Thursday 1 December 2022

Gita Jayanti December 2022

 This year Gita Jayanti is on 3rd December. We celebrate this festival by inviting the families for the program. Gita Jayanti is a festival in which we focus on the message of Sri Krishna. The message of Sri Krishna was not at all different from the Vedic knowledge. But the eternal principles as enunciated in the Vedas were explained in the then context by Sri Krishna in such a way that it has become an ever relevant message for humanity. He also synthesized the apparently varying dimensions in the Sanatana Principles of Vedas. Thus, the study of Bhagavadgita gives us the integrated view of principles for life as well as it shows us that how the dynamic re-interpretation of the principles like Dharma, Yagna, Yoga etc., are needed in every age. 

As we know, this work of focusing on the relevant and deeper meaning of our age old tradition is very much required. Eknathji wrote about how Swami Vivekananda guided us in seeing God all around us and how to worship Him meaningfully. He wrote, "Swami Vivekananda was the foremost among the modern religious teachers who strove to take out religion from that static condition into which it had degenerated over the centuries, and drew the attention of the people to its real role. He pointed out in no uncertain terms that ceremonies and forms are not the essence of religion but that it lies rather in the realization of a higher life. He said, 'We may study all the books that are in the world, yet we may not understand a word of religion or of God. …Religion is not in doctrines or dogmas, nor in intellectual argumentation. It is realisation in the heart of hearts; it is touching God; it is feeling, realising that I am a spirit in relation with Universal Spirit and all its great manifestations.' To those who lost themselves only in forms and rituals, turning their back on the people and the misery that had befallen them, he said, 'What vain gods shall we go after and yet cannot worship the god that we see all around us, the Virat (Janata Janardan)? When we have worshipped this, we shall be able to worship all other gods.'

Sri Krishna refers in 12th chapter and also in 14th chapter the Sanatana Dharma as the Amrit Dharma. The families in which this Amrit Dharma is known, cherished and practiced are Amrit Parivar. Since few years, in Vivekananda Kendra we have been focusing on the work of Amrit Parivar. This year the article in Kendra Samachar is also on Amrit Pariwar. That article is also attached. Thus, during the celebrations, on Gita Jayanti, group discussions can be held on various aspects of that article. In the concluding the following messages of Sri Krishna from Bhagavadgita can be shared by the speaker, so as to continue to contemplate over it for the coming year. Celebration of Gita Jayanti should not be limited for the day but selecting few messages of Gita, all through the year we should contemplate, internalize and practice these messages.

The message of Gita 

The Eternal principals 

mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñchid asti dhanañjaya

mayi sarvam idaṁ protaṁ sūtremaṇi-gaṇā iva VII.7 – Everything is Bhagavan, therefore sacred and is to be respected. The whole universe is interconnected, interrelated and interdependent. Though all of us are apparently different, we are connected to each other by Bhagavan as the thread connects the beads. No one can progress and be happy at the cost of others. 

devān bhāvayatānena te devā bhāvayantu vaḥ

parasparaṁ bhāvayantaḥ śhreyaḥ param avāpsyatha III.11- Thus nourishing one another, caring for one another, attain the sustainable development and eternal happiness. 

karmaṇaiva hi sansiddhim āsthitā janakādayaḥ

loka-saṅgraham evāpisampaśhyan kartum arhasi III.20 – The purpose of your birth is to help humanity to progress on spiritual path.

tasmāttvamuttiṣhṭha yaśho labhasva

jitvā śhatrūn bhuṅkṣhva rājyaṁ samṛiddham

mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva

nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savyasāchin XI.33 – You are merely a chosen instrument of Bhagavan for spiritual evolution of humanity; so do whatever work you are expected to do. Our Dayitva, our Dharma is our connection with Ishvara. More we fulfill our dayitva, Dharma with selflessness, more we get connected with Ishvara.

The Way to live 

klaibyaṁ mā sma gamaḥ pārtha naitat tvayyupapadyate

kṣhudraṁ hṛidaya-daurbalyaṁtyaktvottiṣhṭha parantapa II.3 - Never yield to weakness of heart. Exert yourself to do the right thing. 

uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ nātmānam avasādayet

ātmaiva hyātmano bandhurātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ VI.5 – Lift 

up yourself with your own efforts. 

You alone are your friend and you 

are your enemy, too. None else. 

karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana

mā karma-phala-hetur bhūrmā te saṅgo ’stvakarmaṇi II.47 

– You have to choose that action which maintains the harmony of the collectivity around you, like the family, society, nation and universe. You have only the right to choose such action but not demand specific fruits of action. After doing your best, accept whatever comes to you as Prasada from God. 

tasmād asaktaḥ satataṁ kāryaṁ karma samāchara

asakto hyācharan karma paramāpnoti pūruṣhaḥ III.19 – Therefore always employ yourself relentlessly with all Shraddha and excellence, in the performance of action which is your duty. 

yataḥ pravṛittir bhūtānāṁ yena sarvam idaṁ tatam

sva-karmaṇā tam abhyarchya siddhiṁ vindati mānavaḥ XVIII.46 - The Bhagavan is everywhere; worship him by doing your duty to your family, society and nation and the whole creation as best as you can. 

śhrī bhagavān uvācha

asanśhayaṁ mahā-bāho mano durnigrahaṁ chalam

abhyāsena tu kaunteya   vairāgyeṇa cha gṛihyate VI.35 – The mind, which tends to be selfish should be brought back again and again to do Karmayoga. It is undoubtedly difficult but by your constant practice and dispassionate awareness about this fleeting world, it is restrained. 

Yuktaharaviharasya VI.17 – For being one with the Divine, be moderate in your food, recreation, work and sleep. 

Yudhyasva Vigatajwarah III.30 – Even if you have to fight as a duty, do it without mental agitation. 

Assurances By Bhagavan Srikrishna

Shraddhavan labhate jnanam IV.39 – Have Shraddha in the path told be Me, be ever ready to learn and to practice self-control. You will surely get Jnanam. 

kṣhipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā śhaśhvach-chhāntiṁ nigachchhati

kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśhyati IX.31 – Know for certain that My devotee is never perished.

ananyāśh chintayanto māṁ ye janāḥ paryupāsate

teṣhāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ yoga-

kṣhemaṁ vahāmyaham IX.22 – I shall look after your well-being. You shall always get whatever is needed for your further growth. 

