Swami’s South Asia trip is cancelled: Due to Coronavirus related travel turmoil, Swami’s trip (which was to start on Mar 10), stands cancelled. However, all the lectures, classes to be given by other learned speakers in his absence will go on as announced.
Coronavirus Alert: As of today, we are not cancelling any services/lectures but congregation members are advised to take care and use the sanitary measures displayed. Disinfecting liquids and wipes are kept in easy reach for all to make use of them.
Swami Yogananda Birthday: Fri Mar 13 – Special chant in the morning and ‘Birthday song’ and Biography reading in the evening before the class on Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam.
Spiritual Retreat – Apr. 04, 9:30am – 7:00pm – DIALOGUES from BRIHADARANYAKA UPANISHAD
Speaker: Swami Tattwamayananda, Head of the Vedanta Society, San Francisco
Click here for more info.
Weekly Schedule (in addition to Daily Schedule given below)
|Fri. March 13||7:00 – 8:45 pm: Arati, Birthday-song, Biography of Swami Yogananda reading and Study Class on ‘Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam’ by Srikanth Srigiriraju
|Sat. March 14||8:30 – 10:30am: Karma Yoga (Cleaning & Work-service)
11:00am – 12:00 noon: Guided Meditation & prayers
|Sun. March 15||5:00-6:00 pm: Lecture: The Atman – A Philosophical Meditation by Swami Sarvapriyananda, Vedanta Society, New York
Arati 6:00-6:15 pm followed by Soup Supper
|Tue. March 17||7:00 – 8:45 pm: Arati, meditation and A talk on ‘Swami Shivananda’ by Prof. Sukalyan Sengupta|
|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.
Swami traveled to Indianapolis and Detroit: He left on Sat Mar 7 morning; gave a retreat and couple of lectures on Sat and Sun in Indianapolis; then drove to Ann Arbor, MI to give a lecture at the University there before flying back to Providence on Mon afternoon.
Daylong Meditation, Sat Mar 7, Noon to 8:00 pm: 10 devotees joined for various lengths of time.
Synopses of Past Classes
(All classes given by Swami Yogatmananda, unless otherwise stated)
Friday, March 06 – Study Class on Stories from Srimad Bhagavatam
Class 9: Bhishma’s Prayer
The vision of the Lord liberates one from the cycle of rebirth. The Lord is the sole wealth of the devotee—all attachments are given up. Bhishma is lying on the battlefield on a bed of arrows, waiting for the auspicious hour of summer solstice for giving up his body. He was granted the boon that he can choose his time of death. Knowing that that time is nearing, Lord Krishna and the five Pandava brothers reached Kurukshetra. Seeing the Lord in human form, Bhishma’s eyes were filled with tears as he said with great love: “What travesty of justice, that you Pandavas, who were always guided by holy men, and laws of righteousness, and the Supreme Lord of the Universe Himself in human form was your protector, should have had to spend your life in such utter misery…I deem all that as product of Time, to which all have to submit as the ultimate ruler…” This is what happens in the world: the Lord’s play is not felt easily, nor is it easily comprehensible. We naturally wonder why the Lord brings all these miseries in the life of good people. Through the Lord’s play, good people gradually acquire dispassion. Bhishma’s conversation with Yudishtira stops and he looks upon Krishna with great devotion. As the moment to depart approaches, Bhishma prays to Lord Krishna with one pointed concentration. For us, it is so difficult to fix the mind on God; however, all attachments have gone from Bhishma’s mind and he could, therefore, easily concentrate. We may delude ourselves into imagining we can be attached to the world and God simultaneously, but that is impossible. Bhishma prays thus: “May my mind, which is free from all desires be an offering to you, the God standing before me as a human, but is truly All-pervading blissful supreme truth. May I have the pure devotion that does not seek even liberation…even as I was piercing your body with my sharp arrows and then to make my—your devotee’s—vow come true, you gave up your own vow of never using a weapon in this war and rushed towards me with wheel as weapon, as if to kill me…may my mind who is about to die attain to the highest delight in thee.” Bhishma then unites with the Lord. Bhishma’s one-pointed devotion doesn’t seek anything besides the Lord.
