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Vedanta Sandesh

The Free Monthly E-zine of Vedanta Mission

July 1999

(The First Anniversary Issue)

"O Gurudev ! May my sense organs be like flowers, this body the incense-sticks, my heart the glowing lamp, my Pranas the oblations, my inner instruments the akshata, and may the fruit offered in thy Pooja be my very 'individuality'.

CONTENTS

Click on the 'Topic' jump to them

SECTIONS

TOPICS

1. Preface :

Our First Anniversary

2. Special :

Readers Reactions !

3. Vedanta :

Holistic approach to sadhana

4. General :

1. In memory we salute 2. Cricket & Kargil

5. Queries :

1. Limits of Rituals 2. Letter to Jawans

6. VM Activities :

Earlier : Gita Gyana Yagnas at Mumbai and Luchnow, Youth Meet at Mumbai, Sadhana Camp at Kayavarohan, Release of new Net-publications.

Forthcoming : Guru Poornima Celebrations at Vedanta Ashram.

7. VM Office details :

Central Office Address, Telephone, Fax, e-mail & Home Page

PREFACE

Our First Anniversary by Swami Atmananda

We are now one year old or rather one year young. We are one year old because during the past one year we have worked hard to bring out a definite individuality of Vedanta Sandesh, and we are happy to say that even though we started from scratch with no experience of writing or publishing we have been successful in our endeavors. Today VS is read all over the world, and people look forward to it, take out its printouts, file it for deeper reflection and also share it with friends. Like any other Vedanta Mission activity VS too has been very punctual, almost every month it was released dot on the 1st. However we still love to look upon ourself as one year young. This is because Internet has great potential and we can make our magazine all the more effective. We are continuosly learning, continuosly adding new features and hope to add many more in the times to come. We are growing - qualitatively and also quantitatively.

Last year on the eve of Guru Poornima we e-mailed the first issue of VS to about 50 people. Today we have four times more regular members, and we send Photocopies of VS to another three hundred. That makes it ten times the original figure last year. After about three months of our first issue we came to know about things called Mailing Lists and then started our own Lists - the Vedantamission List (with One List people) and the Guru Prasad List (with eGroup people). This made our work very easy. We did not have to maintain the details of members, neither we had to post the Newsletter individually to everyone. The Lists handled all this for us. People could subscribe or unsubscribe automatically just with an e-mail to the managers of Lists. There was no possibility of sending any unsolicited mails too.

In India Internet is spreading very fast, but still it will take years to reach a common man, so VS was facing some problems reaching out to all the members of Vedanta Mission. From this year onwards a group of devotees have come forward and they propose to collect advertisements for taking care of expenses for bringing out a regular printed copy of the magazine. We hope in the coming year the message of Vedanta will reach to more & more people in & outside the country.

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SPECIAL SECTION

Readers Reactions to Vedanta Sandesh !

Polls about VS in the Mailing Lists :

We conducted a survey amoungst our readers on our "vedantamission" & "Guru-Prasad" Mailing Lists about what our readers felt about Vedanta Sandesh. Eight options were given viz : Excellent, Unique, Comprehensive, Good, Average, Satisfactory, Difficult & Poor. The turn out in VM List was better and we are happy to state that 50% of the readers said that VS was Excellent while 25% polled the e-zine to be Unique & 25% Good. The participation in GP List was low yet the remarks were good. We are thankful to all our readers who have taken initiative to participate in the Polls. We are encouraged and hope that VS will be all the more effective organ for taking the message of Vedanta all over the world.

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Some individual letters :

Param Pujya Guruji,

Hari Om ! We are regular readers of Vedanta Sandesh - the e-zine of Vedanta Mission, Its the most wonderful thing that has happened in the cyber space. Every issue of VS opens up new vistas leading us to the Glorious path of Ultimate clarity.

Please accept our best wishes for the July Anniversary issue of Vedanta Sandesh.

Hari Om !

