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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Monday 7 September 2020

Universal Brotherhood Day 2020

In Vivekananda Kendra, Universal Brotherhood Day is a very important Utsav. Vivekananda Rock Memorial was inaugurated on Universal Brotherhood Day - by Tithi of 11 September 1893 the date being 2 September 1970 – the day Swami Vivekananda gave the message of Universal Brotherhood through his lectures in Parliament of Religions at Chicago. We need to understand the subtle nuances of the message of Swamiji through his lectures at the Parliament of Religions.

The welcome and adoration that was given to the speeches of Swami Vivekananda during the Parliament of Religions at Chicago made it clear that world is in need of the message of Bharat. The Parliament of Religions was organized as the part of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the European discovery of America by Columbus. The purpose of the Parliament was to proclaim the Christianity as the ‘Only True Religion.’

The exclusive approach considers one’s religion as the only true religion. Once this exclusive approach is internalized then others’ religions are not tolerated. This intolerance impels the followers of exclusive religion to set out on large-scale conversion of others by fraud and force. Swami Vivekananda was aware that the exclusive approach of the Semitic religions like Christianity and Islam was responsible for so much bloodshed and human massacre in the human history. It is this exclusive approach which is the biggest obstacle in the realization of brotherhood of man. It is well-known that Swami Vivekananda addressed the audience as ‘Sisters and Brothers of America’; it had an electrifying effect on the audience. It was not merely a form of address but behind those words was the great spiritual strength of India, which has always practiced the universal brotherhood in her long history of more than 5000 years. Taking pride in this fact Swami Vivekananda said, "I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth." Hindus could have this universal approach because they never claim that, 'the God I worship is the 'Only True God' But they say that there is ‘only God’. Everything is the expression of that One.

We do not say that ours is the only true god and others are false gods. We consider others’ gods as ‘it is 'also' the form of God.’ Thus our approach is an inclusive approach, an 'also' approach. The exclusive approach says 'this only' whereas inclusive approach says 'this also'.  It is because of this inclusive approach – 'also' approach - that the Hindus never went destroying other religious faiths. To usher in Universal Brotherhood it is essential that all religions accept this inclusive –'also' approach towards God.

The Hindus have ‘also’ approach because they have the vision of Oneness for the whole existence. As Hindus view everything in the existence as the expression of One, all the manifestations are revered and, are accepted. There is respect for the diversity. As everything is expression of the One, the human being   too is not interpreted as the sinner but as immortal, embodiment of potential divinity. This is the message that India has to give to the world.  

For the first time to that Western audience which was used to the exclusive claim to religious truth Swami Vivekananda gave the message, “Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity…. But if anyone here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of others, to him I say, “Brother, yours is an impossible hope” ….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 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 and not fight” “Assimilation and not Destruction” “ Harmony and Peace and not dissension.”

For the first time, the message of universal Brotherhood and its proper understanding was given to western audience by Swami Vivekananda. Therefore, Mananeeya Eknathji wanted this day to be celebrated as Universal Brotherhood Day. Homogenizing the humanity or bringing uniformity in the human society as some exclusive religions or ideologies want to do, will not usher in Universal Brotherhood but it will only bring further dissentions and destruction. Integrating the various faiths and accepting, as ‘others’ faith also is good for them, will bring in Universal Brotherhood. Homogenizing brings destruction of the identity and also the traditional values in the society whereas the integration and seeking harmony keeps the identity of the communities intact and binds them in the bonds of Brotherhood. Therefore, the message of Universal Brotherhood Day is also for those who are very exclusive in their approach and are undertaking the conversions by destroying the faiths and culture of various tribal and other communities.

Hindus with their philosophy and practice of inclusive approach are destined to give this message of Universal Brotherhood to the humanity. But in order to do that first Hindus will have to understand this unifying and integrating nature of their Dharma. In the Parliament of Religions Swami Vivekananda also gave us the unifying principles of Hinduism. As put very beautifully by Sister Nivedita, “Of the Swami’s address before the Parliament of Religions, it may be said that when he began to speak it was of “the religious ideas of the Hindus”, but when he ended Hinduism had been created.…These, then were the two mind-floods, two immense rivers of thought, as it were, Eastern and modern, of which the yellow-clad wanderer on the platform of the Parliament of Religions formed for a moment the point of confluence. The formulation of the common bases of Hinduism was the inevitable result of the shock of their contact, in a personality, so impersonal. For it was no experience of his own that rose to the lips of the swami Vivekananda there. He did not even take advantage of the occasion to tell the story of his master. Instead of either of these, it was the religious consciousness of India that spoke through him, the message of his whole people as determined by their whole past.” Thus, on the Universal Brotherhood Day we have to study, absorb and highlight the message that Swami Vivekananda gave in the Parliament of Religions. Not just the lecture given on the first day of the parliament, which is very well known, but the main lecture that he gave in the Parliament of Religions - “The Paper on Hinduism” needs to be studied. What he told in that lecture to the western audience, he told it to us in his famous lecture ‘Common Bases of Hinduism’ at Lahore. It is the study and application of these lectures, which will make us capable of giving the message of Universal Brotherhood Day to the world.  

But it is also to be remembered that by appeasing the followers of exclusive theology in vain search of peace only emboldens the exclusive forces to the detriment of all. At the same time this also is to be remembered that when we work against the exclusive forces, we are neither against the Jesus or Allah or our Christian or Muslim society. We also should not go into the habit of branding the whole communities as bad for the bad acts of certain elements in those communities. By doing that even well-meaning persons in that community get pushed into exclusive and extremist mode. Thus, it is neither the rejection nor appeasement but it is with self-assertion and also working for good of all and for the harmony of mankind   that will bring the brotherhood universally. As Swami Vivekananda had said the approach has to be, “Help and not fight” “Assimilation and not Destruction” “Harmony and Peace and not dissension.” It is a difficult goal, but not unachievable and if there is any civilization in the world which has philosophy and inner strength to work for it, it is this, ours Hindu civilization.

