also organised a four-member funeral
-group, to consign the dead bodies to the holy
flame (the group cremated nine bodies during
the Mela). One Babu Bhajan Lall Lohia of
Calcutta supplied medicines and foodstuffs
and bore the entire cost of the Cholera ward.
Incidentally, Gandhiji visited the Sevash-
rama during the Mela days.
The 1927 Kumbha
By 1922, the construction of four general
wards was completed. This enabled the Seva-
shrama to accommodate and treat a larger
number of patients most of whom were poor.
Further, in 1925, another land, measuring four
bighas was purchased for constructing wor-
kers’ quarters, a rest house, a guest house and
so on.
These additions equipped the Sevash-
rama to conduct an extensive relief for the fire
victims in 1914 and to floor victims in 1924.
Both these tragedies had violently shaken the
Haridwar region. The Sevashrama organized
a camp for pilgrims and monks in Purna
Kumbha Mela in 1927. Twenty new beds were
added to the existing 40-bed strength of the
hospital. In this Mela, about 8400 pilgrim-
patients were treated by the Sevashrama.
The 1938 Kumbha
As is known, India was under the British
rule then. To suit their administrative control,
the British government constructed network
of motorable roads in the Himalayan areas,
making the Himalayan shrines accessible to
the common man. The government, however,
was quite indifferent to making arrangements
for the Kumbha Melas. They would just take
care of law and order, that too in a slipshod
way. The police personnel walked with
(leather) shoes on the areas considered sacred.
Finally a strong public protest against this dis-
respect to the Hindu sentiment was expressed
through an agitation in 1927 Kumbha, Mela
by the eminent national leader Pandit Madan
Mohan Malviya.
In 1938, Panchayati Nirvani Akhara
gifted 2 bighas of land to the Sevashrama. This
helped expand the medical work of the Sevash-
rama, treating more than 24000 patients during
that year.
225 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
25
During Purna Kumbha Mela of 1938,
many temporary huts and shops with dry
grass had been erected on the other bank
of Ganga. Unfortunately they caught fire
and panic-stricken people ran helter-skelter,
causing a stampede in which many people
were killed. Besides, Haridwar city was
struck by a Cholera epidemic. Undaunted
by these calamities, the Sevashrama rose
to the occasion and helped to assuage the
suffering victims.
During the Mela, the Sevashrama
accommodated around 600 pilgrims.
The 1950 Kumbha
The British government wanted to ban
the Ardha Kumbha Mela of 1944 citing the
ongoing Second World War. But a strong
public outcry by leaders like KC Neogi and
others led to their dropping the ban.
After India’s independence, the national
government took special interest in organising
the Kumbha Mela. They took care to avoid
stampede which often took place due to Naga
Sadhus trying to take lead over others in taking
the holy dip in Ganga on the appointed aus-
picious timings. The Mela authorities started
calling advance meetings of various Akharas
to arrive at general consensus with regard to
following fair and well thought-out bathing
procedures. Slowly things began to change.
The 1950 Kumbha was the first Kumbha
Mela after Independence. At that time, Harid-
war was still a small city with a population of
80,000. As it was estimated that about 15 lakh
pilgrims were likely to take part in the Mela,
massive arrangements were made to meet this
situation. In 1949, with a financial grant from
the government of Uttar Pradesh, the Sevash-
rama constructed an overhead water tank and
an underground drainage system in the Seva-
shrama. Also, a temporary indoor hospital of
40 beds was added to the Sevashrama’s
permanent indoor hospital of 50 beds. This
temporary set up was housed in tents. Thus,
during the protracted Mela celebration from
February to April 1950, about 430 patients
were treated. Besides, two temporary dispen-
saries were run by the Sevashrama in the
crowded parts of Mela complex at Bhimgoda
and Bhupatwala where several thousand
pilgrims were treated.
Arrangements for accommodating about
1,000 Sadhus and pilgrims in thatched huts
and tents were made in the Sevashrama.
Prominent dignitaries like Sri Govind Vallabh
Pant, the Chief Minister of U.P., Sri C.B. Gupta,
the health minister of U.P., Swami Yatiswara-
nanda of Vedanta Society of Philadelphia
(USA) and Swami Devatmananda of Vedanta
Society of Portland (USA), visited the Sevash-
rama during the Mela.
Despite all precautions, an iron road
barrier collapsed due to the pressure of the
onrushing crowd, leading to a stampede and
many deaths. It is only after this mishap, the
government instituted a traffic control tower
to monitor and control the surging crowds
during the Melas.
The 1962 Kumbha
A recent photo of Sevashrama Main Building (female OPD)
226 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
26
The Sevashrama continued to expand its
activities. In 1952, it acquired the adjacent 2.7
acres to construct doctors’ quarters, kitchen
block and a cowshed. In 1955, the General
Secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and
Mission laid the foundation stone of the
doctors’ quarters and in April 1956, the Chief
Minister of U.P. inaugurated it. In 1957, Dr
Sampurnananda, the Chief Minister of U.P.,
opened the X-Ray block (with an operation
theatre). These developments point to the
Sevashrama’s commitment to provide better
medical care to sadhus and pilgrims.
As part of the arrangement for the
Kumbha Mela of 1962, about 50 temporary
beds (in tents) were added. Arrangements
were also made for accommodation in the
thatched huts along with arrangements for
washrooms and other facilities. 450 pilgrims
and 130 sadhus were accommodated and fed
during the period. Cultural programmes took
place from 1 to 15 April, in a well-decorated
special pandal. The Sevashrama doctors
treated several thousand pilgrims and sadhus.
The 1974 Kumbha
In April 1968, the governor of U.P., Sri
B. Gopala Reddy opened the Sevashrama’s
newly constructed three-storeyed Swami
Vivekananda Centenary Hospital building.
This enabled the Sevashrama to accom-
modate all the hospital beds and wards,
scattered in different blocks, in this new
three-storeyed building. In 1971, the
Sevashrama acquired about 1
1
/
4
acres land
from Panchayati Nirvani Akhara and cons-
tructed hostel for nurses and many other
buildings. Sir Ness Wadia and Hinduja
Foundation and Swami Ram of the Hima-
layan Hospital, Jollygrant, donated for
many of the projects.
The Kumbha Mela in 1974 was held
from 20 February to 14 April. On the last
day of the Mela, approximately 40 lakh
people took bath. The Sevashrama orga-
nised medical relief camp hospital of 50 beds.
It also ran first aid unit and the mobile
dispensary at the Mela grounds. The Sevash-
rama accommodated 800 sadhus, devotees and
pilgrims. A Vedanta Sammelan (conference)
was held from 10 to 12 April.
The 1986 Kumbha
In the year 1980, for legal and admini-
strative purposes, the Sevashrama was re-
named as Ramakrishna Math and Rama-
krishna Mission Sevashrama.
In 1978 the Sevashrama took a long
stride, when an adjacent land, measuring 1.26
acres, belonging to Madhab Ashrama was
acquired. In 1979, Swami Vireswarananda, the
10
th
President of the Ramakrishna Order, laid
foundation for the new Out Patient building
for women. It was opened in 1998 by Swami
Ranganathananda, the then Vice President of
the Ramakrishna Order. As monks had been
directly handling nursing work, there was no
place and possibility to accommodate women
Swamiji’s marble image at the Sevashrama, installed in 1963
227 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
27
patients. The new five-storeyed block met this
need by increasing the beds from 67 to its
present 150 bed and by appointing female
nurses to look after the female and child
patients.
The Purna Kumbha Snan Parva in 1986
was held from 13 February to 24 April. On 14
April, the main bathing day, 50 lakh pilgrims
took bath in Brahmakunda at the Hari-ki-
pauri.The Sevashrama made provision to
accommodate more than 2200 pilgrims in the
new NOPD building, which was in finishing
stage but still unoccupied. Besides the Mela
Camp organised discourses and cultural
events.
The 1998 Kumbha
The Kumbha of 1998 was held from
January to April. An estimated one crore
people from all parts of India and abroad took
part in the Mela. The Sevashrama provided
medical relief and also organized cultural
programmes and religious discourses. Devo-
tees and monks were accommodated for seven
days (9 to 15 April).
The 2010 Kumbha
The Maha Kumbha of 2010 was not only
the first Purna Kumbha of the present millen-
nium; it was also the first one after the for-
mation of the new State of Uttarakhand.
Therefore, the newly formed state made
excellent arrangements on an unprecedented
scale. (For a detailed article, see ‘The World
Largest Act of Faith’, The Vedanta Kesari, May
to July 2010)
Here are some interesting facts and
figures about this Mela:
The main bathing Ghat of Hari-ki-pauri,
where every pilgrim/monk wants to take holy
dip, can accommodate approximately 30 to 40
thousand bathers at a time. Therefore, in order
to disperse the crowd to other places, the
Government constructed many new perma-
nent Ghats within an area of 4.75 km. on the
Ganga canal and the diversion channel flowing
by the side of Sati Ghat and Daksha Mandir.
Many temporary Ghats within an area
of 22 km. were also built. In these Ghats about
one crore pilgrims could take bath in 24 hours.
The Mela area was spread over 132 sq. km
demarcated region, under sector officers, all
under the Chief Mela Officer. Two new perma-
nent bridges were constructed over the Ganga
Canal. The central government released Rs.550
crore to the State for conducting the Mela.
Arrangements were made for parking
about one lakh vehicles in an area covering
300 hectare spread over 45 places. The camping
area was spread over 140 hectares.
The Sevashrama had been periodically
upgrading its medical facilities. It added
twenty-five beds in a temporary shed during
the four month long Mela period, when about
75,000 medical cases were handled.
The Maha Kumbha began with all fanfare
on January 14 and concluded on the 28 April.
It is estimated that about eight crore pilgrims
from India and 140 countries took holy bath
in the Ganges. A sea of humanity of different
hues and nationality converged at Haridwar
for this mega religious event. On the last day,
on 14 April, as per the reading of the Satellite
Remote Sensing system, about 1.63 crore
people took holy bath. Unfortunately, in two
separate accidents, nine people lost their
precious lives to mar the otherwise tragedy-
free Mahakumbha. Seven people were killed
in stampede.
However, in this long and highly popular
event, one noticeable thing was that this time,
more than in the earlier one, the stay of the
pilgrims at Haridwar was for a shorter period.
Mostly on the important auspicious snan days,
228 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
they came in hordes, took bath and went away
at the earliest, instead of staying here in the
Mela camps months together, doing act of
penance intensively and continuously. The
reason for this perceptible change is not far to
seek. In poverty, whether it is acquired or self-
inflicted, there is a sense of leisure and
abundance of time to spare for doing spiritual
practices for months. Earlier, they had, in their
heart, more faith and they were more cons-
cious of the impermanence of world. The
number of such simple, God-fearing pilgrims
and monks who delved into the real meaning
and purpose of life is slowly coming down.
Now, the pilgrims come in fits and starts,
preferably in their own vehicles (that is why
parking space had to be increased), mostly just
to peep in and then go away, enjoying a few
days stay in this fairyland. In blooming eco-
nomy, they have less time for contempla-
tive life let alone for austerity. It is only this
year the Helicopter services were introduced
so that pilgrims could come here through
aerial route on selected snan days, enjoy a
bird’s eye-view of the Mela city and go back,
without staying here for a longer period. They
no longer stay in the makeshift Pandals/camps
on the river bed but prefer staying with all
creature comforts in the costly hotels which
have been mushrooming in the city.
Further, this time, while those who had
resources and influence took bath in the Hari-
ki-pauri, pilgrims were asked to take bath in
the newly built Ghats near the bus stand (on
the Ganga canal) and leave the city as early as
possible. Naturally, the whole thing is becom-
ing so costly, ‘modernised’ and the sense of
austerity is waning. Although the number of
pilgrims is increasing, they no longer live
under the sky in groups, far less for so many
days, making their own arrangement for food
and lodging.
Epilogue
In conclusion, let us quote Swami Sarva-
gatananda who lived with Swami Kalyana-
nanda for some years. He wrote,
The Swami [Swami Kalyanananda] met us on
the way and said, ‘You see, there is a temple.
You go there with fruits, flowers, and offer them
with prayers and hymns. There, on the other
side, you see the hospital. You go there to the
patients with medicines, food, and some kind
and comforting words. These two deeds are not
different, they are the same. If you think they
are contradictory, you may go home and do
whatever you like. To me, both are spiritual acts
leading to the same goal.’
Indeed, the growth of the Sevashrama
and the Kumbha Melas in the last hundred
years is intertwined. The Sevashrama is a fine
example of how to combine spiritual practices
and service activities in one. In the process, it
benefits both the person who serves, and the
person who is served.
(Concluded.)
1. Himalayan Pilgrimages and the New Tourism by
Jagdish Kaur (Himalayan Book)
2. A Ganges of the Mind by Steven Darian (Ratna
Sagar, New Delhi)
3. Mahakumbha Parva (in Bengali) by Sabyasachi
Sinha, Sarvamangala Press, Bankura
4. Hindu Mythology and Religion by John Dowson
(Rupa & Co., N.Delhi)
5. Uttaranchal Darshan (in Hindi) dt. Feb 2010 by the
State Government
6. Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama, Kankhal, through
the Ages by Swami Kirtidananda
Bibliography
28
229 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
Sri Ramakrishna was a master-story teller. While he spoke of
profound spiritual truths and mystery of human life, he amply used
stories, anecdotes, examples and analogies to drive home his point. At
times, while narrating a story, he would even make gestures and change
the tone of his voice to bring in a lively element in his narrative. The
following stories, mainly culled from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
(published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai) are an
attempt to present before the readers Sri Ramakrishna’s rich store-
house of stories which are both illuminating and simple.
6
The Mystery of Maya
There is a greater manifestation of God
in man. You may ask, ‘How is it possible for
God to be incarnated as a man who suffers
from hunger, thirst, and the other traits of an
embodied being, and perhaps also from
disease and grief?’ The reply is, ‘Even Brahman
weeps, entrapped in the snare of the five
elements.’
Don’t you know how Rama had to weep,
stricken with grief for Sita? Further, it is said
that the Lord incarnated Himself as a sow in
order to kill the demon Hiranyaksha. Hiran-
yaksha was eventually killed, but God would
not go back to His abode in heaven. He
enjoyed His sow’s life. He had given birth to
several young ones and was rather happy with
them. The gods said among themselves: ‘What
does this mean? The Lord doesn’t care to
return to heaven!’ They all went to Siva and
laid the matter before him. Siva came down
and urged the Lord to leave the sow body
and return to heaven. But the sow only suckled
her young ones. Then Siva destroyed the sow
body with his trident, and the Lord came out
laughing aloud and went back to His own
abode. (Pp.415-416)
Parable of the Wood-Cutter
Once upon a time a wood-cutter went
into a forest to chop wood. There suddenly he
met a brahmachari. The holy man said to him,
‘My good man, go forward.’ On returning
home the wood-cutter asked himself, ‘Why did
the brahmachari tell me to go forward?’ Some
time passed. One day he remembered the
brahmachari’s words. He said to himself,
‘Today I shall go deeper into the forest.’ Going
deep into the forest, he discovered innumera-
ble sandal-wood trees. He was very happy and
returned with cart-loads of sandal-wood. He
sold them in the market and became very rich.
A few days later he again remembered
the words of the holy man to go forward. He
went deeper into the forest and discovered a
silver-mine near a river. This was even beyond
his dreams. He dug out silver from the mine
and sold it in the market. He got so much
money that he didn’t even know how much
he had.
A few more days passed. One day he
thought: ‘The brahmachari didn’t ask me to
stop at the silver-mine; he told me to go
forward.’ This time he went to the other side
of the river and found a gold-mine. Then he
exclaimed: ‘Ah, just see! This is why he asked
me to go forward.’
Again, a few days afterwards, he went
still deeper into the forest and found heaps of
diamonds and other precious gems. He took
these also and became as rich as the god of
wealth himself. (Pp. 453-454)
230 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
Swami Vivekananda’s Special
Relationship with Raja Ajit Singh
SWAMI TATHAGATANANDA
Swami Vivekananda’s friendship with
Maharaja Ajit Singh of Khetri was enacted
against the backdrop of Khetri,
a sanctified town in Northern
Rajasthan, characterized by its
long heroic history and inde-
pendent spirit. Destiny brought
Swamiji and Ajit Singh together
on 4 June 1891 at Mount Abu,
where their friendship gradually
developed through their mutual
interest in significant spiritual
and secular topics. The friend-
ship intensified when they tra-
velled to Khetri and it became
clear that theirs was the most
sacred friendship, that of a Guru
and his disciple.
A Cherished Bond
Swami Vivekananda and Maharaja Ajit
Singh were held together by two mysterious
hands of Providence, as it were. In 1890,
Maharaja Ajit Singh visited Calcutta. While he
was there, he organized a conference of
Sanskrit scholars. It has been suggested that
during this visit, the Maharaja heard about
Shri Ramakrishna from these scholars. How-
ever, there is another possible explanation of
the Maharaja’s having heard
about Shri Ramakrishna. Pandit
Narayan Shastri first met Sri
Ramakrishna and was initiated
into sannyasa by the Master.
This great scholar spread the
holy name of Shri Ramakrishna
in the area of Khetri years before
the Master passed away in 1886.
When the Maharaja was infor-
med by his Minister that a
Bengali Sadhu had appeared at
Mount Abu, where he was also
staying, he had a great desire to
meet him.
On June 4, 1891, in the
Khetri House at Mount Abu,
Raja Ajit Singh and Swami
Vivekananda met for the first time. They were
nearly of the same age, barely two years apart
(Swami Vivekananda was born on 12 January
1863 and Raja Ajit Singh was born on 16
October 1861). Swamiji understood from their
first conversation that the Maharaja was truth-
ful and interested in spiritual matters, and was
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. …
‘Certain men are born in certain periods to perform certain actions in combination. Ajit
Singh and myself are two souls born to help each other in a big work for the good of mankind. . . .
We are as supplement and complement.’ —Swami Vivekananda
1
Maharaja Ajit Singh
231 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
31
a deep thinker with a sincere concern
for others. The Maharaja respectfully
asked Swamiji about religion and
education. His first question to
Swamiji was, ‘What is life?’ Swami
Vivekananda replied, ‘Life is the
unfoldment and develop-
ment of a being under circumstances
tending to press it down.’ His reply
describes the circumstances into
which Swamiji was born and within
which he developed into manhood.
He laboured under oppressive condi-
tions during his entire life.
The Joys of Their Treasured
Friendship
Swami Vivekananda and Ajit Singh
shared a passionate interest in philosophy,
poetry, music, and science. They discussed all
these topics in depth with mutual enthu-
siasm. Religion and India’s social conditions
interested them the most. They recognized
each other as kindred souls. The Maharaja’s
sincere quest for truth was genuine. His spiri-
tual fervour compelled Swamiji to become Ajit
Singh’s spiritual guru as well as his friend.
They felt a unique joy and cordiality in
each other’s presence and their friendship
ripened quickly. Overall, according to the
Waqayat Register,
2
they were in almost conti-
nuous association with each other for a period
of nearly four-and-a-half months. Their first
stay together, which began at Mount Abu on
June 4 lasted until 24 July, 1891. They often
met for their evening meal, and on two
occasions (June 15 and June 22), they spent
eight hours together discussing religion and
culture. Their mutual talent and love for music
brought them especial joy on June 27. That
day, Swamiji sang devotional hymns accom-
panied by the Maharaja on the harmonium.
Ajit Singh’s skill on the Vina was notable. It
has been written that, ‘The Raja was an expert
Vina-player. His recital would charm music
connoisseurs. Once Swami Vivekananda was
present at the Raja’s Vina recital and showed
his appreciation by nodding his head. Later
on he addressed the Raja: “What an enchanting
spell you cast with your Vina!”’
3
One talented
musician of Swamiji’s calibre was very pleased
with Ajit Singh’s recitals on the Vina.
With deepening mutual enthusiasm and
friendship, they left Mount Abu together on
July 24 for Khetri. They arrived at the Maha-
raja’s palace in Khetri on 7 August, 1891. A
few days later, Swamiji bestowed his special
grace to the Maharaja by initiating him. He
also initiated Munshi Jagmohanlal and many
others from the Maharaja’s court. The Maha-
raja became Swamiji’s loyal friend and one of
his most devoted disciples; Swamiji regarded
him with utmost affection.
Swamiji thoroughly enjoyed this visit and
used every opportunity to enhance his know-
ledge. There were many philosophers in
Maharaja Ajit Singh’s court. Swamiji met the
Fateh Bilas—Raja’s Palace (now a centre of Ramakrishna Math) in Khetri
232 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
32
eminent grammarian Pandit Nara-
yan Das, under whose guidance he
studied the Mahabhashya, Patanjali’s
great commentary on Panini’s Sans-
krit Grammar, the Astadhyayi, which
led him to a deeper understanding
of the Vedas. He thus satisfied a
desire he had been nurturing since
his days at the Baranagore Math. He
also studied the Yajurveda under the
tutelage of Pandit Sunderlaji Ojha.
Poets and musicians also filled
the court of the Maharaja. The famed
maestro Musraf Khan performed on
the Vina before Swamiji on 21
October 1891. The Meastro sub-
sequently performed at the World
Music Conference in Paris, having been sent
there by the Maharaja’s legal advisor, Pandit
Motilal Nehru. In passing, it may be remem-
bered that as per Motilal’s request, Jawaharlal
Nehru’s horoscope was eventually prepared
by the court astrologer of Khetri in 1899 and
sent to him.
The friendship of Swamiji and Ajit Singh
was exhilarating on every level of their being
and the days passed quickly. Nothing of mu-
tual interest escaped their investigation. The
Maharaja had provided a room for Swamiji
above the roof of his palace. Swamiji and Ajit
Singh set up a rudimentary laboratory on the
roof from which they observed the celestial
spheres through a telescope. Elsewhere in the
palace, they set up a lab of physics and chemi-
stry and spent hours peering through a micro-
scope to satisfy their insatiable curiosity about
the world of nature. Ajit Singh was largely a
self-educated man with a great thirst for know-
ledge. Swamiji found him to be an excellent
and receptive student; he spent a great deal of
their time together teaching the Maharaja
lessons in physics, chemistry and astronomy.
The Maharaja and his wife, Queen
Champabatji, had two daughters but no male
children. Although sixteen years of marriage
had passed, his wife had not given birth to
sons. During this first visit at Khetri, he confi-
ded his longing for an heir and asked for
Swamiji’s blessing. His heart moved to compa-
ssion, Swamiji gave his blessing for a male
child. The purity of Ajit Singh’s character is
revealed in the fact that he never took a second
wife but continued to rely on his sincere pray-
ers for a son and had full faith in Swamiji.
(To be continued. . .)
1. Swami Vivekananda in a letter to Munshi
Jagmohanlal on 11 October 1897, Benishankar
Sharma, Swami Vivekananda—A Forgotten Chapter
of His Life (Calcutta: Oxford Book & Stationery
Co., 1963), p. 118. [Hereafter Forgotten Chapter]
2. According to Benishankar Shankar in Forgotten
Chapter.
3. Jhabarmal Sharma, Adarsha Naresh (1940), p. 380.
References
The room (in Fateh Bilas) on the top is where Swamiji and the
Raja used to study the night sky with the help of a telescope
233 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
Direct Disciples in Their Lighter Moments
H MUKHERJEE
A retired officer from the Ministry of Industry in the Central Government, the author is associated with
Ramakrishna Math, Nagpur, Maharashtra. …
The great direct disciples of Sri Rama-
krishna were spiritually liberated men. To
them, affairs of this mundane world were a
source of amusement, unlike worldly men and
women who take them seriously and respond
accordingly. Such illumined souls radiated joy
and happiness and shared them with all. In
order to bring down their ever pure and medi-
tative mind down to the worldly plane, they
would often have fun and frolic with the
disciples and devotees. They exemplified the
idea that religion is not a gloomy affair but a
joyful and blissful living ‘for religion is the
best thing in the world’. We will narrate here
some of these lighter moments related to some
of the direct disciples.
Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda’s fun-making was
of the merry type. While in Thousand Island
Park, U.S.A, where Swamiji held informal
spiritual classes, he would sometimes say,
‘Now I am going to cook for you, brethren.’
To this, Landsberg, a devotee, would cry out
in an aside, ‘Heaven save us!’ By way of
explanation he said that in New York when
Swamiji cooked, he (Landsberg) would tear
his hairs, because it meant that every dish in
the house required washing as these would
get mixed with hot Indian spice. The food
Swamiji would cook would be delicious but
too hot for the Western palate. The students
had, however, made up their minds to eat it.
In the words of Mrs. Mary C. Funke, a lady
attending the discourses, ‘I made up my mind
to eat it even if it strangled me, which it nearly
did. If a Vivekananda can cook for me, I guess
the least I can do is to eat it. Bless him. At
such times we will have whirlwind of fun.’
Swamiji would stand in the door with a white
napkin draped over his arm like the waiters
in dining cars and say like a typical waiter,
Swami Vivekananda
234 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
34
‘Last call for the dining cab.
Dinner served.’ and the students
would respond with hearty
laughter.
Dr. Wright of Cambridge
was also attending the discourse
at Thousand Island Park. Absorb-
ed in the lectures he would say
invariably at the end, ‘Well Swami,
it all amounts to this in the end,
does not it? I am Brahman, I am
the Absolute.’ Swamiji would
smile and say gently, ‘Yes Dokie,
you are Brahman; you are the Ab-
solute, in the real essence of your
being.’ Later, when the learned
doctor would come a trifle late to
the dining table, Swamiji would
say with utmost gravity but with
a merry twinkle in his eyes, ‘Here comes
Brahman’ or ‘Here is the Absolute.’
1
During his stay in West, Swamiji had to
work under trying circumstances and yet he
would have his moments of fun and humour.
Often he would read comic papers like Punch
and would laugh at the jokes therein heartily.
He loved to tell the story of a Christian
missionary who was sent to preach to an island
peopled by cannibals. The freshly arrived
missionary went to meet the Chief of the tribe
and asked him, ‘Well, how did you like my
predecessor?’ The cannibal chief replied,
smacking his lips, ‘Simply de-li-cious!’
2
Swami Brahmananda
Sri Ramakrishna himself loved to have
fun and frolic and this trait he had passed on
to his disciples. They would often tease each
other that would indirectly throw light on the
deep bond among each other.
Swami Brahmananda or Raja Maharaj
would often pull the leg of his brother
disciples. Swami Akhandananda had once
fallen seriously ill at Sargachi Ashrama. Raja
Maharaj sent some monks to Sargachi to nurse
him. As his health did not improve, he had to
be brought to Balaram Mandir at Kolkata.
After treatment and nursing, which continued
for about seven months, he felt much better
and was keen to return to Sargachi. Raja
Maharaj was also at that time staying at Bala-
ram Bhavan. He would try to postpone Swami
Akhandananda’s departure on some pretext
or the other. Sometimes, he would show the
picture of a scorpion or some such inaus-
picious picture (Swami Akhandananda beli-
eved in such bad omens) on the day of his
departure to postpone his visit. One day he
arranged with someone to look at Swami
Akhandananda with one eye (which is consi-
dered very inauspicious) when he got up from
bed, which again resulted in postponement of
his departure to Sargachi. All were charmed
to see this affectionate game between the two
brother disciples.
3
An archival photo of Belur Math
235 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
35
But the funniest trick played on Ganga-
dhar Maharaj was on another occasion.
Maharaj was residing at Kothar, Orissa, in the
parental home of Balaram Babu. At his
invitation, Swami Akhandananda or Ganga-
dhar Maharaj had come to stay there for a few
days. On the day before he wanted to leave,
Gangadhar Maharaj told Raja Maharaj of his
impending departure. Raja Maharaj was happy
in the company of his brother monk and
repeatedly requested him to stay longer; but
Gangadhar Maharaj was determined to leave.
On the appointed date, Gangadhar Maharaj
took leave from Maharaj and sat inside the
palanquin. It was night. The railway station at
Bhadrak was several miles away from Kothar.
The bearers of the palanquin set out. After
some time Gangadhar Maharaj fell asleep.
Maharaj had told the bearers beforehand to
come back with the palanquin to the house in
Kothar once Gangadhar Maharaj fell asleep.
Accordingly, they came back. When the
palanquin stopped, Gangadhar Maharaj
thought they had reached the station. As he
was getting out of the palanquin, he saw
Maharaj standing there. With utter astonish-
ment on his face, Maharaj asked, ‘Why have
you returned, brother?’ Gangadhar Maharaj
realised that it was Maharaj’s ploy to keep
him from going on that day. There are many
such incidents.
4
Again, a story is told by Swami Asesha-
nanda, who headed the Vedanta Society of
Portland, USA for many years, about the
bonhomie between Swami Brahmananda and
Swami Saradananda. They would conspire to
tease young monks. Br Kiran (as Swami
Aseshananda was known then) was serving
as an attendant to Swami Saradananda. As per
the rules of the Math, it was time for Br. Kiran
to get initiated into brahmacharya vows. He
took permission from Swami Saradananda and
approached Swami Brahmananda, President
of the Belur Math, for initiation on Sri Thakur’s
Tithi Puja day. When he went to Swami
Brahmananda, he was sitting in an easy chair
on the porch overlooking the Ganges at Belur
Math and was chatting with some young
monks in a relaxed manner. After listening to
young Kiran’s request, Raja Maharaj remained
quiet for sometime. Then he said, ‘Yes, I will,
but there is one condition. You will have to
pay me rupees one hundred and eight in
advance as Gurudakshina (honorarium for the
Guru); otherwise I will not initiate you.’
When Br. Kiran expressed his inability
to pay the same, Raja Maharaj said gravely, ‘I
have a suggestion that will solve your pro-
blem. Swami Saradananda is very rich. He has
all the money from Udbodhan. You are his
attendant. Go to Swami Saradananda and
Swami Brahmananda
236 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
36
request him to pay that amount for you.’ While
young Kiran was standing speechless, Maharaj
called another candidate and said, ‘Gobinda,
you come from Midnapore. You will have to
dance, after the fashion that Orissa people are
fond of, for me. If you do it well I will give
brahmacharya to you. Without hesitation,
Gobinda performed the dance with suitable
gestures that the form of dance required and
Maharaj was delighted and laughed heartily.
Nonplussed, Kiran returned to Udbo-
dhan and told Swami Saradananda of the
happenings at Belur Math with a dejected
mind. Swami Saradananda heard Kiran grav-
ely and advised him to return to Belur Math
and tell Raja Maharaj that ‘I am his and
everything in Udbodhan belongs to him as
well. What he asks for will be given.’ Relieved,
Kiran rushed back to Belur Math and after
prostrating before Raja Maharaj repeated
Swami Saradananda’s message. But to Kiran’s
dismay, Raja Maharaj shouted at him and said,
‘Empty words! How I am to know if he will
do as he promises with nothing in writing?
You are his secretary. Prepare something for
him to sign. When I have his signature, then I
will believe it.’
Kiran returned to Udbodhan. He found
that Swami Saradananda was in deep medi-
tation. After his meditation was over, Kiran
appraised him with all that was said by Raja
Maharaj. After hearing him, Swami Sarada-
nanda, ‘Very well. I will come with you to
Belur Math.’ Next day, Swami Saradananda
accompanied by Br. Kiran went to Belur Math
and met Swami Brahmananda. After a few
minutes together with Raja Maharaj, Swami
Saradananda asked Kiran to wait outside.
After sometime Swami Saradananda came out
of Maharaja’s room and said without any
emotion, ‘It has been arranged. You will have
your Brahmacharya with the others.’ Swami
Aseshananda was to write fifty years later, ’I
can only speculate about what transpired
between the two brother monks as they
discussed “my case” and finally brought it to
conclusion.’ Today we may conjecture that
whatever might have been discussed on ‘this
case’ between the two great saints, it would
have been preceded by a hearty laugh from
both.
5
Another similar amusing story is told by
Swami Visuddhananda, later the 8
th
President
of the Ramakrishna Order. He was at that time
in Madras Math under Swami Ramakrishna-
nanda (Shashi Maharaj) and was known as
Br. Jiten Maharaj. Here is the story in first
person:
One day Maharaj (Swami Brahmananda) sat
down for playing cards with us in Madras Math.
While Nirode Maharaj was playing as a partner
to Maharaj—in the opposite party, Shashi
Maharaj was being partnered by me. I was play-
ing very seriously from the start—I was very
keen to defeat Maharaj in card play. The play
was going on. I could see that Maharaj was
repeatedly winning because of mistakes by
Shashi Maharaj. Seeing me disturbed, Maharaj
was getting mirthful. On seeing this, I became
more determined to win and told Shashi Maharaj
to play carefully so that we can at least win one
hand. Useless was my appeal—a lot of good
cards were wasted because of Shashi Maharaj—
finally we suffered a heavy loss. Maharaj was in
very cheerful mood—especially because of my
futile efforts to win. I also became very angry
and told him, ‘What can I do alone Maharaj! I
did not get any support from Shashi Maharaj.’
After the game was over, Shashi Maharaj took
me aside and scolded me severely and said, ‘You
fool, I can see that you have become a profes-
sional player! You thought that I was sitting with
Maharaj to play a serious game? Did you not
see his face lighted with heavenly glow every
time he won a hand? Even on seeing repeatedly
237 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
his beatific smile like that of a divine child, my
longings for seeing it were not fulfilled. Foolish
fellow, I was discarding the good cards delibe-
rately. My main aim was to keep him in cheerful
mood. Is he an ordinary man like us? He has
taken birth for welfare of mankind. How would
you know about his grace and compassion?’
Naturally, I was flabbergasted on hearing Swami
Ramakrishnananda. How could I ever imagine
that there was such a deep meaning in playing
of cards between great souls? My goodness! How
deep was Shashi Maharaj’s love and reverence
for Maharaj! There was no place for anger and
jealousy in their heart!
6
Swami Kashishwarananda narrates ano-
ther amusing story. Once he and his friend
went to see Maharaj at Balaram Mandir. A
little before evening, Maharaj called them and
said, ‘You boys, will you be able to carry some
cauliflowers to the [Belur] Math?’ They readily
agreed to his proposal. Maharaj gave them
some money for the porter and towards boat
fare. He pointed towards a big basket
containing cauliflowers and said, ‘Give it to
Mahapurush Maharaj’ and tell him: ‘Maharaj
has sent you these few cauliflowers. He had a
mind to send you a boatful of cauliflowers
but it was not possible; please do not mind
and accept it. You are a sadhu (monk) and
can see an ocean in a drop; that is why he has
ventured to send a few of them’ and ‘repeat
to him exactly these words in the same way I
am telling you.’
After reaching Belur Math, they gave the
basket containing cauliflowers to Mahapurush
Maharaj and conveyed to him Raja Maharaj’s
message word by word, in the manner they
were asked to. Mahapurush Maharaj respon-
ded by laughing wholeheartedly like a child
and asked about the welfare of Maharaj. He
asked them to take prasad before returning.
7
Though a simple anecdote, it speaks how
simple dealings of life can be made joyful and
graceful.
(To be continued . . .)
1. Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita
Ashrama, Kolkata. p. 253
2. Vivekananda A Biography, Swami Nikhilananda,
Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, p.210
3. Brahmanandacharit (Bengali), Swami
Prabhananda, p.26
4. Swami Brahmananda As We Saw Him, Edited by
Swami Atmashraddhananda, Sri Ramakrishna
Math, Chennai, p.168-170)
5. Glimpses of a Great Soul, Swami Aseshananda, Sri
Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, Pp.72-73
6. Swami Brahmanander Smritikatha (Bengali), Edited
by Swami Chetanananda, Udbodhan, Kolkata, p.27
7. Swami Brahmananda As We Saw Him, , Pp.404-405
References
India’s Timeless Wisdom
A{VXmZmV² ~{b~© Õmo ø{VXnm© V² gw `mo YZ…&
{dZïmo amdUmo bmo ^mX² -A{V gd© Ì dO© `o V² &&
By being t oo much charit able, t he demon- king Bali fell int o
bondage; by being t oo much proud of himself, Duryodhana was
dest royed; by being t oo much lust ful, Ravana met his ill- fat ed
end. Hence one should avoid being t oo much immoderat e in
every way. —Traditional sayings
37
238 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
Sri Tyagabrahma Aradhana at Chennai Math
Tyagaraja (1767-1847) was one of the greatest musician-saints of Indian
classical tradition. He was born in the village of Tiruvayyaru in today’s Thanjavur
district of Tamilnadu. His original name was Kakarla Tyagabrahmam but was
more popularly known as Tyagaraja. He, along with his contemporaries
Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastry, form the Trinity of Carnatic music.
He was a prolific composer and highly influential in the development of the
South Indian classical music tradition. Tyagaraja composed thousands of devotional
compositions, most of them in praise of Lord Rama—most of which remain very
popular even today. Of special mention are five of his compositions called the
Pancharatna Kritis (‘five gems’), which are often sung in programmes in his
honour.
Tyagaraja Aradhana, the commemorative music festival is held every year at
Thiruvayyaru, on the banks of river Kaveri, in the months of January to February
in Tyagaraja’s honour. This is a week-long festival of music where various
Carnatic musicians from all over the world converge at his resting place. On this
occasion thousands of people and hundreds of Carnatic musicians sing the five
Pancharatna Kritis in unison, to the accom-
paniment of a large bank of accompanists
on violins, flutes, nadasvarams, mridangams
and ghatams.
Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore,
Chennai, organized a Sri Sadguru Tyaga-
brahma Aradhana at Chennai Math on
Sunday, the 17 April 2011 in Swami Rama-
krishnananda Hall at its premises. The
programme included a short introduction,
brief puja, followed by rendering of Pancha-
ratna Kritis and compositions of Tyagaraja
by the teachers of Sarada Vidyalaya (a girls’
school of Ramakrishna Mission) at T. Nagar
in Chennai. †
Commemoration of the 175th Birth Anniversary of Sri Ramakrishna
The following centres of the Ramakrishna Order celebrated the 175th birth anniversary of Sri Ramakrishna.
The main programmes are given in parentheses.
Baghbazar (in Kolkata)—procession, discourses, drama, musical performance, and seminar on Inter
Religious Harmony and Peace
Saint-poet Tyagaraja
Tyagabrahma Aradhana at Chennai Math


