Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai

The Five Commandments of Sri Ramakrishna – Concluding Part

Swami Dayatmananda

Swami Dayatmananda is the current Center Leader of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Center, Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, UK. The following article is reproduced from the Vedanta magazine published by the Vedanta Society of UK – Jan-Feb 2002 Issue. The first part of this article can be viewed at: http://www.chennaimath.org/the-five-commandments-of-sri-ramakrishna-part-1-12701

How to love God and surrender to Him whom we have never seen is a question that often arises in our mind. To some such query of a devotee Swami Adbhutananda, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, replied: “It does not matter if you do not know Him. You know His Name. Just take His Name, and you will progress spiritually. What do they do in an office? Without having seen or known the officer, one sends an application addressed to his name. Similarly send your application to God, and you will receive His grace.” The answer was characteristic of Swami Adbhutananda, temperamentally a man of simplicity and faith. Though a simple answer, it satisfied the inquirer, for it carried the strength that is in the words of a man of realisation. This assertion of the Swami, however, is corroborated by the scriptures, where the Divine Name has been considered identical with the Deity it signifies. It is not merely a combination of letters. It is both the means and the goal. Words, especially the syllable Om, have been designated as Brahman by the Vedas. All scriptures glorify Holy Names. Every religious discipline prescribes the Name of God for repetition. Its efficacy is recognized by all faiths. Theistic religions specially recommend it to their votaries. In Hinduism even the Advaita system of philosophy, which does not recognize the ultimate separate existence of a personal God, appreciates the value of the repetition of God’s Names as a purifying act.

In the theistic faiths, however, its place is significantly important. Of all the systems it is the Vaishnavite School of Sri Chaitanya, which has laid particular stress on the Divine Name and has raised its repetition to the status of an independent spiritual practice. Sri Chaitanya, the founder of Bengali Vaishnavism, has himself composed a few verses singing the glory of the Name which forms a cardinal doctrine of his system. In the first verse of his Sikshastaka, he speaks about the nature of Name and the efficacy of its repetition:

Chant the name of the Lord and His Glory unceasingly,
That the mirror of the heart may be wiped clean,
And quench that mighty forest fire, Worldly lust, raging furiously within.
Oh Name, stream down in moonlight on the lotus heart,
Opening its cup to knowledge of Thyself.
Oh self, drown deep in the waves of His bliss,
Chanting His Name continually,
Tasting His nectar at every step,
Bathing in His Name, that bath for weary souls.

He also says that the Lord’s Name is to be always sung by one who is humbler than even a blade of grass, with more endurance than that of a tree and who, being himself devoid of conceit, bestows honour on others. Man seeks refuge in God’s name also when he is confronted with difficult situations or involved in crises. Innumerable stories are extant which go to illustrate this fact. When Draupadi was being subjected to insult and humiliation in the court of the Kauravas it was Krishna’s name that saved her honour. When Radha, the cowherdess of Vrndavana, was asked, as a test of her chastity, to bring water in a multi-holed pitcher it was with the name of the Lord that she came off more glorious than ever, out of this fiery ordeal. The great hero of the Ramayana, whom Tulsidas calls the `jewel in the great garland of Ramayana’, Hanuman, crossed the ocean to Lanka merely by taking the name of Rama.

Though it is said that chanting or repeating the name of God is enough it must be understood rightly. Undoubtedly there is an inherent power in the name of God. Even if one chants it mechanically it will save one in course of time. In fact many aspirants do japa only mechanically. There is little or no intensity or feeling in it. That is why little progress is seen in their lives.

Concerning this a great poet-saint, Kabir, has warned us against the complacency and self-satisfaction that may be indulged in by the mere mechanical repetition of the name. He says:
“The remembrance of God is not achieved
By the revolving of beads in the hand,
By the rolling of the tongue in the mouth,
Or, by the wandering of the mind in all quarters.”

Yet there is hope even for those who take God’s name mechanically:
Disciple: “Is it of any use to be merely repeating His Name without intense devotion?”
Holy Mother: “Whether you jump into water or are pushed into it, your cloth will get drenched. Is it not so? Repeat the Name of God, whether your mind is concentrated or not. It will be good for you if you can repeat the Name of God for a fixed number of times daily.” However it would be far more profitable if one chants the name of God with faith, love and longing.

