Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Prema in Heart

Listen, friend, I will speak my heart to thee;
I have found in my life this truth supreme --
Buffeted by waves, in this whirl of life,
There's one ferry that takes across the sea.

Formulas of worship, control of breath,
Science, philosophy, systems varied,
Relinquishment, possession, and the life,
All these are but delusions of the mind --
Love, Love -- that's the one thing, the sole treasure.

In Jiva and Brahman, in man and God,
In ghosts, and wraiths, and spirits, and so forth,
In Devas, beasts, birds, insects, and in worms,
This Prema dwells in the heart of them all.

                  - Swami Vivekananda, 
                     from ‘To A Friend’ - poem in Bengali

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Ganga and Gita

What wonderful relation is this between mother Ganga and the Hindus? Is it merely superstition? May be. 

They spend their lives with the name of Ganga on their lips, they die immersed in the waters of the Ganga, men from far off places take away Ganga water with them, keep it carefully in copper vessels, and sip drops of it on holy festive occasions. Kings and princes keep it in jars, and at considerable expense take the water from Gangotri to pour it on the head of Shiva at Rameshwaram! 

The Hindus visit foreign countries -- rangoon, Java, Hongkong, Madagascar, Suez, Aden, Malta -- and they take with them Ganga water and the Gita.

The Gita and the sacred waters of the Ganga constitute the Hinduism of the Hindus. 

Last time I went to the West, I also took a little of it with me, fearing it might be needed, and whenever opportunities occurred I used to drink a few drops of it. And every time I drank, in the midst of the stream of humanity, amid that bustle of civilisation, that hurry of frenzied footsteps of millions of men and women in the West, the mind at once became calm and still, as it were. 

               - Swami Vivekananda, 
                Memoirs of European Travel 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mother's Work

Disciple: If you give up work for some time and take rest, then you will be all right. Your life means good to the world.

Swamiji: Am I able to sit quiet, my son! Two or three days before Shri Ramakrishna's passing away, She whom he used to call "Kali" entered this body. It is She who takes me here and there and makes me work, without letting me remain quiet or allowing me to look to my personal comforts.

Disciple: Are you speaking metaphorically?

Swamiji: Oh, no; two or three days before his leaving the body, he called me to his side one day, and asking me to sit before him, looked steadfastly at me and fell into Samadhi. Then I really felt that a subtle force like an electric shock was entering my body! 
In a little while, I also lost outward consciousness and sat motionless. How long I stayed in that condition I do not remember; when consciousness returned I found Shri Ramakrishna shedding tears. 
On questioning him, he answered me affectionately, 
"Today, giving you my all, I have become a beggar. With this power you are to do many works for the world's good before you will return." 
I feel that power is constantly directing me to this or that work. This body has not been made for remaining idle. 

                  - Swami Vivekananda, 
                   Conversations and Dialogues, 
                   recorded by Sharat Chandra Chakravarty in 1901 
                  (Swamiji was ill at that time) 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Think of God Alone

Give up all evil company, especially at the beginning. 
Avoid worldly company, that will distract your mind. Give up all "me and mine ".

To him who has nothing in the universe the Lord comes. Cut the bondage of all worldly affections; go beyond laziness and all care as to what becomes of you. 
Never turn back to see the result of what you have done. Give all to the Lord and go on and think not of it. 

The whole soul pours in a continuous current to God; there is no time to seek money, or name, or fame, no time to think of anything but God; then will come into our hearts that infinite, wonderful bliss of Love.

Swami Vivekananda, Inspired Talks 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Practical Vedanta

Through the urge of Advaitic realisation, you should sometimes dance wildly and sometimes remain lost to outward sense. Does one feel happy to taste of a good thing by oneself? One should share it with others. 

Granted that you attain personal liberation by means of the realisation of the Advaita, but what matters it to the world? You must liberate the whole universe before you leave this body. Then only you will be established in the eternal Truth. 

Has that bliss any match, my boy? You will be established in that bliss of the Infinite which is limitless like the skies. 
You will be struck dumb to find your presence everywhere in the world of soul and matter. You will feel the whole sentient and insentient world as your own self. Then you can't help treating all with the same kindness as you show towards yourself. This is indeed practical Vedanta. 

                  - Swami Vivekananda, 
                    Conversations and Dialogues, 
                    recorded by Sharat Chandra Chakravarty  

Friday, May 10, 2019

India’s Message to the World

… as far back as the days of the Upanishads we have thrown the challenge to the world: 
न प्रजया धनेन त्यागेनैके अमृतत्वमानाशु: --"Not by progeny, not by wealth, but by renunciation alone immortality is reached." 

