Category Archives: Spirituality

HONORING A KARMA YOGI – BHARATA RATNA M. S. SUBBULAKSHMI

dr-ram-sriram-1Dr. Ram Sriram retired as Distinguished Professor and is currently Professor Emeritus at the College of Business, Georgia State University, Atlanta.    He is the founder and President of the Carnatic Music Association of Georgia (CAMAGA).  He is the recipient of the Kala Seva Mani award from the Cleveland Aradhana committee for his life time service to promoting Carnatic music and the arts.  He is also a well-known Mridangist, who routinely accompanies senior Carnatic musicians visiting the US during their concerts.

Recently, two reputed Atlanta organizations – the Chinmaya Mission Atlanta and the Sankara Nethralaya-OM Trust (USA) celebrated the birth centenary of the renowned musician, Bharat Ratna Smt. M. S. Subbalakshmi.  The two events, however, differed in their focus.

The Chinmaya Mission Atlanta event was held to honor, together, the memory of three great individuals, born in the year 1916, and who have contributed immensely to Indian culture, heritage, and philosophy: Swami Chinmayananda, founder of the Chinmaya Mission, Swami Chidananda Saraswati, head of the Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, and Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi, musician and philanthropist.  While Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Chidananda were known for their contribution to Hindu philosophy and values, Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi was known for her accomplishments in Indian classical music.  Regardless, the three individuals, in their own ways, lived as Karma Yogis – refraining from the fruits of their actions and detached from fame, riches, and glory. 

m-s-subbulakshmi-music-legenderySmt. M. S. Subbulakshmi was born in the year 1916 as Madurai Shanmugavadivu Subbulakshmi in a middle class family of musicians: her mother was a ‘Veena player and her grandmother, a violinist.  Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi, growing in the midst such musical talent, became proficient in both vocal music and performing on the Veena even at a young age. She gave her first vocal music concert at the age of 11, Trichy accompanied by two musical stalwarts, Mysore Chowdiah on the violin and Pudukottai Dakshinamurthi Pillay on the Mridangam.  At the age of 13, she was invited to perform at the prestigious Music Academy, Chennai.  After relocating to Madras, she continued her musical learning from two stalwart musicians: Sangeetha Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and Pandit Naryanrao Vyas. 

Within a few years of launching her career as a musician, Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi, became the most admired and popular Carnatic musician.  The awards and recognition she received from all over the world is a testimony to her musical caliber and, consequently, her popularity.  She performed in the most prestigious venues, not only in India but also abroad.  On the U. N. Day, she was invited to the perform to its audience of dignitaries.   Over the years, she performed in esteemed venues such as the Carnegie Hall, New York, Royal Albert Hall, London, and Festival of India, Moscow.  In recognition of her contribution to peace and bringing together cultures and people, she was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay award, often call the Asian Nobel Prize.   At the age of 42, as one of the youngest musicians, she was awarded the Sangeetha Kalanidhi (the Treasure of Music) by the Music Academy.  She later received the Indira Gandhi award for national integration – an award presented to individuals who have contributed to fellowship among religious groups, communities, and cultures.  In the year 1998, the President of India bestowed her with the highest civilian award, the Bharata Ratna (the Crown Jewel of India). 

The life of M. S. Subbulakshmi is more than her music, awards and recognitions.  Her life showed that regardless of one’s origins – she was born in lower middle class family – one can rise to be the best, if one is sincere and devoted.  In this regard, Mrs. Gowri Ramanathan, her grand-daughter, shared two anecdotes about Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi.  When she was asked to record the Venkatesa Suprabhatham slokas for the Thirupathi Devasthanam, Mrs. Subbulakshmi requested a year’s time to do so.  She, then, approached a Sanskrit scholar to guide her and correct her pronunciation of each sloka until she was confident that it was perfect.  Similarly, when she learnt a new composition, Mrs. Subbulakshmi would practice it innumerable times, sing the composition a few times in informal settings before she would venture to sing the composition in a public concert.  These anecdotes illustrate, nor just her approach to musical learning but of her personal discipline, perseverance, and sincerity – qualities that eventually made her the prima donna of Carnatic music. 

While rising to the pinnacle of musical achievements, Mrs. Subbulakshmi did not let her reputation, glory, or wealth affect her. She remained simple and modest.  She believed that musical scholarship is not just a personal achievement but a gift from God that, as Saint-Composer Thyagaraja Swami expressed, must be practiced with humility.  For example, during events honoring her, she would always remain at backstage until she was called to appear on stage.  To her, rendering the music with devotion is more important than the limelight or recognition. Similarly, she believed that the money she earned from her music should be shared with those who are in need.  She donated most of her earnings to charitable causes.  Citing another anecdote from Mrs. Gowri Ramanathan, after out-station concerts and when driving back home, she would stop in small villages and hand over all the fruits and flowers to women and children living in those villages, without even retaining a few for her consumption.  To her, the smiling faces of the women and children was more important than her personal needs. A true karma yogi, indeed.

