Saturday, October 31, 2020

Beware of your Thoughts

We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care of what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live, they travel far. Each thought we think is tinged with our own character, so that for the pure and holy man, even his jests or abuse will have the twist of his own love and purity and do good.

Desire nothing; think of God and look for no return. It is the desireless who bring results. The begging monks carry religion to every man’s door; but they think that they do nothing, they claim nothing, their work is unconsciously done. If they should eat of the tree of knowledge, they would become egoists, and all the good they do would fly away. As soon as we say “I”, we are humbugged all the time; and we call it “knowable”, but it is only going round and round like a bullock tied to a tree. The Lord has hidden Himself best, and His work is best; so he who hides himself best, accomplishes most. Conquer yourself, and the whole universe is yours. (VII, 14 – 15)

The Lord after creating the whole universe has hidden himself in it and what a great lesson it teaches us.  It must inspire us to do noble actions without anybody knowing about it.  Further Swamiji adds “Bless men when they revile you. Think how much good they are doing you; they can only hurt themselves. Go where people hate you, let them thrash the ego out of you and you will get nearer to the Lord. Once the universe becomes your own every thing in the universe becomes yours.”  

Friday, October 30, 2020

Importance of Thought

Thought is all important, for “what we think we become”. There was once a Sannyâsin, a holy man, who sat under a tree and taught the people. He drank milk, and ate only fruit, and made endless “Prânâyâmas”, and felt himself to be very holy. In the same village lived an evil woman. Every day the Sannyasin went and warned her that her wickedness would lead her to hell. The poor woman, unable to change her method of life which was her only means of livelihood, was still much moved by the terrible future depicted by the Sannyasin. She wept and prayed to the Lord, begging Him to forgive her because she could not help herself. 

By and by both the holy man and the evil woman died. The angels came and bore her to heaven, while the demons claimed the soul of the Sannyasin. “Why is this!” he exclaimed, “have I not lived a most holy life, and preached holiness to everybody? Why should I be taken to hell while this wicked woman is taken to heaven?” “Because,” answered the demons, “while she was forced to commit unholy acts, her mind was always fixed on the Lord and she sought deliverance, which has now come to her. 

But you, on the contrary, while you performed only holy acts, had your mind always fixed on the wickedness of others. You saw only sin, and thought only of sin, so now you have to go to that place where only sin is.” The moral of the story is obvious: The outer life avails little. The heart must be pure and the pure heart sees only good, never evil. We should never try to be guardians of mankind, or to stand on a pedestal as saints reforming sinners. Let us rather purify ourselves, and the result must be that in so doing we shall help others. (VIII,  19 – 20)

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Mind – the Play-ground of Impressions

If a man continuously hears bad words, thinks bad thoughts, does bad actions, his mind will be full of bad impressions; and they will influence his thought and work without his being conscious of the fact. In fact, these bad impressions are always working, and their resultant must be evil, and that man will be a bad man; he cannot help it. The sum total of these impressions in him will create the strong motive power for doing bad actions. He will be like a machine in the hands of his impressions, and they will force him to do evil. 

Similarly, if a man thinks good thoughts and does good works, the sum total of these impressions will be good; and they, in a similar manner, will force him to do good even in spite of himself. When a man has done so much good work and thought so many good thoughts that there is an irresistible tendency in him to do good in spite of himself and even if he wishes to do evil, his mind, as the sum total of his tendencies, will not allow him to do so; the tendencies will turn him back; he is completely under the influence of the good tendencies. When such is the case, a man’s good character is said to be established. (I -54)

        Only that man who has control over his sense organs and imagination can be said to have established in good character. Tortoise is often cited as an example for this. When the enemy is near it withdraws its head and limbs into itself.  Even if it is killed head and limbs will not come out of it. 

        Swamiji always reminds us  that only one who has controlled his internal and external nature can reach the goal. Using good samskaras, the bad samskaras in the mind have to be annihilated. That is how a ‘sakta’ made into an ‘asakta’. In an asakta’s mind the work he does, does not leave an impression. Swamiji and Sri Ramakrishna used several examples to emphasise this point. We should work and live in this world as though we are travellers from another place. This world is not our permanent abode, but just a halting place. Such a contemplation can help us control our attachment. The more detached we are the more free we are. Sri Ramakrishna used a classic homily to point out this phenomenon, ‘apply oil in your hands before cutting a  jack fruit’.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Unification of Body and Mind

