Posted by: Rajib | October 29, 2014

NEFT for Vivekdeep

For all the well wishers of Vivekdeep who want to use technology to extend their helping hand, there’s a good news !!

NEFT details of Vivekdeep are :

Savings Bank Ac No. 025005004013
IFSC ICIC0000250
ICICI Bank Ltd
HL Square
Plot 6, Sec 5
Dwarka, New Delhi

Pl. let us know your complete postal address through email at info@sriramakrishnasangha.org with a cc to rrajib3@gmail.com. It will help us in sending you the receipt.

Thanks for all your encouragement !!

Posted by: Rajib | October 14, 2014

Learning from Savitri

Many years ago there ruled a king in India by the name Ashwapati. The king had a devoted queen and both lived very righteously. They enjoyed the highest regard of their countrymen but were sad on the account that they did not have any child.

Every day, the king recited the national prayer Savitri, worshipped his Lord and asked for a child. This went on till he became very old. One day while Ashwapati was praying, he heard a prophecy that a child would be born to his wife. At last, the king’s prayers were going to be answered. He rushed to his queen to share the news.

In due course, the queen gave birth to a baby girl. The whole kingdom danced in joy upon the arrival of the divine gift. The little princess was named ‘Savitri’. Savitri grew up to be a beautiful and intelligent girl.

When Savitri was 18 years old, the king decided to marry her off. When Savitri came to know of this, she told the king that before taking any decision she wanted to go on a pilgrimage, meet holy men, listen to her inner call, and do accordingly. The king liked the idea and made all the necessary arrangements.

The journey began. Savitri led the life of an ascetic while she visited the holy places and met hermits. She slept on the ground, wore simple clothes, and took only one meal in a day. One day while passing through a forest, Savitri saw a young man collecting firewood. Though he was dressed in ordinary clothes, Savitri could sense that there was something special about him and asked her people to gather more information. Thereafter, ending her pilgrimage, Savitri directly returned to her palace.

King Ashwapati was very happy to see the princess return and enquired whether her mission was accomplished. Savitri gave a detailed account of her pilgrimage. She revealed that she had met a prince  called Satyavan, who she had chosen as her life partner. She further disclosed that Saytavan was staying in the forest with his parents as the ministers had banished the old and blind king from his kingdom.

Sage Narada, who was present there, jumped in horror upon hearing Savitri’s choice. He told King Ashwapati that Saytavan was destined to live only one year after his marriage. So if Savitri marries him, she would become a widow within a year of her wedding. Ashwapati became sad on hearing this and tried to persuade Savitri to give up her choice. However, Savitri firmly and politely replied that since she had already accepted Satyavan as her husband, like a true Indian woman, she would stick to her decision, come what may.

With no other option, King Ashwapati sent Savitri’s marriage proposal to Satyavan’s father in the forest. The proposal was accepted with the condition that after marriage Savitri would have to stay in the forest with her in-laws, which Savitri readily agreed. After her wedding, Savitri went to live in the forest as decided. She did not disclose the secret of Satyavan’s life to anyone but kept a count of the days. She served her husband and the aged in-laws to her heart’s content.

Three days before the due date, Savitri went on a fast. On the ill-fated day, Savitri requested her in-laws to let her accompany Satyavan to fetch firewood. The old king and his queen were very pleased with Savitri’s conduct so they allowed her to go.

Savitri kept a close look on Satyavan while he cut the trees. During noon, Satyavan suddenly fell unconscious. Savitri placed his head gently in her lap and waited steadfastly, for she knew that the final moment had come. Soon there started a storm blowing away all the dry leaves. When the storm settled, the Lord of Death, Yama appeared on a buffalo and dragged Satyavan’s soul out of his listless body.

Savitri carefully placed Satyavan’s head on the ground and followed Yama.  After a while, on hearing footsteps, Yama turned back and saw Savitri. He was surprised and told her that her husband was dead and she should return to perform his last rites.

Savitri calmly replied, “The duty of a wife is to always follow her husband. Please do not stop me from doing my duty”.

Pleased with Savitri’s reply, Yama told her to ask for any boon except Satyavan’s life.

Savitri said, “Lord, may my father-in-law get back his eyesight”. Yama agreed and proceeded on his way. A little later upon hearing the footsteps once again, he turned back and saw Savitri following him.

Yama was happy with Savitri’s determination, and told her to ask for another boon except Satyavan’s life.

Savitri implored, “Lord, may my father-in-law get back his lost kingdom”. Yama said, “Granted. But you must go back now”.

After a while Yama looked back and saw Savitri still following him. Yama declared, “No living being can dare to follow me. I am, however, happy with your courage and perseverance. Ask for the last boon except your husband’s life. And this time you must return”.