We should see that during the program, the points given below are stressed which Swami Vivekananda had put forward very candidly as well as without hurting the people:  

·        Universal Brotherhood is possible only in an atmosphere of inclusive approach and not by exclusive approach like proclaiming ‘my god alone is true’.

·        Conversion brings dissentions and not brotherhood. Conversion is violence. Not tolerance of others but acceptance is required. Mutual Respect is required. Mutual Respect means respect for Gods and Goddesses of other people.

·        The really spiritual is always universal and inclusive. Rejection of others’ God as false shows ignorance about one’s own God too.

·        Today, inclusiveness or universal approach is presented as appeasement of detractors or compromise with the interests of the nation or people. By appeasing the aggressive forces, they do not calm down but become more aggressive. Similarly standing for the interest of one’s own people also does not mean denouncing others or rejecting them permanently. Many a times certain violent acts of some elements in the other people is generalized and all are blamed. Even that is not correct. It pushes even the moderate people in those communities to the aggressive mode. Thus, this balance is to be maintained of protecting the interest of our people at the same time taking others with us, It will help in promoting universal brotherhood. Fear, appeasement, impracticality or hatred should not be the motivating factors when we work in the interest of the society. As Bhagawan Sri Krishna said it should be Yudhyaswa Vigatjwara. If you have to fight, fight but without hatred.


The very existence of India is to contribute these thoughts for the good of the humanity. Therefore, she could exist in spite of so many vicissitudes and attacks in her national life. Whenever this national destiny was forgotten, the degeneration set in. Thus, Swami Vivekananda’s message in the Parliament of Religions though it was of Universal Brotherhood, it has been the national destiny of India. It also became the call for the renaissance of our Hindu nation.

Vivekananda Rock Memorial represents the Hindu renaissance which started with 11th September 1893. Vivekananda Rock Memorial is the first newly constructed such grand temple like structure after hundreds of years to venerate great persons. Yes, some temples were rebuilt, but Vivekananda Rock Memorial was the first newly constructed grand monument. The first assertion of Hindu Civilization in concrete symbol, a tangible monument! We can understand how much confidence it has boosted in the society.  As Swamiji’s message propelled the freedom movement, Vivekananda Rock Memorial gave momentum to Vivekananda Kendra a spiritually oriented service mission.

In the construction of Vivekananda Rock Memorial, we see the dynamics of Universal Brotherhood were practiced by Mananeeya Eknathji. Working for Universal Brotherhood does not mean giving up one’s path and just compromising or forcing one’s thoughts on others but it is being firm on what is valid but also striving to take everyone together. There was stiff opposition at local level and at governmental level. To diffuse that Tamilnadu government had offered Eknathji a piece of land at the shore for building the memorial. Eknathji did not deviate from the mission of erecting the Vivekananda Memorial on the Rock where Swami Vivekananda had meditated. However, he also saw to it that in the process no one is antagonized. When construction was almost getting over someone had tried to throw a country bomb, but he did not hold the whole community responsible for it. He saw to it that the unwarranted incident was contained and was not given undue importance. Practicing the message of Swami Vivekananda, Eknathji saw to it that the grand memorial was constructed on the Rock and it became a rallying point for all constructive forces in the country irrespective of their caste, creed, community and region.

India has to claim its rightful place, and emerge as a mighty nation. Her strength is not in dominating or destroying others but it is to bring the blessings and peace to the humanity. She demonstrates and teaches the civilizations of the world to value the diversity with mutual respect and at the same time to focus on the Oneness of existence. It is this work of Bharat which would usher in Universal Brotherhood towards which, we all have to work.

Nivedita Raghunath Bhide

Sunday 23 August 2020

Ram Mandir, a connect to the past and future.

The Bhumi pujan of Sri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya is going to mark a very significant happening in the history of mankind. Nowhere in the world and no other civilization has managed to win back a lost monument. The history is replete with instances of vanquished civilizations and ruins of yesteryear cultures. This will be the first time where a civilization has sprung up with one of its veritable treasure, a temple to its most venerated Gods.  The five century old tussle to win back the demolished temple and the century old legal battle for the ownership of that place came to an end with the Hon’ble Supreme Court ruling it in favor of Ram Mandir late last year.

The proposed Temple when completed will be one of the biggest of its kind. Infact it will be the third largest Hindu Temple in the world. The other two being the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia spread in an area of 401 acres followed by Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple in Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu. It is the second-largest temple spread over an area of 155 acre. It is certain to attract pilgrims from all over our country and tourists from all over the world. This new temple should also act as a symbol of revival of all the Pagan Cultures of the world. The Pagan cultures which were decimated by the proselytizing religions in the last millennium are craving for revival. The Abrahamic faiths have sunk the cultural distinctiveness, unique to each and every landscape, through their aggressive spread. This is what Mr Christopher Gerard, a Pagan revivalist from Belgium, has to say about their past which was ravaged by the aggressors. He believes that Europe has, in fact, already entered its "post-Christian" and "post-rationalist" phase. The church is becoming decreasingly important. Membership is dropping daily, the priesthood is declining, historical challenges are being made to the theology (such as those which resulted from the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls) and multiple scandals have reduced the influence of the church. The current European mind is no longer significantly shaped in its thinking and activities by the Christian theology, whose basic tenets have become largely irrelevant to modern Euro-life. The Pagan revivalists are seeing many similarities between their old culture and the still active Hindu Culture. Gerard says,”India is a conservatory of traditions going back into our most ancient prehistory. The Paganism of our ancestors has miraculously survived there in spite of Muslim invasions, Christian missions and all the other agents of ethnocide [the systematic destruction of a culture]. The brahmins, brothers to our Druids, have never stopped offering ritual worship as we used to do 40 centuries ago. Pilgrimage to India is basic for every European Pagan because it allows him to reconnect with the living tradition, which is moreover Indo-European”. People like him who are now keen to unearth their lost original identities are looking towards Hinduism to provide them the needed inspiration and guidance. This temple will give them the necessary impetus and inspiration in their quest to regain their identity.