SEPTEMBER 8 – 129TH BIRTHDAY ANNIVERSARY OF REVERED SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA

swami-sivananda1Swami Sivananda (8 September 1887 – 14 July 1963) was a proponent of Yoga and Vedanta. Sivananda was born Kuppuswami in Pattamadai, in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. He studied medicine and served in British Malaya as a physician for several years before taking up monasticism.
He was the founder of the Divine Life Society (DLS) in 1936, Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy (1948) and author of over 300 books on yoga, Vedanta and a variety of subjects. He established Sivananda Ashram, the headquarters of the DLS, on the bank of the Ganges at Sivanandanagar, 3 kilometers from Rishikesh.
Swami Sivananda radiated his divine and lofty message of service, meditation and God-realization to all parts of the world through his books, running to more than three hundred, through periodicals and letters. His devoted disciples are drawn from all religions, cults and creeds in the world.
Swami Sivananda’s Yoga, which he has significantly called the ‘Yoga of Synthesis’, effects a harmonious development of the ‘hand’, ‘head’ and ‘heart’ through the practice of Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.
On the 14th of July 1963, the Great Soul Swami Sivananda entered Mahasamadhi (departure of a Self-realized saint from his mortal coil) in his Kutir on the bank of Ganga, in Sivanandanagar.

 