239 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
39
Kalady (in Kerala)—public meetings, bhajans and cultural programme on 16 April,
Malda (in West Bengal)—discourses, devotional music and drama on 9 and 10 April,
Sarisha (in West Bengal)—procession, drama, discourses and musical performance from 25 to 27 March,
Vadodara (in Gujarat)—public meetings, devotional musical and film shows from 28 March to 17 April.
Commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda
On the initiative taken by Hyderabad Math, 57 educational institutions in and around Hyderabad have
started Vivekananda Centres of Human Excellence. The faculty of Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence
of our Hyderabad centre will be visiting these places regularly and conduct classes on Swamiji’s message,
personality development, etc., for the students of those institutions.
The following centres organized various programmes, the main ones shown in brackets, to commemorate
the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda:
Kanpur (devotees’ convention on 10 April), Port Blair (youth conference on 23 April), Salem (two
dramas on the life and message of Swamiji on 12 and 26 January). †
Y On 23 March, the birthday of Swami Yogananda,
a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, Revered President
Maharaj inaugurated the newly constructed office
building, near the Ramakrishna Mission headquarters
office, to be used for Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth
anniversary celebrations.†
Relief News
1. Earthquake & Tsunami Relief: Japan: In wake
of the devastating earthquake and the ensuing tsunami
that hit the northeast coast of Japan on 11 March, our
Japan centre distributed the following items to the
victims: 101 blankets, 14 packets of milk powder, 38
water bottles, 75 soap bars, 1550 cotton masks, 183
towels, various sanitary materials and 500 postcards.
The centre also purchased different kinds of green
vegetables and dispatched them on 24 April to the
shelters set up in the worst-affected areas in Tohoku.
2.Distress Relief: The following centres distri-
buted various items, shown below, to needy people:
Y Baghbazar: 2300 saris, 200 lungis, 106 shirts,
118 children's garments
Y Chapra: 236 blankets
Y Guwahati:100 blankets, 30 steel plates, 6 tatsals
(weaving machines) and 6 sewing machines
Y Kankurgachhi: 250 saris
Y Malda: 10 bicycles, 150 school bags, 150
umbrellas, 150 packets of Horlicks, 150 tooth-
brushes, 150 tubes of toothpaste
Y Swamiji's House: 2115 children's garments and
505 woollen chaddars
Y Sikra Kulingram: 250 blankets. †
New office building at Belur Math
Distribution of relief material in West Bengal


