Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Welcome to the Buddha Purnima issue of e-Sanai

by Sri Sandip Dasgupta

Dear fellow seekers,

Welcome to the Buddha Purnima edition of our electronic magazine.
In this issue, I will try to highlight a few teachings of our Master and attempt to comment on these with the Light of Oneness that our Master has provided us.

On Mar 20, 1988, Sri Sri Babathakur said the following at Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi:
  • When you degrade others, you degrade yourself.
  • When you kill others, you kill yourself.
  • When you love others, you love yourself.
Sri Sri Babathakur has time and again explained to us that the only substratum behind Jiva, Jagat etc. is the eternal Atman – the Paka Aami. That Supreme One has created each and every one of us, our minds, our intellect etc for the Divine game. That Supreme One has provided us with all the tools to play this game, while the Supreme One stands in the background as a witness.  As long as we are conscious of our true nature (our Oneness), then there is no issue in life.  But what do we do?
  • Our mind creates a sense of differentiation amongst ourselves
  • Our mind wants to rule over others
  • Our mind tries to prove that our temporary “I” (Kacha Aami) is superior to others. The moment we try to degrade others, our mind becomes filled with negative thoughts and we harm ourselves. This kind of thought moves us away from the Supreme One – and hence we degrade ourselves.
On the other hand, if we love others – we are getting closer to that Supreme One by removing any differentiating thoughts with others.  If the love is indeed true divine love, then we merge into that Absolute One and obtain bliss.  We begin loving the True One amongst us (Paka Aami). Our Master goes on to highlight the examples of ferocious animals (like the lion) being tamed by many great human souls – because the divine love of the saints overcome the feeling of hatred present in the minds of the ferocious animals.

Later in the same lecture, Sri Sri Babathakur cites the example of how ownership of property transfers from one individual to other(s). Likewise, he urges the audience to surrender the ownership of our belongings to the Lord.  Then one will not experience sufferings, because the ownership has been transferred back to the Lord – and hence the results belong to him!

At the end of the same session, the Master emphatically states that if we regard others to be great men, then we ourselves become great! What a simple, beautiful and powerful teaching!

Let us take a moment to reflect on His teachings and become unified with the Supreme being.

Joy Babathakur! Joy Babathakur! Joy Babathakur!

Advaita Bhakti (Devotion in Non-Duality) - Part 1

by Sri P.C. Lahiri

Saint-composer Sri Tyagaraja hailed from the state of Karnataka, situated in the south of India.  His 250th birth anniversary was recently celebrated. On one hand he was a great devotee of Sri Rama and Mother Sita, and on the other hand, his thoughts were deeply soaked in Vedanta, the science of non-dualism.  He is said to have composed 24000 songs, of which only around 700 exist today, as the palm leaves on which they were written perished away with time.  Music was his only vehicle, and bhakti (devotion) was what moved that vehicle. A soul who composed 24000 songs in a lifetime - a fact accepted by most historians – had to have had a certain amount of spontaneity within,  which poured out in the form of words along with its musical composition (although this aspect of spontaneity is not accepted by some intellectual critics).  They at the most consider him to be a musical genius.

Now we have heard from the Master (Prajnanpurush Sri Sri Babathakur) the science of spontaneous revelation from within after Self-realization.  Innumerable songs poured out of His lotus lips, sometimes for a few days incessantly after deep trances (Samadhi), out of which we have been able to preserve only about 1000.  This happened because of our lack of readiness (both mentally and technically), as also because many a times these revelations happened for days in the absence of anyone else who could make an effort to write at least. Those days there were no mobile phones, computers or readily available portable tape recorders.  In case of Sri Tyagraja it was somewhat different as he himself wrote down those songs on palm leaves, most of which have perished due to a lack of maintenance.  Here we find another example of ‘posthumous followers’ (a coinage of the Master)¾ followers wake up to greatness of a soul only after his departure from mundane existence.  People are now lamenting the loss of such highly devotional songs.

