“Whatever you think, you will be. If you think yourself weak, weak you will be; if you think yourself strong, you will be,”-Swami Vivekananda.
Swami Vivekananda, whose original name was Narendranath Dutta, was born on 12th January 1863 at Kolkata. Swamiji’s Jayanti i.e. birth anniversary is celebrated as the ‘National Youth Day.’ The Government felt that the philosophy of Vivekananda and his ideals are a great source of inspiration for the Indian youth. So, it was declared that his birthday will be observed as ‘National Youth Day.’ This day is of great importance in the academic calendar and schools and colleges all over the country conduct processions, speeches, recitations, youth conventions and various music, sports and essay-writing competitions.
He was born in a well-educated family with strong principles. Right from childhood, two aspects of his behaviour could clearly be noticed. One was his devout and compassionate nature and the other was readiness to perform any act of courage. Since his whole family was spiritually inclined, he received an appropriate religious upbringing. His father was a successful Attorney at the High Court of Calcutta and mother a devout woman who played a big role in building Swami Vivekananda character in his formative years. He did his schooling and graduation from Calcutta and later went to study Law. Unfortunately, his father passed away and he could not pursue his career further due to bad financial conditions.
Ramakrishna Paramhansa, who was a priest at a local Kali Temple, once noticed Swamiji singing and asked Swamiji to come and meet him at the temple. It was there that Swamiji learnt his first lesson towards God. He was taught by Paramhansa that God lives in every human and ‘by serving mankind, we can serve God.’ This is when his journey to a wonderful divine experience began and he became the most important disciple of the saint.
With his teaching, he later established the Ramakrishna Mission.
This is an organisation that till today is engaged in voluntary social service towards poor and helpless. Swamiji was the first Indian monk who went to America to participate in the Parliament of world religions held at Chicago in 1893. In his lecture, he explained the concept of God being one and that each religion is like a different river flowing towards a common sea. After this lecture Swamiji gained vast International following of people, who also joined his mission. His message to the nation was, “Arise, awake, wake up yourself and awaken others. Achieve the attainment of life before you pass-off. Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is achieved.”
Swami Vivekananda’s guidance helped to generate new consciousness and enthusiasm amongst the youth. Continuous invasions, immortality, looting, oppression of womenfolk and violence had crushed Indians’ mentally. Swami Vivekananda undertook the mission of propagating message of Ramakrishna and pulling out Indians from depression. Swami Vivekananda travelled all over India for this great mission and created enthusiasm and patriotism amongst people through his spiritual discourses. Moreover, he made the whole world realise the importance of Hindu Dharma and Hindustan.
Vivekananda summarised the Vedanta as ‘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 religion. Doctrines, dogmas, rituals, books, temples are but secondary details’.
Swamiji preached tolerance and peace for human mankind. His ideas of peace and tolerance were for people of all religions and sects. According to him, if humans are to thrive, they need to tolerate to diversified views particularly in present times. He stressed that good education is not merely learning of facts but the development of character. Neither money, nor name/fame/learning; it is character that cleave through adamantine walls of difference. He redefined the concept of education which was not limited to exploring means of earning only. For him, education was a way to build ones character, strength and intellect. He emphasised on importance of being strong in life. Weakness comes with a number of difficulties coming in life. One needs to be fearless and firm in achieving his goals. He impressed upon the need to have empathy and compassion for weaker sections of the society. He focussed on values like love, patience, perseverance in one’s life.
Swamiji’s teaching of universal brotherhood is most relevant even today. The world needs to realise that to bring peace, there is no other ideology more proper than this. Vasudev Kutumbakam i.e., belief in the world as a family has became necessary in the growing era of practionism and de-globalisation. His views on women empowerment are relevant on present pretext. He emphasised the women education and believed that it will lead to greater development of society as a whole. He also emphasised the need to impart martial arts training to women, considering sexual crimes against women, girls dropouts from school and also reducing labour force participation. Swamiji’s teachings are still relevant today.
All power is within youth. They can do anything and everything. They should never believe that they are weak and they should believe in themselves and world will be at their feet. It is high time for youth to come forward by shedding their fears and bad habits to shape-up India and make it golden sparrow once again. His teachings are very relevant today since many problems remain the same; his teachings reflect a path-to these