Swami Sivananda: That Wonderful, Noble-Souled Man
By Sri Swami Chidananda
swami-chidanandajiYou may not have known much about Swami Sivananda, but in a few words I will tell you about him. He was a noble-souled man filled with wonderful love, whose chief aim in life was to make other people happy. He was himself a very happy person who loved to laugh and make others laugh! He radiated cheerfulness and made people forget all their sorrows. He had no sense of difference between East or West, this country or that country, this religion or that religion. His personality was such that immediately he made everyone feel that they belonged to him, and he belonged to them. He had no strangers in the world and simply showered his love upon all. It was a very strange thing to observe how even people who did not speak his language at all immediately felt a sense of oneness the moment they came before him. He became a person beloved by countless people all over the world. The essential aspect of Gurudev’s life was first of all that he was a person of transparent simplicity. Many scholars, statesmen and other public figures came and offered their homage and respect to him, but he never felt himself to be in any way extraordinary. Natural simplicity, deep wisdom, compassion, understanding and sympathy were all there in his heart. He was a very unusual blend of deepest wisdom and vast knowledge, and at the same time he had this unassuming simplicity that one doesn’t usually associate with this type of knowledge and wisdom. He was as simple as a child and yet the wisest of sages. He was totally without self-consciousness; he never had the idea that he was something special.
Another aspect that struck me, in contrast to all my negative qualities, was that in my entire 35 years of associating with the Master, I have never seen him get angry, speak angry words, or at any time raise his voice no matter what the situation was. This is something very distinctive. It is not ordinary with human beings, and it is such a contrast to me who was and still is excitable. I could get excited in an argument and raise my voice, but then, I don’t know how hard Master had to work with himself on this or whether he was born with this nature right from the very beginning.
These are wonderful traits—this type of serenity, peace and absolute absence of anger. He was totally incapable of seeing anything bad or negative in people. I found that he always focused only upon things that were praiseworthy in people. He fixed himself only on the positive and just brushed aside anything that was negative. He was not ready to see anything bad, and there were many instances to attest to this positive quality of absolute sincerity. He was meticulous in anything he did, and there was a clockwork regularity in his daily life. For us as spiritual seekers, the most important aspect was that to him the spiritual purpose of life was the most important factor. He came to proclaim to the whole world a spiritual meaning of life, and he hammered on this theme again and again. He was himself one hundred per cent spiritual in his outlook toward everything. He had attained this nature through years of great penance and prayer, but he had some elements of this nature even from an early age.
His teachings went directly to the heart of life. He always tended to emphasise the essentials of his message, and he didn’t bother going into too much detail. He was precise, to the point and simple. His teachings were the soul of simplicity, so much so, that some people who are more intellectually and rationally oriented take him to be one who is not much of a philosopher. God knows what depths of philosophy he had in his head, but so far as his teachings were concerned, he gave them in a manner that even a layman could understand and easily adopt. The teachings were very simple—going to the heart of the matter, not beating around the bush, and not caring so much about non-essential matters.
His teachings always emphasised unity, and he always wanted to bring people, religions and countries together; hence, he always took care to mention only things that offered common ground where people could meet and be one. Above all, his teachings were practical. He did not so much write about things that you should know as much as about things you should do. Much of his teachings were practical instructions on living life and practising yogic sadhana. If you were to open any page of one of his books, you’d find him directly talking to you, and as a result, his works have great power.
As a young man, he became a doctor and travelled to Malaya where he did medical service with great love for ten or twelve years. He served the poor and the suffering people without any expectation of gain or reward. The pains and sufferings of these poor people moved him; his large-hearted nature went out to them in great sympathy and he grew in compassion. He became a brother to all and was something like a Good Samaritan. He saw no difference between day and night in his work, and his door was open to all people at all times. Whenever a suffering man called him, immediately he went to his side. Sometimes, because they were very poor, he went and treated them for free, and he even left them some money from his own pocket.
At the same time, this contact with sorrow, pain and suffering brought about an inner awakening in him. He found that life on earth need not be a beautiful experience—as it was full of disease and death—and this awakened a religious consciousness in him. He felt that life here is painful, the human body is an abode of much suffering and sorrow, and the soul is in a state of bondage to the human body. His mind turned to philosophy, he read the lives and teachings of saints, and he began to search for a way out of sorrow and pain. “Is there not a way by which man can transcend this present state? Is this the only experience available to man, or is there another state that is marked by peace, joy and true happiness?” This questioning drew him into the study of philosophy; he contemplated these questions, and ultimately it dawned on him that there was in fact a state full of blessedness and beatitude, and that this state was within the reach of all human beings. One could attain what other people had attained. Thus, he decided to dedicate himself to this attainment.
Gurudev Comes to India
A day came when he gave up his very successful medical practice, his popularity, his wealth—everything—and came away to India. He came as a lone, wandering seeker, and he turned his footsteps north towards the Himalayas. After months of travel he reached a quiet little village on the banks of the sacred river Ganges surrounded on all sides by mountains. Civilised modern India practically ended at this spot, for beyond this place there were only the high mountains. He reached this place sometime in 1923-24, and here he took up a life of silent seclusion, penance, prayer and meditation. For ten years he lived a simple life. He spoke very little, practised self-control, served the neighbouring people with compassion and kindness, and plunged into deep meditation. He sometimes gave medical aid to the monks and the villagers; otherwise, most of the time, he was sunk in prayer, meditation and study.
This intensely lived life brought spiritual illumination to this wonderful man. From that day of enlightenment onwards, his mission began of calling mankind to this same great attainment. He wanted to share joy and peace with everyone and he said, “O friends, there is a way by which you can transcend all the sorrows and sufferings of this life and attain true peace in this life. This is the true life that leads you to the great attainment where sorrow vanishes, joy comes into your heart, all the restlessness of the mind subsides, and peace comes. Where there is no more inner darkness, life becomes a thing of great joy. That is the main purpose of your life.”
This message that he brought into the life of countless beings, he called simply the “Divine Life.” He gave a simple universal name that did not have the label of any particular religion. It is a life that takes you towards divine experience, a life that is lived in the knowledge that within this physical body and this restless mind, there is an all-perfect, divine principle. That eternal divine principle has the nature of absolute peace and radiant bliss. Within you is this hidden divinity, eternal existence and radiant, pure consciousness. Neglecting this, we are searching here and there, wandering in this world of externals, and seeking happiness in temporary objects. How can perishable, changeful and finite objects bring real happiness and satisfaction? This is impossible, but man ever seeks for happiness where it is not to be found, and then he weeps and wails, but he does not know what is the reason for his sorrow. However, the reason for this sorrow is within him and comes from the great error of thinking that this imperfect world can give him real happiness.
The mistake is not to be found in this outside world though. The world does not stand up and say, “Come, O man, I will give you happiness.” The sense objects in the world do not promise anything; hence, they do not themselves cause disappointment. It is your expecting something that causes the disappointment. Mistakes lie not in the world; rather, they lie in man. Thus, from birth to death man wanders in this desert wilderness of perishable, changeful objects ignorantly imagining that through these objects he can attain true happiness. These objects can only give some temporary sense satisfaction, but this sense satisfaction is not happiness.
It is a biological process depending entirely upon your nervous system. Happiness is an inward state of being, and sometimes it just wells up from within even when there is no object present at all. When you are sitting alone at times, when no desire troubles your mind and you are sitting at peace with yourself, you can experience a rare joy from within. This joy comes in the absence of any object or thing whatsoever.
Where does real joy come from? It does not come from any external object or through any one of your senses. On the contrary, it comes up from within yourself. This internal state of your own subjective being is joy, and this is always available. It is the grasping after external things that prevents you from experiencing this inner happiness. This inner happiness is always present, because it abides in you and is your own essential nature. This joy and peace is your Self, but unfortunately our mind is drawn away from this inner centre and it is scattered towards innumerable objects. When this mind is thus brought outside and dispersed, then you move away from the joy within. Yet, you cling to the outside objects thinking that they are the best things in the world. On the contrary, they are the obstacles to the experience of true joy and happiness. The more you become free from desire for external things, the more you begin to feel a wonderful peace.
Where there is peace of mind, there is happiness, but where there is no peace, there is no happiness. Anything that makes the mind restless deprives you of your happiness. Now ponder this yourself and reflect upon the truth—then you will understand the cause of your happiness as well as your sorrow. You will have a golden key to the attainment of happiness. Live in such a way that your mind is always calm and peaceful, then you will begin to feel happiness automatically. Anything that you do that makes your mind restless will deprive you of your happiness. This is the truth and is to be understood by everyone who is really serious. This gives us an immediate understanding as to why innumerable people in modern times are not happy. They always seek excitement, but they make their lives miserable. That is what we see. This little bit of thrill is not the real happiness, because it fails to give true satisfaction and brings about a reaction of dejection and depression.
Therefore, build up your character in such a way that you ever maintain a serenity of mind with an absolute balance in all the changing circumstances. No matter what happens outside, be ever balanced within. Be simple in your life, and do not become enslaved by too many desires. Multiplication of desires is not wisdom, as it only invites greater agitation and restlessness. Ultimately, you will have to face the truth that it is in the control of desire that true happiness lies.