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Wednesday 29 July 2020

Gurupurnima 2020

Gurupurnima is our traditional festival since thousands of years. It is celebrated on Jayanti of Bhagwan Vedvyasa i.e. on Ashadh Purnima. He was the son of the sage Parashar and the fisherwoman Satyavati. He was born on an island and that is why he is also known as  Davaipayana Krishna. Vedas are not the books written by any one. The rishis who did penance saw the truths of existence. They are seers of Truth. These Mantras are seen and heard by them and are passed on to their disciples. These Mantras are called  "Vedas". The gravitational force was in existence even before Newton discovered it. And it would continue even after we forget about it. Thus, Vedas were always there. The Rishis saw it and then passed it on to their disciples. Vedas are Apaurusheya. i.e. they are not man-made. 

Many rishis had received these Mantras. Vedavyasa collected all these Richas (Mantras) called as Samhitas and edited them in four Vedas with various branches. The four Vedas are Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, Atharvaveda. Each Veda is again classified in to four parts – Mantra or Samhita, Brahmana, Aaranyaka and Upanishad. He not only edited Vedas he also made the arrangements to protect the Vedas by allotting each branch to few families. Those families had to protect that branch of Vedas. He also allotted other various branches of knowledge like surgery, Ayurveda, architecture etc. to families belonging to various communities. Thus, each family, community became the custodian of protection of Vedas - knowledge making our country the Jnanbhoomi. 

The imparting of this knowledge was done by father to the son, by Guru to the disciple thus our Bharat, in spite of so many invasions, could remain the land of knowledge for thousands of years. Committing to protect some branch of knowledge, spiritual Vidyas and learning it from Guru and passing it on to the coming generation became the sacred duty of each family. It was Vyasa who devised this Guru tradition to protect the knowledge required for living in this world and for realizing Ishvara. Therefore, his Jayanti is celebrated as Gurupurnima. 

This festival is to remind us to be grateful to all the Gurus and to revere them who have taught us something or other of value in our life. This festival is to remind us that our family also should protect at least some knowledge, tradition, Vidya etc. This festival is also to see the good, divine in others and learn from them. 

All the problems in life come because we limit our sense of ‘I’ to our body-mind complex.  Body and mind are our instruments to know our real nature. If we see the first five shlokas of the Gurustotra, these are telling that my prostrations to that Guru who showed me my real state of being – Tat Padam Darshitam yen tasmai Shri Guruve namah.  Man considers he is a body-mind complex. But gradually the Guru makes him realize that he is the expanding circle of consciousness which pervades the Charachara - everything in this universe. What are those expanding circles of consciousness? 

Chaitanya - Consciousness expresses as various Samashtis. Thus, the expanding form of an individual is family. Do not think that the family is collection of few people. It is the consciousness which has manifested as family members.  The expanding form of family is society, the expanding form of a society is nation, the expanding form of nation is the whole existence. 

Thus, we are all interconnected interrelated and interdependent. Atman is same for all of us. We come across Gurus – some just indicate this fact. Some explain it. Some motivate us to live accordingly. Some Gurus can even guide us to realize it. Since birth our parents, grand-parents, teachers, saints, etc. are indicating this grand truth to us through simple practices in our homes, or through literature. For example, mother teaches the child to do namaskar to elders, teachers, cow, trees, etc. that is the living beings. She also teaches the child to bow down to inanimate things like books, food, equipments etc. What are such practices in our homes which indicate to the child that this charachar (animate and inanimate) is divine? 

Many a times we are caught up in the darkness of depression, self-pity, ignorance, selfishness, Dehabuddhi, ego etc. At such times whosoever helps us and guides us to be out of it and opens our eyes to the reality, that Guru could be either parents, grandparents, friends, siblings, teachers, neighbours etc. They are our Gurus. If we are haughty then we do not learn even if Narayana himself comes to teach us. What are such occasions in our life that someone guided us very well and opened our eyes. Let us share those experiences and pay our homage to them. 

The shloka gururbrhama, gururvishnu…. means both ways i.e. Guru is Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh. Guru guides us to God, thus Guru is God. But it also means that God is our guru. In this Ishvariya Karya – the nation-building work that we have undertaken, God guides us. Thus, in Vivekananda Kendra, Ishvara is chosen as Guru and not any human being. Pranav is considered as the best expression for Ishvara. All the Hindus can come to Omkara. Therefore, Omkara which is considered as the best name for Ishvara by Patanjali (tasya vachak: pranav:) is Guru is Vivekananda Kendra. It means what this whole divine tradition of our Gurus, Acharyas, saints is remembered, revered and given respect all through the year and we work to take ahead their work. On the day of Gurupurnima, we remind ourselves that Ishvara who pervades the Charaachar teaches us through all those around us. We can share that what all we learn from those around us. It can be human beings, it can be animals, birds, trees and even inanimate things. 

