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. '




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.

Monday 27 June 2016

Swami Vivekananda n Common Man of India

For six years following Sri Ramakrishna's death, Swami Vivekananda travelled as a wandering monk throughout India, from the snow-clad Himalayas to Cape Comorin often on foot, sometimes living in palaces with Maharajas, sometimes discussing the scriptures and philosophy with erudite scholars, and sometimes sharing meager meals and lodgings with the poor and lowly, but always particular about the practice of spiritual disciplines. At this time he was perhaps not quite sure of the central purpose of his life. Naturally the desire often flashed in his mind to strive for personal salvation, following the traditional disciplines of meditation, solitude, and the practice of austerities. But somehow the idea did not strike a response from his deepest soul. Then he remembered the admonition of Sri Ramakrishna to forego the joy of personal salvation and dedicate himself to the service of humanity. He must act as a large steamship to carry weary souls across the pain-fraught ocean of the world to the other shore of freedom and joy.

The pitiable condition of India's common man, descended from the great seers and saints who had once walked free with head up-raised, touched Swami Vivekananda deeply. He saw how, as a result of the exploitation of ruthless foreign rulers, powerful landlords, and selfish priests, his very soul was crushed by ignorance, illness, and poverty. But the Swami also remembered the great service rendered by the priests in preserving Hinduism under the most trying circumstances during the foreign domination of India. The priests in Hindu temples are, by and large, in a pitiable condition at the present time on account of ignorance and poverty. But when their economic condition improves and when they are properly trained about their duties, they will discharge them with dignity and understanding. The priests and ministers in the Catholic and Protestant churches assume their offices only after being trained. As long as rituals remain an integral part of religion, the office of priest cannot be abolished.

Swami Vivekananda was amazed to find that, notwithstanding persecution and poverty, the Indian masses were patient, gentle, and God-fearing passion by day and his ever-haunting dream by night. Once this huge leviathan was awakened from its slumber, no power on earth could stop India's onward march along with other progressive nations of the world.

Sunday 26 June 2016

Swami Vivekananda's Decision

Three Decisions

Narendranath, the future Swami Vivekananda decided to become a Sannyasin in 1884. It may be interesting to note how even earlier as he would fall asleep two strikingly dissimilar visions of life would appear before his mind's eye: one the life of preyas, the worldly life of comfort, ease, luxury and enjoyment of the senses in the right royal style, and the other the picture of the Sannyasin, wandering resourceless with Almighty as the only resource, eating such food as chance might bring; resting at night, as he himself wrote in his masterly poem, 'The Song of the Sannyasin " under the canopy of the sky in the forest or on the mountainside. However, the further inward he would delve, the worldly ideal would fade. At length his choice was Sannyas  the renunciation of desire -- as the only way to gain the vision of God. It is a matter of common knowledge now, how this Lion among men afterwards became a prince of Sannyasins bearing the unforgettable name Swami Vivekananda and shed lustre on the very principle of Sannyas. Of course in his decision to renounce he received substantial help from Sri Ramakrishna. And his renouncing had a tremendous value in more than one way. One of which was that he brought about a reorientation of Sannyas for the uplift of the masses, which fact is known all the world over.