By Swami Brahmeshananda, Belur Math
Dakshina - Amnaya
Paschima - Amnaya
Math - Monastery
Pada (status) or Title
Puri, Sarasvati, Bharati
Giri, Parvat, Sagara
Ayam Atma Brahma
The source of this inspiring story
from India is shrouded in antiquity.
(In the olden days when there were no motor
cars, people used to travel on horseback.)
One rich man owned 19 horses when he died. In his last will and teastament he had written that upon his death, half the horses he owned should go to his only son; one fourth to the village temple and one fifth to the faithful servant.
The village elders could not stop scratching their heads. How can they give half of the 19 horses to the son? You cannot cut up a horse. They puzzled over this dilemma for more than two weeks and then decided to send for a wise man who was living in a neighbouring village.
The wise man came riding on his horse and asked the villagers if he can be of any help to them. The village elders told him about the rich man's last will and testament which stated that half of the (19) horses must be given to his only son, one fourth must go to the temple and one fifth to the faithful servant.
The wise man said he will immediately solve their problem without any delay whatsoever. He had the 19 horses placed in a row standing next to one another. Then he added his own horse as the 20th horse. Now he went about giving half of the 20 horses – that is ten horses to the son. One fourth of 20- that is 5 horses were given to the temple committee. One fifth of twenty- that is 4 horses were given to the faithful servant. Ten plus five plus four made 19 horses. The remaining 20th horse was his own which he promptly mounted, spoke a few inspiring words, and rode back home.
The villagers were simply dumfounded, full of disbelief and filled with admiration. And the parting words of the wise man were inscribed in their hearts and minds which they greatly cherished and passed on to their succeeding generations till today.
The wise man said: In our daily lives, in our daily affairs, simply add God’s name and then go about facing the day’s happenings. Ever come across problems in life that are seemingly insurmountable? (Like the villagers, do we feel that such problems cannot be solved?).
The wise man continued: Add the God Principle in our daily lives and the problems will become lighter and eventually will disappear. In the manner of the ice which, with the addition of the heat principle will turn into water, and that will eventually evaporate as steam and disappear. And how do we add God’s name (God principle) in our daily lives? Through prayers, filled with true love and devotion with sincerity of purpose and dedication that only total faith can bring about. Meditation is a powerful means of directing the mind Godward.
But without true love and devotion entering into it, it remains like a boat without water. It is not difficult to push a boat that is floating in water, but extremely hard to drag the same boat on dry land. In the same way, if our life’s boat floats on the waters of true love and devotion, we can sail easily in it. The principle of love of God and devotion with total faith, (like water) makes easy the voyage of our lives. When the mind is pure and the heart full of simplicity and holiness, such a devotee becomes an instrument in the service of the Lord.
Add the God Principle in our daily lives
Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Girish GoshGirish Chandra Gosh was a born rebel against God, a sceptic, a Bohemian, a drunkard. He was the greatest Bengali dramatist of his time, the father of the modern Bengali stage. Like other young men he had imbibed all the vices of the West. He had plunged into a life of dissipation and had become convinced that religion was only a fraud. Materialistic philosophy he justified as enabling one to get at least a little fun out of life. But a series of reverses shocked him and he became eager to solve the riddle of life. He had heard people say that in spiritual life the help of a guru was imperative and that the guru was to be regarded as God himself.
Based on the writings of Swami Nikhilananda
Extracts from'The Disciples of Ramakrishna'
Based on the writings of Swami Nikhilananda
Extracts from'The Disciples of Ramakrishna'
But Girish was too well acquainted with human nature to see perfection in a man. His first meeting with Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa did not impress him at all. He returned home feeling as if he had seen a freak at a circus; for the Master (Sri Ramakrishna), in a semi-conscious mood, had inquired whether it was evening, though the lamps were burning in the room. But their paths often crossed, and Girish could not avoid further encounters. The Master attended a performance in Girish’s Star Theatre. On this occasion, too, Girish found nothing impressive about the Master.
One day, however, Girish happened to see the master dancing and singing with the devotees. He felt the contagion and wanted to join them, but restrained himself for fear of ridicule. Another day, Sri Ramakrishan was about to give him spiritual instruction, when Girish said: "I don’t want to listen to instructions. I have myself written many instructions. They are of no use to me. Please help me in a more tangible way if you can." This pleased the Master and he asked Girish to cultivate faith.
As time passed, Girish began to learn that the guru is the one who silently unfolds the disciple’s inner life. He became a steadfast devotee of the Master.
Girish often loaded the Master with insults, drank in his presence, and took liberties which astounded the other devotees. One night under the influence of liquor he abused the Master in the theatre hall in most indecent language. The enraged devotees were about to punish his insolence, but Sri Ramakrishna held them back and quietly returned to Dakshineshwar Temple. There again many devotees requested the Master not to go to Girish any more.
But there was one amongst the devotees, Ram Chandra Datta, who told the Master, "Sir, you will have to put up with this as well. He can only give what he has. The serpent king of the Bhagavata said to Lord Sri Krishna, ‘My Lord, you have given me poison, where shall I get nectar to give you?’ Similarly Girish has worshipped you with whatever you have given him."
Sri Ramakrishna simply smiled and said to the other devotees: "Just hear his words. Get me a coach (a horse drawn carriage). I shall go to Girish’s house today." Thus without caring about the objections of the devotees, Sri Ramakrishna went to the house of Girish and found him smitten with anguish and remorse. The kind and affectionate words of the Master banished all gloom from his mind and filled it with a flood of joy.
