The great sage Vyasa was once sitting on the bank of the river Yamuna at Vrindavan. A few milkmaids were also waiting there. They had milk, butter, and curd with them to be sold in the villages on the other bank.
There was no ferry-boat in sight and the milkmaids were helpless. They approached Vyasya for help.
Vyasya said: “Yes, I’ll help you. In fact, I too have to go the other bank. But first, I am little hungry. Would you mind giving me some condensed milk and curd? You seem to have plenty with you.”
As soon as Vyasa had had his fill of milk and curd, the girls reminded him of his promise.
Vyasa walked up to the stream and with folded hands prayed: “Mother Yamuna! If I haven’t eaten anything, let you waters part to let us through.”
The girls laughed at Vyasa’s prayer. The sage had taken so much of their milk and curd and still he said, “If I haven’t eaten anything…” But suddenly, the stream parted, and there was a passage through it!
Vyasa was a wise man. He knew that he was essentially he Atman, separate from the body and mind. He knew that although his body and mind had participated in acts of eating or drinking, he himself had not.
Janaka was a philosopher-king of ancient India. He was the ruler of Mithila. The princely court consisted of great scholars, and Janaka himself was regarded with the respect throughout India for his wisdom.
Once Janaka performed a sacrifice in which gifts were freely distributed. Vedic Scholars from the far-off countries, like Kuru and Panchala, assembled in Mithila on this occasion.
Now Janaka thought to himself: “This is a rare gathering. So many scholars versed in the Vedic lore have assembled here. I must take this opportunity to find the most profound scholar, the one peerless member of this grand assemblage.”
Janaka hit upon a plan. He asked his servants to put one thousand choice cows in a nearby pen. He further ordered that to each of the cows’ horns should be attached five golden plates. The king’s servants obeyed him at once.
Janaka then appeared in the place of sacrifice. He solemnly announced, “Revered Brahmins, let him who is the best Vedic scholar among you drive the thousand cows home.” This was a rather peculiar announcement and a hush fell upon the assemblage.
None of the Brahmins was willing to rise and declare himself the best scholar. Yajnavalkya then stood up and asked Samashrava, his disciple, to drive the cows home to his forest retreat. Immediately, the Brahmins were a flutter. Ashwala, the priest of Janaka, was the first to issue a challenge, saying, “Yajnavalkya, are you really the best scholar among us?”.
Yajnavalkya: “ I bow down to the best scholar; I just want the cows.”
Ashwala decided to interoogate Yajnavalkya, whose politeness didn’t strike him as genuine. The priest’s favoured position with Janaka had made him insolent. He threw many questions at Yajnavalkya, but Yajnavalkya answered them all. The quick answers were enough to calm the angry mood of Ashwala.
Serveral other scholars now began to interrogate Yajnavalkya. Some were genuine seekers of truth; others simply wanted to put him in a tight corner. Last of all rose a lady named Gargi, the daughter of the sage Vachaknu. Gargi had already asked a few questions, but now she asked the permission of the Brahmins to put forth a few more.
“I shall ask him two more questions, “ Gargi proposed. “Should he answer them, none of you will ever be able to beat him.” In ancient India, women had access to philosophical enquiry – and what tremendous self confidence we find in Gargi, daring a great sage to answer her questions! She was dignity personified.
Gargi continued, “What, O Yajnavalkya, pervaded the whole cosmos and whatever is, was and shall be ?”
Yajnavalkya: “The unmanifested ether.”
“I bow to you, Yajnavalkya. You have answered the question to my satisfaction. Now I have another.”
“Ask, O Gargi.”
“What pervades the unmanifested ether?”
The question seemed to launch Yajnavalkya to new heights of elucidation. He replied: “IT is pervaded by the immutable Brahman. It is neither gross nor minute, neither short or long, neither shadow nor darkness, neither air nor ether. The different worlds, the sun and the moon, do not transgress its mighty rule. Whoever departs from this world without knowing this immutable substance has to move in an endless series of births and deaths. It is never an object of thought or intellect, being thought or intelligence itself. It is the knower who knows through all intellects. Brahman, which is the self within all and is beyond all relative attributes like hunger etc. is the ultimate goal, the highest truth. By this Brahman is the unmanifested either pervaded.”
Thereupon Gargi said: “Revered Brahmins, listen to my words. I have already said that if he is able to answer my questions, none of you can beat him. You can never hope to defeat him. In comprehending Brahman, he has no peer.” Saying this Gargi sat down and listened humbly to rest of the proceedings.
A BRIEF REPORT OF A PROJECT BY RAMAKRISHNA MISSION, KHETRI FOR PROVIDING DRINKING WATER
Living creatures of the universe are made of five basic elements, viz., Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Sky, Obviously, water is one of the most important elements and no creature can survive without it. Despite having a great regard for water, we seem to have failed to address this sector seriously. Human being could not save and conserve water and it sources, probably because of its availability in abundance. But this irresponsible attitude resulted in deterioration of water bodies with respect to quantity and quality both. Now, situation has arrived when even a single drop of water matters.
Ramakrishna Mission, Khetri has taken a modest initiative through creating awareness in the locality about the following important aspects regarding water conservation:
1. To arrest ground water decline and augment ground water table
2. To beneficiate water quality in aquifers
3. To conserve surface water runoff during monsoon
4. To reduce soil erosion
5. To inculcate a culture of water conservation
Taking into consideration the above mentioned goal, Ramakrishna Mission, Khetri has taken steps to restore a very old check dam (Ajit Samand Bandh) at the outskirts of Khetri by excavating silt from it so as to make it sufficiently deep in order that it might hold adequate runoff water during the rainy season. The accumulated water of the reservoir will recharge the ground water tables which in its turn protect wells and tube wells of the locality from drying up.
The work was done by employing a JCB machine for dredging and seven tractor trolleys for transporting the silt from the dam site. It took eight days to remove about eight hundred trolleys of soil from the dam.
BHAKTA-SAMMELAN Organized by
Ramakrishna Mission, Khetri (Rajasthan)
To consolidate and boost up the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda movement in Rajasthan, a Bhakta-Sammelan (congregation of devotees & admirers) was organized by the Ramakrishna Mission at Khetri, Rajasthan on Saturday, 6th March, 2010 (afternoon) & Sunday, 7th March, 2010 (whole day). Swami Gautamanandaji Maharaj, Member, The Governing Body of Ramakrishna Math & Mission, Adhyaksha, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai and Swami Nikhilatmanandaji Maharaj, Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission, Jaipur conducted the Bhakta Sammelan. Swami Prajnatmanandaji Maharaj of Ramakrishna Kutir, Almora performed devotional songs on the occasion. Swami Tarakeswarananda, Ramakrishna Math, Kankurgachhi also took part. Two hundred devotees from different places of Rajasthan and Delhi participated in the function.
Bhakta Sammelan 2010 Programme’s detailed timetable is attached here.
With Best Regards,
We are glad to inform the devotees that the next Bhakta Sammelan will be held on Sunday, the 7th of March, 2010. Swami Gautamanandaji Maharaj, Adhyaksha, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai and Swami Nikhilatmanandaji Maharaj, Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission, Jaipur have agreed to conduct the Bhakta Sammelan. Devotees wishing to participate may enroll themselves from January 1, 2010 by filling up a form and paying a delegate fee. A dormitory type of accommodation will be available in the ashrama. Forms may be downloaded from our web site or collected by sending a self addressed envelope to us.
Details can be found here Announcement Post Card Proof