Swami Traveling to Florida and Puerto Rico: Sun-Sat Jan 13-19
Swami Yogatmananda will be giving a retreat and some lectures in San Juan, PR on Fri-Sat 18-19th, returning back to Providence in the morning on Sunday Jan 20.
Swami Vivekananda Birthday Celebration – Sun. Jan. 27, 11am – 7pm
11:00 am: worship-ritual, 12:30 flower-offering & Prasad-lunch, 2:30-4:00 Video, 5:00-6:00 Symposium, 6:00-7:00 Singing, 7:00 Supper-prasad.
All are welcome. No fee.
Weekly Schedule (in addition to Daily Schedule given below)
|Fri. Jan. 18
|7:00 PM: Aarati (devotional music) & meditation.
7:30 – 8:30 PM: Video on ‘Svetasvatara Upanishad’, by Swami Tejomayananda
View it on You-tube:
|Sat. Jan. 19
|8:30 – 10:30am: Karma Yoga (Cleaning & Work-service)
11:00am – 12:00 noon: Guided Meditation & prayers
7:00pm – 8:00pm – Aarati (devotional singing, a short reading and meditation
|Sun. Jan. 20
|5:00 – 6:00 PM: Lecture: ‘Some Socio-Political Thoughts of Vivekananda’ by Swmi Yogatmananda, followed by Aarati & soup-supper.
|Tue. Jan. 22
|7:00 PM: Aarati (devotional music) & meditation
7:30 – 8:30 PM: Study Class by Swami Yogatmananda on Swami Saradananda’s book – ‘SRI RAMAKRISHNA & HIS DIVINE PLAY’ (Tr. Swami Chetanananda)
|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
|7:00 – 7:15 PM: Aarti (devotional music), with a short reading from ‘BOOK OF DAILY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS’ by Swami Paramananda
7:15 – 8:00 PM: Meditation. Open to all.
On Sunday, Jan. 13, Abhijit Sarcar spoke on ‘Vivekananda: The First Global Preacher’.
Scroll down to see the synopsis.
Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda, unless otherwise stated)
Friday Study Class – Svetasvatara Upanishad – Jan. 11
The second chapter of the Svetasvatara Upanishad describes the practical spiritual disciplines we must undertake to achieve our spiritual goal. Divine awareness is our goal and our true nature, but we must do some spiritual practice to get rid of erroneous notions we hold about who we are. We must fill our hearts with the awareness that we are divine. On the basis of that conviction, we can transcend our limitations. When we engage with all sincerity in spiritual practice, we experience three things: the desire for sacrifice or renunciation, the control of the breath and the natural propensities that vary with the breath, and the bliss that comes from spiritual practice (i.e. the joy that comes from within us as opposed to joy that comes from contact with external sense objects). By thinking of our luminous nature which pervades all, we can attain that nature and, consequently, destroy the source of our suffering and fear. This world is in fact the divine; God is immanent in all. When we see the truth, when we connect with God, we realize there is nothing to be afraid of. The chapter continues by providing some practical hints about meditation. When we sit for meditation, we should make sure to sit properly with our head, neck, and backbone in a straight, vertical line. No matter what form of meditation we practice, it is very important to feel that we are connecting to God. Furthermore, during meditation we should strive to restrain the sense organs and to hold on to Brahman without slackening.
Sunday Talk – ‘Vivekananda: The First Global Preacher’ – a talk by Abhijit Sarcar – Jan. 13
At first sight, Sri Ramakrishna saw something special in Swami Vivekananda and knew that he would be a world teacher. The USA celebrated the 400thanniversary of Christopher Columbus coming to America. Twenty-seven million tickets were sold to the World Columbian Exhibition, out of a U.S. population of 65 million. People came from all over the globe. Although at first Swami Vivekananda was told he could not speak at the World Parliament of Religions, the Exhibition’s finale, he got a letter of reference from Professor Wright of Harvard, who said that asking for his credentials was like asking the sun for credentials to shine. When he addressed the crowd as Sisters and Brothers of America, five thousand people rose to their feet, and applauded him for four minutes. When someone later said that Swami Vivekananda had organized the Ramakrishna movement, Swami Shivananda replied that Sri Ramakrishna had trained Narendra (Swami Vivekananda’s pre-monastic name), so he was the one behind the organization. Swami Saradananda said that Sri Ramakrishna was the totality of the essence of the Vedas, which are beginningless and endless knowledge. Swami Vivekananda called people ‘children of immortal bliss’. He said we are divine. He accepted all religions as true. As a result of his speeches, American society opened up to other traditions, and the USA made a gift of Swami Vivekananda to India, where his fame led the entire nation to welcome him. He said that the goal is to manifest the Divine within.
Tuesday Video Lecture – ‘The story of Sri Ramakrishna’ by Swami Sarvapriyananda – Jan. 15
Swami Sarvapriyananda elaborated on the life story of Sri Ramakrishna as a divine incarnation. He captured the account from Sri Ramakrishna’s life at Dakshineshwar, where he came to assist his elder brother, who was a priest in the Kali temple of Rani Rasmani. Rani Rasmani and her son in law – Mathur Babu, both were fascinated by this young priest. During this time Sri Ramakrishna went through austere spiritual practices to realize God. He set an example in front of all the spiritual seekers eager to realize God. During this intensely austere phase of life, Hriday (Sri Ramakrishna’s nephew) took very good care of him. His spiritual practices were a practical manifestation of the philosophy he believed was beyond shame, hatred, and fear.
After going through intense spiritual practices he got the vision of Mother Kali. Sri Ramakrishna treated mother like a living being and he talked to her, fed her, sang for her, danced with her.
Ordinary people around him thought that all his actions were crazy and the news about this craziness went to Kamarpukur. As a solution to this craziness, Sri Ramakrishna’s mother decided to arrange his wedding. In due course, he was married to Sri Sarada Devi who was only 5 years old then.
The wedding did not bring an expected outcome. Rather after returning to Dakshineshwar, he was absorbed in the thoughts of Divine Mother to such an extent that it was difficult for him to continue the ritualistic worship in the temple. Around the same time, he met his first formal guru – Bhairavee Brahmani who initiated him in the Tantra philosophy. While training him she realized that Sri Ramakrishna was a divine incarnation. She did not stop only proclaiming that but also called for two well know spiritual scholars of that time – Vaishnavacharan and Gauri Pandit to validate her opinion. They both publicly proclaimed Sri Ramakrishna to be a divine incarnation. Sri Ramakrishna was not at all moved by this. He blessed both these scholars and helped them in their spiritual advancement.
Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual practices did not stop even after this. He practiced the spiritual discipline following all the five different attitudes (Shanta, Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya, and Madhur)to realize God. Following one of these attitudes helps the seeker to humanize the divine relationship. Around this time, Totapuri, who was a non-dual vedantin came in the life of Sri Ramakrishna to instruct the path of Advaita Vedanta. He initiated Sri Ramakrishna into the monastic life. Sri Ramakrishna attained the ultimate experience of nirvikalpa samadhi under the guidance of Totapuri. His life was exemplary for the householders as well as for the monastics. A perfect non – dualist like Totapuri also realized that Sri Ramakrishna was an incarnation of God. Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual practices did not stop even here. He followed the Sufi and Christian mysticism to realize the same Brahman. He proved to the world that the same goal can be reached by intensely following any of the spiritual disciplines. The culmination of his spiritual discipline was when he worshipped Holy Mother and offered the fruits of all his spiritual disciplines at her feet.