The Master knew that at heart Girish was tender, faithful and sincere. The Master would not allow Girish to give up the theatre. And when a devotee asked him to tell Girish to give up drinking, the Master sternly replied: "That is none of your business. He who has taken charge of him will look after him. Girish is a devotee of heroic type. I tell you, drinking will not affect him."
The Master knew that mere words could not induce a man to break deep-rooted habits, but that the silent influence of love worked miracles. Therefore he never asked Girish to give up alcohol, with the result that Girish himself eventually broke the habit. Sri Ramakrishna had strengthened Girish’s resolution by allowing him to feel that he was absolutely free.
One day in the course of a conversation Sri Ramakrishna told Girish that along with his work he must remember God at least in the morning and in the evening.(Add the God Principle in daily life) He looked at Girish as if expecting a reply. "That is a very simple thing to do," Girish thought, "but I am a busy man with no fixed hours for food or sleep. I shall surely forget to remember God at those stated hours. So, how can I promise that?"
Sri Ramakrishna read his mind and said, "All right, if you cannot do that, then remember God before meals and at bed-time."
Girish was not willing to promise even that- such was the irregularity of his life, and besides he was by nature opposed to any hard and fast rule and the slightest restraint was galling to him. Sri Ramakrishna realised his perplexity and said finally, "So you are unwilling to agree to this even. All right, give me your power of attorney. Henceforth, I assume responsibility for you. You need not do anything."
Girish heaved a sigh of relief. He felt happy to think that Sri Ramakrishna had assumed his spiritual responsibilities. But poor Girish then could not realise that he also, on his part, had to give up his freedom and make of himself a puppet in Sri Ramakrishna’s hands.
The master began to discipline Girish according to this new attitude. One day Girish said about a trifling matter, "Yes, I shall do this."
"No, no!" the Master corrected him. "You must not speak in that egoistic manner. You should say, ‘God willing, I shall do it.’ " Girish understood. Thenceforth he tried to give up all idea of personal responsibility and surrender himself to the Divine Will. Girish understood that he had given up his freedom and had made himself the Master’s captive. Thenceforth he tried to give up all idea of personal responsibility and to become a willing instrument of the Divine Will. The sincerity of Girish in this respect was beyond comparison. His mind began to dwell constantly on Sri Ramakrishna. This unconscious meditation in time chastened Girish’s turbulent spirit.
During the last days of his life Girish used very often to utter the name of Sri Ramakrishna. His eyes and countenance radiant with a superb glow bespoke his inner illumination and his unswerving faith in the love and grace of his Master. Girish said to his brother-disciples, "I do not want anything else; only bless me that I may always remember him as the ocean of infinite love and compassion. The world is no longer a terror unto me. I have transcended all fear of death through his grace."
On the night before the day of his final exit from the world, Girish calmly uttered the name of Sri Ramakrishna thrice and prayed, "Lord, let me have peace; take me into thy bosom." So saying, the heroic devotee of Sri Ramakrishna closed his eyes for good and passed into the realm of eternal rest on Thursday, February 8, 1912.
[Note: The Master, Sri Ramakrishna had
passed away on Sunday, August 15, 1886.]
Story of two BrahmacharisIn the olden days, a young woman was living with her 3-year-old son in a house near the banks of a river. In the hot summer season the waters of the river had receded and people would walk across knee-deep waters to cross the river. The woman left her house and went across the river to gather some wood from the countryside. When she came back to the river, to her horror, she saw the river in floods. Lots of heavy rains in the mountain regions caused the waters to make the river swell with water. The woman was worried about her 3-year-old son. He could wander around to the rapidly flowing waters of the river and can drown. The mother was getting hysterical with fear and worry.
Just then two young and well built Brahmacharis (celibate students) were passing by and the mother, crying and begging, asked the Brahmacharis to help her go across the river. She told them about her 3-year-old son left alone to play by the house.
The Brahmacharis remembered the strict rules that they should not touch any female, lest that could arouse desires. That they should not be in the company of any females.
One Brahmachari whose name was Harshananda, reminded himself of the strict rules and said he cannot help the young woman. The other Brahmachari whose name was Devananda, immediately carried the mother on his shoulders and started swimming across the strong currents of the river. He safely delivered the mother to the other side of the river and swam back.
The Brahmacharis resumed their journey towards the Ashram where they were staying with their Guru. Harshananda, who refused to help could not believe the breach of the strict regulations and was constantly harping on it, muttering and thinking about it all the way.
When they reached the Ashram, the Guru asked them how their day went. The irritated Brahmachari Harshananda immediately spoke out in strong condemnation about the behaviour of his companion. Then the Guru asked the other Brahmachari.
Devananda said: I carried the mother across the river and forgot all about it but it seems my friend is still carrying the woman in his mind.
The Guru was pleased with Devananda who used his discrimination and helped the mother and spoke about the true meaning of hypocrisy as taught in the Bhagavad Gita
A little boy asked his father : "Daddy, what is theThe father said to the little boy: "Son, I will organise a big banquet at our residence where I will invite both the gods and the demons. At the end of the banquet you will get your answer."
difference between gods and demons?"
difference between gods and demons?"
