Recommendable spiritual literature:
Even if not everyone is ready to understand Swami Narayanananda’s books, the books are a marvelous treasure when it comes to knowledge and guidance about the spiritual life. Actually, one can, with great benefits, read and study Swamiji’s books one’s whole life. Perhaps especially, “The Secret Of Mind Control,” “The Primal Power in Man or The Kundalini Shakti,” and ” The Secrets of Prana, Pranayama and Yoga-Asanas.” Swamiji’s books contain deep knowledge and help to those who have chosen the spiritual path.
The book, “The Secrets of Mind Control,” fits perfectly into our time, where the interest for yoga, meditation, and spiritual life slowly but surely is integrating into our western society. The author, Swami Narayanananda, writes in the foreword that when he recalls his youth and the difficulty he had, due to lack of guidance and a “proper book,” which step by step could lead him to the highest goal, he was forced to believe that there are many other struggling souls, who because of lack of guidance have difficulties in making progress in the spiritual life, that he wrote the book to help. So Swamiji’s books are a true treasure of one chapter after another, dealing with the most important and essential things about meditation and spiritual life. The book cannot be praised enough, and it will benefit any spiritual seeker to own this book, which is also a guide through the many obstacles, traps, and pitfalls in the spiritual life.
Another one of Swami Narayananana’s revolutionary books is “The Primal Power in Man or The Kundalini Shakti.” Here, Swamiji also explains his reason to publish this masterpiece about Kundalini Shakti and says that many truth-seekers without knowledge of this hidden force have misused it and completely destroyed their lives. So, Swamiji’s book about Kundalini Shakti has been written and published in order to help spiritual seekers from unnecessary fall and degradation. Never before in the history of literature has such a book been written. Chapter after chapter, the book reveals the deepest and most sublime knowledge that was previously secret.
One more of Swamiji’s book we want to represent here is “The Secret of Prana, Pranayama and Yoga-Asanas.” In the preface, Swamiji says that there are many books on prana and pranayama, but that most of the books’ authors do not even know the prana and pranayama’s abc. These authors have just collected material from old and new books on yoga and then published them as their own personal experiences. Such pseudogurus are playing with innocent yoga students’ lives and have already caused much harm and confused.
One of the Yama and Nyama rules are “to study the scriptures.” Our advice is therefore to read uplifting and inspiring literature about great souls, prophets, or God realized saints. There exist a lot of inspiring spiritual literature. When one is on the spiritual path, one must know first about the very old Puranas like, for example: “Yoga Vasistha,” “Ramayana” by Valmiki, “Bhagavatham” and the great epic “Mahabharata.” It is not that one needs to go through all these enormous scriptures in detail, but one must know about them. There are many shorter, easier to read books that contain wisdom and essence of these scriptures. An example is “Bhagavad Gita,” which is the wonderful inspiring essence of Mahabharata. There also exist good inspiring films of both “Ramayana” by Valmiki and the “Mahabharata” by Vyasa on youtube. Shall we proceed further, we come to the “Dhammapada,” which is an inspiring and rich source of beautiful teachings of Gautama Buddha. Shankaracharya’s famous book “Vivekachudamani” (the crown jewel of discrimination) is another masterpiece of spiritual literature, which is among the greatest in the world, like “Bhagavadhgita.” Other spiritual literature worth studying is Patanjali’s “Yoga Sutras,” which even today is an absolute authority in India. Of course, there are a lot of other valuable scriptures in India. But the ones we are advertising here are those that have had the greatest influence on the spiritual awakening in the West.
Shall we recommend spiritual literature from our time, which might have had the greatest influence on the spiritual awakening in the West, we come to Sri Paramahamsa Ramakrishna, who was a God-realized saint, living in the Dakshineswar temple outside Calcutta in Bengali. One of his disciples, M.(Mahindranath Gupta), wrote the book, “The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.” The book is in two volumes with more than a thousand pages and to be merged into the world around one of the greatest spiritual geniuses who ever lived is nothing less than a revelation. M. describes, with a great skill, the divine scenery around Ramakrishna in the Dakshineswar and The Kali temple in the untouched jungle by the Ganges river outside Calcutta. Ramakrishna was a young priest in The Kali temple in Dakshineswar, therefore, The Holy Mother Kali became Ramakrishna’s Ishta Devata (the god or goddess one is worshiping and meditating on). Under Ramkrishna’s temple duties, he developed a burning longing after a visions of “The Mother” to such an extent that he forgot food, sleep, and other bodily necessities. When the young Ramakrishna, after intense spiritual practice where he meditated and worshiped The Mother Kali day and night and still did not get the desired vision he did not want to live any longer, he raised up from his worship and meditation and ran towards the corner of the Temple, where a sword was hanging in order to end his life. But Ramakrishna never succeeded in his attempt, because before he could reach the sword he was stopped by a beautiful blinding light and got the vision of Mother Kali. As Ramakrishna later explained himself: the temple building and everything around me disappeared, and what I saw was infinite ocean of consciousness, and in every direction I was looking, I saw waves of this cosmic light coming towards me. After this, I lost external consciousness and became merged in Samadhi’s indescribable bliss.
