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    Good Books - Our True Friends

    As our body needs food to be strong and healthy, so is our mind in the form of Good Positive Ideas. There is an old saying, “An Empty Mind is a Devil’s Workshop.” It is very much true, all sorts of Inferiority Complexes, Ego complexes, Phobias, Negative Emotions, bad qualities (Jealousy, Selfishness, Envy, wicked/sadist temperament- -) - - are the result of this Uncontrolled and Untrained Mind. Mind is compared to a Monkey bitten by a Scorpion. That is its nature.

    The best way to control the mind is to make it concentrated. And that is not easy; Swami Vivekananda says, “If the sum total of the impressions in the Mind is bad the resultant thought force shall be bad and the person is forced to do bad” and the same is true if the person has got good thoughts, they will force him to do Good. Nature of thoughts in our Mind depends on our Actions, if we expose our mind continuously to obscenity, vulgarity, violence - - naturally our mind will be full of those thoughts. On the other hand, if we pour in Good Ideas, be in the Company of Holy People and Realised souls - the Mind becomes purer and purer and ultimately one realises God or one"s own Self; becomes Free from Bondage – cycle of Birth and Death. Now in this Modern Materialistic World, very rarely we come across Realised Souls. To find Good Company is also rare now a days. But there is no need to Despair; Good Books are waiting for us with an abundant source of Energy bundled up in the form of Super Powerful Words in them spoken by the Realised Souls and Great Personalities.

    A Good Autobiography helps us to know the struggle behind the success of a Great Personality.

    A Good Novel takes us to a dream world and helps us to forget our present, past for a Moment, brings in new perspective towards life.

    A Powerful Literature helps us to overcome all our negative complexes and helps us to elevate the Mind to Higher planes.

    An Epic helps us to identify ourselves with one of the Characters and also puts number of Ideals before us: An Ideal Husband, an Ideal Wife, an Ideal Mother - - -

    A Religious book helps us to take a righteous path to realise the Supreme soul, the Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent being. So on. . . . .

    Of late, I have read this magnum opus by Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda - "Autobiography of a Yogi". It’s no ordinary book, indeed an invaluable treasure. Do read this once in your life time, if not now may be after 10 years but go through it once. Let the mind have the taste of this book; Below is an extract from this Modern Spiritual Classic.

    “The yogi is deemed greater than body-disciplining ascetics, greater even than the followers of the path of wisdom or of the path of action; be thou, O Arjuna, a yogi!”- Bhagawad Gita

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 9

    The Blissful Devotee
    and His Cosmic Romance

    “Little sir, please be seated. I am talking to my Divine Mother.”

    Silently I had entered the room in great awe. The angelic appearance of Master Mahasaya fairly dazzled me. With silky white beard and large lustrous eyes, he seemed an incarnation of purity. His upraised chin and folded hands apprised me that my first visit had distributed him in the midst of his devotions.

    His simple words of greeting produced the most violent effect my nature had so far experienced. The bitterness of separation at my mother’s death I had thought the measure of all anguish. Now a consciousness of separation from my Divine Mother was an indescribable torture of the spirit. I fell moaning to the floor.

    “Little sir, quiet yourself!” The saint was sympathetically distressed.

    Abandoned in some oceanic desolation, I clutched his feet as the sole raft of my rescue.

    “Holy sir, thine intercession! Ask Divine Mother if I find any favour in Her sight!”

    The sacred promise of intercession is one not easily bestowed; the master was constrained to silence.

    Beyond reach of doubt, I was convinced that Master Mahasaya was in intimate converse with the Universal Mother. It was deep humiliation to realize that my eyes were blind to Her who even at this moment was perceptible to the faultless gaze of the saint. Shamelessly gripping his feet, deaf to his gentle remonstrances, I besought him again and again for his intervening grace.

    “I will make your plea to the Beloved.” The master’s capitulation came with a slow, compassionate smile.

    What power in those few words, that my being should know release from its stormy exile!

    “Sir, remember your pledge! I shall return soon for Her message.” Joyful anticipation rang in my voice, which only a moment ago had been sobbingly choked with sorrow.

    Descending the long strairway, I was overwhelmed by memories. This house in Calcutta at 50 Amherst street, now the residence of Master Mahasaya, had once been my family home, the scene of my mother’s death. Here my human heart had broken for the vanished mother; and here today my spirit had been as though crucified by the absence of the Divine Mother. Hallowed walls! Silent witness of my grievous hurts and final healing.

