Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Swami Vivekananda n a common man

In the course of his wide travels in India, Swami Vivekananda further discovered that it was not religion, but the falsehood, superstition, and hypocrisy generally practised in the name of religion that had caused her material decline. Loyalty to the teachings of the scriptures, prophets, and saints, on the other hand, had preserved Indian culture through centuries of foreign rule and other vicissitudes of history, whereas many powerful nations had disintegrated under similar conditions. It was neither destiny nor God's will that was responsible for India's miserable condition. God is the same to all. He does not hate one nor favour another. God's will operates through man's actions and thoughts. The righteous feel His benevolent power and the wicked term Him as inauspicious. Destiny is nothing but the unseen result of our past action which influences our present. The evil result of the past can be nullified by the good action of the present. India's misery was man-made and could be eradicated by man's effort and intelligence. He firmly believed that the dissemination of the Vedantic truths among the masses would give them muscles of iron and nerves of steel and bring out the infinite strength that lies potential in every man. Hitherto these truths were the exclusive property of saints and scholars. He wanted to broadcast them among the people at large. He saw the tragic lesson of Indian history: how high an individual could rise and how Iow a nation could fall. In the West an individual might not have reached the supreme height of a Buddha or a Ramakrishna, but to whatever level he attained, he carried his fellow men with him.

 

India's immediate task, Swami Vivekananda was convinced, was to learn from the West the secrets of science, technology, and organization, which are what have given its common man his present prosperity, power, and security. It was mainly for that purpose that he came to America in 1893 and later travelled in Europe. He seems to have been dazzled at first by the material grandeur of the West, but before long his keen mind discovered the impending crisis which would befall it through its acceptance of uninspired and selfish materialism. In stern words he asked the Christians to go back to the genuine teachings of Christ. The two great wars of our time have fully justified his forebodings.

 

No doubt Westerners enjoyed physical happiness; but few had inner peace. He therefore wanted the Indians to shun the naked materialism of the West and learn from it rather the secrets of producing those physical necessaries indispensable to building a stable foundation for India's national life. On this might be raised the superstructure of her cultural edifice with its dome penetrating the realm of spirit. If India neglected her spiritual values and directed her energy exclusively to political or economic purposes, Swami Vivekananda warned, she would perish. Even if she survived she would be, at best, a poor imitation of the West.