Saturday, April 10, 2010

Happiness and Peace in Everyday Life: Complete Book

I recently visited UK and some countries of Europe. I had an invitation in April, 2003 by Coventry University in UK for giving a presentation on the topic of disaster management. This was based on the experience of Ramakrishna Mission, having completed a 20 crore project in Bhuj after the earthquake on 26th January, 2001. We had constructed 81 school buildings and 6 colonies there. The Gujarati community of Coventry wanted me to give a speech to them at the
Sri Krishna temple there. I offered “The teachings of Sri Krishna and its relevance today” or “Bhagavad Gita” as the topic, but they wanted me to speak on “Happiness and Peace”. Then at Leicester, Buckinghamshire, the Gujarati community wanted me to speak on “Happiness and Peace”. At Asia Foundation, London also, they wanted me to speak on the same topic. Subsequently, I visited the centres of R.K. Mission in Switzerland, France and Holland and also one which was to come up in Germany. At the spiritual retreat in Germany also, I was requested to speak on “Stress Management”. In all these countries, which have beautiful landscapes with mountains, lakes, beaches and greenery all around with excellent roads, trains and air connections, outwardly people look very happy. But when you start talking to them, you find that they do not have peace of mind. Even at the age of 40 years, they do not want to get married as the cost of divorce is more than the cost of marriage. Since divorces take place within 2 to 3 years of marriage, they are afraid to burn their fingers by getting married. In Germany, I was talking to a Gujarati lady who was a widow. She said that there were 4 members in her house – she, her son, a German lady and their child, but the son and the German lady were not married to each other. Everywhere people are having problems with no peace of mind. Earlier, we monks used to be invited to speak on Vedanta, Indian ethos etc, but now everywhere we are being requested to speak on “Stress Management”. Elderly people everywhere are under tension because they may be asked by their children to go to old age home any time. The middle aged men are stressed as they are apprehensive about loss of their jobs and offer of VRS ( Voluntary Retirement Scheme ). Their wives are under stress because of the high cost of
living, managing the home within the limited budget, managing the husband, children and the in-laws. Parents of children who are in Class XII are under further tension to such an extent that in Rajkot, we had to organise a retreat on how to overcome the stress of Class XII science examination. I remember meeting a very small girl once who told me that she was under tension because she stood first class first in Junior KG and now in Senior KG her mother wanted her to repeat the same accomplishment. Thus tension is everywhere at all levels. With the advancements in technology, physical distances have been reduced due to fast planes and air connections. Communication is instantaneous now because of e-mail, mobile phone, STD and ISD connectivity, all through satellite technology. The husband and wife sitting side by side on the sofa set in their drawing room can chat with their children thousands of kms away in USA, Canada or Australia on phone with clear voices and no disturbance. But between the same husband and wife sitting side by side, there has been no proper communication for the last two months. That is the paradox of today. There is no proper communication or relationship between husband/wife, parents/children, brother/sister and with in-laws and relatives. There are many books dealing with these problems such as Final Exit, Complete manual on how to commit suicide, Suicide: A user’s manual etc, all on how to commit suicide and have become best sellers. Because of mental disorders and high rates of suicides, psychiatrists are in great demand in the western countries and Japan. Japan overtook USA in economic development some years ago. But a study showed that 42% of Japanese executives over 44 years suffer from mental disorders. The executive with his hard work, increases productivity of his company, but when he returns home after two months, finds his wife has eloped with some one and the children
have become drug addicts and he becomes a psychic case. “To have or to be”, a book by Erich Fromm, says man has himself become a commodity because of mass consumerism. The popular equation states that “H” is proportional to “M”, where “H” is happiness and “M” is money. The three countries with the highest per capita income are USA, Japan and Sweden. The same three countries have the highest rates of suicides and psychological problems, making the equation
now as “H” is inversely proportional to “M”. In a happiness survey carried out by London School of Economics and World Economic Forum a few years ago, it was discovered that the happiest country in the world is Bangladesh, having very low per capita income, India was 5th, USA was 45th and Russia was 65th. The so called developed countries are not happy and the developing countries are happy. Some time back, Oxford Dictionary included a new word “Affluenza”, which is the result of acquiring more and more goods for comfort, creating more and more tension and lack of peace of mind. In USA, they formed “Affluenza Resistance Society” to protect their children from falling prey to this syndrome. These parents take their children to villages to show the living conditions of the poor to create awareness amongst their children and cut down on their pocket expenses and wasteful spending. In India too, the dowry custom has resulted in
the prospective bridegrooms getting literally auctioned. Money is no doubt important for happiness and to enjoy life, but money cannot buy happiness. The purpose of earning money is to enjoy the comforts that money can buy. But presently money enjoys us in many instances by which we have become slaves of money. In this context, I am reminded of the story of a fisherman who was sleeping in his boat at noon. A consultant came around, woke up the man and
asked him why he was sleeping when he should be fishing. The man said that as he got a good catch in the morning, his quota for the day was over. The consultant said that he should go for fishing again, catch more fish, make more money to buy a bigger boat and then a trawler to catch more and more fish to make more and more money and then he would advise him to invest that money in very good schemes. The fisherman then asked him what he was supposed to do after earning all that big money. To this the consultant said that he could then rest and relax. The fisherman then retorted that he was already sleeping and relaxing and it was the consultant who had disturbed his sleep. The moral of the story is obvious – the aim of life is to have happiness and peace. Vedanta says that instead of searching for peace outside, you should look for infinite joy and peace which is already within you. Sant Kabir also said that fools search for happiness and peace outside, instead of searching within. You should look for consciousness behind the consciousness, that is, superconsciousness. We are like fish out of water. The very nature of fish is to remain in water and it is restless outside water. Similarly, our very nature is “Satchitananda” --infinite truth or knowledge, infinite consciousness or existence and infinite bliss or enlightenment. If we have not realised that, we are restless like the fish out of water. Eternal or supreme reality is present within each one of us, irrespective of caste, creed, colour, sex or religion. Every one wants unlimited or infinite happiness and peace and that supreme reality is within each one of us. The external sense objects bring only temporary happiness which does not last long. For infinite and everlasting happiness, joy, peace and bliss, we have to search
within. Most of us are like the Himalayan musk deer which kept searching for the source of the musk fragrance it was getting and it kept running round and round getting dog tired and dying, without realizing that the musk smell originated from its own navel. In the same way, we are unaware of the hidden happiness within us. Sri Ramakrishna said that your human birth is in vain if you do not realize God. God, divinity, reality, happiness, peace, joy or bliss resides in everybody’s heart and we have to manifest the same. Some of the devotees of Sri Ramakrishna asked him as to how they could believe this statement. To this, he gave a simple practical demonstration. He asked the devotees whether they could see him, to which they said –“Yes”. Then he covered himself with a blanket and asked them the same question and they said -- “No”. Then he asked – “Am I not here?”. They said –“Yes”. Then he asked again – “How do you
know?”. Then he went on to explain that just as the blanket was hiding him, the veil or screen of ignorance keeps them unaware of the presence of God or divinity within them. For removing this veil of ignorance, Swami Vivekananda said – “Each soul is potentially divine. The goal of human life is to manifest this divinity within, by controlling nature internally and externally”. For this, one has to follow the four paths of Yoga – Karma, Bhakti, Jnana and Raja. In Karma Yoga, the path is through selfless action and service, in Bhakti Yoga, love and devotion are the path chosen, in Jnana Yoga, reading of scriptures and good books with positive thoughts is the path whereas in Raja Yoga, it is mental mastery through Ashtanga Yoga. The more you practise the four Yogas, the more you will become divine. You can remain in this world and still practise these Yogas with a detached attachment. Sri Ramakrishna very aptly put it by saying that you should live the life of a maid servant who was hired by a rich, fat lady in the city for looking after her son Hari. The maid kept looking after Hari with full sincerity and devotion, giving him bath and feeding him regularly. Though she was attached to the child, she knew that this Hari is not her own, her own Hari lived in her remote village. She was seeing her own son through the rich lady’s son. One day when the maid was fired by the rich lady for breaking a precious crockery
