Spirituality

SERVICE TO THE ‘SELF’ AND THE HUMANITY SHOULD GO HAND IN HAND

Friday, 04 May 2018 | Swami Atmavidananda | in Devbhoomi Spiritual–

Swami Vivekananda gave to the world the twin ideals of self- realization and service to God through man– ‘Atmano mokshartham, Jagat Hitaya cha’. This means both emancipation of one’s self and good done to all living in the universe. Manifesting the potential divinity latent in man which gives us a joy which is a poor substitute for the word ‘Ananda’ is the first part of the ideal while   the second is selfless service to humanity at large.  He got this message from Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, his mentor, which is actually based on a verse from the Rig Veda which became the motto and raison d’ etre of the mission started by him. ‘Moksha’ or liberation from the meshes of what is termed by many schools of the Indian spiritual philosophy the ‘Cosmic Illusion’ is the supreme ideal for any human being, particularly for one who is focused on spiritual pursuits. When Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa was getting into the trance known as Samadhi one day Narendra, which was the pre-monastic name of Swami Vivekananda, said, “Sir, please bless me so that I always remain in Nirvikalp Samadhi, always enjoying that real bliss, that Divinity which everyone strives for.  For the maintenance of this body, once in a while, I may come down from that state of mind into the body.” Hearing this, Sri Ramkrishna scolded him hard, saying, “You are such a selfish fellow! You want to be absorbed in that blissful state without caring a fig for the suffering humanity around. I thought you would be like a banyan tree under whose shade those who are suffering the miseries of the world will take shelter. But you are thinking of your own bliss. It seems you have learnt nothing from Vedanta.” He further said to his disciple that he kept his eyes open he would see everything existing in this world and beyond as pervaded by the indwelling Brahman, the Infinite, the eternal, the absolute. “Due to the ignorance, we are seeing forms separate from one another.  But Brahma is the reality behind this many-splendoured cosmic show, dwelling in everything, animate and inanimate. So you must shed selfishness and plunge into helping others, for they are the myriad faces of the same Brahma, the One in Many.” Many of Swamiji’s brother disciples could not have digested this message left by their mentor. It is because Sri Ramakrishna   again and again stressed on realizing God before engaging in work as chronicled in the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Perhaps Sri Ramkrishna was aware of the fact that all, though devoted to him, were not made of the same mould. He pinned his hope on Narendra the most who later turned in    Swami Vivekananda.  His message to Swamiji was to ‘spiritualizeeverything you do.’ In general, an ascetic proves to be otherworldly, least bothered about what is going on in the world.   Vedanta was interpreted for long as espousing negation of the world and the life thriving in it which is termed as Illusion, Maya.   Once one attains Atman, the inner self, he is bound to remain absorbed in that state, forgetful of the world existing outside as it is impermanent. On the other hand, the people who are devoted to their respective callings feel that too much of inwardness or spirituality would negatively affect their professional competence.  Their immediate goal being attainment of excellence in their own fields, they tend to feel that any diversion of their minds to matters spiritual or religious cannot but be at the cost of their goal-oriented striving for excellence.  Although they are mostly not disrespectful to religion or spirituality, they honestly feel that it needs to be safely put off till they become incapable of active life or are pushed out it. In short, it could be a good engagement in their post-retirement period! Thanks to this modern interpretation of Vedanta by Sri Ramakrishna-Vivekananda as well as the newfound awareness about the inevitability of spiritual moorings by the outer excellence-oriented management people, the above picture has vastly changed.  Deriving strength from Sri Ramakrishna’s message,  Swami Vivekananda exhorted the monks (ascetics) to engage themselves in doing good to the world—Jagaddhita—seeing Nara as veritable Narayana a Jiva as veritable Shiva.  Nowadays with stress becoming intolerable for the excellence-seeking professionals, the modern proponents of management science are opting for some dose of spirituality to keep mind balanced even amidst huge pile of stress. Viewed in such a context of fast -changing perspectives, both in the realm of the Vedantic spirituality and management science, what Sri Ramakrishna-Vivekananda preached-  harmony between the inner and the outer, between spiritual realization and work-excellence- are assuming a deeper significance and an urgency never felt before. (The writter is a Secretary at Ramakrishna Mission Ashram, Visakhapatnam.)

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