These are the two subjects of study for man, external and internal nature; and though at first these seem to be contradictory, yet external nature must, to the ordinary man, be entirely composed of internal nature, the world of thought. The majority of philosophies in every country, especially in the West, have started with the assumption that these two, matter and mind, are contradictory existences; but in the long run we shall find that they converge towards each other and in the end unite and form an infinite whole. So it is not that by this analysis I mean a higher or lower standpoint with regard to the subject. I do not mean that those who want to search after truth through external nature are wrong, nor that those who want to search after truth through internal nature are higher. These are the two modes of procedure. Both of them must live; both of them must be studied; and in the end we shall find that they meet. We shall see that neither is the body antagonistic to the mind, nor the mind to the body, although we find, many persons who think that this body is nothing. In old times, every country was full of people who thought this body was only a disease, a sin, or something of that kind. Later on, however, we see how, as it was taught in the Vedas, this body melts into the mind, and the mind into the body. (VI, 4)

Unification always leads to peace and happiness. It is the divisive thought processes that create unhappiness and misery. Unification is our goal.  Sri Ramakrishna used to say “Tie Advaita in one corner of your dress and then do all your work.” Swamiji also advises us to keep unity as the prime thought, unify our  mind and body and then the whole Universe. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Sister Nivedita - The Versatile Genius

Sister Nivedita (1867 - 1911) was a versatile genius. The most regarded disciple of Swami Vivekananda, she was a revolutionary, lover of modern science, all arts, and philosophy and stood for emancipation of Indian Women.

Margaret Noble was Irish by birth but became a true Indian and her love for India was incomparable. It was in London she was introduced to Swami Vivekananda. Vivekananda had become world famous through his extraordinary performance at the World Parliament of Religions 1895. Swami Vivekananda was the most celebrated disciple of Sri Ramakrishna who preached the world secularism, respect for all religions, paths of wisdom, devotion, and respect for woman. Swami Vivekananda had travelled to the West and spread the ancient teachings of Vedanta. In November 1895 Swami Vivekananda met Margaret Noble for the first time and she became his most devoted disciple - Sister Nivedita. During his second visit in 1896, their bond had strengthened.

“Swami Vivekananda was seated on the floor of West End drawing room in meditative pose, his face radiant with dignity and poise. Childlike simplicity and calm was radiating spiritual aura. Nearly fifteen to sixteen curious listeners, newcomers to Hindu thought, sat around the Swami in a half circle and listened with rapt attention every word coming from the mouth of the great Jnani and the orator.” Margaret Noble was one of them listening to the celestial words of the Swami who was elaborating ancient wisdom of the Upanishads and Vedanta to the small group,

“Friends, your Church is true, our temples are true; and true is Brahman, formless and eternal, beyond the two. Time has come when nations would exchange their spiritual ideals as treasures, as they are already exchanging the commodities in the market. These ideals are but various impressions in different modes of manifestation of the One. 'All these are threaded upon Me, like pearls upon a string,' so says the Lord in The Gita. Love is the highest virtue, love knows of giving alone, never expecting anything in return. Love God, but don't barter worldly pleasures and comforts in exchange for that.”

Further the Swami exhorted:

“Try not to accept the report of senses, for both mind and senses are but incomplete expressions of the transcendental third, the Self. Turning our faith in realization of that Self is religion. Karma, Bhakti, and Jnana are but three paths to this end. And common to all the three is renunciation. Renounce the desires, even of going to heaven, for every desire related with body and mind creates bondage. Our focus of action is neither to save the humanity nor to engage in social reforms, not to seek personal gains, but to realize the indwelling Self itself. Renunciation points to turning away from the world in search of this Self”.

And Margaret Noble, later to become Sister Nivedita, listened to every word, every idea, and every concept that was unique to her, new to her. Those words were full with deep meaning about true religion; words sweet yet foreign to this educated, literate, bold, and intelligent lady. Initially her ego resisted accepting what the Swami said, but finally she became his earnest disciple and India possessed a woman of dignity, poise, virtue, outstanding teaching caliber, a visionary, and all that is best in the world.

Sister Nivedita became so inspired with the teachings and vision of Vivekananda that she sacrificed her career in England and travelled to India. In India, Sister Nivedita studied Indian culture, served the Indian people and embraced the Hindu religion. She served the Indian people with devotion and tried her best to ameliorate the plight of Indian people. After the passing of Swami Vivekananda, Sister Nivedita dedicated herself for the cause of Indian independence. For this she had to formally leave the Ramakrishna order, as the order avoided political action. Still there remained a strong bond between Nivedita and the Ramakrishna order. Sister Nivedita frequently risked arrest to work for the cause of Indian independence. Her house became a meeting place for writers and politicians. She came into contact with some of the influential figures in the independence movement and noted among them were Shri Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi.