item, the maid simply packed up her belongings and walked away without any bitterness, as she was never attached to the house, the lady or her son. She could easily pick up another job. In “Work and its secret”, Swami Vivekananda says that attachment is the source of all pain, misery and suffering. Therefore, you must have as much power of attachment as that of detachment.
Vivekananda said that unselfishness is the test of religion. Even if a person has not gone to any place of worship, not read any scripture, not practiced any fast or other rituals, but he is so unselfish as to sacrifice even his life for service of others, he is the most religious person. Unselfish prayer such as, “Let all in the world be happy, let all be peaceful”, done regularly, will result in your being happy and peaceful. Just as the law of gravity is supreme in the physical world, the law of Karma is supreme in the spiritual world. As you sow, so you reap. In
“The 7 habits of highly influential people”, Stephen Covey describes the
lighthouse principle. The captain of a ship sees approaching light in the darkness
which is all around and some one says that a ship is approaching them. He then
orders on the wireless set that the approaching ship should move by 20 degrees
to the right. The reply comes on the wireless that the captain should move his
ship by 20 degrees. The angry captain asks –“Who are you?”. The reply comes
– “I am the humble lighthouse operator”. Do good to others, good will come to
you, not now, but later, just as you sow a seed today and the fruit is borne many
years later. Japa, prayer, worship and meditation bring peace of mind. “Brahma
Muhurat”, which is one hour before sunrise, is the most beneficial for practicing
these due to the spiritual ambience at that time. It was reported by “Time”
magazine some time ago that 10 million Americans practice meditation daily, not
for enlightenment, God realization or Nirvana, but for peace of mind. It has been
scientifically proved that meditation brings down blood pressure and is a stress
buster. Dr. Dean Ornish, through his famous book “Reversing Heart Disease”,
talks about “Bypass the bypass surgery” through meditation and other Yogic
practices. Most diseases are psychosomatic in origin and hence the relevance of
Yogic practices and meditation. You must read good books with positive
thoughts and contemplate on them. “The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna” which
gives his teachings and “Thoughts of power” by Swami Vivekananda have a
magical effect on any one and give peace of mind, leading to mental strength
and self realization.
Mahendra Nath Gupta was the headmaster of a school. Due to various family
problems he was a broken man and was contemplating suicide. On the advice of
a friend of his, he reluctantly visited the place nearby where Sri Ramakrishna
was speaking to his devotees. He immediately felt great tranquility of mind, gave
up ideas of suicide and continued to visit the next two days to listen to the
address. This 3 day experience totally transformed him. He had made notes in
his diary of the question-answer sessions of Sri Ramakrishna with his devotees.
The diary was seen by Swami Vivekananda who instantly realised the wealth of
the nuggets contained in them. He and Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi persuaded
him to get the diary published. It appeared as “Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrutha” in
Bengali. It got translated into English as “The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna” and
further into many Indian and foreign languages and millions of copies were sold
inspiring many. In 1933, Mahendra Nath Gupta passed away. As per the
copyright act, 50 years after the death of an author, the copyright restrictions are
removed. So from 1983 onwards, many publishers started bringing out cheaper
and cheaper editions of the book and even all 5 volumes of the book started
coming out as one comprehensive book. In West Bengal, under the Marxist rule
of Jyoti Basu, when this book outsold Karl Marx books, it was said that Bengalis
like to have Jyoti Basu to rule from Writers’ Building in Calcutta, but prefer Sri
Ramakrishna to rule their hearts.
The teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda have inspired
thousands of ordinary people. One such case is that of Anna Hazare, who as an
Army Jawan, had seen all his colleagues getting blown to pieces on the spot
except him when a Pakistani plane strafed their convoy of vehicles. He became
totally depressed and contemplated suicide. He then suddenly remembered that
his sister was to get married shortly. So he decided to postpone his suicide
mission till after the marriage. Then he came across a book by Swami
Vivekananda which stated that life is short and in this short life they alone live
who live for others; the rest are more dead than alive. He made up his mind to
live for others. He took premature retirement from Army and received Rs.
65,000/= as retirement benefits. He went to his village in Maharashtra and
utilised this money to repair the village temple. With the temple as the focal
point, he mobilised public opinion and stopped all liquor outlets in the village,
despite stiff resistance from the vested interests. He educated the villagers, both
young and old, and started many economic projects. In just three years, his
village was declared an ideal village by the Government. The Maharashtra
Government then released a grant of 30 crores for transforming 300 villages. He
was awarded Padma Sri and then Padma Bhushan for his work. A small book by
Swami Vivekananda gave a new direction to Anna Hazare’s life. Keep good
books, thoughts and quotations in front on your working table to inspire you. An
ordinary person in Mumbai collects good thoughts and quotations and publishes
them as a monthly bulletin called “Chintan” and posts them to many people. You
can purchase many small good books with positive thoughts and gift them free
to your friends with a condition that they should buy these books and pass on
further to their friends, like a chain mail or nuclear fission action. Such acts can
transform a society. Swami Vivekananda advised devotees to open their eyes,
look around and serve the needy to get peace of mind. But the service has to be
unselfish to get the benefit of peace of mind.
In late 19th century, John D. Rockefeller was the richest and most famous oil
magnate of USA. He was very restless and was advised by a friend to visit an
Indian monk, Swami Vivekananda, who was staying nearby in 1894. Though
skeptical, one day he went to Vivekananda. He was told to wait as Swamiji was
deeply immersed in his study. The impatient and arrogant Rockefeller forcibly
went inside the study and announced that he was Rockefeller. When questioned
by Swamiji as to what he wanted, he replied that he did not want anything. Then
Swamiji simply asked – “Then why have you come here?”. Swamiji then asked
him to sit down and narrated many incidents of Rockefeller’s life which were of a
very private and personal nature which none other than he knew. Rockefeller
then asked Swamiji as to how he came to know of these incidents. Swamiji said
that he could see through Rockefeller as though he was a glass almirah. He
advised Rockefeller thus – “You are not the owner of all your wealth. You are
only a custodian. If you do not want to be restless and wish to get peace of mind,
utilise this money for serving the poor and needy”. Rockefeller walked away in a
huff. After a few days, he returned to Swamiji and handed over a paper which
stated that a very huge amount was being donated by Rockefeller for public
cause. He then wanted Swamiji to thank him for this generous act to which
Swamiji said –“On the contrary, you must thank me for giving you this advice for
getting peace of mind”. Later on, Rockefeller went on to become a great
philanthropist by establishing Rockefeller Foundation for research in
Engineering, Medicine and higher science subjects, immensely benefiting
mankind all over the world. This is the trusteeship management principle. Later
on, the same was strongly championed by Mahatma Gandhi. The principle is
based on the assumption that the whole world is one and if some body is
suffering, you will also suffer directly or indirectly, as it is a holistic universe, as
proved by the modern quantum mechanics. So, if you want to be happy, make
others happy. Enjoy your wealth and also utilise the wealth to alleviate the
suffering of the poor and you will get peace of mind. Bill Gates, the richest
person in the world with his Microsoft empire, is well known for his cut-throat
practices for building up his wealth. Recently, keeping aside just 10 million
dollars for his family out of his 32 billion wealth, he donated the rest to charity.
Last year, he was the person who had contributed the highest to charity. By
practicing this principle of trusteeship management, he is sure to get peace of
mind. If not 10% of one’s wealth, at least 1% should be given to charity. Some
may not be in a position to give money. They could give 1% of their time or 1%
of physical labor or do any good activity for any good cause and get peace of
mind. Besides, one can practice all the four Yogas, Karma, Bhakti, Jnana and
Raja, which will lead to infinite happiness, infinite joy, infinite peace and infinite
life, which is the very purpose for which we are born into this world.
1. Quarrel in the family. Some times, there is a Mahabharata type of quarrel in
the family.
Here, I would like to narrate the story of an old Prime Minister O’ Oson who lived
in Japan in the 15th century. His family consisted of 200 members who all lived
together with perfect harmony and happiness. Even the pet dogs of the family
would not fight with each other. The Emperor was anxious to know the secret of
this and called the Prime Minister. He requested the Prime Minister to give the
success formula so that he could circulate the same to all his subjects for
maintaining harmony in their families. The old man, with shaking fingers, wrote
on a paper, “Forbear, Forbear, -------100 times” and handed over to the Emperor.
