Mon Feb 03 to Sat Feb 08: Swami will be travelling to San Francisco, Danville, Berkeley, San Jose and Sacramento in CA and Tucson and Phoenix in AR. He will give Vedanta lectures and meet devotees at these places and will be back in Providence on Sun, Feb 09 morning.
Fri, Feb 07: 7:00-8:30pm– Arati, meditation and regular scripture class on the new topic. ‘Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam’ by Srikanth Srigiriraju
Sun Feb 09: Swami Adbhutananda’s Birthday – A special Chant and worship in the morning and ‘Disciple-Birthday Song in the evening after Arati
Weekly Schedule (in addition to Daily Schedule given below)
|Fri. Feb. 07||7:00 – 8:45 pm: Arati, meditation and Study Class on Stories from ‘Srimad Bhagavatam’ by Srikanth Srigiriraju
|Sat. Feb. 08||8:30 – 10:30am: Karma Yoga (Cleaning & Work-service)
11:00am – 12:00 noon: Guided Meditation & prayers
|Sun. Feb. 09||5:00-6:00 pm: Sunday Service – The Swami will speak on ‘Art of Expressing the Experience’|
|Tue. Feb. 11||7:00 – 8:45 pm: Arati, meditation and Study Class on – Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play|
|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.
Daylong Meditation on Sat Feb 01: 11 devotees joined for varying lengths of time.
SPECIAL: NEW BLOG-POST – The Power of Philosophy – By Abhijeet Kislay
Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda, unless otherwise stated)
Fri Jan 31 – Study Class on Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam
Class 4 – Origin:
In the Bhagavatam, Vyasa looks to Narada to explain why, though he has composed a vast body of Vedic literature, including rites, histories, philosophies, he still has not found perfect peace. Narada tells Vyasa that what’s missing from his spritual practice is the singing of praises to the Lord. That which Vyasa has composed so far does not help to enshrine the Lord in all things, regardless of whether or not it has “literary merit.” Like Vyasa, if we perform our work without fervent devotion, our actions will create bondage; but when we connect the actions we perform to God, the work will lose its power to bind us and will develop the power to liberate us. After giving this advice, Narada tells the story of one of his previous births, during which time he was associated with some wandering sages and served them. His mother (in this previous birth) died when he was five years old and he had devoted himself ever since to spiritual practice. Eventually, Narada had a vision of God and was filled with peace, but then this glimpse of the Divine was gone. This has been described by many saints and sages; sometimes the analogy of a flash of lightning is used: it illuminates everything for an instant, then is gone. This vision of God filled Narada with deep yearning. Eventually, he heard a divine voice that told him he would not realize God in that lifetime because a little desire yet remained. Narada continued to be a devotee of God in his subtle body form, and after a thousand ages, as the universe was reborn, Narada too was reborn and has been travelling since, singing the name of the Lord with his instrument (veena) given to him by Lord. Following Narada’s example, we must fervently sing the praises of God, dedicate our actions to him, and root out our desires which, however minute they may be, will hinder our spiritual progress.
Sunday Service, Feb 02 – ‘I am a Socialist’ – Vivekananda
The opening song was No One But Me to Blame, from a poem by Swami Vivekananda, put to music by Joe Dwyer, and sung by Peter Travisano.
A class of industrial workers developed in modern times. They were used as machines. They rebelled against this, and intellectuals like Marx and Engels took up their cause. Marx showed the inner contradictions of capitalism. Contradictions also exist in socialism, such as the human instinct that makes each one want to do better than others. The idea of equality is attractive because we are all one Reality. Swami Vivekananda distinguished between varnas, which are based on individual aptitude, and jati, which is based on genetic lineage. There are four varnas, which ruled one after the other: The Brahmins ruled first based on their learning and teaching. They were not attracted to sense pleasures and were compensated with honor rather than money. Then the Kshatriyas, who were administrators and warriors, ruled. Then the Vaishyas, who seek money and profit, ruled. Swami Vivekananda said that these three had had their turn, and now it was the turn of the Shudras, industrial and farm workers, to rule. He said that half a loaf is better than none. The Shudras exemplify tamoguna and work only when prodded. One good thing that came out of socialism is labor unions, but not in communist countries. Pure socialism never became successful anywhere in the world because of individual selfish propensities. Karma yoga, which means giving everything to God, is difficult to practice. With the experience of Oneness, all fighting in society goes away, and we become saints.
Tuesday, Feb 04 – Life and teachings of Swami Brahmananda – Sukalyan Sengupta
Swami Brahmananda, whose pre-monastic name was Rakhal Chandra Ghosh, was a son of a rich landlord. His birthplace was Sikra Kulingram a village close to Kolkata. His mother passed away when Rakhal was five years old. He was sent to Metropolitan college at Kolkata for his further studies. Here Rakhal met with Narendranath Datta, who later became Swami Vivekananda. They both shared a very strong bond of love and friendship. Rakhal was interested in wrestling and music but the routine college education was not of much interest to him. His father thought that marriage and the household responsibility will make Rakhal serious about life and his studies. He was married to Vishveshwari Devi from Konnagar. Her brother Manomohan Mitra was a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna, who took Rakhal to Dakshineswar to meet with the Master.
Sri Ramakrishna prayed to Divine Mother to give him the company of devotees with whom he would be able to share his experiences. He was tired of talking to the worldly people of Kolkata and was eagerly waiting for the sincere devotees. At that time he got a vision that he would be blessed with a spiritual son. He also got a vision of Krishna in a thousand petalled lotus floating in the Ganges. When Master saw Rakhal, he immediately remembered both these visions. Many times he mentioned that Rakhal was from the category of nitya siddha and ishwarkoti. He was born just to demonstrate spiritual practices.
Rakhal too developed a unique affection towards the Master and started frequenting the temple garden of Dakshineswar. In the beginning his father did not approve of this. But then after meeting with Sri Ramakrishna, his opposition considerably mellowed down. Rakhal shared a very unique relationship with the Master. Master taught him many things to help him in his spiritual life. Total detachment towards money and utmost truthfulness were the two important teachings.
Rakhal shared a loving and respectful relationship with Swami Vivekananda. It was mutual.
Master was well aware of Rakhal’s capacities and hence told everyone that he will lead the Ramakrishna order. He was the president for 25 years. He successfully steered this responsibility even during the early years of financial struggle. He never gave a public lecture or authored a book. But his teachings and practical tips were very effective and helpful. One of the favorite teachings was ” work and worship together” slowly transitioning into “work as worship” and eventually to “work is worship”.
Swami Brahmananda continued ardent spiritual practices throughout his life. He used to say that he continues the practice to own the treasure received from his spiritual father. He used to be submerged in the higher consciousness. His mere blessings were enough to bring about spiritual upliftment in the devotees hearts. Story of Swami Brahmananda can’t be completed without mentioning his profound interest in fishing. Most of the time he used to be found fishing near the pond in Belur Math.
Master told everyone that the moment Rakhal becomes aware of his true nature, he will give up his body. After intense service to the Master, and after graciously blessing many spiritual disciples, swami Brahmananda’s mortal life ended in Kolkata at Baloram Basu’s house.