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V edanta

`15 1

T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017

The

Kesari
Santa Barbara Temple,
Vedanta Society of
Southern California

N ovember A Cultural and Spiritual Monthly


of the Ramakrishna Order
2017 since 1914
2

November 2017 Regd. Off. & Fact. : The VPhone


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True is the Lord, true is His name, What shall we utter with our lips
If uttered with endless love; Which, hearing, He may love us well?...
Unceasingly men ask from Him,
And from His hands, receive rich gifts. O Nanak, He is realized
Only through His own Grace divine
What shall we offer in return Who boast of other ways and means
That we may in His Presence stand? They idle prattlers are and false.
from Japji
Guru Nanak (a long poem written by Guru Nanak)
4 Nov 2017
548th Birth Anniversary

Sri Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple, Amritsar)

Santa Barbara Temple


Cover Quietly nestled against a scenic mountain range and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Santa
Story Barbara Temple is a branch of the Vedanta Society of Southern California. The temple was
dedicated in 1956 and is managed by a convent of nuns. The temple has received several awards
for its design, and is a special point of interest for architects from around the world. Daily worship
and vesper service, Sunday talks, scriptural classes, special pujas as well as the societys annual Durga
Puja celebration are held in the temple.
For PDF download link, refer to page no. 06 in this issue
104
th
3

T he V edanta K esari
Year of Publication

A Cultural and Spiritual Monthly of The Ramakrishna Order

Vol. 104, No. 11. ISSN 0042-2983

NOVEMBER 2017
CONTENTS

Reminiscences of Sargachhi
Swami Suhitananda 10 Wisdom of the Navayogis
32 L. Hariharan Dhani

Defining God
Swami Sarvapriyananda 15 Shankha and Chakra
35 Gokul Muthu

Dimensions of Realities
Swami Sunirmalananda 24
Thoughts on the Yin-Yang Symbol
37 William Page

7 Hastamalakiyam
8 Editorial
Universal Liberation, 22 Heritage ~ Heroes
Salvation, and Restoration in 30 Pariprasna
Indian and Western Thought 38 New Find
Gopal Stavig 27 40 The Order on the March
44 Book Reviews
Editor:
Swami Mahamedhananda
Printed and Published by Swami Vimurtananda on behalf of Sri Ramakrishna Math Trust and printed at
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To be continued . . .
7

Hastamalakiyam
Also,

10
Meaning: The foolish man whose vision is obstructed by clouds, thinks that the sun is not
bright. In the same way, for a man whose intellect is clouded, the Atman seems to be bound. I am
that Atman, which is of the nature of Eternal Knowledge.
Sri Sankara Bhashyam: A man whose vision is obstructed by clouds thinks that the sun is not
bright. Though it is very bright, he considers it to be dark. So he is a great fool. In the same way,
a person whose intellect is covered by Avidya, considers the intellect to be the Atman. And, he
superimposes the miseries related to the intellect on the Atman. To him the Atman seems to be
bound. I am that Atman, which is of the nature of Eternal Knowledge, which seems to be bound to
that person whose intellect is clouded by Avidya.
Swami Vivekananda explains: A god and a demon went to learn about the Self from a great sage.
The sage told them, You yourselves are the Being you are seeking. Both of them thought that their
bodies were the Self. They went back to their people quite satisfied. The nature of the demon was
ignorant, clouded; so he never inquired any further... The god had a purer nature. In a few days, he
PA G E S P O N S O R : A D E V O T E E , C H E N N A I

realised that it could not be the meaning of the sage; there must be something higher. So he came
back and asked, Sir, did you teach me that this body was the Self? If so, I see all bodies die; the
Self cannot die. The sage replied, Find it out; thou art That. Then the god thought that the vital
forces were what the sage meant. But after a time, he found that if he ate, these vital forces remained
strong, but, if he starved, they became weak. The god then went back to the sage and said, Sir, do
you mean that the vital forces are the Self? The sage replied, Find out for yourself; thou art That.
The god returned home, thinking that it was the mind, perhaps, that was the Self. But he saw that
thoughts were so various, now good, again bad; the mind was too unstable to be the Self. He went
back to the sage and said, Sir, I do not think that the mind is the Self; did you mean that? No,
replied the sage, thou art That; find out for yourself. The god went home, and at last found that he
was the Self, beyond all thought, one without birth or death, whom the sword cannot pierce or the
fire burn, whom the air cannot dry or the water melt, the beginningless and endless, the immovable,
the intangible, the omniscient, the omnipotent Being; that It was neither the body nor the mind,
but beyond them all. So he was satisfied; but the poor demon did not get the truth, owing to his
fondness for the body. (CW: 1.138-139)
Know that thou art He; thou art the God of this universe, Tat Tvam Asi (That thou art). All
these various ideas that I am a man or a woman, or sick or healthy, or strong or weak, or that I hate
or I love, or have a little power, are but hallucinations. Away with them. Say I am Existence
Absolute, Bliss Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, I am He, and like a lion breaking its cage, break
your chain and be free for ever. You are the Pure One, the Ever-blessed. (CW: 2.232)
Translated and explained by Swami Suprajnananda.
Hastamalakiyam is the gist of Advaita philosophy given in 12 verses by Sri Shankaracharyas disciple Hastamalakacharya.

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 414


8
Editorial

Restless Patience
Progress in spiritual life depends upon How blessed would it be if we could
the intensity of our longing to see God. Sri have even a little of such longing for God!
Ramakrishna again and again encouraged But the toys of the worldwealth, fame,
devotees to cultivate this vyakulata or spiritual sense objects, relations, and the likeconsume
yearning. our heart, mind, and time; and we remain
What is such yearning? Two striking content with a dry understanding of vyakulata.
examples from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna Truly, without real earnestness, a sadhaka
explain it: This yearning is like the state of stagnates in his sadhana and may even entirely
mind of a man who has someone ill in the fall away from spiritual ideals.
family. His mind is in a state of perpetual What is the remedy? Sri Ramakrishna
restlessness, thinking how the sick person may answers with a striking analogy. He says
be cured. Or again, (it is) like the yearning that so long as the child remains engrossed
of a man who has lost his job and is wandering with its toys, the mother lets him be. After
from one office to another in search of work. If experiencing the joys and sorrows of playing
he is rejected at a certain place which has no with the toyssome toys break, some are
vacancy, he goes there again the next day and snatched away, and some over time become
inquires, Is there any vacancy today? uninterestingthe child begins to lose interest
An intense yearning was experienced by in them. It then throws aside the toys and calls
Sri Ramakrishna in his own life. Speaking of for its mother. The mother then takes the rice-
his restlessness to see the Divine Mother, he pot down from the hearth, runs in haste and
says, There was then an intolerable anguish takes the child in her arms.
in my heart because I could not have Her The task, then, is first to deliberately lose
vision. Just as a man wrings a towel forcibly interest in the toys of this world by developing
to squeeze out all the water from it, I felt as an intense dissatisfaction with them. This
if somebody caught hold of my heart and should be accompanied with calling out to
mind and was doing so with them. Greatly God in the form of intense spiritual practices.
afflicted with the thought that I might never Vyakulata is the intensity of this calling. It is the
have Mothers vision, I was dying of despair. test of ones purushakar. Swami Brahmananda
After his first vision of the Divine Mother, Sri advises, He in whom a longing for God has
Ramakrishna again cried incessantly for Her awakened, let him rise and struggle. While
constant vision. Sometimes overwhelmed by sitting, or lying down, or eating, let him pray
this hankering he would roll on the ground piteously to His blessed feet: O Lord, have
in pain and implore, Bestow Thy grace on mercy on me! Allow me to understand your
me Mother, show Thyself to me! When grace!
people gathered around him seeing his Is it possible to know if we are deve-
distress, they appeared to him like shadows loping true longing for God? Yes, we can by
or pictures. recognising the manifestation of the glories

415 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


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of longing, which Sri Ramakrishna says are patience. Sabari, a tribal woman, devotedly
discrimination, dispassion, compassion for served Matanga rishi for a long time. She lived
living beings, serving holy men, loving their in the rishis hermitage practicing spiritual
company, chanting the name and glories of disciplines. After the rishis passing away,
God, telling the truth, and the like. These signs she continued to serve the hermitage. In her
of longing indicate that the vision of God is not old age when even the disciples of Matanga
far to seek. rishi were about to leave this world, she
But paradoxically, even while urging wanted to follow them into the higher realms.
us to be restless for God-realisation, Sri But those rishis advised her to stay back and
Ramakrishna also encourages us to practice serve Sri Rama who then was living in the
patience! In The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, we Chitrakoot forest and was destined to visit
come across statements like: Nothing happens their hermitage. This opportunity to meet the
except at the proper time, The mother bird Lord, they told her, was the fruit of her life-
does not break the shell of the egg until the long tapasya.
right time arrives. From then on, Sabari began waiting
Then what is the point in telling us to receive Sri Rama. Every day with great
to renounce attachment to this world and care she picked the sweetest fruits and
develop vyakulata to see God? Sri Ramakrishna the choicest flowers and arranged
answers, It is not possible to acquire everything to honour the Lord. She sat waiting
renunciation all at once. The time factor must patiently and faithfully for the coming of
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I M O H A N R . , T H A N J AV U R

be taken into account. But it is also true that Sri Rama. But when the day ended without
a man should hear about it. When the right his coming, she would retire to bed with the
time comes, he will say to himself, Oh yes, joyful hope that Sri Rama would come the
I heard about this. The fetters that bind us next day. Thus, days passed into months, and
to the mundane world cannot be stricken months dragged into years. But old Sabaris
off with one blow. We need to patiently and preparations to receive the Lord remained the
persistently apply a series of successive blows same. Her eagerness to see Sri Rama remained
with undiminishing vigour and hope. undiminished.
The challenge, then, is to combine intense One fine day, accompanied by
longing with immense patience. Lakshmana, Sri Rama entered Matanga rishiss
Swami Brahmananda advises, The hermitage. Sabari had eagerly waited for this
man of true devotion yearns for God without day for 12 years! Truly, Earnestness is the
becoming impatient. Even if he sees no light he path of immortality, as Bhagavan Buddha
will not give up his devotions. Only those who declares.
love God like shopkeepers looking for profit May we have unflinching faith in these
will give up if their prayers are not answered words of Sri Ramakrishna: You will attain
immediately. God if you sing His name and glories and pray
Sabari of Ramayana is the epitome of one to Him with a longing heart. There is not the
who has both boundless longing and endless least doubt about it.

Success is speedy for the extremely energetic. Yoga Sutras, 1.21

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 416


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Reminiscences

Reminiscences of Sargachhi
SWAMI SUHITANANDA

(Continued from the previous issue. . .)


Swami Premeshananda (18841967) was a disciple of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi. For over two
decades, he lived at Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Sargachhi, first as its monastic-in-charge and later
as a retired sannyasi. He inspired countless people to lead a life of spirituality and service. Influenced
by him many young men and women entered into monastic life. His conversations and teachings were
noted by his attendant novitiate who is now Swami Suhitananda, Vice-President, Ramakrishna Math
and Ramakrishna Mission. Published in Bengali as Sargachhir Smriti, these reminiscences have been
translated into English by Sri Shoutir Kishore Chatterjee.

22
1.7.60 Maharaj: Why do you draw a distinction
A discussion was taking place on topics between you and us? We belong to the
like initiation, liberation, etc. same grade rather, you are better than
Maharaj: Whatever you desire, you will us. However, one must have favourable
get at the time of death. There is no certainty circumstances. Nowadays, as soon as one joins
that you will attain liberation just because you the ashrama, one becomes involved in big
have been initiated. Our God is not a despotic, tasks. As a result, all of ones mind, intellect,
whimsical God Who will liberate someone and working power are exhausted in the
forcibly. If, at the moment of death, you seek course of doing that work. It would be proper
liberation from the core of your heart, then if one is kept under the tutelage of someone (a
surely it will happen. Why should He give senior monk) for the first ten years, and then
it, unless you want it? However, it is certain gradually assigned to tasks of responsibility.
that sucha devoteewill belong to one of these Nowadays top-quality boys are coming.
four categories: jivanmukta (free while living), We should have trust in them. There are some
anagami (not having another birth), sakrdagami who see evil in everything. You will see that
(having only one more birth), and srotapanna those who are over forty will say, In our time it
(entering into the stream to be carried forward was not as b-a-d a-s t-h-is. At that time milk
towards liberation) was available at ten seers a rupee, only five
Question: Swamiji has said, Sri per cent of people got any education hence,
Ramakrishna did full sixteen parts; we will everything was good! But the farmer could
do one part; those who come after us will do not get one full meal a day and was forced to
one-sixteenth of that one part. This last group sell his rice at one rupee four annas a maund,
comprises people like you. Again, we will do the labourers wage was two annas, the
one-sixteenth of that one-sixteenth part which milkman got ten annas after selling ten seers of
you do. milk. And they say those days were very good!

