Insights into Editorial: How Swami Vivekananda became the ‘messenger of Indian wisdom’ to West
January 12 is the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the famous Hindu spiritual leader and intellectual from the late 19th century.
An important religious reformer in India, Swami Vivekananda is known to have introduced the Hindu philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta to the West.
In his honour, the government of India in 1984 declared his birthday as National Youth Day.
Swami Vivekananda’s legacy:
Through his speeches and lectures, Vivekananda worked to disseminate his religious thought.
He preached ‘neo-Vedanta’, an interpretation of Hinduism through a Western lens, and believed in combining spirituality with material progress.
‘Raja Yoga’, ‘Jnana Yoga’, ‘Karma Yoga’ are some of the books he wrote.
Before his death in 1902, Vivekananda wrote to a Western follower: “It may be that I shall find it good to get outside my body, to cast it off like a worn out garment. But I shall not cease to work. I shall inspire men everywhere until the whole world shall know that it is one with God.”
Remarkable step: The Chicago address of Swami Vivekananda:
Vivekananda is especially remembered around the world for his speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.
The speech covered topics including universal acceptance, tolerance and religion, and got him a standing ovation.
Many parts of his speech have since become popular, including “I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance.
We believe not only in universal tolerance but we accept all religions as true.”
“I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.”; and
“Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth…Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now.”
He began delivering lectures at various places in the US and UK, and became popular as the ‘messenger of Indian wisdom to the Western world’.
Set up a missionary when Returned to India:
After coming back to India, he formed the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897 “to set in motion a machinery which will bring noblest ideas to the doorstep of even the poorest and the meanest.”
In 1899, he established the Belur Math, which became his permanent abode.
The goals of his Mission were based on the ideals of Karma Yoga, with its primary objective to save the poor masses in India.
He urged people to achieve divinity of the soul through selfless work, worship and mental discipline. An ardent nationalist, Swami Vivekananda had the welfare of his countrymen top most on his mind. “Arise, Awake and Stop not till the Goal is reached’’ was his perpetual message.
His teachings cut across all divisions based on political or religious affiliations. He held that spirituality was the core of every religion; dogmatic exclusiveness and intolerance are not part of every religion.
The more spiritual a human, the more universal he/she is. He held that modern age stood in urgent need of this education from religion, by which human will learn to make their love of God into the love and service of all human.
Swami Vivekananda’s life: Lessons to everyone:
- Vivekananda’s life is full of values and inspiration which motivate every person who has read his books.
- The younger generation instead of spending their quality time on unwanted things, should make their life more meaningful by studying Vivekananda and treading the path shown by him.
- Any student who embraces the thoughts of Vivekananda will achieve success and climb up the social and professional ladder.
- On this occasion, Swami Vivekananda Jnana Kendra was declared opened. This centre would provide help get access to government programmes, facilities and skill-oriented training.
- Swami Vivekananda held up the idea of nationalism based on oneness and unity of people. Today, there are elements in the country who are trying to dilute his idea by breaking this unity.
- We need to channelise this strength and energy to be able to serve the society and the country.
- Swami Vivekananda also felt that no amount of politics would be of any avail until the masses in India were well educated, well fed, and well cared for.
- Talking about the importance of holistic education that takes care of the physical and mental wellbeing of the children.
- For Swami Ji education did not mean academic pursuits alone. He stressed equally on physical fitness and bodily health.
- While expressing his deep concern over the spurt in Non-Communicable Diseases, the Vice President cautioned the youth be aware of the ill effects of the changing life style and dietary habits.
- He suggested them to practice yoga, meditation and adopt healthy eating habits.
- He also asked the youth to take a pledge to be physically fit and promote India’s cultural and spiritual values.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had called Vivekananda the “maker of modern India.”
when we are celebrating Swami Vivekananda Ji’s birth anniversary, it would be quite in the fitness of things if we remember his conception of the future of our country.
Swami Vivekananda believed that our culture is a rich mosaic containing Hindu, Muslim and other elements.
He also believed that the Hindus and the Muslims have certain things to learn from each other, which would make them not merely better Hindus and better Muslims, but what is more important better human.
Swami Vivekananda exhorted his countrymen to discard narrow loves, hates, and grow into that wholeness which is perfection of character.
In the same vein, he exhorted the Hindus to discard the sectional loyalties of caste and sect and grow into that fullness and wholeness expressive of Divine in man.