Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Spreading the message silentty



3RD AND 4TH JULY: M.Ed. students of Dr. Palpu Memorial College came to visit Vivekananda Kendra as a part of their project work which they were required to complete on a local institution. They found Vivekananda Kendra an ideal place where different man-making  and nation – building activities are going on. Man. Lakshmi Didi  was interviewed  on all the aspects of Vivekananda Kendra's, its origin,  and its expansion of activities and its impact on the society  lastly, the present status of the organisation.  

All of them were guided to visit Vishwa Bhanu; the Mural Exhibition on Swami Vivekananda and were he given the glimpses of Swamijis life and message. All of them were impressed by the paintings and they got all the information they needed for their project work through discussions with the inmates and literature available in our library. 
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Upliftment of Indian womanhood – need of the hour

Dr. M. Lakshmikumari


To transcend the multifarious problems and confusions that riddle the human mind resulting from the feeling of dualism, it is necessary that the mind be exposed to the advaitic Truth - awareness of ONENESS. Advaita is the crest jewel of human thought, which our great country has upheld from time immemorial. Unless and until we in India fully comprehend the significance of advaitic thought and its special relevance for the survival of our multicultural nation, we may also, like many a nation of the bygone eras, soon slip into oblivion.

Matrudevo bhava’ is a mahamantra which contains within it a highly relevant, potent and practical message for universal peace and survival of mankind. For that very reason it is imperative that the strength and sanctity of motherhood be fully understood and made to manifest.

Is ‘advaita’ something ‘dry’ and ‘out of this world’ of day-to-day living? How can advaita be brought to inundate the multidimensional human feelings, emotions and transactions? If advaita is relevant as the Supreme Ultimate Truth, having nothing to do with human life, dry indeed it would be. But if it is allowed to descend from being mere knowledge in the brain, to cascade through and light up various human feelings and emotions, then something wonderful happens. Just as a seed soaked in water sprouts up putting up new leaves, just as a dry arid land touched by rain immediately gets covered with a green mantle of grass, just as a drying tree sprouts up all over again when watered so does the human mind gets enriched and enlivened, when the One Truth in the ‘advaita’ gets transformed into the ‘many’ in the human mind. Firmly rooted in Oneness, the human mind blossoms in the beauty of the diversity. In the treasure chest of the human mind there are any number of devices – emotions and feelings through which this wonderful transformation can be achieved. Like a musical instrument with many strings, mind can create an infinite variety of notes, unmake them and re-make them to create a harmonious orchestra of life if it so wills or vice versa. It is the awareness of advaitic truths that leads to harmony and peace. If this basic note is lacking only discordant notes emerge and such a life becomes filled with contradictions.

Standing on this pinnacle of advaita, how can this awareness of oneness be made part of the three main life-streams, Jnana Bhakti and Karma, making life extraordinarily rich and fulfilling! To understand this miracle God seems to have provided us with the glorious ideal of motherhood. In how many ways our Bharateeya culture has captured and expanded this ideal of motherhood! The Divine mother and her manifold bhavas as Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga, Parvathy and other forms - each in essence indicating the rich potentialities and possibilities of the human mind, Mother Ganges, Veda Mata, Gita Mata, mother earth, this wonderful mother land of ours and so on - each one reveals the immense spiritual potential power and sanctity that lie hidden in motherhood. One can raise oneself to cosmic proportion meditating on this mystery of motherhood and its unfolding in infinite ways in this universe. To help us enter into the portals of such a meditation we have in front of us one’s own dear mother in whose milk we had the first taste of Life Universal.
 
Motherhood represents the principle of inter-relatedness, inter-connectedness and inter-dependence that hold together everything in the universe. The first unit of this phenomenon is our family. The ever fresh fountain of love that gives meaning and preserves family, as a unit is none other than the uncrowned queen of the house, the Mother. That is why we address Divine mother as Sri Maharajni, the empress of the Universe. Just as proton, neutron and electrons are held together by indefinable and invisible magnetic forces in an atom so do the various units of a home held in place without creating any disharmony by the magnetic power of love that the mother embodies. The power of that magnet lies in its extraordinary capacity to evolve ‘Oneness’ through love, sacrifice and service. These form the true nourishments for the children more than anything else. In its absence children wither away and their personality gets distorted. Unhappy homes are the breeding grounds for creating imbalanced men and women who in turn disturb the peace and harmony in the society.

When we explore the very origin of maternal instinct and the mysterious spiritual power behind, it will naturally take us to that ultimate primary cause of the universe, the Divine Mother Herself. SHE is the source and cause of all creation - the primeval energy - the primary cause, the Ultimate Truth. So is She the original source of motherliness - cause and effect relationship that we notice everywhere in the universe. Therefore when ‘Matruchetana’ is awakened in any one of us man or woman, there is a spark of the original transmutation of the ONE Truth into many. If one cares to meditate on this original instinct of motherhood and expand that ‘bindu’ into an all embracing feeling of love - awareness of inter relatedness - one can raise oneself to Universal Motherhood, to the status of Sri Mata. One need not be a mother in the worldly sense to achieve this, as motherliness is a spiritual awakening and elevation. In her gets embodied all that is best in creation - beauty (Lakshmi), knowledge (Saraswati) and action (Durga). All Godly powers are at her service. Such a mother is not only an adornment to her family but also a blessing to the society and the nation. She belongs to all. Diversities get merged in that ONENESS of motherhood and so do all problems based on duality wither away in her divine presence.

Such an expansive feeling of motherhood is very much needed in our society to rectify the mistakes that we are perpetrating in the name of caste, creed, religion, race and so on. All fanaticism, violence, terrorism etc. have their roots in the misguided notions of dividedness. To replace them with love, kindness and tolerance, the easiest way is the way of the mother. Manmade barriers can be broken down, sanity restored and peace created when true motherliness is made to manifest (be it in a woman or a man).

Unfortunately, majority of today’s women have lost this capacity for spiritual expansion. Materialistic hankerings distort her personality; disturb her innate qualities as mother, making her selfish, greedy, vengeful and blind. When children are exposed to this unnatural motherliness they fail to develop sustaining qualities in themselves. When the mothers at home spread unhappiness and bitterness slowly the whole society reflects that and peace and happiness disappear. On the other hand when true motherliness blossoms in a mother there is an expansion of personality and all petty feelings disappear.

Is it really possible for an ordinary woman to achieve such heights of perfection? Answer is yes. Our Puranas are full of stories of such exemplary mothers. In recent history we have the wonderful example of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, inspired by whom Swami Vivekananda emphasised again and again the need to revive this Indian ideal of Motherhood for restoring the glory of our nation and to bring all round peace and well being.
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Ramayana Month Celebration

17th and 18th July: marked the 1st and 2nd day of Ramayana month coinciding with the 1st and 2nd days of the month of Karkatakam. This year there was an extensive programme of two days in which well-known Ramayana devotees - Shri Chakrapani Warrier and Smt Suma, read through the whole of Ramayana. Sessions started from 8.30 in the morning and went on up to 6.30 in the evening, with short tea-lunch breaks. A number of local well-wishers took part in the parayanam session. It was a noble experience for some who had never had an opportunity to read the Ramayana fully. At the concluding programme Sri Chakrapani Warrier and Smt Suma were honoured by Sri R.M. Pavitran a close well wisher of Kendra.

As usual Kumari Bindu and her group have started visiting different houses for Ramayana Satsanga. This programme will continute for the entire month. In each house, the team read portions of Ramayana and involve the family members to take part in the puja and rituals. 
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One Day Spiritual Retreat

Vivekananda Kendra offered bhiksha to Revered Swami Adhyatmanandaji of Sambodh Foundation, Thiruvananthapuram. He came with 45 students for whom he was conducting a spiritual study course for 51 days at a place called Moozhikolam, 39 km from Kodungallur. After the initial introduction, Swamiji addressed the gathering which included our local well-wishers also, on the importance of sadhana of formless truth as also the need for worshipping God in various forms. He used two stanzas from Bhagavad Gita chapters 7 and 9 to clarify points.

