^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ SYMBOLS OF TWELVE MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^



Best Wishes and Prayer to all Visitors 

birth of Jesus:
The birth of Jesus was announced in Luke 2:11, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Moreover, the belief that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas.

Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament's Messianic prophecy. The Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus' birth. Depending on one's perspective, these accounts either differ from each other or tell two versions of the same story. These biblical accounts are found in the Gospel of Matthew, and the Gospel of Luke. According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem.

According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals. A manger (that is, a feeding trough) is mentioned in Luke 2:7, where it states Mary "wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (KJV); and "She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them" (NIV).

Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child. Popular tradition also holds that three kings or wise men viz. Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar visited the infant Jesus in the manger, though this does not strictly follow the Biblical account. The Gospel of Matthew instead describes a visit by an unspecified number of magi, or astrologers, sometime after Jesus was born while the family was living in a house (Matthew 2:11), who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the young child Jesus. The visitors were said to be following a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem, believing it to announce the birth of a king of the Jews.

In the earliest centuries of Christianity, no particular day of the year is known to have been associated with the birth of Jesus. Various dates were speculated: May 20, April 18 or 19, March 25, January 2, November 17 or 20. When celebration on a particular date began, January 6 prevailed at least in the East;] but, except among Armenians (the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church), who continue to celebrate the birth on January 6.

The New Testament Gospel of Luke may indirectly give the date as December for the birth of Jesus, with the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy with John the Baptist cited by John Chrysostom(c. 386) as a date for the Annunciation. In Chronographai, a reference work published in 221, Sextus Julius Africanus suggested that Jesus was conceived on the spring equinox. The equinox was March 25 on the Roman calendar, so this implied a birth in December.

Sextus Julius Africanus was the first to identify December 25, later to become the universally accepted date, as the date Jesus's birth in 221.

COURTESY: en.wikipedia.org




Master's humility
Keshab Chandra Sen
"Do you know my attitude? As for myself, I eat, drink, and live happily.  The rest the Divine Mother knows.  Indeed, there are three words that prick my flesh: 'guru', 'master', and 'father'. 

"There is only one Guru, and that is Satchidananda.  He alone is the Teacher.  My attitude toward God is that of a child toward its mother.  One can get human gurus by the million.  All want to be teachers.  But who cares to be a disciple?

Difficulty of preaching:
"It is extremely difficult to teach others.  A man can teach only if God reveals Himself to him and gives the command.  Narada, Sukadeva, and sages like them had such a command from God, and Sankara had it too.  Unless you have a command from God, who will listen to your words?

"Don't you know how easily the people of Calcutta get excited? The milk in the kettle puffs up and boils as long as the fire burns underneath.  Take away the fuel and all becomes quiet.  The people of Calcutta love sensations.  You may see them digging a well at a certain place.  They say they want water.  But if they strike a stone they give up that place; they begin at another place.  And there, perchance, they find sand; they give up the second place too.  Next they begin at a third.  And so it goes.  But it won't do if a man only imagines that he has God's command. 

"God does reveal Himself to man and speak.  Only then may one receive His command.  How forceful are the words of such a teacher! They can move mountains.  But mere lectures? People will listen to them for a few days and then forget them.  They will never act upon mere words. 

"At Kamarpukur there is a small lake called the Haldarpukur.  Certain people used to befoul its banks every day.  Others who came there in the morning to bathe would abuse the offenders loudly.  But next morning they would find the same thing.  The nuisance didn't stop.  (All laugh.) The villagers finally informed the authorities about it.  A constable was sent, who put up a notice on the bank which read: 'Commit no nuisance.' This stopped the miscreants at once.  (All laugh.)

"To teach others, one must have a badge of authority; otherwise teaching becomes a mockery.  A man who is himself ignorant starts out to teach others-like the blind leading the blind! Instead of doing good, such teaching does harm.  After the realization of God one obtains an inner vision.  Only then can one diagnose a person's spiritual malady and give instruction. 

"Without the commission from God, a man becomes vain.  He says to himself, 'I am teaching people.' This vanity comes from ignorance, for only an ignorant person feels that he is the doer.  A man verily becomes liberated in life if he feels: 'God is the Doer.  He alone is doing everything.  I am doing nothing.'   Man's sufferings and worries spring only from his persistent thought that he is the doer. 

Doing good to others:
"You people speak of doing good to the world.  Is the world such a small thing? And who are you, pray, to do good to the world? First realize God, see Him by means of spiritual discipline.  If He imparts power, then you can do good to others; otherwise not."

A BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "Then, sir, we must give up our activities until we realize God?"

MASTER: "No.  Why should you? You must engage in such activities as contemplation, singing His praises, and other daily devotions."

BRAHMO: "But what about our worldly duties-duties associated with our earning money, and so on?"

MASTER: "Yes, you can perform them too, but only as much as you need for your livelihood.  At the same time, you must pray to God in solitude, with tears in your eyes, that you may be able to perform those duties in an unselfish manner.  You should say to Him: 'O God, make my worldly duties fewer and fewer; otherwise, O Lord, I find that I forget Thee when I am involved in too many activities.  I may think I am doing unselfish work, but it turns out to be selfish.' People who carry to excess the giving of alms, or the distributing of food among the poor, fall victims to the desire of acquiring name and fame. 

