Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Lord Buddha is my Ishta — my God.

  ॐ वीरेश्वराय विद्महे विवेकानन्दाय धीमहि । तन्नो वीर: प्रचोदयात् ।

XXIII (Translated from Bengali) Salutation to Bhagavan Ramakrishna! GHAZIPUR, February, 1890.
BELOVED AKHANDANANDA,

Very glad to receive your letter. What you have written about Tibet is very promising, and I shall try to go there once. In Sanskrit Tibet is called the Uttarakuruvarsha, and is not a land of Mlechchhas. Being the highest tableland in the world, it is extremely cold, but by degrees one may become accustomed to it. ... I am sorry to learn that you will not be able to come, for I had a great longing to see you. It seems that I love you more than all others. However, I shall try to get rid of this Maya too.

The Vedic doctrine of Karma is the same as in Judaism and all other religions, that is to say, the purification of the mind through sacrifices and such other external means — and Buddha was the first man who stood against it. But the inner essence of the ideas remained as of old — look at that doctrine of mental exercises which he preached, and that mandate of his to believe in the Suttas instead of the Vedas. ...  Buddha and Kapila are always saying the world is full of grief and nothing but that — flee from it — ay, for your life, do! Is happiness altogether absent here? ... Shankara says: This world is and is not — manifold yet one; I shall unravel its mystery — I shall know whether grief be there, or anything else; I do not flee from it as from a bugbear. I will know all about it as to the infinite pain that attends its search, well, I am embracing it in its fullest measure. Am I a beast that you frighten me with happiness and misery, decay and death, which are but the outcome of the senses? I will know about it — will give up my life for it. There is nothing to know about in this world — therefore, if there be anything beyond this relative existence — what the Lord Buddha has designated as Prajnâpâra — the transcendental — if such there be, I want that alone. Whether happiness attends it or grief, I do not care. What a lofty idea! How grand! The religion of Buddha has reared itself on the Upanishads, and upon that also the philosophy of Shankara. ...

The Lord Buddha is my Ishta — my God. He preached no theory about Godhead — he was himself God, I fully believe it. But no one has the power to put a limit to God's infinite glory. No, not even God Himself has the power to make Himself limited. The translation of the Gandâra-Sutta that you have made from the Suttanipâta, is excellent. In that book there is another Sutta — the Dhaniya-Sutta — which has got a similar idea. There are many passages in the Dhammapada too, with similar ideas. But that is at the last stage when one has got perfectly satisfied with knowledge and realisation, is the same under all circumstances and has gained mastery over his senses — """ (Gita, VI. 8.). He who has not the least regard for his body as something to be taken care of it is he who may roam about at pleasure like the mad elephant caring for naught. Whereas a puny creature like myself should practice devotion, sitting at one spot, till he attains realization; and then only should he behave like that; but it is a far-off question — very far indeed.

(Vivekachudmani, 538-40)

— To a knower of Brahman food comes of itself, without effort — he drinks wherever he gets it. He roams at pleasure everywhere — he is fearless, sleeps sometimes in the forest, sometimes in a crematorium and, treads the Path which the Vedas have taken but whose end they have not seen. His body is like the sky; and he is guided, like a child, by others' wishes; he is sometimes naked, sometimes in gorgeous clothes, and at times has only Jnana as his clothing; he behaves sometimes like a child, sometimes like a madman, and at other times again like a ghoul, indifferent to cleanliness.

I pray to the holy feet of our Guru that you may have that state, and you may wander like the rhinoceros.

Yours etc.,
VIVEKANANDA.

(CWSV : VOL : 6 : Epistles - Second Series)