Navaratri was celebrated at the Eire Vedanta Society (EVS) in a solemn manner. Swami Madhurananda of Mayavati was the guest monk during Durga Puja period. He spoke on “Mother Worship” at the Centre on Mahashtami night (6th Oct) with good insights!
Swami Vimokshananda and Swami Purnananda spoke on Mahasashti Day (4th Oct) at Limerick function – the very first time Puja organised there, – by the Indian Cultural Association (ICA), Limerick.
At Dublin function, organised by Ireland Durgotsab Committee (IDC), all the three Swamis spoke on the Mahashtami evening (6th Oct). Swami Purnananda conducted a Guided Meditation at the Puja venue on the Mahanavami Day (7th Oct) at the IDC Durga Puja.
At the Centre of course the EVS hosted one evening of Mahasaptami (5th Oct), a Navaratri festival of Sanatana Ireland the members of which performed a devotional program. That included chanting of Lalitha Sahasranamam and a few bhajans. Krish, a young boy rendered a classical Carnatic Concert in a charming style on the same evening.
Earlier, on 28th Sept., Swami Vimokshananda attended a Durga Puja festival organised by Sujon Durgotsab Committee of Dublin. He addressed an audience of 350 devotees assembled there.
May the Divine Mother bestow Her blessings on all of you! Jai Ramakrishna!
Namo Vrata pataye Namo Gana pataye Namah Pramatha pataye Namaste Astu Lambodaraya Ekadantaya Vighna nashine Shiva sutaya Shri Varada murtaye Namo Namaha || 10 ||
Prostrations to Vratapati, the Lord of Plenty. Prostrations to Ganapati, the Lord of various groups of Gods. Prostrations to Pramathapati, the Lord of Siva‘s hosts. Prostrations to Lambodara, the full-bellied God with a single tusk, destroyer of obstacles, the Son of Siva, the Bestower of all Blessings.
With the chanting of this auspicious Ganesha mantra, Swami Vimokshananda, the Minister in Charge of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre, Dublin began his Discourse at the Vinayaka Chaturthi Festival held at the Limerick town, about 180 kms south-west of Dublin. The Hindu groups of Limerick came together to celebrate the Chaturthi event grandly on Sunday, 15th Sept 2019.
The images of Ganesha and the mother Gauri were brought specially for this purpose from India by Mohan, one of the Limerick residents. He is the principal devotee who gathered the community and arranged this festival that was attended by more than 180 devoted people. The hall was almost full with elders and children in their variety garments indicated the joyous moment.
A recently married young couple from Karnataka was selected to do the puja rituals. Swami Vimokshananda was the tantra-dharaka of this puja, directing them to perform the rituals and chanting the mantras suitable to every act of propitiation. He explained the purport of this puja initially and went on giving an English rendering of the ritual practices. At the close of the Puja, the audience repeated with him the 108 names of Lord Ganesha in one voice. That created a wonderful vibration. The assembled devotees then gave the pushpanjali one by one.
In his Talks, the Swami described the importance of puja in one’s spiritual life and how the puja transforms the concept of God from God outside to God within. Dattareya Valenkar, a close devotee from Bengaluru who was on a visit to Ireland as a guest of the Vedanta Society, Dublin was present. He is a popular Hindustani Classical music vocalist.
He sang Ganesha bhajans in Hindi, Marathi and Kannada languages to the delight of the audience. The vocalist was aptly accompanied on Tabla by Rupak Pandit from Dublin.
The event concluded with sumptuous lunch prasad. The musician and the Tabla player were duly honoured with gifts by the Limerick Hindu community.
(The above is a short Report on the event from a devotee who attended the programme)
We celebrated Sri Krishna Janmashtami in a solemn atmosphere. About 40+ devotees attended.
After the Vesper service of Sri Ramakrishna, there were two Talks one by self and another by Swami Purnananda. I narrated the birth incident of Sri Krishna, tracing the parents’ life and how the Supreme God intervened to ameliorate the sufferings of good people on the earth. Swami Purnananda spoke on the teachings of Sri Krishna which is available to us even this day as Bhagavad Gita. We had chorus singing of Shyam Naam Sankirtan of 9 stanzas and Bhaja Govindam. A few more bhajans were also sung.
For a fledgeling centre, just started a year back, we didn’t expect a good number. But then, 40+ was manageable as devotees brought their own naivedya (offerings) and as prasad the same was shared among us.