The meaning of the word ‘revelation’, as I understand from the Master, is spontaneous outpouring from the deepest recess of the heart without any intervention or use of mind-intellect-ego.  This can only happen when the entire human body system becomes a ‘perfect channel’ for the Supreme Truth within which to reveal of Its own accord.  The ‘I’, as a Perfect Witness that is identified with the Supreme Truth, only witnesses Its own ‘sportful dramatic sameside game with Itself, for Itself and in Itself alone’.  In this Supreme State there is no second entity or any ‘sense of otherness’ whatsoever who would consider the aspect of writing on palm leaf or a piece of paper. Out of exuberance of eternal Bliss, the Absolute One reveals as many verses of a song in various tunes, meter, rhythm, speed etc. To us all, these revelations appear and sound as many different ones, but to the Absolute One, it is only that sameside game where there is no second entity.  So revelation only happens from the state of Absolute Perfection.  From the state of profound bhakti or extreme devotion, what comes out is the outpouring of a highly intoxicated mind, immersed in the remembrance and glory of its Lord or sought.  Such an outpouring may look like spontaneous revelation.  As common people, we also sometimes experience a flow of words coming from our mind on a subject of great interest and involvement. I am not trying to do any comparison as I have no right, reason or qualification to do it.  I am just pointing out the unfathomable boundless depth of the Master’s utterances in whatever form they revealed. It is the supreme reasonless Grace of the Absolute Self I-Reality that It reveals Itself to some struggling souls irrespective of their qualification of any kind.  As struggling souls, we must remain ever grateful and thankful by making constant self-effort (purushakara) to be devoted to the revelations as much as possible. This kind of self-effort has been termed by the Master as sattvic purushakara which will ultimately lead to the realization of the perfect unity of destiny (daiva) and self-effort (purushakara).

Most of Sri Tyagaraja’s compositions are steeped in devotion and love for his Lord Rama and His consort Mahalaxmi Sita; however in certain places, he clearly indicates his awareness of the fact that his beloved Sri Rama dwelt in him and that they could never be separated. From his compositions, we glean that he regularly conversed with his Lord Sri Rama and those compositions only tell us how intimate their relationship was.  On the other hand, many of his compositions show his helplessness in reaching the Lord. The aspect of being inseparable with the Lord and yearning for reaching the Lord simultaneously existed in a devotee of very high order.  He was a believer of the ultimate Oneness of the Supreme Self and the individual self but said that this wisdom has to be gained through the tapas (constant practice and devotion) of music.  In one of his compositions, he implores to Sri Rama to help him realize how is it possible to know the meaning of the eternal Truth of the Vedic dictum Tattvamasi (you are That)?  Is it possible to realize and directly experience the profundity of this Vedic Mahavakya as tamas and rajas gunas can never be overcome?  Such doubts and yearning for the Divine have been expressed in their lifetime by many great souls including Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore through Rabindra sangeet.  They all have had visions and companionship of the Lord at various points of time in their life.  That is why they yearned for lasting company of the Divine and became despondent if they did not get it.  They are regarded as great souls as all their desires culminated in this one desire of seeking permanent company of the Lord or their chosen deity or Guru.  We, the struggling souls, can fully understand and appreciate how difficult it is to train and refine the mind (while residing in this world full of diversity and manyness), to ultimately desire only one final thing, i.e. God-realization.

Submitted at the lotus feet of the Master

This topic shall continue in the Janmashtami 2017 issue of e-Sanai 

Directives on How to Live

by Smt. Susmita Devi

Sadguru Sri Sri Babathakur has repeatedly asked us to perform our duties and work ‘normally’, yet to be conscious of the directives given by Him while doing so.  Below is a list of areas where Consciousness is playing an important role:

1.     The Lord has energized our body (through Consciousness) and brought us to this world (we are temporary subjects).
2.     The Lord has created all the objects, human beings and animals around us.
3.     The Lord has created the roles for us to play, based on our performance in the previous birth (Karma Yoga)
4.     Our current actions will dictate the roles we play in future births (Karma Yoga).
5.     Our only relationship is to the Lord. He owns the subjects of the world, objects of the world, the results and the actions – we are simply enacting the role that has been assigned to us in this drama.