Following Swamiji’s talk Mananeeya Lakshmi Didi spoke on Swami Vivekananda’s message to the individual, to the Nation and to humanity at large. She used three imageries to emphasize the points, that of light man, of a sculpture and lastly how he released the world religions from the cages in which they were kept and allowed them to fly to the infinite freedom of truth.

All the participants were taken to Vishwa Bhanu Exhibition, wherein they were introduced to Swamis life and his visit to Kodungallur. Later on they all participated in Bhajan session.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

GURUPOORNIMA CELEBRATION

On the auspicious occasion of Gurupoornima, a day long programme was arranged at Aandadham. Ganapathi Homam and Sri Chakra Puja were conducted in the Dakshina auditorium of Anandadham in the early morning. At 10 a.m. there was a get together of all the yoga varga members around eighteen of them, some of whom are working as yoga teachers in different schools in and around of Kodungallur. Mananeeya Lakshmi Didi explained about the significance of ‘Guru Parampara down the ages namely, Narayana, Padmabhuva, Vasistha, Saktrimaharshi, Parashara, Vyasa and Sukha and how during Vyasa’s time all the divine knowledge which the previous seers had passed on to their respective disciples orally, were codified into texts called vedas and later on puranas. It was on this day that the great sage Vyasa was said to have been born, hence this day is celebrated as Vyasa’s jayanthi all over India as a mark of respect for the great saint who is addressed as ‘Vishala buddhe’ in the Bhagavat Geeta. Chanting of the Guru Sloka and pushparchana were part of this two hour programme.
In the evening Adv. T.R.Ramanathan of Paravur, an advocate by profession and well-known for his profound knowledge and great oratory, spoke on ‘Guha Gurun Subrahmanya Swami’(Kartikeyan) and kept the audience spellbound. Nearly a hundred people attended.the programme.

    


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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Research & Publications:

The Foundation would institute facilities for research and dissemination of Vedic knowledge, so that the essence of Vedanta could be studied in depth, debated upon and worked out as practical principles in day to day life.The one and only enquiry which can benefit the whole of humanity has already been carried out by our super scientists, the rishis, and the result is the evolution of a super fine technology capable of transferring the awareness of Oneness of Eternal Truth into life principles, that can take man onward on the path of evolution. Swamiji says “all science is a search for oneness of Truth” and India had been a pioneer invalidating this truth.The Foundation’s major area of research is therefore centred on fine tuning the efforts as to how fractured and embittered human minds can be made Whole by generating in them right thoughts, words, and actions including faith in the Cosmic Almighty. Presently the emphasis is therefore more on creating life models which would help man manifest the divinity within him

Publications:

  1. Message of Vedas (English) Sri K. N. Krishnan Namboodiri
  2. “Those who go through this book would get a simple answer to the question what is the contribution of Vedas to the world” - Sri SukumarAzikode, (one of the foremost authors of Kerala)
  3. AgnimelePurohitam (Malayalam) Sri K. N. Krishnan Namboodiri
  4. Commentary on first nine riks of Rigveda
  5. AnushtanaPrakashika (Malayalam) DR. K. Vijayan, Gurupadam. A simple instructions for daily practice
  6. Surya Namaskar (Malayalam)instruction booklet of Suryanamaskar
  7. Sadhana Panchamritam (Malayalam) – spiritual diary for daily reading containing messages from Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother and Swami Vivekananda
  8. Jnanadayini Sarada Devi ( Malayalam) Dr. V.S. Sharma
  9. Way to attain bliss in old age ( Malayalam translation) Swami Ranganathananda by Anandeswar.

Besides a number of small booklets containing specific messages for improving family relationships, Matru Chetana, Pancamahayajnas and so on are also being published from time to time.

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Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah

Creating confidence in the minds of people in the all pervading cosmic principle of dharma, i.e if one surrenders to the cosmic love and has the welfare of whole universe in his mind the very elements of universe would help and protect him/her at every step.


  1. Activities are planned to enhance the conceptual awareness of the totality of life and one’s inalienable part in it and thus emphasize the need to be good and do good
  2. Spiritual Counseling to improve the inter human relationships within homes and communities thus restoring the unity and harmony.
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Satyam Vada and Dharmam Chara

1. Preservation of Vedas and Vedic traditions through study and practice

2. Study of Sanskrit to help understand the scriptures like Upanishads, Gita, Puranas, etc.


a. Educational programmes to implant the value of Truth in young minds

b. Sandeepani Sishuvihar, where little children receive doses of satya, Dharma and Yajna through the all powerful medium of love, care and triaining.

c. Sandeepani gurukulam where discipline. study and positive interactions transform the ideals into life principles.

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To Uphold The Value of Yajna – Sacrifice

The cosmic implications of yajna in real life are totally lost among people and there is great need to restore it for glorifying our lives.. Satya and dharma get integrated into karma or action through Yajna so that all karma’s bondages are removed. This elevates karma to the level of knowledge and Self realisation. Yajna opens up human minds to the immense blessings inherent in the simple acts of renunciation and service.



Yajna has three windows through which humans can tune up to Truth in daily life.



Deva Puja : Regular observance of Panchmaha yajnas, temple worship, variety of other individual and community rituals like homas, pujas, matrupooja etc when carried out with the awareness of the Truth both within and without.

Sangateekarana : The unity and integrity of an organization or home can be maintained by cultivating uniform ideals and thoughts through harmonious words and deeds as emphasized by the vedic injunctions (sangachadwam, samvadadwam, etc). For this daily chantings of Vedic mantras, Sahasranamas, sandhya pujas, reading of Puranas etc., for individual and group enlightenment are carried out.

Children’s camps for various age groups leading to personality development of children through a variety of programs

The multitude of celebrations like Sri Krishna Jayanthi, Guru Poornima, Ramayana Day, National festivals, Universal Brotherhood day Navaratri Festival, Children’s day, Vivekananda Jayanthi, Sadhana Divas, Annual day of Sandeepani Sishuvihar are all occasions for enrichment of values in the minds of participants creating all round understanding of Oneness and create all round benefits.

Dana is a magnificent all comprehensive Vedic vision in which every individual learns to look at his or her life as an act of oblation to the Almighty. This is in tune with the vedic injunctions Idam Na mama. Swami Vivekananda’s two great ideals Serve man serve God and atmano mokshartham jagadhitaya ca provide wonderful guidelines to actualize this great vision where individual development and social upliftment go hand in hand. Dana is encouraged in the form of money, respect, knowledge, service, etc with emphasis on nishkama karma bhava. People are encouraged to donate for specific causes like education, medical care, distribution of food, and through in many other big and small sponsorships.

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Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

Family welfare is the foundation of individual and social well being through natural expansion of human mind and intellect which in turn helps to conceive of the whole universe as one family – vasudhaiva kutumbakam – to bring harmony and peace in the society.


  • · Satsanghs, propagation of the ideals through talks and appropriate religious literature
  • · Sharing with the community the joy of festivals through distributing food and other necessary materials
  • · Providing educational support for the poor and the needy.
  • · Free Ayurvedic consultation, counseling and treatment

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Reinforcement Of The Awareness Of Truth In Human Life

Thousands of years ago, the super scientists of India, the Rishis, were engaged in the difficult task of uncovering the Ultimate Reality, Satya, beyond the ever changing phenomena experienced through our senses. Negating the world of impermanent plurality they delved into the core of their inner being and realised the Ultimate Truth as the Self within. There also dawned the realisation that Truth is One, in which everything in the universe remains interconnected, interrelated and interdependent. This is the greatest discovery ever made by man. This Truth of Self-realisation and its Oneness is the best of blessings that the rishis have bestowed on humanity. For us in India, this discovery ushered in the dawn of enlightenment and introduced us to the immaculate concept of Life Eternal. Since then this Ganga of adwaitic vision has been cascading over our country without a break enriching every field of human activity creating a rich, multifaceted, unique and spiritually oriented civilization and culture.