The Divine Life
This great truth that joy is within was given to everyone through the teachings of Swami Sivananda. He was a realist and a practical man. Even though he taught this great ideal of Self-experience, he knew man also had to live his normal life. He gave some practical suggestions for daily living through which man gradually grew into this state of self-management and inner control. This graduate discipline that he gave to man was the very essence of his Divine Life teachings. He gave these rules and regulations in a very non-sectarian way, so that they did not interfere with anyone’s religion. These rules of Divine Life were such that they could be incorporated in one’s life without affecting one’s beliefs or religious practices. He organised these teachings into twenty basic spiritual instructions, and the adoption of these instructions moves one towards happiness and peace and away from suffering and sorrow. These twenty instructions contain the very essence of the message of Swami Sivananda.
He called out to modern man to turn towards the imperishable source of all happiness and joy in the divine centre within himself. Control your senses, discipline your mind, conquer unnecessary desires, and purify your heart through selfless service. Do not live only for yourself, but try to bring joy and happiness into the lives of others. Serve elders and parents, neighbours and friends. Serve people who are in distress and sorrow; serve selflessly wherever there is need for such services. Never hurt the feelings of others—let your words be such that they bring joy and solace to others. Be kind and friendly, hate none, dislike none, and see only the good points in others and not the defects. No one is perfect, so take things with a charitable view. See the good and ignore the false. If you want to see the false, see the false that is in you and try to remove it. Through selfless service, kindness, compassion and sweet speech develop a great love for the universal principle.
From whence have you come? Is there not some source of both you and this world? Yes, there is. Behind these visible names and forms, there is a mysterious, hidden principle. These objects will perish and pass away, and physically you will also perish and pass away, but this hidden, invisible, eternal principle will never pass away. This is the eternal Reality and the divine truth that is the source of both your being as well as the existence of this universe. Seeing that, one attains fullness. In this present state of separation from that fullness, you are incomplete. Completeness and wholeness come into your life when you once again regain your inner spiritual relationship with That. Develop this inner hunger and devotion and grow in your inner life.
Progress through prayer, daily contemplation and inner adoration, and try to practise ceaseless remembrance of that supreme divine principle. Do it in the midst of your daily life, and let your interior rest in that eternal substance. Let the body and mind be given to the daily tasks of life, but let a little part of yourself abide in that Reality. Your participation in this external world lasts only for a brief while, and when the span of this physical life is completed, you will have to move on. Your real ultimate concern should not be so much with this physical existence but with That. Inwardly you are ever at one with That, but you have forgotten this inner relationship because the mind has become lost in the outer world.
You have now to reverse the picture; you have to regain once again a living relationship with that eternal source of your being. Real life is a life that once again retraces the steps into that experience and makes use of this golden opportunity called human life. This is your great duty. One who engages himself in this quest lives life triumphantly. Such a person overcomes sorrow, breaks the slavery of desire and moves towards a greater joy and lasting peace.
Such a life is called Divine Life, for it is a life that takes you towards divine experience. It is a life that is lived in the awareness of the spiritual purpose of your life where—through thoughts, words and daily activities—you express the divine within. Life is no longer a process of giving expression to your petty, selfish emotions, but it is a life that radiates compassion and kindness. You move as a centre of blessedness filled with joy and peace who brings joy and peace to others.
To do this requires self-control—control over your mind and its desires and control over this ego and its selfishness. If you are a slave of your own senses, you cannot live such a life. But you should not think that this discipline is something puritan or an austerity suitable only for monks and nuns. On the contrary, such self-control is evidence of real civilisation and true education. It is such self-control that makes life worth living, and a society is truly wealthy if it has men and women in such a state of self-government. This is not a world-denying philosophy, for it is with this temporary denial that you are moving towards an abiding state of true joy. It is not a denial for its own sake, but is the way to attainment of true happiness. Thus the goal is joy, happiness, peace and perfection, and this is Divine Life.
How many people have deeply pondered the message of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount? Is there any greater treasure than this message from this wonderful man? He was a man in outer form, but was divine within. Is there anything so full of grandeur as the message of Jesus? Even if you practise one-sixteenth of what Jesus has given as His life and message, your life will become filled with sunshine. People suffer not because they have no religion, but because no one really practises the great teachings of their religion. Religion has not failed in any human society, but again and again history shows that mankind has deliberately failed religion. It is the ignoring of the teachings of religion that is the root cause of all sorrow and pain.
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you.” How true, and how great a call to mankind. Are our ears open to this great truth? In so many beautiful ways Jesus tried to bring our attention to this great necessity. This is the first thing that has to be attained—all other things are secondary. Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you,” and “Unless you are reborn, you cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” These three truths together show that what is to be attained is already right here within you.
The old life of selfishness, greed, hatred, anger and jealousy must die, and a new being full of kindness, humility and devotion should take birth. You are the pure consciousness beyond name and form. You are neither male nor female, nor are you young or old, Catholic, Protestant or Jew. You are immortal soul beyond body, mind and intellect. That alone is real. Until you attain this knowledge and this experience, no object in this outer world will be able to give you true satisfaction. It is this alone that can give you true satisfaction and true joy. This is the eternal message of Divine Life, and I feel myself greatly blessed to have this opportunity through this talk to serve you all in the name of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivananda.
 What We Really Want 
by Swami Krishnananda
swami_krishnananda-01Living, existing – that is the greatest desire. “I want only to exist; I don’t want anything else because if I do not exist, all the other qualities have no meaning.” But what kind of existence? A stone also exists, a pig exists; trees, animals, everything is existing. Do you want to exist like a pig? That you want only to exist is not a complete answer. It has to be qualified. Now you are putting a condition: I want to exist not as a tree or as a stone or as a pig, but as a human being.
Would you like to exist as a human being with nobody wanting you in this world? They spit at you, condemn you, throw stones at you and drive you out wherever you go. Would you like to exist as a human being in that condition? So it is not that you want to exist, merely. Then you modified it by saying that you want to exist as a human being. Now you are saying, “That also is not sufficient. I must be existing as a human being recognized by other human beings also.” So you want to expand your consciousness of existence to the social atmosphere. That also is not sufficient because your existence may be recognized by all people, but you are so poor that you have no food to eat. Now there is another condition. “If they recognize me as existing but I am starving, that is no good. I want food to eat also, because I have to live.”
Now the question is, suppose people recognise your existence and give you food today, but tomorrow you are going to die. Is it all right? Then again you are putting another condition. “That also is not sufficient. I want to live long.” How long? Three hundred years. Happy? Very good, But when two hundred and ninety-nine years are over, what will you think? “Oh, it is no good. I want to live.” A person does not want to pass away after forty or fifty years. He would like to live a hundred years, but when ninety-nine comes, he is frightened in the same way as before. There is no difference. Even if you live a thousand years, when nine hundred and ninety-nine comes you will say, “Oh no, now I am going.” So it is not true that you want to live long. This answer also is not correct.
Yamaraj told Nachiketas, “I will give you such a long life, as long as the world lasts and the sun and the moon and the stars exist.”
Nachiketas replied, “My great Lord, you are very kind in giving me such a long life, but when the sun and moon and stars don’t exist and the world also goes, what will happen to my long life? It will come to an end. I don’t want it.” Even the longest life is short when it ends. So how long do you want to live?
One by one I am mentioning that firstly, you want to exist only. Then your existence must be recognised by others. Then it must be a comfortable life. Then it must be not for a few days, but a long, endless life you want. You want to defy time itself, finally. Even then, you don’t like to exist as an individual person in one corner like a tall tree existing for a long, long time. You must be recognised by all the people everywhere, and you must control the whole world, if possible. And what is above this earth? That also you want – the sun, the moon and the stars. You want to expand your being to universal dimensions. ‘Universal dimension’ means defying space itself. You want to defy space and defy time. This is what you want, finally.
I have never seen a person like Swami Sivananda, and we do not hope to see another like that. Givananda. He is not Sivananda, but Givananda. Give, give, and it shall be given unto you pressed and shaken and overflowing. You will weep at the greatness of this wonderful Mahatma Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. We are alive, comfortable here. We have got full security from the government. We have no problems. Every kind of medicine for treatment is here. A wonderful library is here. And daily, unasked, you get food. You need not ask for food. Sivananda is everywhere – in North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Australia. Everywhere they know Swami Sivananda.
Tomorrow is the birthday of Sri Gurudev. For thanksgiving, as an offering of gratitude, we should try to be as he was, at least in a small modicum in our own selves, knowing at the same time what we want. The answer has come already. We want perpetual existence, universal existence, and eternal existence. That means to say, we want God-existence, Brahma-sakshat.
So we shall pray to the Almighty to give us strength to remember this great Master of the twentieth century who has shaken the minds of all slumbering people everywhere and awakened them to the consciousness of the existence of a higher life. Our obeisance to Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj!

