December 26, 2018
“Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached”
— Swami Vivekananda
In India we celebrate 12th January as National Youth Day. Importance of this day is that it’s the birth day of the Brave Hindu Monk Swami Vivekananda, the burning symbol of sacrifice , patriotism, selfless love and devotion.
He was not only a great monk , at the same time he was a great philosopher, writer, expert in music . Swami Vivekananda was one of those great pioneers who struggled for the upliftment for the Nation. His immortal Vanees inspire us even today, whenever we are in deep darkness of depression, hopelessness, misery and find no light of Hope anywhere, we find ray of light in Swamiji’s Vanees. He is a youth forever. He truly symbolises Youth, Spirited energy, Vigorous vitality, Endless courage, Depth of purity and Straight forwardness of honesty. That is why we observe his birthday as National Youth Day. While National Youth Day in India is observed on his birthday, 12 January, the day he delivered his masterful speech at the Parliament of Religions, 11 September 1893 is observed “World Brotherhood Day” Let’s have a look at his life in brief.
On 12th January , 1863 he was born in Dutta Family in Calcutta. His early name was Biley, later he was known as Narendranath Dutta. He was extremely brilliant student from his childhood. When he was a college going student his family had to go through hard times as his father had died. He often had to spend whole day without food , doing so he used to stay all day long out of home, and spent all day only drinking water.
He was very popular in his friend circle. Often he was invited to sing devotional song where he was offered food. He was a good singer, even he was often invited to Tagore Family to sing devotional song, as some devotional talks were held frequently regarding Brahma Samaj. Mr. Debendranath Tagore, father of Rabindranath Tagore, used to be present there.
On one such occasion he all on a sudden met Shri Ramkrishna Paramhamsa, who went to devotional trance listening to the music by Narendranath Dutta.
Later Ramkrishna called him to Dakshineshwar Kali Temple where he was a worshipper of the goddess Kali. Naren met Ramkrishna there and after a time became his disciple.
After he had become a monk his new name was Swami Vivekananda.
In 1888 Swami Vivekananda started his ‘Parikrama to India’ with only a kamandalu (water pot), staff and his two favourite books: the Bhagavad Geeta and The Imitation of Christ. Swamiji travelled extensively in India for five years, living primarily on bhiksha (alms), visiting centres of learning and acquainting himself with diverse religious traditions and social patterns.
He travelled whole North and South India and came to know the distressed and miserable condition of common Indians. He realised that not only Hindu but the other religions are also wrapped with utter superstitions. He developed sympathy for the suffering and poverty of the people, and resolved to uplift the nation.
Ruthless British suppression lashed on common Indians in one hand, and age-old religious system which was itself an iron chain to common Indians, used to crush them, on the other. Swamiji realised we needed to reform the structure of Hindu religion.
During his travels he met, and stayed with Indians from various religions and walks of life: scholars, rajas, common people of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, harijans, government officials etc.
In the meanwhile, there was a Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893 in Chicago. Swamiji left Bombay for Chicago on 31st May 1893 with the name “Vivekananda”. Bhaskara Sethupathy, who was a Raja of Ramnad, sponsored Vivekananda’s visit to Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Chicago in USA.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions opened on 11 September 1893 . Vivekananda gave a brief speech representing India and Hinduism. He bowed to Saraswati , the Hindu goddess of learning and began his speech with “Sisters and brothers of America!” At these words, Swamiji received a two-minute standing ovation from the crowd of seven thousand.
The President of the Parliament John Henry Barrows said, “India, the Mother of religions was represented by Swami Vivekananda, the Orange-monk who exercised the most wonderful influence over his auditors”. Vivekananda attracted widespread attention of the press, which called him the “cyclonic monk from India”. The New York Critique noted, “He is an orator by divine right, and his strong, intelligent face in its picturesque setting of yellow and orange was hardly less interesting than those earnest words, and the rich, rhythmical utterance he gave them”. The New York Herald quoted, “Vivekananda is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. After hearing him we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation”. American newspapers wrote Vivekananda as “the greatest figure in the parliament of religions” and “the most popular and influential man in the parliament”. The Boston Evening Transcript noted that Vivekananda was “a great favourite at the parliament… if he merely crosses the platform, he is applauded”.
He spoke several more times on topics related to Hinduism, Buddhism and harmony among religions, universality, emphasising religious tolerance until the parliament ended on 27 September 1893.
When back in India, on 1st May 1897 in Calcutta, Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission for social service based on Karma Yoga and its governing body consists of the trustees of the Ramakrishna Math. Both Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission have their headquarters at Belur Math. Vivekananda founded two other monasteries: one in Madras and another in Mayavati in the Himalayas, the Advaita Ashrama . Two journals were founded: Udbhodan in Bengali and Prabuddha Bharata in English.
His Teachings and Vanees:
Vivekananda sumed up the Vedanta as follows, giving it a modern interpretation:
“Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or mental discipline, or philosophy—by one, or more, or all of these—and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.”
One of the most prominent theme in Vivekananda’s though was Nationalism. He believed that a country’s future development depends on her people, and his teachings centered on human development. He wholi-heartedly wanted “to set in motion a machinery which will bring noblest ideas to the doorstep of even the poorest and the meanest.”
Swamiji linked morality with control of the mind. In Raja Yoga he said, “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, that is the way great spiritual giants are produced”.
In the foundation of emerging nationalism in British-ruled India, Vivekananda condensed the nationalistic ideal. As the social reformer Charles Freer Andrews observed “The Swami’s intrepid patriotism gave a new colour to the national movement throughout India. More than any other single individual of that period Vivekananda had made his contribution to the new awakening of India”.
His nationalistic ideas influenced many Indian thinkers, leaders and social reformers. To Sri Aurobindo Vivekananda was the one who awakened India spiritually. Mahatma Gandhi considered Swamiji among the few Hindu reformers “who have maintained this Hindu religion in a state of splendor by cutting down the dead wood of tradition”. The first governor-general of independent India, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, said “Vivekananda saved Hinduism, saved India”. To Subhas Chandra Bose, a National leader of armed struggle for Indian independence, Vivekananda was “the maker of modern India”, for Gandhi, Vivekananda’s influence increased Gandhi’s “love for his country a thousandfold”. Vivekananda influenced India’s independence movement intensively, his writings inspired independence activists such as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Aurobindo Ghose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bagha Jatin .
Many years after Vivekananda’s death Rabindranath Tagore wrote French Nobel laureate Romain Rolland, “If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative”. Rolland wrote, “His words are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Händel choruses. I cannot touch these sayings of his, scattered as they are through the pages of books, at thirty years’ distance, without receiving a thrill through my body like an electric shock. And what shocks, what transports, must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero!”
“Bartaman Bharat” meaning “Present Day India” is an Bengali language essay written by him, where he preached the readers to honour and treat every Indians as a brother irrespective of whether he was born poor or in lower caste.
This great Hindu Sannasi breathed his last on 4th July 1902.
(information source : Wikipedia. org)