Savitri requested, “Lord may I have many sons and see their children happy before I die”. Yama said, “Granted”, but saw that Savitri was still waiting.

Yama asked, “Have I not granted your last wish?”

Savitri replied, “Yes my Lord! But how can a devout wife have children without her husband?”

Yama was perplexed. Savitri had defeated him by her intelligence. He had to release Satyavan’s soul. Savitri thanked Yama and hurriedly returned to Satyavan, who was waiting for her.

Upon seeing Savitri, Satyavan asked, “What had happened to me?”

Savitri smiled, “Nothing, my Lord. You just fell asleep “.

Learning

  1. Before taking any decision, calm your mind and make an inward journey.
  2. Perseverance is the most essential thing for success.
  3. Self-confidence can help overcome any obstacle.
  4. Think of the welfare of others first, before your own.
Posted by: Rajib | September 25, 2014

First leaflet of Vivekdeep

Curve Leaflet  Front Curve Leaflet Back

Posted by: Rajib | September 16, 2014

Vivekdeep achieved its 1st milestone

For all our well wishers, there’s a good news !!

Within 4 months of operation, we’ve received the 80G exemption from Income Tax Deptt.

You may kindly send your ‘Token of Appreciation’ for this movement, to the following address :

‘Vivekdeep’

Sri Ramakrishna Sangha

B 703, Paarijat Apartments

Plot 28, Sec 4

Dwarka

New Delhi 110078

arun@sriramakrishnasangha.org

Cheques/Drafts need to be drawn favoring “Sri Ramakrishna Sangha” payable at New Delhi.

Please mention your name with complete postal address so that we can send you the receipt of payment.

Thanks a ton for all your encouragement  :-) :-)

Posted by: Rajib | August 22, 2014

Independence Day at Vivekdeep

Every year on Independence Day, I shift the flower pots kept in our terrace to make space for the flag post and hoist the tricolor with my daughter Riddhi on tow. This year however, we celebrated the day a little differently.

National Anthem

National Anthem

After the flag hoisting and National Anthem at Vivekdeep, we briefly discussed the importance of the day.
Tribute to our freedom fighters

Tribute to our freedom fighters

Then the stage was set free for the students. Attendance was 100%. First, there was a group song. It was actually the test of consistent efforts put by my wife Reena and sister-in-law Neena over a couple of weeks. The enthusiasm of the students and applause of the audience said it all J

Group song

Group song

Then each student presented his creative avatar in the form of either painting (Riddhi even shared her crayons !! ) or patriotic song or poem.

Patriotic poem

Patriotic poem

They did that without any support from the teachers.  Though some of the younger ones forgot the lines and fumbled and some nudged the partner to take out the paper from his pocket- but these are not to be discussed J
Let's sing together

Let’s sing together

Each one was a winner in overcoming huge inhibition to stand in front of an audience to give vent to his creativity.
Attentive audience

Attentive audience

All their efforts were duly acknowledged with prizes !
Appreciation matters

Appreciation matters

Young Achiever

Young Achiever

I am no less

I am no less

Why would only the children speak ? We then invited the parents to voice their opinion about Vivekdeep, if they found any change in the behavior of their children after undergoing 4 months of this program.  Vehement opposition, vigorous nodding of heads and looking the other way ultimately gave way to our constant coaxing. The reaction was quite natural. Afterall, do masons, gardeners, vegetable vendors and painters speak in such a gathering ? They are only spoken to.

Parent's feedback

Parent’s feedback

Ultimately, when one by one they got up and spoke, they spoke with passion, love and deep respect for this life changing program. Throats chocked, tears welled up and the audience was moved !!

Thanks to all

Thanks to all

Then a formal thanks giving was done to all the patrons for their continued support and also to the parents for lending their children for this experiment.

Refreshment is also needed

Refreshment is also needed

Refreshment packets were the material ‘take home’ for all J J

Our ambitions are not limited by our limited resources. We dream big while looking at these young sparkling eyes – joyous, unadulterated and full of confidence !!

Let’s repay our debts to the society. If you also share the same feeling, then we welcome you with open arms J

All your help will be thankfully received and acknowledged. You may send your Cheque /Draft drawn in favour of ‘Sri Ramakrishna Sangha’ payable in New Delhi. We are waiting for your suggestions at:

Vivekdeep

Sri Ramakrishna Sangha

B 703, Paarijat Apartments

Plot 28, Sec 4

Dwarka

New Delhi 110078

ramakrishnasangha@vsnl.net

Posted by: Rajib | April 14, 2014

Vivekdeep

Image

For quite some time I was deliberating on the structure of a Social Outreach Program through which, I can give back to society in my humble way for all the privileges that I have had so far. An introspection to find the right path is indeed a difficult task. Somehow 7 of us got together, had several rounds of discussion on actual and imaginary roadblocks and decided to take the plunge.