Gurupurnima is a day when we tune ourselves to receive the teachings of the Guru – Ishvara – from the whole universe. This humility to learn from others, this readiness to learns from others purifies our mind to see Ishvara everywhere. It also inspires us to work as the instrument of Ishvara for raising the humanity. The service, fulfilling of Dayitvas thus become the pooja and Aaradhana of Ishvara – Vibho Tav Aaradhanam Asmadiyam. 

This charachar which is imbued by Ishvara can teach us many things. Let us take a Sankalpa that from Charachar, I shall everyday learn something.

Nivedita Raghunath Bhide

Saturday 20 June 2020

Yoga, the way out…

Yuva Bharati June 2020
The priorities of a society changes through different periods. The matrimonialcolumns in the newspapers act as mirror to show us what the society of that period aspired for. During the 60s ,70s and well into the 80s, the sole aim was to get into a bank or a public sector undertaking. During the 90s and afterwards, due to the IT revolution, people started shunning the aspirations of government jobs and were looking for greener pastures outside the country. With Wealth taking the predominance in their choice health has always been neglected by our people. People have always thought that they can take care of their health once they are financially settled in their life. This normally ends up in postponing their Health options indefinitely. Looking after ourselves inside and out is a fundamental part of living a happy, fulfilled life. Without good health it may be very difficult to do all the things one wants to do and to enjoy life to the fullest. No matter how rich you are, if you are sick, your money cannot give you a good sense of life. But many of us are neglecting our own wellbeing. Quite contrary to this new age life style, our tradition has always given much importance to the Physical as well as Mental Health. Shariramadyam khalu dharmasadhanam, this body is surely the foremost instrument of doing good deeds said Kalidasa in his renowned work kumarasambhavam [5.33].

You may very well remember that the present Indian Government’s endeavor to popularize Yoga, is also a step towards achieving this goal of keeping our Body and Mind Healthy. Nature has time and again reminded Humanity about the priorities in Life. This time in the form of the Pandemic COVID 19, it has once again reset the priorities of people. Man is left with Saucha, external cleanliness and Yoga, self disciplining our Body and Mind, being the only tools with which he can protect himself. It’s time for us to take up Yoga Asanas and Pranayama as a regular and serious activity in our life. June 21st, the International day of Yoga, is more pertinent this year to the Humanity than it was in the previous years. It is a reminder to go back to our roots.
V.V. Balasubramanian

Monday 18 May 2020

Wake Up

On 16th of April Two Juna Akhara Sadhus Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri (70 years old) and Sushilgiri Maharaj (35 years old) along with their 30-year-old driver Nilesh Telgade were Lynched to death by a frenzied mob at Palghar District, Maharashtra. This incident was not immediately reported by the Main stream media. But when they were constrained to report because of the Video of lynching which spread virally through Social media, they did report after a couple of days. 

The pre meditated attack was reported as an attack which happened because of mistaken identity. The main stream media is hoping that the short term memory of the Public coupled with its ‘Ostrich Syndrome’, will make this issue go into oblivion as soon as possible. This living in denial is what has made the life easy not just for the enemies of our state but also the media crooks who back them in all possible ways. 

The way this outrageous act has been reported by main stream media goes to prove that they are the benumbing agents for these attackers. If we believe the version of the media and believe that the lynching is a case of mistaken identity by the villagers, then we are the very embodiment of this ‘Ostrich syndrome’.

There is an unholy nexus between the Church and the naxal outfits, which targets the sadhus who work among the Tribals, to improve their social conditions. If we remember the gruesome killing of Swami lakshmananda Saraswati a few years ago, then we can see how this nexus works. During lockdown, how such a huge number of people assembled there, is a question which begs an answer. For the average Hindu this is just another news of violence. Every time when such a violence is reported we tend to think it is something happening in a faraway place and we are in no way impacted by this. Many among us are beset with this ‘Ostrich Syndrome’, which is nothing but trying to live in an imaginary world,not bothering to know about the imminent threats to our existence. Hindus will be shocked to know that most off the one off incidents are actually orchestrated attacks. 

It’s time for Hindus to wake up from this slumber and get our acts right. Putting a sad emoji or forwarding the news to others, alone will not suffice. We have to get organized. We have to make the dormant majority aware of this existential threat. We are in the midst of a civilisational war. A war between the exclusive fundamentalist religious ideologies and the inclusive Dharmic Ideology. A war which started several centuries ago. A war which we believe will not happen. A war in which we are yet to equip ourselves. A war which will define the destiny of the mankind. 

Wake Up.
V.V. Balasubramanian

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Thursday 9 April 2020

Building trust and harmony through Diyas

Human being is a social animal. Social behavior is dependent on trust. Trust is built by arriving at common values and mutually accepting to adhere to them voluntarily.

There are two dimensions in this:
1. Human mind seeks regular reassurance that the trusted societies continue to remain social by examining and maintaining the trust already developed.
2. Solitude is di!erent from isolation. Solitude is what the yogis seek to remain una!ected by external social disturbances. The deeper a Yogi goes into solitude, the more ful"lled he becomes. But isolation is just the opposite. For normal humans, the deeper one goes into isolation from the adapted social groups, the more one develops negative emotions such as anger, frustration, loss of trust etc.

Based on the above factors, if a social reassurance is not provided at regular intervals, the individuals will tend to break the trust and thereby #out the agreed social norms.

Even in residential camps organized by scouts, NSS, RSS, Vivekananda Kendra or any other organization, mid-way through the camp, it is usual to go out for a "eld trip to reinvigorate the mind.

In this context, if a reassurance that we are not alone is not given to people sitting at homes, there is high possibility that the frustrated ones will start coming out of isolation, social distancing and defeat the purpose.

