Sunday 19 May 2024

Retrospect and Prospect

 – P. Parameswaran JI (Yuva Bharati, 50th Year Special Commemorative Volume, Sep. 1995)

2nd of September, 1995 is the 25th Anniversary of the inauguration of Vivekananda Rock Memorial. It was on this day 25 years back that the Rock Memorial was consecrated by H.H.Swami Vireshwaranandaji Maharaj the then, President of Sri Ramakrishna Mission, and was formally inaugurated by the then Rashtrapathi Sri V.V.Giri. During this span of 25 years, the face of Kanyakumari has changed beyond recognition. Crores of pilgrims have poured into this small temple town to offer their reverential homage to Swami Vivekananda and to worship the eternal Mother, Kanyakumari.

25 years is a sufficiently long period in the life of an Organization. It is a landmark which provides the necessary vantage point to look back and take a comprehensive view of all its activities. To be more precise, it is the time for organizational self-introspection and objective self- evaluation, of its expectations and performances, successes and failures, its achievements and short-comings. Such periodical audits are absolute musts in the life of any organization which takes itself seriously. For the dedicated workers of Vivekananda Kendra, this is such an occasion to pause and ponder, and once again redefine the objectives and re-examine the means and methods to achieve them, keeping in mind the present capabilities and also the future potentialities.

All are agreed that the source of inspiration for the Kendra workers is the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda, the great Hindu missionary monk. The Kendra is firmly committed to the task of translating Swamiji's vision of a glorious Bharat into a reality. What was Swamiji's vision of the future of India? What role did he want India to play in the comity of nations?

In Swamiji's own words:

"We must go out and conquer the world with our spirituality. There is no other alternative; we must do it, or die". As a world conqueror, he had his own 'plan of campaign' also. The 'cyclonic monk', in an interview published in the Prabuddha Bharata in 1898 made it absolutely clear that his mission was "aggression - aggression in a religious sense". Не continued, That was Swamiji's foreign policy in a nutshell. In the domestic front his policy was to discover the common bases of Hinduism and focus the national consciousness towards them'. Elsewhere he defined it as one of "bringing together all the scattered spiritual forces".

What Swamiji envisaged was nothing short of the conquest of the world by Hindu spirituality and the reawakening of the national consciousness through Hindu renaissance. The same objectives continue to be equally relevant today as they were a century ago. Swamiji had himself stated that he is entrusting the coming generation with a mission for one thousand five hundred years.

In his time Swamiji saw for himself how the West has come under the grip of rank materialism. He expressed his fear that the western civilization would collapse unless it is tempered by the sobering spiritual message of the Upanishads. It was in this sense that he spoke about the conquest of the West by India's spirituality. But unfortunately the situation has since deteriorated still further and it is far more serious today. It is really critical. The present condition in the West has been graphically described in a letter to President Clinton by Mr. Newt Gengrich, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of America thus: "It is impossible to maintain civilization with twelve year olds having babies, fifteen year olds, killing each other, seventeen year olds, dying of AIDS and eighteen year olds acquiring Diplomas they cannot read." The "sickness of an acquisitive society" has invaded the richest country in the world and virtually laid it prostrate. The same virus is now rapidly spreading all over the world, including Bharat. The process of Americanization, euphemistically called globalization is destroying the very fabric of Indian culture. The Hindu value system is under serious threat. The rot has to be stemmed.

If India has to help the world, she has to help herself first.

"Uddharedatmanatmanam Natmana mavasadayet" [ VI -5]

The Hindus have to realize their historic destiny and brace themselves up to fulfil it: This can be achieved only by bringing about a national cultural renaissance. It is to accomplish this historic responsibility that the Kendra has to contribute its share: Whatever activities the Kendra undertakes, have their meaning and significance only when they directly contribute to this national renaissance. Everything else is only peripheral or cosmetic. It is this vision that should set our Agenda and determine our priorities.

As noted earlier, the focal point of our inspiration, is the Memorial to Swami Vivekananda situated at the sacred feet of Devi Kanyakumari. From here, it has been our attempt to fan out into the length and breadth of our Motherland through an ever increasing band of life- workers, both sisters and brothers, and gradually rebuild Bharat according to Swamiji's vision. This was the aspiration that moved Mananeeya Eknathji Ranade, the founder of Vivekananda Kendra. It is the same vision that inspires all of us. We are sure that it will continue to inspire 'hundreds of thousands of fiery young men and women in the days to come as prophesied by Swamiji.