In the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, we can also experience how Ramakrishna was trying out different religions and attained God realization through them all. As Ramakrishna explained himself later: I have been practicing the different religions Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. I have tried the different sects and branches of Hinduism and I have experienced that it is the same God we all are moving towards, just by different ways.
Now when we are writing about Ramakrishna, it is necessary to mention the world famous Swami Vivekananda, who was the chief disciple of Ramakrishna, because after Ramakrishna’s passing away, Swami Vivekananda did great spiritual work both in Indian and the Western society. He walked around as a Saddhu all over India, and when he full of compassion and witnessing the poor and miserable conditions of his people, the idea of exchanging India’s old spiritual heritage with the Western developed science and technology came to him. With that vision, or intuition as Swami Vivekananda had, he knew that if the world was going to survive, the material development and science of the West and the spiritual qualities and culture of the East had to unite and go hand in hand. When India learned about the coming congress of world religion in Chicago, USA, disciples of Swami Vivekananda collected money for the journey so Vivekananda could participate in the religious congress. Vivekananda arrived to New York in 1893, but with all odds against him. It is too late to join the congress and he has to have a well known organization behind him, furthermore the religious congress was delayed to a later date and Vivekananda had no economical resources to stay in America until the congress started. But in a train, he met an elderly cultivated lady, who became fascinated by Vivekananda and she kindly provided him with accommodation. Her husband was a professor with connections to the congress of religion and Vivekananda was accepted to participate. When the parliament of religion later started and it was Vivekananda’s turn to speak, he addressed the audience with the words “Brothers and sisters of America,” after which a deafening applause of thousands of people followed. Swami Vivekananda with his charming personality, dressed in orange-colored clothes, together with his charisma and sincerity made an enormous impression on the audience. When the applause ended, Vivekananda delivered his first speech, and when he was finished, crowds of mostly women ran to his podium. Swami Vivekananda became a well known and famous man all over America and started lecturing in the country, where he with his spiritual knowledge, oratory skills, and personal charm guided thousands of truth seekers. Swami Vivekananda was spreading Indian philosophy or religion, yoga, meditation, and Vedanta in America and the West. He established many spiritual centers, collected money for his work in India, and became a spiritual teacher (Guru) for thousands of disciples all over America and afterwards also Europe.
When he returned to India in triumph, where millions of his country-men were waiting for him, he delivered a series of lectures, afterwards collected in a little book called “To the Indian Youth.” It is here he delivers the greatest spiritual speeches ever held in the history of mankind. In the book, he appeals to the Indian youth in the following way: make your nerves strong. What we want is muscles of iron and nerves like steel! We have wept long enough. No more weeping, but stand on your own feet and be men. It is a man making religion we want and furthermore: let there be a dozen such lion souls in each country, lions who have broken their bonds and touched the infinite, whose souls have gone to Brahman, who cares neither for wealth, nor for power, nor fame, and this will be enough to shake the whole world. Vivekananda, as he had predicted himself, dies not even reaching forty, sacrificing himself for his work. One can read about Vivekananda’s message and revitalizing of India’s old religion in his collected works. The books are in eight volumes with four thousand pages, but also published in smaller, easier readable books. There exists a lot of other books about Ramakrishna and Vivekananda also written by western disciples like Sister Nirvedita, Christopher Isherwood, Romain Rolland, and others. Many of the books, especially “The gospel of Sri Rama Krishna” is very spiritually inspiring. As the book is too big, it is not recommendable to read the book in one stretch. Therefore, many have the book laying open and are reading it as much as they can digest at a time. It is admirable that parts of “The Gospel of Ramakrishna” and even Swami Vivekananda’s book on Jnana Yoga has been published in such a little country like Lithuania with a population of hardly three million people.