YB whole heartedly supports the lighting of lamps exercise. Being a PM is not just about providing "nancial packages. This is master social engineering.

A. Sudarsan

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Friday 6 March 2020

Shraddhanjali to Ma. P. Parameswaranji

Kerala, Gods own land, has produced great many spiritual luminaries who lived like Maharishis of our yore.  Kerala, has given birth to such great people like Adi Sankaracharya, Sree Chattambi Swami, Sri Narayana Gurudev, Swami Ranganathanandaji, Swami Chinmayanandaji, Sri Ayyankali and many great spiritual and religious luminaries and social reformers.  They have all contributed for the spiritual, religious and social growth of the Hindus of Kerala.  Whatever good you find today in this God’s own country, they are all because of the sustained contribution made by those great eminent personalities, who though gave up their lives, but their Atma still guiding and inspiring millions of people not only in Kerala but also in other parts of the world.

Late P. Parameswaran, who was the President of Kendra from 1995 till his last breath, was a person who rank amongst those whose names were mentioned above.  He was a multi-splendored personality; a great scholar, and thinker, an ideologue, poet, writer, organiser par excellence, orator, selfless worker, guide and philosopher for many, all rolled in one body, mind and intellect complex.

A humanist of high purity, selflessness, patriot of highest order, who created around him, a grand group of co-workers to serve selflessly the mother Bharat and its children.

Parameswaranji was a great institution builder to propagate the Sanatana Dharmic values.  He served as the Director of Deen Dayal Research Institute, Delhi.  He created Bharateeya Vichara Kendra in Kerala and guided the workers as its Director.

He became the Vice-President of Vivekananda Kendra in 1984.  He was elected as the President of Kendra in the year 1995.  He continued to head Kendra till his last breath.  Kendra Jeevan Vratis benefited from his immaculate and purity personified life.  He was an authority on the Life and message of Sri Ramakrishna, Sarada Maa and Swami Vivekananda.  His lectures and writings always motivated Kendra workers in disseminating Swami Vivekananda’s message of Man making and Nation building.

Though, Parameswaranji is not with us physically, his Soul will be the guiding star for all the Kendra workers who came in contact with him.

In one line I describe Sri Parameswaranji like this:

“Ya Easwareshu samartheshu
 parama sreshtaha sa parameswaraha” 

He is Parameswara in whom vested undescribable Glory, God ordained capability to achieve Excellence, a personality uncomparable with anything existing and an Ajatha Shatru for ever.

Vice President
Vivekananda Kendra

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Monday 2 March 2020

Liberals and tradition

In the last two months we saw stiff opposition from hindus especially women against the order of the supreme court allowing entry of women into the precincts of Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala. This happening at a state where communism is having its last hold is significant. It goes to prove that Hindus after years of meek silence are coming of age as far as awareness is concerned. This coming after 5 decades of rule of forces which are inimical to Hindu culture and which resulted in hundreds of Hindu social workers mercilessly hacked to death, is an important change in the attitude of the people of that state. We can only say that it is better late than never that the Hindus have started raising their voice against the atrocities committed against them. Liberals who were turning a blind eye to the discriminations to men and women in other religions have started justifying the state’s eagerness in implementing the supreme court order. The courts and the political parties forgot that the temple is not a secular place where they can infuse their liberal ideas. There are traditions which are followed and respected for several centuries and if one wants to respect a faith they cannot do it at their own terms.

For Hindus the temple is a sacred place and the deity is a living entity. Therefore, it’s a serious violation of religious freedom to treat such a temple as a secular place. It is not place of just history or a museum. It’s somebody’s place of residence, somebody we worship. When the courts tread very carefully with regards to issues concerning the faith of other religions it is imperative on the part of the courts to apply the same caution and diligence regarding the faith of the Hindus too. We have various temples in India, where admissions are restricted based on the nature of the deities. Married men are not allowed in several temples like the one at  Jagatpita Brahma Mandir in Pushkar, Rajasthan. Sahasrakshi Meru Temple in Devipuram- Vaisag provides empowerments to women. Women there learn the life as "I am Devi - you are Devi - we are Devi." Everyone knows about Attukal Pongala. Men do not take part in Pongala as it is meant exclusively for women. It is declared as the largest annual gathering of women by the Guinness book of World Records. We cannot argue to ban boys’ and girls’ schools and hostels on the grounds that other gender is being discriminated by not being allowed to enter there.

Mount Athos is a holy Mountain in Greece where more than 2000 priests live an ascetic life. It is completely isolated from the rest of the world and entry of women is banned. Please remember that Greece is part of the most developed European Union. Women are not allowed in Mount Omine, located in Honshu- Japan which is as per the faith of the Shinto religion. It got international recognition through UN when it was designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Likewise each and every ancient temple with its own tradition and practices are sacred and the question of applying the modern liberal ideas should not arise at all. That too in Hinduism which is the very embodiment of liberal ideas where each and every soul is attributed to the divine. Courts and Political parties should exercise the same caution and sensitivity to Hinduism, which they show towards other religions. 

Vivekananda Jayanti is the festival for us to be celebrated at the grandest scale in Kendra. Since few years we celebrate this as the culmination of Samartha Bharat Parva which is from 25 December - the day Swami Vivekananda meditated on the Rock - till 12 January, the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. As we prepare ourselves to commemorate 50 years of Vivekananda Rock Memorial in 2020 and 50 years of Vivekananda Kendra in 2022, we have to make this festival purposeful and grand so that it prepares us for the celebration. 