And the father sent out invitations to both the gods and the demons. On the appointed day, a most lavish banquet was organised and hundreds of gods and hundreds of demons arrived at the house.
The demons were an impatient lot, disorganised and noisy. They asked the host that they wanted VIP (very important person) treatment, and therefore wanted to have their food served first to the demons and the gods must eat last.
The host agreed to their request on one condition that the demons tie wooden planks to both hands when eating. The demons said that if the same condition was also applied to the gods as well then they had no objection to tying the wooden planks on both their hands when eating.
All the demons had wooden planks tied to both their hands and they immediately sat on the floor, seating one next to the other in one straight line. They were all very eager to be served with delicious food.
The first course of food arrived. It was the best smelling soup in a bowel with spoon. Now when the demons got spoons filled with the soup, they realised that they could not bend their hands to bring the spoons to their mouths. They tried to lift their hands over their heads and tilt the spoons with their mouths wide open. They got the soup falling in their eyes and all over the face and also on their expensive garments.
The demons got noisier, became angry and started swearing at the host. Some of the demons wanted to beat up the host. Some demons tried to restrain the other demons and they started fighting among themselves. The demons agreed that it was totally useless for them to remain at this banquet as it was not possible to eat the food without bending their hands. It was impossible to eat the food without messing up their beautiful and expensive garments. With angry words the demons left the banquet.
Now it was the turn of the gods to eat. The gods were of a peaceful nature. They also sat in a line on the floor. Both their hands were also tied with wooden planks. When the first course of food was served, which was the delicious soup, the gods first recited the food prayer. The gods realised that they could not bend their hands, and therefore it was impossible to eat the soup.
Each of the gods thought: "Never mind if I cannot eat the soup, but let me be of help to my fellow brother who is seated next to me."
The gods turned towards each other and started feeding each other. They thus enjoyed the most delicious soup. Then the next course of meal was served and they enjoyed that delicious meal. They went through five course meals and ate to their hearts content. They thanked the host, presented the host with gifts they had brought, and peacefully went back to their homes.
The son was observing all that happened. The father told him that a major difference between the gods and the demons was the difference in their attitude of ‘Giving’ and the attitude of ‘Taking.’ The demons thought only about their individual self-interest whereas the gods thought about selflessly serving others. When you open your heart and give selflessly, you receive also much more than you give.
[Note: Although this story relates to what happened a long long time ago, this is an eternal story. It relates to all ages and to our modern times as well. The following comments are by Sri A. Parthasarathy from his book ‘Vedanta Treatise’]
By Sri A.ParthasarathyWhat is the easiest way of practising and bringing religion into our lives? There are two broad principles governing human action. The first of the two principles is based on the attitude of GIVING. The second is based on the attitude of TAKING.
From his book Vedanta Treatise
From his book Vedanta Treatise
If the attitude of TAKING prevails in a society you will find its members possessed with multifold selfish demands and desires. Consequently, there is struggle, stress and strain in that society with crimes, robbery, rapes, corruption, inconsiderate selfish behaviour, becoming prevalent at national, community, family and individual levels.
Let their attitude change to GIVING. Their demands and desires drop their selfishness. Harmony, peace and happiness will reign in that very same society. The dignity of human race is founded upon the principle of GIVING. Life is to give, not to take. One ought not to demand from society. Perhaps one's only right in the world is to give, to serve. To serve one and all. Serve the nation, serve the society, the family and yourself. This is the first of the elements of right living. We need to do service to maintain our proper spiritual well being. While the physical body resorts to service, the mind must embrace the world with love.
This is the second element of right living. All our emotions must be amalgamated into a mass of universal love. Our pleasures and pains are identical with those of our fellow creatures. This is true love. The feeling of true love arises from purity. Such purity of love upgrades us to greater spiritual heights.
Knowledge of Vedanta inculcates the elements of right living into our physical, mental and intellectual personalities. Our actions develop a spirit of true service. Our emotions get chastened with pure love. Our discrimination gains subtlety to distinguish between the higher and the lower aspects of life with the result that our attachment for the lower drops off. By maintaining these disciplines at the three levels of our personality, we live an ideal life.
Chapter 16, verses 6 & 7.
The Blessed Lord said:
There are only two types of people in this world, the one possessing
a divine nature and the other possessing a demoniac disposition.
Men possessing a demoniac disposition know not what is right activity
and what is right abstinence from activity. Hence they possess neither
purity (external or internal) nor good conduct nor even truthfulness.
[Stories, parables, fables etc., have a way of forcefully driving home the message. All nations and all religions use them. Children love them. Take for example the stories from the Panchtantra where animals talk and behave like humans and there are moral lessons attached to them. One such story we narrate here.]A very very narrow bridge was improvised connecting two high mountain tops. The bridge was like a narrow wooden plank slung across the two mountain tops and had neither railings nor even ropes for protection. From the bridge, looking below, long way down, ran the treacherous rapids of a mighty river meandering through giant boulders.
One day, a mountain goat came along and wanted to go across the bridge to the other side of the mountain. The goat started walking over the narrow bridge. Mountain goats are sure-footed animals and are fearless mountain climbers.
At about the same time, another goat started crossing the bridge from the other end. The two goats came face to face in the middle of the bridge. The bridge being very narrow, the two goats could not go past one another. And there was no way the goats could make about turns. There was absolutely no possibility that the goats could turn back.
