It’s an honour for our Centre to receive one of our senior monks of the world-wide Ramakrishna Order today. The Saturday evening Satsang aptly provided an opportunity to extend our warm traditional welcome to the visiting Swami. The monk was Revered Swami Sarvatmanandaji Maharaj. The occasion was the Gita Jayanti celebration.
He has come on a 9-day visit to South Africa. He is presently the Minister-Incharge of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Vereniging Nederland (Ramakrishna Vedanta Society of Netherlands). Earlier he visited Mauritius and from there he landed yesterday at 10 pm via Johannesburg in Durban airport where he was heartily welcomed by brother Saradaprabhananda, officials and Self. He is accompanied by Shivashankar Reddy, a devotee and research scholar doing his Ph.D in Netherlands. They are scheduled to return on the 17th by the evening flight.
The Gita Jayanti
Gita Jayanti tithi falls this year on the 23rd of this month. Since on that date, we have scheduled a day-long Vedanta Retreat, we felt that it would be beneficial for the devotees to listen to the visiting Swami on the Gita and seeing to his convenience, we celebrated Gita Jayanti in all its solemnity two-weeks earlier. The program included opening and closing prayers, singing of bhajans, meditation, chanting from Srimad Bhagavad Gita and a speech by Revered Sarvatmanandaji Maharaj. His Talks, well-put in simple language so that even a child could grasp, centred around on “Shri Krishna’s Assurance to Humanity”.
In his address, revered Maharaj pointed out that thinking of Lord is essential while carrying out all our activities. Struggles in life could be faced only when remembrance of God happens. Hence Shri Krishna’s prompting “maamanusmara yudhya cha”.
The Swami had spent 15 years in USA and before that another 15 years in Belur Math itself. I cannot but remember with nostalgia about his readiness in helping me out with the drafting of sannyasa application in 1981. He rendered ably his ‘boro babu‘ – Chief officer – duties to Swami Gambhiranandaji Maharaj at Belur Math General office for 9 years and to Swami Vandananandaji maharaj there for 6 years. His position was so pivotal that he knew almost everything about every monk and brahmachari. One day I asked him how could he maintain such a ‘secrecy’ of official matters; he replied that he was only a ‘postman’, delivering good and bad mails and a postman never gets attached to what he carries. I learnt that day if one sincerely performs his allotted duties, it could be possible to remain ‘unattached’ too.
Revered Maharaj joined the Ramakrishna Order in December 1964. He initially rendered seva as brahmachari at our Shillong Ashrama in Meghalaya. He was subsequently in Belur Math Headquarters Office from 1970 to 1985. Initiated by Swami Madhavanandaji maharaj, he received his sannyasa from Swami Vireshwaranandaji maharaj in 1974.
From 1985 to April 1997 he was stationed in Boston and Providence Centres in the USA as Assistant to Swami Sarvagatanandaji maharaj. He moved to Southern California and took charge of the San Diego Centre where he stayed until 2000.
He is leaving tomorrow for host of other places where our branches are located such as Pietermaritzburg, Estcourt, Ladysmith, Dundee, Newcastle, Chatsworth and Phoenix. He is also pleased to make a visit to Sri Sarada Devi Ashram at Asherville in Durban on the penultimate day of his stay.
His public lectures have indeed interesting topics. A list is given below for your information and dear reader, if you are anywhere near the place of our branch centres, I encourage you to attend the program.