240 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
For review in THE VEDANTA KESARI,
publishers need to send us
two copies of their latest publication.
PRIMER OF VEDANTA
By Swami Tyagisananda
Published by Sri Rama-
krishna Math, 31, R.K.Math
Road, Mylapore, Chennai-
600 004. 2010, paperback,
pp.82, Rs.20.
A primer is an intro-
ductory book and Vedanta
deals with the highest know-
ledge. It is that knowledge which on being known
there remains nothing else to be known. In that
sense, a primer of Vedanta is likely to be perceived
as a hard-to-understand book.
However, Swami Tyagisananda, a deeply
revered profound scholar with the ability to com-
municate with ease, has brought together the
essential qualifications for attaining the highest
knowledge in a lucid and attractive style. The
Foreword points out that the scriptural classes of
the learned Swami at the Vedanta College [now
defunct] at Bangalore demanded close attention and
one couldn’t afford to miss one sentence. In the
same way, a reader will find that not one sentence
in this primer is redundant.
The opening chapter on Definition of Terms
is a very useful beginning, to know for instance,
the difference between dhyanam and nididhyasanam
or prama and pramana. Upanishads, the author
points out, are unique as they ‘record the common
experiences of many sages’ unlike other faiths
where the scriptures are the experiences of one
person. Therefore, there is greater reliability in the
former.
While every topic in the primer is important,
a few may be mentioned by way of illustration.
The relative levels of reliability and limitations of
the means of pramana, viz. pratyaksha, anumana and
agama, explained in the primer are impressive.
Knowledge acquired through agama pramana suffers
many inadequacies such as the language used and
its interpretations. As the author quotes another,
‘Language is not a means of communication of
thoughts but it is a means of concealing thoughts’.
Reason and faith coexist in the field of
religion. A disciple should not be a mere sceptic
but ‘have a working faith’ in his guru. But it is up
to him to make sure that the ‘guru deserves such
faith and confidence’. One may recall that Sri
Ramakrishna favoured freedom for disciples to put
the guru to such reliability test.
Vedanta is ‘not only a philosophy but a
science and religion as well’. Although Vedanta
requires deep study, the Primer of Vedanta will
encourage seekers of the highest knowledge to
pursue the subject in earnest. This publication now
available at a nominal cost of Rs.20/- will remove
any misconception that Vedanta cannot be assimi-
lated by common folk.
______________________________ P. S. SUNDARAM, CHENNAI
PARAMAHAMSA A VEDANTIC
TALE
By R.Subramony
Published by D.K.Printworld
(P) Sri Kunj, F-52, Bali Nagar,
Ramesh Nagar Metro Station,
New Delhi - 110 015. 2011,
paperback, Pp.202 + xiv.
Rs.295. $14.75
This book is a tale cen-
tred on the theme of philosophic ideals and
teachings of Vedanta. It begins with the narrator’s
decision to spend the Vanaprastha stage of his life
in Madurai and his subsequent efforts to study
Advaita philosophy as propounded by Adi Sankara
and Acharya Abhinavagupta. The imaginary
241 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
41
narrator of this novel comes to Madurai in the last
decade of the twentieth century, drawn to spiri-
tuality after certain mishaps in his family life, to
study the works of Acharya Shankara and Ramana
Maharshi; the first fifteen chapters cover this aspect
of the narrative.
In this novel, Ganapathy Sastry, an ancestor
of the narrator, finding his son Subbiah spiritually
inclined, advises him to seek guidance from
Paramahamsa Sivahari, a realized soul who has
come from the North and is living in a nearby
village. Sivahari accepts Subbiah as his disciple and
the next twenty-five chapters cover the entire
philosophy of Advaita Vedanta and spirituality in
daily life through the discourse of Sivahari to
Subbiah and the people who gather to listen to him
as the two travel to different places of pilgrimage
in South India. In the last five chapters the narrator
gives his experiences in pursuit of spirituality in
his life.
Paramahamsa, as per the author, is essentially
a metaphysical novel in which the emphasis is more
on the eternal values and not on the characters or
the descriptions. In this book, while the author seeks
to focus on the relevance of the teachings of the
Upanishads and the several spiritual texts in Tamil
literature to modern times through extensive quota-
tions, the purpose could have been achieved better
had the same been presented in some logical order.
It would then have been easier to follow and also
be of much use to spiritual seekers who are inte-
rested in Advaita, as the work pertains to the teach-
ings of great acharyas like Shankara, Abhinava-
gupta, Ramana Maharshi and saints like Sadashiva
Brahmendra.
The uniqueness of Kashmir Saivisim is
extensively dealt with through the discourse of the
imaginary character Paramahamsa Sivahari. This
book also throws light on the teachings of Bhagavan
Ramana Maharishi and the contributions of Sanskrit
scholars and philosophers like Nilakanta Dikshitar,
Appayya Dikshitar, and the Mystic poet Sadashiva
Brahmendra. Contributions of Tamil poets and
philosophers like Muruganar, Kumaraguruparar,
Manikkavacakar, Ramalingaswamy, Thayumanavar
and Tirumular to philosophy and spirituality are
also extensively quoted and the common trend in
their teachings well brought out.
Unfortunately, fictitious characters and real
life personalities are inextricably mixed up in the
narrative causing some confusion to the readers.
The author could well have introduced the charac-
ters at the outset to avoid this confusion. Also, there
are some chronological inconsistencies in the narra-
tives. In the extensive quotations given from several
works, had the author given due references as well,
it would have been of much help to the readers;
these certainly could be done in the subsequent
editions. But for these shortcomings, this is a very
commendable effort of the author as he has
ventured into writing a novel on a philosophical
theme, a domain others fear to tread.
__________________________ H. SUBRAMANIAN, BANGALORE
UNIVERSAL HINDUISM
By David Frawley (Vama-
deva Shastri).
Published by Voice of India,
2/8, Ansari Road, New Delhi-
110 002. 2010, paperback,
Pp.213 + xxiii, Rs.200.
Hinduism as a way of
life has been practised and
promulgated by millions of
people all over the globe. The
reason for this is its tolerance, flexibility, rich
philosophical treatises and richer mystical expo-
sitions. It avoids the extremes of blind observances
and dogmatism; superstitions and dry intellec-
tualism. It is an intellectual faith having a balance
between metaphysical doctrines and religious
practices. Only such religions which have univer-
salistic outlook and catholicity will withstand the
ordeals of time and the test of disaster. Scholars
from different parts of the world have not only
embraced this Sanatana Dharma, but have written
comprehensively about its basic tenets and funda-
mental principles as well.
David Frawley has written an excellent book
which highlights the new vision about the global
perspective of Hinduism. With an Indian name, viz..
Pandit Vamadeva Shastri, the author has written
several works on Hinduism for the past three
decades bringing to light its salient features such
as yoga, Vedanta, Tantra, Vedic astrology, and
ayurvedic medicine. The present work is a presen-
tation of the significant elements of Sanatana
Dharma. He communicates its ideals effectively and
spreads its message efficiently not only for the
242 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
42
people of India, but also for the scholars abroad.
Besides the tradition of promoting universal truth,
the Sanatana Dharma’s wisdom and consciousness
encompass all life and is vibrantly relevant to all
living beings on earth.
In the preface, the author maintains that his
work ‘examines the relationship of Hinduism with
other religions: the similarities and differences,
including the issues of interfaith and conversion. It
highlights Hinduism’s connection with native and
pagan traditions, which are considerable.’ Since
Sanatana Dharma is the unique and systematized
spiritual tradition of Hinduism, undoubtedly, it
accommodates and accomplishes the distinctive
sense of spiritual and cultural identity: history and
purpose. The contents of this glorious work have
three parts. The first part exclusively deals with
the elaborate definition and distinctive features of
universal Hinduism especially its present condition
in India and the world today. Part two examines
the current world issues in the context of Hindu
faith. Bio-diversity, ecology, evolution, conscious-
ness, social paganism and yoga are some of the
ideologies that have been elucidated along with the
lines of Hinduism and in comparison with
Christianity. Part three is seriously concerned with
universal Hinduism and social order which is really
critical and innovative in the sense that it analyses
all the contemporary issues which are confronting
Hindu faith such as varna system, caste problem,
information technology, adharma of politics, etc.
On the whole, this work is a comprehensive
compendium on Hindu Dharma comprising of all
the renowned axioms and assertions recognized all
over the world. In his own words: ‘May that
Universal Dharma arise once more in its full glory
throughout the world, both as a way of knowledge
and a spiritual culture, carrying the millennial
experience and vast inspiration of the ancient Vedic
seers for all to embrace!’
__________________________ R. GOPALAKRISHNAN, CHENNAI
THE IMMORTAL TALES
By A.D. Bhattacharya.
Published by Srikunj Sadbhavana Manch, , F-52,
Bali Nagar, Ramesh Nagar Metro Station, New
Delhi - 110 015. 2010, paperback, Pp131. Rs.120.
One of the better methods to understand an-
cient Indian tradition and culture is to read puranic
tales retold in a style that
suits the modern age. These
books particularly when
read during adolescence
encourages the readers to
cultivate ethical practices
and evolve in the path of
devotion.
‘The Immortal Tales’
is a welcome addition.
Indian puranic tales under-
go minor variations at the
hands of authors. However, they convey their
essence or morals, and variety adds flavour.
Meghnad’s funeral and Kaikayi’s absence at the
welcome ceremony to Sri Rama are instances of
such variations in presentation (stories 14 and 15).
Bhattacharya’s book has 48 tales and these
are, by and large very well written. There is scope
for further refinement in some of them. The
‘freedom’ sought by the convict (focus of the story)
is freedom to indulge in mundane matters and not
for ‘emancipation from this world of births and
deaths’ (page 118). ‘Divinity sees no sin in man’
concerning Sri Ramakrishna has serious lessons. The
episode concerning Alexander Fleming (not part of
puranic tales) is rarely remembered and therefore
a useful addition to the collection.
Authors and publishers have to bear in mind
that the readership of such books is worldwide.
Some of them outside India may not have a suitable
background to appreciate the spirit of these tales.
Their special needs should therefore be addressed.
To understand terms such as ‘brahman’ or ‘brahma-
jnani’ (page 124 in the book) an Indian background
is necessary. A Glossary is therefore a special need
in such books explaining the terms in detail.
______________________________ P. S. SUNDARAM, CHENNAI
HOW TO EMBRACE PAIN
By Prabha Sampath and
Krishna Kumari
Published by Sterling Publi-
shers (P) Ltd. A-59, Okla
Industrial Area, Phase II,
New Delhi - 110 020. 2010,
Paperback, Pp.143, Rs.195.
(Available at Gita Publishing
House, 10, Sadhu Vaswani
Path, Pune - 411 001)
242 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
243 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
43
Today the sight of a smiling face at work is
newsworthy. A friendly smile is becoming a rare
sight. But we have in our midst venerable persons
who serve humanity with a smile. Being positivists
their sermons form a ‘Gospel of strength’.
Pain, physical or mental, can destroy morale
and the sufferer loses self-confidence. The mental
agony persists despite the best medical attention.
However the agony vanishes when the patient hears
or reads sagely wisdom and also by observing how
venerable persons conduct themselves when faced
with extreme suffering that would have paralyzed
ordinary people. Their lessons are not merely on
the technique of facing such misfortunes but also
in understanding the need for their suffering.
Dada Vaswani whose name is synonymous
with service suffered multiple fractures while in
America at the age of 92. Recovery was further
complicated as, after bone surgery, he suffered a
mild stroke causing concern to his devotees and
hospital staff. The authors of the book under review
have narrated all that happened from the time he
was taken to hospital. It focuses on Dada’s remark-
able faith in God that gave him such fortitude and
positive outlook.
Dada Vaswani accepted the pain and dis-
comfort with his beaming smile and even during
times of extreme unbearable pain he would only
say ‘Hey Ram’. He believed that God cures through
the patient’s ‘silent acceptance,…therapy of cheer-
fulness and the constant expression of gratitude to
God…’ His period of convalescence turned into a
satsang in the hospital room at which even doctors
and medical staff merrily joined. At every oppor-
tunity he explained why and how the body suffered
but not ‘He’. There was never a complaint about
his state.
Devotees of Sri Ramakrishna will recall why
and how he underwent extreme suffering with no
regret or complaint and the sermons of Sri Sarada
Devi on ways of promoting happiness. Dada refers
to the experiences of Sri Ramakrishna and of Sri
Ramana Maharshi.
Anyone undergoing suffering should have the
conviction to express gratitude to God treating the
state as a gift. If you complain that God has been
unkind or unfair, even a slight pain or discomfort
would seem unbearable. Therefore, ‘change your
attitude’. Dada Vaswani was compassionate, under-
standing and had the gift of quick wit. His guru
Sadhu Vaswani had also undergone severe illness
and was sleepless due to pain but never complained
as he treated it as a gift of God.
The satsang that Dada Vaswani held at his
bedside has lessons for the afflicted.
This book will be valuable to the healthy as
well as sick and the medical profession. The obser-
vations of the hospital staff are worth noting. About
the patient they treated, one of them says, ’There
are many things that could make him sad, angry. .
. but he. . . embraces this physical challenge. . .
These factors have been the foundation for his
recovery.’ He revealed a zest for life and was full
of energy.
______________________________ P. S. SUNDARAM, CHENNAI
AMUKTAMALYADA OF SRI KRISHNA DEVA RAYA
ENGLISH TRANSLATION
By Srinivas Sistla
Both books Published by author, Drusya Kala
Deepika, 4-61-7, Lawson’s Bay Colony, Vishakha-
patnam - 530 017. 2010, paperback, Pp.473,
Rs.495 (US$26).
BHEEMANNA’S SUMATI SATKAMU.
English translation by Srinivas Sistla
2008, paperback, Pp. 151+l, Rs.200 (US$20).
Sistla Srinivas, the translator, has already
made a mark by his original and pioneering work
in the field of art, literature and culture. He is on
the faculty of Fine Arts in Andhra University and
teaches history and aesthetics.
He has now chosen to translate Amuktya
Malyada and Sumati Sataka, both classics in their
areas. Amuktya Malyada is by Sri Krishnadevaraya,
244 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 ~ ~
the most celebrated king of the Vijayanagar Empire.
He is a ‘household’ word in the glorious history of
Telugu literature, culture and architecture. He was
also an illustrious patron of all arts and the unique
Ashtadiggajas of Telugu literature adorned his court.
And, above all, he was a poet himself giving to
Telugu classical poetry the imperishable Kabya,
Amukta Malyada.
Amuktya Malyada is the narrative of Andal or
Goda Devi, the most celebrated woman saint of Sri
Vaishnavism. Her entire being radiated her
devotion to Lord Ranganatha.
Amuktya Malyada is an exceptionally difficult
text (or so they say) and combines as Velcheri Nara-
yana Rao and David Shulman say, ‘seemingly dis-
parate domains—meticulous realism, doctrinal eru-
dition and precision and baroque imagination,’ all
merging ‘into a coherent whole organized by the
narrative frame’. (Anthology of Classical Poetry, OUP,
2002, p.55). This rich complex text now appears in
translation by Sistle Srinivas giving it a wide range
of reception. There are also, virtually on every page,
visuals meticulously and painstakingly placed
so that the visual and the verbal create a rich
intertext.
The real issue is translation: the paradox is: if
one knows the original, one is tempted to compare
for accuracy and the ability to evoke the nuances,
the majesty of the original. This seems to me largely
a futile exercise. For, if I know the original, why
should I bother about the translation? If I don’t, the
translated text is itself original to me. Here I felt
there is another and related dimension. The original
text, Amuktya Malyada is, in itself, a somewhat
tough text. Even the most determined often despair.
Hence the significance of English translation. If it
has an inwardness with Telugu, it will show in
English. Therefore, a reader like me can possibly
go back to the English version for comprehension,
if not indefensible comparison. On both these
counts, Srinivas’ translation does a remarkable job.
Both prose and poetry are juxtaposed in the
text. A feature which comes with a refreshing breath
of novelty to those who are unfamiliar (there are
many) with this genre. Similarly, few of us are
aware that there are no exclusively religious texts
in classical literature. They integrate environ-
mentally ornamental structure (descriptions of
seasons, flora, fauna, etc.) and surprisingly we have
Sri Krishnadevaraya’s views on governance. One
is struck by their relevance. The king ‘should rule
to the best of his genius, as per the law, / With the
help of a strong army and a full treasury! / If he
relies on a minister who is devoid of virtues / He
would prove to be a source of trouble! / If a king
wears a pearl of the size of an ash gourd / Will it
not cause trouble to his heart?’
Timely (for corporates) is another verse: ‘No
business can be accomplished by money alone and
/ Without the cooperation of many high-ranking
officers! / To keep them in due subordination,
absence of greed and cruelty / And the presence of
truthfulness is very essential!’ (p.316, Raja Neethi)
I cite these as a link to the contents of the
second book, Sumati Satakamu. This is a manual of
ethical axioms, a genre very popular in both the
vernacular and the classical languages. This
collection of hundred verses is presumably by
Baddena (assigned to the whole period spanning
12th to 15th century) and has quatrains on all values
generally crystallized in Purusharthas: dharma, artha,
kama and moksha or ethics, economics, erotics and
equanimity. Srinivas has written a comprehensive
introduction. The Telugu original also is provided
along with the English translation. Many of these
verses are on the lips of most Telugus but to find
them in English is quite a novelty.
Reading the two books for this review made
me realize the truth which Sumati Sataka expresses:
‘To recite poetry / suffused with the meaningful
Nava Rasas / And melodious songs / Before one
who lacks judgment, / would be like blowing a
conch before the deaf! / That’s for sure! O Sumati!’
Amuktya Malyada and Sumati Sataka as
translated by Srinivas run no such risk. They are
valuable contributions to the expanding genre of
English translations from the vernacular.
______________________ M. SIVARAMKRISHNA, HYDERABAD
Note: 1. March 2011 issue page 117 : please read—around 1875, he met Sri Ramakrishna, instead of around
1857…
2. April 2011 issue page 155: please read—Ramabhai was a lady coming from a higher caste (not
lower caste, as mentioned)…
44
T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 45
Appeal for Restoration
Ramakrishna Kutir (Ashrama) at Almora, Uttarakhand, was founded in
1916 by Swami Turiyananda and Swami Shivananda (two direct disciples of
Sri Ramakrishna) at the behest of the Swami Vivekananda. The Almora Ashrama
is a retreat centre where monks and devotees of Sri Ramakrishna come to live
in its spiritual atmosphere and get peace of mind. The place is imbued with the
spiritual vibrations of Swami Turiyananda’s holy and austere life. The Ashrama
also conducts welfare activities for the poor hill people and needy students.
Last year we distributed 5000 woollen blankets to the victims of devastating
rain that hit Almora district.
Unprecedented rains and cloud burst in September 2010 in Almora resulted
in tremendous landslide, gorges, cracks and land-sinking of the Ashrama
premises. The changed land contour has damaged the temple and other
buildings. Our engineers have suggested abandoning of an old building and
rebuilding of other damaged ones.
Hence we appeal to all devotees and general public to extend their helping
hands to restore the Ashrama buildings. The restoration of land, at least,
should be completed before the next rainy season in 2011. After that we
shall have to start the construction of the damaged buildings. For this entire
restoration and reconstruction work, we need more than 2 Crore rupees.
Cheque/Draft may please be drawn in favour of ‘Ramakrishna Kutir, Almora’
and sent to: Ramakrishna Kutir, Bright End Corner, Almora, Pin - 263 601
(Uttarakhand). The name of the donors of 2 Lakh rupees and above will be
displayed in prominent place, if he or she wishes.
All donations to Ramakrishna Math are exempt from the Income Tax U/S.
80G of the I.T. Act.
RAMAKRISHNA KUTIR
Bright End Corner, Almora—263 601, Uttarakhand
Phone: 05962-254417, E-mail: rkutir@gmail.com, rkutir@yahoo.in
Swami Somadevananda
Adhyaksha
T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 45
T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 46
RAMAKRISHNA MATH, NATTARAMPALLI
Vellore District, Tamil Nadu – 635 852
LET RURAL INDIA BECOME ROARING INDIA
This Math is one of the unique branches of the Ramakrishna Math & Mission, H.Q. Belur Maht,
Howrah, WB. Though we serve the RURAL POOR in multifarious ways, our main focus is on
education including college studies and health care.
For the new academic year starts from June 2011, we need to attend the following immediately:
1.To provide financial help to the RURAL POOR STUDENTS who have completed their higher
secondary school education, to enter into colleges for Higher Studies.
2. To provide free school uniforms to about 4000 children in 70 village primary schools.
3. To provide free school note books and geometry box to another 3000 students studying in
rural higher secondary schools around Nattarampalli.
For this noble cause, we need rupees 20 lakhs. We earnestly appeal to you to donate liberally
and let us make our Rural India as Vibrant Roaring India.
Your contribution may be sent through Cheque / DD or M.O. favouring ‘Ramakrishna Math,
Nattarampalli’. Or through electronic mode of transfer in our A/C No.31502956578 in S.B.I., Branch
Code – 14619. After transferring the amount, kindly intimate us immediately without fail by e-
mailing us at : mail@srkmnattarampalli.org.in or over phone to 0417-242227 or 9629812221.
All donations are exempt from the Income tax under Sec.80G of the Income Tax Act.
Swami Tyagarajananda
(Adhyaksha)
SRI RAMAKRISHNA ADVAITA ASHRAMA
( HQS: Ramakrishna Mat h & Mission, Belur Mat h)
P.O. Kalady, Ernakulam - 683574, Kerala
Phone: 0484- 2462345, Cell: 9447051231 E- mail: srkaadv@dat aone.in
An Appeal
The Ashrama has been running a free host el for t he poor, underprivileged and
orphan children from classes V t o X since 1936. They are provided wit h food,
uniform, accommodat ion and educat ion up t o Xt h St d. absolut ely free of cost . They
are admit t ed in t he school managed by t he Ashrama wit hin it s campus.
There is an urgent need for repair and renovat ion of t he old host el buildings and
for creat ing a ‘Hostel Corpus Fund’ of Rs. 2 Crores for maint aining t he host el wit h
100 boys smoot hly in t he years t o come.
We appeal t o t he generous public and well wishers t o donat e liberally for t his
most essent ial educat ional proj ect .
Donat ions t owards t he act ivit ies of t he Ashrama are exempt from I ncome Tax
under 80G. Cheques or Bank Draft s may be drawn in favour of ‘Sri Ramakrishna
Advaita Ashrama, Kalady’ and sent t o t he above address. Donat ions also can be
sent direct ly t hrough RTGS/ NEFT t o our A/ c No. 3386010009164 at Union Bank of
I ndia, Kalady ( I FSC Code: UBI N0533866) .
Swami Amaleshananda
Adhyaksha
T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i J U N E 2 0 1 1 47
Duration: 2 Hours and 56 minutes
Price : Rs. 150 [US $8]
Duration: 2 Hours and 20 minutes
Price: Rs.150 [US $8]
Duration: 1 Hour and 12 minutes
Price : Rs.150 [US $8]
This CD Collection contains the lectures and writings of Swami
Vivekananda on Education, Hinduism and Bold Message for
World Peace narrated in a MP3 audio book format spoken with
neutral English accent understood universally. A complete
electronic version of the book is also included in standard
eBook format as a “Read Along” with the audio book.
Also A Also A Also A Also A Also Available as a 3 CD Gift pack collection vailable as a 3 CD Gift pack collection vailable as a 3 CD Gift pack collection vailable as a 3 CD Gift pack collection vailable as a 3 CD Gift pack collection
Audio Book Formats and Supported Devices: MP3 and iTunes®
AudioBook format supported on PC/Mac, MP3 Players, Apple
iPod®/iPad®/iPhone® and all Mobile Phones. Also works on MP3 CD
Player.eBook Formats and Supported Devices: ePub and Mobi
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VOL. 98, No. 6

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.chennaimath.org

CONTENTS
June 2011

Vedic Prayers Editorial Articles

205 206 223 230 233

‘Nishtha’ or Steadiness of Purpose Seeing Through A Living Legend Swami Umeshwarananda Swami Vivekananda’s Special Relationship with Raja Ajit Singh Swami Tathagatananda Direct Disciples in Their Lighter Moments H Mukherjee Kathopanishad: In the words of Swami Vivekananda Reminiscences of Master Mahashay Shanti Kumar Mitra Unpublished Letters of Swami Saradananda

Compilation

213 216

Reminiscences

New Find

221 238 240

The Order on the March Book Reviews Features Simhâvalokanam (The Gospel of Hope)—210, Sri Ramakrishna Tells Stories—229

Cover Story: Page 4

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Kanyakumari Dt. T. . T. Girls Hr. T. Sec. T. The Vedanta Kesari by DD/MO drawn in favour of Sri Ramakrishna Math. THE VEDANTA KESARI PATRONS’ SCHEME We invite our readers to join as patrons of the magazine.G. Alangulam. took place in 1910.. and Tech. . T. In 1900 Swami Vijnanananda.N. Sec. . -do4560.N. Muthiganj. School.N. School. -do4561. . T..629 161 Mookambika College of Physiotherapy. Asim Kumar Chakraborty The Vedanta Kesari Library Scheme SL. . They can do so by sending Rs. Names of the patrons will be announced in the journal under the Patrons' Scheme and they will receive the magazine for 20 years. Sun Nagar. however. -do4563.N. Tirunelveli Dt. .N. The Math also organizes a camp in the annual Magh Mela and Kumbha Mela held at Triveni Sangam. cultural and medical activities. Sec. Chennai with a note that it is for the Patrons' Scheme. Nagarcoil.N. T. a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna..or more.NO. -do4564. PATRONS 613. Ramakrishna Math at Allahabad owes its origin to Ramakrishna Samiti and Brahmavadin Club started by a few close devotees of Swami Vivekananda in 1897.N. Kattunaicken Patti. -do4562. Please send your contribution to The Manager.R. School. Blessed by the visits of Swami Brahmananda and other direct disciples (and 30-year long stay of Swami Vijnanananda).. Tirunelveli. -do4565..629 001 Mookambika College of Nursing. Kanyakumari Dt. Mayamankurichi. Yamuna and the mythological river Saraswati.627 855 Moderator Gnanadasan Polytechnic. Mr. NAMES OF SPONSORS AWARDEE INSTITUTIONS 4558.N.627 712 Sardar Raja College of Engg. Allahabad Situated on the confluence of Ganga. Veerasamy Chettiar College.T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i 4 J U N E 2 0 1 1 Cover Story Ramakrishna Math. T.. -do- Hindu Nadar Hr. . -do4566.627 808 Hindu Hr. came to Allahabad to start a permanent centre of the Ramakrishna Math. Bangalore 614.638 004 To be continued . Erode. . The Math’s Temple (seen on the cover) was renovated in January 2010. A Devotee. . A Devotee of Sri Ramakrishna 4559. The formal starting of the Ramakrishna Math. Govt. Kanyakumari Dt. the Allahabad Ramakrishna Math conducts a number of religious.627 851 S.629 161 M.2000/. .629 161 Sun College of Engg. T. Allahabad is held to be ‘the King among places of pilgrimage’ (tirtharaj prayag).N. . .