The second goat spoke arrogantly to the first goat: "You are obstructing my path. Get out of my way, you silly goat! I am in a hurry to go to the other side."
The first goat replied: "I was first to step on to the bridge and therefore I have the right to cross the bridge first."
The second goat retorted angrily: "I am the strongest goat around. I have never lost a fight with other goats. Look at my great big horns and think again. Either you quickly get out of my way or else…!"
The two goats started fighting. Their horns locked and it was indeed, a strange sight to behold. High up above on a narrow bridge two goats could not come to terms with each other. They threw caution overboard and as a result there ensued a battle between two fools. Both goats lost their balance and fell to their certain deaths.
After one week, by a strange co-incidence, two other goats started crossing the bridge from the opposite ends. One goat from this end of the bridge and the other goat from the other end. And the two goats met in the middle of the bridge.
The first goat spoke most politely: "I beg your pardon sir! It was too late when I realised that you were also crossing the bridge from the other end. Anyway, I am much younger than you are. I have been taught by my parents and by my teachers that I must respect my elders and that we should be gentle and kind to all creatures.
Furthermore, I remember the advice that when confronted with any problem, first offer a prayer to the Lord and seek His guidance. Problems and solutions always go together. Think of a bath-towel. If one end of the towel is where problems like to reside then the other end of the towel is where solutions reside. Both ends go together wherever the towel goes. Problems and solutions are inseparable. One has to merely search for the solution. I must first think about a clever solution."
The second goat said: "And what might that (solution) be?"
The first goat said: "Let me sit on this bridge with my head turned to one side so that you can slowly and carefully step over my back and cross over. I will then get up and be on my way."
Thus the two goats crossed the bridge safely.
From The Bhagavad Gita
Chapter 17, verse 28
Chapter 17, verse 28
Whatever is sacrificed, given or performed, and whatever austerity is practised without faith, it is called ‘asat’, O Arjuna, it is naught here or hereafter (after death).
A long time ago, there was a severe draught in certain parts of India. One village in particular was caught up right in the middle of this draught belt. The economy of this village was entirely dependent on agricultural produce. Without rains, the villagers faced a bleak future, indeed. The extreme heat of the sun had dried up the rivers and the lakes. There was hardly any water left in the wells. The people were really desperate for water.
The villagers approached the village pundit (priest) and asked him to organise a prayer-for- rain meeting in the temple. The whole village turned out at this prayer meeting. One man was among the last group of people who arrived at the temple and every body with strange quizzical looks on their faces, was looking at this one man. This man was carrying an umbrella and he was the only man who brought his umbrella to this prayer meeting. No villager was ever seen carrying an umbrella outside of the rainy seasons. To the villagers, it was as strange as seeing a housewife going everyday to the vegetable market dressed in a bride’s costume! For it seemed unconventional to carry an umbrella when there was not one rain cloud in the sky.
The prayer meeting commenced and at the end of all the rituals and ceremonies, when people were about to leave the temple, they could not hold back their curiosity about the man and his umbrella.
‘Why was he carrying the umbrella?’ the people asked.
Upon being questioned, the man with the umbrella replied:
"The Lord will provide. He gives and He takes away. The Lord will surely answer our prayers for rain and I will need the umbrella for the rains".
The villagers laughed him off. Not one of the villagers could appreciate the absolute and sincere faith of the man with the umbrella. The scorching heat of the sun outside the temple was still fresh in their minds.
Behold, a miracle took place. As the people were streaming out of the temple door and putting on their shoes, rain clouds appeared in the sky, the gentle breeze gave way to gusting winds, the pallor of the sky darkened and thunder and lightning heralded the coming of the rains. And a sudden downpour opened the eyes of the villagers. Their ridicule of the man with the umbrella changed to amazement, disbelief, and they now understood the intense faith of this man. All the villagers agreed that it was the sincere prayer of this one man with his total faith and devotion that the Lord simply had to answer.
A king in ancient times, by the name of Mahendra, was famous for his wisdom and righteousness. People in his kingdom were very happy because their great king ruled justly, and looked after the needs of his subjects.
Alas, each episode of happiness has its flipside also. The law of the opposites is relentless. Heat and cold, pleasure and pain, happiness and unhappiness; they revolve and put in an appearance in turn.
King Mahendra was also subject to the law of the opposites. The king had one regret. He had no children. The question about the successor to the throne was worrying the king. His ministers were becoming anxious because the king was advancing into old age and his subjects were also becoming unsure about their own future.
To solve the question about the successor to the throne, King Mahendra thought of looking for a person with good character. He announced throughout his kingdom that people were invited to the palace grounds and from amongst the people present a successor to the throne may be chosen.
People flocked to the palace on the appointed day. King Mahendra addressed the people and told them that he would hand out seeds to each person present. The seeds were to be planted and whoever brought back the best-grown and most colourful flowers would be chosen as the crown prince. A person that can take care of plants and make them prosper can also make the kingdom prosper.
The people took the seeds and went back home.
Some weeks later, people started bringing flowerpots with some amazing results. There were happy plants all over the palace grounds and the plants were displaying their bright smiles through their colourful flowers of great variety. Each pot plant was bearing the name of the owner written in big bold letters on a tag that was attached to the plant. Some of the ministers even appointed a team of judges to help select the winner on the appointed day.