The Result 

yatra yogeśhvaraḥ kṛiṣhṇo yatra pārtho dhanur-dharaḥ

tatra śhrīr vijayo bhūtir dhruvā nītir matir mama XVIII.78 – Wherever in a society there is Krishna, the Lord of Yoga – the vision of Oneness of the universe-, and Partha, the archer - men of action doing their duties-, in that society there is prosperity, victory, all round well-being and steady and sound policy.”  

To focus on how this knowledge is very much relevant in today’s world, on how the problems of the modern world are actually bringing the humanity to the wisdom of Sanatana Dharma.

Thus, increasing the confidence of our people in themselves as well as in our Dharma. And also motivating them to work for the protection and propagation of our culture. 

                                                                                                                              Nivedita Raghunath Bhide

Tuesday 1 November 2022

Only a Mother Can… : November 2022

Vivekananda Kendra has taken up a nation-wide program, called Amruth Parivar, which means ideal family. The purpose of this program is to make the families more compliant with the Cultural heritage of our motherland and be in sync with the Spiritual Moorings of our Dharma. Ideal families will in turn mould the society into an ideal one. But within the family the vital cog who influences and determines the wellbeing of a family is invariably the mother or the eldest woman in the family. So the role of shaping our Nation starts with making the mother understand her responsibility. The personality of a child will flourish in a family where the child can get a secure atmosphere and positive relationship with people. This is especially important during the growing years. The child’s window of learning will be wide open during these years. During this learning phase the mother’s relationship with the child is crucial. This will impact the child’s growth in social, emotional, physical and cognitive spheres.

Among all the aspects the most important one which a person has to imbibe to becomea ideal social being is to be selfless. Who else other than a mother can be more suited to teach this value to her son or daughter? The very essence of Motherhood starts from the virtue of being selfless. Mother embodies selflessness in all her activities. Unbridled love is the reason for this selflessness exhibited by Mothers. Seeing the world through this wonderful prism of love is what every Mother should teach her child. Vision of Oneness will fructify when it is blended with this Vision of Love, the vision of Motherhood and without Love one cannot fully comprehend the vision of Oneness.

The crisis in the western world is mainly an outcome of the crisis in the society due to broken families. With the noose of globalisation around our neck, the danger is impending on our society too. At the right time Kendra has taken up this program of making  families value based one. We should ensure that this program reaches each and every Village in our Country.



Saturday 1 October 2022

Festival of Womanhood :October 2022

 Festive season is around and the next five to six weeks streets in India will be reverberating with the Sounds of the festivals. Cutting across the society these festivals touch everyone, irrespective of the

social strata. We will all be gearing ourselves up for these festivals which come one after another.

Dussehra, karva Chauth, Diwali all bring the bonhomie which propel the society towards richer harmony. These festivals have brought our communities together by providing not just the economic fillip but also emphasising the superior position of women in our society. Elsewhere in the world women are treated like objects to be enjoyed and exploited. But the reverence and position women ought to enjoy is exemplified in our culture through these festivals. These age old festivals reiterate the fact that women were enjoying a very exalted position in ancient India. In Hindu pantheon of gods every god has a goddess, implying that the male and female principles work together in the universe. Without freedom one cannot pursue any meaningful spirituality. If we feel that the present Indian society is short of it then we must do a soul searching to find out where we went wrong. The values are there for us to imbibe and follow. Unlike our sisters in the middle east where women are killed for not properly adhering to the Burkha system, Indian women are far better placed. India is the only Country at present, where God is worshipped in the female form. In the Mahabharata we read the incidents where Sulabha, a great women Yogi, came to the court of King Janaka and showed her prowess and wisdom, which she acquired through Yoga. In Hindu tradition mother and Motherhood are considered as superior to even Heaven.

Our festivals should pave a path for a grand revival of that hoary tradition. The nine days where the Goddess of wisdom, Goddess of wealth and Goddess of Valour are worshipped is the right time to remind ourselves about the slipped positions and the need to reclaim them.



Thursday 1 September 2022

Amrit Parivar : September 2022

Swami Vivekananda reminded India that the purpose of India was not only for herself but she has to guide the world with her knowledge which she has nurtured for thousands of years and a way of life based on the Vision of Oneness. He said, each nation has a message to deliver, a destiny to fulfil, a mission to accomplish. So, what has been the destiny of India? The destiny of India has been the spiritual evolution of man. India sees the whole existence as interconnected, interrelated and interdependent. India sees man as potentially divine and the aim of human life is for the manifestation of that divinity by contributing for the harmony of the collectives like family, society, nation and the whole creation. 

The philosophy of India thus helps humanity to live in tune with nature; to accept the latest      researches of the science and to make man evolve spiritually. The Hindu civilization is based on eternal laws of existence. As told by Swami Vivekananda, India has become immortal as the nature of the soul because it is here that the Rishi-s discovered the immortality of the soul. It is here that the way of life was developed which is based on eternal principles of existence which guide man to manifest the divinity within and also to behave with others, interact with others with the feeling of Oneness and to live harmoniously with the collectives like family, society, nation and the whole creation. The way of life needed for a man to manifest the divinity was termed as Dharma. Dharma is not religion. Dharma is not just limited to certain religious activities like worship, fasting, japa etc. In Bhagavad Geeta, in the last shloka of the 12th chapter, Bhagavan Shri Krishna calls this Dharma as Amrita Dharma that is immortal Dharma. 

India has faced maximum invasions and the rules of adharmic forces which led to the exploitation and destruction of its various systems like village, temple, education, commerce etc. We see in the history of the world that those countries which had to face such barbaric invasions or which had faced colonial rule lost their identity, their culture but we see that India has survived; her tradition has survived. How was it possible? The reason is that though the various systems were broken, one system could continue and that was family system. The Amrita Dharma was nurtured in the Amrita Family and therefore India survived most barbarous invasions including the fleecing  colonial rule. 

Family is the basic unit of a society, therefore, if in the family the thoughts which build and nourish the nation are nurtured then the nation functions vibrantly. Hence, our Rishi-s had said Dhanyo Grihastha Aashram – Blessed is the Grihastha Aashrama. Why? Because if families are taken care of, then the society, nation also are taken care of. If Grihastha Aashram is moulded properly, then the other Aashram-s also would be vibrant. Today, when we see challenging situations in our country, our focus should be to promote nourishing of Amrit Dharma in the   families.  