Vinod Rajni Arora (Indore, India)

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Hari Om,
It has been a real pleasure receiving and reading the Vedanta Sandesh e-zine along with the other publications of Swamiji's letters etc.

This is indeed a unique way of reaching the youth, not only in India but all over the world. It is very heartening to see young people wanting to find out more about our culture and the Vedas. It is the younger generation who spend so much of their time surfing the net, and an e-zine is the best
way to get their attention and expose them to the knowledge and wisdom of the Vedas.

As for myself, I too have learnt so much through Vedanta Sandesh and hope to continue doing so. Congratulations on the excellent performance and a very big Thank You.
Love and best wishes to all,
Rajni Tiwary (Bahrain)
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Pujya Swamiji,

Pranams.
I am regularly getting your Monthly Journal and other literature from your Mission for the past one month. I am getting benefitted by the same. I wish that your message reaches wider audience across the globe. Some of my close friends and relatives may be interested to read the vedantic literature. I venture to suggest that you kindly send your Mission's literature to the e-mail addresses mentioned above.

VR Rao (New Delhi)

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Pujya Swamiji,

With blessing of your Holiness myself and Chandra have been part of Vedanta Mission and had the good fortune to hear your enlightening discourses on Srimad Bhagwad Geeta and other Vedantic texts. Truely these discourses have been enlivening and have changed the course of our lives. We have in fact been able to see our day to day problems in a holistic way.

Vedanta Sandesh, a monthly magazine taken out by your Holiness is equally stimulating and gives us still deeper insight into the philosophy of Vedanta. This magazine completes one year a publication started by your Holiness and we are indeed indebted to you for it. May we pray that through this magazine apart from your discourses, your Holiness will continue to guide us towards more and more enlightened life.

MOHAN LALA (President, VM-Bombay)

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Pujya Swamiji,

We have heard your discourses practically on all the chapters of Geeta and Upanisads. They were incisive and erudite giving us new direction to our lives in every possible ways. Most importantly, we could talk to your Holiness on a personal level to clear our doubts and came away with happy feelings. Vedanta Sandesh, a publication started by your Holiness gives a new dimension in our quest for knowledge. Reaching it every month we truely feel that knowledge as contained in our scriptures is nector of life. Yours exposition of these subjects is enlightening and we trust that through this publication you will continue to guide us.

Hari Om,

K.N. DALAL (Bombay)

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Pujya Swamiji,

It gives me great pleasure to write to you on the occassion when Vedanta Sandesh, a publication started by your Holiness will be completing one year.

In our association with your Holiness, through your discourses and otherwise, myself and Kusum have gained deep insight into our scriptures which has helped us in looking at our problems holistically and with detachment. I am sure your blessing will be always with us wherever we are. Hari Om.

JAIKISHAN SANGTANI (Bombay)

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Dear Swamiji!

Hari Om. I enjoy reading every issue of Vedanta Sandesh. Since reading e-mails and using internet are two separate activities for me, I got hold on the last issue only now. It would be nice to have some list of resources for people who become more interested in particular topic - like reference to a book; or even have a short feature presentation of the most valuable sources, something like from a ‘must-read’ list.

Lilia Stepanova (USA)

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Dear Swamiji,

Hari Om ! Though i have problems expressing myself i will try. For someone like this lowly one who is uneducated in the Vedas , Vedanta Sandesh is a wonderful instrument of learning.i am certain those who are learned in Vedanta can appreciate it even more.
But beyond everything else it is an extension of our beloved Teacher .When one of His learning and stature gives such an instrument to the world this instrument becomes an outward manifestation of His love and compassion and therefore to be revered just as He is to be revered . Apologizing once again for my ignorance lack of communication skills.
With all my sincerest love,
Gurcharan (USA)

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VEDANTA SECTION

The Holistic Approach to Sadhana… by Swami Atmananda

Life is one :

Sarvam khalvidam Brahma thunder the Upanishads. Everything is Brahman alone. It is one divinity alone which is manifesting in multifarious ways. He who realises this transcendendal divinity as his own Self exudes its fragrence at all his or her levels of personality. Whether it is the experience of the ever-existent, self-effulgent joy at the level of mind, the vision of all-pervasiveness of oneself, the realisation of the fact that the Self alone is the real essence behind every process of creation etc, whether it is acting with a motivation of pure love, or it is the natural revealing of divine qualities - the stitha pragnya - the man of true knowledge, very naturally exhibits it all. This has to be very obvious because afterall it is one divinity alone expressing in various ways.

