Wednesday 15 May 2024

Vivekananda Comes To Us

 – Dr. M. Lakshmi Kumari (Yuva Bharati, 50th Year Special Commemorative Volume, December 1990)

"But this, our Motherland, has religion and religion alone for its basis, for its back-bone, for the bedrock upon which the whole building of its life has been based". - Swami Vivekananda

When the whole world, the so-called progressive nations was denigrating our religion, even in those days of supremacy and rule of an alien nation of a different religion and culture, Swami Vivekananda, after his wanderings in the country had the courage of conviction and audacity to declare, "For good or for evil, the religious ideal has been flowing into India for thousands of years, for good or for evil, the Indian atmosphere has filled with ideals of religion for shining scores of centuries; for good or for evil, we have been born and brought up in the very midst of these ideas of religion, till it has entered into our very blood and tingled with every drop in our veins and has become one with our constitution, become the very vitality of our lives. Can you give such religion up without the rousing of the same energy in reaction, without filling the channel which that mighty river has cut for itself in the course of thousands of years? Do you want that the Ganga should go back to its icy bed and begin a new course?"

He also declared, at the same time, with deep feelings, that our religion has been misinterpreted and misused by the so-called custodians of religion with the result that it showed certainly, some wear and tear. With unsurpassed missionary zeal he took it upon himself to correct those errors to the best of his ability within the short span of his allotted life.

Let it, therefore, be understood by all that from a country like ours religion cannot be driven out as it is intricately intertwined with every aspect of the lives of our people. When even seventy years of dictatorial communism has failed in this, what to talk of our country which is drenched in religious fervor! None can eliminate it from life as it works from the realm of spirit, bereft of which man is dead body fit only to be burnt or buried. In addition, in our country religious impulses permeate the whole of our life; religious ceremonies, ceremonials and festivals have added much color to our culture, tradition and customs; our art, architecture, literature and even science breathe religion!

Swamiji adds: "You can work only under the law of least resistance and this religious line is the line of least resistance in India. This is the line of life, this is the line of growth and this is the line of well-being in India- to follow the track of religion". Therefore whatever ideals we want to impose on our people should come out of this religious motivation, including 'secularism' that much maligned component of our present-day national life.

One great mistake post-independence India has committed is the superimposition of an imported concept of 'secularism' on our people through 'constitutional' means. For once, the imported stuff has proved to be far inferior to the original Indian. It has neither the potency nor the effectiveness of indigenous secularism, which this country has evolved on its own, cherished and nourished over centuries based on her understanding of man, nature and universal spiritual laws. We had nurtured a concept of universal brotherhood, deep-rooted in the understanding of the solidarity of the entire universe and the spiritual oneness of all that exists therein. This was, and is, fortunately, the foundation stone of Hinduism on which, as Swami Vivekananda has repeatedly asserted, the word 'exclusiveness' has no place. There is nothing to beat this ideal of true secularism, though errors must have crept in, in its practice over a very long period of time.

Like many an imported equipment rusting in the corridors of our various institutes, this machinery of 'secularism' has also become useless and turned into more of a liability, as our technicians the politicians - do not have the know- how or experience to set it right. The discredit for this lies with them whose attention is always riveted on vote-banks, for popularity and power, and not on the propagation of values and ideals which can elevate our people and thus our national stature.

Religion has been made a taboo by people who do not understand its strength, depth and universal dimensions. For many, the religion they know and practice is one of the exclusive privileges, power and position. But religion has another side, its spiritual dimension, which should be the major aspect adopted for common good, to be understood and developed as part of life for the unfoldment of the divinity within us. Out of this, real secularism grew in India, became part of our culture, vision and life; one God, one belief but diversified expressions to give cultural variation, diversity and dynamism.

Secularism in India today has made the majority hypocritically irreligious and the minority fanatically overreligious. Both do not fit into secularism, which should transcend religion through spiritual awareness. It is only then that the petty boundary lines of religion will break away; ritualism will cease to bind man and myths and mythologies turn into practical expressions of moral and ethical principles guiding man in his life and behavior. Spiritual awareness alone can transform man into a vehicle of divine expression and secure for him the feeling of universal brotherhood, the goal of secularism.

In the name of secularism our leaders keep religion aside as and when it suits them. But along with that they also push aside the Man- Making and Nation- Building impulses inherent in the religion. We have been deceived with an imported idea of secularism, with the result that at the moment of crisis such as we have in our country today, when the strength of religion, the vision of religion and the soul of religion should play guiding roles, no wonder these forces refuse to be invoked. Someone who has the courage of conviction should redefine secularism - not as religiosity but as trans-religiosity. Some courageous soul should come forward to put all religions on an equal footing. Let us stop our hypocritical approach. Give credit where it is due whether we call the religion Hindu, Islam, Christianity or by any other name. Let us have a national consensus on:

1.  The best unifying and universal aspects of all religions should be emphasized and propagated.

2.  No religion has any right to negatively criticize another or lower it in the esteem of the public as that goes against the time- honored heritage of our Motherland.

3.  The spiritual, man-making, character- building aspects of religion should receive prior attention and non-scientific, irrational, degrading aspects should be kept in check or totally obliterated.

4. Above all, no one has the right to convert anyone into one's belief or faith by means foul or fair.

5. Above all, no one has the right to convert anyone into one's belief or faith by means foul or fair.


If India cannot achieve such a perfect sense of secularism, who else can? If India fails, to quote Swamiji again –


"Shall India die? Then from the world all spirituality will be extinct, all moral perfection will be extinct, all sweet-souled sympathy for religion will be extinct, all ideality will be extinct and in its place will reign the duality of lust and luxury as the male and female deities, with money as its priest, fraud, force, and competition its ceremonies, and the human soul its sacrifice. Such a thing can never be".


For us, the question is, who has the courage to substitute this imported stuff with the real elixir of Indian secularism? 

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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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