Tuesday, 25 June 2013

12-June : The passion of Vivekananda - 1

वीरेश्वराय विद्महे विवेकानन्दाय धीमहि । तन्नो वीर: प्रचोदयात् ।


On the 150th anniversary of one of India’s greatest sons, Swami Vivekananda,  Verma assesses his deathless legacy and traces his influence among today’s generation

Vivekananda. Hardly has there been an idealistic person who has not been inspired by the aching   youthfulness and revolutionary zeal of this iconic figure. His flaming patriotism, conviction in universal brotherhood, worship of God in the weak and downtrodden, and dynamic, forward marching spirituality have made him one of the most towering icons of modern times.

Best remembered for his Chicago speech that started with ‘Sisters and Brothers of America’, and which roused a standing ovation unprecedented in history, he still remains one of the most popular role  models of our times.

How many have dreamed of modelling themselves around this enigmatic personality! Today, 150 years since his birth, he stays as irresistibly attractive to young men and women , as he had been to the youth of the world in his time. I became aware of this legend at the age of eight, when I casually bought an old, thin, worn-out, paperback edition of his life history from a nondescript shop near a temple. He became a habit. Almost every night before going to bed, I would read an excerpt and imagine myself as the child Vivekananda. I would close my eyes and pretend to see the same colourful concentric circles forming in the centre of my forehead as they had formed on Narendra’s. I would romanticise about becoming a great leader whose trail would be followed by thousands and who would re-establish the rule of truth and dharma in this world. He fired in me an ardour no matinee idol could kindle. Perhaps this was the aim and purpose of Vivekananda’s advent: To leave such a deep impact on society that his vision will continue to affect generations. Two principles solidly became the foundation of my conduct, and they were honesty and idealism. I strongly felt that unless youth was spent in the service of  humanity, it was a wasted youth.

Life and times

Though his life story is so popular that it does not merit repetition, it is only befitting to recap the milestones of his inspiring life. Known in his pre-monastic life as Narendra Nath Datta, he was born in an affluent family in Kolkata on January 12, 1863. His father, Vishwanath Datta, was a successful attorney with interests in a wide range of subjects, and his mother, Bhuvaneshwari Devi, was endowed with deep devotion, strong character and other qualities. A precocious boy, Narendra excelled in music, gymnastics and studies. By the time he graduated from Calcutta University, he had acquired a vast knowledge of different subjects, especially Western philosophy and history. Born with a yogic temperament, he used to practise meditation from boyhood, and was associated with the Brahmo Movement.

At the threshold of youth, Narendra passed through a spiritual crisis when he was assailed by doubts about the existence of God. It was at that time that he first heard about Sri Ramakrishna from one of his English professors at college. One day in November 1881, Narendra went to meet Sri Ramakrishna who stayed at the Kali Temple in Dakshineshwar. He straightaway asked the master, “Have you seen God?” Sri Ramakrishna replied: “Yes, I have. I see Him as clearly as I see you, only with more intensity.” Apart from removing doubts from the mind of Narendra, Sri Ramakrishna won him over through his pure, unselfish love. Thus began a guru-disciple relationship quite unique in the history of spirituality. At Dakshineshwar, Narendra also met several young men who were devoted to Sri Ramakrishna, and they all became close friends. After a few years his father died suddenly in 1884. This left the family penniless, and the responsibility of supporting his mother, brothers and sisters fell upon him. Soon after that, Sri Ramakrishna was diagnosed with cancer of the throat. The young disciples nursed the master with devoted care. In spite of poverty and inability to find a job, Narendra joined the group as its leader.

One day, Sri Ramakrishna distributed ochre robes among them and sent them out to beg for food. In this way he laid the foundation of a new monastic order. In the small hours of August 16, 1886, Sri Ramakrishna gave up his mortal body. After the master’s passing, 16 of his young disciples formed a new monastic brotherhood, and in 1887 they took the formal vows of sanyasa, thereby assuming new names. Narendra now became Swami Vivekananda.

Todays-Special 12-June in Swami Vivekananda Life

Rudra prayer
Date: 
Wed, 2013-06-12
12 June
12 June 1898 : Left Almora... traveled through almost tropical forest toward Kathgodam... Sister Nivedita, Mrs Ole Bull, Josephine MacLeod and others with the Swami...
Translated the "Rudra prayer" :    
From the Unreal lead us to the Real.
From darkness lead us unto light.
From death lead us to immortality.
Reach us through and through our self.
And evermore protect us—Oh Thou Terrible!— From ignorance, by Thy sweet compassionate Face.
Note: The Swami hesitated a long time over the fourth line, thinking of rendering it, “Embrace us in the heart of our heart.
Mrs Bull, Sister Nivedita, Josephine MacLeod and possibly Mrs Patterson and others he put his perplexity to them, saying, “The real meaning is ‘Reach us through and through our self.”
He was concerned that the latter might not make good sense in English.
The women advised unhesitatingly to keep "Reach us through and through our self."
The Swami rendered this fragment of the Hindu sacrament... (The Great Benediction After Mourning)
Rendered a "song by Soor Das"

God Within