As we celebrate 159th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, this personal reflective piece penned by Beelay (Somashis Gupta) narrates true incidents where guidance from the teachings of Beelay (Swami Vivekananda) helped him in his journey of life
“…you need to learn tolerance, you may not believe in Hinduism or it’s rituals or Gods but some of us are believers, don’t insult our belief… I as a Hindu WARN you”.
I realized, my refusal to accept the bigotry and the irrationality which is practiced in the name of religion, may have triggered such a statement. So this is what I told her.
“My understanding of religion teaches me to speak against anyone who tries to dictate women. Men try to shape the destiny of women and there lies the problem. So don’t call fanaticism and racism as Hinduism. As far as my believing in Gods, well…….”
I was born in a family with roots of Brahma Samaj and Vedantism. My parents named me Beelay. As a child I heard discussions on Geeta, Upanishad as well as Marx and Freud. In between this paradoxical enigma, my irreversible fondness for Khichuri prasad made me an occasional devotee. I was five, I was a foodie.
Besides food I remember singing the hymn “Khandana Bhava”, goes without saying I had not even an iota of understanding of what I sang.
Many years later my curiosity made me read a book on Vivekananda’s speeches called “Lectures from Colombo to Almora”. I was fascinated by ideas and ideals of this man, which easily overflow narrow national boundaries. Swamiji is universal, he is beyond horizon. I realized he is the one who wrote ‘Khandana Bhava’
Vivekananda guides me and inspires me ever since. I remember in 2010, I was passing through troubled water. Someone suggested an astrologer with great repute. I went and found him telling me things about myself which even I did not know. He finally said “your shani is overpowering your actions, you need to were a stone to change its orbit”. In spite of my disconsolate mood I managed a good laugh with this as he claimed that a small stone will change the course of the cosmos.
I came back home and read Vivekanada. He says “I have seen some astrologers predict wonderful things; but I have no reason to believe they predicted them from the stars, many cases it is simply mind-reading. Sometimes wonderful, but mostly arrant trash.”
I took up meditation instead of stones.
It was sometime in 2015, when this incident happened. I was cherishing a cup of Makaibari with some friends. It was an ensemble gathering of people belonging to different religious beliefs. We were discussing on different methods followed while worshiping the almighty. Soon the friendly debate changed to a heated argument. Each tried to convince the other on his way of worship. I was disgusted. Finally I told them, does it really matter how we worship? Don’t you think by fighting on the ways of worship we are just loosing the main essence of religion itself?
I than narrated this hymn which Swami Vivekananda spoke during his Chicago address.
‘…As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.’
I realized the way religion is preached by the preachers at time diverts us from the reason of religion itself. I ended up composing this song…
Bhalolagche na Mondire, Girijay, Mosjide
Bhondo Sadhu, Bhondo Father, Bhondo Maulavi
Amar kache Bhogoban mane Lokhkho Lokhkho Manush
Amar kache bhogoban mane sromiker bheja gham
Amar kache Bhogoban mane gachpala ar pakhi
Amar kache Bhogoban mane Mayer chotto shishu
(Temples, Church or Mosques none attract me anymore)
(The Sadhu, The Father or The Maulavi convince me no more)
(To me God is all the humans)
(To me God is the sweat of the workmen)
(To me God is in the Birds and the Trees)
(To me God is there in the new born babies)
Let me narrate another incident which happened last year. It was one of those philosophical discussions we have once in a while. A friend comes up with a question “Why do Hindus worship Idols?” Many answered and then it was my turn. I remember reading Vivekananda on this subject, I started..
“When I call you in your mobile what do you see?”
“Well I can see your number and your name.” Came the answer
“What is the first thing which comes to your mind besides the thought of picking it up?” I asked again
“Well we think of your face, I guess”
“Yes, precisely, my image flashes in your brain. So you see all humans are idolaters. The existence of the Omnipresent almighty is hard to understand for a common man. It is only the God-man who can get beyond it as they have dedicated their life to meditation. That is why Hindus put in an image before them during worship.”
“That’s quite an interesting explanation” Reacted the group.
“At the same time if you see all the mantras and the Slokas all aim towards the 33 Kotis” I continued.
“You mean the 33 crore Gods and Goddess?” Asked someone.
“No it is not 33 Crore but just 33. Crore Sanskrit is Kuti, while Koti means types.”
“Oh! This sounds different?” Reacted someone
“They are 8 Vasus , 12 Adityas, 11 Rudras and 2 of Ashwini Kumar ”
“What are they?” Someone asked
“They are all related with us and our surroundings. I suggest you read Swami Vivekananda who says “we should get beyond the prattle of men who think that religion is merely a mass of frothy words, religion is only a little intellectual assent or dissent, religion is believing in certain words which priests tell us, religion is a certain form of ideas and superstitions to which we cling We should get beyond all these and look at humanity as one vast organism, slowly coming towards light—a wonderful plant, unfolding itself to that wonderful truth which is called God.”
Vivekananda taught me love for another life form is the best religion. Feeding the ones in need is more holy than sitting in the temple for hours. Working with honesty is better than blowing the conch shell. Vivekananda taught me Humanism. He whom I owe so much I salute him.
vande veda-tanum ujjhita-garhita-
bāla-candra-dharam indu-vandyam iha
(composed by Sarat Chandra Chakraborty on Swami Vivekanand)
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A devoted foodie with keen interest in wild life, music, cinema and travel Somashis has evolved over time . Being an enthusiastic reader he has recently started making occasional contribution to write-ups.