Sambhu Charan Mallick
"Sambhu Charan Mallick once talked about establishing hospitals, dispensaries, and schools, making roads, digging public reservoirs, and so forth.  I said to him: 'Don't go out of your way to look for such works.  Undertake only those works that present themselves to you and are of pressing necessity-and those also in a spirit of detachment.' It is not good to become involved in many activities.  That makes one forget God.  Coming to the Kalighat temple, some, perhaps, spend their whole time in giving alms to the poor.  They have no time to see the Mother in the inner shrine! (Laughter.) First of all manage somehow to see the image of the Divine Mother, oven by pushing through the crowd.  Then you may or may not give alms, as you wish.  You may give to the poor to your heart's content, if you feel that way.  Work is only a means to the realization of God.  Therefore I said to Sambhu, 'Suppose God appears before you; then will you ask Him to build hospitals and dispensaries for you?' (Laughter.) A lover of God never says that.  He will rather say: 'O Lord, give me a place at Thy Lotus Feet.  Keep me always in Thy company.  Give me sincere and pure love for Thee.'

Path of devotion most elective for Kaliyuga:
"Karmayoga is very hard indeed.  In the Kaliyuga it is extremely difficult to perform the rites enjoined in the scriptures.  Nowadays man's life is centred on food alone.  He cannot perform many scriptural rites.  Suppose a man is laid up with fever.  If you attempt a slow cure with the old-fashioned indigenous remedies, before long his life may be snuffed out.  He can't stand much delay.  Nowadays the drastic 'D Gupta' mixture is appropriate.  In the Kaliyuga the best way is bhaktiyoga, the path of devotion-singing the praises of the Lord, and prayer.  The path of devotion alone is the religion for this age.  (To the Brahmo devotees) Yours also is the path of devotion.  Blessed you are indeed that you chant the name of Hari and sing the Divine Mother's glories.  I like your attitude.  You don't call the world a dream like the non-dualists.  You are not Brahmajnanis like them; you are bhaktas, lovers of God.  That you speak of Him as a Person is also good.  You are devotees.  You will certainly realize Him if you call on Him with sincerity and earnestness."

The boat cast anchor at Kayalaghat and the passengers prepared to disembark.  On coming outside they noticed that the full moon was up.  The trees, the buildings, and the boats on the Ganges were bathed in its mellow light.  A carriage was hailed for the Master, and M. and a few devotees got in with him.  The Master asked for Keshab.  Presently the latter arrived and inquired about the arrangements made for the Master's return to Dakshineswar.  Then he bowed low and took leave of Sri Ramakrishna. 

The carriage drove through the European quarter of the city.  The Master enjoyed the sight of the beautiful mansions on both sides of the well lighted streets.  Suddenly he said: "I am thirsty.  What's to be done?" Nandalal, Keshab's nephew, stopped the carriage before the India Club and went upstairs to get some water.  The Master inquired whether the glass had been well washed.  On being assured that it had been, he drank the water. 

As the carriage went along, the Master put his head out of the window and looked with childlike enjoyment, at the people, the vehicles, the horses, and the streets, all flooded with moonlight.  Now and then he heard European ladies singing at the piano.  He was in a very happy mood. 

Surendranath Mitra
The carriage arrived at the house of Suresh Mitra, who was a great devotee of the Master and whom he addressed affectionately as Surendra.  He was not at home.

The members of the household opened a room on the ground floor for the Master and his party.  The cab fare was to be paid.  Surendra would have taken care of it had he been there.  The Master said to a devotee: "Why don't you ask the ladies to pay the fare? They certainly know that their master visits us at Dakshineswar.  I am not a stranger to them."(All laugh.)

Narendra, who lived in that quarter of the city, was sent for.  In the mean time Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees were invited to the drawing-room upstairs.  The floor of the room was covered with a carpet and a white sheet.  A few cushions were lying about.  On the wall hung an oil painting especially painted for Surendra, in which Sri Ramakrishna was pointing out to Keshab the harmony of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other religions.  On seeing the picture Keshab had once said, "Blessed is the man who conceived the idea."

Sri Ramakrishna was talking joyously with the devotees, when Narendra arrived.  This made the Master doubly happy.  He said to his young disciple, "We had a boat trip with Keshab today.  Vijay and many other Brahmo devotees were there.  (Pointing to M.) Ask him what I said to Keshab and Vijay about the mother and daughter observing their religious fast on Tuesdays, each on her own account, though the welfare of the one meant the welfare of the other.  I also said to Keshab that trouble-makers like jatila and Kutila were necessary to lend zest to the play.  (To M.) Isn't that so?"

M: "Yes, sir.  Quite so."

It was late.  Surendra had not yet returned.  The Master had to leave for the temple garden, and a cab was brought for him.  M. and Narendra saluted him and took their leave.  Sri Ramakrishna's carriage started for Dakshineswar through the moonlit streets.

SOURCE: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna