Puran Chand Sharma
The light of the world dawned for the first time upon the future Swami Vivekananda on Monday, January 12, 1863. It was the holy morning of Makara Sankranti day- a great Hindu festival. The millions of men and women who were observing the fast unknowingly greeted the new born baby with prayers and worships, they had little known that he had just been born, who was to usher in a new age of glory for his country. And only a few miles North of Calcutta, in the Garden of Dakshineshwara, a great seer was waiting for the coming of this bay.
The mother Bhvaneshwari Devi named the baby Vireshawara, after the aspect of Shiva which she worshipped before the child’s birth. They called him Bileh for short. Later Vireshwara became Narendra Nath.
Narendra’s father Vishwanath was a lover of music and used to sing himself. He had noticed Narendra’s love for music and his musical potentialities. He arranged for Narendra’s training under reputed masters.In fact, with him Music became a wonderful instrument for adoration of the divine. It was through music that his first communion with Shri Ramakrishna took place in November, 1881.
In the company of Shri Ramakrishna
The company of Shri Ramakrishna was, in itself, a most compelling stimulus to spirtuality. What were Shri Ramakrishna’s answer to questions pertaining to God vision and methods of realization! How to pray ? By the conquest of lust and gold”.Shri Ramakrishna was intimately connected with all paths of Sadhana that led to the realization of God. The general teachings which the Master imparted to his disciples, Narendra Nath assimilated in a unique way. His soul was most attuned to the spiritual vibrations of the Master’s words. Wonderful was the relationship between Shri Ramakrishna and Naren. So close, so deep was their love and regard for each other that the disciles of both, always think of them as two souls in one Ramakrishna once said to his disciples. “Naren will pass away only of his own will. The moment he realizes who he is, he will refuse to stay a moment longer in the body. The time will come when he will shake the world to its foundations through the strength of his intellectual and spiritual powers”. The climax was reached when the spirit of the Master, before he left the body in 1886, descended upon the disciple. This relationship served a great impersonal purpose, the revival of the religion of the Vedas and the preaching of Modern Gospel to people of the Earth.
At the parliament of religions in Chicago
With the help of his disciples and the Raja ot Khetri, Ajit Singh, Swami ji managed to participate in the Historic and unprecedented parliament of religion which was held in Chicago. It was on Monday, September 11th 1893, there sat upon the platform of the great hall of Columbus representatives of the religious hopes and beliefs of twelve hundred million of the human race. The whole audience grew intent; a pin could have been heard. Bowing to Devi Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, he addressed his audience as, “Sisters and brothers of America”. And with that, before he had uttered another word, the whole parliament was caught up in a great wave of enthusiasm. Hundreds rose to their feet with shouts of applause. The parliament had gone mad, everyone was cheering, cheering and cheering! The Swami was bewildered. For full two minutes he attempted to speak, but the wild enthusiasm of the audience prevented it.
When silence was restored, swami ji began his address by thanking of the youngest of Nations in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world, the Vedic order of sanysis, and introducing the Hinduism as “The Mother of religions, a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance”. And he quoted two beautiful illustrative passages, taken from the scripcutres of Hinduism; “As different streams having their sources in different places, all mingle their water in the sea. So, O! Lord, the different paths which men take, through tendencies, various though they may appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee’. And the other: “Whosover comes to me, through whatsoever form, I reach him. All men are struggling paths which in the end leads to Me”.
It was only a short speech, but its spirit of universality, its fundamental earnest and broadmindedness completely captivated the whole assembly. Thus, did the unknown monk blossom into the world-figures. On all sides his name resounded. Life-size pictures of him were seen posted up in the streets of Chicago, with the word, “The Monk Vivekananda” beneath them, and passersby would stop to do reverence with bowed heads. The press rang with his fame. The best known and most conservative of the metro-politan newspapers proclaimed him as prophet and a seer.
Vivekananda’s gospel maked the awakening of man in his fullness and that is why it inspired our youth to the diverse forces of Liberation through work and sacrifice. In recent times in India, it was Vivekananda alone who preached a great message which is not tied to any do’s and don’ts. Addressing one and all in the Nation he said : “In every one of you there is the power of Brahmin (GOD); the God in poor desires you to serve Him. He coined a new word, “DARIDRA DEVO BHAVA, MURKH DEVO BHAVA” i.e all the sane, destitute, lepers, inflicted, poor are all our living ‘gods’, work for them, serve them, this is all of the religion. I believe in no religion and ‘God’ who cannot wipe the tears of a widow, who cannot give a piece of bread to the mouth of orphan.
“Arise, Awake, and Stop Not Till The Goal is Reached”, great things can be done by great sacrifices. Work hard. Be holy and pure and the fire will come. Have Faith in yourself. Let the people say whatever they like, stick to your own convictions, and rest assured the world will be at your feet. Money does not pay, nor name, fame does not pay, nor learning. It is love that pays; it is character that cleaves its way through adamant time- walls of difficulties.
(The author is the translator of “The Gospel of Shri Ramakrishna” into Urdu titled as “Shri Ramakrishna ji ke Ekwal-E-Zarin”.)