A man of knowledge does not have to be all, but discover himself to be all. During the time of his sadhana he does aligns & integrates all his faculties to facilitate the realisation of this one non-dual reality, but later just discovers himself to be all, even at the level of creation outside. He discovers himself to be in the chirping birds, in the smiling flowers, in the rising sun, in the wafting winds or in the flowing waters of streams. All are manifestation of one eternal life - which he knows to be his real essence. The thrust of his sadhana is only to rectify the errors which were erroneously brought about at the various levels of his personality. As ignorance also has pervaded at all our levels so a concerted effort is called for to tackle the problem in a holistic way.

Integral approach to sadhana :

Strangely enough a fallacious idea about sadhana is prevelent that there are different paths to the realisation of truth. The so called Gyana Marg, Bhakti Marg, the path of Karma, Raja Yoga etc. All sadhanas have a role to play. All of them are directed at completely different levels of our personlity. Physical well being and intelligent mind are not alternates to choose from. Both are important. We have balanced food, multifaceted education so also has to be the approach in ones sadhana. There has to be very clear viveka between end & means. Just as before undertaking any journey we are firstly clear about the nature of our goal and the available means to attain it, so also before undertaking any sadhana it is extremely necessary that we are clear about some fundamentals.

Like a specialist one should first discern the real problem and the means to handle that problem. There is something called the real means and secondary means. That which is the real means eliminates the real problem, while that which is the secondary means helps us to get prepared for eliminating the real problem. What is our real problem ? It is a sense of limitation, conditionings of time & space. As this is not natural to us there is an intrinsic motivation to be free from this limitation. The pangs of finitude are eliminated only by awakening to the infinite. The posibility and the methodology of this awakening is revealed in the Upanishads. They provide us the whole map of this unique journey. Luckily infinite is something which unlike finite things is present at all places and times. It is right here & now. It pervades everything, every pore, every cell, every gene, every thought and every emotion. It is our very being. Just as water pervades all waves & ripples so also everything is already pervaded by this eternal truth. That which is already present but is just not known needs no action for its attainment. It just has to be known. Action is a means to attain something unattained or maybe change that which is attained. None of this is applicable here. Knowledge alone brings about its so called attainment. There can be no other paths than this. Self-realisation is the only way to God-realisation. But in order to bring about this realisation we have to prepare our mind. We need a particular kind of mind for every kind of knowledge. For Self-knowledge we need a mind which is highly intelligent, at peace with itself, fully integrated, sensitive, simple yet very dynamic, daring & fearless. To bring about such a mind we have to use various sadhanas. There has to be an integral approach to sadhana.

Role of different sadhanas :

Bhakti plays an important role to make a person sensitive, selfless & loving. Such a person doesnt have any ego-centric problems. He is at peace with himself, and has various good divine qualities. The role of karma is to help purge various vasanas. They are lingering impressions of our various past experiences prompting their repeatition. The role of Yoga is to help bring about a physical well-being, equanimity, concentration & integration in the mind. It gives us the ability to switch off the mind and turn intensely in any direction you like. The role of gyana is to understand the truth of oneself. Who am I ? What is this world ? How has it come about ? etc. Vratas help bring about greater will-power etc. Every sadhana has a definite role to play, and all are directed at a different level all together. None of them is an alternate for the other. So the ideal plan should be to give time for some studies, practice Yoga, invoke devotion and also learn to actively & positively do your karmas. Texts like Bhagwad Gita are no super markets which have different stalls for different sadhakas. It offers a holistic approach to sadhana to help bring about the integration of all our faculties at the earliest. Thereafter it is just the realisation of the infinite truth. Aham Brahmasmi.

