Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kolkata - the City with Intensity

Continuing on our Varanasi Trip series, let me talk about one of the oldest cities of India - Calcutta or Kolkata. This place was the capital city of British India before New Delhi. This is the place where our Master spent a long period meditating on the banks of Ganga. This is the place where He is used to connect with Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Sharada Devi at Dakshineswar. This is the place where He was first initiated.

Now, Calcutta is certainly one of the dirtiest places on this planet :) The very first day when we landed at the huge Howrah Railway station, it took us two hours to travel a 15-minute walk by bus from the station to our hotels. That place is so very crowded with both people and traffic. If it rains, like it did the day we landed, you can imagine. We see hoards of people moving everywhere busily. The red colored buses, yellow colored taxis, the old-British ages sub-way system, everything is filled with people. Not one house in the downtown area looks whitewashed. Everything looks age old. The streets still remind one of British age, with pavements made by Britishers still rocking. The traffic is so mad that it takes a good couple of hours to go from the city center to the outskirts.

The very first day the Master jovially said, "How many of you are irritated with crowd and traffic of this city? ... Even if you are irritated, nothing can be done. You can't do anything about the traffic and the crowd. There are only two things you can do - complain, complain, and keep on complaining or just flow with it and be happy."

All this said and done, we still found this place very beautiful. There was some charm to this city.
The Master then said immediately,

"This is an intense and a beautiful city. I spent a large part of my parivrajaka (wandering days) in this city. This is one city where I lived and which I love."

That is very true. Though there was so much of chaos, so much of hustle-bustle, there was still a layer of beauty and serenity to this city. From outside, this city may look dirty but it carries with it intensity of life. Just imagine, with millions of people living in those narrow streets, walking those crowded roads, there is not one person complaining about anything. They are happily carrying on with their work and daily life accepting whatever it is. That acceptance is genuine and not with a frown. Everyone is intensely leading their life in the midst of that chaos.

This city produced many enlightened Masters and highly elevated souls. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Sharada Devi, Ramakrishna's monastic disciples, Rabindranath Tagore etc. are just few names I can think of. For a long time, this city has been the seat of Indian art, poetry, theater and literature. Many schools of drama and theater can still be seen and people are more inclined towards them, which have an artistic touch and reality rather than going for fantasy filled movies.

In such city, people live like kings. They could have complained for what the city looks from outside but they are blissfully leading their lives. That is the intensity that we are talking about. Whatever happens outside, the core is still strong and standing blissfully. That is the beauty of this place and its people.

We stayed the maximum number of days (4 out of 12 days) in Kolkata visiting various places of enlightened Masters. We visited Ramakrishna and Sharada Devi's birth places, Dakshineswar where Ramakrishna did His sadhana, Vivekananda's birth place and Belur Math (samadhis of Ramakrishna, Sharada Devi and Vivekananda). More about these in the following posts ...

Photo courtesy:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The path of selfless service

Recently, Ayya, one of the first disciples of Swamiji was in Singapore and shared some beautiful truths about how working for the mission makes us grow in our own path. The previous post spoke about how when we set unreasonable targets and work, our mind-body entity has to drop. As Paramahamsa Nithyananda says "Don't think that depending on your energy you should take up responsibilities. I tell you, just take up more and more responsibilities; the energy to carry them forward will just gush through you".

This post throws light further about how seva or selfless service towards the master/mission is only for us to evolve spiritually. The Master understands the modern human mind only too well. In olden days, simple techniques like watching the breath or just witnessing thoughts could lead one to enlightenment. Today, life is so fast paced and filled with activity. A whole new layer has formed in the brain called the 'cerebral layer' to cope up with this fast lifestyle. The thousands of ad hoardings, TV commercials, magazines, newspapers etc are filled with junk information that the brain cannot even handle.

