Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai

The Way to true Devotion

Source: Compiled from the Bhagavatam Sk.ll. Adh.19

“I shall again tell thee of the most efficacious way to devotion to Me: Sincere solicitude to listen to My nectar-like stories, the constant singing of Me, a steady application to My worship, to sing hymns in praise of Me, enthusiasm in doing service to Me and bowing to Me, great attention to worshipping My devotee, to think that I am present in all beings, every movement of every limb taking place only in doing acts dedicated to Me; to sing only My qualities, to resign the mind to Me, to shun all desires, and for My sake to eschew money that does not point to My devotion, to abandon all enjoyments and comforts and to perform sacrificial acts, gifts, oblations, repetition of Mantras [holy sound-symbols] and the vows and tapas [austerity] dedicated to Me.

“Those men, O Uddhava, who possess the aforesaid virtues and resign themselves to Me, develop devotion towards Me. What other purpose yet remains for them to secure? When the mind is full of Sattva [calmness serenity and balance] and thoroughly serene is resigned unto Me, the man naturally gains merit of righteousness, wisdom and renunciation and attains to the state of Iswara [God with attributes]. The mind that is set on anything different from Myself, that is on any phenomenal object, runs astray with the senses, then it becomes very impure with Rajas [passionate activity] attached to bad things, and thus it becomes perverse and unrighteous.

“Whatever promotes devotion to Me is Dharma [Righteousness], and to realise the oneness of Atman [Self] is Jñana or wisdom; to be without attachment to the three Gunas and their products is renunciation.”

Uddhava said, “O Slayer of enemies, how many are the Yamas laid down as such? Niyamas, how many? What is Sama? What is Dama? O Krishna, what is forbearance or fortitude, O Lord? What is gift? What is Tapas? What is heroism, truthfulness, correct understanding? What is liberality? What is wealth or sacrificial act? What is Yajña and what is Dakshina? What is the good strength of man? What is fortune or gain? What is the highest form of modesty, what is Sri, what happiness, what misery? Who is a scholar? Who is a fool? What is the way and what is the wrong way? What is heaven and what is hell? Who is a relation and what is a house? Who is rich and who is poor? Who is helpless? And who is Iswara, O Lord of the righteous? May Thou be pleased to explain to me these points of enquiry as well as the contrary ideas.”

Sri Krishna said, “To refrain from harming others, to be truthful, not to appropriate others’ wealth even in thought, to be free from attachments, to avoid company, to shrink from evil courses, not to be storing or collecting wealth, belief in Dharma [righteousness], celibacy, cleanliness of body and purity of heart, continence, firmness, forbearance, fear of God, to repeat the Mantras, Tapas [austerity], enthusiasm in being righteous, hospitality, worshipping Me, pilgrimages to holy places and waters, working for the benefit of others, contentment, service to the Guru [teacher]—these are the Yamas and Niyamas. When practised, these virtues lead to all that men desire.

“Sama is to settle the mind devoutly on Me; Dama is the control of the senses, forbearance is to put up quietly with afflictions, fortitude is complete control of the senses, of sexual passion and of taste. To refrain from harming other creatures is the highest gift. To abandon desires is admitted to be Tapas. Control over natural tendencies is heroism, and truthfulness is to think of Brahman. Correct understanding is speech both sweet and truthful; absence of attachment to the course of Karma is cleanliness, and to be rid of the notions of “I” and “Mine” is Tyaga. The desired wealth of men is righteousness. Yajña [sacrifice] is Myself, the most Glorious One. Dakshina is precept leading to wisdom. Pranayama, or control of breath, is the greatest strength. Fortune is the state of Iswara, having the six attributes, the highest gain is devotion to Me. Learning is the erasure of difference in Me. Sri is shrinking from prohibited action.

“Absence of desire and other good qualities are the ornament, happiness is to be insensible to pain and pleasure, misery is the craving for pleasure to be derived from the fulfilment of desires. He is a scholar who has true Knowledge of bondage and release. The fool is he who thinks that the body and its belongings are the Self. The way is that which directs one towards Me. The wrong way is distraction of the mind. Heaven is the predominance of Sattva [the element of harmony and balance]. Hell is the predominance of Tamas [the element of indolence, lethargy and dullness]. The relation is the Guru [Spiritual Teacher], Myself, O friend. The house is the human body. The rich man is he who is full of excellent qualities. He is poor who is discontented. He is helpless who has not controlled his senses. He is Iswara who is not attached to the Gunas. And one attached to the Gunas is the slave.”

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Two Stories from the Life of St. Francis

 

1. The Sermon on the Corpse

One day, St. Francis complained to his brothers in the following way saying, “There is scarcely a monk on earth who observes perfect obedience towards his superior.”francis-of-assisi

Then his companions said to him, “Tell us, Father, what is perfect and supreme obedience?”

He answered, describing him who is truly and perfectly obedient under the figure of a corpse.

