Nishaji from Houston, Texas delivered a beautiful lecture on Swani Vivekananda.
If we look at the scriptures and Puranas, we know how the previous yugas, namely Sathya, Treta and Dwapara Yugas were like. And coming to the bad guys, there is normally one prominent demon for one period of time, one was terrorizing the whole universe. All the lord had to do was to incarnate and come down to earth and slay that Asura. A very simple task for the lord. But when Kaliyuga set in, there is an episode in Srimad Bhagavata Mahatmyam, everyone in Deva Loka started to worry about the advent of Kali Yuga in Booloka and that a bad time had indeed come. Sage Narada saw the Devas worrying and so he decided to come down and take a look at Booloka. He came down and after looking around the world, he started fleeing away. As he was going back, he met the four mind born sons of Lord Brahmas, the Sanakadis. So he confided what he saw and told them that he was indeed very scared about Kali. So the Rishis questioned Sage Narada as to what really scared him the most in Booloka. Sage Narada said that in earlier Yugas, one could clearly see who the Asura was. But in Kali, everyone has an Asura tendency. I could not deceive who was indeed good and bad. So that is verily the characteristic of Kali Yuga in which we are living. We all have an Asura sitting in each of us inside. What can the lord do when the entire population is like this? One Avatar of the lord is not enough. And that is verily why the lord in KaliYuga incarnates as Mahatmas and comes down multiple times. Kali is so strong that he has to incarnate again and again. All Mahatmas are manifestation of the lord. In a time of dire, when the Lord has to accomplish a mission on a world-wide scale that has to last for myriad of years, then the lord comes down as an Avatara Purusha. One such Avatara Purusha who lived not too long ago was Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He was not an ordinary Mahatma. It was verily Lord Krishna who came down in the guise of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He was born in 1836 and lived until 1886. For about forty years, there were no devotees for him. The disciples who were to take his mission forward, came to him only in the last five-six years. The first forty years were spent in setting the stage and in laying the foundation for the great mission that he had come down for. He incarnated to show the precept that all paths lead to the lord. He learnt Tantra and attained the lord. He worshipped the lord as the divine mother in Vatsalya Bhava and attained the lord. He also followed the path of Vedanta, Christianity and Islam and reached the holy feet of the lord. We all need to remember one precept. He was an Avatara Purusha and he was not one to seek the lord unlike us. So why did he go through all this? He practiced all the paths only to show the truth of all these paths. Sri Paramahamsa was cognizant of his incarnation and so he yearned for his disciples. He had actually confided his eagerness to meet his devotees with Mother Kali and she had assured him that his devotees would come to him very soon. His devotees were the instruments to uplift the normal mortals. He used to yearn to meet his devotees so much that he would go to the top of his house and cry out for his devotees. And in 1879 his devotees slowly started to come. The foremost of them was Swami Vivekananda. His birth name was Narendranath Datta and he was born on Jan 12th 1863. Just before Naren was born, Ramakrishna had a beautiful vision, where he went into Sammadhi and visualized himself soaring above the world, beyond the galaxies and universe. He perceived all the Gods and Goddess and even went past them. There was a sphere of brilliant light and he even crossed the light and then spotted seven venerable Sages [Saptha Rishis] who were in meditative state and Ramakrishna on seeing them immediately recognized them to be filled with divine love and compassion. As he watched the seven Sages, a beautiful form of divine child emerged from the sphere of brilliant light. The child then went to one of the Sages and tenderly clasped his neck from behind. The magic touch of the child roused the sage from his meditative state and looked at the boy with divine love and charisma. The boy confided in the Sage about his incarnation on earth. He told him that he was planning to go down to earth and he also asked the Sage to come along with him. The sage’s divine glance at the child expressed his assent even though he didn’t utter a word. When Ramakrishna Paramahamsa narrated this incident to one of his disciples, he told that when he saw Naren, he immediately recognized that he was verily that Sage and that he was the divine child. The lord thus called out one of the [Saptha Rishis] to carry out his mission. Naren was born as an ordinary child in a very pious and devout family and did not know from where he had come from. He had many spiritual experiences when he was growing up but was always skeptical and was very inquisitive about everything. His mother had earlier prayed to Lord Shiva and begotten him. Naren was however raised with Western thoughts since it was British rule then in India and later joined the Brahma Sama, which was a reformist movement in Calcutta. He heard about Ramakrishna and the first meeting between Naren and Ramakrishna happened in November 1881 at a devotee’s residence. Ramakrishna was very delighted to see him and invited