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Vedanta Sandesh

The Free Monthly E-zine of Vedanta Mission

January 1999

BLESSINGS FOR A VERY HAPPY 1999

"The renunciation of a 'deluded person' will invariably bring about some new activity, while even the activity of a 'man of discrimination' will culminate in renunciation".

CONTENTS

SECTIONS

TOPICS

1. Message :

Blessings for the New Year

2. Vedanta :

Bhakti - the means & end

3. Know your scriptures :

Ramayana

4. Queries :

Where to look for the ego ?

5. General :

Biography of Time

6. VM Activities :

Gita Discourses at Indore, Sadhana Camp at Khandala, Second 'Youth Meet' at Mumbai

MESSAGE

Blessings for the New Year

The wheel of change moves on. The New year is here again. 1999. With '99 we are also at the doorstep to the beginning of the New millinium. We pray to the all-mighty that 'May all be happy', and 'May the world be all the more better place for all people to fulfill their cherished dreams', 'May all get a chance to live a life of security, knowledge & mutual love', but the most important 'May all get a clean, green and an unpolluted world to live in.'

When we look back at the year just gone-by, then we see the world is getting smaller, people have come closer to each other, and I see a small yet a very definite surge in the graph regarding the inquisitiveness in the people all over the world regarding going deeper into the secrets of life and establishing a bond with all. Faith for the precepts of the ancient Indian heritage of Vedanta is also growing very fast. This is a very good sign. Indications are that the New millinium will be of those who have a philosophy which can every thing very logically too, and can embrace all alike. Fanaticism even though very much alive is not acceptable to the educated & the young. It doesn’t have a future.

One thing which I would like all my shishyas, devotees and readers to please value to the utmost is the environment. Somehow I find that necessary awareness regarding this extremely important thing is not what it should be. When our cities and roads are very polluted we go out, or have an AC at our homes, cars, offices or even markets, but that is not the answer. Everyone starting with ourselves should do something in our own small way. Let our festivals, anniversaries and other happy occasions contribute something for this cause. May be a tree on every occasion. May be a resolve of using the polluting vehicles sparingly & properly. May be reducing the usage of polythene bags, or some such thing. To inculcate the love for nature take your children to places with great natural beauty. Let them get a feel of the harmony, beauty & the silence. There you will be able to feel the presence of God in a much better way too.

Again wishing all a very Happy, enlightening & cleaner 1999,

Lots of love & om,

VEDANTA SECTION

Bhakti - the means & end … by Swami Atmananda

Bhakti is great love to the extent of fascination for someone great. It manifests as spontaneous & blessed service for our beloved one. It is adoration, emulation and identification all combined into one. The very thought of the 'beloved' transforms the state of our minds. It is an experience of joy & fulfillment. It is very dynamic too, not passive. There is enthusiasm to do something selflessly, and the chance of service for our beloved brings still greater joy, and as the basic nature of love is, there is a natural momentum towards total identification. Our separate identity during such moments is forgotten. The positive or the so called virtuous qualities surface. Egocentricity with all its accompanied negativities is transcended, even though temporarily. Intelligence gets a chance to surface too. As Bhakti becomes natural to our minds, there is greater attentiveness & subtlety in mind. Thinking in details about the beloved is not only natural, but effortless too. There is no tiring whatsoever, and the person keeps going on blessedly. Bhakti thus purifies the mind and effortlessly prepares us for the knowledge of Self. It is therefore a means for the Self-knowledge and once a person is blessed with Self-knowledge then there is spontaneous joy & universal love for one & all, which is the goal, the end. As a means it is called Apara Bhakti, and as an end it is called Para Bhakti. In Para Bhakti there is nothing to do, love has become natural to the person, while in Apara Bhakti it is not yet natural, and therefore something needs to be done, then alone the love & joy get a chance to manifest.

