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LIBERATION IN VARANASI

Devout Hindus have firm faith that whoever dies at Kashi (Varanasi) gets released from bondage of worldly life. The popular scripture Kashi – Khanda proclaims, “One who dies at Varanasi gets liberated without any special effort.” Sri Ramakrishna Himself endorsed this view, as is evident from one incident. Master Himself narrated:

“My sister, Hriday’s mother, used worship my feet with flowers and sandal paste. One day I placed my foot on her head and said to her, “You will die in Benaras.” It is said that Master’s Blessings came true.

SWEET SOUND OF MUSIC

When Sri Ramakrishna went on pilgrimage to Vrindavan, He expressed a desire to listen to the music of the vina, a stringed instrument, but no expert vina player could be found there. That desire again arose when he went to Varanasi. On enquiry, a virtuoso player on the vina, Mahesh Chandra Sarkar, was found. Master went straight to his house, and requested him to play. Mahesh played the vina , and its sweet melody sent the Master into deep ecstasy.

As Master partially regained external consciousness, He prayed: “Mother, please let me listen to the vina”. After that He was able to remain in the external plane. Master was so delighted, that at times he sang to the accompaniment of the vina. Mahesh felt that his three hours of playing was amply rewarded. The Master later paid tribute to maestro Mahesh saying: “He completely lost himself while playing on the vina.

HOLY CITY _ VARANASI

Sri Ramakrishna was a connoisseur of things spiritual and could correctly assess the spiritual status of a holy place. The idea that Varanasi is unique was so deeply ingrained in his psyche, that it was found later in his conversations the mention of Varanasi and its different facets. Varanasi according to Mark Twain was ‘older than history, older than tradition, and even legend’ -was to Sri Ramakrishna the holiest of the holy. Master used to say, “Anyone who dies in Benaras, whether a Brahmin or prostitute, will become Shiva.” Master’s love for Benaras was next to that of Daksineshwar Kali Temple. He said “Once when Hriday was tormented me, I thought of leaving this place and going to Benaras.”

Sri Ramakrishna said: “When a worldly man goes to holy places, he doesn’t have any time to think of God. He almost kills himself carrying bundles for his wife. On entering the temple, he is very eager to give his child the holy water to drink, but has no time for his own devotions.” To derive benefit from pilgrimage, one must devoutly and consciously cherish holy thoughts, when one is at a holy place. This practice gets strengthened by the power present in holy places.

Sri Ramakrishna

Late one night, Hriday saw Sri Ramakrishna walking towards the Panchavati. Thinking that his uncle may need His waterpot and towel, Hriday took the items and followed Thakur. As he did so his spiritual sight opened. He saw the figure of Sri Ramakrishna become luminous as it walked ahead of Him. This was no longer a figure of a human being, it was made of light! The whole Panchavati was illumined by the light which streamed from His body. Hriday now saw that the figure was not walking at all, but moving through the air, just above the ground.

He could not believe it! He thought he must be dreaming and rubbed his eyes. But the shining figure did not vanish, nor did the trees and shrubs around it. And he became aware that this light was none other than the light which formed Sri Ramakrishna. Light had merely detached itself from light, in order that the Master might have someone to serve Him. Hriday, was wild with joy at this discovery. “Oh. Ramakrishna”, he cried, “You and I are the same! “Why should we stay here, let us go from land to land, setting men free from bondage”.Late one night, Hriday saw Sri Ramakrishna walking towards the Panchavati. Thinking that his uncle may need His waterpot and towel, Hriday took the items and followed Thakur. As he did so his spiritual sight opened. He saw the figure of Sri Ramakrishna become luminous as it walked ahead of Him. This was no longer a figure of a human being, it was made of light! The whole Panchavati was illumined by the light which streamed from His body. Hriday now saw that the figure was not walking at all, but moving through the air, just above the ground.