Naren to come to Dakshineshwar. When Naren went to meet the master, he welcomed him and requested him to render a song. Naren had a beautiful voice and when as he was rendering, Ramakrishna was transported to an ecstatic state and his eyes were filled with tears. Ramakrishna immediately pulled Naren and took him to another room, locked the door and cried out to him. He confided in Naren, that he was yearning to meet him and asked the reason for Naren’s delay and immediately Ramakrishna told him that he knew who he was and exclaimed thus – “You are Nara, the ancient sage who is an incarnation of Lord Narayana”. One can imagine the plight of Naren. He was a young boy who came to meet Ramakrishna in a casual way. Ramakrishna’s actions bewildered Naren and thought that he was crazy. Both Ramakrishna and Naren returned back to the room where Naren met the master. Naren’s favorite question that he put forth to everyone was “Have you seen God?” and nobody was able to give a clear answer and everyone evaded it. No wonder, Naren asked the same question to Ramakrishna as well and was stunned at the response given by his master – “Yes, I have seen God”. Not stopping there, he said “I see him as I see you here but only more clearly. One can see the God and talk to him but who care for the God. People shed tears for trivial matters in mundane world, but no one really weeps to see the lord. When the desire to see the lord is indeed true and shed tears to see the lord, then one can really perceive the lord. This reply shook Naren and he was totally impressed. He had finally found one who had met the lord and something about Ramakrishna attracted Naren and he could not keep away from the master. After few weeks, he again came to meet Ramakrishna. This time when he met the master, Ramakrishna was in his room and he asked Naren to sit near the corner of his bed. He went into a state of Samadhi and touched Naren with his foot. It was a jolting experience for Naren as everything was disappearing and he was indeed not ready for the experience. Naren started crying loudly and questioned Ramakrishna as to what he was doing to him. Paramahamsa started to laugh and he touched Naren’s chest and he said “
everything will stop now and that there is a time for everything”. This was the second meeting with the master. The third meeting happened few weeks later. Even though Naren was skeptical about everything some force enticed him towards Paramahamsa. It was verily because Naren belonged to Ramakrishna. During the third meeting, the master went for a stroll to a garden house nearby and Paramahamsa went into Bhava again and when he touched Naren, he completely lost his outer consciousness. In that state, the master asked Naren questions about the past, his mission and the divine secrets relating to Naren’s incarnation. His answers confirmed that Naren was indeed the person he was waiting for, the Sage whom he had called then. Later, Paramahamsa told his other devotees that Naren was a great soul, who was perfect him meditation, and also added that the Naren would give up his body, the day he realized his true self by an act of will, verily through the path of Yoga. Paramahamsa held the key and didn’t let Naren know his true identity till he had finished his mission in this world. It took Naren six complete years to accept Paramahamsa with complete conviction. Paramahamsa was cognizant of the precept that Naren was the one who was going to take his mission out to the world and used to praise Naren in front of everyone who had social status and were much more advanced in spiritual progress in the society. This made him very embarrassed and questioned Paramahamsa as to why he was praising him amidst all senior people like Keshab Chandra. Sometimes Mahans have child-like behavior. Upon hearing Naren’s question, Paramahamsa was very confused and he went to Divine Mother Kali to seek advice. He put forth the question that Naren had asked and she replied not to get bothered by Naren’s responses and she also assured him that in a short-while Naren will totally accept every word of his. Paramahamsa came back and told Naren what Mother Kali had told him. Paramahamsa had so much love for Naren. When Naren didn’t come to Dakshineshwar to meet him, Paramahamsa would cry yearning to see Naren and he used to go and see him where ever he was. One such time, Naren was in Brahma Samaj when Ramakrishna went to meet him. Naren was perplexed and rebelled against his Guru as to why he came to meet him. Ramakrishna was puzzled and went back to Mother Kali again. He then came to meet Naren with Mother Kali’s response and told him that he loves him because he sees the lord in Naren and he also added that the day he don’t see the lord in Naren, he won’t be able to bear even the sight of Naren. There are many such incidents where Naren was skeptical and rebelled against his Guru. During the first few meetings with his master, Naren would never accept the precepts of Advaita philosophy that everything was Brahman. One day he was sitting with one of Paramahamsa’s devotee and was telling that the Advaita philosophy was totally preposterous. Ramakrishna who was then in another room, heard this conversation and came and touched Naren and the very touch took Paramahamsa into Samadhi. That was indeed a magic touch and he started seeing the lord everywhere. He himself explained the experience that he was stupefied to find that there is nothing in the universe but