Cultural and Community Activities
Soup Kitchen – Spirituality in daily life
Vedanta Society is guided by Swami Vivekananda’s philosophy of KARMA YOGA. ‘Soup Kitchen Seva’ is our modest attempt to practice spirituality in our daily lives by imbibing some of the lofty teachings of Swami Vivekananda to whom all work is adoration and worship.
Under the guidance of Swami Kripamayanandaji Maharaj, the Soup kitchens are now held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and on 3 Saturdays of every month. Sixty-six volunteers including a large number of seniors participate in this service. Many students also join in on Saturdays and during school vacations.
Meals comprising vegetable soup, salad, bread and fruit are prepared in the Soup Kitchen and are donated to Syme Woolner Community Service. Close to fifty recipients benefit from Soup Kitchen activities. Last year, we supplied 8500 meals. The yearly budget for Soup Kitchen is $7000 and is covered by generous donations from members of the Vedanta Society of Toronto.
Just as when a woman is in the process of becoming a mother, she cultivates numerous virtues such as kindness, forgiveness and patience that help her look after the child with loving care - in the same way soup kitchen seva promotes compassion, friendship, and a sense of unity by working towards a common goal. These qualities turn us into better human beings.
As Swami Vivekananda so aptly said, “It is the Giver who is blessed not the Receiver”.
Swami Vivekananda was a karma yogi. He taught us how Vedanta could be applied in our daily lives and how to see Brahman in every human being. According to Swamiji, service to man is service to God. The great Shankaracharya gave the gist of his Vedanta philosophy in the famous saying, “Brahman alone is real, the Universe is ultimately unreal and the individual soul is no other than the Universal soul.”
In his book, ‘Service and Spirituality’, Swami Vivekananda throws a floodlight on service and shows that it is really a spiritual activity if done with spiritual awareness. By serving in this manner, a worker can achieve the very same results as japa and meditation which are the commonly accepted means of realizing the Ultimate reality.
A well-known Hindu poet, Saint Kabirdas said that just as trees bear fruits for others and rivers carry water for others, similarly, a spiritual person serves and lives for others.
“It is only by doing good to others that one attains to one's own good.”
The Vedanta Society of Toronto regularly takes part in the activities of the Daily Bread Food Bank. Donations in the form of non-perishable food is collected and taken to the Food Bank by volunteers to be distributed to those in need.
Daily Bread Food Bank
Yoga has developed worldwide now. The ancient, cross-legged lotus position, Kapalbhati and Anulom-vilom are widely-recognized symbols of yoga. The United Nations General Assembly established 21st June as the International Day of Yoga and it has been celebrated annually around the world since 2015. On December 1st, 2016, yoga was listed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.
Every year we celebrate ‘Yoga day’ around June 21st at Vedanta Society of Toronto. Once Yoga teacher Shree Vimal Gupta and his wife Srimati Amita Gupta came to our Ashram and explained the benefits of doing yoga practice. Amitaji also demonstrated a few Yoga exercises and asanas. They are so dedicated that during Covid time they did yoga classes every Saturday morning from 07.20 AM till 09.00 AM online over zoom. These classes are still continuing.
All the activities of Vedanta society are based on Thakur’s teachings. According to Swami Vivekananda, “You must learn to make the physique very strong and teach the same to others. How will you struggle with the mind unless the physique be strong? Body and mind must run parallel. It won’t do to depend on others in everything”.
According to ’Katha Upnishad’ (कठोपनिषद), First build up your own physique. Then only you can get control over the mind. “नायमात्मा बलहीनेन लभ्य:– this Self is not to be attained by the weak”. As Swami Vivekananda says: “Service to man is service to God”
International Yoga Day
Ontario Celebrates National Seniors Day. The International Day of Older Persons is on October 01. In Vedanta society from last few years we are celebrating Senior day once a year. On this day we have lots of activities, where we focus on seniors.
In Fact, most of the activities are organized here by seniors. It is amazing to witness that when lots of seniors work here selflessly, they forget their age and other personal problems. It feels good to see that a few seniors clean the temple even the washrooms on a regular basis and some seniors do gardening year after year with a smile.
It is great to see how most of the seniors are so connected to each other that they support each other when needed. On senior day a group of senior devotees sing bhajans and play musical instruments. They sing in various Indian languages Hindi, Bangla and south Indian languages too. They set a good example of unity in diversity.
On ‘Senior's Day’ speeches are also organized which could help seniors in the community. A while ago Dr. Niyogi gave a speech regarding how to take care of bones.