Vivekananda Kendra is working with the objectives of Man making and Nation building.  Generally, the man making efforts in Vivekananda Kendra are focused on the individuals through the Vargas in the Karyapaddhati. But if the families are imbued with national consciousness then at least few generations are taken care of.  Therefore, since few years the discussions on Hindu griha were conducted in various Kendra Meetings. The basis of Indian Culture is Oneness. For a family to be strong and socially caring, the Oneness is to be nurtured in the family. Geeta is the best spiritual wisdom to nurture the Oneness. Therefore, it was decided, that the Geeta Jayanti should become the festival for the families as participants. Because, it was felt that Geeta is to be understood, studied and lived from the childhood. So, a family is the best place to study, understand, practice and live Geeta. Since few years, Vivekananda Kendra started celebrating Geeta Jayanti by organizing the family workshops, family get togethers, Kutumba Sammelanam on GeetaJayanti. 

But seeing the current various cultural attacks, the need is felt for the sustained work among the families so that they are aware and able to protect the Sanatana Dharma, the Amrita Dharma of our nation. Only by holding on to it, the families would be able to face the cultural attacks and disintegration that comes with excessive materialism and extreme individualism. And that is how Amrita Parivar work is taken up by Vivekananda Kendra since last year. 

We can see that there are many tangible and intangible invasions on family like materialism, individualism, modernity which means irreverence to everything, self-centeredness, narrow focus on one’s own happiness and disregard to the higher and larger aspects of collective life, etc. These thought currents are changing the ambience of the family. The change in ambience of the family is seen in many fields such as food habits, living habits, the uprightness about earning money by right means, the use of electric gadgets, the insistence on marks and certificates alone and not the character. All this have affected capacity of the family to mould the children. Just to give one example the traditional festivals were occasions to come together and to worship and enjoy the homemade sweets; but today on the festival days hoteling, sending cards has become a common sight. The guests were happily welcomed in the families. The rooms were not marked as bedrooms for different persons in the family. The whole house belonged to all. But today that is not the case. At times family members feel that their space gets invaded when guests come and the guests also get feeling as if they are invading the space of the family members and so are  un-welcomed. ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ may become only the saying and not remain a practice. 

Today, the electric gadgets which are supposed to bring the world nearer or connect the persons have actually increased the distance between the family members. Each one is busy with his own mobile, laptop or tablet etc. Before things go out of the hand, it is necessary that the focus should be brought on the family, and the purpose of the married life be imbibed and fulfilled. In what all dimensions the family should grow, evolve, develop, that also needs to be seen. And to achieve that, various meaningful practices are to be consciously followed in the family. Family is the basic unit of the society, so the thoughts which are nurtured in the families, gradually, become the nature of the society and the nature of the Nation.

There was a time when family ambience was such that automatically children would grow up with values, with an uprightness of character, with the knowledge about one’s own culture and tradition. It was possible because apart from the parents, there would be grandparents, uncles and aunts in the family and so the value of caring and sharing was naturally nurtured. It was  easier or we can say effortlessly the children would learn to live with restraint because so many members would be in the family that anything and everything was needed to be shared. But today, with nuclear family and with deliberate invasions through medias, this value of caring and sharing needs to be instilled consciously. As both the parents are working and children are just one or two, instead of instilling values, the parents unconsciously pamper the children. To compensate the time that they do not give to the children, they shower the children with various material objects as and when demanded by them. Instead of character-building, the children grow in ‘entitled’ mode. This spoils their future life, relationships etc. and that in ultimate run impacts the society, nation and families. Old age homes, destitute homes, orphanages are signs of  declined families, failed society and of ungrateful generation. Thus, we need to go to the roots of the topic.  

The vision of Oneness which is the basis of our culture is to be inculcated by the repeated Swadhyaya of books like Gita, Upanishads, Sant literature etc. in the family. Unless the Oneness is inculcated, the practice of values would not be sustained. These books are not to be studied at the fag end of life but they are to be studied for knowing clearly the purpose and principles of life and to practice it in life. For that reason, as one grows, since childhood, such books are to be studied. There cannot be a better place than family for learning this. Family is not just kutumba comprised of the closely related members of the family but it is also a parivar, which includes our clan, community, locality, society, pet animals, nature, etc. Focus should therefore be on Parivar. When the Oneness is inculcated well in the Parivar, then the whole world becomes Kutumba – Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. 

Geeta tells us to understand the total picture and in that whatever be our role, it is to be fulfilled as our duty. Geeta inspires man to do his duty. It is in the family, that child learns from the elders to do one's duty sincerely. But what are our duties to the family members, to the society, to the nation, to the whole creation can be understood only if our vision about the existence is clear. 

Bhagavad Geeta gives that vision. Geeta says – 

“Atmaupamyenasarvatra samampashyatiyo0rjuna.”(VI.32). Look at everything as the expression of the Self. ‘Prajapati created the mankind and along with that Yagna, so that man could prosper and all the desires of the man would be fulfilled (III.10). Then, he told that, “With this Yagna you nourish the Gods (the bigger collectives of the Self like family, society, nation, nature and Inner being) and may those Gods nourish you; thus nourishing one another, you shall, attain the Highest Good.” (III.11) 

What does Yagna mean? Yagna is any self-sacrificing work, undertaken in the spirit of self-dedication for the well-being of all. Yagna is any action for oneself, family, community, society, nation, creation into which individual is ready to pour himself entirely in the spirit of    service and dedication. Yagna is nurturing and strengthening the expanding layers of existence of the Self like family, community, society, nation, the whole creation and the Divine Inner Being.

Yagna- the spirit of self-dedicated activities, the link with the Virat is seen everywhere: The Sun shines, the moon gleams, the sea throbs, the earth bears, trees flower and bear fruits – all in a spirit of sacrifice and self-dedicated motherly love with never even a trace of attachment or any kind of self-arrogating motives. The whole world of cosmic powers and nature’s phenomena    function instinctively in the service of all. When human life is developed and multiplied at all    levels; we can easily recognise different degrees of Yagna-activities, which keep up the harmonious growth of existence. Thus, Yagna implies that any achievement is possible if a person knows how to act in the discipline of co-operation with larger collectives.

