Offering pranams to Sri Ramakrishna
Swami Shankaranandaji once told Swami Veetaraganandaji (Shyamapada Maharaj), “Do you know how to offer your pranams to Sri Sri Thakur when you visit the temple? Never rush to offer your pranams. Stand calm and look at Sri Sri Thakur for a while. Imagine and try to feel the living presence of Sri Sri Thakur and that he is looking at you. When your mind is focused, imagine that you are holding Thakur’s feet and offering your pranams.”
— Swami Medhasananda
Offering pranams to sadhus
From 1950 onwards I would visit Udbodhan, or Mother’s house, and was thus acquainted with the resident swamis. Swami Advayananda told me the following incident.
Swami Shankaranandaji had come to Udbodhan to offer pranams to Holy Mother on the auspicious occasion of Vijaya. After seeing the Mother, he went to Swami Atmabodhananda’s room. All the other swamis came there to offer their pranams to Shankaranandaji. As he was just about to leave, Swami Shraddhananda (then editor of the journal Udbodhan) came hurriedly and made pranam by touching Shankaranandaji’s feet. Annoyed, Maharaj said, “One should not pay respect like this. Offering obeisance and receiving it are not trivial matters. One who is bowing down should have an attitude of self-surrender. When someone bows down to me, I pray to Thakur for his welfare.”
— Swami Chetanananda
Shraddha in every work
I was then at the Entally Sarada Mission Ashram which had recently been established with a school for the elderly women. One day, I and another sannyasini went to Belur Math and we decided to return after partaking of the noon prasad at the Math. As usual, after offering pranams to Sri Ramakrishna, we went to offer our pranams to Swami Shankarananda Maharaj who was the President of the Order. When we entered Maharaj’s room he asked us, “Don’t you have the school today?” I answered, “Yes, Maharaj, it is there. However, the school starts at half past twelve. We’ll quickly take prasad and reach the school. We may be just a little delayed.” Maharaj became grave and said, “Today, you go back, no need to take prasad. Go and start your school-work at the appointed time. Come and have prasad on a holiday.” We returned immediately without uttering a single word. We learnt a good lesson and understood that every work is equally important and has to be done with proper attention. As our school was small, we thought a little delay would not hamper the work; but revered Maharaj made us understand the importance of this very work.
— Pravrajika Shuddhaprana
Importance of routine
Swami Shankarananda Maharaj took a keen interest in our spiritual growth. All of a sudden, one day he asked me, “Do you attend the vesper service daily?” I replied, “I used to attend. For the last few days, I am unable to do so.” Maharaj then said, “See! It is not good to break the rules. It won’t matter if you come to me a little late. If you break one rule, gradually you will flout all the rules one by one.”
Even when his health was broken, Maharaj never deviated from his daily routine. One day I entered his room at dawn, and found Nani Maharaj holding him in a sitting position on his bed. Later I inquired Nani Maharaj, “Why were you holding Maharaj like that?” He replied, “Maharaj told me that his body was not in his control and was staggering. And he didn’t want to miss his practices. So, he asked me to hold him.” That hour was Maharaj’s regular time for his sadhana.
— Swami Shivavratananda
Once, as soon as I entered his room, Swami Shankarananda Maharaj said, “Tell me how many palm trees are there in the Math?” My immediate reply was “None”! “Come towards my head- side, and look out from the window towards the Industrial School. What do you see?” I saw a palm tree, which I had not noticed till then. He told me, “Wherever you stay, always carefully watch your surrounding areas.”
— Swami Shivavratananda
Culture through Sanskrit
It was a Sunday and the date was 20 April 1958. I went to offer my pranams to Swami Shankarananda Maharaj after the Sandhya arati. Maharaj was seated on his bed. When I stood up after bowing down, he asked, “Have all the examinations in your University got over?”
I replied, “Intermediate Examination is over. But, Annual Examination of the college will start from tomorrow. Also, University Examination is going on for B.A. students in some other centres.”
Maharaj then said, “See, how the students created anarchy in some of the Examination Centres in Calcutta during the School Final Examination! They broke and damaged everything, even boycotted the examination. This kind of unruly and rebellious attitude of the student community is harmful for the society as well as for the nation. They are the ones who are going to build the society in the near future. But, the kind of unruly behaviour that has crept into the educational system, is leading our country into darkness. These days, it is happening everywhere. I saw in the newspaper that in America as well the youth community has started displaying similar unruly attitude. “
In our times, we were taught Chanakya slokas, and Hitopadesha. In those books, there used to be many educative slokas and moral stories. Reading them at a tender age helped us to learn many things and the education in values created a permanent impression on our mind. But, you see, now-a-days, such books on moral education are no more a part of the school curriculum. Due to lack of respect for Sanskrit scriptures, there is a growing tendency of such unethical attitude in the student community.”
— Swami Tejasananda