The blessing of Para Bhakti is got by bringing about Self-knowledge. Atma-jnana & Para Bhakti are two sides of the same coin. First is the cause & the second the effect. The fulfillment of Bhakti is in Jnana & the fulfillment of Jnana is in Bhakti. Anyone who speaks about divorcing the two does not know the truth of either of them. How can the knowledge of the truth of our beloved Lord be an impediment in the process of invoking love for him. In fact the natural thrust of love is in bringing about greater understanding about our beloved, then alone we can even serve him properly. The ideal sequence for a completely new initiate will be to start with Satsang, and get some understanding about the existence of God, his qualities, beauty and the consequences of ignoring him. Then leading a life having an intelligent mix of Karma & Upasana. All these things are beautifully given out in the details of Apara Bhakti. Once the fundamentals have been prepared then, one should go to a Sat-guru and get Self-knowledge. The culmination is in being blessed with Para Bhakti - the universal love.

The basic spirit of Apara Bhakti is 'in being happy in the happiness of our beloved' -Tat sukha sukhitvam (Narada Bhakti Sutra). Here the thrust is two fold, initially bringing about the necessary knowledge & samskaras because of which love, positive values & thoughts surface, and also handling conditions which invoke the devil in us. The ability to dedicate ourself in the service of anyone not only shows egolessness, but also helps inculcates in us all what our beloved stands for. Egolessness is very important in all relationships of love. It is not I who is important there, but our beloved. On the basis of this factor alone Bhakti is broadly divided into two kinds. Sakama & Nishkama.

Sakama Bhakti implies that our liking for someone is basically prompted by our own concerns & conveniences. In other words we like someone for ourself rather than for the person. The other person may look after myself out of his or her love for me, but I dont like him for his sake but for my sake. It is in fact a misuse of the word love. Love has to be Nishkama, this obviously implies that we like someone for the person concerned and in the process are somehow not bothered about ourselves. A person blessed with Nishkama Bhakti is obviously very strong, confident and sensitive. Whoever has even a vee-bit of this quality then the process of purification of the mind starts. Purification is nothing but inculcating values & outlooks which reflect a satisfied & full person rather than a weak, dependent, craving, constantly desiring mind. Even though a Bhakta should never mistake a selfish relationship with love, nevertheless, it is the greatness of Bhagwan who says that even if a person comes to me with some selfish reasons, I take him as a Bhakta, for the simple reason that the 'person has come to me'. He or she does have some value for me, he takes me as someone very powerful & capable. With this seed in him, there are good chances that sooner or later the person will discover real love for me. Conditions which are very conducive for bringing about Bhakti in a person are :

1. Reading good literature

2. Going for Satsang preferably daily.

3. Having a friend circle sharing similar convictions

4. Leading a clean, intelligent & righteous life

5. Performing ones duties diligently

6. Maintaing good health

7. Regularly taking out some time for Prayers & Meditation

8. Respecting & whenever possible serving others

9. Taking out time for some selfless social service

KNOW YOUR SCRIPTURES

Ramayana

Some texts have such an impact on the psyche of people that they become instrumental to carve out a whole new movement & culture. Ramayana, the great, immortal Hindu scripture is one such text. Ramayana was originally written by Sage Valmiki. As the very name suggests it reveals the story of Lord Rama. God when he manifested in this world as the son of King Dasaratha. This great & extremely beautiful scripture reveals the ways & means to fulfill all the four goals of human life in a very simple yet profound language & style. It not only talks about the do's & don'ts to make the best of our lives, but also shows that Godhood with its omniscience & omnipotence can manifest while in this very human body, inspite of all its limitation of time & space, and also tells what exactly is implied by Godliness in our day to day activities. The body is no way an obstacle to awaken to the state of timeless dimension of Godhood within, it is rather a doorway helping us to awake to the transcendental realms within. Godhood is revealed as a state of total contentment in & by one's Self. Ramayana reveals the Sthita-Pragna in action.