Individual gets nurtured in family; hence, his expansion of consciousness to bigger collectives is possible primarily in the family. Family is an expanded and organic existence of an individual. Similarly, the expanded form of family is community and so family works in harmony with the community. Expanded form of community is society therefore, community works to nurture the society. The enlarged form of society is nation and therefore, the purpose of society is to re-build and develop the nation. The purpose of existence of the nation is to contribute for theadvancement of whole creation, because nation is the part of the world. The whole creation is the expression of the Self or Paramatman. Therefore, the real development and expansion of an     individual is ultimately realising one’s real nature as Paramatman. 

The goal of human life is to be one with the Paramatman which has manifested in all these      collectives and is also beyond all this. Living a life and striving to be one with this all –pervading divinity is Yoga. The way to do it, is Yagna. A person with a vision of Oneness can appreciate the Oneness underlying all the diversities and therefore cherish the diversities and does not denounce it. Similarly, the Yagna way or Yoga way of life alone can add to the harmony and prosperity of the existence. India has to give to the world this message of Oneness of the existence. Today we see that India is facing many dangers from outside and from within. The ‘national will’ needs to be strengthened in facing these difficulties. The awareness about the purpose of our country and also the problems that we are facing needs to be built up in the families.  In the context of this whole philosophy of Ekatma Darshan, it is evident that the family is not just the collection of individuals but it is the basic unit of the society with three objectives. 

The purpose of family is striving for Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha.

Family is meant for the propagation of Sanatana Dharma means for social well-being based on Oneness.

Family is for Prajanana that is prakarshena Janana means contributing a generation which is physically, mentally, intellectually, culturally and spiritually better than the earlier  generation. 

In short, family is a basic unit where man-making and nation-building is possible. 

Aashrama means striving entirely for the Objectives. The meaning of Grihasthashrama is - a stage of married life - where man exerts to achieve the above three objectives. If we focus on our  families to actualize these three objectives, then we can very easily face the cultural invasion. A Parivar where the tradition of immortal (Amrit) culture and Dharma is practiced is Amrit Parivar. A family that is striving to work for the three objectives can be seen in these five dimensions. The Amrit Parivar should be five dimensional – Panchamukhi as given below (5-S) 

1. Sukhi – Happy, contented. The basis of family is love for each other, feeling of Oneness with all where each is for all and all are for each. Only such a family would be a happy family. When we stay together, naturally there are some collisions, disagreements, discords. But if love is there, we accept our people as they are and interpersonal relationship is healthy. That acceptance and affection for all, makes the family in a real sense happy. 

2. Swastha – Healthy. Proper eating habits, the practices of regular exercises, regular physical work, work culture, cleanliness, inclusive and positive attitude for all etc. would keep all the   members in the family healthy. Even if someone falls sick that sickness is not seen as a burden but the love and care of the family cures the person. Apart from this physical understanding of Swastha, another higher and subtler dimension is the family is rooted in ‘Swa’ in one’s tradition and culture and in Oneness.

3. Sampanna- Not lacking economically. All financial needs are fulfilled. Sampanna is not      necessarily rich. Sampanna is where you do not feel you are lacking (Vipanna) something. You are contented in earning money through right means and do not hanker for more and more through wrong means. Very rich persons also could be Vipanna and not Sampanna if they are not satisfied with what they have. Apollonius Tyanaeus, a Greek Philosopher in the first century had said that, ‘In India I found a race of mortals living on the Earth, but not adhering to it, inhabiting cities but not being fixed to it, possessing everything but possessed by nothing.’ Thus, Sampanna is one which is affluent but not addicted to wealth. 

4. Samskar-ksham – Able to mould children with proper values of life. One of the main  purposes of family is to contribute better children for the society. For that the atmosphere in the family should be such that children inculcate proper values. It was said that Prajatantu ma Vyavatchesi – The family line should be continued and should not be broken. The modern  science says that to keep population stable, the fertility rate should be 2.1 children. China had adopted one child policy for the sake of material development. But today it stands at the fear of decline of the population and ageing population even though they have withdrawn the one child policy and are encouraging to have more children. The Jananam that is giving birth to children is important but still important is the family should be able to mould the children properly. The  practices, festivals, interaction in the family should be such that the children are properly moulded to carry forward the Amrit tradition. 

5. Samaj Dharana– Working and contributing for the well-being of the society with national consciousness without expecting anything in return. As the expanding form of the family is society, a family should contribute physically, monetarily and psychologically for the well-being of the society. To do that decidedly family would have to curtail its own needs with respect to time and money but that has to be done as in the well-being of the society lies the well-being of the family. 

A family cannot say that it would have only some dimensions like say Sukhi and Sampanna and not others. It cannot be. All five dimensions are interlinked with each other. Therefore, Amrit  Parivar should be striving for all these five dimensions simultaneously. The vision of Oneness and the values are inculcated only through the proper practices that are followed in the family and not through lectures. Family needs to strengthen the practices that help in achieving this five-fold   development of the family. It also needs to contemplate on the practices that need to be adopted newly so that the it can be Amrit Parivar, nurturing the Amrit tradition. 

To trigger the thinking on what all practices in which all areas are to be looked into, Sri Vijay Kaushalji Maharaj has given six ‘Bha’ to be focussed upon in the family to protect our culture. These are:

Bhasha – Language. What language do we use in the home? Are our children proficient in our languages? Is our language courteous, soft, cultured?  Are the children in our house culturally literate enough to understand the cultural anecdotes, proverbs? Do we also have at least a workable knowledge of Sanskrit? 

Bhusha – Dressing. How do the persons in the family dress inside the house and also     outside? It is said that ‘bathe for oneself and dress for others.’ For festivals are we        particular about dressing traditionally? Can frequency of traditional dressing be increased if every day it is not worn? Is the dressing reflecting our values or is more getting in the trap of branded clothing, exposure or attention-seeking? Are our clothes more ostentatious or decent? 

