Friday, 24 November 2017

METAMORPHOSIS - 1

One of the most entrancing of changes, carefully fortified by nature, is the creation of a butterfly. An ugly stout caterpillar, builds a cocoon and transforms it's life energies, little by little, in an unimaginable way, into one of the most beautiful creatures on our planet. As the myriad coloured, brightly winged, delicate butterfly takes wings and soars towards the blue sky, one cannot but wonder whence this transformation?

All the lessons that God intended to teach us are enshrouded in the nature around us. If we are willing to learn,there are lessons in leaves and messages in the dew that glistens on them. Learning is Metamorphosis. A very interesting part of learning is questioning oneself. We, humans, have a unique way of deluding ourselves with a permanent sense of identity; until we question the 'I' in all its bareness. When somebody truly does, he is in for a real shocker.


Human identity is a defining feature of the human experience. No other creature has a sense of 'I' or self as strong as we do. Man values his  relationships, his affections and possessions because of their connections  to his 'I'. But how true is the 'I'? A cursory look at the mind, which radiates the sense of being, shows something of the nature of a movie show. The movie is part documentary (based on memory), part drama (based on desire), with a sprinkling of fantasy, comedy and fiction, all collaged together by the ego which poses as the leading actor. And so we sport many identities and remain absorbed in our images and ego-ties. Questioning the ego, peering into its nature, snaps the absorption in the images, for there cannot be a movie without a leading character, and this disrupts the show. The mind comes out of its absorption and becomes conscious of itself. Control becomes possible. Atmavichar or self-analysis thus serves as a key to genuine transformation.

In human beings, the self-awareness has come full circle and hence holds the potential to manifest itself fully. That is why the sense of I, the fringe of our true Being, is so strong. With a little analysis we can see that the sense of 'I' has two levels. One is the thinkable portion. It is usually the epithets, appellations and labels we have collected over time. It forms the crust of our personality. More fundamental to this is the feel of existence, without thought.

Now, here we have an interesting find. We do remain over, even when we are not thinking. When scrutinized this is a state of simple, intense self-awareness. It is completely independent of our mental cogitation. It is also independent of effort. No process of knowledge is involved in it. In fact it is more 'felt' when the mind is absolutely non-functional, as for instance, during periods of tranquility, in the still hours of dawn and dusk. It steals upon us unawares. The refreshing touch of no-thought and the underlying, flowing, unbroken awareness mesmerizes us occasionally. This experience is fairly common in young people. Meditation is an attempt to consciously and categorically usher in this state and then intensify it. It is plumbing into one's own depths; bringing one's whole being into full awareness. It can be achieved by training attention, which is nothing but a spark of consciousness, arising at will and illumining the objects it falls upon. This makes meditation a cutting-edge spiritual technology to plumb into the depths of our personality structure. Transformation is always transformation of 'I.' Neither change of place, nor method, nor religion actually transforms unless our sense of 'I' has changed.

In 1898 Nivedita accompanied Vivekananda to Almora. She had left a comfortable life and an illustrious career, in other words snapped the ties of 'I,' to realize the truths that her Master spoke of. In his wonderful personality she saw a selflessness and purity that were astounding.

Initially she did not know what to make of it. Once shorn of the little self, the truth behind the 'I' resurrects itself. When one touches the magnificent reality of one's true Being, the murky ego which is always unsure of itself, surrenders and submits or rather acknowledges its non-existence. This is the basis of all true 'selflessness' for the Self reigns over the ego. And hence a spiritual person radiates a dignity that redefines the conventional attitude of respect. Nivedita saw this clearly in the firm character of her great Guru Vivekananda. She saw how indeed a true sannyasin stands at the head of the Vedas. Her worship of the person now transmuted into selfless dedication to his cause.

