Belur Math is a hour bus ride from the center of Kolkata. This sanctuary of Rama Krishna is a peaceful place. At night temples are lighted which make it look more beautiful with pleasant Ghats. However photography is prohibited inside the premises. You can find a shop and a small museum and absolutely worth the detour.
Magnificent temple stationed on the west bank of the river Hooghly, near the homonymous pier dock where the boats coming from the other side. It is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, the guru who preached the unity of all religions. The mission was founded in 1897 by Swami Vivekananda (1862-1902), the most illustrious of the disciples of Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa (1836-1886).
The temple is a unique construction that depending on the angle from which it is observed now assumes the forms of church, now a mosque or Buddhist temple still in line with the teachings of Ramakrishna syncretic. In the two-storey house within the precincts of the temple, Vivekananda died 4 July 1902 Since then, the room has been preserved as it was. What we call the disciplines of ashram that guide behavior in the Vedantic centers, is the result of initiatives devoted more than a regulation of the Swami of the Ramakrishna Mission.
The Hindu thought the idea that the visible world is but a mass of energy, or quality calls guna . There are three gunas of which you could say are white, red and black, which form the internalization or goodness, passion or ignorance or inertia and activities. The world at any time is the sum total of all the gunas in their manifestations and different combinations. In the saints, the guna of no passion or sattva predominates. In the ambitious is the activity or rajas predominates. The lazy, the one that takes time, it possesses a high degree the quality black tamas .
The gunas are contagious; so a person lethargic, in the presence of an active person, you may feel pushed to the effort or initiative. The individual agitated in the presence of tranquility, can feel relaxed. This opens the contrary, while, for example, the happiness you feel is diminished under the atmosphere that emanates from a depressed individual.
The Hindu thought and Hindu social structure and traditional was based on the belief that individuals are placed in life according to the guna predominates in them and should act according to the behaviors of that situation, that is the dharma individual.
God, they say, is beyond the gunas and anyone realizes union with God is said to have transcended the gunas and can not be dominated by them. Since the purpose of life transcending the gunas , in the course of successive lives in which the effort is to rise higher and higher, the Hindus tried to submit the highest possible influence of the gunas and to avoid the influences that retard its progress. This led her behavior and determined the costumes that followed. Its purpose was to rise higher and higher in the hierarchy of the gunas , to pass entirely beyond the hierarchy and come to immerse themselves in God.
So God is considered totally adorable, totally worthy of a cult. Although essentially formless, for the good of mankind, God takes on different shapes and forms. Incarnations and images are the portraits of its different aspects. How deity in temples and shrines. Desiring the man to be protected by God, and desiring to resemble him and love him, comes to visit him in his sanctuary, showing respect, trying to do what pleases Him. With those intentions man can be purified sufficiently and establish contact with God. Humans can also organize in his house a branch of the temple, not with his hands but with his heart ...
Therefore, the behaviors most important to follow in an ashram concerning the attitude to have in a temple or shrine. Cleanliness is the first duty because it contains a strong element of sattva . And this concerns not only the body or clothes, but the purity of mind. Before entering you leave your shoes, not to bring the dirt in a place where people are sitting on the ground; on the other hand bend your legs under him to meditate is uncomfortable if you wear the shoes. There is also a more subtle reason: take off your shoes in front of a deity is a gesture of humility inner and respect.
For more break all ties with his secular position and concerns of the world, the devotee may feel more convenient to wear a dress reserved for only the chapel and where it is comfortable to meditate, or to wear a chadar . A chadar is a kind of uniform that takes individual differences that distract and certifies solidarity in the effort. This also suggests the feeling of being separated from the others, alone with God. And normal entering the house of his Ideal greet him with a gesture of respect, a prostration called pranam or reaching her hands in a gesture called namaskar .
And 'necessary to say that in front of his Ideal you should observe silence and avoid disorderly movements. The word asana means posture and also the cushion where you sit. The legs and hands folded, the trunk and head are straight an attitude of receptivity. Spread your legs in front of the deity or expose the limbs or sag are considered disrespectful.