Almighty. 98. You are the Pure One. O Mighty One. According to prayers said to Thee just now. No. by Swami Sambuddhananda Vedic Prayers lwîQ²>ç¾o Zdñ` _o ñVmo_ñ` dra {dœnVo && {Z_m{`ZñVngm ajgmo Xh && —Sama Veda. how everything is changed. this sleep does not become you.VOL. dra the Mighty {dœnVo O the Lord of the universe A¾o Agni. O mighty one. the Dispeller of darkness. 6. Tr. Awake and arise. T HE 5 GOAL IS TO MANIFEST THE DIVINITY WITHIN. destroy the illusory demons by Thy own power at once. Then we shall learn how to apply it in our daily lives. and manifest your own nature. Ch. 1. Agneya Parva. Say that to the world. Think not that you are weak and miserable. 106. arise and awake. awake and arise. It is not fitting that you think yourself weak. 2: 304 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 205 ~ D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 9 . and see what a practical result comes. the Lord of the universe. It is not fitting that you think yourself a sinner. Tell that to mankind. Tell it to men who are weak and persist in telling it. CW. it does not befit you. JUNE 2011 ISSN 0042-2983 E ACH SOUL IS POTENTIALLY DIVINE. the dispeller of gloom _o my Zdñ` ñVmo_ñ` according to hymns and prayers chanted just now lw{ï> at once _m{`Z… illusive ajg… demons Vngm by Thy own power {Z-Xh destroy. and show them their power. see how with an electric flash everything is manifested. —Swami Vivekananda. say it to yourselves.

. He must know that all the various sects of the various religions are the various manifestations of the glory of the same Lord. nay. You reach the worshipper through all of these. This is a wonderful situation where every information is available to all. the best thing is to go to Internet. about spiritual teachings. We are elevated by some and disheartened by others. neither is there any special time so long as the soul has intense love for You. No wonder someone aptly reclassified human history from BCE (Before Christian/Current Era) and AD (Anno Domini. A seeker of spirituality.. by different names. This is particularly pertinent in matters spiritual. in Latin. That is the world of spirituality on the Internet. it is my misfortune that I cannot love You. One should stick to the chosen ideal under all circumstances. If we are searching for the information for something (the list of that ‘something’ could be as vast as human life itself!). type in the search box of Google (or any other search engine) and there you have (or do not have. No distinctions. The problem comes when we try to follow what we have got on the Net. bhajans—you have to just ask for it and it is there. for sometime) what you have been searching for. this orientation is called nishtha. books. without losing faith and interest. ‘Before Google’ and ‘After Google’! While Internet is a great means for collecting or exchanging information. It is flowing with the river of our likes and dislikes. Nishtha means steadiness of purpose. If it is not there. We cannot help it—nay. . it has also many inherent problems. they divide You. as it were. we are happy about it. [One] must take care not to hate. ‘They call You by so many names. cynical outlook towards spiritual life. videos. This orientation-less spirituality is like a plant without roots. we will be jack of everything and master of none. however. lecture recordings. We are free—to get confused or to place something in right perspective and benefit from it. Steadiness of purpose means being devoted to one’s chosen spiritual ideal. We read something here and T h e listen to something there. . It means following one’s purpose of life with zeal and steadiness. You are so easy of approach. In Vedanta tradition. We are attracted by some and repelled by others. It soon dries up. Orientation Needed What is needed is an orientation. yet in each one of these is to be found Your omnipotence. There is a whole lot of information. It means not changing one’s tracks. .e.‘Nishtha’ or Steadiness of Purpose ‘Google It’ Everyone knows what it means to ‘Google it’. ‘in the year of the Lord’) to BG and AG—i. Internet has increasingly become a part of life. need not become fanatical and one-sided. It opens up a whole world of good or dreadful possibilities. . Unless we know how to assimilate the Net-information.’ . nor even to criticise those radiant sons of light who are the J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 206 ~ . no restrictions and no issues! Anyone can access anything on the Web. Articles. In other words. soon it will be. . leaving behind intellectual confusions and at times a faithless. information explosion. Says Swami Vivekananda.

The Lord of Jânaki [Rama] and the Lord of Shri [Radha] are the same. being a great Yogi. then. The verse says: g~go ~{g`o g~go a{g`o g~H$m [b{O`o Zm_& hm±Or hm±Or H$aVo a{h`o ~¡{R>`o AnZo R>m_&& Swami Vivekananda’s translation of the verse goes thus: As was said by the sage Tulasidasa. One should be devoted to a spiritual ideal and yet not hate or criticize others who may be following other ideals. who was a great worshipper of Rama. It may be difficult to practice but if one wants spiritual progress. Hanuman lived very long and was a great Yogi. so the Hindus worship many incarnations of God. ‘I know that. say yea. T h e Hedging Around One should have one-pointedness. We find. We must not worship the others at all. Yet we know that it is practicable to educate large numbers of human beings into the ideal of a wonderful blending of both the width and the intensity of love.1 According to them.’3 This. there being in each of them a manifestation of the Eternal One. intensely narrow sectaries. ‘I want to see that Rama form of yours. He came and served Krishna. yet sticking to one and rejecting the others. religion is apt to degenerate into a kind of politico-social club life. ‘Take the sweetness of all. Would to God that this world was full of men who were as intense in their love as worldwide in their sympathies! But such are only few and far between. All these forms are mine. but the eternal Vedantic religion opens to mankind an infinite number of doors for ingress into the inner shrine of divinity. ‘Is not this form enough? I am this Krishna. Just as the Christians worship Christ as the incarnation of God.’ Hanuman said. and places before humanity an almost inexhaustible array of ideals. When he came as Rama. knew that the same God had come back again as Krishna.’ Krishna said. yea.2 There is a Hindi verse of Tulasidas which Sri Ramakrishna was fond of quoting. but he said to him. is what is needed—one should be inclusive and exclusive simultaneously. Swamiji narrates a story to illustrate this point: There is a story of Hanuman. this Hanuman was his great worshipper. that liberal and sympathetic sects lose the intensity of religious feeling. sit with all. On the other hand. are seen to have acquired every particle of that love by hating every one who is not of exactly the same opinions as themselves. Yet the lotus eyed Rama is my all in all. God came nine times in India and will come once more. he must say. he must not even hear them spoken ill of. Every sect of every religion presents only one ideal of its own to mankind. but the Rama form is for me.7 founders of various sects. as well as an intensity of love. I am this Rama.’* This is Nishtha—knowing that all these different forms of worship are right. and the way to do that is by this path of the Ishta-Nishtha or ‘steadfast devotion to the chosen ideal’. and Hanuman. as a rule. During his lifetime. but respect them. we must not hate or criticize them. for then alone there is a possibility of inner pro* lrZmWo OmZH$sZmWo A^oX… na_mË_{Z& VWm{n __ gd©ñd§ am_… H$_ccmoMZ…&& J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 207 ~ . Rama came again as Krishna. Very few indeed are those who are at once the possessors of an extensive sympathy and power of appreciation. whilst displaying a very commendable love of their own ideals. and in their hands. They are both the incarnations of the Supreme Self. there is no other alternative. but keep your seat firm. take the name of all.

They want to hear new things just by way of getting a temporary nervous excitement. The pearloyster leaves its bed at the bottom of the sea. ‘who is like the pearl-oyster of the story. be it mundane or spiritual. Sri Ramakrishna gives one more example illustrating how concerted and focused efforts help one realize the highest goal of life. and so on. says Bhagavan Ramakrishna. There is no need to force one’s idea of spirituality on others.’4 spiritual needs also vary. One can. just as everyone his own unique physical and mental features. Worldly people have no grit. a sort of religious drink-mania.’ Nishtha also means being honest and free from all hypocrisy. He said. it scarcely bothers them at all. But hereditary farmers will continue to cultivate their fields whether they get a crop or not. Religion is with these people a sort of intellectual opium-eating. New farmers give up cultivating if their fields do not yield any crops. lectures or Internet can lead to much confusion which makes all efforts futile. But as soon as they strike a stone they give up digging there and begin at another place. One should have nishtha not only in spiritual matters but also in matters related to other aspects of life. Extolling the need for nishtha Sri Ramakrishna gives the example of two types of farmers—the hereditary famer and the other who has taken to farming as an additional work. Perhaps they come to a bed of sand. it is all right. and when one such exciting influence has had its effect on them. do his duties with nishtha. Just as one has his shirt-size. Let us respect and adhere to the ideal of ‘an infinite number of doors for ingress into the inner shrine of divinity. may be seen feeding their idle curiosity with a continuous succession of different ideals. and then it dives deep down to its sea-bed. When they need water they begin to dig a well. steady following of a set spiritual path. Nishtha is a way of life. and there rests until it has succeeded in fashioning a beautiful pearl out of that rain-drop. cook a meal with nishtha. Nishtha means a patient. It floats about on the surface of the sea with its shell wide open. look after a garden with nishtha. and there it ends. How can they J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 208 ~ . thus.8 gress. Their fathers and grandfathers were farmers. Swamiji further says. He says. unique. until it has succeeded in catching a drop of the rain-water. they give that place up too. He is willing to ‘slogout’ for the sake of his ideal. The ideal of nishtha.5 The point is one will have to have right orientation. be full of nishtha in one’s dealings with others. gathering a lot of information from books. Let each one stand unique—for everyone is. they know that they too must accept farming as their means of livelihood. they are ready for another. The growing plant must be hedged round to protect it until it has grown into a tree. One who has nishtha does not need a supervisor over his work. It is well-known that finger-prints of one person are not identical with anyone else’s. He does not change his mind. Finding nothing but sand. but if they don’t succeed. If they succeed in an undertaking. Without this orientation or steady devotion to a spiritual ideal or nishtha. It is a protection which is absolutely essential for growth and development. and comes up to the surface to catch the rainwater when the star Svati is in the ascendant. one’s mental and T h e In another place. also means each one has his path. The tender plant of spirituality will die if exposed too early to the action of a constant change of ideas and ideals. hearing new things grows into a kind of disease. ‘There is another sort of man’. With them. in the name of what may be called religious liberalism. in another sense. Many people.

Learning without a perspective is like undigested food that leads to all kinds of troubles.208 7. CW.’ Mother: ‘You should not doubt the words of your own teacher. The Mother said at last. They give different instructions suited to different temperaments. gave a remarkably practical advice which harmonises openness to learn and the need to be steady and unchanging in one’s efforts. for instance. He said.82 Be steadfast in your ideal even when the mind is restless. black. This is true Nishtha. Chennai. Chennai.9 succeed in getting water unless they continue to dig persistently where they started?6 Everything Has a Place There is an insightful incident from the life of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi which will add to our understanding the idea of nishtha: A few women devotees were in the adjacent room.’7 Conclusion Swami Turiyananda. 3: 62-63 2. 3: 62-64 5. References 1. One needs to be steady. p. one should be steady and persistent in one’s efforts. They brought some sweets for offering. Why do you ask me about it.659 6. Their teacher was just then engaged in performing a grand sacrifice. We came to know they were the disciples of Siva-Narayan Paramahamsa of Kalighat. The prophets and incarnations are born to show the way to a benighted humanity. From time immemorial innumerable people have worshipped images and thereby attained spiritual knowledge. Swami Turiyananda Life and Teachings by Swami Ritajananda. yellow. We never designate a particular sound as that of birds and refuse to acknowledge other sounds as such. Gospel of Holy Mother. ‘Is there any truth in image worship? Our teacher does not approve of it. a tree. They prostrated themselves before the Mother. and at the same time. There are birds perched on its branches. ‘If your teacher were an illumined soul—you have forced me to say— then he would not have made such a statement. —Swami Brahmananda T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 209 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 . red. But the nun was stubborn and began to press for a reply. p. But we say that these are the sounds of the birds. white. Keep up the regularity of your practices under all conditions. a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. in matters of principle stand firm as a rock. CW.’ The Mother refused to give any opinion. Do you want to deny this fact? Sri Ramakrishna never cherished any such parochial and one-sided view. Their sounds are also different. Gospel p. Sri Ramakrishna Math. Take. p. CW. One of the nuns asked. Therefore all these instructions have their relative value. broad and devoted. CW. They have different colours. He instructs people in the worship of the fire and the sun.8 In other words. Two of them wore ochre robes. 9: 224 3. keep the doors of his mind open and welcome to anything that would be condusive to his inner growth. In matters of opinion swim with the current.20 8. 3: 62-64 4. Brahman exists everywhere. etc. Sri Ramakrishna Math. Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. There are many ways to realize the Truth. when you have heard the opinion of your Guru in the matter?’ The nun: ‘We want to know your opinion.

Any attempt to correctly estimate him always falls short of the mark.’ Addressing the Jiva thus. Then will you gain the vision universal.—you are spirits free. Let us examine the blessed lives of Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna. all ignorance. ‘Sinners? It is a sin to call a man so. realise it. and that of his spiritual son and sannyasin disciple Swami Vivekananda. There is no other way for liberation. we can almost say. attaining Nirvana. Pp. Only the other day we witnessed at Dakshineswar. 1921-22. the very synthesis of Jnana and Prema. no more restlessness for you. then will you attain shanti. Because of Avidya. Hear from the blessed lips of your Guru. beyond all darkness. Setting aside the story of a by-gone age. Knowing Him the Jiva overcomes death.’ A little over four hundred years back. It is a standing libel on human nature. Sri Krishna Chaitanya of Nadia proclaimed again to the Jiva the same message of transcending the sorrows and sufferings of life. They have soothed many a weary soul and again they have proclaimed that immortality and bliss eternal are our birthright: ‘You are the children of Mother. then no more fright. Gain the knowledge of your Self. this is their gospel of life. Sri Swamiji [Vivekananda] says. not you the servant of matter. why bemean yourself and behave like a jackal?’ This is their message of fearlessness. proclaimed the message of Abhaya to a world writhing in sin and suffering.—Whom do you fear? Lion that thou art.’ Bhagavan Buddha. of Maya. and are in trouble.—forget the travails of samsara at least for a moment. Matter is your servant. blessed and immortal.” meditate on it. on the banks of the Ganges. the Mahavakya of the Vedanta “Tattwam Asi. sickness and death. that live in heavenly spheres!—all hear! I have known that Effulgent Supreme Being. ‘If you can cross over this ocean of samsara and attain Nirvana in this very life. the extraordinary manifestation of a Divine leela. Swami Vivekananda we have seen.From the Archives of THE VEDANTA KESARI (June. and shake off the delusion that you are sheep. Bhagavan Shankara said: ‘You are not Jiva. 53-57) Simhâvalokanam The Gospel of Hope By Swami Shuddhananda From time to time God-men make their advent to give out their message of love and hope: ‘Hear! Oh children of Immortal Bliss—Ye. you have forgotten your real nature. his holy contact we were T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 210 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 . O Lions. let us at present look at the present era. Come up.’ Let us at present leave out of consideration the life of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna. it transcends all ordinary understanding. you are Shiva. Even now His Bhaktas and disciples overwhelmed with emotion in singing His Sankeertanas (the holy names of the Lord) in the exultation of joy.

He taught us our Gita for only one day. no more of sadhanas. was trumpeted again from Nazareth. How long will you be camouflaged with the false pretences of social conventions? Give up all theft in the chamber of your thought. .11 privileged to share. has intoxicated India from its centre at Nadia. Bundle up your likes and dislikes. we have seen him as the very personification of Love and Hope. Even amidst the stress and strain of difficulties. shortsightedness and lowliness and throw them overboard. Again the door has been opened. but the Great Ones do not mind outward forms or symbols. Whoever wishes. They might have throughout their life time remained only in the solitude of mountain recesses. exalted or fallen remember that each of you has a problem to solve. has merged the whole of Bharata Varsha arising from Kerala. O Son of Pritha! Ill doth it become thee. Here only Anandam! Anandam!. yet the hidden note of their golden teachings strike the gamut of our hearts and produce a silent symphony far more euphonious than the studied words of skilful orators or the facility and grace of elegant stylists. no more penances. welcomed all: ‘Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden. Every body thinks them as his own. awake—stop not.’ Social problems have only a two days’ existence. It is the scholars who find delight in the forms of expression and hair-splitting distinctions. his love. till the goal is reached. amidst duties and responsibilities of a myriad order. come! enter into the Kingdom of Light! ‘Arise. each of you harbours a restless soul. . has overflowed the four corners of the world surging out from Magadha. Then will you hear the inspired sayings of the Great Ones. Cast off this mean faint-heartedness. We had the blessings of his advice. at other times with the sweet and tender touch of soft flower petals. That gospel was once uttered on the banks of the Saraswati. learned or illiterate. O Scorcher of thine enemies!’ . The din and turmoil of politics are fleeting. his chastisement and above all. Only a short while back he gave up his body. and I will give you rest’? T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 211 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 . Why was Sri Ramanuja seized with restlessness and mounted the heights of a Gopuram to proclaim to the masses at large the holy mantram ‘Om Namo Narayanaya’? Why Jesus. then. Let your words tally with your convictions. Man. I remember how his face glowed with inspiration and enthusiasm as he went on expounding the meaning of the verse. Spoken in different tongues and different tones and expressed in different ways. was delivered at a crucial moment to Arjuna in the field of Kurukshetra. All our passions and attachments vanish for ever. the Gospel of the Mahapurushas breathe the same spirit. But there is not the least shadow of doubt that under all circumstances and moods their hearts throb only with idea of the welfare of humanity. . So we cannot grasp the full significance of their message which comes to us at times with the unexpected dart and pierciveness of a javelin. ‘Yield not to unmanliness. the region of Love. immersed in worldly attachments cannot understand the truth they embody in their teachings. the Christ. This is the kingdom of heaven. . Their words go direct and their communion is from heart to heart. O Man! will you not recognise yet your own men? Whether you are rich or poor. The self-same Gospel has again been uttered. after mixing freely with the joys and sufferings of life.

O Man! make an attempt. You become a Mukta. being endowed with a human body. It is a fact of experience. The Mahapurushas come to cure you of your mad fit and you are awakened to life from deep sleep. Life is a sleep and a forgetting. How far can you succeed in keeping these enemies within bounds? Therefore I say. all purity. all Mahatmas. What are you after? Why do you roam about as a beggar for the hidden treasure? Leaving aside your own kingdom. all greatness. free from all sins!’ The Mahapurushas have one particular note in the music of their lives. If at any moment doubt arises over all the Sadhus. if you war with them. This is no poet’s vision. their lives appear as full of contradictions. anger claims a part of your heart. all Bhaktas. transcend all obstacles and roam about in joy and peace. cured of all ailments. . avarice takes its place and if you are fortunate to evade its clutch then the vanity and the conceit ‘I am a Sadhu. I will liberate thee from all sins. you only become all the more helpless. control your outgoing senses. The moralist remains content with mending a fault or acquiring a virtue. . Then will you see your mean tendencies and passions are flying away from you once for all. the mist of confusion melts away. If you go to react. grieve not’? Why Lord Buddha willingly invoked on him all the sins and sufferings of humanity and in joyous rhapsody prayed out. Shake off the grasp of desires. You are freed from the bondage of duality. This maxim is too true. you have forgotten your divine nature. In the words of the poet Wordsworth. But in his attempt at deliverance from one failing. why do you think yourself an exile and create infinite miseries? You have nothing more to do—only to understand yourself. blessed as you are. we hear the voice of the Great Ones. this instrument wherewith to realise Him. T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 212 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 . And what difficulty is there to recognise or understand them? What is the problem of your life? You are lost in confusion. Wherever you may go. ‘May the world be healthy. If we cannot understand this. recognising the sacred utterances of the Great Ones. hundred others crop up around him. recognise your own self. Whoever that attempts to understand them. Realise that we have become blessed by getting this body. Faith. you are enshrouded in sleep. never lose confidence in the greatness of your own Self from whence proceeds all devotion. elevate your heart to a higher plane. our life’s star. and strive sincerely with all earnestness of heart to tread unswervingly along the path of Truth. let him make an earnest endeavour to catch that particular burden of their song. If anger is done away with. . Then the whole secret of their blessed lives would dawn upon him as clearly as pure day light. burning faith! Never stray from this path although beset with many difficulties. It is truth that triumphs. The soul that rises with us. If desires are surpassed. you are a victim of unfortunate circumstances. Hath had elsewhere its setting And cometh from afar. Faith.12 What again prompted Bhagavan Sri Krishna to declare: ‘Relinquishing all Dharmas take refuge in Me alone. .’ ‘I am a pious man’ take possession of you.

