Swami Vivekananda was a great devotee of Sri Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Sri Ramakrishna, his Guru initiated him with Rama mantra. After returning from the West he met Sri Sarada Devi, the spiritual consort of Sri Ramakrishna and told her: "Mother in this Yuga instead of leaping over the sea (referring to his role as Hanuman's during Sri Rama Avatar) I have traveled to the country by ship of their own."
Swamiji delivered this talk on 'The Ramayana' at the Shakespeare Club, Pasadena, California, USA on 31st January, 1900. It is posted on the occasion of Rama Navami which falls on 1st April 2012.

There are two great epics in the Sanskrit language, which are very ancient. Of course, there are hundreds of other epic poems. The Sanskrit language and literature have been continued down to the present day, although, for more than two thousand years, it has ceased to be a spoken language. I am now going to speak to you of the two most ancient epics, called the Râmâyana and the Mahâbhârata. They embody the manners and customs, the state of society, civilisation, etc., of the ancient Indians. The oldest of these epics is called Ramayana, "The Life of Râma". There was some poetical literature before this — most of the Vedas, the sacred books of the Hindus, are written in a sort of metre — but this book is held by common consent in India as the very beginning of poetry.

The name of the poet or sage was Vâlmiki. Later on, a great many poetical stories were fastened upon that ancient poet; and subsequently, it became a very general practice to attribute to his authorship very many verses that were not his. Notwithstanding all these interpolations, it comes down to us as a very beautiful arrangement, without equal in the literatures of the world.

There was a young man that could not in any way support his family. He was strong and vigorous and, finally, became a highway robber; he attacked persons in the street and robbed them, and with that money he supported his father, mother, wife, and children. This went on continually, until one day a great saint called Nârada was passing by, and the robber attacked him. The sage asked the robber, "Why are you going to rob me? It is a great sin to rob human beings and kill them. What do you incur all this sin for?" The robber said, "Why, I want to support my family with this money." "Now", said the sage, "do you think that they take a share of your sin also?" "Certainly they do," replied the robber. "Very good," said the sage, "make me safe by tying me up here, while you go home and ask your people whether they will share your sin in the same way as they share the money you make." The man accordingly went to his father, and asked, "Father, do you know how I support you?" He answered, "No, I do not." "I am a robber, and I kill persons and rob them." "What! you do that, my son? Get away! You outcast! "He then went to his mother and asked her, "Mother, do you know how I support you?" "No," she replied. "Through robbery and murder." "How horrible it is!" cried the mother. "But, do you partake in my sin?" said the son. "Why should I? I never committed a robbery," answered the mother. Then, he went to his wife and questioned her, "Do you know how I maintain you all?" "No," she responded. "Why, I am a highwayman," he rejoined, "and for years have been robbing people; that is how I support and maintain you all. And what I now want to know is, whether you are ready to share in my sin." "By no means. You are my husband, and it is your duty to support me."

The eyes of the robber were opened. "That is the way of the world — even my nearest relatives, for whom I have been robbing, will not share in my destiny." He came back to the place where he had bound the sage, unfastened his bonds, fell at his feet, recounted everything and said, "Save me! What can I do?" The sage said, "Give up your present course of life. You see that none of your family really loves you, so give up all these delusions. They will share your prosperity; but the moment you have nothing, they will desert you. There is none who will share in your evil, but they will all share in your good. Therefore worship Him who alone stands by us whether we are doing good or evil. He never leaves us, for love never drags down, knows no barter, no selfishness."

Then the sage taught him how to worship. And this man left everything and went into a forest. There he went on  praying and meditating until he forgot himself so entirely that the ants came and built ant-hills around him and he was quite unconscious of it. After many years had passed, a voice came saying, "Arise, O sage! " Thus aroused he exclaimed, "Sage? I am a robber!" "No more 'robber'," answered the voice, "a purified sage art thou. Thine old name is gone. But now, since thy meditation was so deep and great that thou didst not remark even the ant-hills which surrounded thee, henceforth, thy name shall be Valmiki — 'he that was born in the ant-hill'." So, he became a sage.

And this is how he became a poet. One day as this sage, Valmiki, was going to bathe in the holy river Ganga, he saw a pair of doves wheeling round and round, and kissing each other. The sage looked up and was pleased at the sight, but in a second an arrow whisked past him and killed the male dove. As the dove fell down on the ground, the female dove went on whirling round and round the dead body of its companion in grief. In a moment the poet became miserable, and looking round, he saw the hunter. "Thou art a wretch," he cried, "without the smallest mercy! Thy slaying hand would not even stop for love!" "What is this? What am I saying?" the poet thought to himself, "I have never spoken in this sort of way before." And then a voice came: "Be not afraid. This is poetry that is coming out of your mouth. Write the life of Rama in poetic language for the benefit of the world." And that is how the poem first began. The first verse sprang out of pits from the mouth of Valmiki, the first poet. And it was after that, that he wrote the beautiful Ramayana, "The Life of Rama".