Earlier, on Sunday 18th August 2019, Sanatana Ireland, a Charity organisation in Dublin conducted a Workshop for Children on Srimad Bhagavad Gita. We two Swamis participated in the Workshop.
The program began with lighting of lamp called ‘Bhadradeepam’. The children then sang a Keertana on Lord Ganesha, followed by singing the Glory of Guru and chanted the full Gita Dhyanam. The important element was the Workshop where Swami Purnananda explained some Vedantic teachings from Gita. Swami Vimokshananda explained the concept of constant remembrance of Lord through a story of famous Sakkubai, a Maharashtra Saint.
The children presented an admirable Dance-drama on the value of Friendship by depicting the story of Krishna-Sudama eternal love. The children participated enthusiastically in the quiz program on ‘Dashavatharam‘.
The organisers arranged the release of a new Balagokulam Syllabus. Both the Swamis released the volume and presented to the syllabus makers. The interesting program came to a close with chanting of Swasti mantras and arati to Lord Krishna followed by distribution of prasad.
Today is the glorious Guru Purnima! A day to venerate worshipfully the vishaala-buddhi (vast-minded) Sage Veda Vyasa! A day to pay reverence prayerfully to one’s own spiritual preceptor! And all those tireless teachers from whom we learn any training lesson…On this auspicious occasion this is my humble homage to one of our late monks who made me understand the secret of Karma Yoga in a most unconventional manner! Priti Maharaj a man of simple habits was no doubt a real karma yogi whose selfless and weariless work I had seen in close quarters for more than a decade. He joined the Ramakrishna Order at its Karimganj centre (in the state of Assam) in 1951. He was an initiated disciple of Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj and had sannyasa (formal vows of monkhood) from Swami Shankaranandaji Maharaj in 1961. He passed away on 10 February 2004 at the age of 73.
It was a crowded shrine hall. Mother Durga glowed magnificently. A tune in kedaar raaga wafted in the air, weaving a melody, working to soothe my wavering mind. Curious to know whose captivating vocal it was, I just peeped in through the window. That was the first time in 1976 at Rahara temple hall where Durga Puja was on, that I saw Revered Prathamanandaji Maharaj who to everyone was dear ‘Pritida’.
His music drew me like a magnet; because so long I have been hearing within the Mission campus only bhajans that are simple and straight. Here was a monk who elaborated a raaga in his inimitable style. The first song that captured my attention was ‘Jaya Shiva Shankara’. When his music ended I was, as if, transported to another world where I could feel the enchanting raaga taking an enticing shape.
Relief and Rehabilitation
Just before the conclusion of my Training Centre period in Belur Math, along with four other brahmacharins, I was, in 1977, deputed to Rajahmundry where a massive relief work was started by the local Ramakrishna Mission centre. First three months went into providing primary relief. The Diviseema area of Andhra Pradesh was devastated beyond recognition by the surging tidal waves. Thousands of houses were washed away. More than 20,000 people died in the sea waters that entered into coastal villages.
Our Headquarters at Belur Math urgently decided to construct 1100 new houses for the poorest of the poor in 11 villages bordering the sea coast – not a simple structure but cyclone proof shelters. A mammoth rehabilitation work had begun. Therein entered Pritida like a colossus taking the challenge head on, with whom I had the blessed opportunity to be with, day in and day out, month after month and year by year for almost a decade long since. Against insurmountable difficulties Revered Pritida struggled to make the rehabilitation work a great success. In order to get hollow bricks right at the spot, he created a huge brick manufacturing unit at Puligadda camp on the bank of the Krishna river with hundreds of local poor people getting casual employment. Seeing the hard working monk, the great cine-celebrity and later Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh – N T Rama Rao came in with his helping hand of large donations.
Under the scorching heat of Andhra, at the coastal area, a two-hour drive from Vijayawada, he used to work tirelessly knowing not what the time was or when to eat in the Rehabilitation camp. Meals used to be taken at random – many a time standing on the veranda. Several of his monastic assistants would stare at him in utter disbelief. Available at all time to everyone, oblivious to his personal needs, there he encountered serious stomach problem, which started draining his energy. Before beginning the Rehabilitation work in a massive scale, he gave the idea to perform a hawan for the peace of those thousands of lives lost by the tidal wave devastation and he gave the blessed opportunity to me to do the shodasha upachaara puja (16 item-worship) and hawan which I gladly did on the sea sands amidst fierce winds.