Along with working for Indian independence, Sister Nivedita worked tirelessly for the amelioration of the plight of Indian Women. She improved women’s education, especially Hindu widows whose lives turned disgraceful. She spent many years working in her small school for Women in the poorest suburbs of Calcutta. When deadly plague struck Calcutta it was surprising to watch Sister Nivedita working fearlessly and with even any regard for her own health. She brought famine relief to the most deprived ones, and improved the dreadful sanitary conditions, breeding grounds for the plague.

For her whole hearted acceptance of the Indian cause Sister Nivedita was widely admired by the Indian population The British ruling elite were perplexed on how an European would live amongst the poverty stricken, disadvantaged section of Indian society at that time when conditions of even ordinary Indians were unimaginable. No wonder her centenary celebrations in 1967 were held throughout the country. No wonder Sister Nivedita is widely admired in India today and will be admired till eternity.

Her contribution to Indian society is immense. In a dark age, when women were exploited, had no access to education, married while still were in innocent childhood, she as light with indomitable courage and integrity tried to uplift not with western views but with an Indian outlook. Surprising for a European, who were the rulers at that time, accepting Indian philosophy and knowledge, knowledge of the slaves as her ultimate goal to reach the transcendent life. She didn’t fail. Very few westerns before her must have regarded Indian women and admired her as she did. According to her

“India is, above all others, the land of great women. Wherever we turn, whether to history or literature, we are met on every hand be those figures, whose strength she mothered and recognized, while she keeps their memory eternally sacred.”

She also said,

“What is the type of woman we most admire? Is she strong, resourceful, inspired, and fit for moments of crisis? Have we not Padmini or Cheetore, Chand Bibi, Jhansi Rani? Is she saintly a poet, and a mystic? Is there not Meera Bai? Is she the queen, great in administration? Where is Rani Bhowani, where Ahalya Bai, where Jahnabi of Mymensingh? Is it wife-hood in which we deem that woman shine brightest? What of Sati, of Savitri, of the ever glorious Sita? Is it in maidenhood? There is Uma. And where in all the womanhood of the world, shall be found another as grand as Gandhari?”

India to her was the greatest. She loved India as according to her, India was the birthplace of the highest and best of all religions. India she loved because it is a country where the homes are simple, and where domestic happiness was most to be found. She loved India because Indian women unselfishly, unobtrusively, ungrudgingly serve the dear ones from early morning to dewy eve and above all she loved India as India has the grandest mountains in the world-the Himalayas.

Though the entire world is familiar with Swami Vivekananda and Nivedita’s great respect and admiration for each other, it is interesting to know that Rabindranath Tagore too had great regard for this versatile genius. Sister Nivedita was held in high regard by Rabindranath Tagore, who felt Nivedita to be an exceptional soul. Though they had met quite a number of times, they never worked together and thus Tagore had written,

“I had felt her great power, but with all that I understood that her path was not for me. She was a versatile genius, and there was another thing in her nature; that was her militancy. She had power and she exerted that power with full force on the lives of others. When it was not possible to agree with her, it was impossible to work with her.”

Dr. Jagadish Chandra Bose and his wife Abala Bose were among her closest friends. Dr. Bose was invited to the International Congress of Physics that was organized at the Paris Exhibition where he read his famous paper, “Response of Inorganic and Living Matter.” Swami Vivekananda and Nivedita attended the Congress and were full of appreciation for the first scientist of India. In protest against a section of British scientists who rose against the great scientist, Sister Nivedita had written,

“Oh, India, India! who shall undo this awful doing of my nation to you? Who shall atone for the million bitter insults showered daily on the bravest and keenest nerved and best of all your sons”?

As a devoted disciple she was supreme. As a metaphysician, she was an avid reader of the mystery of the universe. As an author, she was incomparable. As a revolutionary, she was fearless. With a deep understanding of science, as a scientific minded philosopher, she was the grandest. As a social worker, she was unparalleled. From embroidery to modern science she was interested in all that is the best. Her students guided by her, didn’t embroidered just a sari but the Indian flag. She herself designed the National Flag. Her personality had all hues of a rainbow - her deep interest in science, metaphysics, art, and culture. A philosopher, author, nationalist, and revolutionary she churned the curd, left the buttermilk and tasted only the butter. Her life is a metaphor of all that best in the world, as she comprehended the unlimited in her limited body.