There was an ancient Indian town called Ayodhyâ — and it exists even in modern times. The province in which it is still located is called Oudh, and most of you may have noticed it in the map of India. That was the ancient Ayodhya. There, in ancient times, reigned a king called Dasharatha. He had three queens, but the king had not any children by them. And like good Hindus, the king and the queens, all went on pilgrimages fasting and praying, that they might have children and, in good time, four sons were born. The eldest of them was Rama.

Now, as it should be, these four brothers were thoroughly educated in all branches of learning. To avoid future quarrels there was in ancient India a custom for the king in his own lifetime to nominate his eldest son as his successor, the Yuvarâja, young king, as he is called.

Now, there was another king, called Janaka, and this king had a beautiful daughter named Sitâ. Sita was found in a field; she was a daughter of the Earth, and was born without parents. The word "Sita" in ancient Sanskrit means the furrow made by a plough. In the ancient mythology of India you will find persons born of one parent only, or persons born without parents, born of sacrificial fire, born in the field, and so on — dropped from the clouds as it were. All those sorts of miraculous birth were common in the mythological lore of India.

Sita, being the daughter of the Earth, was pure and immaculate. She was brought up by King Janaka. When she was of a marriageable age, the king wanted to find a suitable husband for her. There was an ancient Indian custom called Svayamvara, by which the princesses used to choose husbands. A number of princes from different parts of the country were invited, and the princess in splendid array, with a garland in her hand, and accompanied by a crier who enumerated the distinctive claims of each of the royal suitors, would pass in the midst of those assembled before her, and select the prince she liked for her husband by throwing the garland of flowers round his neck. They would then be married with much pomp and grandeur. There were numbers of princes who aspired for the hand of Sita; the test demanded on this occasion was the breaking of a huge bow, called Haradhanu. All the princes put forth all their strength to accomplish this feat, but failed. Finally, Rama took the mighty bow in his hands and with easy grace broke it in twain. Thus Sita selected Rama, the son of King Dasharatha for her husband, and they were wedded with great rejoicings. Then, Rama took his bride to his home, and his old father thought that the time was now come for him to retire and appoint Rama as Yuvaraja. Everything was accordingly made ready for the ceremony, and the whole country was jubilant over the affair, when the younger queen Kaikeyi was reminded by one of her maidservants of two promises made to her by the king long ago. At one time she had pleased the king very much, and he offered to grant her two boons: "Ask any two things in my power and I will grant them to you," said he, but she made no request then. She had forgotten all about it; but the evil-minded maidservant in her employ began to work upon her jealousy with regard to Rama being installed on the throne, and insinuated to her how nice it would be for her if her own son had succeeded the king, until the queen was almost mad with jealousy. Then the servant suggested to her to ask from the king the two promised boons: one would be that her own son Bharata should be placed on the throne, and the other, that Rama should be sent to the forest and be exiled for fourteen years.

Now, Rama was the life and soul of the old king and when this wicked request was made to him, he as a king felt he could not go back on his word. So he did not know what to do. But Rama came to the rescue and willingly offered to give up the throne and go into exile, so that his father might not be guilty of falsehood. So Rama went into exile for fourteen years, accompanied by his loving wife Sita and his devoted brother Lakshmana, who would on no account be parted from him.

The Aryans did not know who were the inhabitants of these wild forests. In those days the forest tribes they called "monkeys", and some of the so-called "monkeys", if unusually strong and powerful, were called "demons".So, into the forest, inhabited by demons and monkeys, Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita went. When Sita had offered to accompany Rama, he exclaimed, "How can you, a princess, face hardships and accompany me into a forest full of unknown dangers!" But Sita replied, "Wherever Rama goes, there goes Sita. How can you talk of 'princess' and 'royal birth' to me? I go before you!" So, Sita went. And the younger brother, he also went with them. They penetrated far into the forest, until they reached the river Godâvari. On the banks of the river they built little cottages, and Rama and Lakshmana used to hunt deer and collect fruits. After they had lived thus for some time, one day there came a demon giantess. She was the sister of the giant king of Lanka (Ceylon). Roaming through the forest at will, she came across Rama, and seeing that he was a very handsome man, she fell in love with him at once. But Rama was the purest of men, and also he was a married man; so of course he could not return her love. In revenge, she went to her brother, the giant king, and told him all about the beautiful Sita, the wife of Rama.
SOURCE: The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, 
                    Volume-IV, [PP:63-68,]



Unveiling Ceremony of the Commemorative Plaque on the building of the house at 39 Rue Gazan 7514 Paris  where Swami Vivekananda stayed in 1900

With the support of the Town Hall of the 14th District  of Paris, the Embassy of India  and the  Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (CIUP) , the Centre Vedantique Ramakrishna, Gretz and the Maison de l'Inde, Paris jointly organised the unveiling  ceremony of the commemorative plaque on  the great universalist, spiritual leader, social reformer and the founder of the Ramakrishna Mission, the great patriot  Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), at 39 rue Gazan, 75014 Paris, where he stayed for some time in 1900.