Swami Vivekananda preached and talked all the time about ‘Strength’ as the essence of his message. Swami Vivekananda Jayanti festival should therefore be celebrated in such a way that the society feels strengthened because of the awakening of its Self-confidence. This is what Swami Vivekananda did in his life for India. His participation in the Parliament of Religions at Chicago and the enormous respect for Vedanta, which he aroused in the West, awakened the self-confidence of our country. India realized that she had a message to deliver to the world, and a destiny to fulfill for which she has to prepare and equip herself.

Swami Vivekananda was the first person who went to the West and presented India from the Indian perspective. When he did it, he could change the very point of reference for the West to evaluate us. The West that derided India as a backward and Jungli country (incidentally, in India we do not associate Jungle with backwardness but with spirituality and contemplation as Aranyakas, a part of Veda; Vanaprasthashram; and the abode of Rishis in the forest indicate) suddenly woke up to the fact of her life-giving wisdom. After Swamiji’s participation in the Parliament of Religions in 1893 at Chicago, the leading newspaper ‘The New York Herald’ wrote. “He is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. After hearing him we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation.” (The Life – II)

Till then, we were only told about how uncivilized we were, but it was Swami Vivekananda who told us how great India had been in the past. He asked us to build on our strength. He made us aware that we belong to a country, which is unique, with a great past and a still greater future awaiting her. He made us aware of India’s contribution to the world. The debt, which the world owes to our Motherland, is immense. He said: ‘As I look back upon the history of my country, I do not find in the whole world another country which has done quite so much for the improvement of the human mind. Therefore, I have no words of condemnation for my nation. I tell them, “you have done well; only try to do better..” (C.W.III.195)

‘The same holds good with respect to sciences. India has given to antiquity the earliest scientific physicians, and, according to Sir William Hunter, she has even contributed to modern medical science by the discovery of various chemicals and by teaching you how to reform mis-shapen ears and noses. Even more it has done in mathematics, for algebra, geometry, astronomy, and the triumph of modern science-mixed mathematics-were all invented in India, just so much as the ten numerals, the very cornerstone of all present civilization, were discovered in India, and are in reality, Sanskrit words.

‘In philosophy we are even now head and shoulders above any other nation, as Schopenhauer, the great German philosopher has confessed. In music India gave the world her system of notation, with the seven cardinal notes and the diatonic scale….In philology, our Sanskrit language is now universally acknowledged to be the foundation of all European languages…(C.W.II.511-512)

‘In literature, our epics and poems and dramas rank as high as those of any language; our ‘Shaguntala (Shakuntala) was summarized by Germany’s greatest poet, as ‘heaven and earth united.’ India has given to the world the fables of Aesop, which were copied by Aesop from an old Sanskrit book; it has given the Arabian Nights, yes, even the story of Cinderella and the Bean Stalks. In manufacture, India was the first to make cotton and purple (dye), it was proficient in all works of jewellery, and the very word sugar as well as the article itself, is the product of India. Lastly she has invented the game of chess and the cards and the dice. So great in fact, was the superiority of India in every respect that it drew to her borders the hungry cohorts of Europe, and thereby indirectly brought about the discovery of America. (C.W.III.511-512)

‘And I challenge anybody to show one single period of her national life when India was lacking in spiritual giants, capable of moving the world. But her work is spiritual, and that cannot be done with blasts of war-trumpets or the march of cohorts. Her influence has fallen upon the world like that of the gentle dew, unheard and scarcely marked, yet bringing into bloom the fairest flowers of the earth’ (C.W.IV.315). Thus he elaborately dealt with the achievements of India in the past. But he was not a prisoner of the past. He believed that the future of India is going to be more glorious than the past as she has a mission to accomplish. He said, “This is the theme of Indian life-work, the burden of her eternal songs, the backbone of her existence, the foundation of her being, the reason d’être of her very existence – the spiritualization of the human race.” (C.W.IV.314-315)   
The confidence generated due to the message of Swami Vivekananda resulted in the numerous social, national and religious and spiritual movements. Samartha Bharat Parva is to be celebrated by organizing exhibitions, camps, and lectures for the college youth to take this message of inherent strength and the purpose of India to them. This confidence in turn will motivate them to work in an organised way for the upliftment of India. So the message that goes through the whole program of Samartha Bharat Parva culminating in the celebrations of Swami Vivekananda Jayanti should be the one of India’s destiny and the task we have to do for it. The burning love that Swami Vivekananda had for this motherland should be the central theme of the celebration. The awakening of the confidence and pride in India can be its main thrust. When one is proud of one’s motherland and conscious of the great future then surely a great power would get generated. With such efforts by all the mission of India to evolve an Ideal Social Order for the good of the world can be achieved.

Message of Swami Vivekananda in short was - Wake up Bharat to your inner strength and enlighten the world in the path of spirituality. He had said in his lecture “The Mission of Vedanta”, “There are times in the history of a man's life, nay, in the history of the lives of nations, when a sort of world - weariness becomes painfully predominant. It seems that such a tide of world - weariness has come upon the Western world. There, too, they have their thinkers, great men; and they are already finding out that this race after gold and power is all vanity of vanities; many, nay, most of the cultured men and women there, are already weary of this competition, this struggle, this brutality of their commercial civilisation, and they are looking forward towards something better. There is a class which still clings on to political and social changes as the only panacea for the evils in Europe, but among the great thinkers there, other ideals are growing. They have found out that no amount of political or social manipulation of human conditions can cure the evils of life. It is a change of the soul itself for the better that alone will cure the evils of life. No amount of force, or government, or legislative cruelty will change the conditions of a race, but it is spiritual culture and ethical culture alone that can change wrong racial tendencies for the better. Thus these races of the West are eager for some new thought, for some new philosophy… The thoughtful men of the West find in our ancient philosophy, especially in the Vedanta, the new impulse of thought they are seeking, the very spiritual food and drink for which they are hungering and thirsting. And it is no wonder that this is so.”  