Sri Ramakrishna emphasizes intense yearning:
Goswami: “Sir, the chanting of God’s name is enough. The scriptures emphasize the sanctity of God’s name for the Kaliyuga.”
Master: “Yes, there is no doubt about the sanctity of God’s name. But can a mere name achieve anything, without the yearning love of the devotee behind it? One should feel great restlessness of soul for the vision of God. Suppose a man repeats the name of God mechanically, while his mind is absorbed in `lust and gold’, can he achieve anything? “Therefore I say, chant the name of God, and with it pray to Him that you may have love for Him. Pray to God that your attachment to such transitory things as wealth, name, and creature comforts may become less and less every day.”

The scriptures and saints tell us that there is a tremendous joy in God’s name, for God is of the nature of Bliss; He is Satchidananda. A beginner, however, does not experience any joy. On the contrary he may feel only dryness. It is not the fault of God’s name. The fault lies in the mind of the devotee. As long as the mind has not turned away from worldly delights it is not possible to taste divine bliss. One must try to develop discrimination and dispassion for the world. Only when the mind is purified of worldly dross does one begin to taste the joy of divine name. One must pray to God with yearning for getting rid of desires and for getting delight in His name:
Devotee: “How can I take delight in God’s name?”
Master: “Pray to God with a yearning heart that you may take delight in His name. He will certainly fulfil your heart’s desire.” So saying, Sri Ramakrishna sang a song in his sweet voice, pleading with the Divine Mother to show Her grace to suffering men.
Then he said: “Even for Thy holy name I have no taste. A typhoid patient has very little chance of recovery if he loses all taste for food; but his life need not be despaired of if he enjoys food even a little, that is why one should cultivate a taste for God’s name. Any name will do Durga, Krishna, or Siva. Then if, through the chanting of the name, one’s attachment to God grows day by day, and joy fills the soul, one has nothing to fear. The delirium will certainly disappear; the grace of God will certainly descend.”

Utmost caution and guidance are required to chant the Name effectively. When one chants it with due regard and propriety, said Swami Vivekananda once, one can have both devotion and knowledge through it. We have to impress on our minds that purity of thought and sincerity of purpose are the essential conditions one has to achieve and develop in the religious life if it is to be expeditiously fruitful. An aspirant must practise self-control. He has to avoid all slips in ethical life and should live a life of discipline. These are the sine qua non of the higher life, and it is well-known that nothing will happen if spiritual disciplines are practised perfunctorily. When that purity of purpose and sincerity in sadhana is achieved and when one tries in secret and in solitude and with single-minded devotion to repeat the name of God, His vision will come and thedevotee will get absorbed in Him. This chanting of God’s name must form a regular habit.

Sri Ramakrishna says:
“And one must always chant the name and glories of God and pray to Him. An old metal pot must be scrubbed every day. What is the use of cleaning it only once? Further, one must practise discrimination and renunciation; one must be conscious of the unreality of the world.”

“One should constantly repeat the name of God. The name of God is highly effective in the Kaliyuga (iron age). The practice of yoga is not possible in this age, for the life of a man depends on food. Clap your hands while repeating God’s name, and the birds of your sin will fly away.”

A devotee asked, “Mother, what is the secret?” Holy Mother pointed to a small clock in a niche and said, “As that timepiece is ticking, so also go on repeating God’s Name. That will bring you everything. Nothing more need be done. While performing Japa, take the Name of God with utmost love, sincerity, and self-surrender. Before commencing your meditation daily, first think of your utter helplessness in this world and then slowly begin the practice of Sadhana as directed by your Guru.”

The Master: “Ecstatic devotion develops in taking the Name of the Lord, eyes overflow tears of joy, words are choked in the mouth, and all the hairs of the body stand erect thrilled with joy.
Devotee: But I do not find delight in His name. 

