Thursday, 8 April 2021

Need for Bharat.

 The world at present is witnessing two extremes of attitudes, the good and the bad, from two of the oldest of nations. The bad came from China and the entire Humanity suffered because of the Covid 19 Virus, which apparently originated from the labs of Wuhan.  More than 99 million people got affected by this Virus and around 2.13 million people perished in the last eight months due to this deadly biological weapon unleashed by the Chinese. Gone are the days of conventional wars. Nowadays the wars are fought by such surreptitious means, for which the world has to be prepared. Man has proved once again that he is the worst enemy of Humanity and also for the entire environment. 

Quite contrary to this unethical warfare another oldest nation has displayed what goes to prove that all is not lost for Humanity. India has developed a vaccine for this deadly virus and apart from giving relief to its countrymen it has also given succor to its neighboring countries and other poor and under developed counties.  India has announced that it will give the Vaccine to many of its neighbors and to some at free of cost. Already shipment of vaccine has reached Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Mauritius and Seychelles, just days after India launched its own nationwide inoculation program. This is also an effort to preempt the rich countries who would attempt to hoard vaccines by striking pre-purchase deals with pharmaceutical companies, across the world. India has also sent the vaccine to Brazil and the Brazil president Jair Messias Bolsonaro has equated India’s effort to that of Lord Hanuman bringing the Sanjeevani mountain to bring Lakshmana alive in the Ramayana war. Last year also India came to the aid of Brazil and USA when they needed anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine. This move of sending the vaccine in millions to the South Asian Counties will also be a move to counter the dominance China has in this region. India has clearly sent a subtle signal to the world that it will not be creating any problems but rather will be part of the solution. This is DHARMA in action.

Swami Vivekananda's historic meditation on the Sreepada Shila in Kanyakumari

Have you ever heard of a young unknown Wandering Monk doing Dhyana to know the root cause of the downfall of a great nation from its pinnacle of spiritual glory to the depth of degradation?

Have you ever heard a young sanyasi with full of vigour and vitality, doing Dhyana in the midst of ocean, in an isolated spot, to plan for the revitalisation of the dormant Hindu Society, living like worms in the gutter water under the tyranny of British rule.

Yes! It happened at Kanyakumari, the holy Sreepadam of Bharat Mata where the three oceans meet to wash Mother’s feet uninterruptedly from time immemorial.

That young monk was Swami Vivekananda who reached Kanyakumari on 24th December 1892 after a long and strenuous journey starting from Kolkata in the year 1888.  In his long and hazardous sojourn he visited most of the holy places of North India and then came down to south after covering the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Mysore and Travancore Cochin. It was a great education for the youthful Swamiji meeting people face to face and knowing their trials and tribulations. He had occasion to live with Kings, princes, rich businessmen, intellectuals and also often with common men. He could visit many of the historical places of India and saw how many Hindu temples, libraries and cultural centres were want only destroyed by the unscrupulous and barbaric Muslim invaders. He also could gauge to what extent India’s treasuries containing precious wealth were looted by the British rulers. He could see with his own eyes how the masses of India are living in poverty and disease. Swamiji’s heart pained to see how the English educated Indians were serving the British masters, forgetting their own brothers living in most pitiable condition.

He reached Kanyakumari with a very heavy heart. He remembered his Guru Sri Ramakrishna’s words: “Naren, you have to do Mother’s work”. But Swami Vivekananda was not very clear about what his Guru had said while he was alive. Having reached Kanyakumari, as a worshipper of Shakthi, Swamiji decided to go to the temple of Goddess Kanyakumari, one of the oldest and well-known places of Devi worship in the southern part of India. He entered the temple and prostrated before the deity, with tears rolling down from his eyes and deep pain in heart. He sat and prayed to the Goddess, “How can I serve you, Oh Mother! Are you not able to see the living condition of your children under a unholy regime. Show me the way that I can be an instrument in Thy hands, for giving them freedom from the foreign yoke. Let my country and my people regain their lost glory and manliness”.

After having a face to face dialogue with Mother, who was personified in the beautiful deity, Swamiji came out of the temple. What a beautiful sight was waiting for him! A long stretch of beach of colourful sand, comprising red, black and white spread out to the far extent. Swamiji walked in the beach for some time. He saw the confluence (Sangam) of the three oceans. Also he could see from the beach, the Rock, known as Sreepada shila. He learnt from the people moving around in the beach that the Rock in the midst of the ocean has a Foot print of Goddess Parvati and local Hindus visited the Rock during the festival days. As he heard this he felt an intense urge to go to the Rock and spend some time in that isolated spot, in contemplation.