Sunday Service, March 08 – The Waking State – Just Another Dream!? – by Chester Boncek
Mandukya Upanishad sums up the essence of all Upanisads. Complete Solitude is the non-dual experience. We need to reject every observable object as not the true Self. Even the skin and bones, as well as thoughts and feelings, are not me, since they change. All this is Brahman, or Atman, which has four fields related to the Witness consciousness: the waking state, the dream state, dreamless sleep, and the Turiya, the non-dual, which is hidden by the other states. The waking state consists of external objects, and the dream state consists of internal objects. In dreamless sleep, which is the gateway of projecting consciousness, no objects are desired. Swami Vivekananda said to follow reason until we get something higher, which will not contradict reason. In the waking state, there is the search for permanent happiness. We are reluctant to let go of lower things. They fall away with earnest spiritual practice. In the dreamless state, there is no disturbance. The same Witness is present in the waking and dream states, because it can recall both. The logical part of the brain is less active in the dream state, so it seems less real. But physics has shown that time in the waking state is a function of the observer. All objects dissolve in the Self.
Tuesday, March 10 –Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineshwary – by Abhijit Sarcar
Sri Ramakrishna had spent a major part of his life in Dakshineshwar which provides the setting for His leela. Setting is very important for devotees that are doing their sadhana (spiritual practice) through the method of leela dhyana (meditation on the life of an avatar). The Absolute Reality takes the form on a human being – an avatar – and becomes a link between the absolute and the multiplicity (where we devotees live and are trapped). Thus becoming a human, an avatar teaches us to think of God and meditate on God. Dakshineshwar was the place where God came and lived among us to teach us – this is the importance of this place.
The story of Dakshineshwar starts with Rani (=queen) Rasmani who was a very rich land-lady. She had planned to undertake an expensive pilgrimage to Varanasi. But the Divine Mother appeared in her dream and asked her to make a temple instead. She promised the Rani that she would accept her worship in that temple. Thus the temple was constructed and completed in 1855. Sri Ramakrishna came to Kolkata with his elder brother and was engaged as a priest in Dakshineshwar at an early age of 19 years. “M” has provided vivid descriptions of the temple during his time with Sri Ramakrishna which was much later. These descriptions can form a great source of meditation on the backdrop of the various events associated with Sri Ramakrishna.
The temple is on the bank of Ganges flowing North-South. There are 12 Siva temples with a ‘ghat’ in the middle, known as Chandani, which is an entrance from the river. The ghat leads to a large courtyard. Southern part of the courtyard has Natmandir (where various temple-events happen). Northern part has the Radhakanta temple where Sri Ramakrishna started his worship. Between the Natmandir and Radhakanta temple is the Kali temple where Sri Ramakrishna had number of visions of the Divine Mother. North of the courtyard is Sri Ramakrishna’s room where He lived for a number of years and was the seat of several events in the Gospel. The semi-circular porch of the room faces the Ganges, the Northern porch was the main entrance to the room and there are two verandas on the Eastern side of the room – the NE and SE verandas. North East from Sri Ramakrishna’s room is the Kuthi where Sri Ramakrishna used to live before he moved to this room and had performed most of his sadhanas. North of Sri Ramakrishna’s room is Nahabat where the Holy Mother and Sri Ramakrishna’s mother used to live on first and second floors respectively. Further up north is Panchavati which was a thick jungle where Sri Ramakrishna used to meditate. Nearby is a hut where He had experienced Nirvikalpa Samadhi for the first time under the guidance of Sri Totapuri. As we read the Gospel a number of such spots in Dakshineshwar are described. This reading can help us when we visit Dakshineshwar as it can then provide us with the imagery for our meditations on Sri Ramakrishna’s leela.