I thought, if the power of discrimination i.e ‘Vivek’ is made clear, then it will act as a ‘deep’ (lamp) helping both the students and the facilitators walk on the right path. Thus ‘Vivekdeep’ was lighted. Looking at our limited capacity, we decided to start with 20 boys of the age group 8 – 12 years whose parents are auto drivers, gardeners, painters, masons and the like.

To draw up a curriculum, I thought to meet some of them informally to assess their academic caliber. It reminded me of the interactions that I used to have with the B Tech students of Univ of Hertfordshire, UK for the same purpose. I had no idea that I was in for a rude shock ! I could hardly hold my tears when a Class V student of Govt School could not read a single word in Hindi ! However, his shining eyes were full of life and willingness to do something in life- all he needed was just a caring hand ! This was the case of all the boys L

Thus we included Listening, Speaking and Reading capability in the curriculum. Basic Science and General Awareness completed the list. Value Education will be an inherent component in all the modules, as this most important aspect has vanished from our Education system :-( 

As I explained the program during the inauguration on 12th of this month, to the students and their parents, they all listened with rapt attention.  I could read disbelief written on their faces, when I said that it will be a 1 hr session daily, at the end of which a glass of milk and light snacks will be given to each student. And everything will be free of cost !

We have to organize funds, manpower, other resources, IT exemption under 80 (G) etc etc.

My wife Reena has agreed to lend her voice to this program. She wants to teach ‘Group Song’ every Saturday. Whether it will bring some colour to the monotonous lives – only time will tell :-) :-)Image

Posted by: Rajib | November 26, 2013

Clear Conscience

Yesterday I returned from Jaipur after attending a 2 day ‘Seminar on Religious Harmony’ and had the following conversation with my 10 year old daughter.

You had gone to attend some meeting ?

Ya. Yes. It was a seminar on Religious Harmony.

What does that mean?

You are a 5th grader. It is difficult for me to make you understand this.

You can explain it in a manner that I understand, like you do Maths and Science. Can’t you ?

Only if you continue eating your lunch.

Ok, I am eating. Now you explain.

Representatives of different religions spoke about the main teachings of their faith. And how they should remain with the believers of other religion, peacefully, without bearing any hatred towards one another.

Hmm. People of which religion had come ?

Christianity, Islam, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Hindu and some other religions.

In our class, we have a Christian girl, a Muslim boy , a couple of Sikh boys and girls and many Hindu students.

That’s natural.

We are all friends and do not fight. When we can stay together, then why do elders need to be told to respect other religions and not fight with each other?

{ I was speechless }

Posted by: Rajib | April 29, 2013

Empty Nests

Part – I

“Chooglee”.

“What does that mean?” I asked my 9 year old daughter, Riddhi.

“That is the name of the pigeon – birdie. It is going to grow up to peck”. She tried to reason out.

I have seen Riddhi watching the pigeon couple build their nest in our balcony with straw and dry leaves. Then an egg was laid and the birds took turn to hatch it for almost a month. Her heart skipped a beat every time our maid said that she was going to clean up all that mess.

All the while Riddhi waited patiently till one day she woke up to the excited chirpings of the birds. An ugly  birdie, smeared with muck all over making it uglier, was being welcomed by its parents.

Riddhi’s joy knew no bounds as she watched the little bird grow and make constant noise.  At times she scolded it also. After returning from school she would straight go to the balcony  and speak with the avian family for some time. She kept some grains of  rice and water for them before having her lunch.

For the next fortnight when the parents took turns to give training sessions on flying, the birdie made the loudest cry out of fear. It was then that the crows took note of the young one.

It was difficult to say whether it was previous night’s storm or the crow, next morning the birds were found to guard the listless body of their young one.

Speechless, and with tears welled up, Riddhi touched her Chooglee for the only time to certify that it was dead. All the mess was cleaned up but not before leaving a scar in a young heart.

Part –II

Sofia was a young lady when she joined as my grandma’s maid. With the passage of time, she got trained in the household work and commanded respect from all due to her simplicity.

As my grandma’s family expanded, so did Sofia’s responsibilities. She saw grandma’s children growing up, getting married and bearing children. My grandma nurtured a special relation with Sofia and both the ladies used to chat at length on topics they knew the best.

Even when grandma became old and her health failed, Sofia continued to serve her with the same earnestness. Despite my grandma’s daughters in law being always on the toe, Sofia would herself attend to grandma’s personal needs.