The Master: Then pray with a yearning heart that He may teach you to relish His name. Undoubtedly He will grant your prayer. . . . I say, “Find joy in his name.” Durga, Krishna, Siva any name will do. And if you daily feel a greater attraction for taking His name and a greater joy in it, you need fear no more. The delirium must get cured, and His grace will surely descend on you.”

Japa means repeating the name of the Lord silently, sitting in a quiet place. If one continues the repetition with concentration and devotion, one is sure to be blessed with Divine visions ultimately one is sure to have God-realisation. Suppose a big log of wood is immersed in the Ganges with one end attached to a chain, which is fixed on the bank. Following the chain, link by link, you can gradually dive into the water and trace your way to it. In the same manner, if you become absorbed in the repetition of His holy name, you will eventually realise Him.”

According to Vaishnavism the Divine Name must be taken without committing ten faults. These are:
(1) disparaging genuine devotees,
(2) regarding God as absolutely different from His Names, Form, Qualities, etc.,
(3) showing disrespect for one’s spiritual preceptor,
(4) speaking too lightly or contemptuously of the sacred scriptures,
(5) considering the glory of the Divine Name mentioned in the scriptures as mere eulogy,
(6) considering the Divine Name as imaginary,
(7) committing sins repeatedly and intentionally on the strength of the Divine Name,
(8) regarding the repetition of the Divine Name as equal to other spiritual practices,
(9) imparting it to unworthy persons, 
(10) wanting taste for the chanting or hearing of the Divine Name even after listening to its excellencies. 
These faults however will be rectified by chanting the Divine Name itself. As Padmapurana puts it: The sins of those who commit offence to the Divine Name is remedied by the Name alone. And it bears the desired fruit if taken constantly. If one chants the name of God sincerely with faith, feeling, and yearning, and takes care to avoid the faults mentioned above, one is sure to progress in spiritual life, obtain His grace and attain Him in time.

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The Five Commandments of Sri Ramakrishna – Part 1

Swami Dayatmananda

Swami Dayatmananda is the current Center Leader of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Center, Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, UK. The following article is reproduced from the Vedanta magazine published by the Vedanta Society of UK – Jan-Feb 2002 Issue

M. (humbly): “Yes, sir. How, sir, may we fix our minds on God?”
Master:
(1) “Repeat God’s name and sing His glories, and
(2) keep holy company; and now and then visit God’s devotees and holy men. The mind cannot dwell on God if it is immersed day and night in worldliness, in worldly duties and responsibilities;
(3) it is most necessary to go into solitude now and then and think of God. To fix the mind on God is very difficult, in the beginning, unless one practises meditation in solitude. When a tree is young it should be fenced all around; otherwise it may be destroyed by cattle. “To meditate, you should withdraw within yourself or retire to a secluded corner or to the forest.
(4) And you should always discriminate between the Real and the unreal. God alone is real, the Eternal Substance; all else is unreal, that is, impermanent. By discriminating thus, one should shake off impermanent objects from the mind.”
M. (humbly): “How ought we to live in the world?”
Master: (5) “Do all your duties, but keep your mind on God. Live with all with wife and children, father and mother and serve them. Treat them as if they were very dear to you, but know in your heart of hearts that they do not belong to you.”

On his second visit M. received the above five commandments from Sri Ramakrishna. M. practised them to perfection all his life and taught them to devotees who used to visit him. These five commandments are of supreme importance for those who wish to progress in spiritual life. All aspirants, especially the devotees of Sri Ramakrishna, must remember and assess their spiritual progress in the light of these commandments. If followed faithfully they are sure to lead to the highest realisation. To the extent the devotees are able to practise them, to that extent they are progressing in the realm of God.

The first of these commandments is to repeat God’s name and sing His glories. Religious lore is replete with the praises of the power and glory of God’s name. Of all the spiritual practices, taking the name of God is the easiest. Sri Chaitanya was a prophet who preached the glory of God’s name. Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother, and the direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna all have unequivocally emphasized the need for repetition of the name of God. A host of saints all over the world have advocated repeating the name of God. Many became saints solely through the repetition of God’s name. The name and the named are one; God and His name are one. The Master said: “God and His name are identical; that is the reason Radha said that. There is no difference between Rama and His holy name.” The name of God purifies and uplifts one who takes it; it washes away all sins and impurities. Indeed there are devotees who maintain that the name of God is even greater than God Himself. Through the power of God’s name one can reach the highest realisation. Throughout his life Sri Ramakrishna himself repeated the name of his sweet Divine Mother even after attaining Nirvikalpa samadhi.