Actualization of Truth as concrete practical life sustaining ideas and ideals enlightening humans and goading them on the path of evolution forms the crux of Vedic Vision. Transformation of a unifying principle into the multitude of thoughts, words and actions, to make each and every one of them shine with the lustre of Truth of Oneness is indeed a most difficult task. Achieving this awareness of Oneness through self effort is the challenge and goal before every human being. Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, life experiments of great seers and avatars are all illustrations of their great efforts and their attainment. Among these Swami Vivekananda towers high as the link between the old and the new. To preserve this great immaculate heritage and transmit this knowledge and awareness to as many humans as possible form the most important aim and activity of the Foundation. Without comprehending the significance of Truth, no vision or study or work can stand the test of time.

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Yoga – Ascent to Fullness

Ascent to fullness through yoga,a perfect scientific system for unfolding the divine potentialities inherent in human life is the best gift that man can offer to himself. Activities include


  1. Regular yoga class for men and women
  2. Training yoga teachers
  3. Mass Surya Namaskar programmes for school children – Surya Kiran to create yoga awareness in the society
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Vasudhaivakutumbakam

Family welfare is the foundation of individual and social well being through natural expansion of human mind and intellect which in turnhelps to conceive of the whole universe as one family – vasudhaiva kutumbakam – to bring harmony and peace in the society.


  • Satsanghs, propagation of the ideals through talks and appropriate religious literature
  • Sharing with the community the joy of festivals through distributing food and other necessary materials
  • Providing educationalsupport for the poor and the needy.
  • Free Ayurvedic consultation, counseling and treatment
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Seminars and Retreats

Following programmes help to catch the imagination of individuals and groups and acquaint them with the supremely relevant spiritual heritage of our Motherland, to in still in them a sense of national pride, patriotism and spirit of enquiry and to inspire them to direct their efforts to remould this ancient nation into a vibrant mechanism to deliver the message of Sanatana Dharma.


  • Seminars and Satsanghs, competitions

  • Spiritual retreats & Workshops led by eminent teachers

  • Traditional Cultural shows which glorify our ancient heritage such as kathakali, kudiyattam etc. These help to enhance harmony and understanding in the society.


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Potential Divinity

To uphold the adwaitic ideal of Swami Vivekananda “Each soul is potentially divine. The goal in life is to manifest the divinity by controlling nature, internal and external” and make it practical and poetic in human life, following activities are formulated


  • Study classes based on Swami Vivekananda’s literature,
  • Celebrations to propagate Swami Vivekananda’s ideals
  • Competitions for School children based on Swamiji’s life and message.

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Nation Building and Man Making Make Up Vivekananda Kendra's Mission

Lavina Melwani, New York

Out on a windswept rock in the Indian Ocean near Kanya Kumari at the tip of India stands the majestic memorial to Swami Vivekananda, the foremost guardian of Hindu culture. This massive marble monument was erected in 1970, not through a government decree or public funds, but by the heartfelt emotions of the common people who contributed the money, rupee by rupee. Eknath Ranade, who was the moving force behind this monument, at that time pondered on how fitting it would be to also create, besides the tribute of stone, a living memorial to Swami Vivekananda's ideals. Vivekananda Kendra, which started out as an idea 20 years ago, today has 100 branch centers throughout India.

Serve Man, Serve God

Says Dr. M. Lakshmi Kumari, dynamic president of the organization: "Our main theme is 'Man making, nation building.' Let us build the character of the man and thus build up our nation. Not starting from the top to the bottom, but from the bottom to the top. One thing which I have felt during my association with the Kendra and my interactions with the youth is that Hinduism must again become a living thing. We are preaching so much and living very little. This transformation of truth into life, that is dharma. And that is a super-fine technology in which India has a lot of expertise."

Swami Vivekananda believed in "Serve man, serve God," and the Kendra carries out his credo that "service to humanity is true worship of divinity." To fulfill this goal, the Kendra has a variety of programs. Some are for the purpose of propagating yoga; others use education to develop the personality. There are rural development programs to channel the energies of the people toward national reconstruction, and natural resource development programs to convey ecological technologies to rural areas.

To strengthen the fibre of the younger generation the Kendra has initiated the Clean India for Cleaner Life project during the Vivekananda Decade which runs from 1993 to 2002 to commemorate Swami Vivekananda's historic address at the Chicago Parliament of Religions in 1893. Says Lakshmi Kumari: "From 1993 to 2002 we have declared it the Vivekananda Decade. Our slogan is 'Be an Indian, be a proud Indian.' We have taken cleaning up in a very serious way. We hope to transform Kanya Kumari into the most beautiful and cleanest town in the country and that will be the beginning. In all of our 100 centers we will be insisting on cleanliness for our youth. Cleanliness, physically in your environment and mentally in your life."

Among the programs of the Vivekananda Decade is the Rock Memorial truck [see photo above] which was taken all over India in 1993 to commemorate Vivekananda's appearance at the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Despite many difficulties, the Kendra's message was preached to millions of people as part of this program.

The Kendra's objective is to awaken Vivekananda's moral fire in ordinary people. Lakshmi Kumari explains the concept behind a program called Deepa Puja [see photo above]: "Through this beautiful program we link the religious impulse with social service. Every woman, whether poor or middle class, puts away one handful of rice chanting a universal prayer for the work of the Kendra. So we collect every month a thousand kilograms of rice, by which every grain is impregnated with a prayer. And this rice we pump into our welfare nutrition programs so thousands of women are involved in our social activities."

Education research for students includes development of the physical, mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual personality. The Kendra also tries to awaken the civic sense, patriotism and spirituality of the younger generation. Lakshmi Kumari told Hinduism Today, "For the past 20 years we have been interacting with youth in a tremendous way. Thousands of youth have already come into our fold, and it is by making use of them that we are doing all of our service activities."

Two years ago the Kendra held its first International Conference. As a result, the Karnataka state government introduced yoga in all schools in the state on a compulsory basis and entrusted the Kendra with shaping the curriculum. The Sri Lankan government has also introduced yoga in the fields of education and therapy, and sends its medical and educational personnel to be trained at the Kendra. Last December the second International Conference on "Frontiers of Yoga and Its Applications" was held with several distinguished participants.

Appropriate Technology

Another aspect of the Kendra's work is revitalizing the villages by giving them appropriate technology such as solar energy and biogas. According to Lakshmi Kumari: "Our uniqueness is that we involve the people. Near Kanya Kumari we have a village where all 79 houses have a biogas plant. We have a community center where there is a radio or television working on solar energy, and we also provide them with solar cookers, heaters, etc. The village has come to be called Energy Village."

The Kendra runs an impressive number of social welfare projects. There are 90 balwadis or creches with 2,300 children supervised by trained teachers. Medical centers located in 26 places cater to 100 surrounding villages and provided treatment to 85,000 patients during 1991-92. Eye camps were held at 174 places for 30,000 people; the Bala Samskara Vargas were held in 400 locations for 12,000 children; youth camps, lectures and competitions on character-building themes are also integral parts of the programming. All these activities make the Kendra a vital part of village life.

According to N.V. Raghu Rao, "The Kendra is actively involved in several social developmental activities based on the ideas and values taught by Sanatana Dharma. These include education for the tribal children of Assam, Arunachala Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Andaman and Nicobar Islands; rural development projects in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Bharat, etc."

