Milk of kindness

Swami Vivekananda on Lord Buddha’s heart
He was the only man who was ever ready to give up his life for animals to stop a sacrifice. He once said to a king, “If the sacrifice of a lamb helps you to go to heaven, sacrificing a man will help you better; so sacrifice me.” The king was astonished. And yet this man was without any motive power. He stands as the perfection of the active type, and the very height to which he attained shows that through the power of work we can also attain to the highest spirituality… I wish I had one infinitesimal part of Buddha’s heart.
…what did Buddha say with his dying breath? “None can help you; help yourself; work out your own salvation.” He said about himself, “Buddha is the name of infinite knowledge, infinite as the sky; I, Gautama, have reached that state; you will all reach that too if you struggle for it.” Bereft of all motive power, he did not want to go to heaven, did not want money; he gave up his throne and everything else and went about begging his bread through the streets of India, preaching for the good of men and animals with a heart as wide as the ocean.
…In Buddha we had the great, universal heart and infinite patience, making religion practical and bringing it to everyone’s door…
Buddha photo courtesy : thusness

During the weekly satsang on last Saturday, in my Talks on Buddha, I dwelt upon the Buddha’s infinite compassion to the suffering beings of this world and how much adoration Swami Vivekananda had for the Buddha’s heart! Today being Buddha Purnima, I want to share with my readers a glimpse of that Buddha’s heart that I witnessed some years ago in our Most Revered President Maharaj, Srimat Swami Atmasthanandaji whose birthday happily falls on Buddha Purnima!

It was the year 2002 when the present President Maharaj, most Revered Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj visited Ranchi Sanatorium. His stay during that period coincided with Buddha Purnima, the well-known thrice blessed day due to the fact that on the same purnima tithi falls Buddha’s birthday, His Nirvana day and His Mahaprayan day.That was also a thrice blessed Day indeed for the Sanatorium devotees. In the words of one devotee from Kolkata, Debraj Mitra (thanks Debraj! for the photo courtesy) who was present on that day: “Indeed, May 26 2002 was  a thrice blessed day, as we were privileged to witness three major events on that day. Firstly, in the morning, President Maharaj replaced the old photos of THAKUR, SRI SRI MAA & SWAMIJI  with new ones in the shrine. Secondly, Maharaj released the Commemorative Souvenir on Revered Swami Gambhiranandaji’s Centenary and also all the monks celebrated Maharaj’s birthday. Thirdly, in the evening, Revered Maharaj delivered a lecture on Lord Buddha and then he followed it up with a guided meditation – A  BONUS.”

Revered Atmasthanandaji had worked at this centre as Assistant Secretary way back from 1952 to 58. He knew all about the poverty that surrounds in the neighbouring villages. His keen observation has not missed the malnutrition prevalent among the tribal children. While taking morning walk, during his visit to Sanatorium in 1999, on the road leading to Indoor wards, suddenly he turned to me and said, “Why don’t you start giving milk to the children here? I see your dairy farm has grown in size and the milk is very good indeed.” he continued after a pause, “How much milk we pour on Shivalinga! Just imagine! Shiva will be truly pleased if we can only pour milk in these children’s stomachs!

That was it! Immediately the scheme of feeding milk to 100 Children was started. We would obtain fresh milk from our own Dairy farm within the campus. It was just situated on the back of our Ashrama kitchen. But from where the required money will come? By blessings of the Revered Maharaj the scheme started attracting kind-hearted people all around who began sending their donations. I remember the first donor was my gurubhai Ranjit Sinha who immediately paid the money. Well, the scheme that started with 100 children initially began to grow so fast that it doubled within two years. Now I understand, it caters to 280 children.

It was sight to see the children coming in queue from the Vivekananda Vidyalaya to Ashram first, and after making pranam to the Holy Trio at the shrine, they would march on to the central kitchen where they would be fed with 200 ml of milk with bakery made rusks. On the way if they happen to see me or any other Maharaj, they would all in chorus shout loudly Pranam Maharaj!  Today that sweet sound of the children is reverberating in my ears diffusing the deterrent distance between India and South Africa!