    My steps were eager as I returned to my home. Seeking the seclusion of my small attic, I remained in meditation until ten o’clock. The darkness of the warm Indian night was suddenly lit with a wondrous vision.

    Haloed in splendor, the Divine Mother stood before me. Her face, tenderly smiling, was beauty itself.

    “Always have I loved thee! Ever shall I love thee!”

    The celestial tones still ringing in the air, she disappeared.

    The sun on the following morning had hardly risen to an angle of decorum when I paid my second visit to Master Mahasaya. Climbing the staircase in the house of poignant memories, I reached his fourth-floor room. The knob of the closed door was wrapped around with a cloth; a hint, I felt, that the saint desired privacy. As I stood irresolutely on the landing, the door was opened by the master’s welcoming hand. I knelt at his holy feet. In a playful mood, I wore a solemn mask over my face, hiding the divine elation.

    “Sir I have come – very early, I confess! – for your message. Did the Beloved Mother say anything about me?”

    “Mischievous little sir!”

    Not another remark would he make. Apparently my assumed gravity was unimpressive.

    “Why so mysterious, so evasive? Do saints never speak plainly?” Perhaps I was little provoked.

    “Must you test me?” His calm eyes were full of understanding. “Might I add a single word this morning to the assurance you received last night at ten o’clock from the Beautiful Mother Herself?”

    Master Mahasaya possessed control over the floodgates of my soul: again I plunged prostrate at his feet. But this time my tears welled from a bliss, and not a pain, past bearing.

    “Think you that your devotion did not touch the Infinite Mercy? The Motherhood of God, which you have worshiped in forms both human and divine, could never fail to answer your forsaken cry.”

    Who was this simple saint, whose least request to the Universal spirit met with sweet acquiescence? His role in the world was humble, as befitted the greatest man of humility I ever knew. In this Amherst Street house, Master Mahasaya (Mahendra Nath Gupta) conducted a small high school for boys. No words of chastisement passed his lips; no rule and ferule maintained his discipline. Higher mathematics indeed was taught in these modest classrooms, and a chemistry of love absent from the text books.

    He spread his wisdom by spiritual contagion rather than by impermeable precept. Consumed by an unsophisticated passion for the Divine Mother, the saint no more demanded the outward forms of respect than a child...

    “I am not your guru; he shall come a little later,” he told me. “Through his guidance, your experiences of the Divine in terms of love and devotion will be translated into his terms of fathomless wisdom.”

    Every late afternoon, I betook myself to Amsherst Street. I sought Master Mahasaya’s divine cup, so full that its drops daily overflowed on my being. Never before had I bowed in utter reverence; now I felt it an immeasurable privilege even to tread the same ground that Master Mahasaya’s footsteps sanctified.

    “Sir, please wear this champak garland I have fashioned especially for you.” I arrived one evening, holding my chain of flowers. But shyly he drew away, repeatedly refusing the honour. Perceiving my hurt, he finally smiled consent.

    “Since we are both devotees of Mother, you may put the garland on this bodily temple, as offering to Her who dwells within.” His vast nature lacked space in which any egoistical consideration could gain foothold.

    “Let us go tomorrow to Dakshineswar to the Temple of Kali, forever hallowed by my guru.” The Saint was a disciple of a Christlike master, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa.

    The four-mile journey on the following morning was taken by boat on the Ganges. We entered the nine – domed Temple of Kali, where the figures of the Divine Mother and Shiva rest on a burnished silver lotus, its thousand petals meticulously chiseled. Master Mahasaya beamed in enchantment. He was engaged in his inexhaustible romance with the Beloved. As he chanted Her name, my enraptured heart seemed shattered, like the lotus, into a thousand pieces.

    We strolled later through the sacred precincts, halting in a tamarisk grove. The manna characteristically exuded by this tree was symbolic of the heavenly food Master Mahasaya was bestowing. His divine invocations continued. I sat rigidly motionless on the grass amid the pink feathery tamarisk flowers. Temporarily absent from the body, I soared in a supernal visit.

    This was the first of my pilgrimages to Dakshineswar with the holy teacher. From him I learned the sweetness of God in the aspect of Mother, or Divine Mercy. The childlike saint found little appeal in the Father aspect, or Divine justice. Stern, exacting, mathematical judgement was alien to his gentle nature.

