Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: Let's us sustain the flame and the light

Hello and firstly thanks for finding time to read this! Without the eyes of readers any writing cannot even be conceived.

Today it is high time to talk about a certain flame and its light. Swami Vivekananda! A champion of spiritual reformation in India and the world! 12th January 2014 was Swamiji's 151th anniversary and therefore reflection on him is timely. Swamiji was an Indian monk who impressed everyone with his unique interpretation of essence of Indian philosophy. Swamiji (1863- 1902) lived a short life; but what he achieved is significant even today. The aim of this write up is not to throw light on his biography. Rather, the aim is to interpret it in modern context and try to explore some cues on the path shown by him. Swamiji mainly came in focus when he excelled at the World Religion Conference held in 1893 in Chicago. Then he did not look back and in remaining years of his life, he succeeded in forming a wave of spiritual reformation in India and in the West. His message was practical: “Be brave, keep aside all your gods and just serve the nation. Realize the divine spark within you. Carry the entire responsibility on your own shoulders and stop not till the goal is achieved.” He was the greatest proclaimer of Vedanta in modern context. 

Here we are mainly discussing what seems relevant to our frame of reference. It is now more than a hundred years since he left us. Therefore it becomes vital to think about his message in contemporary context. In one sentence, his message was to realize the divine spark within us and prioritize the nation, the poor and the deprived before everything else. There are certain organizations and people who tried to follow this path. But more or less they sticked to old ways and systems which Swamiji advocated during his times.

In order to think about essence of Swamiji's thoughts in modern context, we need to look a little deeper and go back a little. Swamiji was the most influential disciple of his guru, Ramakrishna Paramhansa. It is interesting to see what was the message given by Ramakrishna (1836- 1886), an illiterate fakir in Bengal. He tried and found truth from all paths- Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism and Islam. He himself tried and achieved seeking from all these paths. And like a peak, he discovered that there are many roads to go to the peak, but the peak is the same. Ramakrishna did not have as much public interactions as Vivekananda had. But his message was clear that one reaches the peak from all paths.

If we look at Vivekananda, it can be said that he gave more focus to Hinduism. And arguably it can be said that his future work suffered from this. Everyone in India knows that Vivekananda was a great sage and a great saint. But issues concerning his practical life are not discussed greatly. Although he was worshiped like a god-man and a saint, he was denied admission in a temple as he had crossed seas and crossing seas was a sin for orthodox priests. Vivekananda struggled to find hundred able men and women to take his work further. But he died a frustrated man not getting those people.

Perhaps its reason could be that he deviated from a more practical approach of his guru, Ramakrishna. Hence when we think about relevance of his work in contemporary world, a more practical and broader approach seems significant. Whatever may be one's way- any religion or any intellectual discipline and environment, he or she can reach the peak. Every path merges with the peak. Hence the stress should not be on the choice of path. Rather, the stress should be on the journey and respect for each path.

Serving humanity, serving the country and all charity activities are needed. There cannot be a second opinion about them. But with such works, realizing the self- realizing the divinity within each of us- is also crucial. Hence the focus should also be given on realizing the self through certain sadhana and meditation in a rather personal manner as per whatever religion/ environment the seeker may have.

While celebrating Vivekananda, chanting his name or praising him would not work. What is needed is journey on our own path with that spirit and inspiration in mind. There are as many ways as many seekers are there. As per upbringing and nature of each individual, he or she can choose the right path for him or her in relation to his/ her passion, interests, skills and perspectives. Some can reach to the peak through arduous hard work, through sports, through charity, through service, through yoga and meditation, through some other sadhana or another medium. All these are interfaces. What is significant is the fact that everybody who takes first step deserves the ability to take the last step. Hence, let us hope that everyone takes at least one step on his or her own path.

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