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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hues of the city of Joy (Part-2)

“Dear Brothers and Sisters……….” Vivekananda’s salutation to his audience in US speaks volumes about his concept of ‘One World’. The foundation of the modern concept of communication as “Global Village” was conceived then and there.

In the colour of mud, the real colour of India; stands a magnificent structure wrapped in a peaceful atmosphere of prayers. Monks are seen all over the place; many in saffron, few in white! They were ‘Brahmacharis’, white had to observe mental and physical Brahmacharya for 12 long years to turn to saffron!

A journey down the lane was shared by a saffron monk. 1987 was when he ran and came to the math. His parents didn’t want him to join the mission and came to take him back. He went back, paid obeisance to all and joined the math on Buddha purnima!

Me: “Don’t you have any duty towards your parents?”

He: “I do and I realize that! I call up my Mom and listen to her woes. In the end, she wraps up and says you are following a great path, continue don’t worry about us”.

Me: “Why not marry, build a home and lead a life through the path of peace; that achieves salvation too? Then, why Brahmacharya?”

He: “Yes it does! Many saints have also thought like that. Brining your senses in your control, but it isn’t easy always like that. We have to conserve energy to unify it in one direction, my direction is salvation. That’s the reason for Brahmacharya.”

Me: “Do you think studying the Vedas would help more or doing service to Humanity would?”

He: “Well when we invite others for food, we need to serve all different dishes in different pots! Only one dish would not suffice. Similarly, in this world, only working in one sphere let it be studying sculptures, praying to God or service of humanity is not enough. Each pot has to be filled as per one’s own capabilities and passion. All work towards the same destination, but on different paths.”

With this view, Ramakrishna Mission was established by Swami Vivekananda on 1 May, 1897 with head quarters in Belur Math, Howrah (Wow, visited the best!) to take the work and thoughts of his guru forward. It runs many projects on livelihood promotion, health, schools apart from study of Vedas.

“No one can be truly free until all of us are. Even desire for personal salvation has to be given up-only tireless work for salvation of others is the true mark of an enlightened person” was the powerful speech of the orange monk, Swami Vivekananda. From the time of Raja Ram Mohan Roy to Rabindra Nath Tagore, all led to a powerful change-Bengal Renaissance. It was a unique blend of religious and social reform in Bengal; science and revolution bringing change all at the same time. Jagdish Chandra Bose came up with plant science; and was known as father of radio-waves whereas Subash Chandra Bose brought everyone back to life with his Azad Hind Fauj. Such a varied range of changes in the society literally made Bengal as a learning center!


On the entrance of the building sits a peacock encircled by a snake; with majestic elephants on both sides. It spoke to me of harmony between enemies as the most powerful of assets (Elephant being the symbol of power). It has the architectural features of Mosque, Hindu temple, Buddhist cave and a Christian church; all religions at one place. The main temple stands high with strong marble pillars on both sides of the hall. Hanging lamps glowing between two pillars give an unearthly aura. There were three chandeliers in the hall-simple yet elegant! The shadow of chandeliers is seen on the roof and the shadow is much longer! Once we lit up something small, shadow would always grow larger; things would magnify slowly! Only that first fire has to be lit……..

Music vibrates in the hall as the aarti begins; saffrons and whites sing together. Oil lamps lit the plate to do aarti of the statue of Ramakrishna Paramhans (I didn’t know he was even worshipped like this!) and tabla, sarangi, chimti and violin. I didn’t know what they sang; not the language nor the words! But something in me arose! Somehow the concept of aarti of a statue is what I can’t still digest! How many Gods can we keep on making out of mortals! My God is within; speaks to me on wrong and right. So, let me just go back and listen intently.           

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