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Swami Brahmananda Quotes and Teachings - First President of Sri Ramakrishna Mission

Swami Brahmananda (1863 - 1922) was a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and was a contemporary of Swami Vivekananda. He was the first president of Sri Ramakrishna Mission. Here are some important quotes and teachings of Swami Brahmananda.
  • Remember God before beginning the work and remember God in the end.  Also remember Him in between.
  • Every night before you go to sleep, think for a while how much time you have spent in doing good deeds and how much time you have wasted; how much time you have spent in meditation and how much you have wasted in idleness. . . Onward, onward! Never be satisfied with your present state of growth. Try to create a burning dissatisfaction within yourself. Ask yourself, ‘What progress am I making? None!’ and apply yourself ever more diligently to the task.
  • Why do you think that you cannot do it because you failed once or twice? One has to try again and again.
  • With unwavering faith in the words of the guru, the disciple must practice repetition of the mantram and meditation on its meaning. Thus will he find peace.
  • The mind is susceptible to suggestions. It learns whatever you teach it. If through discrimination you can impress upon it the joy and fullness of life in the spirit and the folly of worldly attachments, then your mind will devote itself more and more to God.
  • Work and worship must go hand in hand. Why are you afraid of work? Work for Him. You can overcome all disinclination for work if you consider it as dedication to God.
  • The world is so constructed, that if you wish to enjoy its pleasures, you must also endure its pains. Whether you like it or not, you cannot have one without the other.
  • Initiation into a mantra helps concentration of mind; otherwise your mind will change and fluctuate.
    First President of Sri Ramakrishna Mission
  • The way of steadying and purifying the mind is to retire into solitude, control all cravings and engage yourself in contemplation and meditation.
  • We judge men by their actions, but God looks into their innermost minds…. Under no circumstances give up your spiritual practices. If you give up the practices of japam and meditation and engage yourself solely in work, egoism is bound to arise in you, and you will become the source of quarrels and disharmony.
  • It is a mistake to think that the sadhana cannot be practiced for lack of time. The real cause is agitation of the mind.
  • If you wish to work properly, you should never lose sight of two great principles: first, a profound respect for the work undertaken, and second, a complete indifference to its fruits. Thus only can you work with the proper attitude.
  • Man suffers because of his ignorance. This ignorance is his sense of ego. When a man is free from this egoism, surrendering his life, his mind and his intellect at the blessed feet of the Lord of all, renouncing all that he calls his own – then is he blessed indeed. That man alone is truly happy.
  • Real austerity is based upon three principles – First, take refuge in the truth. Truth is the pillar to which you must always hold while performing any action. Second, conquer lust. Third, renounce all cravings. Observe these three principles. That is real austerity, and the greatest of these is to conquer lust.
  • It is impossible to do any good to others unless one has already built up his own character.
  • When a man realizes God and works as his instrument, he finds peace in himself and gives peace to others.
  • Renunciation has nothing to do with the wearing of the religious habits. It is not for show. He alone is a real monk who has given himself up completely to God, keeping nothing for himself.
  • Practise Japa and meditation regularly. Do not miss even one day. The mind is like a spoiled child — always restless. Try repeatedly to steady it, by fixing it on the Chosen Ideal, and at last you will become absorbed in Him.
  • If you continue your practice for two or three years, you will begin to feel an unspeakable joy and the mind will become steady.
  • In the beginning the practice of Japa and meditation seems dry. It is like taking bitter medicine. You must forcibly pour the thought of God into your mind, then as you persist, you will be flooded with joy.
  • What a terrible ordeal the student undergoes to pass his examination. To realize God is a far easier task! Call on Him sincerely with a tranquil heart.
  • There is no cause for despair if you feel you are not making any progress. The effect of meditation is inevitable. You are bound to get results if you practice Japa with devotion, or even without it, for devotion will follow.
  • Behind this mind of ours there is a subtle, spiritual mind, existing in seed-form. Through the practice of contemplating, prayer, and japam, this mind is developed, and with this development a new vision opens up and the aspirant realizes many spiritual truths. This, however, is not the final experience. The subtle mind leads the aspirant nearer to God, but it cannot reach God, the supreme Atman.
  • Religion is a most practical thing. It doesn’t matter whether one believes or not. It is like science. If one performs spiritual disciplines, the result is bound to come. Although one may be practicing mechanically — if one persists one will get everything in time. ... And if you go one step towards God, God will come a hundred steps towards you. ... Why did God create us?  So that we may love him.
  • Get intoxicated chanting the holy name. Whatever you do be it meditation, japa, prayer, or any other spiritual practice—let it be between you and the Master. Do not worry at all about others hearing or watching, or about making mistakes. Be totally intoxicated, be absorbed.
  • The stronger the mind becomes, the better. Mind has also been compared to a restive horse. Such a horse generally takes the rider along the wrong path. Only he who can hold a tight rein and check the horse can go the right way.
  • Personal exertion is an indispensable factor for success in the spiritual life.
  • Japam and meditation are impossible unless you transcend the limitations of Rajas (excessive activity) and Tamas (inertial or lethargy).
  • Lust, anger, greed, gradually go away from him who leads the spiritual life.
  • Knowledge, the object known and the knower all three lose themselves in the Absolute – so munch only have the scriptures been able to say. But what takes place after this, none has the power to describe. One has to realize it for oneself through spiritual practice.