He could not believe it! He thought he must be dreaming and rubbed his eyes. But the shining figure did not vanish, nor did the trees and shrubs around it. And he became aware that this light was none other than the light which formed Sri Ramakrishna. Light had merely detached itself from light, in order that the Master might have someone to serve Him. Hriday, was wild with joy at this discovery. “Oh. Ramakrishna”, he cried, “You and I are the same! “Why should we stay here, let us go from land to land, setting men free from bondage”.

SPIRITUAL AFFECTION

Tara (woman who worked with Girish Chandra Gosh on stage performing drama etc.) recalls her visit to Maharaj : Swami Brahmananda, the Spiritual son of Sri Ramakrishna, was revered and respected by all. With what undeserved care and affection he made me his own! I never saw my father, he died before I was born. I thought to myself : “Is this what a father’s affection is like? Or is this something greater?

I could not hold back my tears. My lifelong sorrow melted as the tears fell from my eyes, and I realized: Here is my refuge. Here is someone to whom I am Not a sinner, I am Not an outcast. I am the daughter of Maharaj. He who has none is Maharaj’s own. He is My Maharaj, my father, my heaven, my peace and my God.

What peace I found in Maharaj! I am truly a Blessed Soul because I met Maharaj!

CONFIDENCE

I was debating with myself whether I should send this mail about my personal experience. Realising, that we are One Big family, then why not? Daily we are blessed with the Presence OF A WONDERFUL Swamijee as we have classes on the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. However one weekend on Sunday, all devotees were expecting Maharaj to deliver a talk, but Maharaj had other plans! He decided to call devotees from the congregation to give five minute talks on any Spiritual matter.

The devotees including self were trying to hide behind each other, as we were so nervous to go up to the stand talk. As devotees names were being called, I was trying to make an excuse to go out of the shrine, then after a good half an hour….. Swamijee calls “Navashri” shivering , I stood up to obey Revered Maharaji, as I went up to the podium, I called to Master silently…”help” “What am I going to talk about” . All Devotees, although very nervous spoke on wonderful incidents on the Lives of the Holy Trio.

Then it all dawned upon me….. Swami Brahmanandaji.. the posts that was being sent to the group and the other posts by our respected devotees…. it was all coming back to me, the teachings and a few incidents …. The confidence that I had was wonderful.

PEACE

Maharaj: Peace and Sincere love of God and true faith come together. At the very start how can one attain peace? First restsleseness must come, yearning and intense pain for NOT having seeing HIM, the greater the thirst the sweeter the water. We must rouse unrest in the heart. When a man does not find happiness in the world, then he grows restless and attachment to God awakens him. So love of God will eventually grow by sadhana and intense prayer.

MEDITATION

Sri Ramakrishna never used to spend the night in sleep, nor would he allow the young devotees who stayed with to sleep long. When others had gone to bed, he would wake up His disciples, give them definite instructions and send them to the Panchavati, or the Mother’s Temple, or to Shiva’s Temple for meditation. They would spend the whole night in sadhana, as directed and take rest during the day. This was the way that Sri Ramakrishna taught His disciples the various spiritual exercises.

Master used to say : “Three classes of people keep awake in the night – Yogis, Bhogis (seekers of enjoyments) and Rogis (sick persons). You are all yogis. You should by no means sleep away the night.”
– Show quoted text –

SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

Master used to say, Spiritual practices should not be done in public for show. If you do them before others, they will be harmful to you. People will mock you, they will offer advice gratis and give you conflicting suggestions, as a result of which various doubts will arise in your mind and your spiritual progress will be obstructed. The ideal Sadhaka behaves thus…… He goes to bed at night, with the mosquito curtain drawn down. Everybody thinks that he is sleeping, but as a matter of fact he spends the whole night in meditation lying quietly on his bed.

RICH LOVE

Sri Chaitanya sent a man to Ramananda. Ramananda lived a lived a life of luxury, but at the name of the Lord fountain of tears of devotion burst from his eyes. The man did not understand why he wept. They say, if you are not a sadhu, you cannot know a sadhu – as a brinjal seller cannot appraise a diamond. Only that one, who through Sadhana has attained a higher stage can understand a true devotee.