One man, however, had not succeeded in growing any plant in his flowerpot. There was just the soil and not even a tiny plant in his flowerpot. When he brought his empty flowerpot to the palace grounds, people stared at him in disbelief. Some even ridiculed him. His flowerpot with no plant in it was drowned in a sea of colourful flowers. There was no plant to which he can fasten his nametag. He simply attached the tag to the side of the flowerpot.
The whole palace ground was turned into another Vrindavan
garden. There were rows upon rows of flowers of the most magnificent varieties that one ever saw and the colours were breathtaking. The judges thought amongst themselves that it would be a difficult task to choose the winner. Such was the enthusiasm of the people.
On the appointed day, the whole population turned up at the palace grounds. Speculations were rife as to which flowerpot would get chosen. The ministers looked at the judges and the judges again went into last minute consultations. The harbinger then announced the imminent arrival of his majesty, king Mahendra. There were loud cheers as the king entered the royal pavilion erected specially for this occasion. Long live the king! Long live the king! The people started singing in chorus. The king was then seated on his throne.
The king asked the ministers to brief him about the efforts of the people and the ministers told the king about the incredible variety of flowers that were brought back by the people. One minister announced to the people that his majesty had decided to walk amongst the plants to savour the wafting scents of the flowers and to behold the beauty of the colourful flowers.
Accompanied by his ministers and by the palace gardener, the king was walking and observing each flower pot and now and again made some comments about the spectacular colours and the pleasing aroma that permeated the palace grounds. Upon completing his tour, the king returned to the royal pavilion.
The final hour had arrived. The time for announcement about the successor to the throne was approaching by the minute. The king rose from his throne to address the people. There was a pin drop silence. People felt their heartbeats quicken. The expectations were very high and so were the high standards of the flowerpot entries. The ministers were looking at the judges who signalled that they were ready to announce their decision.
The king started to address the people. In a sombre tone, king Mahendra enquired about one failed entry where the flowerpot had only soil in it and asked its owner to come forward and explain to him. A man right at the back of the huge crowd raised his hand and started making his way towards the royal pavilion. He could hear people making caustic remarks about him. His ears were getting full with sarcasm and stinging words that were being tossed about by the people. An expression of timidity began to creep upon his countenance as he came face to face with his majesty, king Mahendra.
The king requested an explanation as to why his flowerpot had no plant. The man answered that he had tried his best, even adding more fertilizer and carefully watering the seeds, but that he was disappointed and sorry that he could not grow anything. The king stood up and told the people present that he had chosen his successor. It was none else than the man whose effort at growing flowering plant from the seeds that were given to him by the king was a total failure.
The people were incredulous and the ministers and the judges were dumbfounded. With a look full of puzzle on their faces, they awaited an explanation from the king. King Mahendra placed his hand upon the shoulder of the man that was chosen as his successor and spoke to the people.
The king said: I was looking for a man with character and I have found him. I had all the seeds roasted before I gave them out. This fact was kept a secret. It was not possible for any seeds to germinate. People who received the seeds from me bought other seeds for their flowerpots when they did not see any plants growing in their flowerpots. I was on the lookout for that honest person who would produce the correct results and when I saw that one flowerpot without any plant, at that moment I knew that I had found that honest man. The man with the strength of character displaying purity of heart, fearlessness, straightforwardness, truthfulness, absence of crookedness.
The people were taken aback. The ministers and the judges stood there with their heads bowed in agreement. The minds of the people were filled with wonderment and satisfaction. A sense of authority prevailed when king Mahendra bestowed the title of the crown prince upon the man whose honesty won over the hearts of the people.
The king, who was learned and full of wisdom, concluded his address by saying that he was searching for a man, who possessed the Divine Wealth (Daivy Sampat), to become his successor.
The description of this Divine Wealth is given in the first three verses of the 16th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita.
From the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 16.
Translated by Swami Shivananda
The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh
Fearlessness, purity of heart, steadfastness in knowledge and Yoga, almsgiving, control of the senses, sacrifice, study of scriptures, austerity and straightforwardness.
-Gita, Ch.16, verse 1.
Harmlessness, truth, absence of anger, renunciation, peacefulness, absence of crookedness, compassion towards beings, uncovetousness, gentleness, modesty, absence of fickleness.
-Gita, Ch. 16, verse 2.
Vigour, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, absence of hatred, absence of pride- these belong to the one born of a divine state, O Arjuna.
- Gita, Ch. 16, verse 3.
Quarrel among the senses
Once upon a time the senses quarrelled among themselves
as to who was superior, each saying: “I am superior, I am
They went to Prajapati, their father, and said: “Sir, who is the best of us?”
He replied: “He by whose departure the body looks the worst – he is the best of you.”
Speech then departed and, having stayed away for a year, returned and said: “How have you been able to live without me?”
They replied: “Like the dumb -not speaking, but breathing with the breath, seeing with the eye, hearing with the ear, and thinking with the mind. Thus we lived.” Then speech entered in.
The eye then departed and having stayed away for a year, returned and said: “How have you been able to live without me?” They replied: “Like the blind – not seeing, but breathing with the breath, speaking with the tongue, hearing with the ear and thinking with the mind. Thus we lived.” Then the eye entered in.
The ear then departed, and having stayed away for a year, returned and said: “How have you been able to live without me?” They replied: “Like the deaf – not hearing, but breathing with the breath, speaking with the tongue, seeing with the eye and thinking with the mind. Thus we lived.” Then the ear entered in.