His urge was so intense that he jumped into the sea and swam to the Rock, all alone, braving the waves and sharks. He climbed over the rock and saw the foot print of Goddess Parvati. As he looked towards North, he could see the vastness and feel the greatness of our Motherland. Swamiji could visualise the undivided Hindu Rashtra extending her cultural influence by peaceful means from Iran, Afghanistan to South East Asia.

Soon the young Swamiji fell into a deep meditation. It was a meditation, not for his own mukti, but for the salvation of an age old nation and its people from the oppressive foreign domination.  Sri. P.Parameswaranji, writes in his preface to the book titled “Arise! Awake!!” Swamiji’s quest for the eternal covers millennia of India’s history at the spiritual level which of course is the true source and strength of India in all its facets of national life. Naturally, it is the saints and sages, spiritual stalwarts whose appearance at each turning point of our national life that shaped our collective identity and made it what it is. Not that India was lagging behind other nations, in material advancement and achievement, but the governing principle that influenced all such endeavours was spirituality”.

After three days and night of deep meditation, Swamiji regained his consciousness. The epoch making Dhyana transformed the young Sanyasi, from an ordinary monk to a world teacher, to a great social reformer, an organizer par - excellence, a spiritual dynamo. Yes! Saviour of Mother India and her children has arrived on the world stage. It was the beginning of the eruption of a spiritual volcano, which is going to unleash its hither to hidden powers for the next several generation. No power on the earth can stop it. It is the power of a “Shakti”, which wanted to work through Swami Vivekananda”.

On reaching the mainland, when asked by some curious people as to what was he doing for such long time, he simply replied that the world will come to know about it very soon. But at Madras while he was talking to some of his close disciples he said, “At Kanyakumari sitting at the last bit of Indian soil, I hit upon a plan”!  He further elaborated that his plan was to organise the Hindus and awaken their dormant spiritual power. During his long wandering he could see the people of Bharat are divided into various caste and groups. Nowhere he saw unity among Hindus. He saw not only a disorganised Hindu society but also one which lost its spiritual moorings. Therefore Swamiji’s epic meditation on the rock gave him the vision and mission for the life.

Swargeeya Eknathji Ranade, the spirit behind the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Vivekananda Kendra, while describing the posture of the Statue installed on the Memorial, said, “that it is a very unique posture. I wanted it to be seen by all that the Swamiji has just got up from his meditation with full of determination to do something great. Swamiji’s face and eyes reflects “Gambeerya” (firmness), his erect body shows the power, of lightening, and his putting right foot forward indicates, the onset of a spiritual tornado.

Swamiji felt that the time tested Vedanta philosophy of oneness must be taken to the west. There was no point in teaching this philosophy to the starving millions of our country. What they need immediately is food, water, shelter, clothe to wear and medicines. Swamiji said, “Yes, I shall go to the West, where the materialism rules. I will give the West, the message of Vedanta and in turn get material help and modem science and technology for our countrymen who are in dire need of it.

On 11th September 1893, a Vedantic tidal wave hit the Parliament of Religions at Chicago, which was organised to show the supremacy of the Christianity over rest of the world. Swami Vivekananda, in his inaugural speech of 2 ½  minutes duration set fire to the vast assembly, which reverberated from one corner to another corner of the world. The speech mystified the whole audience and brought a great attitudinal change in their mindset towards Santana Dharma and particularly about India. That day onwards, the Vedanta of the Hindus took the center stage. From Chicago, the Vedantic tidal wave spread to whole of America, Britan and France. Hither to unknown Indian sub-continent turned into a spiritual lighthouse for the humanity.

After his historic triumph over the west, Swamiji returned to India in 1897 to a rousing welcome given to a sanyasi hitherto unknown in the history of our nation. Seeing the overwhelming reception given to him by the people of Madras, Swamiji, while addressing the vast gathering of young men and women told; “For the next fifty years this alone shall be our key-note-this, our great Mother India. Let all other vain gods disappear for the time from our minds. This is the only God that is awake, our own race - “everywhere his hands, everywhere his feet, everywhere his ears, he covers everything.” All other Gods are sleeping. What vain gods shall we go after and yet cannot worship the God that we see all around us, the Virat? When we have worshipped this, we shall be able to worship all the other Gods what is needed is chittashuddhi, purification of the heart. And how does that come?  First of all worship is the worship of the Virat ……. of those all around us.  Worship it …. These are all our gods - men and animals; and the first God we have to worship are our countrymen. These we have to worship, instead of being jealous of each other and fighting with each other. It is the most terrible Karma for which we are suffering and yet it does not open our eyes (CW-III 300-301).

