Tuesday 25 June 2013

13 June : The passion of Vivekananda - 2

Discovery of India

In the middle of 1890, he left Baranagar Math and embarked on a long journey of exploration and discovery of India. During his travels, Swami Vivekananda was deeply moved to see the appalling poverty and backwardness of the masses. Vivekananda concluded that owing to centuries of oppression, the masses had lost faith in their capacity to improve their lot. It was necessary to imbue into their minds faith in themselves through life-giving, inspiring messages. He found this message in the doctrine of the potential divinity of the soul, taught in Vedanta, the ancient system of religious philosophy of India. He saw that the masses clung to religion, but had never been taught the life-giving principles of Vedanta and how to apply them in practical life.

One thing became clear to Vivekananda; in order to uplift the poor masses and women through   education, an efficient organisation of dedicated people was needed. He wanted to set in motion, machinery which will bring the noblest ideas to the doorstep of even the poorest and the meanest. While these ideas were taking shape in his mind in the course of his wanderings, Vivekananda heard about the World Parliament of Religions to be held in Chicago in 1893. His friends and admirers in India urged him to attend it. He too felt that the Parliament would provide the right forum to present Ramakrishna’s message to the world. Vivekananda, however, wanted an inner certitude and an assurance that his mission was nothing less than a divine call. Both of these he got while he sat in deep meditation on the rock island at Kanyakumari.

He set sail for America from Mumbai on May 31, 1893. His speech at the World Parliament of Religions held in September 1893 made him famous as an ‘orator by divine right’ and as the ‘Messenger of Indian wisdom to the Western world.’ After the Parliament, Vivekananda spent nearly three-and-a-half years spreading Vedanta as lived and taught by Sri Ramakrishna, mostly in the Eastern parts of USA and also in London.

He returned to India in January 1897. In response to  the enthusiastic welcome that he received everywhere, he delivered a series of lectures in different parts of India, which created a great stir all over the country. Through these inspiring and profoundly significant lectures, Vivekananda roused the consciousness of the people and created in them, pride in their cultural heritage. He brought about unification of Hinduism by pointing out the common basis of its sects and focussed the attention of educated people on the plight of the downtrodden masses. He expounded his plan for their upliftment by the application of the principles of practical Vedanta.

Soon after his return to Kolkata, he founded the Ramakrishna Mission on May 1, 1897. The various missions soon became an avenue through which monks and lay people would jointly undertake propagation of practical Vedanta, and various forms of social service, such as running hospitals, schools, colleges, hostels, and rural development centres. In addition, they conducted massive relief and rehabilitation work for victims of earthquakes, cyclones and other calamities, in different parts of India and other countries.

In early 1898, Swami Vivekananda acquired a big plot of land on the Western bank of the Ganga in Belur, and got it registered as the Ramakrishna Math. Here he established a new, universal pattern of monastic life which adapted ancient monastic ideals to the conditions of modern life. It gives equal importance to personal illumination and social service, and is open to all men without any distinction of religion, race or caste. “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,” he said.

Last Days

In June 1899, he went to the West on a second visit. There he spent most of his time in the West coast of USA. After delivering many lectures there, he returned to Belur Math in December 1900. The rest of his life was spent in inspiring and guiding people. Incessant, untiring work of relentless guiding, speaking, motivating people took a toll on Swamiji’s health and he passed away on July 4, 1902. Before his Mahasamadhi, he had written to a Western follower: “It may be that I shall find it good to get outside my body, to cast it off like a worn out garment. But I shall not cease to work. I shall inspire men everywhere until the whole world shall know that it is one with God.”

Quite true. Young Vivekananda sowed the seeds of India’s liberation through the high values birthed from her own soil and awakened the Western world to the immense spiritual knowledge of the East. The coming leaders built the edifice of India, on the foundation of spiritual and ethical values propounded by Vivekananda as her fundamental make-up. His focus on the scientific study of religion created a bridge between the East and the West, which were poles apart on these matters. While it compelled the Western man to consider the human possibility of attaining godhood, it unshackled the Eastern man from enslavement to rituals, dogmas, and stratified thinking. The Hindu soul, long suppressed into self-deprecation and selfloathing, shed the garb of wretchedness and emerged resplendent, glowing in its own light after Vivekananda rescued it from oblivion.

Todays-Special 13-June in Swami Vivekananda Life

Letter To Sister Christine
Thu, 2013-06-13
13 June
To Sister Christine - New York,
13th June 1900.
Dear Christina,
There is no cause for any anxiety. As I wrote, I am healthier than ever; moreover, all the past fear of kidney troubles has passed away. "Worry" is the only disease I have, and I am conquering it fast.
I will be here a week or two, and then I come to Detroit. If things so happen that I cannot come, I will sure send for you. Anyway, I am not going to leave this country before seeing you. Sure, sure--I must see you first, and then go to Europe.
Things are looking cheerful once more, and good luck, like ill, also comes in bunches. So I am sure it will be smooth sailing every way now, for some time at least.
Free translation of Surdas Bhaktigit by Swamiji which was sung in the Alwar :
O Lord, look not upon my evil qualities
Thy name, O Lord, is Same-Sightedness
Make of us both the same Brahman! One drop of water is in the sacred Jumna,
And another is foul in the ditch by the roadside,
But, when they fall into the Ganges , both alike become holy.
So Lord, look not upon my evil qualities
Thy name, O Lord, is Same-Sightedness,
Take of us both the same Brahman! One piece of iron is the image in the temple,
And another is the knife in the hand of the butcher,
But when they touch the philosopher's stone, both alike turn to gold.
So, Lord, look not upon my evil qualities,
Thy name, O Lord,  is Same-Sightedness
Make of us both the same Brahman!

Take Up One Idea


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