The mind then departed and having stayed away for a year, returned and said: “How have you been able to live without me?” They replied: “Like children – not thinking, but breathing with the breath, speaking with the tongue, seeing with the eye and hearing with the ear. Thus we lived.” Then the mind entered in.
Now, when the breath was about to depart, tearing up the other senses, as a strong horse about to depart might tear up the pegs to which he is tethered, they gathered round him and said: “Sir, remain. You are the best of us, do not depart.”
Then speech said to him: “If I am the most prosperous, so are you the most prosperous.” The eye said to him: “If I am the firm basis, so are you the firm basis.” The ear said to him: “If I am success, so are you the success.” The mind said to him; “If I am the abode, so are you the abode.”
Hence these are not termed organs of speech or eyes or ears or minds. They are termed signs of life. For life itself becomes all these.
The Story of Rose
The irresistible story of Rose
Growing older is mandatory, growing up is optionalThe first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know.
I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.
She said, "Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m 87 years old. Can I give you a hug?"
I laughed and enthusiastically responded,
"Of course you may!" and she gave me a giant squeeze.
"Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?" I asked.
She jokingly replied, "I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, have a couple of children, and then retire and travel."
"No seriously," I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.
"I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!" she told me.
After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends.
Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk non-stop. I was always mesmerized listening to this "time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.
Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she revelled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.
At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium.
As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said,
"I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know."
As we laughed she cleared her throat and began: "We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy and achieving success."
"You have to laugh and find humour every day."
"You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!"
"There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding the opportunity in change."
"Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets."
She concluded her speech by courageously singing "The Rose." She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.
At the years end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be…..YOU!!
Remember, growing older is mandatory. Growing up is optional.
We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.
God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.
If God brings you to it ... he will bring you through it. It’s better to try and fail, than fail to try.
Some say love, it is a river,
That drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor,
That leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger,
An endless, aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
And you, it's soul the seed.
It's a heart afraid of breaking,
That never learns to dance;
It's the dream, afraid of waking,
That never takes the chance;
Its the one who won't be taken,
Who cannot seem to give;
And the soul, afraid of dying,
That never learns to live.
When the night has been too lonely,
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong:
Just remember, in the winter,
Far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love
In the Spring, becomes the rose
Stone in the middle of the road (12)
There was a king who ruled his kingdom wisely. He spent his time trying to improve the lives of his subjects. One day the king decided to see for himself how people lived in his kingdom. Early one morning, dressed as an ordinary citizen, he secretly mounted his horse and rode into town. The citizens were still not out in the streets. The king stopped at one place where the dirt road was narrowing somewhat. He tied his horse by the side of the road and then dug a hole right in the middle of the road. Therein he placed a metal jar wrapped in a piece of cloth. Then the king brought a stone that was lying on the side of the road and placed it on the hole, completely covering the hole. The king then mounted his horse and went up a nearby hill. Hiding behind a tree, the king looked down at the stone in the middle of the road.
The FarmerA farmer was the first to appear. He was driving his cart with fresh-produce for the vegetable market. He saw the stone in the middle of the road and thought to himself, “It looks like this stone has been lying here in the middle of the road for some time but the people here are not bothered about removing the stone to one side. Each person thinks only for himself. People here are so lazy!” And the farmer carefully drove past avoiding the stone.
A little while later, a policeman was seen walking down the road. He was looking smart in his impressive police-uniform. He was walking and looking at the headlines in the newspaper. He tripped by the stone and very nearly hit the ground. He thought about the carelessness of the people, spoke some angry words and went away.
Then a milkmaid came along, singing aloud to attract the attention of the residents in nearby houses. She had one milk container on her head and another she carried by her side. Making her way down the road, looking to the left and now looking to the right.
Her foot hit the stone and she lost balance. The milk container on her head fell to the ground spilling all the milk. The milkmaid said that the people of this town are so thoughtless. How can they leave such a big stone in the middle of the road and not worry about it? Don’t they know that people can get tripped by the stone! She collected her milk pot and went away.
Some merchants came down the road driving their horse-cart at high speed. One wheel of the cart hit the stone and some goods fell on to the road. Looking at the stone in the middle of the road, they said the people here are so useless. Who knows for how long this stone is lying in the middle of the road but no body takes any notice of it! No one takes the trouble to remove this stone from the middle of the road! Mumbling some swear words the merchants collected their goods and drove away.
The Brahmachari (student)
A newly qualified Brahmachari (student) came walking down the road. As soon as he saw the stone in the middle of the road, he remembered the lessons he was taught by his Guru (teacher). His Guru had taught him that his first duty is to himself. If ever his life was in danger, then he must try everything possible, to preserve his life. Higher than that is the duty to his family. If ever it became necessary to give up his life to save his family, then let it be so. Higher than that is his duty to the community. If he has to sacrifice his life, and sacrifice his family for the good of the community, then the interest of the community comes first. Higher than that is the duty to the nation. If it calls for the sacrifice from the individual, his family and his community for the good of the nation, then the interest of the nation takes precedence. Higher than that is the duty to the whole of humanity.
The Brahmachari immediately removed the stone from the middle of the road. There underneath the stone he saw this bundle wrapped in a cloth with a hand-written note fastened to the cloth. The note read:
“ This stone was placed here by your king. Whoever takes the trouble of removing the stone, thereby thinking about the good of the people, can keep this metal jar and its contents. And the king would like to meet this person.”