To portray such an extraordinary personality in a few pages is indeed an uphill task. Her extraordinary appearance with impeccably described by Mr. A.J. F. Blair,

“A tall, robust woman in the very prime of life. Her face in repose was almost plain. The cheekbones were high and the jaws were supreme. The face at the first glance expressed energy and determination, but you would hardly have looked at it again but for the forehead and the eyes. The eyes were a calm, deep blue, and literally lit up the whole countenance.”

Mr. Nevinson had paid tribute in following wonderful lines,

“It is as vain to describe Sister Nivedita in two pages as to reduce fire to a formula and call it knowledge. There was, indeed, something flame-like about her, and not only her language but her whole vital personality often reminded me of fire. Like fire, and like Shiva, Kali, and other Indian powers of the spirit, she was once destructive and creative, terrible and beneficent.”

She was indeed a combination of keen intellect and noble heart. No wonder the most celebrated Indian artist, Abanindranath Tagore visualized her as an ideal of beauty and considered her as meditating Uma.

She breathed her last in Darjeeling, on the lap of her favorite Himalayas. News of her death spread all over with lightning speed and prominent persons from Calcutta and others wended their way to the Ray Villa to pay homage to the departed and thousands joined her funeral procession. To respect the daughter of the soil, a samdhi was raised later over the sacred spot where she was cremated. In the lap of her favorite Himalayas rested the supreme soul and the memorial states, “Here reposes Sister Nivedita who gave all to India.”

Indeed she gave her all to her India, the land Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Ma Sharada, Swami Vivekananda and the land of all religions.

O You Genius, O You Revolutionary
The most cultured and greatest philosopher
We the women of modern India
Pay our greatest regards to You.
Thank you, Sister.
Thank You.

by Mandira Ghosh 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Concentration is the key to Knowledge

There is only one method by which to attain this knowledge, that which is called concentration. The chemist in his laboratory concentrates all the energies of his mind into one focus, and throws them upon the materials he is analysing, and so finds out their secrets. The astronomer concentrates all the energies of his mind and projects them through his telescope upon the skies; and the stars, the sun, and the moon, give up their secrets to him. The more I can concentrate my thoughts on the matter on which I am talking to you, the more light I can throw upon you. You are listening to me, and the more you concentrate your thoughts, the more clearly you will grasp what I have to say.

How has all the knowledge in the world been gained but by the concentration of the powers of the mind? The world is ready to give up its secrets if we only know how to knock, how to give it the necessary blow. The strength and force of the blow come through concentration. There is no limit to the power of the human mind. The more concentrated it is, the more power is brought to bear on one point; that is the secret. (I, 130-131)

Friday, October 23, 2020

Raja Yoga teaches us to observe the Mind

The science of Raja-Yoga, in the first place, proposes to give us such a means of observing the internal states. The instrument is the mind itself. The power of attention, when properly guided, and directed towards the internal world, will analyse the mind, and illumine facts for us. The powers of the mind are like rays of light dissipated; when they are concentrated, they illumine. This is our only means of knowledge. Everyone is using it, both in the external and the internal world; but, for the psychologist, the same minute observation has to be directed to the internal world, which the scientific man directs to the external; and this requires a great deal of practice. From our childhood upwards we have been taught only to pay attention to things external, but never to things internal; hence most of us have nearly lost the faculty of observing the internal mechanism. To turn the mind as it were, inside, stop it from going outside, and then to concentrate all its powers, and throw them upon the mind itself, in order that it may know its own nature, analyse itself, is very hard work. Yet that is the only way to anything which will be a scientific approach to the subject.

What is the use of such knowledge? In the first place, knowledge itself is the highest reward of knowledge, and secondly, there is also utility in it. It will take away all our misery. When by analysing his own mind, man comes face to face, as it were, with something which is never destroyed, something which is, by its own nature, eternally pure and perfect, he will no more be miserable, no more unhappy. .........When he knows that he is perfect, he will have no more vain desires, and both these causes being absent, there will be no more misery — there will be perfect bliss, even while in this body. (I -129-30)

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Religion must be based on Experience

The teachers of the science of Yoga, therefore, declare that religion is not only based upon the experience of ancient times, but that no man can be religious until he has the same perceptions himself. Yoga is the science which teaches us how to get these perceptions. It is not much use to talk about religion until one has felt it................What right has a man to say he has a soul if he does not feel it, or that there is a God if he does not see Him? 

        If there is a God we must see Him, if there is a soul we must perceive it; otherwise it is better not to believe. It is better to be an outspoken atheist than a hypocrite. 

