Even today, when greed, corruption and all manner of venality dominate public discourse, there are millions whose values have been shaped by those deathless words.
Anna Hazare is a marked example. into a humble family on June 15, 1938, in Ahmadnagar district in Maharashtra, circumstances forced Anna to join the armed forces. He was deeply influenced by the ideology of Swami Vivekananda, whose book; Call to the Youth For Nation Building initiated him into social service. This desire to go beyond narrow self-interest later drove him to seek voluntary retirement from the Army in 1975 and come back to serve his own village. In 2011, Anna Hazare led a movement for passing a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal bill in the Indian Parliament which saw huge support from the masses.Born and a copy of Panchtantra tales that we received.”
Sophia Roy, resident of Hyderabad, and mother of the late Captain Sameer Roy Choudhury, reminisces, “Swami Vivekananda was my son’s hero. In fact when he was a child, he resembled Vivekananda. Many of our friends would address him as Vivek. As he grew he read a lot about Vivekananda and inculcated many of his qualities as his own.”
Sameer belonged to the Corps of Signals in the Indian Army and was on deputation to 19 Assam Rifles in Imphal as part of the counter insurgency operation named Hifazat, where he was killed during a fight with the ULFA insurgents.
Says Sophia, “When his possessions were sent home it was Vivekananda's biography and a copy of Panchtantra tales that we received.”
Raju M Thakkar, a CEO of Maruti Gases and a resident of Halol in Gujarat, considers Vivekananda his mentor. He says, “Since my high school days whenever I used to read a lesson on his life or see his photograph I used to feel energised and inspired by his heroic glance. When I joined the Air Force on June 2 1979, I read one of his sayings which made a huge impact on me: ‘Strength is life and weakness is death’.”
When the Government of India declared Swamiji’s birthday as National Youth Day in 1986, Thakkar celebrated by walking from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in 132 days, a feat which won him a place in the National Limca book of Records. These padayatras have now become part of his campaigns to draw attention to the environment. He has accomplished some 52 of them.
Mumbai-based Management Consultant Suresh Pundit, says, “I came in touch with the teachings of Vivekananda in my early 40s. The main thing that attracted me about his teachings was empowering the youth, which I use in my practice of motivating people. Vivekananda said that human beings have infinite power. Nature can create soil, but a human brain can use it to create buildings. Based on Vivekananda’s teachings that man is a creator next to God I tell people to believe in their power and that they are extraordinary beings, who can accomplish great things if they work in harmony and tandem. This is a sureshot formula that never fails to inspire people.”
Indu Muralidharan, a software engineer and writer from Chennai, says. “One of my earliest memories is of a large painting of Vivekananda standing by the Kanyakumari seashore on the walls of our home altar. Even though it was a painting, it evoked his presence, through his eyes which seemed to blaze with inner strength. His posters and quotes, including my favourite, 'Conquer yourself and the whole world is yours' filled my walls when I was a student. I had a gang of room mates in the college hostel, all of whom were fervent admirers of the Swami's teachings. We spent many Sundays plotting and planning on how to improve the world. Among the first books that I bought when I started working were the complete works of Swami Vivekananda. I think of him as an ideal seeker who grew into an enlightened master and whose very name inspires a seeker."
Says Jamuna Rangachari, former assistant editor of Life Positive,“I was deeply inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s quote, ‘Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life; dream of it; think of it; live on that idea. Let the brain, the body, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced.’”
In many institutes, students have come together and formed organisations meant for promoting discussion of spiritual ideas and the practice of Swamiji’s high principles. Many such organisations have adopted his name. One such group also exists at IIT Madras and is popularly known as Vivekananda Study Circle. Another one exists at IIT Kanpur by the name Vivekananda Samiti. Additionally, Swami Vivekananda's ideas and teachings have carried on globally, being practised in institutions all over the world. Famous author Narendra Kohli, who authored the Hindi novel called Todo Kara Todo based on Vivekananda’s life, says, “For a person to love Swami Vivekananda, it is necessary for him to have the basic elements of high values and idealism. Only those who have the will, follow his trail. Yet Vivekananda is highly relevant in today’s times because the darker the night, the greater the need for light. Personally, I found his complete surrender to God, commitment to carry out His will and capacity to synthesise nationalism and spirituality fascinating. For him they were the same. Serving Mother India was akin to serving the Divine Mother and service to humanity was considered service to God.”
Swami Sarvalokananda, President, Ramakrishna Math (RKM), Mumbai, says,“Vivekananda’s message is a universal message. It is not bound by any time limit. I think it is much more relevant today than before because the present scenario is very fearful and dreadful, where there is tremendous erosion of values in human life. As a young boy I was impressed by his saying: ‘He alone lives who lives for others.’ I was attracted by his humanism. I feel proud that RKM has been at the forefront of humanitarian work through schools, hospitals, colleges, orphanages, blind boys’ academy and rendering relief to the victims of any kind of natural calamity. RKM, Pune and Aurangabad are actively engaged in drought relief work. So many organisations are celebrating his 150th anniversary all over India and abroad. It is the right time to recall his teachings.”
For a country which is the birthplace of Vivekananda, we have an even bigger obligation to live up to those deathless ideals and move along the path to godhead that he pointed towards. His voice can be heard booming through the dense dark cloud of animalism, despair, waywardness and fearfulness... “Arise! Awake and stop not till the goal is reached.” Yes, India...arise and awake.
Todays-Special 15-June in Swami Vivekananda Life
Letter to Swami Akhandananda
I am getting detailed reports of you and getting more and more
delighted. It is that sort of work which can conquer the world. What do differences of sect and opinion matter? Bravo! Accept a hundred thousand embraces and blessings from me. Work, work, work -- I care for nothing else. Work, work, work, even unto death! Those that are weak must make themselves great workers, great heroes -- never mind money, it will drop from the heavens. Let them whose gifts you will accept, give in their own name if they like, no harm. Whose name, and what is it worth? Who cares for name? Off with it! If in the attempt to carry morsels of food to starving mouths, name and possession and all be doomed even thrice blessed art thou! It is the heart, the heart that conquers, not the brain. Books and learning, Yoga.and meditation and illumination -- all are but dust compared with love. It is love that gives you the supernatural powers, love that gives you Bhakti, love that gives illumination, and love, again, that leads to emancipation. This indeed is worship, worship of the Lord in the human tabernacle, "not this that people worship." This is but the beginning, and unless we spread over the whole of India, nay, the whole earth, in that way, where lies the greatness of our Lord.