God. He also said that he waited to see how long it lasted and even after going home, when he was getting ready to eat, he was not able to partake the food since he saw the plate, food and the person serving the food to be Brahman. He was able to only see the lord everywhere. This experience lasted for few days, and after that Naren never questioned the philosophy of Advaita as he very much experienced it. With the abundant grace and divine love of Paramahamsa, Naren was totally transformed and he came into his master’s folds. The master was very much aware that he didn’t have much time to be spent on earth. Towards 1884, Naren’s father died and he had to take care of his family. It was a very difficult situation since Naren’s father had incurred a lot of debts and the family was in brink of starvation. Naren started to doubt the existence of God and had to face challenges in various fronts including his spiritual life. He then went to meet Paramahamsa who advised him to visit Kali’s temple and pray to the divine mother to save them from the crisis. When Naren went to the Kali temple, he saw the divine mother to be living and conscious and was engulfed in divine love. Naren, who was flooded in the surging wave of divine love, folded his arms and prayed to her to grant, knowledge [Jnana], devotion [bhakti] and dispassion [Vairagya] and requested her to grant her darshan forever. He came and told Paramahamsa that he totally forgot to ask the divine mother to alleviate his worldly misery. Hearing this, Paramahamsa asked him to meet Mother Kali again. This meeting with the divine mother happened for three times. But Naren saw the divine mother in living form and he never sought any relief for his mundane troubles from her. Paramahamsa was very happy to see that Naren had accepted the Divine Mother and with compassion, blessed Naren that he and his family will never be in want of food and clothing.
Ramakrishna then began to train Naren and since he was to lead Ramakrishna Mission. Ramakrishna had himself told his other devotees that many devotees would come to Naren and always compared Naren with a “thousand-petalled lotus”. Towards the middle of 1885, Ramakrishna was diagnosed with throat cancer and his end was nearing. He was taken to Calcutta for treatment and was later moved to Cossipore where he spent his last days, where he was taken care by his wife Sarada Devi and Ramakrishna’s other devotees. He gave ochre clothes to 16 of his disciples and Naren was one of them.
When Naren knew that his Master’s end was near, he went to Paramahamsa and request him to bless him with an experience of Samadhi. He was opined that he had to realize God before his master left his mortal coil. Hearing his request, Paramahamsa chided him that he was asking for an insignificant thing. He also told Naren that he was a banyan tree and that everyone would seek shelter under him and assured him that there is something more than liberation. Even though he reproached Naren, he blessed Naren with an experience of Samadhi. That day when Naren was meditating, he completely lost his physical body consciousness and went into a state of Samadhi. After regaining his consciousness, he ran to the master to inform what he had experienced. After hearing the incident, Paramahamsa told Naren that the divine mother had shown him everything. He also told Naren that his realization is akin to a jewel locked in a box and that his realization will be hidden from him. Just like how a key is needed to open the jewel box to see the jewel, Paramahamsa told Naren that he would have the key to his realization and that Naren will know his true self only after completing all his work in this world.
Just before Paramahamsa breathed his last, he transferred all his divine powers to Naren. He called Naren to his side, and looked at him steadily and then went into Samadhi. Naren experienced a subtle force akin to an electrical shock entering his body and lost his outward consciousness and he sat motionless. Naren was not sure how long he was in that state, but when he got back his senses, he found Paramahamsa shedding tears. When Naren inquired his master, the Master said to Naren: “ Today I have given you all that I possessed and I am only a beggar now and with these power you will do immense good for the welfare of the people and not to return until the mission is accomplished”.
Despite all this, Naren still had lingering doubts about Paramahamsa. A couple of days before the Master’s end came, Naren was thinking as to how Paramahamsa can be really god with that withered body and all that crucifixion of his physical body due to the grave illness. Another thought that was running on Naren’s mind was that if the Master can really prove that he was indeed God, then he thought he would indeed believe him. Immediately the Master looked at Naren said: “He who in the past was born as Rama and Krishna is now living in this very body as Ramakrishna” and after few days later, Paramahamsa passed away. Naren who later came to be known as Swami Vivekananda, took Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s mission to all the corners of the world. There is Ramakrishna Mutt/Mission established everywhere and the mission has done so many good deeds for the welfare of the people. It was all indeed by the divine power of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who came down to uplift the masses.
The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.