The Indian I like most is Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902). His real name was Narendranth Dutta. He was born only 6 years after India’s first revolutionary movement of independence in 1857. He came under the influence of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, a poor priest in a temple near Calcutta, in the days of great national unrest. His master had deep faith in the real truth of all religions. But Vivekananda was not only a champion and interpreter; his great personality gathered round him a band of followers. He went to America in 1893 and addressed the World Parliament of Religions. His speech, unprepared and short, made a very deep impression on the audience. He became famous overnight. The keynote of his speech was “universal tolerance and human brotherhood.” During a 3-year stay in America and Europe, he founded the Vedanta movement and adopted the name Vivekananda.
The great Swami established the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897. It was to preach and practise the positive faith and good news of social service that this Mission was established. The Mission, which has several activities, is today a world-wide organization. It runs hospitals, dispensaries, schools, libraries, etc. Its centre’s are open to all human beings.
Swami Vivekananda firmly believed that the noblest way to serve God was through the service of Man, “Serve Man, and Serve God”. He once remarked, “God comes to the poor in the form of Bread”. Although a great lover of his country, he dreamed of One World, through an integration of science and Vedanta. He died at the young age of 39. His works include ‘Raja yoga’, ‘Karma yoga’ and ‘Bhakti yoga’.
The root of all evils, according to Swami Vivekananda, is poverty. He wished to give education to the poor people of India, in order to develop their lost individuality. If their eyes are opened, they will work out their own salvation. If they are given ideas, the rest will follow as the effect.
Swami Vivekananda had patriotic and religious impulses. They aroused in him a great desire to lift the Indian poor people from their great misery. In his lifetime, he firmly believed that the noblest way to serve God was through the service of man, that temples should not become ivory towers. The term ‘Daridra Jvarayan’ which Gandhiji popularised was Swamiji’s expression. It embodied his faith in and compassion for the weak, the humble and the lowly. The most practical firm which Vedanta should take, says he, is the upliftment of the masses of people. In this he was in every way a forerunner of Gandhiji. He once remarked, “An empty stomach is no good for religion.”
Swami Vivekananda, known as the “cyclonic Hindu,” believed that the only hope of India is the masses. He, who sees God in the poor, really worships God. The great religious reformer had a supreme desire to lift the poor, with a view to restore India to a self-respecting place in the comity of nations. “Serve Man, Serve God” indeed has been the teaching of all great religions.
Difficult Words: Revolutionary – changing government suddenly, disciple -follower of a great leader, interpreter – one who explains the meaning of. universal – having to do with everyone in the world, tolerance – act of suffering a thing which one does not like, integration – act of bringing all parts together to make a whole, individuality-special character different from others, salvation – saving of the soul, compassion – feeling of pity for the sorrows of others, impulses – sudden desires to act, usually without careful thought, cyclonic – marked by a strong wind blowing in a circle.