The Polite PM

The Polite PM
It was indeed a pleasant meeting with the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Sri Narendra Modi at INA Marker, Singapore on the afternoon of 24 Nov. 2015. He met the INA veterans and their descendants. There was also a small selected group of invitees from different organisations in Singapore.
What surprised me was his utter simplicity in meeting with everyone!
Simply speaking a few words and enquiring about everything brought immense joy to all! Seeing his walking straight on the red carpet with brilliant strides brought to my memory the ancient Sanskrit line “pinjaraadiva keshari” – like a lion striding out of a cage! Perhaps my stay now in Singapore evoked the Singa – lion simile in my thoughts! Along with me Swamis Satyalokananda and Jitamanasananda from our Singapore Ashram were present at Netaji Memorial.
I thanked him for unveiling the 12 ft statue of Swami Vivekananda in Kuala Lumpur Ramakrishna Mission branch on Sunday, 22 Nov. in Malaysia.
I give below a slideshow of a few snaps at INA Memorial Marker taken by Bala. One photo was downloaded from this site of Sri N Modi. For your reference that photo is the last listed photo in that website page, taken by one of the India cameramen who accompanied Sri Modiji.

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Fascinating Frankfurt

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cropped-screen-shot-2014-10-15-at-6-55-06-am.pngSwamiji in Germany

The history of the Ramakrishna-Vedanta movement in Germany goes back to the days of Swami Vivekananda when he visited professor Paul Deussen of Kiel in Germany in 1896. There were many prominent German scholars in the past, like Schopenheur, Max Mueller, Paul Deussen, and others whose contribution to Vedanta is immense. In recent times, Kurt Friedrichs made a lasting impact on Vedanta movement. He has written or translated many books on Ramakrishna-Vedanta literature also. 

Official beginning

In the year 1933 an official centre was started with Swami Yatishwarananda as the head of the centre at Wiesbaden. But due to some unavoidable reason it was closed down in 1938. However, the work of Vedanta Centre of Wiesbaden was revived from 1959 with Kurt Friedrichs, a disciple of Swami Yatiswarananda, as its president. Since then this society has been publishing books on Vedanta and bringing out a quarterly journal called ‘Vedanta’. Later on in or around 1995 some enthusiastic devotees and students of Vedanta formed this Society and bought a spacious three-storied house at the present location. At the request of the Society the Ramakrishna Math headquarters at Belur Math, India, has affiliated its spiritual activities in November 2004.

courtesy: German Vedanta Centre

Fascinating Frankfurt

It was a​ ​cold​, wintry ​day when we arrived at Frankfurt. ​Clutching on to our warm jackets ​we wheeled ​our bags out of the central station and to the taxi rank. To our surprise we noticed hundreds of beige coloured “e class” Mercedes Benz cars​ running as taxis. But then we understood that we were in Germany – home to the MB family!

As we drove to the hotel, I could not help but notice the contrast between old and new buildings, with the modern skyline and its glass skyscrapers set on one side, and the historical old town opposite. ​we were looking forward to reaching the hotel as the body needed a hot drink.

The​ Flemings Deluxe Hotel​ – a truly regal building, was a welcoming sight after the four and half hour train travel from Paris. After lunch I contacted brother Swami Baneshananda, the Minister-in charge. He was profoundly regretting that he could not meet me at that hour as he had urgent meeting at Berlin and hence he was leaving Mühlheim as early as possible.. He had, however, made all arrangements for us to be received by his Assistant Swami Bhaswatananda at Mühlheim ashram the next day.

Mesmerising Mühlheim Ashram

A one hour journey from Frankfurt to Mühlheim was indeed scenic; ​we drove along ​the beautiful country​ side​ with rivers and lakes along the way, lots of parks and​ quaint apartment buildings with ​ well manicured gardens to be marvelled at.