Funds for these innovative programs are raised from the nominal fee charged the millions of people who visit the Vivekananda Rock Memorial every year. Money is also raised from individual donations as well as government grants.

The Programs of VK Yogas

Yoga is much more than physical yoga asanas or meditation, and the Kendra aims to present it as a science of holistic living. The Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Anussandhana Samsthan (Research Foundation), or VK Yogas, is housed in Prashanti Kuteeram at Giddenahalli, 32 kilometers from Bangalore City. It looks to the education of the complete person, offering courses such as Yoga Therapy Treatment, personality development, promotion of positive health complete with a postgraduate diploma for doctors.

The therapeutic research includes work on ailments such as bronchial asthma, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and paralysis. They have also developed an integrated yoga therapy to counter psychosomatic ailments and psychiatric problems.

Thousands of people visit Vivekananda's memorial in Kanya Kumari every day, to pay their respects to a great soul whose ideals embody the best of India. What is remarkable about the Vivekananda Kendra is that in a time when drugs and delinquency are becoming increasingly common, and the onslaught of Westernization is endangering the younger generation, it nurtures and amplifies Swami Vivekananda's message of pride in culture and country to a whole new generation in a way that is personal, that reaches out and captures the youth.

Address: Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari, 629 702, India; also Vivekananda Kendra, 9 Appajappa Agrahara, 3rd Main, Chamarajpet, Bangalore, 560 018, India.

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Swami Vivekananda and the Flavour of India

Dr. M. Lakshmi Kumari, Chairperson, Vivekananda Kendra Vedic Vision Foundation.

(Text of a talk delivered at IIT-Madras on the occasion of the inauguration of the activities of Vivekananda Study Circle for theacademic year 2000-2001 on 1st August 2000.)

Introduction

My dear youth, the Brain of India! It is a matter of great privilege and deep satisfaction for me to share the thoughts of my master with the youth of our country. I always tell that only on that day I live when I have an opportunity to share his thoughts with the people, especially the youth. So, today is a special day in my life, because I am addressing a special gathering. IIT students are supposed to be the cream of the Indian youth and I am really enchanted to know that there is a Vivekananda Study Circle here and so many of you are being guided by great scholars like Swami Brahmeshanandaji Maharaj. God bless you all. I don?t know where I should start.

To condense Swami Vivekananda into an hour's lecture is a sin, I would say. Still, instead of going into his wonderful messages, which you can read everywhere, I will just share with you some of my own meditations on my Master and what I might get, out of his words. That would be more relevant because, when you start meditating on him, you may also get much clearer and better visions, especially since most of you are more brainy than I am. I am only a botanist, agriculturist and a woman. Yet, I am proud to be a woman and I always pray to God, that in all my Janmas, I should become only a woman. Being a woman, there is a short cut to divinity, which I have discovered from my own life. Swami Brahmeshanandaji is always enchanted when I say that and asks me to write about it.

The Prelude

Last year, sometime in July, I had an occasion to address the students who came from Canadian Universities, to our Cochin University. I talked to them about Hinduism in Kerala but when the lecture was over some of them came to me and said, "we would like to talk to you again." I told them they were welcome to do so. They said, " Are you aware that the 21st century is going to be a century of spiritual tourism?" I replied, "Yes, because all our greater masters have predicted that the West will have to come to India, sooner than later.

And the time is up for you, and you will have to come here. "There was one girl among them, her name was Eva. She said,"Madam, we, the youth of the West, are fed up of our consumerist culture. There is such a bad odour emanating from it. We are looking for deeper, more fulfilling experiences in our life. We want that flavour of India. So, we are all going to come here. It is not like our coming here in previous years, seeking pleasure. This time we are coming to enjoy a deeper fragrance of India." Then, so sincerely, she caught hold of my hand and said, "Tell me something about that rare flavour of India. What is it that marks India out from the rest of the world?"

India's Unique Flavour

I said, "My dear daughter, you have asked a very important question. Then I prayed to Swamiji that I should be able to give her the right answer. Then, I told her, that there are two facets to this issue. One, that they have been brought up in a culture which is different from the rest of the world and that they have grown up in Dvaitabhava, that is duality. But, we in India, in spite of all our pretensions towards communism or capitalism or socialism or any other ?ism?, somewhere deep within us, know that there is unity in diversity. Somewhere, we know deep within us, there is a Jivaatma here and it is the same: "Hridesaarjuna Drishtathi Brahmayam Sarva bhoothaani Indrarooddani maya" It is the same, which resides in us everything. Human beings, animals, plants, even this non-living poor little mic. Everywhere it is there. Moreover, you are all students of science. The West has found this unity, we cannot say that we alone know that. They have found out, since Einstein formulated his famous equation E=mc2, we all know that they are on the path of that great discovery of unity. What to call it, how to organise it, is a matter of scientific enquiry. But, where do you go after that? There seems to be a blind alley. But, we in India, did not stop with that. "Kashchid Dheeraha", the Upanishads say. When they found this Unity in Diversity, outside, they knew they are very near the truth. Let us go deeper, they went inside.Swami Vivekananda says in one of his lectures, "If somebody wants to

explore the history of India, they should look for this. When the rest of the world looked outside, what prompted the Indian mind to look within for the truth? There lies our glory. The moment of glory, when they started looking inside eliminating, "Mano Buddhi Ahankaara Chittaani naaham". Not this, not this, "Neti Neti Vachanair Nigama Avochu." They found suddenly that spark of truth within. When they found that, they did not stop, but meditated further on that truth and then they found that it is the same truth that is manifest everywhere. The whole universe is nothing but an expression of that One truth. And what did they do, did they create an atom bomb out of it to destroy their enemies? No. They cried out, "Shrunvanthu Viswe Amrithasya Putraha, Aye Dhamaani Divyanithasthu Vedahametham Purusham Mahaantam Adityavarnam Tamasah Parastaat Thameva vidhidva Atimrityumedhi Naanya Pantha Vidyathe Ayanaya." So, wonderful. We usually think we are all sinners. We think we are nobodies. Dr.Ananth said just a while ago, "Are you afraid? You have no confidence in yourself?" Why Amrithasya Putraha (Children of Immortality), you have a wonderful heritage behind you. This wonderful truth hidden within you. There is a wonderful power in your muscles and strength, everywhere within you. Then, why this frustration? Why this suicidal tendency? Why this depression?

Understand your self. "Athimrityumedi", the world is afraid today. It has nothing to offer but death. What can you do? Go to a super bazaar in America, hundred and odd types of bread, five hundred types of something else, but how long can all this satisfy you? What more can you eat? Sometimes, when you go to the super market it is really as that girl said, the

stench of consumerism is all around you. You won?t be able to stay there. You want to come here, so that the fragrance of our forest, the green undulating bhoomi here, rivers gurgling down, it is wonderful. So, I told her, "Look, this is our strength. You know how to find out the unity in diversity, but we have taken one step further. That is the real quantum leap which we have taken from unity to Poornatha, the wholesomeness, "Poornamadah, Poornamidam", we have heard it. That perfection, a step down from the intellectual realisation of the unity, and then jump on to that perfection within, for that you?ll have to come here. The superfine technology by which Truth can become part of you and you can become part of the truth that?s perfect. That has been India?s great contribution to the world thought and culture. That is still with us. She was very happy but also pointed out that when they come here seeking all this but find out that the youth here know nothing about it; what a tragedy! They don?t know how to give us a good answer. They know nothing of this fragrance of India. That is why I said, it is deeply satisfying to be amidst you, you should know the fragrance of India. You can?t read Vivekananda without getting that fragrance. He was a condensed India. When you touch Vivekananda, your understanding of religion, of education, your understanding of life itself changes. Remember Sri Krishna?s word: "Svalpamavapyasya Dharmasya Traayato Mahato Bhayaat." That is the magic message with which he touched everybody who came in contact with him.