417 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


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Now, dont ask about immorality. A have any thinking capacity want something
handful of people used to exploit the entire exciting. But a wise man sees no difference
society. The almanacs were full of obscene between a football match and some dogs
pictures advertisements invariably depicted playing together. The ordinary mind always
lasciviousness. They didnt have any sense of wants some external sensation; it does not
discipline. A schoolteacher was considered want to think about anything. Had I not read
to be a good teacher if he beat his students. the literature of Sri Ramakrishna and Swamiji,
Sadism was rampant. If someone uttered Vande then seeing these worldly activities I too would
Mataram, the old fellows would say, Bind have vilified people.
him and thrash him; living in the kings land, Question: Clairvoyance, clairaudience,
eating his rice, and speaking ill of him! The thought-reading are these occult powers?
freedom fighters were tortured by pricking Maharaj: No, these cannot rightly be
their fingers with needles the old fellows called occult powers these are milestones
would narrate these incidents, laughing loudly of spiritual progress. But if someone remains
in joy. stuck after getting these powers, they turn into
Maharaj was being bathed in the occult powers in his case. Girija and Chandra
veranda. A worm was crawling near the possessed occult powers [two aspirants
drain. After his bath, the attendant emptied the who were freed by Sri Ramakrishna of their
bucket of water into the drain and the worm spiritually hindering occult powers]. So their
got washed away. progress stopped there. But Sri Ramakrishnas
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I N A G E S H M . , C H E N N A I

Maharaj: Had you poured the water with goal was much higher than that.
a little care, that worm could have been saved. What actually happens is this: By
This has terminated its Evolution of Growth. continuously contemplating finer things,
The gradual development that would have the spiritual aspirants mind also becomes
taken place if it could have led its present finer and finer; he then can grasp finer things
life, has been stopped abruptly. There is no without any effort. This does not seem
certainty when and where it will be born again unnatural to him it comes quite naturally.
after this. That is why the killing of living Question: Is it possible to observe rules
beings is prohibited. like taking only self-cooked food? Must one
In the afternoon Maharaj was walking become a vegetarian?
with some people and talking about Maharaj: Dont consume anything that
clairvoyance, etc. At this time a fellow came excites your body. And rules like not taking
and said that he had just listened to the food rendered impure by others touch
commentary of the football match between no longer hold good for you. However,
Mohun Bagan and East Bengal on the radio. contamination through contact is certainly a
When someone asked about the result of the fact.
match, Maharaj quoted a proverb and said, Question: Can ordinary people figure out
Ravana died in Lanka and Behula became by tasting that Sri Ramakrishna has cast his
distraught with weeping! The game takes glance on the prasada?
place in one place and these fellows laugh Maharaj: No, no.
and cry in another and that too after mere Never stay alone. If you stay alone, there
listening! Ordinary people those who dont is no telling what you will do in a moment of

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 418


12

weakness. If two persons stay together, each However, there is Abhyasayoga, the yoga of
protects the other. It is for this reason that practice. A dualist is calmly absorbed in the
arrangements have been made for people to thought of his own Chosen Deity; he doesnt
live together. Mahapurush Maharaj would not harbour any hostility or grievance against
allow people to go alone even for tapasya. He other religions. Doing japa and other spiritual
would say, At least two of you go together. A practices, as his mind goes more and more
sannyasi has to be so much on his guard! inward, he will progress in his spiritual
A certain brahmachari was not in the life. However, you cannot overcome body-
habit of chewing any digestive refresher after consciousness through the path of dualism.
his meals. Today, after a heavy meal, he said, Even in the path of monism, it is not possible to
Let me chew a betel-leaf today. There was an overcome the bondage of body-mind-intellect.
arrangement for betel-rolls after the meal on But you have to make a continuous effort.
that day.
Maharaj: You see, you are again 4.7.60
multiplying your requirements. If you eat one Question: If I cannot meditate, wont it
day, you will desire to have it again. All these do if I practice the paths of knowledge, work
desires are the result of bad company. and devotion?
Question: Sri Ramakrishna did not have Answer: Knowledge, work and devo-
any ego. So we find him using phrases like tion these three are easy to practice, but
Mother told me this, and Mother showed this meditation is difficult. And this alone is the
to me. But did he have to consciously think yardstick for judging whether or not your
about maintaining this attitude? other three practices are going along the
Maharaj: If we see this as play-acting, right path. These three practices can be done
then we must say he was being hypocritical. to impress others. If you have intelligence,
But we have to keep in mind that he was you can recite the scriptures very well.
enacting a divine play as an incarnation; Seeing all this, Sri Chaitanya desisted from
it wont do simply to call him Brahman. giving sannyasa. A sannyasi should be
Shankara caused confusion by using the words highly principled. Being principled does not
Jata iva (as if he was born). If you say that he indicate scholarship; it means being virtuous,
was acting, then the entire creation will also truthful, fearless, full of shraddha or active
have to be regarded as a play. You can see faith, philanthropic, and self-controlled.
his divine play as acting only when you rise By practicing in this manner, spiritual
beyond your body-mind-intellect. Until then, consciousness is awakened.
his divine play is all real.
Attendant: We are like small containers 5.7.60
dualism is more suitable for us. Maharaj: Generally, people dont even
Maharaj: Then you cant become a know that behind this body-mind-intellect there
sannyasi. is an I- consciousness. Spirituality means fully
Attendant: Why not? The Order is there; understanding this body-mind-intellect, and
and monastic life is there! also knowing the I that exists behind it. This
Maharaj: Call it the Order or call it alone is religion proper. Religion is merely the
anything else you cannot call it sannyasa. stepping stone to spirituality.

419 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


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It is surprising that this type of spiritu- A devotee: The religion of Sri Chaitanya
ality doesnt exist in the other religions of stirred up the entire nation. But it appears
the world. It is a matter of regret that even that Sri Ramakrishnas path is only for the
in India it was on the point of extinction. intellectuals; the masses have no entry here.
All these Vedantic movements that we see While reading The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna,
are superficial, like mere book-learning we wonder if anyone can reach up to Sri
in universities. People are becoming only Ramakrishnas expectations.
scholars bereft of renunciation. Maharaj: Who told you that Sri Rama-
Because of the printing press, this time krishna is only for the intellectuals? Didnt
ideas will be preserved. Later on, people will he do hari nama sankirtana (chanting the
come who will put it into practice. name of Hari) along with the devotees?
Just imagine what great fun it will be Didnt he ask Trailokya Babu to arrange for a
when I will be able to watch clearly, keeping theatre performance? And has Sri Chaitanya
myself separate, the play of the vital force- instructed us only to sing kirtan, hold holy
mind-intellect inside the body! After a month, feasts, and eat consecrated food? Can anyone
we find that our hair has grown an inch. Did but an intelligent person grasp the significance
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I G U R R A M R A G H AVA R A O, V I J AYAWA D A

it grow that long in a single day? It grows bit of his life?


by bit every day. As soon as a little food enters Actually, Sri Chaitanya and Sri Rama-
the stomach, immediately what a commotion krishna have left behind an ideal. Did Sri
ensues there! The vital energy sweats out, Ramakrishna ask you to do social service or
trying to extract the nutritive essence. philanthropy? We are using the mould that
The mind runs around the whole day he gave us to serve society. Do you think that
to gather and deliver news; and it seeks only those who deliberate on the philosophy
direction from the intellect. The intellect, like of Sri Ramakrishna follow him, and not those
a blind fellow, sits in one place and gets all who do his service-oriented work, partake of
the work done by the mind. There is another consecrated food, and perform his ritualistic
chapthe chittawho checks with the worship? The crux of the matter is: you follow
samskaras (impressions) and gives directions whatever suits you.
accordingly. At the time of sleep, the mind The life of an incarnation is understood
remains quiescent in the intellect, just as, by different people in different ways; and they
during the daytime, electricity remains in the begin their journey with that understanding.
power house and gets activated only at night. A university teaches different branches
One can sit and watch such play for hours of knowledge from all over the world. A
together. professor with a M.A degree can be taken as a
Attendant: It is better to live in a small representative of the university. Again, when a
ashrama. student who has just passed his matriculation
Maharaj: Instead of trying to choose a examination enters the university, wont
suitable ashrama, it is better to depend on the you call him a university student? He too is
will of Sri Ramakrishna. Whatever work you travelling on the same path.
doin any place, at any timeperform it as a Similarly, all people are travelling on
spiritual discipline. First study the Gita, and the same path some through singing, some
then work. through lecturing, some through meditation,

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 420


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some through japa, and some through study. attempt to reach his ideal, so that in the course
By doing these things, our lives become great. of our efforts our lives become ennobled.
Do you think the followers of Sri Chaitanya It is Swami Vivekanandas wish that
could practice pure devotion from the this time the labouring class should rise. They
beginning? Their lives became ennobled in the definitely will rise, and with them India will
process of practicing devotion. Like them, we rise. Look, without anyones effort, boys of all
have all started along the same path some castes are studying in the schools on their own.
through music, some through lecturing, some The Brahmana, the Kshatriya, and the Vaishya
through meditation, some through japa, and all three are now about to move out. Now the
some again through study. We are making an Shudra will rise and will awaken the country.
t t (To be continued. . .)

Subodh Chandra Ghosh and His Guru


One day 18 year old Subodh along with his friend Kshirod came
to meet to Sri Ramakrishna.
Subodh thought that a paramahamsa was some sort of
magician. He had never before spoken to a sadhu or monk,
so he said to Kshirod: You must go first and talk to the holy
man. I don't know the proper etiquette. Kshirod agreed.
They entered the room and saluted Sri Ramakrishna with
folded hands. Kshirod went to the Master, who was seated on his bed. Subodh remained
at the threshold. Where do you come from? asked Sri Ramakrishna. From Calcutta,
Kshirod replied. Pointing to Subodh the Master said: Why is that gentleman standing so
far away? Come nearer. This encouraged Subodh to move closer. Do you not belong to
the family of Shankar Ghosh? asked the Master. Subodh was surprised and said, Yes, sir,
but how did you know it? When I was staying at Jhamapukur, said the Master, I often
visited your home as well as your Kali Temple at Thanthania. That was before you were
born. I knew you would come. Well, the Divine Mother sends here those who will attain
spirituality. You belong to this place. Sir, if I belong to this place, why did you not call me
earlier? asked Subodh. The Master replied, Look, everything happens at the right time.
Sri Ramakrishna held Subodh's hand and closed his eyes for a few minutes. At last he
said: You will attain the goal. Mother says so. He asked Subodh to sit on his bed. No, sir,
said Subodh, I can't sit on your bed. This is my school clothing; it is not fresh. Moreover,
I have touched people on the way and my feet are dusty. The Master forced him to sit on
his bed, saying: You are my very own. What does it matter whether your cloth is clean
or not?
After a while the Master said to Subodh: Mother sends here those who will receive Her
grace. Come here on Tuesdays or Saturdays.
Subodh Chandra Ghosh was later known as Swami Subodhananda.

God Lived With Them, pp.531-532

421 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


15

Defining God
SWAMI SARVAPRIYANANDA

Irrespective of whether we believe in of all definitions of God


God or not, or how we understand God and across Eastern and Western
by what name we call God, most of us have religions and philosophies. It also exemplifies
at some point faced the question What is a fine balance, in philosophical knowledge, of
God? The usual responses to this question are profundity and clarity, of abstract logic and
shrouded either in the rhetoric of blind faith immediate spiritual experience.
or in sheer vagueness. But Vedanta gives a We do have to go through a long and
precise answer and this article is an attempt to sustained argument. However, this journey is
follow this systematic Vedantic understanding not mere hair-splitting argumentation. Just as
and connotation of God. it demands a close attention to the details of
The term that Vedanta uses for God the argument, it equally involves a constant
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I R AV I K U M A R B . , B E N G A LU R U

is Brahman. Brahman, through primordial recognition of what we most habitually


nescience (Maya), is regarded as the cause experience. In other words, we are invited not
of the universethis is Saguna Brahman only to intellectually understand what is said
(Brahman with attributes), which is a close but also to experientially satisfy ourselves that
equivalent to the term God used in theistic it is true.
religions. But, a higher and more profound The best way to approach such a unique
conception of Brahman, is Nirguna Brahman, definition is to set for ourselves three steps
the Absolute, Brahman without attributes. In for its comprehension. First, we should be
what follows, we will take up the challenging able to repeat to ourselves whatever is being
task of defining the Absolute, Nirguna taught, thus ensuring a close familiarity
Brahman. with the text itself. Memorization of the
In Vedanta, the perfect definition of original Upanishadic texts is a good way to
Brahman would be silence. the accomplish this. Second, we should try to
teaching in silence is the evocative phrase intellectually grasp it and strive for clarity
used by Shankaracharya in his Dakshinamurty and comprehension. Third and this requires
stotram. However, for most of us who are less intense focus we should be able to feel its
proficient in the knowledge of Vedanta, such actuality and see it as a living reality. In short,
an approach can appear a little evasive, if not it involves our faculty of understanding (step-
entirely inscrutable. by-step through reason and logic) and feeling.
The definition that we consider here is But can one experience God in reality and not
not only far from vague but has also survived just in faith or conceptualisation? Vedanta
as one of the finest and most systematic declares that this is possible because the self is,

The author is a sannyasi of the Ramakrishna Order and Minister-in-Charge of Vedanta Society, New York.

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 422


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in essence, identical with God. The definition Anantam: The Limitless


of God in Vedanta is actually a definition of In order to understand the full signi-
our true nature (which is always experienced ficance of limitlessness, we need to understand
within ourselves). what limit means. In Vedanta, there are three
The definition of Brahman selected kinds of limits. Something is limited or finite
here, is from the Taittiriya Upanishad and the if it is bound by Space (desa), Time (kala), and
commentary is of Adi Shankaracharya. The Object-ness (vastu).
Taittiriya Upanishad, one of the ten principal If Brahman is truly infinite, Brahman has
Upanishads, is found in the Krishna Yajur no limits or is not bound by space (desa), time
Veda. We can begin with the crucial passage (kala) and object-ness (vastu). In Vedantic
from the second chapter called Brahmananda terms, this is expressed as: Desa Pariccheda
Valli: . (II.1.1) Translated, it Sunyam (No limits in terms of space, or
means that the knower of Brahman attains the Omnipresent), Kala Pariccheda Sunyam (No
highest. This short sentence can be thought of limits in terms of time, or Eternal), and Vastu
as an encapsulation of the whole of Vedanta. Pariccheda Sunyam (No limits in terms of object-
When broken down, it implies that, ness, or in terms of its relation to other objects,
1. There is something called Brahman hence, Non-dual).
2. It is possible to know Brahman This requires some careful thinking.
3. By knowing Brahman, we attain the All objects, as we perceive them, are located
highest. in space and bound by the limits of their
To know Brahman and attain the highest, own spatial dimensions. So, everything has
we must first define Brahman. The Taittiriya a limit in terms of space. This is called Desha
Upanishad answers the question What is Pariccheda. Pariccheda means limiting or
Brahman? with this statement: cutting. So, the way we normally perceive
(Taittiriya Upanishad, II.i.1) Brahman is things is as if they are cut apart from each
Reality-Knowledge-Infinity. other, separate from one another in their
In Sanskrit, the word Brahman comes precise locations in space. It is by virtue
from the root Brh meaning to swell, of this locatedness that we perceive their
expand, grow, or enlarge. It is also a individuality and this individuality is not
neutral noun. It simply means that which only defined by their own attributes but
is vast. It is not a qualifying word, that is, also determined by their interrelatedness
it does not qualify something else as vast. with other objects surrounding them. Now,
When we just say vast without qualifying it or logically, if Brahman is not limited in space,
without it qualifying anything else, we are it means that there is no space (or location)
referring not to something which is vast where Brahman is not. In other words,
but to vastness or infinity itself. Therefore, as Brahman is sarvavyapi or omnipresent. If there
we have derived it from its literal meaning, are no limits in space for Brahman, it is all-
Brahman means infinity or anantam. Anantam pervading.
can be broken up as na antam. Antam Similarly, Kala Pariccheda means limits
means limit. Na antam would, therefore, in time or temporal limits of the existence of
refer to the state of limitlessness. Brahman is something. Every object we know of, every
limitlessness. entity, has a beginning and end in time.