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Our ashram building is a 3-storey building with a small compact shrine on the first floor which was really beautiful. Swami Bhaswatananda welcomed us warmly and offered us hot tea and snacks. We had a short satsang, ​some ​reading and then the Swami gave us a little history about the ​Mühlheim and Berlin centres​. We were treated to a sumptuous lunch. It was a pleasant meeting of an India born volunteer who was expert in culinary and we learnt that he prepared our tasty meals! He was pursuing his higher education while staying at the Centre. 

Cooking vis-a-vis pure mind

I was pleasantly reminded of the incident in the life of Swami Vivekananda about the art of cooking. Saratchandra Chakravarty, a disciple of Swamiji in his famous work “Swami-Shishya-Samvâda” in two parts recounts how Swamiji was appreciative of good cooking and connects it to the pure mind… I give below the passage from this book :

For some days past, Swamiji has been staying at Balaram Bose’s house, Baghbazar. There will be a total eclipse of the sun today. The disciple is to cook for Swamiji this morning, and on his presenting himself, Swamiji said, “Well, the cooking must be in the East Bengal style; and we must finish our dinner before the eclipse starts.”

The inner apartments of the house were all unoccupied now. So the disciple went inside into the kitchen and started his cooking. Swamiji also was looking in now and then with a word of encouragement and sometimes with a joke, as, “Take care, the soup (The Bengali expression has a peculiar pronunciation in East Bengal which gives the point of the joke.) must be after the East Bengal fashion.”

The hungry monk

The cooking had been almost completed, when Swamiji came in after his bath and sat down for dinner, putting up his own seat and plate. “Do bring in anything finished, quick,” he said, “I can’t wait, I’m burning with hunger!” While eating, Swamiji was pleased with the curry with bitters and remarked, “Never have I enjoyed such a nice thing! But none of the things is so hot as your soup.” “It’s just after the style of the Burdwan District”, said Swamiji tasting the sour preparation. He then brought his dinner to a close and after washing sat on the bedstead inside the room.

While having his after-dinner smoke, Swamiji remarked to the disciple, “Whoever cannot cook well cannot become a good Sâdhu; unless the mind is pure, good tasteful cooking is not possible.”

As we were leaving the ashram, drops of rain washed our faces…a true blessing from Thakur!

Sight-seeing the spots


the Eschenheimer tower …

Directly opposite our hotel was the one of Germany’s finest relics the Eschenheimer tower from Frankfurt’s old town walls which was built in the 1400. It’s a hugely impressive structure at 47 meters high.​

What was the best way to view the city? The Swami at Mühlheim advised us to take the open bus, as the extreme cold weather would not permit us to walk leisurely in the city. That was the right decision.

In the heart of Frankfurt’s old town (Altstadt), the Römerberg is an irregularly shaped square with the justice fountain at its center. As the tourist guide described it was not only Frankfurt’s most picturesque public square, it’s the city’s busiest pedestrian zone, home to numerous tourist attractions. One can see a variety of shop structures, from its many Kulturschirn, a form of open-fronted shop once common throughout the old town, to the Römer, a complex of 11 lovely old buildings from the 15th to 18th centuries. The old town hall (Altes Rathaus) with its imperial hall (Kaisersaal), once the scene of splendid banquets was another attraction.

Man with a hammer

As the bus I was sitting was winding its way I noticed a sculpture that kindled my imagination. It was right on the pavement of the road leading to Trade Fair grounds.

The man with the hammer...

The man with the hammer…

A man with a hammer was that sculpture I noticed. I remembered the English proverb “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail”! He can fix up all broken frames. He can “create’ whatever remain to be done. Did not Swamji say, “You are the creator of your own destiny”? It signified the tremendous efforts put up by Germans to ‘create’ a new nation, as it were, after the war ravages. The splendour and prosperity that we witness today comes from that hard work of the industrious German people.

Saying farewell to Frankfurt we left for our next stop in Europe – the snowy Switzerland.


|| Aum Shri Raamakrishnaarpanamastu ||


A Time to get Together!