It 's normal when you visit someone who is adored, bring him a gift. The greatest gift that the Lord loves the most, is the feeling of the heart and in the Gita it is said that if that feeling exists a small leaf or a symbolic water will be more than satisfactory. Of course, the devotees also offer money, but the offer is usual in food and flowers. The flowers offered in the ritual called puja dall'adoratore called pujari , are returned to the devotees after the ceremony, if they wish, and they are preserved as relics of the saints, as the Catholics hold the blessed palms. When the flowers have faded, not to be thrown into the dustbin; you have to make to the earth, in a place where they are not crushed by the feet. Of course, the flowers offered must be clean and free of spots and that have not already been offered to someone else; usually are washed and are sometimes sprinkled with perfume and sandalwood paste.
The food on offer has the same rules. The fruit should be fresh and natural. Welcome sugar candy; may be offered a well cooked food, but it must come from a source as pure as possible. In India, the Brahmins are often chefs, for being Brahmins are believed to have sattvic qualities.
Every devotee, preparing food to be offered must be mentally and physically clean during preparation, of course, must not taste the food or when cooking or after. The language is considered to be the bearer of impurities, or should be able to broadcast quality. Give your qualities to others, conveying something that has been in your mouth or touched your mouth, is the worst of bad manners. In addition, the Lord, having to be the first to smell a flower, it must be the first to enjoy the food.
As the flowers offered in puja, the food is offered to the devotees after worship. Having been accepted by God, it is very sattvic. The word that describes it is prasad , which means blessed by God and imbued with the acceptance of its quality or energy. An error that devotees often make is to designate the food that lead to be offered as a contribution of prasad. Until it is offered, it is only a gift of food; is that after it becomes prasad.
The idea of the puja done in an ashram of Ramakrishna in very simple terms is this: the Lord is the guest of honor, an august character that makes us a favor and visit us.
The puja is to offer pleasant things, flowers, food, incense, music, aromas, light, and also water for bathing and drinking. The Ganges water is offered if possible. This illustrates another principle of Hindu thought. The purity is of two kinds, or rather, there is a purity and cleanliness. The purity Hindu is not physical because it implies the presence of sattvic qualities. So a restaurant with tablecloths immaculate and a bright silver, although clean from the point of view of hygiene, can not bring anything spiritual in a lunch afterwards mental attitude and physical health of cooks and waiters, while a simple meal, if you are thought of God during preparation, may have a more sattvic, because the food is pure.
The gestures that the pujari ago during the ceremony are called mudra . It is said to help concentration, which are the physical symbols of spiritual ideas and release spiritual energies that contribute to the effectiveness of the rite. The offspring spoken in silence are called mantras , which are invocations, prayers, quotes, scripture, or formulas with the divine name.
It should be noted that one of the interesting ideas of the puja , that is, for the Lord has it all, it is presumptuous on the part of the devotee offer him anything. So the first thing the pujari is to assume a divine attitude that keeps throughout the ceremony because in reality the ritual consists in what God offers to God what already belongs to him.
All ' arati , the office in the evening, we offer to God the elements of the universe: earth, air, water, fire and ether. What is the space, time, causality, if not a cosmic celebration in which God rejoices in what is already his. But it also says that, although He is the owner of everything and does not need anything, God's grace to accept what the worshiper offers him, because by accepting such acts of love, God brings men to himself.
The man has five senses, and because his understanding goes no farther, he supposes that God also has five senses. He wants to please the taste, offering food and spiritual exchanges for its taste, sharing with God what God has eaten.
In the same way, The offers incense and perfume having as a result of a conditioned reflex that occurs in humans, which means that everything that refers to his sense of smell makes him think of God.
The same with hearing We have already spoken of the mantra and is expected to pronounce them cause of spiritual vibrations. A whole repertoire of songs has formed, pleasant to the ears of God and of his worshipers. The songs bhajans at the end of the morning meditation and aarti, are printed in a booklet which can be obtained at the center.
The series of jai repeated at the end of the songs can be interpreted as cries of victory directed to different heroes Vedantic. Jai means greeting or victory. The list of jai and their meaning is found in the book of chants.
