Wednesday, 15 August 2018



Be think thee how the world did wait,
And search for thee, through time and clime.

Some gave up home and love of friends,
And went in quest of thee self-banished,
O'er dreary oceans, through primeval forests
Each step a struggle for the life or death.

Then came the day when work bore fruit
And worship, love and sacrifice
Fulfilled, accepted and complete.

Then Thou, propitious, rose to shed
The light of freedom on mankind.

Move on. Oh Lord, in thy resistless path
Till thy high morn overspreads the world.

Till every land reflects thy light,
Till men and women, with uplifted head,
Behold their shackles broken, and
Know, in springing joy, their life renewed!

--Swami Vivekananda

The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
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Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Sister Nivedita on Civic Ideal

Of our two great epics it may be said that while the pervading interests of the Mahabharata are heroic and national, those of the Ramayana are mainly personal and civic. It is more than likely, indeed, that Valmiki's poem sprang out of a deliberate wish to glorify the beloved city of Ayodhya, by painting the mythic history of its earliest sovereigns. The city, and everything in it, fills the poet with delight. He spends himself in descriptions of its beauty on great festivals. He loses himself in the thought of its palaces, its arches, and its towers. But it is when he comes to paint Lanka, that we reap the finest fruit of that civic sense which Ayodhya has developed in him. There is nothing, in all Indian literature, of greater significance for the modern Indian mind, than the scene in which Hanuman contends in the darkness with the woman who guards the gates, saying, in muffled tones, "I am the city of Lanka."

We have here what is the fundamental need of the civic spirit, that we should think of our city as a being, a personality, sacred, beautiful, and beloved. This, to Rama and his people, was Ayodhya. This, to Ravana and his, was Lanka. And Valmiki could look with both their eyes, for he, in common with all the men of his great age, was in the habit of relating himself instinctively to his home, his sovereign, and his group. The city as a whole is but a visible symbol of this life behind it. Nor does this mean only of the life at present behind it. It is determined by the sum of the energy of all its creators, past as well as present. There is even, in a sense, an ideal city, in which the labours of all future builders have to be taken into account. Why is Lucknow different from Calcutta, Bombay from Benares, Delhi from Ahmedabad? Looking for the answer to such a question, do we not perceive, finally and conclusively, that the seen is but the sign and symbol of the unseen, that the material is but the masks of the spiritual, that things arc but the precipitate of thought? Why is Paris or Rome so different from Amritsar? The history of ages and continents lies in the answer to that question. The highest visible symbol of human aspiration may perhaps be an altar. The most perfect visible symbol of our unity is undoubtedly a city.


Monday, 13 August 2018

The Civic Ideal : Sister Nivedita

The mind of our civilisation is awake once more, and we know that the long ages of theocratic development are perfected, while before us lies the task of actualising those mighty ideals of the civic and national life by which the theocratic achievements of our fathers are to be protected and conserved. We are now to go out, as it were, into the waste spaces about our life, and build there those towers and bastions of self organization and mutual aid, by which we are yet to become competent to deal with the modern world and all its forces of aggression. The bricks lie there, in abundance, for our work. The elements abound, in our history, our literature, our traditions, and our customs, by which we can make of ourselves a strong and coherent people. It needs only that we understand our own purpose, and the method of its accomplishment. As the architect builds to a plan, so is a nation fashioned by its own dreams. And he who knows this, knows also how to use his power of dreaming. The very doctrine, that everything in life is the work of desire, would teach us this. For it follows as an inevitable inference that the world is changed by those who best know how and what to desire. It may even be, after all, that there is no castle in the world so formidable as a well-built 'castle in the air'!


But the elements of nationality are civic and to these civic components it is that the individual stands most directly and most permanently related. The man who would not stir a finger to help his village to the recovery of grazing-rights is not the man to bleed and die in the country's cause. The man who will not suffer some slight risk and discomfort for national good, is not the man to whom to entrust the banner of an army. By civic duty we are tested for national responsibility. By the widening of the smaller accomplishment, we immeasurably extend the possibilities of the larger. It might be said, however, that we have at the moment but little idea of what is meant by the civic life or the civic ideal. This is true; nevertheless we have but to give the words our close attention, and undoubtedly the day will come, when, for our love and faith in them, we shall be ready to die.


Saturday, 11 August 2018

Civic Ideal : Sister Nivedita


CITIES are the schools of nationality, even as a nation is made up of all its citizens. It is in the service of the small unit that the power to become a critical factor in the larger is for the most part won ; by that knighthood which is the guerdon of civic contest that souls fearless and unstained are selected for the leading of a nation's advance. In the history of no people, at any period in its development, has there ever been time to spare for one wasted life. Such a life immediately becomes parasitic upon Humanity, and thereby detracts from that energy on which there are but too many other calls. The fact that in themodern world whole classes of people fail to recognise this fact, shows only that we have not yet any adequate idea either of the demands to be made on the individual by a perfect civic life, or of the problems that await solution by the energy of such life. It would only be, indeed, by the finest possible development of every man. woman, and child in a whole country that such an ideal could be made manifest, and this is a spectacle which the world has never yet seen. The Indian prince, idling in a motor, or following the fashions of a society which neither he nor his have initiated or can control ; the American millionaire, spending outside his country the sums concentrated in it by the organization of Shudra-labour ; and the European aristocrat, absorbinginto his own interest all the privileges of all classes, in every place and society ; all these appear equally unsuspicious of the fact that Humanity has a right to make any higher claim on a man than that of the fulfillment of hisown selfish caprice. Yet there are in the world at any given moment so many evils that might be removed, so many sorrows that might be mitigated, so many tasks that need not be left undone, that if all of us were to respond in the highest degree to the greater exactions of the race, the progress made would only very slowly become apparent! Verily, in all eternity there is not room for onemoment of viciousness, of weakness, of idleness, nor amongst all the nations of men, for one human parasite!

In India at the present moment, we are learning, however slowly, to decipher the new laws that are to dominate and evolve our great future. As a community, our task, up to the present, has been to maintain all that we could of the past. Suddenly, however, all this is at an end. We have entered upon an era of formulation of the new. 'By the past, through the present, to the future!' says Auguste Comte. That is to say, it is by the scrutiny and understanding of the past, and by taking advantage of the power it has accumulated in us, that we become able so to direct our own action as to create for ourselves and others the loftiest future. The yet-to-be is as a vast unexplored territory of which we are charged to take possession. That age which is discovering nothing new, is already an age of incipient death. That philosophy which only recapitulatesthe known, is in fact a philosophy of ignorance. It is because in our country today great thoughts are being born, because new duties are arising, because fresh and undreamt of applications are being made of the ancient culture, that we can believe the dawning centuries to be for us. If the Indian mind had not been giving daily promise of extended conquests, if it had not been feeling out constantly towards a new dimension, we could have hoped nothing for ourselves.



Mirror of April 1902 write :

Sister Nivedita had a conversational meeting in Gita Society.

The whole gist of Sister Nivedita's practical discourse was a well meant rebuke to the Indians for their strong predilection for attaching importance to anything that is foreign, placing at a discount India's greatness and originality, her vastness of resources, her illustrious past and brilliant antecedents. The warmth of these rebukes couched with the melody of reason and truth was not lost on the group.

Sister Nivedita's estimate of the education of the day was true. It was the Western education of materialism, she said, making no distinction between true knowledge and memory. The sort of education imparted therefore through the medium of such authors as Lee Warness could not be called education in the true sense of the term, and she would, if she could, collect all the books in Calcutta and make a bonfire out of the pile in the Maidan, although she would, by so doing, receive scanty courtesy at the hands of the authors in question. The real wants lay therefore in their want of self-appreciation and self-reliance.


Friday, 10 August 2018

An Introduction to Raja Yoga : Vivekananda - Book Review by Sister Nivedita

'Raja Yoga' from the Oriental point of view, is religion : from the occidental, it is science. We in the West are not left entirely without witness to the occasional occurrence of saintly raptures and prophetic visions which cannot be adequately described as mental aberrations. Without Francis of Assisi, Joan of Arc, Teresa of Jesus, and Ignatious Loyola, all our history would have been the poorer. But we have felt ourselves under no necessity of giving a scientific account of such phenomena. They have taken place for the most part, in spite of our misunderstanding of them, not because of our sympathy. In the East, however, humanity will give birth to a religious idea, with as much simplicity and directness as in the West would characterize the invention of a machine, or the elaboration of an industrial process. It follows, then, that the recognition of that mood in which religions are born — that mood which the Swami Vivekananda terms 'superconsciousness'—must necessarily form an integral part of Eastern Psychology. Could any 'dictum' range itself more haughtily, more fearlessly, under the banner of scientific ideals, than the seventh aphorism of Patanjali's first chapter — "direct perception?

INFERENCE AND COMPETENT EVIDENCE ARE PROOFS"? Is there any trace of confusion in the mind of the man who wrote this ? Any pet dogma to be screened from destructive criticism ? Any window to be kept dark ? The same words, by implication, base the claim of the aphorism to credence, on experience alone. There is here no room for the appeal to authority—"Competent evidence"— mark the pride of the adjective!—to guide the student; "inference" as a reliable means of determining points of theory; but both of these alike dependent on that which alone, therefore, forms the ultimate test for all, "direct perception." Is it not true that such a readiness to submit the whole content of faith to the test of experience, refusing authority, is to Western thinking, one of the 'differentiae' of science rather than of Religion?

Another point on which this Eastern science— assuming its credibility—challenges comparison with that of the West, is the question of method. In the very nature of the investigation, the human body is itself the laboratory, and all instruments, save those found within, are excluded. But it is not equally true that there is no experiment. The whole research claims to be built upon experiment. And when we read that the heart itself can be brought under such control that the circulation of the blood can be regulated or stopped at will, we catch a glimpse of the courage and devotion to knowledge that the subject must have demanded in its pioneers. There is no reason to believe that the sacrifice of life demanded for the authoritative establishment of its various steps, was in any way less than that required by, for instance, Modern Chemistry or Modern Medicine. And in the severity of the discipline imposed, it is evident that the habits of life of the modern scholar must give precedence to those of the older.

One more point remains to be touched upon. Patanjali, writing his 'Yoga Aphorisms' in the second century B.C. must not be looked upon as an author, in our twentieth-century meaning of the term. Rather, he was a recorder of those conclusions which had been arrived at by the consensus of erudite opinion in his time. His name is used to this day as that of the head of the Yoga School. But this is perhaps much the same thing as to make the President of the Academy of Sciences personally responsible for all the scientific discoveries published under the 'imprimatur' of that body, in a given year of grace! 'The Yoga Aphorisms' represent an era in culture, the work of a great floating university of begging friars, which at the time of their publication was already many centuries old.

Finally, this strange old science of Raja Yoga is to this day alive in India. Many thousands of students have made some progress in it; some few, it may be, are highly proficient. In any case, we who have been his disciples - both Indians and Europeans regard the writer of this book, the Swami Vivekananda, as belonging to the latter of these two classes. He was one of those souls for whom 'Samadhi', or super-consciousness, had no secrets, and when he publishes a statement regarding the nature of Yoga, his words fall under the category of "Competent Evidence."