My hearty greetings to all the devotees, friends and admirers in Singapore and all over the world! My maiden Diwali night is here in Singapore! What a joyous day to worship Mother Kali in all Her glory! 


e-Satsang thru Blogging

WordPress provides statistics for Blogs hosted by them. Generally I am not a frequent visitor to statistics page to see how my Blog is fairing in the cyberspace. Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 9.16.53 AMToday on the eve of Diwali just I was curious and saw the results: The number of Visitors has been steadily rising. Each visitor has been hitting the pages 10 to 12 times! The cumulative hits from the beginning as on today stands at over 219,000 !!

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 9.17.47 AMRegarding the maximum number of readers of this Blog, the majority still is coming from USA followed by India and then by South Africa. Most Singaporean devotees till recently did not know that I have a Blog and hence slow in picking it up. Many of them told me that they never had any inkling that I wrote a Blog! “A Blog from a monk!” was a usual surprise exclamation when they come to know of it! The devotees of other parts of world who have been frequenting this Blog are well familiar with this e-Satsang. That this Blog has been a source of joy to many a reader can be understood from the sincere comments they provide. Some are wont not to write; nonetheless they communicate either though email or cell phone and acknowledge their happiness. There are so far more than 1990 comments for 200 Posts. Perhaps the e-Satsang is still to catch up here!

Nightly Nostalgia 

On this day when I reviewed my Diwali experiences in the nearly last eight years of my stay in South Africa, I did become a little nostalgic! I wrote four posts in this Blog earlier about my Diwali days in SA. I thought that like me those devotees who were all associated with my travel to many parts of SA celebrating Diwali and who were with me may also experience nostalgia by re-reading those posts. And to all those new comers to this Blog, I do think that these posts would make interesting reading!

Focus on Four Posts

Diwali is a celebration of Lights. Staying in a comfort zone we thank God for providing prosperity. But should it end there? Should we not take it a Day to Light up another life? This question was discussed here in 2008 in this post.

Escourt Hindu public conduct Diwali Festival every year. This post appearing in 2010, details how the people of Escourt celebrated in a grand way when I was invited to be the Chief Guest in their celebration!

Diwali is a Five-day festival for Hindus. What did our sages earmarked each day to a particular event of the festival? Does this signify five levels of progress in one’s spiritual Life? An introspective peep into the rationality of five-day Festival is made in this post appearing in 2011.

Diwali nights are not dark nights. In worship the dark Kali is invoked though. Lamps of lights are lit. What do they signify? Who lights the lamp of knowledge inside us? And what is that darkness that is destroyed? This is discussed in this post written in 2013.

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Aum Sri Ramakrishnarpanamastu !

Picturesque Paris

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I left our dear readers at Amsterdam! Of course I wanted to continue narrating my Travel story but in the meantime so many events took place so successively in our Singapore ashram where I took charge on the 26 June 2015.  My apologies to all my readers of the blog for not continuing my travel summary for so long. This is the Second Part of the continuing series that describes my tour of Paris…

ParisStatue Swamiji

Bust of Swami ‪‎Vivekananda‬ installed in ‎Paris,‬ ‎France‬ celebrating the anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s speech at World Parliament of Religion in Chicago (September 11, 1893). Swami Veetamohananda, the Minister-in charge of our Paris Centre is at the extreme left.

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Massive Gare du Nord station in Paris…

We alighted from the high-speed Thalys train at the massive Gare du Nord station in Paris at 2 pm. All the information boards were in French. Taxi drivers of course spoke English. I understood that in Paris, photographic opportunities are abound at every head’s turn.  We passed by monument after monument, road after road, church after church, I thought : Elegant? stylish? beautiful? chic? – in one word – picturesque!

Pulsating with positive vibrations

A quick snack and 30 minute rest was enough.  The hotel called for a taxi. The young driver was originally from Andhra; but born and brought up in Paris. Hence except using a few words, he couldn’t converse in Telugu. His English with heavy french accent was amusing to listen. He went on enthusiastically explaining all the hallmarks on the way. On entering our Ashram campus , situated in Gretz, a suburb of Paris, we noticed the wide pathway that led to the central building.  The place seemed pulsating with positive vibrations. A few devotees at the entrance received us. We went straight to the Minister In-charge monk Revered Swami Veetamohanandaji Maharaj. His cordial conversation relaxed us. The shrine had the framed pictures of Holy Trio. He announced that just evening arati was about to begin. So we all assembled in the shrine.


