A Brief Report on Krishna Janmashtami

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.

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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.

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Prodigious Pritida

Sage Veda Vyasa
Veda Vyasa vast-minded

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.

Prity Maharaj
Swami Prathamanandaji

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.

Prityda with the celebrity N T Rama Rao at the construction site
Pritida with the cine-celebrity N T Rama Rao at the construction site. Courtesy: Swami Aksharatmananda of Ramakrishna Mission, Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, India

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.

a brahmachari performing hawan for the peace of lives lost during tidal wave devastation
a brahmachari performing hawan for the peace of lives lost during tidal wave devastation. Courtesy: Swami Aksharatmananda of Ramakrishna Mission, Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, India

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.

Ramakrishna Mission Hospital at Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh - planned executed and run by Prityda for more than two decades
Ramakrishna Mission Hospital at Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh – planned, executed and run by Pritida for more than two decades

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.

Utterly Unattached

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!

Ramana Maharishi
Ramana Maharishi

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.

First Anniversary!

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.

A few snaps in a slideshow below:

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Buddha and Vivekananda

78cf5c96-b2fe-4ac6-9afa-0613e4bdd1e0Yesternight’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.

d6b8f73d-731b-43b7-8413-ad629d990936The 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.”

–Swami Vivekananda relating his vision of Lord Buddha, to Swami Saradananda (Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master, page 1134-1135); Sister Nivedita (The Master as I Saw Him) and Sharat Chandra Chakravarty (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 7). Courtesy: http://www.spiritualbee.com

Buddha Purnima 2019


Hanuman – Make Him your Ideal

Hanuman – Make Him your Ideal

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 Hanuman jayanti. 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.

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’s cute image at Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa, Durban

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.


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 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.)


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.


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.


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.


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.

An Antidote to Worldly Disease!

||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||

Dear avid reader-devotees!

The Ramayana is a masterpiece of Divine Love to Sri Ram. Throughout the verses of the Ramayana, the learned find knowledge, the singers get celestial music, the writers revel in rich poetry and the righteous, a storehouse of Dharma. In this respect the Ramayana is a repository of all sarva-mangala without parallel.

Narayana as Balaji in Tirupati, the famous Vaishnava sacred spot in South India. Courtesy: Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam, Chennai

Here, my mind is humbly reverting to Sri Hari as Sri Ram, beautifully described by Saint Tulsidas (AD 1532-1623) in his magnum opus Sri Ramcharitmanas.

Mother Kaushalya who in her past birth, as wife of Manu had unstinted devotion to Lord Hari. It was unique in that she wished that Lord Hari be born to her as her son. And she demands from the Lord that “chaahaun tumhahi samaan suta” – wish I would have a son like you!”.

Well, this must be a tall order to be complied with! So, the Lord in reply pathetically tells her “aapu sarisa khojoun kahan jaayi?” – Where shall I go to find my equal?” How poetically Tulsidas indicates to us that God is unique and therefore, cannot be xerox copied.

Take the beautiful song, “Thumaka chalata Ramachandra” where he describes so charmingly of his play with the child Rama. He was stunned at what he saw in his vision: the child form just looked exactly to child Rama and thus he wrote the song, looking at the playful baby.

“Raghuvar chavi ke saman, Raghuvara chavi bania”. One devotee from Dhanbad once wrote to me that  “as he thinks of a comparison to the picture of his beautiful Raghuvira, he can’t think of anything and finally decides that his beautiful form can only be compared to his (own) form itself.”

And when Lord Hari indeed appeared now, He came with shankha, chakra, gada, padma in his four arms. That was stunning to her. Immediately Kaushalya went into raptures and started singing hymns to Him. The most funniest thing she felt was that Sri Hari, being birthless, eternal and all-pervading was in her womb all these days! This very incomprehensibility of Lord getting a birth for her sake would even shake the steady minds of munis, she wonders!

Lord Hari, the ever compassionate and merciful as baby Ram…

But she would rather have the Lord as her baby and therefore she prays to Him with both hands folded. “O Lord! Vedas say that you are beyond maya, attributes and knowledge and that the whole universe in all its manifestations resides in your body. Who would ever believe that such as YOU, resided in my womb for nine months? Please O Lord, give up this appearance and become a newborn child, because that is what will give me infinite joy.” And then the Lord, the King of the divine kingdom, smiled, became a baby and started to cry in the lap of mother. Tulsidas in the last line of this lovely piece says that whosoever sings this passage, would be liberated from this world and will never be reborn. A right anti-dote to the disease of samsara (the cycle of birth and death)!

Every devotee is precious to the Lord, and He is ever ready to help us succeed. Every spiritual home must have a copy of the Ramayana, and regular reading of this sacred Book will enable us to emulate the lives of exemplary Sri Rama, the immaculate Mother Sita, the dedicated Hanumanji and a host of bright and wonderful characters found in this gem of our scriptures.

He who came as Rama and Krishna…

So, dear devotees, on this very auspicious occasion of Sri Ram Navami, let us all take a resolve to cultivate faith and love for our dear Lord Rama. Did not our Master Sri Ramakrishna assure us that “The One who became Rama and Krishna, has now come into this case (showing his body)”? May all be blessed with spiritual love and enlightenment!

In this entire journey of life – our merciful Master is with us, eager to help us when we stumble, forgive us when we make mistake, and encourage us when we falter.