The fourth way is to touch. We appeal to the sense of touch in the comfort of God that provide, the clothes of the highest quality, a temple pleasant, tasteful decorations. In India, on hot days it brings God to walk in boat or sometimes towards the pavilions at the center of the confidential part of the temple. As devotees, we want to touch the object of our worship. The touch gives in exchange energy of vibration. It is for this reason that in India people do not shake hands, but greet each other with clasped hands namaste.
Touching the feet of an image or a beloved person as a parent or a guru, it is a gesture of respect and a desire to absorb the spiritual energy or the image quality of the person. The feet are considered effective coils of the essential nature. The exchange of vibrations opens in both directions. A saint can find it too painful to be touched by people's feet full of sins, because that takes too much contact with him. Tap your feet also expresses humility; is a blessing to collect the dust of the feet of a person honored and bring the dust to his forehead.
The view, the fifth sense, is considered a contact that influences or energies are transmitted. The word used in that process is darshan . The deity or saint gives his darshan to those who are in His presence in an attitude of worship, to rejoice in his sight. We appeal to the sense of sight of God, striving to stay in a chapel clean and tidy, decorated in a nice way.
As regards the habit of constantly remind the preeminence of the Lord, the devotees take the habit of thinking first of all to him. Before you do anything, they bow to him getting up in the morning. Greet him coming to the ashram, going to the chapel, waving his image, paying tribute to his representative, the Swami in charge. Each gift they receive or what they buy for themselves, I'll offer before use. The food and drinks are offered mentally before it is consumed.
Leaving the house or ashram, we took leave from the Lord and relies on its case before sleep. Leaving for a trip, you demand the aid to the Divine Mother, repeating Durga, Durga at the start.
The ashram Vedantic worship many saints and spiritual heroes honoring their party with more or less importance, the day of Kalpataru (January 1), the anniversary of Ramakrishna, Easter, the birth of Krishna is celebrated publicly in Gretz. There are other holidays called tithis puja , or guru purnima that are celebrated in private (but if you wish you can help). The dates, which change from year to year depending on the position of the moon, are provided for the faithful. Include the dates of anniversaries of important disciples of Ramakrishna, the Durga Puja, Kali Puja, the Shivaratri, and the dates of Ram Nam, while the story of the life of Rama and his deeds are celebrated in music.
A guru is considered a special representative of God, able to lead others to God. Versed in the Hindu scriptures and rituals and is a person of certain habits and practical wisdom. Although it is often said that the guru is God, no reasonable guru takes this literally. Manifest divine qualities, is an example of his life and spends most of his time to help others without wanting to be rewarded.
The reserve of spirituality that has acquired over the years of sacrifice and of ripeness can impart to the disciples (chelas) with the ritual of initiation (diksha) in which it is given a formula or mantra, containing the divine name. They are all those mantras in the scriptures and are appropriate to one or other of the deities of choice or ishtam . The japa and the silent repetition of mantra , often using a rosary of 108 beads, called mala. The mala must be kept clean in a special bag or a purse and during its use must remain covered. Any outward show of piety is considered too tacky.
We can say that each of us can discover a mantra convenient in a Hindu holy book and use it without the intervention of a guru. Sure, there are now popular publications that contain the indication of a correct pronunciation of the majority of mantra important. But in Hindu thought, the initiation of a guru adds something very important, the transmission of a spiritual power with the hearing, which increases the latent energies of the chela .
If the chela want to consider the guru as God, this can help you. As a friend, confidant, eg, confessor, the guru is a great help. But only to the extent that the uses to lead to the intangible tangible. An excessive identification with the guru physical can lead to fanaticism, to addiction, to jealousy, to the formation of groups or sects. Every guru that allows you to receive a cult is a detriment to his well-being and that of his chela . This demarcation is very subtle, such as allowing the identification that helps the disciple without allowing the glorification that can harm him and his organization. The Swami Ramakrishna order are aware of this problem and the authorities of Belur Math always monitor the activities of swami authorized to give initiation.
Of course, the claw must be respectful, humble, obedient, hardworking with his guru , because he is an apprentice and those qualities prone his mind to the art of learning.