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There is a time when it is created and there book will be included, and whatever is not a
is a time when it is destroyed. That is simply book is excluded from the identity of a book.
creation and destruction, birth and death. The It is another way of saying that a thing is only
Bhagavad Gita (2.27) says, itself, and nothing else. This is called Vastu
meaning death is certain of that is which is Pariccheda. Every entity has this, for without
born. In between birth and death, the entity this there is no identity.
exists. Before birth it did not exist, and after The definition claims that Brahman,
death it will not exist. Every entity we know, being anantam, must be Vastu Pariccheda
from a little ant crawling on the ground to the Sunyam, i.e. not limited to being any particular
stars and galaxies, have a beginning and an entity. What does such a claim entail?
end. If something is not limited to being any
Now let us suppose something does not particular vastu, it means that there is no vastu
have a beginning and an end. It will mean that or entity separate from it. No entity separate
it does not have any limitation in time. Then from Brahman would mean that there is no
what does it mean? It means that that entity second entity apart from Brahman. There is no
always remains. If Brahman is unlimited in second thing apart from Brahman. Whatever
time, then there was no time that Brahman was is, cannot be apart from Brahman. No second
not, and there will be no time when Brahman translates directly as non-dual. Non-duality
will not be. So, in all three periods of time is called advaitam in Sanskrit. Hence, Brahman
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I S A B T H A G I R I S . K . , C H E N N A I

past, present and futureBrahman exists. is advaitam.


Brahman has no beginning and no end. One So, this small term Anantam, packs so
may say that a non-existent entity also has much meaning! Brahman or God, which we
neither a beginning nor an end. But, here we are defining, is omnipresent, eternal and non-
are speaking of Brahman as a positive entity, dual (sarvavyapi, nityam, advaitam). There is no
which has no limitation in time. What would space where Brahman is not, there is no time
that imply? No time limit or kala would imply when it does not exist, and there is nothing
that it is Eternal or Nityam. apart from it.
The third and final kind of limitation is
vastu. Vastu means object. All the things we Satyam: Existence Absolute
see in front of us or around us are objects or So far we have uncovered the meaning
vastu. A bottle of water, a table, the body, the of the term anantam. We can now go to satyam
walls of the room we are sitting in, and all (reality/existence/truth).
things outside, all these are vastu. One may There can be an objection that we have
even extend it to abstract entities such as only defined a concept, but is there really
numbers, which are also vastu of some sort. such an infinite entity? Is this not just a
But how is vastu a limitation? If we have a philosophical abstraction? Moreover, we have
book in our hand, then there are many things put ourselves in a trap because if we say that
that it is not. Because it is a book, it is not a Brahman is all pervasive or sarvavyapi then it
table, it is not a human being, it is not a room must be everywhere. If it is everywhere, then
or a clock or a birdit is only a book. The it must be here. But, when we look around,
moment we say it is a book, it is a book and we do not find Brahman. So, how can we find
whatever comes under the connotation of a Brahman right here? We have said Brahman is

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 424


18

nityam, not limited in time. If it is in all periods mango. He obviously did not eat the seed and
of time, then it should be here right now. So, the skin of the mango. The primary meaning of
how can we find Brahman right now? We have the word mango is the whole fruit, and then,
also said that Brahman is advaitam, non-dual, depending on the context, we use a secondary
and there is no entity apart from Brahman. or implied meaning, whereby by mango we
If Brahman is not different from any object, mean only the edible portion of the fruit. We
then we should be able to find Brahman in any often use language in this way in our daily
object. How do we find this out? usage.
Let us consider this carefully. What we So, we all understand that when we
see in front of us appears to be real or satyam mention something, depending upon the
it exists. So, a piece of paper exists, a table situation we sometimes mean the whole entity
exists, a human being exists, the planet exists, and sometimes a part of that entity.
and so on. The term satyam applies to all these There are different types of lakshana,
entities. So, the question is, are these ordinary different types of implied meaning. What can
objects, Brahman? we do with the contradictory terms satyam
The problem is that none of the objects and anantam? What we need here is something
mentioned above are anantam. Lets take a that is satyam and at the same time anantam
piece of paper. Is it limitless in space? No. Is something that is real and at the same time
it limitless in time? Not at all, it has a point limitless. It has to be all-pervading, it must
of creation and a point in destruction. Is it be eternal, and there should be nothing that
limitless in terms of vastu? Again, not at all! exists apart from it. Let us take a close look at
There are millions of entities that are different the entities we call satyam, real. Whichever
from it. It is not at all non-dual. Yet the entity we regard as satyam, we acknowledge
Upanishads say that satyam is Brahman. Now that it definitely exists. Now, Existence is
we have a contradiction. What we normally common to all of them. So we take existence
consider as satyam has limitations. But the or is-ness. Where do we find this existence?
Upanishads insist that Brahman is both satyam From each and every experience we have.
and anantam. How do we resolve this glaring Everything is experienced as existing. Paper
contradiction? is. Do we feel the paper is not? Then we will
When faced with such language, where not see the paper. When we say, paper is
two terms are used, whose meaning mutually there is a sense of astitva or existence.
contradict each other, Vedanta resorts to the Lets take an example of a room where
use of lakshana or implied meaning. What is we may have two hundred chairs made
meant by implied meaning? of plastic. If we count the chairs, there are
Let us assume that one purchases a 200 entities. But, if we count the plastic, the
mango and then proceeds to eat the mango. material from which these two hundred chairs
Notice the two different senses in which the have been made there is only one entity which
word mango is used. First, when we say the is plastic. So, we take the common entity
person purchased the mango, we mean he which is plastic. In the same way, whenever
purchased the whole mango, but, next, when we have an experience of anything that exists,
we say he ate the mango, we immediately that is real, we have two experiences the
understand that he ate the edible portion of the thing itself and its existence. The entities are

425 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


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differentbook, microphone, glass, bottle, of thinking, we can see that instead of things
man, woman, etc, are different entitiesbut having existence, it is Existence, that appears
existence is common to them all. Can we not as different things.
regard existence as the reality with the name Existence can be appreciated only with
and form of a book, microphone, glass, man or a name and a form. So all these names and
a woman and so on? forms that religions have come up with are all
We can think of it as one ocean of true as manifestations of Existence, or Sat. So,
existence in which the laptop, the book, Existence Itself has no limitation in time, space
the bottle, are all waves. The waves are and object.
different, with different forms, but there is We normally think of Existence as
one continuous mass of water where these a property. But, Existence cannot be a
individual waves exist. Would it be correct to property. Properties distinguish objects
say that water is in the wave or the wave is in from one another. For example, the property
the water? All waves are nothing but water. of a white flower distinguishes it from a
Whenever we see the waves, we see waves and red flower. But Existence does not
water, but more precisely, it is water which differentiate between objects like this.
appears as the wave. The wave is in the water. Each and every one of the objects in the
According to the Vedantic way of thinking world exists. If we add a supposed property
existence is the only reality. Instead of saying of existence to the description of an object,
entities have existence, Vedanta would say it does not change anything except to add a
PA G E S P O N S O R : A D E V O T E E , N E W J E R S E Y

Existence appears as various entities with redundancy.


different names and forms. Brahman is pure Existence. According to
Like water appearing as waves, Existence the Bhagavad Gita:
is appearing as every existing object in the
universe. Now this Existence has no limit. (2:16)
Is there any time, is there any space that The unreal has no existence; the real
Existence is not? If we say that space and time never ceases to be. The truth about both has
are real, then it is Existence which lends them been realized by the seers.
reality. Existence must be there for any reality The Gita affirms, that that which is unreal,
to be predicated. never comes into existence and that which is real,
Thus Existence is not limited to any never goes out of existence. In his commentary
vastu. Anything that is, must have Existence. Is on this verse, Shankaracharya says that in all
there any vastu apart from Existence? Is there our perceptions, we experience two things as
any entity apart from Existence? Logically one. We experience the thing (as name and
speaking, anything that is separated from form) and its existence. But, we mistake it as one
Existence immediately becomes non-existent. experience. Actually, there are two experiences.
If we separate Existence from a book, the book When we say, I see a book, Vedanta says, No,
will immediately disappear. If we remove the you are seeing Book is. There is the experience
water from a wave, the wave will immediately of the name and form of book and also the
disappear. Nothing will be left. We need to experience of existence, is-ness.
extend that understanding to the abstract If we deeply contemplate on existence
concept of Existence. If we change our way everywhere, we will feel that we are in an

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ocean of existence. All the objects around To resolve this contradiction, we need
us will appear to be waves in an ocean of something in jnanam which is anantam. So,
existence; chair, table, man, woman, the sky we will have to take recourse to an implied
and the earththese are waves in the ocean meaning, lakshana. What is common to all
of existence. If we contemplate in this manner, experiences, all jnanam?
we will intuitively feel this ocean of Existence First, we must understand what happens
to be our own Existence. Sat or pure Existence when we experience anything. Let us take the
is our own existence; the object seems to be out example of hearing a sound. Sound travels
there, but its existence is actually borrowed in waves to our ears, where vibrations are
from us. I exist. The whole world is imbued converted into nervous impulses which
with existence borrowed from me. then travel to the brain. In the brain, the
In Sanskrit, the name for this pure nervous impulses are somehow converted
Existence, the is-ness is Sat or pure Existence. into mental vrittis which are then illumined
All the things we see are names and forms. The by consciousness. This gives us the first
book we see is the book name and form plus person experience of sound. So, any jnanam
existence. So, these are compound entities. is actually a vritti, a mental modification plus
This Sat has no limitation in time, space consciousness.
and vastu. It is anantam, limitless. Jnanam (experience) = vritti (mental
modification) + chaitanyam (consciousness)
Jnanam: Knowledge Absolute Different experiences (jnanam) can be
We can now consider Jnanam, the represented as follows:
next term in the definition of Brahman. The Jnanam of a chair = vritti about the chair
Upanishad insists Jnanam Brahma, Knowledge + consciousness
is Brahman. What is meant by knowledge? Jnanam of a book = vritti about the book
Any knowledge that we have, any kind of + consciousness
conscious experience that we have is jnanam. Jnanam of the body = vritti about the
Now, is this jnanam, Brahman? It cannot body + consciousness
be Brahman because all these experiences Jnanam of a thought = vritti about the
are definitely not anantam. None of them are thought + consciousness
all-pervasive. None of these experiences are In Vidyaranya Swamis Panchadasi, we
eternal, none are unlimited in time; these find
are fleeting experiences that come and go.
Every experience is different from every
other experience. One sees something and The objects of sense knowledge (sound,
one hears something. These two experiences sight, taste, touch, and smell) that are
are distinct from one another. There is Vastu perceived in the waking state differ from each
Pariccheda, there is Kala Pariccheda and there other, but the consciousness of these is one.
is Desa Pariccheda in each and every jnanam What we see, what we touch, what we
so jnanam is not anantam. Yet, the Upanishad smell, and what we hear, are all different from
insists jnanam is Brahman, which means it each other. The objects are different from each
has to be anantam. Again, we have a other, experiences are different from each other,
contradiction. and the vrittis too differ from each other; but

427 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


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the consciousness which illumines them all detail, so ananda is not explicitly mentioned
is not different. It is one and the same. That in this definition. However, we may note
consciousness is unlimitedit is anantam. In what that anantam is itself anandalimitlessness,
sense is consciousness not limited in space? In all infinitude, beyond suffering, is real bliss.
experiences, consciousness must be there. Without Swami Vivekananda defined Brahman
consciousness, there can be no experience. With as Existence-Absolute, Knowledge-Absolute,
respect to kala or time, consciousness is present and Bliss-Absolute. Not that God or Brahman
at all times and is unlimited in time. In all our exists, It is Existence Itself. Not that Brahman
waking life, dream life, and even in deep sleep, knows something, It is Knowledge Itself. Not
consciousness alone enables all experience. There that Brahman is happy, It is Bliss Itself.
must be consciousness even in deep sleep, which Where is Brahman? The question should
experiences the blankness and restfulness of deep actually bewhere is it not? The question is
sleep. not, How can I experience it?, the question
How is consciousness not limited by should be, How can I not experience it?
vastu? No vastu, or object, can be experienced Swami Ashokananda once said, If someone
apart from consciousness. As far as experience asks what is proof of the existence of God? The
is concerned, consciousness is non-dual. answer would be that it is a foolish question.
PA G E S P O N S O R : P R O F. R A D H A K R I S H N A N S . , T H R I S S U R

Consciousness itself is unlimited in time, Every experience proves the existence of


unlimited in space and unlimited by any this God. If we learn to see experiences
particular experience of any particular object. through the lens of this definition, then every
So, it is Desha-Kala-Vastu Pariccheda Sunyam. experience is God-experience!
Hence, it is anantam and fits with the definition The Isha Upanishad proclaims:_
of anantam Brahma. In Vedanta, this unlimited
consciousness is known as Chit. 6
Thus, Sat and Chit, pure Existence and pure One who perceives in the Atman
Consciousness, is Brahman. It is also intimately everything, and in the same way Atman in
felt as our own inner reality. It is what we are. everything, does not hate.
Satyam Jnanam Anantam is Brahman, and we are
in reality, this very same Brahman. 7
When to the man of realization all beings
Brahman as Infinite Existence become the very Self, then what delusion and
Consciousness what sorrow can there be for that seer of oneness?
We come to the understanding that I see myself in all beings and I see
the definition of Brahman according to the all beings in me. If I am Existence and
Upanishads is Sat Chit Anantam unlimited Consciousness, I must be there in everything. It
Existence and unlimited Consciousness. At this has to be true otherwise these things would not
point, one must also consider, ananda, bliss. It exist. I am there in every experience. I become
is common to speak of Brahman as Sat-Chit- one with the universe. This is the fulfillment
AnandaExistence-Consciousness-Bliss. The of all human goals and aspirations. This is the
Taittiriya Upanishad has separately considered attainment of supreme bliss and transcendence
the question of Brahman as ananda in some of suffering.