In the second half of the 20th century, another saint came into this world, which also had a great influence on the spiritual awakening in the west. His name was Ramana Maharshi. As a child, he was like all other boys without any signs of spiritual tendencies. But one day when the boy was home alone, suddenly an intense fear of death came over him. He was healthy and vigorous and there was nothing that could explain this sudden feeling of death. The young boy just felt that now he was going to die. Overwhelmed by the fear of death, he laid down on the floor, feeling that now the death has come. But at the same time, the boy asked himself: what is it that is dying? And with great relief, he felt and understood that it was only the body that was dying! My personality’s inner energy could not die, it is immortal! Therefore, I am immortal! This self-realization came with great clarity and from that moment on, his consciousness was merged with the self. Other thoughts could of course appear in his mind, but the all pervading consciousness of the self was now present forever. The boy didn’t tell anybody about his revelations, but continued his studies now with hardly any interest. One day while sitting with his school studies, he saw the uselessness of it all, pushed it away, and sat cross legged in meditation. His elder brother became very irritated and sarcastically advised him to leave the safety of his home and family and to disappear into the jungle, like the ancient Rishis and Yogis.
The boy realized that his brother was right. The one who wanted to live as a saddhu had not the right to enjoy the comfort of the family and the home and from that moment on, he decided to renounce everything. Next day, he wrote a letter to his family and left his home forever. After secretly leaving his family, driven by an irresistible urge, he proceeded towards the Holy Mountain Arunachala, where he stayed for the rest of his life. On his arrival, he went into the great temple where he sat, merged with the Self, without moving for several weeks. The Saddhus who lived in the temple began to keep an eye on the “Ramana Swami,” as they called him, arranged for his very simple necessities, and kept the boys away, who threw stones at him because it angered them to see one that was not older than themselves, sitting stiff as a statue and to see if he was real or not. To protect himself from the boys’ teasing, he sought shelter in the cellar, deep under the temple where the sun’s rays never reached down and where only scorpions and mosquitoes lived. They bit him until his thighs were full of wounds from which blood flowed. He kept these scars the rest of his life. The time spent under the temple was like a descent into hell, but it did not challenge the young Ramana Swami the least, as he was completely absorbed in the Self and the bliss of Samadhi. The boys were afraid to go down under the temple, but threw stones and crushed clay pots against the entrance, which sent a rain of fragments down there. One day, good people found out what was going on and went down into the temple cellar. When their eyes had become accustomed to the darkness and they saw the young boy’s figure, they became horrified by what they saw. They lifted him up and put him in the safe place further inside the temple. The young Ramana Swami sat motionless in the temple for about three months, merged in Samadhi. Often it was necessary to put food in his mouth. The saddhus were now looking after him more and also provided him with fresh milk. After this, he began to move around in different temples, under certain trees, etc. where he also sat motionless in Samadhi for a long time. Slowly, the rumor about the young Ramana swami began to spread. Many came to stare at the young Swami, while others threw themselves down at his feet — sadhus who would follow him for the rest of their lives. Gradually, the Ramana-Swami became more outgoing and begged for his food in Tiruvannamalai’s streets. All this time he had not uttered a single word, but began slowly when it was strictly necessary to speak and took residence in various caves on the Arunachala mountain. Permanent followers or disciples now took up the duties to take care of Ramana Swami and provided him with the simple food he needed. Ramana-Swami now lived in various caves on the mountain. And as the number of his disciples were increasing, he at last came down, where an ashram gradually developed around him.
Ramana Maharshi, in spite of being a Mouni(a man who keeps silent), made a great influence on both Indian and Western society. Ramana Maharshi’s teaching was strongly influenced by jnana-yoga, wisdom and self-inquiry, thereby discovering man’s inner most true nature, called the Self. Arthur Osborne has written a wonderful book about Ramana Maharshi, called, “The way to the Self.” We will recommend it, because it is wonderful, inspiring literature. Thousands, both from India and the West travel to Ramana Maharshi’s Ashram, situated by the foot of the Arunachala mountain. Swami Narayananda (under his great Indian tour) visited Ramana Maharshi, and even if the saint in those days was keeping silent(mouna), Swamiji commented on his visit with the words: “There was full understanding in between us”.