Forbearance or tolerance is of paramount importance to live harmoniously in a
family, community or society. One who can tolerate will survive, one who cannot
tolerate will perish. It has been established that women have 10 times more
forbearance than men. In West, most families are broken. In India, the situation is
not so bad till now. But old age homes have started coming up in India too.
Whenever I am invited to any old age home, I say that it is a good thing that old
age home concept has come up in India so that the elderly are taken care of. But
then I tell them that when you are reserving accommodation in them, instead of
reserving two for your parents, make it four because very soon you both also will
require the same, as your children are watching how you are treating your
parents. When a newly married bride comes to her husband’s family, the motherin-
law bosses over her for the first five years. After that the daughter-in-law takes
her revenge by ill treating her mother-in-law. Recently, I came across a young
college lecturer who felt that the generation gap with his students had developed
in just five years. Forbearance or tolerance can make a lot of difference in closing
or narrowing this gap. As for who will tolerate or sacrifice, one should remember
the fact that old people cannot change their attitude or habits they are used to for
many decades. If the younger generation can make some sacrifices or develop
forbearance towards their elders, they can win the hearts of their parents and
parents-in-law within a short period. During my many years of counseling, the
parents and the children have been approaching me, turn by turn, complaining
against each other. The parents should realize that the children are quite
sensitive and therefore should become friends with them rather than being stern.
They should never scold or advise their children in the presence of the friends of
their children or other outsiders. This should always be done in private. This is
particularly true of mothers of teenage daughters. The parents should be
sensitive and understanding towards their old parents/parents-in-law and also
with their children. The present day children are very intelligent and observant.
So be role models to your children. The children get alienated from their parents
who fight or quarrel in their presence and seek love/attention outside, falling a
prey to bad company and habits. If the parents have to fight, do so when the
children are at school or away from home. The other alternative which I have
been recommending to many is, you earmark one hour, say 4 to 5 PM, once a
week, say every Sunday, as the quarrelling session. During this one hour, all
should freely come out with all their complaints/grievances of all incidents of the
previous week. Points and counter points should be discussed so that there is no
miscommunication/misunderstanding or lack of communication. If everyone gets
a chance to articulate and communicate freely once a week in this manner, it will
be found that most of the time the complaint or grievance is due to
miscommunication or perceived misunderstanding and the same is cleared to
everyone’s relief. The quarrelling session should be followed by ice cream or
snacks or good food to generate a healthy environment, peace and harmony in
the family.
2. Death of a near and dear one. Death is always an irreversible loss and it is
to give any advice or sermon at that time. The following are the various steps to
be taken :-
(a) The grieving person should never be left alone. One or more persons
should invariably be with the person always.
(b) Though it is difficult to convince the grieving person to eat food, it must be
done. When the person is in depression/melancholy, first try at the mental
(Manomaya Kosha) or intellectual (Vijnanamaya Kosha) level by
counselling. If this does not work, try at the anatomical or physical
(Annamaya Kosha) level by feeding any light, easy to digest food. My own
experience of offering “Prasad” to a grieving person has always resulted in
the person becoming calm and getting peace of mind.
(c) Show sympathy or empathies with the person so that his sorrow should
come out with tears. This is a very important step. A grieving person who
does not shed tears and remains silent and brooding, could end up
deranged. I know of a young man who had lost his father recently, lost his
mother as well, refused to cry and is mad now.
(d) After a few days of death, sermons will help, particularly from Bhagavad
Gita, such as -- soul (Atman) forsakes body like old cloth to seek new
body, one who is born is sure to die one day and one who dies is sure to
be born again etc. The life of the body or the age at which one dies is
determined by his Karma. There was a devotee who used to be very
regular in daily visiting a Panditji to listen to his discourse. When he did
not come for a few days and turned up again, he was asked by the
Panditji about his absence. He started weeping and said that his son who
was the only breadwinner had died. In order to calm the devotee, the
Panditji gave the sermon of soul leaving the body to seek new body and
one should not cry over it. A few days later, the Panditji was seen weeping
and when questioned, answered that his cow had died. When he was
reminded of his earlier advice not to cry, the Panditji retorted –“The son
was yours. The cow was mine”. The ancient story of Gautami is relevant
here. She lost her young son and refused to bury him. She wanted him
back alive. Any amount of counseling by others failed. Finally, some one
suggested that she visit Lord Buddha who was then in a nearby place.
After listening to her story, Buddha very calmly said –“Yes, I will bring your
son alive by reciting a Mantra. But the Mantra has to be recited with 10
mustard seeds which you have to get me from a house where none had
died”. Hearing this, she felt very happy and said that she would
straightaway go and get the mustard seeds. She went from house after
house and found everywhere someone or the other had died. After failing
to get a house where none had died, despite her visit to dozens of houses,
she was dejected and went back to Buddha. Then Buddha explained to
her that anyone who is born has to die one day or the other and this reality
has to be accepted by all. The calmed Gautami came to terms with this
reality and went back to bury her dead son. In Mahabharata, when
Yudhishthira was asked by Yaksha –“What is the most wonderful thing in
the world?”, his answer was –“Despite seeing someone or the other dying
all around, everyone in this world thinks that he is not going to die”. There
was a person who spent a lot of time, money and energy to build a
beautiful bungalow, but died of heart attack and could not live in the
bungalow even for a day. After his death, his son sold off the bungalow as
he did not like it. Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi was visited daily by an old
woman from a nearby village selling vegetables. She did not come for a
few days. When she came after one week of absence and was asked by
Mother why she did not come, she burst into tears stating that her young
son had died. Hearing this, the Mother started crying bitterly, attracting the
attention of all nearby. Finding that the Mother would not stop crying, the
old woman started comforting the Mother. The Mother then offered
“Prasad” to her and both calmed down. Empathizing with a grieving
person produces instant relief. In this game of life, like in any other game,
one has to accept the rules of the game – birth and death are inevitable
and all have to accept this reality. Swami Vivekananda said that life and
death, happiness and misery, are the obverse and reverse of the same
coin. Instead of continuously crying or brooding over the death, pray for
the peace of the departed soul and also for the peace and wellbeing of the
living. This and this alone will bring peace of mind and tranquility to the
grieved who has lost his or her near and dear one.
3. Demon of anger. The demon of anger can play havoc with one’s tranquility
and peace of mind. Those who are punctual, egoistic, strong willed and
perfectionist type get angry very soon. In foreign countries, the buses and
trains of the public transport system are punctual to the minute. But in India,
punctuality of any public transportation is a rare phenomenon. You may be
punctual, but others are not. So you have to do time management and adjust
accordingly. The principle – “Everything cannot happen the way I want; I will
strive to be punctual and manage my part as laid down or desirable, but what
is beyond my control, I will accept cheerfully” – should be followed. Having
less or no expectations from others is one of the ways to keep one’s cool.
Another method of keeping anger in check is by compiling a weekly list of
how many times you became angry and for what reasons during the previous
week and then analyzing the same for controlling anger. Yet another method
of prevention of anger was explained by Swami Vivekananda in his book on
Raja Yoga – “Have the opposite or anti wave of love when anger wave
comes in”. For doing this, you have to keep the photograph of a holy person
in your purse or pocket and take it out and look for a few seconds when the
anger wave is about to come in. A similar method is chanting a holy Mantra
or doing Japa 10 times or simply counting digits up to 10 before the anger
wave sets in. But once the wave sets in, these preventive methods are of no
use. One other method is pouring cold water on the head of the angry person
for cooling down, as was done in case of young Vivekananda (Narendra),
when he was a child and used be uncontrollable. Remember never to
confront or counsel a person when he is angry.
4. Criticism. We are always afraid of criticism – what others will think or say.
Being afraid of criticism, we are unable to take proper and correct decisions.
The result is, we end up full of tension. In this context, the famous couplet of
Sant Kabir is significant – “While the elephants go, the dogs bark at them.
But unmindful, the elephants proceed without even giving a glance at the
barking dogs”. In the same manner, you should also mentally say – “Let the