Thoughts on Real Austerity – Swami Brahmananda

Real austerity is based upon these three principles:
  1. First, take refuge in the truth. Truth is the pillar to which you must always hold while performing any action.
  2. Second, conquer lust.
  3. Third, renounce all cravings.
Observe these three principles. That is real austerity, and the greatest of these is to conquer lust.
Swami Brahmananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna
(Source: The Eternal Companion by Swami Brahmananda, p. 279-81)

For Success in Spiritual Life – Swami Brahmananda

In the beginning of spiritual life it is very good to plan a definite routine. A certain length of time should be given to the practices of meditation, japam, and study. Whether you like it or not, follow your routine regularly. By so doing, you will gradually create a permanent habit. Perhaps now you do not enjoy meditating, but as you form the habit you will come to the point where you will actually feel unhappy if you do not meditate. When you reach this stage, you will know that you have advanced along the spiritual path.

Self-effort is absolutely necessary to success in the spiritual life. Follow some spiritual discipline for at least three years, and then, if you find that you have made no tangible progress, you may come back and slap my face! . . . Even after one year of steady practice you will find some result.

Swami Brahmananda Quotes on Meditation

  • Meditation in the primary stage is like waging a war with the mind. With effort the restless mind has to be brought under control and placed at the feet of the Lord. But in the beginning, take care that you do not overtax your brain. Go slowly, then gradually intensify your effort. Through regular practice, the mind will become steady and meditation will be easier. You will no longer feel any strain even while sitting for long hours in contemplation.
  • Just as after a deep sleep a man feels refreshed in body and mind, so will you feel refreshed after meditation and there will follow an intense experience of happiness.
  • The body and mind are closely related. When the body is disturbed, the mind also becomes disturbed. Therefore particular care must be given to the diet in order to keep the body healthy.
  • Meditation is not such an easy matter. When you have eaten too much, the mind becomes restless. Also unless you keep lust, anger, greed and such other passions under control, the mind will remain unsteady. How can you meditate with an unsteady mind? .... Unless you meditate, you cannot control the mind and unless the mind is controlled, you cannot meditate.
  • But if you think, ‘First let me control the mind and then I shall meditate,’ you will never succeed. You must steady your mind and meditate at the same time.
  • As you sit down to meditate, think of the cravings of the mind as mere dreams. See them as unreal. They can never attach themselves to the mind. Feel that you are pure. In this way purity will gradually fill your mind....
  • If you wish to realize God, practise the spiritual disciplines with patience and perseverance. In due course you will be enlightened.