A Saner Seminar – Part 1

Digital Image Courtesy: Dr S Adhinarayanan, India

A very happy New Year to every one of you! May this Kalpataru Day bring you all blessings!

Parenting – A Hindu Perspective

Ramola and Sravanthi
Ramola and Sravanthi
Ramola and Sravanthi as guest writers sent me a Report on the Seminar that had the above theme as title and hosted by Sri Sarada Devi Ashram, Asherville in commemoration of Holy Mother’s 156th birth anniversary celebration at KZN University on Sunday, 13 December 2009. It was a great success with 500 delegates from even distant places attending with enthusiasm. Photos courtesy: Lushen Pillay and Jaya Ramjogi

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.

A view of the audience

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!

Volunteers with matajis - the guiding spirits...

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.

Sister Avintha saying opening prayers...
Sister Avinta saying opening prayers...

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.

Swami Sarvarupanandaji, Head of Colombo Centre inaugurating the Seminar...

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.

Swami Saradaprabhanandaji presenting his paper...

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.

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To be continued….

9 comments

  1. Aum Namo Narayanaya
    My prostrations to Master, Holy Mother, Swamiji and Revered Maharaj!
    Dearest Maharaj
    Happy New Year and Kalpatru day to you, Swami Saradaprabhanandaji and all at the centre.
    I feel that this is an appropriate topic to start the year. We always speak of transforming the world. The starting point for such a dream would be parenting. When parents develop children with good character and values build on the solid foundations of
    dharma then we will see a change in the world.
    I think the world was blessed to receive a personality like Swamji who really is an example of pure character and values.
    Om Namo Narayanaya
    With love and affection
    Yogan Naidoo
    Tongaat, SA

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    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Yogan
      You are true when you say that parents should bring up children ‘with good character and values’.
      I too hope that the parents who attended this Seminar must have got these wonderful ideas ingrained in them.
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  2. Revered Maharaj
    My humble Pranam!
    I am so glad that Maharaj has published this article and i eagerly await part 2. I was sadly in Cape Town and missed the conference- which i heard was a success. Dad has shown me all the pics but my parents in their usual manner brushed over the papers giving me all too short summaries.
    I am so glad i will be able to revel in the details of the papers through these posts.
    Yours in Thakurji’s service
    Reantha
    Durban, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Reantha
      Welcome back from your Mauritius trip!
      At the Seminar not seeing you, when I enquired about you, I learnt that you were in Cape Town.
      I was so glad to learn that you performed well. At the National Debating Competion, you were ranked 6th in the country, and by extension, 1st female in KZN Province. This is an accomplishment particularly since you are now participating in the Senior League and against older students ie matriculants. It is wonderful to hear from your parents that you also made the
      trial list to represent South Africa at the World Debating Competition in 2011.
      On this New Year time, my loving best wishes for the 2011 attempt!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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      1. Revered Maharaj
        Om Namo Narayanaya!
        My humble Pranam!
        A very Happy Kalpataru Day! I hope Maharaj had a blessed Kalpataru.
        We arrived back in Durban from Mauritius yesterday, after a very relaxing holiday.
        We visited the Mission centre there on Monday before going to Ganga Taloa. When walking into the shrine and seeing Master’s murthi a sense of “home” filled my heart. The ashram was like a sanctuary and reminded me so much of Asherville. Master looks like he is cheerful and laughing. We spent a short while in the shrine and then went to visit Swami Krishnarupanandaji.
        Maharaj was so kind and welcoming and we spent some time talking about Holy Mother and the Master. Maharaj spoke about his trip to South Africa and the music at Asherville ashram (we were very happy to note Maharaj loved the music at Mother’s ashram).
        On leaving, we all entered the minibus and were just about to leave when Maharaj RAN into the ashram again. When he came back he held a packet of litchis. (At this stage it must be noted that my mum, choti and me, love litchis – and were dying to eat some. We were asking for litchis everyday at the hotel and whenever we saw them on the roadside we would stop and buy them.) On seeing the litchis all of us were overcome with joy…it reminded us of how Master provides for his devotees as well as how Master caters for the individual needs of all his devotees. Our visit to Mauritius Ashram was amazing and reminds us of the Ramakrishna family that extends throughout the world. After spending the day at Ganga Taloa and seeing the massive statue of Lord Shiva (the second largest in the world) we headed back to the hotel. Master, as if to reiterated the message, sent rasagulla to the hotel buffet especially for my dad and me.
        For me it is these little signs that reignite one’s faith and remind us that Master’s grace is ever flowing.
        I thoroughly enjoyed Swami Saradaprabhanandaji’s talk to day!
        I hope I will see Maharaj soon!
        Choti, mum and dad send their pranam.
        Yours in the Service of Master
        Reantha
        Durban, SA

        Like

  3. Adarneeya Maharajji,
    Saadar Pranaam!
    Your Blog always fills the heart with higher Devotion and a sense of fulfilment specially being a devotee of Holy Trio. Most of the times it also brings some feeling of “pride” that we are so lucky and fortunate ones who have come at the FEET OF HOLY TRIO!
    I always forward these mails in our group “Devotees of Holy Trio”.
    I once again ask for your blessings (you know Maharajji, I am Marwadi and hence little “greedy”!!
    a devotee of Devotees of Holy Trio
    Bharat Churiwala
    Mumbai, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Bharat
      All credit goes to Master’s unseen hand only. I sincerely feel that Master has provided this eOpportunity which, when best utilised can be a source of inspiration to many. Encouragement from devotees like you make it all the more interesting.
      My aashirvaad is always there for you! But, being a ‘little greedy’ can be excused if one is a ‘marwadi’? Well, as Shri Krishna says in the Gita that ‘kaama (desire) not contradicting dharma’ is acceptable, so it applies to all the other five vices too. Thats how desire and other vices can be sublimated. Your being ‘greedy’ for my blessings make me turn over your desire to Master, so that He, in His infinite compassion shall provide you the kripaa.
      May Sri Thakur guide you ever!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  4. Revered Maharaj
    OM NAMO NARAYANAYA!
    My humble pranaam and best wishes to Maharaj. A very blessed New Year to Maharaj and all at the Ashram.
    I was very fortunate to have attended the seminar.
    With 2 young children, (who did not arrive with any instruction manual!), I felt that the seminar was extremely important and relevant to me and could not have come at a better time. I made note of a few salient points and implemented the same immediately. Parenting is often not given appropriate fora for discussion and as a result we go on parenting our children as we were parented, sometimes with dire consequences.
    Further to that I wish to commend our Sri Sarada Devi Ashram for the amazing manner in which this function was put together and presented. There was an astounding sense of reverence, calmness and dignity which prevailed throughout the seminar and I felt very honoured to be present at such an august gathering! Indeed the leadership at Sri Sarada Devi Ashram must be congratulated for providing the vision and the direction for the event with much love and dedication.
    Pranaam Maharaj and best wishes from the Somaru family.
    Navilla Somaru
    Bloemfontien, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Navilla
      Everyone who had attended that historic seminar would totally agree with your opinion.
      My congrats go to you and your husband Bishan for making it convenient to attend from 600 KM distance. This itself verily shows what interest you took on the theme of the seminar. Though you had not received any Instruction Manual(!) when you had your lovely children, I understand that your stay at the Ashram in your pre-married days has contributed largely to the values of dharma that you cherish. I was happy to interact with your children in Bloemfontien when I had stayput at your home, and to note how wonderful the behaviour of the boys was. That reveals good parenting on your part. Now as a Sunday School Teacher your responsibility has further enlarged in imparting our eternal values to the children of the society.
      May Mother guide you ever!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

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