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

Altar attraction…

Sri Rama navami celebrations are nearing completion…

Here are a few photos of Sri Ramakrishna altar at Glen Anil Main centre

Ram Ram !

Bhagawan Shri Rama and Mother Sita flanked by brothers, rishis and devatas...Courtesy: Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam, the Tamil monthly magazine from Chennai Ramkrishna Math
Bhagawan Shri Rama and Mother Sita flanked by brothers, rishis and devatas…Courtesy: Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam, the Tamil monthly magazine from Chennai Ramakrishna Math

Ram Ram!” is a religious way of greeting one another generally among the Hindus in all the Hindi-speaking areas in India.  I noticed this when I was living in Kanpur and also while travelling in many places of North India. In this country too, our South African devotees have a way of greeting one another with “Aum Namo Narayanaya!“.

Taking the name of the Lord at the start of every aspect of our activity is indeed a spiritual method well recognised and advocated by our sages and saints. We, as devotees, in spite of our good intentions tend to forget His name. It is in this context that we are advised to utilise the naama as a tool to further our quality of spiritual life. Some reflections here!

On this auspicious Shri Rama Navami period beginning from 31st March to 8th April, my hearty greetings to every one of you : ‘Ram Ram!

Verve and vigour

Yesterday the Rama Navami parv began with all solemnity at the ashram and its branches. The celebration generally continues from the first day that is this year from 31st March and completes on 8th April on the holy navami tithi.

Satsangs here have a definite pattern. Every evening a large number of devotees attend who sing bhajans and kirtans. Selected passages from Sri Ramcharitamanas are recited every day. The temple altar stands decorated beautifully. The devotion of the devotees is worth noting; what a verve and vigour in singing bhajans! And faith and fervour in performing worship! And the day-long fasting and sitting in the temple for such long hours – absolutely maintaining utmost discipline – no chitchat, no gossip and all are tuned to the discourses and songs.

Tale of Two letters!

In my first-day discourse at the Glen Anil temple the point that such a short two-syllable name ‘Raa Ma‘ has in due course of time acquired a powerful connotation came up for discussion. Speaking on the subject “Ramayana – the Scripture Par excellence”, I explained how the famous saint Tyagaraja has remarkably pointed out the significance of the name “Rama“.

Saint Tyagaraja's love of Lord Rama
Saint Tyagaraja’s love of Lord Rama

In one of his divine songs he says that :

shiva mantramunaku ma-jivamu ; maadhava mantramunaku ra-jivamu

Ma” is the very life of the Shiva mantra,”Ra” is the very life of Vishnu mantra. The Shiva mantra refers to the famous one called panchaakshari (five-lettered) mantra : Aum namasshivaaya. The Vishnu mantra refers to ashtaakshari (eight-lettered) mantra : Aum namo narayanaya. If we think deeply it will be clear that without these two syllables the two respective mantras loose all meaning.

Take out “Ma” – the mantra will read now na shivaaya – nothing auspicious! Take out “Ra” – the mantra will read na ayanaaya – no royal road!

Hence these two syllables “Ra” and “Ma” become the life force of these mantras. They are called beeja (seed) and hence by constantly repeating any of these holy mantras, the beeja would one day start sprouting, which means to say that the significance of the mantra would become clear like daylight. The word ‘Rama‘ therefore represents the power of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu together! Saint Tyagaraja takes delight in telling us that he would salute those great men who understand this detail !

Less is equal to more!

There is another way of looking at the glory of the name Rama. The single word is equal to one thousand names of Lord Vishnu!

Lord Shiva tells Parvati :

Sri Raama Raama Raameti, Rame Raame Manorame |
Sahasranaama tattulyam, Raama Naama Varaanane ||

This verse is explained thus:

“O Varaanana (lovely-faced woman), I chant the holy name of Rama, Rama, Rama and thus constantly enjoy this beautiful sound. This holy name of Ramachandra is equal to one thousand holy names of Lord Vishnu.”

Worthy name without love?

Sri Ramakrishna advises that the name of the Lord is no doubt highly proficient capable of providing Divine realisation. But Master asks, “is it sufficient without Love?”. Master continues, “the soul must hunger for God. What will it avail if I repeat His ‘name’ while I allow my mind to be attached to ‘woman and gold’? Mere muttering of magic incantations will not heal up a scorpion-sting. You must also apply the smoke of burning cow-dung.”

|| Aum Shri Ramakrishnarpanamastu ||

Shubha Sri Rama Navami!

||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||

Dear Devotees and avid readers

Image courtesy: Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam, Tamil monthly magazine brought out by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai

The Ramayan is a masterpiece of Divine Love to Sri Ram. Throughout the verses of the Ramayan, 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 Ramayan is a repository of all sarva-mangala without parallel.

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’s devotion to Lord Hari was unique in that she wished in her previous birth that Lord Hari be born to her as her son. That was the great benefit that she derived. And when Lord Hari indeed appeared, 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 'appearing' 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.

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

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

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

Swami Saradaprabhanandaji also joins me in wishing everyone of you, abundance of love and healthy life.

With love and prayers
Swami Vimokshananda