Sun, Mar 01, 6:15 – 7:30 pm Cello Concert by Susan Salm, after the regular Sun lecture 5:00-6:00.
Weekly Schedule (in addition to Daily Schedule given below)
|Fri. Feb. 28||7:00 – 8:45 pm: Arati, Meditation and Study Class on Stories from ‘Srimad Bhagavatam’
|Sat. Feb. 29||8:30 – 10:30am: Karma Yoga (Cleaning & Work-service)
11:00am – 12:00 noon: Guided Meditation & prayers
|Sun. March 01||5:00-6:00 pm: Sun Service lecture on ‘Some Questions on Re-incarnation’;
6:00-6:15 pm: Aarati followed by 6:15 – 7:30 pm Cello Concert by Susan Salm
|Tue. March 03||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.
Fri Feb 21: Maha Sivaratri. Sivanama Sankirtan was done immediately after the Arati at 7 pm & before the ‘Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam’ class. 17 devotees attended.
Sun Feb 23, 11 am to 7 pm: Sri Ramakrishna’s Birthday Celebration: Over a hundred devotees joined the Worship at 11am; there was flower-offering by all the devotees before they had the lunch-Prasad. There was devotional singing and reading too. The celebration continued with screening of a video on the Life of Sri Ramakrishna, Symposium, Samkirtan etc till 7pm.
Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda, unless otherwise stated)
Friday, Feb 21 – Study Class on Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam
Class 7: Parikshit Starts Listening Bhagavatam
The story of Parikshit continues. Ashwatthama, the son of Drona, released a brahmastra (a powerful missile) to kill King Parikshit while he was in his mother’s womb. Uttara, Parikshit’s mother, prayed to Krishna to save her unborn child. Krishna, hearing her prayer, appeared and encircled the entire womb- area, providing miraculous protection for Parikshit. Parikshit was thus blessed with a vision of the Lord even before birth that remained imprinted on his mind forever. King Parikshit came of age and was a beneficent ruler of his kingdom. All was at peace, good prospered and evil declined. One day while hunting in the forest, King Parikshit became terribly hungry and thirsty. Spying a small hermitage, he approached its occupant for some water. The Sage Shamika was in Samadhi and thus did not reply. Although an otherwise even-tempered and restrained person, the king mistook the sage’s silence for a deliberate slight. When our minds spin the facts, we cause problems for others and ourselves. Parakshit, to insult the sage, picked up a dead snake and garlanded Shamika. Then the very bright, powerful, and austere son of this sage, seeing that his father had been insulted, flew into a rage and cursed the king saying that on the seventh day a big snake will come and kill the king. In anger, we often lose all sense of proportion and forget what is proper. As the son was shouting, the sage came out of samadhi. After hearing what had happened, he admonished his son, telling him that what he had done was completely wrong. “If the king loses his life, there will be no ruler, lawlessness will ensue, and we will incur all bad karma that results.” However, Parikshit, decided to accept the curse of Shamika’s son. He decided this to be the opportunity to merge himself in the thought of God. He then settled himself on the south-bank of the Ganges. All sages and gods assembled there and also arrived Sage Suka. Urged by Parikshit, Shuka recited the Bhagavatam to him, who had given up all possessions, desires, anger, attachment, and was full of devotion.
Sunday Service, Feb 23 – Symposium on Sri Ramakrishna
The opening song was Eight Quatrains on Sri Ramakrishna, composed by Swami Abhedananda, and performed by Abhijit Sarcar, and Rahul and Swapna Ray.
Mukta Puranik: Sri Ramakrishna was a manifestation of the formless divine principle in a relatable way. Under British rule, India was swaying to western civilization, based on power, wealth, and enjoyment. Sri Ramakrishna helped return India to religion and renunciation. He used the thorns of illiteracy, poverty and being a simple villager to remove, respectively, the thorns of education, wealth, and vanity. He served as a model that we must emulate. The supreme goal that he put forth was for everyone regardless of caste, creed, or gender. This was a modern perspective on an ancient path. To reach the goal of this journey, we must have Sri Ramakrishna in our heart. To feel this love, we must establish a connection through holy company, the Guru, and spiritual practice.
Arpan Choudhury: Sri Ramakrishna was the embodiment of renunciation. Renunciation often scares people who think they have to give up their favorite things. The true Self is neither the body nor the mind. Renunciation led to Sri Ramakrishna being always blissful. Attempts to find happiness in Maya do not satiate us. To find God, we have to have the attachment to God that a wife has for her husband, that a mother has for her child, and that a miser has for his money. Sri Ramakrishna’s body was subject to the same things as ours, such as his getting cancer. But he transcended suffering by discriminating between what is real and lasting, and what is unreal. He was free from desire. He renounced education of worldly things, lust, and possessions. He advised us to live in the world like a nanny. Nothing belongs to her and she longs for her true home.
Swami Yogatmananda: On the centenary of Sri Ramakrishna’s birth, Swami Akhandananda refused to give a message for the celebration as he felt that Sri Ramakrishna is always there. Then, Sri Ramakrishna came to him and told him to relay a centenary message. God is ever-present and appears in different forms. Sri Ramakrishna is there if we look into our own heart. When we go up one step, we renounce the lower step. When we go into first grade, we renounce kindergarten. We need to see what is real and give up what is evanescent. Sri Ramakrishna showed us by his example that God is within us.
The closing song was ‘Sing Ramakrishna-Name, O Mind’, performed by Abhijit Sarcar, Rahul and Swapna Ray and Swami Yogatmananda,.
Tuesday, Feb 25 – Study Class on ‘Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play’
As a Guru, The Master Bestows Grace on Mathur, Page 507-508:
Sri Ramakrishna’s thoughts and actions were in complete alignment with each other and there was no time lag between a thought and its execution. If we compare this state with our situation, it is very different. In our case, the body does not easily act according to the mind. We may have convictions about what we must do but our body does not obey and instead, the mind gets dragged behind the body. The body is compared to a chariot where sense organs are represented as horses, mind as reins and intellect as charioteer. Only if this alignment is proper, we will reach our destination, otherwise, there is no hope of doing so.
It was the morning of the last day of worship of Durga Puja. Mathur Babu had experienced the joy of worship and festivity during the last nine days. It was time for the idol of Mother Durga to be immersed. But, he could not bear the thought of this separation from the Mother and didn’t want to let Her go. Sri Ramakrishna explained to Mathur that the Mother cannot stay away from Her son. Going forward, She would accept his worship sitting in his heart. This explanation with a divine touch from Sri Ramakrishna pacified Mathur. There are a number of examples of how the divine touch of Sri Ramakrishna has changed people’s lives. Even today thousands of devotees can be seen transformed upon coming in contact with the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna’s touch has an impact on us – even if we don’t want it. Ordinarily the worldly people do not really want God, they are like houseflies that sit on cow dung and dirty things – seeking sensual pleasures. Divine personages are beyond these temptations and seek only God. Sri Ramakrishna was beyond all temptations.