A Fearless Monk
It’s heartening to see so much of Vivekananda everywhere. While “The Week” has carried a special coverage on him, almost all the Telugu news papers have been carrying out special stories on the fearless monk. Here are two cents for that great soul that inspired me.
More than a hundred years ago when this nation’s very soul was oppressed by the foreign occupation and it seemed that any thing new and innovative was coming up only from the west, when the average Indian was told repeatedly that his culture and his heritage were something to be ashamed of and his self-esteem was systematically demolished, a fearless monk emerged.
With fire in his belly and conviction in his voice he not only restored the self esteem but also urged his fellow countrymen for action. His fiery pitch and pleas for action awakened the Indians to India. In one of his speeches this fiery monk observed
If there is any land on this earth that can lay claim to be the blessed punyabhumi (land of virtue), … the land where humanity has attained its highest towards generosity, towards purity, towards calmness, above all, the land of introspection and of spirituality – it is India.
He goes on to say that
“This is the ancient land, where wisdom made its home before it went into any other country… Here is the same India whose soil has been trodden by the feet of the greatest sages that ever lived… Look back, therefore, as far as you can, drink deep of the eternal fountains that are behind, and after that look forward, march forward, and make India brighter, greater, much higher, than she ever was.”
He observed and reminded his fellow countrymen that the Indian race never stood for wealth, although they acquired immense wealth, they did not stand for wealth, it was knowledge and wisdom that this nation always stood for.
In essence ‘Man-making, as it has been often said, was Vivekananda’s first mission.
He travelled through the length and breadth of the country and got to know the situations of the country first hand. He travelled in disguise with different names and received the reception of both the kings of the kings and the poorest of the poor. Once back from the grueling journey, he advised his companions to join the service of humanity and said that it was the best way to serve the God.
The “Service motto” of Ramakrishna mission is also a result of his tours of India. Many of our nationalist leaders were inspired by the messages given by Swamiji. Mahatma himself observed that , his love for the nation grew thousand fold after reading Swami Vivekananda. Rabindranath Tagore, Tilakji , Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Netaji and many other leaders of the nationalist movement publicly acknowledged the fact that Swamiji’s messages shaped their views and increased their love for India.
His views on “oneness” breaking the barriers of caste, creed, region, race and religion were path – breaking won him acclaim on the international stage. His unshakable and unfathomable belief in Advaita and Vedanta can be seen in the lectures he gave out side India. To bring Vedanta out of its obscurity and present it in a rationally acceptable manner; to arouse among his countrymen an awareness of their own spiritual heritage and restore their self-confidence; to show that the deepest truths of Vedanta are universally valid, and that India’s mission is to communicate these truths to the whole world – these were the goals he set before himself.
Religion is not about going to religiously important places, it is not about having symbols, flags and other decorations of the body. It is about opening up the inner self and awakening and realizing the divinity within you was what the fearless monk advocated.
The irony of the day interestingly is the fact that the country is in a similar situation even today. If the country has faced huge challenges 100 years ago it is facing all the more humongous challenges now. I do not understand where the patriotism and love for the nation that were in full swing under foreign oppression have almost been forgotten today. We are again in a position where we are losing touch with our roots in the madness of the aping few things from the west. This to me enhances the need of Vivekananda and his teachings to this country, hope we the youth of this nation reread his writings draw inspiration and re-dedicate ourselves to the job of nation building .