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Context: January 12 this year marks the 161st birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, observed as National Youth Day.
- Disciple of: Ramakrishna Paramhansa
- Founder of: Ramakrishna Mission (1897), Ramakrishna Math, Vedanta Society of New York
- Philosophy: Advaita Vedanta
- Literary works: Raja Yoga (1896), Karma Yoga (1896), Bhakti Yoga (1896), Jnana Yoga, My Master (1901), Lectures from Colombo to Almora (1897)
- He was responsible for the revival of Hindu spiritualism and established Hinduism as a revered religion on world stage.
- His message of universal brotherhood and self-awakening remains relevant especially in the current backdrop of widespread political turmoil around the world.
- The Ramakrishna Mission undertook various forms of social service like establishing and running schools, collages and hospitals, propagation of practical tenets of Vedanta through conferences, seminars and workshops, and initiating relief and rehabilitation work across the country.
- He introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893.
- He harmonized the East and the West, religion and science, past and present.
- He believed that working for social change requires energy and spirit.
- Hence, he asked the youth to work on both - mental energy and physical fitness.
- What Vivekananda wanted from the youth was 'muscles of iron' and 'nerves of steel'. He advised the youth to 'Serve God in man'.
- Swami Vivekananda suggested to rebuild the Indian society, education was the primary means for empowering the people.
- Vivekananda called for a nationwide renovation with the ideals of 'tyaga' or sacrifice and 'seva' or selfless service, the most imperative aspects of shaping the life of young people.
- Swami made the point that this way of life is what can be called a 'spiritual pursuit'.
- His vision of India was that of a transformed society inspired by dignity, freedom and individuality and rooted in strength, love and service.
Vedantic Humanism: Swami Vivekananda believed that there is only one Self in the universe. There is only one Existence. He saw the entire universe as a manifestation of the absolute One. He did not propagate a world-negating concept of spirituality, rather he said that each and every chore of your life should be done with divinity.
Divinity within ourselves:“Infinite power is in the soul of man, whether he knows it or not. Its manifestation is only a question of being conscious of it. With the full consciousness of his infinite power and wisdom, the giant will rise to his feet.”
Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga:
Swami Vivekananda talked about the four pathways of attaining moksha from worldly pleasure and attachment in his books.
- Karma Yoga: Swami Vivekananda, emphasizing the importance of work, said that God can be attained through work.
- Bhakti Yoga: Bhakti Yoga teaches that love is a vital element of all human beings. It teaches how to love bereft of any ulterior motives.
- Raja Yoga: Raja Yoga opens up the psychological way to union with God. This Yoga teaches that in order to acquire knowledge, we’d have to use a method called concentration.
- Faith in oneself: He emphasizes that the ideal of faith in ourselves is of the greatest help to us as whatever “you think, that you will be. If you think yourselves weak, weak you will be; if you think yourselves strong, strong you will be.”
Some important quotes by Vivekananda:
- Arise, awake and do not stop until the goal is reached.
- We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.
- Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.
- Superstition is our great enemy, but bigotry is worse. If superstition enters, the brain is
- We want an education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one's own feet.