Friday, September 18, 2009

Swami Dayanand Saraswati

Swami Dayanand (1824-1883) was the founder of the Hindu reform organization Arya Samaj, which he established on April 7th 1875, in Bombay India. He also created the 10 principles of Arya Samaj. Throughout his life, Swami Dayanand preached against many Hindu traditions which he felt were dogmatic and oppressive. These included traditions such as idol worship, caste by birth, and the exclusion of females from the study of the Vedas. One of his main messages was for Hindus to go back to the roots of their religion, which are the Vedas. By doing this, he felt that Hindus would be able to improve the depressive religious, social, political, and economic conditions prevailing in India in his times.

Swami Dayanand was born on February 12th, 1824 in a town called Tankara in the state of Gujurat, India.

One of Swami Dayanand's major arguments for going back to the Vedas was that, in his own words " the four Vedas, the repositories of knowledge & religious truth, are the Word of God. They are absolutely free of error, & the Supreme & independent authority ". The four Vedas are; Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, & Atharva Veda. To spread awareness of his movement and to revitalize Vedic knowledge, Swami Dayanand published many religious books. These include; Satyartha Prakash ( The light of Truth ), the Rig-Vedaadi, Bhasyya- Bhoomika, and Sanskar Vidhi.

Swami Dayanand preached many messages to Hindus during his lifetime. For instance, he preached that Hindus should worship just one, formless, God. He fought against polytheism by telling people the true meaning of the names of God, & established how all of them pointed at one & the same God- Paramathama, the Supreme Self. Further, Swami was " a voice against superstition, against unrighteousness, which reigned supreme in the garb of true religion, and against a foreign rule ".

Throughout his known adult life, Swami's main message was " Back to the Vedas ". By this, Swami Dayanand meant that Hindus should stop practising beliefs such as idol worship, caste, polytheism, pantheism, untouchability, child marriages,forced widowhood, and many other practices which he felt were wrong. He challenged many of the Hindu orthodoxy if they could justify their belief in the aforementioned practices. This induced the anger and wrath of many orthodox Hindus, which subsequently led to 14 attempts at poisoning Dayanand. Miraculously, he was able to use his Yogic abilities to cure himself from the first 13 attempts. However, the 14th time proved fatal. Swami Dayanand died, and left the world with his legacy, Arya Samaj.
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Swami Krishnananda

Revered Sri Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj took birth on the 25th of April, 1922, and was named as Subbaraya. He was eldest son of a family of five children of a highly religious and orthodox Brahmin family, well versed in the Sanskrit language, the influence of which was very profound on the young boy. He had a high school education at Puttur (South Kanara Dist., Karnataka State) and stood first in the class in all the subjects. Not being satisfied with what was taught in the classroom, young Subbaraya took to earnest self-study of Sanskrit with the aid of Amara-Kosa and other scriptural texts. While still a boy he studied and memorised the entire Bhagavad Gita, and his simple way of doing it was not having breakfast or even lunch until a prescribed number of verses were memorised. Thus within months Subbaraya memorised the whole of the Gita and recited it, in full, every day. Such was his eagerness to study scripture. Reading from the Srimad Bhagavata that Lord Narayana lives in sacred Badrinath Dham, the young boy literally believed it and entertained a secret pious wish to go to the Himalayas, where Badrinath is located, and see the Lord there.

By the study of Sanskrit works like the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, etc., Subbaraya was rooted more and more in the Advaita philosophy of Sanakaracharya, though he belonged to the traditional Madhva sect which follows the philosophy of dualism. His inner longing for Advaitic experience and renunciation grew stronger every day. In 1943 Subbaraya took up government service at Hospet in Bellary District, which however did not last long. Before the end of the same year he left for Varanasi, where he studied the Vedas and other scriptures. But the longing for seclusion and the unknown call from the Master pulled him to Rishikesh, and he arrived there in the summer of 1944. When he met Swami Sivananda and fell prostrate before him, the saint said: "Stay here till death; I will make kings and ministers fall at your feet." The prophecy of the saint's statement came true to this young man who wondered within himself how this could ever happen. Swami Sivananda initiated young Subbaraya into the holy order of Sannyasa on the sacred day of Makara-Sankranti, the 14th of January, 1946, and he was named Swami Krishnananda.

Sri Gurudev Swami Sivananda found that Swami Krishnananda was suitable for work of correspondence, letter writing, writing messages and even assisting in compiling books, editing them, etc. Later on Swamiji was given the work of putting into typewritten form the handwritten manuscripts of Sri Gurudev, which he used to bring to him every day. For instance, the entire volume of the Brahma Sutras of Sri Gurudev, which he wrote by hand, was typewritten by Swami Krishnananda. He confined himself mostly to the literary side and never had any kind of relationship with visitors, so that people who came from outside never knew he existed in the Ashram. It was in the year 1948 that Gurudev asked Swamiji to do more work along the lines of writing books in philosophy and religion, which he took up with earnestness. It can be safely said that from that year onwards, Swamiji was more absorbed in writing and conducting classes, holding lectures, etc., as per the instructions of Sri Gurudev. The first book Swamiji wrote was The Realisation of the Absolute which was written in merely 14 days and is still his best book - terse, direct and stimulating.

