The Correct Way To Celebrate Christmas

Love and Greetings on the occasion of Christmas - The Day so Holy and Sacred celebrating the advent of the "Son of God."

Today Swami tells us the correct way to celebrate the birth of Lord Jesus Christ.

Sai Inspires - 25th December 2005

In all religions, birthdays of great personalities are celebrated but the ideals for which they lived are not remembered and followed. If you do not care to follows their teachings the celebrations lose their meaning and become artificial observances. It is not doing justice to the good people whose birthdays are being celebrated. Christ taught people to love all beings and serve all with compassion. It is only by practising these ideals that one can truly celebrate His birthday. The Divinity within should be reflected in every action... Worship means loving others with your full heart. You must live in love and lead a life of selfless service based on love. This is the only right way of celebrating the birth of Christ.



How Must We Respond?



Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam. Today, hundreds of millions of people around the world would be celebrating Christmas. One wonders how many of them would take a minute off to ponder over what Christmas really means. Instead, most likely, over 90% of those celebrating Christmas would be preoccupied with matters that hardly relate to Christ and his eternal message of love and compassion.

Time there was hundreds of years ago when the world was not supposed to be so advanced; but then, and people had all the time to think about the teachings of Christ. Few realise that if today there are over a billion Christians all over the world, it was because many in those distant days were drawn to the Son of God by the message he preached and lived by, before he made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of humanity.

People were drawn then to the message of Christ, because it is the universal message of Pure Love and Compassion. It is a message with an eternal appeal that can touch Hearts even in the darkest of times; and it is that very same message that is drawing millions to Swami, including for the celebration of Christmas here.

No, Christmas is not about going on shopping spree, not about sending cards in thousands, not about marketing, not about opening attractively wrapped gifts and not about grand Christmas dinners or parties. It is all about Love and Compassion.

Preoccupied as we are these days with matters relating the material world, it is not easy to follow the message of Christ, or for that matter that of Swami. Indeed, even in earlier times it was not easy, which is why Christ once exclaimed in desperation, 'Why call ye me Lord, when thou doest not follow what I say'. Swami too has expressed similar disappointment via the words, 'Aacharanam ledu,' meaning people do not put into practice His teachings.

Once a speaker asked some devotees whom he was addressing, How come we force Swami to express dissatisfaction in this manner. If we really love Swami as we all claim, then why does such a serious lapse arise. There was then a lot of discussion until one person hit the nail on the head. He said, 'May be, perhaps unknown to ourselves, deep in our Heart we are not convinced that following Swami's teachings would do us any good. Possibly, we ask, What's there in it for me, and brush aside the teachings'.

This was an honest answer. The speaker then narrated the famous parable of the Good Samaritan first told by Jesus. Just to recall, there was a traveller going along a lonely desert road who was waylaid by robbers who not only took away everything this unfortunate traveller had but also beat him up and left him badly wounded. There he was lying helpless and in pain when along came a Levite. He saw the man and just kept on going without bothering even to enquire whether any help was needed. After some time came a priest but he was no better; he too couldn't care less about the hapless, wounded wayfarer. And then came a man from Samaria who stopped, applied balm to the wounds, bandaged them, placed the injured man on his donkey, and took him to an inn in a village. There he arranged for the victim of robbery to be accommodated and fed. And next day when he left, the Samarian left some money with the innkeeper to take care of the expenses of the injured man. That roughly is the parable narrated by Jesus.

The speaker then asked his audience: 'Why do you think the Levite and the priest walked away without attending to the wounded and dispossessed man. The audience had no difficulty in giving the answer. They all said, 'These two people did not offer help because there was nothing in it for them.' The speaker said that is right and then asked, 'In that case, what was there in it for the man from Samaria. What did he see that the other two who went before him didn't.' After some hesitation, one member of the audience said, 'Probably this man from Samaria felt he would feel happy inside if he extended help.'