        The modern idea, on the one hand, with the "learned" is that religion and metaphysics and all search after a Supreme Being are futile; on the other hand, with the semi-educated, the idea seems to be that these things really have no basis; their only value consists in the fact that they furnish strong motive powers for doing good to the world.........Man wants truth, wants to experience truth for himself; when he has grasped it, realised it, felt it within his heart of hearts, then alone, declare the Vedas, would all doubts vanish, all darkness be scattered, and all crookedness be made straight. (I, 127- 28)

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Experience – Foundation of Knowledge

  All our knowledge is based upon experience. What we call inferential knowledge, in which we go from the less to the more general, or from the general to the particular, has experience as its basis. In what are called the exact sciences, people easily find the truth, because it appeals to the particular experiences of every human being. The scientist does not tell you to believe in anything, but he has certain results which come from his own experiences, and reasoning on them when he asks us to believe in his conclusions, he appeals to some universal experience of humanity. In every exact science there is a basis which is common to all humanity, so that we can at once see the truth or the fallacy of the conclusions drawn therefrom. Now, the question is: Has religion any such basis or not? I shall have to answer the question both in the affirmative and in the negative. (I, 125)

Swamiji’s book on Raja Yoga emphasises the importance of experiences.  “Religion, as it is generally taught all over the world, is said to be based upon faith and belief, and, in most cases, consists only of different sets of theories, and that is the reason why we find all religions quarreling with one another. These theories, again, are based upon belief.”

        As different from this Swamiji taught the West that religion could be experienced. If there has been any experience in this world regarding knowledge it is possible that it has happened before and it may happen again. “The teachers of Raja Yoga declare that religion is not only based upon experience of ancient times, but that no man can be religious until he has the same perceptions himself”.  RajaYoga is the science which teaches us how to get these perceptions.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2020


“This is what Raja Yoga proposes to teach. The goal of all its teaching is how to concentrate the mind, then, how to discover the innermost receses of our mind, then, how to generalise their contents and form our own conclusions from them. It therefore never asks the question what our religion is whether we are theists or Atheists, whether Christians, Jews or Buddhists. 

        We are human beings; that is sufficient. Every human being has the right and the power to seek for religion. Every human being has the right to ask the reason why, and to have his question answered by himself, if he only takes the trouble.”(1,131)

Monday, October 19, 2020

Freedom through Love

When this highest ideal of love is reached, philosophy is thrown away; who will then care for it? Freedom, Salvation, Nirvâna — all are thrown away; who cares to become free while in the enjoyment of divine love? "Lord, I do not want wealth, nor friends, nor beauty, nor learning, nor even freedom; let me be born again and again, and be Thou ever my Love. Be Thou ever and ever my Love." "Who cares to become sugar?" says the Bhakta, "I want to taste sugar." Who will then desire to become free and one with God? "I may know that I am He; yet will I take myself away from Him and become different, so that I may enjoy the Beloved." That is what the Bhakta says. Love for love's sake is his highest enjoyment. Who will not be bound hand and foot a thousand times over to enjoy the Beloved? 

No Bhakta cares for anything except love, except to love and to be loved. His unworldly love is like the tide rushing up the river; this lover goes up the river against the current. The world calls him mad.

We all begin with love for ourselves, and the unfair claims of the little self make even love selfish. At last, however, comes the full blaze of light, in which this little self is seen to have become one with the Infinite. Man himself is transfigured in the presence of this Light of Love, and he realises at last the beautiful and inspiring truth that Love, the Lover, and the Beloved are One. (III, 99- 100)

Sunday, October 18, 2020

‘Concept of Ishta’

        Take up one idea, your Ishta, and let the whole soul be devoted to it. Practise this from day to day until you see the result, until the soul grows. And if it is sincere and good, that very idea will spread till it covers the whole universe. Let it spread by itself; it will all come from the inside out. Then you will say that your Ishta is everywhere and that He is in everything.

Of course, at the same time, we must always remember that we must recognize the Ishtas of others and respect them — the other ideas of God — or else worship will degenerate into fanaticism Then, after a long course of training in this Ishta — when this plant of spirituality has grown and the soul has become strong and you begin to realize that your Ishta is everywhere — [then] naturally all these bondages will fall down. When the fruit becomes ripe, it falls of its own weight. If you pluck an unripe fruit it is bitter, sour. So we will have to grow in this thought.