Swami Vivekananda thus exhorted India, “Up India! Conquer the world with your spirituality!” To this task Swami Vivekananda wanted all to create the centers all over the country where Omkar would be enshrined. It means we have to steadily hasten to increase number of our branches. Vivekananda Jayanti is a good occasion to reach out to many new persons and expand our work. The focus should be by associating how many new persons we celebrate Vivekananda Jayanti every year. If only same team of Karyakartas is functioning then the work would not expand. Efforts should be taken to have the large media coverage for the function. Special supplements in the newspapers on Swami Vivekananda and his life-giving message to our motherland could also be attempted. Swami Vivekananda is a magical word. It creates resonance of love for India in every Indian heart.  His words have a great transforming power whereby youth can be helped to shape the future of India. Therefore, the celebration of Swami Vivekananda Jayanti should become an occasion when the name and message of Swamiji is taken to the maximum number of people and good number of new samparkit Karyakarta are motivated to become part of organizing team in the celebration. 
The program also should be such that it captivates the minds of all those who attend it. Swami Vivekananda was confident about the innate capacity of the youth to respond to the heroic call.  He said, “My faith is in the younger generation, modern generation, out of them will come my workers. They will work out the whole problems like lions. I have formulated the idea and have given my life to it.  If I do not achieve success, some better one will come after me to work it out, and I shall be content to struggle” (C.W.V.223). Therefore, Swami Vivekananda Jayanti is declared by the Government of India as the National Youth Day. That helps us also to go to as many colleges as possible. We can train teams of our youth karyakartas with various programs on Swami Vivekananda like – Geet, pathanatya, a short speech, recitation of his inspiring quotations, quiz etc. These teams can go to various colleges for celebrating the Swami Vivekananda Jayanti as a National Youth Day.  Thus, apart from a grand public program that we should strive for we can also have the programs in various colleges too, taking the name and message of Swami Vivekananda to as many as possible. 

If it is possible, the branch centers can think of about the following way of celebrating Samartha Bharat Parva and Vivekananda Jayanti keeping in mind the coming celebrations. We know that Vivekananda Rock Memorial built at mid-sea Rock at Kanyakumari is the result of the excellent and focused samparka that Eknathji undertook cutting across all differences and diversities. That is how Eknathji experienced that beyond all regional, political, sectarian colours the love and respect for Swami Vivekananda was common ground where all came together and saw to it that a Grand Memorial for Swami Vivekananda got built on the mid-sea rock at Kanyakumari. Thus, when we look forward to celebrate the 50 years of Vivekananda Rock Memorial we too can reach out to as many people as possible. Next year is the preparation for wide Samparka Abhiyan that we would take up for the commemoration of 50 years of Vivekananda Rock Memorial. From that point of view, it can be thought of as to how to organize the celebration of Samartha Bharat Parva so that we get in contact with persons from different fields this year. And then with the help of them we can make lists of Samparka to be done in your region, in various segments of society, at various levels like all India level, pranta level, vibhag level and nagar level. 

Secondly, the celebration of 50 years of Vivekananda Kendra also would be more an organizational celebration by consolidating and expanding our work. Thus, each Nagar Sthan and Karyasthan should develop one more branch of Kendra each with the help of Vibhag Samiti and Pranta Samiti. Already many branches have decided in which place they would develop one more branch of Kendra. The Vivekananda Samiti is a good occasion for contacting the people and constituting a Vivekananda Jayanti Samiti in that place only for the celebration of Vivekananda Jayanti. If the Samartha Bharat Parva or Vivekananda Jayanti can be organized in a good way a team that would emerge, can be involved in Kendra Varga. For Kendra Varga at least for initial 10-15 times a Karyakarta from the existing branch goes then gradually a team of Karyakartas can be created there and then other utsavas or shibirs can be thought of gradually leading to regular work. Thus, starting with this year celebration of Samartha Bharat Parva and Vivekananda Jayanti we can initiate the celebration of 50 years of Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Vivekananda Kendra. 

Nivedita Raghunath Bhide
Vivekananda Kendra
Gita Jayanti which is celebrated on Margashirsh Shukla Ekadashi comes this year on 19 December. Gita Jayanti is the Utsava we celebrate mainly to invigorate ourselves by diving deep into our scriptures. Gita gives us in a very simple and yet profound manner the Vedic Wisdom. Whether a pandit or an ordinary person, aged or young, a leader or a follower, Gita is for all. Gita represents not only the wisdom of Vedas but also gives such a synthesis of thought that we can resolve all the paradoxes of life. But this insight in Gita we cannot get by giving cursory reading for just celebrating Gita Jayanti. The study of Gita has to be daily with reverent contemplation for whole life.

Gita is like a mother who takes us in her lap when we are grieved and sad. She is like a Guru who guides us for achieving the goal of life and also guides us in our path. She is also like a goddess who protects us from the fall if we hold on to her. She is also the scriptural form of our dear motherland as She tells all that which this land of ours has been striving to manifest in her national life despite vicissitudes all through her national life. 

Sometimes people quote the saying of Swami Vivekananda that, “You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of Gita” and say that the game of football is more important than the study of Gita. But it is missing the point. Gita is not for mere intellectual study but it is to be practiced in life, as for us religion is not in believing but in being and becoming. Swami Vivekananda said, “You will understand Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little of strong blood in you …If one reads this one shloka –Klaibyam ma sma gamah Partha …- one gets all the merits of reading the entire Gita; for in this one shloka lies embedded the whole Message of the Gita …for all of us in this world, life is a continuous fight … Many a time comes when we want to interpret our weakness and cowardice as forgiveness and renunciation … Gita opens with this very significant verse: Arise O Prince! Give up this fainthearted-ness, this weakness, Stand up and fight.” 
A tamasik and coward cannot face the battles of life. To be fearless and not to be chickenhearted one requires strong body and courageous heart. Strong and not weak men can practice Gita. It is to develop that strength, Swamiji said ‘Play Football’. 