Glimpses from Swami Vivekananda's life

Now, a few glimpses of his life. I always remember, when he went to Maharshi Debendranath Tagore and asked him, "Have you seen God?" he said, "Oh Naren, you have the eyes of a Yogi". I have meditated on that. Why did he say that? Yogi?s eyes? What is there in these yogi?s eyes? It took me sometime, a yogi can see the world as one, as one?s own, without the barrier of a separation in mind and this came true when Swamiji stood on the platform of the Chicago Parliament of religion, looked at the 7000 strong audience before him, people of all nationalities, communities, religions, spiritual traditions but never found them as separate from him. He considered them as a part of his own family. And the truth of Debanadranath?s words. Flowed out through him, "Sisters and brothers of America". In fact Swamiji’s message stopped there. For me, these five words are Swami Vivekananda?s message. Everything what he did later was only a

commentary on these five words. How he among all people who were present there who were usually addressed as ladies and gentlemen, how could he use these words. What was there in these words? What did it show? It was a revelation of truth. That the whole universe is one, the solidarity of the existence where we are all inter-related, independent. How can I see you as different? I, through my subtle Yogi eyes am able to see the thread, which connects all of us. When these words were uttered, you know the result, 7000 people received a thrill, for a split second, and they became aware of this unity of existence. They had to stand up; they had to give him an ovation. They could not have done otherwise, because it was a force rooted in the experience of a Tapasvi. When he knows that he is part of the Truth, of the whole universal existence, he has to dance, there is no stopping, whether it is Meera, whether it is Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa or Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Of course, at the parliament of religions, there was no scope for dancing. So, all they could do was stand up and give him a mighty ovation. As I said, everything else of Swamiji’s message is a commentary on these five words.

Expansion is Life

I will just go through a few utterances of his, so that we can understand what an expansive vision, what depth he can give to all of us. Consider first, his remark, "Expansion is life, contraction is death." How do we expand? If we eat a lot of potatoes and meat, we expand but not in a very good way. It will create many inconveniences in life. How do you expand physically? How do you expand mentally? Intellectually and spiritually? Think about it. You will discover that expansion has only one meaning. That we should know how to interconnect ourselves with the rest of the universe. The universe is filled with truth and all that we have to do is expand and be in touch with that truth. Expand yourself intellectually through knowledge. Activate the grey matter in your brain through contemplation, through meditation. Thinking over, pondering over the meanings of the great message which has been handed over to us, whether it is from Swami Vivekananda or the Upanishads or the Vedas or from the different spiritual traditions that we have. Not only Hinduism, Christianity or Islam, everywhere the great masters have spoken words which we should not be considered as of a bookish value or merely for a preacher’s sermon, but we must think about it and you will get wonderful insights. So, expand by improving the capacity of your brain, to work upon it. And what happens then? Then, the message becomes more and more vibrant. It starts melting into the language of the heart. It should! Andwhen it comes to the heart, how do we expand?

What is Love?

Today, our heart knows only that kind of love which is actually an attachment for people around us - my family, my brother, my husband, my children- that is all the attachment we have, that is all the love which we know. And Swamiji speaks of such a love as trading in love. We have become traders in love. That is not expansion. That is contraction. So, we

expand by learning to love everything under the Sun. Love is such a wonderful facet of truth. Take that truth and live it in your life. Learn to love everything, whoever comes in contact with you. How do we show our love to people? Not just by saying, do something. There is our body, this wonderful instrument that has been given to us. To express that love through service and sacrifice. These are the only two ways. In every other ways you start showing your love, it will degrade you as a human being. These are the only two ways with which you can interconnect with the whole universe in a very

purposeful way, relinquishing your selfish motivation and trying to serve.That is how this became a Tyaaga bhoomi, they discovered the great Adhyaatmic Power, spiritual power which is there in Tyaaga. It is called Tyaaga bhoomi; all of you must experience that. Do some tyaaga, without telling anybody what you are doing. Try to help. That is what religion is supposed to be. More than any education, more than anything else, the books you read, the pictures you see and the lectures you hear, what actually can transform you is an idea which you live in your life. When you start doing that, your whole personality gets integrated with that idea.

Assimilating ideas

I remember, as a college student I read a beautiful book "magnificent obsession", by one of the famous authors of that time, Lloyd Douglas. There is a great surgeon but somehow his greatness was not revealed in his works. So, he was getting a little frustrated. Everyday, he used to go to a pub and watch the persons handling the drinks. That man used to be so very happy and cheerful. One day this man approached him and said, "Look, I am a great surgeon, I have such faculties at my disposal, yet, I am not happy as you are. What is it that makes you so happy?" He asked him to get a Bible and read a particular page. He read, "Let the left hand know what the right hand does." Several times the doctor read it but could not make out anything. Then one day, as he pondered over it more and more, the meaning became clear to him and from that moment he started expanding his service. When he started doing that, wonder of wonders, he became a master surgeon, a reputed surgeon in the whole world. That is how we must expand. It will generate Nirbahayatva within us. Why are we afraid of people today? Because we expect something from them. When, we are engrossed in Tyaaga and Seva, we donot want anything from anybody. You can always give, when you go on giving, not asking for a return, then there is no need to be afraid of anybody. Spiritually, how do we expand? Today, we think, the idol we worship, the idea, which we have, that alone is true, but not the whole of the truth. Sister Nivedita says about Swami Vivekananda, "He taught us a religion which was not afraid of Truth anymore." They had a religion which, but it was afraid of truth. That is why Galileo and others were

punished. They felt their popularity would go down when these scientific truths are expounded to the masses. We are not afraid of that. Satyameva Jayathe Satyam Paradheemahi With such strength, they have said that truth alone triumphs. There is nothing but Truth; there is only one truth. "Ekam Sad Vipraa Bhaudaa Vadanti" This was something very great in our Indian tradition. Why were the people asked to go through a rhythm of life, a schedule in their life - Brahmacharya, Garhastya, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa- because it makes your vision clear and lays down a clear path which helps you evolve gradually.

The Hindu Nation of Swadharma

A great responsibility has been entrusted to the teacher. If you want to teach Physics, you must know Physics well. Suppose you wanted to become a doctor but your parents forced you to become an engineer. Then, you build a fly-over, as soon as the first vehicle goes over it, the fly-over goes down! Because, your heart is not in the job you have been forced to take up. Similarly, I wanted to be an engineer but my mother was very particular that I should become a doctor. The result -"operation successful, patient died." Such things are very common now a days. "Swadharmo Nidhanam Sreyaha Para Dharmo Bhayavaha" Swami Vivekananda takes the cream out of Vedanta and puts it in a language, which is easily understood by us. Yet, the depth and the meaning are intact. Consider another example, the message of service. Our Karmendriyas need work. What sort of work? It has to be a yajna. "Sarvam Yajna Prathisthitham Karma Brahmodbhavam Vidhi."