Memorable Medical Work
Once the Andhra work was over, Headquarters asked Pritida to take up the responsibility of running a newly started medical centre at Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh. He was appointed the Head of that hospital. He needed one assistant immediately to start the work there and his choice deliberately fell upon me. I did not know whether I would be able to rise to his expectations because the place was absolutely strange to me. People were indigenous tribals. The culture was unknown. The path was unchartered.
Here at Itanagar under his umbrella cover, I saw before my eyes the blooming of a fresh venture with its own inherent problems. It was a treat to witness how a monk, supposedly innocent of worldly intricacies, tackled from multi various angles one by one troubles galore.
Be it laying the roads, aligning the buildings, fixing the electricals or designing the wards, recruiting and training the staff – from doctors down to sweepers -everything would come under the scrutinising scan of his sharp eyes. Here at Itanagar through his watchful eyes I came to know the tips and tricks of ‘man’ management. Pritida was massively brilliant in outwitting the manoeuvre of mischief mongers. Here at Itanagar under his protective wings I was pulled out of my own created cocoon and was exposed to the vast vagaries of people’s mood. It was Pritida who took me in his arms as it were and guided step by step so as to escape unscathed. Here at Itanagar with his able tutelage I had first hand experience in realising that mere outward personality cannot carry anybody farther; only a well balanced interior of mind and heart could sweep the feet off everyone. Revered Pritida was a shining example. He rarely paid attention to his attire. Have I not found my shirts or dhotis missing from the alna (wooden open shelf) only to spot them on his person! Such was his childlike nature that would not fail to charm anyone.
He used to say that his brain functioned so fast that to put the ideas on to paper was almost impossible for him. Even while talking to others, the words from his mouth would flow like a torrent. I received many times his deep appreciation for my secretarial assistance in putting his thoughts in black and white. Many would think that Prityda was restless and could not stay put steadily in one place. Even supposedly enlightened persons viewed him as an enigma. That was not the case. I had seen him lying down on a cot, absolutely carefree, unmindful of any hullabaloo outside and sipping hot tea in a nonchalant manner but seriously hitting on a pleasing solution to a perplexing problem! His involvement in that Centre was total. Was he attached to the work that he created and cared for, nurtured and nourished? No. At the time of leaving that Centre, on transfer back to Belur Math, he left with a simple bag containing a pair of clothes! Thats all that he possessed!
Revered Pritida had enormous admirers among the monks as well as devotees. People flocked to him with their grievances possibly having no method to set right. He took delight in tackling such circumstances. Be it an inter-caste marriage, or falling in penury Revered Pritida was there with ever ready solution in his pocket, always smiling like Ramana Maharishi!
Can I really exhaust about a multifaceted personality? How much have I known about him? Somehow my mind is unable to come to the terms of his termination; rather the thoughts of his traits do create ripples of admiration and astonishment. Slowly and slowly they rise and gather in my lonely moments, whirling into bigger circles like the emergence of smooth flowing air-bubbles, looming large over the head. Prodigious Pritida cannot be forgotten.
When alive he compelled attention, more – when no more.
The function to commemorate the completion of One Year of the Eire Vedanta Society, Dublin held on 16 June 2019 at Nivedita House went off well, all by His grace. About 75 people and 20 children attended the function.
The children of Sanatana-Ireland did the Vedic Chanting and one bhajan. Swami Vimokshananda welcomed the gathering. Among the distinguished guests were Ms Rose Emmet, the Local Community Leader, Ms Punam Rane, the newly elected India-born Councillor, Mr Michael Sullivan, representing Dublin Inter-Faith Forum, Mr Jagan a Social Worker and Mr Dipak Inamdar of the Vedic Hindu Cultural Centre.
A devotional singing group called “Chant & Chai” did some bhajans with verve and vigour. The programme included children’s Play & Learn, Talks, given by guest speakers interspersed with bhajan singing by devotees.
Swami Purnananda gave a short Report of Activities and a future vision. The programme came to a close with a Vote of Thanks by Prof Siddhartha Sen followed by a short Arati and Lunch prasad.