When it became necessary for the Ashram to co-opt assistance from other members in the work of management, Swami Krishnananda was asked to collaborate with the Working Committee which was formed in the year 1957. At that time Swamiji became the Secretary especially concerned with the management of finance. This continued until 1961 when, due to the absence for a protracted period of the General Secretary, Gurudev nominated Swamiji as General Secretary of the Divine Life Society, which position Swamiji held until 2001. It can very safely be stated that in the history of the Divine Life Society none ever held, nor is likely to hold, that responsible and taxing position of General Secretary for four decades.

It may be recorded to Swamiji's credit, without fear of the least exaggeration, that it is Swami Krishnananda, the genius and master of scriptures, who alone expounded practically all the major scriptures of Vedanta. These discourses were given the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy of the Society during the early morning sessions, afternoon classes and the regular three-month courses. Most of them have been brought out in book form and are authentic commentaries covering the philosophy, psychology and practice of the various disciplines of Yoga. Swami Krishnananda is thus the author of nearly fifty books, each one a masterpiece in itself. Only a genius of Swamiji's caliber could do this in the midst of the enormous day-to-day volume of work as the General Secretary of a large Institution. Swamiji is a rare blend of Karma and Jnana Yogas, a living example of the Bhagavad Gita's teachings.

Such was Swami Krishnananda's literary skill and understanding of the entire gamut of the works of Swami Sivananda, numbering about three hundred, that when the Sivananda Literature Research Institute was formed on the 8th of September, 1958, Sri Gurudev himself made Swamiji the President. Again it was Swami Krishnananda who was appointed as the President of the Sivananda Literature Dissemination Committee, which was formed to bring out translations of Sri Gurudev's works in the major Indian languages. From September 1961, Swamiji was made the Editor of the Society's official monthly organ, 'The Divine Life', which he did efficiently for nearly two decades.

Swami Krishnananda was a master of practically every system of Indian thought and Western philosophy. "Many Sankaras are rolled into one Krishnananda," said Sri Gurudev, in a cryptic statement, which he himself has amplified in his article, He is a Wonder to Me! Swamiji lived in God-consciousness and guided countless seekers on the path to self-realisation. Swamiji attained Mahasamadhi on 23rd November, 2001

Monday, September 7, 2009

J Krishnamurthi

J Krishnamurthi
Jiddu Krishnamurti was born on 11 May 1895 in Madanapalle, a small town in south India. He and his brother were adopted in their youth by Dr Annie Besant, then president of the Theosophical Society. Dr Besant and others proclaimed that Krishnamurti was to be a world teacher whose coming the Theosophists had predicted. To prepare the world for this coming, a world-wide organization called the Order of the Star in the East was formed and the young Krishnamurti was made its head.

In 1929, however, Krishnamurti renounced the role that he was expected to play, dissolved the Order with its huge following, and returned all the money and property that had been donated for this work.

From then, for nearly sixty years until his death on 17 February 1986, he travelled throughout the world talking to large audiences and to individuals about the need for a radical change in mankind.

Krishnamurti is regarded globally as one of the greatest thinkers and religious teachers of all time. He did not expound any philosophy or religion, but rather talked of the things that concern all of us in our everyday lives, of the problems of living in modern society with its violence and corruption, of the individual's search for security and happiness, and the need for mankind to free itself from inner burdens of fear, anger, hurt, and sorrow. He explained with great precision the subtle workings of the human mind, and pointed to the need for bringing to our daily life a deeply meditative and spiritual quality.

Krishnamurti belonged to no religious organization, sect or country, nor did he subscribe to any school of political or ideological thought. On the contrary, he maintained that these are the very factors that divide human beings and bring about conflict and war. He reminded his listeners again and again that we are all human beings first and not Hindus, Muslims or Christians, that we are like the rest of humanity and are not different from one another. He asked that we tread lightly on this earth without destroying ourselves or the environment. He communicated to his listeners a deep sense of respect for nature. His teachings transcend man-made belief systems, nationalistic sentiment and sectarianism. At the same time, they give new meaning and direction to mankind's search for truth. His teaching, besides being relevant to the modern age, is timeless and universal.

Krishnamurti spoke not as a guru but as a friend, and his talks and discussions are based not on tradition-based knowledge but on his own insights into the human mind and his vision of the sacred, so he always communicates a sense of freshness and directness although the essence of his message remained unchanged over the years. When he addressed large audiences, people felt that Krishnamurti was talking to each of them personally, addressing his or her particular problem. In his private interviews, he was a compassionate teacher, listening attentively to the man or woman who came to him in sorrow, and encouraging them to heal themselves through their own understanding. Religious scholars found that his words threw new light on traditional concepts. Krishnamurti took on the challenge of modern scientists and psychologists and went with them step by step, discussed their theories and sometimes enabled them to discern the limitations of those theories. Krishnamurti left a large body of literature in the form of public talks, writings, discussions with teachers and students, with scientists and religious figures, conversations with individuals, television and radio interviews, and letters. Many of these have been published as books, and audio and video recordings