        Simply hearing lectures and all this nonsense — making the Battle of Waterloo in the brain, simply unadjusted [undigested?] ideas — is no good. Devotion to one idea — those that have this will become spiritual, will see the light.  You see everyone complaining: “I try this” and “I try that”, and if you cross-question them as to what they try, they will say that they have heard a few lectures in one place and another, a handful of talks in one corner and another. And for three hours, or a few days, they worshipped and thought they had done enough. That is the way of fools, not the way to perfection    (IX, 225)

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Way to Blessedness

We find so many millions of individual souls. What are they? If the sun reflects upon millions of globules of water, in each globule is the form, the perfect image of the sun; but they are only images, and the real sun is only one. So this apparent soul that is in every one of us is only the image of God, nothing beyond that. The real Being who is behind, is that one God. We are all one there. As Self, there is only one in the universe. 

        It is in me and you, and is only one; and that one Self has been reflected in all these various bodies as various different selves. But we do not know this; we think we are separate from each other and separate from Him. And so long as we think this, misery will be in the world. This is hallucination.

Then the other great source of misery is fear. Why does one man injure another? Because he fears he will not have enough enjoyment. One man fears that, perhaps, he will not have enough money, and that fear causes him to injure others and rob them. How can there be fear if there is only one existence? If a thunderbolt falls on my head, it was I who was the thunderbolt, because I am the only existence. 

We see that fear comes with the idea that there are two in the universe. We have always heard it preached, “Love one another”. What for? That doctrine was preached, but the explanation is here. Why should I love every one? Because they and I are one. Why should I love my brother? Because he and I are one. There is this oneness; this solidarity of the whole universe. From the lowest worm that crawls under our feet to the highest beings that ever lived — all have various bodies, but are the one Soul. Through all mouths, you eat; through all hands, you work; through all eyes, you see. You enjoy health in millions of bodies, you are suffering from disease in millions of bodies. When this idea comes, and we realise it, see it, feel it, then will misery cease, and fear with it. 

        How can I die? There is nothing beyond me. Fear ceases, and then alone comes perfect happiness and perfect love. That universal sympathy, universal love, universal bliss, that never changes, raises man above everything. It has no reactions and no misery can touch it; but this little eating and drinking of the world always brings a reaction. The whole cause of it is this dualism, the idea that I am separate from the universe, separate from God. But as soon as we have realised that “I am He, I am the Self of the universe, I am eternally blessed, eternally free” — then will come real love, fear will vanish, and all misery cease.  (II, 214)


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Universal Love leads to Self - surrender

        How can we love the Vyashti, the particular, without first loving the Samashti, the universal? God is the Samashti, the generalised and the abstract universal whole; and the universe that we see is the Vyashti, the particularised thing. To love the whole universe is possible only by way of loving the Samashti — the universal — which is, as it were, the one unity in which are to be found millions and millions of smaller unities. 

        The philosophers of India do not stop at the particulars; they cast a hurried glance at the particulars and immediately start to find the generalised forms which will include all the particulars. The search after the universal is the one search of Indian philosophy and religion. The Jnâni aims at the wholeness of things, at that one absolute and; generalised Being, knowing which he knows everything. The Bhakta wishes to realise that one generalised abstract Person, in loving whom he loves the whole universe. 

        The Yogi wishes to have possession of that one generalised form of power, by controlling which he controls this whole universe. The Indian mind, throughout its history, has been directed to this kind of singular search after the universal in everything — in science, in psychology, in love, in philosophy. So the conclusion to which the Bhakta comes is that, if you go on merely loving one, person after another, you may go on loving them so for an infinite length of time, without being in the least able to love the world as a whole. 

        When, at last, the central idea is, however, arrived at that the sum total of all love is God, that the sum total of the aspirations of all the souls in the universe, whether they be free, or bound, or struggling towards liberation, is God, then alone it becomes possible for any one to put forth universal love. God is the Samashti, and this visible universe is God differentiated and made manifest. (III, 81)

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Bhakti based on Principles, not on Persons

        Our allegiance is to the principles always, and not to the persons. Persons are but the embodiments, the illustrations of the principles. If the principles are there, the persons will come by the thousands and millions. If the principle is safe, persons like Buddha will be born by the hundreds and thousands. 

        But if the principle is lost and forgotten and the whole of national life tries to cling round a so-called historical person, woe unto that religion, danger unto that religion! Ours is the only religion that does not depend on a person or persons; it is based upon principles. At the same time there is room for millions of persons. There is ample ground for introducing persons, but each one of them must be an illustration of the principles. 

        We must not forget that. These principles of our religion are all safe, and it should be the life-work of everyone of us to keep then safe, and to keep them free from the accumulating dirt and dust of ages. It is strange that in spite of the degradation that seized upon the race again and again, these principles of the Vedanta were never tarnished.