Secondly, the game of football is completely a team game. Each second, each action and each intention of the team member is to be internalized by each team member. With all efforts and best play by a player, it is possible that the credit of making goal may not go to that player but some one else in the team. Each one in the team offers his best to the team effort and does not make any individual claims. That is what is Yagna- the central theme of Gita. Offer the fruit of your action to the society at large and partake only the Yganashishtah - whatever remains for you. That is, one must have that team spirit, that humility to be part of the team and then to do the best of whatever comes to our lot. After doing work to the best of the ability offer it again to the collectivity at large and partake whatever comes to your share. This dynamics can be seen explicitly in the game of football. That is why Swamiji had said that to understand Gita better play football. Here ‘playing football’ is not given as the remedy to understand Gita but as an indication of what is required to understand Gita.

Srikrishna tells us in Gita why conversion should not be resorted to. He says 'Paradharmo bhayavah' – the religious practices of others could be horrible for our growth. He says, 'swalpamapyasya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat' – even a little but regular practice of our own Dharma can be elevating. Commenting on that Swami Vivekananda had said, “Even if you have knowledge, do not disturb the childlike faith of the ignorant.” This is a very powerful idea, and it has become the ideal in India. That is why you can see a great philosopher or Vedantin like Sri Shankaracharya going into a temple and worshiping images. It is not hypocrisy. As a Vedantin who realized that there is only Ishwara everywhere, he could validate the religious practices of all communities. He or any realized religious leader in India never called God of any community as false or devil. A really spiritual person does not try to convert others but only integrates and expands the vision of Ishwara in others without injuring or denouncing their Ishta Devata, because they know that ‘Paradharmao Bhayavah” Swami Vivekananda while talking about the service to the masses always used to say that, “Elevate the masses without injuring their innate spirituality.”

Why there should be conversion at all? Only a person who has no understanding of God would resort to convert others or would limit God to his god. One who denounces others’ name of God actually has not understood what is God. By denouncing others’ name God degrades his God. God is not different but is only worshiped and prayed to with different names. Swami Vivekananda further explains, “Sri Krishna says, “Even those who worship other deities are really worshiping me” It is God incarnate whom man is worshiping. Would God be angry if you called Him by the wrong name? He would be no God at all! Can’t you understand that whatever a man has in his own heart is God-even if he worships a stone. What of that!
We will understand more clearly if we once get rid of the idea that religion consists in doctrines. One idea of a religion has been that the whole world was born because Adam ate the apple, and there is no way of escape. Believe in Jesus Christ-in a certain man’s death! But in India there is a quite different idea. There religion means realization, nothing else. It does not matter whether one approaches the destination in a carriage with four horses, in an electric car, or rolling on the ground. The goal is the same. For the Christians the problem is how to escape the wrath of the terrible God. For Indians it is how to become what they really are, to regain their lost selfhood…. Therefore, Krishna says, if your method is better and higher, you have no business to say that another man’s method is bad, however wicked you may think it.

Again we must consider, religion is a matter of growth, not a mass of foolish words. Two thousand years ago a man saw God. Moses saw God in a burning bush. Does what Moses did when he saw God save you? No man’s seeing God can help you least bit except that it may excite you and urge you to do the same thing. That is the whole value of the ancient’s examples. Nothing more. Just like signposts on the way. No man’s eating can satisfy another man. You have to see God yourself… Each one thinks his method is best. Very good. But remember, it may be good for you….Because it is good for you do not jump to the conclusion that your method is everybody’s method.

Sri Krishna says, “Better die in your own religion than attempt the path of another.” This is my path, and I am down here. And you are way up there, and I am down here. And you are way up there, and I am always tempted to give up my path thinking I will go there and be with you. And if I give up, I am neither there nor here. We must not lose sight of this doctrine. It is all a matter of growth. Wait and grow, and you attain everything; otherwise there will be great spiritual danger. Here is the fundamental secret of teaching religion. (Vol I – Gita III)” A person who is truly religious will never resort to convert others or deride the faith of others as false.
Even one of the attributes of God is that he accepts all the people as they are and does not exclude anyone. While talking about Krishna, Swamiji says, “This was the great work of Krishna: to clear our eyes and make us look with broader vision upon humanity in its march upward and onward. His was the first heart that was large enough to see truth in all, his the first lips that uttered beautiful words for each and all.” 

Whether management, sociology, self-development, education on each subject Gita has something to tell us. Now a days many such books are also coming in the market. We should try to understand Gita in present context and then pass it on to the next generation. They are bound to admire and practice Gita if it is told to them in today's language and paradigms. Our purpose of celebrating Gita Jayanti should be this that the relevance of Gita is understood and explained to the younger generation in today's terminology. That is why since few years we have linked the celebration Gita Jayanti to Kutumba Sammelan as Gita should become the basic book that is read and discussed in the families. Family is a place where children acquire views and values. In moulding the children, the influence of Gita would be most useful, elevating, guiding force not only in their childhood but also later when the parents are not around. Gita – as a mother would take care of the individual and any collective whole its life. This linking of our children, youth, Karyakarta to Gita is the purpose of celebrating Gita Jayanti. 

Nivedita Raghunath Bhide
Vivekananda Kendra