Race after race has taken the challenge up and tried their utmost to solve the world-riddle on the plane of desires. 
They have all failed in the past -- the old ones have become extinct under the weight of wickedness and misery, which lust for power and gold brings in its train, and the new ones are tottering to their fall. 

                 - Swami Vivekananda, 
                  ‘India’s Message to the World’     

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Reforms Based on Vedanta Alone

There is infinite power of development in everything; that is my belief. One atom has the power of the whole universe at its back. 
All along, in the history of the Hindu race, there never was any attempt at destruction, only construction. 
One sect wanted to destroy, and they were thrown out of India: They were the Buddhists. We have had a host of reformers -- Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, and Chaitanya.
These were great reformers, who always were constructive and built according to the circumstances of their time. 

This is our peculiar method of work. All the modern reformers take to European destructive reformation, which will never do good to anyone and never did. Only once was a modern reformer mostly constructive, and that one was Raja Ram Mohan Roy. 
The progress of the Hindu race has been towards the realisation of the Vedantic ideals. 
All history of Indian life is the struggle for the realisation of the ideal of the Vedanta through good or bad fortune. 

Whenever there was any reforming sect or religion which rejected the Vedantic ideal, it was smashed into nothing 

            - Swami Vivekananda, 
              Interview in ‘The Hindu’ Madras (February 1897)

Monday, May 6, 2019

Vairagis and Babajis

Take even an extreme case, that of an extremely ignorant Vairagi. Even he, when he goes into a village tries his best to impart to the villagers whatever he knows, from Tulasidasa, or Chaitanya-charitamrita or the Alwars in Southern India. 

Is that not doing some good? And all this for only a bit of bread and a rag of cloth. 
Before unmercifully criticising them, think how much you do, my brother, for your poor fellow-countrymen, at whose expense you have got your education, and by grinding whose face you maintain your position and pay your teachers for teaching you that the Babajis are only vagabonds. 

                      - Swami Vivekananda, 
                        ‘Reply to the Madras Address’     

Friday, May 3, 2019

Ethnological Museum - History of India!

A veritable ethnological museum! 
Possibly, the half-ape skeleton of the recently discovered Sumatra link will be found on search here, too. 
The Dolmens are not wanting. Flint implements can be dug out almost anywhere. The lake-dwellers -- at least the river-dwellers -- must have been abundant at one time. 
The cave-men and leaf-wearers still persist. The primitive hunters living in forests are in evidence in various parts of the country. 

Then there are the more historical varieties -- the Negrito-kolarian, the Dravidian, and the Aryan. To these have been added from time to time dashes of nearly all the known races, and a great many yet unknown -- various breeds of Mongoloids, Mongols, Tartars, and the so-called Aryans of the philologists. 

Well, here are the Persian, the Greek, the Yunchi, the Hun, the Chin, the Scythian, and many more, melted and fused, the Jews, Parsees, Arabs, Mongols, down to the descendants of the Vikings and the lords of the German forests, yet undigested -- an ocean of humanity, composed of these race-waves 
seething, boiling, struggling, constantly changing form, rising to the surface, and spreading, and swallowing little ones, again subsiding -- this is the history of India. 

                      - Swami Vivekananda, 
                       from the article ‘Aryans and Tamilians’    

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Bringing Life Back Into India

Going round the whole world, I find that people of this country [i.e. India] are immersed in great Tamas (inactivity), compared with people of other countries. 
On the outside, there is a simulation of the Sattvika (calm and balanced) state, but inside, downright inertness like that of stocks and stones -- what work will be done in the world by such people? 
How long can such an inactive, lazy, and sensual people live in the world? …

So my idea is first to make the people active by developing their Rajas, and thus make them fit for the struggle for existence. …

By stimulating them I want to bring life into them -- to this I have dedicated my life. I will rouse them through the infallible power of Vedic Mantras. 
I am born to proclaim to them that fearless message --"Arise! Awake!" Be you my helpers in this work!

                 - Swami Vivekananda, 
                    Conversations and Dialogues, 
                      recorded by Sharat Chandra Chakravarty

Monday, April 29, 2019

Juggler's Trick

Disciple: … sir, whence has this nescience come?

Swamiji: How can that come which has no existence at all? 
It must exist first, to admit the possibility of coming.

Disciple: How then did this world of souls and matter originate?

Swamiji: There is only one Existence -- Brahman. You are but seeing That under different forms and names, through the veil of name and form which are unreal.

Disciple: But why this unreal name and form? Whence have they come?