After the immortal work of Sage Valmiki there were renderings of this text in various other Indian languages, out of these Ramcharitmanasa of Goswami Tulsidas, Adhatma Ramayana of Veda Vyasa and the Kamban Ramayana in Tamil have become very well known. In North India Ramcharitmanasa has become synonymous with all what religion stands for. It's popularity is just astounding. It has effectively achieved what no other modern means of communication has ever attained. It has taken the message of righteous & holistic living to the remotest part of the country and carved out a whole culture. It has & is still guiding & inspiring millions of people, and the faith towards the text was one of the reason of the great popularity & success of the recent TV serial on Ramayana. It is indeed one of the greatest literary work of the whole world.

The basic format of all Ramayana are same with some differences here & there. The Ram-charit-manasa of Tulsidasji also has eight chapters, but are called Sopana's - the steps to go to the river in ghats. Sage Valmiki called them as Kand's. Tulsidasji has used an allegory of a Lake. There is a beautiful, divine Lake of the 'story of Lord Rama', revealing his character, values, vision, compassion & knowledge etc. There are four ghats on this lake, and on each of these four ghats a pair of teacher & student are sitting and discussing some facts of life. The thrust of the discussion on each ghat is Gyana, Bhakti, Karma & those incapable of all the above. Lord Shiva is the teacher on the first ghat, predominantly revealing the secrets of Gyana, Kak Bhushundi is on the second discussing Bhakti, Sage Yagnavalkya is the teacher on the third talking predominantly about Karma, and Goswami Tulsidas sits on the fourth ghat talking specifically about those people who for any reasons are incapable to tread any of the above paths. All of these teachers are teaching their students taking the story of Lord Rama as the basis. The story is one but underlying messages are many. Irrespective of the level of person, he or she will discover that the text is as though specifically answering my queries. As the story continues we find occasional references of statements by these four teachers interpolated in the story. If anyone can cull out & separate the statements of all these four teachers from the text, then he will certainly have a compendium of tips to students of Gyana, Bhakti, Karma or to the fourth kind. It is a unique style. One story simultaneously catering to different students. To descend into this lake of the Story of Lord Rama, there are eight steps each, these are its chapters.

Ramayana is something to be studied thoroughly & not merely read or chanted, and that also with a truly open mind. Even though the very chanting or even the hearing of the text is a great experience by itself. It will indeed be a great tragedy if someone has missed out on this immortal, epoch making text. The direct fruit of the study of the text is to be blessed by the devotion to the one, all-pervasive, divinity called God. You cannot but fall in love with God, such is its profound effect. Our salutations to those Sages who have blessed us with such immortal literature.

QUERIES

Where to find the ego ?

(A part of the letter by Poojya Guruji written to Lilia Stepanova, a research scientist of Russian origin in Texas,USA)

Lilia wrote :

These are all the things I feel with my senses and I enjoy them all and want everyone around to enjoy too. Then what is about ‘withdrawing senses as a tortoise withdraws its limbs into its shell’? I feel, indeed, blessed I have them and do not look like a tortoise at all.

We are indeed blessed to have all our different faculties of perception. The scriptures never suggest suppression of our senses, but only the dominance of our intellect over all other faculties. An ideal personality is one which can live as per its convictions in an integrated way. A personality which cannot live as per its conviction can never achieve any thing or even enjoy the sensual pleasures properly. In all your endeavors try to bring all your faculties into play. Let no part of your personality miss the beauty of each present moment. There are quite a few people whose personality is not integrated, who cannot even sit down for a short period of time just because of the hangovers of some fascination lingering in the mind, and in the process missing out on what is right in front of them. The example of a tortoise just reveals a personality where all faculties are integrated and it can thus execute all what it really wishes to do.

I am not sure where to look for Ego and how to be confident it is already in India and not in Texas, USA. I will be happy to give to you whatever you ask, but can you start with indications where to find it, which color is it, and I will send it to you piece by piece?