    “He can serve as an earthly prototype for the very angels of heaven!” I thought fondly, watching him one day at his prayers. Without a breath of censure or criticism, he surveyed the world with eyes long familiar with the Primal Purity. His body, mind, speech, and actions were effortlessly harmonized with his soul’s simplicity.

    “My Master told me so...” Shrinking from personal assertion, the saint usually ended his sage counsel with this tribute. So deeply was his sense of identity with Sri Ramakrishna that Master Mahasaya no longer considered his thoughts to be his own.

    Hand in hand, the saint and I walked one evening on the block of his school. My joy was dimmed by the arrival of a conceited acquaintance. He burdened us with a lengthy discourse.

    “I see this man doesn’t please you.” The saint’s whisper to me was unheard by the egoist, spellbound by his own monologue. “I have spoken to Divine Mother about it; She realizes our sad predicament. As soon as we get to yonder red house, she has promised to remind him of more urgent business.”

    My eyes were glued to the site of salvation. Reaching its red gate, the man accountably turned and departed, neither finishing his sentence nor saying good-bye. Peace descended on the assaulted air..

    Another day found me walking alone near the Howrah railway station. I stood for a moment by a temple, silently criticizing a small group of men with drum and cymbals who were violently reciting a chant.

    “How undevotionally they use the Lord’s divine name in mechanical repetition,’ I reflected. Suddenly I was astonished to see Master Mahasaya rapidly approaching me.

    “Sir, how come you here?”

    The saint, ignoring my question, answered my thought. “Isn’t it true, little sir, that the Beloved’s name sounds sweet from all lips, ignorant or wise?” He passed his arm around me affectionately; I found myself carried on his magic carpet to the Merciful Presence.

    “Would you like to see some bioscopes?” The question one afternoon from the reclusive Master Mahasaya was mystifying to me; the term was then used in India to signify motion pictures. I agreed, glad to be in his company in any
    circumstances. A brisk walk brought us to the garden fronting Calcutta University. My companion indicated a bench near the goldighi or pond.

    “Let us sit here for a few minutes. My Master asked me to meditate whenever I saw an expanse of water. Here its placidity reminds us of the vast calmness of God. As all things can be reflected in water, so the whole universe is mirrored in the lake of the Cosmic Mind. So my gurudeva often said.”

    Soon we entered a university hall where a lecture was in progress. It proved abysmally dull, though varied occasionally by lantern slide illustrations, equally uninteresting.

    “So this is the kind of bioscope the master wanted me to see!” My thought was impatient, yet I would not hurt the saint by revealing boredom in my face. But he leaned toward me confidentially.

    “I see, little sir, that you don’t like this bioscope. I have mentioned it to Divine Mother; She is in full sympathy with us both. She tells me that the electric lights will now go out and won’t be relit until we have a chance to leave the room.”

    As his whisper ended, the hall was plunged into darkness. The professor, whose strident voice had been stilled for a moment in astonishment, said, “The electrical system of this hall appears to be defective.” By this time Master Mahasaya and I were already across the threshold. Glancing back from the corridor, I saw that the hall was again illuminated.

    “Little sir, you were disappointed in that bioscope, but I think you will like a different one.” The saint and I were standing on the sidewalk in front of the university building. He gently slapped my chest over the heart.

    A transforming silence ensued. Just as the modern “talkies” become inaudible motion pictures when the sound apparatus goes out of order, so the Divine Hand, by some strange miracle, stifled the earthly bustle. Pedestrians as well as the passing trolley cars, automobiles, bullock carts, and iron wheeled hackney carriages were all in noiseless transit. As though possessing an omnipresent eye, I beheld the scenes that were behind me, and to each side, as easily as those in front. The whole spectacle of activity in that small section of Calcutta passed before me without a sound. Like a glow of fire dimly seen beneath a thin coat of ashes, a mellow luminescence permeated the panoramic view.

    My own body seemed nothing more than one of the many shadows; though it was motionless, while the others flitted mutely on to and fro. Several boys, friends of mine, approached and passed on; though they had looked directly at me, it was without recognition...

    The unique pantomime brought me an inexpressible ecstasy. I drank deep from some blissful fount. Suddenly my chest received another soft blow from Master Mahasaya. The pandemonium of the world burst upon my unwilling ears. I
    staggered, as though harshly awakened from a gossamer dream. The transcendental wine was removed beyond my reach.