The evening grandma passed away, Sofia gave her a bath in the noon, washed her clothes and went home, only to return next morning as usual.

Early morning when we were about to take the bier out, my mom asked us to wait for Sofia. In the meanwhile Sofia came, and ignoring the gathering at the front gate, entered through the side gate and went upstairs to grandma’s room, only to be welcomed by her empty cot.

In a flash she understood everything. Giving a heart-wrenching wail she ran downstairs and flung herself on grandma’s listless body. “Amma , where did you go, leaving me behind ?”

Grandma had gone away leaving her nest albeit cot, empty.

Posted by: Rajib | February 5, 2013

A Smile or a Slap?

Yesterday I took my mom to hospital for her cataract operation.  Since we do not have our own conveyance in Ranchi, we had asked a known rickshaw-wala, well in advance, to come at sharp 8 am.

Kal subah aath bajey aa jana. [ Come at 8 o’ clock tomorrow morning]

Theek hai. [Ok]

I wasn’t much surprised when yesterday he pressed our doorbell at 5 minutes to 8. With utmost care he drove his hand rickshaw and dropped us at the hospital.

Have you had your morning tea? I asked.

No. He gave a sheepish smile.

Why? There was enough time.

What he said left me speechless.

Last evening he decided not to go home which is quite far off, fearing that he might not be able to turn up on time. And he did not want to fail his commitment as he knew that would result in much inconvenience to us. So he spent the cold night in his rickshaw (without any warm clothes). It did not matter much that he could not send a word back home regarding his not returning at night.

He finished his story with a smile.

I was looking at his disheveled hair, unshaven beard, untidy clothes, dusty feet and satisfactory grin.

Was it a smile or a slap? I wasn’t sure.

Posted by: Rajib | January 12, 2013

Swami Vivekananda : His relevance in today’s world

We often wonder what would be the relevance of the message of a monk today, who was born 150 years ago, lived the life of a mendicant and left for his heavenly abode at a very young age of 39 years.
Let us examine some important traits of Swami Vivekananda’s personality.
Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) was born at a time when India was ruled by British. He saw the oppression of his countrymen from close quarters when he travelled throughout the length and breadth of India. Sitting on the rock at Kanyakumari, he meditated on not any god or goddess, but his beloved motherland for three days and three nights continuously. Thereafter he declared that India will again rise to her zenith far overshadowing all her previous accomplishments. Swamiji enthused his followers to sacrifice their lives for the betterment of his motherland. By doing so, he said, they will easily attain ‘Nirvana’. His messages were vibrant with utmost patriotism. Swamiji poured his heart out for the poor by saying, “I call him a traitor who, having being educated, nursed in luxury by the heart’s blood of the downtrodden millions of toiling poor, never even takes a thought for them”. He further declared,” They only live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive”. It is no wonder that his books were regular companions of our freedom fighters, and the British government, at one point of time, had banned them altogether. Rabindra Nath Tagore said, “If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative”. Mahatma Gandhi said, “I have gone through his [Vivekananda’s] works very thoroughly, and after having gone through them, the love that I had for my country became a thousand-fold.” According to Swamiji’s western disciples, whenever he used to utter those five letters I N D I A, it created such a shock in their body and mind which could not be explained by any language. Today, amongst us there are many people who have come out of their puny self-interest and started thinking for the society and the country at large. They have certainly found a meaning of their lives.
Swamiji was a scholar and a great exponent of scriptures. Throughout his entire life, he propounded the message of Upanishads. He used to say that the primary teaching of the Upanishads is “Abhi”, that is, “Be fearless”. Katha Upanishad was closest to his heart and Nachiketa was his hero. He wanted the youth to attain immense self-confidence and be fearless like Nachiketa. A person commits crime when he gets overpowered by his weaknesses – at physical or psychological level. Swamiji said, “Have faith that you are all, born to do great things”. He wanted the youth to have that much of faith by which they can uproot the mountains and drink up the ocean. Today if we look around, we will find that the key of each success story is limitless self-confidence and willingness to fight the odds.
Another aspect of Swamiji’s personality was his universal brotherhood. Speaking at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, he said, “As the different streams mingle their water in the sea, different paths which men take, various though they appear, all lead to the same god…. Upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, ‘Help and not Fight’, ‘Assimilation and not Destruction’ ”. Today the world realizes that to bring peace, there is no other ideology more proper than this.
Swami Vivekananda, who was said to have the intellect of Shankaracharya and heart of Buddha looks into our eyes and makes us realize that his messages are much more relevant today than ever before.

As a tribute to Swami Vivekananda on his 150th Birth Anniversary on 12th Jan, 2013.

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