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GENERAL SECTION

1. In Memory … we salute

(Sent to Arjunas List by <psane@ulka.ms.gw.wiprobt.ems.vsnl.net.in>)

At 15,000ft death is steely, silent. In Batalik, you can’t breathe normally. There is less oxygen there. The air is rarefied. The lungs scream for oxygen. The blood vessels cry for oxygen.

At 15000-ft, you are not normal. You cannot be. The human body is attuned to a certain altitude. And that’s where our soldiers are. Fighting the enemy. Facing the bullets. Dying alone in the snow. Falling to death from the high ridges. No one hears their scream. It’s such a lonely death. A tiny piece of metal is all what it takes to die. They are our infantry men. The finest in the world. No other soldier has ever fought at these heights.

At 15000ft, they can’t move with ease. In Batalik, there are no tracks. Climb. Clamber. Crawl. A soldier carries a week’s ration, ammunition, a 5.56mm assault rifle or a mortar or a rocket launcher. He carries over 20 KGs on his back as he pulls himself up on this rugged, cruel terrain.

He doesn’t sleep. He doesn’t have time to eat. Life is not what it is. Life is a hell. It is the terror of death. It is the courage of facing it. It is fear, raw, unalloyed, unrelenting....the enemy is up there, somewhere hidden. It can see you, can track you down like a rat, can pick you out so effortlessly...and yet these men move, slowly but with determination to fight for the nation. To die for the nation.

You know how it feels to be up there in the cold, cold mountains, carrying a heavy backpack with a gnawing fear that you will never see your eight-year-old daughter. That sweet little thing with a ponytail and a smile that lights up your world. You may not hear her giggles, see her climb your shoulder, run around, throw her dolls in anger, paint the walls in doodles....You will not be there for her.

You know what fear is. That is the fear. Not being there. Death is not what matters. What matters is that you will not matter anymore. And yet the soldiers go up the hills, like the charge of the light brigade, never asking questions, never expecting an answer. They know they have a duty, they have a pledge, they have a promise to keep. Their tryst with destiny.

It is not easy to imagine a soldier, an infantry man’s life up there in Batalik, where the wind can sear your windpipe, chill your brains, make your eyes weep with pain and lungs cry out in sheer exhaustion. Brave. That is what these soldiers are. Brave in the face of death. Brave in the face of fear. Facing bullets.

Forty-six of them are dead. Many more will die. Let not their death go waste, unacknowledged. Let us have a silent memorial day for these Unknown Soldiers.

WE BOW DOWN TO THOSE UNSUNG WARRIORS OF THE NATION

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2. Cricket and Kashmir

(Sent to Arjunas List by <richa64@hotmail.com>)

After loss against Australia, India is back to normal with people still hoping for a miracle. In a way it was good that we lost and people now have come out of their craze for arguably most overrated, overpromoted and overpaid team and are paying attention to real issue.

There is a war on in Kashmir and India has by now lost 51 soldiers and officers. They are fighting at a height of over 17000 ft. It is -5 to -30C in inclement weather there. The intruders, 80% of whom are Pak army soldiers, are at the top of mountain and our brave soldiers are actually climbing those mountains with rope against the fire.

Some figures that may shock you : An Indian Air Force Flight Lt is paid Rs. 1200 flying allowance per month and he is supposed to make 40 sorties in aging Migs. That is about Rs. 25 per sortie after taxes. If he dies his family gets paid Rs. 2 lakh.

The man of the match in any World Cup team gets 3000 pounds, about Rs.2.1 lakhs. When flying over Kargil at 18000 ft he is just 1000 ft above intruders armed with American Stinger Missiles and can easily be shot down. Yet, they do it. Nachiketa who returned from Pakistan captivity will be back for action this week. And they do this for whom ?

A person in Bihar has offered 111 coconuts and intends to offer 10001, yes ten thousand one more. A large corporate and BJP local unit offered prayer at Sidhivinayak temple and distributed prasad. A youth in Gujarat is on fast. No, none of the above is for Indian soldiers, its for India’s win in World Cup.