        No one, however wicked, ever dared to throw dirt upon them. Our scriptures are the best preserved scriptures in the world. Compared to other books there have been no interpolations, no text-torturing, no destroying of the essence of the thought in them. It is there just as it was first, directing the human mind towards the ideal, the goal. (III 280-81)

Monday, October 12, 2020

Love God and Serve Humanity

But theorising about God will not do; we must love and work. Give up the world and all worldly things, especially while the “plant” is tender. Day and night think of God and think of nothing else as far as possible. The daily necessary thoughts can all be thought through God. Eat to Him, drink to Him, sleep to Him, see Him in all. Talk of God to others; this is most beneficial.

Get the mercy of God and of His greatest children; these are the two chief ways to God. The company of these children of light is very hard to get; five minutes in their company will change a whole life; and if you really want it enough, one will come to you. The presence of those who love God makes a place holy, “such is the glory of the children of the Lord.” They are He; and when they speak, their words are scriptures. The place where they have been becomes filled with their vibrations, and those going there feel them and have a tendency to become holy also.“To such lovers there is no distinction of caste, learning, beauty, birth, wealth, or occupation; because all are His.” (VII, 9)

Explaining Narada Bhakti Sutra further to his disciples at Thousand Island Park Swamiji explained  familiar ideas like love, renunciation, devotion, Bhakti, God’s blessings, etc. helping them discover newer and newer vistas to elevate the same feelings. Reviewing these familiar ideas in the light of the teachings from Sanatana Dharma, they learned to take flights to greater spiritual heights. It was indeed a new experience for most of them. Even though these words were spoken more than hundred years ago they still carry the aroma of experience and the penetrating  power of Truth. That speaks for the ever living freshness of Truth and the speaker’s total absorption in it. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Nirguna Saguna Bhavas

 Nirguna Saguna Bhavas

The clear light of truth very few in this life can bear, much less live up to. It is necessary, therefore, that this comfortable religion should exist; it helps many souls to a better one. Small minds whose circumference is very limited and which require little things to build them up, never venture to soar high in thought. Their conceptions are very good and helpful to them, even if only of little gods and symbols. But you have to understand the Impersonal, for it is in and through that alone that these others can be explained.

Thus this universe itself is the Absolute, the unchangeable, the noumenon; and the phenomenon constitutes the reading thereof. For you will first find that all phenomena are finite. Every phenomenon that we can see, feel, or think of, is finite, limited by our knowledge, and the personal God as we conceive of Him is in fact a phenomenon. The very idea of causation exists only in the phenomenal world, and God as the cause of this universe must naturally be thought of as limited, and yet He is the same Impersonal God. This very universe, as we have seen, is the same Impersonal Being read by our intellect. Whatever is reality in the universe is that Impersonal Being, and the forms and conceptions are given to it by our intellects. Whatever is real in this table is that Being, and the table form and all other forms are given by our intellects. (II, 337 – 338)

Many people think that a personal God is impossible and cannot be demonstrated. “But He is the highest reading of the Impersonal that can be reached by the human intellect and what else is the universe but various readings of the Absolute? It is like a book before us and each one has brought his intellect to read it and each one has to read it for himself.”     

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Worship of the Impersonal

Worship of the Impersonal God is through Truth. And what is truth? That I am He.

This is all the worship of the Impersonal, and what is the result? The whole life of man will be changed. Strength, strength it is that we want so much in this life, for what we call sin and sorrow have all one cause, and that is our weakness. With weakness comes ignorance, and with ignorance comes misery. It will make us strong. Then miseries will be laughed at, then the violence of the vile will be smiled at, and the ferocious tiger will reveal, behind its tiger’s nature, my own Self. That will be the result. That soul is strong that has become one with the Lord; none else is strong (I 380 – 381)

It is the absence of such an impersonal idea of Godhood that lies behind the lack of understanding and tolerance among dualistic religions leading even to violent attacks on each other. What the world needs today is the immense infinite strength, understanding and bliss that lie behind the concept of one Almighty God. 

Without knowledge and love there cannot be understanding .Without knowledge there can be no true love. Both should blend together and expand the human mind. It is possible to combine the intellect of Sankara and the expansive heart of Buddha. Such an auspicious co mingling of the head and the heart was Swamiji’s ideal.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Importance of Forms, Names and Godmen

We find that in many different religions, holy personages have been worshiped. They worship Krishna, they worship Buddha, they worship Jesus, and so forth. Then, there is the worship of saints; hundreds of them have been worshiped all over the world, and why not? The vibration of light is everywhere. 

The owl sees it in the dark. That shows it is there, though man cannot see it. To man, that vibration is only visible in the lamp, in the sun, in the moon, etc. God is omnipresent, He is manifesting Himself in every being; but for men, He is only visible, recognizable, in man. 

When His light, His presence, His spirit, shines through the human face, then and then alone, can man understand Him. Thus, man has been worshiping God through men all the time, and must do so as long as he is a man. He may cry against it, struggle against it, but as soon as he attempts to realise God, he will find the constitutional necessity of thinking of God as a man.

So we find that in almost every religion these are the three primary things which we have in the worship of God — forms or symbols, names, God-men. All religions have these, but you find that they want to fight with each other. One says, “My name is the only name; my form is the only form; and my God-men are the only God-men in the world; yours are simply myths.” (II -242)      

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Attachment – the source of all Weaknesses and of Death

Attachment is the source of all our pleasures now. We are attached to our friends, to our relatives; we are attached to our intellectual and spiritual works; we are attached to external objects, so that we get pleasure from them. What, again, brings misery but this very attachment? We have to detach ourselves to earn joy. If only we had power to detach ourselves at will, there would not be any misery. That man alone will be able to get the best of nature, who, having the power of attaching himself to a thing with all his energy, has also the power to detach himself when he should do so. 

The difficulty is that there must be as much power of attachment as that of detachment. There are men who are never attracted by anything. They can never love, they are hard-hearted and apathetic; they escape most of the miseries of life. But the wall never feels misery, the wall never loves, is never hurt; but it is the wall, after all. Surely it is better to be attached and caught, than to be a wall. Therefore the man who never loves, who is hard and stony, escaping most of the miseries of life, escapes also its joys. We do not want that. That is weakness, that is death. That soul has not been awakened that never feels weakness, never feels misery. That is a callous state. We do not want that.

At the same time, we not only want this mighty power of love, this mighty power of attachment, the power of throwing our whole soul upon a single object, losing ourselves and letting ourselves be annihilated, as it were, for other souls — which is the power of the gods — but we want to be higher even than the gods. The perfect man can put his whole soul upon that one point of love, yet he is unattached. How comes this? There is another secret to learn. (II, 3 - 4)

Friday, October 2, 2020

Triangle of Love – III. Love knows no rival

The third angle of the love-triangle is that love knows no rival, for in it is always embodied the lover’s highest ideal. True love never comes until the object of our love becomes to us our highest ideal. It may be that in many cases human love is misdirected and misplaced, but to the person who loves, the thing he loves is always his own highest idea. One may see his ideal in the vilest of beings, and another in the highest of beings; nevertheless, in every case it is the ideal alone that can be truly and intensely loved. 

The highest ideal of every man is called God. Ignorant or wise, saint or sinner, man or woman, educated or uneducated, cultivated or uncultivated, to every human being the highest ideal is God. The synthesis of all the highest ideals of beauty, of sublimity, and of power gives us the completest conception of the loving and lovable God.

These ideals exist in some shape or other in every mind naturally; they form a part and parcel of all our minds. All the active manifestations of human nature are struggles of those ideals to become realised in practical life. (III, 89 – 90) 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Triangle of Love – II. Fearlessness

The second angle of the triangle of love is that love knows no fear. Those that love God through fear are the lowest of human beings, quite undeveloped as men. They worship God from fear of punishment. He is a great Being to them, with a whip in one hand and the sceptre in the other; if they do not obey Him, they are afraid they will be whipped.

It is a degradation to worship God through fear of punishment; such worship is, if worship at all, the crudest form of the worship of love. So long as there is any fear in the heart, how can there be love also? Love conquers naturally all fear. Think of a young mother in the street and a dog barking at her; she is frightened and flies into nearest house. But suppose the next day she is in the street with her child, and a lion springs upon the child. Where will be her position now? 

Of course, in the very mouth of the lion, protecting her child. Love conquers all fear. Fear comes from the selfish idea of cutting one’s self off from the universe. The smaller and the more selfish I make myself, the more is my fear. If a man thinks he is a little nothing, fear will surely come upon him. 

And the less you think of yourself as an insignificant person, the less fear there will be for you. So long as there is the least spark of fear in you there can be no love there. Love and fear are incompatible; God is never to be feared by those who love Him. (III, 88 - 89)     

Man - making Education

You cannot make a plant grow in soil unsuited to it. A child teaches itself. But you can help it to go forward in its own way. What you ca...