Bhajan – Relating oneself with Ishvara. Does the family have weekly bhajans? Is there a practice to get up before stipulated time, complete bath before stipulated time by all and pray to Ishvara either together or individually as each one’s timings in the morning to go for schools, colleges or offices may not align? For us, even India represents Devi Durga. So, the bhajan does not mean only singling some Bhajans but it also means revering our nation and knowing and relating to her culture. So, how is the knowledge of the family members about India, her Culture? What practices are adopted so that on regular basis the  knowledge is enhanced and so the family members do not fall prey to the cultural invasions. Can in a family, all members sit together at least once a week and discuss and understand about our culture and the invasions on it and the ways not to fall prey to it? 

Bhojan – Food. The way it is cooked and eaten. The type and amount of food eaten is directly related to diseases. Is our family gradually falling into the habit of frequent hoteling and getting hotel food delivered at home? It is noticed that these foods contribute to     obesity, diabetics, hyper-tension, heart-attacks and many more diseases. Food even impacts our thinking. What corrective measures can a family take to minimize such eating? If wife is also a working woman, then what help all other family members including her husband are rendering her so that home-cooked food is staple food in the family?

Bhavan – Home. The ambience of the home. Are there inspiring portraits on the walls? What magazines come to our homes? What are the practices of the family that are followed regularly? Is there a place where one can pray, meditate or do swadhyaya? How is the family atmosphere and the interactions of the family members specially the old, are they taken care of properly and do they or any member in the family feel neglected

Bhraman – Outings. What places do we visit? What are the places do we frequent? Do we go to temple at least once a week? Do we take the children to visit the places of great    heroes, places where good service is rendered etc.? Are there practices like visiting every year some place of pilgrimage including the places where good works are undertaken? Is the love for nature inculcated in children by visiting such places and contributing for its upkeep through physical work? Does family go for sight seeing or pilgrimage? 

Thus Amrit Parivar is one where all these dimensions are understood and practices decided and developed to achieve the three objectives of Grihastha Aashrama. As family is connected with the society, therefore, the next step is, such Amrit Parivar should strive to reach out to at least 5 to 10 other families to make them Amrit Parivar. It helps in many ways. If a group/ sankul of 10 Parivars thus become very close knit, it helps the children to experience the      extended family. It creates a safe and secure locality for the children to grow. 

When situations deteriorate instead of blaming others it is wise to start from where we are and that is why let us start from our families. Step by step in the direction of the goal and each moment spent in nurturing Amrit Parivar would surely take us to awakened and capable Bharat which can guide the world spiritually. 

- Mananeeya Nivedita Raghunath Bhide

                                                                                                   Vice President,

                                                                                                  Vivekananda Kendra

Monday 1 August 2022

Remembering our heroes : August-2022

This year is a special one. This is the 75th year of our freedom. It gives a reason and an opportunity to recall the great sacrifices made by our Freedom fighters. There is a reason why we should recall and remember them and their sacrifices.  The governance in India started winding down after the second world war. It became certain that the British will not continue to rule 0ur country for a long time in future. But when they will go and in what state they will leave our country became uncertain. Knowing the potentialities of our country Britain didn’t want to leave us without any chaos. This is because they didn’t want us become their nemesis in the future. The last couple of years of their rule were spent solely in creating an atmosphere of utter chaos in the civil society. When we got freedom, the situation was not a comfortable one to rule. Soon after the independence India was forced into a war with its erstwhile part and new enemy Pakistan. The war lasted for more than an year. Then in 1962 Our country was again forced into a war with the Chinese. Both these wars were not our making. This unexpected war left our country in bruises. Before we could recover from the vagaries of this war within three years, in 1965 we waged a war with Pakistan again. Then again in 1971 a war with Pakistan which left them battered. Knowing very well that cannot beat us in regular war, they carried on covert war after that, instigating many secessionist movements like the Khalistan. This was till 1999, when they again indulged in their usual audacity when they sent their men as mercenaries to attack us in Kargil.  The antagonism between Hindus and Muslims was one of the most significant works of the British administration. It has impacted the way our country is being administered in the last 7 decades. Not only the Hindu - Muslim divide but also the fractures in our society among Hindus themselves was also engineered to perfection during the British days. Thus, the administration in independent India was not a path filled with roses. Insurgencies, narco-terrorism, secessionist movements, cyber terrorism, caste and communal politics, the hostile atmosphere among various communities which was engineered to create dissension in the society, linguistic chauvinism, regional parochialism, all these are intended to undermine the sovereignty of our country. It will be difficult for the administration to handle these threats on its own. The civil society’s support is needed to tackle all these. The single antidote which will help us fight all these is Nationalism. There is no better source of infusing Nationalism to our people than recalling the valiant stories of the freedom struggle. The remarkable incidents which shaped the freedom struggle are to be retold to our younger generations time and again. We should also remember to tell them about the unsung heroes of our freedom movement. We should make them understand that it is a concerted effort by people from all parts of our country. The internal and external security of our Nation can be safeguarded in the times to come, only by doing this mammoth task of re igniting the patriotic fervour among our people.




Friday 1 July 2022

Guru Purnima :July 2022

Man is a veritable dynamo of enormous spiritual power, says Swami Vivekananda. This spiritual power is normally latent. We need a Guru to unfold this power and also to harness it in a proper way. Our society has always laid a great emphasis on the relationship between Guru and Sishya. It is not something akin to the contemporary teacher student relationship. Our traditional system provided for not just educational support but also emotional and spiritual guidance from the Guru to the shishya. It is a divine bond which has withstood several millennia of uninterrupted continuity. Though the political landscape has seen several changes in the past this tradition has survived without any changes.

This tradition is said to be one which starts from the Mahadeva himself. For Example the invocation sloka for the smarthas says that,

 Sadasiva samarambham Sankaracharya madhyamam asmad acarya paryantam vande guru paramparam

Meaning salutation to the lineage starting with lord Sadasiva, with Adi Sankara in the middle and continuing up to my immediate teacher.  Veda Vyasa carried the mantle from Lord Shiva himself and he is considered as the first Human Guru. It will not be an over statement if we say that our nation was designed and sustained by our Guru tradition. Because the duty of a Guru is to make every student aware of his divine nature. This will refine them and make them good subjects. A society will change when all its individuals get transformed. When the society becomes good, the Nation becomes good. So to transform a Nation the work should start from the individual. In this guru’s influence becomes a tremendous value addition to the whole of humanity. This applies to the contemporary world too. The present-day world’s crisis is very much a creation of character deterioration. To come out of this problem we have to take refuge in the great teachings of our Gurus. If we want to see a resurgent world tomorrow, then this is the course which we have to follow for sure. This is one of the burning desires of Swami Vivekananda who wanted to see our country back in her saddle as the Jagat Guru. The voice of peace and benediction will flow from her for the benefit of the entire Humanity.