    “Little sir, I see you found the second bioscope to your liking.” The saint was smiling. I started to kneel in gratitude on the ground before him. “You can’t do that to me now,” he said. “You know God is in your temple also! I won’t let Divine Mother touch my feet through your hands!”

    If anyone observed the unpretentious master and me as we slowly walked away from the crowded pavement, the onlooker surely suspected us of intoxication. I felt that the falling shades of evening were sympathetically drunk with God.

    Trying with poor words to do justice to his benignity, I wonder if Master Mahasaya, and others among the saints whose paths crossed mine, knew that years later, in a Western land, I would be writing about their lives as divine devotees. Their foreknowledge would not surprise me, not I hope, my readers, who have come thus far with me.

    Saints of all religions have attained God-realization through the simple concept of the Cosmic Beloved. Because the Absolute is nirguna, “without qualities,” and acintya, “inconceivable,” human thought and yearning have ever personalized It as the Universal Mother. A combination of personal theism and the philosophy of the Absolute is an ancient achievement of Hindu thought, expounded in the Vedas and the Bhagawat Gita. This “reconciliation of opposites” satisfies heart and head; bhakthi (devotion) and jnana (wisdom) are essentially one. Prapatti, “taking refuge” in God, and sharanagathi, “flinging oneself on the Divine Compassion,” are really paths of the highest knowledge.

    The humility of Master Mahasaya and of all other saints springs from a recognition of their total dependence (seshatva) on the Lord as the sole Life and Judge. Because the very nature of God is Bliss, the man in attunement with Him experiences a native boundless joy. “The first of the passions of the soul and the will is joy.”

    Devotees of all the ages, approaching the Mother in a child like spirit, testify that they find Her ever at play with them. In Master Mahasaya’s life the manifestations of divine play occurred on occasions important and unimportant. In God’s eyes nothing is large or small. Were it not for His perfect nicety in constructing the tiny atom, could the skies wear the proud structures of Vega, Arcturus? Distinctions of “important” and “unimportant” are surely unknown to the Lord, lest, for want of a pin, the cosmos collapse!

    "India I loved before I came away. Now the very dust of India has become holy to me, the very air is now to me holy; it is now the holy land, the place of pilgrimage, the Tirtha!"
    - Swami Vivekananda to an American


    Playing the drama of Life
    One more soul in God's Creation
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    How to Stop Worrying and Start Living - Dale Carnegie

    A motivational and inspiring book “How to stop worrying and Start Living”; one of the masterpieces by Dale Carnegie which motivates us to Live, live a Happy Life, despite problems, despite the anguish and setbacks we receive.

    “Whenever we encounter any problem, we should not allow the problem to master us; instead we should become the master of the problem and defeat it.” – Says Sri Abdul Kalam when asked about his secret behind the success.

    The book is actually a compilation of Dale Carnegie and his students’ experiences in facing the problems of Life and how they have come out of the depression(extreme sadness and lack of hope) by conquering worry. He also includes few experiences of some other inspiring personalities.

    It gives simple ideas which can make a difference in our lives. Indeed it is Good, positive and powerful ideas, which help us to overcome the difficulties and face the problems boldly. Unfortunately, our Money-making Education system is not able to provide it.

    Swami Vivekananda Says, “Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested all your life. We must have life-building, man-making and character-making assimilation of ideas.” He also says, “If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library.”

    Here is an Extract from this classic:

    Let us remember these words of William James:

    “Much of what we call Evil - - Can often be converted into a bracing and tonic good by a simple change of the Sufferer’s inner attitude from one of fear to one of fight.” Let’s fight for our happiness! Let’s fight for our happiness by following a daily program of Cheerful and Constructive thinking. Here is such a program. It is entitled “Just for Today.” It was written by the late Sibyl F.Patridge.

    1. Just for Today I will be happy. This assumes that what Abraham Lincoln said is true, that “Most folks are about as happy they make up their minds to be.” Happiness is from within; it is not a matter of externals.
    2. Just for Today I will try to adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.
    3. Just for Today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse it nor neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.
    4. Just for Today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and Concentration.
    5. Just for Today I will exercise my soul in three ways; I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do atleast two things I don’t want to do, as William James suggests, for exercise.
    6. Just for Today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not all, nor find fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improve anyone.
    7. Just for Today I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a life time.
    8. Just for Today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pasts, hurrying and indecision.
    9. Just for Today I will have a quiet half-hour all by myself and relax. In this half-hour sometimes I will think of God, so as to get a little more perspective into my life.
    10. Just for Today I will be unafraid, especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love, and to believe that those I love, love me.