COMPILATION The following compilation from the nine-volume Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda attempts to present Swamiji’s thoughts in relation with the verses from the Kathopanishad. uncommented verses have been omitted.161) ‘Neither through wealth. subdivided into 2 and 3 sections. Night and day can never exist together. are given in brackets) with the original verses. you have known that knowledge is much higher than a life of enjoyment. . try however you may. where there is Kama. .343) Death then proceeded to teach Nachiketas. In this compilation only those verses which could be related to Swamiji’s words have been given. .408) ‘O Nachiketas. Swamiji quoted from the Kathopanishad. you will have to renounce Kama-Kanchana (lust and possession). Maharashtra.’ That is the dictate of the Indian books.’ (2. He once told [CW. void of substance. Of all the Upanishads. (2. and in all having 120 verses. In various ways I tempted you towards the path of enjoyment. you have not asked for desire. ‘If you desire to attain God. Unless you give it up. if you want to gain spiriJ U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 213 ~ . Radhakrishnan. a retired teacher of mathematics from Pune. Nachiketas. The Kathopanishad consists of two chapters.’ (2.there is a sect who advises us to follow God and the world together. Do not cover the corrupting corpse with leaves of gold!’ So according to them. there is no Kama. This compilation juxtaposes what Swamiji said in different contexts (references to the CW. (Continued from the April 2011 issue . you can never reach God. . 6: 456] his disciple. The Samsara is unreal. nor through progeny. they do not express what they feel in their hearts. Swamiji has referred to some 86 verses from different sections of the Upanishad. (3. hollow. but by no means lower the Ideal. What is the teaching of the Great Ones?—‘Where there is Rama. to memorize the Kathopanishad. thou hast wisely abandoned them.) Death praises Nachiketas: ¥ Á—Ò <≈±¸Zi˘ <≈±¸e“≈ZÒº N“ZVZi˘ ‚<¬¿¸Z¸i˘ i<fNv“hZv&Á¸¥±ZR≥: $ i_hZÒ ¥ƒä“ZÒ <—‘V¸≥V—ZuZv ¸˚¸ZÒ VÉ–wh TÓ—Zv Vi¯©¸Z: $$ 3 $$ ‘I praise you. Sharat Chandra Chakravarty. you resisted them all. In many of his lectures.161) Knowledge and Ignorance: T h e ∆æCVvhv <—≈C≥hv <—∏Úf≥ ‚<—®Z ¸Z f <—®v<h dZhZ $ <—®Z¬≥–ˆ¥iÒ i<fNv“h¥Ò Vw¸v i Á—Z N“ZVZ TÓ—Zv&◊Zv◊≈wh $$ 4 $$ ¯ . They are not sincere. having thought upon the things which are only apparently desirable. own that you are weak. Swami Vivekananda loved the Kathopanishad most. If you cannot do that.’ The voice of the ancient sages proclaims to us. there Rama is not. This compilation has been done by V. but by giving up alone that immortality is to be reached.

and thus like the blind leading the blind.162) Very few men ask for the truth. ‘Who has himself crossed this terrible ocean of life.248) Self-Knowledge: Very Difficult to Attain: ‚<—®Z¸ZVwhCv —h`VZiZ: ˚—¸Ò π≥CZ: ≈–m∂>hÒ Vw¸VZiZ: $ ∆wj˸VZLZ: ≈»C¸–wh VÚfi>Z: ‚wπvi— i≥¸VZiZ ¸sZwπZ: $$ 5 $$ _ You have understood that the man who lives in ignorance and enjoys. thinking thus they come again and again under my power. both fall into the ditch. staggering to and fro. he who knows the secret of the Shrutis. (3. and reading books. to attain God. Avrijina. and that will fructify. but in the pride of their hearts. like the blind led by the blind.(2. who comes as the spring which brings the leaves and blossoms to various plants but does not ask anything from the plant. Realisation is beyond virtue and vice.’3 Talking.’ (2. the Sadhu. but the spirit must be passed on by the Guru to the Shishya (disciple). is not different from the brute beast. (2. cannot know it. The relation between Shishyas is J U N E 2 0 1 1 i ¥ZË≈CZ¸: ≈±<h¬Z<h TZ◊Ò ≈±VZ®whÒ <—‘VZvÓi VÚfi>V˘ $ v T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 214 ~ . the sinless. and fewest of all dare to follow it in all its practical bearings. the fools want to help others. all these cannot give knowledge of the Self. this dishonesty. though steeped in ignorance.(2. “This world exists.162) To understand this truth is very difficult.408) Shrotriya.162) Learn not the truth of the Self save from one who has realised it. (2. so must he be wonderful too unto whom the knowledge is carried. unpierced by desire—he who does not want to make money by teaching you—he is the Shanta. and without any idea of gain to himself. though hearing. and mark that none else can be a Guru. the first thing that you have to do is to give up this playing ‘hideand-seek with your ideas’. Anyone can teach. fewer dare to learn the truth. in all others it is mere talk. thinking they know everything. so must be the taught. and many.14 tuality. (2. beyond future and past.408) The teacher must be wonderful. for its very nature is to do good. Yet there are many who. It does good and there it is. beyond all the pairs of opposites.346) √—LZ¸Z<≈ TÓ¨<¬¸Z`v i ◊θ: xZƒm—whZv&<≈ TÓ—Zv ¸Ò i <—®¯: $ ‚Zº¸Zv` —G“Z N¯“{◊Zv&˚¸ ◊gπZ ‚Zº¸Zv` dZhZ N¯“{◊Zi¯<{˝>: $$ 7 $$ Many have not even the opportunity to hear about it. and an eternal calm comes in the Soul. and Akamahata. the Vedas themselves. Such is the Guru. the highest flights of the intellect.’2 This is the Guru. helps others also to cross the ocean.70) The Guru is the conveyance in which the spiritual influence is brought to you.451) Course of the Ignorant: ‚¸Ò ◊ZvN“Zv iZ–˚h ≈C H<h VZi≥ ≈¯i: ≈¯i—`{VZ≈®hv Vv $$ 6 $$ Yama said. and they go round and round in many crooked ways. because the teacher must be wonderful. ‘That which is beyond never rises before the mind of a thoughtless child deluded by the folly of riches. for themselves steeped in darkness. the other does not”. ‘The stainless one sees the Self. in the pride of their hearts. (7. think that they are great sages and go round and round in many crooked ways. this ‘theft within the chamber of thought’ (3. arguing.

Initiation by the Guru is necessary. That is the reason why almost everyone of us can speak most wonderfully on spiritual subjects. but if we analyse ourselves. the Mantra. Besides these.2. the Guru is the sine qua non of progress in the path of spirituality. These are real teachers. . he who is the best of the knowers of Brahman. and in the second place. The Guru passes the thought power. then even a hundred times heard. 1. Even disgust for the world and a burning desire for God are not sufficient. Verse 33 3. To quicken the spirit. . the student. In studying books. and a hundred times taught. and guide. the teacher. (4. we shall find that only our intellect has been helped.22) (To be continued. and the soul to which the impulse is conveyed is called the disciple.’ Shrotriya—he who is not only learned in the Shastras. extraordinary. Whom then shall I accept as my Guru? ‘He who is versed in the Vedas. and not the spirit. in the first place. The devotee must seek and accept the Guru or spiritual preceptor as his counsellor.452) That soul from which this impulse comes is called the Guru. to another. and these are the real students. the soul from which it comes must possess the power of transmitting it. friend. (3. sometimes we are deluded into thinking that we are being spiritually helped. the others are playing with spirituality—just having a little intellectual struggle.63) Need of a Spiritual Teacher: i iCvLZ—CvL ≈±ZG“ A∏ ¥¯<—dv¸Zv TÓ¨πZ <fwÁ¸VZi: $ v ‚iw¸≈±ZvGv“ ›<hC¶ iZ–˚h ‚L≥¸Zi˘ |h´¸`VL¯≈±VZLZh˘ $$ If the speaker is a man who is not highly advanced. In short. and when both these conditions are fulfilled. Why? Because it is the bringing of yourself into connection with that great source of power which has been handed down through generations from one Guru to another. but who knows their subtle secrets. we find ourselves so woefully deficient. that he has received from those before him. and nothing can be done without a Guru. The speaker of religion must be wonderful. It is because books cannot give us that impulse from outside. Kathopanishad. unhurt by desire. In order to convey this impulse. lmo{Ì`mo@d¥{OZmo@H$m_hVmo `mo ~«÷{dÎm_…& ~«÷Ê`wnaV… emÝVmo {Z[aÝYZ BdmZb…& Ah¡VwH$X`m{gÝYw~©ÝYwamZ_Vm§ gVm_²&& Vivekachudamani by Acharya Sri Shankara. and thus moulding our lives in accordance with those of the greatsouled ones who have reached the Goal. and not otherwise.15 that of brotherhood.22) . then alone will splendid spiritual growth come.408) Now in intellectual development we can get much help from books. and the field must be ready ploughed. and this is actually accepted by law in India.20 T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 215 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 . . (4. philosopher. but when the time of action comes.) References 2. just satisfying a little curiosity—but are standing only on the outward fringes of the horizon of religion. . almost nothing. as it were. in uninterrupted succession. without taint. a wonderful growth of religion takes place. the object to which it is transmitted must be fit to receive it.That is the coming in direct contact with the Mahapurushas. the truth never illumines the soul. The seed must be a living seed. (7. who has realised their true import in his life. but in spiritual development. (2. that impulse must come from another soul. so must the hearer be. and when both of these are really wonderful.

fourth floor.Reminiscences of Master Mahashay SHANTI KUMAR MITRA Master Mahashay.” The nature of worldly people is strange: if their sons are immoral. shall I be able to eat so much rice?” She replied: “My son. I had the Master’s company for only 5 years. was an eminent householder disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. give some service to them and try to satisfy them. it is not much. He recorded the conversations of Sri Ramakrishna in Bengali and published them later as Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita (translated into English: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna). Thus. You see. 148-64. they joyfully accept that. perishes. “Mother. but if their sons want to be monks. She was the Mother of the Universe. said: ‘Today is an auspicious day. The following is the translation of reminiscences of ‘M’ from Srima Samipe. the more your mind will long for God. Morton Institution.’ M. She was like T h e the Phalgu River: there is sand above. MarchApril 1925. Swami Chetanananda (the translator of the present article) is the Head of Vedanta Society of St. You don’t know when you will get your next meal. The great devotee Prahlada went through so much suffering for J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 216 ~ .: ‘Please tell me how I can get peace. do not listen to them. or ‘M’. and no one knows that water flows beneath it. But if they obstruct your spiritual practices or keep you from visiting the monastery. M. Just keep quiet and forbear. many memories of the Mother are coming to my mind. He has to his credit several notable books in Bengali and English. human character is formed through sufferings and obstacles. said: ‘Whomever you stay with. edited by Swami Chetanananda (Udbodhan Office: Calcutta. survives. USA. and he who does not forbear. although he tried. translations as well as original. cooked in the kitchen. The more you face those obstacles. the Holy Mother’s temple in Jayrambati was dedicated on this day [two years earlier]. Louis. Mahendranath Gupta. 7:00 p. and yet she went into samadhi seated on the veranda. I said. Perhaps it is because I committed great sins in my past life that I am undergoing this humiliation. But Holy Mother was the embodiment of great power. Once just before I returned home from Jayrambati. I observed that the Master could not control his bhava samadhi. but Holy Mother protected me from all dangers over a period of 35 years.m. Pp.” He who has received the Mother’s affection even once will never forget her. Who can understand Holy Mother?’ A young devotee was staying with some relatives while he was going to school. He said to M. and looked after her niece Radhu. She pressed a large quantity of rice onto my plate so that it looked like a small amount. but he was ill-treated because of his association with the monastery. she served me my meal. that is unpardonable. Please eat. She served food to the devotees. The Master said: “He who forbears. 1996).

17 God. Holy Mother used to say.” She further said. and a hand fan. Look at how the gopis suffered. your suffering will be reduced. tears trickled from his eyes and his voice became hoarse. A devotee said: ‘There is no escape from the results of bad karma. Monks in the western part of India ask other monks. ‘But one should continue to repeat the mantra even if the mind does not like it. have you attained God? Pain and suffering are all in the mind. and your feet are covered with blisters. replied: ‘You are studying to pass an examination. drink the water.m. when the devotees left.’ As M. a glass of cold water. There is a blissful state where worldly suffering cannot reach. we did not recognize it at first. “Have you attained peace?” In other words. but it still holds onto its mother. and when you pass. and practise japa and meditation. Shall we have to experience the results of all karma?’ M. You cool yourself with the fan. Just take refuge in Him. a pair of shoes. the heat of the sun remains the same. but yet you have the holy company of the Master’s disciples. the more you will get peace. When you begin to walk. Kartik Bakshi said: ‘Breathing and the heartbeat do not stop until death. Complete peace comes when you attain God. You talk about peace: the more you go towards God. said this. His attendant Ramlal brought his supper. At that time a man comes forward and gives you an umbrella. T h e Morton Institution. It was 9:30 p.’ M. Providence changes His writing with His own pen. The mind does not become concentrated in one day. Just see how suffering is pushing you towards God. your chest feels as if it is splitting with thirst. you are walking through the scorching sun. One should pray to the Master J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 217 ~ . the body needs food to function.’ M. You have no umbrella and your head is burning. told Jiten Babu: ‘You see. Let pain and suffering come. “Suppose you are destined to lose a leg.” ‘It is true that your suffering is due to either bad karma from a past life or some other reason. They knew no one but Krishna. 1925. Some of those actions bear results in this life and give you misery. said. A thief steals. and hold the umbrella over your head. the source of infinite bliss. He could no longer speak. “Japa and meditation destroy the results of bad karma. But if you follow your guru’s instructions. The Lord is showing you the true nature of worldly life and then leading you to his disciples. the day the Master passed away in samadhi. and then he goes to jail. The mother spanks the child and it cries. There are also some actions that were done in a previous life but did not produce any result then.m. they can stop when one is alive. There is an English proverb: “Good comes from evil. 5:00 p. For example. Krishna said in the Gita (18:66): “I will deliver you from all sins. doctors examined his lungs and heart and found that their functions had halted. responded: ‘Yes. you get the result. He quite often went into deep samadhi.”’ Another devotee asked: ‘What can I do if my mind does not like to repeat the mantra?’ ‘In the beginning japa seems to be dry. God keeps us dependant in such a way that a man still feels that he is the doer. so we did not realize that he had left his body.’ M. One needs air to breathe. When the Master was in deep samadhi.’ Dr. Focus your mind on the Master and depend on him. Be content with whatever condition he keeps you in. That is why. do not grieve. you will get a scratch instead. put on the shoes. so they remain in the storehouse. but you do not feel so much pain. Japât siddhi—perfection comes through japa.” Don’t worry about all these things. you are perspiring profusely.

who will explain the scriptures? Krishna said in the Gita (4:7): “Whenever there is a decline of dharma. He or she becomes irritated if someone disturbs the chanting. when you people depart?’ ‘Why? The Master is the goal. At least for the time being we are free of our pain and suffering. and it shall be opened unto you. show me the Father. we find all the teachings of the avatars in the Gita and other scriptures.’ A devotee said: ‘We get peace when we come to you. What will happen to us. said. so they are truly holy. it forgets all pain.’ Three monks arrived from Belur Math. I incarnate Myself. The bodies of the avatar and his associates are not everything: their gross bodies may disappear. Then why do they come again and again and undergo all these troubles?’ ‘Sugar and sand are mixed in the scriptures.”’ J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 218 ~ . If you read Bhakti Yoga. ‘As long as a genuine monk exists in this Order. Once this happens it is hard to stop japa and leave your seat.” The Master also said: “Now I am not finding myself within me. and He is I. two of whom were from Kerala.’ M. replied: ‘You have read Swamiji’s Karma Yoga.’” The Master told us: “If anyone cries with a longing heart.” Jesus also said: “Seek. Anyone who gets the taste of japa does not like anything else. and all kinds of sins. these altruistic actions help one to attain liberation. The Master lived in Dakshineswar for 30 years. This will change the samskaras of your past lives.18 wholeheartedly. God cannot stay still. yet it does not give up biting it. who are burning in this world. “Rabbi. Some of his disciples are still living. Philip said to Jesus. one will develop devotion. If it can break the bone and get to the marrow. his messages get jumbled and lead to confusion within a short time. knock. he taught according to his audience. The activities of the Ramakrishna Mission are pursued to purify the mind. If one works unselfishly in the hospital and dispensary. ‘Commentators put their own ideas into the words of God. Have their company as much as you can. and a rise of adharma. yet they help humanity through their subtle bodies. whereas Swamiji emphasized Karma Yoga. When the avatar departs. The Lord’s name removes the fear of death and one experiences only bliss.’ Another devotee said: ‘Sir. But you are now old and your health is not good. you will understand what he meant. ‘A dog bites a bone and its mouth bleeds. When he talked about Karma Yoga. I sometimes wonder how this vast Ramakrishna Order will continue.” Jesus immediately replied: “Philip.” Who is the avatar? He is the highest manifestation of Divinity among human beings. all bad impressions of past lives. and ye shall find. and Swamiji gave up his body in Belur Math. Which one should we follow?’ M. hast thou seen me and not seen the Father? I and my Father are one. The wheel of the mantra destroys all worldly bondages. One of them T h e asked: ‘The Master said that Bhakti Yoga was the zeitgeist of this age. Sometimes I think ‘I am He. God and His name are not separate—they are one.’ M. the Master will remain in the Order and guide it. In other words. replied. He also wrote Bhakti Yoga. If the avatar does not come. If one performs action in the spirit of service to God. he emphasized that. Then by his grace the mind becomes calm automatically. The mantra purifies the body and the mind. He hurriedly reveals Himself to that person. One’s mind moves easily towards God in those places. So many monks have practised sadhana in those places.

the guru knows our path. He did not ask everybody to renounce. although the highest ideal is renunciation. I unfolded my umbrella to protect his face from the scorching sun.” The guru guides some to the path of renunciation and some to the path of family life according to their tendencies. Jim. The Mother accepts the porter’s salutation before the dandy’s. “The same coat does not fit Henry. He said to some people: “Some are eunuchs for the sake of God. Why then did I accept that rudraksha bead? What kind of faith do I have in the Master? I threw that rudraksha bead into the Ganges. It is extremely important for a householder to associate with holy people and the guru. but he was observing the vow of silence. Finally.’ M. and John alike. ‘When monks come here it indicates that the Master has not forgotten us. while crossing the Howrah Bridge. the monk gave me a special rudraksha bead and said.” I humbly accepted his loving gift. and escorted him to the train. my fortune and misfortune. carrying a two-maund weight on his head. “Can I do anything for you?” That monk replied. That is the problem.’ M. my good and bad [actions]. He knows that he has put 20 maunds1 weight on their heads [meaning heavy responsibility]. They show us our duties and point the way to the goal. beyond our comprehension. is there any hope for a married man?’ M. But afterwards. Pleased. it seemed to me that he was an ordinary man. but after the Master’s passing away. bought him a ticket to Varanasi. J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 219 ~ .” And again he said to others: “Thou art in the world but not of the world. Then a desire came to see you and listen to the words of the Master. he accepts all and removes their impurities. This is the worldly disease: We think that something that is impermanent. said: ‘Why not? If a householder moves one step towards God.” I took him to the railway station. ‘Welcome. please come in.’ T h e Morton Institution A monk and a brahmachari arrived from Gadadhar Ashrama. Then I asked. “I will be happy if I can get a ticket to Varanasi. one should practise nonattachment mentally. It is like using a correct watch to adjust a watch with the wrong time. I thought about how the Master had taken on all of my responsibilities. When the Master is looking after me and protecting me day and night.” ‘If one does not renounce externally. I was near the Howrah Bridge when I met a monk who looked like the Master. And a porter. It was a long time ago. I realized that he was the indivisible Satchidananda covered with a veil of maya. and this life and the next life. Does the doctor give the same medicine to everyone? The prescription differs from disease to disease. puts it down with great effort with both hands and then bows down to the Mother with devotion. my life and death.19 A devotee asked: ‘Sir. welcome. They help us to understand our real condition. The guru is the helmsman in this ocean of maya. He comes forward walking ten steps. “Please keep this.’ The monk said: ‘Today on the bank of the Ganges I saw a holy man who looked like the Master. why would I depend on those things? ‘When I first met the Master. As time passed. said. Can everyone renounce? Jesus also had monastic disciples and householder devotees. Suppose a dandy is walking with a stick in hand and on his way he bows down to Mother Kali at Thanthania. said: ‘That happened to me once also. He smiled a little. ‘You see. is permanent. it will do you good.

He was a genius. Now I see the Master is walking with me and holding my hand.20 ‘The Master is beyond the injunctions of the Vedas. the brahmachari sang a song: ‘Sing the name of Ramakrishna. The Master is our all in all. Inspiring Anecdote. by His grace. concentration on. one man stood up. No One Can Hurt Us Without Our Consent On his first day in office as President Abraham Lincoln entered to give his inaugural address. ‘Sir. But certain people are made of a totally different mettle.’ Everyone present began to practise japa and meditation. . and absorption in Him. When the trolley pole of the tram car is connected with the overhead electric wire. and there will be many others here. Then the brahmachari sang another song: ‘O my mind. one can keep one’s mind on God. In his mercy. After a while. said: ‘Let the work continue. Kali. but amazingly it seems those incidents happened yesterday. But as far as I know. Lincoln. Krishna. Lincoln looked at the man directly in the eyes and said.’ In the evening M. Victory to Ramakrishna. He was a creator. he poured his whole soul into them.’ The whole senate was struck dumb.’ As M. but the mind should be on God. He said. discrimination and renunciation is to attain God. listened to the song with folded hands. austerity and sadhana.‘ M. ‘Mr. One finds fulfilment in life if. see no difference in Ramakrishna. But He does not reveal Himself if one does not have intense longing for. and the fan moves. —Cyberspace T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 220 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 . I want to ask you. He was proud because his father did his job so well that not even a single complaint had ever been heard. he gave me shelter at his feet. Coming to the picture of the mother bird hatching her egg. . and then calmly said: ‘The Master is the embodiment of all gods and goddesses. waved the lamp in front of the pictures of gods and goddesses. One maund is equal to 82 pounds. They could not understand what kind of man Abraham Lincoln was. I know that my father used to make shoes for your family. the tram runs. He left so many years ago. listened to this song. M. have you any complaint?? Because I know how to make shoes myself. By thinking of him one thinks of all of them. If you have any complaint I can make you another pair of shoes. tears trickled from his eyes. I believe he will be with me till the end. gives light. nobody has ever complained about my father’s shoes. He wiped them. . you should not forget that your father used to make shoes for my family’. and Shiva. he was a rich aristocrat. because he made shoes the way nobody else can. His shoes were not just shoes.’ Note: 1. her eyes are open but she sees nothing external. And the whole senate laughed. Look at this bird: her whole mind is on hatching her egg. they thought they had made a fool of Lincoln. . but everything stops if the trolley pole is down. The goal of japa and meditation. a great creator and I am proud of my father.

Brown. Your very kind letter was waiting for me as I returned here on Jan 12th after a month’s lecture tour in the East Bengal. no matter where or how it begins. My very kind regards to yourself as ever & if you ever think I can help you in any way. At the same time we must ever remember love does not mean any kind of selfishness – Watch & find out if there is any grain of selfish dross mixed up with the pure gold. I hope she has become herself again. The little bits that you are seeing will become all united in the end. had you given up the source whence began your first realisation. Write of her kindly when next you write. Our God visions begin from our closest relations.Wheeler’s daughter Beatrice was ill. I thank you for the little bit of thought in verse. Faithfully yours Saradananda T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 221 ~ J A R C 2 M U N E H 021011 1 . Steady. Howrah. Let it come about naturally as you say. I liked it much. cleanse it out & then as I told you before you will be able to help that source really & permanently & the source of your first realisation & yourself will be connected from birth to birth & advance hand in hand till the goal is reached. My dear Mrs.Unpublished Letters of Swami Saradananda1 January 18th 1900 Math. ‘Whence speech falls back baffled with the mind’ as the Vedas say. My love & blessings to him in the mean time. Belur. an image of Him all living & throbbing with unbounded Love & Knowledge. There might come a time when we would know each other. persevering love alone can reach the goal. Yes that is the way for you & I felt it so strongly to tell it [to] you. India. please write & you will have my service. as Swami Saradananda soon as we feel the sanctity of such relations & then spread out & out till the whole universe becomes a symbol to manifest Him alone. I am so glad to hear of your dear son. Bring your boys & girls up in an unbounded confidence in the God within & they cannot but be better men & women. I would have had such poor opinion of you. I heard my dear friend Mrs. Remember me kindly to all Montclair friends. After that comes the last step which no words can describe. I am so glad to have it and thankful to learn that my words have been of help to you. I am going to send it to the paper.

