Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

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A few snaps of the past years’ Christmas Eve Shrine decorations! Courtesy: Raman R.

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Tale of two Trees

Screen Shot 2012-12-29 at 10.38.58 AMSwami Sunirmalananda is presently an Assistant Minister at our Geneva Centre in Europe. Recently I had an opportunity to read through his blog and found a Post indeed very interesting. With his permission, I re-post that article here in this blog for our reader-devotees. It actually explores a concept of ‘Gift receiving’ from Santa Claus and down the line to Sri Ramakrishna. The tree in both cases viz., be it Christmas Tree or Kalpa Tree, according to the author, refers to ‘the physical representation of our desire’. The Gift from Incarnations is nothing but a method helping the devotees to go  ‘inward’ and ‘find the kingdom within’.

This article was originally published by “Vedanta” – a bi-monthly magazine brought out by our London centre.

I hope you will also find it enlightening.

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Martha, Mary, M and Master

Merry Christmas!

Baby Jesus bringing everlasting joy...
One of our devotee-readers of this Blog, Sucheta Ghosh from Italy has sent the following which is a timely reminder of the divinity in different Incarnations to be contemplated upon on this auspicious occasion of Jesu Jayanti.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.

40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  — Luke 10:38-42

From The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

Visit to the Brahmani’s house (Chapter 43: Tuesday, July 28, 1885)

The Master arrived at the house of the brahmin lady who was grief-stricken on account of her daughter’s death. It was an old brick house… The brahmani had a sister; both of them were widows. Their brothers also lived in the house with their families. The brahmani had been busy all day making arrangements to receive Sri Ramakrishna…

The brahmani came and saluted the Master. She was beside herself with joy. She did not know what to say. In a half-choked voice she said: “This joy is too much for me. Perhaps I shall die of it. Tell me, friends, how shall I be able to live? I did not feel such a thrill even when Chandi, my daughter, used to visit the house accompanied by liveried footmen, with armed guards lining both sides of the street. Oh! Now I have no trace of my grief at her death. I was afraid he would not come. Then I thought that, if that happened, I should throw into the Ganges all the things I had arranged for his reception and entertainment. I should not speak to him any more. If he visited a place, I should go there, look at him from a distance, and then come away…

She was talking like this when her sister came up and said: “Come down, sister! How can I manage things if you stay here? Can I do it all by myself?”

But the brahmani was overwhelmed with joy. She could not take her eyes from the Master and the devotees…

M: “How amazing! A similar thing happened with two women at the time of Jesus. They too were sisters, and devoted to Christ. Martha and Mary.”

MASTER (eagerly); “Tell me the story.”

M: “Jesus Christ, like you, went to their house with His devotees. At the sight of Him one of the sisters was filled with ecstatic happiness. It reminds me of a song about Gaurānga:

My two eyes sank in the sea of  Gora’s heavenly beauty

And did not come back to me again;

Down went my mind, as well, forgetting how to swim.

“The other sister, all by herself, was arranging the food to entertain Jesus. She complained to the Master, saying: ‘Lord, please judge for Yourself-how wrong my sister is! She is sitting in Your room and I am doing all these things by myself.’ Jesus said: ‘Your sister indeed’ is blessed. She has developed the only thing needful in human life: love of God.”

MASTER: “Well, after seeing all this, What do you feel?”

M: “I feel that Christ, Chaitanyadeva, and yourself-all three are one and the same. It is the same Person that has become all these three.”

MASTER: “Yes, yes! One! One! It is indeed one. Don’t you see that it is He alone who dwells here in this way.”

As he said this, Sri Ramakrishna pointed with his finger to his own body.

 

Title: 'Martha and Mary' Painter: Nathan Greene, born 1961 Year: unknown Incident shown: Martha has made her complaint, and Jesus is responding. His left hand points towards Mary, as he suggests she focus on what is really important. The disciples in this crowded little room listen intently to what he is saying. Bible reference: Luke 10:41 Information: Nathan Greene is a contemporary painter of scenes from the Bible - not an overcrowded field these days. His paintings show meticulous attention to detail - not only in brushwork and realism, but in something that the great masters of the Renaissance and Counter-Reformation considered unimportant - historical realism. The people in Greene's paintings wear Middle Eastern designs and fabrics similar to those of the biblical period; their houses and furniture are authentic to the time. Modern minds, affected by scientific realism, appreciate this attention to detail in his powerful images. Courtesy: http://www.bible-art.info/Martha_Mary.htm

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” [Luke 11:9 / Matthew 7:7]

Similarities between Christ and Sri Ramakrishna

M: “But there are many similarities between you and Jesus Christ.”

MASTER (smiling): “What else?”

M: “You don’t ask your devotees to fast or practise other austerities. You don’t prescribe hard and fast rules about food. Christ’s disciples did not observe the sabbath; so the Pharisees took them to task. Thereupon Jesus said: ‘They have done well to eat. As long as they are with the bridegroom they must make merry.

MASTER: “What does that mean?”

M: “Christ meant that as long as the disciples live with the Incarnation of God, they should only make merry. Why should they be sorrowful? But when He returns to His own abode in heaven, then will come the days of their sorrow and suffering.”

MASTER (smiling): “Do you find anything else in me that is similar to Christ?”

M: “Yes, sir. You say: ‘The youngsters are not yet touched by: “woman and gold”;  they will be able to assimilate instruction. It is like keeping milk in a new pot: the milk may turn sour if it is kept in a pot in which curd has been made.’ Christ also spoke like that.”

MASTER: “What did He say?”

M: “‘If new wine is kept in an old bottle, the bottle may crack. If an old cloth is patched with new cloth, the old cloth tears away.’

“Further, you tell us that you and the Mother are one. Likewise, Christ said, ‘I and My Father are one.’ ”

MASTER (smiling): “Anything else?”

M: “You say to us, ‘God will surely listen to you if you call on Him earnestly.’ So also Christ said, ‘Knock and it shall be opened unto you.’

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Image courtesy: Dr S Adhinarayanan, India