Eknathji Ranade, therefore very aptly adopted the Motto of Vivekananda Kendra as “Serve man- Serve God”, with the twin objectives of Man-making and Nation building as envisaged by Swami Vivekananda.

There is only one way of organising the Hindu society, that is by rendering Nishkama Seva and there by slowly awakening the dormant divinity covered with impurity and selfishness.

Vande Mataram



Friday, 2 April 2021

Bhagavad Gita- to revitalize ourselves.

 The main aim of mankind in all its endeavor is progress. Evolution is also a result of our attempt in making progress. But time and again humanity suffers a lot of digression in its path due to various reasons. Recent pandemic is one such reason which has put the entire mankind on back foot. It has taken a heavy toll on all the nations and the time to recover from this is something which no one can predict. Apart from the schemes aimed at political and economic revival of Nations there is a lot need to be done to take care of the Individual too. The battered psyche of the Individual needs some solace to recover. It has to get back its lost courage. Each and every nation has its own cultural genius to tide over such turbulences. The best among that is our Bhagavad Gita. It is the best possible choice with which we can rediscover our mental poise and courage.

A nation can become strong only if its citizens are strong, happy, healthy, self-sacrificing, and courageous. If they are unhealthy, corrupt, selfish and immoral then the nation can seldom travel on the path of prosperity. Swami Chinmayananda says, “In Individual redemption lies National Redemption and progress”.   Bhagavad Gita teaches us not only about the path of liberation but also the ways to get over our anxiety and fear. Fear is a most dominant emotion and tackling it is a very important aspect in our life. The way we tackle it and overcome it defines the quality of our life. Many time we are hesitant to face this and confine ourselves into our cocoon thinking that as our comfort zone. Our doubts, our dilemmas, our hesitations, our lack of initiative are all various forms of fear only. Bhagavad Gita goes to the root of the problem and addresses it. It makes a person to have a proper perspective of his/her self. With this understanding comes a great realization and with that comes peace and equanimity to the mind. Arjuna was a personification of fear and it was the reason for his confusion.  Sri Krishna through Bhagavad Gita, gave him the much wanted realization and thus energized him to face the battle against the greatest of warriors. The same Bhagavad Gita has energized our society time and again whenever there was a slump in its fortitude. The recent woes can also be addressed by going back to the same eternal source of courage and wisdom. Gita Jayanti falls on December 25th and let us all restart our swadyaya with our study of Bhagavad Gita.



Monday, 9 November 2020

Sadhana Diwas 2020

Mananeeya Sri Eknathji, the founder of Vivekananda Kendra - a spiritually oriented service organization - was born on 19 November 1914. Vivekananda Kendra celebrates this day as the Sadhana Diwas. 

The Pandemic situation prevails. There are many challenges. The need of the hour is to focus on enhancing our inner strength, reminding ourselves of the legacy that we have and marching towards our goal. That would be Sadhana for us in the coming 2 years. On the eve of Sadhana Diwas, let us look into it in three ways. 

Mananeeya Eknathji was a person who would take up challenges and transform every difficulty into an opportunity. Collecting money for the building of the grand memorial in 1960s was very difficult but Eknathji through one-rupee donation made it such a movement that the name of Vivekananda Rock Memorial reached all corners of our country. When Vivekananda Kendra was started, its name had reached before the Kendra Karyakarta could reach the place.

For a Karyakarta what is the Dayitva or what is the place of posting or the field of work is not important. Two basic works are important which a Karyakarta has to do in spite of place of Karyakshetra or Dayitva. One is whatever is the work, it should be done excellently. It should not be half hearted or just managing the show. We should not even say that we have to do it to the best of our ability. We should say that, ‘I would raise my ability to do the work outstandingly.’ As a team also our striving should be that we raise our capacity as a team to do the work superbly. That is where the Sadhana aspect comes in the picture - to improve our personal abilities, skills and secondly to improve our inner qualities to be an effective and harmonious part of the team. 

Why the qualities required for working in team are termed as inner qualities? Because working in team requires large heart to accommodate others, new entrants; it needs patience for the other team members, especially new team members to learn the norms of the organization and function within that; it needs subtle approach in communication to mould others; it needs humility to take feedback from elders, colleagues and even junior Karyakartas; it needs a sense of ‘we’ to appreciate and enjoy the success and progress of Karyakartas in the team; it needs Yajna Bhava that by the Ahuti from all only the Yagna would be successful; it needs merging of puny ‘I’ into ‘We’; it needs a sense of embarrassment (Lajja and Sankoch) to claim credit for any success even if your contribution is apparently more, but we know that even small nut-bolt is contributing for the movement of a big machine or a wheel, thus no one can take full credit for any work. 