That answer is indeed correct. The first two passers by sought an answer to the question. What's there in it for me from the Head. The Head saw no benefit and that is why those two went their way without bothering to help. The man from Samaria also asked the same question but addressed it to his Heart. And the Heart said, 'If you show love and compassion to the wounded man and help him, you will experience Bliss or Ananda'. The man accepted the response and did exactly what his Heart asked him to.

That really is the central point about the message that Christ gave then and Swami is teaching us now. In the world that we live in, we are a constant witness to all the things that happen there, especially the suffering of hundreds of millions. How must we respond? If the question is addressed to the Head, it would say, 'Don't bother.' When people do not bother they would turn to merrymaking and wasting money on unnecessary luxuries, money that could be used for alleviating pain and misery. Indeed, such people might, in the pursuit of their ambitions even inflict pain and cause hurt. However, if one listens to the Heart, one would do all one can to reach out to those in distress. Even if one is not able to physically help, one can at least pray to the Lord. Incidentally, it is interesting how often the Heart is portrayed along with pictures of Christ.

On this sacred day, let us who are blessed by the Lord to enjoy comfortable circumstances in life, take a moment off to think of hundreds of millions who are suffering from the aftermath of various natural disasters, who are in the clutches of poverty, and are facing a miserable end to their lives caused by diseases that could have been prevented if humanity had more feeling for the suffering. Instead of dreaming of shopping sprees and wild parties, let us ruminate on the teachings of Christ and His Father who is now very much with us. Let us spend some time reading the Discourses given by Swami at Christmas time year after year, to help us place the message of Christ in a modern context.

Merry Christmas and Jai Sai Ram.
With Love and Regards,
"Heart2Heart"
RadioSai e-Journal Team,
In Sai Service.

Swami Vivekananda’s Contributions to World

Making an objective assessment of Swami Vivekananda’s contributions to world culture, the eminent British historian A L Basham stated that “in centuries to come, he will be remembered as one of the main moulders of the modern world…” Some of the main contributions that Swamiji made to the modern world are mentioned below:

1. New Understanding of Religion: One of the most significant contributions of Swami Vivekananda to the modern world is his interpretation of religion as a universal experience of transcendent Reality, common to all humanity. Swamiji met the challenge of modern science by showing that religion is as scientific as science itself; religion is the ‘science of consciousness’. As such, religion and science are not contradictory to each other but are complementary.

This universal conception frees religion from the hold of superstitions, dogmatism, priestcraft and intolerance, and makes religion the highest and noblest pursuit – the pursuit of supreme Freedom, supreme Knowledge, supreme Happiness.

2. New View of Man: Vivekananda’s concept of ‘potential divinity of the soul’ gives a new, ennobling concept of man. The present age is the age of humanism which holds that man should be the chief concern and centre of all activities and thinking. Through science and technology man has attained great prosperity and power, and modern methods of communication and travel have converted human society into a ‘global village’. But the degradation of man has also been going on apace, as witnessed by the enormous increase in broken homes, immorality, violence, crime, etc. in modern society. Vivekananda’s concept of potential divinity of the soul prevents this degradation, divinizes human relationships, and makes life meaningful and worth living. Swamiji has laid the foundation for ‘spiritual humanism’, which is manifesting itself through several neo-humanistic movements and the current interest in meditation, Zen etc all over the world.

3. New Principle of Morality and Ethics: The prevalent morality, in both individual life and social life, is mostly based on fear – fear of the police, fear of public ridicule, fear of God’s punishment, fear of Karma, and so on. The current theories of ethics also do not explain why a person should be moral and be good to others. Vivekananda has given a new theory of ethics and new principle of morality based on the intrinsic purity and oneness of the Atman. We should be pure because purity is our real nature, our true divine Self or Atman. Similarly, we should love and serve our neighbours because we are all one in the Supreme Spirit known as Paramatman or Brahman.

4. Bridge between the East and the West: Another great contribution of Swami Vivekananda was to build a bridge between Indian culture and Western culture. He did it by interpreting Hindu scriptures and philosophy and the Hindu way of life and institutions to the Western people in an idiom which they could understand. He made the Western people realize that they had to learn much from Indian spirituality for their own well-being. He showed that, in spite of her poverty and backwardness, India had a great contribution to make to world culture. In this way he was instrumental in ending India’s cultural isolation from the rest of the world. He was India’s first great cultural ambassador to the West.