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 428


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14

Heritage Heroes
BR. LOKAHITACHAITANYA

Tokhu Emong
Nagaland has sixteen tribes and sub- NOVEMBER 2017
tribesAngami, Konayak, Zeliang, Kuki, SOME SPECIAL DAYS
Ao, Phom, Khiamniungam, Yimchungru, 1 Swami Subodhananda Jayanti
Sangtam, Lotha, Sumi, Chang, Pochury, 3 Swami Vijnanananda Jayanti
Chakhesang, Kachari and Rengema. These tribes 4 Guru Nanak Jayanti
have their own distinct customs, language and attire. 7 Tokhu Emong
28 Swami Premananda Jayanti
Wokha, a district headquarters in Nagaland, is the home to the
Lothas. It is situated in the mid-western part of Nagaland, surrounded by beautiful hills, waterfalls, green
valleys and lakes.
The Lothas celebrate their post-harvest festival Tokhu Emong in the month of
November. Every year it begins on 7 November and lasts for 9 days. Tokhu means moving
from house to house, rejoicing and taking food and drinks, and Emong means pause at
the appointed time. The village priest proclaims the date of Tokhu Emong and during the
festival period the Lothas above 12 years of age move in respective age groups from house
to house, eating, drinking, and performing folk dances. The folk songs form an integral
part of the celebration and they eulogise the brave deeds of their ancestors, traditional heroes and
warriors. Tokhu Emong is an excellent example of bringing the fraternity together through mutual love and
forging strong bonds within.

Swami Vijnanananda
Hari Prasanna strongly pinned Sri Ramakrishna to the wall when the latter
challenged him for a wrestling bout. Declaring Hari as the winner, a smiling Sri
Ramakrishna infused into him a spiritual current which lifted his mind into a state
of ecstasy. This power worked wonders and the strong lad became a close disciple of
Sri Ramakrishna, and later an ideal sannyasi.
Hari was born to Taraknath Chattopadhyay and Nakuleswari Devi on
30 October 1868 in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh. He saw Sri Ramakrishna for the first time
at Belgharia when he was only seven. In 1883, he entered St. Xaviers College in Calcutta
and began to visit Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar frequently. He received abundant love and blessings from
Sri Ramakrishna which transformed him completely. In 1887, he obtained his B.A. degree from Patna College,
and in 1892, graduated as a civil engineer from Poona College of Science. He served as a district engineer at

429 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


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Gazipur in Uttar Pradesh and during this period was in constant touch with his brother disciples and served
them in various ways.
When Swami Vivekananda returned from the West he discussed the architectural plan for the future
Ramakrishna Temple with Peshan (abbreviation of Prasanna as addressed by Swamiji). Hari drew up the
plan, and Swamiji finalised it after some revisions. Hari supervised the construction activities at the newly
purchased grounds at Belur Math. On 9 May 1899, he took formal monastic vows and became known as
Swami Vijnanananda. At Swamijis behest, Vijnanananda started a centre at Allahabad. He also supervised
the construction activities of various centres of Ramakrishna Mission. In 1937, he became the fourth president
of the Ramakrishna Order. After four years of construction activity, the new temple of Sri Ramakrishna as
envisaged by Swami Vivekananda was finally built and consecrated by Swami Vijnanananda on 14 January
1938. After the consecration, he remarked, Now my work is over. Today I am relieved of the responsibility that
Swamiji entrusted to me. Swami Vijnananandas efforts and his contribution towards the spiritual welfare of
mankind will ever shine in the annals of the Ramakrishna Order. He attained Mahasamadhi on 25 April 1938.

Swami Premananda
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I G . N . M U R T H Y, C O I M B AT O R E

He is pure, pure to the very marrow of his bonesthis is how Sri Ramakrishna
described a young lad of twenty named Baburam Ghosh. He was a nityasiddha, an
ishwarakoti who played a pivotal role in the divine play of Sri Ramakrishna. Baburam
Ghosh was born to Taraprasanna Ghosh and Matangini Devi on 10 December 1861
in Antpur, a village thirty miles from Calcutta. He showed monastic disposition
from his childhood and when he moved to Calcutta for higher studies, he came in
touch with Rakhal (later Swami Brahmananda) who took him to Sri Ramakrishna.
Sri Ramakrishna examined this young lad, and in a vision perceived him as a partial
manifestation of Sri Radha. Sri Ramakrishna allowed Baburam to stay with him and the
lad served his guru with great devotion.
He received the ochre robe from Sri Ramakrishna at Cossipore. Later, after Sri Ramakrishnas
mahasamadhi, he along with other brother disciples took the formal vows of sannyasa and assumed the
nameSwami Premananda. He visited Puri, Varanasi, Vrindaban and other places and practiced intense
spiritual disciplines. After returning from the West, Swami Vivekananda tasked Premananda Maharaj with
the responsibility of managing the daily affairs of the Belur Math. In this role, he endeared himself to one
and all by his loving disposition, self-surrender and devotion and came to be known as the Mother of the
Math. He became one of the trustees of the Math and trained novices who joined the order in the ways of
renunciation and service. He undertook extensive preaching tour in East Bengal from 1913 to 1917 and attracted
a huge following for the growing movement. His love and service remains unparalleled in the history of the
Ramakrishna Order. He attained Mahasamadhi on 30 July 1918.

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 430


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Dimensions of Realities
SWAMI SUNIRMALANANDA

In the Net of Everything our cars got connected, thanks to GPS. And
Though the internet of sorts was there then, our refrigerators. Now, everything is
since about 1975, it grew globally during the connected to everything else. When we are
90s. Jaron Lanier coined the term Virtual Reality driving, our car is in touch with other cars, and
(VR) in 1981. A decade later, in 1990, we had so on.
the World Wide Web, first made for CERN and Initially, our gateway to Virtual Reality
then quickly exploding over the globe. In the was our computer or mobile phone. To
same year, the term Augmented Reality (AR) experience Augmented Reality, we now, for
came into existence. Reality, Virtual Reality, instance, use google glasses. This helps us to see
Augmented Reality and Ubiquitous Realityall more than what we would see, our earphones
arriving in quick succession. help us hear more than what we would hear,
Virtual Reality (VR) is a simulation. and thus our experiences are more virtual than
Whether it is on the computer or mobile, its real. However, these accessories may not be
a simulated universe. It is all technological needed in the near future. Why? Because we
creation. Nothing is real, so to say. Augmented will by then be completely inside the world of
Reality (AR) is enhancing the experience of real technological creation. Let us enjoy!
and virtual worlds using data and information. So, VR, AR, and IoT are the names given
AR blends virtual reality and physical reality; to the building blocks of a new universe we
it helps us to interact with the universe around have started living in since the last two decades.
in a better way and guides disciplines like We are living in a world within a worlda
medicine towards better knowledge, work, universe within a universe. We are inside a
and efficient results. Ubiquitous Reality is WWWworldwide web, literally. Everything
the computation of our world; it is somewhat will be connected to the net; which means we
related to AR but does not concern many. shall be living in a huge net, a web.
Augmented Reality has come to stay and Just imagine our world becoming
grow, and is for our experiencing the world in completely internetizedeverything linked
an enhanced (or sometimes diminished) way. to the internet! The time is soon to come when
Augmented Reality has a twin sister. It is the we return home from the office to find unseen
Internet of Things. Internet of Things (IoT) slaves ready to serve us. If we are tired, our
connects everything possible to the Internet, room will sense it. The room will cool itself, our
thus paving the way for augmenting reality in dress will internetically advise us that we need
which we live. to change, our fridge will internetically prepare
Till recently, our computers and mobile our food or inform the supermarket that our
phones were connected to the internet. Then, bread is getting exhausted. Suitable music will
The author, a sannyasi of the Ramakrishna Order is the President of Ramakrishna Vedanta Society, Netherlands.

431 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


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begin to play and the TV will show movies to Creating such worlds for ourselves is not
our liking. The printer will sense that we are something new for us. We have been doing
hungry and print a beautiful pizza for us. Harry this since the beginning of time, if ever there
Potter like situations are soon to come when was one. While we assume that the present
hanging photos become alive. The Ds will generation is the pioneer in creating the Virtual
increase, so to say3D, 4D, 5D. If we wish, Universe or Augmented Reality, such things
we can experience a jungle in our own room. have been going on since ages.
Thus, we will soon live like an emperor. We do Since ancient times, our rishis have
nothing; everything is done internetically. In told us that we have several universes.
the past, emperors had hundreds of servants. They informed us about the real and unreal
But here, the very walls of our house act as our worlds. In Sanskrit, the root as (to be) creates
servants, and our travels, purchases, workplace, the word sat (being) and thence come satta
treatmenteverything is going to change. So (existence) or satya (truth). So, the reality is
they say. called satta. Vedanta uses this word to explain
And we shall be a lazy subject of the the different worlds we live in. Vedanta has
internet, living inside the net of everything or given the clearest indications about how we
the IoT. We will be left confused about which idealize the universe around us. It calls our
world is real, which is augmented or fake, awareness of the universe in the waking
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I G O P I N AT H K . S . , B E N G A LU R U

which one to believe in. Whether we like this or state Vyavaharika Satta. The world which we
not, we have no escape. However, the question consider so real is where we live and
will haunt us. interact during our waking state. Suddenly
Which world is real? we fall asleep. When we are asleep, we have
dreams. During dreams, we are aware of a
The Reality of the Real Universe different universe. In a day, almost 40% of
In one of his stories to the BBC, considered our time is spent in a different universe in
one of the Best of BBC in 2016, Philip Ball sleep. That universe is called Pratibhasika
wrote: Several physicists, cosmologists, and Satta (apparent universe). Pratibhasa means
technologists are now happy to entertain the idea appearance. Until our ego disconnects from
that we are all living inside a gigantic computer that apparent universe, it is as real for us as it
simulation, experiencing aMatrix-style virtual is when we experience the everyday world in
world that we mistakenly think is real.1 the waking state. So we have two universes to
If this is true, our situation is precarious. live in. When we wake up, our apparent world
There is no real world at all. So where is the disappears, as it were, but its memory lingers.
real world or universe? We have already had There is, however, one extraordinary difference
a virtual world and we have been creating for between the Pratibhasika Satta (imagined)
ourselves another world within a worlda universe of dreams and the Vyavaharika
labyrinthto live in. Satta (actual) universe of the waking state.
While there is no surety that we shall return
to the same universe every night in sleep,
while waking, we are certain to return to the
same universeof our own family, friends,
workplace, etc.

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 432


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This makes us think that this waking in the swapna universe. But while someone is
universe, though pundits and scientists may drunk or drugged or mentally ill, he apparently
call it fake, is absolutely real. Unfortunately, enters into another universe. Even normal
however, we forget some factors of this waking persons seem to live in imaginary worlds. And
universe. First, this too is a memory only. at that moment, that universe is absolutely real
Second, we are constantly changing and so is for them.
the so-called real universe. Third, what we What does all this mean? It means we
think is solid and firm ground is not so solid, must be alert and awake. We should not get
after all. We wish it was real and want it to be confused. Vedanta comes to our rescue here.
permanent and real. Vedanta does not try to force us to become
So, the question arises againIs this religious. All it wants to do is tell us certain
universe of the waking state real? It is not real simple facts of the universe.
because when we sleep we are unaware of it So what is real and what is not real
and when we wake-up things keep changing; according to Vedanta?
when we are happy it appears joyful and when According to Vedanta, there is the
we are sad it appears miserable. It is all in the Paramarthika Satta or the Paramarthika Reality
mind. So nothing is as real as we want it to be. (PR). This alone is real. Paramarthika means the
This is the plain fact. absolute or spiritual. That plane of Reality is
Vedanta pointed this out ages ago. The the only Reality. It is the ground, the base, the
Buddhists went a step further when Nagarjuna foundation for everything else. This ground of
said that the universe we think to be real everything is what is called Consciousness. The
is virtualshunya. Several Indian thinkers rest is superimposition or creation. So, through
gave several viewpoints about the universe. the maze or labyrinth of universes, Vedanta
Edmund Husserl and his followers recently wishes to lead us to the Real universe, the
gave phenomenology to the world and said that Paramarthika Satta.
the external universe is the suggestion and the Starting from Virtual Reality through
ideation happens within. Augmented Reality to pratibhasika reality, all
fake universes are creations of the processor
The Story of the Sattas internal and external. The processor may be
We began by saying that technology an external device or the internal brain itself.
is creating the illusory Virtual Reality and So, these processors are creating universes
the semi-real Augmented Reality. We also and holding on to them. Until this moment,
noted that the real universe we live in is not the gateway to information technology is
as solid as we think it to be. Furthermore, we the mobile and the computer. Soon, we shall
recognised the fact that every day we live in eliminate all gateways and gadgets. We shall be
two universesthe so-called real, and the experiencing the universe without the help of
dream universe. instruments. And as we get accustomed to the
Vedanta too speaks of other universes. new universe, it will become inseparable from
Extending the scope of the apparent universe our system. Which means our brain shall tease
(pratibhasika) to be more than the dream us into believing in a universe which is created.
universe, we can divide it into Pratibhasika Satta And this created universe is within another
and Swapna Satta. That is, in dream we live
(Continued on page 34)

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Article

Universal Liberation, Salvation, and


Restoration in Indian and Western Thought
GOPAL STAVIG

(Continued from the previous issue. . .)