Brother Swami Purnananda Ji  also joins me in wishing abundance of love and healthy life to every one of you!

With love and prayers
Swami Vimokshananda

Chaitanya Jayanti Celebrated

The 614th Birthday of Sri Chaitanya Deva was celebrated at Eire Vedanta Society (EVS) on Dol Jatra day which fell on Thursday 21st March 2019. A beautiful picture of Sri Chaitanya Deva holding a rosary signifying chanting of Sri Krishna’s holy name was kept at the altar for the first time. Devotees brought suitable offerings which were distributed as Prasad to all. 22 people attended the function.

Swami Purnananda performed the vesper service to Sri Ramakrishna amidst singing of “Khandana…” by the Ramakrishna Choir led by Jhuma Majumdar. While Prithwish Majumdar played the Tabla, Hariharan accompanied on Kanjira.

The evening was a moment of great joy when devotees enthusiastically sang a myriad of Sri Krishna bhajans. A few bhajans were led by Sharanya Bharathwaj and Malabika Basu.

Swami Vimokshananda, in his discourse on the Life and Teachings of Sri Chaitanya Deva,  traced the incident of his being given an uncommon name after his birth and how even at the young age he renounced name and fame just for his older friend Raghunath by throwing away all his superb writings on Logic in the Ganges.

Swami Vimokshananda also retold the story of Jagai and Madhai and how these two bad elements of society completely turned over a new leaf as servants of society through the holy company of Sri Chaitanya. Chaitanya‘s infinite compassion healed a leper. His untiring travels to South of India spread the Maha mantra among all classes of people irrespective of caste or creed. He brought millions of people into his bhakti fold.

Supta Ghosh read out the only written short work of Chaitanya Deva available today called Shiksha Ashtakam – an eight verse instructional hymn. Devotees finally offered colourful Abir to Lord Chaitanya.

Later they prostrated to both the monks of the EVS offered Abir.

A few snaps of the function here below in a slideshow:

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Gift of God

Little St Patrick at Dublin Cathedral

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:

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Bhagawan’s Birthday!

 The 184th Birthday of Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna was celebrated on 10 March 2019 at Eire Vedanta Society, Dublin in Ireland.

The programme began with a Puja of Sri Ramakrishna by Swami Vimokshananda assisted by Swami Purnananda. The little boy Advaith surprised everybody by appearing in the make-up of Swami Vivekananda and retold the thrilling words of Swami Vivekananda from his Chicago Addresses.

Basil Conroy did the Readings from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. The portion highlighted the child-like mood of Sri Ramakrishna that brought the occasion so much merriment. The children from the John Scottus School of Dublin chanted Vedic Peace Prayers followed by a few verses from Srimad Bhagavad Gita. The audience delighted at the diction of the Indian and Irish children who pronounced the Sanskrit lines remarkably.

Tapas Chatterjee read out from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna – the part where Thakur was making fun of ‘M’ when he had come to visit Thakur; Thakur was addressing Swamiji and other young monks and gave the example of the peacock. Rai Kamal read out a portion of ‘The Great Master’, vol 2 – the chapter on Spiritual Teachings by the Master; section 21 to 23 – where Thakur gave examples to Swami Brahmananda about the Tamasic qualities of certain people who wanted to meet Thakur, and Thakur’s advice to stay away from them. Another section talked about how Swami Vivekananda would bring his like-minded friends to meet Thakur. Sudipto sang in his mellifluous voice a few solo bhajans.

Jeff Delmar sang a song “Shepherd Boy” in an Irish famous tune, the poem that Swami Brahmananda Ji, a Direct Disciple of Sri Ramakrishna rendered during his last days. The children from Sanatana Ireland did many charming bhajans on Ganesha, Krishna and Shiva. Lucy, a daughter of Paul Hipwell played Cello instrument to the delight of the devotees. The Chai & Chant Group from Dublin performed several bhajans that brought exuberance among the listeners. The newcomer Hariharan of the Sanatana Ireland played dholak admirably.

The programme came to an end with a chorus singing of “Ramakrishna sharanam…” led by the Ramakrishna Choir, followed by Bhogarati and Pushapanjali and Prasad distribution. Earlier Swami Vimokshananda spoke on the importance of the holy occasion. He thanked on behalf of Eire Vedanta Society all those volunteers who supported mentally and assisted with donations and labour of love (tan,  man, dhan – as he put it) for the success of the function.

For a lot more photos please go to this link!

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Mahashivaratri at Belfast

On the invitation of the Indian Community Centre (ICC) of Belfast, the two Swamis – Purnananda and Vimokshananda of the Eire Vedanta Society, Dublin – attended the Maha Shivaratri Festival there on the evening of Monday, the 4th March 2019. The two-hour drive was simply charming with scenic features!

The ICC Committee members warmly welcomed and requested the Swamis to speak too. Swami Purnananda stressed the importance of holding such auspicious functions and offered the services of EVS to the Community. He also introduced Swami Vimokshananda to the audience. Swami Vimokshananda later spoke on the expansion of heart by re-telling the story as told by Swami Vivekananda at the entrance of Rameshwaram Temple in 1897.

A few devotees sang bhajans too. The officiating Priest honoured the Swamis by giving the Swamis the first place in conducting abhishekams to the large Shiva Linga kept on the altar. Mr Bharat, one of the Directors of ICC requested the EVS to visit Belfast and conduct some regular classes on Meditation etc.

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