The Brahmachari opened the metal jar and was amazed to see that it was filled with gold coins. He was very pleased.
Next day the Brahmachari went to meet the king. The king could make out the good character of this Brahmachari. He was noble-minded and unselfish. The Brahmachari would give rather than take. A person with such charitable heart is a credit to the human race.
The king made the Brahmachari his chief minister who helped the king rule the kingdom for many a long years.
And the example set by the Brahmachari taught a valuable lesson to the citizens of this kingdom. They changed their attitude from ‘taking’ to ‘giving’. This attitude they applied in their personal life, family matters, community affairs, and in their national life. Now every body was so courteous, so very thoughtful and caring for the needs of others. The kingdom prospered and became a veritable heaven on earth.
Raikwa the Cart-driver (13)
From the Chandogya Upanishad
Paraphrased by Sri R.R.Diwakar
From the Chandogya Upanishad
Paraphrased by Sri R.R.Diwakar
[Raikwa said that mere giving of gifts without spiritual knowledge could not bring the blessings of real happiness. Knowledge of the Spirit which is the creator of all gods, was necessary.]
In ancient times there was a king called Janusruti. He was ruling over a kingdom called Mahavarsha. He was known to be a good king, just and merciful to his subjects. He was particularly famous for his philanthropy and charities. He maintained numerous free feeding houses. He built many rest houses along the royal road. His generosity was on the lips of all.
He often felt proud that he was able to achieve so much in his lifetime. He thought that was the best way to accumulate religious merit and to get peace of mind. He believed that he was the greatest patron and that there was none else like him. He used to measure his merit by the amount of gifts and money he had distributed.
One evening after the day’s work, he was resting in the terrace of his palace. As he lay there under the sky, right above him two white swans were speeding fast to their roost. As they were chattering and gossiping, the king overheard them.
The male bird said to its mate:
“You blind bat! Do you not perceive the bright band of light that proceeds from the King Janusruti? Beware lest you cross the flaming light of his fame and get yourself burnt. You must know that today there is none so famous as he for abundant charities.”
“You blind bat! Do you not perceive the bright band of light that proceeds from the King Janusruti? Beware lest you cross the flaming light of his fame and get yourself burnt. You must know that today there is none so famous as he for abundant charities.”
The female bird laughed: “Why do you thus threaten me, dear? We are wanderers of the skies. We know more of the world than others. After all, is this king’s merit more than that of Raikwa, the cartman? The king is but mad after name and fame. It is these that drive him to action. With all his charities he is ever restless. He hankers after praise. Raikwa, sitting where he is, attracts to himself as it were, the merit of all around as a lake draws into itself the waters on the slopes. At peace with himself, he does what he ought to and what he can and thinks not of the morrow.”
Thus saying, the birds flit past and the shadows of the night closed on the sleepy earth. But the king who had listened to the conversation became very restless. Raikwa’s name began to haunt him. “I must find this man little known to fame but one who is at peace with himself and with the world,” he said with determination. As he slept, he thought of some speedy way of locating Raikwa.
At dawn, the birds began to sing the usual songs of praise to rouse the king from his sleep. But that morning, the king did not feel very happy over the customary eulogies. He became conscious that there were people greater than himself and that they deserved more praise than himself. The birds sang, “Rise ye, great king, the most generous and powerful one, giver of charities with a hundred hands, and patron of the seven worlds, rise, for now it is morning. Suppliants from the corners of the world await thy abundant gifts.”
But he stopped them from repeating the words. He admonished the singers, saying, “Waste not those epithets on me. There is one greater than myself, perhaps a hundredfold greater. Go ye to the limits of my kingdom and find him out. I shall not feel happy till I have met that great soul.”
The king’s servants, not a little surprised at this command, set out to seek Raikwa, the strange cartman, described by the king as a great soul. Some of his servants returned after a few days unable to find Raikwa. But the king was not satisfied and he asked them to seek him in a place where the knowers of Brahman (the Supreme Being), the possessors of spiritual knowledge, usually dwell. When the servants saw that the king would never be at ease till he had met the philosopher, they again went in search of Raikwa. They began to scour the villages of the kingdom of Mahavarsha. In one of the remote villages, a simple man, ostensibly a cart-driver, was shown to them. He was Raikwa.
With calmness writ large on his face and with infinite kindness in his eyes, there sat Raikwa (in the shade of his cart) near his small cottage. The servants wondered for a time: “What a fool is our king! He takes this bit of a man to be greater than himself! Certainly the king seems to have lost his head.” Thus they muttered to themselves. But they were helpless. They went back straight to the king and reported the matter. However ignorant his servants, the king knew the real worth of the man who sat under the cart.
As is the wont while going to see a great saint or a great soul, the king took numerous gifts with him. His generosity was all the more lavish on this occasion. He took along with him six hundred well-fed milch cattle with calves, gold coins, chariots with horses, and other lovely presents.
When the royal party arrived, Raikwa was at first surprised. But he divined the cause of the king’s visit, and saw that the king had come to him in search of spiritual truth and inner peace.
The king made obeisance and stood with folded hands in a reverent mood. He requested Raikwa to accept his humble gifts and direct him as regards the god that he should worship in order to attain real happiness. The cart-man philosopher, however, was not much enamoured of the rich gifts. He did not really welcome them. He said as if to rebuke a little, “O royal friend, why do you waste these precious things on me? All these and a hundred kingdoms cannot buy spiritual knowledge. It is not something that can be bartered and bought in a market. These trinkets that you have brought are worth nothing to me.”
