Brij Mohan Sharma
Swami Vivekananda, the chosen and devout disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Parmahansa, is a known spiritual and patriotic personality of 19th century India. Though he lived a short life (1863-1902), and his public activity was confined to less than a decade towards the end of his life, the importance of the work done by him during this brief period for the revival of India’s pristine glory and the welfare of the world at large is recognised by one and all. The legacy he has left behind in the shape of his teachings, writings and speeches will survive for ages.
His utterances have an unfading freshness and an ever-renewing relevance. Even though some zealots describe him a Hindu monk and a representative of Hinduism, the fact remains that he was the embodiment of teachings and utterances of all Messengers of Light, whether of India or abroad.
Divinity of the soul and faith in one self, unity of existence and universality of outlook, harmony of religions, brotherhood of man and service of God in man-these are some of the fundamental ideas on which Swami Vivekananda built the edifice of his philosophy of life.
Man-making was his main mission. The purpose of life, he always stressed, is higher evolution and not stagnation. Since man is essentially divine, he has all the potentiality of developing into divinity. All human institutions, including all religions, are valid to the extent they help man in this process.
With the study of Nature alone, eliminating spirit that gives value to Nature, man, in spite of the vast powers conferred on him by nature, can only be an exalted and extremely skillful creature, who believes in the philosophy of affluence, possession and enjoyment as the be-all and end-all of life. Whereas the fact remains that a comprehensive philosopy of life should take the whole man into consideration and not merely his body and mind.
By this, however, Swamiji never meant neglecting the improvement of the conditions of man’s life, which is an essential ingredient for spiritual development. But when materialism is made an end in itself, the result is a total denial of man’s basic nature and distortion in individual and social life.
Vivekananda was, therefore, never tired of reminding man of his essential divine Nature and the need to realize this truth. When we realize this basic truth, our external life becomes smooth, tension free and radiant. We apprehend clearly that “there is only One Being, One existence, the Ever blessed, the Omnipresent, the Omniscient.. He is the Reality in nature, the soul of your soul.. you are one with Him…”
And, “when it is all One, who is there to hate, who is there to struggle with ? When it is all He, with whom you can fight? This explains the true nature of life, this explains the true nature of being. This is perfection and this is God.”
Swami Vivekananda wanted young men to bring about the regeneration of this eternal Truth in India and a silent spiritual revolution in the world at large. He had tremendous faith in the youth of the country. He considered them as the great asset and wealth of India. He often expressed that if we were to win back our ancient glory, power and prosperity, it is in the hands of our youth.
“Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached..” was his oft-repeated, soul -stirring and ever-electrifying call to the nation, more particularly addressed to the youth. No wonder India turned in her sleep at the thunderous reverberations of his clarion call, which gave a new dimension to spirituality and patriotism in the country. It is no secret that influenced by his patriotic and spiritual exhortations, hundreds of our young men and women embraced suffering and sacrificed their lives at the altar of India’s freedom struggle.
In the words of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru : He was one of the most grat founders of the national modern movement of India and a great number of people who took more or less an active part in the movement. drew their inspiration from Swami Vivekananda. He was full of dynamic and fiery energy and passion to push India forward. Mahatma Gandhi was so inspired by his writings and speeches that he wrote : “The love that I had for my country became thousand fold.”
India has rightly decided to celebrate his birthday, i.e 12th January, every year as National Youth Day.
We also feel jovial to have an inkling that his teachings and same advice, which have hitherto been receiving lip service, are being given serious consideration by our present dispensation. If it is true, it would indeed be a right step in the right direction.
But before doing so, it would also be advisable for our leaders to take some time out of their busy schedules of life, and devote it to ‘self-introspection and, if necessary, to ‘self-reformation’. Ths irony is that while every one thinks of changing the world, no one thinks of changing himself. Political and social revolution would be a futile and disastrous experiment unless there is first a moral and spiritual transformation among our leaders. ‘Change the subject and the object is bound to change; purity yourself and the whole world is bound to be purified’.
The need for this ‘reform’ has become all the more necessary in view of what we have been witnessing in the wake of demonetisation. We have shown to the world how degraded we are-morally, ethically and politically. The extent of our ‘selfishness’ has crossed all limits of criminality. We have no moral sense of right or wrong, and can stoop to any depth of our selfish ends.
How can we tackle the problems of poverty, squalor and want unless we kill the voracious ‘shark of selfishness’ which is rearing within us and has taken strong hold of our consciousness. How can we call ourselves a civilized and patriotic nation unless we behave as such, and, realizing our duty towards our country, stop washing our dirty linen in public.
It is high time that our leaders shun ‘selfishness’, embrance patriotism in the real sense, and make our country a prosperous nation. To us, it seems possible only through spiritual means. When man is roused to an awareness of his divine nature, all glory and goodness naturally blossom forth in its wake; all blessed qualities emerge in consequence, any man becomes a repository of all divine virtues. He becomes unselfish and loving to others.
(The writer is former Additional Secretary to Government)