Yesternight’s Purnima was indeed an adorable one for its special significance as it was on this tithi, that Lord Buddha was born as Gotama at Kapilavastu now in Nepal. We, at the Eire Vedanta Society, celebrated Buddha‘s Birthday in a solemn manner. The programme began just after 5:30 pm. An image of Lord Buddha was tastefully decorated and kept at the centre of the Altar.Swami Vimokshananda welcomed the audience. Swami Purnananda made a brief introduction about the distinguished speakers on this occasion.
The first speaker was Prof Leo D Lefebure of Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA and a Catholic priest. He is accredited with writing several books, especially on Buddhist Scriptures like Dhammapada and how it relates to Christianity. He is Vice President of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies. He first read the opening verses of the Dhammapada and highlighted how enlightening they were and the similarities with certain teachings found in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.
The second speaker was Revered Hodo Gomoku who follows Zen Buddhism. He brought out some salient points of what Lord Buddha means to the Modern World. There are several teachings such as non-violence, compassion, patience etc. But Rev Hodo considered the most important teaching of Buddha for the Modern World as ‘Mindfulness’; he quoted from the Lalitavistara Sutra, one of the prominent scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism and explained how Buddha overcame the assaults of Mara.
Swami Vimokshananda while appreciating the talks of the two distinguished speakers added how Swami Vivekananda had the greatest adoration to Lord Buddha and how he had darshan of Lord Buddha. Swami Purnananda gave a vote of thanks as well as presented gifts as a token of respects. This was followed by Vesper Service and partaking of prasad.
The incident how Swami Vivekananda had darshan of Lord Buddha is indeed remarkable and good to recollect what he had related to Swami Saradananda and his disciples, Sister Nivedita and Sharat Chandra Chakravarty, on 3 separate occasions. A combined account of this incident in Swamiji’s own words gathered from these 3 sources is presented here:
One day while meditating, “There flowed in my mind a current of serene bliss when I kept it still, devoid of all objects. I felt for a long time even after the end of the meditation, a sort of intoxication under its impulse.
So, I did not feel inclined to leave the seat and get up immediately. While I was sitting in that condition at the end of the meditation, from the southern wall of that room a luminous figure stepped out and stood at a little distance in front of me, filling the room with a divine effulgence.
It was the figure of a Sannyasin (monk) in ochre cloth, absolutely calm, shaven-headed, and staff and Kamandalu (a Sannyasin’s wooden water-bowl) in hand.
The man was tall and largely built. There was a wonderful radiance on his visage, yet there seemed to be no play of emotion on it. In his face was calm so deep and so established, that it seemed as if both pain and pleasure had been forgotten during an infinite time.
He gazed at me for some time and I too gazed at him in speechless wonder. I felt very much drawn towards him. He walked forward towards me with a slow step, with his eyes steadfastly fixed on me, as if he wanted to say something.
But I was seized with fear and could not keep quiet. I got up from my seat, opened the door and walked out of the room with a rapid step. The next moment I thought, ‘Why this foolish fear?’ I made bold and went back into the room to hear the monk, who, alas, was no longer there.
I waited long in vain and felt dejected, repenting that I had been stupid enough to fly away without listening to him. I have seen many monks, but never have I found such an extraordinary expression in any other face. That face has been indelibly imprinted in my heart.
It may be a hallucination, but very often it comes to my mind that I had the good fortune of seeing Lord Buddha that day.”
I am happy to reproduce, at the request of many devotees and friends, a post from a Blog maintained by Sri Kissoon Behari, a devotee from Chatsworth branch of the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa on the occasion of Sri Hanumanjayanti. Swami Vivekananda was fascinated by the sterling qualities of Sri Hanumanji. He exhorted his disciple thus:
You have now to make the character of Mahavira (Hanuman) your ideal. See how at the command of Ramachandra he crossed the ocean. He had no care for life or death! He was a perfect master of his senses and wonderfully sagacious. You have now to build your life on this great ideal of personal service. Through that, all the other ideals will gradually manifest in life. Obedience to the guru without questioning, and strict observance of Brahmacharya – this is the secret of success. As on the one hand Hanuman represents the ideal of service, so on the other he represents lion’s courage, striking the whole world with awe. He has not the least hesitation in sacrificing his life for the good of Rama. A supreme indifference to everything except the service of Rama. Only the carrying out of Shri Rama’s behest is the one vow of his life! Such whole-hearted devotion is wanted.