Wednesday 1 June 2022

Yoga for Universal Motherhood : June 2022

 “Asato ma sadgamaya, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya, mrithyor ma amritham gamaya..” These are three simple but profoundly meaningful utterances or ‘keys’ our Seers have supplied for total emancipation of man, for his ascent to Divinity. Swami Vivekananda has, in his own inimitable way, expressed them for our easier understanding, stressing on ‘expansion’ which is the central theme of Yoga. To quote Swami Vivekananda- “Expansion is life, contraction is death, Knowledge is life, ignorance is death, Love is expansion, hatred is death”.

This expansion from the micro to the macro level is the essence of human life, exemplified by all the four Yogas- Karma, Bhakti, Raja, Jnana yogas. If a woman can understand this essence of Yoga and model her life based on that she would raise herself into a Universal Mother- the ultimate goal of womanhood.

Normally a woman is steeped in plurality and duality- projecting herself to attract attention and adoration. Marriage changes a wee bit of this attitude as she learns to share her joys and sorrows with her husband, the love for whom becomes the very essence of her being. There starts her journey from plurality and duality towards oneness or Advaita, the crest jewel of human thought. When she attains motherhood, her ‘duality’ slowly starts melting away and to the extent she is unselfish in her love and identified with her family- through love, sacrifice and service, her motherhood starts blossoming effortlessly, spontaneously, ie, she sets herself on the path of expansion, transforming herself into a Yogini. Selfish motivations which characterized her earlier life drop away as love in its purest form starts engulfing her. As she starts tasting the glory of true motherhood, divinity manifests in her slowly but surely elevating her on the ladder of evolution. She is on the way to acquire the halo of “SRI MATA”. That is not all. Her ‘Yoga’ is still not complete. She has to discover another dimension in her life- “Devakaryasamudyata”, ever engaged in upholding Satya and Dharma, the cardinal principles of Sanatana Dharma. This is the ‘devakarya’, entrusted specially to the mothers. It is they who should make Advaita satya practical in life through her love, sacrifice and service and pass these cardinal values on to the next generation. It is then that she becomes worthy of being the Queen of her home. Next elevation is, she is recognized as Simhasaneswari- the Queen Empress adored by the world at large for her universal qualities. This amazing evolution of an ordinary girl through wifehood, motherhood and on to Divine Motherhood is the most glorious of all Yogas. This supreme Yoga is what we see exemplified in the life of Holy Mother Sarada Devi, the Divine Consort of Sri Ramakrishna. 

Every woman has in her sparks of Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Parvathi. It is up to her to make them sparkle in her life- through her actions, words and thoughts, creating wealth, knowledge and happiness all around. The woman who has mastered this great Yoga of the ‘Science and Art’ of being a true woman is indeed the rarest of being. All glory to Motherhood.


                                                                                                                            Dr M Lakshmi Kumari

Monday 2 May 2022

Swamiji’s role in inspiring people to fight for the freedom.: May 2022

 Whenever a discussion happens about Swami Vivekananda’s impact on Indian Society a question will get posed invariably about the role os Swamiji in the freedom struggle. While it is settled without any doubt that many of the freedom fighters were actually inspired by the thoughts of Swamiji, and as a result they got themselves involved in the freedom struggle, we will see what his contributions are. During those days our country was impoverished by the frequent artificial famines created by the British authorities, that our people lacked the mental and the  physical energy and financial resources to carry the fight straight to the powerful imperial kingdom.  Swamiji said that, if India were to get freedom immediately, there were too few proper men to protect it or realize its value. So Swamiji stressed on man-making as the foremost necessity for national rebuilding. Without a properly trained army one cannot wage a war. So Swamiji’s prime focus was on building Men with Character. He wanted Men to be Courageous, Selfless, Honest and Intelligent. As a result of Swamiji’s work and campaign several Leaders endowed with such qualities came on to the Political arena to fight against the British. People like Bala Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji were a few examples. Mahatma Gandhi said that his patriotism increased several times after reading the books of Swami Vivekananda. Bengal was at the forefront of the freedom struggle those days. Lot of youth were inspired by Swamiji’s message and they plunged into the freedom movement.  But Swamiji being a Sanyasi  didn’t stop at mere political freedom. His message is not just for the Bonded Countrymen, but for the entire Humanity. Swamiji said:

“The idea of freedom is the only true idea of salvation--freedom from everything, the senses, whether of pleasure or pain, from good as well as evil. More than this, we must be free from death; and to be free from death, we must be free from life. Life is but a dream of death. Where there is life, there will be death; so get away from life if you would be get rid of death. “

This which is a part of his lectures, published as ‘Lectures from Colombo to Almora’, demonstrate his nationalistic fervour and spiritual ideology. All freedom fighters in jail had one copy with them to ignite the patriotism in their mind. The situation was so influential that it created terror in the minds of the Britishers and British govt wanted to ban and close Ramakrishna mission. However, it was saved due to the divine intervention of holy mother, Sarada. She clarified to the British authorities that Mission was a spiritual organisation and it has got nothing to do with politics. We now enjoy the political freedom. But culturally and spiritually we are still under slavery. As a never ending fountain of inspiration Swamiji is still the solution for coming out of this mental slavery.


                                                                                                                                 V.V. Balasubramanian


Friday 1 April 2022

Operation Ganga

When Russia started invading Ukraine it shook the not just the life of Ukrainians, but also the Indians who have gone there to study. It is said that there are around twenty thousand Indians who are living there, among them around eighteen thousand are students.  Indians comprise the largest group of among the International students who are studying in Ukraine. We account for nearly 24% of their International students. Indian embassy gave warnings and asked our students to leave much in advance. But unfortunately, the students didn’t heed the call given by our embassy. As a result, when the situation deteriorated the task of rescuing our nationals from Ukraine became tough.  Our external affairs ministry swung into action swiftly and what followed was a script which will make even a Hollywood adventure movie pale in comparison. 

