Brij Mohan Sharma
“Men who lead their fellow beings in any sphere of life are rare and those that lead the leaders are rarer still. These super guides come not very often upon this earth to uplift the shinking section of humanity.” These are the words used by our first President of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad, to portray Swami Vivekananda, the most loved multi-faceted personality- an enlightened spiritual leader, a true patriot, a great social reformer, an erudite scholar, a fiery orator and an energetic nation-builder- who played a vital role in the shaping of modern India. His lofty ideas and principles such as universal brotherhood, practice of true religion, women’s emancipation and abolition of untouchability brought a social and spiritual revolution in the country.
In the words of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, “Wherever he went, he created a sensation not only by his presence but by what he said and how he said… In America he was called ‘the cyclonic Hindu’…. He thundered from Cape Comorin on the southern tip of India to the Himalayas… I can tell you that many of my generation were very powerfully influenced by him.
“He was, I think, one of the great founders.. of the national modern movement of India.. Directly or indirectly he has powerfully influenced the India of today. And I think our younger generation will take advantage of this fountain of wisdom, of spirit and fire that flows through Vivekananda.”
Swami Vivekananda was averse to politics. “God and truth are the only politics in the world, everything else is trash.”
His mission of life was Man-Making. He was confident that his countrymen, particularly youth, would translate his mission into action and reality. To achieve this end, his foremost teaching to them was to remember their true nature- divinity, and let it become a living realisation, which only could make them men and bring forth the infinite power of spirit to be poured over the length and breadth of India.
He advised them to have faith in themselves to call out the divinity within. Men fail only when they do not strive sufficiently to manifest the infinite power. As soon as a man or a nation loses faith, death comes. “Why is it that we… people have been ruled for the last one hundred years by any and every handful of foreigners who chose to walk over our prostrate bodies ? Because they had faith in themselves and we had not.”
He wanted every one to be strong and fearless. “We have wept long enough. No more weeping but stand on your feet and be men. It is man-making religion that we went, it is man-making education all round that we want.. Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually and spiritually, reject it as poison.. it cannot be true.”
“Truth is strengthening, Truth is purity, truth is all knowledge, truth must be strengthening, must be enlightening, must be invigorating.”
Speaking on religion, he said, a religion that does not infuse strength into believer is no religion. We should be strong and seek God of Love. This is the highest strength. He, however, cautioned that God of Love cannot be reached by the weak. So, he wanted every one to be physically, mentally and spiritually strong. Men cannot be made virtuous by an act of Parliament. And that is why “religion is of deeper importance than politics since it goes to the root and deals with essentials of conduct.”
He counselled every one to be kind, benevolent, strictly moral and of sound and high character. What he wanted was to “adore the living God”, i.e to look upon every man, woman and every one as God. He believed that every human being is divine, and that divinity is present in the most degraded as well as the most saintly. So, if we serve the children of Lord without any distinction, we serve the Lord Himself. “Worship Shiva in the poor, the diseased and the weak.” Such a realisation of Divinity leaves no room for arrogance. In short, man must realize God, feel God, see God, talk to God. That is religion.
Born on 12th January 1863, Swami Vivekananda (family name Narendra Nath Datta) was a spiritual teacher of a rare type. Within a brief span of less than forty years (he passed away on 4th July 1902), he left an indelible impact of intensity of his life, thought and action on both the East and the West. His motto was ‘Work is Worship’. He taught humanity a philosophy which combined external action, in a spirit of service for the enrichment of the society, with internal action for the spiritual enrichment of the individual.
He summoned humanity – “Arise ! Arise ! And stop not till the goal is reached !” It is the same awakening process that brings man to the feet of God, and educate the youth of today in the problems of modern world and help him to solve them successfully. To the Indian youth, in particular, this awakening bugle carries the message of man-making and character building.
Swami Vivekananda dreamt of a universal religion and preached the message of universal unity and tolerance, and strove for the reconciliation of human contrasts and conflicts. He inspired self-confidence in the nation and revived the respect and faith in its glorious past. Above all, he was successful, to a great extent, to root out the inferiority complex brought about by the British rule.
The impact of his dynamic personality and skilful oratory was often overwhelming. He travelled to all corners of India and visited much of Eastern Asia, Europe and the United States. It was in Chicago, with his discourses at the Parliament of Religions in 1893 that Vivekananda first gained international attention. His presence there was like the lightening and speech soul-stirring.
When he addressed the gathering as “Sisters and Brothers of America” seven thousand audience rose to their feet as a tribute to something they knew not what, and there arose a peal of deafening applause for several minutes. His clarion call to the people of the world through the Parliament was, “Help and not fight”, “Assimilation and not destruction”, Harmony and peace, and not dissension..”
Swami Vivekananda’s teachings, ideas and principles have great relevance to us at present as the country is passing through a crisis in faith and character. Despite being a free and independent nation for the last seventy years, we still witness the sorry spectacles of poverty, anti-social activities like black-marketing, adulteration, smuggling, corruption, fall in moral values, dichotomy in our profession and practice, religious bigotry, divisive forces in the shape of communalism, regionalism, differing political ideologies, lack of national consciousness and character, absence of dedicated leadership, undue emphasis on rights forgetting duties, the mania of becoming rich overnight by any means, fair or foul, and the like. All these evils are the result of lack of proper guidance and lack of proper education.
The only antidote for all these evils and maladies is “a man-making religion and an all round man-making education” as envisaged by Swami Vivekananda.
Today is Swami ji’s Birth anniversary. Let us all pay our respectful homage to this great son of the soil.
(The author is former Addl. Secy. to Govt of J&K)
Brij Mohan Sharma