others bark; I am not going to bother as I am doing the right thing or taking
the correct decision”. Criticism by others can also be taken in a positive light
for improving yourself in the future. Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar always used
to help others irrespective of criticism. He used to say that criticism is the
nature of people and you should not pay attention to that and carry on with
your work; if you pay attention to criticism, you will not be able to do good
work. Here the episode of the Ramakrishna Mission Hospital in Hardwar is
worth narrating. The Ramakrishna Mission was started in 1897 and in 1898 a
hospital was set up in Hardwar. It was run from a small hut for the first 2 to 3
years. Swami Vivekananda had sent his disciples to run the hospital saying –
“This is real service, not worship of God in temples, but worship of God in
human beings”. In the course of treatment of the patients, the monks many a
time had to touch them, wash their wounds and give dressing. This infuriated
the local Sadhu Samaj, who did not allow the RK Mission people to come to
the “Bhandara” organized by them. Their contention was that the monks
instead of meditating, were doing the work of sweepers (“Bhangis”), and as
such these “Bhangi Sadhus” would not be allowed to partake in their
“Bhandara”. After many years of this boycott, one of the great
“Madaleshwars” fell ill. By then, the RK Mission Hospital had become a big
well established one and the sick “Madaleshwar” was admitted and treated
there. There he saw with his own eyes how the monks and the disciples of
the mission did selfless service of the patients. This transformed him and he
declared that the mission was doing real service to the people of Hardwar.
The whole attitude of Sadhu Samaj was so transformed that today the
“Bhandara” in Hardwar is always started with the RK Mission monk as No.1.
This incident goes to prove that we should never be afraid of criticism. Do not
get perturbed, be bold and God will be with you. If God is with you, who can
be against you? And conversely, if God is not with you, who can be with you?
If you remember this maxim, you will never be disheartened.
5. Calamity or crisis. Loss of job or wealth or similar calamities or crises can
be a great shock to anyone, shattering one’s tranquility and equilibrium. On
such occasions, one has to remember the advice given by Sri Krishna to
Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita – “Don’t be a coward, this unmanliness doesn’t suit
you; pick up your arms and fight bravely”. Said Swami Vivekananda – “Life is
a struggle. Do you want to be great or extra ordinary? Then you have to
overcome great or extra ordinary problems. If you have extra ordinary
problem, solve it, come out of it and you become extra ordinary yourself.
Awaken the lion or giant within you to achieve this”. In any calamity or crisis,
the important thing is not to quit, not to lose patience, but fight bravely.
Greater the struggle, greater the person who comes out of it. There are many
examples of people overcoming crises by struggling bravely.
(a) Recently while I was in UK, one woman came to me and started
weeping. She said that her husband working for an organization was
accused of wrong doing, he would be tried in a court and would even
be imprisoned. “Where is justice?”, she asked. I advised her that her
weeping was not going to solve the problem, she had to be
courageous in facing the situation. If injustice had been done to her
innocent husband, she should get the best available lawyer and fight
the case bravely in the court. I gave her the message of Bhagavad
Gita, and somewhat comforted, she went away. Later when I was in
Switzerland, she gave me the message that her husband had been let
off with some adverse remarks in his records, but was saved from
being jailed.
(b) Then there is the story of a very old Nepalese King, who was well
known for his miserliness. Once there was a dance session in his
royal court with a pretty dancer, accompanied by a man on the
musical instrument. The prince, princess, rich merchant and many
others were present. A passing monk also stopped by. The dance
session went on for one hour, two hours and so on till late in the night
and now morning was approaching. But the King would not present
the gift. The custom was that the King should be the first to present
the gift to the dancer and the others would follow for the dance
session to end. The dancing girl became so exhausted after hours of
continuous dancing and in desperation, she added a sentence of her
own while singing – “I am too tired now, no gift is forthcoming, I am
going to stop”. Immediately, the accompanist also added a sentence
of his – “Very little of the night is left now, don’t break the rhythm, all
efforts will go in vain, continue the dance as morning is not too far
away”. Then the miracle happened. The merchant threw his costly
necklace to the dancer, followed by the prince and the princess also
throwing their necklaces. The monk did not have any costly gift to
offer, so he threw his blanket to the dancer. Seeing the traditional
custom broken, the King asked all of them for their explanations. The
merchant replied that the previous day he received the news of one
merchant ship of his sinking with its goods and was contemplating
suicide in the night, but hearing the words of the accompanist, he
remembered that there were four more ships on their way whose safe
arrival news he was yet to receive. If they reached safely, he would
not be a total loser, though a little poorer, and this realisation
prompted him to give the gift. The prince said that since the King,
though very old and infirm, was not abdicating his throne in his favour
and hence he was planning to murder the King in the night. The words
of the accompanist saved him from committing regicide as the King
was in any case not likely to live long and he would inherit the throne.
The princess explained that since the King was not getting her
married, she was planning to flee the palace that night to marry
someone, but the words of the accompanist saved her from this
stigma. It was the turn of the monk to explain now. He said that
despite many many years of practising austerity or “Sadhana”, he did
not realize God and hence was planning to get married and enjoy
some worldly pleasure, but the words of the accompanist saved him
from this stigma as he was sure to realize the fruits of practicing
austerities all his life very soon. The story underlines the need to have
patience and never give up or quit.
(c) There is the story of a brilliant medical student in Mumbai who always
stood first in all his examinations. But when the Final Year results
came, finding that he was the not the gold medalist, in a fit of
dejection, he committed suicide. After two days, the corrected results
came declaring that he indeed was the gold medalist.
(d) Another famous story is that of the gifted French opera singer Madam
Kalway who was in USA giving a concert. Halfway through the
concert, she felt very uneasy and said in the green room that she
could not continue. Despite the pleadings by others that the whole
show would be spoiled, she refused to continue as she felt something
terrible had happened and she could not perform now. Within half
hour, she received the news that her only daughter had died in an
accident of burning. She was shattered and contemplated suicide.
Three consecutive attempts by her to drown herself in a pond failed.
Then her friends advised her to visit Swami Vivekananda who was
camping nearby to get peace of mind. On entering Swamiji’s room,
she was comforted by the words – “My dear daughter, why are you
suffering so much? This is not the end, this is not a defeat. Become
cheerful and be your old self again”. Sitting beside Swamiji, she felt
immense tranquility, became composed and felt a new life in her.
Later on, as a devotee of Vivekananda, she went on a pilgrimage to
Egypt and other places. Many years later in 1911, after the passing
away of Vivekananda in 1902, she visited Belur Math in Calcutta. She
went to the room where Vivekananda used to stay and reminisced
how she was saved from committing suicide by Swamiji. The incident
illustrates the importance of seeking counseling when one is in great
distress or crisis. You unburden yourself with the counselor and it will
save the situation. During the last many years of my counseling, 50 to
60 girls/ladies with suicide on their mind have come to me. I am quite
happy to state that all except one were saved from this ultimate step.
(e) Prayer during a crisis also helps greatly. In Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna
says – “Surrender to God’s will. I will take all your troubles on me and
give you peace of mind”. Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi also said – “I
am the mother of the wicked, as I am the mother of the virtuous.
Whenever you are in distress, just say to yourself, ‘I have a
(f) There is the episode of the untouchable Adimoolam, who later on went
on to become a foreman in Visakhapatnam. In 1909 when the Mother
was in Bangalore, the boy Adimoolam used to visit the Mother
separately and she used to give him “Prasad”, as the other high caste
boys did not like the untouchable boy meeting the Mother along with
them. One day all devotees of Mother invited her for a “Bhandara” for
which she agreed on condition that Adimoolam also will be allowed to
partake. The Mother called Adimoolam early in the morning and when
all sat for taking food, she told Adimoolam to serve food to everyone.
All were in a fix as they could not get up as the Mother was sitting
along with them. Then the Swamiji, who was in charge of the
Bangalore Ashram, made a declaration – “From today, in our nation
the movement against untouchability has been started by Sri Sarada
Devi”. Later on, Mahatma Gandhi came from South Africa and started
the movement against untouchability on a national scale.
(g) In another instance in Calcutta, the Mother was not well and a young
man came to meet her. When Swami Saradanandji was not allowing
him to meet the Mother, the young man insisted that he had come all
the way from Bombay and would meet the Mother, a message was