 

THE GOLDEN ERA IS AT HAND

swami-sivanandaBy Swami Sivananda
Power is an intoxicant. Under its sway man will cut his own throat, bring about his own ruin. O Man! Have you not yet realised this patent truth? Have you not had enough of the poisonous fruits of power-politics, a mad hunt for power in national, international, social and even in domestic fields? Have you not yet realised that it will only produce disharmony, wars, riots and misery?
Power is an intoxicant. Even superhuman Tapas, even the Darshan of Lord Siva (for which aspirants engage themselves in life-long Sadhana) proved to be the ruin of Ravana who had surrendered himself to the lust for power.
Nothing can save you, except Dharma. Nothing is of any use, except Dharma. Nothing avails here except Dharma. Nothing, nothing can bring about harmony, universal peace and prosperity, except Dharma. Peace will remain unknown where Dharma remains unknown. Happiness will desert that house, village or nation in which Dharma has not been enshrined.
With Dharma as the sovereign ruling principle, everything acquires meaning. Based on Dharma, Tapas acquires Divine Power. Founded on Dharma, politics and nation-building activities ensure prosperity. Anchored in Dharma, family life will be happy and blissful, ennobling and divine.
The universe is maintained by Dharma. The planets are held together by Dharma. O Man! Wake up! Wake up now at least and walk the glorious path of righteousness.
You will attain what you want only if you seek for it where it is. If you want happiness, seek for it in the Self, in God, the fountain-source of the highest bliss, not in the little sensual objects. If you aspire for power, get omnipotence in Self-realisation; you will become One with the Supreme power that governs the universe; but not in petty positions, in empires and colonies, in wealth and machine-guns. If you want prosperity acquire it in righteousness, not in artificial living, bungalows and motor cars. If you seek happiness, prosperity, power and glory in the things of this earth, you will suffer the fate of the drowning man who got on the crocodile’s back mistaking it for a log of wood that would take him to the shore. Remember this. Be not deluded. Wake up, wake up, this very moment.

