Swami Vivekananda’s life and teachings for the Youth
On the 12th of January every year, National Youth Day is observed in India to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.
The young spiritual leader who is credited with spreading the essence of Indian spirituality to the Western world had immense faith in the power of the youth of India. By upholding the teachings of Vedanta and its universal values of tolerance, acceptance and co-existence of different faiths, cultures and beliefs, he re-instilled a sense of pride amongst all Indians in their cultural heritage.
What makes Swami Vivekananda the ideal role model for the youth is the fact that he motivated the youth to be strong in body, mind and spirit, and he strongly advocated their role in nation-building. He envisioned India as a country with energetic young people, who will shape up a modern nation based on the foundation of Vedic spiritual ideals.
This is what Swami Vivekananda said in context of the youth
Youth is the best time. The way in which you utilize this period will decide the nature of coming years that lie ahead of you.
What we want is vigour in the blood, strength in the nerves, iron muscles and nerves of steel, not softening namby-pamby ideas.
You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita.
You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little of strong blood in you. You will understand the Upanishads better and the glory of the Atman when your body stands firm upon your feet.
The supreme value of youth period is incalculable and indescribable. Youth life is the most precious life.
This is the time to decide your future — while you possess the energy of youth, not when you are worn out and jaded, but in the freshness and vigour of youth.
Talk to yourself once in a day….Otherwise, you may miss meeting an excellent person in this world.
My hope of the future lies in the youths of character, intelligent, renouncing all for the services of others, and obedient – good to themselves and the country at large.
The sign of life is strength and growth. The sign of death is weakness. Whatever is weak, avoid!
Find here Inspirational Quotes on Nation Building
Life of Swami Vivekananda
Vivekanand, born as Narendranath Datta on 12 January 1863, in Kolkata, was one of the nine children of Vishwanath Datta, an attorney at the Calcutta High Court and his wife Bhubaneswari Devi. Though mischievous and restless, Naren was a gifted child who excelled in music, studies and athletics. He was interested in spirituality from a young age and was fascinated by wandering ascetics and monks.
As he grew up, Narendranath acquired mastery over Sanskrit, Bengali and English languages. On one hand, he learnt about the philosophical and spiritual legacy of India, on the other, he became conversant with the scientific, artistic, social and political thoughts of modern West. He attended General Assembly’s Institution (now Scottish Church College) Calcutta. From his Principal William Hastie, he heard about the spiritual guru Sri Ramakrishna.
Narendranath’s Association with Sri Ramakrishna
Narendranath first met Sri Ramakrishna at the home of a devotee in Calcutta. Although he did not initially accept Ramakrishna as his teacher and sometimes even rebelled against his ideas, he was attracted by his personality and began to frequently visit him at Dakshineswar.
After Narendra’s father’s sudden death in 1884, the family had to go through a lot of financial struggle. Narendra tried to find work but he was unsuccessful. The way his mother shouldered all the responsibilities of the family made an abiding influence on him.
Narendra began to question the existence of God. It was then he found solace in the words of Ramakrishna. Gradually he accepted Ramakrishna as his spiritual guru.
Sri Ramakrishna taught that service to humanity was the most effective form of worship of God. During his last days, Sri Ramakrishna selected Narendra to be the leader of his young disciples. He foretold that Narendra would accomplish the great mission for the regeneration of the people of the world.
After Sri Ramakrishna passed away in 1886, Narendra and his brother disciples took monastic vows. Narendra now became Swami Vivekananda.
Narendranath became Swami Vivekananda
To spread the message of Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda travelled over the length and breadth of India as a wandering monk and discovered the soul of India. On the eve of Christmas of 1892, Swami Vivekananda reached Kanyakumari the southernmost point of India. After a worship of the Divine Mother, he swam across to a rock out in the vast ocean and went into deep meditation for a few days. He pondered over the past glory of India and the present degeneration and chalked out a plan for the reconstruction of India through social service, by promoting scientific thinking and industrialisation, addressing widespread poverty and the social issues and ending the colonial rule.
Swami Vivekananda’s first visit to the West
With support and contributions from some of his enthusiastic followers, Swami Vivekananda sailed for the USA in 1893 to participate in the World’s Parliament of Religions at Chicago. However, the date for registration was over and he did not have any credential to join the Parliament.
