Vivekananda –A Guru To Lead India To World Leadership
Prof N.K. Singh
Former Chairman International Airports Authority of India
We had enough celebrations for the 154th birthday of Vivekananda but we need to adopt his values and understand the path he laid forgreatness of India. He is one spiritual leader, who is more relevantto current political and social evolution of India today than anyoneelse. Our commitment to his exhortation will only lead us to worldleadership. He rightly quotes Vedic prayer -“Arise awake stop nottill the goal is reached”. Once Sister Nivedita said “Guru Ramkrishana was the repository of 5,000 years of Indian spiritualism whereas Swami ji is guide for coming 1,500 years”.
At comparatively young age, Swami ji dominated the theosophical arena of the changing global scenario. Born in 1863, he relentlessly workedto promote and propagate the Indian metaphysics and epistemology inthe whole world. Disciple of Ramkrishana Paramhans, he learnt at hisfeet the lessons of Vedanta that he carried with his own fervour to thewhole world. One only wishes, as he too wished once, he had more timeand taken care of his body that was neglected in constant travels andfastings.
He died at the comparatively young age of 49 after leavingbehind tremendous work in the shape of his lectures and books in theconstant churning of Indian philosophy. He has been constantly sicksuffering from 31 diseases and worse being somnambulism. Yet thisdiseased body worn out due to fatigue and neglect was so much floggedby the Swami ji that he almost swept the tide of Hinduism all over theworld impacting the western audience for world appreciation of Indianwisdom. He died at 49 when he had worked day and night to achieveuniversal acclaim.
Swami ji had first encounter with the world of religious philosophy atglobal level in the World Parliament of religions at Chicago, UnitedStates. According to his thinking, there was no difference betweenreligions as all were part of greater reality that Hinduism recognisedand believed in. When he addressed the Parliament with “Brothers andsisters”, it caused a shock as western thinking did not match this.Later in life, he said he understands why westerner’s do not like hisaddressing women as mothers as they think it paints them old. Hisexposition Hinduism in the world gathering brought to global audiencewhat truly the greatness of the religions was as it was virtually acharter for universalism.
Vedanta did not recognize the differences and discriminations but itpreached one final truth and reality that people must develop faithin. All evil comes from faith in inequality, differences and goodcomes from Advaita Vedanta which is faith in ultimate oneness of theuniverse. This was known as monism in west and India developed suchuniversalism thousands of years back. He used to say we all respectthe religious books of Gita, Quran or Bible but gradually we don’tneed them as we find that self merges with universal spirit. He toldthat world gathering that we are all sitting in our wells like frogsthat know only their well but we have to rise as spirits and see theocean. This was the message of universalism.
Hindus believed in soul even in plants and it teaches peace, non-violence and interconnectedness of humanity where caste, creed andreligions disappear. He says “History of the world is history of menwho had faith in themselves. The faith summons the divinitywithin—death comes when a man or nation loses faith in itself”. Very few people know that Vivekananda was a great cook. His devoteeused to say that he is maharaj, one word is used for a king, a monkand a cook that he was in excellence. In lesser side of his life, hehad a number of women admirers and disciples but they brought glory tohim as did Nivedita who not only wrote a long on Swami ji’s life andwork but also contributed a lot to National movement of India thatGandhi ji and Tagore praised her. Once she took Swami ji’s horoscope to anastrologer as she was worried about his sickness. When Swami ji came toknow he chastised her since he did not believe in superstitions.
Butit revealed her love and concern. Swami ji often said “love is highestvirtue; Love knows of giving only never expecting anything in return”.If love was highest how could human being hate any community, caste orcreed of anyone?
Very few people know that Calcutta Municipal Corporation taxed Vivekananda Ashram as entertainment place against which world famous Swami ji had to fight a case in the court. The reason was singing of Bhajans. No wonder he had a taste of Indian bureaucracy which continues to haunt us even today.