Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai

Swami Ramakrishnanandaji Maharaj 150th Birth Anniversary Celebrations – Day 2

Day 2 (16th July, 2012)

The second day of celebrations started at 4:30 am with Suprabhatam followed by Vedic chanting and bhajans by Swami Abhiramananda at the Universal Temple. This was followed by the pradakshina of Universal Temple led by Swami Harivratananada accompanied by sadhus and devotees.

Swami Atmajnananda and Swami Harivratananda started the morning session at 8:30 am with bhajan performance for about an hour.

At 10 am, a special retreat for Teachers was convened. About 200 teachers from our Math and Mission schools participated. Swami Satyaprabhananda welcomed the gathering and pointed out the relevance of this convention during Shashi Maharaj`s Jayanti. He pointed out how Shashi Maharaj took up the job of a part-time teacher at a Baranagore School to facilitate worship and offering to Sri Ramakrishna school during the early days of the Math.

Dr MNG Mani, Chief of International Council for Education of people with Visual Impairment, pointed how our Gurus absolved the mistakes of their pupils and saved them just like a mother cat protects its kitten. Quoting profusely from Swamiji`s thoughts on education, he stressed the need to teach our students value systems and the 5-C’s namely Curiosity, Confidence, Communication, Compassion and Conviction. He defined teacher as the one who is Technically Efficient And Cool Headed Energiser of Reason-TEACHER.

Sri Ramasubramanian of Samanvaya stressed the need to value our tradition of teaching epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata before beginning to learn from the school. He raised a valid thought provoking question – What is the use of knowledge without practicing Dharma? He pointed out that our Indian way of teaching was through love and compassion to all beings of the world and quoted the words of Swami Ranganathanandaji `there is no use of living outside with so much of bitterness inside`.

Sri Balu, who has specialized in uplifting bright students from humble social backgrounds and runs an organization called Nallor Vattam (literally, a group of noble people), underlined the need to recognize excellence in the children and make efforts to bring it out of the students so as to make them skilled, self-confident and of good character. He also elaborated on how to bring the best out of the students. He stressed the point that it is student life that decides a person’s future life.

Swami Gautamanandaji in his benedictory address to the teachers told that health, hygiene, communication skill and helping tendency were inculcated to the students by the schools run by Ramakrishna Math and Mission. He added that such education instilled self-confidence and courage in the minds of the children and they can become great citizens and patriots by the efforts of teachers.

Following the tradition of feeding the poor during every Math function, a special Annadanam (feeding the poor) was arranged at 1 pm. The inmates of the nearby orphanages and homes were brought to the Math in vehicles and fed sumptuously. During the lunch, the children from Jyanadarshan seva foundation for the disabled voluntarily sang heart-rending songs and they were requested to sing at the Pandal the following day. After worshipping Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna at the temple and Swami Ramakrishnananda at the Mandapam, prasada was distributed to the assembled devotees. The atmosphere in the afternoon was filled with divine music from the girls of Vivekananda Vidyalaya, Ambattur.

Different dimensions of Shashi Maharaj were presented to the devotees by the senior Swamis of the order presided by Swami Divyanandaji Maharaj. The programme commenced at 3:15 pm with a song by Swami Atmajnananda.

Swami Raghaveshananda, Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Belgaum, looked at the wonderful devotion of Shashi Maharaj which has no parallel anywhere in spiritual history. Shashi Maharaj wanted to bring Sri Ramakrishna ‘back to this room’ that he had vacated on shedding his mortal coil. The swami quoted several incidents to bring out the supreme devotion Shashi had for his Guru and God. The Swami concluded his speech saying that Shashi Maharaj lived with Sri Ramakrishna and felt his presence ever with him.

Swami Shukhadevananda, Secretary of Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith, Chennai, spoke on how untiring Shashi Maharaj was in spreading the message of his master in the southern part of India. He pointed out that Shashi Maharaj`s two gifts to the South were bringing Holy Mother and Swami Brahmanandaji here (Chennai Math) and sanctify the Math centre by their presence.

Swami Brahmeshananda, former Editor of The Vedanta Kesari, delved deep in to the wonderful writings of Shashi Maharaj. He also brought out gems of Shashi Maharaj’s creative and original thinking like – `Man is constantly finite and unconsciously infinite, while God is consciously infinite and unconsciously finite`.

Swami Kamalatmananda, President, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madurai, dwelt on the great pujari in Shashi Maharaj. He pointed out how Shashi Maharaj single handedly took upon himself to manage all the works like pujari, cook, servant and even earning by teaching in a school during the initial days of Baranagore Math. He detailed out his daily worship and service to Sri Ramakrishna here at Chennai from the moment he landed at Ice House. Regular chanting of Gita and Chandi, ‘Umbrella-service’ and ‘Fan-service’ to his living God and informing his Master whenever he goes out for classes or market are the masterpieces of Shashi Mahraj’s devotion and service, the swami explained.

Swami Atmasraddhananda traced the life of Shashi Maharaj at Madras, his joy in establishing the new Math at Mylapore, his keen sense of publishing Swamiji`s ‘Inspired Talks’, his preaching of Gita, Bhagavata and Upanishads in and around different parts of the city and starting educational institutions at Madras and other services. Swami very aptly placed Shashi Maharaj as the moon that moves around the Sun of Sri Ramakrishna.

Swami Golokananda, President of Ramakrishna Ashrama, Tiruvalla, dwelt on the training of brahmacharis, the discipline and guiding spirit in Shashi Maharaj that have made him a superior Teacher or Acharya.

Swami Abhiramananda explained the thoughts of Shashi Maharaj on education. He beautifully narrated Shashi Maharaj`s prescription for de-addiction from drugs with an experiment where the weight of drug to be consumed is placed on one pan and a chalk piece that gradually decreases in size on the other pan. Swami pointed out the teachers as the eagle that comes down to lift the tortoise from the earth.

Swami Divyanandaji in his presidential address, pointed out how Sri Ramakrishna yearned for disciples like Shashi Maharaj by praying to Divine Mother, Kali. He added that Shashi Maharaj also had a little message for him and with that he became the pioneer in establishing the organization on a firm ground. He said that Shashi Maharaj had the GOD particle in him. Citing anecdotes from different monks as well as from M`s dream, the swami pointed out the greatness of Shashi Maharaj. The programme ended with Swami Shankaratmananda rendering the closing song.

The new publications in Tamil, fittingly remembering the great life Swami Ramakrishnananada, Maharaj, were released by Swami Raghaveshananda during the evening book release function at 6:15 pm. Swami Kamalatmananda received the first copy. The Tamil books released at the function were:

  1. Swami Ramakrishnanandar : Virivaana Vaazhkai Varalaru
  2. Swami Ramakrishnanandar : Pugaippadangulam Varalarum
  3. Panniru Azhvargal
  4. Dharumam Dhanan Tharum

Speaking on the occasion, Swami Kamalatmananda appreciated the efforts and enthusiasm shown by Chennai Math in highlighting the great life of the Saint by publishing his life both in text and picture form.

The special discourse for the night was made at 7 pm by Sri Dhushyanth Sridhar, a well-known Management executive and religious speaker, who traced the parallels in the great lives of Swami Ramakrishnanandaji and Sri Ramanuja. His speech was studded with gems from the lives of these two saints, the other Vaishnava Acharyas as well as from the epics.

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