sent in. The Mother called the young man in. After quite some time, he
came out of the room and told Swamiji that Mother not only met him,
gave him “Prasad”, but also gave him “Mantra Diksha”. Many decades
later, one day a call was received in the RK Mission office in Bombay
that a film producer wanted to meet a monk of RK Mission. The
Swamiji from the Mission office reached the given place to find an
elderly person in his chamber on his death bed. He found the
photograph of the Holy Mother in his chamber. The old Producer-
Director said to the Swamiji –“As a young man I had gone to Calcutta
to meet the Mother who gave me her blessings. Now that I am on my
death bed, I seek the blessings from the monk of RK Mission. The
Mother is calling me and I am going to join her”. The dying Producer-
Director was the famous Parsi from Bombay film world Sohrab Modi,
who made “Jhansi ki Rani” and other historical movies,
If you surrender to the will of God, if you pray and repent for your sins, you will
be saved out of your trouble and you will get solace and peace of mind. Those
who are non-believers need to fight doggedly with full will power and
determination, never once giving up. The maxim is – “Do your best and leave the
rest. You have the right only to work and not to the fruits or end results. Be
prepared for the worst and start afresh”. This formula has given solace to many.
In his small book “Work and its secret”, Swami Vivekananda said – “Pay as much
attention to the means as to the end. Failures are the beauty of life. What would
be life without that? Life is not worth living if there are no failures”. Try for 1,000
times. If you fail 1,000 times, attempt once more.
The Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi died in 1920. After the death of Sri
Ramakrishna in 1886, she lived for 34 years spreading Sri Ramakrishna’s
message. Swami Vivekananda and all other disciples of Belur Math invariably
consulted her on all matters, though she held no official position. She had no
formal education, but had infinite practical wisdom. Swami Vivekananda could
not decide whether to go to USA and sought the blessings of the Mother. When
permission came from Mother, he was overjoyed and said that he would now
conquer the world, which he did in fact. He later said that he could spread the
message of Sri Ramakrishna far and wide because he was blessed by the
Mother. Just three days before she gave up her body, the Mother found her
devotees were feeling that they would be orphaned after she passed away. The
Mother consoled them saying Sri Ramakrishna would look after them. Then she
gave a message, which was her last, as she did not speak afterwards -- ” If you
want peace of mind, do not look at the faults of others. If you want to see faults,
see your own faults. No one is a stranger in this world. The whole world is your
own”. This is the simple way in which she gave the essence of Vedanta, which
states that the world is one and it is a holistic universe. The modern quantum
mechanics also has come to the view that all particles of the whole universe are
interconnected at a deeper level and it is one super consciousness permeating
the whole universe.
In our day to day life, right from the time we get up, most of us are on a fault
finding mission and it continues the whole day, both at home and in the work
place. A management expert very wisely said – “Don’t read newspapers in the
morning. They are sad, bad and make you mad”. The front page of all
newspapers in India carries negative reports of crimes, corruption, disasters,
accidents etc, while the positive news appear in small columns in the inside
pages. In foreign countries, they always carry the positive news on the front
pages and the negative news in the inside pages. While starting the day reading
all the negative news on the front page of the newspapers, our day starts on a
negative note and our mind is on the lookout for negative traits and faults in
others all around us throughout the day. With so much negativity, we lose our
peace of mind and then find that we do not get sleep at night and take
tranquilizers. This has become the lifestyle of most of us. This is where the
significance of the last message of Holy Mother comes in. Sant Kabir also said –
“When I try to see my faults, I find so many of them and in trying to correct them,
I do not have time to look at the faults of others”. If we try to analyze ourselves,
most of the time we will find that we are also at fault, may be partially. This self
analysis or introspection will help us in rectifying our faults and improving
Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi was full of compassion for everyone. She had the
strangest of companions living with her who were either full mad, half mad,
quarter mad or of abnormal behavior, with some of them even turning violent and
beating the Mother. Yet, she was the embodiment of tolerance and was always
calm and full of compassion. She was the mother of all and said to Sri
Ramakrishna that if some one addressed her as mother, there was nothing in
this world which she would not give him or her. She is the greatest role model of
modern women. The sheer love of Mother had reformed even dacoits. Once
when she was 24 years old, she was crossing a forest named “Telo Balo”, which
was notorious for dacoits, with a temple of Kali in her dreadful form, located
within the forest. Her companions left her behind as she was not able to walk fast
with them. She walked slow and when night came, she was still in the forest.
Suddenly, a ferocious looking dacoit appeared with a stick in his hand and asked
– “Who are you and what are you doing here?”. Sarada Devi immediately replied
– “I am your daughter”. Hearing this, the dacoit softened and he said that his
wife was also with him. As soon as Sarada Devi saw the lady, she embraced her
and said – “Mother, it is good that you have come. I have lost the way. I was
thinking how I will reach Dakshineswar where your son-in-law is. Now that my
father and mother have come, please take me there”. They both were melted by
hearing these words. She could conquer the hearts of a dacoit and his wife with
her dialogue.
During my interaction with A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in February, 2002 (he was not
President yet), when he had come to inaugurate a school building in Porbandar,
which the R.K. Mission had built as part of the post-2001 Bhuj earthquake
rehabilitation programme, I found him very eager to know about Sri
Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda. He told me then that
according to him, Swami Vivekananda was the saint who converted religion into
practical spirituality.
I will now take up some of the many questions which have been handed over to
Q 1. What is important in life – status, love, family or money?
A 1. All of them are important. But in order of priority, love is the most important.
After losing status or money, one can get them back again. But it is very difficult
to bear the loss of someone you love. In his beautiful book “Art of loving”, Erich
Fromm has dealt with this in detail. Swami Vivekananda, in his book “Religion of
love”, says that there cannot be infinite love between two finite realities, who are
all the time going towards death. There can be infinite love only between an
infinite “Atman” (individual soul) which is there within every one of us and infinite
“Paramatman” (universal soul) which is the infinite divine reality. This love is
everlasting. This does not mean that we should not love fellow human beings.
Every human being has in him or her the divinity and we should try to love that
person through the divine. Then there will be no problem. But if you are directly
attached to that person there will be problem. Again in his book “Work and its
secret”, Swami Vivekananda says that attachment is the source of all miseries
and suffering. Therefore, we must have as much of attachment as that of
detachment to avoid pain and suffering.
Q 2. Whenever I sit for meditation, I get many bad and sometimes nasty thoughts
along with good thoughts. How can I avoid this?
A 2. This is most natural with all of us. In fact, if somebody says that when he sits
for meditation he does not get any distraction, he is either a great Yogi or there is
something wrong with him as he is different from others. In his book on Raja
Yoga, Swami Vivekananda says that our mind is like a monkey who is restless.
Once there was a monkey who was restless and jumping. Someone made it
drink a lot of wine and the monkey started jumping more. Then a scorpion stung
it and it started jumping even more. Then a ghost entered its head and you can
imagine how much more it was jumping. Same is the case with our mind – wine
of desire, scorpion of jealousy and ghost of ego or pride make our mind very
restless and difficult to control. It is very difficult to meditate with such a mind. So
the first requirement is to purify the mind so that it is bereft of these three evils.
Then the mind will gradually come to control. In Chapter 6 of Bhagavad Gita,
when Arjuna says that it is easier to control the wind by his fist, but difficult to
control his mind, Sri Krishna also agrees with Arjuna that mind is difficult to
control, but not impossible. Whereas in Chapter 2 of Bhagavad Gita, when
Arjuna had sat down saying he would not fight, Sri Krishna admonished him –
“This cowardice and unmanliness do not suit you. You are a brave hero. Get up
and fight”. Lord Buddha also agreed that it is easier to fight singlehandedly with
1000 people, but more difficult to control the mind which wanders like a rogue
elephant. With the modern commercialisation of spirituality, the modern Guru
offers instant “Samadhi” in 35 dollars. Samadhi is the eighth step in Sage
Patanjali’s Yogasutras and to achieve it, one requires years and years of practice
and dedication. It can never be instant like instant coffee. Patanjali says that by
constant practice (Nirantara Abhyasa) at fixed times and by non-attachment
(Vairagya), you can control the mind to meditate properly. Sri Ramakrishna used
to give an example of what one can achieve by constant practice. He had gone
to see a circus where he saw an European artiste standing on a fast moving
