Category Archives: Sarva Dharma Sambhav

PHOTOS: Ramakrishna Mission Universal Temple Golden Jubilee

By: Keyur Seta

The Universal Temple at the Mumbai branch of Ramakrishna Mission has always held a special place among its devotees or followers. As per the name, the Universal temple is home to all major religions.

The temple has just completed its Golden Jubilee (50 years). The occasion is been celebrated with enthusiasm as well as simplicity from January 24 to 26, 2016.

Have a look at the pictures from the event:-

Ramakrishna-Mission Mumbai

Ramakrishna Mission Mumbai

IMG_20160125_204130039_HDR

Ramakrishna-Mission-Mumbai

Ramakrishna Mission-Khar

Ramakrishna Mission Khar

IMG_20160125_204836408

 

IMG_20160125_204459979

Devotional songs by Pandit Dhruba Ghosh

National Youth Day: 5 inspiring incidents from Swami Vivekananda’s life

Swami Vivekananda’s birthday, which falls on January 12, is celebrated as National Youth Day in India. When Narendra Nath Datta was born on this day in 1863, who would have imagined him to become one of the brightest enlightening lights the world has seen?

Even 153 years after his birth and 114 years after his death, Swami Vivekananda’s messages and teachings continue to inspire people not just in India but world over, especially the youth. Swami Vivekananda’s life is full of amazing incidents. Therefore, these incidents are not mere incidents but an ocean of positive enlightenment.

On the pious occasion of the 153rd Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, let’s have a look at the 5 most enlightening and inspiring incidents from his life.

1) At Mount Abu Swami Vivekananda stayed with a Muslim lawyer who invited him saying, “If you would condescend to live with me, I shall feel myself greatly blessed. But I am a Mussalman. I shall, of course, make separate arrangements for your food.” Swamiji didn’t hear a word of that. When being asked by a visitor, “Well, Swamiji, you are a Hindu monk. How is it that you are living with a Muslim? Your food might, now and then, be touched by him.”

Swamiji, who couldn’t stand any differentiation on the basis of religion and caste, sternly replied, “Sir, what do you mean? I am a Sanyasin. I am above all your social conventions. I can dine even with a Bhangi. I am not afraid of God because He sanctions it. I am not afraid of the scriptures for they allow it. But I am afraid of you people and your society. You know nothing of God and scriptures. I see Brahman everywhere, manifested even through the meanest of creature. For me, there is nothing high or low. Shiva Shiva!”

Swami Vivekananda 2

2) Once Swamiji was given a rousing reception at a railway station in America as he got down from the train. A Negro porter went forward to shake hands with him saying: “Congratualations! I am extremely delighted that a man of my race has attained such great honor! The entire Negro community in this country feels proud of you!’ Swamiji eagerly shook hands with the porter and said warmly, “Thank you, brother!” He refused to deny he was a Negro.

When asked why he didn’t reveal that he wasn’t a Negro, he angrily replied, “What? Should I rise at the expense of other? I was not born for that!”

Swami Vivekananda Statue

3) Once, Swamiji was having a lengthy trek in the Himalayas. He found an old man extremely exhausted and standing despairingly at the foot of an upward incline. The old man said to Swamiji in frustration, “Oh, sir I don’t know how I am going to cross it; I cannot walk any longer; my chest will halt.”

Swamiji said, “Look down at your feet. The road which is under your feet is the road that you have crossed over and is the same road that you see beforehand you; it will quickly be under your feet.” These words inspired the old man to continue his onward trek.

Swami Vivekananda - Youth_2

4) When Swamiji was traveling across India, he came across a cobbler, who was looked down upon due to his profession. Therefore, the cobbler too felt the same about his profession. Swamiji tried igniting self-respect in him saying, “Your profession is very noble. It is only because of you that people are able to roam around without feeling the heat of the earth.” These words had a magical impact on the cobbler and he instantly developed self-respect for his work. No work is lowly!

Swami Vivekananda Message

5) During his voyage across India, Swamiji once halted at a railway station in Rajasthan, where he used to preach his message to eager listeners. However, three days passed by and nobody offered him any food. A cobbler noticed this and expressed his desire to offer him food. But he was scared since he belonged to a lower caste. However, Swamiji, who was against the notion of caste, happily accepted food from him.

Some people, having noticed this, condemned Swamiji for accepting food cooked by a cobbler. To this, Swamiji angrily replied, “You people claim to be gentleman and boast of your high caste; what is more shameful that you condemn this man for being from a low caste. Can you overlook the humanity he has just shown and despite him without feeling ashamed?”

