A very happy New Year to every one of you! May this Kalpataru Day bring you all blessings!
Seminars were never a favourite for me as the few that I was forced to attend turned out to be fantastically tiresome! Oh! how the speakers prominently called ‘panelists’, continue to inflict pain on the disinterested listeners by holding their documents on the lectern and proceed with reading in their scholarly dry and drab tone without the much needed eye-contact! I realized that perhaps, I needed a change in my hard held opinion when I unwittingly was made to participate in a Seminar on Sunday, 13 December 2009.
This Seminar held in order to commemorate the 156th birth anniversary of the Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi was different; not only it provided a refreshing experience but also proved a treat to thoughtful minds. ‘Parenting – A Hindu Perspective’ was the theme entirely relevant to the modern Hindu practitioners of SA. So, dear visitors! I am happy to present here a Report, faithfully recorded by two youth members of SSDA – Ramola and Sravanthi – for the benefit of all those who could not attend the Seminar. The welcome, the decoration, the orderliness, the spic and span look, and even the drawing of OM on the background, not to mention the dining space – everything was laced with artistic patterns!
My and other Swamis’ along with many of those attendees’ deep appreciation go to the devotee-volunteers who worked tirelessly as part of their Karmayoga for the success of the Seminar and the ‘Powers that be’ who ably guided them!
The year 2009 heralded the Ashram’s Silver Jubilee. 25 years of useful existence, in spite of odds and obstacles is not an ordinary occasion indeed and to celebrate the prestigious occasion four major events were conducted. The seminar was the last that ended with lasting sweet memories. Four monks and two nuns participated in the seminar. An audience of over 500 delegates from all over South Africa, including Durban, Northern Natal and Bloemfontein, attended.
The seminar, which commenced at 9:00 a.m., was held at the University of KwaZulu Natal, Westville Campus. It was a blessing to have the holy presence of Revered Swamis Brahmarupanandaji Maharaj of Ulsoor, Bangalore; Sarvarupanandaji Maharaj of Colombo, Sri Lanka; Vimokshanandaji Maharaj and Saradaprabhanandaji Maharaj and Pravrajikas Ishtaprana Mataji and Divyanandaprana Mataji. In accordance with our Hindu tradition, Sister Avinta said the opening prayers after which Pravrajika Ishtaprana Mataji welcomed the monks of the Ramakrishna Order and every one in the august audience. She also extended a warm welcome to representatives from sister organisations and to delegates who have come from distant places. While thanking all for their presence, she expressed her trust that the delegates would benefit from the day’s discussions.
The seminar was inaugurated by the Chief Guest, Sri Swami Sarvarupanandaji Maharaj, Vice President and Head of the Ramakrishna Mission, Colombo, Sri Lanka. Revered Maharaj highlighted the importance of good parenting, emphasising the need for a moral foundation for the betterment of today’s and tomorrow’s society.
Sri Swami Saradaprabhanandaji Maharaj, Vice-President, Ramakrishna Centre of SA, delivered the first paper entitled ‘The Hindu Ideal of Parenting’. It carried the necessary knowledge required to enhance parenting skills, drawing deeply from Hinduism’s timeless heritage and culture. Maharaj analysed the family life cycle and the various stages in the child’s development, from the naming ceremony to marriage.
These different samskaaraas are characteristic of Hinduism and sanctify family and social obligations, facilitating spiritual evolution. Moving from one phase to another creates change, and the family must adapt to these changes. These transition periods are crucial and require understanding and skillful management, as problems occur when the family is unprepared for them. Traditional Hindu ceremonies are important to mark these transition periods and provide the moorings to make them smooth. These can be simplified or adapted to the needs of the modern age but their essence and values must be preserved, added Swami Saradaprabhanandaji.
His paper was followed by a short recess when refreshments were served.
To be continued….