“Take a dead body and put it wherever you will. You will see that it shows no resistance, does not change its place, will not demand from you the things it left. If you put it in a chair, it will not look up but down. If you dress it in purple, it will but look paler than before. Thus he who is perfectly obedient does not ask why he is removed, does not care where he is placed, does not insist on being put elsewhere. He who is raised to some high office retains his ordinary humility. The higher he rises in honours, the more does he consider himself to be unworthy of them.”

St. Francis considered that to be perfect obedience which is attained spontaneously without asking for it. And he took that for supreme obedience wherein neither the flesh nor the blood has any part.

2. The Immodest Eyes

Among those virtues which he preferred and desired to find in the brothers after the foundation of holy humility, St.Francis liked above all the beauty and purity of pure-mindedness.

Therefore, endeavouring to train the brothers to keep their eyes modest, he used to describe the immodest eyes by the following parable.

“There was a pious and mighty king who sent two messengers, one after the other, to the queen. On coming back, the first one spoke about the message only in words without mentioning the queen, for he had guarded his eyes wisely in his head and not lifted them up to the queen under any circumstances. When the second returned he began, after having said a few words about the message, to weave a long story round the beauty of the queen. “Truly,” he said, “O Lord, I saw the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Fortunate, indeed, is he who possesses one like unto her.” The king replied to him, “Thou faithless servant hast lifted up thy immodest eyes to my spouse, and it is clear that thou wishest secretly to possess what thou hast seen.” Thereupon he ordered the other servant to be brought back to him and said, “What dost thou think of the queen?” “She seemed most excellent,” he said, “for she listened to me willingly and with great patience.” And the king turned again to him and asked, “But has she no beauty at all?” “That is for you to see, my Lord,” he replied, “My duty was to deliver the message.” Then the king passed judgment and said, “Because thou hast kept thy eyes chaste, stay with me in my own room because of the chastity of the body and enjoy my delights. But that shameless fellow must leave my palace in order that he bring not dishonour to my house.”

Soource: From the Specchio di perfezione by Brother Leone

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Mother’s Love – Swami Ishanananda – 6

In 1940, Radhu was living in Jayrambati, at Holy Mother’s house. In the second half of that year she contracted malarial fever and after some time became so sick that she had to be brought to Calcutta for treatment. The doctors suspected she might be suffering from tuberculosis and therefore decided to send her to the Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama in Benares, where she could receive specialized treatment. Radhu arrived in Benares accompanied by Swami Ishanananda and a female servant, and was lodged on the second floor of a small rented house near the Ashrama. The doctors had Radhu’s chest X-rayed and found that she did indeed have TB. Both lungs were so badly damaged by the disease that there was no hope of recovery. Swami Ishanananda, who as a boy had been Holy Mother’s close attendant, had known Radhu for many years, and she therefore could talk to him freely. After staying for twelve days in Benares, it was time for the Swami to return to Calcutta. When he went to say goodbye to Radhu, they had the following conversation:

Swami – `Radhu, today I’m going back to Calcutta. Please don’t worry. Once you have recovered from your illness you will return to Jayrambati. The Swamis here have made all necessary arrangements for your stay and treatment. Afterwards I will come and take you back to Jayrambati.’

Radhu (in a feeble voice but forcefully) – `Dear me! What kind of understanding do you have? I know the disease I am suffering from, no matter how much you may try to conceal it from me. I have got tuberculosis, I know it is a fatal illness. Still you are telling me, “Once you have recovered, you will return to Jayrambati.”‘

Swami- `Radhu, why do you entertain such thoughts? You will be properly looked after, and if any problem arises, all you have to do is tell the Swamis and they will try to help you in every possible way. Please do not worry.’ Radhu- `Gopal-da, I am not talking about such things, you know. You want to keep me here because if I die in Benares I will obtain liberation. Is this what you have understood after serving the Mother for so many years? She, who took my burden from my very birth, who looked after my well-being in all respects, who even gave me the right to live in her own house as long as I am alive, in whom I have taken refuge forever, has She not secured my liberation as well? Even if I die in an impure place, by her grace, liberation is in my hand (showing her clenched fist). You don’t have to worry about that, brother. I will die in whichever place the Mother chooses for me.’ Everyone present in the room was touched to see Radhu’s deep faith in Holy Mother. At the earnest request of those looking after her, Radhu stayed on at Benares for just a few days and then returned to Jayrambati. On 23rd November 1940, at nine in the morning, Radhu passed away in Holy Mother’s room in Jayrambati. She was only forty years old. She died fully conscious, with her mind firmly fixed on the lotus feet of Holy Mother.

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Antaryogam Audio Lectures – July 2014

Antaryogam – A three day spiritual camp for adults, was conducted at the Math from 25-July 2014 to 27th July 2014. As a part of the camp, guided meditation, bhajans, spiritual talks, music and drama presentations were organised. At the end of the day, a homa was conducted for the participants.

 Some of the lectures published below

Listen and Download the Lecture                                            Downloading Audio

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