The ceremony was held  on 8 March from 12h00 onwards. The plaque was unveiled by the Chargée des Affaires of the Embassy of India, Mrs Gaitri Kumar, Mayor of Paris, 14th District Mr Pascal Cherki, Deputy Mayor of the City of Paris,  Mrs Danièle Pourtoud, Déléguée Générale of the CIUP, Mrs Carine Camby, Deputy Mayor of Paris, 14th District Mr Paul Roussier, Adviser of the Mayor of Paris Mr Hermano Sanchez, First Secretary of Press, Information and Culture, of the Embassy of India Mrs Nina Tshering La, President of the Centre Vedantique Ramakrishna,Gretz, Swami Veetamohananda, Director of the Maison de l'Inde (India House), Paris,  Dr Bikas C Sanyal, Cultural Attaché of the Maison de l'Inde, Mrs Priti Sanyal and President of the Residents' Committee  of the Maison de l'Inde Mr Sudhir Bhatt among others. The unveiling ceremony was followed by a meeting at the Salle Indira Gandhi of the Maison de l'Inde where all the visitors assembled.  Dr BIkas C Sanyal gave the welcome address for all the guests. He mentioned that this was the second in the series of events organised with the active participation of the Centre Vedantique Ramakrishna, Gretz and the Maison de l'Inde, within the framework of the 150th Birth Anniversary Celebrations  of Swami Vivekananda. The first one was hosted  by the Town Hall of Paris 14th District.    Swami Veetamohananda spoke about the relevance of the messages of Swami Vivekenanda in different spheres the contemporary world. Mr Cherki spoke about the contribution of the Swami to the world and the proud privilege Paris had to host this great man. Mrs Camby spoke about the greatness of the civilsation of India which produced such universalist stalwarts like Vivekananda and Tagore. Mrs Kumar spoke about significance of the people to people interchange on great ideas emulated by the great Swami.  The ceremony enjoyed a devotional touch with the songs of a former resident and renowned singer Sharmila Roy Pommot who sang a song, Vivekananda used to sing for His Master Sri Ramakrishna and another song  sung by Sarada accompanied by Naren on guitar, both adherents of the Gretz Centre. The song in French was written by Naren. The ceremony was followed by a tour of the  exhibition of about forty large portraits of Swamiji which were prepared by Swami Devatmananda of the Gretz Centre for the Centenary celebration of the Participation of Swami Vivekananda   in the Chicago Parliament of Religions held at UNESCO in October, 1993.




Can Religion be made Scientific?
All real knowledge is based upon experience. Science formation its laws by bringing together all the experiences of the particulars under certain generalisations. These generalisations are formulated through are formulated through reasons based on the particulars observed. So when scientific laws are propounded, people find their truth easily, because they appeal to the experience of every human being.

Is anything like this possible in regard to religion? Generally religion is supposed to ask people to believe, i.e. accept propositions without calling for proofs of their truths, and we therefore find that religions are generally based on doctrines accepted on the basis of scriptural authority.

“Nevertheless there is a basis of universal belief in religion, governing all the different theories and all the varying ideas of different sects in different countries. Going to this basis we find that they also are based upon universal experiences... The teachers of religions saw God; they all saw their own souls; they saw their future; they saw the soul as eternal; and what they saw they preached. Only there is this difference, that these experiences are impossible at the present day; they were possible only to a few men, who were the first founders of the religions that subsequently bore their names.... This I entirely deny. If there has been one experience in this world in any particular branch of knowledge, it absolutely follows that that experience has been possible millions of times before, and will be repeated eternally. Uniformity is the law of Nature, and what happened once can happen always. The teachers of the science of Yoga, therefore, declare that religion is not only based on the experiences of ancient times but that no man can be religious until he has the same perceptions himself. Yoga is the science which teaches us how to get these perceptions.”
SOURCE: THE FOUR YOGAS By Swami Tapasyananda 
                     Published by Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata. 




To commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda the Gujarat government declared that the year 2012 would be celebrated as the ‘Year of Youth Power'.

While announcing this Chief Minister of Gujarat said: “Vivekananda had been source of inspiration to the youth. He interpreted the Vedas to explain highest forms of spirituality in a simple language in order to rake up inner strength [for] nation building.”

