We take this opportunity to convey our heartfelt thanks for the spontaneous support received from devotees, friends and well-wishers during 2020 – the most testing year in the recent history. They were very generous in giving donations and extending help in all possible ways, in spite of facing several pandemic-related difficulties themselves. We hope that the coming days will be better when we can open the Center as before. The pandemic has taught some lessons too, which will remain useful even afterwards. One of them is: we should observe caution and restraint and should never get panicked.
– Swami Yogatmananda, Minister
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: SUN FEB 07, 11AM-1:00 PM
In-person attendance is all full, no more space available. Registration has been stopped.
However, the 2nd part of the Vivekananda Birthday Celebration – the SYMPOSIUM & Sankirtan can still be attended in person, from 5 -7 pm. NO NEED TO REGISTER FOR THAT.
All lectures/classes will continue to be available LIVE and stored on our Youtube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFof5116HcBYIpUFvKet1Uw) too.
Entrance door remains open for limited times as follows:
- Tue & Fri lectures: 6:45 – 7:35 pm
- Sun services: 4:45 – 5:05 pm
- Morning meditation : 5:45 – 5:55 am
- Evening meditation: 6:45 – 7:15 pm
Weekly Schedule (in addition to Daily Schedule given below)
|Fri. Feb 05||7:00 – 8:45 pm: Arati, Meditation and A Study Class on ‘Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam’ by Swami Yogatmananda
|Sun. Feb 07||5:00-6:00 pm: Symposium on the Life and Teachings of Swami Vivekananda, followed by Shiva-naama Sankirtan,|
|Tue. Feb 09||7:00 – 8:45 pm: Arati, meditation and A Study Class on ‘Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play’ by Swami Yogatmananda|
|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 5:55 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, but one must enter before 7:10 am
Swami gave a talk on ‘Vedanta and Harmony of Religions’ on Sun 1/31/21, noon to 1:15pm on the zoom platform. It was mainly for the devotees belonging to an international group. Many regular devotees joined too.
Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda)
Friday, Jan 29 – Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam
Class 41: Story of Hiranyaksha
As Brahmaa proceeded with the act of creation, he encountered many false starts. Then like a revelation, he saw himself getting split into two parts, one male and one female. The male entity was known Swaayambhuva and the female known as Satarupaa. Thus divided, creation proceeded automatically. As the population increased, a space to house the population was required. However, at this time, the Earth was in a netherworld, located at the bottom of the cosmic ocean, and held hostage by the demon Hiranyaaksha. God incarnated as a great boar, Varaha, to slay Hiranyaaksha and rescue the Earth. In a prior yuga, Hiranyaaksha and his brother, Hiranyakahipu, were gatekeepers in the abode of Vishnu. They were cursed when they refused entry to four sages. To redeem themselves from the curse, they were born as enemies of God and forced to be killed by God. Though the idea of being inimical to God seems contrary to devotion, the ultimate purpose of life is to be united with God through whatever available means. For Hiranyaaksha, God was his enemy. Whatever emotions one gets, when they are directed to God, then they lead us towards God. The result of getting connected with God in any way bears the same result because God is our true nature and involved in everything. Even though Hiranyaaksha wanted to kill God, he could not. Instead he became absorbed in God in that process. As the boar Vahara emerged with the Earth on his tusk, Brahmaa and the others present offered hymns of praise to the Lord.
Sunday, Jan 31 – Pantheism
Pantheists of various hues believe that God is the universe itself. They do not accept a creator God who governs from outside. The word pantheist /pantheism was coined by John Toland, an Irish philosopher, but the idea existed long before that. Spinoza, a pantheist, was among the first in the west to challenge the Abrahamic religions, and most of his works were published either anonymously or posthumously. He was excommunicated from the Jewish community. He believed that humans wrote the bible. He felt that control of the passions leads to happiness. He advocated religious harmony and stated that each individual would ascribe to God his or her own attributes; like, a triangle would say that God is triangular. He felt that seeing God as the eternal substance leads to a rational mystical experience. In Vedanta, the Self is considered to be The Same in all. Vedanta does not eliminate the personal God. While we cannot pray to a substance, we can pray to the personal God, called Isvara. Vedanta posits that God is both immanent and transcendent. We have to transcend the forms to see the substance or principle. Panentheism means that God is in everything, God is no more than everything in the universe. Vedanta does not accept this.
According to Holy Mother, if we truly see God, we will not use the argument that God is in all as an excuse to do bad things. We need to turn our attachments to God. In Vedanta, the personal God is in the relative state, and this has no contradiction with the Absolute, which is existence/consciousness/bliss.
Tuesday, Feb 02 – Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play
Volume 4, Chapter 2, Page #587 – 589 : Sri Ramakrishna as a Guru, and Sadhus of Various Orders
Several spiritual aspirants from various denominations came uninvited to Dakshineshwar and associated with Sri Ramakrishna. Spiritual world has a hidden law of demand and supply: whenever and wherever there is the need, God incarnates in the form of a human Guru. And, whenever such a Guru arrives, the devotees flock to Him. Sri Ramakrishna used to say that when flowers bloom bees come of their own accord. Incarnations do not promulgate a new spiritual truth. They are eternal in nature and there is nothing new to be told that has not been said before. The incarnations connect these eternal truths with new application in the current context, without negating the teachings of earlier incarnations. Since our minds are obscured by worldliness, we do not see the connections between various incarnations and manifestations of the truth and we think that this is a new thought or principle. Since Sri Ramakrishna had practiced the disciplines of various denominations, he could provide specific instructions and directions to the aspirants of the respective denominations. He was a like a super store where aspirants of any kind could get what they needed.
These phenomena (e.g. incarnation of God, Samadhi etc.) are beyond the realm of body and mind (alaukik) and are not accessible to our intellect. Physical science has made several attempts to understand them. And, while it has made significant developments, the truths of spiritual world remain inaccessible to it. In Samadhi, normal consciousness is transcended and it appears as something miraculous. But, this too is a science. If the methods of spiritual science are applied, then these phenomena can be explained and experienced as well. Meditation is that instrument which makes the invisible phenomena visible to us. It is possible that a person with pathological condition can enter into weird mental states. Therefore some people think of spiritual experiences as pathological conditions. These are worthless ideas and one should not listen to them. Our desires and cravings are burning us. If we turn our desires and cravings to Sri Ramakrishna, we can get fulfillment. If we keep running after these cravings, each of them will result in several more and we will be in an endless pursuit of these cravings.