Faithfully yours. You are right & I will act accordingly. My thanks to you for the same. India My dear Mrs. Mrs. 23rd was more than welcome. we find him perfectly established in that. With deep regards to you & heartfelt prayers. is wise. A direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna 2. before you send Mrs.Janes. hold true in all human relations. 1. even in the relation of a mother to her daughter. Howrah. We do not mind the sorrow or the disgrace if in the end. 22nd 1900 Math. as soon as he is that. unless he is perfectly self-adjusted. I believe your idea of his ‘getting to a full adjustment to his Guru’. Sara Bull. It gives me such pleasure to think that faithful Santi is with you in these moments. He will be a tower of strength than ever. is perfectly true. an American disciple of Swami Vivekananda References Courtesy: Ramakrishna Museum. I cannot tell how much I have learnt from you. I will think of you so much during the Birthday (March 11th). Remember me kindly to Dr. I will draw $100 more from our joint accounts. Everything is going on as usual here. I am glad you have always held this real love to Olea & ever gave her freedom. Belur. I had a nice little note from Santi last mail & enclose a few lines to her. I am glad the conferences are successful. I hope you are keeping well & not looking yet as my brother wrote me. The secret of giving liberty of thought and action to those we love and of reserving the same for us in all circumstances. in yours. if I think best. So you are sailing for Paris by the 21st of March.Bull2 Your kind letter of Jan. Belur Math T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 222 ~ J U N E H 0 21 01 1 1 M A R C 2 . I thank you for sending the letters of Mrs. while at America to regulate my conduct towards my friends. Your decision to ‘take a new step in personal freedom’. But do you not be anxious Granny I am quite well again. He will be dragged down again by all these family dissensions.S. I cannot feel that this [is] the moment for the Swamiji to come back here. Saradananda P.22 Feb. & Mrs. seeing your example.Wheeler. I have not been well for the last fortnight.Wheeler’s second contribution. I believe I caught a little cold. I thank you for your suggestion regarding the use of the Famine Fund & your contribution. I am so glad she thinks so highly of you. I have received the acknowledgement of the Bank for £143-10S. I hope your voyage & stay there will be perfect. looking upon love as a perpetual harmonious cooperation for the growth of the parties to infinite power & freedom. Yes the best step now for you and all of us is to hold quietly to our centre of realisation with a firm faith that everything needed will come to us sure.

we do not have much information about early years.B. In the Haridwar region killer diseases such as Cholera and T. The reports of later years are available and they are a mine of information. leaving many inspiring lessons for every person interested in service and spirituality. In those days.) Kumbha Mela Down the Decades Now let us look at how the activities and facilities in the Sevashrama grew along with various Kumbha Melas held in the last 100 years. But the printed Annual Reports of the Sevashrama are available only from 1904 onward. The poor patients—deserted by their families for the fear of infection—were accommodated in these two The author is a monk of the Ramakrishna Order at Ramakrishna Math. It is recorded that this happened on Mahavaruni day in April in 1905 (as also in Purna Kumbha mela of 1998). Hence. . The 1903 and 1915 Kumbha The Kankhal Sevashrama prints its annual report every year. It is a fascinating study in itself. sudden outbreak of Cholera or gastroenteritis was common. . Kankhal. have been rampant. for the comfort of the patients. Again. Uttarakhand. This was needed to keep the patients in quarantine and provide them better care.B. Hence new blocks for treatment of Tuberculosis and Cholera were constructed in 1911 and 1915 respectively. block (presently Ashrama’s main office building). during the Mela. and especially of how the Kumbha Mela of 1903 was celebrated. T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 223 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 . Annual Report of 1912 reveals that by 1912.Seeing Through A Living Legend An Overview of Ramakrishna Movement in Haridwar vis-à-vis Kumbha Mela SWAMI UMESHWARANANDA (Continued from the previous issue. This An archival photo of Hari-ki-pauri. But there are other interesting facts too. Haridwar was done to give a cool and cosy ambience for the terminally ill patients. a large hall with high ceiling had been constructed above T. additional six bigas [2.5 acres] of land were added to build a Cholera Ward.

India was under the British rule then. The drug for T. to consign the dead bodies to the holy flame (the group cremated nine bodies during the Mela). as was the custom then. patients were discarded by the society. he will go for madhukari bhiksha [begging for food from houses like a honey bee collects honey from different flowers] in some alms-house in Rishikesh. another land. A real lesson in dedication. Further. To suit their administrative control. Swami Nischayananda would go to Rishikesh daily. In 1938. The Sevashrama also treated 28 Cholera cases. carrying a medicine-box and a package of food for the patients. 53 indoor. early in the morning. At noon. This he did year after year. T h e The 1927 Kumbha By 1922. about 8400 pilgrimpatients were treated by the Sevashrama. Though poorly equipped. Braving inclement weather and difficult jungle terrain. Incidentally. This enabled the Sevashrama to accommodate and treat a larger number of patients most of whom were poor. In this Mela. In the evening. In those trying times. the Sevashrama could serve a large number of patients during the 1915 Kumbha Mela—thanks to the inspiring presence of Swamis Nischayananda and Kalyanananda. J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 224 ~ . The police personnel walked with (leather) shoes on the areas considered sacred. Swami Nischayananda also organised a four-member funeral -group. The 1938 Kumbha As is known. treatment had not been invented then and hence the T. treating more than 24000 patients during that year. measuring four bighas was purchased for constructing workers’ quarters.24 buildings. a rest house. Panchayati Nirvani Akhara gifted 2 bighas of land to the Sevashrama. making the Himalayan shrines accessible to the common man. their bodies were immersed in the Ganges. he will pass through the area called Chila forest (now called Rajaji National Park). walking a distance of nearly 30 miles (48 km). This helped expand the medical work of the Sevashrama. however. Both these tragedies had violently shaken the Haridwar region. They would just take care of law and order. the British government constructed network of motorable roads in the Himalayan areas. by the Sevashrama monks. The Sevashrama organized a camp for pilgrims and monks in Purna Kumbha Mela in 1927. the construction of four general wards was completed. The Sevashrama monks would wholeheartedly serve these patients until the last. The government. he would at times bring the patients from Rishikesh to Sevashrama—if the patient’s condition was serious and needed constant nursing. Twenty new beds were added to the existing 40-bed strength of the hospital. Mela by the eminent national leader Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. in 1925. Gandhiji visited the Sevashrama during the Mela days. 1835 in OPD and 20 in Mobile unit. was quite indifferent to making arrangements for the Kumbha Melas. One Babu Bhajan Lall Lohia of Calcutta supplied medicines and foodstuffs and bore the entire cost of the Cholera ward. a guest house and so on.B. The patients were given all the care needed and when they would die. Finally a strong public protest against this disrespect to the Hindu sentiment was expressed through an agitation in 1927 Kumbha. and return in the evening. without any fanfare. Here are some figures: 825 patients in the Mela Camps.B. that too in a slipshod way. These additions equipped the Sevashrama to conduct an extensive relief for the fire victims in 1914 and to floor victims in 1924.

many temporary huts and shops with dry grass had been erected on the other bank of Ganga.. The Mela authorities started calling advance meetings of various Akharas to arrive at general consensus with regard to following fair and well thought-out bathing procedures. the government instituted a traffic control tower to monitor and control the surging crowds during the Melas. the Sevashrama accommodated around 600 pilgrims. Besides. The 1962 Kumbha J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 225 ~ . In 1949. about 430 patients were treated. Prominent dignitaries like Sri Govind Vallabh Pant. This temporary set up was housed in tents. Undaunted by these calamities. visited the Sevashrama during the Mela. The 1950 Kumbha was the first Kumbha Mela after Independence.000. a temporary indoor hospital of T h e 40 beds was added to the Sevashrama’s permanent indoor hospital of 50 beds. Gupta.P.25 During Purna Kumbha Mela of 1938. Haridwar city was struck by a Cholera epidemic. Slowly things began to change. the Sevashrama constructed an overhead water tank and an underground drainage system in the Sevashrama. leading to a stampede and many deaths. massive arrangements were made to meet this situation.P. with a financial grant from the government of Uttar Pradesh. during the protracted Mela celebration from February to April 1950. Besides. the national government took special interest in organising the Kumbha Mela. A recent photo of Sevashrama Main Building (female OPD) The 1950 Kumbha The British government wanted to ban the Ardha Kumbha Mela of 1944 citing the ongoing Second World War. Thus.B. causing a stampede in which many people were killed. At that time. As it was estimated that about 15 lakh pilgrims were likely to take part in the Mela. two temporary dispensaries were run by the Sevashrama in the crowded parts of Mela complex at Bhimgoda and Bhupatwala where several thousand pilgrims were treated. Also.. During the Mela. Swami Yatiswarananda of Vedanta Society of Philadelphia (USA) and Swami Devatmananda of Vedanta Society of Portland (USA). Despite all precautions. After India’s independence. Arrangements for accommodating about 1. They took care to avoid stampede which often took place due to Naga Sadhus trying to take lead over others in taking the holy dip in Ganga on the appointed auspicious timings. But a strong public outcry by leaders like KC Neogi and others led to their dropping the ban. the Sevashrama rose to the occasion and helped to assuage the suffering victims. It is only after this mishap. Haridwar was still a small city with a population of 80. an iron road barrier collapsed due to the pressure of the onrushing crowd. Sri C.000 Sadhus and pilgrims in thatched huts and tents were made in the Sevashrama. Unfortunately they caught fire and panic-stricken people ran helter-skelter. the health minister of U. the Chief Minister of U.

the 10th President of the Ramakrishna Order. the Chief Minister of U.P. the then Vice President of the Ramakrishna Order. the General Secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission laid the foundation stone of the doctors’ quarters and in April 1956.P.. the Chief Minister of U. the Sevashrama acquired about 1 1/4 acres land from Panchayati Nirvani Akhara and constructed hostel for nurses and many other buildings. Swami Vireswarananda. 450 pilgrims and 130 sadhus were accommodated and fed during the period. measuring 1. In 1978 the Sevashrama took a long stride. The Sevashrama accommodated 800 sadhus. In 1957.7 acres to construct doctors’ quarters. there was no place and possibility to accommodate women J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 226 ~ . The Kumbha Mela in 1974 was held from 20 February to 14 April. inaugurated it. when an adjacent land. This enabled the Sevashrama to accommodate all the hospital beds and wards. In 1979. Gopala Reddy opened the Sevashrama’s newly constructed three-storeyed Swami Vivekananda Centenary Hospital building. It was opened in 1998 by Swami Ranganathananda. opened the X-Ray block (with an operation theatre). the governor of U. Sri B. These developments point to the Sevashrama’s commitment to provide better medical care to sadhus and pilgrims. It also ran first aid unit and the mobile dispensary at the Mela grounds. donated for many of the projects. Jollygrant. As part of the arrangement for the Kumbha Mela of 1962. The Sevashrama organised medical relief camp hospital of 50 beds. Dr Sampurnananda. A Vedanta Sammelan (conference) was held from 10 to 12 April. In 1971. Cultural programmes took place from 1 to 15 April. On the last day of the Mela.26 acres.26 The Sevashrama continued to expand its activities. Sir Ness Wadia and Hinduja Foundation and Swami Ram of the Himalayan Hospital. the Sevashrama was renamed as Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama.P. The 1974 Kumbha T h e In April 1968. installed in block and a cowshed. Arrangements were also made for accommodation in the thatched huts along with arrangements for washrooms and other facilities. devotees and pilgrims. scattered in different blocks. it acquired the adjacent 2. in a well-decorated special pandal. approximately 40 lakh 1963 people took bath. As monks had been directly handling nursing work. In 1955. kitchen Swamiji’s marble image at the Sevashrama. for legal and administrative purposes. In 1952. laid foundation for the new Out Patient building for women.. The Sevashrama doctors treated several thousand pilgrims and sadhus. belonging to Madhab Ashrama was acquired. about 50 temporary beds (in tents) were added. The 1986 Kumbha In the year 1980. in this new three-storeyed building.

000 medical cases were handled. the stay of the pilgrims at Haridwar was for a shorter period. It added twenty-five beds in a temporary shed during the four month long Mela period. under sector officers. May to July 2010) Here are some interesting facts and figures about this Mela: The main bathing Ghat of Hari-ki-pauri. Unfortunately. km demarcated region. Many temporary Ghats within an area of 22 km. It is estimated that about eight crore pilgrims from India and 140 countries took holy bath in the Ganges. The central government released Rs. can accommodate approximately 30 to 40 thousand bathers at a time. Arrangements were made for parking about one lakh vehicles in an area covering 300 hectare spread over 45 places. On 14 April. The Purna Kumbha Snan Parva in 1986 was held from 13 February to 24 April. The new five-storeyed block met this need by increasing the beds from 67 to its present 150 bed and by appointing female nurses to look after the female and child patients. in this long and highly popular event. more than in the earlier one. 50 lakh pilgrims took bath in Brahmakunda at the Hari-kipauri.27 patients.63 crore people took holy bath. the newly formed state made excellent arrangements on an unprecedented scale. Therefore. Devotees and monks were accommodated for seven days (9 to 15 April). Therefore. about 1. the Government constructed many new permanent Ghats within an area of 4.550 crore to the State for conducting the Mela. on the Ganga canal and the diversion channel flowing by the side of Sati Ghat and Daksha Mandir. The Mela area was spread over 132 sq. Besides the Mela Camp organised discourses and cultural events. The Sevashrama provided medical relief and also organized cultural programmes and religious discourses. Mostly on the important auspicious snan days. nine people lost their precious lives to mar the otherwise tragedyfree Mahakumbha. (For a detailed article. The Vedanta Kesari. in two separate accidents. However. In these Ghats about one crore pilgrims could take bath in 24 hours. which was in finishing stage but still unoccupied. all under the Chief Mela Officer. A sea of humanity of different hues and nationality converged at Haridwar for this mega religious event. Two new permanent bridges were constructed over the Ganga Canal.75 km. were also built. The 2010 Kumbha The Maha Kumbha of 2010 was not only the first Purna Kumbha of the present millennium.The Sevashrama made provision to accommodate more than 2200 pilgrims in the new NOPD building. in order T h e to disperse the crowd to other places. the main bathing day. when about 75. as per the reading of the Satellite Remote Sensing system. one noticeable thing was that this time. The camping area was spread over 140 hectares. Seven people were killed in stampede. An estimated one crore people from all parts of India and abroad took part in the Mela. The 1998 Kumbha The Kumbha of 1998 was held from January to April. see ‘The World Largest Act of Faith’. The Sevashrama had been periodically upgrading its medical facilities. where every pilgrim/monk wants to take holy dip. J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 227 ~ . The Maha Kumbha began with all fanfare on January 14 and concluded on the 28 April. it was also the first one after the formation of the new State of Uttarakhand. On the last day. on 14 April.

they no longer live under the sky in groups. and some kind and comforting words. took bath and went away at the earliest.Delhi) 5 . Hindu Mythology and Religion by John Dowson (Rupa & Co. in their heart. A Ganges of the Mind by Steven Darian (Ratna Sagar. 4. These two deeds are not different. Although the number of pilgrims is increasing. pilgrims were asked to take bath in the newly built Ghats near the bus stand (on the Ganga canal) and leave the city as early as possible. (Concluded. while those who had resources and influence took bath in the Hariki-pauri. more faith and they were more conscious of the impermanence of world. The Swami [Swami Kalyanananda] met us on the way and said. the growth of the Sevashrama and the Kumbha Melas in the last hundred years is intertwined. you may go home and do whatever you like. Further. there is a temple. Earlier.. food. enjoying a few days stay in this fairyland. Kankhal. instead of staying here in the Mela camps months together. To me.) Bibliography Himalayan Pilgrimages and the New Tourism by Jagdish Kaur (Himalayan Book) 2 . they have less time for contemplative life let alone for austerity. They no longer stay in the makeshift Pandals/camps on the river bed but prefer staying with all creature comforts in the costly hotels which have been mushrooming in the city. The Sevashrama is a fine example of how to combine spiritual practices and service activities in one. The reason for this perceptible change is not far to seek. In poverty. God-fearing pilgrims and monks who delved into the real meaning and purpose of life is slowly coming down. it benefits both the person who serves. The number of such simple. If you think they are contradictory. preferably in their own vehicles (that is why parking space had to be increased). they had. ‘modernised’ and the sense of austerity is waning. and the person who is served. the pilgrims come in fits and starts. on the other side. Epilogue In conclusion. It is only this year the Helicopter services were introduced so that pilgrims could come here through aerial route on selected snan days. In blooming economy. making their own arrangement for food and lodging.’ Indeed. without staying here for a longer period. Feb 2010 by the State Government 6. Now. both are spiritual acts leading to the same goal. ‘You see. flowers. the whole thing is becoming so costly. Uttaranchal Darshan (in Hindi) dt. In the process. doing act of penance intensively and continuously. He wrote. this time. mostly just to peep in and then go away. You go there with fruits. You go there to the patients with medicines. let us quote Swami Sarvagatananda who lived with Swami Kalyanananda for some years. far less for so many days. There. Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama. enjoy a bird’s eye-view of the Mela city and go back. whether it is acquired or selfinflicted. and offer them with prayers and hymns. you see the hospital. they are the same. through the Ages by Swami Kirtidananda J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 228 ~ . Naturally. Sarvamangala Press. N. Mahakumbha Parva (in Bengali) by Sabyasachi Sinha. Bankura T h e 1. there is a sense of leisure and abundance of time to spare for doing spiritual practices for months. New Delhi) 3.28 they came in hordes.

but God would not go back to His abode in heaven.Sri Ramakrishna was a master-story teller. and perhaps also from disease and grief?’ The reply is.’ Again. a few days afterwards.’ Don’t you know how Rama had to weep. Hiranyaksha was eventually killed. and the other traits of an embodied being. anecdotes. He enjoyed His sow’s life. he told me to go forward. One day he remembered the brahmachari’s words. One day he thought: ‘The brahmachari didn’t ask me to stop at the silver-mine. mainly culled from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (published by Sri Ramakrishna Math. 453-454) J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 229 ~ . just see! This is why he asked me to go forward. ‘My good man. while narrating a story. A few days later he again remembered the words of the holy man to go forward. He went deeper into the forest and discovered a silver-mine near a river. and the Lord came out laughing aloud and went back to His own abode. He got so much money that he didn’t even know how much he had. You may ask. The following stories.’ Going deep into the forest.415-416) Parable of the Wood-Cutter Once upon a time a wood-cutter went into a forest to chop wood. examples and analogies to drive home his point. he amply used stories. Mylapore. The gods said among themselves: ‘What does this mean? The Lord doesn’t care to return to heaven!’ They all went to Siva and laid the matter before him. This was even beyond his dreams. ‘Today I shall go deeper into the forest. At times. he would even make gestures and change the tone of his voice to bring in a lively element in his narrative. Then Siva destroyed the sow body with his trident. (Pp. He sold them in the market and became very rich.’ This time he went to the other side of the river and found a gold-mine. it is said that the Lord incarnated Himself as a sow in order to kill the demon Hiranyaksha. he discovered innumerable sandal-wood trees. But the sow only suckled her young ones. thirst. ‘How is it possible for God to be incarnated as a man who suffers from hunger. While he spoke of profound spiritual truths and mystery of human life. Chennai) are an attempt to present before the readers Sri Ramakrishna’s rich storehouse of stories which are both illuminating and simple. Siva came down and urged the Lord to leave the sow body and return to heaven. 6 The Mystery of Maya There is a greater manifestation of God in man. He was very happy and returned with cart-loads of sandal-wood. (Pp. The holy man said to him. He said to himself. He had given birth to several young ones and was rather happy with them. entrapped in the snare of the five elements. he went still deeper into the forest and found heaps of diamonds and other precious gems. stricken with grief for Sita? Further. Then he exclaimed: ‘Ah. go forward.’ On returning home the wood-cutter asked himself. A few more days passed. There suddenly he T h e met a brahmachari. He dug out silver from the mine and sold it in the market. He took these also and became as rich as the god of wealth himself. ‘Why did the brahmachari tell me to go forward?’ Some time passed. ‘Even Brahman weeps.

Destiny brought Swamiji and Ajit Singh together on 4 June 1891 at Mount Abu. the Maharaja heard about ful and interested in spiritual matters.’ —Swami Vivekananda1 Swami Vivekananda’s friendship with Maharaja Ajit Singh of Khetri was enacted against the backdrop of Khetri. there is another possible explanation of the Maharaja’s having heard about Shri Ramakrishna. where he was also staying. We are as supplement and complement. Ajit Singh and myself are two souls born to help each other in a big work for the good of mankind. In 1890. This great scholar spread the holy name of Shri Ramakrishna in the area of Khetri years before the Master passed away in 1886. . as it were. characterized by its long heroic history and independent spirit. Pandit Narayan Shastri first met Sri Ramakrishna and was initiated into sannyasa by the Master. T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 230 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 . When the Maharaja was informed by his Minister that a Bengali Sadhu had appeared at Mount Abu. barely two years apart hands of Providence. . . a sanctified town in Northern Rajasthan. 1891. he had a great desire to meet him. Shri Ramakrishna from these scholars. and Light from the Orient. They were Singh were held together by two mysterious nearly of the same age. New York. (Swami Vivekananda was born on 12 January Maharaja Ajit Singh visited Calcutta. among others. in the Khetri House at Mount Abu. It has been suggested that first conversation that the Maharaja was truthduring this visit. and the Head of Vedanta Society.Swami Vivekananda’s Special Relationship with Raja Ajit Singh SWAMI TATHAGATANANDA ‘Certain men are born in certain periods to perform certain actions in combination. His books include The Journey of Upanishads to the West. he organized a conference of October 1861). However. that of a Guru and his disciple. Maharaja Ajit Singh A Cherished Bond Raja Ajit Singh and Swami Swami Vivekananda and Maharaja Ajit Vivekananda met for the first time. While he 1863 and Raja Ajit Singh was born on 16 was there. On June 4. Swamiji understood from their Sanskrit scholars. where their friendship gradually developed through their mutual interest in significant spiritual and secular topics. and was The author is a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Order. The friendship intensified when they travelled to Khetri and it became clear that theirs was the most sacred friendship.

