Announcements

Coronavirus Alert: 
As of today, we are not cancelling any services/lectures but congregation members are advised to take care and use the sanitary measures displayed. Disinfecting liquids and wipes are kept in easy reach for all to make use of them.
ALSO, THE STATE HAS PROHIBITTED GATHERINGS OF OVER 10. THE DOORS WILL CLOSE WHEN THE ATTENDANCE REACHES 10. Also, people attending are asked to use the disinfecting measures and to sit with a good distance (6’ or so) from each other. Our hall has enough room to do that.

ALSO, PLEASE REMEMBER, YOU CAN ALWAYS JOIN ALL CLASSES AND LECTURES ONLINE ON YOUTUBE CHANEL OF VEDANTA SOCIETY OF PROVIDENCE.

The upcoming day-long retreat of Sat April 4, is postponed till the situation becomes normal. Those who have registered and paid fee for the retreat can either keep it for the future retreat or can get it refunded.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: COVID 19 RELIEF
Many in the state are facing huge financial hardships due to business closures, loss of wages etc. Vedanta Society will offer some relief to such people. Please contact 401-421-3960 or email at providence@rkmm.org for an appointment.

Weekly Schedule (in addition to Daily Schedule given below)

Fri. March 27 7:00 – 8:45 pm: Arati, and Study Class on ‘Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam’ by Swami Yogatmananda 
Sat. March 28 8:30 – 10:30am: Karma Yoga (Cleaning & Work-service)
11:00am – 12:00 noon: Guided Meditation & prayers
Sun. March 29 5:00-6:00 pm: Sun lecture on ‘…And the Earnest Prayer Springs Up’  by Swami Yogatmananda
SOUP-SUPPER SUSPENDED
Tue. March 31 7:00 – 8:45 pm: Arati, meditation and A Study Class on ‘Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play’
by Swami Yogatmananda

Daily Schedule

Morning 5:45 – 6:45 AM: Meditation
6:45 – 7:00 AM: Chanting followed by a short reading from The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda
7:00 – 7:25 AM: A short ritual worship/Puja. Open to all, but one must enter before 7 am
Evening (Except on Sundays)
7:00 – 7:15 PM: Aarti (devotional music), with a short reading from ‘Uniqueness of Sri Ramakrishna’ by Swami Bhuteshananda
7:15 – 8:00 PM: Meditation. Open to all.

Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda, unless otherwise stated)

Friday, March 20  – Study Class on Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam
Class 11: Mahabali by Srikanth Srigiriraju
What is truth? One possible answer is harmony between thoughts, words, and deeds. As spiritual aspirants, we understand that lying leads to greater bondage and that telling the truth leads to greater progress on the spiritual path. Sri Ramakrishna taught his followers that speaking the truth is the most important spiritual discipline of the Kali Yuga. The spiritual aspirant should be willing to forsake all for the sake of the truth. After King Mahabali (born in the lineage of demons or asuras) is defeated in battle, he is revived by Sukracarya, the Guru of the Asura-clan. Mahabali serves his teachers well and performs a sacrifice, which results in him amassing great powers. He then goes to Indra’s city, and Indra and conqured him and other deva-s.  Aditi, the mother of the deva-s, laments to her husband Kashyapa that her sons are denied their rightful domain. All of us can relate to the experience of being denied comforts. Being able to adjust to the new circumstances is extremely important. Kashyapa chides Aditi for being so attached to her children and advises her to worship Vishnu by following certain disciplines. Aditi performs the disciplines and Vasudevaya appears before her and offers her the boon of being born as her son. Vishnu is then born as Vamana, Aditi’s son. Vamana went to see Mahabali. Sukracarya recognizes and warns Bali that it is actually Vishnu who has come disguised to beat him using Bali’s boon. He explains that telling a lie is acceptable for various reasons; however, Bali refuses to agree. Although a person with worldly ambitions, Bali sticks to the truth at all costs, and as a result Lord Vishnu blesses him.