Remember: Adharma cannot survive for long. It will ruin its adherents and then suffer defeat at the hands of Dharma. That Golden Era, that Age of Dharma, that Satya Yuga, when Dharma will reign supreme is not far off. No power on earth can hold it back. If you co-operate with the divine forces that work for the ushering in the Golden Era, you will enjoy unalloyed bliss, peace and prosperity.
Beloved Children of Immortality! Arise, awake! Lead the Divine Life of truth, purity, love and goodness. Attain peace, perfection and Eternal Bliss. May God bless you all with health, long life, peace, prosperity and Atma-Jnana!

 

PRAMUKH SWAMI OF BAPS ATTAINED MAHA SAMADHI – WORLD LEADERS AND COUNTLESS DEVOTEES MOURNED THE DEATH OF SWAMI

By Ravi Ponangi

Atlanta:Pramukh Swamiji Pramukh Swami, spiritual head and President of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, inspirer of countless and a great servant of society, passed away on August 13, at 6 PM (India) at the pilgrimage place of Sarangpur in Gujarat state of India. He was 95 years old. Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the current guru and president of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha worldwide. The world-famous Akshardham temples of India and abroad have been built under his directions by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. Pramukh Swamiji’s efforts in field of education, health and other social services are remarkable. Dignitaries and several world leaders have condoled the death of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Pramukh Swami in conversation with Atlanta kids

Swami in conversation with Atlanta kids

 

On completing his Sanskrit studies, he was appointed as the Kothari of the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Sarangpur in 1946 at the age of 25. Then in 1950, at the age of 28, Shastriji Maharaj selected him as the President (Pramukh) of BAPS in his place. Since then, he had been fondly known as ‘Pramukh Swami’. Shastriji Maharaj passed away in 1951, declaring Yogiji Maharaj as his spiritual successor. Thereafter, Pramukh Swami served under the guidance and blessings of Yogiji Maharaj. In 1971, after the departure of guru Yogiji Maharaj, Pramukh Swami Maharaj succeeded him as the fifth spiritual guru of BAPS. Over the next 45 years, his unremitting satsang travels, selfless services to society, saintly virtues and profound devotion to God earned him the respect and reverence of countless worldwide. His untiring efforts in uplifting lives, liberating thousands from vices and addictions, providing relief and rehabilitation to innumerable people in times of calamity and catastrophe, and inspiring character and faith in hundreds of thousands of children and youths were some of his many outstanding services to society. He also created and consecrated over 1,100 Mandirs worldwide and grand cultural complexes like Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi and Gandhinagar to portray the cultural and spiritual heritage of India. Renowned spiritual masters and heads of state have been deeply touched by his humility, saintliness and noble works.

Pramukh Swamiji in one of his Atlanta visit

Swamiji in one of his Atlanta visit

Dr. Swami, Pujya Swayamprakashdas Swami, a senior sadhu of the BAPS, made an official statement that His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj has been revered by countless people throughout the world. To cater to the large influx of people, arrangements for his final darshan at Sarangpur have been made from 7:00m onwards, Sunday, 14 August 2016 to 11:00am Wednesday, 17 August 2016. During this period, darshan will continue for 24 hours. The cremation rites will be performed on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 at 3:00pm in the precincts of the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir complex in Sarangpur. The final cremation rites will be broadcast live on www.live.baps.org at 3:00pm, Wednesday, 17 August 2016.

MAHANT SWAMI MAHARAJ SADHU KESHAVJIVANDAS SUCCEEDS PRAMUKH SWAMI AS GURU AND PRESIDENT OF BAPS:

Mahant Swami Maharaj Sadhu Keshavjivandas

Mahant Swami Maharaj Sadhu Keshavjivandas

BAPS has in a statement declared Mahant Swami Maharaj Sadhu Keshavjivandas as successor of Pramukh Swami. An official statement quoting Pujya Doctor Swami Sadhu Swayamprakashdas reads: Four years ago, on 20 July 2012, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj had declared in a letter that His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj Sadhu Keshavjivandas would succeed him as the guru of BAPS. Thus, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj is now the president of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, as the sixth spiritual head in the gunatit guru parampara tradition of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Henceforth, he will steer BAPS and further the great teachings and works of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Pujya Mahant Swami completed his B.Sc. (agriculture) in 1956 and took initiation as a sadhu at the hands of Brahma Swarup Yogiji Maharaj in 1957. He is one of the senior sadhus of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, having served both Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Ravi R Ponangi with Pramukh Swamiji