Vivekananda- Parliament of religons

 

When Ramakrishna monks recited Bible on Christmas eve…

By: Keyur Seta

Christmas Eve is an important occasion at all Ramakrishna Mission centers across the world. It was on December 24 in the year 1886 when Swami Vivekananda, then known as Narendra Nath Datta, and his brother disciples acquired monasticism (Brahmacharya).

Ramakrishna-Mission-ChristmasThey later established the the first Ramakrishna Mission center at Belur in Kolkata, named after their Guru Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. The place is known as the Belur Math. In other words, Swami Vivekananda’s mission towards inspiring and serving humanity began on Christmas Eve.

Therefore, every Christmas Eve is celebrated in a unique way at every Ramakrishna Mission centers. Catholic Priests are specially invited for the occasion.

The scenes were the same this year too at the Mumbai math. As per the scheduled rituals, the event started off with Jesus Aarti. This was followed by the recitation of The Holy Bible by Swami Mukteshanandaji. After a speech by Swami Sarvalokanandaji, Father Philip D’Souza gave a discourse on Christmas and the need for harmony.

Lastly, Swami Kamalakantandaji and party sang Christmas Carols and the closing song.

Merry Christmas to one and all :)

christmas-ramakrishna

Jesus Aarti during last year’s celebrations

 

7 differences between Being Religious & Being Spiritual

By: Keyur Seta

I have a strong feeling that in olden or ancient times, being religious simply meant being a good person and doing good deeds. Swami Vivekananda also once said, “To be good and to do good, that is the whole of religion.” But over the decades or centuries, the meaning of leading a religious life has undergone a drastic change.

Today, the criteria for being religious is to carry out some ritual or the other, holding on to one particular faith, and having certain beliefs. In other words, they constantly need to do something or the other in the name of religion and worship only one or few particular Gods to call themselves religious.

Spiritual-images

Picture: Spiritlifectr.org

But at the same time, there are people, especially in today’s modern era, who surely believe in the existence of God. However, they prefer to be called spiritual but not religious.

So, what exactly is the meaning of being Religious and Spiritual and what is the difference between the two? I have tried explaining it by jotting down the characteristics of people from both categories. Please bear in mind that these characteristics are based on people’s beliefs and behavior in today’s era. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the original or ancient meaning of being Religious or Spiritual.

 

Characteristics of Religious people

 

Characteristics of Spiritual people

 

They label themselves with the names of any one religion. For example, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Jew, etc.

 

They have no labels stuck on them belonging to any particular religion.
They look at other people too through these labels, although they need no necessarily consider themselves superior to people from ‘other’ religions. They look at fellow human beings as fellow human beings, instead of their ‘religious’ identities. It can also be said that their religion is Humanity.

 

Some of them believe in the sub-sects within their religion like caste. As they don’t believe in religion, believing in things like caste is out of question.

 

They strictly abide by the ideologies and theories mentioned in the religious book/s of their own religion. They believe in the existence of one Universal God. They might believe in a book belonging to some religion, but they aren’t rigid about it being the only universal truth.

 

Carrying out various rituals and reciting certain verses are their important methods of worshiping or pleasing ‘their’ God/s. Although some of them might carry out certain prayers or rituals related to one particular religion, they don’t consider them to be related to that religion. They are open to believing ceremonies other faiths too.

 

They believe in fasting in the name of ‘their’ God. Most of them don’t believe in rituals like fasting. Even if they do, it will be aimed at self-control or for health reasons, rather than pleasing any God in order to get some returns.
They visit places of worship regularly. It is not necessary for them to visit places of worship. For them, God is everywhere and helping fellow human beings is equal to worshiping God. They also consider Nature as God.

 

Book Review: The Rozabal Line


Rating:
* * * ½

Review By: Keyur Seta

Even before the halfway stage in The Rozabal Line, you realize that Ashwin Sanghi’s knowledge about various religions, conspiracy theories related to some religions and other global issues is simply outstanding. This coupled with his amazing writing and storytelling skills make The Rozabal Line a roller-coaster theological saga, despite some glaring issues.

The story takes place across continents and time zones. In 2006, Father Vincent Sinclair, an American Priest, starts seeing weird visions after a tragic incident. His aunt Martha helps him decode them through her knowledge of Indian spiritualism and mysticism. Swakilki, a young and beautiful Japanese woman, has been serially killing people across the world. She is following the orders of Alberto Cardinal Valerio, head of Crux Decussata Permuta in Vatican City.