Sunday Service, March 22Karma Theory a talk by Prof. Sukalyan Sengupta
Karma theory is foundational to the Indic religions (which recognizes rebirth), whereas the Abrahamic religions posit one birth only. Karma is the law of cause and effect. Every action we do consciously is under the domain of karma. We get merit for our good deeds and demerit for our bad deeds. Karma determines our experiences but not our actions. We alone are responsible for our actions. 00We think we are the doer, so we suffer the consequences of our actions. Ignorance leads to desire, which leads to karma, which leads back to ignorance, creating a cycle. The goal of life is to break the cycle of repeated births and deaths due to karma. We have desires for progeny, money, and fame, which we mistakenly think will bring immortality, which is our true desire. Karma forms impressions, which form habits, which form our character. As requisites for action, we need a body, a sense of ‘I’ or ego, sense organs, the life force, and consciousness. Some karma is seen, either expected or unexpected, and some is unseen (that may come later in this life or in another lifetime). Karma can be like an arrow that we are about to release, an arrow in the quiver, or an arrow that has already been shot. We have differing abilities to control these. The goal of karma yoga is to detach doer-ship from actions, through such means as meditation and japam. The goal is to burn off all karma, except that which has already been released, over which we have no control. Objections to karma theory are that it is unscientific (this cannot be proven one way or the other due to science’s limitations), that it is fatalistic (we are actually responsible for our own actions), and that it is useless (it is actually the most consistent explanation for suffering). The benefits of karma are that it rationally explains the vicissitudes of daily life (we get equipoise and meaning in life), that we take control of our actions, and that there is no need to posit an external agent responsible for our misfortunes.

Tuesday, March 24 – Life and Teachings of Swami Saradananda – a talk by Prof. Sukalyan Sengupta
Swami Saradananda was the “bearer of many burdens” – he shouldered many onerous responsibilities simultaneously. He was the General Secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission from 1898-1927. He took care of Holy Mother managing her trips to and from Jayrambati, her pilgrimages and built a permanent place for Her residence in Kolkata. He wrote the magnum opus – Sri Ramakrishna Lilaprasanga, Sri Ramakrishna’s biography. Notably, he is the only direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna who came to Providence. He gave a talk at the Manning Hall in Brown University.
He was born to affluent parents Girish Chandra Chakraborty and Neelamony Devi. He used to live on Amherst Street in Kolkata which was close to Narendranath (Swami Vivekananda’s) residence in Simla. He showed signs of generosity and service since his early days. Once, he led a group of his friends to nurse a neighbor diagnosed with cholera and even made funeral arrangements when the person died of the disease. He studied in Hare School, St Xavier’s college and went on to study medicine (that he left unfinished) at Calcutta Medical College  – all prestigious institutions. Apart from academics, he was interested in body building and wrestling and therefore had a strong body. Sarat (his pre-monastic name) and his cousin, Shashi went together to Dakshineshwar to meet Sri Ramakrishna. He was commenting on how men get married early and are burdened with family responsibilities before they develop any inclination for God. In his next visit to Dakshineshwar, Sri Ramakrishna pressed His fingers between Sarat’s eyes and Sarat had a spiritual experience. Sri Ramakrishna told Sarat that he had the attributes of Siva – referring to his calmness which was to become the hallmark of his monastic life. Sri Ramakrishna once asked Sarat for a boon. He said that he wanted to see Brahman in everything and that he wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less. Sri Ramakrishna asked Sarat to meet Naren and they became close friends. Sarat joined other brother disciples in taking care of Sri Ramakrishna during his illness at Kashipur; and later joined at Barahnagar, the first monastery. He went on several pilgrimages. During these pilgrimages he demonstrated his calmness on multiple occasions. He once sat to meditate all night in the midst of a treacherous jungle. A horse carriage once crashed due to a frightened horse and a landslide but Swami Saradananda handled it very calmly and got out of the crashed carriage.
Swamiji asked Swami Saradananda to join him in London. He gave his first public lecture there. He then went to the United States and gave several lectures there. In 1898 when Ramakrishna Mission was formed he was called back to Kolkata to become the General Secretary. These were challenging days for the order as the British government suspected the order of supporting revolutionary activities. Swami Saradananda calmly overcame these obstacles. He established the permanent residence for Holy Mother (Udbodhan) in Kolkata. He had taken a personal loan of Rs. 11,000 to build it. Holy Mother used to live on the 2nd floor and he used to be her guard on the 1st floor. Some of most difficult personalities including  brahmacharis and monks used to live there too. He wrote Leela Prasanga (The magnum opus  biography of Sri Ramakrishna translated into English as Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play) amidst these busy and difficult circumstances over a period of 10 years. Once when asked how he could so aptly describe Nirvikalpa Samadhi in Leela Prasanga, he remarked that he wasn’t cutting grass when he was with Sri Ramakrishna. In August 1927 Swami Saradananda’s health deteriorated rapidly and his final moment arrived on Sri Krishna’s birthday that year.