Their mutual talent and love for music brought them especial joy on June 27. They discussed all Vina-player. 1891. they left Mount Abu together on ripened quickly. Swamiji thoroughly enjoyed this visit and culture. His first question to Swamiji was. The MahaJune 4 lasted until 24 July. and on two raja became Swamiji’s loyal friend and one of occasions (June 15 and June 22). Overall. ‘Life is the unfoldment and development of a being under circumstances tending to press it down. Once Swami Vivekananda was siasm. He also initiated Munshi Jagmohanlal and many stay together. with Ajit Singh’s recitals on the Vina. music. according to the July 24 for Khetri. His recital would charm music these topics in depth with mutual enthuconnoisseurs.31 a deep thinker with a sincere concern for others. Swamiji met the panied by the Maharaja on the harmonium. has been written that. They arrived at the MahaWaqayat Register. They felt a unique joy and cordiality in With deepening mutual enthusiasm and each other’s presence and their friendship friendship. ‘What is life?’ Swami Vivekananda replied. They recognized his appreciation by nodding his head. and science. Religion and India’s social conditions present at the Raja’s Vina recital and showed interested them the most. The Joys of Their Treasured Fateh Bilas—Raja’s Palace (now a centre of Ramakrishna Math) in Khetri Friendship Swami Vivekananda and Ajit Singh Ajit Singh’s skill on the Vina was notable. Their first grace to the Maharaja by initiating him. Later each other as kindred souls. The Maharaja’s on he addressed the Raja: “What an enchanting sincere quest for truth was genuine.2 they were in almost contiraja’s palace in Khetri on 7 August. Swamiji bestowed his special nuous association with each other for a period of nearly four-and-a-half months. T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 231 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 . It shared a passionate interest in philosophy. Swamiji regarded eight hours together discussing religion and him with utmost affection. which began at Mount Abu on others from the Maharaja’s court.’ His reply describes the circumstances into which Swamiji was born and within which he developed into manhood. Swamiji sang devotional hymns accomledge. He laboured under oppressive conditions during his entire life. They often met for their evening meal. ‘The Raja was an expert poetry. 1891. The Maharaja respectfully asked Swamiji about religion and education. There were many philosophers in Maharaja Ajit Singh’s court. they spent his most devoted disciples. That used every opportunity to enhance his knowday. His spirispell you cast with your Vina!”’3 One talented tual fervour compelled Swamiji to become Ajit musician of Swamiji’s calibre was very pleased Singh’s spiritual guru as well as his friend. A few days later.

[Hereafter Forgotten Chapter] According to Benishankar Shankar in Forgotten Chapter. Benishankar Sharma. 118. Patanjali’s great commentary on Panini’s Sanskrit Grammar. Pandit ledge. Nothing of musons. Swamiji gave his blessing for a male Singh set up a rudimentary laboratory on the child. under whose guidance he studied the Mahabhashya. chemistry and astronomy. 1963).32 eminent grammarian Pandit Narayan Das. having been sent self-educated man with a great thirst for knowthere by the Maharaja’s legal advisor. . by the court astrologer of Khetri in 1899 and The Maharaja and his wife. p. 380. He thus satisfied a desire he had been nurturing since his days at the Baranagore Math. 1. He also studied the Yajurveda under the tutelage of Pandit Sunderlaji Ojha. The Maharaja had provided a room for Swamiji ded his longing for an heir and asked for Swamiji’s blessing. 3. he confitual interest escaped their investigation. Adarsha Naresh (1940). The famed maestro Musraf Khan performed on the Vina before Swamiji on 21 The room (in Fateh Bilas) on the top is where Swamiji and the October 1891. Swami Vivekananda—A Forgotten Chapter of His Life (Calcutta: Oxford Book & Stationery T h e Co.) References 2. During this first visit at Khetri. J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 232 ~ . His heart moved to compaabove the roof of his palace.. Although sixteen years of marriage was exhilarating on every level of their being had passed. it may be rememand receptive student. stry and spent hours peering through a microscope to satisfy their insatiable curiosity about (To be continued. Jawaharlal their time together teaching the Maharaja Nehru’s horoscope was eventually prepared lessons in physics. Queen sent to him. they set up a lab of physics and chemiwife but continued to rely on his sincere prayers for a son and had full faith in Swamiji. Champabatji. Swami Vivekananda in a letter to Munshi Jagmohanlal on 11 October 1897. had two daughters but no male The friendship of Swamiji and Ajit Singh children. his wife had not given birth to and the days passed quickly. which led him to a deeper understanding of the Vedas. Swamiji and Ajit ssion. Poets and musicians also filled the court of the Maharaja. p. he spent a great deal of bered that as per Motilal’s request. . Swamiji found him to be an excellent Motilal Nehru. In passing. the Astadhyayi. Ajit Singh was largely a Music Conference in Paris. The Meastro subRaja used to study the night sky with the help of a telescope sequently performed at the World the world of nature. Jhabarmal Sharma. Elsewhere in the palace. The purity of Ajit Singh’s character is roof from which they observed the celestial revealed in the fact that he never took a second spheres through a telescope.

Bless him. Swami Vivekananda Swami Vivekananda’s fun-making was of the merry type. he (Landsberg) would tear his hairs.A. T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 233 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 .’ To this. however. In order to bring down their ever pure and meditative mind down to the worldly plane. They exemplified the idea that religion is not a gloomy affair but a joyful and blissful living ‘for religion is the best thing in the world’. The food Swamiji would cook would be delicious but too hot for the Western palate. he would sometimes say. Funke.S.Direct Disciples in Their Lighter Moments H MUKHERJEE The great direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna were spiritually liberated men. made up their minds to eat it. brethren. where Swamiji held informal spiritual classes. they would often have fun and frolic with the disciples and devotees. affairs of this mundane world were a source of amusement. The students had. Landsberg. Mary C. While in Thousand Island Park. unlike worldly men and women who take them seriously and respond accordingly. We will narrate here some of these lighter moments related to some of the direct disciples. ‘I made up my mind Swami Vivekananda to eat it even if it strangled me. Maharashtra. a devotee. A retired officer from the Ministry of Industry in the Central Government. If a Vivekananda can cook for me. U. At such times we will have whirlwind of fun. would cry out in an aside. the author is associated with Ramakrishna Math. Nagpur. ‘Now I am going to cook for you. a lady attending the discourses. ‘Heaven save us!’ By way of explanation he said that in New York when Swamiji cooked. Such illumined souls radiated joy and happiness and shared them with all. To them. which it nearly did.’ Swamiji would stand in the door with a white napkin draped over his arm like the waiters in dining cars and say like a typical waiter. because it meant that every dish in the house required washing as these would get mixed with hot Indian spice. In the words of Mrs. I guess the least I can do is to eat it.

’ and the students would respond with hearty laughter. smacking his lips. One day he arranged with someone to look at Swami Akhandananda with one eye (which is considered very inauspicious) when he got up from bed.3 J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 234 ~ . he felt much better and was keen to return to Sargachi. Swamiji would say with utmost gravity but with a merry twinkle in his eyes. he had to be brought to Balaram Mandir at Kolkata. when the learned doctor would come a trifle late to the dining table. in the real essence of your being. Often he would read comic papers like Punch and would laugh at the jokes therein heartily. Sometimes. ‘Here comes Brahman’ or ‘Here is the Absolute. ‘Simply de-li-cious!’2 Swami Brahmananda Sri Ramakrishna himself loved to have fun and frolic and this trait he had passed on to his disciples. does not it? I am Brahman. it all amounts to this in the end. I am the Absolute. ‘Yes Dokie. Swami Akhandananda had once fallen seriously ill at Sargachi Ashrama. which again resulted in postponement of his departure to Sargachi. which continued for about seven months. They would often tease each other that would indirectly throw light on the deep bond among each other. Dr. After treatment and nursing.34 ‘Last call for the dining cab. Absorbed in the lectures he would say invariably at the end. Swami Brahmananda or Raja Maharaj would often pull the leg of his brother T h e An archival photo of Belur Math disciples. Dinner served. All were charmed to see this affectionate game between the two brother disciples. you are Brahman.’1 During his stay in West. Wright of Cambridge was also attending the discourse at Thousand Island Park.’ Later. how did you like my predecessor?’ The cannibal chief replied. He would try to postpone Swami Akhandananda’s departure on some pretext or the other. ‘Well Swami. Swamiji had to work under trying circumstances and yet he would have his moments of fun and humour. He loved to tell the story of a Christian missionary who was sent to preach to an island peopled by cannibals. Raja Maharaj sent some monks to Sargachi to nurse him. The freshly arrived missionary went to meet the Chief of the tribe and asked him. Raja Maharaj was also at that time staying at Balaram Bhavan.’ Swamiji would smile and say gently. ‘Well. As his health did not improve. you are the Absolute. he would show the picture of a scorpion or some such inauspicious picture (Swami Akhandananda believed in such bad omens) on the day of his departure to postpone his visit.

he was sitting in an easy chair on the porch overlooking the Ganges at Belur Math and was chatting with some young monks in a relaxed manner. Orissa. for initiation on Sri Thakur’s Tithi Puja day. otherwise I will not initiate you. The railway station at Bhadrak was several miles away from Kothar. he saw Maharaj standing there. Swami Saradananda is very rich. but there is one condition. ‘Yes. You are his attendant. Raja Maharaj said gravely. They would conspire to tease young monks. Kiran to get initiated into brahmacharya vows.35 But the funniest trick played on Gangadhar Maharaj was on another occasion. Raja Maharaj was happy in the company of his brother monk and repeatedly requested him to stay longer. President of the Belur Math. On the appointed date. When the palanquin stopped. it was time for Br. Gangadhar Maharaj told Raja Maharaj of his impending departure. Go to Swami Saradananda and J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 235 ~ . who headed the Vedanta Society of Portland. On the day before he wanted to leave. Maharaj was residing at Kothar. As he was getting out of the palanquin. There are many such incidents. With utter astonishment on his face. in the parental home of Balaram Babu. After some time Gangadhar Maharaj fell asleep. After listening to young Kiran’s request. He took permission from Swami Saradananda and T h e Swami Brahmananda approached Swami Brahmananda. they came back. Kiran expressed his inability to pay the same. At his invitation. Then he said. Swami Akhandananda or Gangadhar Maharaj had come to stay there for a few days. brother?’ Gangadhar Maharaj realised that it was Maharaj’s ploy to keep him from going on that day. Maharaj had told the bearers beforehand to come back with the palanquin to the house in Kothar once Gangadhar Maharaj fell asleep. but Gangadhar Maharaj was determined to leave. about the bonhomie between Swami Brahmananda and Swami Saradananda. As per the rules of the Math. Br Kiran (as Swami Aseshananda was known then) was serving as an attendant to Swami Saradananda.’ When Br. Maharaj asked. It was night. Gangadhar Maharaj thought they had reached the station. You will have to pay me rupees one hundred and eight in advance as Gurudakshina (honorarium for the Guru). When he went to Swami Brahmananda. Gangadhar Maharaj took leave from Maharaj and sat inside the palanquin. I will. ‘I have a suggestion that will solve your problem. USA for many years. Accordingly. a story is told by Swami Aseshananda. 4 Again. ‘Why have you returned. He has all the money from Udbodhan. The bearers of the palanquin set out. Raja Maharaj remained quiet for sometime.

later the 8th President of the Ramakrishna Order. You will have your Brahmacharya with the others. ‘It has been arranged. Kiran returned to Udbodhan and told Swami Saradananda of the happenings at Belur Math with a dejected mind. You will have to dance. The play was going on. After sometime Swami Saradananda came out of Maharaja’s room and said without any emotion. After his meditation was over. ‘Gobinda. you come from Midnapore.’ Swami T h e Aseshananda was to write fifty years later. If you do it well I will give brahmacharya to you. then I will believe it. for me.’ After the game was over. After a few minutes together with Raja Maharaj. Seeing me disturbed.36 request him to pay that amount for you. ‘Empty words! How I am to know if he will do as he promises with nothing in writing? You are his secretary. After hearing him. Swami Saradananda. ’I can only speculate about what transpired between the two brother monks as they discussed “my case” and finally brought it to conclusion. Without hesitation. Raja Maharaj shouted at him and said. He found that Swami Saradananda was in deep meditation. But to Kiran’s dismay. ‘Very well. ‘You fool. Kiran appraised him with all that was said by Raja Maharaj.’ Relieved. What he asks for will be given. Swami Saradananda accompanied by Br. Prepare something for him to sign.’ Today we may conjecture that whatever might have been discussed on ‘this case’ between the two great saints. While Nirode Maharaj was playing as a partner to Maharaj—in the opposite party. ‘What can I do alone Maharaj! I did not get any support from Shashi Maharaj. I could see that Maharaj was repeatedly winning because of mistakes by Shashi Maharaj. Kiran went to Belur Math and met Swami Brahmananda. Maharaj was in very cheerful mood—especially because of my futile efforts to win. Useless was my appeal—a lot of good cards were wasted because of Shashi Maharaj— finally we suffered a heavy loss. Shashi Maharaj took me aside and scolded me severely and said. Maharaj was getting mirthful. it would have been preceded by a hearty laugh from both. Kiran rushed back to Belur Math and after prostrating before Raja Maharaj repeated Swami Saradananda’s message. I will come with you to Belur Math. Gobinda performed the dance with suitable gestures that the form of dance required and Maharaj was delighted and laughed heartily. I was playing very seriously from the start—I was very keen to defeat Maharaj in card play. Swami Saradananda heard Kiran gravely and advised him to return to Belur Math and tell Raja Maharaj that ‘I am his and everything in Udbodhan belongs to him as well. He was at that time in Madras Math under Swami Ramakrishnananda (Shashi Maharaj) and was known as Br.’ Kiran returned to Udbodhan. Here is the story in first person: One day Maharaj (Swami Brahmananda) sat down for playing cards with us in Madras Math.’ While young Kiran was standing speechless. I also became very angry and told him. On seeing this. Jiten Maharaj.5 Another similar amusing story is told by Swami Visuddhananda. Maharaj called another candidate and said. Shashi Maharaj was being partnered by me. Nonplussed. I can see that you have become a professional player! You thought that I was sitting with Maharaj to play a serious game? Did you not see his face lighted with heavenly glow every time he won a hand? Even on seeing repeatedly J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 236 ~ . When I have his signature. Swami Saradananda asked Kiran to wait outside. I became more determined to win and told Shashi Maharaj to play carefully so that we can at least win one hand.’ Next day. after the fashion that Orissa people are fond of.

Swami Aseshananda. p. Duryodhana was destroyed. p. ‘You boys. Advaita Ashrama. that is why he has ventured to send a few of them’ and ‘repeat to him exactly these words in the same way I am telling you. Sri Ramakrishna Math.72-73 Swami Brahmanander Smritikatha (Bengali). . . they gave the basket containing cauliflowers to Mahapurush Maharaj and conveyed to him Raja Maharaj’s message word by word. Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda. How would you know about his grace and compassion?’ Naturally. Foolish fellow. (To be continued . the demon-king Bali fell into bondage. Swami Nikhilananda. Kolkata.37 his beatific smile like that of a divine child.7 Though a simple anecdote. Hence one should avoid being too much immoderate in every way. Chennai. I was flabbergasted on hearing Swami Ramakrishnananda. Maharaj called them and said. Edited by Swami Chetanananda. He had a mind to send you a boatful of cauliflowers but it was not possible. —Traditional sayings T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 237 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 . Maharaj gave them some money for the porter and towards boat fare. 7. Swami Prabhananda.210 Brahmanandacharit (Bengali). Pp. Once he and his friend went to see Maharaj at Balaram Mandir.) References 1. Pp. my longings for seeing it were not fulfilled. How could I ever imagine that there was such a deep meaning in playing of cards between great souls? My goodness! How deep was Shashi Maharaj’s love and reverence for Maharaj! There was no place for anger and jealousy in their heart!6 Swami Kashishwarananda narrates another amusing story. Sri Ramakrishna Math. Advaita Ashrama. by being too much lustful.26 Swami Brahmananda As We Saw Him.168-170) Glimpses of a Great Soul. it speaks how simple dealings of life can be made joyful and graceful. 253 Vivekananda A Biography. 4. Ravana met his ill-fated end.404-405 5. Mahapurush Maharaj responded by laughing wholeheartedly like a child and asked about the welfare of Maharaj. I was discarding the good cards deliberately. Chennai. . in the manner they were asked to. will you be able to carry some cauliflowers to the [Belur] Math?’ They readily agreed to his proposal. 6. A little before evening. He asked them to take prasad before returning. ‘Give it to Mahapurush Maharaj’ and tell him: ‘Maharaj has sent you these few cauliflowers. Kolkata. p. please do not mind and accept it. Edited by Swami Atmashraddhananda. Is he an ordinary man like us? He has taken birth for welfare of mankind. My main aim was to keep him in cheerful mood. Udbodhan. p.27 Swami Brahmananda As We Saw Him. 3. He pointed towards a big basket containing cauliflowers and said. Kolkata. You are a sadhu (monk) and can see an ocean in a drop. p. India’s Timeless Wisdom A{VXmZmV² ~{b~©Õmo ø{VXnm©V² gw`moYZ…& {dZï>mo amdUmo bmo^mX²-A{V gd©Ì dO©`V&& o ² By being too much charitable. by being too much proud of himself.’ After reaching Belur Math. 2.

He. This is a week-long festival of music where various Carnatic musicians from all over the world converge at his resting place. drama. His original name was Kakarla Tyagabrahmam but was more popularly known as Tyagaraja. brief puja. He was born in the village of Tiruvayyaru in today’s Thanjavur district of Tamilnadu. discourses. On this Saint-poet occasion thousands of people and hundreds of Carnatic musicians sing the five Pancharatna Kritis in unison. Sri Ramakrishna Math. form the Trinity of Carnatic music. He was a prolific composer and highly influential in the development of the South Indian classical music tradition. organized a Sri Sadguru Tyagabrahma Aradhana at Chennai Math on Sunday. Tyagabrahma Aradhana at Chennai Math Tyagaraja Commemoration of the 175th Birth Anniversary of Sri Ramakrishna The following centres of the Ramakrishna Order celebrated the 175th birth anniversary of Sri Ramakrishna. followed by rendering of Pancharatna Kritis and compositions of Tyagaraja by the teachers of Sarada Vidyalaya (a girls’ school of Ramakrishna Mission) at T. along with his contemporaries Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastry. The programme included a short introduction. Chennai. to the accompaniment of a large bank of accompanists on violins. the commemorative music festival is held every year at Thiruvayyaru. which are often sung in programmes in his honour. Baghbazar (in Kolkata)—procession. musical performance. the 17 April 2011 in Swami Ramakrishnananda Hall at its premises. mridangams and ghatams. Of special mention are five of his compositions called the Pancharatna Kritis (‘five gems’). Tyagaraja Aradhana. and seminar on Inter Religious Harmony and Peace T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 238 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 . The main programmes are given in parentheses. Mylapore. Nagar in Chennai. most of them in praise of Lord Rama—most of which remain very popular even today. flutes. nadasvarams.Sri Tyagabrahma Aradhana at Chennai Math Tyagaraja (1767-1847) was one of the greatest musician-saints of Indian classical tradition. on the banks of river Kaveri. Tyagaraja composed thousands of devotional compositions. in the months of January to February in Tyagaraja’s honour.

to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda: Kanpur (devotees’ convention on 10 April). for the students of those institutions. 150 school bags. 150 toothbrushes. our Japan centre distributed the following items to the victims: 101 blankets. Earthquake & Tsunami Relief: Japan: In wake of the devastating earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that hit the northeast coast of Japan on 11 March. On 23 March. 6 tatsals (weaving machines) and 6 sewing machines Kankurgachhi: 250 saris Malda: 10 bicycles. Sarisha (in West Bengal)—procession. bhajans and cultural programme on 16 April. 30 steel plates. Port Blair (youth conference on 23 April).Distress Relief: The following centres distributed various items. Salem (two dramas on the life and message of Swamiji on 12 and 26 January). to be used for Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations. The centre also purchased different kinds of green vegetables and dispatched them on 24 April to the shelters set up in the worst-affected areas in Tohoku. shown below. 2. near the Ramakrishna Mission headquarters office. Malda (in West Bengal)—discourses. 200 lungis. to needy people: Baghbazar: 2300 saris. Vadodara (in Gujarat)—public meetings. drama.. T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 239 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 . 75 soap bars. 38 water bottles. 150 packets of Horlicks. the birthday of Swami Yogananda. The following centres organized various programmes. 1550 cotton masks. a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. 118 children's garments Chapra: 236 blankets Guwahati:100 blankets. devotional music and drama on 9 and 10 April. 57 educational institutions in and around Hyderabad have started Vivekananda Centres of Human Excellence. the main ones shown in brackets. 14 packets of milk powder. personality development. Relief News 1.39 Kalady (in Kerala)—public meetings. The faculty of Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence of our Hyderabad centre will be visiting these places regularly and conduct classes on Swamiji’s message. Commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda On the initiative taken by Hyderabad Math. 183 New office building at Belur Math Distribution of relief material in West Bengal towels. etc. Revered President Maharaj inaugurated the newly constructed office building. various sanitary materials and 500 postcards. discourses and musical performance from 25 to 27 March. 150 tubes of toothpaste Swamiji's House: 2115 children's garments and 505 woollen chaddars Sikra Kulingram: 250 blankets. 106 shirts. devotional musical and film shows from 28 March to 17 April. 150 umbrellas.