The behavior of the devotees constitutes acceptance of the hierarchy; is an idea of the extension of respect for the guru . The founder and leader of the movement, always considered alive, is that Ramakrishna is often called Thakur (Lord), the Master or Guru Maharaj. But not in an exclusive sense. Ramakrishna is seen as the ideal embodiment of the idea of universal religion and reconciliation. Devotees can take it as an ideal choice ishtam if they wish, but not necessary. Each concept of spiritual character can be chosen as a subject of worship and in that case Ramakrishna can be considered as guru which facilitates the realization of that particular aspect of the One. Sarada Devi is revered as representative of the concept of the Mother Shakti or active principle. Swami Vivekananda is revered as the man who popularized the revelation of Ramakrishna, the doctrine taught by the sannyasin of the movement.
It can be said that the Vedanta gives the rational basis of understanding in a certain limit of God and that Ramakrishna has the practical methods of the realization of the Divine. Vivekananda combined these elements in an attractive way and gave the men a practical course to follow, suitable for individual differences.
And 'what is meant by Ramakrishna Vedanta. The effigy of the order is the Vedanta in graphical form. View a lotus on a lake, lit by the rising sun and surrounded by a cobra. On the waves a white swan. Over a phrase in Sanskrit written by Vivekananda: What enlighten us. Its a powerful ideogram for balance and harmonious development of the aspirant religious. The water symbolizes the karma yoga , for spiritual progress for selfless work, the lotus the Bhakti yoga for the development of divine love, the rising sun the jnana yoga, the practice of discrimination and knowledge.
All are bound together by the raja yoga , concentration and meditation that awakens the serpent of spirituality; the swan in the center symbolizes the potential aspirant to the Supreme Soul. Supported by those means, the ideal man must emerge, peaceful happiness, perfected in the beauty of one's self. The statement says the ultimate goal of Vivekananda that all devotees should pursue and which conducts the work, worship, efforts and struggles, can enlighten us all.
The representative of Ramakrishna on earth is the President of the Order of Ramakrishna, who was elected by a committee of senior swami , themselves democratically elected by the sannyasin Order. In India, only the President and the Vice President have the power to start. There is a Secretary-General and several other officials. But the hierarchy works to the rank of seniority seniority in the Order that is following the date of the Order. So it is possible that an official is to be respected as a top, one swami official who has not entered the Order before him.
A word on respect. At the time the youth is glorified for their physical appearance and charm. But are qualities that can not be bought and are a gift of nature ignorant. The devotees who want to progress struggling against nature and realize, after some time, as it is slow and difficult purification. They see that you need a lot of work to develop and begin to respect those who possess it. And 'characteristic that Eastern civilizations have enhanced the elders and sages. Respect for spiritual greatness is inculcated in Vedantic and devout happens gradually decrease the ego.
The word Maharaj is reserved for those who took sannyas and to brahmacharis to all novices who have taken or not brahmacharya formal. The word sadhu is a general term often applied to the monks in their entirety. You may send to a sadhu as Maharaj. A Sadhaks is a spiritual aspirant and the disciples who follow a sadhak are called sadhana .
The order of Ramakrishna is an organization of men. In the centers there is a mixture of the two sexes. This is due to perform properly. Modesty in dress and behavior are important.
An ashram is maintained as a retreat from the world, a place the world is not mundane, for those wishing to get away from samsara . So it is important that those who are their behavior so as not to bring the world to them.
The followers must adhere to practices that lead to liberation. The park should not be considered as a camping or a beach. The relationships with the people must be based on a relatively formal. The meetings are held in the public part of the house, not in the park or in the rooms. It 'not recommended to bring pets, because they bring frivolous atmosphere and distracted and can be a source of difficulty, varying between individuals feelings toward them. Among the faithful there must be purity in relationships, acceptance of the weaknesses of others, avoidance of scandal, internalize the words and actions, regular meditation, no request to make.
One of the most harmful habits is spiritual talk on the elevation of another or reveal your. Who does not have these qualities disturbs the community and delaying its implementation.
Eating is an important part of Hindu life and is significant in the life of ashram. The prayer before the meal, the ventiquattreesimo verse of the fourth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, says that eating is a spiritual act. In the centers has created a label that incorporates eastern ideas.