Universal Restoration the world, since all bodies will be revolved


According to the Doctrine of Universal into spirit, all place into a non-extended
Restoration, the earth or possibly the entire simplicity, all time into eternity. supported
universe will be spiritualized in the future by the Holy Scriptures which clearly state that
and all of its inhabitants will reach a state of all human bodies shall share the same glory
perfection at the same time. and power in the same spiritual and immortal
The Neoplatonic Irish religious and eternal state. For this comes to all men
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I V E N K ATA R A O G . , H Y D E R A B A D

philosopher Johannes Scotus Erigena (c. 810- generally without discrimination from nature
77) of the Dark Ages in Europe supported the and from grace.33 Next, there is a unification
Doctrine Universal Restoration (Apokatastasis), of the whole sensible creature, followed by a
that everyone will be purified and the entire transformation into the intelligible [spiritual],
world will become perfect. In the life to come so that the universal creature becomes
when they return into their former glory of intelligible. Finally, the universal creature
the Divine Image to which they were created, shall be unified with its Creator, and shall be
raised above all things they shall see their God in Him and with Him One. And this is the
face to face, in so far as it is given to the end of all things visible and invisible, for all
comprehensible and intelligible creature to visible things shall pass into intelligibles, and
behold the incomprehensible and unintelligible all intelligibles into God Himself.34 One will
Cause of the Universe. evil and death pass beyond all the laws and limitations of
and unhappiness are contrary to the nature nature and on that superessential plane be
which has been created by God, nothing transformed into God Himself, and shall be
contrary to the Divine Goodness and Life and in Him and with Him One. and lastly, the
Blessedness can be coeternal herewith. For the supernatural merging of the perfectly purified
Divine goodness shall consume evil, eternal souls into God Himself.35
life shall swallow up death, Blessedness shall Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975)
absorb unhappiness. when the world comes points out that, All individuals are destined
to an end, there will be neither corporeal nor to gain eternal life, for as a Hindu text says, we
sensible entities nor space nor time in which are the children of immortality. The destiny
we could conceive those torments taking place. of the human soul is to realize its oneness with
For all these things will come to an end with the supreme.36 The end of human existence
The author is a member of Vedanta Society of Southern California, USA.

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 434


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is perfection, which is not ascent to a heaven Hindu and Buddhist reincarnationists teach
above but is ascent to the spirit within. The a long, natural and positive progress of
new birth for which humanity awaits is not personal evolutionary development, through
a post-mortem salvation but is spiritualized innumerable incarnations on earth and other
humanity. When the incarnation of God is worlds until the person attains an eternal
realized, not only in a few individuals but in Divine state of existence. All people will
the whole of humanity, we will have the new eventually discover their innate Divinity
creation, the new race of men and women, and attain to a state of perfection. If one
mankind transformed, redeemed, and reborn, accepts this view, then the objections raised
and a world created anew. This is the destiny by the traditional Christians against the
of the world, the supreme spiritual ideal.37 At ultra-Universalists and Restorationists are
the end of the world process, humanity will nullified. A Reincarnationist acknowledges
be spiritualized and all people will attain to the transforming power of Brahman-Gods
eternal life. To transform people into prophets grace, Divine justice, justification by faith,
and to establish a state of cosmic unity is the atonement of the Divine Incarnation,
the goal of evolutionary history. There will redemption, the responsibility of people to live
be a universal redemption where all people a good moral life, and realizes the importance
will realize their Divinity. Humanity will be of religion in realizing these goals.39 All people
liberated at the end of the cosmic process when at different paces are gradually working
the world drama has been played out. When toward eventual liberation and salvation, but
the world process reaches its consummation an exemplary standard must first be reached.
point, the historical process will cease, and Brahman-God does not save all people in the
time will come to an end.38 universe at one point in time, since the Lord
desires to perpetuate the creation. If Gods
Some Discussion antecedent will is for all people to be saved
There are three views concerning the (1 Tim. 2:3-4) and His consequent will is that
universal liberation and salvation process. some should be damned, then God is not
First, the ultra-Universalists hold that all immutable since there is a change in His will.
people no matter what kind of life they lived About being liberated or saved there are
are saved at the moment of death. This idea two views. One is of gradual salvation (Krama
is subject to the criticism that if this were Mukti) that at death, all liberated people
so, there would be little need for religion or proceed to a higher world where they undergo
for living a moral or spiritual life. For that a period of ongoing progressive sanctification
reason, many Christians who believe that leading to final liberation and salvation. For
a person lives only one life on earth cannot example, the Nondualist Sri Shankaracharya
accept universal salvation. Second, according affirmed that devotees who correctly worship
to the Restorationists, the wicked enter a the Personal God (Ishvara) proceed to the
purgatory of punishment at death, which third order of heaven (Brahmaloka) at death,
purifies them and makes them virtuous. and undergo a process of gradual purification
Critics might reply that in this world suffering and illumination. Those who proceed along
often does not make a person virtuous and this path of the gods do not return to this
can cause a person to be resentful. Third, human cycle of birth and death. But non-

435 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


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return stands as an accomplished fact for Final Cause (telos) states that events are best
those from whom the darkness (of ignorance) explained in reference to some end, purpose,
has been completely removed as a result of or goal to which they are moving toward.
their full illumination.40 Moreover having We can think of liberation and salvation
transcended both hunger and thirst and as a final cause, that which like a magnet
having crossed over sorrowbeing free naturally attracts or draws us to it. In the
from mental unhappiness, one rejoices; in the evolutionary development of humans, there
Divine heavenly world.41 They see Ishvara is a gradual unfolding of consciousness in
(Personal God) face to face and experience successive stages. Eventually, the last stage
His bliss in the emancipated state, though is reached when all humans have Brahman-
there remains a sense of separateness. In the God consciousness. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)
joyful beatified state, the released soul gets mentioned that all things strive for their own
all the Divine powers except that of running perfection where all of the potentialities within
the universe (with its creation, continuance, their nature are realized. The final cause and
and dissolution).42 First, there is the vision of ultimate object of desire is Brahman-God and
God, then participation in God, and ultimately our innate divinity. The weaker version of the
absolute identity with God. After living with Doctrine of Final Cause is a form of functional
God until the end of the cosmic cycle, the causality, where our present activity functions
soul ultimately attains to oneness with God in the direction of our desired goals. In the
by merging with the transpersonal nondual stronger version, the future actually exerts
Brahman. In this state, there is neither subject a pull on our activity in that direction. The
PA G E S P O N S O R : A D E V O T E E , C H E N N A I

nor object, self or the world.43 Hidden Plan of Nature, the basic teleological
The second idea is that the liberated or principle is that all life is slowly evolving and
saved soul immediately or quickly attains to will eventually be liberated and reach a state
the highest and final state. The Doctrine of of perfection.
(Concluded.)

References
33. Johannes Scotus Erigena, Periphyseon, V, ed. I. P. 39. Joseph Bettis, Is Karl Barth a Universalists?,
Sheldon-Williams and John OMeara (Montreal: Scottish Journal of Theology 20 (1967), pp. 425-428,
Bellarmin, 1987), V, pp. 602, 615, 673 (926C-27A, 436, discusses arguments used against universal
938D, 988A-B). salvation.
34 Erigena (1987), V, p. 563, (893D-94A). 40. Shankara, Brahma Sutra Bhasya, tr. Swami
35 Erigena (1987), V, pp. 712-13, (1020A-21A). Gambhirananda (Hereafter BSB)(Calcutta:
36. S. Radhakrishnan, An Idealist View of Life (New Advaita Ashrama, 1996), IV:4.22.
York: Barnes & Noble (1932, 1964), p. 244; Lal 41. Shankara, Commentary on Katha Upanishads, ed.
(1989), p. 283. Swami Gambhirananda, (Calcutta; Advaita
37 Troy Organ, Radhakrishnan and the Ways of Oneness Ashrama, 1987), I:1.12.
of East and West (Athens: Ohio University Press, 42 BSB, IV:4.17.
1989), pp. 115-17. 43 Radhakrishnan, II, pp. 643-48; BSB, IV:3.10-11; 4:3,
38 Lal (1989), pp. 285-86. 17, 21-22.

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 436


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Approach the wise sages, offer reverential salutations, repeatedly ask proper
questions, serve them and thus know the Truth. Bhagavad Gita

Pariprasna
Q & A with Srimat Swami Vireswarananda Maharaj
(1892 to 1985), 10th President of the Ramakrishna Order.

Readers can mail us their questions on religious and spiritual matters.

Question: Maharaj, is thinking about the details of work a sadhana too?


Maharaj: Since all work is associated with Thakur, thinking about the details of work with
a view to attaining perfection is also good. The whole days work should be examined at the end
of the day before we go to sleep. Such introspection will help us to detect the defects in our work
and also to know the attitude with which we have worked. We can thus rectify our defects.

Question: Which one should be given prioritywork or meditation?


Maharaj: Both are equally important. In the Gita, you get the answer:
(5.4)
Childlike or immature people, not the wise, speak of Self- knowledge and Yoga of action,
as distinct; he, who is truly established in One, gains the fruits of both. If a conflict between work
and meditation comes, go for work in the spirit of service.

Question: But Maharaj, will not emphasis on a particular Yoga, depend on individual
temperament?
Maharaj: No, there is no place for individual temperament or lifestyle here. Mould
your character combining all the four Yogas with more emphasis on Karma Yoga. Swami
Shuddhanandaji complained to Swamiji that he was exhorting them to work and discouraging
their desire for intense spiritual practices though he and his other brothers had practised rigorous
sadhana. Swamiji replied: If you desire to do intense spiritual practices, you should have come
earlier. Now, it is already late. It is now the time for work. You must work. Swamiji knew that
the coming generation would not be able to exclusively undertake an all-absorbing sadhana. So,
he introduced this service aspect.

Question: Where is the place of the guru in a spiritual life?


Maharaj: What is the role of the teachers in your education? Where is the place of the
professor under whom you do some research work or write a thesis for a Ph.D? The same
answer is applicable here too. You are given certain directions along which you shall
have to proceed and the rest of it, you shall have to do yourself. The guru
will help now and then when you are going wrong or when you are
stuck up in your endeavours. Just as you work in a laboratory under a

437 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


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professor for your research, here too, you are guided by a person and according
to his instructions, you move ahead. Swami Brahmanandaji once answered the
question Is there any need for a guru? by saying, Even a pickpocket needs a
guru to learn the art of picking someones pocket and for Brahma-Vidya (Self
Knowledge) do you think that no guru is necessary? So, for any subject, you
cannot progress without the learned help from outside.

Question: How long should I meditate?


Maharaj: You may do meditation as long as you can, but be careful that you do not strain
yourself too much. Though you may feel joy at the beginning, you may tax your nerves and a
reaction may set in after some time. You must have sufficient rest and sleep at night so that you
feel refreshed when you sit for meditation in the early hours of the morning. You must take rest
and sleep for six hours at least. If, for any reason, that is not possible at night and your habit is to
get up very early in the morning, then make up the deficiency by taking a little nap after lunch.
Often at the beginning, when our health is good and nerves are strong, we may not feel the
deficiency in rest and sleep, but the accumulated strain will affect us in the long run.

Question: Beginners are not always able to meditate for long. What is the remedy?
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I A N A N D VA S U D E VA N , C H E N N A I

Maharaj: Do not feel depressed as you are not able to meditate for long or see the form of
your deity in the heart. It will come by practice. But do not meditate between the eyebrows. That
is risky. You may be able to keep the mind fixed there for some time while you cannot do it in
the heart, but later, it may result in physical or mental disorders. It may strain your nerves and
you may get a nervous breakdown or constant pain in the head etc. Practise meditation and japa
regularly and everything will be set right through the grace of Sri Ramakrishna.

Question: But, Maharaj, the point is why do we get distracted and lose our concentration
when we sit for our spiritual practice? Is there no remedy?
Maharaj: You see, at the beginning, for some time the mind remains restless and gets
disturbed by small things. So, concentration is difficult at the initial stage. But do not be depressed
at that. It is common experience with all beginners. Keep to the practice with determination
and bring the mind back again and again to the object of worship and meditation, if you find
it has wandered away. These are but desires that make the mind restless and concentration,
difficult. Renounce these desires through discrimination (vichara) and purify your mind; then
you shall have concentration. Practice and vairagya (dispassion) are the only two means to get
concentration of mind. By vairagya I mean discrimination and weeding out all desires (vasanas)
from the mind, thus making the mind purer and purer. When the mind becomes pure, you shall
be able to meditate well and derive great joy. The struggle will be there for one or two years at
least. So, stick to spiritual practices daily and routinely and all your difficulties will go
away. Concentration does not come so easily; you go on with your practice regularly and
in course of time, you shall have good concentration.