Swamiji: The Shastras have described this ingrained notion or ignorance as almost endless in a series. But it has a termination, while Brahman ever remains as It is, without suffering the least change, like the rope which causes the delusion of the snake. 
Therefore the conclusion of the Vedanta is that the whole universe has been superimposed on Brahman -- appearing like a juggler's trick. It has not caused the least aberration of Brahman from Its real nature. … 

                 - Swami Vivekananda, 
                   Conversations and Dialogues, 
                    recorded by Sharat Chandra Chakravarty  

Friday, April 26, 2019

Four Castes

According to the prevalence, in greater or lesser degree, of the three qualities of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas in man, the four castes, the Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra, are everywhere present at all times, in all civilised societies. 

By the mighty hand of time, their number and power also vary at different times in regard to different countries. 
In some countries the numerical strength or influence of one of these castes may preponderate over another; at some period, one of the classes may be more powerful than the rest. 

But from a careful study of the history of the world, it appears that in conformity to the law of nature the four castes, the Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra do, in every society, one after another in succession, govern the world. 

             - Swami Vivekananda, 
           ‘Modern India’ – an article written in Bengali for Udbodhan 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


Rabbia, sick upon her bed,
By two saints was visited --
Holy Malik, Hassan wise --
Men of mark in Moslem eyes.

Hassan said, "Whose prayer is pure
Will God's chastisements endure."
Malik, from a deeper sense
Uttered his experience:

"He who loves his master's choice
Will in chastisement rejoice ."
Rabbia saw some selfish will
In their maxims lingering still,

And replied: "O men of grace,
He who sees his Master's face,
Will not in his prayers recall
That he is chastised at all!"  
                              -- Persian Poem 

               - Swami Vivekananda, Inspired Talks  

Monday, April 22, 2019

Car of Jagannatha

That car of Jagannatha that you see is but a concrete symbol of this corporeal car. 
You have to behold the Atman in this car of the body. 
Haven't you read "आत्मानं रथिनं विद्धि -- know the Atman to be seated on the chariot" etc., "मध्ये वामनमासीनं विश्वे देवा उपासते -- all the gods worship the Vamana (the Supreme Being in a diminutive form) seated in the interior of the body"? 

The sight of the Atman is the real vision of Jagannatha. 
And the statement "रथे च वामनं दृष्टा पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते -- seeing the Vamana on the car, one is no more subject to rebirth", means that if you can visualise the Atman which is within you, and disregarding which you are always identifying yourself with this curious mass of matter, this body of yours -- if you can see that, then there is no more rebirth for you.

- Swami Vivekananda, 
 Conversations and Dialogues, 
  recorded by Sharat Chandra Chakravarty 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Worship of Mahavira, Shakti

Disciple: Is the divine play of Shri Krishna with the Gopis of Vrindavan not good, then?

Swamiji: Under the present circumstances, that worship is of no good to you. Playing on the flute and so on will not regenerate the country. We now mostly need the idea of a hero with the tremendous spirit of Rajas thrilling through his veins from head to foot -- the hero who will dare and die to know the Truth -- the hero whose armour is renunciation, whose sword is wisdom. 
We want now the spirit of the brave warrior in the battlefield of life, and not of the wooing lover who looks upon life as a pleasure-garden!

Disciple: Is then the path of love, as depicted in the ideal of the Gopis, false?

Swamiji: Who says so? Not I! That is a very superior form of worship (Sadhana). In this age of tremendous attachment to sense-pleasure and wealth, very few are able even to comprehend those higher ideals.

Disciple: Then are not those who are worshipping God as husband or lover (Madhura) following the proper path?

Swamiji: I dare say not. There may be a few honourable exceptions among them, but know, that the greater part of them are possessed of dark Tamasika nature. Most of them are full of morbidity and affected with exceptional weakness. The country must be raised. 
The worship of Mahavira must be introduced; 
the Shakti-puja must form a part of our daily practice; 
Shri Ramachandra must be worshipped in every home. 

Therein lies your welfare, therein lies the good of the country -- there is no other way. 

                    - Swami Vivekananda, 
                       Conversations and Dialogues, 
                         recorded by Sharat Chandra Chakravarty  

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Doing Good to Others

Disciple: … sir, what is the necessity at all for doing good to others?

Swamiji: Well, it is necessary for one's own good. We become forgetful of the ego when we think of the body as dedicated to the service of others -- the body with which most complacently we identify the ego. And in the long run comes the consciousness of disembodiness. 
The more intently you think of the well-being of others, the more oblivious of self you become. In this way, as gradually your heart gets purified by work, you will come to feel the truth that your own Self is pervading all beings and all things. 