horse. While the horse was passing through a big ring, the artiste jumped up
from the horse before the horse entered the ring and came back to stand on the
horse as the horse emerged out of the ring. Sri Ramakrishna said that this feat
was possible only by years and years of constant practice. Regarding nonattachment,
there is an interesting anecdote of four drunkards who went on a
picnic on a full moon night. They got into a boat and the first drunk started
rowing. After much time, the second, third and fourth rowed turn by turn and it
was morning by then. By now they had somewhat come out of their stupor, with
the sun having come up. One of them said – “Let us see where we have
reached”. When they got out of the boat, they found that they were at the same
spot because they had forgotten to lift the anchor of the boat. Unless we lift our
anchor of attachment with the worldly objects and desires, no amount of constant
practice is of any use. So we can meditate only with simultaneous constant
practice and non-attachment. Non-attachment does not mean that we should
become a monk or nun, but we should have detached attachment like that of the
maid servant as explained by Sri Ramakrishna. Meditation and spiritual life are a
long term process; there is no short cut to practice. Do not expect any miracle
from practice. If one goes methodically practicing in a constant and regular
manner, the path is easier. When you sit for meditation, there will be many
thoughts coming up on all matters. Initially, it is a good method to have a
partnership deal with your mind. You allot the first 10 minutes for the mind to
wander around. After 10 minutes, you insist with the mind that its time is up and
now it is your turn to meditate for the next 10 minutes and you be allowed to be
free to do that. Since the mind was given freedom for the first 10 minutes, it will
leave you alone for meditation now. So regular practice and non-attachment are
to be rigorously followed for a long time to have good concentration of mind for
Q 3. What should we do to manage money and stress? How do we strike a
balance between money matter and mind matter?
A 3. Of course, we have to earn money. Without earning money, we cannot
survive. But the important thing to remember is that we should manage money
and money should not manage us. We should know how much minimum amount
of money we want. There has to be a balance between stress arising out of
earning more money. In life, peace of mind is more important than money.
Earmark half hour in the morning and half hour in the evening for meditation and
good thoughts. Whatever we do, we should do sincerely. As Swami Vivekananda
said – “Whatever work you do, do it wholeheartedly”. When we are at work or in
business, apply the mind with full concentration and involvement because that is
also worship. Every work is worship. But we must spare some time for having
peace of mind.
Q 4. If life after death is there due to rebirth, how come the present population of
India is over 100 crores when it was only 50 crores a few decades ago? From
where have these additional 50 crore souls come?
A 4. It is not necessary that a person who dies in India will be reborn in India.
There are many people in western countries who want to be born in India and the
population is declining in these countries. Perhaps, they are reborn in India. As
you know, the population of many animals such as lions, tigers, donkeys etc is
decreasing. You will come across many people behaving like lions, tigers,
donkeys etc.
Q 5. When you serve a community, many a time they themselves do not support
you. At times, they are even against you. What should we do then?
A 5. If you want to be great by doing service, you should be ready for sacrifice.
Service and sacrifice always go together. If you know that the people need
service, you should continue to serve even at the cost of suffering. Whenever
you do any good work or service, opposition will always be there from some
quarters. When the earthquake struck Gujarat on 26th January, 2001, we
immediately started relief work in two villages of Porbandar which were affected.
One of the villages, Bharwada, is full of criminals where 300 houses were
damaged. So we started a kitchen there and most of the people who were eating
from our kitchen were of lower class. The influential leaders of the village were
not happy about this. They objected to our starting the kitchen without their
permission. They wanted us to give them all our items which they would
themselves distribute to the affected people and we should leave the village. We
said that we were there to serve the people ourselves and we were answerable
to the people from whom we had received donations. They threatened to close
our kitchen the next day. Since we received information that the poor people had
nothing to eat and if our kitchen was closed they would starve, we refused to
close the kitchen and move out. We decided to take the risk of being attacked by
the “goondas”. Somehow or the other, some people intervened, good sense
prevailed over the leaders of the village and we continued to run the kitchen for 6
months. Within the next two years, the whole scenario of the village changed. We
constructed a colony there with 30 houses for those whose houses were totally
destroyed along with a dispensary, library and a temple. Those who were
opposing our kitchen service and those who were drinking liquor and indulging in
criminal activities are chanting “Ramnam”, singing “Kirtans” and doing “Satsangs”
in the village today. It took two years of hard work to convince them with a series
of meetings. We were never harsh with them and we delicately handled the
issue, without compromising with our principles. If the need is there, we should
continue our service even at the cost of our life. Without sacrifice, no real service
can be done. This sacrifice itself is the reward which gives immense happiness.
In Narayanpur village of Bastar district in Chhattisgarh, we have the R.K. Mission
doing tribal development projects. There the people are primitive and are
extremely poor. We started a school there where their children are studying and
they are now going to New Delhi for Republic Day parades. Some of their
students are so bright that one or two of them are shortly going to be IAS officers.
All this has been achieved by our mission despite no help or support from the
government and putting up with Naxalite attacks on our Swamijis. We have been
refusing to move out from there despite the lack of support and attacks on us
because we know that the tribal people there are in abject poverty and are
suffering. If we have to serve others who are in adverse conditions, we should be
prepared to undergo sufferings, face perils and at times risk our lives in the
Q 6. When people on whom we believe and trust, deceive and betray us, how do
we handle the situation?
A 6. Sri Ramakrishna used to say – “Become a devotee; do not become a fool”.
You should be intelligent and practical enough not to get cheated by others,
particularly with the outside show or glamour. You should not be carried away by
the wrapper; you should examine the content and then only accept it. There is
the story of the four salesmen in a jewellery shop. Each of them was wearing
identical shawls on which it was inscribed “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna”. When
anyone entered the shop, the first salesman would say “Keshav, Keshav”, the
second would say “Gopal, Gopal”, the third would say “Hari, Hari” and the fourth
would say “Hara, Hara”. Actually these were code words – Keshav meaning
“What type of person he is?”, Gopal meaning “Like cowherd”, Hari meaning
“Shall I steal their ornaments?” and Hara meaning “Go ahead, they are fools,
they are not going to notice it”. The moral of the story is that you should be
practical and should not allow yourself to be cheated. Being cheated once is bad
enough, but if you are cheated again and again, there is something wrong with
Now we shall have a meditation session. There are many types of meditation
such as Vipassana, Prasanna, Zen, Zazen, Vedantic, Roop Dhyan, Guna Dhyan,
Vilachintan etc. You can adopt any type that is suitable to you. I will give you
some simple techniques which are commonly applicable to all types of
meditation. These are:-
(a) The backbone should be straight, whether you are in Padmasana,
Sukhasana or sitting in a chair.
(b) Before you start meditating, you should pray first for the welfare of all, so
that the mind is calmed.
(c) Concentrate on the heart centre.
(d) Visualise a divine light, that is the light of knowledge, at the heart centre.
(e) While you are meditating, you should feel that the veil of ignorance is
going away.
(f) Simultaneously, you can mentally chant some Mantra like AUM or any
other “Ishta Mantra” you like.
(g) If you love or worship any holy personality such as Buddha, Jesus Christ,
Guru Nanak, Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi or
Swami Vivekananda, visualise that personality within the divine light in
your heart centre, as it is easy to concentrate for meditation. Feel that the
holy personality is blessing you, you are becoming peaceful and your
ignorance is vanishing. These are the ideas we should have during
I want you to start the meditation with the favourite song of Sri Ramakrishna
and Swami Vivekananda, both great singers themselves. This is the poem
written by the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zaffar, who was a great Sufi
poet. He saw God in everything and everywhere. The names of God, forms and
paths chosen by people of various religions and beliefs may be different, but they
all lead to the same goal. Sri Ramakrishna practiced all religions in turn and said
the same thing. It is the same universal message in all religions and Vedanta.
Unconditional love and converting all human relationships into divine relationship
result in supreme and universal happiness, harmony, joy, peace and bliss.
We will now start meditating with the opening of the song and close our
meditation with the end of the song.
[The song starting with “Tujh se hamne dil ko lagaya” is played and the
meditation starts]