Bhagavan has given us so many to clues to us. How should we work? What is the importance of work? How Karthruthva-Bhogtruthva bhaava (identifying oneself as the doer and recipient), how do we remove that? How do we overcome our preferences for certain types of work? How can we work without expecting anything in return, all these have been dealt with? Michel Talbet, a great physicist and admirer of Swami Vivekananda, writes, "We have not written the letter nor have we posted yet we expect a reply." When you apply for a particular post, you don?t know how much you can work, what your capacity is, but we argue first. "How much am I going to get? What are the perks? Will I be sitting in an a/c room? Will I get a chauffeur driven car?" The world we see today keeps crying, "we want this, we want that" but doesnot want to give anything at all. That has made us a characterless nation. Somebody, was telling me, Swami Gautamanandaji went to Zambia and people there started saying that they prefer Indians to the whites because our approach to life is so similar and all that, but within in an year all the Indians hired there were sent back. There is something lacking in our character that was the thing that Swamiji was so concerned about. Just imagine, fifty three years after independence how much of money we have spent on education, how much on social service, still, in the

great state of Kerala from where I come, which is supposed to be the citadel of education, education is in doldrums, nobody knows what to do, you might have read in the newspapers, our plus two is creating such a havoc. Whether it should be part of school level education or college level etc. College teachers don?t want to teach in schools because it is something below their dignity! Confusion worse confounded. Remember those wonderful words of Swamiji, "Education is the manifestation of the perfection which is already in man." And he had the courage of conviction to give the same definition to religion."Religion is the manifestation of the divinity already in man."Divinity and perfection are the two nodes of the same scale. So, he knew, what is needed is something by which our inner divinity will be awakened. It should wake up the spiritual resonance within. This kind of an education system which commission after commission has been trying to improve, yet we are still undecided whether to think of Goddess Saraswati or whether we should think of God at all! Now, slowly, people like us in our foundation, we are trying to identify, especially in Kerala, students with talent, there are such pockets of great genius but nobody recognises them. Because, people are interested only in the ?coat-suit-boot? education. Even if such children are ready to come, their parents will say, it must be in English medium only, without "twinkle twinkle little star", our child cannot make any progress! That is the tragedy of our country. And there is wonderful scope for work. There are people who have preserved ancient knowledge to this day and still derive great benefit out of it. Somebody asked me, without being aware of their meaning what is the use if somebody performs rituals. I replied that there lies the beauty of Hinduism. If you don’t understand, they appear to be merely rituals. But if you do and live according to that understanding, fresh insights keep emerging. Hinduism is to be lived.

Conclusion

One last thought. Another such great message to us is "Work is Worship". And his greatest message to all of you is this- when people like Josephine Mac Leod and others asked Swamiji, "What shall we do for you", he had a very profound yet simple answer, "Love India". Let each and every thought of yours be dedicated to this great motherland of ours. Let each and every action be dedicated to bring her more glory. Let each and every thought of ours be dedicated to this great mother. What a mother we have! Even contemplating on her many synonyms, Karma Bhoomi, Tapobhoomi, Yajnabhoomi, Punyabhoomi, Matrubhhoomi etc. is enough to transform us into a better human being."Aatmano Mokshaartham Jagat Hitaaya cha" was Swamiji’s motto which he incorporated into the Ramakrishna Mission?s symbol. Every work we do should make us a better human being. Just as a bud opens into a flower and becomes fragrant and exudes honey, in the same way out of the work we do, we must experience joy. As you work outside, you should grow within. Our scriptures say, that each one of us has our dharma, from Brahma down to the ant and we are supreme in our own dharma, there is no gradation in that. As scientists, you have great responsibilities. Assimilate this great knowledge, sit at the feet of great teachers and get enlightened with their knowledge. Give your knowledge back to the people of this country. That is Swamiji?s message.

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Help Not Fights

“If the Parliament of religions has shown anything to the world it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, in spite of resistance: “Help not Fight, “Assimilation and not Destruction”, “Harmony and Peace and not Dissension”.

More than a century has passed since swami Vivekananda’s sonorous voice echoed these immortal words, resplendent with the never diminishing shine of eternal Truth. In fact, these words were a short commentary on the inexplicably sweet utterance he made at the opening of the Parliament of Religions: “Sisters ad Brothers of America”. These words fell like the first rain drops on the thirsty ‘chataka birds/ who had thronged the opening session of the Parliament earning for a new message, a new vision, a new impulse and a new command that would make not only their lives fruitful but also bring the very much needed new silver lining on the dark clouds that were gathering over the worlds horizon. Nobody could imagine that a silver line would be drawn by that attractive ‘Prince among Saints’ who sat deeply absorbed in himself. There was none among the audience who could have gone behind his eyes and shared the vision that he was seeing – ONE in the many and the many in the ONE. It was this vision that translated itself into the words Sisters and Brothers of America’ as he stood up and began his address to the Assembly.

The sound vibrations that emanated from him have merged and become part of the Universal Sound. But the soul stirring expressions that poured out of him over the next nine and a half years still remain with us as his own commentary on the vision he had nurtured , thanks to his realisation of the Self within. Those commentaries fortunately remain with us distributed in the volumes of Vivekananda literature. In living form they remain in the monasteries and mission centres for which he laid the foundation in his own life time and in the hearts of millions of Indians for whom they form a never ending source of inspiration and guidance. The only place where they are lacking today is alas our Indian political sphere, where Swamiji’s wisdom has been cast aside paving the way once again for a lack- lustre Indian nationalism.

The point worth contemplating n this context, which provides a vision of the Indian Religious approach centred on Universal acceptance and tolerance is that while all the other religious leaders presented views from the stand point of their particular religion stressing its uniqueness, Swamiji alone presented a vision of the universal dimensions of Sanatana Dharma, global in its sweep and at the same time centered in each individual.1 What enabled him to achieve this soul transforming miracle? For this we have to go back to the wonderful spiritual heritage, the elixir of which flowing through his arteries and veins since childhood had set him on the journey towards Self-Realisation We have to go back to the years he spent with that unusual ‘Best among Avatars” whose life experiences had transformed even the most intricate religious ideas and experiences into his very life’s breath.

It is from this Immaculate Teacher that Swamiji learned that the first ideal of religious realisation is renunciation. Secondly, that “the religions of the world are not contradictory or antagonistic. They are but various phases of one eternal religion……. One infinite religion existed all through eternity and will ever exist and this religion s expressing itself in various countries in various ways. Therefore we must respect all religions and we must try to accept them all as far as we can.”

One idea Swamiji was emphatic about in this connection was the need to recognise “that each one of them has the same saving power as the other Firmly rooted in his realisation of the one Ultimate Truth he firmly reiterated that the same God answers all……… the same Almighty God is responsible for all”. To attain realisation of this God are needed “tremendous purity and renunciation which is the one secret of spirituality” .He considered ‘renunciation as the background of all religions and if senses crept into the field of religion spirituality decreased in the same ratio’. Again and again he voiced his Master’s words “Do not care for doctrines ,do not care for dogmas/, or sects or churches or temples; they count for little compared with the essence of existence in each man, and the more this is developed in a man the more powerful is he for good.

This was also voice of Mother India, who from time immemorial had kept the gates of her home open to all those who approached her for refuge from the tyrannies in their homelands be it racial, religious or political.

What is so special in the voice of India that is absent in others? To quote Swamiji’s own words, “This is the ancient land where wisdom made its home before it went into any other country, the same India whose influx of spirituality is represented, as it were, on the material plane, by rolling rivers like oceans, where the eternal Himalayas, rising tier above tier with their snow caps, look as it were into the very mysteries of Heaven. Here is the same India whose soil has been trodden by the feet of the greatest sages that ever lived. Here first sprang up inquiries into the nature of man, and into the internal world. Here first arose the doctrines of the immortality of the soul, the existence of a supervising God, an immanent God in nature and in man, and here the highest ideals of religion and philosophy have attained heir culminating points………. It is the same land which stands firmer than any rock in the world, with its undying vigour, indestructible life. Its life is of the same nature as the soul, without beginning and without end, immortal, and we are the children of such a country.” Thanks to the multitude of peoples and cultures that got assimilated in our country we alone could formulate a Universal Religion” as well as originate the idea of VasudhaivaKutumbakam, Universe as one family..

What is so unique in Hinduism that is absent in other religions? ”Hinduism is a true religion because it teaches that God alone is true, that this world is false and fleeting, that all your gold is but as dust, that all your power is finite and that life itself is oftentimes an evil” Hinduism is a true religion because it teaches renunciation and stands up with the wisdom of ages to tell and to declare to the nations not to be ruined by the senses, to renounce the love of the senses and of the world. That is the way of religion. Through renunciation is the way to the Goal and not the enjoyment”.