Sri Jagadananda Pandita, a Vaishnava saint, wrote in verse a book called Prema-vivarta (On the Glory of Divine Love), where he distinguishes different methods of taking God’s name uttering, repeating, chanting and singing. But the best practice, he says, is singing the Divine Name, for that requires the services of many sense-organs. Bhakti-rasamrtasindhu of Rupa Goswami recognises sixty-four forms of devotion. Of these there are five main forms. They are: keeping the company of devotees, singing the Divine Name, hearing the scriptures, staying in a holy place, and serving the Deity with devotion. According to Vaishnava tradition the important sadhanas are three: kindness to all beings, taste for God’s Name, and service to fellow devotees. Caitanya-caritamrta considers the chanting of the Divine Name as the best way of promoting devotion. God’s name is within the reach of all. Even illiterate people can attain God by the power of His name. Amongst the disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, there was a lonely widow known as Gopala’s Mother, who lived in a room beside the Ganges and spent her time in repeating the name of Gopala. Her life-long remembrance of God was rewarded in old age by the constant vision of Gopala, the Divine Child, who lived with her night and day for two months. She is to this day loved and honoured by the disciples and devotees ofthe Ramakrishna Order. The glory of the Divine Name bears no comparison. As the Adi purana puts it: “There is no knowledge like Name, no vow like Name, no meditation like Name, no fruit like Name.”

Chanting of the Lord’s name does not go in vain. It must bear its benign result. It is like the philosopher’s stone converting all baser metal into gold. It is like the magic wand of the magician performing unbelievable and unthought of miracles; it transforms man’s life for ever. Name is both the means and the end. To take God’s name lovingly and to see Him are the same. To the votary of the Divine Name, it manifests itself as the Form, Quality and Sport of the Lord. The Form of the Lord is identical with His Name. Devotees say the Name is even greater than Form. Evidences of this can be seen in the lives of Rama and Krishna. While Sri Rama had to construct a bridge to cross the ocean, Hanuman crossed it with the strength of Rama’s Name. When Sri Krishna was put on the balance against His Name written on a Tulasi leaf, he was found to be lighter. The essence of all scriptures is God’s name. Once a sadhu who had remarkable faith in the name of God came to Dakshineswar. He carried with him a book in which the solitary word “Om Rama” was written in big letters in red ink. He worshipped this book daily with flowers and sometimes opened and read it. Sri Ramakrishna became curious to know what was written in the book. The monk showed him the book and said to him: “What is the use of reading a large number of books? For it is from the one divine Lord that the Vedas and Puranas have come; He and His name are not separate. . . That is why His name is my only companion”

Sri Ramakrishna himself was a great advocate of using the name of God. He said: “Chant His name and purify your body and mind. Purify your tongue by singing God’s holy name.” Holy Mother said: “The Mantra purifies the body. Man becomes pure by repeating the Mantra of God. … It is said, `The human teacher utters the Mantra into the ear; but God breathes the spirit into the soul.’ “As wind removes the cloud, so the Name of God destroys the cloud of worldliness.” Once a devotee showed to Holy Mother a tiny banyan seed and said to her, “Look, Mother, it is tinier even than the tiniest seed we know. From this will spring a giant tree! How strange!” “Indeed, it will,” Mother replied. “See what a tiny seed is the Name of God. From it in time come divine moods, devotion, love, and spiritual consummation. “Very powerful indeed is the Lord’s name. It may not bring about an immediate result, but it must one day bear fruit, just as we find that a seed left long ago on the cornice of a building at last reaches the ground, germinates, grows into a tree, and bears fruit, perhaps when the building cracks and is demolished. Knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously, in whatever state of mind a man utters God’s name, he acquires the merit of such utterance. A man who voluntarily goes to a river and bathes therein gets the benefit of the bath: so does he also who has been pushed into the waterby another, or who, when sleeping soundly, has water thrown upon him. “There is a great power in the seed of God’s name. It destroys ignorance. A seed is tender, and the sprout soft; still it pierces the hard ground. The ground breaks and makes way for the sprout.” The best thing for people whose minds are attracted by sense-objects is to cultivate the dualistic attitude and chant loudly the name of the Lord as mentioned in NaradaPancharatra (a work on devotion). “Through the path of devotion the subtle senses come readily and naturally under control. Carnal pleasures become more and more insipid as Divine love grows in your heart.”

