Friday, Feb 21: Maha Sivaratri Sivanama Sankirtan immediately after the Arati at 7 pm & before the ‘Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam’ class.
Sunday, Feb 23, 11 am to 7 pm: Sri Ramakrishna’s Birthday Celebration
11:00 am Worship-ritual, 12:30 pm Flower-offering & Prasad-lunch,
2:30-4:00 Video, 5:00-6:00 Symposium, 6:00-7:00 Singing, 7:00 Supper-prasad
Weekly Schedule (in addition to Daily Schedule given below)
|Fri. Feb. 21||7:00 – 8:45 pm: Arati, Sivanama Sankirtan and Study Class on Stories from ‘Srimad Bhagavatam’
|Sat. Feb. 22||8:30 – 10:30am: Karma Yoga (Cleaning & Work-service)
11:00am – 12:00 noon: Guided Meditation & prayers
|Sun. Feb. 23||Daylong Celebration of Sri Ramakrishna Birth-day: 11:00am to 7:00pm|
|Tue. Feb. 25||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.
Sun Feb 16, 10am to 12:30 pm – Swami and a few devotees went to Vedanta Society of CT function in Avon, CT. Over 20 devotees were present for the Puja, devotional music and lecture on Sri Ramakrishna.
SPECIAL: NEW BLOG-POST – ‘Deification of the World’ – Abhijeet Kislay
Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda, unless otherwise stated)
Friday, Feb 14 – Study Class on Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam
Class 6: Birth of Parikshit
The Bhagavatam was told by Vyasa to his son, Shuka. Vyasa and Shuka were beyond desires, established in the true nature of Self. Then how this nectar came at our level?
Near the end of the great war depicted in the Mahabharata, Duryodhana, the leader of the evil Kaurava clan, was mortally wounded. Aswatthama, son of Dronacharya, asked permission of Duryodhana to continue to fight the Pandavas alone. Ashwathama goes on to slay all five children of Draupadi; Arjuna vows revenge. Both warriors use the ultimate destructive weapon, brahmastra, at one another. But not having fully mastered the skill of controlling this ultimate weapon, Ashwatthama directs it at the unborn fetus of Utarra, the daughter-in-law of Arjuna. Krishna, who was departing the battleground for his kingdom of Dwarka, was called upon to protect the unborn child, the final heir of the Pandava clan. Krishna uses his very special powers to block the weapon. This story illustrates how the power of the Lord is supreme. Logically, this feat cannot be explained, but we are required to go beyond logic.
The details of these stories may defy our understanding of the laws of nature, but these laws are subject to God. He makes these laws and He can break them as well.
Parikshit, the unborn child who was saved by Krishna, was a pure soul and became a wise king. While out hunting, he became thirsty and searched for water, arriving at a hermitage. The resident hermit was in deep meditation and did not offer King Parikshit any refreshment. Feeling insulted, the King put a dead snake around the neck of the hermit. The hermit’s son, feeling his father has been disrespected, curses Parikshit and declares he will die by a snakebite in seven days. The hermit chastises his son for placing this curse on the King, but once it’s been made it cannot be taken back. The King seeks safety on an island, where the Bhagavatam is recited to him by Shuka. (This is where the “Bhagavatam week” ritual comes from.) King Parikshit, facing death, gives up everything else in order to listen to the Srimad Bhagavatam from a great teacher, in hopes that he may achieve realization before he dies.
Sunday Service, Feb 16 – How to Use the Ego
The same one ‘I’ is everywhere, but our experience is caught in ‘I and mine’. The problem is the ego, or the ‘I’ caught in body and mind. We need to change the direction of the ego. If we attach the ego to temporary things, we feel that we are the body, and this leads to bondage. Every desire gives rise to many more desires. Instead, we can connect the ego to Truth, or to God. Sri Ramakrishna said that we cannot give up the ego, so we should use it. In efforts to remove the ego, there is ego. Sri Ramakrishna said to direct the six passions to God. For example, we can have pride in our relationship to God. But this pride should not be used to put down other paths, since God created all religions. It is wrong to feign humility to suppress ego, because that becomes a morbid ego. We can become close to God by being a servant of God. Or we can see that everything is one reality and we are a part of God. Or we can see that the ‘I’ does not exist. Whichever of these that is suitable for us is good. Even though God has everything and does not need anything, He gives us work to do, so we can be His servant. This leads to purification of the heart. If someone does not believe in God, they can connect to truth, always being truthful.
Tuesday, Feb 18 – Study Class on ‘Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play’
As a Guru, The Master Bestows Grace on Mathur, Page 506-508:
The worship of the Divine Mother Mother Durga continued for three days and as the tradition goes, on the fourth day everyone was getting ready to immerse the image of the Divine Mother in the Ganges. Mathur Babu was in an ecstatic mood in the presence of the Divine Mother and the Master. On the fourth day, the day of Vijaya, he was completely unaware of the immersion of the image. When he was called for the ritualistic immersion worship by the appointed priest, he vehemently declared that he will continue the worship and would not allow anyone to immerse the image in the Ganges.
This emotion is very common as the worshiper establishes a loving connection with the image over the period of worship. People experience emptiness at the time of immersion. A bond gets developed between the worshiper and the worshipped. There are three kinds of worship – personal, congregational and done by an appointed priest for someone who is paying the priest. In the first two types of the worship, worshipper is mentally involved and hence establishes a bond with the Divine image. The worship of the Divine Mother is done very meticulously following various rituals at specific times. The priest appointed by Mathur Babu was getting anxious as the exact specific time for the immersion worship was slipping away. But Mathur continued to be very adamant and was not giving in to any persuasion.
Finally knowing the seriousness of the situation, Master was called to persuade Mathur Babu. Master very lovingly explained to him that the Mother would not go anywhere. He explained – as She accepted the worship in the worship hall for the past three days She will continue to accept the worship in your heart. Somehow Master’s loving words and the divine touch brought Mathur back to the regular mood.
Master explained to him the science behind the image worship. In the beginning of the worship the worshipper, with a prayerful heart, establishes the Divine Image, then lovingly serves and worships the image assuming the living presence of the deity there. This helps to strengthen the bond of love and devotion. Immersion of the Divine image at the end of the ritualistic worship