Swamiji could think, talk and act as he did because he was a, a true Hindu. aVedantin. Vedanta is built on principles, not personalities, Sages discovered them who tried to become illustrations of the principles they preached. Because of this Vedanta s a most impersonal religion- based on principles and yet with infinite scope for the play pf persons.

Hinduism recognises that “unity in variety is the plan of the universe.’ “That Universal Existence is God, the Ultimate Unity in the Universe. In Him we are all one. At the same time in manifestation, these differences must all remain’”. We must learn that Truth may be expressed in a hundred thousand ways and each of the ways is true as far as it goes. We must realise that the same thing can be viewed from a hundred different stand points, and yet be the same thing.”

“It is in vain that we try to gather all the peoples of the world around a single personality. It is difficult to make them gather together even around eternal and universal principles. If it ever becomes possible to bring the largest portion of humanity to one way of thinking in regard to religion, mark you, it must always be through principles and not through persons. We must gracefully accept the fact that through high philosophy or low exalted mythology or refined ritualism or arrant fetishism , every sect, every soul, every nation every religion, consciously or unconsciously is struggling upward towards God, every vision of Truth that man has , is a vision of Him and of none else.”

Swamiji intuitively felt that the world is waiting for this ‘grand idea of universal tolerance. It will be a great acquisition for civilisation. Nay, no civilisation can long exist unless this idea enters into it. No civilisation can grow unless fanatics, bloodshed and brutality stop. No civilisation can begin to lift up its head until we look charitably upon one another; and the first step towards that much needed charity is to look charitably and kindly upon the religious convictions of others. Nay, more, to understand that not only should we be charitable, but positively helpful to each other., however different our religious ideas and convictions may be………Love alone is the fittest thing to survive and not hatred , it is gentleness that has the strength to live on and to fructify and not mere brutality and physical force’

The other great idea that the world wants from us today…….. is the eternal grand idea of the spiritual oneness of the whole world. “Swamiji refers to it as a life giving idea and was convinced that this was what the world wants from us today and which the mute masses of India want for heir uplifting, for none can regenerate this land of ours without the practical application and effective operation of the idea of the Oneness of things.

Another more scientific and appealing rationale which Swamiji offers in this connection is with regard to that most highly priced ethics in human society. The West is desperately seeking the raison d etre of all its philosophy and its ethics other than mere sanction of any personage, however great and Dive he may have been “would finally settle on the ethical and moral code based on some eternal principles of truth. This eternal sanction can be in the only Infinite Reality that exists in every one as their own self in the soul.

“The infinite oneness of the Soul is the eternal sanction of all morality and you and I are not only brothers – every literature voicing man’s struggle towards freedom has prescribed that for you-but that you and I are really one. This is the dictate of Indian philosophy. This oneness is the rationale of all ethics and all spirituality”.

Swamiji preached Advaita not as a sectarian philosophy but because of its universal and widely acceptable grounds. He felt that Advaita aspect of Vedanta is necessary to rouse up the hearts of man, to show them the glory of their own souls. Mark his words: Teach yourselves, teach everyone his real nature, call upon the sleeping soul and see how it awakes. Power will come, glory will come, goodness will come, purity will come and everything that is excellent will come when his sleeping soul is roused to self conscious activity This was his clarion call, calling upon man ”to discover the innate potential divinity of his soul, by controlling nature external and internal” This can be done through work or worship, psychic control or philosophy, by one or more or all of these. This alone can take him to his ultimate freedom.

Harmony of science and religion

Harmony of science and religion was another very important aspect of Indian approach that he upheld before his Western audience to prove the science behind his statements. ”Science is nothing but the finding of unity. As soon as science would reach perfect unity, it would stop from further growth, because it would reach the goal”. So is with religion. The science of religion becomes perfect “when it would discover Him who is the one life in a universe of death, Him who is the constant basis of an ever changing world. One who is the only Soul of which all souls are but manifestations Thus is it, through multiplicity and duality, the ultimate unity is reached. Religion can go no farther. This is the goal of all science.

The sooner this knowledge of the harmony of Science and Religion enters into the comprehension of mankind, the nearer will we be to peace and understanding at the global level. Religion will not then be ‘blind’ nor science ‘lame’ any more. Religion of the future will have to be modeled on the basis of this mighty confluence of science and spirituality. The result, the world will get a faith which is not afraid of truth, which is not afraid of ‘others’ which is also not afraid of a God sitting above us in Heaven judging us. Rooted in fearless pursuit of Truth man will attain a new dignity, strength and sense of fullness and freedom. Swami Vivekananda’s teachings foreshadow this inevitable coming together of the objective scientific truth and subjective Spiritual Reality. Out of this synthesis should emerge a universal religion urging man to manifest the ‘Universal Self’ in him in place of his limited individual self. That would indeed be the crowning glory of religion and science.

Swamiji often spoke of ‘Universal Brotherhood’. How can we ordinary beings conceive of this brotherhood, when our minds are so filled with Jealousy, hatred, intolerance and so on. How to get rid of the negative impulses in our mind? Swamiji wants us to take a good look at religion as he firmly believed that religion is the highest plane of human thought and life. No doubt religion has created very many negative forces in the society. But again “the intense love that humanity has ever known has come from religion. The noblest word of peace that the world has ever known has been uttered by religious men”. Therefore we must concentrate on those aspects which shall enhance in us positive qualities by which we can create better humans. Swamiji underscores this by defining religion as “the manifestation of the Divinity which is already in man”.

“The time has come for renunciation and then you will see the harmony in all the religions of the world. You will know that there is no need of any quarrel and then only will you be ready to help humanity. To proclaim and make clear the fundamental unity underlying all religions was the mission of my Master. Other teachers have taught special religions which bear their names, but this great teacher of the nineteenth century made no claim for himself. He left every religion undisturbed because he had realised that in reality they are all part and parcel of the one eternal religion”. In Sri Ramakrishna the world saw Universal Symphony of Religions. It was this symphony that Swami Vivekananda so effectively replayed in the Parliament of Religions. Knowledge of the Unity in diversity was the secret behind his unified vision which brought out those unforgettable words- ‘Sisters and Brothers of America’

We in India need this vision today most urgently so that we can write in bold golden letters in our Nation’s banner “HELP NOT FIGHT”, ASSIMILATION AND NOT DESTRUCTION’, HARMONY AND PEACE AND NOT DISSENSION’.’

Dr. M. Lakshmi Kumari

Director,

Vivekananda Kendra

Vedic Vision Foundation

AnandaDham, Sringapuram,

Kodungallur 680664,

Trissur district, Kerala

Phone: 0480-2805780/2812780

Email: vkvvf99@satyam.net.in

A profile

Personal Data:

Date of Birth: 1st March 1936

Fathers Name: Late Puthezathu Raman Menon

Place of Birth: Trissur, Kerala

Academic Qualifications:

M.Sc. in Botany from Travancore University

Ph.D in Botany from Madras University

Post-Doctoral Research at the Institute of Micro Biology, Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Kiev. USSR (1968-1970)

Professional Experience:

Professor of Botany in Sri Padmavathy Women’s College, Tirupati (1966-1968). Micro-biologist in Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi (1970-1982)

At Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari

Joined Vivekananda Kendra in 1981 as a whole time worker and became its Joint General Secretary and later it’s Working President. After the passing away of the Founder President of Vivekananda Kendra, MananeeyaEknathjiRanade, was unanimously elected as the All India President of Vivekananda Kendra in the year 1984. She continued as its president till 1995 when she stepped down to devote more time to spiritual pursuits.