February 9, 2011 — kbehari
One of the main elements of spiritual progress is the companionship of the holy and the wise. It is one of the commandments of Sri Ramakrishna (Some of the other injunctions being:repetition of God’s name and singing His glories, going into solitude now and then and thinking of God, and practising meditation.) He compared worldly people to moist wood. Even such wood when placed upon fire soon becomes dry and begins to burn. Similarly, the company of holy men or sadhus drives away the moisture of greed and lust from the hearts of the worldly, and then the fire of discrimination burns steadily in them.
And so one will easily understand how elated we were when our most Revered Swami Vimokshanandaji Maharaj accepted our invitation to visit us.
He first went to our little shrine, and uttering prayers, he worshiped with flowers. Then we led him to our lounge/dining room where some thirty friends and family were eagerly awaiting His Holiness. For some (such as Devan Shukla and Prof Usha Shukla, Devika Madari, Head of Kendra Hindi Patshala) it was a first meeting (and a most memorable one at that). Some others had met Swami Vimokshananda on earlier occasions. These included Rajish Latchman, Deeplal Buddan, Mala Rambally. These three presented a programme of Bhajans and a recital from the ‘Sundarkand’ of the Ramacharitamanasa. So enthralled was Swamiji by their rendition that he asked the artistes to continue for a little longer.
At our request, Swami Vimokshananda Ji addressed us. He presented a summary of the events of the section sung and then made a comment as only one who has a deep intuitive knowledge of scripture can. The following is a summary of the main points made.
SRI HANUMANJI FLIES TO LANKA
Sri Hanumanji , who has just been reminded of his immense power, sets out for Lanka where Mother Sita is being held captive by the demon king Ravana. He springs up on a beautiful hill to leap across the ocean. So powerful is his taking off that the hill sinks immediately into the nether world. On the way, Sri Hanumanji refuses the offer of Mount Mainaak to rest on him. Further in his journey, he encounters Surasa who threatens to devour him. As she opens her mouth to swallow Sri Hanumanji, he enlarges his body to twice the size of her mouth. As she opens her mouth wider still, so does he increase his size. Then suddenly, assuming a very minute form, he enters her mouth and exits. Surasa reveals that she is there only to test the power of Sri Hanumanji. Receiving her blessings, he departs.
He next meets a demoness Simhika who has the power to seize a bird flying overhead just by catching hold of its shadow, dragging it down and then devouring it. Sri Hanumanji dismisses her with a single powerful blow.
The entrance of Lanka is guarded by a demoness Lankini. She detects Sri Hanumanji even though he has reduced himself to the size of a gnat. He deals her such a blow that she reels and vomits blood. She recalls that Lord Brahma had disclosed that when she would be discomfited by a blow from a monkey it would foretell the end of Ravana and the demon race.
MEANING BEHIND THE EXPLOITS
Swami V proceeded to reveal the mystery of this episode. The journey of Sri Hanumanji delineates the journey of a sadhaka in his spiritual quest.
THE LEAP UP AND THE SINKING HILL
The hill from which Sri Hanumanji leaps up and away is described as ‘beautiful’. The hill represents our attraction and attachment to the world. Ordinarily, the world holds one down by its power of gravity or pull of attraction. Spiritual life commences with a strong rejection of worldly life which weighs us down (as does a rock.)
MAINAAK’S OFFER OF REST
The temptation to relax from our spiritual activities or to turn away to another activity is always present. Such a temptation must be rejected. Mainaak’s offer represents the luxurious rest that entices the sadhaka. But Sri Hanumanji says that there is no rest for him until he has accomplished the work of Sri Ram.
OUTWIT THE JUICY DELICIOUS WORLD
The name ‘Surasa’ is a compound of ‘su’ meaning excessive and ‘rasa’ which suggests that which is pleasing to the taste. Thus, Surasa represents the world which appears pleasurable but which devours us in the end. Sri Hanumanji overcomes her with his wit and power.
THE HIDDEN ENEMY
Simhika represents jealousy. It is an invisible and most treacherous enemy of the sadhaka. The sadhaka is like the unwary bird flying high in ignorance of the threat that is lurking below (that is, in his sub-conscious mind). Once in her clutches, it is well nigh impossible to extricate himself from her, and so he perishes.
A BLOW TO PRIDE
Lanka is guarded by the keeper Lankini. (One may think of her as a security system that prevents entry.) She represents pride. Sri Hanumanji puts paid to her with such a blow that topples her and causes her to vomit blood.