The place seemed pulsating with positive vibrations…

Revered maharaj requested a bhajan from our SA devotees. They sang ‘parama dayaal…‘ to the delight of our French devotees there. The dining table was laden with an array of mouth-watering dishes. He made me sit in front of him. The Swamis together with all the devotees and children sat to partake of the sumptuous meals. The light banter, harmony and love among the Swamis and devotees made us all feel right at home. After supper, we had interesting discussions with the local devotees too.

Gazing at the grand

IMG_2104The Arc de Triomphe is the city’s second most iconic monument after the Eiffel Tower. History has it that  Napoleon Bonaparte started building this monument. But unfortunately did not live to see the completion of the Arc.  There is a tomb of an unknown soldier, which  lies under its centre.  Above is an eternal flame that is relit in a solemn ceremony every evening.  In ten minutes walk we could reach the Arc from the hotel. We used to walk back and forth to take the metro rail that was near the Arc. And thus had am ample opportunity to witness it from different angles.


the Louvre …The world’s largest museum

Next stop was the Louvre …The world’s largest museum.  It is a city within the city.  It is  famous for its artistic glories.  The reflection of the sun on the pyramid of glass seems like a myriad of diamonds across the entire glass top.  A most spectacular sight!

Notre Dame was our another point of interest. This is the picturesque city’s geographical and spiritual heart. Between 1163 and 1334 this ancient gothic structure rose into prominence. This ancient building reminded me of the ancient temples in India.


Notre Dame – the spiritual heart of Paris…

A boat cruise along the River Seine was a cherished dream of any visitor. The roof top glass boats enables one to see the many monuments on the banks of the river Seine. So we took a boat. It moved on through the almost still waters of the river. We could see the top of the Eiffel Tower from a distance away.

Eyeing an Engineering marvel !

It has a prestige of being most visited monument in the world. What the guide said sounded funny!  He said that the Eiffel Tower was built for the World Exhibition in 1889 and the authorities had plans to dis-assemble it once the Exhibition was over!  This Exhibition was in celebration of the centenary year of the French Revolution in 1789. The construction was only meant to last for the duration of the Exposition. It looked a veritable poem made on steel. I wondered who would think of dismantling this engineering marvel! Our boat came near the tower. Everyone was eager to rush to view the grand and magnificent structure. Finally we were there standing in front of it. It is astonishing to see the ingenuity of the Mr Gustav Eiffel, the  man behind the Eiffel Tower. The iron and steel structure was indeed breathtaking.


Charming Christmas bazar!

We also had an opportunity to visit the Christmas market in Avenue des Champs-Elysees. This is a 2 KM long road. Both the sides plenty of restaurants and shops. Stalls with arts, crafts, chocolate and food are aplenty. Everywhere it was a festive atmosphere. The decorated stalls with lights had an inviting look. Our visit would have not been completed had we not visited one of the gigantic malls in the city! One can easily get lost within minutes in the vast mall. We savoured delicious coffee and croissants.

​We gazed admiringly at the circular architecture of the building with its ornate carving, fancy furniture, stunning paintings.  The layout of the mall was incredibly beautiful. Paris is an amazing ​city​ and yes! therein beats the heart of ​an ancient, brilliant bygone era.

Next morning we headed back at the station to board our train which was to take us to yet another fascinating city in Europe – Frankfurt.​


|| Aum Shri Raamakrishnaarpanamastu ||


Shanti jal

Shanti Jal – Peace Water
The water taken from the spot where the worship of Divine Mother Sri Durga was done, known as Shanti Jal. This “Peace Water” is sprinkled on the devotees. Before sprinkling host of Peace Invocations are chanted. During sprinkling three times Peace is recited. And thus the holy Durga Puja comes to an end leaving joyous memories in the hearts of people.

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