This is a talk delivered by Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha at the Prakash Mehrotra Memorial Lecture in New Delhi.
In this lecture, Poojya Swamiji explains how to develop excellence in everyday life. Like all other good qualities, excellence can and must be cultivated by the mind.
Swamiji highlights the fact that the process of becoming excellent involves application of intelligence, hard work, and integrity. Intelligence should conduct a rigorous self-evaluation of all one’s actions. Hard work is a necessary prerequisite to becoming excellent. Integrity involves the combination of thought, speech, and direct action.
Swamiji also stresses that rather than focusing on performance in some limited areas, the practice of excellence should imbue every aspect of our lives. We need look no further than the Bhagavad Gita for models of excellence, says Swamiji. Faced with the absolute crisis of personality of Arjuna, his charioteer Sri Krishna rose to the occasion and completely resolved Arjuna’s inner turmoil with his exposition of the Truth. In doing so, he inspired Arjuna to rise to new heights of excellence in the fulfilment of his duty in the battlefield.
Swamiji narrates several other instances from the Mahabharata where Sri Krishna’s presence of mind and excellence were instrumental in resolving great conflicts. Swamiji uses these practical examples to illustrate the process of developing excellence.
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Narayanashrama Tapovanam, an Ashram located in Thrissur, Kerala, embodies the unique tradition of Guru-shishya Parampara, disseminating Brahmavidya (Science of Self-knowledge) through regular classes, satsangs, and above all, through learning in the association of a realized spiritual master.
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Those days, there were many rats staying in various pockets of the tiled roof. My room had a very low ceiling and I could even touch the roof tiles. At night, I would see big, big rats running around just near me.
I got back to my daily chores, but the scene remained in my mind – the old man’s wrinkled face, his gleaming eyes, the contentment he enjoyed, his refusal to accept more than ‘his minimum needs’! How many of us can take such a stand?
Bhakti is not so much in the worship with flowers, garlands, lamps or incense sticks. Neither it is in chanting His names and praises. It is verily in living and acting according to the wish of the Lord, pleasing Him, imbibing qualities and attitudes that He wants us to imbibe.