A swami who taught us to be proud of ourselves

Bharatvarsha has been blessed with many sons and daughters who put her on the world map. In 1893 a young monk taught the world what Hinduism is. Speaking at the World’s Parliament of Religions he said “I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration but we accept all religions as true”. Dressed in saffron robes he addressed the gathering with clarity and conviction. This monk born on 12th January 1863 in Calcutta as Narendranath Datta grew up to be Swami Vivekananda. Swamiji was a nationalist and exponent of various Hindu philosophies such as Vedanta.

He was a nationalist to the core and believed that nationalism begins by serving the poor and downtrodden. With this aim he began an organisation in the name of his Guru Ramakrishna Mission. Ramakrishna Mission was and continues to involve itself in social service activities. Swami Vivekananda had high hopes from the youth and asked them to dedicate their lives for the country.

Here are some quotes from Swamiji that continue to inspire us. An apt tribute to him would be applying his teachings to our lives and serving the country to the best of our abilities.

1) Take up an idea, devote yourself to it, struggle on in patience, and the sun will rise for you

2) To believe blindly is to degenerate the human soul. Be an atheist if you want, but do not believe in anything unquestioningly

3) From the high spiritual flights of the Vedanta philosophy, of which the latest discoveries of science seem like echoes, to the low ideas of idolatry with its multifarious mythology, the agnosticism of the Buddhists and the atheism of the Jains, each and all have a place in the Hindu’s religion

4) Here I Stand and if I shut my eyes, and try to conceive my existence, “I,” “I,” “I,” what is the idea before me? The idea of a body. Am I, then, nothing but a combination of material substances? The Vedas declare, “No” I am a spirit living in a body: I am not the body. The body will die, but I shall not die. Here I am in this body; it will fall, but shall go on living. I had also a past. The soul was not created, for creation means a combination, which means a certain future dissolution. If then the soul was created, it must die. Some are born happy; enjoy perfect health with beautiful body, mental vigour, and all wants supplied

5) If you have faith in all the three hundred and thirty millions of your mythological gods, and still have no faith in yourselves, there is no salvation for you. Have faith in yourselves, and stand up on that faith and be strong; that is what we need

6) Religion is realization; not talk, not doctrine, nor theories, however beautiful they may be. It is being and becoming, not hearing or acknowledging; it is the whole soul becoming changed into what it believes. Religion is the manifestation of the Divinity already in man

7) Dare to be free, dare to go as far as your thought leads and dare to carry that out in your life

8) Learn everything that is good from others, but bring it in and in your own way absorb it; do not become others

9) You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul

10) The greatest sin is to think yourself weak

His birth anniversary is aptly celebrated as National Youth Day. He is an inspiration for several generations to come. May his thoughts and view inspire us to take up the path shown by him and like he said instill a spirit of inquiry within us. Let us pledge to do our best to serve our nation and be proud of our roots at the same time like Swamiji himself was.