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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Christmas 2017: Karma Yoga in Sri Ramakrishna's Room, Part Two

By Vivek

Lesson learnt: Spilling water in a holy place of pilgrimage may make a priest angry 
As I was counting my blessings, devotees continued to file into the small room to pay their respects, to sit a while, but only to be reminded by the temple priest to not stay too long. Sometime after, as I got up to throw out a bit of trash that a devotee had dropped, my water bottle fell open and water splashed across the floor and onto the sarees of some devotees, who needless to say, cried out in alarm. However, I was a tad more concerned about the mess I had caused in Sri Ramakrishna's room, probably as a result of my clumsiness (which was strange, since I am obsessive compulsive about tightening water bottle lids … among other things). And whether I had unwittingly desecrated the sacred room. And about the temple priest glaring at me in visible disgust.

Divine Grace/Guidance: A Karma Yoga opportunity dawns: A glaring priest can't make me cry over spilt water
However alarm quickly changed into enthusiasm as an opportunity to do devoted service to Sri Ramakrishna presented itself. I quickly asked for a cloth to clean up the spill. This was reluctantly fetched from behind a usually closed door that I could peek into and I think (unsure) was the Holy Mother’s Nahabat, which I had unsuccessfully looked for earlier. I spent the next few minutes on all fours thoroughly and happily cleaning up the floor, never having imagined in my life I would be given an opportunity  to do ‘seva’ to Sri Ramakrishna in this manner. I stopped only when I was told to … having mopped more of the floor than had been wettened. I  thought in passing of asking the priest if I could do the whole room, but feared being kicked out.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Christmas 2017: Karma Yoga in Sri Ramakrishna's Room, Part One

By Vivek

As a volunteer at the Vedanta Society in my younger days, I used to look forward to contributing my bit to weekend Karma Yoga sessions when we spruced up our place of worship. On Christmas Day (Monday, December 25, 2017), I had a chance to do just that in Sri Ramakrishna’s room, in which I also spent 4 hours (by His and the Divine Mother's Will and Grace), while visiting the Dakshineshwar Kali temple amidst teeming Christmas weekend crowds. That Monday morning, I set out for Dakshineshwar, planning to spend as much time as I could in Sri Ramakrishna’s room in the corner of the awe-inspiring temple complex.

Early morning ferry: Belur to Dakshineshwar to beat the crowds
I had been warned by many about the throngs of devotees who would visit the temple that day, and of the long lines that would ensue. I reached the Ferry Ghat near Belur Math after being treated to a hearty Christmas breakfast at the Belur Math Guest House before 8:00 a.m. It was a pleasant surprise to find myself the lone voyager across the Ganges/Ganga on an empty government ferry. The early morning crowds at the temple were sparse and the entrance lines nice, thin and short. I was comfortably settled in my little corner of Sri Ramakrishna’s little corner of the temple by 8:45 a.m. or so, planning not to lose the spot at least for the next several hours or until kicked out in accordance with the ‘DO NOT SPEND TOO MUCH TIME IN THIS ROOM’ policy boldly displayed on the notice board.