Thus it is that doing good to others constitutes a way, a means of revealing one's own Self or Atman. 
Know this also to be one of the spiritual practices, a discipline for God-realisation. Its aim also is Self-realisation. 
Exactly as that aim is attained by Jnana (knowledge), Bhakti (devotion) and so on, also by work for the sake of others. 

                  - Swami Vivekananda, 
                     Conversations and Dialogues, 
                    recorded by Sharat Chandra Chakravarty

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Vedanta Gist

The whole of the Vedanta Philosophy is in this story: 
Two birds of golden plumage sat on the same tree. 
The one above, serene, majestic, immersed in his own glory; the one below restless and eating the fruits of the tree, now sweet, now bitter. 
Once he ate an exceptionally bitter fruit, then he paused and looked up at the majestic bird above; but he soon forgot about the other bird and went on eating the fruits of the tree as before. Again he ate a bitter fruit, and this time he hopped up a few boughs nearer to the bird at the top. 
This happened many times until at last the lower bird came to the place of the upper bird and lost himself. 

He found all at once that there had never been two birds, but that he was all the time that upper bird, serene, majestic, and immersed in his own glory. 

               - Swami Vivekananda, 
                 Inspired Talks  

Friday, April 12, 2019

Irony of Krishna and Jesus Followers!

First see the irony of it. 
Jesus Christ, the God of the Europeans, has taught: Have no enemy, bless them that curse you; whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also; stop all your work and be ready for the next world; the end of the world is near at hand. 
And our Lord in the Gita is saying: Always work with great enthusiasm, destroy your enemies and enjoy the world. 

But, after all, it turned out to be exactly the reverse of what Christ or Krishna implied. 

The Europeans never took the words of Jesus Christ seriously. Always of active habits, being possessed of a tremendous Rajasika nature, they are gathering with great enterprise and youthful ardour the comforts and luxuries of the different countries of the world and enjoying them to their hearts' content. 
And we are sitting in a corner, with our bag and baggage, pondering on death day and night, and singing, "नलिनीदलगतजलमतितरलं तद्वज्जीवनमतिशयचपलम् -- very tremulous and unsteady is the water on the lotus - leaf; so is the life of man frail and transient"-- with the result that it is making our blood run cold and our flesh creep with the fear of Yama, the god of death; and 
Yama, too, alas, has taken us at our word, as it were -- plague and all sorts of maladies have entered into our country! 

Who are following the teachings of the Gita?-- the Europeans. And who are acting according to the will of Jesus Christ?-- the descendants of Shri Krishna!

Swami Vivekananda, 
The East and The West

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

No Sense of Blasphemy

Knowledge exists eternally and is co-existent with God. 
The man who discovers a spiritual law is inspired, and what he brings is revelation; but revelation too is eternal, not to be crystallised as final and then blindly followed. 

The Hindus have been criticised so many years by their conquerors that they (the Hindus) dare to criticise their religion themselves, and this makes them free. 
Their foreign rulers struck off their fetters without knowing it. 

The most religious people of earth, the Hindus have actually no sense of blasphemy; to speak of holy things in any way is to them in itself a sanctification. 
Nor have they any artificial respect for prophets or books, or for hypocritical piety. 

               - Swami Vivekananda, Inspired Talks  

Monday, April 8, 2019

Trinity of Existence

Onward, My Brave Boys!

I want that there should be no hypocrisy, no Jesuitism, no roguery. I have depended always on the Lord, always on Truth broad as the light of day. 
Let me not die with stains on my conscience for having played Jesuitism to get up name or fame, or even to do good.
There should not be a breath of immorality, nor a stain of policy which is bad.

No shilly-shally, no esoteric blackguardism, no secret humbug, nothing should be done in a corner. 
No special favouritism of the Master, no Master at that, even.

Onward, my brave boys -- money or no money -- men or no men! Have you love? Have you God? 
Onward and forward to the breach, you are irresistible. 

                 - Swami Vivekananda, 
                   Written to Alasinga Perumal from New York  

Friday, April 5, 2019

Open Your Heart

The truth came to the Rishis of India -- the Mantra-drashtas, the seers of thought -- and will come to all Rishis in the future, not to talkers, not to book-swallowers, not to scholars, not to philologists, but to seers of thought. 

The Self is not to be reached by too much talking, not even by the highest intellects, not even by the study of the scriptures. The scriptures themselves say so. 

Do you find in any other scripture such a bold assertion as that -- not even by the study of the Vedas will you reach the Atman? 
You must open your heart.

- Swami Vivekananda, 
   Address at Madras,
   Lectures From Colombo to Almora