Second thing which each Karyakarta has to do, irrespective of his dayitva or field of work, is to associate more and more new persons with organization, out of which some would blossom into a committed Karyakarta. This vision we must have as to whom we can reach, whom we should reach and how can we reach to associate them with the Kendra. Individually and team-wise, we should keep this in mind that the basic work is to do the work excellently, and should associate more and more persons whatever may be the work. This is what Eknathji did in whichever work he took up, in spite of difficulties, obstacles and complications. The story of Vivekananda Rock Memorial is testimony to it.

If we see from the legacy point of view, then the history of Vivekananda Kendra has been of challenge and response. The very existence of Vivekananda Rock Memorial is the example of - Accept the challenge; respond it with your Purushartha, then something grand gets created. Wherever there was challenge, we had taken it up. The Rural Development Project was started because the Missionaries, Jihadis and politics in the name of Dravid pride were destroying the cultural fabric of the society. Overnight, a village called Minakshipuram was converted to Islam. Whole country was shaken. That time Vivekananda Kendra took up the extensive rural development work with cultural thrust. Likewise, most of the projects of Kendra are a response to the challenge. Our collective Sadhana is we should respond to the present situation with all firmness, creativity and foresight so that what we have envisaged as the work of Kendra in 2022 would be achieved. 

Whenever there are curbs or restrictions for movement, then as our President Mananeeya Sri Balakrishnanji says, it is the time to travel within. This process should otherwise also be going on but in challenging situations it can be more powerfully done. This is a great Sadhana that we have to enrich ourselves in skills, abilities, conceptual clarity and attitude. And we have to also enrich ourselves as a team.  

The Sadhana of reducing the ego and expansion of consciousness is best done in the efforts of team-building. For the work at the new places, we have to build the teams. Mananeeya Parameswaranji in one of the Akhil Bharatiya Adhikari Baithak had explained this science of team-building very beautifully. The gist of it is: “We know the technique of team building at our level. Now we are thinking of the team building in new places. While expanding the team, some problems may arise. We should know how to solve it. Our ideas are much bigger and wider. For that we need more and more persons of better qualities. From crowd, create a group and from a group, a team is to be prepared. Group is more cohesive, durable and having clearer objectives than a crowd. Group agrees to disagree. But group is not stable and durable, not equally motivated. Group can split. But Team is cohesive, integrated, identified with each other. Team is like a living organism, it grows, expands and works in unison. This kind of team is the core of the organisation. Various levels of teams are to be created. This team is to be sustained by intimate and regular communications and contacts. No communication gaps. Communication gap leads to misunderstanding. There is a difference between Contact and Communication. Technology is a good servant but bad master. Hence utilize technology with care. For contact, like giving information etc. use technology like mobile, e-mails etc. but maximum inter – personal, informal and intimate contacts and communications to build teams. By contact through mobile you can create group but not a team. As a matter of fact, in a group, relationship is formal. Team is informal. Without informality team can not be formed. There should be deep inter-personal relationship. Ego, formalities should not come in-between. Heart to heart communication should be there with each other. Before Mahabharat war, Sanjay was sent to meet Pandavas. On returning he told Dhritarashtra what he saw while with Pandvas. He told : I saw Arjuna lying with his legs in the lap of Sri Krishna. Seeing this informal intimate relationship between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, Dhritarashtra said, 'Pandavas are invincible'. 

If we keep showing our superiority, expect others to treat us with respect and decorum then intimacy cannot be developed. You want to develop a team, do not stress on decorum, do not maintain distance. Make it informal. Create intimacy. Respect and love each other. Our activities should be more like a family than the organisation. It means so much sharing, interacting, respecting and accepting each other should be there. This type of team building should become a second nature of workers. Agenda is not necessary to meet each other. We should meet without agenda. That does not mean there should be no agenda in meetings. Agenda is necessary in meetings but even that should be covered informally. Cementing factor that will sail the agenda through to success is this informal talking with each other. It can come only if each team member tries to eliminate ego. Sri Aurobindo says:  ego may be necessary initially but at certain level, it is a stumbling block. Therefore, if you suppress ego it may boomerang. Hence enlarge your ego. Embrace everyone with your ego, feel one with them, accept them as your own.”