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the former President said on the occasion: “Like Swami Vivekananda, the youth of India should have firm faith in [the] self and then resolve to utilise the same faith in the service of nation through sheer hard work.”

“I can do it, we can do it and India can do it,” he said, should be a mantra for the youth.



CHAPTER-1; Part-1 

The Effect of Karma on Character 

knowledge as the Goal of Life
knowledge is the goal of mankind, not pleasure, as man mistakenly thinks. Pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering are our teachers. Through their impact on the mind, character develops. Often it is suffering that helps the development of character more than happiness. It acts as a friction that brings out the inner fire.  

All knowledge from is inherent in man. It does not come from outside. All external factors are only stimulations that help its manifestation. Like fire in a piece of flint, knowledge exists in the mind. Work, with its consequences of enjoyments and sufferings, is the friction that brings it out. Every mental and physical activity is like a blow administered to the soul, by which fire is struck, as it were, from it, and its power and knowledge are made to manifest. This is the nature and function of Karma in its widest sense. [To be continued

SOURCE: FOUR YOGAS, condensed and retold by Swami Tapasyanandaji 



14. The restless monkey:

How hard it is to control the mind! Well has it been compared to the maddened monkey. There was a monkey, restless by his own nature, as all monkeys are. As if that were not enough some one made him drink freely of wine, so that he became still more restless. Then a scorpion stung him. When a man is stung by a scorpion, he jumps about for a whole day; so the poor monkey found his condition worse than ever. To complete his misery a demon entered into him. What language can describe the uncontrollable restlessness of that monkey? 

The human mind is like that monkey, incessantly active by its own nature; then it becomes drunk with the wine of desire, thus increasing its turbulence. After desire takes possession comes the sting of the scorpion of jealousy at the success of others, and last of all the demon of pride enters the mind, making it think itself of all importance. How hard to control such a mind!

          *               *                *               *                 *                *                   *

15. Pearl Oyster
There is a pretty Indian fable to the effect that if it rains when the star Svâti is in the ascendant, and a drop of rain falls into an oyster, that drop becomes a pearl. The oysters know this, so they come to the surface when that star shines, and wait to catch the precious raindrop. When a drop falls into them, quickly the oysters close their shells and dive down to the bottom of the sea, there to patiently develop the drop into the pearl.

We should be like that. First hear, then understand, and then, leaving all distractions, shut your minds to outside influences, and devote yourselves to developing the truth within you.... Take one thing up and do it, and see the end of it, and before you have seen the end, do not give it up. He who can become mad with an idea, he alone sees light. 

SOURCE: The Complete Works Of Swami Vivekananda, 
                   Volume-1[Raja Yoga]




Dear …………,*

“.... Well, sometimes it is a good discipline to be forced to work for work's sake, even to the length of not being allowed to enjoy the fruits of one's labour....

I know full well how good it is for one's worldly prospects to be sweet. ...I do not believe in humility. I believe in Samadarshitva — same state of mind with regard to all. The duty of the ordinary man is to obey the commands of his "God", society; but the children of light never do so. This is an eternal law. One accommodates himself to surroundings and social opinion and gets all good things from society, the giver of all good to such. The other stands alone and draws society up towards him. The accommodating man finds a path of roses; the non-accommodating, one of thorns. But the worshippers of "Vox populi" go to annihilation in a moment; the children of truth live for ever.

I will compare truth to a corrosive substance of infinite power. It burns its way in wherever it falls — in soft substance at once, hard granite slowly, but it must. What is writ is writ…. "Youth and beauty vanish, life and wealth vanish, name and fame vanish, even the mountains crumble into dust. Friendship and love vanish. Truth alone abides." God of Truth, be Thou alone my guide!

Dream no more! Oh, dream no more, my soul! In one word, I have a message to give, I have no time to be sweet to the world, and every attempt at sweetness makes me a hypocrite. I will die a thousand deaths rather than lead a jelly-fish existence and yield to every requirement of this foolish world, no matter whether it be my own country or a foreign country.

….I have a message, and I will give it after my own fashion. I will neither Hinduise my message, nor Christianise it, nor make it any "ise" in the world. I will only my-ise it and that is all. Liberty, Mukti, is all my religion...

I hate this world, this dream, this horrible nightmare with its churches and chicaneries, its books and black guardisms, its fair faces and false hearts, its howling righteousness on the surface and utter hollowness beneath, and, above all, its sanctified shop keeping. What! measure any soul according to what the bond-slaves of the world say? — Pooh! 

Lord bless you all ever and ever — and may He lead you quickly out of this big humbug, the world! May you never be enchanted by this old witch, the world! May Shankara help you! May Umâ open the door of truth for you and take away all your delusions!

Yours with love and blessings,


 *[You may treat this letter as if addressed to you]

SOURCE: The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda,
                    Volume-5, Epistles-First Series