REMEMBERING SWAMI VIVEKANANDA

Celebrating the 155th Birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, one of the greatest Indian philosophers we can easily feel the urgency to emulate the teachings of this great man not only in India but across the globe that is witnessing unprecedented violence as a result of religious intolerance. Though it is often said that he was the person who brought major transformation in Hinduism as per the needs of the time, yet it would be an injustice to confine him to Hinduism only. In fact he has shown the path of self realization to every individual across the globe in order to rise to the occasion for ending evil and superstitious practices that have the potential of automatically leading to establishment of peace and prosperity on the earth. Vivekananda was a practical person having a vision far superior to his contemporaries. His pragmatic approach and vision can be easily understood from his statement, “So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.” Long before the ideas of Karl Marx were known in India, he spoke about the role of the labour classes in the production of the country’s wealth and was the first religious leader in India to speak for the masses, formulate a definite philosophy of service, and organize large scale social service activities. He believed and rightly too that doctrines or theories, however beautiful may be are only useless entities in absence of self realization. It is of course a reality that power, glory, goodness, purity and everything that is excellent will come only when we awaken our self consciousness as that would leave no scope for any individual to falter in right decision making. In following the precious path shown by Vivekananda education has a pivotal role and he always asserted that education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man. He even went to the extent of defining education as the basis of character, strength of mind and intellect as a result of which one can stand with heads high in humility. Vivekananda broke the caste barriers as for the first time in India he paved the way for Sudra the 4th Varna to join as monks in ashrams and worship in the temples besides initiating two hundred untouchables into Gayatri mantra in Kolkata and converting them into Brahmins. Showing his concern towards discrimination against women, he allowed them to chant Vedic mantras and established a separate women ashram specially dedicated for women. Going through his contributions one really feels the similarity of circumstances and situation during his times and today, especially when we find the flawed educational system being the root cause of all the evils at least in India where empowerment of women in the real sense still seems to be a distant dream, poverty and hunger continues to be the concern of a substantial portion of our population besides people engaged in religious hatred. These were the evils for which Vivekananda dedicated his whole life and today there is a dire need to emulate the teachings of this great saint philosopher and leader by adopting purity, patience, perseverance and above all, love which are the essentials to success and welfare of society.