By and by, our whole mental set up has become that of 'restlessness'. Swamiji quotes Ramakrishna's simile about modern human mind as a drunk monkey which has been bitten by a thousand scorpions. This was hundred years ago that Ramakrishna uttered those words, you can imagine now! We need to add more qualifiers to that simile :)

Now for such a mental setup filled with 'rajas' (restlessness), if one prescribes meditation alone, then the restlessness takes over after some time. Or once the meditation is done, we revert to our usual stressful lifestyle. The same goes with Yoga or devotion or any other traditional path of silence/going inward. Working for the mission is a means to channelise that energy that is otherwise getting dissipated.

By working for the mission, there is an undercurrent intention of working towards enlightenment. Any action done with a strong intention only strengthens that intention further, there by adding intensity to the whole process. The best part is that with Paramahamsa Nithyananda, there are infinite options to choose from so that we do what we love doing and still can get the satisfaction of working for Him. Starting from transcribing, editing and writing books to organising/managing events to volunteering to composing/singing songs or painting to teaching...

When we do mission work with a deep feeling of connection with the Master, then that work is not work anymore. It's just a blissful expression from within. It becomes a celebration!

What a beautiful opportunity the Master is giving all of us to connect to Him even when His form is absent and to intensity our penance in a fun-way by doing what we love doing. That is the specialty about doing mission work - the master doesn't need us, we do not help anybody but ourselves in the process. His energy will do it's work anyway, with or without us being involved. It is for us to understand that when we immerse ourselves in seva or selfless service towards the master/mission, only we expand and connect more and more deeply to our core.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Breaking the limits ...

We could not update our blog during the last two weeks, the reason being one of the most anticipated events for Singapore - Paramahamsa Nithyananda's visit to Singapore. To say that a group of about twenty volunteers were super busy is an understatement. For the last two weeks, and more specifically during Swamiji's stay in Singapore from 8th to 11th August, each one of us were on our toes, running around publicizing the events, setting up Galleria stalls, registration desks, selling books, talking to people etc. etc. etc.

The most interesting part is not one of us felt exhausted or tiered at the end of the four days. Every day after every event, by the time we wound up the place, it used to be 11pm at the very least. And the next morning we were back at the next venue for setting up early in the morning by 7am. The days leading to the four days also had something similar - walking along streets of Singapore selling tickets, postering etc.

But one should see the energy of the volunteers to believe it. Each one of us seemed to have been fitted with a un-dischargable battery. None of us cared about any of us physical or mental limits. They simply did not exist.

What was happening to us? A senior ashramite of Paramahamsa Nithyananda talked to us about Karma Yoga just before the event and those words are so true. He says, 'The reason why Swamiji sets unthinkable goals or milestones for individuals is because He wants to take you beyond the two levels of energy that you know - the physical and mental energies. He wants you to look beyond the so-called physical and mental limits that you have set for yourself. Only when such an ambitious goal is set, you will see that you are operating not from body and not from your mind but from your being or the spirit. This is Karma Yoga - a selfless way of working to expand one's own horizons.'

We are strongly conditioned about our capabilities, both physical and mental. We believe that we can do only this much or we can take in only this much. That is the biggest conspiracy done to us by everyone around us. As a result, we never look beyond those limits. In fact we don't even consider them our limits. We think that is it. That is the end.

One should see the disciples in the monastery. They work on 100 different things. They sleep for hardly three-four hours but not one of them has a tiered face. They enjoy. They radiate energy to everyone around.

These few days, we experienced the third level of energy. If one looked at the amount of work that was done during the last few weeks, it is simply impossible for us to have worked with our physical or mental energies. We could clearly see breaking the limits and barriers that we had previously set for ourselves. And we could very well see that by breaking those boundaries, we were flooded with unfathomable energy in us, an inexhaustible energy that was always overflowing.

The Master works in mysterious ways to make us realize of our own true potential. He does not care whether there are 100 people or 200 people attending His discourse or how good or bad the venue is set and arranged. He sets the goal for us to go beyond our body and mind. That is His compassion!!

We express our sincere and heartfelt gratitude to our Master - Paramahamsa Nithyananda for His compassion and to have given us this wonderful opportunity.