Friday, 1 July 2016

India's Mission

From the very remote past India has developed a culture which has reconciled worldly prosperity with the Highest Good abhyudaya with nishsreyasa. When India was spiritually great she was also materially prosperous. Throughout her history she has stressed charity, non-violence, self-control, and other spiritual virtues. She has often sacrificed material power in pursuit of higher ideals.  She has valued inner wisdom and peace more than the knowledge and excitement of the outer world. Her saints and philosophers have shown how to sublimate material enjoyment (bhoga) into communion with the infinite (yoga). Wealth (artha) and sense-pleasure (kama), if based upon dharma (righteousness), ultimately confer on the spirit liberation from bondage to matter (moksha). Material enjoyment based on sheer competition ultimately brings boredom and has no spiritual-value.  Today many people in Europe and America ask whether, with the growth of science and technology, resulting in increased physical comfort, India will not so much stress renunciation, Nirvana, and the futility of rebirth.


But a Buddha or a Swami Vivekananda did not renounce the world and set forth in quest of the Eternal because he was poor or frustrated in life? At a certain stage of evolution every soul revolts against the finite view of life and seeks communion with the Infinite. 'That which is infinite is alone happiness.' The West, saturated with material enjoyment, will one day seek spiritual light, and may very well seek Indian wisdom for guidance. May India not fail in rising to the expectations of the world.


India's future mission was anticipated by Swami Vivekananda. He envisaged the greatness of the India to come as surpassing the glories of Her past. The country that has produced, in an uninterrupted line, illumined souls from the Vedic seers to Ramakrishna cannot remain stagnant, far less disintegrate.


However much we may learn from the outside world, the broad paths of our national progress have been chalked out by our saints and seers. Their purpose will be fulfilled if Indians, both men and women, dedicate themselves to the allround welfare of India's common man, the most pressing need of our time, and for its realization pledge their life, liberty, and sacred honour.


Swamiji : Condensed India


The Swami reminded the Indians that their national ideals are renunciation and service, and if their thoughts and actions flowed through these twin channels, the rest would take care of itself. A lover of India, he said, must give up the desire for personal aggrandizement and dedicate himself to the service of the common man. He should also rid himself of the national habit of blind imitation and dependence upon others, and above all of the national sins of jealousy and lack of discipline.


Swami Vivekananda was in a sense a condensed India. He regarded her as the playground of his childhood, the pleasure grove of his youth, and the sacred Varanasi of his old age. The Motherland, which is none other than the mother, was to him superior to heaven itself. He fervently cherished the dream of India's political freedom. Foreign domination is the mother of many national evils. The rulers exploit the material resources of the country and impose 'upon the people their own culture, customs, and ways of life. Slavery breeds jealousy, fear, malice, and servile dependence. Under foreign rule the development of the national culture is arrested. Thus, from the cultural standpoint, the British period of Indian history is a sterile one. Lord Macaulay, in introducing the English language as the medium of higher education, said that his purpose was to make educated Indians appear like Englishmen in all possible respects except colour of skin, which could not be changed. Anglicized Indians imitated their rulers in art, literature, architecture, and dress, and in many other respects. They moved away from the common man and became indifferent to his weal and woe. The English exploitation of the physical resources of the land was superficial, but their exploitation of the mind went deep. It will take years before English-oriented Indians rediscover their own cultural treasures.


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

He is a Mahatma....

Through his speeches and writings Swami Vivekananda has given plans for India's national renaissance. The masses should be given the right food and education to develop their bodies and minds. For this purpose patriotic men and women should visit the poor in their huts, open free schools for them, bring them knowledge of improved agriculture and of the arts and crafts, teach them cleanliness and sanitation, help them with medicine, tell them about the outside world and at the same time remind them of their spiritual heritage so that they could discard the many superstitions which have encrusted Hinduism. Thus they would learn how to bring out their inner divinity through healthy bodies and alert minds. Any attempt to teach metaphysics to empty stomachs was sheer madness. How fervently he said that unselfish service to man is the real worship of God. He called the common man of India the' Daridra-Narayana', God in the form of the poor. Time and again he emphasized the fact that no great work is ever done through cleverness. It is honesty, integrity, and hard work that make a nation truly great. Workers for India's regeneration must renounce jealousy, selfishness, greed, and lust for power.

Incessantly the Swami wrote to his Indian followers about the regeneration of the masses. In a letter dated 1894 he said :

Let each one of us pray, day and night, for the downtrodden millions in India, who are held fast by poverty, priestcraft, and tyranny pray day and night for them. . . I am no metaphysician, no philosopher, nay, no saint. I am poor, I love the poor. . . Who feels in India for the three hundred millions of men and women sunken forever in poverty and ignorance? Where is the way out? Who feels for them? Let the people be your God. think of them, work for them, pray for them incessantly the Lord will show you the way. Him I call a mahatma, a noble soul, whose heart bleeds for the poor. Otherwise he is a duratma, a wicked soul... So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them. '

Swami Vivekananda saw in America, with his own eyes, what human efforts, intelligence, and earnestness could accomplish to banish poverty, superstition, squalor, disease, and other handicaps to human well-being from society. In one of his letters, dated August 20, 1893, he wrote to a devotee in India: 'Gird up your loins, my boys . .. The hope lies in you in the meek, the lowly, but the faithful. Feel for the miserable and look up for help,  it shall come. I have travelled twelve years with this load in my heart and this idea in my head. I have gone from door to door of the so- called rich and great. With a bleeding heart I have crossed half the world to this strange land, seeking help. .' I may perish of cold and hunger in this land, but I bequeath to you young men this sympathy, this struggle for the poor  the ignorant, the oppressed. " . Go down on your faces before Him and make a great sacrifice, the sacrifice of a whole life for them, for whom He comes from time to time, whom He loves above all the poor, the lowly, the oppressed. '