    "If you think yourself Weak, weak you will be. If you think yourself Strong, Strong you will be.”

    "You are the Creator of your own Destiny"

    - Swami Vivekananda


    Thanks
    One more soul in God's Creation
    Last edited by StudentofVihe; 05-08-2010 at 10:42 AM. Reason: Text Alignment - Font Colour editing
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    Mastering English

    English - though not our Mother Language has become our bread earning language. Many students especially those from Rural areas who studied in their Mother tongue and those with poor schooling though studied in Urban areas(like me) are facing/have faced this problem of Anglo-phobia. Many students though very good analytically and in reasoning are not able to articulate and communicate their ideas effectively in English. This, i have clearly observed while working in my previous company for two years; many people though very sound Technically are not able to interpret those ideas when it comes to presentation or during Group discussions/Brain storming sessions. Whole work is done by someone and the entire credit is being taken away by those good in articulation while presenting it to managers. The first step is to identify the problem, second is to accept that there are short comings and the moment we accept ourselves and work in right direction the CHANGE starts.

    English is just one of the mediums of Communication(Making the other person understand what we mean). There is a mis-conception that using Bombastic language is the criteria for judging proficiency in English. But now the things are changed across the world - more importance is given to the easy, effective communication using simple and optimum words rather than use of verbose.

    Those of us working hard to Master English here is one good book which can come to our rescue - ESSENTIAL ENGLISH GRAMMER - Raymond Murphy - CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS. This book is prescribed at Vivekananda Institute of Languages - Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad. Most reputed Spoken English and other foreign languages training institute which receives not less than 20,000 applications for just 2000 seats every session. Institute offers training in English at various levels: Basic, Junior and Senior levels wherein almost every aspect of English, along with training on Group Discussion, Essay writing, Public speaking, Mock Interviews - - - is imparted. There are instances where the Products of V.I.L have established their own English training centers after completing the course.

    Keeping in view of growing demand for Spoken English, and in order to protect the interests of students coming from Rural areas, the institute (V.I.L) now gives first preference to those candidates who got education in Mother Tongue and also those who secured less than 60 percent marks in their 10th class English paper.

    Vivekananda Institute of Languages, Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad

    Apart from E.E.G there are other books like Essential English Vocabulary, Intermediate/Advanced English Grammar by Cambridge Publications, which can come to our rescue. (Source: Vivekananda Institute of Languages students)

    Grammer forms back bone of any language. As we speak in present, past, future or in perfect tenses. Hence mastering the Essential Grammer(Tenses), Subject-Verb agreement is important.

    Grammer without Vocab is like knowledgeable dumb person. Wherein we have ideas but can't put it in words. For Mastering Vocab, another good book which can come to our rescue - Cambridge learners dictionary/Cambridge Advanced learners dictionary (Source: Proficiency in English Course - C.I.E.F.L/E.F.L.University - Hyderabad). In Cambridge dictionaries, meaning is expressed in simple words with good usage examples. At Advanced Stage, Oxford(Advanced Dictionary 8th Edition) serves our purpose.

    Other Good Books:

    English through Practice - recently brought out by Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages(now E.F.L.U) prescribed by Board of Intermediate Education, A.P.
    Inter NET - 2 - recently brought out by Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages prescribed by Board of Intermediate Education, A.P.
    Vivekananda Spoken English Set - brought out by Vivekananda Institute of Languages, Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad.

    Language learning is a life long learning process. Unless, accompanied by interest; learning a new language may become burdensome. Primary investment of INCESSANT READING (GOOD BOOKS) is must for mastering any language by the aspirant.

    Reading makes Full Man
    Writing makes Exact Man
    Speaking makes Ready Man

    - Proverb (Unknown) learnt at V.I.H.E


    Thanks
    Student of Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence
    One more soul in God's Creation
    Last edited by StudentofVihe; 05-08-2010 at 10:47 AM. Reason: Inserted Vivekananda Spoken English Set
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