At present a number of life-workers, in co-operation with innumerable supporters and well-wishers, are working in various parts of the country, discharging creditably the onerous responsibilities entrusted to them by the organization. There is no need here to dwell at length on the area of activities they have chosen for themselves. With the limited manpower and monetary resources, they have stepped into areas of strategic significance to the whole country. They have spread out into geographical centers which are logistically vulnerable. They have moved into segments of society whose identification with the national mainstream had been under heavy stress thanks to the machinations and manipulations of hostile forces. They have also been trying incessantly to bring the light of learning to the unlettered masses in the remotest villages and even forests. It has been their endeavor, in keeping with Swamiji's exhortations, to wipe out the tears of the deprived sections. In all these areas, efforts and activities have to be intensified manifold.

One thrust area of the Kendra activity has been Yoga. The Kendra has been able to give a lift to the concept of yoga from a mere system of physical training to a psychological and spiritual instrument for total human development. Its appeal is tremendous from the health point of view because of its preventive and curative value. But its potentialities are still higher for a stress-ridden world because of its spiritual dimension. Yoga is a multi-dimensional concept and has to be practised as such, if it is to yield its full benefits. That is what Vivekananda Kendra aims at.

While continuing to do all these, the Kendra has also to seriously consider some other equally important areas of activity. Our University campuses have become breeding grounds for all the unhealthy practices that at present afflict the nation. It is not due to anything inherently wrong with our student community. The fault lies squarely with the system of education. By a misguided policy of negative education, the student community have been systematically kept away and aloof from our precious cultural heritage. They have been cruelly disinherited. They have had no occasion whatsoever to come under the benign influence of the man-making, character- building inspiring ideas of Swami Vivekananda on education. Other than declaring January 12, Swamiji's birthday as the National Youth Day, nothing serious or significant has been done to acquaint the student community with the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda. At the same time, pseudo-secularist teachers have been systematically brainwashing them with anti-Hindu, and anti-National ideas.

This is the single biggest road block to our country's march towards the cherished goal of self-respect and self-reliance, progress and prosperity. The Kendra will have to put campus on the top of its priority list, and that too on a war footing. Any more delay in doing this can be catastrophic, because the new generation will be left with no ideals in life other than slavish imitation of the west, or the 'matinee-idols' bidding good-bye to all the cultural and spiritual values which my country had assiduously built up from the dawn of history. If the Kendra succeeds in grooming the younger generation in the campus in the mould of Swamiji's ideas even in a small measure, it will have a snow balling effect and go a long way in saving the country from the encircling gloom. As the Gita says:-

Swalpa mapyasya Dharmasya Trayate mahato Bhayat. (Gita Ch.2,40)

There are many more areas in which the Kendra has to be Active. But more activity means more dedicated workers. More dedicated workers can be had only when the light of idealism burns bright and attracts brilliant youths to dedicate themselves to the cause of the nation. The crying need of the present, is to create a climate of uncompromising idealism and cheerful self- sacrifice, coupled with intense discipline and total dedication within the organization itself, as it appears, this is the immediate task to which all the workers of the Kendra have to address themselves in this auspicious year of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations. This can brook no delay.

The task of national reconstruction in our country is such a challenging and tremendous task that no single individual, institution or organization however great, can hope to succeed in it single-handedly. Fortunately for us, there are a number of organizations working for this purpose in their own way, yet broadly sharing our vision. We must learn the art of taking their co-operation and lending ours to them, while retaining our identity and our characteristic mode of functioning. Thus a massive wave of national renaissance can be built up. That is the way for us to meet the challenge of the 21st century, which is fast approaching. That is also the way for us to help ourselves and help the world. That way alone can we hope to fulfil Swamiji's Vision.

Innumerable friends and well-wishers from various parts of the country, and from various stations in life, have written to me, conveying their best wishes and praying to the Almighty to shower His blessings on me so that I may succeed in discharging the heavy responsibility of Vivekananda Kendra. While expressing my deepest gratitude to them and thanking them for their generous good wishes, all I have to say is that I look upon the responsibility that has been entrusted to me as only symbolic. In fact it is the collective responsibility of all. Each one, individually and collectively, has to offer the best that is in him in this sacred sacrificial fire, irrespective of whether he holds any position or not.

कथा : विवेकानन्द केन्द्र { Katha : Vivekananda Kendra }
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मुक्तसंग्ङोऽनहंवादी धृत्युत्साहसमन्वित:।
सिद्ध‌‌यसिद्धयोर्निर्विकार: कर्ता सात्त्विक उच्यते ॥१८.२६॥

Freed from attachment, non-egoistic, endowed with courage and enthusiasm and unperturbed by success or failure, the worker is known as a pure (Sattvika) one. Four outstanding and essential qualities of a worker. - Bhagwad Gita : XVIII-26

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