You, I am sure are aware as to how important is life of a US marine. If 5 of them lose lives, all newspapers in US cry as if world war has started. There are stories of their families and how they curse US government.

Fl.Lt. Ahuja was killed in cold blood and he was cremated by his four year old son. The head line next day in Times was about India’s win over England. And our team can not make 4 runs in 7 balls against Zimbabwe. And people in India or Indian people across the world still worry about their performance.

We, the intelligent educated elite have failed this country. The least Indian cricket team can do is win the game against Pakistan and send all the reward and match fee to Army Relief Fund. The least you can do is forward this mail to every Indian.

Send your Wishes to the Soldiers on the front :

Send your best wishes to the jawans soldiers who are fighting to keep out infiltrators from the Kargil sector. They need all the support. You can send your best wishes directly to the following URL maintained by India Today Magazine or to Vedanta Sandesh. We will do the needful on your behalf. Poojya Guruji has sent a mail to the jawans on behalf of all the members of Vedanta Mission (See the mail in the next section). http://www.india-today.com/kargil.html

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QUERIES

1. Limits of Rituals … by Swami Atmananda

(Reply of Poojya Guruji to a question sent by Mrs Rajni Tiwari from Bahrain. Some minor editing has been done in the original mail by Guruji)

Hari om ! Thanks for your mail & the latest info about your family. Nice to know that you are in touch with the discussions in our Discussion Forums. Do drop your views too once in a while. I liked your mail about the Role of Temples sent earlier.

As I had written earlier rituals do have an important role in the scheme of things, but they have their limitations too. They are not to be done for all times to come. They are only means for some end. Once a person learns to inculcate the ‘attitude of worship’ in & thru all the actions, then for all practical purposes that person has got what rituals had to offer ‘for his own personal upliftment’. Later one may still continue with them symbolically for some other purposes or just for his simple pleasure of physicalising our feelings. These other purposes basically pertain to bring
about a cultural ambience at home, inculcation of the faith regarding the presence of God in others around you, feeling the presence of God even at the level at which we transact, integration of our gross & subtle faculties etc. Yes, the ability to meditate and merge ones mind in devotion unto HIM is certainly the goal for which all these practices are undertaken. From what I can gather from your mails, you need not devote too much of your time in rituals. ‘Undertaking enquiries to directly realise your Self’ and ‘continuously retaining its awareness’ should preferably be your priorities. You seem not only better poised for this, but you also seem to have inculcated the attitude for which rituals are undertaken.

Undertaking a ritual for the well being of someone is a different matter. In all Sakama Karma one has to go through the whole rig marole very deligently. However, in Nishkama Karma one is free from any such obligations, what matters here is only the expression of your feelings, in any way you deem it to be fit. Once a person grows over the necessity of rituals for his/her personal upliftment (by doing every karma nicely as a puja itself, having belief in God to the extent of getting totally free from all self-centered worries, and having faith in the intrinsic divinity of your Self), then even when it comes to doing something for the well-being of others, then mere prayers of such pure-minded persons are enough to bring results. Basically that which really helps others is only our feelings. Rituals are certainly necessary for those who are either assured of their positive feelings only after a physical act, or a physical act helps to invoke their feelings better, or is simply their traditional methodology of invoking the grace of Gods.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda
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2. Letter to Jawans on the front !

(Letter by Poojya Guruji to Jawans on the front on behalf of all the members of Vedanta Mission)

Dear Jawans !

Jai Hind ! Our scriptures say that one’s mother and motherland are far more great even than heaven. Bhagwad Gita also reveals that when a person fights for a righteous cause then the gates of heavens stand opened for him. It is a win-win situation. If you survive you help create a land of dreams and get all what you cherished for, and even if you dont you still attain the highest. A life well lived. You have a big family, who are proud to have people who are ready to die for their country. Teach the enemy a lesson, you dont get such occasions too often. Occasions like these also help isolate the rotten apples back home, and also help bring together the sincere ones. I am happy to see great patriotic fervor all over. A process of purgation appears to have started. Thanks to the example set by you all.