At the time of meditation, you must think that desires and passions have no existence, that they are unreal. Gradually this impression will sink into your mind. As you drive out these thoughts, force in good ones. During meditation, if you perceive some light or sound, know that you are going in the along the right path.

GURU AND DISCIPLE

There are two quotations that Swami Brahmananda used to repeat to his disciples regularly:

“Tell the truth, but never a harsh truth.” The second was from the teachings of Sri Chaitanya:
Be humbler than a blade of grass,
Be patient and forbearing like the the tree,
Take no honour to thyself,
Give honour to all,
Chant unceasingly the Name of the Lord.

Swami Vivekananda once said: “A real guru knows, the past, present, and the future of all his disciples.” Swami Brahmananda knew this about each one of his disciples. Below is an example of an incident Swami Prabhavananda relates:

I was sitting cross-legged in front of Maharaj, with his feet resting on my knees. This was the position in which I often used to massage his feet. Then something happened to me, which I cannot explain. I found myself in a condition in which I was talking, and talking, forgetting my usual restraint, It seemed to me that I spoke freely for a long time, but I do not remember what I said. Maharaj listened and said nothing.

Suddenly I returned to normal consciousness and became aware of Maharaj leaning towards me, and asked me what I said. I then realized, I addressed him as “tumi” (term used for you, when addressing friends and equals). I quickly corrected myself by using apani (respectful form of you).

“I can only assume that Maharaj wanted to corroborate his own intuitive knowledge of my past lives, and he therefore put me into this unusual state of consciousness, in which I was able to tell him what he wanted to know.

Jai Thakur!

FIRST CLASS DISCIPLE

Swami Prabhavananda writes: I remember the first time Maharaj rebuked me. I failed to do a certain errand for him, because I had not understood, exactly what it was he wanted. For this neglect he scolded me throughout the afternoon. At supper time, Swami Turiyananda was seated with Maharaj and I was fanning them. The scolding continued. I remained silent. Swami Turiyananda turned to me and asked: “Do you know why Maharaj is so hard on you?”
“No. I replied frankly, I dont.” “I do not see I am to blame.”

Swami Turiyananda said: “There are three classes of disciples. The third class disciple merely does the guru’s bidding. The second class disciple does not have to be told. He acts as the thought arises in the Guru’s mind. But the first class disciple acts even before the Guru has time to think.” Maharaj wants you all to become ‘FIRST CLASS DISCIPLES’.

Guru and Disciple

Sri Ramakrishna Himself often rebuked His most intimate disciples, and Maharaj also used this method to train those who were near and dear to him. The chastening of a disciple never began, however, until after he enjoyed several years of love and kind words. These experiences were painful at the time, but they were later treasured among the the disciple’s sweetest memories. It often happened that even while the disciple was being reproached by Maharaj, he would (disciple)
would feel a strange undercurrent of joy.

The harsher the words, the more intensely we felt his interest in our welfare. The very fact that could speak to us in this way proved that we his children , his own.

INITIATION 2

The following is Swami Yathiswaranandaji’s own description of his initiation:

The day Maharaj was to initiate me, I felt a spiritual power tangibly emanating from him. After the initiation, I bowed down to him. He raised his hand in benediction above my head, giving me instantly a vivid consciousness of an immanent Presence. I realized that the whole universe was merged into that Presence. That day, also I got a glimpse of the divine nature and the power of the guru. I was literally transported into a new life, and the power that he transmitted to me that day is still working within me.”

INITIATION

Holy Mother once complained that Maharaj did not accept enough disciples . It so happened that just then Maharaj was invited to see a play about the life of Ramanuja which was written by one of his own disciples. In this drama, there is a scene which expresses Ramanuja’s great love for mankind. The action is as follows:

Ramanuja’s guru initiates him with a sacred mantram and warns him never to reveal it anyone.
“What will happen if I do”? Ramanuja asks, and his Guru replies: “Whoever hears this mantram will be liberated from bondage of his ignorance, but you will suffer damnations. Ramanuja gathers a crowd around him and utters the sacred mantram for all to hear. Ramanuja’s guru pretends to be angry and rebukes him for his disobedience.