In the US, Vivekananda came in contact with Professor John Henry Wright of Harvard University, who highly impressed with the Swami’s knowledge, assumed that he was going to the Parliament. When he came to know that Vivekananda was not officially accredited and had no sponsors, the Professor wrote to the Chairman of the Parliament,
‘Here is a man more learned than all our professors put together.’
The Professor arranged for the registration, funds and other logistics needed by Swami Vivekananda to attend the Parliament.
Vivekananda’s Speech at Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago
On 11th September 1893, the modest young monk from India delivered his speech at the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago.
Greeting the youngest of the nations on behalf of “the most ancient order of monks in the world, he explained the core of Hinduism through the rational and humanistic teachings of Vedanta and talked about the spiritual culture of India.
At a time when the West considered India as a land of superstitions, he proclaimed the greatness of Hinduism in America. He categorically stated that religion was not the crying need of India. Instead, he sought aid for his impoverished people.
The eloquence of his speech matched the profoundness of his thoughts and earned him recognition amongst the religious officials, scholars, and historians representing the major world faiths. The American newspapers reported Vivekananda as the “Cyclonic Monk from India”, “Hurricane Hindu” or “the most popular and influential man in the parliament of religions.”
The trip to the Parliament resulted in a four-year lecture tour of the Americas and Europe. He spread the spiritual knowledge of India, in the process attracting several followers and admirers. His success led to the establishment of Vedanta centres in the West.
He wanted to combine the scientific and technological achievements of the West with the asceticism and humanism of India. A conversation during a chance meeting between Swami Vivekananda and industrialist Jamshedji Tata on a boat that sailed from Yokohama to Vancouver, culminated in the idea of setting up the Indian Institute of Science.
Founding of Ramakrishna Mission
Swami Vivekananda returned from West to India in 1897 and founded Ramakrishna Mission for spiritual and humanitarian services. On 9 December 1898, with the blessings of his guru Ramakrishna’s wife Sri Sarada Devi, he started Ramakrishna Math at Belur on the bank of Ganga River near Calcutta. Swami Vivekananda also founded two other monasteries: one called the Advaita Ashrama in Mayavati in the Himalayas (near Almora), and Sri Ramakrishna Math in Chennai.
In June 1899, Vivekananda left for West on his second visit. He returned to India in December 1900. The arduous work and extensive travel took a toll on Swami Vivekananda’s health. On the night of 4 July 1902, Swami Vivekananda sat for a deep meditation and left for the heavenly abode at the relatively young age of 39.
Quotes on Swami Vivekananda
“If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative,” said Rabindranath Tagore.
“His words are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Händel choruses,” wrote French Nobel laureate, Romain Rolland.
“To ask for your credentials is like asking the sun to state its right to shine in the heavens,” said Professor Wright to Swami Vivekananda.
Mahatma Gandhi said that the writings of Swami Vivekananda taught him to love India even more.
“Swami Vivekananda harmonized the East and the West, Religion and Science, Past and Present. And that is why he is great. Our countrymen have gained unprecedented Self-respect, Self-reliance and Self-assertion from his teachings.”~ Subhash Chandra Bose
“I think that our younger generation will take advantage of this fountain of wisdom, of spirit and fire that flows through Swami Vivekananda,” ~Jawaharlal Nehru
Swami Vivekananda was all for innovation, for new discoveries. He would never refrain from deconstructing something to make way for new ideas. He wanted our youth to be job-givers and not just job-seekers.” ~Narendra Modi
12 January the birthday of Swami Vivekananda is celebrated as the National Youth Day. The philosophy of Swami Vivekananda and the ideals for which he worked are a great source of inspiration for the youth of India. Swami Vivekananda gave the clarion call to the youth:
Arise! Awake! and stop not until the goal is reached.
On the 155th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, we pay our homage to the dynamic spiritual leader and thinker of India.
Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (9 Volumes) Advaita Ashrama Mayavati, Uttarakhand
This article is contributed by Bhudeb Chakrabarti, Dy IG (Retd) CRPF, and edited by Somali K Chakrabarti
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