I along with all the members of Vedanta Mission salute you all. We pray for you, and plan to conduct a special ritual for your well being and success. That is our way of saying thank you, and that we really love you all.

Namaskar & Blessings !

Swami Atmananda & all the members of Vedanta Mission

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VM ACTIVITIES

Earlier Programs :

1. Gita Gyana Yagna at Mumbai :

A Gita Gyana Yagna was very satisfactorily conducted by Poojya Guruji Swami Atmanandaji at Hinduja Hall, Khar-W from 31st May to 6th June 99. The text of the discourses were Gita Chapter 7 and Chapter 2 (Vaitathya Prakarana) of Mandukya Upanishad Karika in the evening & morning sessions respectively. The audience were enthralled in the way Gaudapadacharya proved the waking state also to be a dream.

2. Youth Meet at Mumbai :

The Fourth Interactive Youth Meet was organised at the Hinduja Hall grounds on the afternoon of 6th June. There were about 70 boys & girls who participated in the session. There were interesting discussions on methodology of discernment of right & wrong, handling of grey areas, karma & destiny, basis of claims of the existence of earlier & future lives. Poojya Guruji also answered some general questions of the participants. Later all had tea & snacks together.

3. Gita Gyana Yagna at Lucknow :

The first Gita Gyana Yagna was very nicely & successfully organised by the newly constituted Vedanta Mission-Lucknow at the Air-conditioned Rai Umanath Bali Preksha Grah from 10th to 15th June. The Yagna was inaugurated by Col. SN & Smt Krishna Misra, the parents of Poojya Guruji, who gave enlightening discourses on the 12th Chapter of Bhagwad Gita. Beautiful Bhajans were organised daily by various local Bhajan Groups. The Press of the home town of Poojya Guruji responded very well and gave wide coverage to the program.

4. Sadhana Camp at Kayavarohan :

The 1999 Summer Camp was organised by Vedanta Mission-Ahmedabad at their usual place of Kayavarohan Tirtha - a lovely quiet place with sylvan surrounding on the outskirts of Baroda city. The early monsoons however converted the Summer camp into a Monsoon Camp. The weather became very beautiful. Most of the delegates were from various parts of Gujarat, with some representatives from Mumbai, Indore & New Delhi. Guruji gave discourses were Upadesha Sar of Ramana Maharshi and the 16th Chapter of Gita, while Swaminiji conducted her pravachans on the Narada Moha Section of Ramcharitmanasa. After the Camp an outing was organised to the famous & scenic Devi Temple at Pavagadh.

5. Release of new Net-publications :

The following new publications were released on the Internet during the month :

1. Vedanta Articles-1 : Compilations of all 12 Vedanta articles published in the Vedanta Sandesh during the year 1998-9. Can be accessed at :

http://members.tripod.com/vedantamission/Pub/1Read/VArticles-1.htm

2. Home Page of VM-Lucknow : A Web Page of the Lucknow unit of VM giving the report of the recently concluded Gita Gyana Yagna. Five Photos of the Yagna have also been uploaded. The URL is : http://members.tripod.com/SwAtma/VM-Lko.html

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Forthcoming Programs :

Guru Poornima Celebrations :

This year the auspicious occasion of Guru Poornima - the Jayanti of Bhagwan Veda Vyasa, which is traditionally celebrated as the Spiritual Teachers Day falls on the 28th July 1999. This year Poojya Guruji will be at Vedanta Ashram, Indore at the time of Guru Poornima. On the day of Guru Poornima there will be Pooja of Bhagwan Sri Adi Sankara, Mantra Deeksha to various devotees and special discourses & bhajans.

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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 : 789497

E-mail : vmission@bigfoot.com

Home Page : http://www.bigfoot.com/~vmission

Published by

Swami Atmananda Saraswati

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OM TAT SAT