Ravi R Ponangi with Pramukh Swamiji

ALL ABOUT GURU PURNIMA

ALL ABOUT GURU PURNIMA

In celebration of Guru Purnima on July 19, 2016, contemplate on the significance of Guru Purnima

Guru-Purnima - Veda Vyas

The word “Guru” in Sanskrit is translated as “dispeller of darkness.” Hence the Guru dispels the darkness of ignorance and leads the aspirants on the path to enlightenment. The day of Guru Purnima is traditionally the time when seekers offer the Guru their gratitude and receive his blessings. Guru Purnima is also considered an especially beneficial day to practice sadhana and meditation. The Full Moon Day in the month of Ashada (July-August) is known as Guru Purnima. This year it is on July 19.

Message for Guru Purnima By Sri Swami Sivananda: The full moon day in the month of Ashada is the extremely auspicious and holy day of Guru Purnima. On this Ashada Purnima Day, sacred to the memory of the great sage, Sri Vyasa Bhagavan or Sri Krishna Dwaipayana, Sannyasins settle at some place to study, do Vedantic Vichar and discourse on the thrice-blessed Brahma Sutras composed by Maharishi Vyasa. Sri Veda Vyasa has done unforgettable service to all humanity for all times by editing the four Vedas. Writing the eighteen Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata. We can attempt to repay this deep debt of gratitude we owe Him only by constant study of His works and Practise of His teachings imparted for the regeneration of humanity in this Iron Age or Kali Yuga. In honor of this Divine personage all Sadhakas and devotees perform Vyasa Puja on this day, aspirants worship their Guru, Mahatmas and Sadhus are honored and entertained and acts of charity done by all Grihasthis with deep faith and sincerity.

Mark fully the deep significance of this great day. Ashada Purnima heralds the Chaturmas or the setting in of the eagerly awaited rains. The water drawn up and stored as clouds in the hot summer now manifests in plentiful showers that usher in the advent of fresh life everywhere. Even so, do you all begin seriously to put into actual working all the theory and philosophy that you have stored up in you through patient study. Commence practical spiritual Sadhana right from this day. Generate fresh waves of spirituality. Let all that you have read, heard, seen and learnt become, through Sadhana, transformed into a continuous outpouring of Universal Love, ceaseless loving service, and continuous prayer and worship of the Lord seated in all beings.

As the day of Guru Puja or worship of one’s preceptor, this is a day of pure joy to the sincere aspirant. Thrilled by the expectation of offering his reverent homage to the beloved Guru, aspirants await this occasion with eagerness and devotion. It is the Guru alone that breaks the binding cords of attachment and releases the aspirant from the trammels of earthly existence. The Guru is God Himself. He guides and inspires you from the innermost core of your being. He is verily the Supreme Spirit. He is everywhere.

Have a new angle of vision. Behold the entire Universe as Guru Swaroopa. See the guiding hand, the awakening voice, the illumining touch of the Guru in every object in this Creation. The whole world will now stand transformed before your changed vision. The Virat Guru will reveal all the precious secrets of life and bestow Wisdom. The Supreme Guru manifest in visible Nature will teach you the most valuable lessons of Life. Worship daily this Guru of Gurus, the Guru who taught even Avadhut Dattatreya. The silent all-enduring Earth with its lofty forbearance, the shady fruit bearing tree with its willing self-sacrifice, the mighty Pipal reposing with patience in the tiny seed, the dripping drops whose persistence wear away the rocks, the planets and the seasons with their order punctuality and regularity are Divine Gurus to him who will look, listen and receive.

Become a personification of receptivity. Empty yourself of your petty ego-sense. All the treasures locked up in the bosom of Nature will become yours! You will have progress and perfection in an amazingly short time. Become pure and unattached as the mountain breeze. As the river flows continuously, steadily and constantly towards its goal, the Ocean, by moving every moment of your life towards the Supreme state of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, let all your thoughts, all your words, all your actions be directed only towards the Goal.

The Moon shines by reflecting the dazzling light of the Sun. It is the Full-Moon of Purnima Day that reflects in full splendor the glorious light of the Sun. It glorifies the Sun. Purify yourself through the fire of Service and Sadhana and like the Full Moon reflect the Glorious Light of the ATMAN. Become the full reflectors of Brahmic splendor, the Light of Lights, make this your goal, to become a living witness to Divinity, the brilliant Sun of Suns!

This then is my message to you all on most sacred Guru-Purnima, learn to behold all creation as Guru Swaroopa, become full moon of spiritual perfection! May you all cut asunder the knot of Avidya and shine as a blessed Jeevanmukta shedding Peace, Joy and Light everywhere!

GURU PURNIMA MESSAGE BY SRI SRI RAVI SANKAR: Guru Purnima is the day of reflection. It is the New Year for a spiritual seeker; for one who is on the path. Just like you have the calendar New Year on 1st January every year, for a spiritual seeker, the New Year is on Guru Purnima.

