The spiritual significance

ON THE night of December 31, at the stroke of midnight, the world will be awake to ring in yet another New Year — 2002 while for the monks and members of the Ramakrishna Mission, January 1 holds a special significance. They celebrate this day as `Kalpataru Day', to commemorate an awe-inspiring moment in the life of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. On this day, in 1886, the Master entered into divine ecstasy and touching several disciples, pronounced the words, `Ye be illumined'! Instantly, those he blessed experienced profound bliss. And one of Master's disciples, Ramachandra Dutta named January 1 as `Kalpataru Day'.

Swami Akhandananda writes, "It is an auspicious day for all of us. Our Master became the Kalpataru to bless his disciples at Cossipore (a Calcutta suburb). Kalpataru is one of the five trees of Heaven or Indra's Paradise that is supposed to fulfil desires. The other four are Mandaram, Santanam, Harichandanam and Parijatam.

It is interesting to note that Ramakrishna Paramahamsa shed his mortal coils in August, 1886, in the same house at Cossipore, where he attained divinity. He suffered his bad health (throat cancer) silently. After his mahasamadhi, his disciples took shelter with his holy `asthi' in a dilapidated house at Baranagar. This is the sacred place where Narendra (Swami Vivekananda) and a few others took up sanyasa and spent more than five years performing unprecedented spiritual austerities.

Later Swami Vivekananda realised that service to humanity was more important than spiritual penance. He advised his followers to spend some time in the morning and evening in japa and dhyana, but to occupy oneself during the rest of the day in spiritual study and to work for the good of the world.

This seed sown by the Swamiji bore fruit in the form of the worldwide organisation, Ramakrishna Mission, which is engaged in service to the poor and the needy.


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