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Swami Vivekananda


Swami Vivekananda (12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902), born Narendranath Datta was an Indian Hindu monk, a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna. He was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century. He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India, and contributed to the concept of nationalism in colonial India.
Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission. He is perhaps best known for his speech which began with the words - "Sisters and brothers of America ..., in which, Vivekanand introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893. In India, Vivekananda is regarded as a patriotic saint, and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day.

Vivekanand Early Life

Vivekananda was born Narendranath Datta in a Bengali family at his ancestral home Calcutta. He belonged to a traditional family and was one of nine siblings. His father, Vishwanath Datta, was an attorney at the Calcutta High Court. Narendra's grandfather was a Sanskrit and Persian scholar who left his family and became a monk at age twenty-five. His mother, Bhubaneswari Devi, was a devout housewife. The progressive, rational attitude of Narendra's father and the religious temperament of his mother helped shape his thinking and personality.

Religious view of Vivekanand

Narendranath was interested in spirituality from a young age and used to meditate before the images of deities such as Shiva, Rama, Sita, and Mahavir Hanuman. He was influenced by his guru, Ramakrishna, from whom he learnt that all living beings were an embodiment of the divine self; therefore, service to God could be rendered by service to humankind. Vivekananda conducted hundreds of public and private lectures and classes, disseminating tenets of Hindu philosophy in the United States, England and Europe.
One of the most significant contributions of Swami Vivekananda to the modern world is his interpretation of religion as a universal experience of transcendent Reality, common to all humanity. This universal conception frees religion from the hold of superstitions, dogmatism, priest craft and intolerance. He believed that every religion offered a pathway to the eternal supreme – supreme freedom, supreme knowledge, supreme happiness. This can be accomplished by realising one’s ATMA as part of PARAMATMA.

Vivekanand Rational outlook

  • He was in complete agreement with the methods and results of modern science
  • He did not discard reason in favor of faith and in favour of modern science with ancient tradition
  • He recognized intuition or inspiration as a higher faculty than reason. But the truth derived from intuition had to be explained and systematized by reason.

Ethical values of Vivekanand

Morality in both individual life and social life is mostly based on fear of societal censure. But Vivekananda gave a new theory of ethics and new principle of morality based on the intrinsic purity and oneness of the Atman. Ethics according to Vivekananda was nothing but a code of conduct that helps a man to be a good citizen. We should be pure because purity is our real nature, our true divine Self or Atman. Similarly, we should love and serve our neighbours because we are all one in the Supreme Spirit known as Paramatma or Brahman.

Vivekanand view on Education

  • Education is not just an assimilation of information and knowledge, but that it should contribute towards the building of character of both men as well as women.
  • Education must be such that it contributes towards the development of self-confidence, and helps one to ensure one's dignity and self-respect.
  • The system of education that doesn't lead to the assimilation of basic human values (COMPASSION, EMPATHY, SYMPATHY should form the part of education system), and development of essential qualities, is not complete.
  • Education needs to be based on encouragement, and not unnecessary criticism.
  • Infusion of ETHICAL & MORAL values into humans
  • BIAS-FREE guidance /education and he also stress on sports education
  • Balance has to be maintain between SCIENTIFIC & MORAL aspects of education
  • He has also given the idea of INNER SELF & CONSCIENCE that can be discovered through education

In fact, Swami Vivekananda vehemently criticized the Western system of education, because of its potential for enabling emasculation and loss of true manhood. At the same time, he also criticized for simply focussing on rote learning, and for not concentrating its energies towards building up of personalities.

Vivekanand and Nationalism

Though growth of Nationalism is attributed to the Western influence but Swami Vivekananda’s nationalism is deeply rooted in Indian spirituality and morality. His nationalism is based on Humanism and Universalism, the two cardinal features of Indian spiritual culture. Unlike western nationalism which is secular in nature, Swami Vivekananda’s nationalism is based on religion which is life blood of the Indian people.

The basis of his Nationalism are:

Deep concern for masses, freedom and equality through which one expresses self, spiritual integration of the world on the basis of universal brotherhood. “Karmyoga” a system of ethics to attain freedom both political and spiritual through selfless service. His writings and speeches established motherland as the only deity to be worshiped in the mind and heart of countrymen

Vivekanand teaching Relevance in Recent times

  • Swami Vivekanand is the greatest youth icon produced by India and one that influenced millions of youth across the world. Today we can use education for the elimination of poverty and suffering of the poor for whom Vivekanand has compassion
  • In the 21st century, when the youth of India are facing new problems, pushing boundaries and aspiring for a better future, thoughts of Swami Vivekanand have become more relevant. Today internet become source of information which can change life of common man. We should avoid misuse and reap the benefit interner offer to energetic youth.
  • His ideas can be understood by this fourfold mantra to live a meaningful life - Physical, Social, Intellectual and Spiritual quest.
  • Today we gross inequality in the world in general and in India particular, so we should work to reduce inequality
  • Today world side step from Globalization as we see trade war, refugee crisis, Brexit etc so we should follow Vivekanand path of amalgamtion of East ans west and strieve how to improve common person life better.