Selections from Swami Vireswarananda: A Divine Life

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 438


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Wisdom of the Navayogis


L. HARIHARAN DHANI

In the Srimad Bhagavata there is an The Jiva enjoys the sense objects with
interesting interaction between King Nimi the senses manifested by the Inner Ruler (the
and the Navayogis or nine YogisKavi, Lord as the pervader), and in the course of
Hari, Antariksha, Prabuddha, Pippalayana, it, comes to think of the body as his self, and
Avirhotra, Drumila, Chamasa, Karabhajana gets irrevocably attached to it and suffers the
who roamed over the world being established travails of Samsara. As a result the embodied
in the experience of the whole world as the being performs work with the organs of action
form of the Lord. King Nimi asks the Yogis generating new tendencies and wanders in
some fundamental questions. What follows the transmigratory existence assuming body
below is a condensation of the answers after body to enjoy pleasant and unpleasant
given by three NavayogisAntariksha, fruits of its actions.
Prabuddha and Pippalayana. When the dissolution of the
King Nimi desires to know of five gross elements is due, Time
the nature of Maya, the deluding the limitless withdraws the whole
potency of the Lord, which universe, both in its gross and subtle
bewilders even those who a r e aspects from the manifested to
adept in conjuring tricks. the unmanifested state just as
Antariksha answers: fire enters its unmanifest state
Maya is that power by when divested of fuel. In short,
which the Supreme Being, the during dissolution, the earth is
soul of all and the first cause, formed, out reconverted into the state of water, which in
of the primordial categories which He himself turn is reduced to the state of fire, which in
had projected, the bodies of beings high and turn merges into air, which in turn merges into
low, so that with these bodies they might have ether, which in turn merges into ego, which
the enjoyments and sufferings due to them in turn merges into the Mahattattva, which
by virtue of their Karma, and also that those in turn merges into Prakrti or the elemental
who are devoted to Him might attain release Nature, which in turn merges into Brahman.
from Samsara. Having entered all forms of life King Nimi then desires to know how
evolved by means of the five gross elements, even men of gross intellect, who have no
the Supreme Person diversifies Himself as control over the senses can easily get over the
one (Mind) and further into ten (Indriyas), divine Maya.
and makes the Jivas enjoy pleasure and pain Now Prabuddha answers: Learning
through them. the ways of life of the Lords devotees and

The author resides in Mumbai.

439 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


33

devoted to Him, his devotion developing into d) see the Atman pervading all, live in
divine love, the devotee easily crosses the solitude, wear pure clothes or rags stitched
unfathomable Maya. One desirous of knowing together and feel satisfied with whatever
the highest good should resort to a preceptor comes as food,
who is versed in the Vedas, has realised e) have faith in the scriptures celebrating
the ultimate Reality and who is free from the Lord, without disparaging other scriptures,
attachment and hatred. Under the preceptor, curb his mind, speech and actions through
whom one should love as ones own self and control of breath, tongue and activity
render devoted service, one should learn the respectively.
ways of life of the Lords devotees; this will f) hear, sing and dwell on the story of
please Sri Hari and He will give Himself away the advent, pastimes and excellences of the
to His devotees. Lord of wonderful deeds and do everything
One must observe how human beings for pleasing Him.
striving to gain happiness and remove misery, g) offer to the Lord all his sacrificial
obtain only contrary results. What happiness activities, gifts, austerities, Japa, righteous
can be derived from wealth, which is difficult conduct and all that he likes for himself his
to obtain and can be earned only by means wife, children, house and his very life.
of constant painful effort and which leads to h) love devotedly those persons who
ones death? What joy can one get from the have realised the Lord as the soul and master
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I S A D A G O PA N C . , C H E N N A I

possession of houses, children, friends or of all, and


relations and cattle, transient as they are, and i) expound and discuss among the
the fruit of ones actions? Similarly, what real devotees the sacred glory of the Lord.
joy can one expect from the heavenly regions The king next asks the yogis to explain
which are also transient, which are attained the real nature of Paramatman or Brahman.
by the fruits of ones actions and where, as in This question is answered by Pippalayana:
this world, is seen rivalry with ones superiors, That is the Supreme Reality, which is
discord with ones equals, and hatred towards responsible for the creation, sustenance and
those inferior to oneself. dissolution of this universe, and Itself has no
Therefore, one who wishes to get out of cause of Its own. It exists in all the three states
the clutches of Maya should learn to: of consciousness waking, dream and deep
a) detach his mind from all objects (body, sleep, as well as in the Supra-conscious state
children, etc.) and develop attachment to the which is beyond these three states. It enlivens
Lords devotees, and activises the body, senses, breath and the
b) s i n c e r e l y c h e r i s h c o m p a s s i o n , mind.
friendliness and humility towards ones Just as sparks coming from a fire do not
inferiors, equals and superiors respectively, illumine or burn that fire, the entities born
c) a c q u i r e p u r i t y ( e x t e r n a l a n d of Him like the mind, speech, eye, intellect,
internal), devotion to his religious duties, life-breath and senses cannot grasp or reveal
endurance, control over speech, sincerity, the ultimate Reality. It is incomprehensible
continence, non-violence, study scriptures, and and it alone shines as the Devatas, the senses,
maintain evenness of mind under the stress of their objects and the experiences of pain and
dualities, pleasure. Thus, It is the cause of both the

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 440


34

gross effect and the subtle cause. It is never When the heart is purified, the truth of
born and will never die, neither grows nor the Atman shines in it, just as the light of the
undergoes decay, because It is the witness of sun shines to the clear eyes, so too the truth
the different states of those objects which come of the Self is revealed to the pure heart of the
into existence and die away. It is omnipresent man who is earnestly devoted to the Lord and
and eternally abiding pure consciousness, yet intensely desires to obtain His holy feet, and
like Prana (life-breath) It appears as many has thus freed his mind from the impurities
under the influence of the senses. When the born of qualities and actions.
senses and the ego are dissolved in deep sleep, Serving the Lord with deep devotion,
It remains as Pure Consciousness, changeless destroys the impurities of the heart created by
and without any adjunct. It continues even in the life of the body and the senses. And such
the state of deep sleep, which is proved by the a purified heart perceives the truth of the Self,
fact that on waking we remember the Brahman just as eyes, cured of cataract or other diseases,
as the witness of the enjoyment of sound sleep. clearly perceives the light of the sun.
Reference: Srimad Bhagavata, 11:3:1-40

Dimensions of Realities Continued from page 26


created universe, which is within another. in the desert and taking it for real, and then
Goodness, gracious! again seeing it with the awareness that it is
The Uddhava Gita (23.21) says: only a mirage. In both cases, the mirage is still
there. We were deluded when we were not
aware that it was a mirage. But the moment we
Listen, O human being! That which is not recognised it as a mirage, we were freed from
before you in the future or was there before, will that delusion.
not be there now also. So hold on to the Real So, let us wake up and study
alone. Vedanta. Let us be wise enough to
We have already reached a point of no know what is real and what is not real.
return. The IoT is sucking and throwing us Knowledge is power. Let us pray with the
into a huge net. It seems useful, of course. But glorious Vedic sage, From the unreal, lead me
let us be watchful. It is like seeing a mirage to the Real.

Reference: 1. Philip Ball, We might live in a computer program, but it may not matter in BBC Earth 5 September
2016

Great men who see into the heart of things and understand their good sides look upon
the age of Kali with greater favour than the other ages. For in this age, man attains
to his goal merely by extolling His names and excellences. For Jivas entangled in the
transmigratory cycle, there is no better means than taking the Lords name and singing
His praise for the attainment of peace, enlightenment and liberation.
Srimad Bhagavata, 11.5, 36-37

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Shankha and Chakra


GOKUL MUTHU

This is an interesting imaginary The world will always be imperfect. Work


conversation between a devotee of done is only a means for our own inner
Ramakrishna Math, Ulsuru, Bengaluru and a development.
visitor to that ashrama. Shankha represents Jnana. Shankha is an
Visitor: I saw shankha (conch) and chakra indication of sound. Knowledge is transmitted
(discus) depicted on the wall in front of the from the guru to the disciple through
temple. Is this a Vishnu temple? teaching in the form of sound. The sound of
Devotee: We believe that Shiva, Vishnu, a shankha resembles the sound of Om, which
Devi, Ganesha, Hanuman, and other gods is interpreted as Atmajnana or knowledge of
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I G O PA L A K R I S H N A B . M . , B E N G A LU R U

are all different ways to approach the the Self. This is also symbolically presented in
same Supreme Lord. We also worship Sri the Bhagavata where Lord Vishnu touches the
Ramakrishna as an incarnation of Lord cheeks of young Dhruva with his shankha and
Vishnu. Independent of that, the shankha and Dhruva instantly has Atmajnana.
chakra represent the motto of the Ramakrishna Visitor: Oh, that is very nice. Swami
Math and Ramakrishna Mission that Swami Vivekananda talks of four Yogas. What about
Vivekananda coined as the other two?
, which means For ones own Devotee: Yes. They are represented by
salvation, and for the welfare of the world. the other two things in the hands of Lord
Visitor: Yes. I have heard of that motto. Vishnu. Gada or mace is a symbol of Raja
But how is that motto related to shankha and Yoga, which is mind control. Padma or lotus is
chakra? a symbol of Bhakti Yoga.
Devotee: The chakra represents Karma The mace is heavy and is used to smite
Yoga, which is Jagat hitaya ca. The shankha and control. It is an indication of mind control.
represents Jnana Yoga, which is Aatmano When we want to lift something heavy, we
mokshartam. The cakra is constantly turning. usually hold our breath. Thus the heavy mace
It is an indication of activity. It is called indicates pranayama, one of the important
Sudarshana Chakra. It is the auspicious techniques to control the mind.
wheel of righteousness. It indicates that for The Padma is in the shape of the heart,
an activity to be Karma Yoga, it should be the seat of all emotions, particularly love.
performed with the right attitude. The right When the devotee feels love for God, it is
attitude towards work is to perform it as an felt in the heart as an inner ethereal glow.
offering to God. The constant turning also God is meditated as seated in the heart. Gita
indicates that there will be no end to work. says, (18:61)

Sri Gokulmuthu N. works as a software engineer in Bengaluru.

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 442


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God is seated in the heart region of all the higher of the four goals of life called
living beings. Lotus has its origin in the purusharthas. When Swami Vivekananda
mud below the water. Bhakti Yoga has the coined the motto, these two are indicated.
capacity to elevate a sinner into a saint. jagat hitaya indicates dharma. atmano
Gita says, mokshartham indicates moksha.
(9:30) If even a very wicked Visitor: What does Swami Vivekananda
person worships Me with unwavering faith say about the other two goals: artha and kama?
and devotion, he should be regarded as Devotee: Swami Vivekananda does
righteous. not talk much about them. However, Sri
Visitor: But only shanka and charka are Ramakrishna repeatedly refers to them.
depicted on the wall. Why not depict the other renunciation of lust and greed
two Yogas as well? is an expression that can be found again and
Devotee: Raja Yoga is also represented again in The Gospelof Sri Ramakrishna.
by the chakra. Mental activity is also an Visitor: Oh, I have read the Gospel and
activity, though internal. Bhakti Yoga is also have known the motto of the Ramakrishna
represented by shankha. Shankha is also in Math and Mission. However, I never mapped
the shape of the heart. Like the lotus, shankha them to the four goals of life as mentioned in
also has its origin in the mud below the water. the Vedas and other scriptures.
You can see that in many depictions of Lord Devotee: Yes. What Sri Ramakrishna has
Vishnu, the lotus and mace are skipped for talked about in the Gospel is nothing but the
brevity. Only shankha and chakra are always teachings of the Vedas and the Gita in words
shown. that are more suitable to contemporary times.
Visitor: That is a wonderful explanation. Visitor: Yes. That is true. Thanks for the
What else do the shankha and chakra depict? wonderful explanations.
Devotee: Cakra also depicts dharma. Devotee: Jai Ramakrishna !!!
Shankha depicts moksha. These two are Visitor: Jai Ramakrishna !!!

Emblem of Holistic Spirituality


The official emblem of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission
conceptualized by Swami Vivekananda in 1901
Harmony of Four Yogas
The wavy waters in the picture are symbolic of
Karma; the lotus of Bhakti; and the rising-sun, of
Jnana. The encircling serpent is indicative of Yoga and
the awakened Kundalini Shakti, while the swan in the
picture stands for the Paramatman (Supreme Self).
Therefore the idea of the picture is that by the union
of Karma, Jnana, Bhakti, and Yoga, the vision of the
Paramatman is obtained.
Swami Vivekananda, (CW, 7:204)

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Thoughts on the Yin-Yang Symbol


WILLIAM PAGE

The yin-yang symbol of Taoism is a The Tao (pronounced Dow, and


mandala consisting of two interlocking curlicues meaning literally a road or a way) has much
that resemble tadpoles, one black and one white. in common with Brahman, the ultimate reality
The black one has a white eye and the white in Vedanta. The first chapter of the primary
one has a black eye. They are joined at the Taoist text, the Tao Te Ching, describes it
stomach, with the backs forming a circle. as the origin of heaven and earth, the
This charming Yin-yang symbol, mother of the ten thousand things, the
which has become a popular New Age icon, cosmic mystery, the gate to the root of
contains may levels of meaning. The more we the world. Chapter four calls it a preface to
study it, the more meaning we find. The yin-yang God. For Taoists, it functions much like an
symbol is dualistic. The white tadpole, yang, absolute.
represents the bright, active, male principle. The
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I R A M A S U B B A R A O V. , K A K I N A D A

The Tao may sound a lot like Brahman,


black one, yin, represents the dark, passive, female but there are some differences in emphasis.
principle. Put them together, and their interaction The Tao is mysterious; it has a nurturing
produces our phenomenal universe. aspect; its immanence is stressed more than
Now, the interesting thing about the its transcendence; it is strongly identified
two tadpoles is that each contains an eye with nature and the natural order of things.
that is the color of its opposite. The eye can The Taoist aspirant is not urged to realise
be thought of as a seed. This means that each the Tao, as the Vedantist is urged to realise
contains the seed of the other: each has the Brahman. His goal is more modest: to lead a
potential to morph into its opposite. So light simple, natural life; to attune himself with the
can become darkness, darkness can become Tao, to blend in with it and try to reflect its
light; activity can become passive, passivity nature.
can become active; the male can become Well, the Vedantist will say, all of this
feminine, the female can become masculine. is very fine. The yin-yang symbol may be
Neither tadpole is an absolute; both are intended to represent an absolute, but in fact it
relative; and they are constantly interacting. is dualistic, and does a better job of representing
The yin-yang icon is an ideal symbol maya. Where is Brahman in all this?
for the phenomenal world of interacting, To answer this question, we have to
ever-changing relativities. For that reason, in step back and view everything from a much
Vedantic terms, it might easily be taken as a broader perspective. Then we will see that
symbol of maya. But in Taoism it is usually Brahman is not the yin; Brahman is not the
considered to be a symbol of the Tao, the yang; Brahman is not the yin and yang in
ultimate reality in Taoist philosophy. combination. Brahman is the background.
The author has been associated with the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society of Massachusetts since 1960 and is
a member of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Association of Thailand.