On the other hand, Swamiji’s interpretation of ancient Hindu scriptures, philosophy, institutions, etc prepared the mind of Indians to accept and apply in practical life two best elements of Western culture, namely science and technology and humanism. Swamiji has taught Indians how to master Western science and technology and at the same time develop spiritually. Swamiji has also taught Indians how to adapt Western humanism (especially the ideas of individual freedom, social equality and justice and respect for women) to Indian ethos.

4 BEAUTIFUL QUOTES OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA

1. "I could not believe my own ears when I heard Western people talking so much of consciousness! Consciousness? What does consciousness matter! Why, it is nothing compared with the unfathomable depths of the subconscious and the heights of the superconscious! In this I could never be misled, for had I not seen Ramakrishna Paramahamsa gather in ten minutes, from a man's subconscious mind, the whole of his past, and determine from that his future and his powers?"

2. "All these (visions etc.) are side issues. They are not true Yoga. They may have a certain usefulness in establishing indirectly the truth of our statements. Even a little glimpse gives faith that there is something behind gross matter. Yet those who spend time on such things run into grave dangers."


3. "I am the servant of the servants of the servants of Buddha. Who was there ever like him? — the Lord — who never performed one action for himself — with a heart that embraced the whole world! So full of pity that he — prince and monk — would give his life to save a little goat! So loving that he sacrificed himself to the hunger of a tigress! — to the hospitality of a pariah and blessed him! And he came into my room when I was a boy, and I fell at his feet! For I knew it was the Lord Himself!"


4. "How great his renunciation was! Born a prince, he renounced everything! If a man has nothing, no wealth at all, what does his renunciation amount to? After attaining Buddhahood and experiencing Nirvana, Buddha once visited his home and exhorted his wife, his son, and many others of the royal household to embrace the life of renunciation. How intense his renunciation was! But look at Vyasa's conduct! He forbade his son Sukadeva to give up the world, saying, 'My son, practise religion as a householder.'" -SWAMI VIVEKANANDA

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA-DISCUSSION WITH PANDITS-Inspirational Stories

In the year of 1897, Swami Vivekananda stayed at the house of late Gopal Lal Seal at Cossipore. One day many pundits came to meet Swami Vivekananda in the hope of having an philosophical discussion with SwamiJi.All the pundits were well versed in Sankrit and they were discussing the matter in fluent sankrit. So Swamiji also spoke in sanskrit with them. But at one occassion, Swamiji made a grammatical mistake in the spoken sanskrit language. He used the word Asti instead of Svasti, which made the Pundits laugh out. Swamiji quickly accpeted his mistake and the discussion went on. In the end Pundits were convinced of the Swami Vivekananda arguments and they accepted his view points and left gladly.

After the pundits left, Swami Vivekananda explained the whole discussion to the disciples and also told about the fact that they laughed at him because they had picked up a grammatical mistake in his words. Swamiji further said that as He had stayed for a long period of time away from india, so he has not spoken sanskrit for so many years. After that day disciples started speaking with Swamiji in sanskrit only.Swamiji spoke further about this discussion and said that in the West no one would make a big point of the small grammatical mistake which he made. But they would have given more importance to the point which he wanted to assert. Pointing at the mistake deviates the attention from the real topic. He further said that in our country, all the fighting is going on over the husk, nobody searches for the kernel within.


Note : All the pundits who have came, it seems wanted to put down the Swamiji and that small grammatical mistake was the only occasion they got to bring Swamiji down. But it made no difference to Swamiji and he accepted his mistake humbly. Pundits were not able to challenge his arguments and in the end they were convinced with Swami Vivekananda. Moral of the story is that we need to focus on the essential and not on the mundane things.


Every one has to find out the essential seeking for his life. One should look deep into the things and see what is the essential quality which always remains with us and we can carry it in our next life also. A sincere seeker is never going to deviate from his goal and will always focus on realizing the truth.

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