Ramanuja answers: “If my damnation can liberate so many people, then my supreme desire is to be damned.” His guru was delighted indeed and blessed him. This drama and Holy Mother’s remarked made a deep impression upon Maharaj. He then initiated many more disciples.

DOING GOOD

When Swami Vivekananda returned to India, he talked to his brother disciples, giving a new expression to the ideals for which Sri Ramakrishna had stood. It is not enough, he said, to devote your entire life to the realization of God for yourself alone. You must also live “For the Good of all, for the happiness of all.”

Swamijee wished his brothers to combine the contemplative life, with the life of service to mankind. Swami Brahmananda was the first to recognise the depth and the scope of Swamijee’s ideals and gave them his full support. On 1st May 1897, Swamijee called a meeting of the monastic and lay disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. At this meeting, the organization known as the Ramakrishna Mission was formed. Swami Brahmananda was elected president of the Calcutta Centre. Before Swamijee’s passing away, Swami Brahmananda was made head of the Order and he held that office for more than twenty years, until his own death. During his lifetime the Mission and its ideals grew from strength to a Gigantic Banyan tree, that shelters Millions of God seeking souls and gives solace to all.

Maharaj kept a watchful eye on the progress of each member of the order. He turned everyones heart continually towards God, and directed all the members actions and the activities of the mission toward the integrating of that inner strength, which alone can benefit mankind physically, morally and spiritually.

When young men of varied temperaments live together, it is only natural that misunderstandings will arise from time to time, no matter how high their common ideal may be. In one of the monastries connected with a home service, there were a number of untrained members. They had arrived from school and colleges. When they had been a while together, their old tendencies began to reassert themselves. They formed rival groups and started to quarrel. A senior swami of the mission wrote to Swami Brahmananda, telling him the boys were unfit for monastic life.

Maharaj gave them instructions, that all boys should meditate regularly in his presence. Then he began to instruct them, making no distinction between the good and the bad. Gradually the whole atmosphere of the place improved. The boys forgot their quarrels because they no longer had any time for them. And, when Maharaj left, two or three months later, perfect harmony had been restored in the monastry. All the boys had become better and more spiritual.
med

DEVOTION

A young disciple of Swami Vivekananda, was so inspired by his ideals of renunciation and service, devoted himself to nursing the sick and helping poor people. From a very humble beginning , his work grew into a huge organization. For many years this disciple was the head of one of the largest homes of service in India under the Ramakrishna Mission. But when Maharaj saw that his work was becoming more important to him than his spiritual life, he relieved him of the post, inspired him with the ideal of realizing God, and sent him away to live a life of exclusive meditation.

To quote Maharaj again: Yes, you must work. But I insist that you devote yourselves to spiritual practices and meditation. Even though, I may not ask you to work, your nature will force you to work. It is difficult to engage the mind in contemplation of God, but you are monks , therefore work must not be the sole purpose of your lives.
vIVEKA

Cravings

Maharaj wrote the following letter to Balaram from Brindavan:

“Who can fathom the workings of God? Who could know His Divine play? Man is subject to happiness and misery as long as his bound to karma. This is the lot of every man – whether he is learned or ignorant, good or wicked. Rare indeed is he who has attained unalloyed bliss! Only that man who is free from all cravings can find unending joy.

There is more misery than happiness in this world. Most people live in misery. God the Father is loving and kind. Who can explain why His children suffer? Man suffers because of his ignorance. This ignorance is his sense ego. When a man is free from egoism, surrendering his life at the Feet of the Lord, then he is blessed indeed. That man alone is happy.

I pray to the Lord that I may be completely freed from consciousness of the physical world. Bless me that may remain absorbed in the Lotus Feet of the Guru – that is the one desire of my heart.”