The nutrition label is based on the ideas already mentioned: the contact with the tongue is dirty and no one should bring their own vibrations to others; the food very transmits vibrations.
In India the guests sit and are served by someone who will eat later. There you pass the dishes of a convitato with one another and there is need alone. People eat with their fingers and not having napkins, lick your fingers often of course, the hands are washed. So the situation is very different and all contact between hands and mouth or licking your fingers is not desirable. Laughing and joking, talking loudly at the table are to be avoided because of the risk of sending foreign matter into the pot of near or serving dishes.
At the table, using it will drop the food on your plate, avoid touching the plate with a napkin. You will not use the spoon or the fork that you are putting in your mouth to take in your own flat food that is past.
The western habit of lean or sit on the tables between meals is not accepted, because it is not sensitive to pose the lower part of the body on the table where you take your meals.
One wonders at times: the Ramakrishna Movement is a cult and how the swami who run the center are different from people who have a bad reputation?
This seems to imply that a cult is something bad. But not necessarily. The dictionary defines a cult as a group of people forming a distinct group, united by common interests and beliefs. And the worship word sometimes used to describe a devotion to a person or ideal can also refer to a religious or a cultural community whose motives are worthy.
Every human organization can make a bad road that is causing a regression between the members instead of raising them. And when this occurs in a sect or a cult leader sets for his interest or his glorification, then the word sect or cult is used in a derogatory way that is appropriate.
But seven or bad leaders can sometimes do good to their employees, for example, when young drug addicts or criminals are helped to purify and find an ideal in life.
The goal of Vedanta is the spiritual liberation of its members. The organization is not a guardian and the swami in charge gardener useful when the plant is small. Swami Vivekananda said: Its good to be born in a church, but do not stay. The program of the center Vedantic talk about dogmas and temples like minor details, since our goal to manifest the divine in us.
The Ramakrishna Vedanta is therefore a new church? Yes and no. Outside of initiation, the swami not make any other services such as baptism, do weddings, rites or burial. They do not consider themselves as the Order or employees to salvation. It certainly is not an organization with a temporal power, the members of the monastic do not deal with politics in any way. Everyone is free to enter or leave the center at all times. But the Vedantic center can be considered as a church, in the sense that it provides a place where people can come together to work for their salvation in the presence of a leader and others in the same search.
A Gretz and in certain other centers are facilities: the heads of families can live in close contact with the monks in spiritual retreats, which resemble community. This implies the suggestion of Ramakrishna, who heads the family should sometimes be absent from family obligations to spend a few days in the holy company.
The disciples heads of families are called sadhaka laity. They have an honorable place in the movement. Not shown in the hierarchy, but the support and they receive a spiritual benefit. The centers, temples and ashrams are the physical result of cooperation between monks and laity. The ministry of spiritual direction and the everyday are made to the swami in charge through the aid of those monastic and lay people.
The employees laity have some work to do around the temple. The monks have their daily lives insured, serving the employees lay faithful and religious affiliation buying helping the monks with their gift and their work. So it is a fair exchange in which there are neither advantaged nor losers, no superiors or inferiors. The swami sometimes make a secular job to demonstrate this.
In formulating the monastic rules that apply for hundreds of years, St. Benedict speaks of the equipment daily, tools and supplies, as precious as the holy vessels exposed on the altar, that you are using and which must be treated with equal respect. The inhabitants of the Ashram follow this rule and also extend to buildings and property.
We have a similar idea in the center. Its a community of virtuous people. Ramakrishna said that his devotees formed a new caste or a caste apart, that is, that members of the Ramakrishna Mission were a fraternity because of their adherence to the ideal. The Vedanta teaches how to achieve it; the center should be considered a spiritual environment where everything has to lead to that end.
Life in an Ashram is an experience in the art of developing the road and clarity. Although they may be encoded other costumes, as I tried to clarify, the real success to live in an ashram is obtained naturally with the internalization. The character matures, we realize that the rules that lead to success in the world do not serve in an ashram . It 'a kind of community of all different with different goals and different ways of achieving them. In general, nor the guru, nor anyone else will tell you. You will need to learn it, feel it with intuition, by simply nonsense, developing modesty, silence, respect. In summary, sattva , more sattva .