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 444


38
New Find

Unpublished Letters of
Swami Saradananda1
The Ramkrishna Mission
(Calcutta Centre)
1, Mukherji Lane, Baghbazar,
Calcutta.
7.6.1923.
My dear daughter B.,
I thank you for your kind letter of the 3rd June. No rains yet, so it is sweltering hot here. I
am glad you are away and out of it.
So the little Bengalli babies have already found you out! There is a beautiful passage in
the Vedas relating the glory of the Divine Motherin one part of which She says about Her
own powers thus: I make surs and prophets of men by bringing realizations higher higher
to them!so who knows what She is going to make of you?
I am glad Sankarada has sent you a copy of the Narada Sutras. That book will suit you
better than the Viveka-Chudamani. Dont you find it to be so?
Jogin Ma & Golap Ma are about the same in health. They desire to send their blessings &
love to you & the children.
Gonen and the rest are well. Gonen is going to a pilgrimage in Assam in about ten days.
The Swami Sivananda & the rest including Tantine are well at the Belur Math.
With my blessings & best wishes to you & Jaggy & Enid,
Always yours affectionately
Saradananda
P.S. The other letter is for Rebecca.
vvv
1, Mukherji Lane,
Baghbazar, Calcutta.
19.6.23.
My dear Mokshananda,
Glad to receive yr. letter of the 15th instant. But regret to learn that you are suffering from
rheumatic troubles. It is therefore not proper that you should live near Pathal Maidan, for the
places there are very damp. Summer heat in Calcutta also this year has exceeded all previous
records. We had scarcely one or two showers during the whole summer. I am doing well. My
blessings to yourself, Ram maharaj, Khagen maharaj & others.
Yours affly.
Saradananda

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THE RAMKRISHNA MISSION


(CALCUTTA CENTRE)
1, Mukherji Lane, Baghbazar,
CALCUTTA.
25th June, 1923.
My dear daughter,
All your letters have reached us duly. I thank you very much for them. Golap Maa is very
glad to get your letter and said, it was indeed very clever of you to write so well. Jogin Maa
is still suffering and has not improved at all. We are trying Kaviraji medicines at present,
which helped her so much last time. Both Golap Ma and Jogin Ma, are sending their love
and blessings to you.
I am so sorry to learn you fainted nearly, the other day by overdoing. I hope you have
become careful now and have recovered by this time, from the ill-effect of the attack. I hope
the children (Jaggy & Enid) are well. My blessings and love to them. I am so sorry I could
not see them on the day you started from here.
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I S R I N I VA S A N PA L A N I M U T H U, S A L E M

The Swamis Sivananda, Sankarada, Ambikada (Nirode), Bijoy and others are well at the
Belur Math. Miss MacLeod is still at the Math guest house, feeling quite well and busy with
her Commissioners duties.
I am well with the tea-swami (Satu) and the rest. Gonen has not returned yet from his trip
to Assam. He and his party will come here on the 29th inst.
All your friends here would like to send you and the children their kind wishes, had they
known I am writing. With my blessings and best wishes to you always,
Yours in the Lord
Saradananda.
P.S.
The enclosed letter is for Deben.
S.
vvv

Reference: 1. A direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and the first General Secretary of the Ramakrishna Order.
Courtesy: Ramakrishna Museum, Belur Math

If you practice japa and meditation regularly without break for some years, you will
see for yourself what result comes to pass... There will come an inner tranquility which
will fill your heart with joy.
Swami Saradananda

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 446


40 14
15

The Order
on the March

News & Notes from Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission


Headquarters
Durga Puja was celebrated at Belur Math from 27 to 30 September with due solemnity and joy. In
spite of the occasional rain on all the four days, about two lakh devotees attended the Puja to receive the
blessings of the Divine Mother. The Kumari Puja performed on 28 September drew huge crowds, and
the Sandhi Puja on that night was also attended by many devotees. Cooked Prasad was served to nearly
48,000 devotees on Ashtami day and, in total, to about 1,25,000 devotees during the four days.
Revered President Maharaj inaugurated Vivekananda Atithi Nivas, the devotees guesthouse located
adjacent to Belur Telephone Exchange, on 14 September. On 19 September, Revered Maharaj inaugurated
three giant LED display screens installed on Belur Math campus.

Celebration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Sister Nivedita


Bankura centre conducted a special lecture on 26 August which was attended by 120 students.
Baranagar Math held a students convention on 10 September which was attended by 100 students.
Chennai Students Home hosted a district-level science exhibition on 31 August. The centre also
conducted a four-day workshop on robotics for polytechnic students in which 100 students from 11
polytechnics took part. Participants exhibited their models on 16 September.
Coimbatore Mission Vidyalaya conducted quiz competitions and lectures at three villages near
Coimbatore on 3 and 9 September. In all, 328 people took part in the programmes.
Kadapa centre held a teachers workshop on 8, 9 and 10 September in which nearly 100 teachers
participated.
Madurai Math conducted a personality development camp for girls on 16 September in which 155
girls from a college took part.
Medinipur centre held a students convention for school girls on 16 September which was attended
by about 350 girls.
Narottam Nagar centre conducted quiz competitions in 11 schools of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in
July and August. In all, 717 students took part in the competitions. The centre also held a public meeting
on 2 September which was attended by 750 people.
Pune Math held two youths conventions on 16 and 17 September in which about 700 students took
part.
Ramanathapuram centre conducted a public meeting at a college in Ramanathapuram on 11 September
in which 80 students and teachers participated.
Salem Ashrama held cultural competitions from 17 to 24 August in which about 1700 students from
30 schools in and around Salem participated. Prizes were given away to the winners on 3 September.

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Silchar centre conducted a Devotees Convention on 16 September which was attended by 570
devotees.
Swamijis Ancestral House held four lectures between 29 August and 6 September at the centre; they
were attended altogether by 1680 people. Further, on the centres initiative, a lecture was conducted at
a place in Kolkata on 20 August which was attended by about 300 people.
Visakhapatnam Ashrama conducted an educational conclave from 20 to 23 September which was
inaugurated by Swami Gautamanandaji. About 1500 students and 350 teachers attended the different
conventions held as a part of the conclave.

News of Branch Centres (in India)


Durga Puja (in image) was celebrated at the following 26 centres: Antpur, Asansol, Barasat, Contai,
Cooch Behar, Dhaleswar (under Agartala), Ghatshila, Guwahati, Gwalior, Jalpaiguri, Jamshedpur,
Jayrambati, Kailashahar, Kamarpukur, Karimganj, Lucknow, Malda, Medinipur, Mumbai, Patna, Port
Blair, Rahara, Shella (under Cherrapunjee), Shillong, Silchar and Varanasi Advaita Ashrama.
Lieutenant Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Prof Jagdish Mukhi, attended Durga Puja
celebration at Port Blair centre on 28 October, Mahashtami day.
The General Secretary released the first volume of the complete works of Swami Akhandananda
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I C H A N D R A S E K A R A N P. , C H E N N A I

in Bengali, titled Swami Akhandanander Rachana Sankalan, at the Institute of Culture, Kolkata, on 5
September. The book is published by Sargachhi centre.
The Multipurpose School of Kamarpukur centre and the Narendrapur Vidyalaya have bagged the
Best School Award from the School Education Department, Government of West Bengal. Narendrapur
Vidyalaya also received Excellent Missionary School in India award from CMAI (Communication
Multimedia And Infrastructure) Association of India at a function held at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi,
on 5 September.
Allahabad, Chennai Math and Khetri centres held special programmes on 11 September in
commemoration of Swamijis address at the Worlds Parliament of Religions in Chicago.
Swami Gautamanandaji inaugurated the new monks quarters at Puri Math on 11 September.
On 15 September, Revered President
Maharaj released, at Belur Math, the new
edition of Letters of Sister Nivedita (in two
volumes) published by Advaita Ashrama,
Kolkata.
NAAC (National Assessment and
Accreditation Council) awarded A+ grade to
Vivekananda College of Chennai Vidyapith for
five years in the third cycle, and A++ grade
to the College of Education of Coimbatore
Mission Vidyalaya for five years in the second
cycle.
On the occasion of 18th Foundation Day of
Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence, a
three day Youth festival was conducted from

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 448


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9th to 12th September 2017 in Ramakrishna


Math, Hyderabad. A total of 3200 youths took
part. Interactive talks, Cultural Programmes
and a procession to commemorate the Swami
Vivekanananda's Chicago speech on 11th
September were held."
Visakhapatnam: Srimat Swami
Gautamanandaji inaugurated the thoroughly
renovated permanent miniature doll exhibition
of 75 cubicles of the Holy Trio on 18th
September 2017 Visakhapatnam
The exhibition was first established in 1997. The same has been thoroughly renovated by the original
artists from Krishna Nagar, West Bengal and made the whole exhibition again new.

Values Education and Youth Programmes


Delhi centre held 4 values education workshops at Kathmandu (Nepal), Pushkar, Lucknow and Ranchi
from 1 to 13 September which were attended by 276 teachers and principals.
Jalpaiguri Ashrama held a convention for drivers of public transport vehicles on 27 August in which
168 drivers took part.
Mangaluru centre conducted three values education seminars on 7, 8 and 9 September, for college
lecturers, postgraduate students and teacher trainees respectively. In all, about 1300 people participated
in the seminars.
Mekhliganj centre conducted a youths convention on 3 September; nearly 100 students took part.
Silchar centre held two students conventions on 14 and 15 September in which altogether 709 students
and 69 teachers from 47 schools and colleges took part.
Tamluk Ashrama held a youths convention on 1 September which was attended by about 400 people.
Vijayawada centre held a symposium on personality development on 15 September in which 400
students from four colleges took part.

Swachchha Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign)


Vivekananda College of Chennai Vidyapith secured third position under the colleges category in the
all-India Swachchhata rankings for higher educational institutions released by the Ministry of Human
Resource Development, Government of India.
Coimbatore Mission Vidyalaya conducted four cleaning drives between 9 and 19 September.

Chittaganj, Bangladesh Raiganj, West Bengal Darjeeling, West Bengal

449 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


43 43

Darjeeling, West Bengal Narendrapur, West Bengal Vrindaban, Uttar Pradesh

Kamarpukur centre carried out a cleanliness drive on 24 September.


Ramharipur centre held a cleanliness drive on 2 September.
News of Branch Centres (Outside India)
Durga Puja (in image) was performed at Durban (South Africa) centre and its sub-centres at
Chatsworth and Pietermaritzburg, Lusaka (Zambia) centre, Mauritius Ashrama, and 14 centres in
Bangladesh, namely Baliati, Barisal, Chandpur, Chittagong, Comilla, Dhaka, Dinajpur, Faridpur,
Habiganj, Jessore, Mymensingh, Narayanganj, Rangpur and Sylhet, and at the Narail sub-centre of
Jessore Ashrama.
The newly installed statue of Swamiji at the Newcastle sub-centre of Durban (South Africa) centre
was unveiled on 30 July.
Relief Work
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I D E B A S H I S H M A J U M D A R , P U N E

1. Flood Relief: India: (i) Assam: In the wake of devastating floods in Dhemaji district, Itanagar
centre distributed 600 ration kits to 600 affected families on 14 September.
(ii) West Bengal:
(a) The Headquarters (Belur Math) served cooked food to 10,000 people and distributed food and
other items among 1275 flood-affected families of 14 villages in Uttar Dinajpur district from 31 August
to 16 September. Medical help was provided to 364 patients.
(b) Cooch Behar centre served cooked food and distributed food itmes among 1252 families of 22
villages in Cooch Behar district from 13 to 16 August.
(c) Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling centres distributed food items in North Dinajpur district from 20 to 26
August.
(d) Malda centre distributed food items among
1568 flood-affected families in Malda district from 19
August to 6 September.
(e) Narendrapur centre distributed food
items and tarpaulins among 773 families in South
24-Parganas and Paschim Medinipur districts.
Bangladesh: Dhaka centre provided relief material
to 250 flood-affected families in Dinajpur district on
5 and 6 September.
2. Distress Relief: The following centres
Bagda, West Bengal
distributed food items and garments to needy people:
India: Antpur, Bagda, Dehradun, Gadadhar Ashrama, Kolkata, Gurap, Kankurgachhi, Vrindaban
Bangladesh: Mymensingh
3. Winter Relief: Antpur centre distributed winter clothes from 23 August to 9 September.