For the first time in the history of Wars, a country which is in War with another one, heeded to the request made by another country which is not involved in the fight. When India requested for a cease fire Russia immediately agreed and also helped in rescuing our students. India didn’t take any side in this issue. But it sent several tranches of humanitarian aid to the affected country. These contained medical equipment and relief materials and these were delivered via Romania, Slovakia and Poland.  Unlike India, many other countries left their people in the lurch, during this crisis. The excellent rapport which our Prime Minister has with many of today’s global leaders actually paved way for this evacuation operation to become successful. India's evacuation programme, Operation Ganga, has been the most active among all nations which have their citizens in Ukraine. Once upon a time, people from all over the world used to flock towards India in their pursuit of Knowledge. We have done very little since Independence in improving the quality of our educational system and Institutions. Its high time we bring it back to its old glory. Indian students shouldn’t feel the need to go overseas for their studies. The onus is on us to bring back such glory days.



Friday 18 February 2022

The Conversion Menace

 A twelfth standard student died due to harassment meted to her because she resisted the attempts made to convert her by her school authorities, has created an uproar among the people of Tamilnadu. Though the mainstream media is as usual silent about this incident, the social media is raging with anger with hashtags like #justiceforlavanya is trending all over India. A video of the victim wherein she accuses her school authorities for forcing her to get converted is also doing rounds in the social media. But even with this death statement in hand the law enforcing agencies in the state have not arrested any one from the school and instead  they are trying to close the case as another suicide case. Lavanya was studying 12th standard in the Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School which is located in Thirukkatupalli in Thanjavur, Tamilnadu. She faced mental and physical torture from the authorities of her school after refusing to convert into a Christian. The school said that she could continue her studies only if she changes her religion, according to reports.

This brings to light the most vexing question our society has been asking since Independence. The need to protect the Hindu religious identity in the face of aggressive attempts by the Abrahamic faiths to convert them. It is to be noted that even during the British rule some of the princely states like Kota, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Raigarh, Patna, Surguja, Udaipur, and Kalahandi had such rules which prohibited the missionaries from indulging in overt measures to convert people. It is an irony that a free secular democratic state is finding it difficult to protect its cultural roots. Many a times in our Parliament, attempts were made to bring in laws to prohibit forcible conversions, but couldn’t succeed. Such attempts were made in the year 1954 and 1979, but due to lack of political support they couldn’t get through. It was told that law and order is a state subject and hence Central Government cannot legislate to regulate that. But barring a few State governments others are not inclined to enact such laws as it will cost them the minority votes. The result, Hindus are left without any protection against the predatory religions. To make the States come forward in enacting such a law, the Hindus much muster their strength and pressurise the respective State Governments to act against this menace. For doing that Hindus must organise themselves first. 

Most of the Hindus have a syndrome called Ostrich syndrome. It is nothing but hiding oneself from the happenings around him or from the truth. They think that such an approach will insulate them from the evils going around them. The only way to tackle the predator is to get united and organised.



Wednesday 12 January 2022

Samartha Bharat Parva and Vivekananda Jayanti 2021/2022

 Swami Vivekananda sat on the mid-sea rock at Kanyakumari and meditated for three days on 25, 26, and 27th December 1892. This was a unique meditation. It was not for Samadhi, for Moksha or for one’s own peace of mind. Swamiji meditated there on what should he do, what should be his contribution for regeneration of India. It is there on that Rock that he took the momentous decision of participating in the Parliament of Religions at Chicago to represent Hindu Dharma. He was confident that when the Hindu philosophy is admired at the international forum, the people of his country would come out of the colonial mind-set and work for the regeneration of India, for making India capable to fulfil her destined role. That is why Vivekananda Kendra celebrates the period from 25 December to 12 January that is Swami Vivekananda Jayanti as Samartha Bharat Parva.

The freedom movement was mainly to express the soul of India which was suppressed by the British colonial powers. Swami Vivekananda gave a rousing call to Hindu nation. He emphatically said that he was proud to be a Hindu. Sri Aurobindo said Sanatana Dharma is the nationalism of India. Mahatma Gandhi talked about establishing Ramarajya. Sri Bankim Chandra called India as Durga incarnate. The freedom movement was not for political rule alone but to express Indian soul in all walks of life. 

When Swami Vivekananda called upon the Hindu nation to give the eternal truth of Oneness to the world, one might think, “Why this jingoism, this chauvinism? Does it not imply that other countries have nothing good in them?” Swami Vivekananda explained how every nation has a role to play. He said,


Just as there is individuality in every man, so there is a national individuality. As one man differs from another in certain particulars, in certain characteristics of his own, so one race differs from another in certain peculiar characteristics; and just as it is the mission of every man to fulfill a certain purpose in the economy of nature, just as there is a particular line set out for him by his own past Karma, so it is with nations -- each nation has a destiny to fulfill, each nation has a message to deliver, each nation has a mission to accomplish. Therefore, from the very start, we must have to understand the mission of our own race, the destiny it has to fulfill, the place it has to occupy in the march of nations, and note which it has to contribute to the harmony of races.

The question that needs to be asked is, ‘What is it that India has to give to the world, or contribute to the harmony of the races?’ India’s mission is spiritualization of the humanity. Swami Vivekananda 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 raison d’être of her very existence -- the spiritualization of the human race. In this her life-course she has never deviated, whether the Tartar ruled or the Turk, whether the Mogul ruled or the English. (CWSV, volume IV, p. 315)


Sri Aurobindo explained in his Uttarapara speech what Sanatana Dharma is based on the Sadhana that he did in the Alipore jail and also the realizations that he had. He told,

We speak often of the Hindu religion, of the Sanatana Dharma, but few of us really know what that religion is. Other religions are preponderatingly religions of faith and profession, but the Sanatana Dharma is life itself; it is a thing that has not so much to be believed as lived. This is the Dharma that for the salvation of humanity was cherished in the seclusion of this peninsula from of old. It is to give this religion that India is rising. She does not rise as other countries do, for self or when she is strong, to trample on the weak. She is rising to shed the eternal light entrusted to her over the world. India has always existed for humanity and not for herself and it is for humanity and not for herself that she must be great...