Picture: Flipkart

Picture: Flipkart

The Lashkar-e-Talatashar, an arm of Lashkar-e-Taiba, has vowed to create havoc in the world. Ghalib, their leader, and his 12 subordinates have planned something dangerously sinister in the year 2012. Their fate has striking resemblance with Jesus Christ and his 12 Apostles. How these unrelated characters cross paths forms the rest of the story. The book also explores the theory of Jesus’ connection with India.

Like all good thrillers, The Rozabal Line keeps you hooked from the very first page. As the story moves back and forth, from the period of B.C to 2012, it not only increases your excitement but it also gets you in awe of Sanghi’s vision, imagination and knowledge. To narrate your tale in 100 different time zones and various places is a mammoth task for anyone. Plus, Sanghi’s smart mixture of rich and simple language further helps the cause.

Reincarnation is a major ingredient in the story. But it should be noted how the author has presented that aspect in a practical and mature manner. In fact, after going through the reincarnation process mentioned here, you might laugh at how Bollywood has presented this subject.

But The Rozabal Line is far from being truly superlative. Although the climax provides a spiritually enlightening feeling, you realize that various subplots, characters and incidents were unnecessary. Even the basic aim of the tale appears unclear. There is an overdose of information, which is confusing and difficult to keep track, especially since the focus keeps moving through these many time zones. It makes us feel as if the author wanted to flaunt his terrific knowledge.

Having said this, there are enough reasons to grab The Rozabal Line if you are a lover of thriller novels.

Author: Ashwin Sanghi

Publishers: Westland Ltd.

Pages: 346

Genre: Theological Thriller

Original Price: Rs. 295 (Reduced rates on Flipkart & Amazon.)

Why Krishna devotees must be simple & humble?

By: Keyur Seta

Lord Krishna is one of the most worshipped Gods in the world. His followers or devotees broadly associate him with values like, righteousness, wisdom, valor, innocent pranks, fearlessness, adherence to truth, etc.

But his simple way of life is hardly mentioned among his greatness. This comes as a huge surprise because his simplicity and humility were very much on display throughout his long life.

Here are some points indicating that Krishna was the most simplest of beings:

Krishna & Sudama (Picture: Hariharji.blogspot.com)

Krishna & Sudama (Picture: Hariharji.blogspot.com)

— As a child, Krishna possessed miraculous powers through which he could easily kill demons or evil-doers. But not even once did he consider himself superior to others. He never had the attitude of ‘I am above the rest’ and considered people from all walks of life as his own. This is clearly seen from how he used to play or mingle with just any common citizen.

— The name ‘Krishna’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Krishi’. It means ‘farmer’. Staying true to his name, Krishna happily carried out farming, despite the fact that he was a special being.

— The story of Krishna and his friend Sudama also highlights his down-to-earth nature. Krishna greeted and welcomed his friend Sudama in the same manner as he used to do during their childhood despite achieving such Godly prominence.

— When a war-like situation was developing between Pandavas and Kauravas, Krishna personally went to meet Duryodhana to convince him against fighting a war. He had no qualms in playing the role of a messenger.

— In the great war of Mahabharata at Kurukshetra, Krishna decided to become the charioteer to Arjuna. In fact, he himself volunteered for it. He also followed Arjuna’s directions like an obedient charioteer when the latter asked him to take the chariot in between two warring camps.

Picture: vishalgosai.blogspot.in/

Picture: vishalgosai.blogspot.in/

— Among its various messages, the Bhagavad Gita, which was delivered by Krishna, preaches us to be non-materialistic or non-possessive. This is the biggest indication that Krishna not only himself believed in being a Common Man, but also wanted us to be one.

Through these points, Krishna teaches us that one should stay humble even if he happens to be the God of the universe. So, if the God himself didn’t practice high-handedness, who are we to think high about ourselves?

But a lot of his devotees I come across practice just the opposite. They keep chanting Hare Krishna Sankirtan or the holy name of Krishna, but are forever concerned about material possessions. Not just that, they even love to flaunt their ‘Social Status’ by spending abnormally. Naturally, these class-conscious people hate mingling with people from the so-called lowly professions.

How can you consider yourself a follower of Krishna if you don’t follow his way of life? Just worshiping Krishna and chanting his name isn’t enough to be his ardent devotee. Such bhakti means next to nothing if you don’t follow his ideologies.