In our work we have to bring in new persons and slowly make them identified and befitting for Kendra work. Now this is Sadhana! A very great Sadhana. Generally, we expect others to change. But before changing others we have to change our ways of dealing with others. Mananeeya Parameswaranji explained this very beautifully: “If we try to change anyone he/she will resist. You be the change which you want to make in others. Very few will not respond to your sincere effort and patience. Swami Vivekananda consciously expanded his ego to the entire nation. Every agony of the team member is felt by the other members like the mother feeling the agony of her child. Hence team-building is a spiritual Sadhana. Three things are necessary - Put in a conscious and sincere effort, have a great patience and start with a change in yourself. 

Workers with talents, leadership quality and ready to sacrifice are required. Thus, we have to raise the level of team building effort. Great work is done by the people who created great teams. No single person however great can build great work all alone, teams need to be created. Great people create teams. After Sri Ramakrishna’s mahasamadhi, disciples of Sri Ramakrishna wanted to go here and there. But Swami Vivekananda had the vision and kept them as a team together. That team of sanyasins created Sri Ramakrishna Mission. Dr. Hedgewar with 5 people started RSS. He was an angry man. But for the sake of the team he changed himself. This is the most essential quality in team building. You have to bring the desired change in yourself first. For creating teams, we have to put our ego little behind, put people forward, enhance your capacity of motivating others, guide them but from behind. Credit should be given for success to the team and for failure leader should take the responsibility.” 

In the coming years our Sadhana is creating, expanding teams at all levels. Problems would come but we have to solve them in the interest of nation. As told by Mananeeya Eknathji in 'Sadhana of Service', few injunctions we should remember – not to blow the incidents out of proportions, if any one makes mistakes talk to him directly and not to make it an item of agenda, not to generalize the mistakes of any person etc. As advised by Mananeeya Eknathji we should have large belly to swallow. The organisations are built on the capacity of the workers to digest the hurts and humiliations, and the larger and forgiving hearts. Thus, on Sadhana Diwas let us contemplate on all these thoughts and prepare the minds of our all Karyakartas to undergo this Sadhana of team-building in which Mananeeya Eknathji was a master. Let us carry forward his legacy. 

Nivedita Raghunath Bhide

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Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Keep an eye…

As we wait for the lockdown and its accompanying restrictions to get over another problem is creeping in. That is the depression and anxiety due to the corona and its lockdown. Many people have lost their near and dear ones, many have lost their livelihood and many others have simply lost their direction in life. A recent report said that many children are being treated for anxiety and depression now than they were earlier. This is shocking but not surprising, for as part of the lockdown, children are confined to the home with their regular schedules disrupted and no one has a clear idea as to when things will be back to normal. Some of these children may face an additional burden due to separation from their parent/s because they are quarantined, or their parent/s are quarantined. Locked at home, children may experience a range of psychological issues such as anxiety, fear, worry, depression, difficulty sleeping, and loss of appetite as well as acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and grief.

Many of the children in the age group of 12 – 16 have another threat looming. Due to restrictions and fewer interactions with their friends and peer group now they are confined to their mobile phones. This poses a bigger threat as many vultures are waiting in the web world to pollute their minds. The dangers of unsupervised use of social media by youngsters is both physical as well as psychological.  Sadly, this threat is not even taken into cognizance by the society. The parents who are already perturbed have less time to focus on this more demanding issue. This leaves the children uncared, unattended, and unmonitored. 

To avert the possible dangers of such confinement parents can apply the following techniques which will create a feeling of buoyancy in the minds of the youngsters who have nothing but online classes and online content. Start the day with Surya namaskar and yoga abhyas.  Not just empty mind but an idle body is also a devil’s workshop. Keeping a fitness regimen with Yoga and Pranayama will help a great deal in attaining the chitta suddhi. Since they will be having a lot of time at their disposal ask them to learn a new discipline, it can be anything like learning a new language or a new musical instrument. This way their time spent online will  become more productive. But at the same time regulate their time spent online. Most of the time it will be wiling away by way of chatting or spending time in social media. Regulate it by asking them to spend only a specific time in social media. Involve the children in the household chores. This will make them understand the toil which you are undergoing in running the family. While taking all the precautions told by the government and other reliable sources make sure that you never ever discuss the panicky messages which you receive in social media with your family.  These messages will only make worse the already gloomy mind. Positive inputs and positive habits are needed more than ever now. Make reading Bhagavad Gita with its meaning, a regular habit for the entire family.    


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