It is a day of reflection; to review on one’s credits and debits and look at the balance sheet. It is a day to be grateful for all that we have achieved in the past year, and a day to resolve to do what we are here to do in the coming year. That is the essence of Guru Purnima. So feel grateful for all the blessings that you have received. Be grateful for all the knowledge, and see how knowledge has transformed life. Without the knowledge we will be nowhere – realizing this, feel grateful for all that has come our way, and celebrate!

Thank all the masters of the tradition who have preserved this knowledge from ages, and brought it to us. It is very significant.

Our body has millions of cells, and each cell has its own life. Many cells are being born every day and many are dying every day. So you are a walking and moving township. Just like how there are so many cities on the planet Earth and the Earth is moving around the Sun, in the same way, inside you there are so many cells, and so many living beings, and you are moving around. So you are a township yourself.

Just like a beehive – there are so many bees that come and sit on a beehive because there is this one queen bee. If the queen bee goes away, the entire beehive disappears. In the same way, in our body there is a queen bee, which is the soul (atman), and if that goes, everything else disappears. Where is this atman or self? It is nowhere and everywhere, and that is what you are!

Like there is fatherhood and motherhood, there is something called Guruhood as well, and you all have to play the role of Guruhood to someone or the other. Anyways, consciously or unconsciously you are all a Guru to somebody already because you do give advice, guidance, love and care to people, isn’t it? So now do it consciously, giving your hundred percent without expecting anything in return. This is living the Guru Principle.

Know that there is no difference between you, the Divine and the Guru Principle. It all culminates into just one thing – the queen bee. And meditation is reposing in the atman.

Today, ask for what you want and it will be bestowed. Go for the highest desire. The best wish is to desire for knowledge and freedom. Think about everything in your life that you can be grateful for, and ask what you want for the future. And bless others; this is the time to bless people. Just receiving is not enough, we need to also bless those who are in need.

 

DID YOU KNOW TOLI EKADASI

Vishnu


Toli Ekadashi is also known as Deva Sayana Ekadasi or Hari Sayana Ekadasi and the Chatur Mas Vrat (four holy months in Hinduism) begins from the day of Toli Ekadasi. The night time of Devaas (Gods and Goddesses) begin on this day and it believed that Lord Vishnu goes to sleep from the day. As per the religious beliefs Toli Ekadasi is celebrated on the name of lord Vishnu who goes on deep sleep on his divine serpent called Aadi Sesha. People will be fasting on whole day of Toli Ekadasi and they will break fasting on next day Dwadashi by eating fruits. Some of the people will also do Nirjal Upavas fasting without taking liquid and water.

The significance of Toli Ekadasi is that this is the time when the sun begins moving to the South Pole, and nature begins to go inward. Toli Ekadasi falls on Ashada Sukla Paksha Ekadasi as per Hindu calendar. In the Western calendar, this occurs in June or July, near the summer solstice. It is popularly believed that by praying and observing Toli Ekadashi will help in a person from redemption of sins.

Immediately after Toli Ekadashi, Lord Vishnu, being a representation of nature, goes into yoganidra (deep meditation). He rests on Adi Seshu (the divine serpent), which represents kundalini energy and transformation. This is a time when the energy is appropriate for going inward, and the kundalini energy can be utilized to transform ourselves.

There is a story about Toli Ekadasi in Bhavishya Purana, that King Mandhata of Surya Dynasty was noble and honest and observed Ekadasi fasting with devotion, particularly ‘Sayana Ekadasi’ fasting. His kingdom had effected severe drought and many of animals were died. To get out this situation, king Mandhata did Sayana Ekadasi fasting on Toli Ekadasi with much devotion and prayed lord Vishnu. After that fasting he get rid of severe drought in his kingdom. 11Hindus regard Toli Ekadashi/Sayana Ekadasi as a scared day especially for the farmers. This festival is something similar to the ‘Eruvaka’ Festival, which is celebrated by the farmers. On this day farmers perform ‘Pooja’ to the agricultural implements and begin to sow seeds after the first rains on Toli Ekadashi day. As it considered sacred new people (workers) join farming on this day.

Ekadashi is a Sanskrit word for number 11. It means the 11th day of each half of the month in the Vedic lunar calendar. So there are two Ekadasi days in each month on the Hindu calendar. One is in the Sukla Paksha of the month. This is known as the bright fortnight. The second is in the Krishna Paksha of the month. This is known as the dark fortnight. Ekadasi is a special day for all spiritual seekers in Hinduism. Devotees observe a fast and spend more time in spiritual practice.

Devsayana Ekadasi is known as Toli Ekadasi in southern part of India and Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped. It is believed that on day of Devsayana Ekadasi, Lord Vishnu goes off to sleep in Ksheer Sagar, on Sesha Naga for a period of four months. These four months are also known as Chaturmas. Chaturmas Vrat is observed at the beginning of this month. Post four months, Lord Vishnu wakes up from his sleep. This day is known as Prabodhini Ekadasi or Deva Uthana Ekadasi and is observed in the Kartika Masa (month) which is in October- November. During these four months no auspicious work is done.