The above mentioned points gave me a lot to think about, and my musings led to the following:
  • Most people do not remember (or may not accept) that it is only due to the Grace of the Lord that we exist as humans - with far superior cognizant power than other beings. We actually have very few living years to recognize the inherent Divinity in Mankind compared to some other living entities (animals and plants).  Often, in the middle or old age, some awareness is awakened - either due to the fear of death as the ultimate end of a human being (loss of the perceptible ego), or in the case of of a few individuals, owing to their knowledge of the period between death and rebirth.
  • Until reaching a ripe old age and then realizing that physical life, as perceived by the mind and organs, is but temporary, people are merely occupied with learning how to function in society and to fulfil worldly needs (yielding to the incessant demands of the ego and reputation).  Once the middle age sets in, the awareness often changes from the outward to the inward (from worldly to spiritual) and the urge to end life with a spiritual purpose only, comes to mind.  One may then become a ‘seeker of Truth’... that is, however, a bit late to become aware, for till that time, one may have done lots of mischievous/thoughtless actions, which has to be counteracted. The above reason is why one can meet more devotees of a ripe age than youngsters at gatherings around a Guru, in churches or in mosques.
  • Individuals hypothetically are a product of the Divine Will, but even the Will of Divine can be mischievous. An ordinary human mind can’t fathom what the Divine Will might be and do, and can thus only attempt to function according to the prescripts of the sages coming before her/him.  One may be aware or not, but I think it is undeniable that, humans are above other creatures in intellect, dexterity and other subtle capacities like laughter and constructive thought-patterns such as logic. We can therefore perceive more on the subtle levels even in a normal state of mind, whereas in meditation and dreams, there occasionally can be manifestation of subtler aspect called premonition dreams.  If adequately guided by a Sadguru and having received His/Her blessings, such dreams/premonitions can become useful in one’s progress on the spiritual path.  I, personally, had come to India and found ‘my’ Guru, Sri Sri Babathakur, in that way.
  • That the world is a Divine Creation, none can logically contest, I think.  Evolutionary speed may be a subject for discussion in academic circles, but in daily life, the origin and evolution of mankind matters but little, because each and every one is dominated by the sense of ego – which commonly until late in life, is insatiable. Taking into consideration the vast number of humans in this world, it is but a select few who mentally truly assert their minds to seek the background reasons for the innumerable happenings in their lives (expressions of Karma).  Most people, even devotees, are concerned with the present and don’t bother to seek out the reasons for the current happenings (not to speak of eventually correcting their behavior accordingly).
  •  People live from day to day, from year to year, and most often commiserate the less agreeable happenings like sickness, deformities, death and poverty. All this happens because only a select few develop sufficient spiritual discipline to perceive (during deep meditation or premonition) the reasons behind the happenings in the present life. The alternative available is just to accept that we are a subject and not the master of our present life.  If the happenings are pleasant, we thank God, and if disagreeable we curse our fate; however it is mostly unproductive to seek the exact background reasons for the actual happenings.  Live through them and gather whatever wisdom possible, so as not to repeat too many blunders over and again.
  • It is generally accepted and known that, every action is bound to have a reaction (for example, if a glass falls, it more often than not, breaks).  Only in the Sanatana Dharma, punishment is not an inbuilt factor, but merely an episode to teach an individual what to steer clear of, so that in the next birth such pitfalls can be avoided. Most people needlessly fear ‘punishment’ in either this or the subtler world when passing on. One can never be ‘punished’ – she/he only reaps the fruit of her/his actions during a lifetime.  If severe mistakes have taken place, the results may follow us through the next or several births if not revised.  Santana Dharma does not acknowledge the concept of ‘sin’ and the ensuing punishment.  I merely project that the consequences of actions and thoughts might be experienced. The effect is that, whatever we do or think in life has an outcome. It is very human to wish to avoid consequences of negative actions and thoughts (on the lower level like going to jail subsequent to a crime committed). All and sundry experience the results of their actions (which also include thoughts, and not just physical acts).  It is therefore necessary to remember, that every action is bound to have a reaction... which may appear in the form of an adversity in the present life, or else take place in a coming life.  It is only the Self-realized souls in a body who do not create Karma (i.e. action and reaction on various levels).
  • One single genuine relationship has to emanate from within, and that is our relationship to the Lord (hiding behind various names of a Deva or a Devi). Recognizing (or believing) this relationship is the Alpha and Omega for conducting one’s life in the best possible way to avoid or diminish creating ever more adversity for future lives. The Lord is the very Essence of the world and its multifarious manifestations - be they gross, subtle, subtler or subtle-most - along with the multitude of results manifested by its inhabitants.  The Lord, who is commonly referred to as ‘He”, is ever-present, all-potent and all-knowing.  There, simply, is no way to hide one’s mischievous mind work or less savory deeds as He is amalgamated in our beings. Our functioning in this world is simply to enact the role assigned to each and everyone in the Drama of life.  It is worth noticing that the more one relies on and behaves according to the Divine motivation, the lesser will be the Karma-phal (results of actions and thoughts) which accumulates. Most people however let the ego reign unbridled and must therefore experience the karmic results.
The above musings can only describe a tiny part of what Dharma means, but it is sufficient, I think, to give the reader some ideas of what it means to live a ‘sober’ life by living without the usual negative thoughts and actions and not to want what is not one’s own.

Festivals Brighten Up Community Life

by Sri Ajit Halder

Festivals contribute a great deal towards making individual life more enjoyable and enriching community life by adding a host of social, cultural, arts, music and other entertaining events to life’s activities. They free us from our daily monotonous routine and offer us physical relaxation and a great deal of joy (aanandam).

‘Festivals’, the first word in the title of this article, has been used to include religious, traditional, seasonal and national holidays, besides world-wide observance of International Days proposed by the United Nations. Every festival tells a story pertaining to our custom, culture, traditional values, mythology and historical events.  Members of the community spontaneously join in these functions to help promote social harmony and cohesion.

It may be noted that members attending fairs and festivals become so absorbed in these events that they may overlook the deeper significance of participating in different festivities.  This article attempts to focus on the broader aspects of festivals: especially community cohesion and social integration of members that the participants help to realize.

In India, over 100 religious festivals are celebrated annually by the various religious groups.  Diwali (Deepavali), the festival of lights, is the major festival for the Hindus. The Bengali community celebrates Durga Puja (Durgotsav) with great enthusiasm. There are, however, many other festivals like Holi, Dussera, Vijaya Dasami, Janmasrtami, Ram Navami, Ganesh Chaturthi, to name but a few.    Community members join in the celebration of events of different religious groups - the Christmas holidays, the Eid, and the Jain Pareshnath pageant are awaited with eagerness by all and they bring that extra touch to living and make it more pleasurable.  Likewise, Buddha Purnima (celebrated with reverence to mark the birth of Lord Buddha) and Guru Nanak’s birthday are occasions to spiritually uplift our thoughts.  The members of the Saccidananda Society and devotees of Sri Sri Babathakur organize the annual Gurupurnima function with much devotion.  Members regularly hold Satsang classes at the Society premises to discuss the divine message of the Pragna Purus and get spiritually enlightened.

An attempt will now be made to catalogue important festivals that add colour and gaiety to the celebratory spirit.  We start with festivals having wider communal purposes and national interest.

National Holidays

The two national days in India - the Republic Day (on 26th January) and the Swadhinata Divas (on 15th August) head our list.  Both these important days are celebrated nationwide with great pomp and grandeur.

Thanksgiving Day, an American holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of each November.  Traditionally this day is marked with families and friends getting together to share a special meal.  Thanksgiving Day is a time for people to give thanks for their life and possessions.  By participating in the Thanksgiving Day celebration, the members of a family with friends join millions of other countrymen. The celebration offers a sense of belonging to the American nation.

New Year’s Festivals

Pahela Baisakh is the traditional New Year Day for the Bengalis.  The festival is celebrated with processions, fairs and community singing.  All over Bengal, Pahela Baisakh is warmily and joyfully celebrated by organizing Manga Shovajatra (meaning auspicious street procession) drawing large crowds of onlookers.  In the same vein, we should mention the New Year's Day on January 1 which is welcomed as a celebratory holiday.

Food and Drink Festivals
Most festivals culminate in the consumption of specially prepared food (feasting) and they bring people together, contributing to group cohesiveness.
Mention may be made of the Harvest Festival highlighting the output of producers of a certain region; in Punjab harvest festival is celebrated with songs and Bhangra dance recital.

Oktoberfest is the world's most famous beer festival, taking place in the German city of Munich in the month of October.  It attracts people in droves in a huge party spirit.  Live music, parades, and a vast array of German cuisine complete the festivities.

Arts Festivals

Under this broad heading, mention may be made of specific types of festivals that showcase intellectual or creative achievements such as Literary, Poetry, Theater, Music festivals, Rock festivals and Jazz festivals, -- surely offering a choice to suit individual taste.

Film Festivals

Film Festivals are organised in various countries for screening films (local and foreign), and are usually held annually.  Two of the most noteworthy festivals are the Venice Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival.

International Days

Festivals of international appeal are occasions when people all around the world join together to share fun and good times.  Listed below are major international days for observation as recommended by the United Nations.  They are celebrated as festivals all over the world. By joining in these celebrations, one links up with the world audience and feels happier being a part of the entire human community.
The International Mother Language Day  is celebrated on 21 February each year. It marks the appreciation and expressiveness of one’s mother tongue. Other days of world appeal include: International Women Day (March 8), International Youth Day (August 12), United Nations Day (October 24), and Human Rights Day (December 10).

There is a saying in Bengal: ’Baaro Maase Tero Parvon’, meaning that the Bengalis celebrate thirteen festivals in a period of twelve months.  The quotation implies that there will be at least one festivity for jubilation in each month. It is obvious that festivals are an integral part of family as well as community life in Bengal.

The purpose of this article has been to focus on the religious, social and cultural values that festivals contribute to bring immense merriment to all members in the community.  Because of the large number of festivals taking place near one’s home or far away, it may not be possible for an individual to participate in each and every festivity.  Don’t despair though – you can catch a glimpse of events you missed out on by watching videos of the proceedings on sites such as YouTube and virtually partake in the festivities.