paperback. a primer of Vedanta is likely to be perceived as a hard-to-understand book.For review in THE VEDANTA KESARI.202 + xiv. a few may be mentioned by way of illustration. The opening chapter on Definition of Terms is a very useful beginning. PRIMER OF VEDANTA By Swami Tyagisananda Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math. a reader will find that not one sentence in this primer is redundant. In the same way. CHENNAI PARAMAHAMSA A VEDANTIC TALE By R.will remove any misconception that Vedanta cannot be assimilated by common folk. The relative levels of reliability and limitations of the means of pramana. In that sense. T h e Knowledge acquired through agama pramana suffers many inadequacies such as the language used and its interpretations. publishers need to send us two copies of their latest publication.75 This book is a tale centred on the theme of philosophic ideals and teachings of Vedanta. R. explained in the primer are impressive. pratyaksha. there is greater reliability in the former. New Delhi . are unique as they ‘record the common experiences of many sages’ unlike other faiths where the scriptures are the experiences of one person. S.Math Road. SUNDARAM. A primer is an introductory book and Vedanta deals with the highest knowledge. As the author quotes another. Bali Nagar. However. anumana and agama. $14.110 015. Vedanta is ‘not only a philosophy but a science and religion as well’. Ramesh Nagar Metro Station.20/. Therefore. has brought together the essential qualifications for attaining the highest knowledge in a lucid and attractive style. Pp. Upanishads.K. One may recall that Sri Ramakrishna favoured freedom for disciples to put the guru to such reliability test. ‘Language is not a means of communication of thoughts but it is a means of concealing thoughts’.Printworld (P) Sri Kunj. This publication now available at a nominal cost of Rs. It is that knowledge which on being known there remains nothing else to be known. But it is up to him to make sure that the ‘guru deserves such faith and confidence’. the author points out. Swami Tyagisananda. paperback. Chennai600 004. 2010. to know for instance. Mylapore. 2011. Rs. F-52.82. a deeply revered profound scholar with the ability to communicate with ease.Subramony Published by D.295. pp. Reason and faith coexist in the field of religion. The Foreword points out that the scriptural classes of the learned Swami at the Vedanta College [now defunct] at Bangalore demanded close attention and one couldn’t afford to miss one sentence. ______________________________ P. 31.20. the Primer of Vedanta will encourage seekers of the highest knowledge to pursue the subject in earnest. It begins with the narrator’s decision to spend the Vanaprastha stage of his life in Madurai and his subsequent efforts to study Advaita philosophy as propounded by Adi Sankara and Acharya Abhinavagupta.K. viz. While every topic in the primer is important. the difference between dhyanam and nididhyasanam or prama and pramana. The imaginary J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 240 ~ . A disciple should not be a mere sceptic but ‘have a working faith’ in his guru. Although Vedanta requires deep study. Rs.

a realized soul who has come from the North and is living in a nearby village. Kumaraguruparar. Abhinavagupta. the purpose could have been achieved better had the same been presented in some logical order. viz. and ayurvedic medicine. It is an intellectual faith having a balance between metaphysical doctrines and religious practices. had the author given due references as well. David Frawley has written an excellent book which highlights the new vision about the global perspective of Hinduism. Unfortunately.41 narrator of this novel comes to Madurai in the last decade of the twentieth century. SUBRAMANIAN. Thayumanavar and Tirumular to philosophy and spirituality are also extensively quoted and the common trend in their teachings well brought out. The reason for this is its tolerance. In the last five chapters the narrator gives his experiences in pursuit of spirituality in his life.213 + xxiii. Vedanta. __________________________ H. it would have been of much help to the readers. Only such religions which have universalistic outlook and catholicity will withstand the ordeals of time and the test of disaster. as the work pertains to the teachings of great acharyas like Shankara. The uniqueness of Kashmir Saivisim is extensively dealt with through the discourse of the imaginary character Paramahamsa Sivahari. these certainly could be done in the subsequent editions. Hinduism as a way of life has been practised and promulgated by millions of people all over the globe. while the author seeks to focus on the relevance of the teachings of the Upanishads and the several spiritual texts in Tamil literature to modern times through extensive quotations. as per the author. drawn to spirituality after certain mishaps in his family life. Ganapathy Sastry. Sivahari accepts Subbiah as his disciple and the next twenty-five chapters cover the entire philosophy of Advaita Vedanta and spirituality in daily life through the discourse of Sivahari to Subbiah and the people who gather to listen to him as the two travel to different places of pilgrimage in South India. the first fifteen chapters cover this aspect of the narrative. But for these shortcomings. there are some chronological inconsistencies in the narratives. 2010. Tantra. The author could well have introduced the characters at the outset to avoid this confusion. Pp. Appayya Dikshitar. Pandit Vamadeva Shastri. a domain others fear to tread. rich philosophical treatises and richer mystical expositions. The present work is a presentation of the significant elements of Sanatana Dharma. Manikkavacakar.. In this novel. Paramahamsa. In this book. It avoids the extremes of blind observances and dogmatism. Ramalingaswamy. Contributions of Tamil poets and philosophers like Muruganar. this is a very commendable effort of the author as he has ventured into writing a novel on a philosophical theme. but have written comprehensively about its basic tenets and fundamental principles as well. It would then have been easier to follow and also be of much use to spiritual seekers who are interested in Advaita. New Delhi110 002. an ancestor of the narrator. superstitions and dry intellectualism. and the Mystic poet Sadashiva Brahmendra. Ansari Road.200. finding his son Subbiah spiritually inclined. paperback. advises him to seek guidance from Paramahamsa Sivahari. BANGALORE UNIVERSAL HINDUISM By David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri). In the extensive quotations given from several works. 2/8. fictitious characters and real life personalities are inextricably mixed up in the T h e narrative causing some confusion to the readers. Rs. Vedic astrology. This book also throws light on the teachings of Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi and the contributions of Sanskrit scholars and philosophers like Nilakanta Dikshitar. Published by Voice of India. Ramana Maharshi and saints like Sadashiva Brahmendra. With an Indian name. flexibility. to study the works of Acharya Shankara and Ramana Maharshi. the author has written several works on Hinduism for the past three decades bringing to light its salient features such as yoga. is essentially a metaphysical novel in which the emphasis is more on the eternal values and not on the characters or the descriptions. Also. Scholars from different parts of the world have not only embraced this Sanatana Dharma. He communicates its ideals effectively and spreads its message efficiently not only for the J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 241 ~ .

CHENNAI tales retold in a style that suits the modern age. Published by Srikunj Sadbhavana Manch. Meghnad’s funeral and Kaikayi’s absence at the welcome ceremony to Sri Rama are instances of such variations in presentation (stories 14 and 15). New Delhi . The contents of this glorious work have three parts. It highlights Hinduism’s connection with native and pagan traditions. A-59. ‘Divinity sees no sin in man’ concerning Sri Ramakrishna has serious lessons. Indian puranic tales undergo minor variations at the hands of authors. evolution.D. Bali Nagar. Pp. the author maintains that his work ‘examines the relationship of Hinduism with other religions: the similarities and differences. Pune .110 015.120. There is scope for further refinement in some of them. A Glossary is therefore a special need in such books explaining the terms in detail. it accommodates and accomplishes the distinctive sense of spiritual and cultural identity: history and purpose. Phase II. On the whole. Pp131. Ramesh Nagar Metro Station. ecology. Besides the tradition of promoting universal truth. and variety adds flavour. Paperback. To understand terms such as ‘brahman’ or ‘brahmajnani’ (page 124 in the book) an Indian background is necessary. paperback. The first part exclusively deals with the elaborate definition and distinctive features of universal Hinduism especially its present condition in India and the world today. the Sanatana Dharma’s wisdom and consciousness encompass all life and is vibrantly relevant to all living beings on earth. One of the better methods to understand ancient Indian tradition and culture is to read puranic T h e HOW TO EMBRACE PAIN By Prabha Sampath and Krishna Kumari Published by Sterling Publishers (P) Ltd. caste problem. S.’ Since Sanatana Dharma is the unique and systematized spiritual tradition of Hinduism. However. by and large very well written. information technology. CHENNAI THE IMMORTAL TALES By A. (Available at Gita Publishing House. ‘The Immortal Tales’ is a welcome addition. they convey their essence or morals. undoubtedly. SUNDARAM. These books particularly when read during adolescence encourages the readers to cultivate ethical practices and evolve in the path of devotion. Rs. carrying the millennial experience and vast inspiration of the ancient Vedic seers for all to embrace!’ __________________________ R. which are considerable. Bhattacharya’s book has 48 tales and these are. Bhattacharya. The ‘freedom’ sought by the convict (focus of the story) is freedom to indulge in mundane matters and not for ‘emancipation from this world of births and deaths’ (page 118). New Delhi .195. consciousness. 2010. Part two examines the current world issues in the context of Hindu faith. adharma of politics.42 people of India.110 020. GOPALAKRISHNAN. Okla Industrial Area. In his own words: ‘May that Universal Dharma arise once more in its full glory throughout the world. both as a way of knowledge and a spiritual culture. but also for the scholars abroad. . 2010. Their special needs should therefore be addressed. 10.411 001) J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 242 ~ . Part three is seriously concerned with universal Hinduism and social order which is really critical and innovative in the sense that it analyses all the contemporary issues which are confronting Hindu faith such as varna system. etc. Rs. ______________________________ P. Authors and publishers have to bear in mind that the readership of such books is worldwide.143. In the preface. Some of them outside India may not have a suitable background to appreciate the spirit of these tales. social paganism and yoga are some of the ideologies that have been elucidated along with the lines of Hinduism and in comparison with Christianity. Sadhu Vaswani Path. The episode concerning Alexander Fleming (not part of puranic tales) is rarely remembered and therefore a useful addition to the collection. Bio-diversity. including the issues of interfaith and conversion. F-52. this work is a comprehensive compendium on Hindu Dharma comprising of all the renowned axioms and assertions recognized all over the world.

Dada Vaswani accepted the pain and discomfort with his beaming smile and even during times of extreme unbearable pain he would only say ‘Hey Ram’. . but he. This book will be valuable to the healthy as well as sick and the medical profession. The satsang that Dada Vaswani held at his bedside has lessons for the afflicted. .…therapy of cheerfulness and the constant expression of gratitude to God…’ His period of convalescence turned into a satsang in the hospital room at which even doctors and medical staff merrily joined. can destroy morale and the sufferer loses self-confidence. The observations of the hospital staff are worth noting. Sistla Srinivas. ______________________________ P. Amuktya Malyada is by Sri Krishnadevaraya. Anyone undergoing suffering should have the conviction to express gratitude to God treating the state as a gift. ‘change your attitude’. . 2010. English translation by Srinivas Sistla 2008. ’There are many things that could make him sad. physical or mental. understanding and had the gift of quick wit. His guru T h e Sadhu Vaswani had also undergone severe illness and was sleepless due to pain but never complained as he treated it as a gift of God. S. At every opportunity he explained why and how the body suffered but not ‘He’. A friendly smile is becoming a rare sight. The authors of the book under review have narrated all that happened from the time he was taken to hospital. About the patient they treated. The mental agony persists despite the best medical attention. It focuses on Dada’s remarkable faith in God that gave him such fortitude and positive outlook. even a slight pain or discomfort would seem unbearable. paperback. These factors have been the foundation for his recovery. He is on the faculty of Fine Arts in Andhra University and teaches history and aesthetics. Rs. one of them says. the translator. CHENNAI AMUKTAMALYADA OF SRI KRISHNA DEVA RAYA ENGLISH TRANSLATION By Srinivas Sistla Both books Published by author. Dada Vaswani was compassionate. Therefore.200 (US$20). If you complain that God has been unkind or unfair. angry. Dada refers to the experiences of Sri Ramakrishna and of Sri Ramana Maharshi. has already made a mark by his original and pioneering work in the field of art. Drusya Kala Deepika.473. BHEEMANNA’S SUMATI SATKAMU. 151+l.495 (US$26). . literature and culture. Recovery was further complicated as. Lawson’s Bay Colony. Devotees of Sri Ramakrishna will recall why and how he underwent extreme suffering with no regret or complaint and the sermons of Sri Sarada Devi on ways of promoting happiness. But we have in our midst venerable persons who serve humanity with a smile. He believed that God cures through the patient’s ‘silent acceptance.43 Today the sight of a smiling face at work is newsworthy. Pp. both classics in their areas. Pp. he suffered a mild stroke causing concern to his devotees and hospital staff. Vishakhapatnam . SUNDARAM. embraces this physical challenge. Pain. Their lessons are not merely on the technique of facing such misfortunes but also in understanding the need for their suffering. Rs. There was never a complaint about his state. However the agony vanishes when the patient hears or reads sagely wisdom and also by observing how venerable persons conduct themselves when faced with extreme suffering that would have paralyzed ordinary people. Dada Vaswani whose name is synonymous with service suffered multiple fractures while in America at the age of 92.’ He revealed a zest for life and was full of energy. . 4-61-7. J U N E 2 0 1 1 V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 243 ~ . .530 017. Being positivists their sermons form a ‘Gospel of strength’. after bone surgery. paperback. He has now chosen to translate Amuktya Malyada and Sumati Sataka.

a genre very popular in both the vernacular and the classical languages. Amuktya Malyada is an exceptionally difficult text (or so they say) and combines as Velcheri Narayana Rao and David Shulman say. if not indefensible comparison. p. SIVARAMKRISHNA. flora. They integrate environmentally ornamental structure (descriptions of seasons. Her entire being radiated her devotion to Lord Ranganatha. Many of these verses are on the lips of most Telugus but to find them in English is quite a novelty. Amuktya Malyada is. They are valuable contributions to the expanding genre of English translations from the vernacular. The king ‘should rule to the best of his genius. virtually on every page. ______________________ M. ‘seemingly disparate domains—meticulous realism. as mentioned)… T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 244 ~ J U N E 2 0 1 1 . etc. The real issue is translation: the paradox is: if one knows the original. doctrinal erudition and precision and baroque imagination. This seems to me largely a futile exercise. the translated text is itself original to me. This is a manual of ethical axioms. he was a poet himself giving to Telugu classical poetry the imperishable Kabya. fauna. a reader like me can possibly go back to the English version for comprehension. Amuktya Malyada is the narrative of Andal or Goda Devi. one is tempted to compare for accuracy and the ability to evoke the nuances. This rich complex text now appears in translation by Sistle Srinivas giving it a wide range of reception. Raja Neethi) I cite these as a link to the contents of the second book. If it has an inwardness with Telugu. a somewhat tough text. HYDERABAD Note: 1. the most celebrated woman saint of Sri Vaishnavism. / would be like blowing a conch before the deaf! / That’s for sure! O Sumati!’ Amuktya Malyada and Sumati Sataka as translated by Srinivas run no such risk. above all. The original text. (Anthology of Classical Poetry. And.316. Sumati Satakamu. erotics and equanimity. artha. visuals meticulously and painstakingly placed so that the visual and the verbal create a rich intertext. kama and moksha or ethics.) and surprisingly we have Sri Krishnadevaraya’s views on governance. For. Both prose and poetry are juxtaposed in the text.’ all merging ‘into a coherent whole organized by the narrative frame’. April 2011 issue page 155: please read—Ramabhai was a lady coming from a higher caste (not lower caste.44 the most celebrated king of the Vijayanagar Empire. few of us are aware that there are no exclusively religious texts in classical literature. Here I felt there is another and related dimension. This collection of hundred verses is presumably by Baddena (assigned to the whole period spanning 12th to 15th century) and has quatrains on all values generally crystallized in Purusharthas: dharma. Amukta Malyada. it will show in English. Srinivas has written a comprehensive introduction. A feature which comes with a refreshing breath of novelty to those who are unfamiliar (there are many) with this genre. culture and architecture. if I know the original. There are also. Even the most determined often despair. OUP. in itself. as per the law. Reading the two books for this review made me realize the truth which Sumati Sataka expresses: ‘To recite poetry / suffused with the meaningful Nava Rasas / And melodious songs / Before one who lacks judgment. absence of greed and cruelty / And the presence of truthfulness is very essential!’ (p. Srinivas’ translation does a remarkable job. He was also an illustrious patron of all arts and the unique Ashtadiggajas of Telugu literature adorned his court. Hence the significance of English translation. the majesty of the original. he met Sri Ramakrishna.55). He is a ‘household’ word in the glorious history of Telugu literature. economics. Therefore. On both these counts. The Telugu original also is provided along with the English translation. Similarly. March 2011 issue page 117 : please read—around 1875. 2002. One is struck by their relevance. why should I bother about the translation? If I don’t. / With the help of a strong army and a full treasury! / If he relies on a minister who is devoid of virtues / He would prove to be a source of trouble! / If a king wears a pearl of the size of an ash gourd / Will it not cause trouble to his heart?’ Timely (for corporates) is another verse: ‘No business can be accomplished by money alone and / Without the cooperation of many high-ranking officers! / To keep them in due subordination. instead of around 1857… 2.

at least. Hence we appeal to all devotees and general public to extend their helping hands to restore the Ashrama buildings.T h e T heed aV e a a K teas aK ie s a r i V n t d n r 45 45 J U N E J 2 0N1 E U 1 2 0 1 1 RAMAKRISHNA KUTIR Bright End Corner. The name of the donors of 2 Lakh rupees and above will be displayed in prominent place. should be completed before the next rainy season in 2011. rkutir@yahoo. if he or she wishes.in Appeal for Restoration Ramakrishna Kutir (Ashrama) at Almora. Last year we distributed 5000 woollen blankets to the victims of devastating rain that hit Almora district. we need more than 2 Crore rupees. The Ashrama also conducts welfare activities for the poor hill people and needy students. After that we shall have to start the construction of the damaged buildings. E-mail: rkutir@gmail. Unprecedented rains and cloud burst in September 2010 in Almora resulted in tremendous landslide. Almora—263 601. was founded in 1916 by Swami Turiyananda and Swami Shivananda (two direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna) at the behest of the Swami Vivekananda. The restoration of land. Uttarakhand. Swami Somadevananda Adhyaksha . Cheque/Draft may please be drawn in favour of ‘Ramakrishna Kutir. 80G of the I.com.T. Our engineers have suggested abandoning of an old building and rebuilding of other damaged ones. Uttarakhand Phone: 05962-254417. Almora’ and sent to: Ramakrishna Kutir. Pin . The Almora Ashrama is a retreat centre where monks and devotees of Sri Ramakrishna come to live in its spiritual atmosphere and get peace of mind. Act. The changed land contour has damaged the temple and other buildings. The place is imbued with the spiritual vibrations of Swami Turiyananda’s holy and austere life.263 601 (Uttarakhand). Bright End Corner. Almora. gorges. cracks and land-sinking of the Ashrama premises. All donations to Ramakrishna Math are exempt from the Income Tax U/S. For this entire restoration and reconstruction work.

underprivileged and orphan children from classes V to X since 1936. There is an urgent need for repair and renovation of the old hostel buildings and for creating a ‘Hostel Corpus Fund’ of Rs. 3. 3386010009164 at Union Bank of India. Kalady’ and sent to the above address. we need rupees 20 lakhs.in An Appeal The Ashrama has been running a free hostel for the poor. Tamil Nadu – 635 852 LET RURAL INDIA BECOME ROARING INDIA This Math is one of the unique branches of the Ramakrishna Math & Mission. Kalady (IFSC Code: UBIN0533866). we need to attend the following immediately: 1. Belur Maht. To provide free school uniforms to about 4000 children in 70 village primary schools.B. Ernakulam . Your contribution may be sent through Cheque / DD or M.80G of the Income Tax Act. uniform. Or through electronic mode of transfer in our A/C No. Branch Code – 14619. Donations also can be sent directly through RTGS/NEFT to our A/c No. We earnestly appeal to you to donate liberally and let us make our Rural India as Vibrant Roaring India. accommodation and education up to Xth Std. H. Kalady. Cheques or Bank Drafts may be drawn in favour of ‘Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama. We appeal to the generous public and well wishers to donate liberally for this most essential educational project. Though we serve the RURAL POOR in multifarious ways. 2. absolutely free of cost. kindly intimate us immediately without fail by emailing us at : mail@srkmnattarampalli. For the new academic year starts from June 2011. To provide free school note books and geometry box to another 3000 students studying in rural higher secondary schools around Nattarampalli. Donations towards the activities of the Ashrama are exempt from Income Tax under 80G. our main focus is on education including college studies and health care.To provide financial help to the RURAL POOR STUDENTS who have completed their higher secondary school education. favouring ‘Ramakrishna Math. 2 Crores for maintaining the hostel with 100 boys smoothly in the years to come.I.O. Swami Tyagarajananda (Adhyaksha) SRI RAMAKRISHNA ADVAITA ASHRAMA (HQS: Ramakrishna Math & Mission.in or over phone to 0417-242227 or 9629812221. WB.683574.31502956578 in S. Belur Math) P. Nattarampalli’. Kerala Phone:0484-2462345..T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i 46 J U N E 2 0 1 1 RAMAKRISHNA MATH. Swami Amaleshananda Adhyaksha . They are admitted in the school managed by the Ashrama within its campus.org.Q. Howrah. to enter into colleges for Higher Studies. After transferring the amount. For this noble cause. They are provided with food. Cell:9447051231 E-mail:srkaadv@dataone. NATTARAMPALLI Vellore District. All donations are exempt from the Income tax under Sec.O.

150 [US $8] Duration: 2 Hours and 20 minutes Price: Rs.150 [US $8] Available Also Available as a 3 CD Gift pack collection Price: Rs. Apple iPod®/iPad®/iPhone®. you can download a digital version online @ http://www.T h e V e d a n t a K e s a r i 47 J U N E 2 0 1 1 Duration: 2 Hours and 56 minutes Price : Rs. Hinduism and Bold Message for World Peace narrated in a MP3 audio book format spoken with neutral English accent understood universally. Blackberry® Mobile and Nokia® Smartphones. Mylapore. Android® Smartphone.chennaimath.org/estore/audio-downloads/audio-books For more info about ordering the CDs. please contact: Sri Ramakrishna Math.chennaimath. 150 [US $8] Duration: 1 Hour and 12 minutes Price : Rs. Apple iPod®/iPad®/iPhone® and all Mobile Phones. please visit our eStore shopping page @ http://www. Audio Book Formats and Supported Devices: MP3 and iTunes® AudioBook format supported on PC/Mac.600004 Ph: 2462 1110 Fax : 2493 4589 email: mail@chennaimath.org website: www. Also works on MP3 CD Player. MP3 Players. A complete electronic version of the book is also included in standard eBook format as a “Read Along” with the audio book.org .chennaimath. 31.Supported Platforms: Windows XP®/Vista®/7® and Mac® OS with iTunes Software To order this CD Collection online. Ramakrishna Math Road. Chennai .org/estore/cds/collections To avoid shipping fees. B&N Nook®.eBook Formats and Supported Devices: ePub and Mobi support on PC/Mac®. Amazon Kindle®.400 [US $20] This CD Collection contains the lectures and writings of Swami Vivekananda on Education.

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