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 450


44
Book Reviews For review in The Vedanta Kesari,
publishers need to send us two copies of their latest publication.

From Religion to Spirituality A Handbook for the Gita


by Vedula VLN Murthy by Prof. S.K. Ramachandra Rao,
Published by Author, 2-22-2/1, Trans. by Dr.S. Ramaswamy.
Srinagar, Kakinada - 533 003. Published by Gandhi Centre
Andhra Pradesh. 2016, paperback, of Science and Human Values,
pp.145, Rs180 Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 43/1, Race
What certainty is there that Course Road, Bengaluru-560 001,
I will live up to a ripe old age, observed a Email:gandhicentre.bvd@gmail.com. 2016.
disciple of Sri Ramakrishna when asked why he paperback, pp.122. Rs.120.
opted for spiritual life so early. (V.K. March 1965 Admired by Aldous Huxley as The Perennial
Edit.) Religious life is not a post-retirement benefit. Philosophy, Gita is a treasure house which reveals
We have abundant resources and avenues for treasures of increasing value as one goes deeper
seekers of spiritual life. VLN Murthy identifies the into it. Any topic like karma or truth can serve
activities of Sri Ramakrishna Math and some others as a catalyst for such a deeper study. Again, as Sri
in this context. Ramakrishna elegantly puts it, the core message of
However, as noted in the Preface of this book, the Gita is tyaga or renunciation.
the spirit of Indian culture, values and heritage Authored by Prof. S.K. Ramachandra Rao
has not adequately reached the youth. This book is in Kannada, A Handbook for the Gita has been
intended to bridge the gap. translated into English by Dr. S. Ramaswamy.
Through twelve chapters beginning with a The translator is understandably anxious to
historical background and primitive concepts of the preserve the sanctity of the original in his sensitive
Supreme, the topics include religion, mythology, assignment. Gita, chanted on all occasions,
happiness, sorrow, renunciation, meditation and auspicious or inauspicious, is the philosophy
related areas. of the Upanishad. The author has offered his own
Preoccupation with the body and mind, commentaries on topics like the metaphor of the
attachment to the finite and, lately, pressures of Chariot, and the influence of the gunas. The views
the consumerist life-style are well known. The of the acharyas, textual variations in the texts in
author points out the Strengths and Weaknesses different languages, and whether the Gita originally
of Religion, unique features of Hinduism and how contained eighteen chapters or only twelve or
religious freedom has degenerated to religious fifteen, etc. are open for debate.
entertainment. Appendices offer useful information. They
Discrimination based on caste and include Gita in the island of Bali, and the
gender continues in religious practices and the Muktamala with selected verses one each from
responsibility for this lies with politics and not Chapters 2 to 17 and 2 from Chapter 18 of the
religion. The younger generation, vulnerable to Gita, by Vishnuthirtha, a saint from Karnataka.
pressure groups, should be careful in this matter. Apparently, two additional verses were composed
While the author has discussed several by the saint, making a total of 20. The Appendix,
important topics, the contents require further however contains 18.
proofreading and editing for clarity. Spiritual in its most exalted sense, Gita
________________________________ P.S. SUNDARAM, MUMBAI guides humans towards a divine life. Swami

451 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


45

Ranganathananda observed that Gita is not a book Race Course Road, Bengaluru-560
on war but on human development. A Handbook for 001,Email:gandhicentre.bvd@gmail.
the Gita is a valuable source for research scholars; com. 2016. paperback, pp.106.
it may not help beginners. Prof. Ramachandra Rao Rs.120.
and Dr. S. Ramaswamy, both scholars, deserve Science and religion will
approbation for their efforts. meet and shake hands, prophesied
To make the book more reader-friendly, the Swami Vivekananda. Science
font size could be increased. without religion is lame, religion
________________________________ P.S. SUNDARAM, MUMBAI without science is blind, observed Einstein.
Philosophy of Science authored by a distinguished
Living The Life scientist and former head of TIFR, and with particular
by S.P. Chockalingam. interest in Scientific and Philosophical Studies on
Consciousness, has a huge store of information, packed
Published by First Edition De-
in hundred pages. Intended to serve as an initiation
sign Publishing Inc., P.O Box No.
book for college students, its contents will be a source
34276-3217. www.firstedition-
book for aspiring scientists and philosophers. An
designpublishing.com Paperback,
exposure to science, physics in particular, will help the
pp.171. Price not mentioned
reader.
Living The Life by Chockalingam Scientific research in the last century came
PA G E S P O N S O R : S R I S H A R AT K U M A R VA R I YA R , B E N G A LU R U

examines circumstances that influence human closer to the Vedantic view of interconnectedness
life. These are discussed through twelve chapters. in the universe and the eternal existence beyond
The impact of environmental destruction, fast space time relativity.
growing technology and search for the Soul are The opening chapter deals with the early
among important topics. There is also an attempt philosophical and scientific thoughts in the East and
to identify factors that enabled a few families West and developments over time. The pioneering
to live happily for over a hundred years. While work and dialectics of philosophers and scientists
the discussions with affluent families are not referred to in the book include Socrates and Plato,
inspiring, the potato farmer articulates his views Descartes, the God-intoxicated Jew Spinoza,
better; e.g. his remarks on age (page 47). Certain Newton, Kant, Einstein and J.C. Bose. Einstein,
characteristics of spiritual life and the Chinese story the author points out, erred in his finding that the
(Chapter 9) are interesting. The Epilogue mentions universe as a whole was static, not expanding
certain experiments on mind reading techniques. (page 20). The need for God and the creation/
These are best avoided by those keen on leading a sustenance of the universe, the mystery of the
spiritual life. mind, analyzed by early Western thinkers, make
The author quotes mostly the thoughts of interesting reading. Newton was too deeply sold
Western philosophers including Shakespeares on the necessity of God (p. 15).
seven stages of human life. Philosophy is said to be the theoretical wing
To those seeking lessons on spiritual life, the of religion. The Chapter on Oriental Philosophies
book has little to add to what are generally known. mentions that philosophy has a close relation to
What should be the motivation for Living religion. Unlike the Oriental culture, early Western
The Life? Scriptures say it is God realization. The philosophers faced stiff resistance and cruel
wisdom of Swami Vivekananda, viz., aatmano treatment from orthodoxy that was confined to
mokshartam jagat hitaya ca offers the ideal lesson for arcane rites. Their works, therefore, needed a hard
spiritual life. sell. On the other hand, Hinduism accommodated
________________________________ P.S. SUNDARAM, MUMBAI even charvakas.
Research on the composition of matter,
Philosophy of Science sub-atomic particles, protons, neutrons and electrons,
by B.V. Sreekantan and more significantly, the presence of a supreme
Published by Gandhi Centre of Science and intelligence that manages creation, suggest the
Human Values, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 43/1, complimentary roles of science and philosophy.

November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i 452


46

The final Chapter examines the development seeing the bridegroom covered with ashes. To make
of science and philosophy towards the end of the Himself presentable, Siva had to appear as Kalyana
last century. Says the author: The fact (that) science Sundaram! One must manage time wisely. Failure
creates new knowledge and also new ignorance to provide time for interaction among family
does not detract the merit of scienceIt only members leads to broken homes. The chapter
highlights its limitations. Science will continue Silence is Golden is perhaps the best and it deals
to serve society; currently, climate science has with Buddhas message through silence and the
assumed significance. origin of Zen. The chapter Conquer Attachment
The Appendix has the authors paper refers to some of Sri Ramakrishnas teachings.
on Scientific Approaches to Consciousness ________________________________ P.S. SUNDARAM, MUMBAI
Studies. Philosophy of Science is the work of a scholar.
________________________________ P.S. SUNDARAM, MUMBAI Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad
Gita
The Simple Way by E.D. Viswanathan
by J.P.Vaswani Published by Rupa Publications
Published by Gita Publishing House, India Pvt. Ltd. 7/16, Ansari Road,
Sadhu Vaswani Mission, 10, Sadhu Daryaganj, New Delhi 110 002.
Vaswani Path, Pune 411001, Email: rupache@rupapublications.
E-mail: gph@sadhuvasawani.org, com. 2016, paperback, pp.300. Price: 295.
paperback, pp.120, Rs.150. The book under review consisting of 63 short
About 300 aged citizens suffering from chapters is a refreshingly different and novel way
loneliness are reported to have met in Mumbai for of exposition of the Gitas doctrines. Its uniqueness
remarriage-Swayamvar- for company/attention. lies in adopting the methods of dialogue between
However, their remedy is elsewhere according to the grandson and grandfather to expound the
this interesting book by Dada Vaswani. Gita philosophy and of topicwise treatment,
As a revered spiritual leader Dada Vaswani as against the usual chapter-wise treatment, of
has several lessons to convey. Under fifteen titles the Gitas themes. The modus operandi of the
these lessons (Rules of Transforming Life) are grandson raising pertinent questions and triggering
narrated through as many chapters, all of them explanations by the grandfather is quite effective
equally important. in unveiling and clarifying the varied doctrines
Recalling his guru Sadhu Vaswanis words embedded in the Gita. The vast gamut of topics
simplicity is a mark of true civilization while such as karma yoga, the issue of importance of
luxury and ostentation are its death warrant, material things, incarnation, theory of creation
the revered author underlines three ideals, and annihilation, sin, Atman, salvation, the caste
simplicity, silence and humility. Some of these system, the enlightened person, birth, death
Rules randomly selected are worth mentioning: and reincarnation, the doctrine of the illusion of
Addiction is ruinous. Passion for lucre or gambling the universe, mind-control, sense-control, God,
is one of them. A one-time indiscretion to join AUM, idol worship, the food we take, the fate
a game of cards under pressure cost the author of seekers straying from their pursuits, non-
dearly. He had to miss a scheduled satsang. The conversion in Hinduism, Raja Yoga, the doctrine of
mind, overbearing and most complex, should be surrender, prayer and meditation, bhakti, varnas
filled with God-thoughts to restrain its potential and ashramas, the preceptor, the meaning of the
for damage. The Universe is conspiring topsy-turvy Aswattha tree, Bhagavan Krishnas
with your thoughts to make them come true all-pervasiveness and sole reality, the core of Gitas
Never isolate yourself from God. Welcome any message etc. figures in the dialogue and is clearly
adversity as it will end as a blessing. The attire and explained from the Gitas perspective.
appearance are not the standards to assess people. There are interesting brief digressions on such
Lord Siva had to camouflage His looks as His subjects as Sankhya Philosophy as the basis of the
mother-in-law wept in anger and disappointment Gita, the divinity of Krishna, the issue of the father

453 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i November 2017


47

of the atom bomb quoting from the Gita, the subject Rudraksha
of gambling, the status of women, homosexuality, by Dr. Kethu Ramachandrasekhar.
sati, abortion, heaven and hell, removal of stress
Published by Giri Trading Agency
from our lives, yoga and balanced life and the
Pvt. Ltd, 372/1, Mangadu Pattur
sensitive issue of bar on women visiting temples
Koot Road, Mangadu, Chennai-600
during menstruation. There are a few instances of
122 E-mail: sales@giri.in, 2016,
comparative studies of certain issues and practices
paperback, pp127, Rs.150.
in other faiths like Islam, Judaism and Christianity as
contrasted with Hinduism. The initial few chapters Rudraksha attempts to bring
give a synoptic view of various aspects of Hinduism. to light the sacred importance of Rudraksha,
For ones gaining familiarisation of Gitas Shaligrama and five other precious stones, revered
complex philosophy with ease and facility, the book as manifestations of (the) Lord.
is an ideal one. Gemmology, a discipline related to
_________________________________N. HARIHARAN, MADURAI geoscience, has been a fascinating subject for
study. There is also belief in the curative powers
The Bhagavad Gita of precious stones/beads, for stress and other
ailments and for peace and material benefits.
by Dr.K.B. Ramakrishna Rao States the author: sphatika is known to fulfill
Published by Prism Books Pvt. ones desires in life and Mahavishnu Shaligrama
ltd,#1865, 32nd Cross, 10th Main, is extremely good for bestowing fortune and
BSK. II Stage, Bengaluru, 560 070. worldly comforts. Consumerism further promotes
Email:info@prismbooks.com, 2016, their possession. A sloka in Rudraksha Upanishad
paperback, pp.184, Rs. 225. mentions that the merits of performing six
The expression loka-samgraha or cosmic thousand lakhs of Gayatri will be one of the
consolidation as the author puts it, forms the core benefits from the recitation.
PA G E S P O N S O R : A D E V O T E E , C H E N N A I

of this book. The purpose of the Lords incarnation, Colourful pictures of varieties of stones
points out the author, was not confined to restraining and of deities, their features, physical properties,
forces of irreligion and immorality. The incarnation rules for wearing them, and other guidelines,
was also for consolidating the more fundamental and legends associated with some of them are
truth, viz. universal order, harmony and growth mentioned in the book. Precious stones such
The concepts Loka-samgraha and Reality as Rudraksha beads, Shaligrama and Linga
have been examined in a number of chapters from are considered sacred. They are not curios for
various angles. Human beings are participants
showcases. The chapter on Shivalinga, for instance,
in the dynamics of Reality. As the Lord Himself
exalts the status of Bana Linga, and of River
explains, it is Reality explaining to us what Reality
Narmada.
is. Reality projects all elements, all beings
and as revealed to Arjuna a future already Additionally, stotras connected with
accomplished by the dynamics of Timeless Infinity. some of the stones have been included,
The significance of the Chakra, the Cosmic with the text in English transliteration and
Wheel, in the cosmic evolution, has been explained meaning. They include Shaligrama Shila
in Chapter 7 of the book. The author examines the stotram, and Lingashtakam. While this is to be
essence of the Bhagavad Gita in a refreshing style. welcomed, in the absence of Sanskrit text, an audio
His work will appeal to research scholars and CD rendered by experts would ensure error free
encourage debate. pronunciation.
________________________________ P.S. SUNDARAM, MUMBAI _______________________________ P. S. SUDARAM, MUMBAI

Sri P.S.Sundaram, a regular book-reviewer for The Vedanta Kesari passed away on 10 Sept 2017. He
was 85 years old. After retirement, he and his late wife Smt Sulochana Sundaram, served as volunteers in
Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai. As a volunteer of The Vedanta Kesari, Sri Sundaram helped
in proof-reading and reviewing books. Even after shifting to Mumbai, he continued to review books and
in all contributed over 160 book-reviews to The Vedanta Kesari.

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56 Vol.104-11 The Vedanta Kesari (English Monthly) November 2017. Regd.
with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under No.1084 / 1957. POSTAL
November 2017 T h e Ve d a n t a K e s a r i
REGISTRATION NUMBER:TN / CH (C) /190 / 15-17. LICENSED TO POST
WITHOUT PREPAYMENT TN/PMG(CCR)/WPP-259 / 2015-2017.
Date of Publication: 24th of every month

What is education? Is it book


- learning? No. Is it diverse
knowledge? Not even that. The
training by which the current and
expression of will are brought
under control and become
fruitful is called education.
Swami Vivekananda

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