The king felt a little hurt at this remark. But his respect for Raikwa increased a hundred-fold, when he saw his nonchalant attitude towards all material possessions. Disappointed and helpless for the time being, the king returned to his capital. But he had already come under the spell of Raikwa. The more he stayed away from him the more he felt bereaved. He used to hear numerous stories as to how, many a person with a sore heart went to Raikwa and came back consoled and calmed. The king decided to make one more attempt to draw out the philosopher. Once again he went in a humble and suppliant mood to the saint of the cart. He approached him and begged of him for knowledge as a favour.
Raikwa saw that the king was now ripe for a spiritual lesson and, therefore, welcomed him with warmth. The king then led Raikwa to his abode and treated him with utmost respect. They had a long and intimate talk about matters of the mind and things of the spirit.
Raikwa said: “Various are the gods that people worship as the highest deity. The sweeping wind, the flaming fire, the breathing vital force are worshipped as gods by many. But the Spirit, itself uncreated, creates all and supports them. The Spirit eats not anything, it does not stand in need of anything, and is self-supporting and self-satisfied. All belong to the Spirit. All are but instruments carrying out its will.
“O king! Have neither pride nor vanity for the charities that you dispense. Go thou, great king, to thy palace. Give but not with pride. Give generously but not with egotism. Give freely but not with an eye to fame. Give but not as something that is yours, but as something given to you by the Spirit for giving to others. He who sees this truth becomes a seer and to him nothing is wanting and he becomes the enjoyer of things.”
The king was extremely satisfied with these words of wisdom and experience that came from Raikwa. While departing he gave a thousand milch cattle, numerous gold coins and chariots, and his own daughter in marriage to Raikwa. All these Raikwa did not reject this time.
Thenceforth, the village came to be known as Raikwaparna, named after the philosopher of the cart.
The Story of King Rantideva
Paraphrased by K. Balasubrahmania
source 'Hindu Ideals'
Paraphrased by K. Balasubrahmania
source 'Hindu Ideals'
During a period of devastating famine in his kingdom King Rantideva spent the whole of his wealth in feeding the hungry and the distressed. Deeply pained by the sufferings of his people and by way of atonement, the King undertook a fast for forty-eight days and did not take any food or even water during that period. On the forty-ninth day, when he was satisfied that almost all the hungry and the distressed in his kingdom had been well looked after, he decided to break his fast. Just as he was about to do so by taking a morsel of food and a cup of water he heard the piteous cry of a person of low caste (Pulkasa as he is called in the Purana), asking for water to quench his thirst. The King was then in the midst of his ministers and councillors. He stopped tasting the water placed before him and ordered that the cup be given to the Pulkasa. The people around him remonstrated strongly at this suicidal act on the part of the King. It was pointed out by them that it was too much on his part to take the risk of sacrificing his own life for the sake of a pulkasa after this long fast of nearly forty-eight days. Immediately afterwards the King began to take the morsel of food. Even for that food there came a guest at his doors. At this stage, Ranti Deva made the famous pronouncement recorded in fitting terms by Vyasa:
“I do not seek from the Supreme Lord the highest Bliss attended with the eight powers or siddhis. Nor do I care for apunarbhavam or cessation of the cycle of births and deaths. But my only desire is to be present in all beings, undergo suffering with them and serve them so that they may become free from misery.”
In the next verse he continues to say:
“Hunger, thirst, fatigue, loss of strength in limbs, distress, languor, grief, disappointment, delusion – all these undesirable features of my distressed soul have all disappeared upon my giving water to one who was suffering from acute thirst.”
The Trimurtis, the rulers of the three worlds, revealed themselves to him and praised his heroic sacrifice and infinite mercy for his suffering fellow men. There can be no higher or nobler humanitarian ideal than the one revealed by this episode. Not only did Ranti Deva seek to relieve the misery of his fellow-men, but he also desired to so identify himself with them and become a part of them so as to undergo their suffering and thereby share their miserable predicament.
Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our Nation (India), took hold of this great teaching of the Srimad Bhagavatam as the inspiring motto of his life. He inscribed this verse in front of the Sabarmati Ashram founded by him for the inspiration and guidance of his followers. The fundamental basis of the great national movement started by Mahatma Gandhi was suffering and sacrifice for the liberation of his countrymen from foreign yoke.
Three Basic Truths In This Story
This great utterance of Ranti Deva lays down three basic truths for the guidance of mankind:
1. The paramount duty of relieving the suffering of others both for moral purification and for bettering the lot of our brethren.
2. The doctrine of sharing the suffering of others both for moral purification and for lessening the burden of the sorrow.
3. This duty of relieving the suffering of others is greater than that of working for one’s own salvation or the attainment of moksha or of siddhis or miraculous powers.
That man really enjoys his food who feeds also the poor and the emaciated beggar that goes about oppressed by hunger. He will have plenty of wealth as a result of such philanthropic deeds and his charity will secure for him friends in times of need.
Om Tat Sat
My humble salutations to Swamy Sri Brahmeshananda ji,, Swamy Nikhilananda ji and my humble greatfulness to Philosophic Scholars, vedawikidot com for the collection) )