Thursday 25 April 2024

Worship of the Living God

When swamiji returned from americato India in January 1897, he gave five lectures in Madras. In his last lecture on The Future Of India, he summoned the people of India in these stirring words:

For the next fifty years this alone shall be our keynote, this, our great Mother India. Let all other vain Gods disappear for the time from our minds. This is the only God that is awake, our own race—'everywhere his hands, everywhere his feet, everywhere his ears, he covers everything.' All other gods are sleeping, what vain gods shall we go after and yet cannot worship the god that we see all around us ... the Virat? Worship it. Worship is the exact equivalent of the Sanskrit word, and no other English word will do... These we have to worship...'

He used the word worship here and not the word service. When service is combined with devotion and reverence, it becomes worship. Devotees go to a temple and cut grass around the temple. That they call worship. Why? There is service combined with devotion and reverence. So, Swami Vivekananda exhorted our people that when they deal with other human beings, they should combine service with reverence. That becomes worship. Reverence? Why? Because divinity is present there. There is that divine spark in every individual.

These teachings had been there in our books. Beautiful, clear enunciations are there and our people have been hearing them all these centuries. All over the country Bhagavata saptahas are conducted often. Our people have heard these teachings for seven days again and again and yet they have never understood their importance nor implemented them.

There is this subject of service as worship in the third skandha, chapter 29, of the Srimad Bhagavatam where the sage Kapila, God's incarnation, is giving spiritual advice to his mother Devahuti. I am quoting three verses from that beautiful exposition: (3.29.21)

अहं सर्वेषु भूतेषु भूतात्माऽवस्थित: सदा ।
तमविज्ञाय मां मर्त्यः कुरुतेऽर्चाविडम्बनम् ॥

'I exist in all beings as the Self; but people insult Me there and elaborately worship Me only in an image in the temple.'

The next verse (3.29.24) says:

अहमुच्चावचैर्देव्यैः क्रिययोत्पन्नयानघे ।
नैव तुष्येऽर्चितोऽर्चायां भूतग्रामावमानिनः ॥

I don't accept the worship of those who insult me in every form of living beings and yet worship me in the temple in an image with costly rituals—Naiva tushye—I am not at all pleased. And finally comes a very positive statement (3.29.27):

अथ मां सर्वभूतेषु भूतात्मानं कृतालयम् ।
अर्हयेद्दानमानाभ्यां मैत्र्याभिन्नेन चक्षुषा ॥

'Therefore, worship Me in all beings in whom I exist as their Self and have built a temple fo myself in them, by dàna, removing their felt wants, and màna, by showing due respect to the recipient, and in an attitude of friendliness and non-separateness.'

How to worship god in all beings? How to worship God in man? If to a man going on the street, you say, 'Stop, I shall do your arati,' you will become a nuisance to him. So, the correct way to worship God in human beings is expressed in two words: Danamanabhyam—through dana and mana. If he is sick, give him medical treatment. If he is poor, get for him food to eat or a job. And while doing so, respect him, mana. Don't look down upon him, as if you are superior.

Then come the two more important words: maitrya—with a friendly attitude. You go to a village. People suspect you. They have been exploited all the time. You are another such, they think. Make them realise that you are their friend. And, lastly, the important Vedantic teaching comes: abhinnena chakshusha—with an attitude of non-separateness. We are one; you and I are not separate. The same Atman is present in you and in me. What wonderful words! These words convey to us the practical application of Vedanta.
- SWAMI RANGANATHANANDA (Swami Ranganathananda is the President of the Ramakrishna Mission. This extract has been taken from the concluding talk delivered at the Devotees' Convention at the Belur Math on 8 February 1998)
(courtesy : Vedant Kesari 1998 Dec.)
कथा : विवेकानन्द केन्द्र { Katha : Vivekananda Kendra }
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मुक्तसंग्ङोऽनहंवादी धृत्युत्साहसमन्वित:।
सिद्ध‌‌यसिद्धयोर्निर्विकार: कर्ता सात्त्विक उच्यते ॥१८.२६॥

Freed from attachment, non-egoistic, endowed with courage and enthusiasm and unperturbed by success or failure, the worker is known as a pure (Sattvika) one. Four outstanding and essential qualities of a worker. - Bhagwad Gita : XVIII-26

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