March 17 is an important Festival Day in the whole of Ireland. It is celebrated as St Patrick Day. He is the Patron Saint of Ireland. Apart from the associated mirth and colour that take many diverse forms including the unmanageable consumption of drinks and dancing, the life and teachings of St Patrick have inspired people for years and years. His belief in God the Lord was not just a statement but born out of deep conviction. The conviction, in turn, was born of his realisation. He saw God face to face as it were and he was transformed into a magnet to which millions of people were attracted to.
I had no idea about this great Saint before I was posted to Ireland. Once it was decided that I would be moving to Ireland which was for a long time, dearest in my heart due to its being the birth country of our Sister Nivedita (Margaret Elizabeth Noble), I started to read about Ireland. I came to know that this country was famous for its ‘Saints and Scholars’. Then I read about the Patron Saint Patrick who is lovingly called by people as St Paddy.
Recently when I was glancing through books in a book store by name Veritas in Dublin City, brother Swami Purnananda asked what I was looking for. I said I was on the lookout for a short account of St Patrick and he immediately picked up a book “Patrick in his own words” by Joseph Duffy and presented it to me saying ‘with my compliments!’
The book was unputdownable, to say the least! Plenty of inspiring things about St Patrick! His strong conviction that ‘nothing was impossible for God’ kept my attention on and made me compare to the parable of Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna where the devotee on hearing that Lord was trying to send a mammoth elephant through the eye of a needle exclaimed ‘Oh that was simple! Because nothing was impossible for God!”
Latu Maharaj [later Swami Adbhutananda] was extremely fortunate that he got the opportunity to live with Ramakrishna and serve him for over six years. Sri Ramakrishna taught Latu various spiritual disciplines. One day while Latu was massaging Ramakrishna’s feet, the Master asked, “Do you know what your Lord Rama is doing now?” Latu was dumbfounded and kept quiet. The Master said, “Your Lord Rama is now passing an elephant through the eye of a needle.” Latu understood that Ramakrishna, out of compassion, was pouring spirituality into him.
An incident that proved St Patrick’s conviction is worth reproducing here: “After three days we reached land, and then for twenty-eight days we journeyed through an uninhabited country. The food ran out and hunger overtook us. One day the steersman said to me, “Why are we hungry, Christian? You say your God is great and all-powerful, then why can you not pray for us? Otherwise, we may perish of hunger.” I said to them confidently, “Be converted by faith with all your heart to my Lord God, because nothing is impossible for him and everywhere he abounds. Today he will send you food on your road until you are full.” And with God’s help, this came to pass. A herd of swine appeared on the road before our eyes, and they slew many of them. We remained there for two nights, and the men were full of meat and well restored; whereas before this many of them had fainted and would otherwise have been left half dead by the wayside. After this, they gave the utmost thanks to God, and I was highly esteemed in their eyes, and from that day on they had food abundantly. On the journey, God provided us with food and fire and dry weather every day until on the tenth day we came upon people.”
The Éire Vedanta Society here in Dublin celebrated the Day with due solemnity. In an evening function, the star of the function was Arka Chatterjee (15) who played violin instrument to the delight of the assembled devotees. He played a few Irish tunes admirably well. Sindhu Menon sang a sweet Krishna bhajan in Tamil mellifluously. Jayita sang with emotion a few Bengali bhajans on Sri Ramakrishna. The welcome speech was given by Swami Purnananda while the closing thanks speech was given by Swami Vimokshananda.
A few snaps of the St Patrick Day function: