Karma

The Struggle of Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda was the spiritual heir of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa. Given below are some quotes from Swami Vivekananda’s biography & conversations with his disciples:

After Sri Ramakrishna’s passing away, all forsook us as so many worthless, ragged boys… Then came a terrible time – for me personally and for all the other boys as well.

On the one side was my mother, my brothers [blood relations]. My father died at that time, [sometime before Sri Ramakrishna’s demise] and we were left poor. Oh, very poor, almost starving all the time! I was the only hope of the family, the only one who could do anything to help them. I [Swami Vivekananda] had to stand between my two worlds. On the one hand, I would have to see my mother and brothers starve unto death; on the other, I had believed that [Sri Ramakrishna’s ] ideas were for the good of India and the world, and had to be preached and worked out. And so the fight went on in my mind for days and months…. I was living in hell!

I could not bear to see those who were the nearest and dearest to me, suffering…. Who would sympathize with the imaginations of a boy – imaginations that caused so much suffering to others? Who would sympathize with me? None- except one [Sri Sarada Devi]. That one’s sympathy brought blessing and hope. Well, that lady, [Sri Ramakrishna’s wife] was the only one who sympathized with the idea of those boys. But she was powerless. She was poorer than we were.

I believed, as I was living, that those ideas were going to rationalize India and bring bring better days to many lands and foreign races. With that belief, came the realization that it is better that a few persons suffer than that such ideas should die out of the world. What if a mother or, two brothers die? It is one kind of sacrifice. Let it be done. No great thing can be done without sacrifice. The heart must be plucked out and the bleeding heart placed upon the alter. Then great things are done. I appeal to each one of you, to those who have accomplished any great thing. Oh, how much it has cost. What agony! What torture! What terrible suffering is behind every deed of success in every life.

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda

And thus we went on, that band of boys. The only thing we got from those around us was a kick and a curse- that was all. Of course, we had to beg from door to door for our food: a piece of bread here and there. We got hold [rented] of a broken-down old house [a ruin, left alone for a haunted house], with hissing cobras living underneath; and because that was the cheapest, we went into that house and lived there.

Thus we went on for some years, in the meanwhile making excursions all over India, trying about the idea gradually. Ten years were spent without a ray of light [any hope]. A 1000 times despondency came; but there was one thing always to keep us hopeful – tremendous faithfulness to each other, the tremendous love between us…. That is a great blessing. In happiness, in misery, in famine, in pain, in the grave, in heaven or, in hell, who never gives me up is my friend. Is such friendship a joke? A man may have salvation through such friendship…. If we have that faithfulness, why, there is the essence of all concentration….And that was there with us all throughout that hard time. That made us go from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin[Kanyakumari], from the Indus to the Brahmaputra.

Swami Vivekananda swam to that rocky island and meditated, before going to the West. Later a temple was erected in his memory.

Swami Vivekananda swam to that rocky island and meditated, before going to the West. Later a temple was erected in his memory.

This band of boys began to travel about. Gradually we began to draw attention: 90% was antagonism, very little of it was helpful. For we had one fault: we were boys- in poverty and with all the roughness of boys. He who has to make his own way in life is a bit rough, he has not much time to be smooth and suave and polite- “my lady & my gentleman,” and all that. [a fashionable attire to be socially acceptable; and verbal smoothness and deliberately polished behavior] He is a rough diamond, he has not much polish, he is a jewel in an indifferent casket. “No compromise!” was the watchword. “That is the ideal, and this has got to be carried out. If we meet the king, though we die, we must give him a bit of our minds; if the peasant, the same.” Naturally, we met with antagonism.

But, mind you, this is life’s experience; If you really want the good of others, [bring a lofty ideal into life, by living it] the whole universe may stand against you and cannot hurt you. It must crumble before your power of the Lord Himself in you, if you are sincere and really unselfish. And those boys were that. They were as children, pure and fresh from the hands of nature. Said our Master [Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa]: “I want to offer at the alter of the Lord, only those flowers that have not even been smelled, fruits that have not been touched with the fingers.”… People used to laugh at him [Guru Sri Ramakrishna] when he said, “You will see – this boy, that boy, what he becomes.” His faith was unalterable: “Mother showed it to me. I may be weak, but when She says this is so – She can never make mistakes – it must be so.” [Sri Ramakrishna could see and talk to Ma Kali, the mother of all worlds.]

Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, the perfect bhakta, Jnani, yogi and devotee of Ma Kali

Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, the perfect bhakta, Jnani, yogi and devotee of Ma Kali

[Amitabha Chatterjee: Swami-Vivekananda was an adept in meditation and a perfect karma-yogi, he was an incarnation of Nara Rishi, an emanation of Narayana, much revered in the Puranas. This fact was witnessed by Sri Ramakrishna, in his samadhi. What Swami-ji accomplished in a single short life span of 39 years, cannot be attained by a thousand men put together. The words inside brackets are mine, put there to clarify the subject. The name of the book from which the above is cited is: Swami Vivekananda, on himself, ISBN 81-7505280-5. ]

Gita and Karma

Krishna suggests his disciple Arjuna (as well as all mankind), how Karma works, how it binds us.
Your mind is your friend and your own enemy. He who has mastered his own mind, accepts feelings of  pain & pleasure, both physical and mental with the same measure of calmness. (As if his life and actions are optimally balanced)
Gita Chapter 6, Dyana-Yoga, verses 6 & 7.
 
gita, stevens, karma

gita, stevens, karma

This verse contains great wisdom. Let us understand the psychology and philosophy of Karma.

Hence it is said, that mind is the root cause of Bondage and Liberation. All the works we perform, all Karmas are actually mental. The physical work is just the external projection of the mind. The sense organs like eyes, ears, nose, skin, tongue, bring signals from the external environment into the brain, the mind interprets it, and then we respond to those impulses as we decide. We react through the organs of action like speech, hands, legs, sexual organ, etc. Now, all these organs are harmless tools that obey whatever order the mind issues. So, we actually create Karma (actions) through the mind, not this physical body. The mind is encased in the brain and spinal cord.

If we bring the reactions of the mind under control, we can take wise decisions and perform meritorious actions. Then the mind is our friend. If we let basic instinct and animal impulses overtake us, then we are bound to commit grave mistakes in life. This is like my own Mind acting as my Enemy. We must judge and consider, what is the right thing to do in the current situation and then act. Also, my personal opinion is, that one is much better off when he (or,  she) has made up one’s mind on the goal of life. Then half of the battle is won! In order to do so, you must have a clear idea about who you really are, what are your talents, virtues and problems. Then our actions will be more focused, and we will not be wandering aimlessly, dragging our lives along.

The picture is taken from  Sacred Calligraphy of the East-  by John Stevens. I am fond of Calligraphy. It soothes the mind, provides moral and emotional strength at some subtle level. And its very aesthetic.