I reached India on 19th September '2004 after my lecture tour of South Africa and Mauritius. By the grace of God, everything went off well. The Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa had organized a series of 7 lectures on Bhagwad Gita at the main centre of Durban in connection with Shri Krishna Janmashtami celebration and had also oraganised few more lectures on other subjects like Total Personality Development, Women Empowerment & Development, Management of Everyday Life etc. at the main centre as well as at few of their sub-centres. All the programmes were well-organised and well-attended. The Ashram activities are going on smoothly under the dynamic leadership of Swami Saradanandaji. I had also the opportunity of
witnessing their welfare and medical work, particularly for black community, which is very much appreciated by the local community.

I took this opportunity of visiting Phoenix Ashram established by Mahatma Gandhi (situated only about 3 k.m. away from the centre) and Peitermeritzberg Railway Station where Gandhiji was thrown off the train. This incident motivated Gandhiji for starting the non-cooperation movement, which paved the way for achieving freedom not only for India but also for South Africa and other countries. I also enjoyed the Dolphin show at the aquarium of Durban and Drackesberg - a World Heritage Site in South Africa.

On my way back I had the privilege of visiting Mauritius. There too, our Ashram activities are going on smoothly. Since I was there only for two days, they organised only one lecture in the Ashram premises on Holy Mother. T.V. people also took my interview for half an hour. I told them about the urgent need of spreading the universal message of Swami Vivekananda and for adopting spiritual culture in order to save the youth of Mauritius from evils like drug addiction, alcoholism etc. This programme was to be broadcasted on National Network.