Well, the protection of the religion, the protection and upraising before the world of the Hindu religion, that is the work before us. But what is the Hindu religion? What is this religion which we call Sanatana, eternal? It is the Hindu religion only because the Hindu nation has kept it, because in this Peninsula it grew up in the seclusion of the sea and the Himalayas, because in this sacred and ancient land it was given as a charge to the Aryan race to preserve through the ages.


But it is not circumscribed by the confines of a single country, it does not belong peculiarly and for ever to a bounded part of the world. That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion, because it is the universal religion which embraces all others. If a religion is not universal, it cannot be eternal. A narrow religion, a sectarian religion, an exclusive religion can live only for a limited time and a limited purpose. This is the one religion that can triumph over materialism by including and anticipating the discoveries of science and the speculations of philosophy. It is the one religion which impresses on mankind the closeness of God to us and embraces in its compass all the possible means by which man can approach God.


It is the one religion which insists every moment on the truth which all religions acknowledge that He is in all men and all things and that in Him we move and have our being. It is the one religion which enables us not only to understand and believe this truth but to realise it with every part of our being. It is the one religion which shows the world what the world is, that it is the Lila of Vasudeva. It is the one religion which shows us how we can best play our part in that Lila, its subtlest laws and its noblest rules. It is the one religion which does not separate life in any smallest detail from religion, which knows what immortality is and has utterly removed from us the reality of death.

I said then that this movement is not a political movement and that nationalism is not politics but a religion, a creed, a faith. I say it again today, but I put it in another way. I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is the Sanatana Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatana Dharma, with it, it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatana Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatana Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatana Dharma it would perish.

Mahatma Gandhi wanted Ramarajya in India. What did he mean by Ramarajya? This question only the confused educated elite may ask. The people instantaneously understood and cherished the thought of fighting for freedom to have Ramarajya. The ideal Ramarajya, according to Gandhi, may be described as ‘the land of dharma and a realm of peace, harmony and happiness for young and old, high and low, all creatures and the earth itself, in recognition of a shared universal consciousness. In many places he wrote or talked about Ramarajya. As was the audience in front of him, he explained the concept in the language they understood. Sometimes it was at the spiritual level, or with respect to political rule or in the context of justice to women or to the poor of India. Few quotes are as below.

By political independence I do not mean an imitation to the British House of commons, or the soviet rule of Russia or the Fascist rule of Italy or the Nazi rule of Germany. They have systems suited to their genius. We must have ours suited to ours. What that can be is more than I can tell. I have described it as Ramarajya i.e., sovereignty of the people based on pure moral authority. (H, 2-1-1937, p. 374)

If you want to see God in the form of Ramarajya, the first requisite is self-introspection. You have to magnify your own faults a thousand-fold and shut your eyes to the faults of your neighbours. That is the only way to real progress. (H, 26-10-1947, p. 387)

जिनके तन और मन एक ही दिशा में - पवित्र दिशा में चलते जा रहे हों, जब तक ऐसी स्त्रियां हिन्दुस्तान के सार्वजनिक जीवन को पवित्र कर दें, तब तक रामराज्य अथवा स्वराज्य असंभव है. यदि ऐसा स्वराज्य संभव भी हो गया, तो वह ऐसा स्वराज्य होगा जिसमें स्त्रियों का पूरा-पूरा भाग नहीं होगा, और वह मेरे लिए निकम्मा स्वराज्य होगा. (Whose body and mind are moving in the same direction - in the holy direction, unless such women sanctify the public life of India, Ramrajya or Swarajya is impossible. Even if such swaraj became possible, it would be swaraj in which women would not have their full share, and that would be useless swaraj for me.)

But if we take the gist of all his writings and speeches, Ramarajya was supposed to be based on Dharma in which, moral uprightness, care for others, feeling of oneness, integrity of character and equality was inherent.  

Today the narrative in the country, in the media is vitiated. It would be difficult for any leader to tell in the open that India is a Hindu Nation or Sanatana Dharma is Nationalism or India need to be Ramarajya or India is Durga incarnate. The drives of freedom movement, the objectives of freedom movement are negated in media, in educational institutions and unfortunately in the minds of many elites. No person of some standing can openly talk of India as a Hindu nation or tell Sanatana Dharma as nationalism or calling for Ramarajya. He would be abused as communalist, or even threatened by anti-national forces openly.

The ‘Swa’, the ‘Atman’ of India is still not expressed fully in all walks of life. How did it happen? Since 1947, the guilt of the partition of India made the then political leaders to be yielding space to the non – Hindu forces in media, education, and over-all public discourse. Where would that lead us in decades? Eknathji had seen the writings on the wall.  That is why Eknathji wanted Vivekananda Kendra as a thought movement which would focus on the ‘Swa’ of India which comes from the Vedic vision of potential divinity of human soul and the oneness of existence. Thus, man is to strive for manifesting the Divine, the excellence, in all endeavors; and Oneness of existence if internalized motivates the man to serve the society, nation and nature. ‘Swaraj 75’ is a proper occasion to revisit the objectives of the freedom movement.

Even when facing barbaric forces and under the gravest provocations, our civilization has consistently, propagated non-conflicting ideas and practiced non-conflicting methods, because Oneness of existence is ingrained in Indian culture. The history of Bharat is replete with such instances, where, when Dharma was threatened, the spiritual vision and practical action organized the society to lift the nation from its morass and put it on its course. This has happened time and again. This is how the nation, that seemed to have lost hope, was always revived by the combination of spiritualism and activism such as Srikrishna and Arjuna, Samarth Ramdas and Chatrapati Shivaji, Vidyaranya Swami and Harihara Bukka and so on.

 Later the advent of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda and Swamiji’s fiery words delivered in his lectures from Colombo to Almora revitalized the spiritual nationalist surge which was manifested in the freedom movement. Then followed the great pantheon of leaders who fought for the freedom of Bharat. These freedom fighters had envisaged a glorious Bharat rooted in Sanatana Dharma and as the spiritual guide to the humanity. Their dream we need to remember at the time of Swaraj 75 and accordingly hasten our activities to actualize it. 

 Swami Vivekananda ignited the Youth power of Bharat and unleashed it to free the nation from foreign yoke. His words have the power to rouse the youth to work for nation to establish her as Jagadguru.


Nivedita Raghunath Bhide