To help her in this Vivekananda Kendra formed a new Trust, Vivekananda Kendra Vedic Vision Foundation with Dr. Lakshmi Kumari as its lifetime Chairman. The Foundation is presently functioning from Kodungallur, Trissur District, Kerala.

As the President of Vivekananda Kendra she has extensively toured the country spreading the message of Swami Vivekananda in addition to her duties as the President giving form and content to Swami Vivekananda’s ideal of social service as envisaged by Ma. Eknathji. In 1992 when Kendra organised a marathon year long Vivekananda BharataParikrama she participated in it for the full time of 353 days. In 1993 she represented Vivekananda Kendra at all the three major World Parliaments of Religions at Washington, Chicago and Calcutta and in 1995 at the World Hindu Conference, at Durban, South Africa. In 1999 again she spoke at the World Parliament of Religions, Cape Town, South Africa. She has the unique honourof having participated in all the ten major centenary celebrations connected with Swami Vivekananda’s life from 1963 to 2002.

As the Chairman of Vivekananda Kendra Vedic Vision Foundation, presently she is engaged in encouraging Vedic studies in different ways through promoting Sanskrit, publishing Vedic literature, conducting seminars, study classes and so on.

Currently a new experiment in value based education, SandeepaniGurukulam, has been taken up at Kodungallur. A nursery school, SandeepaniSishuvihar, functions at Kodungallur where tiny tots get acquainted with Sanskrit from the nursery level onwards.

Publications:

Dr. Lakshmi Kumari has been a prolific writer as the Editor of Vivekananda Kendra Patrika and YuvaBharati from 1982-95 in addition to various other cultural and spiritual magazines in Malayalam and English. Some of her articles have been compiled as books – Snake and Ladder (based on Bhagavad Gita) Sita must live (devoted to women) VandeMataram (Patriotic ideas) and Swami Vivekananda and Bhagavad Gita, Vivekananda charanangalil (Malayalam).

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My Turn

Banking Spiritual Silence
Dr. Lakshmi Kumari
A wife, at least in the early days of her marriage, has her life centered in her husband and for her everything has an aura of her love. When she becomes a mother that love is made very pure as it is devoid of even traces of lust and jealousy. Her home has now as its center her love for her children. A very good starting point indeed. All that is needed is for that centering to be reinforced with a new faith, a new urge to reach out to the spiritual Truth within and superimpose it on the acts of love and service without.
Many women have too little time to look after their children and their home. But they may be members of this society or that, engaged in children's programs, projects to help women, etc., etc. The work is good, no doubt, but it doesn't serve the real purpose of self-empowerment. At home you are a different person than what you are outside. There is a widening gap-the error or parallax goes on increasing. Simplifying and straightening our outer life would help us to find time and the mind to reorganize our inner life. Then more and more we are able to add beauty and charm to our outer lives.
Women with their God-given sense of wholeness can slip into this ever-widening circle of mutual adoration and understanding-if only they choose, if they care. When we discover this wholeness in creation and learn to absorb it unto us and start adding to the wholeness within and around us, our capacity to love, tolerate, accept and above all positively give and take become more intense and rewarding. The real "mother" wakes up inside.
The only condition to acquire this gift is to establish a connection with the unknown-the Invisible. Spirituality is not acquiring something from outside. It is a giving up-sacrifice, renunciation-of our small self and selfish interests and motivations so that the fountainhead within us starts gurgling out.
Housewives have a lot of time-provided they are not part of the rat race of living-when they are alone. Instead of spending it in dissipating activities like gossiping, reading some trash or watching character-destroying TV programs they could use it to create fields of creative silence within when they are in communion with something energizing within themselves. By this they can not only conserve their energy, but also enrich themselves spiritually.
Hours or minutes of silence can be incorporated into our lives, filling some odd leisure hour here and there. As we wait for the children to return from the school when the mind is alert and watching we can open it further, to be one with all the mothers, all their children and all the beauty of the children growing up. As we stand at the gate of the school whose heart does not get filled up at the sight of children rushing from class-bundles of joy rushing about here and there in all seriousness, reminding each other of their "silly" transactions. So on and so forth, life is full of beauty and harmony if only we open our spiritual vision.
Adding up moments, minutes and hours would be creating small savings deposits of energizing and invigorating spiritual energy within. As the quality of silence starts deepening, the colors and forms of trees, sounds of the chirping of birds, movement of leaves, everything becomes a source of joy and gives a deeply relaxing sensation. Slowly, without anybody noticing it, these precious moments can be made into a regular meditation at a particular part of the day. Loneliness stops to worry us, work doesn't tire us when the inner life is restored even by a minute fraction. This is the journey from the fragmented to the whole and is the best way open to many of us-housewives and mothers-to combat the divisive tendencies of the purely material life of today with its immense demands, problems and tensions. To make India assert her spiritual power, we women can have this small saving spiritual deposit scheme which can certainly add to our nation's spiritual wealth at this critical moment.
Lakshmi Kumari, Ph.D., is president of the Vivekananda Kendra, and editor of its magazine "Voice of Youth." She comes from Kerala and is a devoted follower of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.
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Self-Improvement- :: Meaning and Purpose of Life

October 1, 2007 — Suriyodayam
What could be, in a nutshell, the meaning and purpose of life? What could be that philosophy which when lived can take man from manhood to supermanhood and to Godhood?
In simple terms, it may be said that by enhancing the ‘unifying’ and ‘universalising’ forces in his life, man can move from imperfection to perfection. The former is the ultimate goal of all disciplines, austerities, sadhanas or yoga, that is, centralizing and focusing the vital energies in us bringing them under control and thus strengthening and ennobling and integrating one’s personality. It is only then that the inner potentialities can be brought to manifest. The second is to channelise the energy thus accumulated for expansion, fulfillment and growth, directed towards serving everything in the universe.
Swami Vivekananda puts it as “involution followed by evolution”. In his own inimitable way he related it to human life as “internal contemplation followed by external service.” Again, this principle forms the backbone of the ideal of “renunciation and service”.
To a person in whom these two forces have been harmonized, the whole creation is nothing but a grand display of these forces of unification and universalisation. This is the very secret of Nature; this is the science of sciences. This cosmic force operates from the gigantic galaxies to the invisible atom – from ant to Brahma – as they put it in our scriptures. This cycle of matter to energy conversion goes on eternally.
What could be the role of man in this great universal drama? To understand that, he has only to look around again to Nature and her working.
There is the great sun illuminating the entire world and filling it up with its light energy. It must have taken millions of years of condensation and concentration to create the dense matter within it before it turn out to be an almost infinite source of energy burning itself off – sacrificing itself to serve the creation for centuries to come. Look at the trees around. What are they for? The pigments in the plant world only can capture effectively the immense amount of light energy falling on the earth and convert it into all these forms of energy, food, fuel, and so on, by which man can make his life beautiful.
So much man realize his place and role in this vast creation. As a potential source of divinity, he has to convert himself to be an instrument to capture the divine energy, condense, concentrate, focus and centralize unto himself as much as of these positive cosmic divine forces and through him route them back into the universe, to complete the cycle. In short, he must learn to make himself an instrument in the divine play.
How can man attract this supra-human forces unto himself? Just as one pure tiny crystal can attract to itself like molecules in a saturated solution, grow and expand, so can man expand his speck of divinity and make it operative as a divine force. Through renunciation of all the unwanted dissipating forces within him, through the power of his self-will, sadhana and surrender, he can in this very life manifest divinity.
Excerpt from the Chapter “Mother, upon thee I meditate” in the book “Snake and Ladder” (A Few Drops from the Nectar of Bhagavad Gita) by Dr.M.LakshmiKumari, President, Vivekananda Kendra.
Grateful thanks t0 Dr. M.LakshmiKumari and Vivekananda Kendra.
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