In Mauritius I visited the famous Shiva temple near Ganga Talao considered to be 13th Jyotirlinga of the world and named as Mauritiusewar Mahadev! On the occasion of Shivaratri, thousands of devotees walk all the way from city to this place. Even the Prime Minister also visits this place on that day and makes necessary arrangements for the pilgrimage otherwise he may be voted out by the Hindus who are in majority in Mauritius ( about 51% )! There are so many other Hindu temples also. What a paradox! Here our Government is curbing the religious sentiments of the people in the name of pseudo secularism and in foreign countries, they are taking special care to respect religious sentiments of the people.

I also visited Blue Bay to see Corals and fishes beneath the seawater, Port Louise etc.

Meeting with Dr. Kalam, Former President of India on 22 August 2006

As soon as I entered the room, Dr. Kalam greeted me warmly saying, “Swamiji how are you?” I said “I am alright, how about you?” He said, “I am also fine.” He was seated in a chair near his executive table. I handed him over the flower bouquet, he accepted it warmly saying thank you. He inquired as to where I had been. I told him that I was returning from Chapara (Bihar) after my lecture tour. Then I handed over to him the gift packet containing books and VCDs and a big portrait of Swami Vivekananda. He exclaimed, “Oh! It is quite big!” I said, “Yes, I brought it so that it will adorn the walls of Rashtrapati Bhavan”. At first I showed him the book of Swami Ranganathanandaji Maharaj (My life is My Work). He exclaimed, “He was a great personality! Perhaps someone has already given me this book”. I showed him the book “Swami Vivekananda and emerging India” published recently by our Rajkot centre. When I gave him my book – ‘Teacher as a Torch Bearer of Change’, he got so much interested that he started turning the pages of the book and read out loudly with a tone of surprise- ‘An electric shock needed!’ I said, “Yes, that is what is needed to awaken our teachers and that electric shock will come from the books of Swami Vivekananda. This is how the French savant Romain Rolland describes the effect of the words of Swami Vivekananda”. After that he started the turning the pages of my book ‘Happiness and Peace in Everyday Life’. I told him that the book is based on my lecture on the same subject and on “Nurturing Relationship” at Ahmedabad Management Association. I wrote on the first page of the book –To

Respected Dr. APJ Abdul Kalamji

With profound regards and

Prayerful best wishes.

- Swami Nikhileswarananda

I handed him over the VCD based on his speech at Porbandar on 12-01-2006, and many VCDs based on my lectures at Ahmedabad Management Association, South Africa and other places. Then I gave the brochure of Vadodara Centre and explained to him that Swami Vivekananda stayed in Dilaram Bungalow as the guest of the then Diwan of Vadodara – Shri Manilal Jashbhai. This bungalow has now been handed over by the Government of Gujarat to the Ramakrishna Mission on 30 years lease for converting it in to a befitting memorial of Swmi Vivekananda. I told him that a new centre at Vadodara started on 18th April 2005, the day on which the bungalow was received, and I took charge on the same day but continued to be in charge of Porbandar centre till 14th January 2006. He asked me, “Who has taken the charge of Porbandar centre?” I said, “Swami Avyayatmanand has taken the charge. He was present when you came to Porbandar on 12th January. I am glad to inform you that many students have started visiting the Institute VIVEC (Vivekananda Institute of Value Education and Culture) inaugurated by you; some short-term programs have already been started, and more programmes will be started.” Then I told him that now I was concentrating on the development of Vadodara centre. I told him about the activities of Vadodara centre including the relief work for flood affected people being carried out. He said, “You are giving so many lectures, meeting the students; you are always active, busy with something or the other, travelling so much developing new centers, how do you get so much energy, Swamiji? Is it from Swami Vivekananda?” I replied, “Yes, he is our source of inspiration and power”.

Then I handed him over the letter written by me requesting him to come to Vadodara on 12th January. He read the letter and said, “Swamiji, I think it would be difficult to spare time during that period because I have to finish many important things before July next year, because as you know, my tenure is ending in July next year.” I said, “We all wish and pray that you should continue as The President of India, many feel happy about it, particularly the youths take you as a role model”. He said, “No swamiji, I like to be the teacher once again; that is my usual self.” Then I said, that for the sake of the nation, he should continue. He emphatically said. “No, no I am a teacher and I want to be a teacher only”.

Then I told him that he could come on 11th November when he would be passing through Vadodara. He confirmed over intercom phone with his secretary that he was to go to Ahmedabad and Chapaner on 11th November. He said that he will try to include the visit to Vadodara centre. I thanked him and said that we will try to organize a Youth Convention when thousands of youths will participate. He noted something on my letter of request.

Then I handed over him a letter of Swami Gokulanandaji, the head of Delhi, Center, in which he had requested him to seek an appointment with him so that he could invite him to come to Delhi Ashram for inaugurating the Exhibition on Swami Vivekananda. After reading the letter he said, “Oh, going to a place in Delhi itself is easy”. Then he noted something on the letter.

After this I requested him to call the photographer so that I could present the first copy of the book ‘Indomitable Spirit’ based on the inspiring speech delivered by him during the youth convention organized by Ramakrishna Mission at Porbandar as a part of National Youth Day celebration on 12th January 2006 (Swami Vivekananda’s birthday). He called for the photographer and started turning the pages of the book. He said “Another book with the name ‘Indomitable spirit’ is coming out soon. Have you already printed this book?” I replied, “Yes, we have already printed ten thousand copies. We kept this title because it was given in your website from where we took the speech. We had sent the pre publication copy for your kind perusal and, you had kindly sent your message which has been printed on first page”. Then he thought over it and said, “I think there should not be any problem.” When the photograph was been taken, he gave a hearty smile. The time of my meeting was coming to an end, so I took leave of him