You have beautifully turned the tables on me. Well ! you’ll find this non-entity called ego behind all those thoughts and emotions which not only bring suffering to you but also to all those around you, you’ll find it trying to peep through all thoughtless reactions. That guy will be around when you get too excited or depressed in any situation. Its presence will be felt when inspite of being wrong you will not be able to accept your fault. It will be this fellow alone because of which you will be more bothered about ‘your happiness’ and ‘your securities’ rather than thinking about the joys of all those around you. It will be this very entity which will not allow you to melt away in love and gratitude, it will bring about consciousness of an individuality which would rather retain its identity and stand apart, isolated and then try to find answers to its problem of limitation and isolation. To begin with these pointers should suffice, details you let me know when you find it. Whether it also has a long ugly tail, pink ears and all that.

With lots of love & om,

SwAtma

GENERAL

The Biography of Time… by Swami Atmananda

It manifests from the soil of timeless truth

Mind is its place of manifestation

It has a twin brother called Space

Has a long dead tail called past

and has an infinitely great potential known as future.

It has no friends or foes, and with a natural intrinsic equipoise treats all alike

It provides us with very potent levers of change in the dynamic & fleeting moments of present

It is one but we for us divide it into seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months & years

It performs its duties without any personal likes or dislikes, even effacing all with a divine dexterity

Is extremely compassionate, blesses all with the entire spectrum of varied experiences.

Strangely enough its first unit is called a 'second',

implying as though that the 'first' is beyond itself.

It stops when this 'first' is directly realised as our very Self,

and comes to an end with the transcending of mind & it's 'sense of duality'

It is TIME indeed

VM ACTIVITIES

Forthcoming Programs :

1. Vedanta Mission-Indore :

Geeta Gyana Yagna by Poojya Guruji.

Date : 12/1 to 17/1. Venue : ‘Gandhi Hall’, M.G.Road, Indore.

Texts : Gita Chapter 6 - Dhyana Yoga (evenings), and,

Panchadasi Chapter # 10 - Natakdeep Prakarana (mornings)

2. Vedanta Mission-Mumbai :

Sadhana Camp by Poojya Guruji & Swaminiji.

Date : 22/1 to 26/1. Venue : ‘Amrutvela Ashram’, Khandala.

Texts : Panchadasi Chapter # 10, Gita Chapter 14, and Navadha Bhakti

3. Vedanta Mission-Mumbai :

Second Interactive Discussion Meet of VM Youth Forum (To moderated by Poojya Guruji)

Date : 27th Jan at 5:30 PM

Venue : Bandra Hindu Association, Bandra - Mumbai.

Topic : 'Preparing for our Mahabharata'

4. Bhiksha to the inmates of Vedanta Ashram :

Our Best Wishes & Blessings to Sh.& Smt.Uma Malhotra and to Smt.& Sh.Jagdeesh Raikwar for offering Bhiksha to all the inmates of Vedanta Ashram on 15th Dec 1998, the Birthday of Poojya Guruji.

Devotees are called upon to offer Bhiksha to the inmates of Ashram on all of your annual anniversaries, and thus get the blessings of Poojya Guruji along with supporting a very important cause. Whoever would like to offer Bhiksha may kindly contact anyone below or Poojya Swamini at Vedanta Ashram, Indore.

Persons to be contacted for sending Bhiksha money to Ashram :

1. Smt.Uma Malhotra at Mumbai (Tel : 6403926 )

2. Sh.Ramakantbhai at Ahmedabad (Tel : 5327834 )

3. Sh.Sunil Garg at Indore (Tel : 544819 )

Central Office of Vedanta Mission

'Vedanta Ashram'

E / 2948-50, Sudama Nagar

INDORE – 452 009. INDIA

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Tel : 91-731-486055, Fax : 91-731-789497

E-mail : vedantamission@usa.net

Home Page : http://members.tripod.com/~vedantamission/index.html

OM TAT SAT