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Swami Yogananda Jayanti (Video) – Discourse by Swami Gautamananda – Mar 10, 2015

Swami Yogananda Jayanti was celebrated at our Math on March 10, 2015. In the evening Srimat Swami Gautamananda Maharaj gave a discourse on the life and teachings of Swami Yogananda.

Duration: 56 min

To listen to the audio lecture online and to download the audio lecture (mp3) please visit Menu: Downloads -> Audio -> Festival Lectures.

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Sri Chaitanya Jayanti Discourse by Srimat Swami Gautamananda (Video) – Mar 05, 2015

Sri Chaitanya Jayanti was celebrated at our Math on March 05, 2015. In the evening Srimat Swami Gautamananda gave a discourse on the life of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and narrated some important incidents in Mahaprabhu’s life.

Duration: 72 min

To listen to the audio lecture online and to download the audio lecture (mp3) please visit Menu: Downloads -> Audio -> Festival Lectures.

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Video Lectures on Public Celebration of Sri Ramakrishna Jayanti – Feb 22, 2015

The 2nd day of the Public Celebration on February 22nd, 2015. As a part of the programme, special bhajans were rendered by Bhaktaswara Bhajan Mandali. This was succeeded by two talks, first by Hon. Justice V Subramaniam (Judge, Madras High Court) in Tamil and next by Sri Sraddhalu Ranade, a Scientist, Educator and Scholar on Indian Heritage. In the evening, there was a music concert by the popular “Mambalam Sisters”.

Sri Ramakrishnar Indrum Jeevikkirar(Tamil) by Hon’ble Justice V. Ramasubramanian

Duration: 42 min

Vedapurush Sri Ramakrishna(English) by Sri Sraddhalu Ranade

Duration: 44 min

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Aratrikam Hymns – Evening vesper service to Sri Ramakrishna

These evening hymns are sung during the vesper service at all the centres of Sri Ramakrishna Math and Mission. The songs are dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi.

1) Khandana Bhava Bandhana – Composed by Swami Vivekananda
2) Om Hrim Rtam – Composed by Swami Vivekananda
3) Sarva Mangala Mangalye – Dedicated to Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi
4) Prakritim Paramam – Dedicated to Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi composed by Swami Abhedananda

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Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna Jayanti Discourse (video) – Feb 20, 2015

Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna Jayanti was celebrated at our Math on February 20, 2015.
In the evening, Srimat Swami Gautamananda Maharaj delivered a discourse in English on the life and teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna.

This video lecture is published below.

Duration: 49 min

To listen to the audio lecture online and to download the audio lecture (mp3) please visit Menu: Downloads -> Audio -> Festival Lectures.

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The Vedanta Kesari – March 2015 issue

Gita Verse for Reflection

Editorial

The Glorious ‘Present’ Moment

Articles

A Few Women Disciples of Swami Vivekananda – Prema Nandakumar
Bringing Vedanta into Daily life – Swami Abhiramananda
Down the Memory Line—The First Centenary Celebration of
Sri Ramakrishna’s Birth – Swami Sambuddhananda
Five Pointers for Good Governance:
Swami Vivekananda’s Ideas and the Politics of Our Times – Sandipan Sen

Compilation

Insights into Some Keywords: In Swami Vivekananda’s Words

New Find

Unpublished Letters of Swami Saradananda
Sister Nivedita – Alice Mary Longfellow

The Order on the March

Book Reviews

Feature

Simhâvalokanam (Swami Akhandananda)

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