To Be Continue

-- Pravrajika Divyanandaprana (This article came out in Samvit (September 2016))


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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

निवेदिता - एक समर्पित जीवन - 3

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

दृढ़ संकल्प

 स्वतंत्रता आंदोलन के समय 'वन्देमातरम' गीत स्वतंत्रता सेनानियों को अत्यंत प्रिय था और वह प्रखर राष्ट्रवादी भगिनी निवेदिता के बालिका विद्यालय की नित्य प्रार्थना का अंग बन गया था।

  इसकी लोकप्रियता को देख कर अंग्रेज सरकार ने इस पर प्रतिबंध लगा दिया परंतु भगिनी ने अपने विद्यालय मैं इसे कभी बंद नहीं किया।

देव भूमि भारत

  भगिनी निवेदिता अत्यंत श्रद्धा और विश्वास के साथ बद्रीनाथ-केदारनाथ की तीर्थ यात्रा करने निकली थी।
 
  केदारनाथ के दर्शन के पश्चात वह बद्रीनाथ की ओर रवाना हुई। सारी यात्रा पैदल ही करनी थी। मार्ग दुर्गम था, मार्ग में उन्हें दर्शन करके लौटती हुई दो वृद्ध महिलाएं मिली। कमर झुकी थी, परंतु श्रद्धा उन्हें धकेले जा रही थी।

 अचानक उनमें से एक का पैर फिसल गया। सामने हजारों फीट गहरी खाई थी। बचना असंभव था। भगिनी के मुख से चीक निकल गयी।

  उन्होंने जब दूसरी महिला को जाकर अपनी संवेदना व्यक्त करते हुए सांत्वना प्रदान की तो संतोष कि  सांस लेते हुए बुढ़िया बोल उठी - '.... क्या करें! यह सब भगवान की माया है। उनके दर्शन मिल गए। ....  और चाहिए भी क्या? भगवान के पास पहुंच गई है वह .....।' स्तंभित निवेदिता को लगा की वह वृद्धा नहीं, उसके मुख से भारत की आत्मा बोल रही थी, एक अनपढ़ ग्रामीण वृद्धा के इस  अध्यात्म भाव में स्वामी जी के शब्द उनके कानों में गूंज उठे - '.... भारत! वह देव दुर्लभ भूमि है। देवतागण भी इसमें जन्म लेने के लिए तरसते हैं। इसका अज्ञानी अनपढ़ किसान भी  अध्यात्मवाद की खान है ....।' आत्मविभोर निवेदिता के मुख से निकल पड़ा .... 'देवाधिदेव तुम्हारी जय हो।'

{ निवेदिता एक समर्पित जीवन : पृष्ठ क्रमांक 27 }

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Sister Nivedita: The Dedicated - Who gave her all to India - 7

यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

Margaret becomes Nivedita - 1

Swami Vivekananda wanted to introduce Margaret Noble to the people of Calcutta and see their response. Therefore, a public meeting was organised on 11 March. People came with lot of curiosity and wonder. Swami Vivekananda first introduced her and then she gave a speech. Nivedita answered in her speech the unasked questions in the minds of the people as to 'Who is this woman? What does she know about us? Is she still another missionary?'

Margaret spoke, 'You have the ingenuity of 6000 years of conservatism. But yours is a conservation of the people who have, through that long period, been able to preserve the greatest spiritual treasures of the world; and it is for this reason that I have come to India, to serve her with one burning passion for service. ...One day Europe, weighed down by the burden of its riches, might turn toward India envying its poverty and discovering the quality of its incorruptible spiritual treasure. …I must learn everything like a child; my education is beginning. Help me! When the road is difficult, I shall remember the welcome in your kindly faces….' When the speech was over the people warmly responded her. Swami Vivekananda was also pleased with her speech as he could see that she had come to India really to serve and not to patronize it.


After getting settled down, Swami Vivekananda wanted Margaret to meet Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, the spiritual consort of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa the Guru of Swami Vivekananda. He knew that Margaret would receive something of a shock when she saw the intimate household of an orthodox Hindu widow. He wanted his disciple to feel the sparkling joy that radiated from Sarada Devi. Along with the other two American women, Margaret went to meet Sri Ma on 17th March. Somewhere it was in her mind that, 'if Sri Sarada Devi does not approve of me then it would be difficult to be accepted in India'. It was a very new world for her. The men including Swami Vivekananda and other monks had no entry in the inner parts of Sri Ma's household.

To be Continue